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the Pilgrims. Enriched by copious, critical, and learned illustrations, it has left nothing to be desired. The study of this work produces an emotion like that which seizes one, on being suddenly brought to the knowledge of some awful peril unconsciously escaped. How often, in the story of the Pilgrims, does their fortune seem to have hung upon some incident, which turning, ever so little, one way or the other, might be favorable or fatal. Passing by the perils of the voyage, had our Fathers landed elsewhere than at this spot, in and around which the native population had just been swept away by pestilence; if this event had not been connected, by Indian superstition, with the landing of the white men; if one of the natives had not attached himself, with immoveable fidelity, to the Pilgrims; if Winslow had not saved the life of Massasoit, (3) whoever and whatever might have been here to-day, this assembly would not; nor would the descendants of the Pilgrims have been found elsewhere in this land. How short and sad might have been the record of the Pilgrims, written by other hands than their own! If there be any one who can discern, in all that befel them, nothing of the interposition of that POWER, which they adored, he is a subject of pity. He is afloat on an ocean shoreless to him; he is shut in, bereft of the needle, under a starless, endless night.
The coming of our fathers, under such circumstances, and with a determination to remain and to encounter whatever awaited them, awakens an ardent curiosity as to the causes of their adventure. Now that the human mind has been so far freed
from the slavery which custom and prejudice had fastened upon it, we are reluctant to believe that such wrongs as our fathers fled from could have occurred. How could it be, that men of the same country, all of them professing that religion, which is Heaven's best gift, should have made their faith and practice, in that religion, causes of persecution and wo, which barbarians only seem fitted to inflict. Englishmen so afflicted Englishmen, for opinion's sake, that a home in the desert, over three thousand miles of ocean, was preferable to any home allowed them in their native land.
This point of history deserves a passing notice, since it is connected with that great work of improvement and happiness said to be now going on in the world. It is monitory also; for men are operated upon, everywhere, to the same end by like
Man naturally refers good and evil to some unseen and superior power. Hope, fear, penitence, and reward; belief in worship to secure benefit and to avert calamity, spring up, everywhere, in the human heart; wherever there has been religion, there have been privileged orders, aided by temporal power, to measure out its blessings, and to terrify with its punishments. Our own land is, from the beginning of the world, the only exception. Here, and here only, the sword and the altar have no alliance.
The christian system seems to have been given, in part, to separate duty to the Creator, from the
exercise of human power. It was so received and so conducted, in its early time; but soon, like all preceding systems, it appears in close alliance with secular authority. The bishops of Rome came at length to be despots, not alone in spiritual concerns, but over rulers, sovereigns, and kingdoms. This tremendous unresisted power, became so profligate, as well as tyrannical, as to shock even the cominon sense of the fifteenth century. Henry the Eighth, for purposes badly assorted with his pious professions, abandoned the pope, and assumed to be the spiritual, as well as the temporal head of his kingdom. To this Union of church and state are to be referred the grievous sufferings of our ancestors and their expatriation; and to such distressing causes we trace all that we value and call our own. From the time that Henry became the spiritual head of the church, down to the period of the emigration, no part of human history is more afflictive than that of England. This period comprises the reigns of Henry, of his three children, and of James. Some portion of it is called the golden days of England, but in a moral, and philanthropic view, one can turn to no time, among civilized and christian beings, which is more revolting. It was a period eminent for corrupt, and submissive parliaments; servile courts; venal judiciaries; and for despotic royalty. Life was harassed by cruel bigotry, by alternations of faith, by tyranny in matters not of human comprehension, and in forms and ceremonies unknown to the simple founders of Christianity. One cannot compare the offences of these days, with the pun
ishments which followed them, without blushing for human nature.
The class of Christians to whom we owe our origin, were alike distinguished from the adherents to papal authority, and from those who adhered to the English church. They abhorred the doctrines and ritual of Rome; but they abhorred no less, the forms and ceremonies imitated therefrom, but severely exacted, by the established religion. They persevered through all sufferings, and perils, in worshipping according to the scriptures, and in forms much purified from human errors, and follies. They hence acquired, and brought hither, and bequeathed to their offspring, the name of PURITANS, than which none more honorable can be desired.
The Puritans of the new world, having seen, and felt, the effects of civil and ecclesiastical power, when they act in aid of each other, may be allowed the praise of intending, not only a form of worship consistent with Christianity, but a form of social and civil government, which is consistent with, if it does not naturally flow from, that pure source. The social contract signed on board the Mayflower on the 11th of November, 1620, may claim to be the germ from which our representative republics have arisen.
What we owe to the Pilgrims can be presented in its true, and just light, only by comparing the design of emigration, the mode of accomplishing it, and the moment when this intrepid band were first gathered on this hallowed spot, with what is this day seen, known, secured, and enjoyed by millions
of persons, whose civil, social, and religions rank is expressed in one word-They are FREE! But this comparison is the work of the patient historian, and far beyond the limits of an occasional discourse.
LEAVING the times which are gone by, let us take a rapid view of the present, and attempt to connect it, with the probable, in the future.
It has been very common to speak of American happiness, on public occasions, with high sounding praise. If the usual course were adopted, on this occasion, the only task would be to select, and adorn, the bright and glorious events of past days, to cast a strong light on the social and political happiness of the present day, and to announce, with prophetic confidence, the unceasing glories of civil liberty, through successive ages. No New England audience would be displeased to hear a strain of eulogy to this effect, if they could believe all of it to be true; (happy would it be if all of it were as true as that which refers to the Pilgrims ;)
You are descended from men, who have given an example to the world, in moral courage, intellectual power, perseverance in honorable designs, in genuine piety, in eventual success, which has no parallel, and which can never be surpassed. Emancipation from tyranny permitted you to give to human nature the best form, civil, political, and religious, in which it can appear. The opportunity has not been lost. You have united yourselves with other communities, and have thus established a nation which justly claims an eminent superiority over all others. Your