The Legacy of the Pilgrims

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”

— 1 Peter 2:11

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. Its origins, of course, go back to the Pilgrims. But who exactly were they? The Pilgrims were a group of Christians who secretly formed in 1606 in Scrooby, England, at a time when it was forbidden to read the Bible in public. When the Pilgrims formed their secret church, they made a covenant with each other. Fourteen years later, in 1620, that spiritual covenant was echoed in a political covenant, the Mayflower Compact. Historians, believers and non-believers alike, agree that the Mayflower Compact was a very important step in the formation of our constitutional republic and that it served as the cornerstone of our Constitution. This charter for selfgovernment was essentially the first compact between people and God to form a nation in three thousand years, since the Israelites demanded a king. In the Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrims declared their purpose: “… having undertaken a voyage for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith …” The Christian origins of this nation clearly shine through when we brush away the cobwebs of revisionist history.

During their first years in America, the Pilgrims struggled to survive, in great part because of their communistic economy. About half of them died; the rest neared starvation. Later, as the Pilgrims turned to a system of free enterprise, God blessed them with a tremendous bounty. On the thanksgiving days in their bountiful times, the Pilgrims put five grains of corn on their plates to remind them of the time five kernels of corn was each person’s daily ration. But in both good times and in bad, the Pilgrims celebrated days of thanksgiving.

Let us, too, give thanks to the Lord, in good times and in bad, for He is good. What blessings can you thank God for today?

“By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God
gave them plenty and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing
of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God…so as any general
want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.”
Governor William Bradford