The author of Hebrews wrote about the great faith of Abraham and other early Bible worthies, who “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.… a better country, that is, an heavenly” (Hebrews 11:13, 14, 16). The small group of devout Christian passengers on the Mayflower who sailed west from England in September 1620 found much comfort and inspiration in these words as they began their journey. They were members of a persecuted sect who sought to worship God in the simple manner of the original Christians, through prayer and faith, not through elaborate rituals. Traveling to an unknown place with little preparation for the challenges that lay ahead, they brought many supplies with them, and none were more important than their faith.
“But they knew they were pilgrims,” wrote one of their leaders (William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, p. 50). They believed they were following the way of the earliest Christians and even the patriarchs in seeking “a better country … an heavenly.” And like Abraham, they stepped into the unknown, resting the full weight of their faith on God to guide them.
In our age Christian Science has introduced the scientific concept of the kingdom of heaven, demonstrating it as a present spiritual reality rather than a distant place or event.
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