by James and Barbara Rose
Christian Self Government produces Local Self Governing Christian Homes, Churches, Communities. Self Government is explained in I John 3:24: “He that keepeth his commandments DWELLETH IN HIM, and HE IN HIM. And hereby we know that HE ABIDETH IN US, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” The internal gives rise to the external.
George Washington’s and America’s FIRST THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION requested Americans to pray God… 1) “to pardon our national sins; 2) “to render our national government a blessing to all the people (HOW?) by being a government of wise (laws), just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, and 3) “to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion (which was Biblical Christianity at that time) and virtue (or the righteousness of Christ)…”.
“The Pilgrim wanted LIBERTY for himself and his wife and little ones, and for his brethren, to WALK WITH GOD in a Christian life as the rules and motives of such a life were revealed to him from God’s Word. For that he went into exile; for that he crossed the ocean; for that he made his home in a wilderness.” (Leonard Bacon, 1874)
FOUR PRIMARY REASONS THE PILGRIMS CAME TO AMERICA
- To protect their children from degeneracy and corruption. “Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.” Prov. 28:7 “…their dearest children…of best dispositions and gracious inclinations, were…oppressed with their heavy labors, … became decrepit in their early youth, and by the great licentiousness of youth in (Holland) and the manifold temptations of the place, were drawn away by evil examples into extravagant and dangerous courses, getting the reigns off their necks, departing from their parents, … tending to dissoluteness and the danger of their souls, to the great grief of the parents and dishonor of God.” (William Bradford)
- To propagate and advance the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ “Go ye therefore and teach all nations,…” Matt. 28:19 “Lastly, and which was not least, a great hope and inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way thereunto, for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in to those remote parts of the world.” (William Bradford)
“In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten…having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage…do by these present solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation…” (Mayflower Document)
- To obtain and preserve Religious Liberty. “Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Gal. 5:1 “And some of the chief of that company (of Pilgrims) doubted not to obtain their suit of the king FOR LIBERTY IN RELIGION, and to have it confirmed under the kings broad seal, according to their desires.” (William Bradford)
- To be as “stepping-stones” unto others for the performing of so great a work.
“..yea, though they should be but even as stepping-stones unto others for the performing of so great a work.” (William Bradford) “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” I Cor. 3:6
THE THREE MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PILGRIMS TO AMERICAN CHRISTIANS
- They believed in “Reformation without tarrying for any” – as demonstrated by an individual and personal responsibility to obey God’s Word. To the Pilgrim it meant “voluntary conformity to the rules and principles given in the New Testament, without waiting for others to obey, without waiting for the Church to change, and especially not waiting for the King to reform the church. Reformation presupposes repentance, and the Pastor of the Pilgrim, Rev. John Robinson, exhorted the Pilgrim church to “daily renew our repentance with our God, especially for our sins known, and generally for our unknown trespasses…”
- The Pilgrims were separatists and believed in the local, self governing, independent congregational form of church government. That is the form of church government to which we adhere. The Pilgrims “All had gained the intelligence that comes from the diligent study of the Bible and … were honest and earnest believers in the Christ of the New Testament. Such were the men and the women who were thus driven out of their native England, yet hunted and intercepted in their flight, as if they were criminals escaping from justice. Why did they suffer the spoiling of their goods, arrest, imprisonment, exile? They had caught from the Bible the idea of a church independent alike of the pope and the queen, independent of Parliament as well as of prelates (politicians), and dependent only on Christ. It was their mission to work out and organize that idea.” (Leonard Bacon, Genesis of the New England Churches, 1874) Individual self government and independent self governing churches produced a free, independent local civil government under the Mayflower Compact.
- THEY CAST ASIDE COMMUNISM IN LABOR AND SUPPLY FOR INDIVIDUAL ENTERPRISE. Did you know that the Pilgrims signed a contract with some London businessmen to obtain “their meat, drink and apparel and ALL PROVISIONS OUT OF THE COMMON STOCK AND GOODS of the said colony?” Agreeing to the condition that all property be publicly owned and that every person will get an equal share of their common labor and supplies – a form of communism / socialism in labor and supply — was the only way they could obtain the funds to acquire the religious liberty they wanted. The Pilgrims strove for two years to keep this part of the contract but the result was such dissention, discord and want that their Governor cast off communism and established INDIVUDUAL ENTERPRISE. He assigned all the unmarried folks and orphans to live with more complete families, assigned each family their own plot of ground as their private property, and left every household to “shift for itself or suffer want.”
Governor Bradford lists nine reasons why communism in labor and supply did not work:
- taking away private property and sharing everything in common did not make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God.
- communism in labor and supply breeds much confusion and discontent;
- it retards employment;
- the younger, able and stronger men complained that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without recompense or reward;
- the most able men thought it unjust not to receive more food or clothing than he that was weak and less productive;
- the older and “graver” or serious and solemn men did not like to be ranked as equal to the younger men in labor, food or clothing and saw such equality as an “indignity and disrespect”;
- neither husbands or wives wanted to be commanded to serve other men by fixing their food, washing their clothes – they saw this as a form of slavery;
- the idea of all persons sharing alike, doing alike, being alike did not agree with “those relations that God hath set among men”;
- communal property and communism in labor and supply diminished the mutual respect that should be practiced between people;
The Governor wisely displaced communism/socialism for individual enterprise and industry and productively increased enormously, but God intended the Pilgrims learn to trust Him not their own wisdom by permitting a DROUGHT and heat wave to descend on the land for nearly two months during spring time. The corn withered away and the ground was parched so the Pilgrims “set apart a day of humiliation” and sought the Lord by humble and fervent prayer in their great distress—and the rains came.
Thank God together this Thursday in remembrance of how the Pilgrims taught, illustrated and demonstrated SELF GOVERNMENT – THE CORNERSTONE OF OUR NATION, AND THEIR THANKS LIVING GIFT TO US AS AMERICAN CHRISTIANS.
HOW THE PILGRIMS FREED THEMSELVES FROM COMMUNISM
“All this whille no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expecte any. So they begane to thinke how they might raise as much corne as they could, and obtaine a beter crope then they had done, that they might not still thus languish in miserie. At length, after much debate of things, the Govr (with ye advise of ye cheefest amongest them) gave way that they should set corne every man for his owne perticuler, and in that regard trust to them selves; in all other things to goe on in ye generall way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcell of land, according to the proportion of their number for that end, only for present use (but made no devission for inheritance), and ranged all boys & youth under some familie. This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corne was planted then other waise would have bene by any means ye Govr or any other could use, and saved him a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better contente. The women now wente willingly into ye feild, and tooke their litle-ons with them to set corne, which before would aledg weaknes, and inabilitie; whom to have compelled would have bene thought great tiranie and oppression.
The experience that was had in this comone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos & other ancients, applauded by some of later times;—that ye taking away of propertie, and bringing in comunitie into a comone wealth, would make them happy and florishing; as if they were wiser then God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion & discontent, and retard much imploymet that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For ye yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour & service did repine that they should spend their time & streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompence. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in devission of fictails & cloaths, then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter ye other could; this was thought injuestice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and  equalised in labours, and victails, cloaths, &c., with ye meaner & yonger sorte, thought it some indignite & disrespect unto them. And for mens wives to be commanded to doe service for other men, as dresing their meate, washing their cloaths, &c., they deemd it a kind of slaverie, neither could many husbands well brooke it. Upon ye poynte all being to have alike, and all to doe alike, they thought them selves in ye like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut of those relations that God hath set amongest men, yet it did at least much diminish and take of ye mutuall respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have bene worse if they had been man of another condition. Let none objecte this is men’s corruption, and nothing to ye course it selfe. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdome saw another course fiter for them.”
- Hall, Verna M.: The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America, Vol. I. Christian Self-Government. Founders Edition. San Francisco : Foundation for American Christian Education, 2006, S. 212; William Bradford, History of Plimouth Plantation.