Good News from Virginia
By Alexander Whitaker
Ecclesiastes 11:1 -- Cast thy bread upon the waters: for after many daies thou shalt find it.
Aude hospes contemnere opes et quoque dignum
BE bould, my Hearers, to contemne riches, and frame your selves to walke worthie of God; for none other be worthie of God but those that lightly esteeme of riches. Nakednesse is the riches of nature; vertue is the only thing that makes us rich and honourable in the eyes of wise men. Povertie is a thing which most men feare and covetous men cannot endure to behold: yet povertie with a contented mind is great riches: hee truely is the onely poore man, not that hath little but which continually desireth more. Riches (as they are esteemed) have no limits, but still crie, plus ultra, still more. Neither is any man absolutely rich but in comparison of a poorer man, of one (I mean) that hath less than he. For if he make diligent enquirie, he may finde divers richer than himselfe: if riches of gold and the like, had bin such as the world doth esteeme them, it is not likely that Jesus Christ would have taken so poore a state upon him: when we esteeme them at the best, they are but an heavy burthen to some, an Idoll to others, and profitable to few.
Wherefore Salomon, having before explained the marvellous vanity of riches, and how they are wont to be abused, as well of covetous, as of prodigall men: in the first six verses of this Chapter teacheth us how we may use them well, and God may make the use of them blessed unto us. In the second Chapter, he hath said, I have gathered unto me silver and gold, and the chiefe treasures of Kings & Provinces: And I was great and increased above all that were before me in Jerusalem: Then I looked and behold all is vanity and vexation of the spirit. In the fifth Chapter, Hee that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; and he that loveth riches shall be without the fruit of it. And what good commeth to the owners thereof but the beholding thereof with their eyes. And he addeth, The satietie of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. Againe, There is an evill sicknes that I have seen under the Sun, Riches reserved to the owners thereof for their evill. Now in the beginning of this chapter, he hath set downe a remedie to both these evils, whereby our riches may be made constant unto us: we may take pleasure and profit by them, and our posterity through many descents may enjoy thé after us. Cast thy bread ( saith he) upon the waters: Why? for after many daies thou shalt find it.
The sentence is Rhetoricall, full of figures, and needs some explaining. Bread in Scripture is usually taken for all kind of meat and drinke, as may appeare, Gen. 18:5, and in divers other places. But here (I take it) it is more generally put for all kind of Almes, of what nature soever: not onely for meate and drinke, money, apparell, or the like, but also for any kind of thing, whereby we may releeve the necessity of our neighbor. Waters also are heere metaphorically put for all those men, who stand in need of the almes of our liberalitie, whether they be such as cannot, but gladly would, requite us; or else such as being able, forget to be thankefull.
So that the plaine meaning of the words is this. Give liberally thine almes to all sorts of men, that may stand in need of thy helpe: hide not thine eies at the miserable state of the afflicted; neither stop thine eares at the crie of the poore, though they be not able to recompence thy wel-doing: reproach not thine enemie when he is punished, but rather overcome his evill deeds with thy goodnesse. Neither suffer any to return empty- handed from thee, whom God shall offer to thy liberalitie. For though thou canst not presently expect a plentiful reward of thy well-doing, though the persons to whom thou hast cast thine almes, bee not able to requite thee, or forgetfull of good turnes, yet be assured of it, that God beholdeth thy charitie, and will at his appointed time requite thee, even in this world, if it be good for thee, thou shalt taste of his bountie, but in the world to come hee hath reserved for thee a most glorious crowne of blessed immortalitie. This is the soule and substance of this short sentence.
The words naturally divide themselves into two principall parts. A Commandement to be Liberall and Charitable: and a promise of reward which hereafter we shall find. The Commandement also containeth in it five points touching the doctrine of Liberalitie.
1 The duty to be performed: Cast thy bread: be liberal to all.
2 The manner of bestowing our almes, by casting it away.
3 What is to be given, Bread; all things needfull, yea, and of the best kind.
4 Who may be liberall: even those that have it: Thy bread, it must be thine own.
5 To whom we must be liberall: to all, yea, to the Waters.
First, we wil briefly speake of these five points of this Commandement as they lie in order; and then directly come unto the promise more particularly. The enjoyned dutie is Liberalitie, which sometimes is termed Almes: sometimes more largely is used for all kind of good workes, and very often is signified by the names of Charitie and Brotherly love: all which being in sense and signification one, shall in the naming of them be used all as one. Liberalitie is the true practice of Christian Humanity and Brotherly courtesie, one towards another. A vertue commanded by God, and commended by the examples of the best; which makes us accepted of God, and desired of men. Faith gives comfort to my soule, and ministers peace to my conscience: Hope teacheth me not to be hastie, but to wait patiently the appointed time of God; but the practice of Love maintaines my Hope, and assures me that my faith is effectuall; and moreover is beneficiall unto others, yea, profitable to all. Now abideth Faith, Hope, and Love, even these three[I. Cor. 13.], but the greatest of these is Love. Wherefore hath God made men great, and filled their coffers with his treasures, but that they should as faithfull stewards of Gods store, liberally provide for the necessitie of his Saints? The richest man in the world, hath no right by nature to the things hee doth possess; for naked hee came into the world, and he must returne naked out of the same againe. Why then hath God make thee rich, and commended that to thy liberalitie which was not thine owne; but that thou shouldest bee bountifull to those whom he hath made poore?
What goodnesse or excellencie did God see in thee, more than in the poorest reasonable creature before thou yet wast, that hee should make thee rich and him poore? doth it not befall to thee as to the foole? yea verily, the condition of men in this case and the condition of beasts is all one: as one dieth, so dieth the other; all go to one place, and all was of the dust; and all shall return to the dust[Eccles. 3.19]. But that which nature hath not distinguished, the wisedome and bountie of God hath by a property of calling altered, and lending his treasures of the rich men of the world, hath showed to them an example of his Liberalitie to this end that they might be open-handed to others, distributing as faithfull stewards of his gifts, according to the necessitie of the Saints. Wherefore our Saviour Christ proclaimeth, Who is a faithfull servant and wise, whom his master hath made ruler of his household t them meat in season. Blessed is that servant whom his master, when hee cometh, shall find so doing[Matth. 24.45]. Saint Paul exhorteth us to doe good to all, but specially to the household of faith [Galath. 6]: and writeth to Timothy to charge them that be rich in this world that they do good, and be rich in good workes, ready to distribute and communicate[I. Tim. 6.17]. He sheweth Titus also, that the end of our Redemption is that we might be zealous of good workes[Titus 2.]: and therefore willeth him to affirme, That they which have beleeved in God might be carefull to shew forth good workes, &[Titus 3.].
But alas, the practice of this age is farre otherwise. For those that have wealth either abuse them to the satisfying of their prodigall lusts, in Whoring, Dicing, or Drinking, till all or the most be spent; or else (as others) use them only to looke upon them, or that it might be said they have them: few or none there be that use them aright to the glory of God and reliefe of his children. God gave commandement that there should not be a begger in Israel: but how many idle persons have we in the streetes of our Cities, in the High-wayes, and corners of our pathes, which day and night call upon the passers by and yet remain unprovided for? How many hungry, naked, fatherlesse, widowes, poore men, and oppressed, perish for want of that which God hath lent to these rich theeves? (for no better than theeves they are, keeping up that which God gave them to disburse to holy and good uses). But what saith Salomon, Hee that hideth his eyes from the poore, shall have many curses[Prov. 28.27].
What shall we judge then of those men, who being rich in substance and poore in good workes? if Paul may bee heard, they have not yet beleeved Christ died for them [Titus 3.]. If Saint John may judge, they have no love of God in them, For whosoever ( saith he) hath this worlds goods and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?[I. John 3.17] Surely, Christ that shall judge every man according to his workes when he shall call them to render an account of their Stewardship, will pronounce a heavie sentence against them: Cast those unprofitable servants into utter darkenesse. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth[Matth. 25.30]
Go too now, you rich miserable men, weepe and howl for the miseries that shall come upon you [James 5.1]. Remember the churlishnesse of Nabal, and forget not the tormented tongue of Dives[I. Sam. 25.]. Make haste either to repent betime or make account to heare the dreadful sentence of the Great Judge [Luke 16.], Go, yee cursed, &c. for ye have been uncharitable[Matth. 25.]. But you (my brethren) in whose hearts the love of God abideth, shew the bowels of your compassion to your fellow servants, as need requireth. Remember the afflictions of Joseph, and bee assured of this; that hee that hath mercy upon the poore, lendeth unto the Lord, &c. [Prov.I 9.17]. You will helpe your friend, because hee loves you, and is the companion of your estate. Nature teacheth us to commiserate the distresses of our brethren because we are of the same flesh and have our parents common. How can we then withhold the hands of our reliefe from those that stand in need of our helpe? Wee are all fellow servants of one Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Wee have all one common Father, God the maker of heaven and earth. We are all members of one mysticall bodie, most unseparably united to our head Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. How then can we see our fellow- servants, our deare brethren, yea, the members of our owne body pass by us, hungry and naked, unfed, unclothed? Take heed (I beseech you) that Lazarus starve not at your doores, nor Davids messengers return emptie. If Elijah come to sojourne with you, thrust him not out of doores: Thou knowest not how soone God may alter the times, and restore thine estate [I King. 17.]. The Church of Macedonia is commended, because, though they were in want themselves, yet they supplied the extreame want of other Churches [2. Cor. 8.], yea, if the Saints at Jerusalem want, or the Churches a farre off, lay up the first day of every weeke somewhat to send to their reliefe[I. Cor. 16.1]. And so you doing may gather comfort to your selves, that you shall hear that comfortable sentence, Venite benedicti patris, quoniam fuistis liberales: Come you blessed of my father, receive the kingdome prepared for you, for you have been liberall &c.
I might say much more in the commendation of Liberalitie, but the time requiring lesse, I come now with haste unto the second point of the Commandment.
Cast thy bread, &c. What? hath God given us goods to cast them away? yea, verily, for Salomon saith, There is a time to seeke, and a time to lose; a time to keepe, and a time to cast away. Which time of losing and casting away the Scripture heere noteth. But by this word of casting away, is meant no violent rejecting or negligent losing of some things that we hate or doe not greatly esteeme: but a liberall giving away of such things as we do possesse which may appeare by these reasons.
First, by the nature of the originall word HAY LAMED SHIN, which most usually signifieth to send out, mittere & emittere: and so it is used by Moses, Gen. 7.7. where hee saith that Noah sent out the Raven, and afterward the dove twice. Hee useth this word continually, HAY LAMED SHIN YOD KAF, & emisit: and so hath Pagninus and Mercerus expounded it. Secondly, it may appeare by the agreement of the Text, with the verses following: for the Doctrine handled is touching Liberalitie, allegorically compared to the seed of bread (for so bread may be heere understood) which husbandmen cast not away, but sow as well in moist, as in drier grounds: and so Tremelius doth interpret them. Now as husbandmen do not cast away their seede, which they fling into the ground, for hatred or neglect, but under hope of Gods blessing: even so liberall men, exercising the workes of charitie, doe not cast away their almes as one that casteth a bone to a dogge, or flingeth dead flowers from him, &c., but freely bestow the almes of God without pride, vaine-glory, or disdaine, yea, without hope of any restitution, or any other recompence, besides the acceptance of God, and the reward which God shall give unto him in this life, but especially in the great day of His harvest. And with this doth agree that saying of Salomon, There is that scattereth and is more increased [Prov. 17.24]. So that the spirit of God teacheth us by this word of casting, how we may scatter our good deeds and bestow our almes, as that they may be accepted of God and profitable unto us. As, many aske and receive not [James. 4.], because they aske amisse: so the most that cast away [unclear: finde] not, because they bee illiberall in their liberalitie, or because they give amisse.
Let us then learne from hence to cast away our bread freely: freely we have received our goods from God, let us freely give. So shall wee become followers of God and our liberalitie draw toward the perfection required of us. The commandement of Christ is, that we should be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect [Matth. 5.48.]. Now then, Gods liberalitie being perfect, let us also be perfect in our good deeds: this is a poynt very needful for us all to consider; for God requireth liberalitie from us all, and very few among the divers multitudes of givers give aright, it shall be counted a high point of wisdome in us: first, to inform our selves thoroughly by what means our charitie may become perfect and acceptable in the sight of God, before we reach out our hands to give. Our great Master Christ, the mouth of God to man, handling the doctrine of liberalitie in his Sermon on the mount [Matth. 6.1.], hath taught us many rules touching the right manner of giving almes, which wee may refer to these five poynts.
First, that we give in faith, for without faith it is unpossible to please God [Heb. 11.6.]; therefore without faith our almes cannot please God: the summe of which faith is this: first, that God will accept of us and our almes for his sonne Jesus Christ's sake; for no worke of any man can please God, before the man himself bee approved of him, and then all our good deeds shall be accepted of him. Secondly, that wee be not hastie in expecting a present recompence of reward, but to waite patiently by God by faith for the good successe of our almes. So husbandmen that cast their seed into the ground, stay untill the time of harvest, depending upon God for the fruitfull increase of their labors [James 5.7.]. So Paul doth plant and Apollos doth water, but even both these doe wait upon God for the blessing of their Ministry [I. Cor. 3.]: this is the cause why heretofore much of our almes bestowed upon the affaires of Virginia have been so cast away that they could never be found again hitherto: for many of us have not been reconciled to God, nor approved of him. Some of our Adventurers in London have been most miserable covetous men, sold over to Usurie, Extortion, and Oppression. Many of the men sent hither have bin Murtherers, Theeves, Adulterers, idle persons, and whatnot besides, all which persons God hateth even from his very soule: how then could their almes or anything else which they doe be pleasing unto God? Such mens prayers are abominable in the sight of God, how much more their Almes.
The second rule in giving is, that wee give in Love, which whosoever lacketh cannot give aright; and saith Saint Paul, Though I feede the poore with all my goods and have not love; it profiteth me nothing [I. Cor. 13.3.] The sum of which love is, that out of mere pittie, compassion, and fellow feeling of our neighbours wants, we cast our bread to him; not for constraint of law, and custome of parishioners, neither for any sinister respect of praise or vaine-glorie. Wherefore the same Paul saith, He that distributeth, let him doe it with simplicitie: [Rom. 12.8.] and our Saviour Christ commandeth that when thou dost thine almes, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth [Matth. 6.3.].
Thirdly, we must give our almes bountifully and with a cheerefull minde: [2. Cor. 9.7.] but as everyone wisheth in his heart, so let him give, not grudging or of necessitie, for God loveth a cheerefull giver: He that soweth sparingly shall reape also sparingly; and he that soweth liberally shall reap also liberally. Yet, notwithstanding, this boútifulnes hath two proper limits, beyond which it is not to passe. First, wee must be bountifull onely according to abilitie; for if we give all at one time, we may leave ourselves naked, and be disenabled for giving anymore hereafter [Deut. 15.4.]: therefore those Papists that give away all and turne begging Friers are to be blamed, for God that hath said there shall bee poore alwaies with you, forbiddeth in the same place that there shall be any begger in Israell; and the rule of John Baptist is, that he that hath two coats should not give away both of them, whereby he might be left naked, but he must give one away, and reserve the other for himselfe [Luk. 3.11.]. The second limite of our bountie is that we give more or lesse according to the necessitie of the Saints, and this Saint Paul teacheth, Rom. 12.18.
The fourth rule of right giving ariseth from hence, which is, that we give our almes with discretion. First, that we communicate such things as the neede of our neighbor requireth; the thirstie man must have drinke, the hungrie and naked, meate and apparrell, the imprisoned for debt, money and the like. Secondly, we must not defer the time of our reliefe, lest that wee give too late when the case of our neighbor is past helpe: Bis dat qui cito dat. The Physition comes too late when the patient is dead. But a word spoken in season is like apples of gold and pictures of silver: whilest thou may, then doe good, thou knowest not then what may befall afterward [Prov. 25.11.]. In the morning sowe thy seede, and in the afternoone let not thy hand rest, for thou knowest not whether shall prosper this or that [Eccles. 11.6.]. Surely, if there were ever any opportunitie given of setting forward this Plantation, the season is now most fit. Strike then whilest the iron is hot; doe this good worke whilest you may, before it bee too late. Thirdly, we must chuse such a place as may be void of vaine-glorie and hypocrisie. Our left hand may not know what our right hand doth: Honores palam dandi sunt, eleemosinae clam, Honors may bee openly given for the incouragement of others; but almes-deeds must bee given in secret: then thy Father that seeth in secret shall reward thee openly [Matth. 6.].
The last rule of giving is, that we give in Justice; which is, that we cut not large thongs out of another mans lether; that we give not other mens goods, but such as bee our owne, and those truly gotten, the text saith, that the bread must be thine, even thine owne, not another mans. The true feasting is to breake thine own bread to the hungrie, to bring the poore that wander into thine house.
The next point to be handled is, wherein we are to bee liberall, what wee are to give. Salomon hath shut up all under the name of Bread, whereby (as I said before), is meant all things wherein we may releeve the necessities of our neighbours. For if a man shall cast his drinke, apparell, golde, and the like upon the waters, he shall after many daies find them: but Salomon included al these almes under the name of bread, because hee would enforce this doctrine under one Allegorie of sowing, and therefore doth suite his phrase with words of most significancie. Againe, bread is the staffe of good nourishment, and the most usual kinde of almes which we give. This article then of this Commandement is, that if our neighbors doe stand in need of our helpe in anything wherein we may helpe them; we are not to with-hold our hand from them, but to cast our almes liberally unto them.
And this must needs be the meaning of the Holy Ghost, for Paul teacheth us to distribute according to the necessitie of the saints: [Rom. 12.13.] but the Saints neede many things very often beside bread, yea, besides food and rayment, wherefore our almes must needes bee cast out according to the several necessities of those that want.
The wants of men be divers. Some are of the mind, some of the bodie, and some be of the outward goods: And thus have the Divines divided them.
The distresses of the mind are most grievous and needs the best reliefe; but of them all, ignorance of spirituall matters is most common, most dangerous. The bread that must relieve, this is the mouth of wisdome, which is liberall in instruction, which is as finest silver, which shall be fruitfull in understanding, which doth know what is acceptable, which is a tree of life, and which feedeth many [Prov. 10.]. This was the almes which Paul went to cast away in Macedon, and liberally distributed in Mars his streete in Athens. And this is the almes which may bee most profitable unto this barbarous Countrey of Virginia, where the name of God hath beene yet scarce heard of. The wants of the bodie be many, but not so dangerous: and those bee principally hunger, thirst, sicknesse, and wounds: according to which cases our almes must be bestowed. The sentence of the great Judge shall bee according to the tenor of this: When I was an-hungry you fed mee, when I was a thirst, you gave mee drinke, when I was sicke you visited mee [Matth. 25.]. As for the helping of wounded men, our Saviour Christ hath given us a notable instance and incouragement to be mercifull toward them in the case of the wounded Jew, whom, when neither the Priest nor the Levite that passed by would relieve, a Samaritan most liberally provided for; even so let us doe [Luk. 10.30.]. The wants of our neighbors outward state are most and everywhere common. First, wee must freely give to the poore, as clothes to the naked, liberall gleanings to the stranger, fatherlesse, and widow; Justice in Judgment to the oppressed, &c.
Secondly, we must freely lend whereby we may be oftentimes as beneficiall to our neighbor as by giving. Concerning which our saviour Christ saith, From him that would borrow of thee, turne not away thy face [Mat. 5.42.]. And the commandement of God is, Thou shalt open thy hands to thy poore brother, and lend him sufficient for his neede which he hath [Deut. 15.8.].
Thirdlie, we must freelie forgive and remit the due debt which our neighbour doth owe unto us, if it so fall out that God bring him into decay and extreame povertie. So the pledge, or pawne which our neighbor leaveth with us, if it belong to his necessarie use, as his raiment or the like, wee are to restore it to him againe before the Sun goe downe [Exod. 22.26]. And this is the exhortation of Nehemiah to the hard harted rulers of the Jewes, that oppressed their brethren with Usurie and the like [Nehem. 5.11.]. And thus many ways may we cast away our bread; and for all these kinds of Almes, bread is heere to be taken.
Wherefore seeing there bee so manie waies to exercise our liberalitie, let us not think it sufficient to be bountifull in one kinde of good workes and hard hearted in others, but that our liberalitie may be profitable to let us give in all, as the present need requireth. Some men will give almes at their gate, of the scraps of their table, but will not part with one pennie of money to anie charitable deed. Others will bee ready to spend their voice in the instruction and reproofe of their neighbor: or it may bee to speake a good word for him, but will part with none of their owne goods to helpe them. And some men will be onely liberall in building of Churches, Hospitalls, and the like, which indeede be good works, yet are they neither meritorious nor the most principall, for many times the gift of a peece of bread or a cup of colde water is more needfull, Salomon putteth bread the cheefest almes, and Christ at the Day of Judgment, will not condemne men for want of buildings, but of other more needfull almes, and less chargeable. But if the Church of Rome will maintaine the merit of their Abbies, Nunneries, Temples, let them heare a great schoole man of their owne, Thomas Aquinas, who reckoned up the severall works of charity belonging to the body, hath either forgotten or neglected such buildings: he hath shut them up all in this one verse: visito, poto, cibo, redimo, tego, colligo, condo, the meaning whereof is that true liberality consisteth in visiting the sicke, giving drinke to the thirsty, meat to the hungry, in redeeming the captive and imprisoned, in covering the naked, in gathering or calling home poore travelling strangers to his house, and in buriall of the dead, but in all these he hath made no mention of those buildings [Matth. 25.; Aquinas 2.2, que. 32, ar. 2]. Wherefore let us learne not only to spend Gods almes but to be such provident Stewards or providers for the servants of God as that wee may be liberall in all kinde to give them meat, drinke, and other of Gods goods in necessity according to the several necessities of them.
The fourth point to bee considered is, who may properlie give almes, which may easilie be determined, if we consider the divers kinds of good works which wee have now lately rehearsed. For hee that is not able to bee liberall in one kinde may be fit for another, which may be noted in the almes of Peter and John entring into the Temple, when they restored the lame cripple to his health, to whom they said in his manner, Silver and Gould have I none, but such as I have that give I thee [Acts 3.1.]. Whence wee may conclude that Every one may bee a giver of almes. For he that hath not the riches of wealth and cannot give much, let him give a little according to the measure of his abilitie. Wherefore our Saviour Christ commendeth the liberality of the poor widdow which cast into the treasury but two mites, which was all that she had [Mark 12.41.].
Those also that have not money and goods to helpe their neighbor, let them lend the helpe of their bodily labour, of their callings, or the vertues of their soule and body unto them; and this was Peters Almes.
And these whom poverty, age, or subjection (unto the hard government of others) hath made unfit for these two: let them exercise their Liberality, in praying for the reliefe of those that want, which is the proper calling of Almes-men and Hospitall children; yea, it is the dutie of us all.
This is the doctrine, and I beseech God to stirre up your minds to the practice of liberalitie in all things towards all men. And remember the poore estate of the ignorant inhabitants of Virginia. Cast forth your almes (my brethren of England) and extend your liberalitie on these charitable workes which God hath called you to performe. Let not the servants of superstition, that thinke to merit by their good works (as they term them) goe beyond us in well-doing; neither let them be able to open their mouths against us and to condemne the religion of our Protestation for want of charitable deeds.
It may bee some men will say, the worke is great, I am not able to relieve it, I answer the work is such, and such order is now taken, that those that cannot give much, may be liberal in a little. Those that cannot help in monies by reason of their poverty, may venture their persons hither, & heere not only serve God, but helpe also these poore Indians, and build a sure foundation for themselves, but if you can doe neither of these, then send your earnest prayers to God for the prosperity of this worke.
This first point in order, & last Article of this cómandement remaineth now to be handled: which is concerning the persons to whom we are to bee liberall. That is to all men in generall, who stand in need of our releefe and helpe. For if corne be cast upon the waters, or very watry grounds, it cannot prosper or bring forth increase: So if good works be bestowed on unthankful or unable persons; we are not to expect a recompense of reward fró them. From whence wee may gather an argument from the lesse to the greater: that if wee are to be liberall to such as cannot or will not requite us, or to such as will not deserve our kindnesse, how much more to them, that may deserve our good will, or will make conscience (if they can) to be thankful unto us in the best manner? So then if we must be liberal both to good men and bad; to thankfull and unthankfull, to our enemies and friends, it followeth that we must be Charitable to all men.
And this is the rule of S. Paul: do good to all, but specially to the household of Faith [Galath. 6.10.]. Though the children of God bee chiefly to be respected: yet are we not to withhold our almes from anyone if they need our helpe. The rule of Christ is answerable: Give him that asketh, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away. Doe good to them that hate you, and pray for them which hurt you, and persecute you [Matth. 5.52]. And so Paul expoundeth this rule of Christ: If thine enemie hunger, feed him, if hee thirst, give him drinke [Rom. 12.20]. If then we must feed and cloath our enemies and persecutors, how much more our friends and helpers; It remaineth then that we must doe good to all.
From hence we may take just occasion to blame the uncharitable disposition of hard hearted rich men, and wealthy Parishes, which suffer multitudes of poore men and women to perish in their quarters for want of their reliefe. The commandement of God is, that there should be no beggars in Israel. But looke into the streets of our Cities, and passe from them into all the quarters of England, and you shall find neither Court nor Countrey, Citie, or Village, without the importunate cravings of those that crie Give, Give! From hence is that so many base theeves, and pettie robbers, lurke in every corner, untill the common trees of execution hang them up. From hence it is that so many poore mens children, wanting the charitie of others, to see them brought up in learning and some honest vocation, were better if they had never been borne, than to live in such misorder as most of them doe. Repent therefore betimes, you able misers, lest the woe of Saint James fall upon you, lest God heare the cries and curses of the poore, and heape miseries without measure, upon such miserable men [James 5.1.]. And now let me turne your eyes, my brethren of England, to behold the waters of Virginia, where you may behold a fit subject for the exercise of your Liberalitie, persons enough on whom you may cast away your Bread, and yet not without hope after many daies to find it. Yea, I will not feare to affirme unto you, that those men whom God hath made able any way to be helpefull to this Plantation, and made knowne unto them the necessities of our wants, are bound in conscience by vertue of this precept, to lay their helping hands to it, either with their purse, persons, or prayers, so farre forth as God hath made them fit for it. For it is evident that our wise God hath bestowed no gift upon any man, for their private use, but for the good of other men, whom God shall offer to their Liberalitie.
Wherefore, since God hath opened the doore of Virginia to our countrey of England, wee are to think that God hath, as it were, by word of mouth called us in to bestow our severall charity on them. And that this may the better appeare, we have many reasons to encourage us to bee Liberall minded and open-handed toward them.
First, if we consider the almost miraculous beginning, and continuance of this plantation, we must needs confesse that God hath opened this passage unto us, and led us by the hand unto this work. For the Marriners that were sent hither first to discover this Bay of Chaesapeac found it onely by the mere directions of Gods providence: for I heard one of them confesse that even then, when they were entred within the mouth of the Bay, they deemed the place they sought for to have beene many degrees further. The finding was not so strange, but the continuance and upholding of it hath bin most wonderfull. I may fitly compare it to the growth of an Infant, which hath been afflicted from his birth with some grievous sicknes, that many times no hope of life hath remained, and yet it liveth still. Againe, if there were nothing else to encourage us, yet this one thing may stirre us up to go on chearefully with it: that the Divell is a capitall enemy against it, and continually seeketh which way to hinder the prosperitie and good proceedings of it; yea hath heretofore so farre prevailed, by his Instruments, the covetous hearts of many back-sliding Adventurers at home, and also by his servants here: some striving for superioritie, others by murmurings, mutinies, & plaine treasons, & others by fornication, prophanenes, idlenes, and such monstrous sinnes; that he had almost thrust us out of this kingdome, and had indeed quitted this Land of us, if God had not then (as one awaked out of sleepe) stood up and sent us meanes of great helpe, when we needed most, and expected least reliefe. The saving of those two honorable Knights, Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Somers, with Captain Newport and the rest of the Adventurers in the Sea Venture, as also their happy deliverance out of those unhabited and unfrequented (because feared) islands of the Barmudaes, could proceed from none other, but the singular providence of God. If this worthie Governour, Sir Thomas Gates, had bin hindred but one weeke longer, it might be feared that the famine, which had by that time devoured the most of our countrimen heere, would have consumed the rest. And when hee considering that his weake meanes was not able to restore, or sustaine the burthen of such wofull distresses, had shipped the few remaining for England, and had forsaken with Hannibals sighes the first-builded James- Towne: upon the sudden newes met him, of the comming in of that honorable Lord La war with a fresh supplie. Whereupon he presently returned to the Towne he had so lately forsaken. Since, when this English colony hath taken better root; and as a spreading herbe whose top hath bin often cropped off renewes her growth, and spreads her selfe more gloriously, than before. So this Plantation, which the divell hath so often troden downe, is by the miraculous blessing of God revived, and daily groweth to more happy and more hopefull successe. I have shut up many things in few words, and have alleadged this onely to prove unto us, that the finger of God hath been the onely true worker heere; that God first showed us the place, God first called us hither, and here God by his speciall providence hath maintained us. Wherefore, by him let us be encouraged to lay our helping hands to this good work, (yea Gods work) with all the strength of our abilitie.
Secondly, let the miserable condition of these naked slaves of the divell move you to compassion toward them. They acknowledge that there is a great good God, but know him not, having the eyes of their understanding as yet blinded: wherefore they serve the divell for feare, after a most base manner, sacrificing sometimes (as I have heere heard) their owne Children to him. I have sent one Image of their god to the Counsell in England, which is painted upon one side of a toad- stoole, much like unto a deformed monster. Their priests (whom they call Quiokosoughs) are no other but such as our English Witches are. They live naked in bodie, as if their shame of their sinne deserved no covering: Their names are as naked as their bodie: they esteeme it a vertue to lie, deceive, and steale as their master the divell teacheth them. Much more might be said of their miserable condition, but I refer the particular narration of these things to some other season. If this bee their life, what thinke you shall become of them after death? but to be partakers with the divell and his angels in hell forevermore. Wherefore my brethren, put on the bowels of compassion, and let the lamentable estate of these miserable people enter in your consideration: One God created us, they have reasonable soules and intellectual faculties as well as wee; we all have Adam for our common parent: yea, by nature the condition of us both is all one, the servants of sinne and slaves of the divell. Oh remember (I beseech you) what was the state of England before the Gospell was preached in our Countrey. How much better were we then, and concerning our soules health than these now are? Let the word of the Lord sound out that it may be heard in these parts; and let your faith which is toward God spread it selfe abroad and show forth the charitable fruits of it in these barren parts of the world: And let him know that he which hath converted a sinner from going astray out of his way, shall save a soule from death and hide a multitude of sinnes.
But if any of us should misdoubt that this barbarous people is uncapable of such heavenly mysteries, let such men know that they are farre mistaken in the nature of these men, for besides the promise of God, which is without respect of persons, made as well to unwise men after the flesh, as to the wise, &c., let us not think that these men are so simple as some have supposed them: for they are of body lustie, strong, and very nimble: they are a very understanding generation, quicke of apprehension, suddaine in their dispatches, subtile in their dealings, exquisite in their inventions, and industrious in their labor. I suppose the world hath no better marke-men with their bow and arrowes than they be; they will kill birds flying, fishes swimming, and beasts running: they shoote also with marvellous strength: They shot one of our men being unarmed quite through the bodie, and nailed both his arms to his bodie with one arrow: one of their Children also, about the age of 12. or 13. yeares, killed a bird with his arrow, in my sight. The service of their God is answerable to their life, being performed with great feare and attention, and many strange dumb shewes used in the same, stretching forth their limbes and straining their bodie, much like to the counterfeit women in England who faine themselves bewitched or possessed of some evil spirit.
They stand in great awe of their Quiokosoughs, or Priests, which are a generation of vipers, even of Sathans owne brood. The manner of their life is much like to the popish Hermits of our age; for they live alone in the woods, in houses sequestred from the common course of men, neither may any man bee suffered to come into their house to speake with them but when this Priest doth call him. He taketh no care for his victuals, for all such kinde of things, both bread and water, &c., are brought unto a place neere unto his cottage, and there are left, which hee fetcheth for his proper neede. If they would have raine, or have lost anything, they have their recourse to him, who conjureth for them, and many times prevaileth. If they be sick, he is their Physition; if they bee wounded he sucketh them. At his command they make warre and peace; neither doe they anything of moment without him. I will not bee teadious in these strange Narrations, when I have more perfectly entered into their secrets, you shall know all. Finally, there is a civill governement amongst them which they strictly observe, and show thereby that the law of Nature dwelleth in them: for they have a rude kinde of Common-wealth and rough governement, wherein they both honour and obey their Kings, Parents, and Governours; both greater and lesse, they observe the limits of their owne possessions, and incroach not upon their neighbors dwellings. Murther is a capitall crime scarce heard of among them: adultery is most severely punished, and so are their other offences. These unnurtured grounds of reason in them, may serve to incourage us: to instruct them in the knowledge of the true God, the rewarder of all righteousnesse, not doubting but that he that was powerfull to save us by His word, when we were nothing, wil be merciful also to these sonnes of Adam in his appointed time, in whom there bee remaining so many footsteps of Gods image. Wherefore you wealthy men of this world, whose bellies God hath filled with his hidden Treasure: trust not in uncertaine riches, neither cast your eyes upon them; for riches taketh her to her wings as an Eagle, and flieth into Heaven [Prov. 23.5]. But bee rich in good works ready to distribute or communicate [I Tim. 6.]. How shamefully doe the most of you either miserably detaine, or wickedly misspend Gods goods, whereof hee made you his stewards? The Covetous person seekes to hide his talent from the good of others and himselfe, honoring it as his God which should be his servant. The Prodigall men of our land make hast to fling away Gods treasures, as a greevous burthen which they desire to be eased of. Some make no scruple at it, to spend yearely an hundred pounds, two, three, five hundred and much more about dogs, hawkes and hounds and such sports; which will not give five hundred pence to the releef of Gods poore members. Others will not care to lose two or three thousand pound in a night, at Cards and Dice, and yet suffer poore Lazarus to perish in their streets for want of their Charitable Almes. Yea, divers will hyre gardens at great rents, and build stately houses for their whoores, which have no compassion on the Fatherlesse and widdowes. How much better were it for these men to remember the afflictions of Joseph, to extend the bowels of their compassion to the poore, the fatherles afflicted, and the like, than to misspend that which they must give a straight account of at the Day of Judgment. Are not these miserable people heere better than hawks, hounds, whores, and the like? O you that spend so much on them, thinke it no dishonor to your persons, no impoverishing to your state, to bestow somewhat to the raising up of Christs kingdome, and maintenance of so holy and heavenly an action as this is, God of his goodnesse, that hath given you abilitie to performe it, make you willing to help it forward with the best of your power.
For after many daies thou shalt find it. Hitherto have we spoken of the commandement and the severall branches of the same: Now follows the reason of this Commandement which the Holy Ghost useth heere to stir us up unto liberality, which is taken from the reward which wee shall have of our well-doing, for after many daies thou shalt find it, the some of which reason is, that though God doe not presently reward our well doing, but doe defer the requitall of it for many daies, yet thy good works shall not perish, but God at the appointed time, shall abundantly recompence thy liberality. Out of this reason wee may gather two notable conclusions touching the reward of liberality. First, wee may conclude from hence, that God doth not alwaies give a present reward to the good works; he doth for the most part defer his rewards manie days, sometimes many yeares, yea, sometimes even till death it self, when hee will never cease to reward us according to our works, with unspeakable joyes of blessed immortality. And the wisdome of God doth thus defer His rewards for most singular reasons. For if God should presently reward good works, who then would not be a prodigall giver, who would be a faithfull giver? For when a man is certaine of present gaine, he will not spare to give abundantly, because he seeth an exceeding profit ready to be put into his hands for so doing: and this would stirre up the most covetous wretch in the world to be liberall, gaping out of meere covetousnesse after an over-plus of reward. Wherefore God hath made the time and condition of his rewards doubtfull, that we might not bee covetous of the benefit: but that he might exercise our faith, and teach us with patience of hope to expect the appointed time of his reward. The principall point of perfect charity is, that we give in faith, whose true nature is to depend upon God for the good successe of our almes, for Faith is the ground of things that are hoped for, & the evidence of things that are not seene: [Heb. 11.1.] now if we should have the reward of good works in the view of our eies, and ready as it were to be put into our hands, what place would then be left for practice of faith whose object is unseene, whose hopes bee of afterwards? Wherefore S. Paul adviseth Timothy to charge them that bee rich in this world to be rich in good works, not for any present reward which they were to have, but onely for the benefits to come [I. Tim. 6.], laying up ( saith he) in store for themselves a good foundation, against the time to come, that they may obtaine eternall life. The message which God sent to Cornelius by his Angell is worthy to be noted of us: Thy prayers (saith the Angell to him) and thine almes are come up into remembrance before God [Acts 10.4]. Cornelius was a man that had given much almes to the poore, which God did not presently reward, for hee did seeme rather to have forgotten his liberality, wherefore now hee saith that his almes are come up into remembrance, the meaning whereof must needs bee that though God did seeme to neglect his liberality, yet he had not forgotten his almes, but now meant to reward them. The Shunamite woman that Provided a chamber, table, stoole, and candlesticke for Elisha [2. Kings. 4.10.]. And Tabitha, which is Dorcas, that was so full of good works and almes deeds which she did, were both at the first view rather punished for their good works, than presently rewarded: for the first lost her onely sonne, the second fell sicke, and untimely died [Acts 9.36.]. But marke the ende, God forgat not to requite them, even in this world, for the Shunamite had her son restored to her alive by the prayer of Elisha: and Dorcas by the ministery of S. Peter was raised again to life. By this that hath bin said, it may easily appeare, that God dooth out of his infinit wisdom defer the time, & prolong (many days for the most part) the reward of our almes and liberality; from whence we may learne, that it is the propertie of true charity to neglect the present reward. For Love the mother of liberality is not covetous, but is bountifull, it beleeveth all things, it hopeth all things [I. Cor. 13.]: and Faith, the grounde and first pedigree of right giving, doth not make hast, but reposeth it self upon the expectation of hope [Isaiah 28.16.]. Wherefore in communicating our goods, and distributing our almes, let us have no covetous eye, ayming at the present profit: but let us depend with faith upon the future blessing which shall come in due season. For if wee would thoroughly consider the thing as it is, wee shall find that all the reward of our well doing comes not from any merit or desert of ours, but only from the meere mercy of God. What man can say that the goods which he possesseth be his owne? Or what have wee that we have not received? When wee have made the most and best of our selves, we are but the stewards of Gods goods, and the Almners of his purse. Why then should wee looke to be payed extraordinarily for the giving of that which is not our owne, but which we are commanded by our master to bestow? We have more need to pray with David, O Lord, if thou bee extreame to marke what is done amisse, who may abide it? [Psalms 130.3.] And to confesse, that when wee have done all that we can, we are but unprofitable servants [Luke 17.20.]. It follows then that all the good which we doe receive, comes not from our deserts, but onely from the riches of Gods bountie, which rewardeth us according to our works done, without any desert of ours whatsoever. Wherefore the eyes of liberalitie doe not looke after the reward of the worke, how to give the almes, so as that they may bee pleasing to God, and of him accepted, and by him (if he see it good) rewarded.
Let then your liberall minds (you honorable and charitable Adventurers of Virginia) be stirred up to cast your almes on the waters of Virginia, without hope of present profit. The base affections of the Usurer will not looke for the overplus of encrease, until the covenanted time of his loane be expired. The husbandman casting his seed into the earth, waiteth upon God until harvest for a fruitful crop: verily, he that beleeveth doth not make haste. Be not overhastie with God: God will not yet reward you, that he may make you more famous in the world, that the world may see your zeale, and beare witnesse to the patience of your faith, not to greedie haste of covetous desires. The worke is honourable, and now more than ever sustained by most honorable men. O let us not then be weary of well-doing: fortie yeares were expired before Israel could plant in Canaan, and yet God had called them by the word of his mouth, had led them himself by an high hand. Yet may you boldly look for a shorter time of reward. The returnes which you have from the East Indies, though they be exceeding rich, yet is the adventure doubtfull, the expence chargeable, and the expectation of returne, of three years' continuance.
Let me advise you to be as liberall in adventure hither, and I dare affirme that by Gods assistance your profitable returnes shall be of more certainty, and much shorter expectation. Remember, I beseech you, how many lives were lost, how many yeares were spent, what discouragements, what great losses the Adventurers of Spaine and Portugale suffered and under-went, before they could be setled in the West Indies, or receive any profitable returne from thence: and now behold what rich loads, what profitable returnes are yearely shipped from thence. Shall our Nation, hitherto famous for noble attempts, and the honorable finishing of what they have undertaken, be now taxed for inconstancie, and blamed by the enemies of our protestation, for uncharitableness? Yea, shall we be a scorne among Princes, and a laughing stocke among our neighbour Nations for basely leaving what we honorably began; yea, for beginning a Discoverie, whose riches other men shall gather, so soone as wee have forsaken it? Awake you true-hearted English men, you servants of Jesus Christ, remember that the Plantation is Gods and the reward your Countries. Wherefore, aime not at your present privat gaine, but let the glory of God, whose Kingdome you now plant, & good of your Countrey, whose wealth you seeke, so farre prevaile with you, that you respect not a present returne of gaine for this yeare or two: but that you would more liberally supplie for a little space, this your Christian worke, which you so charitably began. As for those spirits of slander, whom the Divell hath stirred up to speak evill of this good Land, and to weaken the hands of our brethren, lest they should go forward and pull Satan out of his Dominions. Let them take heed, lest the punishment of Shammua and his nine companions, the faithlesse searchers of the Land of Canaan, doe befall them: and that they never live to taste of the commodities of this good Land.
But lest I may seeme to exhort you to an unprofitable Liberalitie, or to argue God of forgetfulness to those that serve Him faithfully: heare now what a comfortable promise of reward God hath made unto us in these words: which is, That after many days we shall find. If God should have commanded us to cast away without finding, some discouragement there might have been to our weake nature; but since God hath assuredly promised us, that we shall find in the end, who will not obey the command? who will not be Liberall? God hath been alwayes found true in his word, most faithfull in his promises. If God do promise Abraham that his seed shall inherit the Land of Canaan: Abrahams posteritie shall after many days in the appointed time be planted peaceably in the Land of Canaan [Genesis 12.]. If God promise Salomon wisdome and riches: Salomon shall be wiser and richer than any Prince of the earth [I. King. I.]. If God promiseth that he will not give his onely Sonne, that whosoever beleeveth in Him shall not perish, but have life everlasting: his Sonne Jesus Christ shall be borne into the world at the appointed time, and undergo the weight of Gods wrath for redemption of beleevers [John 3.]. Shall God then faithfully performe all his promises in so great matters and be unfaithfull in lesser matters: oh let no such base conceit of the Almightie enter into our minds, as to thinke that he that spared not his owne Sonne, to performe his promises to us, will be so unmindfull of us in so small a thing [Rom. 8.32.]. The promises of God are many, and most bountifull [Prov. 10.24.]. There is that scattereth ( saith Salomon) and is more encreased: and in the next verse hee addeth: The liberall person shall have plentie, or (as the Hebrew text is) The soule of blessing shall be made fat, and hee that watereth, shall also have raine. Most comfortable is the promise of Liberalitie set downe by Isaiah, Chap. 58:8. And if thou be liberall, thy light shall breake forth as the morning, and thy health shall grow speedily: thy righteousnesse shall goe before thee, and the Glory of the Lord shall embrace thee. What can be said more to encourage us? Yet Salomon addeth: He that hath mercie on the poore lendeth unto the Lord, and the Lord will recompense him what he hath given [Prov. 19.17.] Wherefore what is with Liberality given is not cast away but lent unto the Lord, unto Him that is able to repay us, for both the heaven and the earth are his [Psalms 24]; and who is also willing to recompence it, for he hath promised so to doe, and confirmed His word and promises by the Sacraments, his seals. We do willingly lend to a good Creditor, especially if we have his bond, with his hand and seale to pay us. What, shall we trust man, and distrust God? O far be it from us, my brethren, let no such distrust possesse our uncharitable minds. If we desire any more promises, let us observe what counsell Christ gave unto the Pharisies: Give almes of those things which you have, and behold, all things shall bee cleane unto you: [Luke 11.41.] which is as much, as if he should say, give almes, be liberall; for in so doing your goods shall be sanctified unto you, and you shall attaine to an holy and pure use of your goods. The Scripture is plaine in this point.
I will now come therefore to give you a view in briefe of those commodities and rewards that we shall find heere after not many but a few dayes.
First, our Liberalitie grounded on faith, and practiced in love, will be a meanes to helpe our soules forward in their passage to heaven; for they are the high-way and trodden path wherein wee must walke to everlasting life. Therefore, the more any man abounds in good workes, the more comfortable shall be his passage.
Secondly, they are such necessarie fruits of faith that faith cannot goe without them: for where no good workes are, there is no faith; and where true saving faith is, there will be shewed good workes; yea, we cannot hold true faith from doing good: reade for the proofe of this the Epistle of Saint James and the first Epistle of Saint John, besides the places which we have heretofore alleaged.
Thirdly, Liberalitie is a notable means against covetousnesse: for where true Charitie dwels, there is no room left for Covetousnesse to harbour in: two contraries cannot be both at once in one subject; God and the Divell will not dwell together, neither can Covetousnes and Liberalitie be linked together in one breast.
Thus shall the Lord abundantly reward our soules for our liberalitie, and many ways more besides if we bee truly charitable. But the bountie of God would have us to tast of some temporall blessings besides, and after a few daies, if we be cheerefull givers, returne a plentifull reward home unto us. Wherefore that I might content the longing minds of every man, I thought it fit in the last place to recite a few commodities which in short time we may finde here in Virginia for the charitie bestowed in this Plantation. The whole Continent of Virginia, situate within the degrees of 34. and 47. is a place beautified by God, with all the ornaments of nature, and enriched with his earthly treasures: that part of it which we already possesse, beginning at the Bay of Chaesapheac and stretching itself in northerly latitude to the degrees of 39. and 40. is interlined with seven most goodly Rivers, the least whereof is equall to our River of Thames: and all these Rivers are so neerely joined as that there is not very much distance of drie ground betweene either of them14; and those severall maine lands are every where watered with many veines or creekes of water, which sundry waies doe overthwart the land, and make it almost navigable from one River to the other. The commoditie whereof to those that shall inhabite this land is infinite in respect of the speedie and easie transportance of goods from one River to the other. I cannot better manifest it unto you, but in advising you to consider whither the water or land hath beene more beneficiall to the Low- Countries: but here we shall have the commoditie both of water and land more readie with lesse charge and labour than hath been bestowed by them in turning land into water. The river which wee inhabit (commonly called Powhatans River) ebbeth and floweth 140. miles into the maine; at the mouth whereof are the two Forts of Henrico and Charles: 42. miles upward is the first and mother Christian towne seated, called James- Towne, and 70. miles beyond that upward, is the new town of Henrico built, and so named in the memorie of the Noble Prince Henry of lasting and blessed memorie; tenne miles beyond this Towne is a place called the Fals, because the River hath there a great descent falling downe between many minerall Rocks which bee there; twelve miles farther beyond this place is there a Christall Rocke wherewith the Indians doe head many of their arrowes: three dayes journey from thence is there a rocke, or stonie hill found, which is in the top covered all over with a perfect and most rich silver oare. Our men that went to discover those parts had but two iron pickaxes with them, and those so ill tempered that the points of them turned againe and bowed at every stroake, so that wee could not search the entrailes of y place, yet some triall was made of that oare with good successe, and argument of much horpe. Sixe daies journey beyond this Mine, a great ridge of high hils doe runne along the maine land, not farre from whom the Indians report a great Sea doth runne, which we commonly call a South Sea, but in respect of our habitation is a West Sea, for there the Sunne setteth from us. The higher ground is much like unto the molde of France, clay and sand being proportionably mixed together at the top; but if we digge any depth (as wee have done for our bricks) wee finde it to bee redde clay, full of glistering spangles. There bee many rockie places in all quarters; and more than probable likeliehoods of rich Mines of all sorts: though I knew all, yet it were not convenient at this time that I should utter all, neither have we had meanes to search for anything as wee ought, thorough present want of men, and former wants of provision for the belly. As for Iron, Steele, Antimonium, and Terra sigillata, they have rather offered themselves to our eyes and hands, than bin sought for of us. The aire of the Countrey (especially about Henrico and upward) is very temperate and agreeth well with our bodies. The extremitie of summer is not so hoat as Spaine, nor the colde of winter so sharp as the frosts of England. The Spring and Harvest are the two longest seasons and most pleasant, the Summer and Winter are both but short: The Winter is for the most part drie and faire, but the summer watered often with many great and suddaine shewers of raine, whereby the cold of Winter is warmed, and the heate of summer cooled. Many have died with us heretofore thorough their owne filthinesse and want of bodilie comforts for sicke men; but now very few are sicke among us: not above three persons amongst all the inhabitants of Henrico; I would to God our soules were no sicker than our bodies, and that other of Gods blessings were as generall and common as the bodilie health. I have seene it by experience, and dare boldly affirme it that sicknesse doth more rage in England quarterly, than heere yearely. I doubt that hereafter when our Hospitall or Guest-house is built up, you heare of many more cut off by the sword of Justice (unless the better people be sent over) than perished by the diseases of the Countrey.
The naturall people of the Land are generallie such as you heard of before: a people to be feared of those that come upon them without defensive Armour, but otherwise faint-hearted (if they see their arrows cannot pearce) and easy to bee subdued. Shirts of Male, or quilted cotton coates are the best defense against them. There is but one or two of their pettie Kings, that for feare of us have desired our friendship; and those keepe good quarter with us being very pleasant amongst us, and (if occasion be) serviceable unto us. Our eldest friends be Pipsco and Choapoke, who are our overthwart neighbors at James-Towne, and have been friendly to us in our great want. The other is the Werewance of Chescheak, who but lately traded with us peaceably. If we were once the masters of their Countrey, and they stoode in fear of us (which might with few hands imployed about nothing else be in short time brought to passe) it were an easie matter to make them willingly to forsake the divell, to embrace the faith of Jesus Christ, and to be baptized. Besides, you cannot easilie judge how much they would be availeable to us in our discoveries of the Countrey, in our buildings and plantings, and quiet provision for our selves, when wee may peaceably passe from place to place without neede of armes or guarde.
The meanes for our people to live and subsist here of themselves are many and most certaine both for Beasts, Birds, Fish, and Hearbes. The beasts of the Countrey are for the most part wilde, as Lions, Beares, Wolves and Deare: Foxes blacke and read, Rakowns, Bevers, Possowns, Squerrels, Wilde- cats, whose skinnes are of great price, and Muske-Rats, which yeeld Musk as the Muske-cats doe. There be two kindes of beasts amongst these most strange: one of them is the female Possown, which will let forth her young out of her bellie, and take them up into her bellie againe at her pleasure without hurt to her self, neither think this to be a Travellers tale, but the very truth; for nature hath framed her fit for that service, my eyes have been witnes unto it, and we have sent of them and their young ones into England. The other strange conditioned creature is the flying Squirrell, which thorough the helpe of certaine broad flaps of skin growing on each side of her forelegs, will flie from tree to tree 20. or 30. paces at one flight and more, if she have the benefit of a small breath of winde. Besides these, since our comming hither, wee have brought both Kine, Goates, and Hogges, which prosper well, and would multiplie exceedingly if they might bee provided for. This Countrey besides is replenished with birds of al sorts which have bin the best sustenance of flesh, which our men have had since they came; also Eagels and Haukes of all sorts, amongst whom are Ausprech, fishing Hauke, and the Cormorant. The woods be every where ful of wilde Turkies which abound, and will runne as swift as a Grey-hound. In winter our fields be full of Cranes, Herons, Pigeons, Partridges, and Blackbirds: the rivers and creekes bee over spread every where with water foule of the greatest and least sort, as Swans, flocks of Geese & Brants, Duck and Mallard, Sheldrakes, Dyvers, &c. besides many other kinds of rare and delectable birds, whose names and natures I cannot yet recite, but we want the means to take them. The Rivers abound with Fish both small and great: the sea fish come into our Rivers in March, and continue untill the end of September: great sculles of Herings come in first: Shads of a great bignesse, and Rock fish follow them. Trouts, Base, Flounders, and other daintie fish come in before the other bee gone: then come multitudes of great Sturgeons, whereof we catch many, and should doe more, but that we want good nets answerable to the breadth and deapth of our Rivers: besides our channels are so foule in the bottome with great logs and trees, that we often break our nets upon them: I cannot reckon nor give proper names to the divers kinds of fresh fish in our rivers; I have caught with mine angle, Pike, Carpe, Eele, Perches of sixe severall kindes, Crea-fish, and the Torope or little turtle, besides many smaller kinds. Wherefore, since God hath filled the elements of the earth, aire, and waters with his creatures, good for our food and nourishment, let not the feare of starving hereafter, or of any great want, dishearten your valiant minds from comming to a place of so great plentie: If the Countrey were ours, and meanes for the taking of them (which shortly I hope shall bee brought to passe) then all these should be ours: we have them now, but we are fain to fight for them, then should we have them without that trouble. Feare not then to want food, but onely provide meanes to get it here. We have store of wild- foule in England, but what are they better for them that cannot come by them, wanting meanes to catch them, even such is and hath been our case heretofore. But these are not all the commodities which we may finde heere: for the earth will yeelde much more fruite to our industrious labours, as hath been proved by the Corne and other things which wee have planted this last yeare. I have made proofe of it with the helpe of three more, being a stranger to that busines and having not a bodie inured to such labour, and set so much corne horis succisnis unius septimanae, in the idle howres of one weeke, as will suffice me for bread one quarter of a yeare: and one commoditie is besides in this corne, that from the time of setting, unto the time of gathering, five moneths will abundantly suffice: for we set corne from the beginning of March, until the end of May, and reape or gather in Julie, August, & September. Our English seeds thrive very well heere, as Pease, Onions, Turnips, Cabbages, Coleflowers, Carrets, Time, Parseley, Hysop, Marioram, and many other whereof I have tasted and eaten.
What should I name unto you the divers sorts of Trees, sweete woods and Physicall plants: the divers kinds of Oakes and Walnut-trees. The Pines, Pitch-trees, Soape- ashes trees, Sassafras, Cedar, Ash, Maple, Cyprus, and many more which I dailie see, and admire at the beautie and riches which God hath bestowed upon this people that yet know not how to use them.
Wherefore you (right wise and noble Adventurers of Virginia) whose hearts God hath stirred up to build him a Temple, to make Him an house, to conquer a Kingdome for Him here: be not discouraged with those many lamentable assaults that the divell hath made against us: he now rageth most, because he knoweth his kingdome is to have a short end. Goe forward boldly, and remember that you fight under the banner of Jesus Christ, that you plant his Kingdome who hath already broken the Serpents head: God may deferre his temporall reward for a season, but be assured that in the end you shall find riches and honour in this world, and blessed immortality in the world to come. And you my brethren my fellow labourers, send up your earnest prayers to God for his Church in Virginia, that since his harvest heere is great, but the labourers few, hee would thrust forth labourers into his harvest; and pray also for mee that the ministration of his Gospell may be powrefull and effectuall by me to the salvation of many, and advancement of the kingdome of Jesus Christ to whom, with the Father and the holy Spirit, bee all honour and glorie forevermore, Amen.
Notes: Good News from Virginia
was sent to the Counsell and Company of Virginia, resident in England. First Hand Account of Virginia, 1575-1705.
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