George Philips.—This excellent person was born at RouJham in Norfolk, and educated at one of oar universities. He was descended from wealthy and honourable parents, was richly furnished with learning, piety, and other endowments, and admirably qualified for the ministerial function. After be had finished his studies at college, he entered upon bis public ministerial work at Boxford in Essex, where his labours were particularly acceptable and useful. He was induced afterwards to examine the controversy relative to church discipline and the ceremonies, when, after mature deliberation, he imbibed the sentiments of the nonconformists ; and, not being ashamed of his principles, but looking upon it as a duty to make them publicly known, he occasionally noticed them in the exercises of the pulpit. This led some of his hearers of rigid episcopal sentiments to bring complaints against him to the celebrated Mr. John Rogers of Dedham. But Mr. Rogers had so high an opinion of our divine, that though he had not himself then particularly examined the controversy, he said, " I believe Mr. Philips will preach nothing without some good evidence for it from the word of God. You should, therefore, regard whatever he makes evident from that sacred word." The more Mr. Philips studied the subject, the more he became dissatisfied with the ecclesiastical establishment, and confirmed in his nonconformity.*
Subscription to the Book of Common Prayer and the ecclesiastical ceremonies was now enforced with the utmost rigour, as a necessary qualification to every minister of Christ, which made strange havock among the churches, and persecution raged with extreme violence. All ministers, however great their talents, however excellent their piety, or however tender their consciences, were prohibited from preaching the gospel, unless they would bow to the traditions of men. All conscientious dissenters were obliged to lay down their ministry, suffer themselves to be cast into prison, or leave their native country. Some took one course, and some another; but Mr. Philips embraced the last. He resolved to remove to a place where he could enjoy liberty to preach without human impositions and cruel persecution. Therefore, in the year 1630, he embarked for New England, in company with the excellent Mr. Winthrop, and many other worthy christian friends. Soon after their arrival, Mr. Philips experienced a painful
trial by the death of his wife, who had cheerfully left her native country, to accompany him to the new plantation.
Mr. Philips and his friends, upon their arrival in the American wilderness, fixed upon a spot on the banks of Charles's river, which they gave the name of Watertown. Here their first concern was to unite together in church fellowship, and to build a house for God, even before they built themselves habitations to dwell in. They set apart a day for extraordinary fasting and prayer, when they entered into a solemn covenant in the presence of God and one another. This covenant, dated July 3O, 1630, is still preserved, and very excellent, but too long for insertion.* About forty on that day subscribed this instrument, the first of whom was Sir Richard Saltonstal; and Mr. Philips was chosen to the office of pastor. Members were afterwards admitted to the church by subscribing the covenant a little altered, with a confession of faith annexed. In the above month, upon the first sitting of the court of government, it was determined, that Mr. Philips should nave a house built at the public expense; and Governor Winthrop and Sir Richard Saltonstal were appointed to carry the same into effect. It was also ordered that Mr. Philips's salary should be thirty pounds a year.f
This excellent servant of the Lord continued at Watertown till the end of his days. His faithful labours and holy life became a great blessing to the new colony. The Lord made him instrumental in the conversion and salvation of many souls. He died of a complaint in his bowels, ' July 1, 1644, and was carried to his grave with universal lamentation. " He possessed a quick invention, a solid judgment, and a strong memory; was an excellent scholar, an able disputant, ana a good theologian. He read the whole Bible through six times every year."t He was author of a work, entitled, " A Reply to a Confutation of some Grounds of Infants Baptism: .as also concerning the Form of a Church, put forth against me by one Thomas Lamb," 1645.
• Matter's Hist, of New Eng. b. ili. p. 83.
+ Morse and Parish's Hist. p. 89.
t Matber'i Hist. b. iii. p. 88—84.