To America - their 3rd home
Winslow writes that after the last sermon they attended before leaving for America, their third home, "they that stayed at Leyden feasted us that were to go.... We refreshed ourselves, after our tears, with singing of Psalms, making joyful melody in our hearts as well as with the voice, there being many of the Congregation very expert in music; and indeed it was the sweetest melody that ever mine ears heard."
These people loved each other and openly showed their emotions. Bradford writes of the pangs of their parting in his eloquent and memorable prose: "And so they left that good and pleasant city, which had been their resting place near twelve years; but they knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits."
The night before they left everyone stayed up and talked and expressed their love for each other. Bradford writes, "That night was spent with little sleep by most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse and other real expressions of true Christian love."
Bradford writes of the outpouring of emotion at the last farewell to relatives and
friends, so much that even some of the Dutch strangers who were passing by started to cry
also: "The next day (the wind being fair) they went aboard and their friends with
them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to see what
sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them, what tears did gush from every eye, and
pithy speeches pierced each heart; that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the
quay as spectators could not refrain from tears. Yet comfortable and sweet it was to see
such lively and true expressions of dear and unfeigned love. But the tide, which stays for
no man, calling them away that were thus loath to depart, their reverend pastor falling
down on his knees (and they all with him) with watery cheeks commended them with most
fervent prayers to the Lord and His blessing. And then with mutual embraces and many tears
they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of
Bradford married Dorothy when she was 16 years old. In 1620 they decided to leave their 5 year old son, John, to be cared for in Holland.
In the Divine Principle we learn that God has not spoken to and worked closely with only those people in the Bible. God always has been working. The Pilgrims were very aware of this. To read William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation and other writings of the Pilgrims is like reading the stories in the Bible. Rev. Moon said in his speech he gave in every state in America and later printed in the book Christianity and Crisis, "The story of the American Pilgrim Fathers is one of a kind in God's history. It fits into the pattern of the righteous people of history, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Moses. These Pilgrims were the Abrahams of modern history."
Bradford called them Pilgrims because of the long journey for God, and America was like a new Canaan. Bradford says they had wandered for 12 years and now were going to the New World. God had prepared them to pioneer it.
The Pilgrims were His chosen people just as the Israelites were thousands of years before. And the Pilgrims were keenly aware that God needed a united, God-centered people to enter Canaan. Moses was not able to enter the Promised Land because he was too hot-tempered and made mistakes. The Pilgrims were determined they would never complain and of course never worship a golden calf but only God. They were deeply religious but not in a stuffy way. Their religion was a way of life in which everything they did and everything that happened was influenced by God. God was a natural partner. God was not distant, but very close from morning to night. They loved God and knew God loved them. They dedicated everything to God.
Rev. Moon praises the Pilgrims
The members of the Unification Church have learned from Rev. Moon this intimate God. Rev. Moon speaks with eloquence and heart and profound insight by saying that "the Pilgrims came to mold the new way of life. Their principal partner was God. At home, in caring for their children, in farming, cooking or building, they let God share their work. A farmer might talk to his son working out in the field with him, 'Let's plow this field in the name of God. Their everyday life was lived in the name of God."
The setting off of the Mayflower was an entirely unspectacular occasion. This is how God always works. The Bible is filled with externally unspectacular events. The most striking of all, of course, is a 30 year old poor carpenter from Nazareth traveling from village to village with 12 social outcasts. Another similar story is that of Rev. Sun Myung Moon in a concentration camp in North Korea with 12 disciples.
Saints vs. Strangers
The Pilgrims called themselves the "Saints" and others "Strangers."
Pilgrims had a loving community
Religious people, especially those who found religions, often live as a community. Unfortunately as religions mature the members get more individualistic and live separately. The Pilgrims were very a very tight knit community. They deeply loved each other and enjoyed being around each other. They were not religious just on Sundays. Every moment of their life was focused on living by God's laws of purity and selflessness.
When it came time to leave, some divided their families by letting some stay back. Some, like Bradford left their children behind. Often these children were given special names such as "Love" and "Patience." One boy was called "Wrastling" meaning - wrestling or to wrestle with the Devil. Gods pioneers often sacrifice their families for the greater mission. This hurt them deeply but this is always the pattern in God's history. His pioneers suffer - even the children of the pioneers. Rev. and Mrs. Moon, like the Bradford's, also left their children behind in far away Korea when they first came to America. Still, it is the responsibility, as hard as it is, for children to not be bitter and understand their parent's sacrifice. God can never wait until everything is perfect, anymore than any person can wait to marry until they are set up perfectly.
When it was time for William and Dorothy to board the ship they experienced heartbreaking appeals and the frightened eyes of their son. It would be 7 years before their son could come to Plymouth. At this painful parting others were separating from their children or wives. In some cases the children went with the father and the wife said goodbye to her husband and children.
Bradford writes: "At length after much discussion everything was ready. A small ship [Speedwell] was bought and fitted out in Holland, intended to help transport them, and then to remain in the country for fishing and such other pursuits as might benefit the colony. Another ship [Mayflower] was hired at London, of about 180 tons. When they were ready to depart, they had a day of solemn humiliation, their pastor taking his text from Ezra VIII, 21: And there at the river, by Ahava, I proclaimed a fast that we might humble ourselves before our God, and seek of Him a right way for us and for our children, and for all our substance. Upon this discourse he spent a good part of the day very profitably. The rest of the time was spent in pouring out prayers to the Lord with great fervency and abundance of tears."
At their parting Mr. Robinson wrote a letter to the whole party of the Pilgrims that each of us should all learn from. We should all be as god-centered as he teaches us to be and to have a godly character that perseveres with dignity.
In her book Kate Caffrey summarizes the letter as follows: "So the Pilgrims would be setting out in peace of mind with God. They must next make sure of feeling the same tranquil tolerance toward their fellow men, especially their associates. This meant watching particularly carefully not to give or take offense... And it was not enough to be so good that one never caused offense to others: the great thing was not to take offense at others' actions, for how unperfect and lame is the work of grace in any person who lacks charity to cover a multitude of sins; Peter put this very well. It was not just a matter of Christian behavior. Touchy people were commoner than offensive ones, and a lot more trouble, particularly in groups bound closely together in some enterprise or work."
"The Pilgrims, Robinson pointed out, had to be very careful. They were not all familiar with one another's appearance, let alone character, virtues and faults alike. It was all too easy to misjudge the words and actions of comparative strangers. Such wrong judgments added fuel to the fire that must be diligently quenched all the time with brotherly tolerance. Impatient grumbling at others shortcomings was only a short step from impatient grumbling at God, wondering why he had chosen to afflict them in some way, instead of recognizing his justice and wisdom in all matters."
"They must also take care that whatever they did was aimed at promoting the general good. They were building God's new house in the wilderness; no house rose strongly, or stood firm, on a shaky foundation. When the building was solid and complete, there might be modifications or even changes, but in the early stages each man should treat his personal quirks of preference as he would deal with rebels against a noble state."
"They were going to have to govern themselves, too, so in this important matter they should choose and elect the best among them as leaders. Those ought to be such persons as do entirely love and will promote the Common good and then in their lawful administrations they should be honored and obeyed. Again, personal traits should not be made too much of, like the foolish multitude who more honour the gay coat than either the virtuous mind of the man, or the glorious ordinance of the Lord. It was their own choice, anyway; no governors would be arbitrarily set over them. This part of the letter is said to have prompted the creation of the Mayflower Compact."
Robinson ended his wise and compassionate statement by saying that there were a lot more points he could make, but he felt sure the Pilgrims would have thought of them already. He commended them to the loving and watchful care of the Lord "who hath made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all rivers of waters."
Pastor Robinson's letter of advice
Here is Pastor Robinson's letter. It is written with long and involved sentences unlike the way we write today, but please read it carefully. It says much that we should learn from as the Pilgrims did.
"Mr. John Robinson in Holland to the Pilgrims departing from Southampton for New England:
Loving Christian Friends,
"I salute you all heartily in the Lord, as being they with whom I am present in my best affections and most earnest longings, though I am constrained for a time to be bodily absent from you. I say constrained, God knowing how willingly, and much rather than otherwise, I would have borne my part with you in this first brunt, were I not by strong necessity held back for the present. Think of me in the meanwhile as of a man divided in himself with great pain, and (physical limitations set aside) as having his better part with you. Though I doubt not that in your godly wisdom, you foresee what is applicable to your present condition, I have thought it but my duty to add some further spur, even to those who run already-not because you need it, but because I owe it in love and duty.
First, as we ought daily to renew our repentance with our God, especially for our sins known, and generally for our unknown trespasses, so doth the Lord call us in a singular manner, upon such an occasion of difficulty and danger as lies before you, both to more narrow search and careful reformation of our ways in His sight, lest He, calling to remembrance of our sins forgotten by us or unrepented of, take advantage of us, and, as a judgment upon us, leave us to be swallowed up in one danger or another. Whereas, on the contrary, sin being taken away by earnest repentance, and the pardon thereof from the Lord sealed up into a man's conscience by His spirit, great shall be his security and peace in all dangers, sweet his comforts in all distresses, with happy deliverance from all evil, whether in life or in death."
Don't take offense
"Now next after this heavenly peace with God and our own conscience, we are carefully to provide for peace with all men so far as in us lieth especially with our associates; and for that we must be watchful that we ourselves neither give, nor easily take, offense. Woe be unto the world for offenses; for though it be necessary (considering the malice of Satan and man's corruption) that offenses come, yet woe unto the man or woman either, by whom the offenses come, saith Christ (Matt. XVIII, 7). And if offenses arising from unseasonable actions, innocent in themselves, are more to be feared than death itself, as the Apostle teacheth (I Cor. IV, 15), how much more when arising from things simply evil, in which neither honor of God nor love of man is thought worthy to be regarded. Nor is it sufficient that we keep ourselves by the grace of God from giving offense, except we be armed also against taking offense when it is given by others. For how imperfect is the work of grace in him who lacks the charity that covers a multitude of offense, as the Scripture says. Neither are you exhorted to this grace only upon the common grounds of Christianity. Persons ready to take offense, either lack the charity which should cover offenses; or the wisdom duly to weigh human frailty; or lastly, are gross though close hypocrites, as Christ our Lord teaches (Matt. VII, 1, 2, 3 ). In my own experience I have found few who are quicker to give offense than those who easily take it. They who have nourished this touchy humor have never proved sound and profitable members in societies."
Wisdom and charity
"But there are, besides, many reasons why you, above others, should use special care in this direction. You are, many of you, strangers to each other and to the infirmities of one another, and so stand in need of the more watchfulness, lest when unsuspected qualities appear in men and women, you be inordinately affected by them. This requires at your hands much wisdom and charity. Further, the plans for your intended civil community will furnish continual occasion of offense, and will be as fuel to the fire, unless you diligently quench it with brotherly forbearance. And if taking offense causelessly or easily at men's doings should be so carefully avoided, how much more is it to be heeded lest we take offense at God himself which we do as often as we murmur at His providence in our crosses, or bear impatiently such afflictions as He pleases to visit upon us. Store up, therefore, patience against the evil day, with which we take offense at the Lord Himself in His holy and just works."
Work for the common good
"A fourth thing is carefully to be provided for, to wit, that with your employments, which will be common to all, you join affections truly bent upon the general good, avoiding, as a deadly plague of your comfort, all retiredness of mind for selfish advantage. Let everyone repress within himself, as so many rebels against the common good, all private partialities, not consistent with the general convenience and as one is careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it is well settled and the parts firmly knit, so be you, I beseech you brethren, much more careful, that the house of God, which you are and are to be, be not shaken with unnecessary novelties or other oppositions at the first settling thereof."
Leaders must be Godly
The Pilgrims were not arrogant but they also knew God wanted them to be the leaders in America. Robinson continues, "Lastly, whereas you are to become a body politic, administering among yourselves civil government, and are furnished with persons of no special eminence above the rest, from whom you will elect some to the office of government, let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as will entirely love and promote the common good, but also in yielding them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations; not beholding in them the ordinariness of their persons, but God's ordinance for your good; nor being like the foolish multitude, who honor a gay coat more than either the virtuous mind of the wearer or the glorious ordinance of the Lord. But you know better, and understand that the image of the Lord's power and authority which the magistrate bears, is honorable, in how humble persons soever. And this duty you can the more willingly perform, because you are at present to have only those for your governors as you yourselves shall choose."
Daily and incessant prayers
"Several other things of importance I could put you in mind of, but I will not so far wrong your godly minds as to think you heedless of these things, there being many among you well able both to admonish themselves and others. These few things, therefore, I do earnestly commend unto your care and conscience, joining therewith my daily incessant prayers unto the Lord, that He Who has made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all rivers of waters, and Whose providence is over all His works, especially over all His dear children for good, would so guide and guard you in your ways, as inwardly by His spirit, so outwardly by the hand of His power, that both you and we also may praise His name all the days of our lives. Fare you well in Him in Whom you trust, and in Whom I rest."
"An unfeigned well-willer of your happy success in this hopeful voyage,
Pilgrims - passionate but disciplined
The Pilgrims were not a soft-spoken people. They were passionate and sometimes argued with each other but always they prayed for self-control and to be united and never complain.
They did not complain ever.
They realized their sins and shortcomings every day. They knew that God so arranges matters that his faithful have to pass through hard and dangerous experiences. When this happened, it prompted them to carefully reform themselves. They were always coachable and listened to those who were wise.
Originally, the Pilgrims left England on two ships. God reduced it to one the Mayflower. The other ship was named the Speedwell. Perhaps it was a Cain/Abel split with the Mayflower being like a holy Noah's Ark. Bradford and all the others were quick to see providential meaning in everything. Twice, the Mayflower and the Speedwell had sailed from England and both times the captain feared she could not make it. The Speedwell did not live up to her name. They decided to take only one ship - the Mayflower. Again, we see the number three. They finally left successfully on the third try.
The Pilgrims understood that God often begins with one person or small group and then slowly builds a big movement or nation from that humble seed. In the Old Testament God deliberately reduced Gideons army from tens of thousands to 300 men and then won the battle against many thousands. Gideon was of the chosen people of God. God was on his side. God loves everyone, but He is always on the Abel side. Bradford and his friends knew they were Gods chosen people who were called to pioneer a new nation to be founded on Gods principles. They saw that their course was similar to the Israelites going into Canaan after wandering in the desert. The Pilgrims accepted their mission. They were completely fearless, even though they were only a handful of people persecuted by many. They knew, as all men of God should know, that God is looking for dedication and commitment from his champions, not masses of wishy washy weak people. Before the majority accepts Gods truth, a minority must persevere to teach even though they are mocked, beaten and jailed.
Bradford wrote that those who stayed behind were those who had "discontent or fear ... and the most unfit to bear the brunt of this hard adventure .And thus, like GIDEON'S army, this small number was divided, as if the Lord, by this work of His Providence, thought these few too many for the great work he had to do."
Bradford proves his point by writing that the Speedwell was really seaworthy, but it was a way God worked to weed out those who were not serious, "But here, by the way, let me show, how afterwards it was found that ... she made many voyages." The ship had minor flaws, but the spiritual commitment of some was not great enough for God to use. God even had to weed out some from an already tiny group of this chosen few. The foundation of America had to be as solid as Plymouth Rock itself. America's greatness is based on the foundation of absolute dedication of those final few pilgrims who landed in Massachusetts in 1620.
Bradford said those who did not come lacked "heart and courage." Elder Brewster described themselves in this way, "it is not with us as with men whom small things can discourage or small discontents cause to wish themselves at home again."
The final result was that there 40 pilgrims making this historical exodus. There are different numbers given for the exact number of Pilgrims on the Mayflower such as the number 44, but all agree that it was around 40. Robert Loeb, Jr. in Meet The Real Pilgrims says it is exactly 40: "Of the passengers, forty were Separatists and sixty-two non-Separatists" or as the Pilgrims called them "strangers." The number 40 is often used in the Bible. It is a symbol of separation from Satan. Some of those on the Speedwell went to the Mayflower and others had to stay back. Some stayed back because they wanted to. Experiencing the pain of the boat even for this much time was enough for some to lose heart. Those who finally left were ready to tough it out.
Again they had to make sad partings of those who went back with the Speedwell. Several of the women were pregnant and even though they had heard of the terrible hardships of Jamestown, they went anyway. God's pioneers always risk everything.
When the Speedwell turned back it meant that they would also have up even more material things to make room for the additional passengers in the Mayflower. This is the tradition in human history that those who seriously searched for God lived an ascetic life. The personal possessions they left behind were things they treasured. Because of the fall, mankind centered on the physical, instead of the spiritual. Fallen man has its priorities upside down. They focus on the treasures of the earth. Physical is primary to fallen man - not what is spiritual. People focus more on planning their vacations than in planning for spirit world, our eternal home. God wants us to enjoy good food, nice clothes and luxurious homes, but in restoration God's champions are required to give up these pleasures and emphasize the spiritual. Pioneers are balanced people. They travel light and this alone upsets most people.
Historically, followers of spiritual leaders get less and less spiritual, but the earliest followers are red hot to witness and preach. Spiritual champions of God have to give up everything and not have any resentment about it. Later, people can settle down and have some nice things, but the start of building a movement for God, everyone is called to be a fanatic. An analogy would be like getting a plane to fly. To get off the ground the pilot has to floor the accelerator and push the engine to its very limits to get it off the ground. After the plane is in the air, he can level off and cruise at a more reasonable pace. People like Bradford in the 17th century, Thomas Jefferson in the 18th century, Joseph Smith in the 19th century or Sun Myung Moon in 20th century America were workaholics for the vision God gave them. Rev. Moon and his true followers are on fire. To others this looks like sadism and masochism, but everyone who has ever built anything great gave it everything they had. The richest man in the world is Bill Gates. When he was 18 years old he was the same age as many who worked day and night on Rev. Moon's witnessing and fundraising teams. Bill would would around the clock also. He slept, as his buddies did, next to their new fangled computers. When Steve Jobs, one of the founders of the computer, went looking for money he had long hair and looked like a hippie. These went on to become bigger than the previous giant IBM.
God is asking us to work hard, hard, hard. Satan is a real to a Unificationist as it was to a Pilgrim. We are living in the final battle of good and evil. Unificationist face their own special terrors. They have to fight against a culture that is so degraded that a President befriends the homosexual community and invites America's leading lesbian, the TV star, Ellen Degeneress, to the white house. They are attacked by the government, parents, former members, ministers, and the media. Someday the kingdom of heaven will come to earth, but it won't come without a fight.
God's champions sell everything and follow him
The pattern throughout history is that God's pioneers begin their course with only the shirt on their back. From Abraham to Jacob to Joseph to Moses to Jesus to Paul to Christian saints and Rev. Moon and his early followers, God's vanguard wore rags. Jesus told the rich man to sell his things and then follow him. Rev. Moon has walked in the same footsteps as all those spiritual leaders have done before him. Rev. Moon did not first concentrate on earning and spending money on nice clothes and houses for him and his early disciples so they could look impressive before they started witnessing. He sent them out wearing old clothes. He spent many years wearing thrift store clothes. And when money came in it was always given to church projects. In the 70s when Rev. Moon became famous from his speaking tours in America, he once talked to a small group of us at a church center I was staying in that was far from his home. He constantly travels and speaks to the members. He said that day, as he often says, that he is accused of brainwashing young people to give him money so he can live in luxury while they work 16 hour days as slaves for him. He said he works harder than any member. And he is right. He says he has sacrificed more than anyone. And he is right. He told us he only has a big house and a limousine because he has to talk to Presidents of countries and other leaders in every walk of life and he knows we would want him to entertain them in as nice place as they have. He personally doesn't care and lives a simple life in private.
I remember vividly that day as he explained that he rarely even went home. He told us where he had bought every piece of the clothing he was wearing that day. Mostly they were from J.C. Penny and he said he only buys clothes that are on sale, not the regular ones.
Be careful in criticizing
It would be easy to criticize him for pushing himself and the members so hard, but God is in a hurry. It would be easy to say he should have done things differently such as let his young followers finish college, get a good job, buy a nice house and car and clothes and build a career that would make their parents proud. But he took them out of college and make them sleep in sleeping bags and sell flowers and witness long hours. Some enjoyed it and understood what they were doing, but most didn't and left and some wrote books saying how abused they were. And some were. Parents went ballistic and some spent tens of thousands of dollars to have their adult children kidnapped. Pioneering is not pretty. It is messy and confusing and most people are deeply upset at God's little band of gypsies. Later they settle down and act "normal" but in the beginning they are seen as being under the influence of insidious mind control from a megalomaniac charlatan. Jesus walked around and said he was the way and the light with a bunch of guys that looked anything but impressive. The people just couldn't see how spiritual and true he was. Neither has this world seen Rev. Moon correctly. The church will settle down more and more, but its early history matches the craziness of the beginning history of every new church.
The Mormons are a case in point. These "Saints" as they call themselves have an epic history. As usual they went through intense persecution. Many went to jail as Rev. Moon did. Their founder was murdered. They wandered in the wilderness of the west and then built an empire in Utah. There are so many stories of tragedy on the wagon trains that came across the west. One of every ten died in the migration to settle the west. I read one story of a Mormon boy who was 11 years old when his parents died along the trail. He had no time to cry. He had two younger sisters to care for and he led their wagon. Today, the Mormons, have settled down and have a smooth running machine. They are totally organized and everything is neat and pretty. Some day Unificationists will look as impressive and organized and be even more powerful. They will move from being a cult to a sect to a church to the greatest movement in history.
Don't criticize Rev. Moon
Rev. Moon should never be criticized. We have no idea how things would have gone if he had done things differently. He is a religious man and acted in a religious way. Fundraising will end just as the churches communes of the 70s have already ended. The leaders of the church can be criticized. They did their best but they made many mistakes and many people were needlessly hurt, just as the leaders of the followers of Jesus throughout history have not represented Jesus totally right. Some were even criminal. There are countless stories of how priests and ministers have hurt little children. Hollywood has movies that graphically show some of those stories. The Unification Church has, like any church, had some low lifes who have hurt people. But we have to see God's people as being half full, not empty. We can't ignore the wrongs and we must help those who have been hurt or at least feel for them, but we must not give up on being a religious person because of the hypocrisy and cruelty of some. God will judge them anyway or they will judge themselves.
America is a secular culture
I hope in my writings to put Sun Myung Moon into proper perspective. America is not a religious country. It is a secular, materialistic culture. Just watch popular television shows like the immoral Seinfeld and 90210 to see how unspiritual we are. Pre-marital sex is glorified in word and deed by Oprah Winfrey, the richest and most famous celebrity in America. The most popular movie of all time is Titantic that gets a PG rating even though it has nudity and glorifies pre-marital sex. President Clinton gropes women in the Oval Office and his wife is a dedicated feminist working long hours to nationalize health care. Schools are government controlled and atheist so no one really learns about the Pilgrims and what a religious life means. School teachers pass out condoms, not the truth. In this low spiritual atmosphere it is extremely hard for Americans to see the value of Rev. Moon's new pilgrim movement.
God's pioneers are rebels
No one saw the Pilgrims for who they were. All God's pioneers are rebels like Bradford. Be open to God working in mysterious ways. It doesn't get more mysterious than that God is using Rev. Moon to speak through. See Rev. Moon through God's eyes, not Satan's. See the Pilgrims for who they really were. And then have the guts to live as they live. If you can't live this way, then at least help in some way. If you get tired, Rev. Moon says it is o.k. to sit on the sidelines and rest. Just don't leave God. Forgive your enemy. Be pure. Fight Satan's temptations. Make your life a masterpiece of goodness.