The Pilgrims

—Thanksgiving Day


The Story of Their Steadfastness of Faith is an Inspiring Study for Thanksgiving Day.

THE LESSON—That the blessings for which we are thankful today have come through those whose faith was firmly grounded.

Thanksgiving Day should be one of mixed seriousness and smiles. This chalk talk endeavors to meet this combination in

ts treatment of the character of the Pilgrims and of the present-time observation of the day which had its beginning in Plymouth colony.

The Talk.

"The thoughts of Christian people all over America should turn today back to the twenty-second day of December, 1620, when that company of noble men and women, after battling with the ocean waves for two months, succeeded in getting ashore from their sturdy little boat, the Mayflower, and set their feet upon the new land of America. The spot where these Pilgrims landed is now a sacred one. We call it Plymouth Rock, and there we may still see the rock on which they are said to have stepped as they came ashore in their row-boats.

"Who were these people? And why did they come to America and start a colony when there were no white people anywhere around; when savage Indians would surely try to kill them; when they would have to labor hard to get any food or clothing, and where they would have to live in the wild country in huts which must be made from the logs which they would cut out of the forest?

"The Pilgrims were people from England who loved God and wanted to do His will. But there were other and more powerful people in England who punished them and treated them shamefully because they did not choose to do things which they knew would not please God. Finally, to get away from their persecutors, they left England and went over to Holland where they tried to live as they believed the Lord would have them live. But there they found a rough, immoral lot of people—mostly sailors and soldiers who had left the service of their country and were leading reckless lives. For the good of their children, they decided not to remain there. They then bade farewell to all that was near and dear to them in the old country and started across the ocean to America—the new land. After a voyage of two months, they reached the bleak, rocky coast of Massachusetts, and they knew that if they could come ashore safely, they could here worship God just as they wished to do.

"We are glad that they kept a diary of what they did. When they asked the London company to let them start a colony in America, they said, 'We verily believe that God is with us and will prosper us in our endeavors. We are men who will not be easily discouraged.' That's the kind of people they said they were—the women as well as the men—and they proved it to be so. After they had signed the constitution which was the foundation of the first democratic government in America, while the Mayflower was standing in the harbor, the brave company of one hundred and one disembarked from their little vessel and commenced at once to chop down the trees needed to build homes and to provide fuel, for it was in the dead of winter. Before the first winter had ended, forty of their number had died from exposure, famine and disease, but when the Mayflower started back on its return trip to England, not one of the survivors would go with the ship's crew. Here, then, on this bleak, forbidding New England coast these Pilgrims set up the first model government. [Draw a little of the outline of the New England states at the upper right-hand corner of Fig. 120.] They had trouble with the Indians, but the Red Men soon came to respect them, and peace continued for many years. Three years after they had landed, Governor Bradford proclaimed a great feast—the feast of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving! How dear the word has grown. 'Out of small beginnings,' says Governor Bradford in his history of the colony, 'great things have been produced by His hand that made all things out of nothing; and, as one small candle will light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many, yea, to our whole nation.'

Figure 120: An outline map of the USA.

"And, today, this nation, the greatest nation on the earth, still looks back to that first Thanksgiving Day. [Draw the remaining lines to complete Fig. 120.]

"To us, it is a day of worship and feasting, and in both of these features we are following the example of Governor Bradford, Elder William Brewster, John Carver, Edward Winslow, Miles Standish and the other brave men and women who formed that early company. We do not go out into the woods for the wild turkey as they did. But we get the turkey just the same. I have no doubt that your thoughts of thanksgiving to God for his many blessings to us this year are already mingling with thoughts of scenes like this: [Detach the map drawing from the board, turn it over and re-attach it with thumb tacks. Change the map into a steaming roast turkey by adding the lines to form the wing, the "drumstick," the garnishment and the plate. Use black for all but the garnishment. This completes Fig. 121].

Figure 121: The map upside down, turned into a drawing of a roast turkey.