The Puritans, Part 2

Phil Jensen


Pilgrim_exiles,_Plymouth,_Mass_(78376)At the close of part one, I pointed out that the Puritans had a dream of having their colony be a self governing commonwealth, a citadel of God’s chosen people.

But in order for that to happen, they would have to get their charter processed through Parliament and signed by the king without the king noticing that there was no mention of where the company’s meetings were to be held. And that was a big “IF.” Unless God helped that come to pass, it was not going to happen.

Furthermore, there was another complicating factor.  In 1629, when the Massachusetts Bay Company was trying to get its charter approved, the king was about to dissolve Parliament.  There were clearly rumblings that this was about to happen.  Not only would they have to get their charter signed by the king without him noticing there was no mention of where the company’s meetings were to be held, but they would have to get the charter processed through Parliament and signed by the King before he dissolved Parliament, which according to the rumblings was coming very soon.

Rick Kriebel 2016


It was certainly a situation requiring help from Almighty God.  In view of the circumstances, the Puritans were helpless to bring about what they wanted with their own strength.  It probably looked for all the world, that unless God did something, it was not going to happen.

But these were people who wanted to honor God with their lives.  These were people who wanted to help God build the kingdom of God on earth.  Aren’t all of us Christians supposed to do that?  Aren’t we all commanded to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”[1]  Aren’t we also commanded to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” [2]  Sure we are.  It is just that most of us in the United States really don’t think much about building a kingdom that honors God.

We are too busy seeking to build a kingdom of our own making. We care more about deflated footballs than we do about a high government official deleting important emails and raising money in illegal ways, and another high government official using her power to attack citizens because of their political beliefs, and another high government official, the president, who more and more is acting like Charles 1st.  He would dissolve congress like Charles 1st dissolved Parliament, if he could.  We have a very corrupt government.

Woodrow Wilcox


But the Puritans were righteous people.  They knew they weren’t perfect.  They knew they were sinners.  But they wanted to be the kind of people God wanted them to be.  This is why I say they were righteous people.  They were on the right path.  They were headed in the right direction.  They had the right priorities.  They had the right goal.

Psalm 34:15 says, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His hears are open to their cry.”  Psalm 34:17 says, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them, and delivers them out of all their troubles.”  When I quote these verses, keep  in mind, these are not just pleasant thoughts.  These are truths God lives by.  For in speaking of the Lord, Psalm 33:4b says, “all His work is done in truth.”  Since the verses in Psalm 34 are verses which proclaim truths God lives by, they are proclamations of what the Lord will do.

Therefore, the Puritans cried out in prayer, and the Lord delivered them.  Their charter was signed by the king on March 4, 1629, just six days before the king dissolved parliament on March 10th.  The king and his advisers failed to notice there was no mention of a city in England where the meetings would be held. It was a confirmation that God was leading them and that God would be with them, for the vision was coming to pass.

With that development along with others, the time seemed just right. Peter Marshall and David Manuel, in their book, The Light and the Glory, in writing about the rightness of the time, say,

A few far sighted Puritans could sense God’s hand ina coincidence of timing which was too extraordinary to be accidental.

To some it must have seemed almost as if they were standing in the middle of a gigantic model of one of those new-fangled pocket watches, with the wheels and gears of “coincidence” swinging around and meshing and turning other gears, which swung and turned others…[3]

For the Puritans, the Puritan movement was one of the major wheels and gears of coincidence swinging around. After having had time to mature as a movement, that wheel and gear of coincidence representing the Puritan movement meshed with those representing the death of James the 1st.  Those representing the death of James the 1st, meshed with and turned the ones representing the rise of Charles the 1st, which in turn meshed with and turned those representing the appointment of his Puritan hating adviser, William Laud, Bishop of London.

Then there were the wheels and gears of coincidence that were bringing opportunities to have colonies in the New World. Jamestown came first, being founded in 1607.  Then the Pilgrims were able to settle Plymouth in 1620. So when the persecution of the Puritans in England was beginning, the wheels and gears of coincidence were making the opportunity available for them to leave England. With that opportunity came a new understanding.  They could still purify the Church of England from within, just that they would do it in America. It kind of reminds one of the saying, “When God closes one door, He opens another.”

Of course, the wheels and gears of coincidence bringing opportunities to settle in the New World meshed and turned with those representing the formation of the Massachusetts Bay Company, which was an English company with Puritan board members. The efforts of the Massachusetts Bay Company to get their charter through Parliament meshed and turned with Parliament at just the right time, which in turn, meshed with the ones representing the schedule and activities of the king at just the right time to have the charter signed.

After the charter was signed, there was a need for a great Puritan leader, someone who could organize such a massive migration, involving seven hundred to a thousand people, and who could deal with all the difficult problems they would face in the New World.  God made that leader available at just the right time, just as He had made everything else available at just the right time.

Surely the timing of all of these events was too extraordinary to be accidental. If James Ist hadn’t died at the right time, if Charles Ist had appointed someone who didn’t hate the Puritans, if the Puritans were not ready to leave, if they didn’t have the leader they would need and a place to go, if the charter didn’t not get through Parliament in time, or if the king refused to sign it, they would have never left.

This timing of events, by the way, is one of the things that impressed Peter Marshall and David Manuel so much.  For they say:

The astonishing alignment of all the factors of time and place reminds one of what at Cape Canaveral used to be called a launch window, an interval of a few hours during which every predictable factor which might affect a moon shot or a Mars probe, would be as favorable as it could be. Once the window had passed, it might be weeks, months, or even years before conditions would again line up as favorably. [4]

This is the way Peter Marshall and David Manuel saw the events in England.  Everything was coming to pass at just the right time for the Puritans to be able to go to New England, and it wasn’t luck.  It was the providence of God.  God is the one who raises up nations. The Apostle Paul testifies to this in Acts 17 when, in speaking of God, he says,

He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.—Acts 17:26

Therefore, the king’s lack of attention to detail when he signed the charter was not luck.  His cursory examination of the document and pencil whipping of it was not simply due to the fact that the king’s attention was focused on other matters and people, such as the recent assertiveness of Parliament in which it “demanded an end to unparliamentary taxation” and also demanded “the suppression of Arminianism in the church.” [5] While his concerns about Parliament may have played a role, God was the one who was bringing the signing of the charter to pass.  In Isaiah 4610b, 11b the Lord says, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,” and “Indeed, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass.” Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

This means sometimes what happens in our day is not what we expected to happen. Have you ever had a day when you were absolutely certain what you were going to do that day?  You had your plans all made.  But just after breakfast you get a phone call or something else happens, and your plans go out the window.  That is us planning our way, but the Lord directing our steps.  With respect to the charter this means, no matter what the king and his advisers had intended to do, the Lord was directing their steps.

Furthermore, Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”  And on that day, with all that He had planned for the United States of America in mind, God turned the heart of King Charles toward the men of the Massachusetts Bay Company. Perhaps on that day he saw those men as respecting his authority.  After all, they were Englishmen who were seeking his approval and authorization, and he couldn’t help but see a stark contrast between them and the men in Parliament who were making demands.  We don’t know.  But we do know that God was behind the scenes, bringing the signing of the charter to pass.

And why? God had decided the Puritans were going, and would become a people whose descendants would play a very important role in founding the United States. Therefore, these things didn’t just happen. They were planned by the righteous, wise, and all powerful God. It wasn’t luck.  It was the wonderful providence of God leading the way, providing for every need.

[1] Matthew 6:10 NKJV

[2] Matthew 6:33 NKJV

[3]  Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 1977), p. 153. Used by permission.

[4] Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 1977), p. 154. Used by permission.

[5]  MORGAN, EDMUND S., THE PURITAN DILEMMA; THE STORY OF JOHN WINTHROP, 3rd Ed., © 2007.  Reprinted by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., New York, New York,  , p. 25.



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Bob Wittstruck was a pastor for 33 years, was the associate director of the Black Hills Creation Science Association, and is a supporter of both Christian schooling and home schooling. His latest book, The Forgotten Factor of History God Rules, is being printed in February or March of 2016. His email address is [email protected]
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