Jamestown and the founding of our nation
JAMESTOWN, Founding of a Nation and the Anglican Communion: "In 1603, one of King James I interests was to colonize a new part of the world. The King was encouraged by the Rev. Richard Hakluyt, and priest of the Church of England, as an explorer and geographer. So the King issued letter patent to English businessmen to form a business venture called the Virginia Company (name for Elizabeth I, the “virgin queen.”) and to found a settlement and an English parish in the new world of America. The King named... an English priest, Robert Hunt, to be his vicar and chaplain to the Virginia Company....
"On December 19, 1606, three ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery left England for the new colony. The journey was storm-tossed and therefore delayed. Hunt almost died from illness, but he continued to minister to the irritable crew and businessmen. Hunt alone was shown respect and trust.
"On April 19, 1607, the expedition touched American land and they erected a cross, prayed at a point they called Cape Henry. After exploring an river the named for King James, they selected a peninsula 45 miles inland and on May 13, 1607, they named it Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement, and initial Anglican congregation, in the new world....
"Capt. John Smith (whose life was saved by Pocahontas) recorded in his journal that the church in summer was an old sail stretched between trees. The pulpit was a bar of wood nailed to two trees. In winter, they did erect a barn like structure. Hunger, cold, heat, accidents and wounds, illness and jealousy battered the colonists. About half died in the winter of 1607."
The enduring legacy of the First Landing: [Four hundred years ago] The event was the first landing of the Jamestown settlers. One hundred and four of them arrived at Cape Henry on April 26, 1607. ... The man who stood with the colonists and directed his men in prayers to the Lord was the Rev. Robert Hunt, a man of impeccable character and heartfelt faith who was described by Capt. John Smith as 'that honest, religious, courageous, divine.'...
"When the settlers actually arrived at Jamestown, Rev. Hunt again walked his men to the shore and 'gathered his flock around him without delay.' Here again, prayer was the first order of the day. Standing in their midst under the trees, Hunt declared for the first time in the Western world the solemn invocation: 'The Lord is in His Holy Temple; Let all the earth keep silence before Him" (Habakkuk 2:20). Each morning and evening, Rev. Hunt lead his people in the following prayer:
Almighty God, ... we beseech Thee to bless us and this plantation which we and our nation have begun in Thy fear and for Thy glory ... and seeing, Lord, the highest end of our plantation here is to set up the standard and display the banner of Jesus Christ, even here where Satan's throne is, Lord, let our labour be blessed in labouring for the conversion of the heathen. ... Lord, sanctify our spirits and give us holy hearts, that so we may be Thy instruments in this most glorious work."
The first evidence of these conversions came when a young Indian named Navirans embraced the Gospel and became the first Christian convert of Jamestown. Like Pocahontas, and later Chanco, these three former pagans became beloved members of the community and instruments of God for peace."
"Everything that could possibly go wrong did" (From Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten)
"Many in England, including King James 1, publicly claimed that the primary purpose in establishing the American colonies was to spread the gospel among the Indians. In truth, the primary motivation was greed. In 1606 the London Company was formed for the purpose of colonial expansion and trade. [Spain and Portugal were already far ahead in this race to establish colonies, trade, and new sources of raw materials] ... [In December], three ships carrying 105 colonists set out for the New World....
"The company had a rough voyage.... In May the ships finally entered the Chesapeake Bay.... With few laborers, carpenters, farmers, or blacksmiths among them, the group consisted primarily of “Gentlemen” who joined the enterprise without realizing the years of hard labor that would be necessary for the colony to achieve financial success. The quarreling that had started during their voyage continued on land. The Gentlemen refused to participate in any labor....
"Only one minister had been sent with them—an indication of how interested England really was in evangelizing the Indians. Rev. Robert Hunt was a man of God whose passion was spreading the gospel in the New World. However, his fellow colonists did not share his passion. He nailed a board between two trees for an altar and made an awning out of an old sail to serve as their church.
"They arrived too late to plant spring crops and... lived in continual fear of Indian attacks.... Instead of drawing together or looking to God in their calamities, the rift between the Gentlemen and the others continued to widen.... [By] September 1607 half of the little colony had died.
"Hunt’s life was a vivid contrast. In addition to being a godly man of prayer, he labored energetically, taking charge of building the first mill for the grinding of corn and becoming the primary caregiver for the sick. He pleaded the Gentlemen to give up their arrogance, turn to God, and support the common cause of the colony, but his efforts were largely in vain.
"In the winter of 1608 a fire destroyed their fort, storehouse, church, and some dwellings. Hunt lost all but the clothes he was wearing yet was not heard to complain.
"The colony at Jamestown had become entirely dependent on the generosity of the Indians. Yet only Hunt thanked God for their assistance.
"The sweltering heat in the summer of 1608 scorched the crops they planted. Starvation and disease claimed even more lives the second year than the first. Nine out of every ten people who embarked for Jamestown died. In 1609 there was no food left. Hunt himself succumbed to the conditions and died, leaving behind no one to take his place. This pattern continued for years. In March 1621 there were only 843 settlers in Virginia. During the next year 1580 more people arrived but 1183 died! ...
"Ship after ship arrived, with the investors always “forgetting” to send more ministers. In 1622 there were more than 1200 settlers in ten plantations scattered throughout Virginia, but just three ministers. So much for spreading the Gospel among the Indians! [pages 708-709)
Pilgrims and Puritans in 17th Century New England: "Pilgrims were Calvinist separatists who suffered repression under James I, fled to Holland in 1607/8 as political exiles and immigrated to North America aboard the Mayflower in 1620. For the most part, Pilgrims were farm families who found employment as textile workers in Holland. ... The writing of the Pilgrim leaders suggests that they were thoughtful, generous and warm people....
"Why do Pilgrims occupy such an enduring part in the American imagination [or rather, in history]? Jamestown was larger and settled earlier than Plymouth, and its settlers suffered physical conditions as grim as the Pilgrims experienced. The answer is that the Jamestown settlers were quite different than the Pilgrims, and the political conditions under which Jamestown was settled were quite different than for Plymouth.
"The Pilgrims were men, women and children who subscribed to a covenant in which they agreed to abide by doctrines of religious faith.... The covenant [or rather, God whom they trusted] sustained the families during the frightening voyage of the Mayflower and the first horrific year in Plymouth when half of them died."
See Pilgrims, Persecution, and Thanksgiving
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
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