Paul R Dienstberger
Retired School Teacher
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Nation of Christians

by Paul R Dienstberger
Copyright 2000 Paul R. Dienstberger


Table of Contents Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Chapter 1 The Search For Spiritual Purpose

  • I. The Renaissance and the Reformation
  • II. Christopher Columbus
  • III Spanish Armada
  • IV Hakluyt & Purchas and Jamestown & Pocahontas
  • V Pilgrims, Mayflower, and Squanto
  • VI Great Migration
  • VII Colonial Laws & Charters
  • VIII Colonial Education
  • IX Colonial Literature
  • X The Puritans & John Calvin
  • XI Indian Evangelism
  • XII Jeremiahs: Falling Away in NE
  • XIII Other Colonies
  • XIV Influential Biographies
  • I. The Renaissance and The Reformation

    Why did the settlement of North America take place during the 17'th Century and by Protestant Europeans? The sea-faring Phoenicians with their Baal-god could have settled in the 9th Century BCE. The pagan Vikings could have succeeded when Erik's son Leif attempted colonization around 1000 AD. Sixteenth Century Roman Catholic Spain could just as easily settled North America as they did South America.

    Some humanists would explain the timing as the inevitable made possible by theposition in history of the so-called "rebirth of learning" or the Renaissance. However, on the other hand, if a providential God was responsible, then North America was colonized by Protestant Europeans with a Calvinist Reformation theology at God's designed time in history.

    Two great movements have been vying for the hearts of Europe and Americaduring the last half of the second millennium anno domini. They are the philosophy of the Renaissance and the theology of the Reformation.

    The Renaissance, which originally intended to glorify God, has placed man at the center of history and made him the hero of the world. Through science and art, it is reasoned that man and his society can be perfected. And that man is basically good and the enlightened man is able to direct the progress of civilization because his mind makes him superior to all other creatures in the world.

    At the other pole, the Reformation has placed God as the center of His universe. As the absolute Lord of His creation, He has revealed Himself through His Word. The Bible, which was translated and placed in the hands of the common person, is considered the final authority on man's relationship to God and the universe. It states that man is a sinner, and his redemption is through spotless Lamb of God, His incarnate Son---Jesus Christ.

    As these movements grew, the Reformation held the upper hand during the 17th Century the era of North American colonization. However, since that time the Renaissance-based ideas have evolved into a secular humanism type philosophy as Kenneth Clark would say, "Man the measure of all things." The Reformation remnant has resided within the pale of fundamental, evangelical Christianity. These acts are well-described by Francis Schaeffer in his book How Should We Then Live?

    II. Christopher Columbus

    In the trans-Atlantic drama of Western exploration, two events possess the marks of providential touch. The discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus for Spain in 1492, and the defeat of the Spanish Armada by England in 1588 established the course of American settlement and development.

    Christopher Columbus, regardless of whether he was re-discovering lost knowledge or just confirming that the world was really round, made the greatest geographic discovery in history. His voyage to the New World altered the direction of the trade routes and the course of world leadership. The long-standing Crusades-Marco Polo route, which brought trade domination to Italy and the Hanseatic League, was replaced by the ripples of Western European mariners splashing for what historians have called the Three G's: gold, gospel, and glory.

    As Robert Flood wrote, "Secular historians have underplayed the greatest single driving force behind the voyage of Columbus." Columbus saw a sign in his name (Cristoforo or Christ-bearer) that he was destined to bring Christ across the sea to men who knew Him not. The only book that he wrote, Book of Prophecies, reveals his deep conviction that the second coming of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would take place in his lifetime. As a self-taught layman, who was a diligent student of the Holy Scriptures and of great Bible commentators, Columbus was motivated by the Great Commission (Matthew 28) to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

    All of Columbus' sailing journals and most of his private letters are saturated with biblical references and his heart-felt love for The Lord. The flagship, Santa Maria, was named for the Virgin Mary, and his ship's sails boldly displayed the red cross of Calvary. Every morning Columbus held Vesper services which included the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ava Maria. When land was sighted on the 33rd day, a number suggesting a divine blessing, Columbus thankfully knelt and named the island San Salvador which means Holy Savior.

    His homeward cargo included two Indians, who desired Christian baptism. In his report to Spain's General Treasurer, Columbus included this testimony: "Therefore let the King and Queen, our princes and their most happy kingdoms, and all the other provinces of Christendom, render thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who granted us so great a victory and such prosperity. Let processions be made, and sacred feasts be held, and the temples be adorned with festive boughs - Let Christ rejoice on earth, as He rejoices in heaven in the prospect of the salvation of the souls of so many hitherto lost. Let us also rejoice, as well on account of the exaltation of our faith, as on account of our temporal prosperity of which not only Spain, but all Christendom will be partakers. Such are the events which I have briefly described. Farewell. Charles Beard's US history suggested that the Voyages of Discovery were inspired, when Constantinople fell "into hands of men who were deadly enemies of Christian traders." However, the acts of Columbus and what he did in the sight of His Lord are well chronicled by Samuel Eliot Morison, Robert Flood, and August Kling.

    III The Defeat of the Spanish Armada

    The second pivotal maritime event that re-directed the crossroads to America was the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Philip II, King of Spain and husband of the late Mary Tudor, at the urging of the Pope sought to regain England for Roman Catholicism through another matrimonial union. Queen Elizabeth I, a devout Protestant Christian, said that her only marriage was to her beloved subjects.

    When her famed sea dogs of Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake pirated the Spanish shipping, Philip planned to send Spain's foremost seaman Santa Cruz with 556 ships to overthrow Elizabeth and the Church of England. But when Cruz died, Spain decided on a commander (Guzman) with no experience and to send an "invincible" enough Armada of 130 ships and 30,000 men.

    Elizabeth was apprised that the Spanish would not invade. She did not even prepare an army, but she did call on the churches for prayer. Her bold proclamation about the threat ended with "We shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people." The Armada anchored in the English Channel and only waited for a British force to challenge them.

    Historians have explained that the deciding factor in the five-day battle was the keen strategy by the English. They employed smaller coastal vessels with long-range broadside bombardments, and the Spanish favored the Mediterranean method of ramming and boarding.

    While the Armada rested in Calais, the English made a midnight raid with eight fire ships. The Spanish fleet attempted to make an end run around the British Isles. However, a violent storm separated the two fleets, and strong gales pummeled the Spanish Armada. The final tally was four ships lost in battle and 59 ships sunk by the weather. The force limped home with widespread sickness on board. Not one English seaman died in the battle, but several thousand Spaniards died from shipboard sicknesses.

    Conjecture may label these events as a coincidental circumstance of history. Perhaps it was Mother Nature! One wonders! Regardless, the event ended Spain's domination of the Atlantic. It moved England toward undisputed leadership of the seas. It, also, opened the Atlantic waters for a stream of Protestant colonists to America.

    IV. Hakluyt & Purchas and Jamestown & Pocahontas

    The 16th Century experienced exciting expansion by the European explorers, but a clear vision of purpose did not unify their motives. While gold, gospel, and glory stimulated some, others searched for fins, fur, and faith.

    The Spanish made only sporadic spiritual impacts on North America. When Ponce de Leon discovered Florida on Easter Sunday he wrote his hope "that the name of Christ may be praised there." Emperor Charles V charged Vasquez de Ayllon, who explored from Florida to the Chesapeake, that the principal intent was for the natives to "come to a knowledge thereof and become Christians and be saved and this is the chief motive." When Coronado left Dominican friars in the mid continent, one was martyred and the other two left no report.

    Only the great Las Casas seemed to voice a clarion focus on the Indian's spiritual needs. But he languished that too many Indians recognized that the Christian god was gold. Too often the reports were tradegies on both sides. Most of the famed explorers were lost at sea, or in the wilderness, or at the hand of some natives.

    The English also struggled with their direction to discovery. Ironically when Francis Drake returned from his famous 1573 raid on Panama with a ballast cargo of Spanish treasure, the Plymouth congregation was called out of church on a Sunday morning to be awed by the booty. Nevertheless, Drake did carry Bibles, prayer books, and Foxe's Book of Martyrs, while pirating around the world.

    After Richard Hakluyt, an Anglican clergyman, visited North America and at the counsel of Sir Walter Raleigh, he authored A Discourse on Western Planting in 1584. It was a call to colonize for evangelism of the Indians.

    Hakluyt wrote, "It remains to be thoroughly weighed and considered by what means and by whom this most godly and Christian work may be performed of enlarging the glorious gospel of Christ, and leading of infinite multitudes of these simple people that are in error into the right and perfect way of salvation...(He argued from Romans shall they be saved without a preacher and how shall they preach unless sent)...Then it is necessary, for the salvation of those poor people who sat so long in darkness and in the shadow of death, that preachers should be sent to them. But by whom should these preachers be sent? By them no doubt who have taken upon them the protection and defense of the Christian faith. Now the Kings and Queens of England have the name Defenders of the Faith. By which title I think they are not only charged to maintain and patronize the Faith of Christ, but also to enlarge and advance the same."

    Samuel Purchas, a clergyman of the Church of England, had this world view of Christianity. He was saddened by the behavior of Englishmen; their profanity, drunkenness, etc. He surveyed the world as even less Christian, and preached that the future needed a change of course: "To the glory of God, and to the good of my Country."

    Finally in 1606 King James I authorized the Virginia Charter to establish a permanent settlement at Jamestown. This first document made a clear statement of purpose: "We greatly noble a work, which may by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of His Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian religion to such people, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God..."

    When the three tiny ships with 144 men anchored, Capt. John Smith was in charge and one minister Robert Hunt had been sent. They landed at Cape Henry on April 29, 1607, and erected a wooden cross that they had carried from England. Next the colonist knelt down and prayed. Then they celebrated The Last Supper with Reverend Hunt presiding. The communion rail was made of tree branches from this new land.

    The Virginia colony is remembered for the many failures such as the Roanoke disaster, the poor location of Jamestown, and the high death rate throughout the 17th Century. However, the early spiritual highlights are usually downplayed.

    The first recorded Thanksgiving took place in Jamestown in 1610, but it was not an annual event until 1619. Another group wrote on their arrival that on Dec. 4th "the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a Thanksgiving to Almighty God."

    Clearly the most attractive story to England and to future history was Pocahontas. As the daughter of Powhatan, she became the legendary intercessor for John Smith's life. She was also the most famous Indian convert to Christianity. In 1613 she was baptized "Lady Rebeckak," and a painting of the event still hangs today in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington.

    The Jamestown settlement did not earn any prosperity until the success of their tobacco crops or as it was called "that stinking weed." The founder of the industry was John Rolfe, who married Pocahontas. He revealed his motives in a letter to Governor Thomas Dale by asking permission to marry her. "striving for the good of this plantation, for the honor of our country, for the glory of God and Jesus Christ of an unbelieving creature, namely Pocahontas."

    It was the first white man-Indian marriage April, 1614. The next year tobacco exports increased ten-fold. The Rolfe's made a grand tour to England, which stimulated much interest in Virginia and a mild interest in Indians missions. All the fashionable figures of English society including King James desired an audience with Pocahontas. She was endeared to the English, who were impressed by her grace and charm. Before she could return to America in 1618, she died and was buried in St. George's Church at Gravesend, England.

    V. The Pilgrims, The Mayflower, and Squanto

    Many colonial stories are dotted with providential phenomenon's, but the Pilgrim's story is an epic of fortuitous fate. The events of the Mayflower voyage and the lands of the Plymouth settlement reach supernatural proportions.

    The Mayflower was forced to make the seven week crossing alone, when their damaged co-ship the Speedwell returned to England. During the passage on the overcrowded vessel only two people died. One seaman died, who mocked the Pilgrims, and the other death was a servant, who refused to drink lemon juice for scurvy.

    Just beyond the halfway point a furious storm cracked the ship's main-cross beam, and the damage knelled throughout the ship. The Pilgrims prayed and Capt. Jones hoped their faith would prevail. They supported the beam with a great iron screw from William Brewster's printing press.

    The vessel had been blow off course, and they arrived Cape Cod outside the Virginia Company's jurisdiction. They embarked for a Hudson River destination, but strong head winds forced the ship back out to the ocean. It was after this dilemma and a day of prayer that the company drew up the Mayflower Compact. The document is mainly glorified for its declaration of self government, but the initial statement clearly shows their religious intentions: "In the name of God. Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc., having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic." After the winter of the "General Sickness" the Pilgrims learned of the unusual surroundings that had been prepared for them. They feared the Roanoke-Jamestown Indian reports, but such was not the case at Plymouth Plantation.

    The previous Plymouth tenants were the Patuxet Indians, who were notorious for trying to murder every white person, who landed on the Massachusetts shores. An Algonquin named Samoset explained that four years earlier a mysterious plague killed every member of the local tribe. Now, the superstitious Indians shunned the domain because of the supernatural pestilence. The land was not only cleared of Indians, but it was avoided by them.

    After their "starving time" the Pilgrims met the Indian Squanto, who greeted them in clear English with a "How are you brothers in Christ?" He converted to Christianity in England where he had been taken as a captive slave. After nine year he hitched a ride back to New England with the famous Captain John Smith. He arrived six months before the Pilgrims, but his friends, his family, and his tribe had disappeared.

    When the Pilgrims arrived, Squanto became their provider and a multiple blessing to them. He taught them to live off the land by planting twenty acres of corn, and to fish and trap for game. He not only showed them how to be self-sufficient; he, even, helped negotiate the first American Indian treaty.

    Squanto became the close friend and disciple of William Bradford, the longtime governor of Plymouth. Squanto was forced to live the remainder of his life on Pilgrim lands, when he was caught in the lie that the white men had the plague in a box, and he could unleash it on the Indians. In1624 at Plymouth Squanto died the final Patuxet Indian and a Christian.

    The acts of the Pilgrims and their first Thanksgiving with the Indians are better written by others and especially by Marshall and Manuel in The Light and The Glory.

    VI The Great Migration

    If the colonial lands were prepared for European transplants, evenmore unique was the British seed which was shipped to North America. Between 1500 and 1800 AD there were two periods when a country with naval power could deliver a people with a spiritual zeal. Great Britain was available with these two zeniths. The times were the Great Migration of the 1630's and the Wesley Revivals of the 1740's.

    The political and religious repression of the 1630's was among the worst of times in English history. Charles I, a despotic and stubborn Stuart king, dismissed the Parliament. When he called them back into session after eleven years, he promptly arrested three leaders. Charles, also, appointed William Laud as Anglican archbishop. Laud oppressed any Calvinists and tried to dictate the former Romanism practices within the Church of England. However, he was beheaded for treason in 1649. To further trouble the nation a depression occurred in the wool industry.

    These conditions left the Puritans with three alternatives: conform, die, or emigrate. An estimated 50,000 left in the Great Migration. Some of them were the best English minds, and most of them chose New England. They swelled their population to about 40,000 by 1645, and probably made the area the highest per capitia of college graduates in the world. Almost 100 of them were Puritan ministers, who graduated from Oxford or Cambridge. William Stoughton's evaluation of the cause for this Great Migration was "God sifted a whole nation to bring choice grain into the wilderness."

    After the English civil war between the King's royal forces and Parliament's army under Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell, the King Charles I was found guilty of treason and beheaded. The New Commonwealth run by Puritans, who sent pleas to America for their return to a now safe Puritan England. However, they had made their move and they were Englishmen, who had emigrated to the colonies.

    VII. Colonial Laws and Charters

    Colony after colony followed a similar pattern. They pledged themselves to a covenant with each other and God. Their writings, charters, and constitutions disclose a consistent religious purpose for their foundations.

    The settlements during their first century were a series of intrusions into the seaboard, but few intercultural exchanges occurred until the 18th Century. Nevertheless, the first five English colonies emphasized a common desire for a liberty of Christian worship and an obligation to evangelism.

    In Virginia the first charter set a goal "in propagating of Christian religion." After Pocahontas' conversion a great, almost forgotten vision happened at Henrico College. The Virginia legislature petitioned the Virginia Company to establish a school. One goal was "to civilizing and Christianizing young Indians" so the school "should also prepare some of them as missionaries to their own people." Gifts, books, and buildings started the three-thousand acre college plantation. But on Good Friday 1622, an Indian attack by Chief Opechancanough ended the endeavor. Ironically Pocahontas' widower John Rolfe died in the attack.

    In the second colony a great historical account was The History of Plimoth Plantation by William Bradford. It was a record of how God providentially led in establishing this new society. Bradford, the 37-year governor, explained why they came to America: "They cherished a great hope and inward zeal they had of laying good foundations, or at least making some ways towards it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world."

    The first Charter of Massachusetts in 1629 said, "Our said people...may be so religiously, peaceably, and civilly governed, as their good life and orderly conversation may win and incite the natives to the knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Savior of mankind, and the Christian faith which in our intention is...the principal end of this plantation." John Winthrop, leader of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, called for a Christian lifestyle that would be a witness known as "a City upon a Hill."

    Rhode Island was co-founded by Roger Williams at Providence and John Clarke at Newport. This first American Baptist community agreed in 1638 to this: "in the presence of Jehovah...incorporate in a Body Politic, as He shall help us, will submit our persons, lives, and estates into our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings the Lord of Lord."

    The first written Constitution in US history was the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639). The opening paragraph reads: "Windsor, Hartford, and orderly and decent government according to God...for ourselves and our successors..together to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess.."

    In 1643 New Haven, Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Connecticut (all of New England except Rhode Island) joined a common protection agreement known as the New England Confederation. The opening line reads: "Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel in purity with peace;"

    In 1649 the Maryland Colonial Assembly enacted the much called for, but seldom read Toleration Act. Over half the sixteen representatives were Roman Catholic and their document said that any person: "Who shall from henceforth blaspheme God..or shall deny our Savior Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, or shall deny the Holy Trinity the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or the Godhead of any of the said Three persons of the Trinity or the Unity of the Godhead..shall be punished with death and confiscation or forfeiture of all his or her lands."

    The document then stated that no person within the province, who professed belief in Jesus Christ:

    "shall henceforth be in any way troubled, molested, or discountenced for or in respect to his or her religion nor in the free exercise of thereof, nor any way compelled to the belief or exercise of any religion against his or her consent."

    The idea of toleration was for Christians only and for nothing but Christian denominations. When the other colonial charters, documents, and governments are examined the same foundation was laid. Everything was based on Christianity and Christian principles.

    VIII. Colonial Education

    These Protestant sojourners, who braved the dangerous Atlantic crossing considered themselves a peculiar people and equated their position with Old Testament Israel. Particularly the New England colonist held to the conviction that they were the modern-day parallel of a chosen people taking possession of the promised land. Virginia and Massachusetts was the wilderness. Their literature alludes to Europe as the house of bondage, and America as the land of Canaan. They studied the Scriptures daily as a family, named their children after Biblical people, considered their daily existence God's providence, and praised Him for all of it. It was at least a partial theocracy, and Perry Miller, the great expert on New England wrote, "the Old Testament is truly omnipresent in American culture into the 19th century."

    They even explained the Indians as the so-called Lost Tribes of Israel. By the mid-17th Century colonial writers had coined the word "Iewes" by obviously merging Indians and Jews.

    The preeminence of the Scriptures in their lives manifested the need for education and particularly reading. They practiced the proverb "train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart." They wanted biblical principles taught at home, at church, and at school.

    Also, part of their motivation for literacy came from the Protestant Reformation. The Bible translators and 16th Century reformers like Calvin, Luther, and others had challenged the Roman Catholic Church by quoting the Holy Scriptures. Each Protestant was expected to be Bible literate rather than relying on the interpretation by a Priest or the Church of Rome. The believer was expected to search the Word for themselves and to make a self examination in the light of Scripture.

    Consequently, an education system began immediately. The Puritans on John Winthrop's Arbella ordered "two dussen and ten" catechisms for the voyage. The first "Latin" school was established in Boston in 1636 and by 1640 three grammar or secondary schools existed in New England. Virginia's earliest school was opened in 1636 through the last will and testament of Benjamin Symms. By 1671 all the Puritans in New England had a system of compulsory education. By the close of the century there were 45 grammar schools in the colonies with half of them in Massachusetts. Every colony north of the Carolinas had a grammar school except Rhode Island.

    The most famous education ordinance in US history is the 1647 "Common School Law" which was passed by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is referred to as "the mother of our school laws" and the earliest general education act of modern times. It was a mandate to place The Bible at the center of the curriculum, and it established the practice of tax supported public schools. The writ clearly stated the mission of education:

    "It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from a knowledge of the Scriptures...It is therefore ordered...that every township in this jurisdiction after The Lord hath increased to 50 qualified school master...teach all such write and read."

    New England was blessed with an abundance of learned men. By 1640 there were 113 university men in New England. Massachusetts alone had 71 of them. Nearly one-quarter of these erudite men were trained at Emmanuel College, a division of Cambridge University.

    One of them Ezekiel Cheever became the greatest schoolmaster of New England. His longevity record spanned a seventy-year teaching career in four New England communities and the final 38-years in Boston. His Accidence was the first great colonial textbook and the only beginning Latin book in the colonies for 40 years.

    The greatest textbook that stood as the perpetual cornerstone of American education for two centuries was the New England Primer. It was called "the Little Bible of New England." Printer-bookseller Benjamin Harris was responsible for the first Primer circa 1687-1690. It was circulated until 1886.

    Paul Leicester Ford in his history of The Primer claimed conservatively that three million copies were printed. Other estimates run as high as 6-8 million copies. The famous praise ascribed to the textbook was that "it taught millions to read and not one to sin."

    The Primer featured a prelude: the burning of John Rogers, who was converted by the English New Testament translator William Tyndale, and Rogers became the first Protestant martyr under Bloody Mary's reign. Each Primer included phonic syllables, The Lord's Prayer, The Apostle's Creed, The Ten Commandments, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and a rhymed alphabet with 24 pictures.

    The alphabet was dominated by the Scriptures from A to Z:

    A In Adams' Fall B Thy Life to Mend Z Zacheus he did Climb the Tree We Sinned All This Book Attend His Lord to See

    Eventually the alphabet became almost totally Bible based as a source. One change was: C The Cat doth play, and after slay. It was changed to: Christ crucify'd, for sinners dy'd.

    From early on higher education began to produce American trained ministers, teachers, and educated laymen. In 1636 John Harvard, a little known Emmanuel graduate, left his estate and entire library to a college in his name. Another Emmanuel grad Henry Dunster was its first tutor and President until 1654. Dunster resigned because of his Anabaptist conviction that only the penitent believers should be baptized.

    American higher education was born with the same Christian roots as the governments. The 1642 "Rules and Precepts" for Harvard College set this goal:

    2. "Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life John 17:3 and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only givest wisdom, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him Proverbs 2:3."

    The second American college founded was William and Mary in 1693. The English rulers granted this charter:

    "Forasmuch as our well-beloved and faithful subjects, constituting the General Assembly of our colony of Virginia, have had it in their minds, and have proposed to themselves, to the end that the Church of Virginia may be furnished with a seminary of ministers of the gospel, and that the Christian faith may be propagated amongst the western Indians, to the glory of Almighty God: to make, found, and establish a certain place of universal, or perpetual College of Divinity, Philosophy, Languages and other good Arts and Sciences..."

    When the Episcopalian Pastor James Blair of the famous Bruton Parish Church knelt before King William, he interceded for a college because "the people of Virginia had souls to be saved." Their first President faithfully served for 50 years at the Williamsburg, Virginia college. Pastor Blair administered the tobacco-tax financed school from the Wren Building with this four-fold purpose:

    "A seminary of ministers of the gospel and that, the youth may be piously educated in good letters and manners and that, the Christian faith may be propagated amongst the Western Indians, to the glory of Almighty God."

    The founders of Yale observed a spiritual decline at Harvard, and they established another Ivy League school in 1701. They reiterated the John 17:3 verse from Harvard and added this demand:

    "All students shall live religiously, godly, and blameless lives according to the rules of God's Word, diligently reading the Holy Scriptures, the foundation of light and truth; and constantly attend upon all duties of religion, both in public and private."

    In fact every Ivy League college except Penn and Cornell was established primarily to trained clergymen and to evangelize the East coast.

    IX. Colonial Literature

    The literature retained from this era is almost totally religious. Journals by John Smith, John Winthrop, and William Bradford chronicled the early history of their colonies. Time has added interest to the literature as in the case of Bradford's Plimoth Plantation. His manuscript was not edited until 1856 by Reverend Dr. John Waddington and that was 206 years after the last word was written. The first English book was the Bay Psalm Book by John Eliot, who collaborated with Richard Mather and Thomas Welde.

    The most ambitious writer was Cotton Mather. Magnalia Christi Americana was a historical and biographical record of the first three generation in New England. He wrote 450 books, and fourteen were printed in one year.

    The Dairy of Samuel Sewell provides a popular insight into the Salem Witchcraft trials. Samuel Willard's sermons the Compleat Body of Divinity were published posthumously in 1726.

    Many of the lasting works were written for spiritual growth. John Cotton's Spiritual Milk for American Babes was a 1646 catechism that was used for more than a century. The New England Primer was of course the preeminent textbook for two centuries.

    The Puritans wrote little imaginative literature. The London theaters were closed by the Puritans in 1642. The novel and fiction had hardly started in England, so none could be found in the colonies. Poetry was the only creative outlet in literature. The poets who have endured are Anne Bradstreet, Michael Wigglesworth, and Edward Taylor. Taylor was not published until 1939. After all the Puritans expected logic and reason especially in the weekly sermons from the pulpit, and they didn't mind if the entire sermon was read to them even if it was two hours long.

    X The Puritans and John Calvin

    The dominant force in New England during the first century of American growth was Puritanism, and the dominant influence on Puritanism was John Calvin (1509-1564) of Geneva. While the Puritans desired to remain in the Church of England, they hoped to "purify" it with Swiss reforms.

    The Puritans accepted Calvin's "tulip" theology that man was a sinner, predestined for heaven or hell, the elect were atoned by Christ's work on the Cross, desiring grace through the Holy Spirit, and persevering as converted saints. The Calvinists exalted the Bible as the infallible rule of faith and life.

    They opposed such Roman Catholic practices as Saints' day, absolution (forgiveness by the priests), the sign of the Cross, godparents at baptism, kneeling at Communion, the Priest's white gown, and extravagant church buildings. Like other the other Protestant churches they rejected the Catholic doctrine of salvation through their seven sacraments.

    The Puritan church wanted a greater emphasis on preaching from the Scriptures, less formality in worship, and no liturgy. They also wanted their preachers chosen by their elders. This local control became known as the Presbyterian or Congregational church government. They used the Geneva Bible rather than the new "authorized" King James version of 1611.

    They expected long rational sermons that espoused the "priesthood of all believers," who had direct access to God through the Holy Spirit. Critics have belittled their "legalism." But the Calvinist were convinced by the Scriptures that they were to be a holy people, and that their lives of moral piety and holiness would show them as "visible saints."

    In their daily lives the Puritans practiced the famous Protestant work ethic which had been changed by the Reformation. A dedication to one's calling in labor for economic gain was now considered an ethical duty to the glory of God. It was the Christian's moral obligation to choose a gainful occupation. Poverty and idleness were not virtues, and money was not evil, and usury or lending was now in vogue. Consequently, thrift, frugality, and saving were encouraged practices. Unemployment was practically non-existent.

    Divine Providence, God's help or care, became a Puritan preoccupation. The Calvin doctrine of the elect or predestination did not always give the saint an assurance of his or her salvation. But if the church member had a good family, proper income, lands, and status in the church and the community, then it must be God's providential blessing, and he must be one of God's chosen saints. Upward mobility might be a good justification for one's faith, unless he read the Bible. The economic result of the Puritan's behavior was great impetus for capitalism.

    How widespread was the Puritan influence? Reformed scholar Loraine Boettner said that, "the United States became the brightest pages of all Calvinistic history ...and ...two-thirds of the colonial population (that declared independence) had been trained in the school of Calvin."

    The dean of Puritan scholars Harvard's Perry Miller said of the people, who declared independence "all the German, Swiss, French, Dutch, and Scottish people whose forebearers bore the "stamp of Geneva" in some sense, 85 or 90 percent would not be an extravagant estimate."

    The unfortunate myth debasing the Puritans is derived from Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, a book written in 1850. This inaccurate and harsh portrait is even the highest recommended book for high school seniors by the 1994 College Board people. However, a fairer evaluation comes from L. Ethan Ellis in his 40 Million Schoolbooks Can't Be Wrong.

    XI. Indian Evangelism

    The obvious feature of European emigration to North America was the religious freedom that was available. However, the secondary story is their missionary efforts toward the Indians.

    Perhaps, the finest Puritan missionary epic was the story of John Eliot, the "Apostle of the Indians." He learned the Algonquian language from an Indian named Cockenoe, who had been captured in the Pequot War of 1637. Within a decade Eliot was able to fluently preach a 75-minute sermon to the Indians in their native tongue. His text was Ezekiel 27:9.

    During the next thirty years Eliot established 24 congregations with an estimated 11,000 conversions to faith in Christ. The Algonquians earned the title "the praying Indians." Eliot arranged clothes, jobs, houses, and land for them. His teachings included abstinence from alcohol and tobacco.

    Another crowning achievement was Eliot's literary zeal in translating tracts for the Indians. Early on he gave them the Ten Commandments and The Lord's Prayer in their language. A Catechism was completed in 1653. A 10-year effort produced the famous Up-Biblum, the Old and New Testament in the Algonquian language. In 1663 two hundred leather bound copies were printed on Harvard's Cambridge Press. They were the first Bibles printed in America.

    John Eliot also served the Roxbury church as Pastor for 57-years until his death in 1690. His evangelistic heart for the Indians was best expressed in his words, "Pity to the poor Indians, and desire to make the name of Christ chief in these dark ends of the earth - and not the rewards of men - were the very first and chief moves, if I know what did first and chiefly move my heart, when God was pleased to put upon me that work of preaching to them."

    The far-reaching result of John Eliot's ministry was the SPG, the first cornerstone of English overseas missions. In 1643 Thomas Shepard and John Wilson published a promotional pamphlet on Indian conversions called New England's First Fruits. They had hoped to gain funds for Harvard College and Indian missions. However, the famous Long Parliament seized the opportunity and legislated the "Society for Propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in New England." On July 27, 1649 the SPG became law until Charles II became king.

    A second remarkable ministry to the Indians was the Mayhew family, who for five generations labored at Martha's Vineyard. In 1631 Thomas Sr. founded a work that continued until Zachariah Mayhew's 40-year ministry ended in 1806. In 1643 Thomas Mayhew Jr., a contemporary of John Eliot, met Hiacoomes, the first of several hundred converts to Christianity. By the time the family mantle had passed to the fourth generation, Experience Mayhew reported that on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket there were 1500 praying Indians and only two pagans. He sent a prayer request back to England for their intercession on the matter. Only God knows how many Indians the Mayhews brought to faith in Christ.

    The missionary endeavors toward the Indians received a serious setback in 1675 when King Philip's War broke out. Some judged the event to be a divine punishment for the general decline in spiritual zeal. Others said that the children of the founding fathers lost the faith like the children of Eli, Samuel, and David.

    XII. Jeremiads: Falling Away in New England

    Jeremiads, which warned of a lukewarm faith, began appearing by the 3rd and 4th generations and calling them to repentance. Solomon Stoddard, Northhampton pastor for 57 years and grandfather of Jonathan Edwards, took the clergy to task for the falling away. Samuel Willard exhorted the laymen for only holding to a form of godliness. Even Cotton Mather observed the signs of apostasy in his generation. Michael Wigglesworth lamented the state of the Puritan's New Israel in his 1662 Day of Doom.

    Their departure from the founding faith was exposed by such conduct as the neglect of family worship, the secular business on Sabbath days, and the rebellious children who loved drink and game. The annual day of fasting and humiliation was dropped in the 1660's. The principal ecclesiastical questions centered around baptism, church membership, and communion. Should church membership be approved for the children of godly parents, who had been baptized as infants? If they showed no visible signs of regeneration, should they be granted church membership? Without a conversion experience should they be permitted at the Lord's Supper table?

    Three assemblies manifested the compromising trend which the Puritans yielded to leniency on these spiritual issues.

    First, the Cambridge Synod of 1646-48 produced a statement of doctrine known as the New England Way. Their platform established polity for church authority and church membership which became the basis for Congregationalism. A strict condition for membership included only the elect and the redeemed, who had a personal knowledge of salvation. Their personal "upright" lives and their children's conduct would bear visible evidence of their position in the body of Christ.

    The Massachusetts General Court revised the membership requirement at the Synod of 1662. Their dual concept of membership was known as the "Half-Way Covenant." It permitted children of uncommitted parents to receive baptism. Either generation would be granted church membership provided that they were "not scandalous in life." However, they were excluded from the Lord's Supper and church elections. This notorious compromise placed moral responsibility as the crux of their religion rather than spiritual rebirth in Christ. The Boston Synod of 1679 discussed the need for reform, but the controversy did not restrain the widespread adoption of the Half-Way Covenant toward the end of the century.

    The third conflict was between the clergy and the merchant class. Some emotional pulpit preaching centered on their daily morals and a practical message on such issues as labor, civic duties, and education. Preachers pointed to wars, epidemics, and the Edmund Andros' attempted Anglican takeover by the Dominion of New England, as God's divine punishment for their dwindling piety. The clergy called for a "rule of the saints" to stay the backslidden situation.

    It seemed that no human authority was secure. When Parliament deposed King James II in the Bloodless Revolution, the divine right monarchy was seriously being questioned. Also, the clerical image was badly damaged by the infamous Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, and the prestige of the merchant class as "the elect" was leavening. A confrontation climaxed with the Brattle Street Church controversy.

    A group of Boston merchants led by John Leverett and the Brattle brothers formed a new church. Their Brattle Street Church dropped the half-way status and gave full membership and communicant standing for all, who professed to be Christians. Every member was given a voice in the call of the minister. Then, a crushing blow to the clerical faction occurred with the removal of Harvard President Increase Mather and the Vice President Samuel Willard. College affairs were being influenced by laymen from the business world.

    Connecticut ministers discerned the Boston decisions with mistrust and they founded Yale University under the clerical control of ten ministers as their trustees. In 1708 the Saybrook Platform affirmed their convictions that the Westminster Confession was the ensign of their theology. They, also, moved to a semi-Presbyterian position under the authority of the ministers.

    The greatest tension and most remembered notoriety was caused by the Salem Witchcraft trials of 1692. Witch-hunts had happened in other times and other places. In Europe the hysteria of witches resulted in the accused being burned, hanged, or drowned. An estimated half million executions had occurred during the previous four centuries. During this period ten people were executed in other Massachusetts towns, but Salem was the most criticized. They had 150 arrests and twenty executions. Nineteen were hanged. Fifteen of them were women, and an 80-year old man was stoned for refusing to testify against his wife.

    Cotton Mather, who believed in witches, wrote a defense of the trials, but denounced the way that they were handled. His father Increase Mather persuaded the governor to end the trials. In 1697 Samuel Sewall, one of the judges, asked, "God..would pardon that sin." That year the Massachusett General Court set aside a day of prayer and fasting to beg a Divine pardon. The whole episode was small in comparison to Europe, however, it was still a dark but over-glamorized page in New England history.

    The vision of the Bible Commonwealth had been tarnished. Harvard was no longer the intellectual center. The worldly Puritans seemed to rule and as Cotton Mather said, "Religion brought forth prosperity, and the daughter destroyed the mother." Nevertheless, the hope for renewal and their cry for revival would come in the Great Awakening, and Indian evangelism would be revived.

    XIII. Other Colonies

    In other parts of the American colonies the search for a spiritual purpose took on different dimensions and problems for the various nationalities and religious groups.

    The first American migration within the colonies for religious freedom was Roger William's exile to Rhode Island in 1635. He was separated from Boston over the responsibilities of the church and the state. In his 1644 and 1652 treatises The Bloody Tenet he charged the state with the temporal affairs of the civil government and the church with the spiritual affairs of Christ. These pioneer principles opposed any action by the state in coercing any individual's religious behavior. A pamphlet war ensued with John Cotton and several contemporaries writing on the issue. Future generations revised it, and called it the doctrine of separation of church and state.

    The colony became a model for religious toleration. As a haven for other dissenters like Anne Hutchinson and John Clarke, Rhode Island attracted a diverse number of religious groups. It was the first American Baptist colony. Also, Quakers, Anglicans, Congregationalists, and eventually even Jews and Catholics enjoyed the open door of religious liberty. If there was a providential plan for America to become a melting pot of religious and ethnic diversity, then Rhode was the miniature version of what the Middle Colonies became.

    The widest variety of groups settled in the Middle Colonies. The Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam practiced the same moderation on religion and acceptance that their homeland did. Eighteen different languages were spoken there. The Lutherans arrived from Sweden and settled Delaware. Their famed missionary John Campanius sought to convert Indians with is translation of Luther's Catechism. In New Jersey the Puritans settled in the West and the Quakers stayed in the East. In Maryland the Roman Catholics sought protection from the Protestants and the English kings.

    In 1664 England re-instated her claim to the Hudson River area by granting the region to the King's brother James the Duke of York. They called it New York and Anglican churches sprang up throughout the Middle colonies and even overflowed in the Southern colonies.

    A new Anglican zeal appeared when Dr. Thomas Bray was appointed commissary (organizer) to Maryland. He nurtured two societies: the S.P.C.K. (the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge), and the new S.P.G. (the Society for Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts). His great influence was the establishment of 40 libraries from Boston to Charlestown. A second great work was his concern to evangelize the Indians and to deal with Negro problems. Anglicanism spread throughout the Southern colonies, and Dr. Bray even joined Oglethorpe's Georgia vision.

    While pluralism characterized the Middle colonies, Pennsylvania attracted the most varied groups. William Penn, the pacifist son of a naval hero, used his family inheritance to found the colony. His theological and governmental policies were based on his acceptance of Quakerism, the "Society of Friends." While imprisoned for his faith, he wrote No Cross, No Crown.

    With a charter from King Charles II in 1682, Penn set up his "Holy Experiment" as the most notable shelter for all religious and political refugees. In the first of his four "Frames of Government" Penn wrote, "All persons who profess to believe Jesus Christ the Savior of the world, shall be capable to serve this government in any capacity, both legislatively and executively." He also set a pattern of fair and just treatment of the Indians by purchasing the land from them.

    The Pennsylvania colony was settled by not only the Quakers, but by the German Lutherans, Calvinists, Mennonites, and Brethren or Dunkers. In the 18th Century Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, Anglicans, Amish, Moravians, and Jews enjoyed the welcomed liberty. Some have suggested Pennsylvania foreshadowed the nation's destiny by establishing a providential training ground for all peoples. Their pattern was a melting-pot experiment in brotherly love for all people under God.

    The first court case on religious freedom occurred in 1707. A Scotch-Irish Presbyterian preacher Francis Makemie was arrested by the New York Governor Lord Cornbury for preaching without a license. He won the case, and Cornbury was recalled to England.

    Unlike the other nationalities the Scotch-Irish immigrants stayed with one church The Presbyterian. Although they suffered from internal struggles, the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians grew rapidly in the 18th Century. The Great Awakening would be greatly influenced by their leaders.

    During the first century of colonial expansion the Southern colonies experienced a delayed settlement and a later religious development than the North. It was due partly to a greater emphasis on the commercial and mercantile pursuits and only mild interest in the church. The smaller scattered population attracted fewer ministers and also less European financial support was sent to the region. By 1700 the only large city was Charleston with a population of 16,000 in the vicinity and half of them were slaves.

    Carolina was officially a Church of England undertaking, but it was a fainthearted project until the 18th century. The Quakers sent the first missionary to the colony. The French Huguenots came after 1685 and slowly other groups arrived such as the Baptists and Presbyterians.

    The last colony Georgia was a grant to the war veteran General James Oglethorpe from King George II in 1732. In part the foundation was laid for the "poor of the kingdom," who were imprisoned debtors and those persecuted for religion. Initially Oglethorpe purchased land from the Creek Indians and refused to admit slaves and rum, but later leaders repealed those noble goals. Nevertheless, the benevolent effort did receive many gifts of charity. Georgia was intended to be a buffer colony on the frontier of Spanish Florida and French Louisiana. The Indians who crossed the border were seen more as menace than a missionary project.

    The Georgia colony was blessed with some very important spiritual leaders. Dr. Bray of the SPG set up funds to evangelize the Negroes. The Wesley brothers John and Charles began their ministry here in 1736. John testified that his conversion experience happened through the discipleship of the Moravian missionary Peter Boehler.

    The ambitious dream of the Moravian church for world missions was encouraged by their Georgia efforts. Count Nicolaus Zinzendorf sent missionaries to five continents, and even made a "witnessing trip" to North America and Georgia in 1741.

    Another famous name was the "Grand Itinerant" George Whitefield, the Methodist evangelist of the Great Awakening. His visit and subsequent donations resulted in the Bethesda orphanage near Savannah. But for all the illustrious names, the Georgia colony only had a few local churches to touch the lives of the settlers.

    A summary of the early Christian influence in North America would be remiss, if the Spanish and French missionaries outside the thirteen colonies were not given their just dues. The Franciscan, Dominican, and Jesuit priests planted The Cross wherever the Spanish influence spread. Jesuit Father Kino in Arizona and Franciscan Father Junipero Serra in California left important spiritual legacies in the American Southwest.

    When LaSalle (Robert Chevalier) claimed all of the lands of the Mississippi for French King Louis XIV, he placed a cross and a leaden plate with the French coat of arms, then said, "The banners of Heaven's King advance, The mystery of the Cross shine forth." So began the greatest US land claim known as Louisiana.

    The French missionaries made huge impacts among the Indians. Jesuit Father Marquette spoke six Indian languages and may have been the first European in the Mississippi Valley. Father Allouez is said to have baptized 10,000 Indians in his lifetime.

    XIV. Influential Biographies

    The fruits of the faith in our founding fathers grew into a spiritual heritage for this nation. Their good report through faith is neglected in our modern textbooks. The evidence of things not seen is recorded for us today as a glorification of our forefather's perseverance, good olde Yankee ingenuity, wisdom, and progress. However, we have so great a cloud of witnesses, who fixed out roots with an assurance of divine purpose, that this chapter only highlights the faith and the contributions of a selected few. Catherine Millard, David Barton, Gary Demar, and others have recently written with the same intention to glorify the spiritual achievements in our past.

    As a final summary this is a quick thumbnail sketch of some important biographies from this early colonial period.

    Leif Erikson - converted to Christianity in the King of Norway's court at age 19. The first European to North America called Vinland circa 1000 AD.

    Christopher Columbus - (1451-1506) 4 voyages which opened the Western Hemisphere to Christianity and European exploration and settlement.

    Pocahontas - (c.1595-1616) daughter of Powhatan and wife of John Rolfe. A convert to Christianity, who was baptized Lady Rebecca.

    William Bradford (1590-1657) author of the History of Plimoth Plantation and the governor of the colony for 37 years.

    Squanto (??-1623) a Patuxet, English-speaking, Christian Indian, who befriended Bradford and the Plymouth Colony and was a reason for the famous Thanksgiving.

    John Winthrop (1588-1649) leader of the Puritan's Arabella fleet to Boston and was the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

    Roger Williams (1599-1683) founded Providence, Rhode Island. Wrote the first Indian lexicon. Wrote the Bloudy Tenant of Persecution.

    John Cotton (1584-1652) called "the Patriarch of New England" at Boston's First Church. He was involved in Roger Williams & Anne Hutchinson's exile.

    Richard Mather (1596-1669) Dorchester preacher for 30 years and early Puritan giant, who co-authored the Bay Psalm Book.

    Increase Mather (1639-1723) Boston's Second (old North) Church pastor for 59 years. Also, President of Harvard & leader of the Middle Era of the Puritans.

    Cotton Mather (1663-1728) Pastor of Boston's Second Church for 50 years. A Puritan scholar & most productive writer. Wrote Magnalia Christi America.

    Thomas Hooker (1586-1647) founder of Connecticut and author of the Fundamental Orders - the first American Constitution.

    Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) co-author of First Fruits a promotion of New England John Eliot (1604-1690) The Apostle to the Indians and author of Up-Biblum, the Indian translation of the Bible.

    John Campanius - Swedish Lutheran apostle to the Delaware Indians from 1643-48.

    Henry Muhlenberg (1711-1787) Patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America

    James the Duke of York - the peaceful surrender of New York in 1664 to the English.

    Francis Makemie (1658-1708) Scotch-Irish missionary & founder of US Presbyterian Church.

    Cecil Calvert (1605-1675) or Lord Baltimore Maryland's Roman Catholic proprietor for 43 years and noted for the Toleration Act of 1649.

    Thomas Bray (1656-1730) commissary for Maryland, the SPG, and founder of over 40 colonial libraries for the SPCK.

    William Penn (1644-1718) Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, the "Holy Experiment," a shelter for all Christian groups.

    James Blair (1656-1743) first President of William & Mary and Pastor of the Williamsburg Bruton Parish Church.

    James Oglethorpe - founder of the Georgia debtors' colony  

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