Legacy of the Pilgrims

The story of the Pilgrim Fathers is inspirational, and we have many things to learn or perhaps relearn from them. The Pilgrims are the true founders of America even though others came before them.

The best record we have of them is from William Bradford who wrote a journal called Of Plymouth Plantation that became America's first literary classic. The best edition of his book is by Samuel Eliot Morison's modern text (printed in 1952) from the original 17th century text that is too hard for us to read.  He ends his introduction saying: ""One can say of these men and women what one of their descendants, Henry Adams, said of the Virginia ruling class at the birth of the Republic: 'They were equal to any standard of excellence known to history.  Their range was narrow, but within it they were supreme.'"

"Bradford's History is a story of simple people inspired by an ardent faith to a dauntless courage in danger, a resourcefulness in dealing with new problems, an impregnable fortitude in adversity that exalts and heartens one in an age of uncertainty, when courage falters and faith  grows dim.  It is this story, told by a great human being, that has made the Pilgrim Fathers in a sense the spiritual ancestors of all Americans, all pioneers."

Through his and others writings of the Pilgrims we get a picture of  a fascinating story of a tiny group of people who showed tremendous faith, courage and love.  Bradford's journal was lost for 120 years. This national treasure is now in the Archives Museum of the State House of Boston, protected in bullet-proof glass, with controlled lighting, heat and moisture.  In 1897, when this precious manuscript was brought to the State house, a joint convention of the Houses of Massachusetts was held.  Governor Wolcott spoke with emotion on what this book and the Pilgrims meant saying, "For countless years to come ... these mute pages shall eloquently speak of high resolve, great suffering and heroic endurance made possible by an absolute faith in the overruling providence of Almighty God."

Answerable courage

When the distinguished writer Norman Cousins was the editor of the Saturday Review, he said that "America will become great again when we re-examine the things that made us great in the first place."  The starting point would be to learn the values and character of the Pilgrims, especially such men as Bradford who wrote, "Their ends were good and honorable; their calling lawful and urgent; and therefore they might expect the blessing of God in their proceeding.  Yea, though they should lose their lives in this action, yet might they have comfort.  All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both enterprised and overcome with answerable courages."  The story you are about to read is of the spiritual ancestors of America who gave "answerable courage" to "great difficulties."

One Small Candle 

Bradford wrote, "As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light kindled here has shown unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation .... We have noted these things so that you might see their worth and not negligently lose what your fathers have obtained with so much hardship."
Three Nations

In the early years of the seventeenth century, colonies had been planted in America by 3 nations — Spain, France and England. These nations vied for dominion, but God was on the side of  England to be the mother nation of America. Earlier,  we saw the meaning of numerology in chapter three. There is often meaning to numbers involved with God’s central figures. The numbers 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, and multiples of these numbers such as 2 X 6 =  12, 10x12= 120, 10x4= 40,  2x7= 14, 10x14= 140, 4x4= 16, 3x12= 36, 10x30= 300, etc. are often used in the Bible and in God's history . We will see some of these numbers in the story of the Pilgrims also.