A Message from John Winthrop – A City on a Hill

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Yesterday we talked about Puritan John Winthrop’s sermon “A Model of Christian Charity,” which he spoke to his fellow travelers on the Arabella  in 1630. Yesterday we talked about not embracing the world. Today we talk about being a city on a hill. Winthrop’s sermon continued:

Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah: to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.

For this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. . . .

We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality.

We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body.

So shall we keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with.

We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when he shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, “may the Lord make it like that of New England.”

For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world . . .

John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity”

The monument above stands in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. The top paragraph is a quote from Winthrop’s sermon, including the section about the city on a hill. The second paragraph on the monument

Thus out of smalle beginings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing . . . and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone to many, yea in some sorte to our whole nation. — William Bradford at Charles-towne, 1630

The inscription concerning the monument reads:

In gratitude to God for the blessings enjoyed under a free government, the city of Boston has erected this memorial on the anniversary of its founding — September 17, 1630-1930.

Thank you for training your children to be light in a dark, dark world. Remember that that light cannot be hidden.

You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on the lampstand,
and it gives light to all who are in the house.
Let your light shine before men in such a way
that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16



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