Welcome to the American Christian Heritage Group blog where we give you glimpses of our country's early Christian foundations. We hope you enjoy these, learn more about our Christian heritage and undertake reading of the many cited sources and end notes. Please feel free to register and leave comments.

FIRST NEW ENGLAND HISTORY

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)

DIVERSE CURRENTS IN COLONIAL CHRISTIANITY

June 7th, 2010

The separation of Church and state, secularism and Statism are not new. In fact, early Colonial Christianity, strengthened by the Puritans and responsible for establishing a Christian foundation in our country, came under attack by false doctrines that started to infiltrate the orthodox Christian theology and faith. Beginning in Europe and spread to the colonies, these beliefs had a significant impact in changing the headway the Puritans had made. In the larger scope of  our country’s early days, it remains evident that God was acknowledged as the Supreme Being and Provider. The founding fathers said and wrote as much and relied on these truths to establish this country. Divine Providence ruled in the end.

The following excerpts from “Diverse Currents,” Chapter 8 of Christianity in the United States by Daniel Dorchester [American Vision Press, Powder Springs, Georgia, 2009; originally published by Philips & Hunt, 1888] provides us with a glimpse of how these diverse currents began and the course it took. These excerpts cannot and do not capture the full story. If you are interested in learning more, check our endnotes for the web site and contact information for American Vision Press. [1]

DIVERSE CURRENTS

An inspection of the religious life of the colonial era reveals new currents of theological sentiment, silently but steadily setting in, at various points, against the long accepted theories. In the subsequent periods they will appear as more active assailing forces, openly antagonizing the old beliefs and seriously engaging the attention of the world.

Section 1. – The Inception of American Skepticism

As early as the middle of the seventeenth century symptoms of this great revolt appeared, in the English mind, in the gradual unfolding of the principle that the natural consciousness of the Divine existence and man’s conscience are all the materials necessary for the construction of a perfect religion, and that Christianity is of no value except as containing germs of this natural religion. In the course of the following century these sentiments obtained a formal recognition under the name of English deism, accompanied often with a denial of the historic verity of the Christian records and a denunciation of the Christian system as priestcraft. The history of English deism covers a period of about one hundred and seventy-five years (1625-1800) [2]  from Herbert to Gibbon, embracing groups of essayists, poets and novelists distinguished for splendid talents and extensive acquisitions. A large portion of the English mind was tainted with these ideas, and a serious deterioration in faith and morals became apparent.

Introduction into America


The celebrated French and Indian war, extending through a period of nine years (1754-1763), afforded an opportunity for their inculcation. During this war American citizens were brought into deistical sentiments. “Most of their American companions had never heard the divine origin of the Scriptures questioned, and their minds were, of course, unprovided with answers even to the most common objections. To such objections as were actually made was added the force of authority. The British officers were from the mother country—a phase of high import—until after the commencement of the Revolution. They came from a country renowned for arts and arms, and regarded by the people of New England as the birth-place of science and wisdom.

The period of intervening between the French war and the Revolution was characterized by a perceptible relaxation of morals, and it is certain that religion suffered serious decline.

The Unitarian departure had its inception in the introduction of the famous “halfway covenant,” which was adopted in the infancy of the colonies, only forty-two years after the landing of the Pilgrims. This measure was a politico-religious expedient resorted to for the purpose of relieving themselves from embarrassments growing out of an extreme and impracticable application of Christianity to the relations of the Church and the civil power.

It has been already observed that the early churches of New England held very strictly to the necessity of saving faith and spiritual regeneration as conditions of membership. And their religion was not a dreamy speculation, or a mere sentiment, or an abstraction, but it was carried out in concrete forms in the practical details of life. Religion was the stock upon which every things must be rejected. Hence we find the State growing out of the Church. Under their regimen no person could hold public office, or vote in elections, or enjoy any of the ordinary privileges of citizenship, who was not a member of the Church.

In 1633, Rev. John Cotton preached a sermon in Boston, entitled, “A Discourse About Civil Government, in a New Plantation, whose Design is Religion.” Its object was “to prove the expediency and necessity of intrusting free burgesses, who are members of churches, gathered amongst them according to Christ, with the power of choosing from among themselves magistrates and men to whom the managing of all public and civil affairs of importance is to be committed.” This was in accordance with the general usage of the New England colonies. [3]

Religious ideas were carried into everything they did. The recluses of the Middle Ages had removed religion from practical life, into caves and cloisters, but the Puritans reversed the order and carried it into the most common affairs. Thus actuated, they made the franchise of the Commonwealth dependent upon church membership, and the latter upon a genuine religious experience. A solemn form, too, was observed in the relation of religious experience before the Church, and inquiries were made into the previous conviction for sin and the radical character of the change. Thus were the membership of the Church and the franchise of the State hedged in with impressive and uncompromising religious ideas and usages. [4]

[1] Editor’s note to article
[2] Herbert died 1648; Hobbes, 1679; The Earl of Shaftesbury, 1713; Toland, 1722; Mandeville, 1733; Collins, 1729; Woolston, 1733; Morgan, 1743; Tindal, 1733; Chubb, 1747; Bolingbroke, 1751; Hume, 1776; Gibbon, 1794
[3] The Ecclesiastical History of New England, By Joseph B. Felt. Vol. l, pg. 169
[4] Endnote: These excerpts are taken from “Diverse Currents,” Chapter 8 of Christianity in the United States by Daniel Dorchester [American Vision Press, Powder Springs, Georgia, 2009; originally published by Philips & Hunt, 1888]. For further information, visit their web site at www.americanvision.org or telephone 1-800-628-9460

THE FIRST EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE

March 25th, 2010

Thomas Prince Sr. may have worried that the Great Awakening was fading when he and his son started the first evangelical magazine in 1743. But he wanted to publish a journal that would document the revival that had been spreading through the American colonies. Future generations could turn to the Christian History magazine and remember God’s faithfulness. He also hoped the periodical would keep the awakened community from fracturing, encourage recent converts, and perhaps even prompt a few new ones. Whether or not the Boston pastor succeeded in all his aims, we are indebted this progenitor of evangelical publishing, who inspired generations of journalist/historians to support the church by documenting the gospel’s progress.

“Where there had been no specifically evangelical periodical publication in the first forty years of the [eighteenth] century,” Susan [Durden] O’Brien observes, “by the last forty years such literature had become a normal means of communication and propagation for several denominations.”

Writing in the first issue, published on March 5, 1743, editor Thomas Prince Jr. told readers what they could expect. New England ministers would submit authentic, trustworthy accounts of the contemporary revival. He planned to publish extracts from the “most remarkable” revival stories in history. He solicited revival narratives from ministers in England and Scotland. And he excerpted letters between pastors from various locales, anywhere from Scotland to Georgia. This correspondence provided readers with the most reliable, recent news from the awakening’s front lines.

The first seven issues of the weekly magazine shared news from the contemporary Kilsyth revival in Scotland. “As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country: So Solomon observed in his day; and so we find it in ours,” Prince wrote in his editor’s preface. Indeed, revival leaders thrived on exchanging mutually encouraging reports across the Atlantic. They also exchanged strategies for defending the awakening. Like his allies in America, Scottish minister James Robe attacked the revival’s critics head-on. It’s not clear how many critics read this pro-revival magazine, but Robe gave them something to chew on. Critics regarded the crowds as deluded by the Devil, so Robe asked how ministers should respond. The crowds were approaching ministers confessing their immoral behavior and asking, “What must I do to be saved?” Should they turn the crowds away, telling them the Devil makes them see their sin as offensive to God? Or should they explain that Satan leads them to inquire about the state of their souls and seek relief from Christ? Of course, such a response would be cruel and ridiculous, Robe implied.

Prince ceased publication in 1745. But the legacy of the Christian History endures in name and also in the spirit of bringing evangelicals together to testify about what the Lord has done.

“Journals like Prince’s brought international evangelicalism to an important new stage,” Mark Noll writes in The Rise of Evangelicalism. “Revivalistic Calvinism was becoming a public matter, and in so doing was beginning to blur its boundaries with others in the English-speaking world who were uncertain about Calvinism abut nonetheless dedicated to revival. Evangelical self-consciousness increased measurably as articles from magazines were circulated, read publicly and reprinted in other papers.”

Source: The First Evangelical Magazine by Collin Hansen, Chritian History blog, February 9, 2010 at http://goo.gl/oFdS

JOHN HANCOCK – BENEVOLENT PATRIOT

March 10th, 2010

John Hancock

One of the most distinguished personages of the War of Independence was John Hancock, who was born near the village of Quincy, in Massachusetts, in the year 1737. He was a soldier, public official and Harvard graduate (1754). He served several terms as a Selectman of Boston; member of the Provincial Legislature (1766-72); member of the Continental Congress (1774-78) where he was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and President of Congress (1774-77); He was a Senior Major-General of the Massachusetts Militia (1778); a delegate to the State constitutional convention (1779); and Governor of Massachusetts (1780-85, 1787-93).

He also was a Christian.

John Hancock was the son of a dedicated Congregationalist minister of the gospel. His grandfather was also a minister of the gospel. When he was seven years old his father died, and John was sent to live with his grandparents. His uncle, Thomas Hancock, who had no children of his own, took John under his wing and sent him first to Boston Grammar School and then Harvard College. Upon graduation at age 17, John became clerk in his uncle’s mercantile business. He became an example to all the young men of the town. He was wholly devoted to business.

His uncle sent John on a business mission to England in 1760. In 1764, Thomas Hancock died, leaving most of his fortune to John, his shipping business and estate worth 80,000 pounds. At 27 years of age, John was one of the richest people in Massachusetts. He enjoyed his wealth. He owned enough suits to open a clothing store, drove about in a fancy carriage, and gave parties that were the talk of Boston. He also used his money for the public good, which made him very popular. Charity was the common business of his life. Hundreds of families, from his private benevolence, received their daily bread. He helped rebuild damaged structures after a fire, and every winter he donated food to poor Bostonians. There is, perhaps, no individual mentioned in history which has spent a more ample fortune in promoting the liberties of his country.

In May of 1775, John Hancock married Dolly Quincy, with whom he would have two children. Their daughter, Lydia, lived less than a year. Their son, John George Washington Hancock, hit his head while ice skating and died at the age of eight.

John Hancock was a member of the Massachusetts colonial legislature from 1766-1772. He was President of the Massachusetts provincial congress from 1774-1775. In 1776, Hancock was elected to the colonial legislature of Massachusetts. Sam Adams recruited Hancock for the Liberty Party. That was what the patriots were called. Sam Adams and John Hancock made an interesting contrast—Adams in his thread bare suit and Hancock a dashing young merchant. Hancock poured his heart, soul and money into the patriot cause. He gave so much money to the rebels that Bostonians joked, “Samuel Adams writes the letters to the newspapers, and John Hancock pays the postage.

In April 1775, British troops were sent from Boston to Lexington to capture Hancock and Samuel Adams, and also to capture the stored munitions at Concord. Paul Revere spread the warning during his famous midnight ride. Hancock was at this time engaged to Dolly Quincy, and this night, the two were at a dinner in the parsonage of Rev. Jones Clarke at Lexington. About midnight the silence of the night was broken by a messenger galloping up on horseback. The rider, out of breath yelled:

“Where’s Mr. Hancock?”
“Don’t make so much noise!’ the sentry ordered.
“Noise!” hollered Paul Revere. “You’ll have noise enough before long, The Regulars are coming out”

Hancock flung open his bedroom window and invited Revere into the house. When told the news, his first reaction was to join the Minutemen on the village green.

“We recognize no Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!” is a statement attributed to John Adams and John Hancock as their response to a British major who ordered them and those with them to disperse in the name of George the sovereign King of England on April 18 1775.

The others persuaded Hancock to run to avoid risk of capture. He and Samuel Adams, also residing there for the night, fled toward the village of Woburn. They heard the sound of the Minutemen’s drum and fife as they barely escaped the village. They then journeyed on to the meeting of the Second Continental Congress.

John Hancock was president of the Continental Congress from 1775-1777. He was the first man to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Reportedly, while signing in large bold letters on July 4, 1776, Hancock said, “There! John Bull (a nickname for England) can read my name without spectacles and may double his reward on my head.”

The printed version of the Declaration that was sent to all the colonies to be read on July 5th, carried only the signature of John Hancock, as the official document wasn’t drawn up and ready for all to sign until August 2nd. As a result, John Hancock’s name swiftly became second only to that of George Washington, as a symbol of freedom in the colonies.

Hancock resigned his presidency of the Continental Congress in October, 1777, due to a severe case of gout. He did, however, continue on as a member of the Massachusetts delegation to Congress and in 1778, signed the Articles of Confederation. He was the first Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and served from 1780-1785. He was President of the Massachusetts state convention that ratified the United States Constitution. In 1787 he was again elected Governor of Massachusetts and remained in that office for the remainder of his life. Sometimes the gout was so painful he couldn’t walk and had to be carried around Boston. [1]

John Hancock issued a proclamation that demonstrates his Christian heritage:

“In circumstances as 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 judgments, …at the same time all confidence must be withheld from the means we use; and reposed only on that God rules in the armies of Heaven, and without His whole blessing, the best human counsels are but foolishness… Resolved; …Thursday the 11th of May…to humble themselves before God under the heavy judgments felt and feared, to confess the sins that have deserved them, to implore the Forgiveness of all our transgressions, and a spirit of repentance and reformation …and a Blessing on the … Union of the American Colonies in Defense of their Rights [for which hitherto we desire to thank Almighty God]…That the people of Great Britain and their rulers may have their eyes opened to discern the things that shall make for the peace of the nation…for the redress of America’s many grievances, the restoration of all her invaded liberties, and their security to the latest generations. [2]

He died on October 8, 1783, at fifty-five years of age. The funeral procession was extremely impressive. It included public officials, the militia, and thousands of citizens. Lieutenant Governor Samuel Adams, Hancock’s lifelong friend, walked in front of the coffin and Vice President of the United States, John Adams, walked behind.

John Adams summed up Hancock’s career and characteristics in the following words:

“Mr. Hancock had a delicate constitution. He was in poor health. A great part of his life was passed in acute pain. He had a certain sensibility, a keenness of feeling, a peevishness of temper that sometimes disgusted his friends. Yet it was astonishing with what patience, perseverance, and punctuality, he attended to business to the last. His talents were far superior to many who have been much more celebrated.”

1. For You They Signed, Marilyn Boyer; Learning Parent, Rustburg, VA, 2009
2. “A Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, with a total abstinence from labor and recreation,” Proclamation on April 15, 1775

OUR JUDEO-CHRISTIAN NATION

March 9th, 2010

Congressman Randy Forbes, R-VA

A few days ago an important speech and declaration was made before Congress concerning the Christian roots of the United States of America. We have reprinted it below and a video link  of the speech. It is good for us to know that there are people working today to acknowledge and bring our Christian roots to the forefront of our nation.

The speech and declaration was made by Congressman Randy Forbes, Republican, representing the Fourth District of Virginia. Placed prominently on the wall of Congressman Randy Forbes’ Washington office is a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence surrounded by portraits of the fifty-six founding fathers who signed the document asserting our nation’s freedom. He is working to protect our Christian heritage.  Congressman Randy Forbes founded and chairs the Congressional Prayer Caucus and has led this group of bipartisan Members in national efforts to protect prayer and our nation’s spiritual history.

Congressman Randy Forbes attends Great Bridge Baptist Church, where he has taught adult Sunday school for over 20 years. He was born and raised in Chesapeake, Virginia where he still resides with his wife Shirley. He and Shirley have been married since 1978 and have four children: Neil, Jamie, Jordan, and Justin.

Forbes (R-VA)
May 6, 2009, 4:20 PM – 4:24 PM U.S. House of Representatives

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, on April 6th of this year, the President of the United States traveled halfway around the globe, and in the nation of Turkey, essentially proclaimed that the United States was not a Judeo- Christian nation.

I don’t challenge his right to do that or dispute the fact that it is what he believes, but I wish he had asked and answered two questions when he did that. The first question was whether or not we ever considered ourselves a Judeo-Christian nation, and the second one was, if we did, what was the moment in time where we ceased to be so? If asked the first question, Mr. Speaker, you would find that the very first act of the first congress in the United States was to bring in a minister and have congress led in prayer, and afterwards read four chapters out of the bible. A few years later, when we unanimously declared our independence, we made certain that the rights in there were given to us by our creator. When the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, it ended the revolutionary war and birthed this nation. The signers of that document made clear that it began with this phrase, “in the name of the most holy and undivided trinity.”

When our constitution was signed, the signers made sure that they punctuated the end of it by saying, “in the year of our lord, 1787”, and 100 years later in the supreme court case of Holy Trinity Church vs. United States, the Supreme Court indicated, after recounting the long history of faith in this country, that we were a Christian nation. President George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, all disagreed with the President’s comments, and indicated how the bible and Judeo-Christian principles were so important to this nation. Franklin Roosevelt even led this nation in a six-minute prayer before the invasion of perhaps the greatest battle in history, in the Invasion of Normandy, and asked for God’s protection. After that war, congress came together and said, “Where are we going to put our trust?” It wasn’t in our weapons systems, or our economy, or our great decisions here. It was in God we trust, which is emboldened directly behind you. So, if in fact we were a nation that was birthed on those Judeo-Christian principles, what was that moment in time when we ceased to so be?

It wasn’t when a small group of people succeeded in taking prayer out of our schools, or when they tried to cover up the word referencing God on the Washington Monument. Or, when they tried to stop our veterans from having flag-folding ceremonies at their funerals on a voluntary basis because they mentioned God, or even when they tried in the new visitor’s center to change the national motto, and to refuse to put “in God we trust” in there. No, Mr. Speaker, it wasn’t any of those times because they can rip that word off of all of our buildings and still those Judeo-Christian principles are so interwoven in a tapestry of freedom and liberty, that to begin to unravel one is to unravel the other.

That’s why we have filed the Spiritual Heritage Resolution, to help reaffirm that great history of faith that we have in this nation and to say to those individual’s who have yielded to the temptation of concluding that we are no longer a Judeo-Christian nation, to come back. To come back and look at those great principles that birthed this nation, and sustain us today. We believe if they do, they will conclude as President Eisenhower did and later Gerald Ford repeated, that “without God, there could be no American form of government. Nor, an American way of life.” Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic expression of Americanism. Thus the founding fathers of America sought and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back.

To watch Congressman Forbes deliver this speech, go here:  http://goo.gl/Zboh

Visit his web site at: http://forbes.house.gov/

BIBLE INFLUENCED FOUNDING FATHERS

February 23rd, 2010

The Scripture verse found in Psalm 119:105 states that, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Our early forefathers and those that were instrumental in forming our government were a people who acknowledged God and his sovereignty over our lives. Although secularists question the faith of our founding fathers, there is no question they had a fundamental belief and understanding of God and His word. Dr. Donald Lutz, Professor of Political Science and Author of early American history at the University of Houston, said in an interview that founders knew the Bible “down to their fingertips.”

Historical evidence establishes that the Bible had more influence on the founding fathers of America than any other book. Our founding fathers were a diverse group that held beliefs from deism to full faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Their particular practice of faith ranged from belief in personal salvation to formal church members holding theological positions that ranged from Reformation beliefs, Calvinism, to more liberal and Unitarianism. Some believed in a state church and others were separatists.

One sure thing we know; these founding fathers believed in God Almighty and His word influenced them. It is without question that this common thread brought these men together and God’s Divine Providence drew them to find common ground to establish our government.

John Adams stated, “Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, area as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.” [1]

Samuel Adams fought vigorously for independence. He committed his life to Christ during the Great Awakening revival while attending Harvard. George Bancroft, historian, wrote,

“The austere purity of his life witnessed the sincerity of his profession. Evening and morning his house was a house of prayer, and no one more revered the Christian Sabbath.” [2] Adams wrote, “The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty… The rights of the Colonists as Christians…maybe best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutions of The Great Law Giver and the Head of the Christian Church, which are to found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.” [3]

There are many more writings and speeches by the founding fathers that continue to reinforce our Christian foundations. One has to wonder why secularists continue to deny and attempt to prove this is not true. It is the very Christian faith they attack and the laws founded on the Biblical laws that give them the freedom to question and form their opinions. Although they try to eradicate Christ and legislate Him from our society, their very actions may prove to be their enemy in the end. It is in our interests to reaffirm our faith and study our Christian foundations so that our Christian roots will not be lost by the increasing secularism in our educational system.

[1] John Adams, June 28, 1813, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson. Norman Cousins, In God We Trust: The Religious Beliefs and Ideas of the American Founding Fathers (New York Harper & Brothers, 1958) 230.
[2] George Bancroft, History of the United States of America, From the Discovery of the Continent, Volume 5, Page 195, Harper & Brothers, 1958
[3] The Annuals of America, Encyclopedia Britannica, Chicago, 1976, 2:218-219

GEORGE FOX, FOUNDER OF QUAKERS

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

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

February 7th, 2010

Robert Baird, Author

It is without question that the major force driving the settlers and colonists was religious liberty. Robert Baird, an observer of religious trends in the early 1800’s, spent the years 1835-1843 in Europe studying the roots of American religious freedom. At the end of his study, he published his classic work Religion in America in which he said,

To their religion the New England colonists owed all their best qualities. Even their political freedom they owed to the contest they had waged in England for religious liberty…Religion led them to abandon their country, rather than submit to a tyranny that threatened to enslave their immortal souls, and made them seek in the New World the freedom of conscience that was denied to them in the old.

Baird observed that, “In no other part of the world, perhaps, do a larger proportion of the inhabitants attend church than in the United States,” This led Baird to conclude:

It is just because of these influences—the Sabbath, the Church, the Bible—that a vast country of now more than twenty-seven millions of people can be governed, and is governed, without the bayonet and the cannon. [1]

Dr. Increase Mather

Dr. Increase Mather (1639-1723), was a major figure in the early history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay. He was a Puritan minister who was involved with the government of the colony and the administration (first as Acting President and then President) of Harvard College. He was ordained as minister of the North Church (the original Old North meetinghouse, not to be confused with the Anglican/Episcopal Old North Church), whose congregation included many of the upper class and governing class, on May 27, 1664. He held this post until he died. By virtue of his position, he quickly became one of the most influential people in the colony, both religiously and politically. He was the son of Richard Mather and father of Cotton Mather, both influential Puritan ministers. He declared that but for the persecutions of Old England, there would not be a New England! [2]

John Norton (1606-1663) was a Puritan divine, and one of the first authors in the United States of America. He ministered in Ipswitch, Massachusetts and later in life, in 1662, he accompanied Governor Simon Bradstreet as agent of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to present an address to King Charles II after his Restoration, and to petition on behalf of New England. Norton addressed the issue of religious freedom to the King:

“We supplicate your Majesty for your gracious protection of us, in the continuance both of our civil, and of our religious liberties; according to the grantees’ known end of suing for the patent, conferred upon this plantation by your royal father. ‘Our liberty to walk in the faith of the gospel, with all good conscience, according to the order of the gospel,’ was the cause of our transporting our selves, with our wives, our little ones, and our substance, from that pleasant land, over the Atlantiek Ocean, into tiie vast wilderness; choosing rather the pure Scripture-worship, with a good conscience, in this remote wilderness, than the pleasures of England, with submissions to the impositions of the then so disposed, and so far prevailing hierarchy, which we could not do without an evil conscience.” “Wo are not seditious as to the interests of Caesar, nor schismatical as to the matters of religion. We distinguish between churches, and their impurities.” “We could not live without the publick worship of God, nor be permitted the public worship, without such a yoke of subscription and conformity, as we could not consent unto without sin. That we might, therefore, enjoy divine worship, free from human mixtures, without offence to God, man, and our own consciences, we, with leave, but not without tears, departed from our country, kindred, and fathers’ houses, into this Patmos.” [3]

The king assured them that he would confirm the charter of the colony.

Accurate historical accounts recount over and over again the foundation of America as a Christian nation and reaffirms the Christian faith as the foundation for religious liberty. Acknowledging these truths are not a threat to our nation. It is the opposite – Christianity promotes freedom, true freedom.

[1] Religion in America, Robert Baird, Harper Brothers 1844
[2] Christianity and the American Commonwealth, Charles B. Galloway, American Vision, Inc. 2008, Page 57
[3] Magnalia Christi Americana, Cotton Mather, D.D., F.R.S., Silas Andrus & Son, 1855, Page 296

COLUMBUS MEANS “CHRIST-BEARER”

February 2nd, 2010

Christianity in the founding of America is not confined to the early settlers in the 1600’s. Christopher Columbus in 1492 declared his purpose to be led by the Holy Spirit. The Word of God was his foundation he said. God sent him as a forerunner to prepare the way for those who were to possess the land. Here is a delightful essay that tells the story:

“No one should be afraid to take on any enterprise in the name of our Savior if it is right and the purpose is purely for His holy service.” (Fols. 4-6 of Book of Prophecies by Christopher Columbus)

As a young boy, Columbus trusted Christ as his Savior and discovered the Ways of God. He felt that God wanted him to explore the world and find new land and people so that Christ could be proclaimed. He became an excellent sailor and businessman and overcame many problems with God’s help, even mutiny and being bound in chains.

“All those who heard of my plan disregarded it mockingly and with laughter. . … Who would doubt that this (idea for sailing west) . . . came from the Holy Spirit . . .” In Columbus’ own writing, the “Book of Prophecies,” we have evidence that “the Bible was the principal source of inspiration for the great Columbian enterprise.” (Christopher Columbus: His Life and Discovery in the Light of His Prophecies by Kay Brigham. Libros CLIE, Spain, 1990 p. 53)

The Scripture that Columbus read and believed were the inspiration for his journey around the world. In a written statement from Columbus’ own hand, he testified that it was from reading the book of Isaiah that he discovered that the world is round. Isaiah 40:22 “It is (God) that sits upon the circle of the earth.” At a time when most believed that the earth was flat, it was the Scriptures that inspired Christopher Columbus to sail west. He wrote (from his diary, in reference to his discovery of “the New World”): “It was the Lord who put it into my mind. I could feel His hand upon me … . . there is no question the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit because He comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures.” (Ibid) [1]

[1] Publisher’s Blog, Guest Essay by James Rose, American Christian History Institute, achipa.com

END NOTE: Christopher Columbus Discovers America, 1492 at: http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/columbus.htm ; Eye Witness to History, 2004, offers a short summary of Columbus arriving in America.

THE HAND OF GOD IN AMERICAN HISTORY

February 1st, 2010

Our Christian history pertains to God and his Divine Providence. The founding of America clearly demonstrates providential history, God’s care and guidance of his people and the formation of a nation. The earliest writings show us that the founders of our nation clearly understood their total reliance on God. One of the most powerful and clear statements of God’s hand in American history was preached by the Reverend S.W. Foljambe in an Election Day sermon. He was the Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Malden, Massachusetts, a church founded in 1803. [1]

The Election Day sermon was an important institution in colonial New England. The sermon was not usually, it must be stressed, an attempt to influence the outcome of elections. Instead, it was a reflection on the relationship between government and God, between the polity and Divine Authority. In New England, it was a reminder that the colonial governments were supposed to be expressions of the covenant between God and His people. [2]

Reverend S.W. Foljambe’s Election Day sermon of January 5, 1876, was delivered to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. After the sermon, Mr. Foque of Malden, a Representative, was appointed to present the thanks of the House to the Rev. S. W. Foljambe, of Malden, and to request a copy of the election sermon for publication, with the manuscript of said sermon, and recommending the adoption of an Order providing that 2,000 copies be printed. It was reduced to 1,000 and printed (this was a yearly practice). [3]

Reverend Foljambe’s sermon is very long and it is recommended that you refer to the footnote reference to read a copy online. Here are some brief excerpts to give you the general idea of content:

“When St. Paul stood before that famous court of which the poets and orators of Greece tell such proud things, he proclaimed to them the God they knew not, filling up the inscription to the unknown God with the name of Jehovah. He tells them more of God in a few minutes, than Plato had done in all his life. He brings the matter closely home to them, and makes them feel as if in contact with God; not with an ideal merely, but with a living, personal Being, whose providence is directed at once to the individual interests of men, and the highest interest of nations.
‘Seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him’ (Acts 17:25-27)
Such is the divine basis of that institution which we call the State, and such the ultimate religious end of its existence. Not in force, nor in any mutual compact, nor yet in the family, does the State have its origin. The family and the State may seem to be more intimately related, but they are in fact totally distinct from each other. The State cannot be the natural product of the family, for it is animated by another kind of spirit. The family is the sphere of affection and custom, the State is the sphere of justice; the family is the product of nature, but is evolved under the action and control of Providence, and the tendency of its history, both as to its limitations and powers, is to lead it to God, who exerises that providence, and is the source of that spirit of justice which is its root and life.

The more thoroughly a nation deals with its history, the decidedly will it recognize and own an overruling Providence therein, and the more religious a nation it will become; while the more superficially it deals with its history, seeing only secondary causes and human agencies, the more irreligious will it be. If the history of any nation is the development of the latent possibilioties existing in its special nature, it is also the record of Divine Providence furnishing place and scope for that development, creating its opportunities and guiding its progress. History is not a string of striking episodes, with no other connection but that of time. It is rather the working out of a mighty system, by means of regularly defined principles as old as creation, and as infallible as divine wisdom. With this truth in view, we approach our chosen theme, –
The Hand of God in American History.” [4]

That is the Introduction to a powerful, concise account of God’s hand in our nation’s history. It will be worth your time to read the entire sermon slowly and carefully. It is practically a complete historical education of our early days.

Photo: Massachusetts State Capitol Building, 1798

[1] Directory of the City of Malden, Page 155, C.W. Calkins & Company Printers, 1882
[2] Election Preaching, Kevin Schmiesing, Ph.D., Acton Institute Blog, November 2008, Page 4
[3] Journal of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1876, Page 233.
[4] “The Hand of God in American History,” A Sermon Delivered Before The Executive and Legislative Departments of the Government of Massachusetts at the Annual Election, Wednesday, January 5, 1876, by Rev. S.W. Foljambe; http://tiny.cc/XObOX; also, The Christian History of the American Revolution, Verna M. Hall, Foundation for American Christian Education, 1976, Page 46