Motives of Discovery and Exploration II - RR144A2

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: 2. Motives of Discovery & Exploration II
Course: Course - American History to 1865
Subject: Subject:History
Lesson#: 2
Length: 0:43:34
TapeCode: RR144A2
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
American History to 1865.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


A few years ago at a major university, a professor of history started the school year in the fall by telling his students that since there was no God, there was no meaning, no purpose, no direction to life. And since there is no meaning, there can be no history. But, he said the regents of the University are paying me to teach you history, so, even though it means nothing, let us begin. Now of course he was a more honest professor than most, in that he very candidly expressed his utter lack of faith. For him there could be no history. Because if all things are meaningless, and meaninglessness is the ultimate fact in the universe, then you cannot give meaning to a particular fact here and now. This morning we began our study of American History, and the designated period of interest is from roughly 1776 to about 1864 or 65. We are not going to review the familiar events. All of you basically know that history. Our purpose is, as I stated this morning, to deal with the ideas, the motive forces that determined that history. We began this morning and did not conclude and we shall continue it now, the analysis of the motive of Discovery and Exploration. The reason why although our purpose is to deal with History after 1776 we went back to Columbus and those who followed him, was simply this: the motives that guided those first men, two basic motives, have persisted in American history. I pointed out this morning that America was discovered repeatedly by various explorers. Leif Ericson was the last in a long line prior to Columbus. But it did not come to have any meaning, and the discovery was not followed by an activity until 1492. It was no accident then that Columbus work coincided virtually by just a few years with Luther’s work. There was dissatisfaction in Christendom. There was also a great hunger and thirst after righteousness. [00:03:00]

An anxiety to know the true faith, an anxiety to spread...[edit]

An anxiety to know the true faith, an anxiety to spread the faith. And I pointed out this morning some of the statements Columbus made, which indicated very clearly his motive force in his work. Economics was there, certainly. He intended to find a shorter route to the Indies. But it was to raise money thereby, because it would be highly profitable, in order to establish a tremendous fund for the re-conquest of the holy Land, its deliverance from Muslims, and for a tremendous worldwide missionary work. This was very real to Columbus. So intensely real that we cannot understand the man apart from it. Samuel Eliot Morrison has gone so far to say that every discoverer expected to play apostle to the Indians and to find quantities of gold, silver, and gems. And we see the importance in that order. First to be an apostle. Now as I indicated this morning we cannot say that every explorer was so motivated. Pizzaro was not. Cortez, emphatically, was. But I pointed out also this morning, in fact, most of my time was spent in developing the theme of one of the none-Christian motives of the day, which was very important to the explorers. And that was the humanistic motive, which goes back to pagan antiquity, which I cited in detail in Horace’s 16 Epode, the belief that man would find salvation, if he could find somewhere in the world an uncontaminated environment. The New World. For the Humanists this was the great hope. Here was an uncontaminated environment, a paradise on earth. And here man could make a new beginning, because the trouble with man was not sin in himself, but a corrupt environment. And so these humanists believed in the myth of the noble savage. They could look at the Indians, and cannibalism as I pointed out this morning is a word that came from the Americas, it was originally Carribalism, from Carribean, from Carrib Indians. One of the many Cannibal tribes. They could actually look at them and still idealize the savage, because they were committed to the faith in the Noble Savage. That Faith is still with us. That is still a motive force in American history, and in the history of the entire world, but our concern is with American history. [00:06:01]

Now there are no new parts of the world where man can...[edit]

Now there are no new parts of the world where man can hope to find this uncontaminated paradise on earth and find salvation. So now he tries to create that new environment by means of legislation. That’s what Washington is about today, to create that perfect environment, and thereby have paradise on earth. And of course some say we will find it in outer space, in our exploration. And we will re-settle there under totally controlled scientific conditions, and we will have paradise. In other words, these two contrasting motives have been very powerful in American History. Both of them saying that here in the New World we are going to develop our faith, and put it to work. One, salvation by a new environment, the other, salvation through Christ and a new man. Changed environment as against the changed man. And the early explorers definitely included large numbers of Christians in the early settlers who said “Here, we will begin afresh. Here we can apply the whole word of God. Here we can make Biblical Law the law of the community. Here we can create,” they said, “God’s Israel.” And that was so powerful a motive that lately some writers have turned their attention to this, they have seen this as the dominate motive in American history. God’s new Israel. Why, Conrad Cherry is nothing but source doctrine. Now he despises the idea, he’s definitely not in favor of it. Tewson in one of the books that will be our textbook is very sympathetic to it. Alan Heimert in a very large and important work, Religion and the American Mind which is very important, we are going to go into this, studies it in all the literature from about 1750 to about 1800 or shortly thereafter and finds it dominant, in fact, when he was studying the literature of the 1850’s, 60’s, 70’s, he found that he could not understand it without going back to this idea of America as God’s Israel. As a place to build the kingdom of God. To establish a social order in terms of Gods Law. [00:08:43]

To make regeneration the keystone of society...[edit]

To make regeneration the keystone of society. This was very emphatically present in countless numbers of these works. These then are the two motives which have governed American history. Both with a tremendous drive and a zeal behind them. Regeneration through Christ and the regenerate man creating Gods new Israel, and regeneration through a changed environment. Humanism. They had their ups and downs, at times, one group has come to near domination of America, and at other times the other. And it is the interaction of these two forces which has been basic to American history. Now I’m going to give you a long quotation on the motive for exploration. It is stated by Sir George Peckham, in 1583 in his A True Report of the late discoveries of the new found lands, that is, the Americas. This is from Hakluyt's Voyages in 8 volumes. And this is what Sir George Peckham writes, and I’m going to read this rather lengthy quotation because it is so revealing. Hakluyt's Voyages is made up of page after page after page of this sort of thing. [00:10:24]

To conclude, since by Christian duty we stand bound...[edit]

To conclude, since by Christian duty we stand bound chiefly to further all such acts as do tend to the increasing the true flock of Christ by reducing into the right way those lost sheep which are yet astray : And that we shall therein follow the example of our right virtuous predecessors of renowned memory, and leave unto our posterity a divine memorial of so godly an enterprise : Let us, I say, for the considerations alleged, enter into judgment with ourselves, whether this action may belong to us or no, The rather for that this voice through the mighty assistance of the omnipotent God, shall take our desired effect, whereof there is no just cause of doubt. Then shall her Majesties dominions be enlarged, her highnesses ancient titles justly confirmed, all odious idleness from this our realm utterly banished, divers decayed towns repaired, and many poor and needy persons relieved, and estates of such as now live in want shall be embettered, the ignorant and barbarous idolaters taught to know Christ, the innocent defended from their bloody tyrannical neighbors, the diabolical custom of sacrificing human creatures abolished, all which no doubt are things grateful in the sight of our savior, Christ, attending to the honor and glory of the Trinity. Be of good cheer, therefore. For he that cannot err hath to add to that before the end of the world, his word shall be preached to all nations. Which good work I trust is reserved for our nation, to accomplish in these parts. Wherefore my dear country men be not dismayed. For the power of God is nothing diminished, nor the love that He hath to the preaching and planting of the gospel anywhere debated. For shall we then doubt he will give us ready most mightily and miraculously to assist our nature in this quarrel? Which is chiefly and principally undertaken for the enlargement of the Christian faith abroad, and the banishment of idleness at home, then he was to Columbus, Baskez, Dunes, Hernando Cortez and Francis Pizzaro, in the west, Mastigama, Peter Alvarez, Alfonzo de Albuquerque in the east, let us therefore with cheerful minds and courageous hearts give the attempt and leave the sequel to almighty God. For if He be on our part what forceth thee whoever be against us? Thus leaving the correction and reformation unto the gentle reader, whatsoever is in this treatise too much or too little or otherwise imperfect I take leave, and so end.” [00:13:25]

Now you know the ironic fact is that scholars generation...[edit]

Now you know the ironic fact is that scholars generation after generation have read passages like that and they say “Oho, this exploration really was caused by unemployment at home.” So they will take a phrase like that and say “See, they were interested in economic reasons only.” And yet page after page after page of what these explorers wrote was simply an extended commentary on Isaiah. Isaiah had declared that “the ends of the earth shall know the Lord.” And “the righteousness of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters covereth the sea.” Verses like that in Isaiah were the most frequently quoted from Isaiah on. They said “We have now opened up the last glorious fulfillment. In the ages to come, it is possible now for all peoples, tongues, tribes, nations, to be brought to a saving knowledge of Christ. And so we have therefore made possible the glorious promises of God, for the glorious millennial reign.” [00:14:44]

Now we cannot understand these explorers apart from...[edit]

Now we cannot understand these explorers apart from this Christian perspective. It is, whether you agree with it or not, what is today known as postmillennialism. This was the thing that made that tremendous expansion possible. They were going out because they had this kind of faith. A belief that the whole world had to be brought into a knowledge of Christ, therefore they had to go out and explore. Now true, they had economic motives, they didn’t see anything wrong with a profit. They were not modern people, nor modernists. They didn’t think that making money was a sin. And this is why Louis B Wright, a very good scholar, not a Christian, a very able historian, has titled his most recent work “God, gold, and glory”, or excuse me, Gold, Glory and the Gospel. Something like that. And he points out how their basic purpose has been neglected for a long time. These men, yes they were interested in gold, they were not fools, they were not interested in losing money, but they were emphatically interested in the propagation of the gospel. And he points out also that they have been very much vilified where it comes to the mistreatment of the Indians. Both by the Spaniards and by the Americans. A very interesting thing there is an American apologist John Greenway who was a darling of the Liberals because of his work in folk music down in Australia and elsewhere, and a few years ago when he pointed out that much of what is said about our mistreatment of the Indians is a myth, suddenly you never read about him again as far as the Liberal establishment is concerned. He lost favor with them. His most recent book is Down Among the Wild Men, where he describes his 15 years among the Australian Natives. But when you’re through reading it you realize what he means by “The wild men” is not just the Australian natives but the Australian whites, the American whites, the American black, and the American students. [00:17:10]

It’s interesting because he admits he’s a ?...[edit]

It’s interesting because he admits he’s a ?indiscernable?. He has a very high regard for the missionaries and their work. And he says that because men have lost their faith--- this is the refrain of his book Down Among the Wild Men--- they have given way, then lost. By denying their faith, they have given way their lot. And so he says “Now we are faced with wild men everywhere.” And he describes what happened at his university campus and the student disturbances, and the savageries that went on that were never reported, including one girl having her ear cut off by the rioters. Down Among the Wild Men. The explorers thus, had definitely a faith that can be called post millennial. Then, second, they believed that this glorious age of Christian triumph would be marked by a worldwide peace and prosperity, and therefore to seek peace and prosperity were Godly enterprises, and the discovery of the New World offered a tremendous step in this direction. The world would never be the same, it could be brought closer to the fulfillment of a great missionary enterprise. And third they declared “There is now great opportunity to fulfill prophecies and to preach the gospel to all nations. Because now we are reaching out to all the world, we are exploring all of it.” And they felt very strongly about this. As a matter of fact, when you read these early explorers, and there are several volumes now translated into English, you sense the excitement of these men. The very great excitement. Why? They felt emphatically “We are fulfilling prophecy. We are bringing the whole world closer to knowing Christ. And that these people who were far off and unknown to the Christian world are now known to us. And the gospel can reach them. And so they were tremendously excited. Now it is true that others had the humanistic idea and so they saw these natives as very definitely the noble savage. But the number of them who were definitely Christian was legion. [00:20:09]

As a matter of fact in more than one case when men...[edit]

As a matter of fact in more than one case when men landed at a particular shore and the Indians gathered around in curiosity, the explorer, not a chaplain, would call for the Scriptures, and read from the Scriptures to these Indians, even though they understood not a word. Why? Because he felt he was fulfilling prophecy. That now these savages and Christians had been brought together, and so he felt it necessary to, even though they didn’t understand it, to read the first words of Scripture in a new language. This then was the motive force of American History on the one side, and the other, the Humanistic. And these two motive forces were very much present throughout the colonial period. Because you had some who came who had very definitely this kind of purpose. You remember perhaps from your history of James Town here in Virginia that there were some problems almost immediately, because so many of the gentlemen would not work. Why not? Well, the student who were present this morning may remember that I read Horace, and he said that “In this new world, the happy isles of the west” what would be the case? It would be paradise. And the fields would produce of themselves, the trees would bear fruit of themselves. The cow and the milk goat would come and just give up their milk, they’d stand over the pail and drop their milk. And so you had some curious problems because the gentlemen who were brought up in terms of classical humanism had no desire to work! After all, everything should be perfect here. And you have actually the belief in many circles to this day, that there was a time, in America, when all you had to do was to pick up and move out west to the wilderness and you could have a good rich life and live off the land marvelously. That was never, never possible. From every source that we have any knowledge, the only way people could pick up and move westward was to have two years capital. They had to be a thrifty people, they had to accumulate enough so that they could live for two years while they developed that land. Clear it. Plant it. Make it ready, to bear harvest. Now that’s a very different picture is it not, from the one that is popular today among the average college student? Two years capital! Tools, feed, money enough to last till they developed that place so that it would bear some kind of crop. And so it was not just drifters that went west, it was groups of settlers who went out, with capital. [00:23:39]

The reason why the pilgrims at first had to try to...[edit]

The reason why the pilgrims at first had to try to operate their colony communistically was because the group that sent them out, (they didn’t have money) said we will provide money if you will run this farm for us on a communal basis. And they tried it and it did not work. So they had to drop it, and write back to them and say “we are letting every man have his own, and you will get your money back faster this way. Communism has never worked, and it isn’t going to work now and we aren’t going to tolerate it any longer.” It wasn’t their idea, it was the investors back in London who had imposed it upon them. It took capital to come here. It took capital to move westward. Even the fur trappers who went out were grub staked by ?Asser? or someone else. Or the Hudson Bay Company. Nobody just picked up and went out west and lived. Before, as I pointed out in my Myth of Overpopulation before the white men there were about 300 thousand Indians, now some lately say it’s much more than that, but give or take a couple hundred thousand or more, in all of North America exclusive of Mexico. And they regularly starved to death. The country was overpopulated then, in a way that it is not now. Why? Because they did not have the capital, the tools, and the faith to develop the country. They were trying to live off the land, and they were starving to death. Every winter virtually. [00:25:21]

And cannibalism was commonplace because when food was...[edit]

And cannibalism was commonplace because when food was short they turned to eating one another. Now this then is the background to exploration, these two motive forces. Well after about 1659 this kind of faith began to wane among the Puritans and the other Americans, from one end of the colonies to the other. In about 1740 there was the “Great Awakening”, which began soon thereafter, and basic to the Great Awakening was a revival of this kind of faith, the postmillennial perspective. A belief that they had to go out and conqueror. Now this is important, because recent scholars if they have studied this period have come to the unhappy conclusion, unhappy because they’re not Christian, that you cannot understand the War of American Independence, and everything that followed after that apart from the postmillennial perspective. It was the men who shared this faith who were the core of the resistance, who were nine tenths of the resistance. It was a belief that God will bless those who keep his word, and who apply it to the world. That there are irresistible blessings that follow after obedience. Now very early, John Winthrop has stated this, And he said in his Model of Christian Charity “We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "may the Lord make it like that of New England." For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall shame the face of many of Gods worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us, till we be consumed out of the good land wither we are going.” Now there he cites both Deuteronomy 28, and the Sermon on the Mount. [00:27:53]

Deuteronomy 28, the promise that if they shall obey...[edit]

Deuteronomy 28, the promise that if they shall obey God they shall be blessed and they shall prosper mightily. The Sermon on the Mount, they are called, thee like a city on a hill, like a light unto the earth. Because a light is not put under a bushel, but where men can see it. Now this theme as I say was for a time obscured. But then it was tremendously revived, and one of the great spokesman of that revival was emphatically Jonathan Edwards. And Jonathan Edwards, in one of his very great and most influential sermons, a sermon that had a powerful impact and raised up a tremendous array of men. And two great theologians who were important in what happened in the War of Independence, were again coming into their own, Bellamy and Hopkins. Edwards preached in this sermon on, and this is the title: “The Latter Day Glory is Probably to Begin in America.” And he said: “It is not unlikely that this work of God’s Spirit which is so extraordinary and wonderful, is the dawning, or at least a prelude of that glorious work of God so often foretold in Scripture, which in the progress and issue of it shall renew the world of mankind.” So he says the beginning of this great work of God must be near, and there are many things that make it probable that this work will begin in America. And he studies then the various passages in Scripture that make him think it’s going to be in some place other than in the Old World. And I’ll read you just a little bit of this: “It is signified that it shall begin in some very remote part of the world, with which other parts have no communication but by navigation. In Isaiah 60:9 “Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far” it is exceeding manifest that this chapter is a prophecy of the prosperity of the church, in its most glorious state on earth in the latter days. [00:30:27]

And I cannot think that anything else can be here intended...[edit]

And I cannot think that anything else can be here intended, but America by the isles that are afar off, from whence the first-born sons of that glorious day shall be brought. Indeed by the Isles, in prophecies of gospel times, is very often meant Europe:” But he goes on to say that it has to be, some new place, some place unknown Isaiah is talking about from which the light shall arise. And so he says God hath already put that honor upon another continent, that Christ was born there literally, and there made the purchase of redemption. So as providence observed a kind of equal distribution of things, it is not unlikely that the great spiritual birth of Christ, and the most glorious application is going to begin in THIS continent. The elder sister brought forth Judah, of whom Christ came. And so she was the mother of Christ. But the younger sister, after long bareness, brought forth Joseph and Benjamin, the beloved children. Joseph who had the most glorious apparel, the coat of many colors, who is separated from his brethren and was exalted to great glory out of the dark dungeon, who fed and saved the world when ready to parish with famine, and was as a fruitful bow by a well, whose branches ran over the wall and was blessed with all manner of blessings, and precious things of heaven and earth. Through the good will of him that dwelt in the bush, was as by the horns of an unicorn to push the people together to the ends of the earth, that is to conqueror the world. And Benjamin whose mess was five times so great as that of any of his brethren, and to whom Joseph that type of Christ gave wealth and raiment, far beyond all the rest. Now this is amazing. And one of the things that many of these men very definitely talked about, emphatically believed, was that America was not only going to be the source of a great missionary move to all nations, but also, in my view these were a handful of men living along the Atlantic seaboard in those days, but some day with its bounty and food, provide for the world in its wants and its needs in Christian charity. This was the faith that motivated them. [00:33:08]

Now this state is present to this day...[edit]

Now this state is present to this day. It has been secularized, it has lost its definitely Christological context, but it’s very present. In fact it is enunciated over and over again in secular form in Washington. Listen to what John F. Kennedy said in his first Inaugural. “It’s become a matter of second nature to politicians to see America as a kind of redeemer nation, with a calling to the whole world.” There’s lots of Theology behind it. They haven’t lost the faith of the founding fathers in that respect. Kennedy said “I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our fore-fathers prescribed nearly a century and three quarts ago. The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty, and to abolish all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary belief for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe, the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.” Well, there is a blending there you see of the Christian faith and of the Humanistic hope. But the note is still there. Then he concluded his inaugural address by saying finally ”Whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.” An amazing note is it not. Now this is the language of the Puritans. President after President has felt it necessary to echo the same note. Because this is what Americans expect their country to be. They still have enough of a hangover of that faith, that they feel this nation must serve God. Gods work, he said, must be our own. [00:35:51]

Coming from Kennedy that’s amazing...[edit]

Coming from Kennedy that’s amazing. And yet, it is emphatically something that has been restated over and over again. We cannot understand why politicians feel that they have to pay lip service to this hope, unless we realize the background of several centuries of this faith undergirding this country, and studying it apart, so that it felt called to work under God to fulfill the prophecies of God. So were going to see how this motive was developed, how important it was. What Ideas it meant in government and in society at large, and the implications it had. Now to continue with what Jonathan Edwards had to say in this famous sermon: “And it is worthy to be noted that America was discovered about the time of the reformation, or but little before: which reformation was the first thing that God did towards the glorious renovation of the world, after it had sunk into the depths of darkness and ruin, under the great antichristian apostasy. So that as soon as this new world is (as it were) created, and stands forth in view, God presently goes about doing some great thing to make way for the introduction of the church's latter day glory, that is to have its first seat in, and is to take its rise from that new world. It is agreeable to Gods manner to begin where no foundation had been already laid, that the power of God might be the more conspicuous. That the work might appear to be entirely Gods, and be more manifestly a creation out of nothing, agreeable to Hosea 1:10, “and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” When God is about to turn the earth into a paradise he does not begin his work where there is some good growth already, but in the wilderness, where nothing grows. And nothing is to be seen but dry sand and barren rocks. Then that the light might shine out of darkness, the world be replenished from emptiness, and the earth be watered by the springs from a droughty desert, agreeable to many prophecies of scripture, as Isaiah 32:15.” And he goes on to quote many other texts, as for example Isaiah 24:19, “From the uttermost parts of the earth we have heard songs even glory to the righteous.” And then he goes on to say that Ezekiel 47, we see the waters that come out from under the altar, that go out and cover the earth, the righteousness of the Lord covering the earth as the waters covering the sea. [00:39:06]

Course, from west to east, and so he says that when...[edit]

Course, from west to east, and so he says that when God begins his great work it will be in the New World, from the west, and it will flow to the East and to all parts of the world. Now we may say that at some points his exegesis is fanciful. But we have to agree that basically they were right. That God had declared that in his own good time, out of a people that were not a people, out of a far off place he would begin a great work, and the word of God would be proclaimed in power to all nations. And we can never begin to understand the mind of the settlers, the early founders, the founding fathers of this country, apart from this faith. Do you know why you know so much about the puritans and the early founding fathers? Because they kept such meticulous records. They felt the eyes of the future would be upon them, because they were beginning a great work, in terms of which the whole world would be blessed, and so they felt that it was important to keep a record. Whenever there was a sin in the church, when you go over the preaching of the Puritans, what is it that they bewail? Your sin is enormous. Why? In our eyes it might be a very trifling matter, and we might think today I wish our church was as good as theirs, and they’re really weeping from the pulpit. But why? Because they had been called to so great a work. Do you not see how great our responsibility is under God? We are to be as a city set up upon a hill. One historian has written a book entitled just: City Upon a Hill because we see this motive as so important in the entire founding and development of this country. [00:41:12]

And so they berated their church members for their...[edit]

And so they berated their church members for their sins and short comings because the responsibility was so very great. Thus we cannot understand American History apart from this motive. Now before we begin our second hour we’ll have a brief break so that you can stretch your legs, get a drink of water, or whatever. Yes.

(Audience, paraphrased, difficult to understand) “I had a question, a couple years ago I was made aware of a book by Christopher Columbus, in Spanish I believe or Latin, he was interested in getting the Bible to China, I think they republished this book before 1997.”

Rushdoony: Yes, I don’t believe that it is in English yet. However one of his statements that he made in that was this: “Of the New Heaven and the New Earth which the Lord makes and of which Saint John writes in the apocalypse is the Lord told of it through the mouth of Isaiah, he made me the messenger, and showed me the way.” That’s how Columbus felt about his mission. And you see ?out the side? we’ve never gotten this from Columbus or any of the others. And I went into Cortez this morning, and you could go into one after another of these explorers, and there were exceptions like Pizzaro, but so many of them were motivated by this, whereas others were motivated by the search as I mentioned this morning like Ponce de Leon for the fountain of youth. They came with a dream of a perfect environment whereby man could be regenerated. Any other comments or questions? [00:43:27]

Let’s take a five minute break then...[edit]

Let’s take a five minute break then.