The Mayflower Compact And Its Christian Influence

mayflower compact

This is a passage from a book by Benjamin F. Morris on the Christian nature of our civil institutions. He writes a chapter on the civil government instituted through the Mayflower Compact and the Christian basis for the document.

The noblest significance of the Puritan settlement of the North American continent consists in its Christian origin and aim. As the design of Columbus was to “subject every thing to law, order, and religion,” so the Puritans began practically to execute this great work. Their first act was to institute a form of civil government in conformity with the revealed will of God, and under whose benign legislation they were to enjoy all the rights and privileges of civil and religious freedom. The form of government was instituted in the cabin of the Mayflower, before they landed on Plymouth Rock, and signed and ratified under the solemnity of prayer and the most sacred sanctions of the Christian religion. That charter of a godly government is as follows:

“In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, &c., having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony on the northern part of Virginia, do , by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof, we have hereunto subscribed our names, at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini 1620.”

“This Constitution,” said Webster, “invokes a religious sanction and the authority of God on their civil obligations; for it was no doctrine of the Puritans that civil obedience is a mere matter of expediency.”


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