The Mayflower Pilgrims
Ambassador-Emerald International, 2000
183 pages (not including numerous appendixes)
Do you want a concise, easy-to-read history of the Pilgrims that ties their Biblical convictions to their accomplishments? Then, here’s a book you can finish before Thanksgiving.
I was fortunate enough to pick it up for $10.99, but I think this fine,
hard-bound book runs for $19.99.
Beale presents a carefully laid out history of our Pilgrim forefathers that will be sure to clarify in the minds of his readers the real values of the early Separatists that fled their homes and land for a better place. There are several core values that drove our English forefathers to our land (I speak as an American). We have become so accustomed to these values that contemplation of them is passed up at the risk of never becoming the center of our thoughts until they are taken from us.
One value that stood out to me as I read this book was the local church. The Pilgrim Fathers believed in the autonomy of local churches. This conviction seems to have been less a result of Biblical exegesis than the corruption of the visible Church of England. However, these were men with the courage to have conviction and they quickly found passages that confirmed what their spirits were already proclaiming. From these early Separatists would eventually form the first Baptist churches in England. (Saying it that way will get some of my Baptist friends ticked off, but you know what I mean). However, “anyone in London who tried to promote the notion of independent, congregational churches ran the danger of imprisonment or public execution” (6). The assembling of themselves together was a critical part of their lives. “The Pilgrims held three services a week, twice on Sundays and once on Thursday evenings. (Obviously they were not Baptists. We do ours on Wednesdays.) The Sunday morning worship would last from eight to noon” (p.71). One of the major rubs with English government at the time was their conviction that local churches should be able to elect their own leaders (p.14). Church, the local church, was a big deal to these people!!
Beale did not say this in these words, but the pilgrimage from Leyden to Plymouth Rock was a church activity! So much did these men and women appreciate the fellowship of their local church they moved several times, under duress, to remain with it! Pastor Robinson stayed back with the majority, but all hoped to join them soon. Imagine telling your people one Sunday morning that for the good of the church it would be good to sell out and move to Tanzania! We can hardly get them to come three times a week! And they better have good parking!
The missionary in me is quick to spot the missionary in others. Beale points out that the Pilgrims had a world-wide vision when they left for America (p.78). Little did they know that soon the land that they came to would replace the land they left as the greatest resource of missionary endeavor!
You will appreciate Beale’s help in understanding what a Puritan is by definition and when they existed. Although, he will give you three categories of Puritans before the end of the book (unseparated, semi-separated, and Separatists), you will clearly understand their theological bent (Calvinist, Covenant theology).
Beale writes in an easy way. There are some areas of the book that seem to read like a text book, droning out data, but generally it reads more like a living tour guide. The reader will appreciate how Beale weaves Puritan history, secular history, and recent history together to enhance the sense that one is a part of the history that he tells. He also gives current statistics and information for the towns and cities that are mentioned in the history. The color pictures increase the value of the book and the whole reading experience is sheer pleasure. I think you should buy the book.
I give it a 7 on my scale of must-readability.