For those inspired and transformed by the Reformation, the Church of England did not go far enough in breaking with Rome. Puritans wanted to see the Church of England purified, moving closer to based their practices on the Bible alone, rather than tradition.
Separatists, on the other hand, did not hold out hope for the Church of England. They simply wanted to be free to worship God according to the pattern they saw in Scripture. There was persecution for all those who rejected the Church of England.
"You are the salt of the earth! But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven," (Matthew 5:13-16 NIV).
One Local Church
Picturesque Holland with its lovely cities and quaint canals was a place where the tiny congregation could now worship without fear. There were problems, though. Holland had long since passed the days of revival and sin was rampant. The Separatist children were picking up the ways of the world. Not only that, they were losing their English culture and starting to speak Dutch!
"What about the wilderness across the sea?"
"Could our wives and children make the journey?"
"Ah, let's pray and see what God's will would be."
The story, of course, continues with one mishap after another. To name a few: one ship breaks down before they really got underway, two ships' worth of people pile into one, a sad good-bye to their beloved pastor, a rough journey, blown off course, and landing just before a cold winter. Half of them died the first winter.
More to the Story
Ronald Reagan quoted the Bible and the pilgrims when he referred to America as a "City on a Hill." He was simply restating that dream that led the pilgrims to cross stormy seas for an unknown wilderness so that they could raise their children in the ways of the Lord!
Hopefully, I've whetted your appetite for learning more about the story of the pilgrims. Here are some websites to check out: Plimoth Plantation, Mayflower History (with original documents and letters!), and Annie's Thanksgiving History and Symbols page. A wonderful book for reading aloud with your children is Stories of the Pilgrims by Margaret Pumphrey (Liberty Press).
When John Winthrop traveled across the sea to the New World, he penned a sermon aboard his ship, the Arabella, laying out his vision for the settlement he would help establish in Boston. He wrote these words, "We must consider that we shall be as a city on a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us."
I have read many books that talk about the pilgrims. These authors write about the Pilgrims' and Puritans' desire for religious freedom and how they did not grant that same religious freedom to others. What people, looking back at the Pilgrims and Puritans, fail to understand is that these Christians' desire was not for religious freedom (to believe whatever they wanted to), but a desire to be free to serve God the way that His Word commanded. They were zealous for God's Ways, Laws, and Will. They were willing to risk their lives, money, property, and honor to OBEY the Lord. They saw the Bible as the authority to govern men, not their own ideas and opinions.
It is so hard for us to understand the pilgrims in the twenty-first century where it is "all about me." Maybe it's time for a change! Maybe it's time to defend God's honor and justice, at the expense of our comfort, finances, reputation, and, even, our lives.
Remember the dream in their heart. Let that dream beat in our heart...to be the light of the world, the city on a hill!
What a glorious reason to celebrate Thanksgiving is! How wonderful to set aside time to give thanks to Almighty God who has blessed us with so many incredible gifts. My print copy of Celebrate Thanksgiving is available at Amazon and the E-book can be purchased on my website, Powerlineprod.com.
Keep Shining for His Glory!
(Meredith Ludwig Curtis)