Christ’s kingdom as the foundation for New England

Over the course of the next 150 years, these dedicated Christians in New England wrote up about 100 different compacts, covenants, and constitutions. Like the Mayflower Compact, they reflect the Christian motivation of these early Americans. For example, in 1643, for the first time, for mutual protection, delegates from the colonies joined together and signed the New England Confederation.

Here is what they said was the singular reason for their coming into these parts of America as stated in the New England Confederation: “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.”

Quote source

Kennedy, D.J. and Newcombe, J. (2001). What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? [ebook]. Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville. Location 1155.

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The Puritan identification with the Bible

In England, the Puritan identification with the Bible was so strong that some Puritan extremists sought to replace English common law with Biblical laws of the Old Testament, but were prevented from doing so. In America, however, there was far more freedom to experiment with the use of Biblical law in the legal codes of the colonies, and this was exactly what these early colonists set out to do.

The earliest legislation of the colonies of New England was all determined by Scripture. At the first assembly of New Haven in 1639, John Davenport clearly stated the primacy of the Bible as the legal and moral foundation of the colony…

Subsequently, the New Haven legislators adopted a legal code – the Code of 1655 – which contained some 79 statutes, half of which contained Biblical references, virtually all from the Hebrew Bible. The Plymouth Colony had a similar law code as did the Massachusetts assembly, which, in 1641 – after an exhortation by Reverend John Cotton who presented the legislators with a copy of Moses, His Judicials – adopted the so-called “Capitall Lawes of New England” based almost entirely on Mosaic law

Quote source
Spiro, K. (n.d. ) America and Jewish Values: The Bible’s major role in the creation of the United States and its democracy. The Jewish Website. Available http://www.aish.com/jl/48965036.html. Last accessed 15 May 2016

Secularism isn’t needed for economic development

According to the Secular Party of Australia:

There is certainly much to be recommended in secularism. It does indeed promote economic progress as well as democracy – in fact it necessary for both. This was well recognised by [past President Mustafa] Ataturk, who firmly entrenched secularism in Turkey for these very reasons.

Untrue. It’s not like economic development never happened before the programs of Ataturk or the invention of secularism. David Chilton explains how:

Again, we should note that the most important factor in [economic] development has been Christianity. Where the people have established the godly basis for progress, in personal lives, social mores, and political freedoms, development will occur without government programs. If the people are not morally capable of progress, no amount of aid will produce it. Economic development requires a great deal more than money – a fact which is ignored by materialistic socialists.

The Puritans progressed because of ethics, not grants.

A stagnant culture needs the conditions which favor development, and money is the least of its worries. As [P.T.] Bauer says, “If all conditions for development other than capital are present, capital will soon be generated locally,” or will be available on loan from the outside.

Quote sources

  1. Perkins, J.L. (2006). Why Costello is Wrong about Secularism. Secular Party of Australia [media release]. Available http://www.secular.org.au/media-releases/. Last accessed 6th Jul 2015.
  2. Chilton, D. (1981). Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt-Manipulators. Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, p. 106

The Puritan emphasis on family-driven education

There is no doubt that the educational life of a Puritan began in the home. In keeping with an ideal covenant household, the salvation of the children and their spiritual well being was at first place in the heart of every godly parent. They universally understood…that education was a means to that end. Therefore, they believed that the education of their children in religion was their premier duty…

Thus, they sought to catechize their children as soon as possible and instruct them in the Scriptures. This included daily devotions, either in the morning or around the dinner table, and sermon discussion/application.

Quote source

Dave (2005). The Puritans and Education. Dave’s Exegesis. Available http://www.davesexegesis.com/the-puritans-and-education/. Last accessed 8th Jun 2015.

The Puritan view of the Sabbath

For the Puritan, the Sabbath was a perpetual, moral ordinance because God instituted it at the creation and republished His will on the matter at Sinai…For the Puritan, the Lord’s day was binding upon the Christian church because it was instituted jure divino [by divine law]…The Puritan Sabbath immigrated to New England with the Pilgrims. Without opposition from an inimical hierarchy, it flourished in the “new Canaan.”

Quote source

Dennison, J. (n.d.). The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath. Legionnaire Ministries. Available http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/the-perpetuity-and-change-of-the-sabbath/. Last accessed 9th May 2015.

Sleeping in church; when the sleepers got busted

Mr. Moody, of York, Maine, employed a similar device to awaken and mortify the sleepers in [church] meeting. He shouted “Fire, fire, fire!” and when the startled and blinking men jumped up, calling out “Where?” he roared back in turn, “In hell, for sleeping sinners.”

Quote source

Earle, A.M. (1891). The Sabbath in Puritan New England. Available http://www.reformed.org/books/gutenberg/sabbath/index.html?mainframe=/books/gutenberg/sabbath/The_Sabbath_in_Puritan_New_England.html. Last accessed 11th Oct 2014.

 

Puritans refashioning in terms of Scripture

It was not surprising, therefore, in view of the Puritan dedication to Scripture, that they looked to the Bible not only for a new model for the church but also for the state. From the very beginning, the colonies, especially in New England, looked to the Bible for their laws. Because of the royal over-lordship where colonial charters were concerned, a certain amount of English royal law was also retained to avoid conflicts with the crown. But the Puritans essentially wanted a new model, one based on Scripture, for every area of life; we have Cromwell’s New Model Army; we have new model churches; in one case after another, things were refashioned in terms of Scripture.

My two cents

I like that reference to the Bible being a new model for the state—as opposed to an old (and ultimately humanistic) one. If I were forced to take a course on history—but had a choice on which time period or group of people to study, I think I would go for the Puritans.

I have a list of over books that I’d like to read (but don’t see myself getting to it anytime soon). After checking that list, I noticed that more than one was relating to the Puritans. I also saw a product called the Puritan Hard Drive, which seems kind of interesting.

Quote source

Rushdoony, R.J. (n.d) Biblical Faith and American History [Kindle eBook]. Chalcedon Foundation, location 96-101.