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Farewell Letter to the Pilgrims.
Lovinge Christian friends, I doe hartily & in ye Lord salute you all, as being they with whom I am presente in my best affection, and most ernest longings after you, though I be constrained for a while to be bodily absente from you. I say constrained, God knowing how willingly, & much rather then 10otherwise, I would have borne my part with you in this first brunt, were I not by strong necessitie held back for ye present. Make accounte of me in ye mean while, as of a man devided in my selfe with great paine, and as (naturall bonds set a side) having my beter parte with you. And though I doubt not but in your godly wisdoms, you both foresee & resolve upon yt which concerneth your presente state & condition, both severally & joyntly, yet have I thought it but my duty to add some furder spurr of provocation unto them, who rune allready, if not because you need it, yet because I owe it in love & dutie. And first, as we are daly to renew our repentance with our God, espetially for our sines known, and generally for our unknowne trespasses, so doth ye Lord call us in a singuler maner upon occasions of shuch difficultie & danger as lieth upon you, to a both more narrow search & carefull reformation of your ways in his sight; least he, calling to remembrance our sines forgotten by us or unrepented of, take advantage against us, & in judgmente leave us for ye same to be swalowed up in one danger or other; wheras, on the contrary, sine being taken away by ernest repentance & ye pardon therof from ye Lord sealed up unto a mans conscience by his spirite, great shall be his securitie and peace in all dangers, sweete his comforts in all distreses, with hapie deliverance from all evill, whether in life or in death.
Now next after this heavenly peace with God & our owne consciences, we are carefully to provide for peace with all men what in us lieth, espetially with our associats, & for yt watchfullnes must be had, that we neither at all in our selves doe give, no nor easily take offence being given by others. Woe be unto ye world for offences, for though it be necessarie (considering ye malice of Satan & mans corruption) that offences come, yet woe unto ye man or woman either by whom ye offence cometh, saith Christ, Mat. 18. 7. And if offences in ye unseasonable use of things in them selves indifferent, be more to be feared then death itselfe, as ye Apostle teacheth, 1. Cor. 9. 5. how much more in things simply evill, in which neither honour of God nor love of man is thought worthy to be regarded. Neither yet is it sufficiente yt we keepe our selves by ye grace of God from giveing offence, excepte withall we be armed against ye taking of them when they be given by others. For how unperfect & lame is ye work of grace in yt person, who wants charitie to cover a multitude of offences, as ye scriptures 11speake. Neither are you to be exhorted to this grace only upon ye com̃one grounds of Christianitie, which are, that persons ready to take offence, either wante charitie, to cover offences, or wisdome duly to waigh humane frailtie; or lastly, are grosse, though close hipocrites, as Christ our Lord teacheth, Mat. 7. 1, 2, 3, as indeed in my owne experience, few or none have bene found which sooner give offence, then shuch as easily take it; neither have they ever proved sound & profitable members in societies, which have nurished this touchey humor. But besides these, ther are diverse motives provoking you above others to great care & conscience this way: As first, you are many of you strangers, as to ye persons, so to ye infirmities one of another, & so stand in neede of more watchfullnes this way, least when shuch things fall out in men & women as you suspected not, you be inordinately affected with them; which doth require at your hands much wisdome & charitie for ye covering & preventing of incident offences that way. And lastly, your intended course of civill comunitie will minister continuall occasion of offence, & will be as fuell for that fire, excepte you dilligently quench it with brotherly forbearance: And if taking of offence causlesly or easilie at mens doings be so carefuly to be avoyded, how much more heed is to be taken yt we take not offence at God him selfe, which yet we certainly doe so oftē as we doe murmure at his providence in our crosses, or beare impatiently shuch afflictions as wherwith he pleaseth to visite us. Store up therefore patience against ye evill day, without which we take offence at ye Lord him selfe in his holy & just works.
A 4. thing ther is carfully to be provided for, to witte, that with your com̃one imployments you joyne com̃one affections truly bente upon ye generall good, avoyding as a deadly plague of your both com̃one & spetiall comfort all retirednes of minde for proper advantage, and all singularly affected any maner of way; let every man represe in him selfe & ye whol body in each person, as so many rebels against ye com̃one good, all private respects of mens selves, not sorting with ye generall conveniencie. And as men are carfule not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it be well setled & ye parts firmly knite, so be you, I beseech you, brethren, much more carfull, yt the house of God which you are, and are to be, be not shaken with unnecessarie novelties or other oppositions at ye first setling therof.12
Lastly, wheras you are become a body politik, using amongst your selves civill govermente, and are not furnished with any persons of spetiall eminencie above ye rest, to be chosen by you into office of goverment, let your wisdome & godlines appeare, not only in chusing shuch persons as doe entirely love and will promote ye com̃one good, but also in yeelding unto them all due honour & obedience in their lawfull administrations not behoulding in them ye ordinarinesse of their persons, but Gods ordinance for your good, not being like ye foolish multitud who more honour ye gay coate, than either ye vertuous minde of ye man, or glorious ordinance of ye Lord. But you know better things, & that ye image of ye Lords power & authoritie which ye magistrate beareth, is honourable, in how meane persons soever. And this dutie you both may ye more willingly and ought ye more conscionably to performe, because you are at least for ye present to have only them for your ordinarie governours, which your selves shall make choyse of for that worke.
Sundrie other things of importance I could put you in minde of, and of those before mentioned, in more words, but I will not so farr wrong your godly minds as to thinke you heedless of these things, ther being also diverce among you so well able to admonish both them selves & others of what concerneth them. These few things therfore, & ye same in few words, I doe ernestly com̃end unto your care & conscience, joyning therwith my daily incessante prayers unto ye Lord, yt he who hath made ye heavens & ye earth, ye sea and all rivers of waters, and whose providence is over all his workes, espetially over all his dear children for good, would so guide & gard you in your wayes, as inwardly by his Spirite, so outwardly by ye hand of his power, as yt both you & we also, for & with you, may have after matter of praising his name all ye days of your and our lives. Fare you well in him in whom you trust, and in whom I rest.
An unfained wellwiller of your hapie
success in this hopeful! voyage,
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