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The Pilgrim Fathers of New England.

The Pilgrim Fathers of New England.

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Published by glennpease

[Preached at the Annual ThankagiTing, 18S9.]


[Preached at the Annual ThankagiTing, 18S9.]


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Published by: glennpease on Jul 12, 2013
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THE PILGRIM FATHERS OF EW EGLAD.BY ATHA PARKER, D. D.[Preached at the Annual ThankagiTing, 18S9.]PSALM LXXVn. 5.The religious festival, this day celebrated, while it is'devoted to holy gratitude, is a memorial of the piety of other times. The fathers of ew England come up inremembrance, while we celebrate the praises of their Godand our God. They instituted the custom, which has nowbrought us together in the house of prayer. They, greatmen of God, were earnest in their desires and efforts toconnect themselves, and all that they enjoyed, with thebountiful Dispenser of all good. Hence, after the ingather-ing of the fruits of the earth, they set apart annually a dayfor thanksgiving and prayer. This relic of their piety hascome down to our times. Do we come up hither with aspirit of piety as ardent and persevering, as they Werewont to bring, on their annual festival, to the altar of God?To enable us to give an intelligent answer to this in-quiry, we must consider the days of old, the years of ancient timesy as well as look into our own characters.You will permit me^ therefore, to dwell upon the character150 THE PILGRIM FATHERSof our Puritan ancestors. It is true, that the first emigrantsto this place were rather merchant adventurers than sternPuritans, fleeing from persecution, with the sole purpose of establishing an altar for their worship, a sanctuary, whichneither kingly nor priestly power could pollute or suppress.But so commanding was the character of the Puritans, so
manifestly were their enterprises blessed by God, so widelydid their influence extend, and their posterity diffuse itself,that soon all ew England boasted the honor of beingcalled the Land of the Pilgrims. Shad^? ii^d^ed, as thespirit of the Pilgrims flowed more or less pure, are the dif-ferent sections of this part of our country ; yet we willclaim the same name for the whole of it.In the following discourse, I shall confine myself to avery few traits of the Puritan character. To do justice tothe whole subject would require not a mere sermon, but avolume. I purpose to show that the men of other days,firom whoiQ we have descended, were lovers of civil ^i^drciligious liberty ; that they were enlightened men ; religiousmen ; men deserving renown ; men commissioned by Provi-dence to lay the foundations of a glorious empire, and tobe the barbii^gers of civil, intellectual and religious freedomto the worldsThe Puritans were lovers of ciyil liberty. It is true thatwhen they arose, about the middle of the sixteenth century,civil liberty was but imperfectly understood. Th^ divineright of kings and passive obedience were the popul$ir doc-trines of that day. Were those, of whom we speak, judged with regard to their views of civil government, bythe enlightened doctrines of the present day, their notionsof civil liberty would indeed be found extremely low.They felt, a spirit stirring within them, which revolted athuman tyranny ; yet so thinly were the rays of light uponthis subject scattered around them^^ that they knew not howto exert their long crippled and still untried powers of thought and of action. We call them lovers of civilOF EW EGLAD. 151liberty, because this spirit was stirring their bosoms ;because they felt it as the inspiration of God within them^and stood forth on the very verge of their supposed rights,
prepared to vindicate them, or, if they must perish in theattempt, to leave their fallen bodies a rampart around them,and, as victims on the altar of freedom, to let their bloodcry to earth and heaven in vindication of her cause.Borne do^n by oppressive power, they firmly resisted itspressure. As new light was imparted, they enlarged theirviews of civil government, and gave consistency and per-manetice to their principles of civil right. Who were themed, that, through reproach, and peril, and death, resistedthe arbitrary power of Elizabeth, and of the whole race of the Stuarts ? They were the Puritans. Their doctrineswere indeed but partially developed, and their movementsoften erratic and convulsive ; but yet they were the bestand the only efficient advocates of civil liberty in theirtimes. It was their spirit, which guarded in every timeof peril, this precious treasure, and ' which came forthin full power to consummate the glorious revolution of 1688, by giving permanence to British freedom.In oar own country, where have been found the noblestchampions of the cause of liberty ? Among the Puritans.Those, who first landed in ew England, had not becomepolluted, or infatuated, by the convulsions, which putpo^er into the hands of the English Puritans. They camehei^ freemen, determined to be free ; but they came withsober an^ deep thoughts upon the subject. Hence intheir plans of government, though their theories were im-perfect, yet they guarded with an ever watchful jealousyagainst the encroachments of arbitrary power. When thefime had come for this country, to burst the political bondswhich connected them with the old world, the descendantsof the Pilgrims were found prepared for the struggle.They did not wait to feel the full power of oppression.They saw the hand that would enslave them, ere its grasp152 THE PILGRIM FATHERShad reached them. So active was their love of liberty,

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