Love Under Fire


God Overruled Events

When God's hand seemed to point them across the sea to a land where they could establish a government for themselves and leave their children the heritage of religious liberty, they went forward in the path where God was leading. Persecution and exile were opening the way to freedom. LF 123.6

When they first had to separate from the English Church, the Puritans made a covenant as the Lord's free people “to walk together in all His ways made known or to be made known to them.”1 This was the vital principle of Protestantism. With this intent the Pilgrims left Holland to find a home in the New World. John Robinson, their pastor, said this in his farewell address to the exiles: LF 123.7

“I charge you before God and His blessed angels to follow me no farther than I have followed Christ. If God should reveal anything to you by any other instrument of His, be as ready to receive it as you ever were to receive any truth from my ministry; for I am very confident the Lord has more truth and light yet to break forth out of His holy word.”2 LF 124.1

“For my part, I cannot feel worse over the condition of the reformed churches, who ... now will go no farther than those who brought reformation to them. The Lutherans cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; ... and the Calvinists, you see, stay right where they were left by that great man of God, who did not yet see all things.... Though these leaders were burning and shining lights in their time, yet they did not understand the whole counsel of God, but if they were living now, they would be as willing to embrace further light as the light they first received.”3 LF 124.2

“Remember your promise and covenant with God and with one another, to receive whatever light and truth shall come to you from His written word. But along with this, be careful, I beg you, about what you accept as truth, and compare it and weigh it with other scriptures of truth before you accept it, for it is not possible the Christian world would come so recently out of such thick anti-Christian darkness, and that full perfection of knowledge would suddenly be there.”4 LF 124.3

The desire for freedom of conscience inspired the Pilgrims to cross the sea, endure the hardships of the wilderness, and lay the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet the Pilgrims did not yet understand the principle of religious liberty. The freedom that they sacrificed so much to get for themselves, they were not ready to give to others. The doctrine that God has given the church the right to control the conscience and to define and punish heresy is one of the papacy's most deeply rooted errors. The Reformers were not entirely free from Rome's spirit of intolerance. The dense darkness that had enveloped Christendom had not completely vanished yet. LF 124.4

The colonists formed a kind of state church and authorized the government officials to suppress heresy. So secular power was in the hands of the church. This led to the inevitable result—persecution. LF 124.5