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SECTION 11.

From the settlement of Mr. Cotton, 1634, to his death, 1652.

SECT. 11. ON 4 September, 1633, arrived from Eng

land, with Mr. Hooker, and many other emi4 Sept. grants of distinction, Rev. John Cotton. His ce

lebrity, which was great in England, had already
filled the American settlements, and prepared him
a most welcome reception. His abilities were
considered, as common property ; and it was the
immediate concern of the wise and good, where
he should fix his residence, and how obtain an
honourable support.
· The scene of his and his wife's admission intu
the church was such, as displayed the precision
and sanctity of his character, and interested the
feelings of every beholder. Mrs. Cotton, on
their passage, had brought him a son, whom he
called Seaborn, but whom he did not baptize, un-
til he was admitted into the church at Boston.
He assigned two reasons for the omission. One
was, there was no settled congregation on board
the ship. Secondly, he said, a minister has no
power to administer the seals of the covenant, ex-
cept in his own congregation. “ He desired, his

wife might also be admitted a member, and gave a SECT. I. modest testimony of her ; but withal requested, she

1633. might not be put to make open confession, which, he said, was against the apostle's rule, and not fit for women's modesty ; but that the elders might examine her in private. So she was asked, if she did consent in the confession of faith made by her husband, and if she did desire to be admitted ; whereto she answered affirmatively, and so both were admitted, and their child baptized, the father presenting it ; the child's baptism being, as he did then affirm in another case, the father's instruction for the help of his faith."'*

It was first proposed, that Mr. Cotton should be maintained from the treasury, in consideration of the political as well, as ecclesiastical benefits, which were expected from his ministry ; but · the maturer judgment of a majority of the council quashed the proposal. He might have selected any situation in the country; and he was in fact urged to accept several invitations, other than what he received in Boston. But he was somewhat compelled by the advice of the governour and council as well, as the unanimous voice of the First Church, here to bestow his principal labours. Accordingly a fast was observed, on 17 October, when “ he was solemnly ordained teacher of that church, by the imposition of the hands of the presbytery, as was Mr. Leverett, an ancient professor of religion of Mr. Cotton's con- .

* Winthrop.

SECT. II. gregation in England, ordained ruling elder of 1633. the same church, the congregation testifying their

consent by lifting up their hands. Mr. Wilson,
pastor of the same church, demanded of him, if
he accepted of that call. He paused, and then
spake to this effect, that however he knew himself
unworthy and insufficient for that place, yet hav-
ing obseryed the passages of God's providence,
which he reckoned up in part, in calling him to
it, he could not but accept of it. Then the pas-
tor and the two ruling elders laying their hands
upon his head, the pastor prayed, and speaking to
him by his name, did thereby design him to said
office in the name of the holy ghost, and did give
him the charge of the congregation, and did
thereby, as a sign from God, endue him, at least ·
prayed, that he might be endued, with gifts fit for
his office, and largely did bless him. Then the
neighbour ministers, that were present, did, at
the pastor's motion, give him the right hand of
fellowship, and the pastor did make a stipulation
between him and the congregation.”

In answering the invitation of the church, Mr. Cotton recommended to their care a few friends, who belonged to his society in England, and who had followed him to this country. They were of course provided for.

The ministers in the neighbourhood, having become sufficiently numerous, formed an association, and met, once a fortnight, in rotation, at one another's houses. At each meeting some subject of moment was debated. Mr. Skelton and Mr.

Williams, of Salem, were offended at the rise of SECT. II. this institution, and predicted, that it would origi- 1633. nate a presbytery, or superintendency, that would end in the ruin of the church's liberties. Mr. Hubbard, in his ms. indulges a bitterness of invective against these gentlemen, which the expression of their fears can hardly justify. The event however has proved, that their suspicions were groundless. What they condemned was the origin of the Boston Association of congregational ministers, who continue, every second monday, in the afternoon, to hold a meeting for prayer, theological discussion, and social intercourse. Yet perhaps there is not a place in the world, where the independence of individual churches is more perfectly enjoyed, than in this metropolis, and its vicinity. • Immediately upon his induction, Mr. Cotton

entered upon the duties of his office ; and so great was his influence both in ecclesiastical and civil affairs, that the measures, he recommended in his sermons, were forthwith adopted in the church; and his private political counsels were with equal readiness enforced by the government. The congregation received continual accessions ; and more were here added to the number of communicants, than in all the other churches of the country. Many, who had been notoriously immoral, came and confessed their sins, and were received into the bosom of the church. Mr. Wilson was equally zealous and successful in maintaining the discipline of the church. The

SECT. II. elders, deacons, and several private brethren

were faithful coadjutors in the work of general 1634.

edification ; so that no religious community ever appeared in a more prosperous condition.

There was no subject, which Mr. Cotton did not discuss ; and whatever doctrine or sentiment he delivered, he maintained by the word of God. He showed from the scriptures, that the ministry ought to be maintained from a publick chest, which was to be supplied by a weekly contribution. Mr. Cotton had expended towards his own settlement 80l. a reimbursement of which he refused. 601. were contributed for the finishing of his house, and 1001. for his and Mr. Wilson's support.

The earliest notice of the 5th day or thursday lecture is given in Winthrop's journal for this year, when it seems to have been already established.

There was now some contention in the church of Charlestown; and, among other sources of strife between Mr. James the pastor and Mr. Nowell the elder, it was questioned by the latter, whether they were in fact separated from the First Church.

The rules and discipline of the church were so rigidly observed, that a person coming from a neighbouring church, in which he was here well known to enjoy a fair character and a regular standing, could not be received, without renewing the profession of his faith in the language of his confessors.

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