field of theological and political speculation, it is easy today to select, among the writings of the earliest colonists, certain radical utterances which seem to presage the very temper of the late eighteenth century.
Pastor John Robinson
's farewell address to the Pilgrims at Leyden
in 1620 contained the famous words: “The Lord
has more truth yet to break forth out of His holy Word.
I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of the reformed churches, who are come to a period in religion. . . . Luther and Calvin were great and shining lights in their times, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God.”
Now John Robinson
, like Oliver Cromwell
, never set foot on American soil, but he is identified, none the less, with the spirit of American liberalism in religion.
In political discussion, the early emergence of that type of independence familiar to the decade 1765-75 is equally striking.
In a letter written in 1818, John Adams
insisted that “the principles and feelings which produced the Revolution ought to be traced back for two hundred years, and sought in the history of the country from the first plantations in America
“I have always laughed,” he declared in an earlier letter, “at the affectation of representing American independence ”