26 September 2009

"Of their Settling in Holland, and their Manner of living, and Entertainment there" Chapter 3, 1609 - 1620 A.D.

1... Finally, the Pilgrims have arrived in Holland and, what's even more thrilling, I'm on the third chapter of this book! (Actually I have read much further, this is the third chapter I've taken notes on)

...For one year the pilgrims lived in Amsterdam, famous for its numerous canals and dikes.

...Then they moved to Leyden, or
Leiden, as the modern day spelling would have it, which was and is a prosperous little town in the Low Lands. Below is a map for exact location.

...At the time Leiden was actually quite famous, having just defeated the Spaniards in a daring siege some thirty or so years before. The story of that siege is worth including here, since it will give some insights as to the inhabitants character. For brevity's sake I will not give the tale in my own, vibrant rendition, which tends to be rather long, and instead post the short unexciting facts straight off of Wikipedia. (Not always the best resource keep in mind) You can also go here for one of my own versions elsewhere. (Note, in the last link Leyden is not specifically mentioned, merely the way between Spain and the Netherlands.)

"In 1572, the city sided with the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule and played an important role in the Eighty Years' War. Besieged from May until October 1574 by the Spanish, Leiden was relieved by the cutting of the dikes, thus enabling ships to carry provisions to the inhabitants of the flooded town. As a reward for the heroic defense of the previous year, the University of Leiden was founded by William I of Orange in 1575. Yearly on 3 October, the end of the siege is still celebrated in Leiden. Tradition tells that the citizens were offered the choice between a university and a certain exemption from taxes and chose the university."

... To continue. This chapter will cover the time between 1609 and 1620 in which the Puritans try to make a life for themselves in Holland, and end up being dissatisfied with the mode of life there. And for good reasons as we will see. It was in Leiden that the idea of leaving for the New World is born.

...2. Terms Defined!

...A. "Theses"; "In the original meaning of the word: propositions which would be posted up on a university bulletin board as a challenge to others to dispute if they would." Samuel Morison

...B. "Burgomaster"; Not the daddy of burger flipping. "This is
the chief magistrate of a town in some European countries." Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online ...

C. "Scaliger, Heinsius, Arminius, Vorstius, Golius, and Cluvier." I just wanted to make sure you were awake and paying attention. These are actually not terms that will likely come up in my reviews but they are proper names. These men were scholars at the University of Leyden during, before, and after, the pilgrims stay there.

3. Facts, facts, facts!

...As I have already stated, the Puritans slowly but surely trickled into the Low Countries. They came separately, in small groups, and however they could. It was hard to sneak in and took them nearly a year to all get across. Mr. Robinson and Mr. Brewster, Elders in the Seperatist congregation, were some of the last to come. Bradford notes that they were concerned for the weaker members of their flock and stayed to help them over. And at long last, everyone was in Amsterdam.

...And what a to do Amsterdam was. It happened to be a large, prosperous, growing, city at the time. Trade was booming with the lifted restrictions during the twelve year truce, and the Netherlands were making the most of it. At this time Amsterdam was famous for its diamonds and jewelers, as well as its shipping lines. The people were different from the English in many ways, Bradford speaks of them saying "[we] heard a strange and uncouth language, and beheld the different manners and customs of the people, with their strange fashions and attires; all so far differing from that of [our] plain country villages (wherein [we were] bred and had so long lived) as it seemed they were come unto a new world."

...Strange. That seems to be an adjective Bradford uses allot. Maybe its similar to the way everyone say "like" in our own times, but I digress. Bradford certainly had an excuse to think the Netherlanders attire "strange" because it was the custom of many to wear wooden shoes, called clogs, or klompen.

...Despite the richness of their new environment the Puritans had a difficult time. They were no longer persecuted for their strict beliefs, but a new enemy reared its ugly head. Poverty.Bradford describes it this way.

..."Although they saw fair and beautiful cities, flowing with an abundance of all sorts of wealth and riches, yet it was not long before they saw the grim and grisly face of poverty coming upon them like an armed man, with whom they must buckle and encounter, and from whom they could not fly. But they were armed with faith and patience against him and all his encounters; and though they were sometimes foiled, yet by God's assistance they prevailed and got the victory." William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, Chapter 3.

...Though Bradford confidently asserts the congregations trust in God, and their victory, which only proves the resilience and strength of their faith, the road was never easy. We shall see later in the chapter how quickly they were overtaken with need and want again when the truce was nigh ending.

...Hoping for better circumstances in Leyden, the congregation moved. Leydon does not have a port like Amsterdam, and for awhile it was even more difficult there. But, being here established, they made a go of it and ended up making a "hard but competent living, but with hard and continual labour." And for eleven years this continued under the "able ministry of and prudent government of Mr. John Robinson and Mr. William Brewster".

...Others, from England and other places, began to flock to the Separatists "camp" of operations until they grew into what Bradford calls a "great congregation". (The exact number is not listed) Bradford comments on the deep love and communion between the members of the congregation, so deep that they scarcely ever had problems, and, even if they did, it was "nipped in the head" restoring peace. Occasionally there were times when "the church purged off those that were incurable and incorrigible, when, after much patience used, no other means would serve." I would dearly love to know what made these people incurable and incorrigible, but Bradford does not list there actual offenses. It is very possible that they were those who wished to take up new occupations elsewhere, and otherwise assimilate with Dutch culture as these are eventually the concerns that send the congregation to New England's shores.

...Several paragraphs in the middle of the chapter are devoted to praising the love and care Mr. Robinson and Mr. Brewster gave to their adoring congregation. Bradford is not scanty in allegories or praising words, comparing the fellowship to the Roman days under Marcus Aurelius when "it was hard to judge whether he delighted more in having such a people, or they in having such a pastor [emperor]". (Not that he was praising the Romans, merely drawing a comparison between their love for their emperor and the Scrooge congregations love for their pastor.)

...He then says he knows he can say without prejudice that "such was the true piety, the humble zeal and fervent love of this people towards God and His ways ........that they came as near the primitive pattern of the first churches as any other church of these later times have done." I think this is quite a claim and definitely somewhat biased, every man thinks his church the best I say. No doubt Geneva folk thought their congregation the most "first churchly", but I digress.

...Apparently, in later times, some dirt was cast across the congregations reputation while living in Leydon. Bradford claims this is the work of "some of their adversary's" and sets out to repudiate the claims.

...Slander #1. The pilgrims are leaving Holland so that country must be kicking them out! (Re-worded by me of course)

...Slander #2. The pilgrims are not leaving of their own accord, they must have done something to make the country "weary" of them. (These are both basically saying the same thing, and both are re-worded by me)

...To finish the chapter Bradford sets out to "mention a particular or two to show the contrary" which particular or two take up 2 1/2 pages. Firstly he reminds everybody that though the pilgrims were poor, none of the Dutch hesitated to lend them money and assistance - knowing that they were careful to keep their word and fulfill their debts. The Dutch even sought out the foreigners to employ above others because of their reputation for honesty and diligence. Also in that time their were many disputes at the university of Leyden primarily because of Arminian controversies. Mr. Robinson, was invited to refute these heresies at the university and did so with such thoroughness that the public adored him. And, when it became known that the Puritans were going to set out for the New World, there were many who desired and offered them money to settle in New Netherland - instead of New England. But the Scrooby congregation was English to the core and did not want to lose their identity as such, which will be shown in the next chapter review.

5. Hardship and and continual labor. The Puritans were poor, so poor Bradford makes it sound like they could barely keep themselves from starving. Yet they worked, and they fought, for what they believed to be right, trusting that God would reward them in due season.

..."For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:9-10 New King James Version

...Deny your flesh! As Christians we must often take the hard road, the less traveled road with thorns and briers. Did not Christ say "take up your cross and follow me?" It would have been so easy for the Puritans to ignore their conscience, to adapt to the way of things in England. (And I'm not saying who was right or wrong in the Separatist issues of the time, merely pointing out that we should always listen to conscience) But in the renowned words of Martin Luther in his speech at the Diet of Worms, "It is neither safe nor honest to go act contrary to conscience!" They could not but choose to adhere to the word of God which had captured their minds and held possession of their conscience, we should see that we do likewise.

...Also, they trusted that God, who sees all things, would reward them in due time. And He did. He blessed them with a country to worship freely, a chance for new beginnings with their children. ( Some notable descendants of the Pilgrims include; Noah Webster, Sarah Davis, the Wright Brothers, George B. MClellan, Henry Wadsworth Longsfellow, Katherine Hepburn, Benjamin Harris Brewster, Clint Eastwood, Sarah Palin, Jennifer, Calvin, Robert, Johanna, and Rebecca Martinez - and other respectables too numerous to count)

...The lesson for us here? Lay down our wills on the altar of self-sacrifice and live for the glory of God! We exist for something bigger than ourselves, bigger than our own comfort, bigger than our own natures. We exist to love, enjoy, obey, and glorify our Creator. I will tell you a secret the Pilgrims knew, the only true lasting pleasure we can have in this life is to be at one with the will of God. Find your happiness in His will for your life, and live it to the fullest. Lets hold nothing back for later so that at the end of this race we may hear Him say "well done my good and faithful servant".

6. Less "funny" for this section, than controversial, is the subject of Jacob Arminius, a professor of theology at the University of Leyden from 1603 to his death in 1609. Arminius, as his name suggests, was the Father of Arminianism. At the time his followers called themselves Remonstrants and in 1618 were named heretics by the Synod of Dort. Understanding that this topic is far too weighty a matter to list here, the main differences between Remonstrants and Calvinists (including our pilgrims), were as follows.

...Here are the five points of Calvinism confirmed at the Synod of Dort;

Total Inability or Total Depravity

2. Unconditional Election

Particular Redemption or Limited Atonement

The Efficacious Call of the Spirit or
Irresistible Grace

5. Perseverance of the Saints

...For the sake of brevity I am not going to defend, define, or support the above, simply leave them as they are trusting that my reader has a sufficient understanding of what they mean to be able to spot the major differences in the five Armenian points listed below.

Free-Will or Human Ability

Conditional Election

Universal Redemption or General Atonement

The Holy Spirit Can Be Effectually Resisted

Falling from Grace

... The Pilgrims, ascribing to the Calvinist view, were very concerned about the Armenian controversies. Bradford tells how zealous Mr. Robinson was to discover the truth, that "though he taught thrice a week [lecturing his own congregation] himself, and wrote sundry books besides his manifold pains otherwise, yet he went constantly to hear their readings and heard the one as well as the other [Dutch Calvinist professors of theology and Armenian]; by which means he was so well grounded in the controversy and saw the force of all their arguments and knew the shifts of the adversary."

...Know your opponent, whoever he may be. If we hope to discover truth from Gods Word we must not come to it with our own conclusions in mind already, we must come to it to see what it says. The pilgrims studied the argument and came to convictions from their observations in Gods word. This is an attitude we should all have in arguments of today. If we hope to win souls to our side, or convict fellow Christians of erroneous doctrine, we cannot climb a hill and shout down at them our opinions! We must go to the word of God, study both sides and how to best communicate our position once we are certain we have come to a proper understanding of the doctrine, and guard ourselves against pride.

...Anyhow, this concludes the "orange" section. Rather scattered with no particular destination in mind - it merely serves to point out some of the controversy's then which are still controversy's today.

7. Next review, the dangers and causes for the Pilgrims decision to leave the Netherlands. A New World is in sight!

23 September 2009

Chapter 2; "Of their Departure into Holland and their Troubles thereabout, with some of the many Difficulties they found and met withal." 1608

1. This is a short chapter, only four pages, and will receive a short review. As its title denotes, the Puritans are about to leave fair England for the wetter clime of Holland. This was easier said than done, in England and indeed most countries of the time a special license was required to "legally" leave the country and travel abroad. At the time licenses were hard to obtain by Roman Catholics and dissenters. England did not want her dissatisfied citizens stirring up trouble in rival countries. ...After a failed attempt to flee in 1607, the Scrooby congregation "gat" over to Amsterdam in 1608.

...Historically readers should be aware that the Netherlands had just declared themselves the "United Republic of the Netherlands", asserting their independence from Spain. The fighting over this independence lasted eighty years, from 1568 - 1648. (The war was being fought mainly over freedom of religion, the Netherlands were majority Calvinists while Spain was a Catholic country; and Phillip II of Spain wanted to crush the Protestants in his empire.) At the time of the Puritans emigration to Holland the "Twelve Years Truce" had been enacted, due to expire in 1621. To read more about the Netherlands fight for independence go here, and here.

2. Terms Defined

A."Gat"; in Bradford's time this meant "get" or "got". Wouldn't it be funny if people still used "gat" today? "Gat Milk? anybody?" Whats a Gat's milk mommy? Have you ever heard of a Gat? What about a Hoo?

B."Scrooby"; not a distant relative of Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooby is the name of a small village in the English county of Nottinhmshire. The Puritan congregation from Scrooby was consequently called the Scrooby congregation.

3. Now for the facts. With the increasing hostility in England the Separatists resolved to make their way, if at all possible, to the Netherlands. This was easier dreamed up than done. For many of the Separatists it was too impossible a task to be undertaken, they had young and old, nursing mothers, and sick, to care for. But for some, a young William Bradford among them, it was a goal worth fighting for. The Pilgrims evidenced the same spirit of determination that the pioneers of Americas untamed prairies did when the set out in their little prairie "schooners" navigating the unknown seas of waving grass. Out there, somewhere, was a better life for them and their children. And the Puritans would not give up.

...Unable to obtain "legal" documents permitting them to leave the country, the Separatists decided to use less than legal means. They resorted to bribery. Yes, it is true, our sterling examples of human piety, were not above underhand means to achieve their ends. However even this was not a sure way of smuggling out. On numerous occasions, and Bradford only mentions a few, the bribed sailors turned them in for rewards, or deserted them and their goods at the last moment when discovery was eminent. Once a large group of the Separatists with woman and children were boarding a Dutchman's ship when soldiers arrived. Thus far only the men had boarded, with the women, children, and goods on shore. When the sailors saw the approaching cavalry they set sail, leaving the rest behind. Few people could swim in those days and the poor fathers and husbands were only able to watch helplessly as the woman were arrested on shore, themselves being rushed off without a coin to feed them when they arrived at their destinations! Bradford does not relate the end of the matter, besides that the woman and remaining men were eventually set free, and we are left hoping that the families were eventually reunited.

...In the end, "with no small rejoicing", the whole of them "gat" over a little at a time, no doubt smuggled in small batches. The number totaled about 125.

...4. Here is a quote of Bradford's from the end of the chapter which, if nothing else, shows the steadfast faith of Bradford in trusting God despite the circumstances to work His sovereign will for the good of those who love and trust in Him.

..."I will omit the rest, though I might relate many other notable passages and troubles which they endured and underwent in these their wanderings and travels both at land and sea; but I haste to other things. Yet I may not omit the fruit that came hereby, for by these so public troubles in so many eminent places their cause became famous and occasioned many to look into the same, and their godly carriage and Christian behavior was such as left a deep impression in the minds of many. And though some few shrunk few shrank at these first conflicts and sharp beginnings (as it was no marvel) yet many more came on with fresh courage and greatly animated others." William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, Chapter 2.

...This is the same experience the martyrs of the coliseums in Rome experienced. The more died, the more were converted. The more Christians were persecuted, the more the faith spread. The blood of martyred Christians waters the seeds of faith their faithful witness, even to death, planted. The enemies of the church employ their weapon of persecution thinking to discourage and quench the fire of truth, but God turns it all on head making it a tool to bring many more to Him as truth is broadcast-ed through their very endeavors!

...5. This chapter being so short, and so sorrowful, there really isn't anything worth listing in this section. One can hardly object to the record of a sea voyage, or tales of woe.

...6. Next time; life in the Low Countries.

16 September 2009

Chapter 1 ; On the "Separatist Interpretation of the Reformation in England", 1550-1607

...1.Thus begins chapter one in Bradford's Diary. These diary entries are recorded long after the events they attempt to explain. Bradford begins with an explanation, he wants to immortalize the reasons the Puritans left England for Holland, and eventually the New World. In his own words - "Of Plymouth Plantation. And first of the occasion and inducements thereunto; the which, that I may truly unfold, I must begin at the very root and rise of the same. The which I shall endeavour to manifest in a plain style, with singular regard unto the simple truth in all things; at least as near as my slender judgment can attain to the same."

...Phew, If Bradford's judgment is "slender" then I dare not wonder what my margin will be.

...The time frame in which he wrote these words is roughly 1630 A.D. But the events he is writing about happened nearly eighty years before, long before William Bradford was born. He begins with mention of the reformation, persecution under Bloody Mary, and in general the "Separatist Interpretation of the Reformation in England", the chapter title.

...2. Define your Terms!

Separatist; NOT a person with a vendetta against fat in their creamer. This term actually means " one of a group of 16th and 17th century English Protestants preferring to separate from rather than to reform the Church of England." Webster Dictionary

...B. Saint; "Bradford uses the word saint in the Biblical sense, as one of God's chosen people, or a church member, not one of those canonized by the Roman Catholic Church" Samuel Morison.

...C. Professor; You're probably thinking a teacher at college or something, but this term was actually used by the Puritans in general to mean one who professed Christianity.

...3. What exactly happened in this chapter? I know that's sort of what I was thinking half way through, after all, it doesn't bring us up to date with anything happening to the Puritans now. (Which was then) In reality this is a very important chapter. It explains the reformations roots in England, why it started, and how it grew. Interestingly enough Bradford does not being with pointing fingers, nor does he begin with exact dates and facts. He begins with a very biblical form, explaining still without names, the persecution and terrors the gospel and its followers endure during these hard times.

..."Ever since the first breaking out of the light of the gospel in our honourable nation of England, what wars and oppositions ever since, Satan hath raised, maintained and continued against the Saints, from time to time, in one sort or other." William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, Chapter 1.

...He goes on to compare the modern saints with martyrs of old, during the time of the Roman emperors, and mentions the bloody Arian controversies; quoting Socrates Ecclesiastical History to back up the comparison. Then, in one breathtaking sweep, he pulls the cloud of ambiguity away from our eyes revealing a name, a time placement. Bloody Mary. Yet he does not criticize Mary herself. Perhaps he will in some later chapter, but here he merely points out that Satan sought whatever and whoever he could as tools to accomplish his age old labor, to destroy the true church of God. Bradford also mentions that the Prince of Darkness tactics have changed, instead of seeking to utterly annihilate the church, he has chosen in these days subtler tactics. Hear Ye, Hear Ye, this following quote of Bradford's is no less valuable to us today, if not more so!

..."When as that old serpent could not prevail by those fiery flames and other his cruel tragedies, which by his instruments he put into practice everywhere in the days of Queen Mary and before, he then began another kind of war and went more closely to work; not only to oppugn but even to ruinate and destroy the kingdom of Christ by more secret and subtle means, by kindling the flames of contention and sowing the seeds of discord and bitter enmity amongst the professors and, seeming reformed, themselves." William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, Chapter 1

...Truly we should lend ear to this warning. Now we know when Satan switched his tactics !(at least according to Bradford) But I'll leave this for section 4.

...Onward into the meatier portions of this chapter! We now come to mention of Mr. Fox, renowned as the man who wrote Fox's Book of Martyrs. It is always interesting to read contemporaries comment on each other! Bradford begins to list the grievances Christianity is suffering from, namely, discord over the order of worship.To paraphrase his words "One side" labored to have right worship of God in church, simple, no service books, strict adherence to the listed customs in Scripture, and keeping only the offices of Pastors, Teachers, Elders, etc. (We must I assume he forgot to mention the first ban on electric guitars being used in worship, no wait, they weren't invented yet. )

...The Catholic, or rather, "Anglican Church of England", basically the Roman Catholic Church under new government and with some minor adjustments, "Through many colors and pretences" went on to oppose the Separatists, or Puritans as they came to be called. Eventually they began to bring false charges of "rebellion and high treason" concerning the Puritans, hoping to get the attention of the Monarchy. Persecution was hot in many places.

...It appears the Puritans waited out the tide for awhile, hoping. But when Queen Mary died the contention did not. Bradford explains that many Puritans who had fled under Bloody Mary, now "returning into England under gracious Queen Elizabeth" received promotions and the like, and were for a time in favor. Then, of course, jealousy arose. Plots and devices were used to paint the Puritans in a bad light and the Queen and State were aroused. Indeed, it is not crystal clear in the text when these plots truly affected the Puritans, but they almost certainly did so increasingly after Elizabeth's reign, during James I.

...As with Mary, Bradford's personal opinion concerning Elizabeth herself is withheld. I find it interesting that he does not lay blame on either queen, very gracefully mentioning the pressure and plots laid around them. Was this a biblical conviction concerning speaking against the authorities that God had put in place? It certainly wasn't a custom of the time, Knox's thundering treatise titled "The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women" had been published scarcely a century before. It leaves one to wonder. However he does give Elizabeth the title "gracious", unlike Mary.

...Apparently the Anglican church's ploy was to keep certain "divers harmless ceremonies" to win the weak and superstitious, for "though it were to be wished that divers things were reformed, yet this was not the season for it." At length more and more corruption crept back into the church, according to Bradford, until zealous Christians began to be persecuted once more. During time of James I, things had become intolerable. As a last resort the true professors "shook off this yoke of antichristian bondage" and made a covenant to be a people set apart. Thus begins the history of the pilgrims that sailed in the Mayflower and landed on Americas soil. But before setting out for such a distant shore, they set their sights on a place closer to home, Holland. Chapter one ends in the year 1607.

A picture of the house where William Bradford was born...

"When as that old serpent could not prevail by those fiery flames and other his cruel tragedies, which by his instruments he put into practice everywhere in the days of Queen Mary and before, he then began another kind of war and went more closely to work; not only to oppugn but even to ruinate and destroy the kingdom of Christ by more secret and subtle means, by kindling the flames of contention and sowing the seeds of discord and bitter enmity amongst the professors and, seeming reformed, themselves." William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, Chapter 1

The following verse from 1 Peter comes to mind, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. " 1 Peter 5:8-9 The enemy NEVER rests, he wants the church to fall. He wants Christs blood to be poured out in vain, he cannot accept defeat. The Prince of darkness refuses to see that God has already won the victory, that all the Lords purposes will come to pass.

...With this in mind it is ever important that we set a guard over our hearts, and watch carefully the road beneath our feet. In these days, as in the time of the Puritans, it would appear that the deadliest weapons in Satan's arsenal are; divisions and dissensions within the church; and the temptation of an "easier" walk with God.

...I'm not saying we should allow heresies in the church for the sake of peace, but it is a fact that ever since the reformation the church has become increasingly divided with different factors warring among themselves. What warrants leaving a fellowship of believers or breaking off into new church bodies? When do we gracefully shrug something off as simply the conviction of a 'weaker' brother, but not worth splitting over? These are grave questions we must all ask ourselves as we prayerfully seek to walk in the fullness of the gospel and maintain the peace and purity of the people of God. I don't pretend to have any of the answers, I'm just asking questions.

...The second matter of importance is the temptation of an "easier" or "worldier" walk with the King of Kings. God doesn't want us to come half way to the cross. He isn't seeking lukewarm lovers, He wants a bride wholly committed to Him. We are a church of sinners, that's why we're in the church, we recognize our need for the Savior. It is not possible for us to earn our own salvation, or be perfect, but we are called to "be holy" as He is holy, and to advance in our stages of sanctification. The christian walk begins at conversion, but it doesn't end there.

...Its so easy to say with our mouth, "There but by the grace of God", and then turn around and abuse the grace we proclaim. Remember Romans 6:1-4, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." I think this is what the Puritans were trying to do, "Walk in the newness of life."

...Later on in the chapter Bradford states "[the Anglicans bringing many excuses] to stop the mouths of the more godly, to bring them on to yield to one ceremony after another, and one corruption after another; by these wiles beguiling some and corrupting others till at length they began to persecute all the zealous professors in the land both by word and deed, if they would not submit to their ceremonies and become slaves to them and their popish trash, which have no ground in the Word of God, but are relics of that man of sin." William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, Chapter 1

...Relics of that man of sin. What is Bradford referring to? Here are the next couple verses from our passage in Romans, "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. " Romans 6: 5-6

...And what is Bradford talking about? The extra biblical practices used in worship by the church at large then. The Puritans wanted a clean break from Catholicism, and they went to great ends to ensure it. This brings up another question; what practices did the Puritans preach and or maintain that were extra biblical? Though I believe their hearts were in the right place, it was hard to completely reform the church with such controversies going on at the time. For example, the Puritans adamantly opposed the theater, which in these days might equate to going to the movies. Why? Mainly because at the time many of the plays were about immorality, or encouraged inappropriate behavior. (Most not all) But no where in Scripture does it say that we are not allowed to act, or go to dramas. We are commanded to guard our eyes and hearts, which would mean reading movie reviews and asking ourselves if the entertainment would be profitable. But the Puritans called all drama wrong. And it was more than a conviction, it was a teaching.

...Is this right? Should the church elders be allowed to decide what is right and wrong for their members outside the evident commands in Scripture? How much Christian liberty would we have today if every time someone wanted to watch a movie, (a good movie), they were ostracized by the church?

...So we see the Puritans weren't perfect. Their stance on drama was just one of the more legalistic approaches they took in their day which helped to raise hard feelings against them, and ended up possibly doing more harm than good to the body of God.

...To end I think we can sum things up like this. What can we learn from the Puritans example? Our innocence and purity in the ways of the world are priceless and to be holy and bring glory to God is of utmost importance. But human dogmatism and pride can get in the way of holy ambition. Fear is another corrupter of faithful works that brings out the worst in us. We need to remain diligent and awake, carefully searching the Scriptures as the Bereans did, neither living in sin or stifling each others walk with extra biblical requirements. (whether "popish" or "puritanical") Beware the enemy!

5. Apparently Bradford had a rather "English" biased view of the reformations history! I came across this quote on the first page and had to do three double takes to determine if he had just said what I thought he said!

..."It is well known unto the godly and judicious, how ever since the first breaking out of the light of the gospel in or honorable nation of England, (which was the first of nations whom the Lord adorned therewith after the gross darkness of popery which had covered and overspread the Christian world), what wars and oppositions ever since, Satan hath raised, maintained and continued against the Saints..." William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, Chapter 1

...Correct me if I'm wrong, but, wasn't Germany the first nation for the light of the true gospel to break upon? He can't be talking about government, that I would understand, because he stated in the first part of the sentence the "light of the gospel", which is what the Lord supposedly first adorned England with! These things are funny....To me anyways.

6. Thanks for bearing with me in this long, somewhat tedious, post! Next time I'm going to keep things a little more succinct, as we enter the arena of "Holland"!