Like some states today that ban church meetings, Pilgrim separatists met in secret, often at the large home of William Brewster in Scrooby, England.
This was the beginning of the Pilgrims forming a “covenant” congregation.
Pilgrim Governor William Bradford wrote of him:
“Mr. Brewster … lived in the country … till the Lord revealed Himself further to him.
In the end, the tyranny … against godly preachers … in silencing … and persecuting … caused him … to feel the burden of … many anti-christian corruptions …”
“After they had joined themselves together in communion …
William Brewster was a special help and support to them …
… On the Lord’s day they generally met at his house, which was a manor …
He entertained them with great kindness when they came, providing for them at heavy expense.”
Pilgrim leaders were arrested, jailed and even executed by Britain’s oppressive government which denied liberty of conscience and prohibited unauthorized church meetings.
“Brewster was the leader of those who were captured at … Lincolnshire, suffering the greatest loss, and was one of the seven who were kept longest in prison and afterwards bound over to the assizes.”
In 1607, the Pilgrims fled from King James I, crossed the English Channel and settled in Amsterdam, Holland, further strengthening their tight-knit covenant community, as Bradford wrote of Brewster:
“After he came to Holland he suffered much hardship, having spent most of his means.”
In 1609, the Pilgrims moved to Leiden, Holland, where they would have become acquainted with Jews who had been expelled from Spain.
Spain had been occupied by Islamic conquerors for seven centuries, with episodes of forced conversions, massacres, and slavery. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella drove them out in 1492.
Under the pretense that some Muslims might be disguising themselves as Jews to plot assassinations or rebellions and thus regain areas of Spain, Ferdinand decided to force Jews to convert or leave.
Some Jews fled to the Netherlands, Europe’s center of religious toleration, and settled in the country’s largest city, Amsterdam, which went on to become the wealthiest city in the world in the 1600s.
Other Jews settled in the Dutch city of Leiden.
From 1575, the University of Leiden was known as a center of the study of Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac, even having a Jewish rabbi as a professor.
After the Pilgrims came to Leiden, William Brewster began teaching, as Bradford wrote:
“Towards the latter part of those twelve years spent in Holland, William Brewster’s circumstances improved … for through his knowledge of Latin he was able to teach many foreign students English …
Both Danes and Germans came to him, some of them being sons of distinguished men.”
In Leiden, Pilgrims would have become familiar with Jewish feasts, including the Feast of Tabernacles at the end of the harvest season, which may have inspired their day of thanksgiving.
Pilgrims identified with Jews, whose ancestors covenanted together with God, fled from Pharaoh’s persecution, crossed the waters of the Red Sea, and entered their Promised Land.
Pilgrims, too, had made a covenant with God, fled from the King of England, crossed the waters, and hoped to enter their Promised Land.
Jews may have also influenced the Pilgrims in their adaptation of ancient Israel’s covenant form of government — a people in covenant with each other, getting their rights from God and being personally accountable to God.
On December 15, 1617, elder William Brewster and Pastor John Robinson wrote a letter from Leiden, Holland, to London financier Sir Edwin Sandys, explaining how the Pilgrims were:
“Knit together as a body in … covenant of the Lord … we so hold ourselves … tied to all care of each other’s good.”
Pilgrim Pastor John Robinson is considered one of the founders of the “Congregational” Church.
The words “congregational” refers to a group of people in “communion” or “covenant” with each other.
This concept of a people in covenant was studied by the Reformation scholars, such as:
Scottish Covenanters, and
translators of the Geneva Bible.
One of the key sources for “covenant” or “congregation” came from the Greek word “ekklesia.”
Jesus stated in Matthew 16:18, “… upon this rock I will build My church (ekklesia); and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
In another place, Jesus stated “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church (ekklesia); and if he refuses to listen even to the church (ekklesia), let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:17.)
a called-out assembly;
a gathering of citizens summoned from their homes, congregating in a public place;
an assembly of the individuals convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating;
the assembly of the Israelites.
King James claimed the divine right of a king to rule.
He insisted that Bible translators render “ekklesia” as “church” and not “congregation” or “assembly,” as he wanted to be the head of the church.
It would be difficult for him to be the head if the congregation or assembly was a deliberative body.
After 12 years in Holland, William Brewster and the Pilgrims left Holland.
Commemorating their departure is the painting “Embarkation of the Pilgrims,” which hangs in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
In the painting, William Brewster is holding an open Bible and Pastor John Robinson is kneeling with his hands extended in prayer.
The Pilgrims intended to sail to the Virginia Colony, where the Jamestown settlement had been founded 14 years earlier.
High winds and storms on the Atlantic blew their Mayflower ship hundreds of miles north.
The captain of the Mayflower attempted to sail south from Massachusetts to Virginia, but the ship almost sank on a sand bar in the stormy winds and dangerous currents.
This was providential, for had they landed in Virginia, they may not have set up their system of self-government, plus they may have suffered in Virginia’s many droughts, famines, starvation, diseases, and Indian attacks.
Jamestown’s mortality rate was so high, that at times the dead were buried in mass graves.
Between1608 and 1624, of the 6,000 settlers that came to Jamestown, only 3,400 survived
Returning to the coast of Massachusetts, the captain of the Mayflower insisted everyone disembark on the barren shores near the location marked by Plymouth Rock.
As there was no government to submit to, and not wanting to be lawless, the Pilgrims created their own government, the Mayflower Compact.
“Compact” was another word for “covenant.”
The Mayflower Compact, signed November 11, 1620, was the first “constitution” written in America.
“In ye name of God, Amen.
We whose names are underwritten … having undertaken, for ye glorie of God, and advancemente of ye Christian faith … a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia …
in ye presence of God, and one of another, covenant & combine our selves togeather into a civill body politick … to enacte … just & equall lawes … as shall be thought most meete & convenient for ye generall good of ye Colonie, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.”
Instead of a top-down government ruled by a king, it was a bottom-up form of government by the people.
William Brewster was one of the signers.
Brewster is portrayed in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol giving thanks to God in the “Frieze of American History” depiction of “The Landing of the Pilgrims.”
In 1629, after the Pilgrims founded a second church in Massachusetts Bay, William Brewster wrote:
“The church that had been brought over the ocean now saw another church, the first-born in America, holding the same faith in the same simplicity of self-government under Christ alone.”
The Pilgrims basically took their “congregational church government” based on covenant and adapted it into a “congregational community government.”
Ten years after the Pilgrims arrived in America, Puritans fled persecutions in England and began arriving in New England in 1630.
So many fled in the next 16 years, estimated at 20,000, that it was called the Puritan Great Migration.
One of the main leaders of the Puritans in Massachusetts was John Winthrop.
He authored A Model of Christian Charity, June 11, 1630, in which he explained the nature of colonial constitutional “covenants”:
“We are a Company, professing ourselves fellow members of Christ, we ought to account ourselves knit together by this bond of love …
It is by a mutual consent … between God and us: we are entered into covenant with Him for this work … We must be knit together in this work as one man …”
“We must delight in each other, make one another’s condition our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in this work, as members of the same body …
We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies …
He shall make us a praise and glory, that men of succeeding plantations shall say, ‘The Lord make it like that of New England.’
For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.”
“Covenant” theology was held by many New England colonial leaders.
John D. Eusden wrote in “Natural Law and Covenant Theology in New England, 1620–1670” (Notre Dame Law School, Natural Law Forum, 1960, Paper 47):
“The idea of the covenant – that central, permeating idea of Puritanism …
Covenanted men actually constructed political communities – the emerging ‘American character’ in the realm of governmental theory and jurisprudence …”
“Names dominate the dramatis personae:
John Cotton, influential minister of the First Church in Boston …
John Winthrop, long-time governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony …
Nathaniel Ward, chief framer of the 1641 Body of Liberties for the Bay Colony;
William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Plantation;
Thomas Hooker, preacher and potentate of Hartford;
John Norton, official apologist for New England Congregationalism;
John Eliot, evangelist and occasional political writer; and
John Davenport, founder of New Haven …”
“Political and social thought of early American Puritanism was drawn from four sources:
the covenant tradition in Reformation theology,
the common law of England, and
the long Western tradition of natural law.”
In 1642, the Puritans that stayed back in England had a civil war, led by Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, and won.
Afterwards, they established a covenant form of government in 1649, called the “English Commonwealth.”
It only lasted a few years, officially ending when King Charles II was restored to English throne in 1660.
Os Guinness stated in an interview (“Thinking in Public,” June 5, 2017):
“The covenantal ideas in England were the lost cause, sadly. They failed. The king came back.
But the lost cause became the winning cause in New England. And covenant shaped constitutionalism …
The American Constitution is a nationalized, secularized form of covenant … Covenant lies behind constitution.”
Protestant Reformers and scholars of the 16th century called Christian Hebraists, considered the perfect example of a “covenant” form of government the ancient nation of Israel – people in agreement with each other, getting their rights from God and being personally accountable to God.
This began to change with the Scientific Revolution.
Begun during the life of Copernicus, it reached its peak in the 17th century with scientists Francis Bacon, Galileo, Johannes Kepler, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton’s Principia in 1687.
Scientists discovered laws that governed the universe, such as, laws of motion, laws of gravity, laws of planetary motion, laws of cooling, laws of the speed of sound, laws of gas pressure and volume.
These discoveries led some to suggest that God created the world, set the laws of nature in motion, and then stepped back to let everything run its course.
According to this view, God existed, but He was removed from His creation, like someone winding up a clock and setting in on a table.
This gave birth to the Age of Enlightenment and affected political thought.
“Covenant” turned into “social contract,” with one very consequential difference.
Where “covenant” was where people were in agreement with each other, getting rights from God and personally accountable to God; the concept of “social contract” was people in agreement with each other, with or without God.
If God existed, He was distant, removed, and impersonal.
In fact, prayer was considered unnecessary, as God was thought to not “intervene” in His creation.
In the 18th century, “social contract” with a distant God turned into “social contract” with NO God during the French Revolution.
Rights came from the state and individuals were accountable to the state.
This culminated in the Reign of Terror, 1789–1794, where:
10,000 were imprisoned and died without a trial;
40,000 were beheaded by the guillotine or died in prison in Paris; and
300,000 were butchered in the region of the Vendée, considered the first modern genocide, being a model for future socialist revolutions.
Completely overthrowing the old order, the new deep-state ruling elites set about creating an idealistic society of liberté, égalité, fraternité, or “liberty, equality, fraternity.”
“Fraternity” was their word for socialism.
At issue was the mutually exclusive nature of the words.
“Liberty” and “equality” are experienced individually, but “fraternity” is the collective.
Without an individual having Creator-given rights, fraternity demands a complete surrendering of an individual’s liberty and equality to the overriding “general will” of the socialist state, with the elite governing class deciding what that “general will” was.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, considered the Father of the French Revolution, wrote in The Social Contract (1762):
“The citizen is no longer the judge … When the prince says to him: ‘It is expedient for the state that you should die,’ he ought to die … because his life is no longer a mere bounty of nature, but a gift made conditionally by the state.”
In the 19th century, social contract without God turned into socialism where the state becomes god.
After Napoleon’s lightening-fast conquering of Europe, the German King of Prussia wanted to strengthen his state.
The philosopher to help him do this was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
A professor at the University of Berlin, a sampling of Hegel’s statements are:
“The state is god walking on earth … We must worship the state …
… All the worth which the human being possesses … he possesses only through the state …
… The state … recognizes no authority but its own … acknowledges no abstract rules of good and bad …
The state is … the ultimate end which has the highest right against the individual, whose highest duty is to be a member of the state.”
“The nation state … is therefore the absolute power on earth. A single person, it hardly needs saying, is something subordinate … The important aspect lies in self-subordination to the universal cause.”
Radical students at the University of Berlin who admired Hegel formed the Young Hegelians.
A member of the Young Hegelians was Karl Marx.
After being refused a university post because of his extreme views, Marx published a paper in 1842, which was banned in Germany.
He fled to Paris, then Brussels, and finally to London. He founded the International Workingmen’s Association and the Social Democrat Labor Party.
In 1848, Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto, with the motto “Working Men of All Countries, Unite” for the “forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions” in order set up a socialist system.
Ayn Rand wrote in For the New Intellectual (1961):
“Socialism is the doctrine that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that his life and his work do not belong to him, but belong to society,
that the only justification of his existence is his service to society, and that society may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.”
Marx’s philosophy influenced:
Vladimir Lenin, in starting the Social-Democrat Party;
Joseph Stalin’s Union of Soviet Socialist Republics;
Benito Mussolini and the Italian Socialist Party;
Mao Zedung, his Socialist Education Movement and the Communist Party of China; and
Adolph Hitler in starting the National Socialist Workers Party.
Hitler became Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, and began implementing a plan of universal healthcare with no regard for conscience.
The New York Times reported October 10, 1933:
“Nazis … today announced its intentions to authorize physicians to end the sufferings of the incurable patient … No life still valuable to the state will be wantonly destroyed.”
Lenin is credited with the statements:
“Socialism is a transition phase to communism,” and “Socialized medicine is a keystone to the establishment of a socialist state.”
Reagan stated in 1961:
“One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project.”
When Germany’s economy suffered, the government cut expenses, such as keeping alive handicapped, insane, chronically ill, elderly and those with dementia.
They were considered “lebensunwertes leben” — life unworthy of life.
Then criminals, convicts, political prisoners, street bums, and beggars, considered “leeches” on society, met a similar fate.
In the April 1933 edition of Margaret Sanger’s magazine published the article “Eugenic Sterilization” by German eugenicist Ernst Rudin, considered “father of racial hygiene” for the National Socialist Workers Party.
Rudin recommended that the state prevent defective genes of “untermensch,” “under mankind,” from passing to future generations.
The National Socialist Workers Party enacted plans to purge the human gene pool of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, Negroes, and other whom the state considered “inferior,” through sterilization and extermination.
As a result, 6 millions of Jews, and millions of others, were barbarically killed in gas chambers and ovens.
Nazis anatomists harvested human body parts from prisoners for gruesome scientific research.
The Goebbels Diaries, 1939-1941, recorded that Hitler “hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt stated December 15, 1941, that Hitler considered the church unnecessary:
“To Hitler, the church … is a monstrosity to be destroyed by every means.”
Roosevelt stated of Hitler, December 15, 1941:
“Government to him is not the servant … of the people but their absolute master and the dictator of their every act …
That the individual human being has no rights whatsoever in himself … no right to a soul of his own, or a mind of his own, or a tongue of his own, or a trade of his own; or even to live where he pleases or to marry the woman he loves;
That his only duty is the duty of obedience, not to his God, not to his conscience, but to Adolf Hitler …
His only value is his value, not as a man, but as a unit of the Nazi state.”
After World War II ended, the Nuremburg Trials were held 1945-1946 to convict officials of the National Socialist Workers Party for killing million Jews and others.
Nazi officials defended their actions by explaining they were only following “laws agreed upon” by the people of the German state.
Prosecutors realized there needed to be a law higher than the laws of a country, but they did not want to acknowledge a Creator, so they decided that what all the nations of the world agreed upon would be the “higher law.”
This was the concept behind the “United Nations.”
Eleanor Roosevelt proudly helped compose the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
It listed rights all nations agreed upon, such as freedom of religion and that women are equal to men, but nowhere in the document was there any reference made to the Creator as the source of rights.
This introduced a dilemma, for if the “higher law” was just what nations agree upon, then globalists, communists, or Islamists could simply bribe or threaten smaller nations to agree with their totalitarian policies.
The naiveté of this effort was revealed when a U.N. subgroup of 57 Muslim states formed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, or OIC.
The OIC rejected the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights on June 30, 2000, and embraced their own Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, which allowed for beating of women and killing apostates.
Ironically, even when a group agrees upon something, in reality, it does not.
Rather those who control what information and propaganda the group receives are the ones who really decide.
the country is controlled by laws;
laws are controlled by politicians;
politicians are controlled by voters;
voters are controlled by public opinion;
public opinion is controlled by media, education & the Internet;
therefore, whoever controls media, education & the Internet controls the country.
Pilgrims had a covenant where they cared for each other because each person was personally accountable to God;
Covenant turned into social contract during the Age of Enlightenment, with God being distant and uninvolved — an impersonal force;
Social contract with a distant God turned into social contract with NO God during the French Revolution;
In the 19th century, social contract with NO God turned into socialism, where the state is god.
America began as an experiment in self-government.
Though colonial Virginia had a legislative assembly, called House of Burgesses, it was still a Royal Crown Colony under the direct control of the King.
The Pilgrims are credited with bringing to America a covenant form of government modeled after ancient Israel.
Their leaders, which included Pastor John Robinson elder William Brewster, followed by Puritans such as John Winthrop, introduced Biblical concepts:
that government should be by the consent of the governed;
that government’s purpose is to secure to individuals their God-given rights;
that all men and women were equal, made in the image of God;
that there no respect of persons in judgement; and
that each should voluntarily “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12) because each person was accountable to God “Whatever you did unto one of the least of these … you did it unto me.’ (Matthew 25:40).
William Brewster died APRIL 18, 1644.
He is depicted in a painting located in the President’s room of the Senate Wing of the U.S. Capitol.
Governor Bradford wrote him:
“About the 18th of April died their reverend elder … Mr. William Brewster,
a man who had done and suffered much for the Lord Jesus and the Gospel’s sake, and had borne his part in the weal or woe with this poor persecuted Church for over thirty-five years in England, Holland, and this wilderness …
Notwithstanding the many troubles and sorrows he passed through, the Lord upheld him to a great age.”
Bradford eulogized further:
“He labored in the fields as long as he was able …
When the church had no other minister he taught twice every Sabbath, and that both powerfully and profitably, to the great edification and comfort of his hearers, many being brought to God by his ministry.”
Self-Educated American Contributing Editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.