THER men, divers, have labored severally in describing and commending, one this country, another that: as Captain Whitbourne, Newfoundland; Captain Smith, his New England; Master Harcourt, Guiana; and some others--more than one or two--Virginia. And every of these hath used sundry motives for the advancement of a plantation in the place by him most affected, all tending to this main end: to move our people of England to plant themselves abroad and free themselves of that penury and peril of want wherein they live at home. But none that I know hath handled the point in general, viz., to show the benefit and the good, the lawfulness and the ancient and frequent use, the facility and necessity--that is, indeed, if I may so speak, the doctrine--of plantations. That task, therefore, have I undertaken, which how I have performed I leave to others to judge, requesting this at your hands, benevolent and courteous readers, that you observe and consider, first, that I am the first that hath broken this ice and searched out this way, and that therefore it must needs be to me more rough and rude than if I had passed a smooth water and gone along in an usual and beaten path; secondly, that my whole purpose and intent is, principally and specially, to do some good this way for and with the meaner sort of our people, to whose capacity, therefore, it was fit and, more than fit, necessary that I should fit and frame my speech. That observed, I doubt not but you will not only bear with but also approve of my plainness as best befitting my purpose to work and my subject to work upon. The more learned and judicious sort I freely and ingenuously acknowledge myself more desirous to have my teachers and directors in this kind of learning than my readers and followers.
If any think it a point beyond my compass for a divine by profession to deal with an argument of this nature, viz., to entreat /B2/of plantations, which are commonly taken to be a matter altogether of temporal and secular right, let him be pleased to know, first, that I am not alone nor the first in this attempt but have for my precedent the precedent examples of some far before me in learning and knowledge, as Master Hakluyt, who long since wrote a great volume of English voyages, Master Crashaw in England, and Master Whitaker in Virginia, who have both employed their pens and pains for that plantation.
Secondly, that plantations are actions wherein we also of the clergy are as far interessed as any other. They are as free for us as for others, and if men will have any hope that they shall prosper in their hands, we must have a distinct part, a certain share, and clergylike portion in them, as well as men of other places and qualities have theirs. And therefore, to write and discourse of and for them it behooveth and becometh us of the clergy as well and as much as any other.
Thirdly, that one proper and principal end of plantations is, or should be, the enlargement of Christ's church on earth and the publishing of His Gospel to the sons of men; and therefore in that respect it cannot but properly and directly belong unto them to whom Christ hath given commandment and authority above others to take care of His flock, to seek the furtherance of the Gospel, and to sound forth the glad tidings of salvation to all nations to be principal agents therein and special furtherers thereof.
That my proofs and examples are most out of the Bible and sacred histories I have done it of purpose, not only because they are with me most familiar and of best authority, but because they should be so with all Christians, even the lay sort likewise. As I am not of the papists' opinion, that is, to care little for the Scripture[s], so I like not to be of the popish fashion, which is to fill the peoples' ears with sound of the names of fathers, Councils, and otherslike, which they nor are nor can be acquainted with, but to let them hear little and see less the Word of God, in which they easily might and certainly should be ripe and ready and well both seen and read.
Besides, for this present argument, it is so frequent in the Scriptures that there is not any substantial point thereabout for or of the which, because the practice thereof was very much in those /B3/times, there is not some either precept or precedent to be found.
If I have anywhere dissented from the common practice and showed some dislike of the ordinary proceedings in these projects, I desire but so far to be borne with and accepted as I bring good reason for it and declare or intimate some just and reasonable cause thereof.
Though I have not presumed to set down any certain and regular platform of a good and right plantation, which haply to have done would have seemed in me too much either boldness or rashness, yet thus much I presume to affirm of that I have written: that if any will read and consider it well he may, without any great labor, collect and find out a true and good platform of such an action.
I have so answered many and most of the common objections made against and about these attempts that out of and by the same an answer may likewise be shaped to any other objection that lightly can be made thereagainst.
The whole I have so drawn unto certain heads and sorted again into several parts as I thought might best accord with the matter handled and be most likely to yield ease and delight to the reader.
Wherein, that I have digested all into the form of a conference or dialogue, having so many examples for it and most of them from the best of all ages, I am so far from fearing lest thereby I should offend any that I presume rather that in that point and pains above the rest, howsoever I be a little the larger because of the interlocution, I shall be the better accepted, my meaning and drift the sooner perceived, and my labors and lines the oftener looked upon and perused.
And now, that I may revert my speech to you, my countrymen and friends--you, I say, of the meaner sort--for whose sake chiefly, out of the abundance of my ardent love and fervent desire to do you good, I have put myself to all this pains, I have undertaken this work: be pleased, I pray you, to peruse, that is, to read and cause to be read to you over and over, this book which I have written to you and for you. The argument whereof I entreat therein is of plantations, which howsoever attempted by many worthy, great, and honorable personages, yet seem little to be accepted and respected of you for whom of all other they are most necessary and to whom properly they are intended.
/B4/Look upon the misery and want wherein you do and, abiding in England, you cannot but live. Look upon the plenty and felicity wherein, going hence, you may live. Prefer not poverty before riches nor your perpetual evil and wretchedness before perpetual good and happiness. Now is a time wherein you may do you and yours good forever if you will. Now God doth offer you that opportunity, with choice of place, to rid yourselves from your present misery and distress, which if you neglect to take, and refuse, as hitherto you do, to make use of and embrace, will never, haply can never, be had again.
Believe not the idle tales and vain speeches of such as, knowing not and caring not to do either themselves or other good, persuade and tempt you to abide at home, that is, to dwell, as many of you do, in famine and penury and to die in need and misery. Hearken unto me; read, hear, and consider what I say for your better information and to stir up and animate you to accept your good while you may and to establish your happiness while opportunity serveth. Never can or shall you do it with less labor and travail, with less charge and expense, with less peril and hurt, with less trouble and encumbrance, than now you may. My words and speeches are plain and familiar; my reasons and arguments are strong and evident; and my answers to the vain objections of the contrary-minded are sound and solid. Let truth take place within you, let reason move, and let evidence of the cause sway and settle you.
Be not too much in love with that country wherein you were born, that country which, bearing you, yet cannot breed you, but seemeth and is indeed weary of you. She accounts you a burden to her and encumbrance of her. You keep her down, you hurt her and make her poor and bare; and, together with your own, you work and cause, by tarrying within her, her misery and decay, her ruin and undoing. Take and reckon that for your country where you may best live and thrive. Strain not no more to leave that country wherein you cannot prove and prosper than you do to leave your fathers' houses and the parish wherein you were born and bred up for fitter places and habitations.
And if you will needs live in England, imagine all that to be England where Englishmen, where English people, you with them, and they with you, do dwell. (And it be the people that makes /B5/the land English, not the land the people.) So you may find England, and an happy England too, where now is, as I may say, no land, and the bounds of this land of England, by removing of yourselves and others the people of this land, to be speedily and wonderfully removed, enlarged, and extended into those parts of the world where once the name of England was not heard of and whereon the foot of an Englishman till of late had not trodden.
Be not so vain-minded or weak-hearted as to think or believe that you shall do better in this England with little or nothing than in any other with something--here with an house and a backside, than otherwhere with forty or threescore, with one or two hundred acres of ground. It is the means and not the place that keeps and maintains men well or ill. And Englishmen above many others are worst able to live with a little.
Know and consider that as it is the same sun that shineth there as well as here, so it is the same God--that God in whose name you are baptized, in whose church you have and do and shall live, whose servants you that remove are, shall, and may be as well as they that remove not--that God, I say, that ruleth and guideth all things there as well as here. And doubt ye not but that if you fear and serve Him there, if there you keep His commandments and walk in His ways as here you have been and there you shall still be taught and directed--for the Ark of God and the sons of Aaron and seed of Levi must and will go over with you--the hand of His all-guiding providence will be stretched out unto you and the eye of His all-saving mercy no less there than here will look upon you. For, "God is nigh unto all those that call upon Him, yea, all those that call upon Him faithfully" (Ps. 145:38), wheresoever it be. Read over and peruse often, good brethren, the 107th Psalm and the 139th. They will teach you most plainly, plentifully, and comfortably that by sea and land, far off and near, in one part of the world as well as in another, the Lord is at hand; for He is Lord of all, He seeth and beholdeth all the sons of men, and defendeth and provideth for all that be His. To whose fatherly tuition and merciful protection betaking and commending yourselves, fear not to follow Him whithersoever He calleth, and defer not to accept His bountiful riches and goodly gifts wheresoever He presenteth and offereth them unto you, no more than did Abraham and /B6/Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, and many other famous, godly, and holy patriarchs and persons when God commanded them to forsake their kindred and their fathers' house and go into that land which He should show them, whose sons and daughters you shall be made if you also walk in their steps, doing well and not being dismayed with any fear. But of these things I have spoken more at large in my book, to the reading whereof I will now remit and leave you.
Your companion in one or other
plantation if the Lord will.