Mayflower Compact

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Signing the Mayflower Compact in 1620 was not forming a government. In fact it was an agreement to prevent the formation of a government. Painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899.


The Mayflower Compact

Over the course of time, our nation, with new members and new ideas and a new wilderness of modern civilization, has been re-formed for good and bad. To take an insightful look at the roots and realities of our nation's beginning may give us a new view of our own pilgrimage on this planet and the strangers we have become to our own ancestral forefathers.

I heard a pastor state during the Thanksgiving holidays that when the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact it was a great moment in American history where men came together and decided to “give their leaders the power to make laws.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. This thinking may stem from changes wrought in our modern public education system that has often expressed a different view of history than those who actually lived it. It is also a view born out of a false biblical doctrine that suggests that all governments are instituted by God.


Beseeching and Binding

What was really occurring on the Mayflower and in the minds of these courageous but different men and women may be lost to history. There was a lot more intrigue and conflict than what is commonly taught in modern school books.

Most of the Separatists did sign the Mayflower Compact, but only a few of the Strangers[1] would put their hand to it. Yet it was the Separatists who desired the document. Not to bind themselves but to assure the Strangers of their own loyalty and to ensure that the Strangers would remain with the separatists.

That fact alone should demand further investigation.

The Separatist had struggled for many hard years sacrificing their lives and fortunes trying to escape from the “dread Sovereign Lord, King James” or, for that matter, any King but Christ. They were seeking to establish a free Church. In previous attempts to escape from England to Holland some had their property seized and were put in prison.

While the Separatists were willing to say "Farewell, Rome. Farewell, Babylon", others would only say "Farewell, dear England! Farewell the Christian church in England, and all the Christian friends there."[2]

Much was going on in England and the world. There would soon be a civil war to establish a Republic in England. A king would lose his head. Men were being brutalized and burned at the stake for their religious beliefs. The King James bible, among others, was being published. Religious and civil controversy lingered around every corner. There was a whole new world that presented an opportunity for wealth and power to some and freedom under God for others.

The Separatists saw another opportunity or maybe had a higher standard, or a more impassioned zeal concerning the teachings of Christ and were willing to seek what they saw as the Gospel of the Kingdom. They were willing to give up comfort and security and risk all to follow their faith and free His Church from kings and popes. Wherever they went their moral character won them friends, admiration and respect. But their religious zeal to live in the world but not of it was often persecuted with jealousy or contempt.

People were often suspicious of these Separatists because of their “congregational” beliefs, which were the antitheses of the centralized, exercising authority of Rome or the Church of England. They were often suspected of conspiring because they would accept no head of the Church but Christ; not even the King. They believed the Church of England could not be reformed.

When the pilgrims and the Captain insisted on staying in the wrong place where they had landed the Strangers began to suspect there was something amiss and were voicing "discontented and mutinous speeches."[3]

While good conspiracies are always hard to prove - especially 400 years after the fact - there can be no doubt that if the Strangers, consisting of more than half their party, were going to leave them and head south to where they were supposed to have landed, it would have spelled disaster and death for the Pilgrims.

Stephen Hopkins, a loyal subject of the King, was recruited by the Merchant Adventurers to provide governance for the colony. He had been to America before and proved himself resourceful enough to make the threat of going south to where they were supposed to land a reality.[4]

The Separatists had conspired to escape the authority of the king before. There was some evidence that they were conspiring again. Brewster, a leader of one of their congregations, had disappeared for some time before the Mayflower began its voyage and their landing in New Plymouth and demands to settle there outside of the jurisdiction of their Patent seemed to confirm those suspicions in the mind of some of the Strangers.

They had all signed contracts, which resulted from the Virginia Company issuance of the First Peirce Patent[5], with a company of merchants who were financing this venture in the new world for the purpose of making a profit. But there were other merchants[6] who were desperate to find dedicated upright souls like the Separatists. Men who would have the courage and conviction to make their fortunes and investments secure were hard to find. They would not mind seeing the Virginia Company finance the Separatists' journey to the New World, only to eventually reap the reward of that settlement for themselves.

There were several agreements binding different companies in the New World. All these institutions were subject to the office of King James.[7]

Because the Pilgrims landed outside of the jurisdiction of Jamestown and the Virginia Company of London they had no legal “paper” giving them permission to settle.

The Separatists had spent years trying to negotiate a favorable contract with the Virginia Company. There were a number of unexplainable events that had taken place that could lead an astute historian to suspect that landing in Plymouth was no accident, but the result of a plan. Yet, so many things had gone wrong. The turning back of the Speedwell, the late departure from England and arrival in the New World, and the hope of any aid that might have been arranged secretly was diminished with their late arrival and its apparent absence. If there had been alternate resources arranged in secret by the Separatist leader and they never arrived they would need the Strangers.

Had there been secret offers from other entrepreneurs that could work to their advantage if they settled in the wrong place? Were they expecting to find aid nearby or somewhere that they could have reached it if the Speedwell had made the trip? If Hopkins and the majority took off and went south they would have little chance of surviving. In any case without mutual effort the settlement might not only fail, but they might all perish in the process.

The Strangers were not seeking the same liberty as the these religious zealots and suspected them of trying to escape what they believed was a rightful sovereign power. The Separatists knew they would need to establish some agreement with the Strangers by mentioning the “dread Sovereign Lord, King James” to ensure some sort of loyalty in the life-and-death task before them.

The Mayflower Compact was an interim agreement to govern their mutual conduct to keep the strangers there and working with them. Under the given conditions it likely appeared attractive even to the Separatists.

They would all need something to bind them together since the company Indenture and Patents no longer applied. By writing the Mayflower Compact they were trying to prove to the Strangers that they were in mutual agreement. This was done to keep themselves from any discord or abandonment that could lead to the death of the entire community. They could not know that half of them would be dead by the end of their first year. The truth was, before they were done, it would be their personal sacrifice, committed honor and practiced virtue that bound them all as a people - not a Compact on paper.


The original Mayflower Compact[8] did not survive but I am pretty sure God's signature is not on that document or any other government document created by the hand of man. Governments are allowed by God, but they are instituted by men, not God. And many governments, even those created by the consent or by the voice of the people, are not only contrary to what God desires for men but in truth are historically a rejection of God.[9]

That is not to say that there is no government that is instituted by God. But simply put, except for the rarest of exceptions, most governments instituted by men are fundamentally flawed because men are flawed. The Pilgrims, like many before them and since, were simply trying to find their way back to a state of righteous liberty under God with varying degrees of success and failure.

God seems to have instituted the governing relationship and union of man and woman. But binding people together in groups of families to form nations governed by rulers seems to be an invention of Cain[10] and Lemech, if not Nimrod himself.[11] Most of these city-states were established by contracts and consent at first and later by brute force. What God established, besides the family, was the Ten Commandments which contained a prohibition against making contracts and covenants.[12]



Audio Pilgrims and social compacts. The free assemblies of ten elders is CORE in a free a Church plan commanded by Christ.
http://www.hisholychurch.net/kkvv/x3folder/140113societypaths04Core.mp3



Throughout the Bible we see stories of God and His prophets delivering men out of the hands of governments that are making laws and ruling over the people. Once the full extent of God's disapproval of this addiction of men to consent to rulers and grant more and more power to men is understood, it would seem strange to find any faithful minister of Christ praising the idea of giving men the power to make laws and rule over them.

From Nimrod to Egypt or Saul to the cry of the Pharisees[13] there is little biblical evidence praising the voice of the people[14] when they relinquish rights granted by God and allow men rule over those rights.

The Mayflower Compact was not a “forerunner of the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution.”[15] There is some serious question as to why passengers on the Mayflower even felt it was needed or what effect it actually had. The idea that this was the beginning of government or granting the power of any men in that place to rule and make laws for everyone else is absurd.

History is replete with men who learned to govern themselves and those who would govern their brothers or neighbors. The success stories include men who were self-sacrificing and full of virtue, and the history of the failures is born of another ilk.

In the days of early American settlements men came here for a variety of reasons and diversity of moral values. Some came for wealth and adventure, some for liberty to sin and some for liberty to serve God.

Phineas Pratt in his own narration of his arrival on these shores in 1622 said, “In the time of spiritual darkness, when the State Ecclesiastical of Rome ruled and over ruled most of the nations of Europe, it pleased God to give wisdom to many, kings and people, in breaking that spiritual yoke.”

The Separatists who came on the Mayflower were the Brownists of Leiden. Robert Browne taught that a congregation should autonomously run its own affairs. He and his brother had obtained preaching licenses from the authorities but Robert burned his in protest. By 1579, he was openly criticizing what was called the Church, its administration and leadership in Cambridge and was promptly arrested and jailed.

During 1583 a Proclamation banned the buying, selling or possession of his writings which led to the hanging of John Copping and Elias Thacker for selling Browne's “seditious” writings on faith and the Church.[16]

There had been a melding of the right arm of civil or royal government with the will of the Church for some time in England. Since men of the Church began to crown other men over their brothers, kings felt it profitable to enforce the will of men claiming to be the Church and servants of God.

These claims were beginning to be questioned by the people. They believed that the real Church was cut from a different cloth than that of those who claimed the office and often put their lives on the line just to ask the question,

  • “What does the Church established by Christ really look like?”

Other questions arise as we attempt to answer that:


Some Questions

More Questions

To find the answers we must seek and strive to do what Jesus said the way He said to do it... Including attending to the Weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith which include caring for the needs of our neighbors, the widows and orphans of our society through Pure Religion in matters of health, education, and welfare. We are NOT to do so by the Covetous Practices of modern governments.

The Way of Christ was not like the way of the world, nor the governments of the gentiles who depend on benefactors who exercise authority. Christ's ministers and true Christians do not depend upon systems of social welfare that force the contributions of the people like the corban of the Pharisees which made the word of God to none effect. Many people have been deceived to go the way of Balaam and the Nicolaitan and out of The Way of Christ.

The Christian conflict of the first century Church appointed by Christ was because they would not apply to the fathers of the earth for benefits but instead relied upon a voluntary network providing a daily ministration to the needy of society through Faith, Hope, and Charity by way of freewill offerings of the people, for the people, and by the people through the perfect law of liberty in Free Assemblies according to the ancient pattern of Tuns or Tens.

The modern Christians are in need of repentance.


"Follow me!" —Jesus the Christ.


.

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== Footnotes ==
  1. Out of 102 passengers only 41 were a part of the Pilgrims Virginia Company, Separatists.
  2. The Atlantic monthly, Volume 78 By Celia Thaxter, Sarah Orne Jewett, Emily Dickinson. P. 587.
  3. "Observing some not well affected to unity..., it was thought good there should be an association and agreement that we should combine together in one body." Mourt's Relation
  4. As a Minister's Clerk on the "Sea Venture", the Admiral of the Fleet, he was forced to ground their ship, saving all passengers. Then the built two more ships from the wreckage - "Deliverance" and "Patience".
  5. Patents were exclusive rights protected by the king to prevent other subjects of the king from infringing on the patent holder. They did not override rights of independent Christian communities.
  6. Council for New England
  7. The First Peirce Patent's text [February 2, 1620] did not survive, but others dating, even back to Elizabeth, had language that could allow the Pilgrims leverage in their effort to obtain a status as “Freemen”.
  8. Text - IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience. IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620
  9. 1 Samuel 8:7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
  10. Genesis 4:17 “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.”
  11. Genesis 11:4 “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top [may reach] unto heaven; ...”
  12. Exodus 23:32 “Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.”
  13. John 19:15 “But they cried out, Away with [him], away with [him], crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”
  14. 1 Samuel 8. Voice of the People http://www.hisholychurch.org/news/articles/voice.php
  15. Pilgrim Hall Museum, http://www.pilgrimhall.org/compcon.htm
  16. A Book which sheweth the Life and Manners of all true Christians (1582); A Treatise upon 23. of Matthewe and, Treatise of Reformation without Tarrying for Anie (1582)
  17. Matthew 20:25-26 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
    Mark 10:42-43 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
    Luke 22:25-26 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

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