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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

Thorns in the Flesh of the Fathers

By Roger Clap (1609–1691)

[From Memoir of Capt. Roger Clap, written about 1676.]

I WILL now return unto what I began to hint unto you before, namely, that Satan and his instruments did malign us, and oppose our godly preachers, saying they were legal preachers, but themselves were for free grace and for the teachings of the Spirit; and they prevailed so by their flatteries and fair speeches, that they led away not only “silly women, laden with their lusts,” but many men also, and some of strong parts too, who were not ashamed to give out that our ministers were but legal preachers, and so endeavored to bring up an evil report upon our faithful preachers, that they themselves might be in high esteem; and many of them would presume to preach in private houses, both men and women, much like the Quakers. They would talk of the Spirit, and of revelations by the Spirit without the Word, as the Quakers do talk of the Light within them, rejecting the holy Scriptures. But God, by his servants assembled in a Synod at Cambridge in 1637, did discover his truth most plainly, to the establishment of his people, and the changing of some, and to the recovery of not a few, which had been drawn away with their dissimulations. Thus God delivered his people out of the snare of the devil at that time. Let us, and do you in your generations, bless the holy name of the Lord. “The snare is broken, and we and ours are delivered.” There were some that not only stood out obstinate against the truth, but continually reviled both our godly ministers and magistrates, and greatly troubled our Israel. But, by order of the General Court, they were banished out of this jurisdiction; and then had the churches rest, and were multiplied.

Many years after this, Satan made another assault upon God’s poor people here, by stirring up the Quakers to come amongst us, both men and women; who pretended holiness and perfection, saying they spake and acted by the Spirit and Light within, which (as they say) is their guide; and most blasphemously said that the Light within is the Christ, the Saviour, and deceived many to their persuasion. But, blessed be God, the Government and Churches both did bear witness against them and their loathsome and pernicious doctrine; for which they were banished out of this jurisdiction, not to return without license, upon pain of death. The reason of that law was because God’s people here could not worship the true and living God, as He hath appointed us in our public assemblies, without being disturbed by them; and other weighty reasons, as the dangerousness of their opinions, etc. Some of them presumed to return, to the loss of their lives for breaking that law, which was made for our peace and safety.

Now as Satan has been a lying spirit to deceive and ensnare the mind, to draw us from God by error, so hath he stirred up evil men to seek the hurt of this country. But God hath delivered his poor people here from time to time; sometimes by putting courage into our magistrates to punish those that did rebel, and sometimes God hath wrought for us by his providence other ways. Here was one Ratcliff spake boldly and wickedly against the Government and Governors here, using such words as some judged deserved death. He was for his wickedness whipped, and had both his ears cut off in Boston, A.D. 1631. I saw it done. There was one Morton, that was a pestilent fellow, a troubler of the country, who did not only seek our hurt here, but went to England and did his utmost there, by false reports against our Governor; but God wrought for us, and saved us, and caused all his designs to be of none effect. There arose up against us one Bull, who went to the eastward a trading, and turned pirate, and took a vessel or two, and plundered some planters thereabouts, and intended to return into the Bay, and do mischief to our magistrates here in Dorchester and other places. But, as they were weighing anchor, one of Mr. Short’s men shot from the shore and struck the principal actor dead, and the rest were filled with fear and horror. They having taken one Anthony Dicks, a master of a vessel, did endeavor to persuade him to pilot them unto Virginia; but he would not. They told him that they were filled with such fear and horror that they were afraid of the very rattling of the ropes; this, Mr. Dicks told me with his own mouth. These men fled eastward, and Bull himself got into England; but God destroyed this wretched man….

About that time, or not long after, God permitted Satan to stir up the Pequot Indians to kill divers Englishmen, as Mr. Oldham, Mr. Tilly, and others; and when the murderers were demanded, instead of delivering them, they proceeded to destroy more of our English about Connecticut; which put us upon sending out soldiers once and again, whom God prospered in their enterprises until the Pequot people were destroyed.