From the Original Manuscript. With a Report of the Proceedings Incident to the Return of the Manuscript to Massachuessetts. Printed Under the Direction of the Secretary of the Commonwealth by Order of the General Court.
[Note: This text is from before standardized spelling in English and uses the letter “thorn,” which at one time represented the sound “th.” It appears similar to a letter “y” in print. This is why if one were to see “Ye Olde Candle Shoppe,” it would be read as “The Old Candle Shop.”]
From BOOK ONE, CHAPTER 1
…[W]hen as by the travell & diligence of some godly & zealous preachers, & Gods blessing on their labours, as in other places of ye land, so in ye North parts, many became inlightened by ye word of God, and had their ignorance & sins discovered unto them, and begane by his grace to reforme their lives, and make conscience of their wayes, the worke of God was no sooner manifest in them, but presently they were both scoffed and scorned by ye prophane multitude, and ye ministers urged with ye yoak of subscription, or els must be silenced; and ye poore people were so vexed with apparators, & pursuants, & ye comissarie courts, as truly their affliction was not smale; which, notwithstanding, they bore sundrie years with much patience, till they were occasioned (by ye continuance & encrease of these troubls, and other means which ye Lord raised up in those days) to see further into things by the light of ye word of God. How not only these base and beggerly ceremonies were unlawfull, but also that ye lordly & tiranous power of ye prelats ought not to be submitted unto; which thus, contrary to the freedome of the gospell, would load & burden mens consciences, and by their compulsive power make a prophane mixture of persons & things in ye worship of God. And that their offices & calings, courts & cannons, &c. were unlawfull and antichristian; being such as have no warrante in ye word of God; but the same yt were used in poperie, & still retained. Of which a famous author thus writeth in his Dutch comtaries. At ye coming of king James into England; The new king (saith he) found their established ye reformed religion, according to ye reformed religion of king Edward ye 6. Retaining, or keeping still ye spirituall state of ye Bishops, &c. after ye ould maner, much varying re differing from ye reformed churches in Scotland, France, & ye Neatherlands, Embden, Geneva, &c. whose reformation is cut, or shapen much nerer ye first Christian churches, as it was used in ye Apostles times.
SO many therfore of these proffessors as saw ye evill of these things, in thes parts, and whose harts ye Lord had touched wth heavenly zeale for his trueth, they shooke of this yoake of antichristian bondage, and as ye Lords free people, joyned them selves (by a covenant of the Lord) into a church estate, in ye felowship of ye gospell, to walke in all his wayes, made known, or to be made known unto them, according to their best endeavours, whatsoever it should cost them, the Lord assisting them. And that it cost them something this ensewing historie will declare.
These people became 2. distincte bodys or churches, & in regarde of distance of place did congregate severally; for they were of sundrie townes & vilages, some in Notingamshire, some of Lincollinshire, and some of Yorkshire, wher they border- nearest togeather. In one of these churches (besids others of note) was Mr. John Smith, a man of able gifts, a good preacher, who afterwards was chosen their pastor. But these afterwards falling into some errours in ye Low Countries, ther (for ye most part) buried them selves, & their names.
But in this other church (wch must be ye subjecte of our discourse) besids other worthy men, was Mr. Richard Clifton, a grave & revered preacher, who by his paines and dilligens had done much good, and under God had ben a means of ye conversion of many. And also that
famous and worthy man Mr. John Robinson, who afterwards was their pastor for many years, till ye Lord tooke him away by death. Also Mr. William Brewster a reverent man, who afterwards was chosen an elder of ye church and lived with them till old age.
But after these things they could not long continue iin any peaceable condition, but were hunted & persecuted on every side, so as their former afflictions were but as flea-bitings in comparison of these which now came upon them. For some were taken & clapt up in prison, others had their houses besett & watcht night and day, & hardly escaped their hands; and ye most were faine to flie & leave their howses & habitations, and the means of their livelehood. Yet these & many other sharper things which affterward befell them, were no other then they looked for, and therfore were ye better prepared to bear them by ye assistance of Gods grace & spirite. Yet seeing, them selves thus molested, and that ther was no hope of their continuance ther, by a joynte consente they resolved to goe into ye Low-Countries, wher they heard was freedome of Relioion for all men; as also how sundrie from London, & other parts of ye land, had been exiled and persecuted for ye same cause, & were gone thither, and lived at Amsterdam, & in other places of ye land. So affter they had continued togeither aboute a year, and kept their meetings every Saboth in one place or other, exercising the worship of God amongst them selves, notwithstanding, all ye dilligence & malice of their adverssaries, they seeing they could no longer continue in yt condition, they resolved to get over into Hollad as they could; which was in year 1607. & 1608….