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throp would bear no disadvantageous While a youth, he was made a sub: comparison. In patriotism and per-ject, apparently, of that sanctifying sonal virtues, he falls short of none of grace of God, which was an essential those revered sages. He lived indeed qualification for those important serin a later age, and enjoyed the invalu-vices appointed for him in Divine able privileges derived from the illu- Providence, which rendered him one minations of Christianity. But the po. of the most eminent instruments of litical institutions, established by him his time in promoting the interests of and his illustrious coadjutors, will be the divine Redeemer. As his heart the substratum of the most refined loved the gospel of Christ, he would human society; when the precepts of gladly have devoted himself to the the others will be considered as stupen- service of his Lord in the work of the dous efforts of the human mind, half ministry. But he was dissuaded by the enlightened; as the unavailing at- solicitation of friends, and he determintempts of defective virtue to rescue ed to continue in the course of life premankind from the chaos of barbarism. scribed by a judicious and affectionate
John Winthrop, descended from a father. The gospel, however, became long line of very reputable ancestors, his favorite study; and by an attenwas born at Groton, in England, June tive examination of its truths, he be12, 1587. His father and grandfather came gradually inclined to embrace were eminent in the knowledge and the sentiments of the Puritans. This, practice of the law. This son enjoyed however, he did, with a spirit of true the benefit of an early and careful ed- moderation, with a temper of Chrisucation, with a view to the same pro- tian charity, not ascribing perfection fession. Such were his attainments in to any religious order, not disowning his profession, and such were the puri- his Christian friends, or refusing comty and gravity of his character, that at inunion after the manner of his fathe age of eighteen he was appointed thers. He ever viewed the church of a justice of the peace. He was very England as the venerable parent of diligent in pursuing the duties of his the New-England churches, and to be profession, making it his great object revered as a church of Christ. Yet to be qualified for practical usefulness. he deemed those churches, which he It was for this object, rather than the helped to rear in the American wilderprocurement of a maintenance in life, ness, more conformable to the gospel that his excellent father directed the standard than any others which he had course of his education to the law.--known. Belonging to a family of affluence, of The meridian of his days, Mr. Win
, education and taste, Mr. Winthrop throp spent in a peaceful retreat, in the was early distinguished for an easy af endearments of domestic life, improv. fability and politeness of manners, ing his paternal inheritance, equally which rendered him no less beloved useful and esteemed in the various than his dignified deportment caused duties of life to which he was called, him to be respected.
Much of his time was employed in the The grandfather of Mr. Winthrop, pursuit of general science, and in the who was an eminent lawyer, distin- attainment of various kinds of practic. guished himself in the time of Henry al knowledge by which he became so VIII. as a warm advocate for the prin- eminently qualified for the illustrious ciples of the reformation. To these services of his riper years. A mind sentiments the family were educated. naturally inquisitive, enjoying the leisHis grandson, the subject of the pres- ure afforded by moderate affluence, ent essay, became deeply impressed, with the privilege of numerous and in early life, with the reality and im- respectable connections, could not fail portance of the gospel of salvation... to make the most valuable improve
When the plan was proposed by||passages, all the ships arrived in safea number of pious and intelligent peo-ty. The wisdom and moderation of ple to alíempt the establishment of a the governor were soon put to the tricolony in America, on the principlesal
. The Colony was in a great measof Christianity, Mr. Winthrop cordial-are destitute of law, the places of ly and deliberately, espoused the the proposed settlements were not ascause. On mature reflection he resol- certained, the site of their principal ved to renounce all the privileges and town was yet to be determined. In attachments of his country and his such an unsettled state, especially home for the honor of his Lord in the when pressing circumstances require service of his church. The last ef- an immediate decision, such an endfort was now to be made, for the es- less variety of projects immediately atablishment of a church on the uncor- rise, maintained with a pertinacity erupted principles of gospel order, for qualled only by their impracticability, the erection of a christian republic, in as no mind but one of the firmest texwhich the equal rights of man should ture, no principle but the purest patribe enjoyed without limitation, in which otism and an unshaken reliance on the the experience of all preceding ages,| divine promises, can dare to encounwithout the shackles of established sys-ter. Mr. Winthrop was at all times tems, should be improved for the at- self-collected, listening with the most tainment of the highest blessings of obliging condescension to every opinhuman society. For the accomplish-ion which could claim any regard, actment of such an object, or even for the ing with all the light he could obtain, purpose of making a fair experiment from his own best judgment, pursuing, for its attainment, so interesting in the invariably, the path pointed out by his history of man, the Christian and the duty to the colony, and his duty to philanthropist could deem no privation God.-By the great exertions of the of individual good too great a sacrifice.governor and the principal persons of Such a character was Winthrop.- the colony, the people were tolerably And in the uncertain hopes of the pros-provided with cottages by the appective churches and colonies of New proach of the ensuing winter. England, he embarked his all.
The expenses incident to their new When it was determined by the com-colony were much greater than har pany in England, who were incorpo-ever been anticipated by those who rated for the settlement of the Massa-projected the settlement. As a great chusetts Colony, that the corporation portion of the settlers possessed but and the charter should be transferred | little property, the expenses must be to America, Mr. Winthrop was unani- defrayed, principally, by the wealthy mously chosen to be the governor of and the liberal. Mr. Winthrop posthe infant colony. In the company sessed a landed interest in England were a number of persons of education worth six or seven hundred pounds a and character, of family and estate, yet year. If we estimate money in referMr. Winthrop was selected by a unitedence to conmodities three times more voice for the highly responsible station valuable at that time, than at the presto which he was called. In 1630, Mr.|ent, the annual income of bis estate Winthrop, Mr. Dudley the deputy gov-||could not be less than eight thousand ernor, and the most of the assistants, || dollars. This estate ho converted inwith their families, and a company of|to money, and it was freely devoted about fifteen hundred planters, sailed to the service of the colony. In this to America and established the Massa- service the greater part of it was con'chusetts Colony. The governors ar- sumed. rived at Salem in the ship of Arabella, The first winter passed by the colothe twentieth of June. After long ||ny in the wilderness, was a scene of
anxiety and distress, at this distance The difficulties which were excited of time, not to be described. A most in the colony by the unhappy errors severe season, a desolating sickness, of Roger Williams, and afterwards by An unexpected famine filled every the absurd sentinents of Mrs. Hutchheart with dismay. The governor inson and her adherents, called for all sought out the subjects of suffering, the wisdoin, the moderation and the and administered every relief which sieadiness of the governor. These ercould be bestowed by a liberal hand, rors were not without some abettors an unshaken mind, a feeling heart. who possessed much influence in the When he was giving the last handful|churches and colony. No ancient.esof meal in his barrol to one that came tablishments existed to withstand the to beg a supply for his starving family, rage of innovation ; few ecclesiastical the ship Lion, laden with provisions, or civilians had been estaislished; the appeared in the harbor.
magistrates had no advantage of a The colony being a Christian settle-long exhibition of their virtues to inment, the governor har little less care spire the people with veneration or of their religious services than of the confulence. The errors propagated civil adıninistration. He was the prin-| by those enthusiasts were suited to ex: cipal leader in establishing and guiding cite the most irritable passions of tiie the churches, as well as in the councilshunan mind, and perfectly calculated of the state. In the spring of 1631, Mr. for the subversion of the churches and Wilson, the minister of Boston, return- | the colony. In almost any of the Greed to England to bring his family. Atcian for Ionian Republics, causes far his departure, be exhorted his people less powerful would have produced a to continue stedfast in love and the revolution in their government, in duties of religion, and desired that the any period of their history. Tie duties of public worship as well as re- Roman Senate did not exhibit more ligious counsel and exhortation, should firmuess or address when the Plebians be performed by the two governors, retired to the Sacred Mount, or when Mr. Winthrop and Mr. Dudley, and Coriolanus was at their gates, than Mr. Newell the elder of the church. was exercised by Gov. Winthrop and
Notwithstanding the intiinate con- some of the magis ates, in these intercern which Mr. Winihrop always tookesting scenes. · He caused the most in the duties of religion, no man could dangerous disturbers of the peace to better understand or would more faith-be removed from the colony, and cast fully observe the respective limits of a mantle of amnesty over others, that duty, of a Christian and a magistrate. they might not discover their own deWhen Mr. Winthrop, as governor,formity. had caused Mrs. Hutchinson and some Though no man was more condeof her adherents to be banished froin scending in the ordinary intercourse of the colony, that arch demagogue Hen-life, as a magistrate Mr. Winthrop cvry Vane had such influence with some er pursued the path of duty wiih inmembers of the church at Boston, as Aexible integrity. In 1634, on the apto procure a motion to summon Mr. plication of the people of N wtown Winthrop before the church for that for leave to remove to the Connectitransaction. Mr. Winthrop, with no cut, a large inajority of the representaless firmness than condescension, in-| tives and a minority of the magistrates formed the church that Christ had ne- were in favor of the removal, which ver subjected the civil magistrate to the governor and a majority of the mathe ecclesiastical authority, that such gistrates, at that time opposed. The measures must be injurious to the question was now agitated for the first church and the state, that he could time, whether the magistrates should never give account to them, as a judi- | possess a negative voice on the house catory, for any of his conduct as a civil of representatives. The popular siche magistrate.
at once enlistedi
, very strongly, the error aml allay the animosities of confeelings of the greater part of the peo- tention. For a talent to control the ple. The firmness of the governor minds of men, when excited by popumaintained the rights of the magistracy| lar ferver or enthusiastic zeal, perand preserved the state from anarchy. haps, he has never been exceeded.-
The same question was afterwards re-When a continuance of debate must be vived, but always in vain.-In one or evidently pernicious, with a singular two instances, violent tumults arose felicity, he would turn the attention of respecting the proceedings of the an assembly to some general view of courts. The decisive interposition, the subject in wlich they could not and undaunted perseverance of the disagree, while the weight of truth and governor, always dissipated the danger. the importance of a common interest, Several instances are mentioned of per- woulut insensibly bear away the mind sons of odious character, who were from the petulance of party, and preeminently exposed to popular violence. pare the way for union and quietness. Though personally hostile to Mr. Win- He would accurately discriminate bethrop, he would ever protect them from tween the devoted servants of error abuse, even at the hazard of his own and those who were misted by the fasafety, with the shield of authority.—cinations of delusion, and knew the Some persons of high popular favor treatinent which their difference of were sentenced to public punishment character required. He was no lese for their crimes. An affected sancti-| vigilant in anticipating the devices and ty, or pretended inspirations, or devo- preventing the effects of error, thao tion to the public welfare, might strong-successful in exposing its deformity.ly move the public feeling, but could When the general Synod of the churchnever deter the governor from the ex- es was appointed to be held at Cam ecution of his cluty.
bridge, in August 1636, for the purpose A few years after the settlement of of deciding on various religious opinthe colony, a general system of laws ions, many of which had been debated were formed, which have ever been with much ardour, discerning men the basis of the civil institutions of that viewed the measure as a hopeless exboble commonwealth. These were pedient, that must issue, as such assemprepared, in a great measure by Mr. blies often have, in the permanent es Winthrop. In short no important tablishment of irreconcilable parties. measure was adopted by the colony Why should this ecclesiastical counduring his life, which did not receive cil restera tranquility to the churches his careful consideration and concur- rather than the council of Nice, the
council of Constance, or the synod of The influence and usefulness of Mr. Dort? There were many reasons Winthrop were little less in the trans- First, because these were eminently actions of the churches, than in the civil the humble churches of Christ, who concerns of the colony. The church sought and enjoyed his protection, at Boston, of which he was a mem- of the other, a principal was the talber, was often disturbed by the most ents and extraordinary exertions of artful machinations of error and eath- Gov. Winthrop. The importance of siasm, to a degree in some instances, the occasion called forth his utmost which threatened permanent divisions, efforts. After a session of three weeks, if not ruin to the church. By his tho- the synod came to a very happy conrough knowledge of the scriptures, cllusion, wbich issued in the general and an attentive consideration of the establishment of the churches in that standing of visible chorches of Christ, gospel order, in which, by divine fano less than by his extraordinary ac vor, Hey have continued, substantiak quaintance with the human character, ly, to the present tinc. He was eminently qualified to detect
For three years after the establish-|| any prejudice which might exist. In ment of the colony, in 1630, Mr. Win- these attempts he never failed of sucthrop was annually chosen governor. cess. In a few instances, his strong The idea of the expediency of a rota- spirit, under uucommon provocations, tion in oflice, then began to prevail in led him to some hasty expressions, the colony, on account of which, sev. and some instances of conduct, which eral of the magistrates were called, ne- on a careful review, he thought were cessarily, to the chair of government. not to be justified. Whenever this Mr. Winthrop. lived nineteen years af- was the case, on a proper occasion, he ter his arrival in the country, twelve would make explanations and acknowlof which, he held, the governor's place.edgements, in which the Christian and For the other seven, the duties of the the man seemed to triumph over every office was performed by five different imperfection. persons. Mr. Winthrop was in office
In his Christian character, Mr. Winthe three last years of his life, and at throp was eminently exemplary and the time of his death. But whether in faithful. The scriptures were the subor out of office, he was ever consider-||ject of his constant study and most ed, at home and abroad, the head of careful meditation. His mind, unfetthe colony. In times of danger, the tered by systems, sought light from colony always looked to bim for coun-| the fountain, the path of duty from sel, and for action, and he never disap- the unerring guide. He ever viewed pointed their expectations.-His ad- passing events as constituent parts of ministration was distinguished for mild-the great scheme of Divine Proviness.-Being censured by some of the dence, guided by unerring wisdom, dimagistrates for what they conceived | rected to the best issue. These imto be an improper lenity and remiss-pressions regulated all his ordinary ness, he gave the following explana-conduct. As connected with the tion : “ Mr. Winthrop answered, that American colony, he ever considered his speeches and carriage had been in himself as embarked in the cause, and part mistaken, but withal professed acting for the interest of the church of that it was his judgment, that, in the Christ. To this principle, every local infancy of plantations, justice should or private interest was subordinate.be, administered with more lenity than The colony was his family, the Amerin a settled state, because people were ican wilderness was his place of labour, then more apt to transgress, partly of the church on earth was his country, ignorance of new laws and orders, part-heaven was his home. The private ly through oppression of business and duties of the Christian life, were obother streights; but if it might be ljects of Mr. Winthrop's constant attenmade clear that it was an error, hetion. His liberality was almost unlim would be ready to take up a stricter ited. He would frequently send a sercourse.
vant with an artificial errand, to the Philip of Macedon was not more families of the poor, at the time of ready to be told the truth, and to hear meals, to learn their circumstances.advice, and to receive friendly reproof, if they were found needy, he would, than Governor Winthrop. Acting in the tenderest manner send a supply. uniformly from his own best judgment, or the public worship and ordinances he ever sought all the light and assis- of God, he was an active and an effectance to which he had access. When-tual support. His exertions, no less ever any offence was taken at any of than his example, were ever employed his conduct, in a public or private ca- to lead his fellow-men to the place of pacity, be was always ready, by the worship, whither the people of God most obliging explanations, to remove have always resorted with unmingled any misapprehensions, and to obviate joy. It was his constant care to walk * His own Journal
within his house wilh a perfect heart.