Pilgrim Fathers

Pilgrim Fathers a name often given to the early settlers of New England. The ship "Mayflower," that bore the first of them, left Plymouth Sept. 6, 1620, and on Dec. 6 the passengers landed on a rock in Cape Cod harbor. The men engaged in the formation of the New England colonies have seldom been surpassed in sagacity and prowess, in piety and benevolent exertion. Many of them were men of education and rank; they were eminently free from the low and degrading vices of the statesmen of that age. The political trust committed to them was felt to be an awful deposit. It was their constant aim, one which they carried with them to the council-chamber, and bore back with them to the closet in their religious exercises, that each colonist should exhibit the lofty mien of a freeman, and wear the dignity of an heir to heaven; that he should bow the knee to none but God, and bear no yoke but his who is meek and lowly in heart. The grief of bidding farewell to friends, country, and home lid not produce in them a sentimental lethargy, but was borne with manly courage and Christian heroism. In the long and tedious voyage their hearts sank not. Their spirit did not fail them in the midst of those difficulties and dangers with which foreign adventure abounds. The sultry climate, the swamp and the forest, the solitary encampment, and the whoop of the savage, were calmly and successfully encountered. Like their leaders, the majority of them were men of God. The men that landed from the "Mayflower" on the rock of Plymouth felt themselves to be "chosen vessels," and the consciousness of their solemn consecration was the deepest sensation of their religious experience. The preservation of the ordinances of religion was a principal endeavor with them. The first trees of the virgin forest were felled for the sanctuary— "a man was famous according as he had lifted up axes upon the thick trees." Truly did they vow, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my hand forget her cunning." Their inner life nourished itself by frequent days of fasting and prayer. These were seasons of coveted enjoyment. Their firmness might be somewhat stern, their rigidness of observance might generate formality, yet their heart was with God, his law their guide, his glory their aim. In every crisis they inquired at the oracle of Jehovah; in seasons of deliverance they entered his courts with praise— "a multitude that kept holiday;" in times of impending danger they placed themselves under the protection of him to whom the shields of the earth belong. They were a people worthy of those high-souled patriots who were their leaders, both in civil polity and religion. Few statesmen of that day had the purity of Winthrop, few ministers the learning of Cotton, the endowments of Hooker, or the self- sacrificing spirit of Roger Williams. SEE PURITANS.

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