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Court of Parliament
The humble PETITION of William Castell, Parson of Cour
tenhall in Northamptonshire, for the propagating of the
Gospel in America.
IN all humble manner sheweth unto your approved wisedomes, the great and generall neglect of this Kingdome, in not propagating the glorious Gospel in America, a maine part of the world: Indeed the undertaking of the worke is (in the generall) acknowledged pious and charitable ; but the small prosecution that hath hitherto beene made of it, either by us, or others, having as yet) never beene generally undertaken in pitty to mens soules, but in hope to possesse land of those Infidels, or of gaine by Commerce, may well make this and all other Christian Kingdomes confess, they have beene exceeding reroisse in performing this so religious, so great, so necessary a worke.
May it therefore please your wisedomes to give your Petitioner leave to propose briefly, (as the nature of a Petition requireth) the more then ordinary piety, and charity of the worke; the evident necessity, and benefit of undertaking, together with the easinesse of effecting.
A greater expression of piety (your Petitioner conceiveth) there cannot be, then to make God known where he was never spoken nor thought of, to advance the Scepter of Christs Kingdome. And now againe to reduce those, who (at first) were created after the Image of God from the manifest worship of devils; To acknowledge and adore the blessed Trinitie in \nity, to doe this, istobe happy Instruments of effecting those often repeated promises of God, in making all nations blessed by the comming of Christ, and by sending his word to all lands: it is to inlarge greatly the pale of the Church, And to make those (who were the most detestable Synagogues of Sathan) delightful Temples of the Holy Ghost.
It was a high point of piety in the Queen of the South, to come from the utmost parts of the world to heare the wisedome of Salomon. And so it was in Abraham, to leave his native countrey for the better, and more free service of his God.
And certainely it will bee esteemed no lesse in those, who (either in their persons or purses) shall religiously endeavour to make millions of those silly seduced Americans, to heare, understand and practise the mysterie of godlinesse.
And as is the piety, such is the charity of the worke, exceeding great, to no lesse then the immortall soules of innumerable men, who still sit in darknesse, and in the shadow of death, continually assaulted and devoured by the Dragon, whose greatest delight is to bring others with himselfe into the same irrecoverable gulfe of perdition, what those blind and spirituall distressed Americans are, we were, and so had continued had not Apostolicall men afforded greater charity unto us, Divisis orbe Britannis, by long Iourneying, and not without great hazard of their lives, then (as yet) hath beene shewed by us unto them.
Wee are not indeed indued with such eminent extraordinary gifts, as were the Primitive Christians; but yet if it be duly considered) how fully and how purely God hath imparted his Gospel unto this Hand, how miraculously, bee hath lately protected us from Spanish Invasions, and Popish conspiracies: and how (at this time) wee abound in shipping, and all manner of provision for Sea: It will bee found, that we (of all nations) are most for the worke, and most ingaged to doe it in due thankfulnesse to God.
Nor is the Arme of the Lord shortned, or his wonted bounty so restrained, but that undertaking the voyage principally for Gpds glory, and in compassion to mens soules, we may expect a more then an ordinary blessing from him, whose usuall custome is to honour those that honour him, and most abundantly even in this life to recompence such religious undertakings.
The Spaniard boasteth much of what hee hath already done in this kind, but their owne Authors report their unchristian behaviour, especially their monstrous cruelties to be such, as they caused the Infidels to detest the name of Christ. Your wisedomes may judge of the Lyon by his claw. In one of their Hands called Hispaniola of 200000 of men, as Benzo (in his Italian Historie) affirmeth, they had not left 150 soules. And Lipsius justly complayneth, that wheresoever they came, they cut downe men as they did corne without any compassion. And as for those that survived, they bought their lives at deare rates: for they put them to beare, their carriages from place to place; and if they fayled by the way, they either miserably dismembred, or killed them out-right. They lodged them like bruite beasts under the planks of their ships, till their flesh rotted from their backs: And if any failed in the full performance of his daily taske, hee was sure to bee whipped till his body distilled with goar blood, and then poured they in either molten pitch or scalding oyle to supple him.
A very strange, and unlikely way to worke Infidels unto the faith, neither yet could they (if they would) impart unto others the Gospel in the truth and purity thereof, who have it not themselves, but very corruptly, accompanied with many idle, absurd, idolatrous Inventions of their owne, which are but as so many superstructures wickedly oppressing, if not utterly subverting the very foundations of Christianity.
And although some of the reformed religion, English, Scotch, French, and Dutch, have already taken up their habitations in those parts, yet hath their going thither (as yet) beene to small purpose, for the converting of those nations, either for that they have placed themselves but in the skirts of America, where there are but few natives (as those of new England, or else for want of able and conscionable Ministers (as in Virginia) they themselves are become exceeding rude, more likely to turne Heathen, then to turne others to the Christian faith.
Besides, there is a little or no hope our Plantations there should be of any long continuance, since here in England for some yeares last past, they have beene rather diversly hindred, then any wayes furthered, how, and by whom, your wisedomes, either have or will shortly find out, but this is evident, that the proud superstitious Spaniard (who hateth their religion, and feareth their neighbours, will spare them no longer then (to his overswelling greatnesse) shall seem good: And in the judgement of most judicious Travellers that way, they may (if they will) easily enough suppresse and destroy all other our Plantations, as they did of late, that of Saint Christophers, when they were no way provoked hy us, they will now pretend they are, by a latter taking of Trinidado, and the losse of more then 150. of their men there. At least they will bee sure to be desperately assaulted, as was the He of Providence, but the yeare last past.
Whence your Petitioner offereth unto your Honourable considerations a third Argument (drawne from meere necessity) that as you tender the happy proceeding of those (as yet) but weakly settled Plantations, the liberties, livelihood, and lives of many thousands our deare brethren, and countrymen: And which is yet, more the prosperous progress of the gospel, you would be pleased to consult of such an able and speedy supply, as may secure them against the now expected cruelty of the Spaniard.
To which needfull supply the better and sooner to induce your wisedomes your Petitioner desireth your yet a little further patience, until hee hath shewed some temporall benefits that are thereby like to acrew unto this Kingdome, together with the easinesse of effecting.
When a Kingdom beginneth to be over-burthened with a multitude of people (as England and Scotland now do) to have a convenient place where to send forth Colonies is no small benefit: And such are the North-east and North-west parts of America, betweene the degrees of 25. and 45. of the North latitude, which, at this tune doe even offer themselves unto us, to bee protected by us, against the knowne cruelty of the over-neare approaching Spaniard.
A very large tract of ground containing spacious, healthfull, pleasant, and fruitfull countries, not only apt, but already provided of all things necessary for mans sustentation, Corne, Grasse, and wholsome cattell in good competencie; but Fish, Fowle, Fruits and Herbs in abundant variety.
If wee should looke no further, then the South of Virginia, (which is our owne) wee shall find there all manner of provision for life besides Merchantable Commodities, Silke, Vines, Cotton, Tobacco, Deer-skins, Goat-skins, rich Furre, and Beavers good store, Timber, Brasse, Iron, Pitch, Tarre, Rosin; and almost all things necessary for shipping, which if they shall bee employed that way; they who are sent away may (with Gods blessing) within short time in duo recompence of their setting forth, returne this Kingdome store of silver and gold, pearles and precious stones; for undoubtedly (if there be not a generall mistake in all Authors, who have written of these places) such treasure is to bee had, if not there, yet in places not farre remote, where (as yet) the Spaniard hath nothing to doe. And in case the Span