As our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving this year, it is a perfect time to recapture the true spirit of America’s Pilgrim ancestors. We are in a time of great trial, in many ways reminiscent of these faithful believers. It would be wonderful to share with our families and friends this Thanksgiving the following story of the amazing sacrifice of these brave forerunners of our freedom. As we shall see, it cost them everything to lay the foundation of the most prosperous and free nation in history. Will the strength of our character be tested like theirs was? The story begins in the small village of Scrooby as the Separatists (later called Pilgrims) began an underground church in the basement of a livery stable. These unlikely world changers desired to live a quiet life, raise their families and worship God according to the teachings of the Bible. But their biblical faith brought them face to face with the big government tyranny of their day.King James I, the divine right tyrant of England, claimed absolute
control over every person in his realm. He tortured, killed or
exiled all who disagreed with him. He broke with the laws of
England, to make all laws at his whim. (This is called “king’s law”
and has been the tool of tyrants to keep almost all people in the
world cowering in fear before them for 5,000 years.) The king
was enraged that the Separatists dared to obey God rather than
the king with regard to their worship and sacredly held beliefs.
King James said “I will harry them out of the land - or else do
In 1607, the small Scrooby congregation sold all their
possessions and tried to escape to Holland where there
was a degree of religious freedom. They hired a Dutch sea
captain. But once they were aboard his ship, he stole all that
they had and turned them over to the king’s soldiers in the town
of Boston, England. They were searched
to their “innermost garments” and paraded through the streets.
Then the men were dragged off to prison for nine months
(which was often a death sentence). The women
and children were left penniless and homeless on the streets.
A year later these weary families were
reunited. They attempted another
escape by ship. As the men were on board the ship preparing to leave, they were forced by the Dutch captain at gunpoint to set sail and leave their families behind. The king’s troops came and captured the women and children on shore. They pleaded for mercy from the king’s men, but instead were thrown in prison for a year. They were finally released and joined their husbands and fathers in exile. Finally, the Pilgrim church was reunited in Holland and settled in Leyden. There for eleven years they enjoyed a degree of religious freedom. Their Cambridge
trained pastor, John Robinson, was one of history’s foremost cultural reformers and Bible scholars. They learned from him what no other group of believers had ever put into practice. They discovered the secrets of civil, economic and religious liberty built upon the Bible and on 700 years of English Common Law. But the heavy hand of poverty laid hard upon these exiles. The Dutch labor unions denied the English exiles any good jobs. Many of their children were forced into heavy sweatshop labor. They were heartbroken as their children began to be influenced
by the immoral culture around them.Finally, facing possible annihilation by a Spanish invasion, and having a deep concern for their children’s future, these faithful, tough pioneers decided to immigrate to the wilderness of America. They were facing almost certain death.
But they chose to stand for the truth without compromise and for the hope that they and their posterity could experience liberty under God.
As the Pilgrims set sail for America, one of their two ships began to sink. They had to return to England and only
a select group of volunteers boarded the Mayflower and continued the voyage in August of 1620. Sixty six days later, facing almost constant
gales, the ship arrived off the coast of Cape Cod. The November storms and the Cape kept the captain from steering south to New York, their intended destination (the place of the king’s charter).Now without a charter, they formed their own government. Continue Reading...
CHAPTER 16 | Document 1
William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation 120--21
All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to
think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done,
that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor
(with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his
own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as
before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number,
for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth
under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much
more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could
use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly
into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.
The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak
and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labours and victuals, clothes, etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind
of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object this is men's corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.
Audio Transcription - Please excuse any transcription errors.
John Bona: Welcome back to the Story of Liberty. This is John Bona.
Dr. Marshall Foster: There are only two Thanksgivings in any nation in the world. Canada has it and we have it. We founded the conception of Thanksgiving, John do have a few minutes? I would like to share the story of Thanksgiving because most people have a complete misunderstanding, I believe, about what Thanksgiving is. In fact, if you go to the public schools today, you'll find in most of the schools where taught that it's fall recess or it's a time, what is that turkey time?
John Bona: Right.
Dr. Marshall Foster: We use every term possible except for Thanksgiving to almighty God. Maybe it's they gave thanks to the Indians for the privilege of being here, but that's kind of the way it's taught in it.
John Bona: Oh yeah, turkey day, exactly.
Dr. Marshall Foster: Turkey day and I think that the actual story of
Thanksgiving fits in to our story we're talking about today, which is the
history of America and the Hebrew Republic, and the fact that there is
in the history of our country, an amazing blessing to following those
principles. The reason we follow those principles goes back to the
first Thanksgiving, because remember what we're talking about in
terms of obeying the scriptures as it relates to civil government was
brought over by the pilgrim fathers when they landed in November of
1620. When they landed, they didn't land in a real hospitable spot.
In fact, it was they say it was about 3 feet of snow, it was a mini ice
age, snow everywhere, and just hostile environment of native
Americans around. You didn't know when you're going to get
scalped or killed. In the midst of that, they land, they trust God,
they set up a 50-year peace treaty with their friendly native friends that they met. An amazing time without war. They live for 50 years at peace with the native Americans. Most people celebrate the first Thanksgiving thinking that was the time when 90 braves came in with some a few turkeys and some venison and they all sat down and had an afternoon fall festival. Well, that's true, they certainly would have given thanks at that meal but that was not really the history of Thanksgiving. The history of the official Thanksgiving that was founded by William Bradford, who was their governor for 30 years and we read about this in his own hand in his famous journal called the Plimoth Plantation; and in it, he writes that the pilgrims almost starved to death in their first 2 years because they were forced into communism. How many people know that communism was not founded by Carl Marx? But Communism was the way of life that was forced upon people all over Europe and around the world since the beginning of tyrants. Where you were forced by a top down force to work in common in common groups whether you are an Egyptian working on a pyramid or whether you are a pilgrim working in the wilderness. The people that put up the money said, "You're gonna work in common fields". So for the first 2 years, the pilgrims were here; because of contracts, they were forced to work in common fields. William Bradford writes that in the spring of 1623, he became governor and he said "This is wrong, even though we are under contract here, this is wrong because we think we're wiser than God, coming up with a system where women have to do other men's underwear. Where men have to work in a field in common with other men, and the men that want to work are going to go out and work hard, and the men who don't want to work are going sit home and do nothing" because there's nobody owns anything. So he said "instead of that, I'm gonna divide the land up." So in the spring of 1623, after almost starving to death for 2 years, living on sometimes 5 kernels of corn a day and a couple of raw oysters for 2 years of near starvation, he divides the land up in the spring in April. By July, the crops and the corn have risen because everybody's working on their own land. He said "if a man does not work, he shall not eat." Sure enough, what happens when you know you've got to plant your crop or there's not going to be in the fall, you plant your crop. So the crops were going great; but by mid July, their crops were beginning to wither; and by August, it was terrible because they didn't have a sprinkler system and there was no rain; and without rain, they were going to lose their crops; and without their crops, they were going to starve to death. In the summer and then the early fall, the native Americans were doing rain dances and finally the pilgrims call it the day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer to repent of the fact that, although they had turned to free enterprise, and their crops were rich and ready to go, just when they were about to grow and be ready, they were failing and they said, "We have not given thanks to God, we didn't give God the glory." So they declare the day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer; and on that day, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the rain began to fall. For 3 days it rained, the exact amount needed for them to revive their crops and save their common. As a result of this miracle, everyone rejoiced of course. William Bradford set up November 29 as a day to be set aside to give thanks to almighty God.
Thanksgiving is a time to thank God, for the fact that He is the founder of rain. He is the founder of this great country; and it's because we set aside that day every year, I believe that America still exist 400 years later. In fact, there has not been a famine in this country since 1623. There had been some hard times, but never famine. We have been the most blessed nation in every way of any nation in the history of mankind. Why? We've got to trace it back to that fall of 1623, when the pilgrims humbled themselves before God and said "God, we have forgotten you," and John, when you think about it, what is it that we have done in our country today? We have forgotten him. As it says in Deuteronomy, "aren't I the one that gives you the power to gain wealth?" Why would you forget me? You forget me, you'll lose blessing and it's from that blessing; and what I want to say about this is that we're not saying that we don't care for those that are out of jobs today. We don't care for those that are poor, just because we believe that free enterprise is important and we don't need to steal money from the rich and give to the poor, No. We're saying that the Christian free enterprise system is different than Crony capitalism, which is growing up in America where one group gets the benefit because they have a lobby in Washington and some job or some business gets a benefit no one else does. No, no, we're saying that under Christian free enterprise, people are to give and to share. In the old testament, it was 23%, it was the tithe that included all you're giving to everything from your pilgrimages, to your education to your kids, to giving to the poor; and they had gleaning, so the crops were gleaned by those who were in need. There was always a provision made for those that were in hard times; and because they had a strong family structure, people were within that family structure so that if you had disabled people like I have in my family, my wife is disabled. Our family takes care of my wife. We care for the needy; and if it's not just my wife, if it's someone outside, reach out to those people. My friend, Kirk Cameron adopts 4 children. If you see a need out there, we, the American people, were the ones who will go out and meet it, and that's where love is. That's what you will be thankful and you show your thankfulness to God by giving to others, by reaching out. We need to take back America from the government and give it back to God, and say "God, we want you to be our Lord" and we will care for the needy. We will care for the poor and we'll do it at a local level. That's where the Israelites were told to make every decision at that local level caring for the needy and the poor at the family in the personal level, and that's we need to do again just like they did in the days of the pilgrim.
John Bona: That's it. Those are great lessons Marshall, that you're talking about our founders who learned, and the amazing thing is they learn these principles from the Israelites, most of them. They analyze the details of that administration in Israel and they discover these numerous principles that they applied in our system of government, our way of life; and you talked of some of the more obvious aspects of their culture and our culture that just gel together into the system that originally was recommended by the great law giver himself, Moses; and you know one of the things, the main things in the making of America, as we celebrate this Thanksgiving week, we are thankful. Where they set up this whole common wealth of free men, this whole emphasis that came from the Israeli system, was reflected in that proclamation right on our Liberty Bell. Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof. See, that proclamation itself became part of the American heritage that we're so blessed to have and it was emblazoned and what became known as the Liberty Bell up there in Philadelphia. That inscription that recalls that Israeli systems of the people's law, the consent of the govern, proclaim liberty. Think of those words, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." Those are beautiful words to live out, aren't they this Thanksgiving.
Dr. Marshall Foster: Oh absolutely. Proclaiming liberty, that's what God's all about. When you think about it, God is not a God that's trying to take away our fun. In fact, He loves us so much that He wants us to be free. He is all about that. In fact, the apostle Paul says that "we as believers are those that are ministers of reconciliation." Reconciliation is the term used when families come back together and are living in unity and love in such a way that it all works. God says that he was in Christ reconciling the world to himself and we have become his ministers of reconciliation, and we are calling out to the world, be reconciled to God. What does that reconciliation to God do in your life? Well first, when you get reconciled to Christ, you are forgiven of your sins. You're forgiven, and you are trying to change on the inside because you're forgiven; and then because you are empowered by Him to love His law and to love His ways, then you begin to act out and be as He was. Not because you're so great but because He is great and the result is that you begin to change your family and that begins to change the people you know, and that changes your whole society. That's what we need to do.
John Bona: You know, it's interesting too in my readings and study, whenever I read about the Israelites falling into temptation as America has now; in their case to have slaves or bond servants, they were reprimanded. If you know the story about 600 B.C., a reprimand was given through the great prophet Jeremiah. He said that, "You have not harkened unto me in proclaiming liberty, everyone to is brother and every man to is neighbor. The whole I proclaim a liberty for you, say it to Lord." This fundamental system of the people's law was such a strong commitment, really to the very basic code of solid morality in their nation. Our founders recognize this and they emphasize this over and over this aspect in our own constitutional government in a free society, in a free market. You know as Benjamin Franklin said, and he is one of my people that I'm really interested in antiquity in the American history experiment. He said something that it was really amazing to me and I know there's a lot of debate about Franklin, you could weigh in on that, but he said "only virtuous people are capable of freedom, of liberty." He said "as nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."
Dr. Marshall Foster: Exactly. We will govern ourselves or we shall certainly be governed. As Robert Winter have said, really to be governed by the strong army of men or by the strong will of God will either be governed by the bible or by the bayonet; and that's the thing that people, if they would understand the history of the world, they would see that, that in the history of nations where liberty has shown, it has always been to people that has bowed before the truce of God and that's where liberty comes from.
John Bona: Our founders knew it well and just to have another quote here with John Adams said was equally explicit. He said that "our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people." He said it was holy and adequate to the government of any other. Think of those profound words today. As we see, the economy, the situation, these demonstrations where people are hurting another people, attacking police, vulgar language. But Samuel Adams went onto a final warning. He said, "Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of the people whose manners are universally corrupt." You know the Israeli people under God's law where they were organized in small manageable units, where all the adults, I think it was families of ten, they broke them up into after Jethro have told them, you can't do it all. But they all head in a voice and a vote and you were accountable in that group, and that's why I think small groups are good for accountability. There was a strong emphasis on local government and they had a good system of honest money that based on precious metals gold and silver, according to a weight and a strict requirement of honest weights and measures; and the land as you were talking about in the other half segment Marshall, the land was looked upon us a private stewardship, not government land. It was private stewardship of the people, not the government, and the rights of property were protected. The rights of life, private liberty were protected. These great principles that emanate from Israel, we should be thankful for this week and recognize.
Dr. Marshall Foster: Absolutely, absolutely. Give thanks to the Almighty God and for His scriptures that gave us this constitutional republic. How many people know that the constitutional republic of Moses, which was a choice of the people to elect their representatives at the local and national level? They even had an upper house and a lower house. They had a judicial system. They had an executive set up. They had a militia set-up which was their armed forces where every man between the ages of 16 and 60 was a member of the militia. It was structured in such way. By the way, that's the way we are structured, even our county system and our sheriffs go back to the conception, first of England, but from England it was taken from the Jewish people in the ancient world. This is the structure of local accountable soft government. Why is that important? Because all governments tend to absolute power. As one person said, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. What happens is that once you give a little bit of power to a guy and at the national level, then he will take more and he will take more, and pretty much money and power and money and power goes to the top, and they take all power and then the people at the local level lose all freedom. That's the tendency of all nations. It happened to every nation in the ancient world. It happened, you know Adolf Hitler, [inaudible] Stalin. In the twentieth century was the most diabolical century when it comes to totalitarianism. Why? Because they allow the tyrants to have absolute power of the people. Why? Because the people themselves did not govern themselves and they gave far too much power and allegiance to one individual or to one power group. We need to think about that as we are facing elections coming up and decisions as to whether we will maintain a Christian constitutional republic with local self government or whether we will head to a totalitarian dictatorship. Those are the only two alternatives that we face in the future.
John Bona: You know Marshall, there are some I know who doubt the capacity of the people of America for self government, and I know that's what you're talking about here. You know for me, I have no such fear. My faith in our institutions in America is based upon the premise that the essential principles, some of them we've talked about tonight, are identical with those of that political system, emanated from that divine wisdom established by the sovereign authority of the world himself. Men are capable of governing themselves. Then tyranny, if that happens, like you said, then tyranny will have an appointment with God. See, there's a better future that I believe we could barely comprehend and for which scripture talks about nature grown for. It's not a tree planted by human hands sewn in sunshine or grown in the vernal breezes and gentle rain. That from its roots are made deep, but through the hand of God himself. You know as you said Marshall, that mustard seed shall become a tree. Liberty, law, science and the Judeo-Christian faith shall triumph in God's perfect timing. You know one thing Marshall, I think we all need to remember as we're talking about these basic fundamental premises. Ultimately, the government is upon the shoulders of Christ himself. See, there can never be peace in history outside of Christ. There could be temporary ceasefires, agreements, but never a lasting peace. Folks, we're to remember what God said his promises and standing all of what God did in giving us this Thanksgiving season. Giving us the law, the profits; through the Jewish people, that's where it came, from Israel. The debt we owe to God and the Jews for preserving God's law for us, we should thank Israel for their sacrifice and appreciate what they have done and given us. Dr. Foster, thank you for being here today.
Dr. Marshall Foster: Always a privilege John.
John Bona: God bless you. Have safe travels back to California, and have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Dr. Marshall Foster: May God bless America.