Watchmen On the Wall - FRC

Prayer Targets: Thanksgiving 2019

November 26, 2019

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you ... (1Thessalonians 5:18) ... If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat... [W]e command ...that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)

Dear Praying Friends,

William Bradford (1590-1657) was a founder and longtime governor of the Plymouth Colony settlement. Born in England, he migrated with the Separatist congregation to the Netherlands as a teenager. In 1620, he sailed with fellow Pilgrims across the Atlantic to what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, where, while still on board the ship, signed the Mayflower Compact, the document in which colonists agreed to govern their new colony. Bradford was elected Governor and served for over 30 years. A beloved leader, he helped establish biblically-based laws, a free market, and religious tolerance. His two-volume Of Plymouth Plantation, a diary of the colony's first several decades, is the source of this important excerpt. The goodhearted Pilgrims tried a socialistic, communal system of labor to provide for the needs of their families, and in the process learned that the Bible was right all along.

So, they began to consider how to raise more corn, and obtain a better crop than they had done, so that they might not continue to endure the misery of want. At length after much debate, the Governor, with the advice of the chief among them, allowed each man to plant corn for his own household, and to trust to themselves for that; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. So every family was assigned a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number with that in view, -- for present purposes only, and making no division for inheritance, -- all boys and children being included under some family. This was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to plant corn, while before they would allege weakness and inability; and to have compelled them would have been thought great tyranny and oppression...

The failure of this experiment of communal service, which was tried for several years, and by good and honest men proves the emptiness of the theory of Plato and other ancients, applauded by some of later times, -- that the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in community, by a commonwealth, would make a state happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For in this instance, community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort. For the young men who were most able and fit for service objected to being forced to spend their time and strength in working for other men's wives and children, without any recompense. The strong man or the resourceful man had no more share of food, clothes, etc., than the weak man who was not able to do a quarter the other could. This was thought injustice. The aged and graver men, who were ranked and equalized in labour, food, clothes, etc., with the humbler and younger ones, thought it some indignity and disrespect to them. As for men's wives who were obliged to do service for other men, such as cooking, washing their clothes, etc., they considered it a kind of slavery, and many husbands would not brook it. This feature of it would have been worse still, if they had been men of an inferior class. If (it was thought) all were to share alike, and all were to do alike, then all were on an equality throughout, and one was as good as another; and so, if it did not actually abolish those very relations which God himself has set among men, it did at least greatly diminish the mutual respect that is so important should be preserved amongst them. Let none argue that this is due to human failing, rather than to this communistic plan of life in itself. I answer, seeing that all men have this failing in them, that God in His wisdom saw that another plan of life was fitter for them.

But to return. After this had been settled, and their corn was planted in this way, all their food supplies were consumed, and they had to rely upon God's providence, often at night not knowing where to get a bit of anything next day; and so, as one well observed, they had need above all people in the world, to pray to God that He would give them their daily bread. Yet they bore their want with great patience and cheerfulness of spirit, and that for up wards of two years; which reminds me of what Peter Martyr writes in praise of the Spaniards, in his Fifth Decade, page 208. "They," says he, "led a miserable life five days together, with the parched grain of maize only," and concludes, "that such pains, such labour, and such hunger, he thought none living, who was not a Spaniard could have endured." But alas! these colonists, when they had maize, -- that is Indian corn, -- thought it as good as a feast; and not only lacked bread for days at a time, but sometimes for two or three months continuously were without bread or any kind of corn. Indeed, in another place... the same writer mentions how some others were even worse put to it, and ate dogs, toads, and dead men, -- and so died almost all. From these extremities the Lord in His goodness kept these His people, and in their great need preserved both their lives and their health; let His name have the praise. Yet let me here make use of the same writer's conclusion, which in a manner may be applied to the people of this colony : "That with their miseries they opened a way to these new lands ; and after these hardships, with what ease other men came to inhabit them, owing it to the calamities which these forerunners had suffered ; so that they who followed seemed to go, as it were, to a bride feast, where all things are provided for them." (Excerpted from Bradford's "History of the Plymouth Settlement," 1608-1650 -- Book II, Chapter 4. Rendered to modern English by Harold Paget in 1909. Available on Google Books.)

  • Lord, we thank you for your boundless grace and mercy, poured out upon us through your Son. Thank you for his life, death, and resurrection, for the endless fount of his shed blood that cleanses us of sin, for eternal life that we have through faith in Him, for the vital work of the Holy Spirit in our lives which drew us to you, who encourages us, helps us, and inspires us to choose life and holy living. Thank you for the eternal principles, values, and morals that our Forefathers studied and understood -- the Bible -- which they enshrined in our laws and traditions, the virtues by which they lived, and in the Declaration and Constitution they produced to guide us today. Thank you for making us the longest surviving democratic republic in the history of the world. Lord, you have warned us throughout Scripture, and history, that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Thank you that our Forefathers embraced those principles and passed them on to us. Thank you for preserving us a free people unto this very day and making our nation the most blessed and prosperous nation in history. Just as our Forefathers mixed official days of Thanksgiving with expressions of gratitude and celebration, they also declared days of humility and repentance. Forgive us for having abandoned your word, the Bible, and your son, the word of God in the flesh, who rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father, ever living to make intercession for us! Help us to rush as a people back to YOU! Send the revival we so desperately need! Please help our children and grandchildren not to have to learn the hard way. Only your way leads to true moral, spiritual, physical, political, and economic prosperity.
  • Let Americans relearn the lesson the Plymouth Colony learned. Help us to flee from false doctrines of socialism. Please do not require our children to go back into bondage. Turn us back to you! Thank you for the abundance of grace and patience you have shown us, but we plead with you for America's children. Oh God, restore our country to moral and spiritual wealth. We are deeply thankful for all with which you have blessed us, yet our hearts yearn for the spiritual and moral wealth we once enjoyed as a nation through Jesus Christ. This Thanksgiving, we thank you for the things that really count -- the things that moth and rust cannot corrupt, those heavenly goods that will last forever! Help us as a people to seek first your Kingdom even as you promise that all other things will be added to us. Grant us souls and families and nations for you though the Gospel. Lord, we owe you everything! We thank you, especially for the unspeakable gift! (Dt 28:1-14; Joel 1:4; 2:25; Ps 18:all; 30:3-5; Mt 25:34; Acts 2:33; 2 Cor 9:10-15; Gal 6:7-9; Heb 7:25)

Finally, Read Tony's article: The Secret Ingredient to a Healthy, Happy Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving week is also National Bible Week. Please pray that Americans will wholeheartedly return to the Bible and to the God of the Bible! See members of the U.S. House of Representatives express their hearts regarding National Bible Week on the House floor last Thursday, Nov. 20, 2019. Additionally, President Trump declared this week as National Family Week. Read his proclamation here.

As always, thank you for praying and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!