DECEMBER 22nd, 1777.
grateful Memory of the first Landing of
Place, A.D. 1620.
By Samuel West,
Pastor of the CHURCH in DARTMOUTH.
ISAIAH lxvi 5, 9.
Hear the word of
the LORD, ye that tremble at his word: your brethren that hated you, that cast
you out for my names sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified; but he shall appear to your joy, and they
shall be ashamed. A voice of noise from
the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth
recompense to his enemies. Before she
travailed she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man
child. Who hath heard such a thing? Who
hath seen such a thing? Shall the earth
be made to bring forth in one day, or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed she brought
forth her children. Shall I bring to the
birth, and not cause to bring forth? Saith the LORD; Shall I cause to bring
forth, and shut the womb? Saith thy God.
s the end of our assembling together at time, is
to commemorate the goodness of God towards our forefathers, in conducting them
from their native land, into this American wilderness, and providing for them
here a safe retreat from the rage and malice of prelatical bigotry;---and he
has, by numerous train of surprising events, remarkably shown himself to be our
God, as he was the God of our fathers....
then, my hearers, animated with the glorious encouragement and promises set
before us, let us with holy confidence look to him who has been both our God
and our fathers God, and who will never leave nor forsake his covenant people
while they put their trust in him: Our
Fathers trusted in him, and were delivered; and will he not deliver us, if
we like them firmly rely upon him in the faithful discharge of our duty? With what chearfulness then may we endure our
present calamities, when we have the word of a faithful God; that he will appear to our joy, and that our
enemies shall be ashamed; and that he has caused our Zion to bring forth
children for her defence, so he will continue to raise up sons for her
protection, until her deliverance is compleated. Let us then be strong in the Lord and in the
power of his might, let us quit ourselves like men engaged in the most noble
and glorious cause; let us behave like the true sons of freedom and the
faithful sons of Zion; let us imitate the patience and fortitude of our pious
fore-fathers, which they exhibited under all their hardships and terrible sufferings
that they endured; and if at any time we feel depressed or discouraged with the
prospect before us, let us for a moment consider their situation, and we shall
find enough to stop our mouths, if not to make us ashamed;---let us behold them
landing in an uncultivated wilderness, inhabited by savages, destitute of many
of the comforts and even the necessaries of life, exposed to the inclemencies
of the season, on half of them perishing in a few months through the hardships
which they endured….A most deplorable situation indeed;---but through their
patience and fortitude they were supported under all these sufferings; for they
committed their cause to God, and were not forsaken. Are there any among us that are ready to murmer
because they are deprived of a few luxuries, or because they cannot have all
the elegancies which they formerly enjoyed?
Let them consider, that when our fathers for want of the conveniences of
life were obliged to live upon ground-nuts and shell fish, they did not murmer
nor repine at their situation, but gratefully acknowledged the goodness of God
towards them:…one of them having dined upon clams, very devoutly gave thanks to
God, that he had fed him of the abundance of the seas, and with treasures hid
in the sand. What a truly christian temper,
is here discovered? They had learned the
Apostle Paul’s lesson, Whatever state
they were in, therewith to be content. And as they were resigned to the
Divine Will, so he appeared to their safety and protection, and the heathen
were cast our before them. And as Divine
Providence appeared for the protection of our fathers in the first settling of
this land, so has he continued to protect both them and us their posterity unto
the present day."
Note the date of this sermon, December 22, 1777; the same winter as Valley Forge. Rev. West was preaching to a congregation embroiled in the travail and calamities of war, yet he was exhorting them to trust and thanksgiving—to lean into their heritage of Christian character from their Pilgrim Fathers. His message speaks to us today to lean into our heritage of our Pilgrim and Founding Fathers—to be His people of Trust and Thanksgiving. Let us proclaim with William Bradford, Governor and Historian of the Plymouth Colony:
"May not & ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: Our faithers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willderness; but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie, &c. Let them therfore praise ye Lord, because he is good, & his mercies endure for ever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of ye Lord, shew how he hath delivered them from ye hand of ye oppressour. When they wandered in ye deserte willderness out of ye way, and found no citie to dwell in, both hungrie, & thirstie, their sowle was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before ye Lord his loving kindness, and his wonderfull works before ye sons of men."
Trust in the Lord and give Him thanks.