Presumed original version of John Rolfe letter
When your leisure shall best serve you to pvse theise lynes, I trust in God the begynninge will not strike you into a greater admiracon, then the ende will gyve you good Content. It is a matter of noe small moment, Conceminge myne owne pticular, wch heare I impart vnto you, and wch toucheth me soe nearely as the tendernes of my Salvacon. Howebeit I freely subiect myselfe to yor grave & mature Iudgement, deliberacon, approbacon, and determynacon, assuringe my selfe of yor zealous admonicons & godly Comforts; either pswadinge me to desist, or encouraginge me to psist herein wth a religious feare, & godly Care, ffor wth (from the very instant that this beganne to roote it selfe wthin the secrett bosome of my hart) my dailye & earnest prayers have byn, still are, and over shalbe
powred foorth wth a sincere & godly zeale to be directed, ayded and governed in all my thoughts, woords, and deeds, to the glory of God, and for my eternall Consolacon to psever wherein I never had more neede, nor (till nowe) coulde ever ymagyne to have byn moved wth the lyke occasion
But (my Case standinge as it doth) what better wordly refuge can I heere seeke, then to shelter my selfe vnder the safety of yor favourable pteccon? and didd not my Cause pceede from an vnspotted & vndefiled Conscience) I shoulde not dare to offer to your view & approved Iudgement these passions of my troubled Soule, soe full of feare and tremblinge is hipocrisie &*dissimulacon. But knoweinge myne owne innocency, & godly fervor in the whole prosecucon hereof, I doubt not of yor
beninge acceptance and Clement construction. As for malitious depravors, & turbulent Spiritts, to whome nothinge Is tastefull, but what pleaseth there vnsavoury palate, I passe not for them" beinge well assured (by the often tryall and provinge my selfe in my holiest meditacons and prayers) that I ame called herevnto by the spiritt of God* and it shalbe sufficient for me to be protected by yorselfe in all vertuous & pious endeavors. And for my more happy proceedinge herein my daily oblacons shalbe ever addressed to bringe to passe soe good effects that yor selfe and all the worlde maye truely saye, this is ye woorke of God and merveilous in our eyes.
But to avoide teadious preambles, and to come more neare the
matter, ffirst suffer me wth yor patience to sweepe & make cleane the waye wherein I walke from all suspicons and doubte wch maye lye covered therein, and faithfully to reveale vnto you what shoulde move me therevnto.
Lett therefore this my well advised ptestacon, wch here I make betweene God and my owne Conscience be a sufficient wyttnes, at the dreadfull day od Iudgement (when the secretts of all mens harts shalbe opened) to condemne me herein yf my chief e intent & purpose be not to stryve with all
my power of boddy and mynde in the vndertakinge of soe waighty a matter (noe waye leade soe farr foorth as mans weaknes may pmytt, wth thevnbridled desire of Carnall affection) for the good of the Plantacon, the honor of or Countrye, for the glorye of God, for myne owne salvacon, and for the Convertinge to the true knowledge of God and Iesus Christ an vnbeleivinge Creature, namely Pohahuntas" To whom emy hart and best thoughts are and have byn a longe tyme soe intangled & inthralled in soe intricate a Laborinth, that I was even awearied to vnwynde my selfe thereout. But Almighty God whoe never faileth his that truely invocate his
holy name, hathe opened the Gate and led my be the hande, that I might playnely see and discerne the safest pathes wherein to treade.
To you therefore (most noble Sr) the Patron and ff ather of vs in this Countrye, doe I vtter the effects of my longe
(wch haue made a mighty warre in my medytacons) and here I doe truely relate to what issue this dangerous Combatt is come vnto wherein I have not onely examyned, but throughly tryed & pared my thoughts even to the Quicke, before I coulde fynde and fitt wholesome and apt applicacons to Cure soe dangerous an vlcer. I never failed to offer my dailye and faithfull prayers to God for hys sacred and holye assistance, I forgatt not to sett before myne eyes the frailtie of mankynde,
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his proxies to ill, his indulgency of wicked thoughts wth many other impfections, wherein man is daylie insnared, and often
tymes overthrowen, and them Compared wth my present estate. Woe am I ignorant of the heavy displeasure wch Almighty God Conceyved against the Sonnes of Leuie and Israeli for marrienge of straunge wyves, nor of the inconvenyences wch maye thereby anise, wih other the lyke good mocons wch made me looke aboute warely and with circuspection, into the grounde and principall agitacons wch thus shoulde provoke me to be in love wth one, whose education hath byn rude, her manners barbarous, her generacon Cursed, and soe discrepant in all nutriture from my selfe, that often tymes with feare and tremblinge Ihaue ended my pryvate Controversie wth this, Surely theise are wicked instigations hatched by him whoe seeketh and delighteth in mans distinction, And soe wth fervent prayers to be ever preserved from such diabolicall assaults I have taken some rest.
Thus when I haue thought, I have onteyned my peace and Quyetnes beholde, an other, but more gratious temptacon hath made breaches into my holiest and strongest meditacons with
which I have byn putt to a newe tryall, in the stricter manner then the former, ffor (besides the many passions and sufferings wch I have daylie, howerly, yea in my sleepe endured even awakeinge me to astonishment,
taxinge me wth remissnes and Carelessnes refusinge and neglectinge to pforme, the duety of a good Christian, pullinge me by the eare, and cryene why doest not thowe endeavour to make her a Christian; and these haue
happened to my greater wonder, even when shee hath byn farthest sepated from me, wch in Comon reason (were it not an
vndoubted woorke of god) might breede a forgettfullnes of a farre more woorthy Creature) besides this I saye, the holy Spiritt of God hath often demaunded of me, why I was Created? if not for transitory pleasures and worldly vanyties, but to labour in the Lords vyneyard there to sowe and plant, to nourishe and encrease the ffruyts thereof, daylie addinge wth the good husband of the Gospell somewhat to the Tallent'' that in the
ende the ffruyts may be reaped to the Comfort of Laborer in this lyfe, and in the worlde to come, And yf this, as vndoubtedly,
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This is the service Iesus Christ Christ requyreth of his best servants And woe to him that hath theise Instruments of pietye
offered and putt into his hands, and willfully dispise to woorke wth them. Lykewyse addinge heerevnto her greate apparance
of love to me, her desyre to be taught and instructed in the knowledge of God her Capablenes of vnderstanding her aptnes
and willingnes to receyve any good impression, and also the spirituall besides her owne incytements stirringe me vpp here-
vnto. What shoulde I doe? shall I be of soe an vntoward a disposicon to refuse to leade the blynde into the right waye? shall I be soe vnnaturall not to gyve breade to the hungry, or soe vncharitable not to Cover the naked? shall I dispise to actuate theise pious duetyes of a Christian? shall the base feare of displeasinge the worlde overpower and wthholde me from revealinge to man theise spirituall woorkes of the Lorde, wch in my medytacons and my prayers I have daylie made knowne vnto him. God forbidd" I assuredly trust he hath thus dealt wth me for my eternall felicitye, for his glory, and I hope soe to be guyded by his heavenly grace, That in the ende by my faith- full paynes and Christianlyke labour I shall attayne to that blessed promise pronounced by the holye Prophett Daniell to the righteous, that bringe many to the true knowledge of God,
namely, that they shall shine lyke the Starres for ever and ever. A sweeter comfort cannott be to a true Christian nor a greater
encouragement for him to labour all the dayes of his lyfe in the pformance thereof, nor a greater gayne of Consolacon to be
desired at the hower of death, and at the daye of Iudgement.
Agayne for the lawfullnes of marriage. I hope I doe not farre erre from the meaninge of the holy Apostle, That the vnbeleivinge husband is sanctified by the beleivings wyefe, and the vnbeleivinge wiefe by the beleivinge husband &c. vppon wch place Mr Calvin in his Institucons lib. 4. cap. 16° Sect 6° sayeth, Even as the Children of the Iewes were called a holy seede, becawse beinge made heires of the same Covenant wch the Lorde made wth Abraham, they were different from the Children of the vngodly ffor the same reason even yett also the Children of Christians are accompted holye, yea although they be the
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yssue but of one parent faithfull, and (as the Prophett wytnesseth) they differ frome the vncleane seede of Idolatry. And thus wth my readinge and conference wth honest and religious psones have I receaved noe small incouragement, besides serena mea conscientia, pure from the fylth of impuritye quce est instar muri ahenei. If I shoulde sett downe at lardge the pturbacons and godly motions wch have stroue wthin me in this my godly Conflict. I shoulde but make a tedious and vnnecessary volume, but I doubt not these shalbe sufficient both to Certifie you of my true intente, in dischardginge my duety to God, and to your selfe. To whose gratious providence I humbly submytt my selfe for his Glorye, your honor our Countryes good, the benefitt of this Plantacon, and for the Convertinge an irregenerate to regeneracon, which I beseech God to graunte for his deare sonne Christ Iesus sake.
Nowe if the vulgar sorte, whoe square all mens actions by the bare rule of theire owne filthines, shall taxe or taunt me in this my godly labor, Lett them knowe tis not my hungrye appetite to gorge my selfe wth incontinencye, Sure (if I woulde and were soe sensually inclyned) I might satisfie suche desire, though not wthout a seared Conscience, yet wth Christians more pleasinge to the eye and lesse fearefull in the offence vnlawfully Comytted. Nor am I in soe desperate estate that I regarde not what becometh of me, nor am I out of hope but one daye to see my Countrye nor soe voyde of ffriends, nor meane in Birth but there to obtayne a matche to my greate content
nor have I ignorantly passed over my hoapes there, or regardlessly seeke to loose the love of my ffriends by takinge this Course. I knowe
them all & have not rashely overslipped any. But shall it please God thus to dispose of me (which I earnestly desire to fulfill my ends afore sett downe) I will hartely accept it as a godly taxe appointed me, And I will never cease (god assistinge me) vntill I have accomplished and brought to pfection soe holy a woorke, in wch I will daylie praye God to blesse me to myne and her eternall happines. And thus desireinge noe longer to lyve to
enioye the blessings of God, then this my Resolucon doe tende to suche godly endes as are by me before declared, not doubtinge
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of your gracious acceptance, I take my leave beseechinge Almighty God to rayne downe vppon you such plentiude of his heavenly graces as your harte can wishe and desire. Ans doe I reste
At yor Commaund most willinge to be desposed.
Ralph Hamor redacted version
When your leasure shall best serve you to peruse these lines, I trust in God, the beginning will not strike you into a greater admiration, then the end will give you good content. It is a matter of no small moment, concerning my own particular, which here I impart unto you, and which toucheth mee so neerely, as the tendernesse of my salvation. Howbeit I freely subject my selfe to your grave and mature judgement, deliberation, approbation and determination; assuring my selfe of your zealous admonitions, and godly comforts, either perswading me to desist, or incouraging me to persrst therein, with a religious feare and godly care, for which (from the very instant, that this began to roote it selfe within the secret bosome of my brest) my daily and earnest praiers have bin, still are, and ever shall be
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produced forth with as sincere a godly zeale as I possibly may to be directed, aided and governed in all my thoughts, words and deedes, to the glory of God, and for my eternal consolation. To persevere wherein I never had more neede, nor (till now) could ever imagine to have bin moved with the like occasion.
But (my case standing as it doth) what better worldly refuge can I here seeke, then to shelter my selfe under the safety of your favourable protection? And did not my ease proceede from an unspotted conscience, I should not dare to offer to your view and approved judgement, these passions of my troubled soule, so fulle of feare and trembling is hypocrisie and dissimulation. But knowing my owne innocency and godly fervor, in the whole prosecution hereof, I doubt not of you benigne acceptance, and clement construction. As for malicious depravers, and turbulent spirits, to whom nothing is tastful, but what pleaseth their unsavory pallat, I passe not for them being well assured in my perswasion (by the often triall and proving of my selfe, in my holiest meditations and praiers) that I am called hereunto by the spirit of God; and it shall be sufficient for me to be protected by your selfe in all vertous and pious indeavours. And for my more happie proceeding herein, my daily oblations shall ever be addressed to bring to passe so good effects, that your selfe, and all the world may truely say: This is the worke of God, and it is marvelous in our eies.
But to avoide tedious preambles, and to come
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neerer the matter: first suffer me with your patience, to sweepe and make cleane the way wherein I walke, from all suspicions and doubts, which may be covered therein, and faithfully to reveale unto you what should move me hereunto.
Let therefore this my well advised protestation, which here I make betweene God and my own conscience, be a sufficient witnesse, at the dreadfull day of judgement (when the secret of all mens harts shall be opened) to condemne me herein, if my chiefest intent and purpose be not, to strive with all my power of body and minde, in the undertaking of so mightie a matter, no way led (so farre forth as mans weaknesse may permit) with the unbridled desire of carnall affection: but for the good of this plantation, for the honour of our countrie, for the glory of God, for my owne salvation, and for the converting to the true knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, and unbeleeving creature, namely Pokahuntas. To whom my hartie and best thoughts are, and have a long time bin so intangled, and inthralled in so intricate a laborinth, that I was even awearied to unwinde my selfe thereout. But almighty God, who never faileth his, that truely invocate his holy name hath opened the gate, and led me by the hand that I might plainely see and discerne the safe paths wherein to treade.
To you therefore (most noble Sir) the patron and Father of us in this countrey doe I utter the effects of this my setled and long continued affection
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(which hath made a mightie warre in my meditations) and here I doe truely relate, to what issue this dangerous combate is come unto, wherein I have not onely examined, but throughly tried and pared my thoughts even to the quicke, before I could finde any fit wholesome and apt applications to cure so daungerous an ulcer. I never failed to offer my daily and faithfull praiers to God, for his sacred and holy assistance. I forget not to set before mine eies the frailty of mankinde,
his prones to evill, his indulgencie of wicked thoughts, with many other imperfections wherein man is daily insnared, and oftentimes overthrowne, and them compared to my present estate. Nor was I ignorant of the heavie displeasure which almightie God conceived against the sonnes of Levie and Israel for marrying strange wives, nor of the inconveniences which may thereby arise, with other the like good motions which made me looke about warily and with good circumspection, into the grounds and principall agitations, which thus should provoke me to be in love with one whose education hath bin rude, her manners barbarous, her generation accursed, and so discrepant in all nurturiture from my selfe, that oftentimes with feare and trembling, I have ended my private controversie with this: surely these are wicked instigations, hatched by him who seeketh and delighteth in mans destruction; and so with fervant praiers to be ever preserved from such diabolical assaults (as I tooke those to be) I have taken some rest.
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Thus when I had thought I had obtained my peace and quietnesse, beholde another, but more gracious tentation hath made breaches into my holiest and strongest meditations; with which I have bin put to a new triall, in a straighter manner then the former: for besides the many passions and sufferings, which I have daily, hourely, yea and in my sleepe indured, even awaking mee to astonishment, taxing me with remisnesse, and carelesnesse, refusing and neglecting to performe the duetie of a good Christian, pulling me by the eare, and crying: why dost not thou indevour to make her a Christian? And these have happened to my greater wonder, even when she hath bin furthest seperated from me, which in common reason (were it not an undoubted worke of God) might breede forgetfulnesse of a farre more worthie creature. Besides, I say the holy spirit of God hath often demaunded of me, why I was created? If not for transitory pleasures and worldly vanities, but to labour in the Lords vineyard, there to sow and plant, to nourish and increase the fruites thereof, daily adding with the good husband in the Gospell, somewhat to the tallent, that in the end the fruites may be reaped, to the comfort of the laborer in this life, and his salvation in the world to come? And if this be, as undoubtedly
this is, the service Jesus Christ requireth of his best servant; wo unto him that hath these instruments of pietie put into his hands, and wilfully despiseth to work with them. Likewise, adding hereunto her great appa-
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rance of love to me, her desire to be taught and instructed in the knowledge of God, her capablenesse of understanding, her aptnesse and willingnesse to receive anie good impressions, and also the spirituall, besides her owne incitements stirring me up hereunto. What should I doe? Shall I be of so untoward a disposition, as to refuse to leade the blind into the right way? Shall I be so unnaturall, as not to give bread to the hungrie? or uncharitable, as not to cover the naked? Shall I despise to actuate these pious dueties of a Christian? Shall the base feare of displeasing the world, overpower and with holde mee from revealing unto man these spirituall workes of the Lord, which in my meditations and praiers, I have daily made knowne unto him? God forbid. I assuredly trust hee hath thus delt with me for my eternall felicitie, and for his glorie: and I hope so to be guided by his heavenly graice, that in the end by my faithfull paines, and christianlike labour, I shall attaine to that blessed promise, Pronounced by that holy Prophet Daniell unto the righteous that bring many unto the knowledge of God. Namely, that they shall shine like the starres forever and ever. A sweeter comfort cannot be to a true Christian, nor a greater incouragement for him to labour all the daies of his life, in the performance thereof, nor a greater gaine of consolation, to be desired at the hower of death, and in the day of judgement.
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Againe by my reading, and conference with honest and religious persons, have I received no small encouragement, besides serena mea conscientia, the cleerenesse of my conscience, clean from the filth of impurity, quae est instar muri ahenei, which is unto me, as a brasen wall. If I should set down at large, the perturbations and godly motions, which have striven within mee, I should but make a tedious and unnecessary volume. But I doubt not these shall be sufficient both to certifie you of my tru intents, in discharging of my dutie to God, and to your selfe, to whose gracious providence I humbly submit my selfe, for his glory, your honour, our Countreys good, the benefit of this Plantation, and for the converting of one unregenerate, to regeneration; which I beseech God to graunt, for his deere Sonne Christ Jesus his sake.
Now if the vulgar sort, who square all mens actions by the base rule of their own filthinesse, shall taxe or taunt me in this my godly labour: let them know, it is not any hungry appetite, to gorge my selfe with incontinency; sure (if I would, and were so sensually inclined) I might satisfie such desire, though not without a seared conscience, yet with Christians more pleasing to the eie, and lesse fearefull in the offense unlawfully committed. Nor am I in so desperate an estate, that I regard not what becommeth of me; nor am I out of hope but one day to see my Country, nor so void of friends, nor mean in birth, but there to obtain a mach to my great con-
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tent: nor have I ignorantly passed over my hopes there, or regardlesly seek to loose the love of my friends, by taking this course: I know them all, and have not rashly overslipped any.
But shall it please God thus to dispose of me (which I earnestly desire to fulfill my ends before sette down) I will heartely accept of it as a godly taxe appointed me, and I will never cease, (God assisting me) untill I have accomplished, and brought to perfection so holy a worke, in which I will daily pray God to blesse me, to mine, and her eternall happines.
And thus desiring no longer to live, to enjoy the blessings of God, then this my resolution doth tend to such godly ends, as are by me before declared: not doubting
of your favourable acceptance, I take my leave, beseeching Almighty God to raine downe upon you, such plenitude of his heavenly graces, as your heart can wish and desire, as so I rest,
At your commaund most willing to be disposed off