The Mystery of the Lost Book
A people came to the shores of North America who
called themselves, like Abraham, Pilgrims. They came because they
would not be slaves to those who wanted to tell them how to worship and
live for God. And God used them to establish the first Christian
nation in the world just as God, through the Israelites, had established
the nation of Israel in the Promised Land. The story of their
"exodus" and settlement in their "Promised Land" was
written by their governor, William Bradford about 1650. It was
passed from father to son until the Revolutionary War. Then it
disappeared. Why would a story that tells of the establishment of a
country honoring God and showing His providence in every line pass totally
out of existence? What became of it? Was it lost forever?
Would God's wonderful acts in the settlement of the Plymouth colony never
If you wanted to find such a book, where would you
begin? Would you look for a book by its title? But what if the
title were changed? And what if it were no longer in your country?
What if you had no idea who last had it? It seems there would be no
way to find such a small, insignificant thing. But God...
It is the year 1855. John Wingate Thornton, a
pastor, suddenly became a detective - a book detective! He was
relaxing one day in a bookstore in New England reading a "a very dull
book." "Why am I reading such a dull book," he thought.
"I surely must be wasting my time." But was he? All
of a sudden he realized as he was reading the "dull and stupid"
book that something sounded familiar.
"Why," he thought to himself, "this
sounds just like some of the writings of William Bradford. It’s
his style and the words are exactly what I’ve read in excerpts from his
manuscript." No wonder Mr. Thornton was excited. He had
recognized quotations from Bradford’s manuscript- the true history of
the Pilgrims’ settling in Massachusetts a long, long time ago.
Actually, they had settled there over 200 years before Mr. Thornton
started reading in that bookstore in Massachusetts.
In the book he was reading were quotations from a book
called, "The Log of the Mayflower." Now if you know anything
about the name "Mayflower" you know that it has to do with the
trip the Pilgrims took coming to America. This made Mr. Thornton
"I’d like to buy this book," he told the
bookseller. Then he took the "dull book" to a friend, Mr.
Barry, whom he knew was also very interested in the Pilgrims’ history.
"This has to be a clue to the precious book
we’ve been looking for so long," he exclaimed. "Let me
examine it for a while."
Mr. Barry examined the book that talked about
"The Log of the Mayflower" then he took it to another man, Mr.
Charles Deane, who was just as eager to find the long lost book as he and
Mr. Thornton were. Mr. Deane was a famous historical
"detective." As he began investigating he found that there
was, indeed, a book called "The Log of the Mayflower" but could
it be the book written by William Bradford so long ago. After all,
that book had been gone for 80 years. And Bradford had called it
"Of Plymouth Plantation." Mr. Deane went hunting for the
"The Log of the Mayflower. "
"I wonder," he thought, "will this book
lead me to Bradford's history? Is it possible that the" ‘Log
of the Mayflower’ could really be ‘Of Plymouth Plantation’? I
can hardly believe it. After all these years!" Mr. Deane
found the "Log of the Mayflower" and compared the handwriting of
Wm. Bradford with the writing in it.
"It is, it is!" he thought, "it surely
is Bradford’s book."
How excited everyone was. Yes, they had found
the history written by William Bradford. It had been gone for eighty
years. Only God could take such good care of one of his works.
And only He could make it possible to find such an important book.
(This reminds us of a story in II Kings 22.) The book lost in the
story in II Kings was right where it was supposed to be: in the temple.
But where was "Of Plymouth Plantation" and how would they get it
back? But could they get it back? I won’t keep you guessing
any longer yes, they did get it back.
Are you glad it was found? I am.
And would you like to read such a wonderful book? You can!
Because, guess what, it was returned! I know. Copies of it
were made and I have a copy. And it is as exciting as the Bible
itself because God is the One who makes history and "He has made his
wonderful works to be remembered...." (Psalm 111:4). Would you,
also, like to know where it was found and how it was gotten back?
That is another story for another day-and you can read the end of this
exciting "detective story" because someone finally decided to
write that whole, wonderful story.
Nineteen ninety-seven was the one hundredth
anniversary of the return of "Of Plymouth Plantation” to
Massachusetts and it was I who, to celebrate that lovely event, not only
wrote the ending, but the story from beginning to end. I’ve called
it "The Governor’s Story." You can read about those
fifty years of trying to get back Bradford’s "Of Plymouth
Plantation," as well as about those eighty years when men were
wondering, "Will we ever find Bradford’s history again?"
If you like a good mystery story, you can
read about "The Governor’s Story" right on this web site.
In fact, you can order "The Governor’s Story" from this site!
Do it now! You know, I love to read it myself over and over.
God is so good! You’ll be surprised how exciting folks who’ve read it
have found history can be when we see God’s hand working his
providential wonders. I get excited just thinking about it.
Who said: "Men
do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be
justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest
upon the eternal foundation of righteousness."
January 7, 1914.
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