To the list
of certainties in this life – death and taxes – we could probably add a
third: Yankees will make a sanctimonious
display of their righteousness.
repeated for the umpteenth time in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on 6 Oct. 2020 at
an event called ‘It’s Time to Pray’, organized by the pastor of Times Square
Church (NYC) Mr Carter Conlon, who is quite excited and agitated over the 400th
anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Pastor Carter expressed the purpose of
his meeting thusly:
faithful in bringing them [the Pilgrims] here and giving them this land, but in
400 years, what have we done with the freedom He gave us?
‘We took our
freedom and enslaved an entire race of people. He prospered us as a nation, and
we became greedy as a people. Our families are broken. Our children are being
indoctrinated in schools starting from daycare. We have changed the definition
of marriage. We are aborting babies at the point of birth. Our nation is
unraveling. Our only hope for the future is God.
we’re going back, 400 years later, to Lot # 1 where our nation began, and we’re
going to pray. We are going to re-discover our roots and reclaim the promise of
God that made America. When we open the prayer meeting in Plymouth, we’re going
to repent and ask God to forgive us for what we’ve done with the freedom He gave
us. God told me we need to confess the sins of the nation one by one and ask
repentance is a wonderful thing, but the history of New England makes us doubt
this is what was experienced by most of the attendees at ‘It’s Time to Pray’. We will look at that history momentarily, but
first there is one other point that makes us doubtful about the outcome of this
prayer meeting: It is based on a
In the quote
above and on the home page for this
it is stated that Plymouth, Massachusetts, is ‘the place where America began.’ But it does not take much of an effort at
researching to realize that the Pilgrims were not the first Englishmen to
settle permanently on North America; that title belongs to the settlers of
Jamestown, Virginia. The South was born
first (1607), then New England (1620).
there is a problem with truthfulness from these folks. But more important than this is the following
question: ‘Should anyone want to follow in the spiritual footsteps of the
Pilgrims?’, a subject Pastor Carter and his fellows seem very concerned with. To answer this, we will begin the brief historical
overview promised above.
First it is
well to note that the Pilgrims were a disorderly bunch even before they arrived
at Plymouth to set up their ‘City on a Hill’.
This is made abundantly clear in Richard Hooker’s (1554-1600) On the
Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. To
give but one example from his book, he said,
and their Bibles were alone together, what strange fantastical opinion soever
at any time entered into their heads, their use was to think the Spirit taught
it them. Their phrensies concerning our Saviour’s incarnation, the state of
souls departed, and such-like, are things needless to be rehearsed. And
forasmuch as they were of the same suit with those of whom the apostle
speaketh, saying, “They are still learning, but never attain to the knowledge
of truth,” it was no marvel to see them every day broach some new thing, not
heard of before. Which restless levity they did interpret to be their growing
to spiritual perfection, and a proceeding from faith to faith. The differences
amongst them grew by this mean in a manner infinite, so that scarcely was there
found any one of them, the forge of whose brain was not possessed with some
special mystery. . . . Their own ministers they highly magnified as
men whose vocation was from God; the rest their manner was to term disdainfully
Scribes and Pharisees, to account their calling an human creature, and to
detain the people as much as might be from hearing them’ (Preface, ch. viii, 7).
it did not take long for the ‘chosen people’ of New England to fall head-long
into apostasy. Already by 1662 they had
to institute the Halfway Covenant so their unregenerate children could be
assured of receiving the blessings that they believed God had promised to their
forefathers - to build the New Jerusalem in North America, and all the rest of
it (Sacvan Bercovitch, The American Jeremiad, Madison, Wisc., U of Wisc.
Press, 1978, pgs. 62-3).
In the 18th
century we find further dissensions and fragmentations of the ‘true faith’ of
the Pilgrims. Rev Angus Stewart writes: . . .
The rest is
the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!