"Let supplication and Prayer and Thanksgiving bee made for all men...Remembrance of the good done to us...Confessing God to be the Author and giver of it...Cheerfulnesse, being glad of an occasion to praise him, and doing it gladly, with joy" ~ Thomas Wilson
Thomas Wilson, minister at St. George of the Martyr Church in Canterbury never came to the colonies, but his ideas reflected the ideals of the early New England immigrants.
Wilson was the author of A Christian Dictionarie. The dictionary has been used to provide clues regarding the Pilgrim's religious motives and it allows scholars to have some idea of how Pilgrims interpreted the Bible and used its words.The dictionary is listed in inventories of the estates of famous Pilgrims - William Bradford, Samuel Fuller and Myles Standish. Thomas Shingleton, John Kemble, and Robert Cushman were members of Wilson's congregation in Canterbury and later moved to Leiden and joined the Pilgrim Leiden Church. The Pilgrims were serious about studying the Bible and used a variety of books to help them in their studies. Wilson's dictionary was a best-seller and Dr. Ian Green called it the most popular Bible study aid. Given the importance of Bible study in the daily lives of the Pilgrims, this dictionary must have been highly regarded.
So what does all of this have to do with Thanksgiving? Well, Wilson used his own definitions of everyday words and included quotes from the Scriptures to provide examples. Wilson's dictionary offered a religious definition of thanksgiving that included “An acknowledgement and confessing with gladnesse of the benefits and deliverances of God…to the praise of his Name" along with the quote that starts this post. The Pilgrims make repeated references to thanksgiving and it's pretty cool that one of my ancestors had such influence on their worship and daily lives.