Pastoral Letter by John Williams
It proved difficult for New England Puritans to sustain the pitch of spiritual emotion and zeal Calvinism demanded in the absence of the religious persecution in which that faith had been forged. Colonial conflicts with the French and Indians provided a new source for Puritan martyrs and a new literary genre--the captivity narrative. The Reverend Cotton Mather (1662-1727) of Boston collected and published three of these narratives in 1706 under the title, "Good Fetch'd Out of Evil." Among these documents was "A Pastoral Letter" by the Reverend John Williams (1664-1729). French and Indian attackers took Williams to Canada, along with over one hundred Deerfield residents following the Deerfield Raid in 1704. Williams wrote this letter to a group of freed captives returning to New England. He admonished his parishioners to use their ordeal to strengthen their faith.