The English reformers live in Leyden for over a decade. Around this time, some senior congregants begin to plan for a long-term colony in another part of the world. Bradford will now discuss the congregants’ reasons for proposing such a colony.
Bradford walks readers through the process of choosing to migrate to America, as opposed to some other European country.
First, English reformers recognize that few other people will join them in their new Dutch home, since moving to a new country is difficult. Second, they recognize that, due to the hardships of Leyden life, congregants are dying early. Recognizing that wise men should preserve their health and prepare for adversity, they plan to move to a place where they might live better lives. Third, the English recognize that they have a duty to take care of their children. In Holland, where there are many corrupting influences, it’s difficult to raise good Christians. Finally, the English want to spread their faith around the world. For all of these reasons, they support colonizing America.
According to Bradford, the decision to leave Holland was motivated by a desire to practice Christianity to the best of the reformers’ abilities. Notice that Bradford speaks of the “English reformers” as if they’re one monolithic group. Many European historians have suggested that, in fact, it was Bradford and other more elite reformers who pushed the group to leave Holland, while most of the congregation wanted to stay in their new home.
At the time, America is seen as a fruitful place to live. Some reformers are reluctant to sail so far away, especially since some of them are likely to die on the voyage. Others argue that it will be costly to sail to America. However, reform leaders successfully argue that they’ll triumph with the help of God and that even if some of them die on the voyage over, they’ll die satisfied at having made such a journey. In the end, the reformers decide to sail to America.
The reformers’ religious passion inspires them to travel across the ocean to find a new home: they accept that, even if they die, they’ll have died for the sake of their religious beliefs—or at least that’s what their leaders want them to accept, and what Bradford wants his readers to believe.