The Pilgrims' Legacy

In the Netherlands you can still visit the section of Leiden where the Pilgrims lived, as well as Delfshaven, the harbor where they departed for America. In the present town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, you can see Plymouth Plantation, a reconstruction of the original village built by the Pilgrims, along with a Pilgrim museum and a replica of the Mayflower. In the village, actors portray the original inhabitants. They will tell you that God's name is Jehovah and that "the church" is not a stone building but is made up of people. To the question, "How many elders are there in your church?" they reply: "As many as satisfy the Bible's requirements."

The Pilgrims tried to model their society "as closely as possible after Israel's twelve tribes under Moses," according to the book The Puritan Heritage--America's Roots in the Bible. At times, though, the Puritans went to extremes. Their reputation as hard workers, for example, sprang in part from their belief that material prosperity indicated God's favor. And although they genuinely loved their children, many early Puritans believed that they should "conceal their . . . inordinate affections." Thus, "puritanical" has come to be associated with austerity, severity, and excessive strictness. In spite of their imperfections, however, the Pilgrims had a measure of moral fortitude, were devout, and made efforts to live by the Bible. Clearly, these were qualities that held the Pilgrims together and saw them through many of their trials.


Awake! November 22, 1996, pp. 24-27.

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