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tirement, so sweet and so secure, and every way so well fitted for a place of education and study, as Bermuda.
Thus much the writer hereof thought himself obliged to say of his associates : for himself, he can only say, that as he values no preferment upon earth so much as that of being employed in the execution of his design ; so he hopes to make up for other defects, oy the sincerity of his endeavours. In Europe, the protestant religion hath of late
years considerably lost ground, and America seems the likeliest place wherein to make up for what hath been lost in Europe, provided the proper methods are taken ; otherwise the Spanish missionaries in the south, and the French in the north, are making such a progress, as may one day spread the religion of Rome, and with it the usual hatred to protestants, throughout all the savage nations of America; which would probably end in the utter extirpation of our colonies, on the safety whereof depends so much of the nation's wealth, and so considerable a branch of his Majesty's revenue.
But if this scheme were pursued, it would in all probability have much greater influence on the Americans, than the utmost endeavours of popish emissaries can possibly have ; who from the difference of country, language, and interest, must lie under far greater difficulties and discouragements than those whom we suppose yearly sent out from Bermuda to preach among their countrymen.
It cannot indeed be denied, that the great number of poor regulars, inured to hard living, and brought up in an implicit obedience to their superiors, hath hitherto given the church of Rome, in regard to her missions, great advantage over the reformed churches. But from what hath been said, it is, I think, evident, that this advantage may be overbalanced by our employing American missionaries.
Nor is the honour of the crown, nation, and church
of England, unconcerned in this scheme ; which, it is to be hoped, will remove the reproach we have so long lain under, that we fall as far short of our neighbours of the Romish communion in zeal for propagating religion, as we surpass them in the soundness
and purity of it. And at the same time, that the doing what may be so easily done, takes away our reproach ; it will cast no small lustre on his Majesty's reign, and derive a blessing from Heaven on his administration, and those who live under the influence thereof.
Men of narrow minds have a peculiar talent at objection, being never at a loss for something to say against whatsoever is not of their own proposing. And perhaps it will be said, in opposition to this proposal, that if we thought ourselves capable of gaining converts to the church, we ought to begin with infidels, papists, and dissenters of all denominations, at home, and to make proselytes of these before we think of foreigners; and that therefore our scheme is against duty. And farther, that considering the great opposition, which is found on the part of those who differ from us at home, no success can be expected among savages abroad, and that therefore it is against reason and experience. In answer to this I say, that religion like light is im
I parted without being diminished. That whatever is done abroad, can be no hinderance or let to the conversion of infidels or others at home. That those who engage in this affair imagine they will not be missed, where there is no want of schools or clergy; but that they may be of singular service in countries but thinly supplied with either, or altogether deprived of both : that our colonies being of the same blood, language, and religion, with ourselves, are in effect our countrymen. But that Christian charity, not being limited by those regards, doth extend to all mankind. And this may serve for an answer to the first point, that our design is against -duty.
To the second point I answer ; that ignorance is not so incurable as error ; that you must pull down as well as build, erase as well as imprint, in order to make proselytes at home: whereas, the savage Americans, if they are in a state purely natural, and unimproved by education, they are also unincumbered with all that rub. bish of superstition and prejudice, which is the effect of a wrong one. As they are less instructed, they are withal less conceited, and more teachable. And not being violently attached to any false system of their own, are so much the fitter to receive that which is true. Hence it is evident, that success abroad ought not to be measured by that which we observe at home, and that the inference which was made from the difficulty of the one to the impossibility of the other, is altogether groundless.
It hath more the appearance of reason to object (what will possibly be objected by some) that this scheme hath been already tried to no purpose, several Indians having returned to their savage manners after they had been taught to write and read, and instructed in the Christian religion; a clear proof that their natural stupidity is not to be overcome by education.
In answer to this, I say, that the scheme now proposed hath never been tried, forasmuch as a thorough education in religion and morality, in Divine and human learning, doth not appear to have been ever given to any savage American: that much is to be hoped from a man ripe in years, and well grounded in religion and useful knowledge, while little or nothing can be expected from a youth but slightly instructed in the elements of either: that from the miscarriage or gross stupidity of some, a general incapacity of all Americans cannot be fairly inferred : that they shew as much natural sense as other uncultivated nations : that the empires of Mexico and Peru were evident proofs of their capacity, in which there appeared a relish of politics, and a degree of art and politeness, which no European people were ever known to have arrived at without the use of letters or of iron, and which some perhaps have fallen short of with both those advantages.
To what hath been said, it may not be improper to add, that young Americans, educated in an island at some distance from their own country, will more easily be kept under discipline till they have attained a complete education, than on the continent; where they might find opportunities of running away to their countrymen, and returning to their brutal customs, before they were thoroughly imbued with good principles and habits.
It must nevertheless be acknowledged a difficult attempt, to plant religion among the Americans, so long as they continue their wild and roving life. He who is obliged to hunt for his daily food, will have little curiosity or leisure to receive instruction. It would seein therefore the right way, to introduce religion and civil life at the same time into that part of the world: either attempt will assist and promote the other. Those therefore of the young savages, who upon trial are found less likely to improve by academical studies, may be taught
, agriculture, or the most necessary trades. And when husbandmen, weavers, carpenters, and the like, have planted those useful arts among their savage countrymen, and taught them to live in settled habitations, to canton out their land and till it, to provide vegetable food of all kinds, to preserve flocks and herds of cattle, to make convenient houses, and to clothe themselves decently: this will assist the spreading the gospel among them; this will dispose them to social virtues, and enable them to see and to feel the advantages of a religious and civil education.
And that this view of propagating the gospel and civil life among the savage nations of America, was a principal motive which induced the crown to send the first English colonies thither, doth appear from the charter granted by King James I. to the adventurers in Virginia. (See Purchas's Pilgrims, vol. iv. b. i. c. ix.) And it is now but just (what might then seem charitable) that these poor creatures should receive some advantage with respect to their spiritual interests, from those who have so much improved their temporal, by settling among them.
It is most true, nowithstanding our present corruptions, that there are to be found in no country under the sun men of better inclinations, or greater abilities for doing good, than in England. But it is as true, that success, in many cases, depends not upon zeal, industry, wealth, learning, or the like faculties, so much as on the method wherein these are applied. We often see a small proportion of labour and expense in one way bring that about, which in others a much greater share of both could never effect. It hath been my endeavour to discover this way or method in the present case. What hath been done, I submit to the judgment of all good and reasonable men ; who, I am persuaded, will never reject or discourage a proposal of this nature, on the score of slight objections, surinises, or difficulties, and thereby render themselves chargeable with the having prevented those good effects which might otherwise have been produced by it.
For it is, after all, possible, that unforeseen difficulties may arise in the prosecution of this design, many things may retard, and many things may threaten to obstruct it; but there is hardly any enterprise or scheme whatsoever, for the public good, in which difficulties are not often shewing themselves, and as often overcome by the blessing of God, upon the prudence and resolution of the undertakers; though, for aught that appears, the present scheme is as likely to succeed, and attended with as few difficulties, as any of this kind can possibly be.