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;
1. Total Inability or Total Depravity
2. Unconditional Election
3. Particular Redemption or Limited Atonement
4. The Efficacious Call of the Spirit or
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.
1. Free-Will or Human Ability
2. Conditional Election
3. Universal Redemption or General Atonement
4. The Holy Spirit Can Be Effectually Resisted
5. 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!