Famous for Faith and Freedom
Hebrews 11 contains the names of what many Bible scholars call, “God’s Hall of Fame.” They are certainly noteworthy persons who have graced our world’s history out of the gates until the completion of the Word of God with John’s Revelation. They were men of faith.
This week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, I always take time to recall the names of those courageous folks who were willing to leave the comforts of Holland to form their own communities of pure religion. Defined in England, and in Leiden, Holland, as separatists, these faithful people stood on the principles of God’s Word without wavering.
Although they could worship without harassment in Leiden, they did begin to notice that their children were taking on the unprincipled ways of the Dutch children. Of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower, fifty of them were declared separatists. The word given to them by historians as pilgrims, came from an entry in William Bradford’s journal: “…With mutual embraces and many tears, they took their leaves of one another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them…but they knew they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted their eyes to heaven, their dearest country and quieted their spirits…”
Here is a snippet that I hope will whet your appetite to search them more. William Brewster, who was a deacon in the Leiden congregation, took the young William Bradford under his wing because Bradford was an orphan. The Brewsters left England under King James I who put many Christian separatists in jail and refused to feed them. John Carver, the governor of the group on the ship, and his indentured servant, John Howland were of a sturdy stock. Carver died within the first year at Plymouth and William Bradford took over the post.
Another seldom mentioned person is Edward Winslow. Also a separatist from the Leiden congregation, Winslow was steady in leadership. His love for the Gospel shone through his writings. He was a writer and a printer. His pamphlets explained the way to salvation through faith in Christ. One of his pamphlets brought about big controversy when he addressed the issue of hypocrisy! Another pamphlet gave details and praise on how the Pilgrims were sharing the Gospel with the Native Americans. Eventually Winslow returned to England and served in governing with Oliver Cromwell. However, his brother, Gilbert, stayed in America. His life can be traced in the historical fiction series, the House of Winslow authored by Gilbert Morris.
If you recall the first Thanksgiving with your family on Thursday, please mention these courageous men who stood for faith and freedom. It was William Bradford, after all, who brought the settlers together in Plymouth Colony for that first Thanksgiving celebration.