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Why They Came

Although I’ve posted this before, the truth contained herein still applies today.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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At this time in which we pause to count our blessings and thank our God for His bountiful care for us in the past year, we will most likely hear once again from radicals and leftists in this country seeking to rewrite our history and portray the pilgrims as criminal genocidal invaders of this continent. Unfortunately for them, we have an objective written record to which we may turn to verify the traditional story and show the revisionists to be the liars that they are. Living before the age of television, people of that age were wont to write down their musings and thoughts and experiences, recognizing that doing so often served to help others.

Probably the most relevant work for Thanksgiving is that entitled Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement, written by William Bradford, who has the distinct advantage over the revisionists of having actually been there as governor of the new colony. As such, he has only a literal axe to grind.  So, what were the reasons the pilgrims came to this land? Were they out to kill everything in sight and selfishly exploit all possible resources of the country to which they were targeting?

First, we must remember what the revisionists conveniently forget. The pilgrims knew very little about the land to which they were sailing. They were leaving civilization as they knew it for a life of unknown hardship. Indeed, in the first year, half of the settlers died in the wilderness into which they had come. To put this into a 21st century perspective, what they undertook would be roughly comparable to a band of pilgrims building a starship for a trip to Mars with the intention of colonizing that planet and with no expectation of a return trip. What would cause sane human beings to give up so much for seemingly so little?

William Bradford actually lists four primary reasons for this endeavor.

First, they saw by experience that the hardships of the country were such that comparatively few others would join them, and fewer still would bide it out and remain with them. Many who came and many more who desired to come, could not endure the continual labor and hard fare and other inconveniences which they themselves were satisfied with. … For, though many desired to enjoy the ordinances of God in their purity, and the liberty of the gospel, yet, alas, they preferred to submit to bondage, with danger to their conscience, rather than endure these privations.

So first of all, the religious freedom that is the traditional reason for the pilgrims’ trip seems to be accurate (imagine that!). Even in their adopted country, the pilgrims experienced pressures from the established churches to conform to rituals they deemed unbiblical. Also note their concern for others in this passage; there is not a desire to get but a desire to give.

Secondly, they say that though the people generally bore these difficulties very cheerfully, and with resolute courage, being in the best strength of their years; yet old age began to steal on many of them, and their great and continual labors, with other crosses and sorrows, hastened it before their time; so that it was not only probably, but certain, that in a few more years they would be in danger of scattering by the necessities pressing upon them.

Still no genocidal tendencies in this second reason, but a focus on others: the concern for the physical welfare of those enduring the hardships caused by their obedience to God’s Word as they saw it, and particularly the elderly.

Thirdly, as necessity was a task-master over them, so they themselves were forced to be, not only over their servants, but in a sort over their dearest children; which not a little wounded the hearts of many a loving father and mother, and produced many sad and sorrowful effects. Many of their children, who were of the best disposition and who had learned to bear the yoke in their youth and were willing to bear part of their parents’ burden, were often so oppressed with their labors, that though their minds were free and willing, their bodies bowed under the weight and became decrepit in early youth, – the vigor of nature being consumed in the very bud, as it were. But still more lamentable, and of all sorrows most heavy to be borne, was that many of the children, influenced by these conditions, and the great licentiousness of the young people of the country, and the many temptations of the city, were led by evil example into dangerous courses, getting the reins off their necks and leaving their parents. … So they say their posterity would be in danger to degenerate and become corrupt.

This is perhaps the most amazing, and is almost never cited even by traditionalists. They were concerned for the physical and spiritual well-being of their children! They saw the corruption of the society in which they had taken refuge, and the evil influence it had on some of their children alarmed them to the extent that they considered migration a viable option despite any difficulties it may have entailed. Imagine that!

Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least of making some way towards it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.

Oh, dear! Here’s a thought sure to send your liberal leftist friend into apoplectic shock! A clear religious intent in the founding of our country! And not just any religion either. Now, my experience with Christianity is that it generally wants to convert the lost by persuasion, not execute them. The only imperialist invasion here is that of the kingdom of Christ and even Charles Darwin was impressed enough to note in his Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle the positive effect of Christian missionaries on the lives of those they evangelized. (Not that an evolutionist or leftist will acknowledge such, or is even aware of such.)

So, as we gather around our turkey, or whatever we’re enjoying for this holiday, let us take comfort in the facts whose untimely demise has been greatly exaggerated. The pilgrims’ story is not the revisionist version but the traditional version. And, as Michael Medved is likes to say, we do, indeed, live in the greatest nation on God’s green earth!

 

commited 20101114 thanksgiving

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  1. 26 Nov 2010 at 7:29 AM

    I’ll be linking to this later my friend. Thanks for it.

  2. 6 Dec 2010 at 5:40 PM

    More proof that socialism will never work, and that sane people know it!

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