Christian history and testimonies

Evils of Communism

From Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford, 1647

From America's Christian History


Let us now look into Governor William Bradford's history Of Plimoth Plantation, and examine the picture which he so clearly draws of the evils of communism.

"The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince, the vanity of that conceit of Plato & others ancients, applauded by some of later times; that ye taking away of property, and bringing in community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. 

"For this community... was found to breed much confusion & discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort... The strong, or man of parts, had no more division of victuals & cloths, than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter ye other could; this was thought unjust... 

"As for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes & etc. they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. ... And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition.  ...this is men's corruption....  God in His wisdom saw another course fiter for them."

"God in His wisdom" did indeed have "another course fiter for them;" this course was not communism, but individual enterprise.  Thus established in this little Pilgrim community the first principle of American Christian economics seen in St. Paul's command to the Thessalonians, "... if there were any, which would not work [lazy, unwilling to work], that he should not eat." (II Thes. 3:10 Geneva Bible) 

But wait!  God, in His All-Knowing Wisdom, provided a lesson for our Pilgrim Fathers before they could enjoy the fruits of their individual enterprise.  Governor William Bradford's account tells us what this lesson was:

I may not here omit how, notwithstanding all their great pains & industry, and ye great hopes of a large crop, the Lord seemed to blast, & take away the same, and to threaten further & more some famine unto them, by a great drought which continued from ye 3 weeks in May, till about ye middle of July, without any rain, and with great heat (for ye most part) insomuch as ye corn began to wither away, though it was set with fish, the moisture whereof helped it much.  Yet at length it began to languish sore... 

Upon which they set apart a solemn day of humiliation, to seek ye Lord by humble & fervent prayer, in this great distress.  And He was pleased to give them a gracious & speedy answer, both to their own & the Indians admiration, that lived amongst them.  

For all ye morning, and greatest part of the day, it was clear weather & very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen. Yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain, with such sweet and gentle showers, as gave them cause of rejoicing & blessing God. 

It came, without either wind, or thunder, or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith.  Which did so apparently revive & quicken ye decayed corn & other fruits, as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather, as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful & liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy (in time convenient) they also set apart a day of thanksgiving."

Why do you suppose God caused a famine to come upon this most faithful and courageous little band of Christians? 

In His All-Knowing Wisdom, God knew that once the Principle of individual enterprise was established in this little Pilgrim community the effect would be affluence and plenty.  But God also knew, as His Word attests, that these very best of men might say in their hearts, in the midst of plenty, that "...My power, and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth." (Deut. 8:17 KJV) 

Our loving but all-wise Father wanted to drive home the truth to our Pilgrim Fathers: "But remember the Lord thy God: for it is He which giveth thee power to get substance to establish His covenant which He sware unto thy fathers, as appeareth this day." (Deut. 8:18 Geneva Bible)

The conclusion of this lesson with its reward is beautifully summed up by Governor Bradford: 

"By this time harvest was come, and in stead of famine now God gave them plenty, and ye face of things was changed, to ye rejoicing of ye hearts of many, for which they blessed God.  And ye effect of their particular planting was well seen, for all had, one way & other, pretty well to bring ye year about, and some of ye abler sort and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, so as any general want or famine had not been amongst them since to this day."

And the Psalmist provides the benediction: "Our fathers trusted thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They called upon thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded." (Ps. 22:4-5 Geneva Bible)

Editor's Notes:

1. The Pilgrims brought with them the Geneva Bible of 1560 and was the Bible used for many years in this country although the King James Version had been published nine years before they left Holland in 1620.   (Back to article)

2. Gov. Bradford is here given the credit for this, however, the Pilgrims always held a council before determining anything having to do with the government of the colony, so it was the result of consultation together that those in charge decided to make the change. "At length, after much debate of things, the Governor with the advice of the chiefest amongst them, gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. Bradford, Wm., "Of Plimouth Plantation," S.E. Morrison edition, 1952, p.120. (Italics mine. Ed).  (Back to article)


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