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Four Centuries of Faith at Harvard

By Editorial Staff
Published March 1, 1993

“After God had carried us safe to New England, and had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God’s worship, and settled the civil government: one of the next things we longed for, and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.”

This 17th century passage is familiar to all Harvard undergraduates, the words being inscribed on the northern panel of the Johnson Gates leading into Harvard Yard. This passage is taken from New England’s First Fruits, published by Samuel Eliot Morrison. It is the earliest account of Harvard which appeared in London in 1643. This same document cites the rules and precepts of Harvard:

“Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17:3 and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.”

The founders of Harvard were, of course, the Puritans. Far from being the reactionary, dogmatic, judgmental, intolerant primitives, that modern students often imagine, these were an enlightened people who wished to cast off the darkness of Europe’s feudal past and forge a new type of society. They imagined that they were building the New Jerusalem and ushering in the Golden Age.

Samuel Eliot Morison, foremost Harvard historian, describes their ideology as follows: “The Puritan creed … stimulated mental activity on the part of those who professed it,” with the ministers maintaining “Open-minded and receptive attitudes toward scientific discoveries.” The Puritan religion provided the “dynamic motive for the intellectual movement in New England …”

Far from being ethereal mystics, the Puritans believed that Truth, in part, was knowable through the five senses and through empirical research and reasoning. But the idea that all Truth was knowable could only be fathomed in the realm of Faith, they argued. Visitors to Harvard need only to view the Harvard seal on one of the gates to see this illustrated. A stone rendering of the Harvard seal portrays three books – two are set faced up, while the third is displayed face down. A people who viewed all symbols as having great meaning no doubt meant this third book to signify the Truth that was hidden from reason. This was the Truth that could come only through divine revelation or Faith.

Before we dismiss the Harvard founders as being crude and unsophisticated, we should remember that it was their form of civil government, although not perfected, which became the working model for the world’s first successful democracy. This form of government is being imitated all over the world in our day.

The Puritans’ search for Truth and the perfect society, though unrealized, should be viewed with admiration to all who pass through Harvard’s gates, or by anyone who enjoys a measure of liberty in today’s world. They were truly prophets having foresight four centuries beyond their time.

See also: The Boston Awakening


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A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

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God's Law and SocietyGod's Law and Society (DVD)

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Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion

This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.

Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.

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In the Days of These Kings (Book)

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The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective

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The overarching message of Daniel is that Jesus the Messiah is even now ruling over the nations. He is the King of kings. Daniel tells us that Messiah’s kingdom will advance in the whole world from “generation to generation” (Daniel 4:4,34). Christ’s dominion is “given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Daniel 7:22). Our purpose then is to see “all people, nations, and languages … serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:14,27).

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