To America - their 3rd home
Winslow writes that after the last sermon they attended before leaving for America, their third home, "they that stayed at Leyden feasted us that were to go.... We refreshed ourselves, after our tears, with singing of Psalms, making joyful melody in our hearts as well as with the voice, there being many of the Congregation very expert in music; and indeed it was the sweetest melody that ever mine ears heard."
These people loved each other and openly showed their emotions. Bradford writes of the pangs of their parting in his eloquent and memorable prose: "And so they left that good and pleasant city, which had been their resting place near twelve years; but they knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits."
The night before they left everyone stayed up and talked and expressed their love for each other. Bradford writes, "That night was spent with little sleep by most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse and other real expressions of true Christian love."
Bradford writes of the outpouring of emotion at the last
farewell to relatives and friends, so much that even some of the
Dutch strangers who were passing by started to cry also: "The next
day (the wind being fair) they went aboard and their friends with
them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful
parting, to see what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst
them, what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced
each heart; that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the quay
as spectators could not refrain from tears. Yet comfortable and sweet
it was to see such lively and true expressions of dear and unfeigned
love. But the tide, which stays for no man, calling them away that
were thus loath to depart, their reverend pastor falling down on his
knees (and they all with him) with watery cheeks commended them with
most fervent prayers to the Lord and His blessing. And then with
mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another,
which proved to be the last leave to many of them."
Bradford married Dorothy when she was 16 years old. In 1620 they decided to leave their 5 year old son, John, to be cared for in Holland.
In the Divine Principle we learn that God has not spoken to and worked closely with only those people in the Bible. God always has been working. The Pilgrims were very aware of this. To read William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation and other writings of the Pilgrims is like reading the stories in the Bible. Rev. Moon said in his speech he gave in every state in America and later printed in the book Christianity and Crisis, "The story of the American Pilgrim Fathers is one of a kind in God's history. It fits into the pattern of the righteous people of history, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Moses. These Pilgrims were the Abrahams of modern history."
Bradford called them Pilgrims because of the long journey for God, and America was like a new Canaan. Bradford says they had wandered for 12 years and now were going to the New World. God had prepared them to pioneer it.
The Pilgrims were His chosen people just as the Israelites were thousands of years before. And the Pilgrims were keenly aware that God needed a united, God-centered people to enter Canaan. Moses was not able to enter the Promised Land because he was too hot-tempered and made mistakes. The Pilgrims were determined they would never complain and of course never worship a golden calf but only God. They were deeply religious but not in a stuffy way. Their religion was a way of life in which everything they did and everything that happened was influenced by God. God was a natural partner. God was not distant, but very close from morning to night. They loved God and knew God loved them. They dedicated everything to God.
Rev. Moon praises the Pilgrims
The members of the Unification Church have learned from Rev. Moon this intimate God. Rev. Moon speaks with eloquence and heart and profound insight by saying that "the Pilgrims came to mold the new way of life. Their principal partner was God. At home, in caring for their children, in farming, cooking or building, they let God share their work. A farmer might talk to his son working out in the field with him, 'Let's plow this field in the name of God. Their everyday life was lived in the name of God."
The setting off of the Mayflower was an entirely unspectacular occasion. This is how God always works. The Bible is filled with externally unspectacular events. The most striking of all, of course, is a 30 year old poor carpenter from Nazareth traveling from village to village with 12 social outcasts. Another similar story is that of Rev. Sun Myung Moon in a concentration camp in North Korea with 12 disciples.
Saints vs. Strangers
The Pilgrims called themselves the "Saints" and others "Strangers."
Pilgrims had a loving community
Religious people, especially those who found religions, often live as a community. Unfortunately as religions mature the members get more individualistic and live separately. The Pilgrims were very a very tight knit community. They deeply loved each other and enjoyed being around each other. They were not religious just on Sundays. Every moment of their life was focused on living by God's laws of purity and selflessness.
When it came time to leave, some divided their families by letting some stay back. Some, like Bradford left their children behind. Often these children were given special names such as "Love" and "Patience." One boy was called "Wrastling" meaning - wrestling or to wrestle with the Devil. Gods pioneers often sacrifice their families for the greater mission. This hurt them deeply but this is always the pattern in God's history. His pioneers suffer - even the children of the pioneers. Rev. and Mrs. Moon, like the Bradford's, also left their children behind in far away Korea when they first came to America. Still, it is the responsibility, as hard as it is, for children to not be bitter and understand their parent's sacrifice. God can never wait until everything is perfect, anymore than any person can wait to marry until they are set up perfectly.
When it was time for William and Dorothy to board the ship they experienced heartbreaking appeals and the frightened eyes of their son. It would be 7 years before their son could come to Plymouth. At this painful parting others were separating from their children or wives. In some cases the children went with the father and the wife said goodbye to her husband and children.
Bradford writes: "At length after much discussion everything was ready. A small ship [Speedwell] was bought and fitted out in Holland, intended to help transport them, and then to remain in the country for fishing and such other pursuits as might benefit the colony. Another ship [Mayflower] was hired at London, of about 180 tons. When they were ready to depart, they had a day of solemn humiliation, their pastor taking his text from Ezra VIII, 21: And there at the river, by Ahava, I proclaimed a fast that we might humble ourselves before our God, and seek of Him a right way for us and for our children, and for all our substance. Upon this discourse he spent a good part of the day very profitably. The rest of the time was spent in pouring out prayers to the Lord with great fervency and abundance of tears."
At their parting Mr. Robinson wrote a letter to the whole party of the Pilgrims that each of us should all learn from. We should all be as god-centered as he teaches us to be and to have a godly character that perseveres with dignity.
In her book Kate Caffrey summarizes the letter as follows: "So the Pilgrims would be setting out in peace of mind with God. They must next make sure of feeling the same tranquil tolerance toward their fellow men, especially their associates. This meant watching particularly carefully not to give or take offense... And it was not enough to be so good that one never caused offense to others: the great thing was not to take offense at others' actions, for how unperfect and lame is the work of grace in any person who lacks charity to cover a multitude of sins; Peter put this very well. It was not just a matter of Christian behavior. Touchy people were commoner than offensive ones, and a lot more trouble, particularly in groups bound closely together in some enterprise or work."
"The Pilgrims, Robinson pointed out, had to be very careful. They were not all familiar with one another's appearance, let alone character, virtues and faults alike. It was all too easy to misjudge the words and actions of comparative strangers. Such wrong judgments added fuel to the fire that must be diligently quenched all the time with brotherly tolerance. Impatient grumbling at others shortcomings was only a short step from impatient grumbling at God, wondering why he had chosen to afflict them in some way, instead of recognizing his justice and wisdom in all matters."
"They must also take care that whatever they did was aimed at promoting the general good. They were building God's new house in the wilderness; no house rose strongly, or stood firm, on a shaky foundation. When the building was solid and complete, there might be modifications or even changes, but in the early stages each man should treat his personal quirks of preference as he would deal with rebels against a noble state."
"They were going to have to govern themselves, too, so in this important matter they should choose and elect the best among them as leaders. Those ought to be such persons as do entirely love and will promote the Common good and then in their lawful administrations they should be honored and obeyed. Again, personal traits should not be made too much of, like the foolish multitude who more honour the gay coat than either the virtuous mind of the man, or the glorious ordinance of the Lord. It was their own choice, anyway; no governors would be arbitrarily set over them. This part of the letter is said to have prompted the creation of the Mayflower Compact."
Robinson ended his wise and compassionate statement by saying that there were a lot more points he could make, but he felt sure the Pilgrims would have thought of them already. He commended them to the loving and watchful care of the Lord "who hath made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all rivers of waters."
Pastor Robinson's letter of advice
Here is Pastor Robinson's letter. It is written with long and involved sentences unlike the way we write today, but please read it carefully. It says much that we should learn from as the Pilgrims did.
"Mr. John Robinson in Holland to the Pilgrims departing from Southampton for New England:
Loving Christian Friends,
"I salute you all heartily in the Lord, as being they with whom I am present in my best affections and most earnest longings, though I am constrained for a time to be bodily absent from you. I say constrained, God knowing how willingly, and much rather than otherwise, I would have borne my part with you in this first brunt, were I not by strong necessity held back for the present. Think of me in the meanwhile as of a man divided in himself with great pain, and (physical limitations set aside) as having his better part with you. Though I doubt not that in your godly wisdom, you foresee what is applicable to your present condition, I have thought it but my duty to add some further spur, even to those who run already-not because you need it, but because I owe it in love and duty.
First, as we ought daily to renew our repentance with our God, especially for our sins known, and generally for our unknown trespasses, so doth the Lord call us in a singular manner, upon such an occasion of difficulty and danger as lies before you, both to more narrow search and careful reformation of our ways in His sight, lest He, calling to remembrance of our sins forgotten by us or unrepented of, take advantage of us, and, as a judgment upon us, leave us to be swallowed up in one danger or another. Whereas, on the contrary, sin being taken away by earnest repentance, and the pardon thereof from the Lord sealed up into a man's conscience by His spirit, great shall be his security and peace in all dangers, sweet his comforts in all distresses, with happy deliverance from all evil, whether in life or in death."
Don't take offense
"Now next after this heavenly peace with God and our own conscience, we are carefully to provide for peace with all men so far as in us lieth especially with our associates; and for that we must be watchful that we ourselves neither give, nor easily take, offense. Woe be unto the world for offenses; for though it be necessary (considering the malice of Satan and man's corruption) that offenses come, yet woe unto the man or woman either, by whom the offenses come, saith Christ (Matt. XVIII, 7). And if offenses arising from unseasonable actions, innocent in themselves, are more to be feared than death itself, as the Apostle teacheth (I Cor. IV, 15), how much more when arising from things simply evil, in which neither honor of God nor love of man is thought worthy to be regarded. Nor is it sufficient that we keep ourselves by the grace of God from giving offense, except we be armed also against taking offense when it is given by others. For how imperfect is the work of grace in him who lacks the charity that covers a multitude of offense, as the Scripture says. Neither are you exhorted to this grace only upon the common grounds of Christianity. Persons ready to take offense, either lack the charity which should cover offenses; or the wisdom duly to weigh human frailty; or lastly, are gross though close hypocrites, as Christ our Lord teaches (Matt. VII, 1, 2, 3 ). In my own experience I have found few who are quicker to give offense than those who easily take it. They who have nourished this touchy humor have never proved sound and profitable members in societies."
Wisdom and charity
"But there are, besides, many reasons why you, above others, should use special care in this direction. You are, many of you, strangers to each other and to the infirmities of one another, and so stand in need of the more watchfulness, lest when unsuspected qualities appear in men and women, you be inordinately affected by them. This requires at your hands much wisdom and charity. Further, the plans for your intended civil community will furnish continual occasion of offense, and will be as fuel to the fire, unless you diligently quench it with brotherly forbearance. And if taking offense causelessly or easily at men's doings should be so carefully avoided, how much more is it to be heeded lest we take offense at God himself which we do as often as we murmur at His providence in our crosses, or bear impatiently such afflictions as He pleases to visit upon us. Store up, therefore, patience against the evil day, with which we take offense at the Lord Himself in His holy and just works."
Work for the common good
"A fourth thing is carefully to be provided for, to wit, that with your employments, which will be common to all, you join affections truly bent upon the general good, avoiding, as a deadly plague of your comfort, all retiredness of mind for selfish advantage. Let everyone repress within himself, as so many rebels against the common good, all private partialities, not consistent with the general convenience and as one is careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it is well settled and the parts firmly knit, so be you, I beseech you brethren, much more careful, that the house of God, which you are and are to be, be not shaken with unnecessary novelties or other oppositions at the first settling thereof."
Leaders must be Godly
The Pilgrims were not arrogant but they also knew God wanted them to be the leaders in America. Robinson continues, "Lastly, whereas you are to become a body politic, administering among yourselves civil government, and are furnished with persons of no special eminence above the rest, from whom you will elect some to the office of government, let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as will entirely love and promote the common good, but also in yielding them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations; not beholding in them the ordinariness of their persons, but God's ordinance for your good; nor being like the foolish multitude, who honor a gay coat more than either the virtuous mind of the wearer or the glorious ordinance of the Lord. But you know better, and understand that the image of the Lord's power and authority which the magistrate bears, is honorable, in how humble persons soever. And this duty you can the more willingly perform, because you are at present to have only those for your governors as you yourselves shall choose."