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Dutch colonial council minutes, 16 - 17 April 1648

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Whereas from almost all countries, both in Europe and these northern and southern parts of America, yes, even from this province, and other places depending thereon, we hear and receive nothing but sad and doleful tidings and rumors here of severe inundations and floods, burning and pestilential fevers, whereby thousands are swept away by a sudden death, so that scarcely enough healthy persons remain alive to bury the dead; elsewhere of hurricanes, storms and tempests and consequent shipwrecks and destruction of both property and life, from which no other conclusion can be drawn than that the Holy and Almighty God of Israel, being justly provoked to anger and wrath on account of our sins and those of other nations, threatens us with a just retribution of the treasure of anger and just wrath, caused by the spurning of the richness of His mercy, patience and forbearance, abused by us so as to result in hardness of heart instead of our reformation; which treasure of wrath and just retribution, already raining from a sky laden with vengeance on other places in this part of America, if it be not poured down on us in a torrent, would at least drip on us and our posterity, unless we turn to our God with the Ninevites in sack cloth and ashes of unfeigned penitence, hating and abandoning all wickedness, all false measures and evil practices, all blasphemy and licentiousness in drunkenness, rioting, swearing, lying, cheating and profanation of God’s most holy name and the sabbath, and many other abominations in vogue among us no less than among other nations, wherefore, God's anger being justly incited, He not only threatens and warns us with the exemplary punishment meted out to others, but is visiting even ourselves with loss of property and lives in consequence of severe storms and shipwrecks and here in this province with inundations and high water, commonly foreboding floods and being overrun by war, pestilence and bad times, visiting with the first our sister state of Brazil and with the second our allies and confederates in the Caribbean Islands, yes, even our friends and vassals on Curaçao and the islands thereabout, as a warning to us (praise be the mercy of God) that we shall perish likewise unless we repent, as we are no less sinners than they on whom we hear and see fall, not the wrath of Siloah, but of Heaven, and unless we heed this warning, not the elementary fire, but the pestilential and feverish fire of the wrath of God will be hanging over our heads. Therefore we, the director general and council, being invited, inclined and obliged thereto according to the grace and favor of God that is in us, pursuant to God's command, the example of other laudable rulers, in order to conciliate ourselves and our subjects with God by the means ordained by God himself and to draw upon us and to continue to receive His gracious and merciful favors instead of His Just punishment we have to this end considered it highly necessary to proclaim and to order a general day of fasting and prayer which shall be held in the forenoon and afternoon of the first Wednesday in the month of May, being the 6th of the aforesaid month, and thereafter a monthly penitential sermon in the forenoon, to be held throughout our province of New Netherland on every first Wednesday of each month in succession. We therefore order and command all our officers and commanders, as well as all vassals and subjects of this province on the day and hour aforesaid to appear in the church or where it is customary to hold divine service, in order, after listening to and having been taught from God's holy word, jointly and unanimously, with a humble and contrite heart to invoke the name of the Lord and to pray and beseech Him that He may be pleased to stop the torrents of His wrath poured out over others and the clouds of His anger still pending over us and change them into rivers and streams of grace and mercy, divert from us and our allies, both at Curaçao and in the Caribbean Islands, that all-devouring pestilence, those hot fevers, famines and infertilities, and grant them and us health and fertile seasons; that it may please Him to turn our sadness into joy and to change the sad rumors reaching us from everywhere into glad tidings and bless the fruits of the earth with early and late rains, seasonable weather and luxuriant growth; that it may please Him graciously to turn aside the storms and prevent the shipwrecks and loss in life and property proceeding from them, and henceforth to favor our navigation, industry and commerce, both in and outside the country, with His safeguard and protection, that it may please Him to let wax and increase among us the fear of His name and the knowledge and hatred of our own sins, warding off from us all well merited punishments and plagues which our sins crying unto heaven deserve; that it may please Him, both here and in our dear fatherland, to keep the light of the holy Gospel burning in the true and faithful observance of His word and the holy sacraments and to grant a fertile increase thereof, sending us pastors and ministers who do not succumb, but who proclaim His glory and teach us our duty; that it may please Him to take under His care and protection the actual government, all high and low state officials, both in our dear fatherland and here and elsewhere, and especially the person of the honorable director general and the council and officers of these and the Curaçao conquests, to attend them with His wisdom and peaceful spirit in all their deliberations and attacks, so as to plan and to decide nothing but what will be serviceable to His glory, their salvation and the welfare of the country. In order that the same may be the better practiced and taken to heart, we prohibit and forbid on the aforesaid day of fasting and prayer, during divine service, all exercise and practice of golf, tennis, hunting, fishing, sailing, plowing, sowing, mowing and many other unlawful games, such as throwing dice and drinking to excess, upon arbitrary correction and the penalty heretofore by law provided on the subject, and we further wish to admonish and pray all ministers of the holy gospel within our government to formulate their sermons and prayers to the aforesaid end. Thus done and decided in council, the l6th of April, in Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland.

References

Translation: Scott, K., & Stryker-Rodda, K. (Ed.). New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Vol. 4, Council Minutes, 1638-1649 (A. Van Laer, Trans.). Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: 1974.A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.