Editor’s Note: I’ve written 5,141 essays here at The End Time, daily since 2009. Please enjoy some of the previous writings you may have missed.
This essay first appeared on The End Time in November 2009
I attended a service where the preacher said, “Did you know that the Pilgrims founded New England on Christian principles and spoke of being “a city upon a hill”? This resonated with me, because I am a New England Native, of Rhode Island, the 13th of the original colonies.
Our very first document of self-government aboard the Mayflower in November of 1620, known as the Mayflower Compact, said, “Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith…” Sixteen years later Harvard was founded to educate clergy. Its original motto was Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae “Truth for Christ and the Church.” It laid out the purpose of all education: “… to know God and Iesus Christ which is eternall life.”
So the preacher got me thinking about that City upon a Hill. The Holy Spirit has kept me thinking on it. It is in Matthew 5:14-16.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Early Puritan John Winthrop, wrote “A Model of Christian Charity” aboard the Arbella in 1630. His treatise on charity was actually a sermon discussing the reasons why the Puritans were there and toward the end he referred to the city on a hill. Winthrop wrote:
[w]hen God gives a special commission He looks to have it strictly observed in every article; When He gave Saul a commission to destroy Amaleck, He indented with him upon certain articles, and because he failed in one of the least, and that upon a fair pretense, it lost him the kingdom, which should have been his reward, if he had observed his commission. Thus stands the cause between God and us. We are entered into covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a commission.”
The Puritans knew they were about the Lord’s work and took that work seriously. From 1620 to mid last century, we have been a nursery of Christianity. More Christian publications are published here than any other country. More missionaries came from here than any other place. More money has been sent to help victims of war or disaster from this than any other nation. For centuries we cleaved unto Him. Of late, however, we have become neglectful of the Puritan’s charge charge. Winthrop said,
“[B]ut if we shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends we have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us, and be revenged of such a people, and make us know the price of the breach of such a covenant.”
Being attuned to their commission, they were also attuned to the clear testimony that God mediates in history to judge apostate nations. The Old Testament book of Amos, among many others, shows us that. If God judges His own chosen people, is America any less likely to escape His justice? The Puritans knew the answer to that is no. This next paragraph in Winthrop’s treatise is key:
“But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it. … So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. “
If you did not know that this document was 380 years old, you would think it was ripped from the Christian headlines today. We have become what Winthrop warned against.
Since the founding of America in 1620 we have been richly blessed. For 330 years we enjoyed territorial protection (for the most part), success in war, wealth, personal prosperity, spiritual growth, technological insight, protection from dread diseases…and much more. We are the greatest nation on the face of the planet for a reason: God hath ordained it.
The last 75 years have been a different story. Winthrop cautioned against disobedience, apostasy, carnality. In tragic accelerating momentum, we as a nation exhibit these very qualities. We are one nation under many gods and no God. The Bible shows us that the brighter the nations’ light shone from the hill, the more severe its punishment when they fall because “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” (2 Peter 2:21).
For America, wrath awaits. But do not fear His justice. Why? Part two tomorrow.