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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Courage of the Mothers in Israel

By Captain Edward Johnson (1599?–1672)

[From Wonder-working Providence of Sion’s Saviour in New England. 1654.]

THOSE honored persons who were now in place of Government, having the propagation of the Churches of Christ in their eye, labored by all means to make room for Inhabitants, knowing well that where the dead carcass is, thither will the Eagles resort. But herein they were much opposed by certain persons, whose greedy desire for land much hindered the work for a time, as indeed all such persons do at this very day—and let such take notice how these were cured of this distemper. Some were taken away by death, and then to be sure they had land enough, others fearing poverty and famishment, supposing the present scarcity would never be turned into plenty, removed themselves away, and so never beheld the great good the Lord hath done for his people.

But the valiant of the Lord waited with patience, and in the miss of beer supplied themselves with water, even the most honored, as well as others, contentedly rejoicing in a Cup of cold water, blessing the Lord that had given them the taste of that living water, and that they had not the water that slacks the thirst of their natural bodies, given them by measure, but might drink to the full; as also in the absence of bread they feasted themselves with fish. The Women once a day, as the tide gave way, resorted to the mussels, and clambanks, which are a fish as big as horse-mussels, where they daily gathered their families’ food with much heavenly discourse of the provisions Christ had formerly made for many thousands of his followers in the wilderness. Quoth one, “My Husband hath travelled as far as Plymouth (which is near forty miles), and hath with great toil brought a little corn home with him, and before that is spent the Lord will assuredly provide.” Quoth the other, “Our last peck of meal is now in the oven at home a-baking, and many of our godly Neighbors have quite spent all, and we owe one loaf of that little we have.” Then spake a third, “My Husband hath ventured himself among the Indians for corn, and can get none, as also our honored Governor hath distributed his so far, that a day or two more will put an end to his store, and all the rest, and yet methinks our Children are as cheerful, fat, and lusty with feeding upon those mussels, clambanks and other fish, as they were in England with their fill of bread, which makes me cheerful in the Lord’s providing for us, being further confirmed by the exhortation of our Pastor to trust the Lord with providing for us; whose is the earth and the fulness thereof.”

And as they were encouraging one another in Christ’s careful providing for them, they lift up their eyes and saw two ships coming in, and presently this news came to their ears, that they were come from Jacland full of victuals. Now their poor hearts were not so much refreshed in regard of the food they saw they were like to have, as their souls rejoiced in that Christ would now manifest himself to be the Commissary-General of this his Army, and that he should honor them so far as to be poor sutlers for his camp. They soon up with their mussels, and hie them home to stay their hungry stomachs. After this manner did Christ many times graciously provide for this his people, even at the last cast.