Have you ever heard of overpopulation? Here is an interesting perspective on it from way back in the 1600’s. John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts colony through most of its early years, supported the idea of emigration from England to Massachusetts for various reasons, one of which was the “overpopulation” of England at the time, or perhaps better to say, his disapproval of the way in which men were treated in England on account of the feeling of overpopulation. He describes the state of affairs in England in his day thus:
This land grows weary of her inhabitants, so as man, who is the most precious of all creatures, is here more vile and base than the earth we tread upon and of less prize among us than a horse or a sheep: Masters are forced by authority to entertain servants, parents to maintain their own children, all towns complain of the burden of their poor, though we have taken up many unnecessary, yea unlawful trades to maintain them, and we use the authority of the Law to hinder the increase of people, as by urging the Statute against Cottages and inmates, and thus it is come to pass that children, servants, and neighbors are compted the greatest burdens, which if things were right would be the chiefest earthly blessings.
Do you see any parallels to this in our world of today? It is amazing to me that we think of this world as being overpopulated at all, but regardless of that question, let us think about what Winthrop is here saying. He claims that people are are the most precious of all creatures God has made, and yet, despite that fact, they are treated as less important and less valuable than even brute animals and lifeless land. How can such evils be, he wonders, and I am inclined to say the same.
Is it not the case today as well that people are given very little value and esteem? Do we treasure them and see in them the inherent worth that God has granted to all mankind when He placed His image upon our first forefather? The world today supplies plenty of examples of this same effort to suppress the growth of mankind and the multiplication of humanity upon the earth. Winthrop also asserts in this same writing that the whole of the world is to be filled with the multiplication of mankind as God directed to us. He sees in this even a command to go to the new world and not “suffer a whole continent …to lie waste without any improvement.” His answer to overpopulation is to spread out some upon the earth. I am not so sure that he might not have a point to consider there, at least in part.
However, the most important point is that which we started with: How do we value our fellow men? The message today is prominent that “fewer is better.” This is a great lie and falsehood. We have been taught to degrade the value of men. This is a great wrong that we must recognize and rectify. Men are precious. Let us not despise them as though they were of less worth than cattle and land. Let us learn to think according to truth in this matter.