With another Thanksgiving upon us, it’s good to consider what the Pilgrims endured and how they thanked God through it all.
I just finished reading a phenomenal book on the group of dissident Christians who founded Plymouth in 1620. Historian Rod Gragg wrote The Pilgrim Chronicles: An Eyewitness history of the Pilgrims and the Founding of Plymouth Colony (Regnery History, 2014). I thought I knew a lot about the Pilgrims, but this book added greatly to my knowledge.
The Pilgrims were one congregation that was born in mid-England around 1606 at a time where church meetings, apart from the Church of England, were illegal. Their goal was to worship Jesus in the purity of the gospel as they understood it. The Bible (Geneva version) was the focus of their existence.
Because of persecution in England, they decided to emigrate to Holland; but even leaving the mother country was a problem. A sea captain betrayed them, and several of their men ended up in an English jail. About 1609, they were able to finally make it to Holland.
Initially, the Netherlands was good for them. At least they could worship without government interference. But over time, they saw that some of their children were following the ways of the worldly Dutch youth. Meanwhile, the permanency of the Jamestown settlement in the New World allowed them to explore the possibility of coming to America to stay intact as a congregation and be able to worship Jesus in peace.
They borrowed money, and they received permission from King James, who was glad to be rid of them, to sail to the “northern parts of Virginia,” which at that time that would have been about where New York Harbor is today.
The voyage of the Mayflower was treacherous. One storm was so fierce they almost ended up on the bottom of the…