Category Archives: 1650’s

Item of the Day: The Cambridge and Saybrook Platforms of Church Discipline (1829)

Full Title:  The Cambridge and Saybrook Platforms of Church Discipline, With the Confession of Faith of the New England Churches, Adopted in 1680; and the Heads of Agreement Assented to by the Presbyterians and Congregationalists in England in 1690.  Illustrated with Historical Prefaces and Notes.  Boston: T.R. Marvin, Printer, 32 Congress Street. 1829. 


.  . . On the 15th of august, 1648, the synod again met according to adjournment.  At the opening of the session, the Rev. Mr. Allen, first minister of Dedham, preached.  “The synod now went on comfortably,” and completed the work assigned them “in less than fourteen days.”  As to a confession of faith, instead of framing one themselves, “they wholly agreed with that which had then lately been set forth” by the assembly of divines at Westminster.  The Platform of Discipline they drew, says Gov. Winthrop, “according to the general practice of the churches.” . . .

From writers who have flourished since the synod of 1680, numerous quotations might be given, expressing their high estimation of the Cambridge Platform.  Near the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Rev. Mr. Wise of Ipswich, published a work, the professed object of which was to vindicate the Platform, and urge its observance.  the Rev. Cotton Mather, speaking of the Platform, says, “the churches have cheerfully embraced it, practiced it, and been prospered in it, unto this very day.”

The following quotation is from a joint letter of Rev. John Higginson and Rev. William Hubbard, written by them at a very advanced period of life, in which they tell us that the had seen “the persons who from four famous colonies assembled in the synod, that agreed on our Platform of church Discipline.”

“We do earnestly testify,” says they, “that if any who are given to change do rise up to unhinge the well established churches in this land, it will be the duty and interest of the churches to examine whether the men of this trespass are more prayerful, more watchful, more zealous, more patient, more heavenly, more universally conscientious, and harder students, and better scholars, and more willing to be informed and advised than those great and good men who left unto the churches what they now enjoy; if they be not so, it will be wisdom for the children to forbear pulling down with their own hands the houses of God, which were built by their wiser fathers, until they have better satisfaction.

“It is not yet forgot by some surviving ear-witnesses of it, that when the synod had finished the Platform of Church discipline, they did with an extraordinary elevation of soul and voice then sing together the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, in the fifteenth chapter of the Revelation:  God forbid, that in the loss of that holy discipline, there should be hereafter occasion to sing about breaking down the carved work of the houses of God with axes and hammers; or take up the eightieth Psalm for our lamentations. . . .

It is too observable that the power of godliness is exceedingly decaying and expiring in this country; and one great point in the decay of the power of godliness, is men’s growing weary of the congregational church discipline, which is evidently calculated to maintain it.

If that church discipline were more thoroughly and vigorously kept alive, even by those that make profession of it, it might be hoped, that the Lord would sanctify it, for the revival of all godliness in the land.

But if this church discipline come to be given up, we think it our duty to leave this warning with the churches, that probably the apostacy will not stop there; for the same spirit that will dispose the next generation to change their way in one point, will dispose them to more and more changes (even in doctrine and worship as well as in manners) until it may be feared, the candlestick will quickly be removed out of its place.”

The Cambridge Platform never has been superseded or formally annulled in Massachusetts; though by the gradual introduction of laws and usages, in a period of almost two hundred years, several of its requisitions have come to be no longer observed.  Still, in many of its parts, it is of distinguished excellence and of high authority; it is an instrument to which reference is often made; and as a monument of the ecclesiastical order of our venerated fathers, it is exceedingly valuable.


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Filed under 1650's, 1810's, 1820's, Colonial America, Posted by Rebecca Dresser, Religion

Item of the Day: A Briefe Narration of the Originall Undertakings of the Advancement of Plantations Into the Parts of America (1658)

Full Title: A Briefe Narration of the Originall Undertakings of the Advancement of Plantations Into the parts of America. Especially, Shewing the begining, progress and continuance of that of New-England. Written by the right Worshipfull, Sir Ferdinando Gorges Knight and Governour of the Fort and Island of Plymouth in Devonshire. London: Printed by E. Brundenell, for Nath. Brook at the Angell in Corn-hill, 1658.

Chapter I.

Of the First Seisin Possession and Name of VIRGINIA.

That Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and Sir Richard Grenvile, and many others, Noble spirits of our Nation attempted to settle a Plantation in the parts of America, in the Reigne of Queen Elizabeth is sufficiently published in the painfull collections of Mr. Hackluit, together with the variable successes, of those undertakers of whose labour and charge there remained no other fruit then the Primor seisin and royal possession taken thereof, as of right belonging to the Crown of England, giving it the name of Virginia, in the memory and Honour of the virgin Queen, the wonder of her Sex; by whose authority those attempts took their first life, and dyed not till the actors ended their daies, and their cheife supporters, and advancers tryed with so many fruitless attempts and endless charge without hope of profit to follow for many ages to come; so that, that attempt had its end, as many others since that of greater hopes and better grounded, but what shall we say? As nothing is done but according to the time some decreed by God’s sacred Providence, so doth he provide wherewith to accomplish the same in the fulness of it, but the mirror of Queens being summoned to the possession of a more Glorious Reigne, left her terrestriall Crown to her Successor James, the Sixth of Scotland, to whom of right it did belong.

Chapter II.

The Reasons and meanes of renewing the undertakings of Plantations in America.

This great Monarch gloriously ascending his Throne, being borne to greatnesse above his Ancestors, to whom all submitted as to another Salemon, for wisedome and justice, as well as for that he brought with him another Crown, whereby those Kingdomes that had so long contended for rights and liberties, perhaps oft times pretended rather to satisfie their present purposes, then that justice required it; but such is the frailty of humane nature as not to be content with what we possesse, but strives by all meanes to enthrall the weaker that is necessistated to prevent the worst, though by such meanes sometimes to their greater ruine; With this Union there was also a generall peace concluded between the State, and the King of Spaine, the then onely enemy of our Nation and Religion, whereby our men of war by Sea and land were left destitute of all hope of imployment under their owne Prince; And therefore there was liberty given to them (for preventing other evils) to be entertained as Mercenaries under what Prince or State they pleased; A liberty granted upon shew of reason, yet of dangerous consequence, when our friends and Allyes that had long travelled with us in one and the same quarrell, should now finde our swords sharpned as well against, as for them; Howsoever reason of State approved thereof, the World forbore not to censure it as their affections led them, others grew jealous what might be the issuees, especially when it was found that by such liberty the sword was put into their hands, the Law had prohibited them the use; Some there were not liking to be servants to forreigne States, thought it better became them to put in practice the reviving resolution of those free Spirits, that rather chose to spend themselves in seeking a new World, then servilely to be hired by as Slaughterers in the Quarrels of Strangers; This resolution being stronger then their meanes to put it into execution, they were forced to let it rest as a dreame, till God should give the meanes to stir up the inclination of such a power able to bring it to life; And so it pleased our great God that there hapned to come into the harbour of Plymouth (where I then commanded) one Captain Waymouth that had been imployed by the Lord Arundell of Warder for the discovery of the North-west passage.

But falling short of is Course, hapned into a River on the Coast of America, called Pemmaquid, from whence he brought five of the Natives, three of whose names were Manida, Skettwarroes, and Tasquantum, whom I seized upon; they were all of one Nation, but of severall parts, and severall Families; This accident must be acknowledged the meanes under God of putting on foote, and giving life to all our Plantations, as by the ensuing discourse will manifestly appeare.

Chapter III.

Of the use I made of the Natives.

After I had those people sometimes in my custody, I observed in them an inclination to follow the example of the better sort; And in all their carriages manifest shewes of great civility farre from the rudenesse of our common people; And the longer I conversed with them, the better hope they gave me of those parts where they did inhabit, as proper for our uses, especially when I found what goodly Rivers, stately Islands, and safe harbours those parts abounded with, being the speciall marks I levelled at as the onely want our Nation met with in all their Navigations along that Coast, and having kept them full three yearses, I made them able to set me downe what great Rivers ran up into the Land, what Men of note were seated on them, what power they were of, how allyed, what enemies they had, and the like of which in his proper place.

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Filed under 1650's, American Indians, History, Legal, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

Item of the Day: Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651)

Full Title:

Leviathan, or, the Matter, Form, and Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiastical and Civil. By Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury

Written by Thomas Hobbes. Printed for Andrew Crooke in London at the Green Dragon in St. Paul’s Church-yard, 1651.Introduction:

NATURE (the Art whereby God hath made and governs the World) is by the Art of man, as in many other things, so in this also imitated, that it can make an Artificial Animal: For seeing life is but a motion of Limbs, the beginning whereof is in some principal part within; why may we not say, that ell Automata (Engines that move themselves by springs and wheels as doth a watch) have an artificial life? For what is the Heart, but a Spring; and the Nerves, but so many Strings; and the Joynts, but so many Wheels, giving motion to the whole Body, such as was intended by the Artificer? Art goes yet further, imitating that Rational and most excellent work of Nature, Man. For by Art is created that great LEVIATHAN called a COMMON-WEALTH, or STATE, (in latine CIVITAS) which is but an artificial Man; though of greater stature and strength than the Natural, for whose protection and defence it was intended; and in which the Soveraignty is an Artificial Soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body; The Magistrates, and other Officers of Judicature and Execution, artificial Joynts; Reward and Punishment (by which fastned to the seat of the Soveraignty, every joynt and member is moved to performe his duty) are the Nerves, that do the same in the Body Natural; The Wealth and Riches of all the particular members, are the Strength; Salus Populi (the peoples safety) its Business; Councellours, by whom all things needful for it to know, are suggested unto it, are the Memory; Equity and Laws, an artificial Reason and Will; Concord, Health; Sedition, Sickness; and Civil War, Death. Lastly, the Pacts and Covenants, by which the parts of this Body Politique were at first made, set together, and united, resemble that Fiat, or the Let us make man, pronounced by God in the Creation.

To describe the Nature of this Artificial man, I will consider

First, the Matter thereof, and the Artificer; both which is Man.
Secondly, How, and by what Covenants it is made; what are the Rights and just Power or Authority of a Soveraign; and what it is that preserveth and dissolveth it.
Thirdly, what is a Christian Common-wealth.
Lastly, what is the Kingdom of Darkness.

Concerning the first, there is a saying much usurped of late, That Wisdom is acquired, not by reading of Books, but of Men. Consequently whereunto, those persons, that for the most part can give no other proof of being wise, take great delight to shew what they think they have read in men, by uncharitable censures of one another behind their backs. But there is another saying not of late understood, by which they might learn truly to read one another, if they would take the pains; and that is, Nosce teipsum, Read thy self: which was not meant as it is now used, to countenance, either the barbarous state of men in power, towards their inferiors; or to encourage men of low degree, to a sawcie behaviour towards their betters; But to teach us, that for the similitude of the thoughts, and Passions of one man, to the thoughts, and Passions of another, whosoever looketh into himself, and considereth what he doth, when he does think, opine, reason, hope, fear, &c. and upon what grounds; he shall thereby read and know, what are the thoughts, and Passions of all other men, upon the like occasions. I say the similitude of Passions, which are the same in all men, desire, fear, hope, &c. not the similitude of the objects of the Passions, which are things desired, feared, hoped, &c. for these the constitution individual, and particular education do so vary, and they are so easie to be kept from our knowledge, that the characters of mans heart, blotted and confounded as they are, with dissembling, lying, counterfeiting, and erroneous doctrines, are legible onely to him that searcheth hearts. And though by mens actions we do discover their design sometimes; yet to do it without comparing them with our own, and distinguishing all circustances, by which the case may come to be altered, is to decypher without a key, and be for the most part deceived, by too much trust, or by too much diffidence; as he that reads, is himself a good or evil man.

But let one man read another by his actions never so perfectly, it serves him onely with his acquaintance, which are but few. He that is to govern a whole Nation, must read in himself, not this, or that particular man, but Man-kind: which though it be hard to do, harder to learn than any Language, or Science; yet, when I shall have set down my own reading orderly, and perspicuously, the pains left another, will be onely to consider, if he also find not the same in himself. For this kind of Doctrine, admitteth no other Demonstration.

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Filed under 1650's, Philosophy, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

Item of the Day: America Painted to the Life (1658)

Full Title:

America Painted to the Life. A True History of the originall undertakings of the advancement of Plantations into those parts, with a perfect relation of our ENGLISH Discoveries, shewing their beginning, progress, and continuance, from the year, 1628, to 1658. declaring the forms of their Government, Policies, Religions, Manners, Customes, Military Discipline, Warres with the INDIANS, the Commodities of their Countries, a Description of their Townes, and Havens, the increase of their trading with the names of their Governours and Magistrates. More Especially an absolute Narrative of the North parts of AMERICA, and of the discoveries and plantations of our English in NEW-ENGLAND. Written by Sir FERDINANDO GORGES Knight and Governour of the Fort and Island of Plimouth in DEVONSHIRE, one of the first and cheifest promoters of those Plantations. Publisht since his decease, by his Grand-child Ferdinando Gorges, Esquire, who hath much enlarged it and added severall accurate Descriptions of his owne. A work now at last exposed for the publick good, to stir up the heroick and active spirits of these times, to benefit their Country, and Eternize their names by such honourable attempts. For the Readers clearer understanding of the Country’s they are lively described in a compleat and exquisite Map. Vivit post funera virtus.

Written by Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Printed in London by E. Brudenell for Nathaniel Brook dwelling at the Angel in Corn-hill, 1658.

Bound with:

A Briefe Narration of the Originall Undertakings of the Advancement of Plantations into the parts of America. Especially, Shewing the begining, progress and continuance of that of New-England. Written by the right Worshipfull, Sir Ferdinando Gorges Knight and Governour of the Fort and Island of Plymouth in DEVONSHIRE.

Written by Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Printed in London by E. Brudenell for Nath. Brook at the Angell in Corn-hill, 1658.

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Filed under 1650's, American Indians, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Travel