Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Pacts anticipate "By the People" - 1630 The Watertown Covenant

The First Church in Watertown traces its origin to 1630. From the beginning, Governor Winthrop believed there would be only one Church for the whole Mass Bay Company. But for the winter of 1630, the colonists had taken the cattle upriver for grazing. From this distance, the winter journey to Shawmut on the Sabbath turned out to be too harsh. Therefore, services were conducted in Watertown, and in the same year, founding their own church. The Pilgrims had come to the New World in 1620 and established a congregational church and town named Plymouth. The first wave of colonists in the Massachusetts Bay Company established a church and town in Salem in 1629. Govenor Winthrop and the next wave of Mass Bay Colonists established Boston in 1630. In the first decade, as the colonists began to spread out from Boston to form new farming communities, the number of independent churches grew: Charlestown and Duxbury, 1632; Scituate, 1634; Concord, 1636; Taunton, 1637; Quincy and Barnstable, 1639; Sudbury, 1640; Norwell, 1642; Haverhill, 1645 and Malden, 1649.

The Watertown Covenant  July 30, 1630

We whose Names are hereto subscribed, having through God’s Mercy escaped out of Pollutions of the World, & been taken into the Society of his People, with all Thankfulness do hereby both with Heart & Hand acknowledge, That his Gracious Goodness, & Fatherly Care, towards us: And for further & more full Declaration thereof, to the present & future Ages, have undertaken (for the promoting of his Glory & the Churches Good, & the Honor of our Blessed Jesus, in our more full & free subjecting of our selves & ours, under his Gracious Government, in the practice of, & Obedience unto all his Holy Ordinances & Orders, which he Hath pleased to prescribe & impose upon us) a long & hazardous Voyage from East to West, from Old England in Europe, to New England in America that we may walk before him, & serve him, without Fear in Holiness & Righteousness, all the Days of our Lives: And being safely arrived here, & thus far onwards peaceably preserved by his special Providence, that we bring forth our Intentions into Actions, & perfect our Resolutions, in the Beginnings of some Just & Meet Executions; We have separated the Day above written from all other Services, & Dedicated it wholly to the Lord in Divine Employments, for a Day of Afflicting our Souls, & humbling our selves before the Lord, to seek him, & at his Hands, a Way to walk in, by Fasting & Prayer, that we might know what was Good in his Sight: And the Lord was intreated of us.

For in the End of the Day, after the finishing of our Publick Duties, we do all, before we depart, solemnly & with all our Hearts, personally, Man by Man for our selves & others (charging them before Christ & his Elect Angels, even them that are not here with us this Day, or are yet unborn, That they keep the Promise unblameably & faithfully unto the coming of our Lord Jesus) Promise, & enter into a sure Covenant with the Lord our God, & before him with one another, by Oath & serious Protestation made, to Renounce all Idolatry & Superstition, Will-Worship, all Humane Traditions & Inventions whatsoever, in the Worship of God; & forsaking all Evil Ways, do give ourselves wholly unto the Lord Jesus, to do him faithful Service, observing & keeping all his Statutes, Commands, & Ordinances, in all Matters concerning our Reformation; his Worship, Administrations, Ministry, & Government; & in the Carriage of our selves among our selves, & one another towards another, as he hath prescribed in his Holy Word. Further swearing to cleave unto that alone, & the true Sense & meaning thereof to the utmost of our Power, as unto the most clear Light & infallible Rule, & All-sufficient Canon, in all things that concern us in this our Way. In Witness of all, we do ex Animo, & in the presence of God, hereto set our Names, or Marks, in the Day & Year above written.