From June 26 to 29 we had the privilege of hosting our long time friend and professional historian Pete Olson at our house as he spoke to good crowds in Morgantown, Smithburg, and Salem about America’s providential history.
Each talk usually began with the original American dream, a dream that started with John Calvin in Europe. This dream that he passed on to the pilgrims was that of a shining “city on a hill” to show the world what could be accomplished when God’s ways govern not only personal lives, but also political structure. He spoke of God’s amazing provision for these pilgrims in preventing them from going to Jamestown and putting them in New England, the place He had prepared for them. God sustained and prospered them as long as they sought Him first.
He also spoke of Jamestown which was quite a different story. He told of the lazy “gentlemen” who were only there to get rich quick. He told the truth about the ruthless tyrant Powhatan and how God used Robert Hunt and Pocahontas. He told of the seemingly tragic events that happened to John Smith and later those aboard the Sea Venture which actually spared them all from the horrific “dark night of the soul” through which only 10% of the settlers survived. And yet eventually through Jamestown came the light of the common law and the first representative government.
A highlight of each talk was the Great Awakening that swept over the colonies. There were stories of Whitefield, Samuel Davies, and Gowan Pamphlet. The Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist revivals were God’s foundation for a generation that would fight for freedom and frame the Constitution of the United States. About 90% of the founders of our country clearly declared their faith in Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation. Franklin, who was not of this number, nevertheless saw God’s working so clearly that he called the first constitutional convention to prayer with a profound and powerful speech that marked the turning point of the convention. The facts of the so-called Revolution and the Boston Port Bill were very eye-opening as well.
Most inspiring of all to me was seeing God’s hand in the war, especially His hand of protection over Washington. It was the heavy fog that allowed him to escape from Long Island. Again the weather played a large role in the victory at Trenton. It was a “barn-sour” horse that revealed Benedict Arnold’s treason, saving West Point and Washington’s life. It was an unbelievable French navy victory and a miraculous and sever weather change that prevented both victory and retreat for the British at Yorktown, ending the war. Washington was not in control of the fog… or the flooding… or the barn-sour horse… or the miniature hurricane at Yorktown. Even Clinton, the British commander-in-chief of Cornwallis was forced to acknowledge the intervention of Divine Providence.
The original American dream is one of faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ that “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”. What He has done for the founding fathers of our country He can do for us today. Be not faithless, but believing.