Katharine S Hazeltine.

Pilgrim followers of the gleam; a short study of Congregational heroes who have given their lives for the new era of brotherhood online

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arineS. Fmzelline


A Short Study of Congregational Heroes who have given
their lives for the New Era of Brotherhood



Department of Educational Publication*




Not of the sunlight,
Not of the moonlight,
Not of the starlight!
young Mariner,
Down to the haven,
Call your companions,
Launch your vessel
And crowd your canvas,
And, ere it vanishes
Over the margin,
After it, follow it,
Follow the Gleam.









V. FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA . (Continued) . 64




IX. CARRY ON . 139




" To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."


The Gleam

Today millions of men and boys dare to follow the
gleam. They are French and American, English and
Canadian, Belgian and Italian boys, as well as boys
from Armenia, India, China, Japan, and South Africa,
all eager, all glad to follow it. In the Great War, just over,
it led them to the battle-fields of France and of Flanders,
of Italy and of Mesopotamia. It has led them as soldiers
of the cross to China, to South Africa everywhere. It
has led them to cold, hunger, hardship, pain, even unto
death. Yet on they follow, " to strive, to seek, to find,
and not to yield."

Why? They strive to overcome cruelty, greed, and
selfishness, to destroy the belief that the will of a few men
may be imposed upon all others in spite of their desire, and
that a few may have prosperity and happiness while others
pay the price. They are willing to dare because they
hate these evils. They seek to establish justice, righteous-
ness, and mercy, and to establish for all the world the
principles that every man should have a voice in deciding
matters which concern his welfare, that the stronger na-
tions must not oppress the weak, and that men may not
live only for themselves without regard for others. They


hope that, as a result of their work, men of all races and
nations shall have brotherhood. Though they are sick
and wounded and weary, they will not yield. They will
strive on until they have made the world safe for democracy.
Brotherhood, democracy, that is the vision, the gleam
which shines today before a host of people of all nations
and races. Yet, although it now shines before the whole
world more brightly and clearly than ever before, it is not
a new light which guides men on. Long, long ago wisemen
saw a wondrous star in the East and in following its gleam
they were led to the manger where the Christ Child lay.
During his lifetime Jesus showed to men God, their Father,
and taught them to call each other brother. From him
has shone this gleam. At first only a few saw it and these
but dimly. In the days that have succeeded, as men have
followed its light, they have seen more and more of its
beauty, its truth, and its power, until now to us it means
establishing for all races and nations upon earth the era of

" Not of the sunlight,

Not of the moonlight,

Not of the starlight!"

From Jesus does this gleam still shine. To make it real,
each one of us is challenged, for the accomplishment of the
task depends upon us.

" O young mariner,
Down to the haven
Call your companions,
Launch your vessel
And crowd your canvas/
And, ere it vanishes
Over the margin,
After it, follow it,
Follow the Gleam."


Our Particular Heritage

In some of the early followers of the gleam we people
in the Congregational churches are particularly interested.
We honor them, of course, because they played such an im-
portant part in the beginning of this struggle for democracy,
but we honor them especially for two reasons: first, be-
cause it was in these early days when they struggled to gain
liberty of conscience that our Congregational church had
its beginning; and second, because one of the first groups
of Congregationalists, the church at Scrooby, England,
became the very first Congregational church in America
and wonderfully carried forward God's great adventure,
the establishment of his Kingdom upon earth. In 1920
we celebrate the 300th anniversary of its settlement at
Plymouth. In this book you will find the story of the
Pilgrims. Only by understanding their experiences can
we truly honor their achievement. You will find, too,
stories of other followers of the gleam, though it is possible
to tell the achievements of only a very few of the great host
in Congregational and other churches, whom today we
honor for their work in aiding the progress of the era of

A Struggle Begun

To understand what their struggle meant, we must go
back to the year 1380 and to John Wyclif. At that time
there were not the many different churches we know about;
there was just one church, the Roman Catholic, which
considered the Pope at Rome the highest authority on
earth, the one who ruled in place of Christ. Cardinals,
bishops, and priests were his representatives in the different
countries, and the kings as well as the people of all the
lands were forced to obey his will. There was no appeal


from his laws and decrees. Every one must accept them or
be excommunicated from the church, that is, become an
outcast from home and friends. Wyclif, who was a pro-
fessor at Oxford, translated the Bible into the English the
people used every day. Up to that time, as the Bible had
been only in Latin, very few people besides the priests
read it. When Wyclif made known his English Bible, he
declared that this book and not the Pope should be the
highest authority and the only guide in showing men what
they should believe and how they should act. He was even
more daring. He declared that men ought not to obey the
laws made by the Pope and his cardinals whenever they
differed from the laws expressed in the Bible, and that, as
the church was really a body of followers of Christ, men
should obey him and not the Pope. Of course, you can
easily see that if men followed these teachings of John
Wyclif, the power of the Pope would be destroyed, and you
will not be surprised that the Pope was exceedingly angry
and tried to punish Wyclif. He was not able to do it,
however, because at that particular time these views helped
the English people to free themselves from paying a tribute
to Rome. Later on when the feeling toward Wyclif had
changed, the people dug up his body, burned it, and scat-
tered the ashes into the river.

The Lollards

But what Wyclif thought lived on after him in the lives
of his pupils. These were the Lollards. They too be-
lieved that Christ alone should be their Master. Like
the apostles, they traveled bare-foot throughout the land,
clad in long robes of coarse red wool, carrying only the scrip
and staff of the pilgrim. Many were the wayfarers
in those days: wandering ballad singers, jesters, and


" tumblers," or acrobats. When any of them stopped in
village or manor, folk gathered together to be entertained.
Wherever the Lollards stopped, they told the story of the
life of Jesus, and the commandments he gave to those who
would follow him. How eagerly the little groups about
them must have listened! The Lollards copied out by
hand it was before the day of the printing press a
great many of the stories and texts from Wyclif's Bible
and gave them to those very few who were fortunate
enough to be able to read. The humble folk the
tradesmen, artisans, yeomen, and ploughboys thought
deeply over these stories, talked about them, asked ques-
tions, and learned many passages by heart. How much
it must have meant to these simple people to know that
Jesus believed each one of them to be a son of God and valua-
ble to him; that he believed God to be a Father who loved
men though they sinned, and who forgave them; that his
first disciples were humble working folk like themselves;
that every one of them, even the least, might go directly
to his heavenly Father without the aid of any priest or
saint! These truths many of them believed. But be-
cause the Lollards pointed out the abuses in the church,
and in those days this kind of teaching was heresy, the Lol-
lards were bitterly persecuted. All suffered loss of property
and were scorned by their fellows. Most of them were im-
prisoned, tortured, and put to death either on the gallows
or at the stake. As we look back, we realize keenly the
tremendous price paid for that liberty of conscience which
we today accept as a matter of course.

The Puritans

By and by it became possible for a steadily increasing
number of people easily to behold the splendid gleam which


had led Wyclif and the Lollards. The Bible was printed.
There were not many books in those times and men read
eagerly the stories found in the Old and New Testaments.
As they read, the people began to feel what a difference
there was between the selfishness of the Pope and bishops,
and the unselfishness of the Master and his apostles;
between the church as they knew it and that of the New
Testament times. As they found God's will there made
plain, within them grew an intense longing to do away
with all those ceremonies and practises which they felt
were hindering them from truly following the Master
Christ. This class of persons gradually came to be known
as Puritans because of their desire to purify the church.
Like Wyclif and the Lollards, they dared much to be loyal
to the gleam of truth they saw. In Henry VIII 's time,
they had no longer to struggle against the Pope, for Henry
VIII had been declared the head of the church, and the
church proclaimed free from the Pope's control. Yet they
could not put the king in Christ's place any more than they
could the Pope. Under the reign of Mary, the daughter of
Henry VIII who succeeded him to the throne, the Puritans
suffered bitter persecution and many went to the stake or
the scaffold rather than give up their principles, for Queen
Mary was a Catholic and tried to reestablish the authority
of the Pope. Nor were the Puritans better off when Eliza-
beth, the second daughter of Henry VIII, ascended the
throne. Even though she was a Protestant, instead of
beginning the reforms hoped for, she not only had Parlia-
ment declare that she was the head of the church, but she
also had them pass an act which compelled every minister'
to use the Book of Common Prayer in every religious
service. Now it is only to be expected that the Puritans,
who believed that the Bible was the only authority in


matters spiritual and that Christ only was the Head of the
church, should resent these acts of Elizabeth. They could
find no authority for them in the Word of God. They
could not conscientiously follow them. So they were

A Boy's Hard Problem

This was the state of affairs when William Bradford
was about fifteen years old. The more he studied his Bible,
the more sure he felt that the Puritans were right. He
believed, with the small party called Separatists, that it
would not do simply to stay within the Church of England
and reform it, as the majority of Puritans wished, but that
they had better leave the church altogether and form a
church which should be more nearly like that described in
the New Testament. He believed, as they did, that a
church was formed by those who believed in Christ uniting
of their own will in an agreement, or covenant, to obey him,
that members of this church had equal rights and privileges,
and that the members had the right to elect their ministers
and officers. The question he had to decide was, "Shall I
declare my belief and become one of these Separatists?
Have I the courage to face all that these Separatists must
face? "

Being laughed at is no fun. Every boy hates it. So did
William Bradford. He shrank from facing all the jests
and scorn he had heard hurled at those who dared to belong
to this small body of people. Yet ridicule he knew to be
one of the very least of the hard things he must bear. One
of the first things which would happen to him, if he declared
his belief, as he well knew, would be that his uncles, who
had cared for him ever since his babyhood, would turn him
out of the house without a penny and without a hope of


ever receiving his share of his father's property. More
than this, he knew he would have a hard time to earn a
living. The neighbors would be slow to employ one who
would now be regarded by all citizens loyal to the queen
as a traitor to his country. That was how they considered
the Puritans and especially the Separatists. Furthermore,
he would be treated as a traitor to both country and church.
He had seen these things happen to others. He would be
heavily fined or imprisoned. He might even have to be-
come one of those brave souls who had faced death rather
than yield their privilege to follow the teachings of Christ.
Had he the courage to dare all these things?

The Spirit of the Man

From the record of William Bradford's later life, we
know it was his habit to trust in every difficulty to the
strength sent him by God. Perhaps he recalled Paul's
words, " If God be for us, who can be against us? " We
know from his own writing that he believed unusual
difficulties and dangers had to be met with " answerable
courage." It was thus he faced this difficulty and danger
and dared to follow the gleam. We are fortunate to have
William Bradford's own account of the covenant and
experiences of the group of Separatists whom he joined,
that little church at Scrooby which was to be so famous.
He writes, " Ye Lord's free people joyned themselves
(by a covenant of the Lord) into a church estate in ye
fellowship of ye gospell to walke in all his wayes, made
known, or to be made known unto them, according to their
best endeavours, whatsoever it should cost them, the Lord
assisting them. And that it cost them something this
ensewing historic will declare."

In 1606 the new Archbishop of York began the system-


atic suppression of these " heretics." As William Bradford
tells us in his account of these days: " But after these
things they could not long continue in any peaceable
conditions, but were hunted and persecuted on every side,
so as their former afflictions were but as flea bitings in
comparison of these which now came upon them. For
some were taken and clapt up in prison others had their
houses besett and watcht night and day and hardly escaped
their hands, and ye most were faine to flie and leave their
houses and habitations, and the means of their livelihood.
Yet these and many other sharper things which afterward
befell them were no other than they looked for."

A Momentous Decision

They soon realized that they could have no comfort in
England. William Brewster suggested that they go to
Holland, where there was religious freedom for all men and
whither many of those persecuted as they were had gone.
"But to goe into a countrie they knew not (but by hearsay)
where they must learne a new language, and get their
livings they knew not how ... it was by many thought
an adventure almost desperate . . . and a miserie worse
than death. Especially seeing they were not acquainted
with trade nor traffique, but had been used to a plaine
countrie life. But these things did not dismay them
(though they did sometime trouble them) for their desires
were sett on ye ways of God and to injoye his ordinances;
but they rested on his providence and knew whom they
had believed." It is thus that Bradford relates their
predicament, adding simply: "Yet this was not all, for
though they could not stay, yet were they not suf-
fered to goe, but ye ports and havens were shut against


Attempts to Escape

Many times they tried to get away secretly, but often
they were surprised and their goods were intercepted.
Bradford's account gives us only two of the instances.
In 1607, hi December, a large company planned to leave
from Boston, a seaport about fifty miles from Scrooby,
and hired a ship wholly for themselves, making arrange-
ment with the master of the ship to take them and their
goods in. He kept them waiting, and finally, having gotten
them and then- goods aboard, he betrayed them to the
officers, who put them into open boats, robbed them of
their money, carried them back to town, " made them a
spectackle and wonder to ye multitudes, which came
flocking on all sides to behould them," and cast them into

This sort of treatment did not prevent their making a
second attempt the following spring. They found a Dutch-
man, the owner of his own ship, who agreed to take them.
He agreed to meet them at a large common between Grimsby
and Hull. The women and children and the goods were
sent on in a large bark, while the men were to walk to the
meeting place. Unfortunately, the women and children
reached there a day ahead of time, and feeling very seasick,
urged the seaman to put into a creek. There, next morn-
ing when the ship arrived, they found that they were
stranded, for it was low tide, and they could not get to her.
The shipmaster sent his boat for the men and got the first
load safely on board. Just as they were about to send her
back for more, they saw soldiers coming after them. The
Dutch captain would not wait. He hoisted sail, with the
poor men on board powerless to help their distressed wives
and children on the shore. They had scarce a penny nor
a change of clothes. They knew only too well the troubles


their families would have to meet, " but all in vaine, ther
was no remedy, they must thus sadly part." To make
matters still harder they ran into a terrible storm at sea.
For fourteen days or more they were tossed about, the
mariners themselves often despairing of life. Bradford
was probably one of this company on the ship. He tells
us with what fervent prayers they cried unto the Lord in
this great distress. " Even without any great distrac-
tion, when ye water rane into their mouthes and ears;
and the mariners cried out, we sinke, we sinke; they cried
(if not with mirakelous, yet with a great light or degree of
divine faith) : Yet Lord thou canst save, yet Lord thou
canst save. And in the end the Lord brought them safe
to their desired haven." Those who had been left were
indeed in a sorry plight. The men with whom it would go
hardest should they be captured, were urged to escape,
the others staying to assist the women. Weeping in
anxiety for their husbands, with the children clinging
to them crying for fear and cold, they were placed under
arrest. They were hurried from one point to another.
They could not be sent home, for indeed they had no
homes to go to; and to imprison them because they must
go with their husbands seemed even to these judges un-
reasonable. Finally the authorities were glad to be rid
of them, and some in one way and some in another, " they
all gott over at length . . . and mette togeather againe
according to their desires, with no small rejoycing."

In a Strange Land

Though it was at Amsterdam that they settled first,
the little company soon decided to go to Ley den. Here the
first problem to be settled was that of making a living.
They became carpenters, weavers, bricklayers, makers of


furniture, glass, candles, or clocks, bakers, brewers,
tailors. Such a variety of occupation was good preparation
for the people who were to lay the foundations of a new state
across the water.

William Brewster, who had been elected by the people
as elder or assistant to Pastor Robinson, taught English
in a school, and later managed a printing-press. Pastor
John Robinson enrolled in the University of Leyden, be-
coming very well known because of his ability, breadth of
mind, and sweetness of character. William Bradford
himself, who was about seventeen at this time, became
an apprentice to a silk dyer. Before long his marriage to
Dorothy May was recorded.

When they had been in Leyden only a year, the Scrooby
church purchased a house and a garden in Bell Alley,
or Belfry Lane, in the very heart of the city in its oldest
and finest part. They gave the large house, in the chief
sitting room of which they held their meeting, to Pastor
Robinson. In the garden, leaving an open plot in the
center, they put up about twenty little wooden houses, in
which probably the whole company lived. Their neigh-
bors thought highly of them. Bradford tells us in his his-
tory that though they were very poor " yet none were so
poor but if they were known to be of the congregation, the
Dutch, either bakers or others, would trust them in any
reasonable matter when they wanted money." And again,
" Because they had found by experience how careful they
were to keep their word and saw them so painful and
diligent in their callings, yet they would strive to get their
custom and to employ them above others in their work
for their honesty and diligence." Robinson was held in
high esteem at the University. He was put forward by


the professors publicly to defend their principles against
criticisms in a great public debate held in the city. This
he did several times. " The which," Bradford tells us,
"as it causes many to praise God yt the trueth had
so famous victory, so it procured him much honor and
respect from those learned men and others which loved ye

While they were in Ley den, others whose names are
very familiar joined this fellowship of Christians. There
was Captain Miles Standish of the English Army, who
made his living by the sword, and John Carver, who was
evidently a person of means and an able man of affairs.
There too was Samuel Fuller, the well-loved physician,
wise, tender, loyal, without whose aid in the days that
followed the little company would have fared badly.
Another was Edward Winslow, a gentleman who came in
his travels to Ley den in 1617 and was so impressed with
the real Christly living of the brotherhood that he joined
his fortunes with theirs. His abilities at once made him
prominent amongst them. Thomas Brewer, too, joined
them. He also became a student at the University. He
it was who gave Brewster the funds with which to set up
as a printer. Robert Cushman, still another who joined
the company, acted as their agent in their undertaking
to emigrate to America. From one hundred they increased
to three hundred. Many married, some within their own
brotherhood, others into Dutch families. " So they grew
in knowledge and other gifts and graces of ye spirite of God
and lived together in peace and love and holiness and
many came unto them from diverse parts of England;
they grew a great congregation." Thus did they begin
their adventure.



1. What is the gleam which people follow today?

2. What did following the gleam mean to John Wyclif?

3. Imagine yourself a farmer's boy or a milkmaid listening to the
Lollards: which of their stories would impress you most?

4. What was the difference between the beliefs of the Puritans
and those of the Separatists?

5. In what ways was it hard for William Bradford to decide to
become a Separatist?

6. What kind of experiences did he have after joining the Scrooby

7. Is it as hard for people to become church members today?

8. What finally did the Scrooby church decide to do?

9. Why are Congregationalists interested in this Scrooby church?

10. What did other people in Leyden think of the Scrooby church?

11. How does the motto of this chapter describe their spirit?

12. If the gleam does not come from the sunlight, moonlight, or
starlight, where does it come from?



" Even as Stepping-Stones unto others for the performing of so
great a work." William Bradford.

Restless for a New Home

These exiles, the members of the Scrooby Church, lived
in Leyden about twelve years. But they never felt really
at home there in Holland. They were English folk who
loved English ways. They saw their children growing
up, marrying into Dutch families, many of them entering
into the Dutch army, as was only natural. They feared
that their little community would be absorbed by the

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Online LibraryKatharine S HazeltinePilgrim followers of the gleam; a short study of Congregational heroes who have given their lives for the new era of brotherhood → online text (page 1 of 11)