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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
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I seek divine simplicity in him,
Who handles things divine.

Such a settlement as Salem during the summer of
1629, would seem insignificant enough to modern eyes;
but compared with what it had been, it seemed rich
and populous. Instead of the six miserable hovels,

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which it presented in June, there were now to be seen
a number of comfortable dwellings, and a respectable
edifice which served for various public uses. To Mr.
Conant and his three solitary associates, were now added
a large number of robust men, with their sober
matrons and blooming daughters. And the place
which a few months before had only echoed the occasional
sound of the axe, or the shrill whoop of the
hunter, was now busy with the hum of industry, and
the clear, loud laughter of youth. With a decorum
which characterized all the New England villages,
they early began to arrange matters for the regular
organization of a church. Two silenced non-conformists,
Mr. Francis Higginson and Mr. Skelton, had arrived
in the same vessel with my ancestor. Since
that period they had been engaged in a controversial
discussion with the Plymouth elders respecting church
discipline, and at length, their jarring opinions being
carefully balanced, on the 6th of August one was ordained
teacher, and the other pastor of the church in
Salem. Numerous were the preparations, both important
and minute, for the solemnities of that day.
Governor Bradford and his assistants, together with
the clergy, were invited from Plymouth. Birds were
brought down from their flight, and beasts slain for the
occasion. The loaded fire-places sent forth a savory
incense; and despite of the admonitions of their parents,
there was as much “outward adorning, plaiting
of the hair,” &c. as the slender wardrobe of the maidens
would permit. The day was rich in cloudless, autumnal
beauty. It seemed as if radiant spirits were
gazing from the battlements of heaven upon a bright
and happy world. It is astonishing with what facility
we accommodate all the scenes of nature to our
own state of feeling; so that beauty seems almost
like an ideal outline, changing beneath the capricious

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hand of association,—meeting the eye, but to take its
coloring from the heart. The feelings of the young
bride involuntarily danced in sympathetic buoyancy
with the season, though she saw nothing in it save
promised abundance. To Mary, its full maturity
seemed but the shadow of coming decay; and her
dark eye rested upon Brown, as he walked before her
in manly elegance, with a chastened tenderness that
partook of sadness. Many a stolen glance was exchanged
between the young men and maidens on their
way to church, and with many a low courtesy and
reverential bow, were the gentlemen in black saluted
as they passed along. The assembly were at length
collected, and with serious, staid deportment, awaited
the commencement of the services. The Plymouth
elders, detained by contrary winds, had not yet arrived,
and there was a long pause of expectation, during
which nothing was heard except the occasional
movements of the sentinel, as he stood at the open
door of the building. It was, indeed, a strange sight
to see men in the house of God with pistols in their
sword belts; but alarms from the Indians were then so
much to be dreaded, that the protection of the Bible
needed the aid of dagger and firelock. However,
the expected brethren arrived not, and wearied with
the delay, Mr. Higginson arose and made a solemn
and impressive prayer. A psalm was then read by
Mr. Skelton; and though in the music which followed
there was no deep-toned organ to dive down into the
recesses of the soul, and carry from thence man's
warmest aspirations after heaven, yet there were some
fine tones, which struck upon the ear in their bold
harmony. And now every one was preparing to give
earnest and devout attention to the reverend speaker,
who was about to name his text; for in those days a
sermon was an exhilarating draught, though

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converted by the impious chemistry of modern times into a
soporific drug. Notwithstanding it was loaded with
some dozens of doctrines, and more uses than twenty
sermons of these days will ever arrive at, and an
improvement at the close, and a finally at the end of
that, yet the manuscript asserts, that “the eies of men
slumbered nott, neither were they wearie with hearing.”
Indeed the appearance of the learned and pious
minister predisposed the mind to attention. His manner
was dignified and simple; and as he rose to
speak, he seemed bowed down with a humble and
conscientious sense of his own unworthiness. Encumbered
as I have mentioned, it cannot be supposed
that the whole sermon would be interesting even to
the antiquarian; but as a specimen of the eloquence
of those times, I cannot forbear a few extracts.

“My text,” said he, “is in the 105th Psalm, 43d
verse. `He brought forth his people with joy, and
his chosen with gladness.' And who, my hearers,
hath more need than ourselves to bring to remembrance
this passage? Surely he hath brought us out
`with a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm.' And
shall we not find the wilderness sweet, fed as we are
with the manna of his grace? And is there not abundant
cause to fill the vessels of our affections daily
therewith? Yea, though God hath brought us out
from among the horsemen and chariots of Pharaoh,
though he hath sweetened the waters of Marah, and
given us Elim wherein to encamp, yet may not the
name of Jehovah be forgotten in the desert, as well as
in Egypt? Yes, even in these days when heaven and
earth are trembling at the voice of Almighty wrath, I
fear there are many drowsy souls among us. Oh,
awaken, I pray you; lest Satan have a commission
from God to rock you, and you be lost forever! It is
fearful to think how you may fall asleep on the brink

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of a precipice, and dream that you are created a king,
and guarded with a goodly train of ancient nobles,
and stately palaces, and enriched with the revenues,
majesty, and magnificence of a mighty kingdom,—and
after all, the thunder of divine vengeance may sound
in your ears, and starting up at the terrible noise
thereof, you may fall into the raging sea of fire which
burneth forever. There must be no halt, between
christians among us. We must be zealous. But look
unto thine heart, set a watch over thy tongue, beware
of wildfire in thy zeal. There is much need of this
caution in these days, when tongue is sharpened
against tongue, and pen poisoned against pen, and
pamphlets come out with more teeth to bite, than arguments
to convince. This is but to betray the truth,
and do the devil's service under God's colors. There
are some among us, (and he looked full upon Brown,
as he spoke,) who are violent and impatient in matters
of religion,—given to vain forms, and traditions of
men; adhering with a blind, pertinacious zeal to the
customs of their progenitors. Of such I would have
you beware. Nor would I have you roaming about,
giving your ear to every new doctrine. Liberty of
conscience is the gilded bait whereby Satan has caught
many souls. The threshold of hell is paved with
toleration. Leave hidden matters with God, and difficult
texts of scripture with the elders of the church.
I cannot, if I would, tell you the value of a godly, exemplary
ministry among you. May we prove to you
`a savour of life unto life, and not of death unto
death.' God, in his mercy, hath brought us out of
England, which I fear is becoming sadly degenerate,
and planted us among his heritage here; and the first
use I would make of the office wherewithal I am honored,
is to say to you, talk little about religion, and feel
much of its power. Follow the light which is given

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you. `Commune with your own heart, and be still.'
Be constantly preparing something for others to copy.
`Nulla dies sine lineâ.' The more of heaven there is
seen in your daily deportment, the more is God glorified.
Carry yourselves as if your business was with
eternity, your trade and traffic there; like the citiizens
of the New Jerusalem, `having your conversation
in heaven, looking for the coming of the Lord Jesus
Christ.' But what shall I say to you who have
lusts too strong for your light, and corruption too
strong for your convictions,—who go to hell just by
heaven? I do humbly hope that I may so discharge
the duties of mine office, that my hands may be washed
of your damnation. But I beseech you to think
in time. Consider if all your idle talk and wicked
thoughts were written, what volumes of vanity and
blasphemy it would make. However, angels take
note, and conscience books them all. As for you who
are careless and profane among us, who had rather
dance round the May-pole of Morton, bedecked with
ribbons and lascivious verses, than be hearing the
wholesome and lion-like truths of the gospel,—you
might laugh at me, were I to charge you not to meet
me out of Christ; but I do charge you not to do it,
and let him laugh who wins.”

As Mr. Higginson drew toward the close of his discourse,
shadows were noticed on the sunny threshold
of the meetinghouse, and the honorable gentlemen
from Plymouth walked in, and took their seats
beside the speaker. The charge was given by elder
Brewster, in which he principally dwelt on the awful
responsibilities of his office, and the high honor Christ
had done them, in sending them forth as laborers in
his vineyard. Governor Bradford gave the right
hand of fellowship with the dignified formality which
was said to characterize him on public occasions.

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“Well, what do you think of the sermon?” said Mr.
Conant, as they mingled with the departing throng.

“Why, I think his tongue will never owe his mouth
a penny's rent, if he never preaches such another,”
answered Mr. Oldham. “I trow that any godly man
would be willing to lend his ears, scotfree, to such a
sermon as that, seven days out of a week.”

“I am suspicious some ears did not receive it very
well,” quoth another. “Didn't you see that Brown
and his seditious company were vexed therewithal?”

“It's wosome to think,” rejoined Mr. Oldham,
“that there will so soon be difficulties among us.
Here is Mr. Brown, now, whom I take to be a very
comely sort of a personage in other respects, encouraging
his people to chew the ratsbane of Satan, in
that he privately readeth unto them the book of common

“Those were very savory words, which Mr. Higginson
addressed to him,” observed Mr. Conant. “I
marvel that the Lord doth not send forth his javelin,
and hurry such fellows from the earth.”

“He is not given, like some people that I know of, to
the abominable heresy of falling off from grace,” interrupted
Mr. Graves; “and he seemeth not to meddle
with other people's matters.”

“I tell you,” returned Mr. Conant, “that whosoever
is willing to tolerate any false religion, or discrepant
way of religion, that his own may be tolerated,
will for a need hang God's Bible on the devil's girdle.
And as for other people's matters, I should like to
know if God's glory is other people's matters;—and
therefore to be given into the hands of the heathen
and the papist? I should like to have Mr. Higginson
hear such like sentiments.”

“It is a small matter to me who heareth my sentiments,”
replied Mr. Graves; “forasmuch as I and my

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people are about to remove to Shawmut. They say
the shipping hath far access into the land in that
place; and that the woods are well stored with white
oak, not a jot below our English timber.”

“A new broom sweepeth clean,” answered Mr. Conant;
“but there is one thing I can tell you,—ours
wore to a stub very quick. The Lord's work will go
on at a grand rate, carried on as it is by a race of
wandering Jacobites, taking dislike at every little difficulty.
The ploughable plains, forsooth, are too dry
and sandy for them; and the rocky places, although
more fruitful, yet to eat their bread with toil of hand,
they deem it insupportable; and so away they hie to
their new possessions. I tell you, Mr. Graves, bad
as you found us, you know nothing at all, as it were,
of the terrors of a new plantation.”

“I think I have had some occasion to remember
sickness and hard labor, though I have known but
little concerning scarcity of bread,” replied the man
of dolorous countenance. “But though the Lord putteth
his people to some trials, he upholdeth them in
time of danger, and comforteth them in time of need.
After all, it maketh but little difference what part of
this wilderness a man chooseth. It all seems dismal
enough to a body from the old countries.”

“Yes,” rejoined Mr. Oldham. “I often think of
what a witty man at Plymouth once said. Quoth he,
`it may be said of the two Englands, as our Saviour
said of the wine, “no man having tasted the old
straightway desireth the new; for he saith the old is

All this while, Mary, who had taken a cross path
with Mr. and Mrs. Collier, found means to linger behind,
and hear many kind things from Brown. It was
likewise observed, that Hopkins dined with his rival;
although, as some said, Sally's eyes sparkled with

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malicious exultation when his stentorian voice was
heard far out of time and tune in his favorite Old
Hundred. Buildings were not numerous enough to
give shelter to all their visitors; so tents were erected
in the fields, and the multitude were furnished with
provisions, plentiful enough, though coarse, and homely
in the preparation.

Various were the discussions which were held that
day. Some sat apart and talked of state policy, in
dark hints and mysterious insinuations; while others
loudly and boldly deprecated the high-handed course
of the second Stuart. Some dwelt on the great goodness
of God in raising them up from their low estate,
to the enjoyment of outward comfort, and gospel privileges;
or entered into theological controversies, in
which a penetrating eye might discover the embryo
forms of Familism, Gortonism, and divers other long
forgotten sects, which in their day and generation had
a reason for the faith that was in them. Many a
rough, untutored swain paid his blunt compliments to
a rosy cheek, and many a ruddy damsel “whispered,
in biblical phrase, her soft words of encouragement
and welcome.”

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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
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