Archive for the ‘Colonies’ Category

FIRST NEW ENGLAND HISTORY

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

We have read about the signing of the Mayflower Compact. One can imagine that it was crowded in that small ship when they gathered with wives and children to watch the 41 men sign the Mayflower Compact. It was a profound moment and a model of self-government and was the beginning of our country as a Christian nation. God and his law were guiding the basic and simple principles in the Compact.

The New England's Memorial_1669 Edition

To get a first-hand history, we are going to rely on a book written by Nathaniel Morton. The book, The New England’s Memorial, along with William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation comprise of a comprehensive history of the Plymouth Colony.

From December 1645 until his death, Morton was annually elected Secretary of Plymouth Colony, and most of the colony records are in his handwriting. His careful maintenance of the records enabled him [to] compile New England’s Memorial, considered the first comprehensive history of the colony, published at Cambridge in 1669 – and widely considered the first book of history published in the United States. Much of Memorial was based on the history of the colony written by Morton’s uncle, Gov. Bradford, a manuscript that was lost for many years following the American Revolutionary War, when it was likely appropriated by an English soldier. It later turned up in the library of the Bishop of London in 1855, and was returned to Massachusetts.

Morton also wrote First Beginnings and After Progress of the Church of Christ at Plymouth, in New England. Annually since 1961, The Wall Street Journal publishes an excerpt from Morton’s history of Plymouth Colony as an op-ed the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day.

Morton was also the first to record the list of signers of the Mayflower Compact in his work of 1669. The document itself was lost.

Nathaniel Morton was born in England in 1613 and immigrated to Plymouth with his father on the ship Ann in 1623. After his father’s premature death, Nathaniel was taken into the household of his Uncle William Bradford, then governor of Plymouth.

Morton married Lydia Cooper (1615-23 Sep 1673) on 25 Dec 1635. They had nine children: Remember, Mercy, Hannah, Eleazer, Lydia, Nathaniel, a stillborn daughter, Elizabeth and Joanna. After the death of Lydia, Nathaniel married Anne Pritchard (ca. 1624-26 Dec 1691). Remember Morton, daughter of Nathaniel Morton, married Abraham Jackson of Plymouth, another initial proprietor of the colony. Their descendant Lydia Jackson became the second wife of philosopher, poet and Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson.1

Many scholars consider the Bradford history the better-written volume of the two, and some even classify Morton’s book as an abridgment of his uncle’s work.2

For the early years he drew directly on his uncle’s book, transcribing large portions of it. Until the discovery of the Fulham manuscript, Morton’s book was the best source for Bradford’s text. The part which was concerned with the years following Bradford was written by Morton himself, and is meagre and disappointing, but Johnson and he were long the standard historians for the average New Englander. They may be considered the last of the early group, and in their manner and purposes they looked forward to the second group, men who were either born in America or who arrived after the American ideals were well enough formed to master the newcomers.3

Nathaniel Morton, in his Dedication to the Right Worshipful, Thomas Prince, Esq., Governor of the Jurisdiction of New Plymouth; with The Worshipful, The Magistrates, his assistants in the said government; wrote “N.M. wisheth Peace and Prosperity in this life, and Eternal Happiness in that which to come.” He stated the reason of writing was “…to commemorize to future generations the memorable passages of God’s providence to us and our predecessors in the beginning of this plantation …”4

Morton states the Plymouth colony came about by God’s will; “I have made bold to present your Worships with, and to publish to the world, something of the very first beginnings of the great actions of God in New England, begun at New Plimoth”5 He ties God’s will with the founding of Plymouth and New England; “I should gladly have spoken more particularly of the neighboring united colonies, whose ends and aims in their transplanting of themselves and families, were the same with ours, viz.., the glory of God, the propagation of the gospel, and enlargement of his Majesty’s dominions;” Morton closes his dedication statement by sealing that he not only sees God’s will directing them, but the foundation of Plymouth and other colonies is a ‘City on the Hill’, a divine manifest destiny of our new country; “Your good acceptance whereof, shall ever oblige me to answerable returning of gratitude, and administer to me further cause of thankfulness, that God hath given me an habitation under your just and prudent administrations; and wish for a succession of such as may be skillful to lead our Israel in this their peregrination; and when God shall take you hence, to receive the crown of your labors and travels.”5

Nathaniel Morton addresses the readers as “Christian Reader” and states “Grace and Peace be multiplied; with profit by this following narration.”  The spirit of this world absolutely rejects God. To say that we are a Christian nation nearly stirs up hatred. Yet, we see Nathaniel Morton clearly declaring in his history [for future generations] it was God’s Will.  His letter to the Christian Reader clarifies the godly foundation of our country. This is from the original 1669 book:

Gentle Reader,

I have for some length of time looked upon it as a duty incumbent, especially on the immediate successors of those that have had so large experience of those many memorable and signal demonstrations of God’s goodness, viz. The first beginners of this plantation in New-England, to commit to writing his gracious dispensations on that behalf; having so many inducements thereunto, not only otherwise, but so plentifully in the sacred Scriptures, that so, what we have seen, and what our fathers have told us, we may not hide from our children, shewing to the generations to come the praises of the Lord. Psal. 78. 3, 4. That especially the seed of Abraham his servant, and the children of Jacob his chosen, may remember his marvellous works (Psal. 105. 5, 6.) in the beginning and progress of the planting of New-England, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; how that God brought a vine into this w^ilderness; that he cast out the heathen and planted it; and he also made room for it, and he caused it to take deep root, and it filled the land; so that it hath sent forth it’s boughs to the sea, and it’s branches to the river. Psal. 80. 8, 9. And not only 30, but also that He hath guided his people by his strength to his holy habitation, and planted them in the mountain of his inheritance, (Exod. 15. 13.) in respect of precious gospel-enjoyments. So that we may not only look back to former experiences of God’s goodness to our predecessors,”* (though many years before) and so have our faith strengthened in the mercies of God for our times; that so the Church being one numerical body, might not only even for the time he spake with us in our forefathers, (Hos. 12. 4.) by many gracious manifestations of his glorious attributes, Wisdom, Goodness, and Truth, improved for their good, but also rejoyce in present enjoyments of both outward and spirituall mercies, as fruits of their prayers, tears, travels and labours; that as especially God may have the glory of all, unto whom it is most due; so also some rays of glory may reach the names of those blessed saints that were the main instruments of the beginning of this happy enterprize.

So then, gentle Reader, thou mayest take notice, that the main ends of publishing this small history, IS, that God may have his due praise, his servants the mstrumcnts have their names embalmed, and the present and future ages may have the fruit and benefit of God’s great work in the relation of the first planting of New-England. Which ends, if attained, will be great cause of rcjoycing to the publisher thereof, if Psal. G6. C. God give him life and opportunity to take notice thereof.

The method I have observed, is (as I could) in some measure answerable to the ends aforenamed, in inserting some acknowledgement of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and truth upon special occasions, with allusion to the Scriptures; and also taking notice of some special instruments, and such main and special particulars as were pej’spicuouslj remarkable, in way of commendation in them, so far as my intelligence would reach; and especially in a faithful commemorizing, and declaration of God’s wonderful works for, by, and to his people, in preparing a place for them by driving out the heathen before them; bringing them through a sea of troubles; preserving and protecting them from, and in those dangers that attended them in their low estate, when they were strangers in the land; and making this howling wilderness a chamber of rest, safety, and pleasantness, whiles the storms of his displeasure have not only tossed, but endangered the overwhelming of great states and kingdoms, and hath now made it to us a fruitful land, sowed it with the seed of man and beast; but especially in giving us so long a peace, together with the Gospel of peace, and so great a freedom in our civil and religious enjoyments; and also in giving us hopes that we may be instruments in his hands, not only of enlarging of our prince’s dominions, but to enlarge the kingdom of the Lord Jesus, in the conversion of the poor blind natives.

And now, courteous Reader, that I may not hold thee too long in the porch, I only crave of thee to read this following discourse with a single eye, and with the same ends as I had in penning it. Let not the smallness of our beginnings, nor weakness of instruments, make the thing seem little, or the work despicable, but on the contrary, let the greater praise be rendered unto God, who hath effected great things by small means. Let not the harshness of my style, prejudice thy taste or appetite to the dish I present thee with. Accept it as freely as I give it. Carp not at what thou dost not approve, but use it as a remembrance of the Lord’s goodness, to engage to true thankfulness and obedience; so it may be a help to thee in thy journey through the wilderness of this world, to that eternal rest which is only to be found in the heavenly Canaan, which is the earnest desire of

Thy Christian friend,

Nathaniel Morton.6

1  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathaniel_Morton

2 IBID, footnote

3 The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I; II. The Historians, 1607-1783, 9. Nathaniel Morton; http://www.bartleby.com/225/0209.html

4 Nathaniel Morton, Epistle Dedicatory, The New England’s Memorial, p1 (Cambridge: Printed by S.G. and M.J. for John Usher of Boston, 1669)

5 IBID, p2, 3

6 Nathaniel Morton, Christian Reader, The New England’s Memorial, p1 (Cambridge: Printed by S.G. and M.J. for John Usher of Boston, 1669)

THE SETTLERS OF NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY, PENNSYLVANIA, ETC.

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Map of early settlements in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey

“The spirit of the age was present when the foundations of New York were laid. Every great European event affected the fortunes of America. Did a State prosper—it sought an increase of wealth by plantations in the West. Was a sect persecuted—it escaped to the New World. The Reformation, followed by collisions between English Dissenters and the Anglican Hierarchy, colonized New England. The Reformation, emancipating the United Provinces, led to European settlements on the Hudson. The Netherlands divide with England the glory of having planted the first colonies in the United States; they also divide the glory of having set the example of perfect freedom. If England gave our fathers the idea of popular representation, Holland originated for them the principle of federal union.”*

In the year 1609 the long conflict of Holland with Spain was suspended at the suggestion of Philip III, a confession on the part of Spain that she could no longer hope to successfully contest the supremacy of Holland, and a practical establishment of the independence of the United Netherlands. In the very same year that Holland took her position among the nations as a free, self-governing republic, Henry Hudson appeared at Manhattan Island and took possession of the region from the capes of Delaware to Canada, which he styled New Netherlands. The first occupancy was trading stations by the merchants of Amsterdam, who quickly perceived its admirable adaptation as a center for trade and commerce. First, the New Netherlands Company, in 1614, then the West India Company, in 1621, held the situation, the latter purchasing the island of the Indians. The West India Company appointed its governors, and public affairs were conducted by Dutch men on Dutch principles.

Through trade was the prime object with the first settlers at Manhattan, colonization soon became the ruling motive. Bold and enterprising were the first colonists, and intent upon the acquisition of wealth, but, having been educated in the National Dutch Church, they were much attached to it, and adopted early measures to establish religious worship in their home. Although the Dutch came to Manhattan in troublous times, they were not fugitives from persecution, as were the Huguenots, or from Protestant persecution, as were the Puritans. They belonged to the ruling party in the mother country, and brought with them the established Church order and the Calvinistic creed. These “contra-remonstrants” brought the Heidelberg Catechism stamped with the seal of orthodoxy by the Synod of Dort. A wise policy guided the West India Company in supplying their trading-posts and colonies with the means of religion and education at a very early date.

The earliest settlers in New Jersey were from New York. English Puritans from the eastern end of Long Island, at an early period, settled at Elizabethtown; and others from Connecticut soon followed. Later a considerable number of Scotch and Irish emigrants—all Protestants and most of them Presbyterian—settled in the central portions. English Quakers settled in West Jersey. Among them all the Puritan type decidedly predominated.

Delaware was claimed by the Dutch, in right of discovery, who made an unsuccessful attempt to settle it; but subsequently it fell into the hands of Gustavus Adolphus, the eminent Swedish prince and benefactor, and an eager promoter of colonization. Falling on the plains of Lutzen, his minister, Oxenstein, carried out his plans, and Delaware was settled with Lutheran Swedes. Though the colony was subsequently subdued by the Dutch from New York the Swedes are supposed to have constituted a large part of the substratum of the population. Quakers, New Englander, Scotch and Irish Presbyterians were subsequently added. (1)

1) Christianity in the United States, Daniel Dorchester, D.D., © 2009 American Vision Press, Powder Springs, GA; originally published by Phillips & Hunt, New York, 1888; Page 30-32

THE FOUNDERS OF THE SOUTHERN COLONIES

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Widely different in character were the early colonists of the Southern from those of the Northern States. It has been said, if New England may be regarded as colonized by the Anglo-Saxon race, with its simple manners, more equal institutions, and love of liberty, the South was colonized by men very Norman in blood, aristocratic in feeling and spirit, and with superior dignity of demeanor and elegance of manners.

The Virginia Colony was a Christian colony in intent and in fact. The charger required the maintenance of religious worship; boroughs were erected into parishes, with glebes and other provisions for the clergy. The assembly and the governor were urged to civilize the natives and bring them under the influence of the Gospel, and Indian children were educated. The Proprietaries of North and South Carolina were not wanting in high professions of zeal for the propagation of the Gospel, but it was left for later settlers to practically illustrate the purpose. Varied in origin, the number of those interested in promoting religious ends soon increased. “The good Oglethrope, one of the finest specimens of a Christian gentleman of the cavalier school,” let over a mixed people to settle upon the banks of the Savannah – poor debtors from English prisons, with godly Moravians from Germany, and brave Highlanders from Scotland.(1)

(1) Christianity in the United States, Daniel Dorchester, D.D., © 2009 American Vision Press, Powder Springs, GA; originally published by Phillips & Hunt, New York, 1888; Page 30

U.S. CHAPLAINS BRIEF HISTORY

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Ministers of the Gospel have always played an important role in history. Of particular interest is chaplains in the United States. Although the separation of church and state is widely debated and lawsuits have been initiated to block the Christian witness and presence, Chaplains still have an influence in the United States House of Representatives and Senate and our Armed Forces. Here is a brief look at some of that history.

Samuel Provoost, Bishop, Episcopal Church USA and first elected Chaplain of Congress

On July 29, 1775, the Continental Congress established the military chaplaincy. Chaplains were paid $20 per month, and provided “forage for one horse.” Gen George Washington issued this order at Valley Forge on May 2, 1778: “The Commander-in-Chief directs that divine services be performed every Sunday at eleven o’clock in each bridge which has chaplains…While we are duly performing the duty of good soldiers, we are not to be inattentive to the highest duties of religion.” Worship for soldiers was voluntary and chaplains of all faiths cooperated with each other, being sympathetic to the beliefs of others.

The history of the military chaplaincy reaches back to the beginning days of the United States. When Colonial forces went to war, they took with them one of the local ministers. Usually he was one of the younger clergy and more physically able. “This was an age when religion played a much more important role in the lives of Americans. For the Colonist, the minister was a powerful figure of authority within the community, and usually the best educated. Not even a minor military operation was planned or carried out without making sure that a minister was available to counsel and motivate the colonial fighting men”. [1] By the start of the Revolutionary War, the Military Chaplaincy stood upon 150 years of service to the American fighting men and women.

During the Civil War, military chaplains were held in high regard and there was an increased emphasis on professionalism. Some interesting facts of the chaplain’s influence with Confederate Army soldiers and officers are found in these facts: 150,000 Confederate soldiers rededicated or were baptized during the war; Eighty percent of college students in the South after the war found their religious faith while in the Confederate Army; Thirteen former Confederate chaplains were consecrated as bishops by 1892; and Twelve former Confederate chaplains became presidents of major colleges. [2]

Civil War Chaplains

One the more interesting events of the Civil Way was the election of a Union female chaplain. Mrs. Ella E. Gibson Hobart was elected as the Chaplain of the 1st Wisconsin Regiment of Heavy Artillery. She served in this position for a number of months in 1864, until Secretary of War Stanton refused to recognize her status because of her sex. The Civil War also saw some other firsts: It was the advent of the first Jewish Chaplains, and the first Black and Indian Chaplains. Another milestone in the war was the service of Unaguskie, the son of a Cherokee Chief and a Christian, who was the Chaplain of the Cherokee Battalion raised in North Carolina by the Confederate Army. [3]

When the Senate first convened in New York City on April 6, 1789, one of its first orders of business was to appoint a committee to recommend a candidate for chaplain. On April 25, the Senate elected the Right Reverend Samuel Provoost, Episcopal Bishop of New York, as its first chaplain. Since that time, the Senate has been served by chaplains of various religious denominations, including Episcopalians (19), Methodists (17), Presbyterians (14), Baptists (6), Unitarians (2), Congregationalists (1), Lutherans (1), Roman Catholic (1), and Seventh-day Adventist (1). The Senate has also appointed guest chaplains representative of all the world’s major religious faiths. In addition to opening the Senate each day in prayer, the current Senate chaplain’s duties include spiritual care and counseling for senators, their families, and their staffs — a combined constituency of over 6,000 people — and discussion sessions, prayer meetings, and a weekly Senators’ Prayer Breakfast. [3]

The former Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-West Virgina) addressed the Senate on June 5th, 1980 on “1789-1989: Addresses on the History of the United States Senate” giving an interesting history that is worth reading. You may read his address here: http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/Chaplain.pdf

The same history is true for the United States House of Representatives. The election of the Rev. William Linn as Chaplain of the House on May 1, 1789, continued the tradition established by the Continental Congresses of each day’s proceedings opening with a prayer by a chaplain. The early chaplains alternated duties with their Senate counterparts on a weekly basis. The two conducted Sunday services for the Washington community in the House Chamber every other week. Since the election of Rev. Linn in 1789, the House has been served by chaplains of various religious denominations, including Baptist (7), Christian (1), Congregationalist (2), Disciples of Christ (1), Episcopalian (4), Lutheran (1), Methodist (16), Presbyterian (15), Roman Catholic (1), Unitarian (2), and Universalist (1). In addition to opening proceedings with prayer, the Chaplain provides pastoral counseling to the House community, coordinates the scheduling of guest chaplains, and arranges memorial services for the House and its staff. In the past, Chaplains have performed marriage and funeral ceremonies for House members.[5]

[1] The Military Chaplain, Vol LXXII, Number 5
[2] The National Civil War Museum, The Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA; http://chaplainmuseum.org/religion.html
[3] Lighthouse Ministries,Civil War Chaplains; http://www.ourchurch.com/view/?pageID=156779
[4] United States Senate, Senate Chaplains: http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/Senate_Chaplain.htm
[5] History of the Chaplaincy, United States House of Representatives: http://chaplain.house.gov/chaplaincy/history.html

Photo: http://www.old-picture.com/civil-war/Chaplains-Civil-War.htm

RHODE ISLAND ESTABLISHES RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

The flag of Rhode Island is white and consists of a gold anchor in the center (a symbol for hope) surrounded by thirteen gold stars (for the original 13 colonies and Rhode Island's status as the 13th state to ratify the Constitution).

On May 4th, 1776, two months before the Declaration of Independence was adopted, the state declared its independence from England. It is one of the original thirteen colonies and its official name (still to this day) is State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It is the longest official state name and geographically smallest state in our country.

The first European settler in what is now Rhode Island was an Anglican minister, William Blackstone, who settled near what is now called Blackstone River, close to modern Lonsdale, in 1635. In June 1636, the father of Rhode Island, Roger Williams, brought some of his followers from Massachusetts to escape religious oppression. The people of Massachusetts were Congregationalists—Puritans who had fled England due to persecution by the Church of England. Roger Williams wanted to establish a colony where people could worship freely. He believed that that one should not infringe on another’s right to worship, and should have the ability to practice any religion of choice. [1]

The name Rhode Island and Providence Plantations derives from the merger of two colonies, Providence Plantations and Rhode Island. Providence Plantations was the name of the colony founded by Roger Williams in the area now known as the City of Providence. Rhode Island, the other colonial settlement, was founded in the area of present-day Newport, on Aquidneck Island, the largest of several islands in Narragansett Bay. [2]

The Consitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was birthed out of freedom of religion and acknowledgement of God and His sovereignity over the people of the state. Here are some excerpts of the Constitution:

Constitution
of the
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

PREAMBLE

We, the people of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and to transmit the same, unimpaired, to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution of government.

ARTICLE I

DECLARATION OF CERTAIN CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND PRINCIPLES

In order effectually to secure the religious and political freedom established by our venerated ancestors, and to preserve the same for our posterity, we do declare that the essential and unquestionable rights and principles hereinafter mentioned shall be established, maintained, and preserved, and shall be of paramount obligation in all legislative, judicial and executive proceedings.

Section 1. Right to make and alter Constitution — Constitution obligatory upon all. — In the words of the Father of his Country, we declare that “the basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and alter their constitutions of government; but that the constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.”

Section 2. Laws for good of whole — Burdens to be equally distributed — Due process — Equal protection — Discrimination — No right to abortion granted. — All free governments are instituted for the protection, safety, and happiness of the people. All laws, therefore, should be made for the good of the whole; and the burdens of the state ought to be fairly distributed among its citizens. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws. No otherwise qualified person shall, solely by reason of race, gender or handicap be subject to discrimination by the state, its agents or any person or entity doing business with the state. Nothing in this section shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof.

Section 3. Freedom of religion. — Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; and all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness; and whereas a principal object of our venerable ancestors, in their migration to this country and their settlement of this state, was, as they expressed it, to hold forth a lively experiment that a flourishing civil state may stand and be best maintained with full liberty in religious concernments; we, therefore, declare that no person shall be compelled to frequent or to support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatever, except in fulfillment of such person’s voluntary contract; nor enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in body or goods; nor disqualified from holding any office; nor otherwise suffer on account of such person’s religious belief; and that every person shall be free to worship God according to the dictates of such person’s conscience, and to profess and by argument to maintain such person’s opinion in matters of religion; and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect the civil capacity of any person. [3]

Rhode Island’s present constitution was adopted in 1842 and has been often amended. Excerpts above are from the Constitution as it is today.

[1] U.S. History Encyclopedia
[2] From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
[3] State of Rhode Island and General Assembly, http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/RiConstitution/C01.html

PROVINCIAL CONGRESS CALLS FOR FASTING AND PRAYER

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Colony of Massachusetts Provincial Congress Proclamation April 15, 1775

As we continue to look at our Christian foundations of our country, state constitutions reflect the moral and political conditions of a civil state by recognition of a higher power than mankind itself. In fact these constitutions recognize that God’s sovereignty, unity and order He established in creating man. The constitutions often reflect this dependency on God and go even further by incorporating Judeo-Christian law. Unfortunately, the Constitution of the United States today is undergoing the most aggressive challenges of progressive interpretations that change the Founding Father’s intent. Today we will look at a 1775 Colony of Massachusetts Provincial Congress Proclamation addressing a time of conflict and calling for a day of humility, prayer and fasting. Remember, this is the civil government making this declaration.

Provincial Congress, Concord, Mass.,
Saturday, April 15, 1775, A.D.

Whereas it hath pleased the righteous Sovereign of the universe, in just indignation against the sins of a people long blessed with inestimable privileges, civil and religious, to suffer the plots of wicked men on both sides of the Atlantic, who for many years have incessantly labored to sap the foundation of our public liberties, so far to succeed that we see the New England colonies reduced to the ungracious alternative of a tame submission to a state of absolute vassalage to the will of a despotic minister, or of preparing themselves to defend at the hazard of their lives the inalienable rights of themselves and prosperity against the avowed hostilities of their parent state, who openly threaten to wrest them from their hands by fire and sword.

In circumstances dark as these, it becomes us, as men and Christians, to reflect that, whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgment, or to prepare to act in a proper manner under them when they come, at the same time, all confidence must be withheld from the means we use, and repose only on that God who rules in the armies of heaven, and without whose blessing the best human counsels are but foolishness, and all created power vanity.

It is the happiness of the church, that when the powers of earth and hell are combined against it, and those who should be nursing fathers become its persecutors, then the Throne of Grace is of the easiest access, and its appeal thither is graciously invited by that Father of Mercies who has assured it that “when his children ask bread, he will not give them a stone.” Therefore, in compliance with the laudable practice of the people of God in all ages, with humble regard to the steps of Divine Providence towards this oppressed, threatened, and endangered people, and especially in obedience to the command of Heaven, that binds us to call on him in the day of trouble:

Resolved, That it be, and hereby is, recommended to the good people of this colony, of all denominations, that Thursday, the eleventh day of May next, be set apart as a day of public humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that a total abstinence from servile labor and recreation be observed, and all their religious assemblies solemnly convened, to humble themselves before God under the heavy judgments felt and feared; to confess the sins they have committed; to implore the forgiveness of all our transgressions; a spirit of repentance and reformation; and a blessing on the husbandry, manufactures, and other lawful employment of this people; and especially that the union of the American colonies, in defense of their rights (for which hitherto we desire to thank Almighty God) may be preserved and confirmed; that the Provincial, and especially the Continental, Congresses, may be directed to such measures as God will countenance; that the people of Great Britain and their rulers may have their eyes opened to discern the things that make for the peace of the nation and all its connections; and that America may soon behold a gracious interposition of Heaven for the redress of her many grievances, the restoration of all her invaded liberties, and their security to the latest generations.

Ordered, That the foregoing be copied, authenticated, and sent to all the religious assemblies in this colony.
Watertown, Nov. 20.

This Proclamation was signed by John Hancock, President, Provincial Congress

Source: Benjamin F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character Of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Pages 288-290; 2007, American Vision, Powder Springs, GA

Illustration: Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, Library of Congress; http://goo.gl/0Roa

DAY OF FASTING & PRAYER DECLARED

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

The King punished the colonists for the Boston Tea Party. He passed the Boston Port Act, MARCH 7, 1774, effectively closing the harbor to all commerce, intentionally ruining their economy.

"The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor", lithograph depicting the Boston Tea Party, 1846, Nathaniel Currier

Surrounding towns rallied by sending food. William Prescott, who later commanded at Bunker Hill, wrote: “Providence has placed you where you must stand the first shock…If we submit to these regulations, all is gone…” William Prescott continued: “Our forefathers passed the vast Atlantic, spent their blood and treasure, that they might enjoy their liberties, both civil and religious, and transmit them to their posterity…Now if we should give them up, can our children rise up and call us blessed?”

Upon hearing of the Boston Port Act, Thomas Jefferson led the Virginia House of Burgesses, May 24, 1774, to proclaim a Day of Fasting & Prayer, stating:

“This House, being deeply impressed with apprehension…from the hostile invasion of the city of Boston in our Sister Colony of Massachusetts Bay, whose commerce and harbor are, on the first day of June next, to be stopped by an armed force, deem it highly necessary that the said first day of June be set apart, by the members of this House, as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, devoutly to implore the Divine interposition, for averting the heavy calamity which threatens destruction to our civil rights.”

The King appointed Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, was so upset by this Day of Fasting & Prayer resolution that two days later he dissolved Virginia’s House of Burgesses. Virginia’s colonial leaders went down the street and gathered in Raleigh Tavern, where they decided to form a Continental Congress, which two years later would vote for independence from the King.

Endnotes:

A MAN OF INFLUENCE – JOHN COTTON

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Reverend John Cotton

One of the very influential forces in the founding of America as a Christian nation were passionate ministers who spoke, preached and wrote clear messages of God’s Divine Providence. These great men we will write about set the standard, principles and call to establish our government and rule on the word of God. John Cotton is one of these key figures and was very influential in the founding and formation of the Massachusetts Colony.

The Reverend John Cotton (December 4, 1585 – December 23, 1652) was a highly regarded principal among the New England Puritan ministers, who also included John Winthrop, Thomas Hooker, Increase Mather (who became his son-in-law), John Davenport, and Thomas Shepard. He was the grandfather of Cotton Mather, who was named after him.

Born in England, he was educated at Derby School, in buildings which are now the Derby Heritage Centre, and attended Cambridge University, where he also taught, and became a long-serving minister in the English town of  Boston, Lincolnshire before his Puritanism and criticism of hierarchy drew the hostile attention of Church of England authorities. In 1633, William Laud was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and like numerous other Puritan nonconformist figures, Cotton soon came under his close “eye of scrutiny”. In the same year Cotton, his family, and a few local followers sailed for the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The Brownist congregational movement within the Church of England had by this stage, in effect at least, become a separate church. Because of his early views on the primacy of congregational government, his was an important role in Puritan aspirations to become the “city on a hill” which might help reform the English church. He is best known among other things for his initial defense of Anne Hutchinson early in her trials during the Antinomian crisis, during which she mentioned him with respect, though he turned strongly against her with the further course of the trial. He is also remembered for his role in the banishment of Roger Williams regarding the role of democracy and the separation of church and state in the Puritan theonomic society, both of which Williams tended to advocate. Cotton grew still more conservative in his views with the years but always retained the estimation of his community. Cotton’s written legacy includes a body of correspondence, numerous sermons, a catechism, and in 1646 a shorter catechism for children titled Milk for Babes, which is considered the first children’s book by an American and was incorporated into The New England Primer around 1701 and remained a component of that work for over 150 years. His most famous sermon is probably Gods Promise to His Plantation (1630), preached at the departure of John Winthrop’s fleet for New England. [1]

“Now, God makes room for a people three ways: First when He casts out the enemies of a people before them by lawful war with the inhabitants, which God calls them unto, as in Ps. 44:2: “Thou didst drive out the heathen before them.” But this course of warring against others and driving them out without provocation depends upon special commission from God, or else it is not imitable. Second, when He gives a foreign people favor in the eyes of any native people to come and sit down with them, either by way of purchase, as Abraham did obtain the field of Machpelah; or else when they give it in courtesy, as Pharaoh did the land of Goshen unto the sons of Jacob. Third, when He makes a country, though not altogether void of inhabitants, yet void in the place where they reside. Where there is a vacant place, there is liberty for the sons of Adam or Noah to come and inhabit, though they neither buy it nor ask their leaves. So that it is free from that common grant for any to take possession of vacant countries. Indeed, no nation is to drive out another without special commission from Heaven, such as the Israelites had, and will not recompense the wrongs done in a peaceable way. And then they may right themselves by lawful war and subdue the country unto themselves.” [2}

Cotton, explained that "what hee [God] hath planted he will maintain … his owne plantation shall prosper, & flourish.” Cotton urged Puritans to “Have speciall care that you have had the ordinances [of God] planted amongst you,” because “As soon as God’s ordinances cease, yor security ceaseth likewise.” Cotton warned his fellow Puritans that breaking the covenant with God would result in a loss of his protection for his chosen. [3]

Cotton faced more and more pressure in England over his Puritan views and declarations. Though he had friends among the titled gentry, they were no longer able to protect him from the increasing ecclesiastical pressure to conform. He went into hiding in the fall of 1632 and was temporarily separated from his new wife and her ten-year-old daughter, Elizabeth (his first wife passed away from a sickness). Reunited before the end of the year, they were concealed by Puritan friends, including John Dod. Early in 1633 Cotton was cited to appear before the Court of High Commission. During this period, Cotton is said to have converted John Davenport, Thomas Goodwin, Philip Nye, and Henry Whitfield to nonconformity. On 7 May 1633 Cotton resigned his vicarage in Boston, regretting that “neither my bodily health, nor the peace of the church will now stand with my continuance there.” The crucial issue of conformity had been the central factor, as he explained to Bishop Williams: “howsoever I doe highly prize and much prefer other mens judgment and learning, and wisdome, and piety, yet in thinges pertaining to God and his worship, still, I must (as I ought) live by mine own fayth, not theirs.” Along with Puritan ministers Thomas Hooker and Samuel Stone and their families, Cotton sailed for New England on the Griffin on 13 July 1633. During the voyage, Sarah delivered their first child, aptly named Seaborn Cotton. [4]

Cotton was chosen teacher of the first church in Boston, of which John Wilson was already pastor. Cotton thus enjoyed a prominent position in the only church in what was to become the principal town of New England. His reputation for piety, learning, and insight, together with the respect paid to the minister in a community based on a desire to worship “in the purity of the ordinances,” gave him immediate influence.

Cotton was one of the most influential leaders of the Puritan movement in England and in the first generation of New England’s settlement. He brought a scholar’s erudition to his practice as preacher, biblical interpreter, disputant, and analyst of spiritual experience. Cotton is buried in the King’s Chapel Burial Ground in central Boston, MA, in the same grave as John Davenport (d. 1670), John Oxonbridge (d. 1674) and Thomas Bridge (d. 1713).

[1] Monergism, Copyright © 2009 by CPR Foundation. All rights reserved [2] God’s Promise to His Plantation, 1630 Sermon preached at Southampton when John Winthrop and his part departed to America [3] God’s Promise to His Plantation in Settlements to Society, 65-6 [4] American Philosophy, The Puritans, John Cotton

GEORGE FOX, FOUNDER OF QUAKERS

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

George Fox

The Christian religion played a dominant role in the formation of our country. Starting with the Puritans and followed by the Quakers, Presbyterians, Baptists and other church bodies, these groups literally gave birth to America. The leaders of these churches were very influential in the formation of our government. Christian men of God established the first communities and colonies of America.

It is important for us to visit these major leaders and to know them and the work they accomplished. George Fox (1624-1691) was an English Dissenter and a founder of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as the Quakers or Friends. The son of a weaver from rural England, Fox was apprenticed to a cobbler. Living in a time of great social upheaval and war, he rebelled against the religious and political consensus by proposing an unusual and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith. Abandoning his trade, he toured Britain as a dissenting preacher, for which he was often persecuted by the authorities who disapproved of his beliefs. His ministry expanded and he undertook tours of North America and the Low Countries, between which he was imprisoned for over a year. He spent the final decade of his life working in London to organize the expanding Quaker movement.

Though his movement attracted disdain from some, others such as William Penn and Oliver Cromwell viewed Fox with respect. His journal, first published after his death, is known even among non-Quakers for its vivid account of his personal journey. [1]

The great secret of Fox’s power was his faith in God. He started with scarcely any advantages, but soon he influenced the whole world for God. His one desire was the extension of Christ’s kingdom on earth. Through his influence England, Ireland, and Scotland were soon ablaze. In 1661 several of his followers were moved to go beyond the seas to publish truth in foreign countries. In 1664 he married Margaret Fell. In 1670-73 he sailed for the West Indies and North America. Though he was persecuted even there, the work spread. [2]

“Above all, George Fox excelled in prayer. The inwardness and weight of his spirit, the reverence and solemnity of his address and behaviour, and the fewness and fulness of his words have often struck even strangers with admiration as they used to reach others with consolation. The most awful, living, reverend frame I ever felt or beheld, I must say, was the prayer of George Fox. And truly it was a testimony. He knew and lived nearer to the Lord than other men, for they that know Him most will see most reason to approach Him with reverence and fear.”
By William Penn

Regarding the Quakers’ care for Friends within the Society: widows, orphans,

Colonial Quaker Meeting With a Woman Preaching

sick, poor, imprisoned, old, young; they were all cared for by the Quakers. If one assembly was overburdened with expense of care, other assemblies would contribute to their assistance, worldwide. Their care for their own was so thorough that “there was not a beggar among them,” and when a local government would discover that they were providing assistance, which the government was obligated to fund, the government would suddenly drop their opposition to their meetings and assemblies.

Regarding their care for all men: from the Journal, “Sometimes there would be two hundred of the poor of other people (non-Quakers) to come and wait until the meeting was done, (for all the country knew we met about the poor); and after the meeting, Friends would send to the bakers for bread, and give everyone of those poor people a loaf, however many there were of them; for we were taught ‘to do good all, though especially to the household of faith.’”

Thus the early Quakers evidenced three characteristics of true disciples: love among them through possession of the fruit of the Spirit, 2) being massively persecuted by those born of the flesh, and 3) the power of miracles and signs accompanying their ministries.

Under Fox’s leadership, the early Quakers initiated social reforms that are still beneficial to us today. They forced prices to be marked in stores, rather than all pricing being negotiable, even for food and clothing. They reformed the treatment of the mentally insane from being chained in dungeons. They initiated education for women in the trades. They provided rest homes for the aged, unable to work. In 1688, Pennsylvania Quakers passed an anti-slavery resolution in their colonial governing body, initiating slavery’s long demise in America. Their suffering and patient appeals to the governments resulted in religious toleration and freedom throughout Europe. Their ideals even influenced the United States Constitution in its separation of powers, the separation of Church and State, and the United States Bill of Rights, (William Penn’s Frame of Government for Pennsylvania implemented a democratic system with full freedom of religion, freedom from unjust imprisonment, fair trials, elected representatives of the people in power, and a separation of powers. Ahead of his time, Penn also submitted a written plan for a United States of Europe.)

The Quakers became a sedate, sober, thrifty people, of most exemplary lives, and most earnest in all good works. They were leaders in the most advanced philanthropic movements of the age. Besides their persistent and sincere advocacy of religious liberty, they were the first advocates of the abolition of slavery, and they never faltered in their purpose until slavery had ceased to exist in the British possessions and in the United States. “They weakly err,” observes William Penn, “who think there is no other use of government than correction, which is the coarsest part of it.” To provide the means of a good education for every child, and to see that all are taught some good trade or profession, would do more for the promotion of peace and happiness than all the machinery of courts and prisons. The principles that actuated the Friends who emigrated to the Holy Experiment of Pennsylvania, are set forth in a contemporary publication, called the Planter’s Speech made by Penn, as follows:

“The motives of our retreating to these new habitations I apprehend to have been, the desire of a peaceable life, where we might worship God and obey his law with freedom, according to the dictates of the divine principle. … Our business, therefore, in this new land, is, not so much to build houses and establish factories, and promote trade and manufactures, that may enrich themselves, (though all these things, in their due place, are not to be neglected), as to erect temples of holiness and righteousness, which God may delight in; to lay such lasting frames and foundations of temperance and virtue as may support the superstructure of our future happiness, both in this and the other world.”

The interior of the Plymouth Quaker Meeting House in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, built in 1708

The Quaker colony of Pennsylvania was first sought by George Fox, twenty years before William Penn made it a reality. In France and on the continent of Europe the great men and writers seized upon The Holy Experiment of Pennsylvania as the most remarkable occurrence of the age. Voltaire was delighted, and from that time he loved the Quakers; and even thought of going to Pennsylvania to live among them. To these men . . .the thought of Christians keeping their promises inviolate for forty years with heathen Indians was idealism realized. It was like refreshment in a great weary desert of previous Christian failures. [3]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Fox
[2] George Fox, The Unshakeable Shaker, Leonard Ravenhill, DAYSPRING 1963, Bethany House Publishers
[3] http://www.hallvworthington.com/wikipediasummary.html

RELIGION IN COLONIAL AMERICA

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Colonial America Pilgrims in the 1600s

Many religious groups (such as the Quakers and Puritans) formed the first 13 colonies on the basis of their religious beliefs. With the arrival of the Quakers in Pennsylvania in 1656, the path was officially paved for other religions to migrate to the colonies. The number of other religions in the colonies began to increase. Baptists appeared in a majority of the colonies, Roman Catholics and Protestants organized in Maryland and even some German religions surfaced in a few of the colonies. Later came the Lutherans, who formed in the German communities in Pennsylvania, and the Presbyterians, who even had an appearance in the Massachusetts Proposals of 1705.

Religious diversity had become a dominant part of colonial life. The colonies were a patchwork of religiously diverse communities and, as a result, the population of America increased quickly. People from all over the world wanted the freedom that was found in America and they began to move their homelands to America. Groups such as the Scotch-Irish were among the first to begin that emigration to America.

Religion also became a dominant part of American politics. The Cambridge Platform was established in the 1640′s. This document was a part of the Puritan theology and adopted the Westminister Confession. Then, in 1649, the Act Concerning Religion was enacted. This act has even been considered one of the greatest additions to the freedom of religion in America. Later political documents included the Massachusetts Proposals and the Adopting Act of 1729. The Bill of Rights added to religious freedom with the First Amendment.

Eventually, the issue of church and state became a topic of debate. According to Clifton Olmstead, author of History of Religion in United States, the separation of church and state was completed by the Constitution in 1777. There were numerous groups of people who disagreed with the separation. Some even thought that it would have no effect on the growth of religion in the United States. Olmstead quotes a Congregationalist minister about his idea of the separation: “It was as dark a day as ever I saw. The odium thrown upon the ministry was inconceivable. The injury done to the cause of Christ, as we then supposed, was irreparable. For several days I suffered what no tongue can tell for the best thing that ever happened to the State of Connecticut. It cut the churches loose from dependence on state support. It threw them wholly on their own resources and on God. . . .They say ministers have lost their influence; the fact is, they have gained. By voluntary efforts, societies, missions, and revivals, they exert a deeper influence than ever they could by queues and shoe buckles, and cocked hats and gold-headed canes”.

Overall, religion was an important aspect in the colonization of America. It became a dominant part of the lives of the colonists and continued to grow over the years. Events such as the Salem Witchcraft Trials of the 1690′s and the Great Awakening of the 1730′s only increased the influence of religion in America. America had become a refuge for those who wanted religious freedom and became a home to the many people that had the chance to improve their lives. [1] [2]

[1] Religion in Colonial America, Lawanda Brewer, Heather Jaques, Ranada Jones, Joshua King; Students, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, 2001
[2] Works Cited: Olmstead, Clifton E. History of Religion in the United States; Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1960.