EXHIBITED TO THE HIGH COVRT OF PARLIAMEN [...] now assembled, for the propa­gating of the Gospel in America, and the West Indies; and for the setling of our Plantations there; which Petition is appro­ved by 70 able English Divines. Also by Master Alexander Henderson, and some other worthy Ministers of Scotland.

Printed in the yeare, 1641.

TO THE MOST HIHG AND HONOVRABLE Court of PARLIAMENT now assembled: The humble PETITION of Wlliam Castell, Parson of Courtenhall 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 [Page 6] 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 the land of those Infidels, or of gaine by Commerce, may well make this and all other Christian Kingdomes confesse, they have beene exceeding remisse 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 Vnity, to doe this, is to be 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. [Page 7] And to make those (who were the most detesta­ble Synagogues of Sathan) delightfull 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 darkenesse, and in the shadow of death, continually assaulted and devoured by the Dra­gon, whose greatest delight is to bring others with himselfeinto 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 [Page 8] 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 Iland, how miracu­lously, hee hath lately protected us from Spa­nish Invafions, 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 Gods 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 Ilands called Hispaniola of 200000 of men, as Benzo (in his Italian Historie) affirmeth, they had not [Page 9] 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 [Page 10] 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 over-swelling 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 by us, as 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 Ile of Providence, but the yeare last past.

[Page 11] 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 weakely setled Plantations. the liberties, live­lihood, and lives of many thousands our deare brethren, and countrey men: 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, untill 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 Coloniesis no smal 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 time 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, [Page 12] 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 Herbes 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, Goat­skins, 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 due 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 Spaniard will bee troublesome to our Planta­tions, or shall (as it is generally conceived) bee found an Enemy to this Kingdome, there is no way more likely to secure England, then by having a strong Navie there; hereby wee [Page 13] may come to share, if not utterly to defeat him of that vaste Indian Treasure, wherewith hee setteth on fire so great a part of the Christian World, corrupteth many Counsellors of state, supporteth the Papacie, and generally per­plexeth all reformed Churches.

Nor need any scrupulous quere bee made, whether wee may not assault an enemy in any place, or not esteeme them such as shall assault us in those places, where wee have as much to doe as they. The Spaniard claimeth indeed an Interest, little lesse then hereditarie in al­most all America, and the West Indies, but it is but by vertue of the Popes grant, which is nothing worth, as was long since determi­ned by Queene Elizabeth, and her Councell; so as for the Spaniard to debarre us in the li­berty of our Plantations, or freedome of commerce in those spacious countries, were over proudly to take upon him; and for us to permit it were over-much to yeeld of our own right.

Especially, when we may, as now we may, so easily helpe our selves: For your Petitioner conceiveth there is no great difficulty in the pre­paration here, or tediousnesse in the passage thither, or hazard when wee come there. The preparation of men and shipping, in respect of the daily happy expected accord betweene us [Page 14] and the Scots, is (upon the matter) already made; and as for money it is in the power of this Honourable House to give sufficient, with­out any grievance, or dislike of the Common­wealth, who (undoubtedly) in the generall will thinke nothing grievous, which shall bee concluded by your wisedomes, expedient to such a pious and charitable worke.

And as for the passage, how can it be thought either tedious or dangerous. it being ordinarily but six weekes sayle, in a sea much more se­cure from Pirats, and much more free from shipwrack, and enemies coasts, then our ten or twelve moneths voyage into the East-Indies. And as for our good successe there, wee need not feare it. The natives being now every where more then ever, out of an inveterate ha­tred to the Spaniard, ready and glad to enter­taine us. Our best friends the Netherlanders be­ing with eight and twenty ships gone before to assist and further us. And which is much more, our going with a generall consent in Gods cause, for the promoting of the Gos­pel, and inlarging of his Church, may assure us of a more then ordinary protection and di­rection. That hitherto wee have beene lesse successefull in our voyage that way, wee may justy impute it to this, that as yet they have not beene undertaken with such a generall con­sent, [Page 15] and with such a full reference to Gods glory as was requisite.

And so your Petitioner having delivered his apprehension herein more briefely, then so weighty a matter might well require, hee submits all the premises to your more full de­liberation and conclusion, which hee humbly prayeth, may bee with all convenient speed; the onely best way under God to make it the better successefull.

[Page 16] WEe whose names are here under-writ­ten, having beene upon occasion ac­quainted with a motion intended to bee made by Master William Castell, Parson of Courtenhall in the county of Northampton, to the High and honourable Court of Parliament now assem­bled, concerning the propagation of the glo­rious Gospel of Christ in America. As wee doe well approve of the motion; so we doe humbly desire his reasons may bee duly consi­dered: And so good a worke furthered their wiser judgements may resolve upon, to which we humbly submit the same.

  • Iohn Moseley. D. D
  • Ra: Brownricke. D. D
  • Thomas Bambrig. D. D
  • Robert Sanderson. D. D
  • Richard Alleyne. D. D
  • Daniel Featly. D. D
  • Mathias Styles. D D
  • Edmond Stanton. D. D
  • Stephen Denison. D. D
  • Edw. Williamot. D. D
  • Ionathan Brown. D. D
  • Iasper Fisher. D. D
  • Hanniball Potter. D. D
  • Anthony Clapton. D. D
  • Thomas Drayton. D. D
  • Iohn Grant. D. D
Ministers of LONDON.
  • George Walker.
  • Iames Palmer.
  • Edward Marbury.
  • Ioseph Caryll.
  • Edmond Calamy.
  • Adoniram Byfield.
  • William Price.
  • Richard Maden.
  • Iames Batty.
  • Math: Griffeth.
  • Ephraim Paget.
  • Robert Pory.
  • William Ianeway.
  • Nathaniell Barry.
Ministers of severall other Counties.
  • [Page 17]Iohn White. Dorset-shire.
  • William Ford. Somerset-shire.
  • Iohn Pyns.Somerset-shire.
  • Zachery Caudry. Lestershire.
  • Henry Paynter. Devonshire.
  • Stephen Marshall Essex.
  • Samuell Ioyner. Essex.
  • Iohn Ward. Suffolke.
  • Ier. Burroughes. Northfolke.
  • Iohn Rawlinson. Darby.
  • Moses Capell. Kent.
  • William Rhet. Kent.
  • Francis Charliot. Buck.
  • Richard Gifford. Herford.
  • William Englesby Herford.
Other worthy Ministers of the Diocesse of Peterburrough, where the Petitioner liveth.
  • Daniel Caudery.
  • Ieremy Whittaker.
  • Iohn Barry.
  • Iames Cranford.
  • Samuel Craddock.
  • David Ensme.
  • Edmond Castell.
  • Samuel Moyle.
  • Daniel Rogers.
  • Benjamin Tomkins.
  • Richard Cooke.
  • Richard True-man.
  • Iohn Guderick.
  • William Spencer.
  • [Page 18]Edmond Iames.
  • Iohn Baynard.
  • George Iay.
  • Francis Presse.
  • Iohn Guderick.
  • Miles Berket.
  • Francis Atturbury.
  • Ieremy Stephens.
  • Iohn Ward
  • Peter Fawtract.
  • William Malkinson.

The motion made by Master William Castell, Minister of the Gospel, for propagating of the blessed Evangell of Christ our Lord, and Sa­viour in America, wee conceive in the generall to bee most pious, Christian and charitable. And therefore worthy to be seriously conside­red, of all that love the glorious name of Christ, and are zealous of the salvation of soules, which are without Christ, and without God in the world, wishing the opportunity and fit season: the instruments and meanes. And all things necessary for the prosecution of so pious a worke, to bee considered by the wise­domes of Churches and civill powers, whom God hath called, and enabled with Piety, Pru­dence, and Peace, for matters of publicke con­cernment, and of so great Importance. And [Page 19] beseeching the Lord to blesse all their consulta­tions, and proceedings for the advancing, and e­stablishing the Kingdome of Iesus Christ.

  • Alexander Henderson.
  • Robert Blare.
  • R. Baillie.
  • M. Gillaspie.
  • N. Smyth.
  • M. Borthrick.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.