They began to lay plans for a small number from their group to move to this new land. Their search for a way to the New World, and a means to ship their supplies led them to a group of businessmen called Aventurers. One hundred and two passengers, which included the Christians, set sail for America on a cargo ship that had been arranged for by these businessmen. The name of the ship was the Mayflower. They were nicknamed "Pilgrims" since a pilgrim is someone who goes on a long, long journey. The Mayflower was not designed to carry passengers; therefore, living conditions on the ship were miserable. The food consisted of beef, pork or fish and hard dry biscuits. Sanitary facilities were non-existent [they might have used buckets to relieve themselves in, then thrown it overboard, but perhaps many simply had to climb out on the rigging as the sailors did and relieve themselves there. Women couldn't manage that of course, so slop buckets would have to do for them!]. Many of the people on board became deathly ill [which is understandable in such conditions]. The Pilgrims knew it was only by God's mercy that any of them survived such a voyage [it was weeks on the storm-tossed ocean, crammed into lightless, airless quarters together, without any privacy, and during the voyage one sailor who hated Christians constantly persecuted them bitterly, blaspheming God and cursing the Pilgrims, only to get sick near the end of the voyage and die unrepentent.].
On the morning of November 9, 1620, 66 days after setting sail, the Mayflower reached ther sandy beaches of Cape Cod in what today is the State of Massachusetts [this was not their choice, as they had aimed to land in a more southern location, but they came to the northern coast instead]. Before they left the ship, however, they devised a new civil charter or constitution for their colony, which we call "The Mayflower Compact." By this all agreed and signed their names to abide by the conditions set forth in it, and this founding document established their colony as a Christian society with its own government and laws. They acknowledged in it that God was over them and their supreme Authority. This Compact kept the settlers together, Christian and non-Christian, preventing them from dispersing and each man going his own way, and thus ensured the survival of the colony, which overwise might have failed as so many other colonizing attempts had already failed in America. This American colony was established beyond question as a Christian society, with laws and government to maintain and administer it.].
The pilgrims were in a strange land where there were no homes, no towns, and no friends to greet them [they had known only civilized society before, with cities, towns, roads, churches, commerce, ports, mail, banks, shops, all sorts of trades and jobs, transporation, businesses, etc., but now there was nothing, absolutely nothing of these things in the savage country they had reached.]. But they were obedient to the call of God and would be able to worship Him, and pray and sing songs with complete freedom.
There were many trials in building the first Christian settlement in America. Besides the miserable trip on the Mayflower, the pilgrims had to contend with the cold and snow, lack of food, sickness, death, loneliness and conflicts with the Indians. By spring, half of the Pilgrims had died. The rest were alone, except for their commitment to God and their faith in Jesus Christ to give them the courage and strength to carry on.
During the first summer the Pilgrims were able to build several homes. A friendly Indian named Squanto [who had been taken to England, saved as a Christian, taught English, then was able to return home, only to find his village gone, all the people dying from some epidemic sickness such as measles, for which Indians had no immunity.]. who had learned the English language taught them how to plant corn and trap beaver. The Pilgrims said he had been sent to them by God. Because of his advice their garden crops flourished [he taught them how to grow corn, squash, and beans together, while fertilizing the corn with a fish put in the hole before the seed corn was planted]. Along with the wild game that was available they now had plenty to eat. Int he autumn of 1621, nearly a year after their arrival, the Pilgrims decided to set aside a special time to give thanks to the Lord for his faithfulness, a commemoration we now call Thanksgiving.
The next major event in the development of our country's spiritual heritage was the arrival of the Puritans. While the pilgrims were establishing the first Christian settlement at Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Puritans in England continued to come under mounting pressures through persecution and advanced moral decay. Like the Pilgrims before them, they found conditions [in England, under the oppressive, persecuting state church, the Church of England] extremely difficult.
The Puritans had much more than the Pilgrims--that is, more money, more friends in high places, more education and more business experience. They attractecd people from all social classes and walks of life. They too began to search for the leading of the Lord in how to deal with their spiritual problem of living out their life in England and serving the Lord. Like the Pilgrims before them, they saw an alternative in America. God began to move among the purtians and in the year 1628 a massive exodus to America began. This migration lasted for about 16 years and more than 20,000 Puritans packed up and moved to America.
The Pilgrims had brought the first light of Jesus Christ to America. However, the Puritans above all others laid America's foundation as a Christian nation. The Puritans had submissive spirits, and were willing to face the reality of their own sinful natures. They recognized the harm that sin caused in their relationship with Jesus Christ and their relationships with one another. This willingness to submit to the Lord produced not only a compassion for one another, but a remarkable maturity in the handling of spiritual matters.
The commitment of the Puritans shows us why God anointed and directed them to be His light bearers in establishing America's spiritual direction. The main reason many of us today do not know their story is the revisionist history that began in the last century. Relatively few negative comments can be found about the Puritans in earlier histories. In fact, early historians gave the Puritans credit for settling the course of this nation. I am sure that our spiritual enemy Satan hates the Puritan example more than any other of their spiritual qualities. He has tried to eradicate the true picture of their role in the history of our country and their contribution.
Succeeding generations quickly fell away from the faith of their fathers. The Puritans of the second and third generations had not personally experienced the original call and commitment, and became spiritually indifferent. They had not forsaken their homes in faith and followed the Lord's leading to a new land. Instead they enjoyed the fruits of the blessing the Lord poured out on their ancestors. Though they still attended church, their hearts and minds were on worldly affairs rather than the things of God. This spiritual darkness brought an intervention by God in the 1700s that is called the Great Awakening.
By the early 1700s, there had not been any significant spiritual developments in America for some fifty years. However God began to move in a miraculous way to bring an end to this period of spiritual inactivity.
Possibly the first glimmer of light that began to dawn on this nation's state of spiritual apathy began in 1734 in North Hampton, Massachusetts where Jonathan Edwards was pastor. Soon it became obvious that the Spirit of God was sweeping over other preachers who began to preach the Word with tremendous anointing and great spiritual powser. Among them were John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Theodore Freilinghuysen, Samuel Davis and David Brainerd. As these men proclaimed the message of Jesus Christ, thousands came to the knowledge of Jesus as their Savior. The people were in awe at the poswer of God that fell on one village after another as these men preached. Whenever they went, revival would accompany them in a dramatic way.
These evangelists of the Great Awakening performed a magnificent service in the spiritual development of our country. Riding the main roads and through the backwoods on horseback, these men travelled hundreds of miles [I am told that my own forefather, my great-grandfather, travelled all over Norway sharing the Gospel and selling Bibles--Ed.].
George Wesley traveled up to 8,000 miles per year on horseback and preaching over 40,000 sermons in his lifetime. God was preparing America to become a new nation. The principles of her foundation were being established through were being established through the preaching of the Word of God. The spiritual health of her people was being formulated to meet the special calling that God had planned. Our special calling is to fulfill God's mission of being the "salt of the earth" and the "light to the world" in these last days of the Church Age. America was being prepared to become the geographical nerve center from which God would take the Gospel of Jesus throughout the world.
"INTERVENTION NUMBER FIVE"
America was definitely a "new event" in the spiritual history of mankind. Historians agree it was the powerful preaching during the "Great Awakening" that set the tone for the Revolution and after for our Constitution. The body of Christ in America did not let secular society form our government, although our government, although our government was designed to be secular--to be the government of all. Christians were involved in forming our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and every other aspect of our republic form of government. Theyw ere given wisdom and inspiration from God.
The reason why the original laws of our government were founded upon the teachings of the Bible is that Christian men led the way in forming our government. One of our Founding Fathers and 2nd president, John Adams, said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and a religious people. It is wholly indequate to the government of any other." His son, John Quincy Adams, the 6th president, stated, "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government and those of Christianity." Christianity has been the dominant religious faith in American from the beginning.
In the year 1892, in the case of The Church of the Holy Trinity vs. The United States, the Supreme Court stated: "Our laws and institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian. This is historically true from the discovery of this continent to the present hour; we find everywhere a clear recognition of this same truth. These and many other matters add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation."
"INTERVENTION NUMBER SIX"
The revivals that started during the Great Awakening period in the 1700s continued in the 1800s. Men like Dwight L. Moody, Charles Finney, A. B. Earle and others continued the work of revival. The effect of Moody's work in Christian education continues to this day. Charles Finney saw 100,000 give their lives to the Lord in one two-year period, 1857-58. Between the years of 1800 and 1900 thousands of churches were established throughout our land. Even during the Civil War, great revivals broke out among the soldiers on both sides. The history of our nation is a history that cannot be told without referring to our spiritual heritage.