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by William Bradford

Divers Recollection of Puritan Strictness

MR. JOHNSONof whom something was spoken beforewas pastor of the church ofGod at Amsterdam. A very grave man he wasand an able teacherand was the mostsolemn in all his administrations that we have seen anyand especially indispensing the seals of the covenantboth baptism and the Lord's supper. And agood disputant he was. We heard Mr. Smith upon occasion saythat he waspersuaded no men living were able to maintain a cause against those two menmeaning Mr. Johnson and Mr. Ainsworthif they had not the truth on their side.Heby reason of many dissensions that fell out in the churchand the subtiltyof one of the elders of the samecame after many years to alter his judgmentabout the government of the churchand his practice thereuponwhich caused adivision amongst them....

In our time his wife was a grave matronand very modest both in her appareland all her demeanorready to any good works in her placeand helpful to manyespecially the poorand an ornament to his calling. She was a young widow whenhe married herand had been a merchant's wifeby whom he had a good estateand was a godly woman; and because she wore such apparel as she had beenformerly used towhich were neither excessive nor immodestfor their chiefestexceptions were against her wearing of some whalebone in the bodice and sleevesof her gowncorked shoesand other such like things as the citizens of herrank then used to wear. And althoughfor offense sakeshe and he were willingto reform the fashions of them so far as might be without spoiling of theirgarmentsyet it would not content them except they came full up to their size.Such was the strictness or rigidness (as now the term goes) of some in thosetimesas we can by experience and of our own knowledge show in other instances.We shall for brevity sake only show one.

We were in the company of a godly man that had been a long time prisoner atNorwich for this causeand was by Judge Cooke set at liberty. After going intothe country he visited his friendsand returning that way again to go into theLow Countries by ship at Yarmouthand so desired some of us to turn in with himto the house of an ancient woman in the citywho had been very kind and helpfulto him in his sufferings. She knowing his voice made him very welcomeand thosewith him. But after some time of their entertainmentbeing ready to departshecame up to him and felt of his band(for her eyes were dim with age) andperceiving it was something stiffened with starchshe was much displeasedandreproved him very sharplyfearing God would not prosper his journey. Yet theman was a plain countrymanclad in gray russetwithout either welt or guard(asthe proverb is) and the band he wore scarce worth threepencemade of their ownhomespinning; and he was godly and humble as he was plain. What would suchprofessorsif they were now livingsay to the excess of our times?....

At Amsterdambefore their division and breachthey were about three hundredcommunicantsand they had for their pastor and teacher those two eminent menbefore namedand in our time four grave men for ruling eldersand three ableand godly men for deaconsone ancient widow for a deaconesswho did themservice many yearsthough she was sixty years of age when she was chosen. Shehonored her place and was an ornament to the congregation. She usually sat in aconvenient place in the congregationwith a little birchen rod in her handandkept little children in great awe from disturbing the congregation. She didfrequently visit the sick and weakespecially womenandas there was needcalling out maids and young women to watch and do them other helps as theirnecessity did require; and if they were poorshe would gather relief for themof those that were ableor acquaint the deacons; and she was obeyed as a motherin Israel and an officer of Christ.

The End