“For the King and His Crown Rights!”
Of all the valiant captains who served in His Majesty’s Navy in the 18th century, none is so resiliently popular as Sir Edward Winthrop, who was in his day the most feared and respected man on the high seas. Edward Winthrop’s famous declaration — “For the King and His crown rights!” — fired the hearts of his brave sailors who served under his command.
In one famous sea battle, three pirate ships took Winthrop by surprise on a return voyage to England. But Winthrop’s badly provisioned ship maneuvered cleverly to run one pirate crew aground on a coral reef, sunk another with one cannon volley, and quickly out ran the third. Several days later, they found the three crews hiding in a nearby cove together on one ship. With great indignation, the captain bellowed out his famous words — “For the King and His crown rights!” A fiery deluge of smoke and lead descended on the pirate ship, demolishing one of the last pirate crews in the Caribbean. Winthrop’s “take no prisoners” philosophy was what made him feared by all the enemies of the King of England.
The ship which Edward Winthrop commanded, the H.M.S. Ecclesia, had an even longer and more illustrious history. By the time of its decommissioning in 1830, the Ecclesia had fought in over 100 battles and had been restored or rebuilt many times. Her name first appeared on a rustic galleon 250 years earlier. Only the U.S.S. Constitution (or “Old Ironsides”) even closely rivals the Ecclesia’s fame and longevity.
Yet most Americans today are vaguely aware, at best, of this great monument to the expansion of British civilization. The Ecclesia first appeared in the battle of the Spanish Armada in 1588. At that time, the Ecclesia was an old unmaneuverable ship used for powder storage and supplied other ships in battle. Smaller ships, called “sea dogs” under the command of Sir Francis Drake, ran circles around the larger Spanish galleons in the English channel. With superior seamanship, English and Irish sailors quickly sank the majority of the Spanish fleet, clearing the paths of the high seas for the King’s dominion of the New World.
A smaller, fitter Ecclesia was commissioned in the early 1600s to protect convoys of settlers off the shores of Virginia, New England and later Georgia. Decked with tight rows of cannons, the ship fended off any threat to the colonial settlers. She fought many battles in the Caribbean, defending British settlements, and sinking many Spanish ships. Not only was she used in battle, settlement and commerce, but the Ecclesia returned to English port often bow laden with Spanish gold, winning several of her captains great honor among the monarchs of England. In all, three captains of the Ecclesia were knighted: Sir Calvin Edwards, Sir Luther Robinson and, of course, Sir Edward Winthrop.
Of interesting note to historians, Edward Winthrop was named by his parents in honor the first captain of the Ecclesia, Sir Calvin Edwards. Edward Winthrop’s father, Francis, also served as a crewman on the Ecclesia. Oddly, Francis Winthrop was both a distant relative of Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop and Sir Francis Drake. Sir Edward Winthrop’s mother was a distant relative of John Knox, the Scottish Presbyterian reformer. Thus this illustrious family rose in fame with the exploits of the H.M.S. Ecclesia.
During the reign of England’s Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, Francis Winthrop sailed with a Puritan crew under the command of Captain Cotton Blackstone. The fame of the Ecclesia began at this time, when she helped to run pirate ships out of the Mediterranean Sea.
In the 1730s, under the command of Captain Isaac Howells, the Ecclesia ferried Christian missionaries to Georgia during the administration of Governor Oglethorpe. It is rumored that George Whitefield took a brief trip on the Ecclesia which ended abruptly off the coast of England when a mast cracked in the high winds. This record conflicts with the sea log of another ship, however, and it is impossible to tell from Whitefield’s writings whether he sailed on the Ecclesia since he had long before abandoned his practice of keeping his journal.
Under Sir Edward Winthrop’s command, the Ecclesia rose to the zenith of her fame. Winthrop had a reputation among his men as being stern in discipline, but fair in its dispensation. On a south sea voyage, one crewman threatened mutiny, an offense for which, according to maritime law, he could have been keel-hauled or set adrift on the high seas. Instead, Winthrop cast him in irons until he could receive a “fairer trial in the Christian courts of Britain’s capital.” During the trial, the court found conflicting testimony and set the man free. When some of Winthrop’s crew protested the ruling, Sir Edward supported the court’s decision, saying, “When common law proceedings are made a mockery, though it be only in the case of one man, the entire nation may soon suffer shipwreck.”
Winthrop hated the slave trade to the Americas most of all, which he called “the execrable sum of all villainies.” After slavery was outlawed in England, some British subjects still took part in the illegal West Indian slave trade. On one occasion, Winthrop apprehended a British crew aboard a slave ship off the coast of the Canary Islands. He interrupted his journey to Cape Verde in order to cast the British subjects in irons. His wrath was never more severe, as he commanded his men to give the slavers five lashes across the back each day of their voyage back to England. Quoting scripture, Winthrop sentenced them: “For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
When Winthrop died in 1828, pirates had long since become a rarity. But occasionally, a crew would prey on lone ships carrying rum and molasses. Ecclesia’s last captain, Darby Scofield, suffered an attack by one of these rare pirate crews in the Virgin Islands. Unfortunately for Scofield, the ship was long overdue for repairs. Had the Ecclesia been more seaworthy, Captain Scofield may have stood his ground and fought. But he believed that the ship was at the end of its service and he doubted the loyalty of his men under attack. Furthermore, their cache of powder was not sufficient for a drawn out battle.
After suffering only one canon volley, the Ecclesia began to take on water. Scofield commanded his crew — “It’s no use boys to polish the brass on a sinking ship. Abandon!”
Ecclesia’s crew sought haven on island within view. The pirate crew, though fewer in number, boarded the ship and managed to repair the cannon holes by running her aground at low tide. When high tide surged in, the pirates had commandeered the Ecclesia. Indeed a sad chapter in the annals of British sea lore!
A convoy carrying some men who had been under Sir Winthrop’s command appeared within a few days. Miraculously, the crew of the Ecclesia were rescued and the convoy set out in search of the pirates. Less than one week later, the pirate crew raised a white flag at the first sight of the British fleet and three high flying Union Jacks.
The scene stood in stark contrast to Sir Edward Winthrop’s famous battle cry forty years earlier. The episode was an embarrassment to the crown, for the Ecclesia had never before lost a battle. A few months later, the British parliament voted unanimously to retire the H.M.S. Ecclesia rather than restore and recommission her.
The ship was bought by a Presbyterian church in Brighton and the lumber was used to construct a meeting house and a parsonage. The house of worship stood for 53 years and bore a plaque with the likeness of Sir Edward Winthrop. Underneath the image is inscribed the ironic question: “What is Christ’s Church? — A wrecked pietistic vessel, or a Puritan battle ship?”
NOTE: This tale is not a true account, but is an allegory used to illustrate the point: “What is your church?” Soon after circulating the first draft, I found that some still did not get it. Hence this footnote.
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That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!
Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.
Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.
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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
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God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
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High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
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