THE BRADFORD FILE


The World, the Word & You! Broadcast
Commentary by Dennis L. Finnan

This week we celebrate another holiday season and remembrance of a time called, Thanksgiving. It's an ancient tradition that for many today seems out of place. Yet its origin has great meaning, not only for those who first celebrated it, but also for those today who still believe its timeless message. I'm Dennis Finnan, host and speaker on the World, the Word & You! Broadcast, and in a moment, we'll examine how important this season is for you.

It's surprising today how little Americans know of their own history. Oh yes, all of us in the U.S. have studied American history in school, but sadly most schools of education have left out much historical truth every young American needs to know. Today I'm going to open the history books, but not those carefully edited propaganda editions the secular schools give to our children, these days. No, I'm going to look back in time to our Pilgrim fathers, to open a dusty file that deserves your attention. But first, let’s pause again for another moment of music. Following this, I’ll talk with you about one special man in our foundational past, who above many others was used to shape American history. This one man albeit purposefully forgotten, will be remembered here today as we look at what I’ll call, "THE BRADFORD FILE." So don't go away, for this man's dossier from history, is truly what shaped many of the freedoms and blessing we all enjoy to this day.

Say, if I asked you who in our national past might be called the "father of American history," could you tell me his name? If I were to ask you, who in history was the "father of America's Free Enterprise system," could you tell me? Most likely you could not, for the simple reason his name has been almost eradicated from "secularized, and sanitized" American history. My friend the reason he has been eradicated and down played, is because his greatness and the work he accomplished was achieved through His abiding faithfulness to Jesus Christ and the faith of Christianity. Who was this man? Well, his name is ¾ William Bradford.

Now William Bradford was born on a farm in Austerfield, Yorkshire, England, in the spring of the year 1590. Young William grew to manhood with a great love for academics. Largely though, he was a self-taught man. For it was during his youth he personally studied history, philosophy, theology, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Along side of this, William Bradford was introduced early to the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Word of God. As a result, Bradford without hesitation gave his heart to Christ upon learning of God's forgiveness, and the offer of the free gift of Eternal Life.

As soon as William was old enough, he became a member of a Puritan congregation at Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, which at that time was pastored by William Brewster, a name many know was later to be one of the founding fathers of the Plymouth colony in the new world of America.

As that little Puritan congregation faithfully studied God's Word, all of them grew to learn of the need to individually stand accountable to God and man. However, the Anglican Church which ruled England at that time, refused to acknowledge this independent religious group and began persecuting the little flock. Pastor Brewster, and young Bradford who came to be a leader in the church, were arrested and imprisoned for their faith. After serving some time, both men knew that God wanted them to actively live out their faith life to the best of their ability. However, England at that time was growing more and more oppressive and they saw that the means to live out their faith could only be achieved by moving to another place.
So Brewster, Bradford and the small congregation in Scrooby, every one of them, packed their belongings and secretly moved to Holland where freedom of faith was promised to this band of believers.

In Holland, Bradford a young man now, chose to study at Leiden University. By the age of 21, he saw there was no use in going back to England. So he sold the farms he had inherited and became a citizen of Leiden. But as time wore on, the small congregation that migrated to Holland soon found out that the Hollanders were not as open to them as they thought. Their zealous outward and public commitment to Christ and His Word for every facet of their lives, caused them to be labeled - "Separatists." Such a fanatical religion, as they seemed to embrace, caused them many misunderstandings and soon persecutions arose again for these Puritans.

The name Puritans was given to them back in England. It was to scornfully describe a people who wrongly sought to "purify" the church. Few wanted anything to do with them - so they were often separated and alone in this world. The words of Jesus often reminded them of this role in life, for God’s Word says to all true believers,

John 15:18 (NLT) ""When the world hates you,{Jesus said] remember it hated me before it hated you."

1 John 2:15-17 (NLT) "Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever."

By the year 1600 many of these godly people realized, that there was no chance of "reforming" the Anglican Church. Soon thoughts came to their heads of the possibility of migrating to a new land, a place where they could forge a Christian society as they saw it, which would grant them personal freedom to live and worship as they pleased. Well, being unable to return to England, the land they loved, because of serious threats of persecution and harm; And, fearing a "new" rising repression from Hollanders ¾ all of this gave impetus to strongly consider moving to a new land far across the sea.

This new land called America, was often talked about and appealed to them. However, under the strong encouragement of William Bradford and the leadership of Pastor Brewster, and after much prayer and God's leading ¾ they agreed to take all their families and belongings to this new world, in the hopes of beginning a new society, where God would rule the law of the land, and grant freedom to all to worship as they pleased.

Well you know the rest of the story, or do you? These small brave men, women and children, 101 of them to be exact, booked passage on a British ship, called the Mayflower. By contracting with the Virginia Company of London, these Pilgrims, agreed to farm the new world to help pay back for the passage and privilege of settling there.

So on September 16, 1620, these stalwart Christians sailed from Plymouth, England. The journey across the Atlantic was rough and difficult ¾ so many in tight quarters ¾ it wasn't healthy and as a result some Christians grew weak and sickly, others died aboard ship before reaching the new promised land. Among these "pilgrims," was of course William Bradford, his wife and small child. As the ship arrived off the coast, this band of believers knew that to live in the new world, they needed to draw up a covenant of law and order. As the Mayflower dropped anchor on November 11, 1620 off the coast of Cape Cod, the leaders of this group sat down together and formed a prayer meeting. Out of this meeting with each other and searching God’s Word for direction, they saw the need to draft what became known as the "Mayflower Compact." This agreement was the first lawful document in America, composed mind you exclusively by Christians, under the supreme authority of the Word of God. Indeed, it was put together for the express purpose of glorifying God, and the ultimate good of all men who would live in this new land.

Now, at the heart of this compact lay the undisputed conviction, that God must be at the center of all law and order, and that law without a biblical moral base is really no law at all! This compact rested upon a "covenant" agreement, which later forged the foundations of what we know as "American democracy".

You see the democracy that this country has enjoyed, worked well for centuries, for it was founded upon the truth that all law in this nation was under the authority of God's Word the highest law. Around the world today there are many democracies - but they all eventually fail because they are founded upon non-Christian principles and as such they can never work. Today, our nation is moving to believe that we can exist as a democracy without these higher laws of God. One day, sooner than we think we too shall find out such philosophy we called secular humanism ¾ will likewise fail. You see, God warns,

Psalms 9:17 The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God.

Well, this Mayflower document faithfully served the Plymouth colony for more than 70 years until in 1691 the colony united with Massachusetts. As the Pilgrims officially landed on December 26, 1621, the weather had already turned cold and nasty. The winds were high and the seas rough - as the longboat shuttled the people and families to the shore, tragedy struck. William Bradford's wife drowned that day leaving him alone to face the new world, with a one year old son named John. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but from Bradford's own records, he never blamed God, nor showed any bitterness to the loneliness that ensued. The first winter that came upon these Christians was quickly devastating. These inexperienced pilgrims were not ready for the harshness of New England winters. Within three months of the first year, by April 1621, more than half of the colony died of disease and or famine. Why even the first governor, Deacon John Carver died too, and the small group, now short of leadership prayerfully selected William Bradford as their second governor. Under Bradford's strong Christian leadership he served in this position until his death, which included more than 30 terms except for a few terms he chose to sit out.

Now Bradford, a man whose faith was strong in the Lord, brought the people together that first year to pray for God's sovereign intervention and care. When spring arrived, God led friendly Indians to them, who showed them how to plant corn and to catch fish. This revived these weary people. From Bradford's own records, we learn that the corn grew tall and stately and the new settlers became hopeful again. However, as the summer wore on, it became a hot, dry and rainless one. A drought came upon them and seriously withered their corn and other vital crops.

In William Bradford's diary and recorded history of these times, he wrote how they mustered together and sought the help of God. They earnestly prayed for the Lord God to send rain. The Indians watched them in this strange worship and wondered. Now, in Bradford's own words, I want you to know what happened that summer in 1622, in response to their ardent prayers. William Bradford writes,

" the rains came, without wind, or thunder or any violence and by abundant degrees it wetted the earth and soaked the crops. Within a quick period of time, the decayed corn and other fruits began to wonderfully revive. Even the Indians were astonished to behold the transformation. And afterwards all through the hot summer months, God sent seasonable showers. Through God's blessings, He caused a fruitful and liberal harvest to our comfort and rejoicing."

You see my friend, the BRADFORD FILE, America's first history book, tells us how the Pilgrims rested on God's providence and care, time and time again. They never charged God for the sorrows they experienced, but always gave thanks for the good things God bestowed upon them. As the years progressed, Governor Bradford saw that the principle of colonization ordered by the individual investors’, back in England, wasn't working. In those days men believed in the philosophy of Plato and other godless thinkers, who taught that the best arrangement for civil life, was a collective or socialistic communal life and living. Even to this day this warped thinking is growing in America again. Our secular thinking government under the liberal and leftist democratic party continues to seek "big government," and strong controls, wanting to portion out all wealth, robbing the rich to subsidize the poor. Well, in the original colony this system of life, ordered for them by the "investors," wasn't working! For in the colonies, property was held in a common community. Joint labor was required of all, with a common storehouse to be shared "equally" by all the people.

William Bradford knowing the Scriptures, saw this was an unbiblical concept and truly an unworkable one. I'm sure he was reminded of the word of God that taught men were to be allowed private ownership. Why even the Israelites when they entered the land of Canaan, which God gave to them, Joshua was told to divide up the land and give it to the twelve tribes as an individual "possession". Yes my friend private ownership, free enterprise is a Biblical system of life and living God ordained for all mankind. It is not an invention of any democratic republic. Well Bradford prayed and asked God what they were to do, for it seemed production was rather small for this gregarious group of settlers.

Well, by God's leading, Bradford chose to start a relatively new thinking, that is uncommon in his day. He met with the leaders of the colony and they agreed to divide up the land equally among the people, as God's Word indicated was best. Private ownership was given, and each family was responsible for their own food and profits. What was the result? Soon production spiraled, and the community was thriving as each one worked as hard as possible, knowing their labors weren't in vain. The harder they worked the more they were rewarded. You see William Bradford was the first in the new land of America, to begin a FREE ENTERPRISE SYSTEM, based upon personal accountability which God's Word commands for people. Listen to the Scriptures which read,

2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NLT) "Even while we were with you, we gave you this rule: "Whoever does not work should not eat.""

1 Thessalonians 4:11 (NLT) "This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before."

Well, during the biblically forged pilgrims days, there was no social welfare granted for the lazy, and slothful who refused to work or share the communal load. Each man was responsible for himself and his family. If he chose to neglect labor, no one else was responsible for him or, his family! This was what became known as the "Puritan work ethic." ¾ hard honest work, is godliness! Willful unemployment, idleness and slothfulness is sin! Actually, much of the homelessness we see in the nation today is the latter category, unfortunately supported by godless welfare and misguided benevolence. The pilgrim principle William Bradford imposed, is still what God calls every Christian in America to live by to this day!

Well, William Bradford served the Plymouth Colony faithfully till his death. Bradford remained true and faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, and always worked to establish God's laws in their society for their good and God's glory. William Bradford's writings, "the History of the Plymouth Plantation," exists to this day and tells us that time and time again, despite the great hardships, these pilgrims also saw great blessings from God in their midst. They indeed were a thankful people. Beginning with the first harvest in 1622, they set aside a time to give thanks to God for His blessings and care. They never forgot that this new land, and its sustenance was a gift from God, and therefore a responsibility came with it to keep this land soundly based on the Judeo-Christian principles of life and living.

Yes my friend, Bradford wrote time and time again that their purpose of coming to the Americas, and their settling here was to provide their children and grandchildren, with a society that firmly was based on God's Word for law and living.

So when you celebrate Thanksgiving day this Thursday, don't let the alien voices, the godless detractors, and foolish sinful people around you, tell you this land has no place for Christianity in public life! The real alien teachings today that are un-American is the "secularism" that extracts God from our laws, our education, our legislation and operation of this land. And just think - we would have never known this fully had not, the Bradford File, better known as the History of the Plymouth Plantation, penned by the hand of one who was there and lived to see it grow - reminds us "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach thereof." "All nations that forget God will be turned into the grave."

However, my friend as this Thanksgiving season is upon us once again, we need to reflect deeply on this. Nations are made up of people, and whatever a nation becomes, is simply a reflection of what the people have become. We see these days the fast moving shift of our nation from the righteousness of the Christian faith, to the godless secularism of atheism, to the lowly place of rejecting God, Jesus Christ and His Word for our societal life and living.

I tell you, if William Bradford were alive today, his voice would loud and clear be crying out warning, that all men need to repent of this wickedness of rejecting God and His Word, and in humble repentance turn to Christ, giving thanks for His mercies and providence for life and eternity that is available to all.

Well, Bradford died in Plymouth, Mass. on May 9, 1657, but his legacy and truth lives on, in the lives of those who this Thursday will like the pilgrims of old, still give thanks to God for His care and keeping. May God use this true story of American history to remind us of our great Christian heritage and our present "duty" today to honor God in all of our societal life. Today my friend, I ask you ¾ are you living for God? Have you acknowledged Him the only way this generation can - by exalting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Without this truth living in your soul, I remind you of Jesus' words - "Unless you believe that I am the one I claim to be, you shall perish in your sins."

Today around this nation there is a spirit of wanting to have and achieve. But the spirit of the pilgrims was different. You see, the difference lay in the extent of their spiritual commitment to worship and work, to their unselfish attitude, and strict disciplines of life, along with a wise leadership that trusted in God and His Word for all of personal and societal life and living. And to this day friend, only that kind of faith and commitment to God and country, will stand the tests of time and be blessed by God. So ends, the Bradford file for your enlightenment and encouragement. May God open our eyes to see His great glory and grace for yet another year of life, and this season of Thanksgiving!



The World, the Word & You! Broadcast is a non-denominational ministry based on the historic fundamental evangelical interpretation of the Scriptures. A copy of our doctrinal statement is available upon request. These weekly radio commentaries are not exhaustive studies of any particular subject due to the time limit of broadcasting. Actual broadcasts can be heard in selected areas around the nation, as funding provides. Dennis Finnan has been the speaker for over 18 years, and serves as General Director.

These transcripts are available free of charge to all who desire them. Also available are actual radio cassette tapes and printed booklets of each message. A free listing of recent messages is available upon request also.


For further information, reprints, or a listing of all topics, please write to our speaker, Dennis L. Finnan(dennis@wwy.org),or visit our webpage at http://www.wwy.org/