Almost immediately after their conversion, the Pilgrims were persecuted by “the profane multitude.” Bradford then writes “Seeing themselves thus molested, and that there was no hope of their continuance there, by a joint consent they resolved to go into the Low Countries, where they heard was freedom of religion for all men.” Persecution, and eventually betrayal, are two of the hardest crosses to bear for believers, but they have been common throughout church history.
When the Pilgrims attempted to secretly flee England for Holland, they were betrayed, and some of the leaders, including 18 year old William Bradford, were put in jail in Boston after being paraded through the streets and mocked for their beliefs. Then, the next year, they attempted to escape again, and though the men got on board the ship, the women and children were stuck in the mud at low tide.
Bradford writes “The poor men which were got aboard were in great distress for their wives and children which they saw thus to be taken, and were left destitute of their helps; and themselves also, not having a cloth to shift them with, more than they had on their backs… it drew tears from their eyes, and anything they had they would have given to have been ashore again; but all in vain, there was no remedy, they must thus sadly part.”
Though the women and children, and the few men with them, would join the Pilgrims in Amsterdam in a few months, the pain and suffering of betrayal, coupled with persecution, left a mark on their soul. Their faith was such, however, that Bradford saw the positive when he wrote “yet I may not omit the fruit that came hereby; for by these so public troubles in so many eminent places their cause became famous and occasioned many to look into the same, and their godly carriage and Christian behavior was such as left a deep impression in the minds of many.” God truly works all things out for good.