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Renewing the Spirit of Colonization: William Symonds' Virginia: A Sermon Preached at White-Chapel, in the Presence of Many, Honourable and Worshipfull, the Adventurers and Planters for Virginia.

by Kate Lehnes

with comments by Edward J. Gallagher, Christina M. Hoffmann, Karen B. Manahan, Elizabeth Vogstberger, and Elizabeth Wiggins

1) In the spring of 1609, six preachers (and a merchant) urged Londoners to support the Virginia Company's second charter of Jamestown, speaking from their pulpits in an "aggressive, missionary spirit, borne upon a wave of idealistic and purposeful religious intent," according to John Parker (197). Parker writes that the sermons of the spring of 1609 "call[ed] Englishmen to empire in a spirit unknown to earlier English literature of expansion," positioning Jamestown as an integral part of a larger movement to Christianize North America, with a renewed focus on colonizing with the spirit, rather than the purse (197). Reverend William Symonds of St. Saviour's, Southwark, was the first preacher (April 25, 1609) to sermonize on the topic, and his Virginia: A Sermon Preached at White-Chapel is an excellent example of this new missionary zeal. Symonds potently justifies British colonization of North America, pointing to the second charter as a Christian call to action, a necessary continuation of God's creation plan for the world.

2) In order to solidify the idea that the British must heed God's will, Symonds grounds his argument in the book of Genesis, Christianity's essential creation story, using the Abraham story as his central allegory. Symonds' clear message is that in order to continue God's plan for the world, the British must heed God's call (as Abraham did) to spread Christianity. Throughout his sermon, Symonds focuses heavily on the idea that Christians fulfill their duty to their faith by continuing God's cycle of creation. Only in the creation of new Christian lands and the procreation of new Christian followers will evil be driven from the world or, as Symonds quotes from Genesis, will "the seed of the woman...break the Serpent's head" (Gen 3.15).

3) Symonds' argument is particularly persuasive because even though he strongly asserts that his audience must answer this call, he understands that he faces many doubters and thus shrewdly seeks to calm their many fears. Symonds exhaustively mines the Abraham story for its clear parallels to his audience's own apprehensions, astutely comparing God's call to Abraham to the second Virginia charter, while constructing a calming allegory by noting Abraham's many fears and doubts and God's subsequent diminishing of those doubts. Yet even while assuaging his audience's fears, Symonds continues to insist that faith must ultimately trump fear: the second charter is indeed a spiritual call that must be heeded.

4) It doesn't take a great leap of imagination to see how Abraham's story—that of the doubting, reluctant settler who eventually follows God's commandment and is rewarded greatly for it—can be applied to prospective settlers of the Virginia plantation. Just as Abraham was called by God to "take a journey" to a place "which God would show him" in order to "fill the earth," the British are also required, according to Symonds, to settle the "new world" with faithful zeal (3). Symonds acknowledges that Abraham, too, was anxious about leaving his homeland for another and brilliantly uses his story as an allegory of one who was fearful but nevertheless heeded God's call. Symonds also makes the smart move of acknowledging the doubtful talk that has accompanied the Virginia Company's February announcement of the second charter. According to H.C. Porter, such doubts revolve around not only the "use of planting new colonies" but of the "morality" surrounding such endeavors (350). Symonds uses this doubtful talk by pointing to his audience's most common fears about joining the settlement and brilliantly relating each to Abraham's own fears, noting exactly how God answered each fear with a promise that He eventually fulfilled. Importantly, the morality of this endeavor is never questioned. It doesn't need to be, as long as one believes Symonds' central premise that continuing the settlement is vital to being a good Christian. In order to understand how Symonds persuades his audience, we will look more closely at the two main components of his sermon: the spiritual and the realistic. The spiritual aspect of the sermon is, of course, its foundation: the call from God that must be answered. The realistic component is woven throughout the sermon, as Symonds moves through several real-world fears, assuaging the most well-known concerns of the time by illustrating the specific "blessings" to be received. But before we get to the spiritual call and the assuaging of real world fears, it will be helpful to look more closely at how Symonds arranges his argument.

Structure: The Four Blessings

5) Since Abraham's story will provide the framing allegory for Symonds' argument, Symonds first spends considerable time outlining God's commandment to Abraham to "take a journey" and the four promises for following this command: "he [will] make of [Abraham] a great nation...bless him... make him a great name...and he [Abraham] shall be a blessing" (4). Not only will God bless Abraham but "will bless them, and cause them to prosper, that seek the blessing and prosperity of Abram" (4). Then, throughout the sermon, by using each of God's promises as models, Symonds structures his argument into six main "doctrines," each of which first elaborates the representative part of the Abraham story and then relates that part to a specific aspect of the colonization project. Each doctrine skillfully uses a spiritual example to assuage practical concerns. It is as if Symonds seeks to not only assuage the fear of his audience members but first wants to remind them of their specific apprehensions in order to reinforce his central argument: their faith is ultimately more important than any fear [comment1]. Answering God's call will ensure that everything will be alright in the end.

"The Lord called Abraham to goe into another Countrey"

6)To fully consider the power of this sermon, we must first look closely at its spiritual foundation: the idea that the second charter is indeed a call from God. Of course, answering God's call means continuing the cycle of creation, and Symonds doesn't hesitate to remind his audience that the ultimate Christian mission is to "bring forth fruit and multiplie, and fill the earth" (Gen. 1.26-28). Symonds also reminds his audience that the main reason it is important for them to "fill the earth" is "because the Lord would have his workes to be knowne" (7). Procreating—both physically and spiritually—is the most important Christian duty. Ed Gallagher surmises that Symonds uses the story of Abraham because it works particularly well as a "creation myth":

God literally appeared to Abraham -- a theophany. The divine intervenes in human history. It's a beginning point. It is a point from which the religion draws power. And the function of myth (retelling the story) is to take us back to the point of divine energy to tap into it again. This is the...start of it all. The place where the history of God's people begins (Discussion Board Post 2/02/06).

Thus, Symonds presents Abraham as a reminder to his audience of the untapped well of God's "divine energy" that needs to be recognized and, most importantly, continually re-created. How better to tap into that well than by continuing the Virginia settlement [comment2]?

Duty over Doubt: A Call Both "Ordinary" and "Extraordinary"

7) I cannot emphasize enough the fact that Symonds sees settling Virginia as God's call to the British, and his sermon is an urgent message to understand the necessity and impact of heeding that call. Symonds is well aware of the widespread talk of doubts about the failing settlement and is not afraid to acknowledge this fact, at one point even saying: "I am not ignorant, that many are not willing to go abroad and spread the gospel, in this most honorable and Christian voyage of the Plantation of Virginia" (18). Yet Symonds manages to capitalize on popular doubt by underlining the "call to duty" aspect of the second charter, suggesting that it doesn't matter what doubts you may have; God still commands you to go [comment3].

8) Symonds also cleverly focuses on both the "extraordinary" and "ordinary" calls that Abraham received from God. The implication here is that the British can also be called "ordinarily" and "extraordinarily"--leaving plenty of room to interpret the second charter as either (or both?) of the above. An "ordinary" calling would be simply having an inclination to colonize. Since spreading Christianity "is a known rule of the word of God," Symonds posits, Abraham, and all good Christians, would be aware of this "general vocation" (and in this way can be seen as being "ordinarily" called—or inclined--by God to spread Christianity) (5-6). But Symonds really focuses on the fact that Abraham was called in a "special and extraordinary" way "either by dream or by vision" (6). Such a vision is to be "obeyed as the written word of God" (6). Since good Christians already know that they must spread God's word around the world, it would be natural that they have the inclination to settle and Christianize other continents (again, the "ordinary call"). But, if such an inclination were received in a "vision" or "dream" (like Abraham's), it could fall into the "extraordinary" category. Symonds' rhetorical move here is particularly shrewd because he uses the Abraham story as a template to create an entirely new and feasible justification mode for his audience: they can either decide to interpret the charter as an extraordinary "call" sent indirectly from God through the Virginia Company (or directly from God in dreams or visions), or they can justify their impulse to colonize by saying that God has given them the "ordinary" inclination to do so.

Protestant Superiority: A Call That Shows God's Favor

9) The option to hear the second charter as a call from God is particularly enticing for Symonds' audience. They already believe that they, as holders of the Protestant faith, are the correct representatives of Christianity on earth; therefore, they are most likely to receive such a call, particularly over lesser Christians such as the Papists. As James Horn points out, late 16th/early 17th century England already saw itself as being especially favored by the Lord:

How else could the marvelous salvation of the English people themselves be explained other than by the direct intervention of God? Had not the English been saved from a return to popish superstition and idolatry by the early death of the Catholic Mary Tudor and succession of the young Queen Elizabeth? Had not God intervened in the nation's gravest crisis when Philip of Spain had dispatched a vast host in 1588 to invade England and occupy the land? And had not in recent times the godly King James, England's 'Constantine, the pacifier of the World and planter of the Gospell in places most remote,' been miraculously saved by the last-minute detection of a foul Catholic plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament while he was sitting in session? Who could seriously doubt, as the cleric John Aylmer had boldly asserted half a century before, that "God is English," or that the English occupied a special place in the affections of the Lord? (140)

Symonds brilliantly plays upon the British sentiment of religious and moral superiority by comparing Abraham's call to the one that is being currently made by the new Virginia charter. If England is spiritually superior to other nations, it only makes sense that it should enjoy the glory of creating an annex nation. The promise of forming a great nation seductively entices faithful adventurers with the opportunity to literally "create" in the name of God [comment4].

I am not ignorant, that many are not willing to goe abroad and spread the gospel

10) Astutely, even though he sustains the spiritual importance of the Virginia settlement throughout his sermon, Symonds does not forget that his audience has real- world fears and thus needs real-world assurances and inducements. In fact, his sermon is most powerful when he skillfully undermines the most commonly held fears of his listeners: fear of going to an unknown land, fear of leaving homeland and breaking family ties, fear of barrenness [comment5]. Symonds supplies a "doctrine" for each fear that first illustrates the part of the Abraham story that illustrates the particular fear, and then allays that fear by explaining just how the Virginia settlers will be like new Abrahams.

11) First is the fear of the unknown. Symonds is aware that this particular fear is one of his audience's primary worries, so he makes sure to include exactly how Abraham was similarly commanded: "The place whither Abram must go is to the land which the Lord will let him see" (22). And, still, Symonds reminds: "The Lord doth promise to enrich him with many blessings, if he be obedient to his calling" (26). Next Symonds paints Virginia as a land full of promise, willfully ignoring the resounding negative reports that have come back from the settlement: "The land, by the constant report of all that have seen it, is a good land, with the fruitfulness thereof, and pleasure of the climate, the plenty of the fish and fowl, England, our mistress, cannot compare" (24). Clearly Virginia is meant to be seen as a blessing of promises waiting for God's people to take advantage of them. Symonds seems to want to emphasize that, while Abraham went to a truly unknown land, potential Virginia settlers will at least be going somewhere already known by a few of their own.

12) Fear of leaving homeland and fear of leaving family are obviously closely tied. Again, Symonds assuages a worldly fear with a spiritual blessing. He reminds his listeners that, because God is the ultimate father figure, they must leave the homes of their worldly fathers (just as Abraham left his father's home) and their beloved country (again, like Abraham). Symonds makes the essential point that Abraham's father's home "was worthy of him to continue in" as his father was both loving and wealthy (16). This persuades potential settlers to leave their own comfortable lives for a much greater cause, while underlining God's role as the ultimate "Father." The implication is that family lines will continue in the new land, so breaking ties now is a secondary concern. Symonds also likens Abraham's homeland to England—neither are places that one would necessarily choose to leave, but God's call is always most important. Then in a somewhat surprising move, Symonds switches tactic, moving to undermine the lure of homeland by pointing to current socio-economic conditions in London. In a passage that Porter describes as "particularly its bullying way" (346), Symonds famously compares London to a swarm of bees: "The swarm in the land, as young bees in a hive in June; insomuch that there is very hardly room for one man to live by another. The mightier like old strong bees thrust the weaker, as younger, out of their hives" (19-20). Just as he set up a model of choice for his audience to see the second charter as either an "extraordinary or ordinary" call from God, Symonds now allows his audience to choose to see England either as a comfortable homeland or a treacherous beehive. Either way, you are obliged to leave [comment6].

13)  And what waits for you once you leave your family and homeland? Again Symonds points to the importance of continuing the creation/procreation cycle and completes his own neat rhetorical circle. God will bless those that follow his commands with the ability to procreate on a spiritual (by "endeavor[ing] the propagation of the Gospell") and physical level (by fathering children, planting the land, enjoying the spoils of a virgin country); thus, the cycle of (pro)creation is itself both a blessing and a duty (6, 9). In Abraham's case, literal procreation was an enticement. He was old and had a barren wife, thus his particular worry was remaining childless (as Symonds points out, barrenness was seen as a "curse" in Abraham's time), so God promised not only a child but "twelve princes" and not only a family, but "a great Nation" (28). God's promise to Abraham also included the ability for his wife to mother children: "And God will open the barren wombe, and make her to dwell with a family, and to be a joyfull mother of children" (28).

14) It is not hard to make the leap from a barren "womb" to the barrenness of economic and spiritual potential in England, since according to Symonds and others it has become overused and manipulated for the profits of a few. But the new world--the literally virgin land of "Virginea"--waits to be literally and figuratively implanted with the seeds—economic, spiritual, and human—of English settlers. (Male) settlers can be both godly (fulfilling their duties as God's servants by being like him by being fathers themselves both literally and figuratively) and god-like (fathering a new land in their God's image). Quite clearly, the "barren womb" of North America is meant to be implanted by the British.

Symonds' Weak Point: Lack of Description of Native Americans

15) Just as the most powerful parts of Symonds' sermon include the moments he spends assuaging his audience's potential fears, the least powerful parts are those when he provides limited description of the Native Americans. Another common fear of potential settlers would most certainly have been the strange (and potentially dangerous) people they would encounter, yet Symonds only deals with the issue of the current Virginia residents on a surface level. For someone who bases his whole argument on the idea that the British are called by God to Christianize the new world, Symonds spends very little time discussing those who are to be Christianized. (And what little description Symonds does offer is often contradictory and/or lacking realistic detail.) Rather, he mentions the Native Americans only in relation to the British, namely as "heathens" or even "barbarians" waiting to be Christianized.

16) On one hand, Symonds' failure to fully describe the Native Americans can be seen as a useful tactic in that it leads his audience to further believe that they are the key actors in this project. Understanding the natives in depth is not really necessary; what is important is that the British understand and respond to their call to duty. The Native Americans are to be done to—to be Christianized for their own good. Therefore, more than anything, Symonds characterizes the Native Americans by their lack—of civility, of sophistication, but mainly of Christianity. So any in-depth mentioning of the Native Americans focuses on how the British should act toward them, rather than how they themselves might act.

17) Most importantly, the British must bring the Lord to the "heathens" and should be merciful about it, unlike previous settlers. As Symonds asks:

Why is there no remedy, but as soon as we come on land, like wolves, and lions, and tigers, long famished, we must tear in pieces, murder, and torment the natural inhabitants, with cruelties never read, nor heard of before? Must we needs burn millions of them, and cast millions into the sea? Must we bait them with dogs, that shall eat up the mothers with their children? Let such be the practices of the devil...of Antichrist and his frie, that is of purple Rome (14).

Here Symonds relates the accounts of Spanish brutality against the Native Americans, blaming the papists for being unnecessarily violent, and asks why can't there be a more merciful way. However, it is hard to justify being merciful to someone previously described as barbaric; Symonds' contradictions regarding the Native Americans cause confusion about how the British are actually supposed to treat them: as God's children or as barbarous enemies?

18) Either way, they must treat them better than the Spanish have. Rhetorically, this is a clever move because Symonds points out one more powerful way in which the British can be more godly than their Catholic rivals. This point is reaffirmed when Symonds discusses God's promise to bless those who recognize the blessing of the British colonists. Even though God will incline the natives to receive the British with their blessing, the British still have the responsibility to be merciful with them: "Then how tender ought your care to be, gain the reputation of a blessing among this people. Let them see, that he that came before, was but Satan whom they themselves do fear" (37). Again, Symonds reaffirms the responsibility of the British to not only follow God's command but to do so in a way that asserts that they practice the "correct" form of Christianity: Protestantism. Clearly, Symonds does not seem to feel that his argument of heeding God's call to spread Christianity to a heathen world needs any further description of the subjects to be Christianized. What is important is that the righteous British take up their responsibility.

19) While we can allow that Symonds chooses to focus less on the Native Americans (and more on what the British need to do to them) in order to assert the role of the British as key actors, the moments he does attempt some description are either contradictory or sorely lacking in detail. His most comprehensive accounting of Native American culture is in his passage meant to assure the British not to be afraid of the natives, because after all they don't have real towns or weapons: "there are poor Arbors for Castles, base and homely sheds for walled towns.... A naked brest their target of best proofe: an arrow of reede, on which there is no iron, their most fearefull weapon of offence" (25). But because this is the most information Symonds ever gives about the Native Americans, it is hard to imagine potential settlers with any real trepidation toward the idea of dealing with people who have largely been described as savage heathens feeling released of their fears.

20) Perhaps one of Symonds' biggest contradictions regarding the Native Americans comes when he discusses what the British must not do with them: marry them. He says, "The breaking of this rule may break the neck of all good success of this voyage" (35). While he does not fully explain why intermarriage would break the voyage's "neck," Symonds also completely avoids the important question: if the British are going to convert the Native Americans to Christianity, aren't they all eventually going to be related under God anyway? What will the justification be for continuing European hierarchy in this new Christian land? Symonds says it is so "the Planters in shorte time, by the blessing of God, may grow into a nation formidable to all the enemies of Christ" (35). But why convert non-Christians at all if they are going to remain enemies? This hole in Symonds' logic weakens his argument but nonetheless is comparable to contemporary attitudes toward non-Christian peoples, and therefore possibly not as problematic for Symonds' audience.

Conclusion: Symonds' Call for a "May Swarme"

21) While the lack of compelling Native American description weakens some of Symonds' main points, his audience--unlike a contemporary one--would probably be more focused on a moral duty specifically related to their religious one, rather than any individual conception of morality that included understanding and accepting foreign peoples. Thus, Symonds' argument is most persuasive when he focuses on perhaps what he, as a preacher, believes in most: the spiritual call to Christianize the "new world." Detailing Abraham's plight and comparing it to that of British Protestants is a powerful move because Symonds knows—and uses—both the faith and fears of his audience. He builds upon the foundation of these competing feelings, rather than ignoring the conflict. As Parker points out, "The 'May swarme' that William Symonds had called for did indeed materialize, and on 2 June 1609 Sir Thomas Gates with nine ships and 600 colonists sailed from Plymouth" (262). While it is impossible to know how many of these "adventurers" responded to the religious calling of preachers like Symonds, this surge in interest should be at least partially tied to a renewed spiritual drive.

Works Consulted

Fitzmaurice, Andrew.  "The Moral Philosophy of Jacobean Colonisation."  Humanism and America: An Intellectual History of English Colonisation, 1500-1625.  Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.  58-101.

Horn, James.  "Virginea Britannia."  A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America.  New York: Basic Books, 2005. 131-56.

Johnson, Robert. Noua Britannia Offring most excellent fruites by planting in Virginia. Exciting all such as be well affected to further the same., London : Printed [by John Windet] for Samuel Macham, and are to be sold at his shop in Pauls Church-yard, at the signe of the Bul-head,  1609. Virtual Jamestown. 2000. Virtual Jamestown Archive. 2 Jun. 2006. <>.

Kimmey, Fred M.  "Christianity and Indian Lands."  Ethnohistory 7.1 (1960): 44-60.

Lefler, Hugh. T.  "Promotional Literature of the Southern Colonies."  Journal of Southern History 33 (1967): 3-25.

Parker, John.  "Preachers and Planters."  Books to Build an Empire.  Amsterdam: N. Israel, 1965.  192-216.

---. "Religion and the Virginia Colony, 1609-10."  The Westward Enterprise: English Activities in Ireland, the Atlantic and America 1480-1650.  Eds. K.R. Andrews, Nicholas P. Canny and P.E.H. Hair.  Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1979.  245-70.

Porter, H.C.  The Inconstant Savage: England and the North American Indian 1500-1660.  London: Duckworth, 1979.

Scanlan, Thomas.  "Preaching the Nation: The Sermon as Promotion."  Colonial Writing and the New World 1583-1671: Allegories of  Desire.  New York: Cambridge UP, 1999.  93-123.

Symonds, William. Virginia: A Sermon Preached at White-Chapel, in the Presence of Many, Honourable and Worshipfull, the Adventurers and Planters for Virginia. London: Printed [by I. Windet] for Eleazar Edgar and William Welby, and are to be sold in Paule's Churchyard at the Signe of the Windmill, 1609. 2003. Early English Books Online Archive. 1 February 2006. <>.

Washburn, Wilcomb E. "The Moral and Legal Justifications for Dispossessing the Indians." Seventeenth Century America: Essays in Colonial History. James Morton Smith, ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc, 1972. 15-32.

Williams, Robert A., Jr.  "The English Conquest of Virginia."  The American Indian in Western Legal Thought: The Discourses of Conquest.  New York: Oxford UP, 1990.  193-225.

Wright, Louis B.  "A Western Canaan Reserved for England."  Religion and Empire: The Alliance between Piety and Commerce in English Expansion, 1585-1625.  Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1943.  84-114.

[comment1] Riffing on the themes of fear and faith, Crashaw similarly uses his audience's faith to his advantage in A Sermon Preached in London. Crashaw's spin is slightly different than Symonds', and he may actually take the faith argument a step further. While Kate notes that Symonds acknowledges his audience's fears about going abroad and encourages them to prioritize their faith and religious duties, Crashaw takes this idea further by assuring his audience that their bravery and faith will ensure God's protection for the colonists of the New World. Using the story of Peter to illustrate his point, Crashaw argues, "It may yeeld vs much satisfaction who are ingaged in this present action, to consider that though Satan seeke to make vs desist, and because he cannot, therefore will hurt vs, by all his power; (as who can maruel seeing we thought his freehold so neere?) yet we haue Chrft Iesus on our side, whose kingdome we goe to inlarge: whose loue to his children is such, that euen then when Satan sifts them most narrowly, he with his praiers is most neere them for their assistance: And therefore we doubt not, but that seeing Satan is now so busie to sift vs all discouragements, and by slanders, false reports, backwardnesse of some, basenesse of others, by raising obiections and deuising doubts, endeauors to dant vs, and so betray the businesse that God himselfe hath put into our hands..."(A4). Here, Crashaw offers his audience spiritual protection while doing God's work; physical harms that may befall settlers are not covered in any of the rhetoric that surrounds the Virginia Company's promotions. What these arguments that Symonds and Crashaw are attempting to make accomplish, however, are strong counter-arguments to hiding behind fear and avoiding one's duty to Jamestown. (Elizabeth Wiggins)

[comment2] Gray's structure seems in certain ways to mimic Symond's systematic attack: Gray frames a substantial problem in England with a biblical story and thus is able to offer a tangible and biblically inspired solution. However, whereas Symonds provides an allegory that suggests that God desires them to "fill the earth," Gray actually suggests that England is overpopulated and that people must leave in order to enact God's will. Inevitably, though, they are the same argument. God's desire to fill the earth demands that settlers such as Abraham and Joshua leave their homes and spread the gospel, which is easily worked into both Symond's and Gray's argument. (Karen B. Manahan)

[comment3] Daniel Price refers to the Biblical story of Deborah, a character from the Book of Judges in his sermon. The main point of this story is the importance of overcoming doubt and taking part in a call to action.  The story of Deborah points out the problems with inaction and the ramifications of doubting either God or those who put forth God's word. Deborah was a prophetess and the Judge of Israel during a period of oppression, and her primary role was administration and justice.  The war leader Barak came to her and asked for her guidance in the planning and implementation of his moves against other tribes.  Deborah gave clear and correct advice, but Barak doubted her, and asked that she come with him to prove she was sure of her directions. In the biblical story, the Canaanites were routed by the Israelites as a result of Deborah's faith in God and his teachings.  And were it not for Deborah's active involvement, Israel would have remained oppressed and tragic.  Deborah's call to arms is lauded as one to which generations of Kings listened.  As Kate has noted, Symonds also focuses on the call to duty as of greater importance than inaction due to doubt. Price does not retell the story of Deborah but instead points to it and asks whether those doubters who are listening might be akin to the Meroz, who are ultimately defeated and shamed at the end of the story. As well, there is repetition in the Deborah story of the phrase, "Is not Yahweh gone out before you?" which further complements Price's and Symonds's continual assertion that God is always with us, so we should never doubt him and, in fact, do his bidding as set forth by the preachers. (Christina M. Hoffmann)

[comment4] Here, Horn illustrates how the English interpreted and perceived their struggles in England, ultimately deciding their "success" pointed to them as a "chosen people."  In Savagism and Civility, Bernard Sheehan shows how the English extended this divine rhetoric to think about the New World:

The conviction that the Indians must be converted allowed Englishmen to make sense out of the discovery of the New World.  How could a continent have remained concealed for millennia and then been suddenly revealed if God had not intended it to happen in that way?  Englishmen in the New World believed they played a role in God's providential plan. (118)

The focus here shifts to how the English see themselves in the New World rather than how they see themselves in England.  In addition to surviving what Horn describes, according to Sheehan, God has chosen the English to be the beneficiaries of the New World, as evidenced by revelation.  The "discovery" of America proves to the English they have a right to be there.

This is coupled with the way in which Sheehan claims the English saw the Indians through the lens of divine providence as well:

Despite the problem of savagism and the difficulties of converting Indians, the divine promise supplied reassurance of success.  Men would not have been directed to preach the Christian message if savage people were incapable of hearing it or were permitted to resist it. (119-20)

Like the land, the Indians wouldn't be crossing paths with the English if 1) it were not the right time to convert, and 2) they couldn't eventually be subdued.  Both Horn and Sheehan identify the 17th century English Protestant mindset that, interestingly, renders the English as passive recipients of God's will.  When it comes time to colonize, however, that passivity disappears... (Elizabeth Vogstberger)

[comment5] Kate has chosen the fruitful approach of identifying fears of his readers, but another good way to see Symonds' strategies is to take a look at the "objections" that he identifies and then clobbers. These sections are a different way of dealing with fears, or, perhaps, a better way to say it, is they deal with different kinds of fears. See the first objection, for instance, what we might call the "fear" of entering other Princes' territories (10). Symonds meets 3 classic objections to establishing title in the land of another head-on: 1) those rulers have dominium, 2) as Christians, we can't do evil even for a good purpose, and 3) there's gonna be bloodshed. His mode of response is always interesting, both in content and tone. For instance, his answer to the first objection seems basically simply naming the great leaders of history. They are great because they invaded others. Before the mind's eye of his audience he asks past leaders to "come forth." He "summons up" Joshua, David, Solomon, etc. as self-evident refutation of the objection, as self-evident affirmation that "Conquest lawfull." Wow! A close reading of such "objection" sections throughout the sermon would not only be valuable but fun! (Edward J. Gallagher)

[comment6] Kate is so good at pointing out these contradictions. Before the ordinary/extraordinary, here the good country/bad country, and even later in the contradictory message about how to treat the Indians -- "as God's children or as barbarous enemies" (17). But contradictions as conscious rhetorical devices designed to be effective no matter what way the reader wiggled??? I dunno, I dunno. Would nobody have said, "huh, what's going on here"??? I'm not sure I have ever come across what Kate proposes here. What think -- does this work? (Edward J. Gallagher)