A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.
- Woodrow Wilson
When Americans look back to their beginnings, they usually point to the small band of sea-weary pioneers who landed in 1620 at Plymouth Rock. Of the more than 100 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower, the majority were devout Christians. They desired to worship God in the way they believed the Scriptures taught.
Halfway across the Atlantic, the Mayflower and her crew faced near disaster in a terrific storm that caused one of the main beams to bow and crack. Although the passengers and crew wanted to turn back, Christopher Jones, the ships Master, assured all that the vessel was strong and firm. He ordered the beam to be secured. It was hoisted into place by a great iron screw that, fortunately, the Pilgrims brought out of Holland.
Upon raising the beam, they committed themselves to the will of God and resolved to proceed. The battered ship finally came within sight of Cape Cod on Nov. 19, 1620. The Pilgrims scanned the shoreline just to the west of them and described it as a goodly land wooded to the brink of the sea, which was true of Cape Cod at that time. But they had no patent to sanction their going ashore at Cape Cod, for their charter had been issued for the Virginia Colony - still to the south. This was no mans land.
The ship moved out into the deep water while her occupants pondered what to do. Their decision: the Mayflower Compact. It was intended only as a temporary pact to keep the law and order among themselves in a wilderness where there was no law. Yet that historic agreement laid the foundations of law and order and established the first civil body politic in America.
At the heart of the compact lay an undisputed conviction that God must be the center of all law and order and that law without a moral base is really no law at all.
The compact also rested on a covenant agreement and this, too, could later help lay the foundations of the American republic. All law, they insisted, would rest not upon a monarchy or a dictatorship, but upon the consent of the governed. It was a revolutionary concept for its time. Lets be thankful for those who charted our course.
Lets turn the page and progress some years in our American heritage - On July 4, 1776, there was signed in the city of Philadelphia one of Americas historic documents: the Declaration of Independence. It marked the birth of this nation which, under God, was destined for world leadership.
We often forget that, in declaring independence from an earthly power, our forefathers made a forthright declaration of dependence upon Almighty God. The closing words of this document solemnly declare: With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Lets be thankful for those who gave us their pledge. Lets look back!
It took only 18 years from the time the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock until the Puritans, who were among the most educated people of their day, founded the first and perhaps most famous Ivy League School. One rule and precept adopted in 1646 in this first school stated every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that they be ready to give an account of their proficiency therein, both in theoretical observations of languages and logic, and in practical and spiritual truths. America, where did we go wrong?
Happy Thanksgiving, America! To those who sacrificed for our freedom, the end was worth the painful means. Where would we, who are citizens of the great United States of America, be today if there had not been those who counted the cost of freedom and willingly paid for it?
Take time to be thankful for our great heritage as a nation! Be a blessing to someone during this season! Dont look in the yellow pages for a pastor to marry your young and bury your dead - have a pastor who will love and know your family!
(William Bullard is pastor of Evans Community Baptist Church.)
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