This lesson is based on Chapters 6 and 7 of The Light and the Glory, 2nd edition. These chapters are historical accounts of the successes and failures of the second English settlement, at Jamestown. These will count as one lesson broken down into two parts.
In the last lesson we learned that due to England’s war with Spain, for quite some time Raleigh was not able to get supplies to the Colonists that were left in Chesapeake. When the Virgin Queen died in 1603, Raleigh’s influence with the monarchy threatened the new King and Raleigh found himself condemned to death on bogus charges of treason. Due to Raleigh’s celebrity, his death sentence was delayed and eventually he was freed.
Without its champion, the lure of the New World waned along with its financial support. Finally, in 1606, a new expedition led by Captain Christopher Newport was being planned.
Second English try: Virginia Company of London
Once the expedition was being planned, King James felt compelled to take the high road and made the following statement:
…propagating of Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God, and (that they should) in time bring the infidels and savages living in those parts, into human civility and to a settled and quiet government.
The Partners responded with the following mission statement:
To preach and baptize into Christian religion and by the propagation of the Gospel, to recover out of the arms of the devil a number of poor and miserable souls wrapped up into death in almost invincible ignorance.
CONSIDER: This may have sounded noble but the real purpose of the mission was to make money – not much better than politicians today who talk a good game for the benefit of the people. Matthew 15:8 says:
These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me…
CONSIDER: Although Tyndale’s Bible was printed in the 1500s in English, many still relied on the clergy to teach the principles of Christianity – some of whom were sincere, others not so much. Additionally, there was turmoil and tension in the “Church” between the Anglicans and the Catholics. It is easy for us to look back on this era and criticize their faith but they simply may not have known better. It was far easier for them to put their faith in a box than it is for us today.
Robert Hunt’s expedition
Robert Hunt, thought to be a middle-of-the-road Anglican, was picked to accompany the expedition. England certainly did not want to send anyone who favored the Pilgrim’s theology.
QUESTION: The quest and desirability for “middle-of-the-roaders” was prevalent back then. Why do you think this trait is still politically desirable today?
QUESTION: Can you think of any of the heroes in the Bible who were middle-of-the-roaders?
To repeat past errors in judgment, this new expedition also included English elitist gentlemen without the necessary skills needed who were looking to make money but not to work. And once again, they did not include woman – proving that they had no intentions of creating lasting settlements. They also included soldier of fortune, Captain John Smith, who was ambitious and disrespectful of others with rank but who turned out to hold the new settlement together – barely.
QUESTION: What do you think would have attracted these English gentlemen to such an adventure?
The ill-fated trip was immediately impacted by storm after storm before they left England, in which they consumed much of the provisions that were to sustain them once they reached the New World. This pattern of either prematurely consuming provisions and loss of provisions through many means is repeated throughout the history of Jamestown.
QUESTION: The Colonists of this era never seemed to have enough to eat. At times the problem was more severe than others, and yet somehow they always survived. Do you think God was trying to tell them something, and do you think they were listening?
QUESTION: The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years before being allowed into the Promised Land. During that time, God sustained them with both water and food. The Jamestown Colonists were not provided for in the same manner, and yet it seems that they were pre-destined to succeed. What do you think were the main spiritual differences between the Israelites and the Jamestown Colonists – especially think about the spiritual differences and their relationship with God?
QUESTION: God didn’t supply manna for heaven or water from a rock for the new Colonists, but they survived mostly through the mercy of the Indians. Do you think the Indians, as strange as it may seem, may have been God’s way of supply sustenance for the Colonists?
Intermittent warfare and continued dependency
Tensions along with discontent blossomed with the crew before they ever set sail, and Robert Hunt who attempted to preach to them about unity became an object of scorn. They arrived at the south shore of the Chesapeake Bay in April and were amazed by the natural beauty of the land. Soon they encountered hostile Indians, whom they managed to scare away with their superior firearms – not a good start for the stated mission of the expedition – to evangelize the natives. Evangelizing people you were shooting at is an unrealistic expectation.
Soon the Colonists established a pattern with the Indians. The cycle of aggression and temporary peace initiated by both the Englishmen and the Indians repeated over and over again – so did the dependency on the Indians by the Englishmen.
QUESTION: Although the Englishmen frequently turned on the Indians, the Indians frequently showed them mercy and fed them when they foolishly neglected to do what was necessary to feed themselves. And yet, the Indians were considered the savages. Why do you think the English considered them savages? Was it because of the way they lived, their lack of knowledge of Christianity, or could it have been the face of racism in the early 1600s?
John Smith takes command
Upon arriving at Jamestown, John Smith eventually took charge of the Colony – but not after much turmoil. With all his faults, and there were many, Smith was able to bring some kind of order to Jamestown. Robert Hunt also proved to be a great asset to the new Colony and frequently challenged them spiritually – which only bore temporary results. Hunt kept God a part of the mission – but only a part.
QUESTION: Do you think that the men were able to compartmentalize God because their hearts were wicked or do you think that was simply the manner in which religion in that day and age operated? How much does organized religion influence your walk with God?
Jamestown was a poor environmental choice – the mosquitoes, the humid weather, and the poor water availability – gave way to typhoid fever and malaria. Inevitably, their poor choice of land became a death sentence as their death toll rose. Skirmishes with the Indians escalated and Newport returned to England with the ship filled with Fool’s Gold, (an appropriate label) leaving the men behind, who had just received their first Holy Communion.
The ill-equipped and unwise settlers began their pattern of consuming all their supplies and becoming dependent on the mercy of the Indians for corn, which they didn’t plant for themselves. Once again, the death rate began to rise again. The Indians’ mercy sustained them temporarily and the death toll began to rise again.
Rev. Hunt proved to be more committed to his faith than most would have believed back in England. He held regular services and tried his best to set a good example for the English gentlemen who shunned work as being beneath them.
Read Mark 4:3-8.
QUESTION: What kind of ground do you think Hunt’s words were falling on?
Read Mark 4:9.
QUESTION: They were listening to Hunt but do you think they were hearing?
Powhatan and Pocahontas
The fall provided some relief in the form of migrating geese, but the men still remained useless prima donnas with a condemning attitude toward work. Smith was forced to deal with the Indians, which, for this impatient man, was a difficult task that sometimes resulted in raiding rather than trading.
Finally, Smith met Powhatan, who ruled over the region. Powhatan, however, had been warned by the prophecies of Powhatan’s elders that the white men would eventually subjugate them. These prophecies had made Powhatan decide beforehand to kill Smith. Enter Pocahontas, who pleaded successfully to her father for Smith’s life.
CONSIDER: God uses people. In the case of Jamestown, do you think He used Pocahontas? This will not be the last time she intervenes on behalf of the settlers.
When Smith returned to the Colony, he found that the death toll had continued to rise and some of the men were planning to desert him. He squashed their plans and also continued to enjoy the mercies of Pocahontas who was fascinated by them and visited continually with gifts that would sustain them. However, the “gentlemen” still refused to work and become self-sufficient, and were it not for the mercy of the Indians, would have perished.
QUESTION: Those who did not know God did His work. Who do you think pleases God more – those who know about Him and profess His name but don’t love their neighbor, or those who don’t know anything about Him but do His work?
QUESTION: Either case above may not please God. God wants us to know Him and to do His work. Is knowing about God the same as knowing God? What’s the difference?
Read James 2:18-22.
CONSIDER: The Indians were meeting the physical needs of the “gentlemen” but were they really helping them or just enabling them to remain “gentlemen” who lived off the charity and hard work of others?
CONSIDER: The National Park Service, administered by the Department of the Interior, posts signs asking us “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.” Their stated reason is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.”
CONSIDER: “Social Justice” is a term used today that sounds “Christianly” in that is capitalizes on our directive to help those less fortunate. However, Social Justice, among other things that are harmful, enables and even encourages dependency. It also violates the 10th Commandment that commands us – does not suggest to us – that we should not “covet” what belongs to others. In a sense, Social Justice creates dependency, but it also creates covetousness in that it creates the illusion that what one person has another person is entitled to. Read Ex. 20:17, Deut. 5:12.
QUESTION: The Englishmen constantly relied on the provisions of the Indians. Do you think they felt “entitled” to what the Indians produced?
QUESTION: Is there a biblical principle regarding socialism or living off of someone else’s labors besides covetousness?
Read 2 Thessalonians 3:5-10.
Christopher Newport’s debacle
On January 1, 1608, Christopher Newport returned to the Colony of 38 survivors with provisions and 100 settlers – and just in time to save John Smith, who had sabotaged the plans of deserters and was arrested for doing so. A fire that broke out on January 7th, destroyed all the provisions Newport brought, along with the palisade that the men had built for protection. The reprieve they had vanished with the fire and another difficult winter lie ahead and the colony found itself once again relying on the mercy of the Indians.
CONSIDER: Once again they were forced to live on the mercy of the Indians – partially through their own laziness and partially by the hand of God. And the “savages” saved them as they would time and time again, but never until John Rolfe fell in love with Pocahontas would the Englishman look upon the Indians as anything other than “savages,” which in their case meant sub-human beings.
CONSIDER: The Indians looked different, lived different, believed different things. This made it easy for the settlers to think they were different. They may have been different in all the things mentioned, but their equality as human beings was not recognized. They were savages and the Englishmen were superior – at least in their minds.
END OF LESSON 6A.ARVE Error: need id and provider
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