“Yet Lord thou canst save, yet Lord thou canst save!” – Cry of our Pilgrim Forefathers
Faith is born of adversity and sanctification comes by blood. One experience illustrates the depth of sacrifice that was required. A group of the Pilgrims had hired a ship to transport them in an attempt to escape from England to Holland. The master of the ship allowed them to load all of their earthly belongings onto the vessel, and then betrayed them into the hands of the authorities. After being rifled and ransacked, the women immodestly, they were drug through the community as the townspeople jeered and taunted on either side. After months of imprisonment most were finally released, while the Pilgrim leaders were bound over for yet more humiliation and examination. The following spring another attempt was made, this time with a Dutch ship. The Pilgrims were to meet the ship between Grimsbe and Hull in a large common. The women and children were sent by a small boat and the men traveled by land each arriving a day before the ship. The women were very sick and the boat was moved to low water near an opening. When the ship arrived the following morning, the boat containing the women and children was fixed on the land and could not move. The captain of the ship, realizing that it would be some time before the women and children could be loaded, commenced loading the men first. Just as the loading of the men was finished:
“. . . the master espied a great company, both horse and foot, with bills, and guns, and other weapons; for the country was raised to take them. The Dutchman seeing that, swore his countries oath, “sacrament,” and having the fair wind, weighed his anchor, hoisted sails, and away. But 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 clothes to shift them with, more then they had on their backs, and some scarce a penny about them, all they had being aboard the barke [women’s boat]. 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. (Of Plymouth Plantation, p. 11) The women and children were left defenseless before the authorities as their husbands were taken out to sea.
. . . pitiful it was to see the heavy case of these poor women in this distress; what weeping and crying on every side, some for their husbands, that were carried away in the ship as is before related; others not knowing what should become of them, and their little ones; others again melted in tears, seeing their poor little ones hanging about them, crying for fear, and quaking with cold. Being thus apprehended, they were hurried from one place to another, and from one justice to another, till in the end they knew not what to do with them; (Of Plymouth Plantation, p. 11) The women and children were taken from one constable to the next enduring great ridicule and privation. The authorities could not decide what to do with them. They had no homes to return them to. They could not hold so many women and children in prison as they had not broken the law. They could not be released as the people would cry out. In the end the authorities tired of the situation and of necessity obtained their release.
The men received their share of the trial as well. Shortly after embarking a violent storm arose in which they did not see the sun, moon or stars for seven days. They were driven near the shores of Norway and the hearts of the captain and crew fainted with fear. The men however did not despair that the Lord could deliver them.
[with] fervent prayers they cried unto the Lord in this great distress (especially some of them,) even without any great distraction, when the water ran into their mouths and ears; and the mariners cried out, “We sink, we sink”; they cried (if not with miraculous, yet with a great height or degree of divine faith), “Yet Lord thou canst save, yet Lord thou canst save”; (Of Plymouth Plantation, p. 11) At this time the ship recovered and shortly after the violence of the storm abated. The Lord spoke peace to their hearts and minds, and when they reached the shore the people came running in amazement that anyone could be saved from such a storm.
This prayer of faith was a common maxim among our Pilgrim fathers and it still cries out to us today. Throughout the ages of the earth, millions upon millions have given their lives for their religion, families and freedom. Some succumbed to torture, some endured but were consequentially scared with bitterness and still others survived and triumphed over their God given cross. They forever looked back upon the trial as a welcomed opportunity to suffer for Christ and recognized the torment as a glorious refiner’s fire. In the days ahead, each one of us may be called to go through similar heavy trials. Elder Bruce R. McConkie issued the following warning and counsel.
“The way ahead is dark and dreary and dreadful. There will yet be martyrs; the doors in Carthage shall again enclose the innocent. We have not been promised that the trials and evils of the world will entirely pass us by.
“If we, as a people, keep the commandments of God; if we take the side of the Church on all issues, both religious and political; if we take the Holy Spirit for our guide; if we give heed to the words of the apostles and prophets who minister among us—then, from an eternal standpoint, all things will work together for our good.” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Coming Tests and Trials and Glory, April 1980)
How will you respond to these dark days? Will you abandon the ranks of God or will you humbly submit to the crucible, overcome the world (as did Christ) and joyfully greet the Savior at His coming? Will you remember that no matter how dark the night, “Yet Lord thou canst save”?
If you are interested in reading more miraculous stories from our Pilgrim forefathers, visit the Inspira Wiki.
The faith of our forebears enabled them to endure severe trials (including the death of their friends and often wives, husbands and children.) They laid the foundation of our nation. William Bradford summarized the Pilgrim story in the following eloquent words.
“All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage. . . . So they committed themselves to the will of God and resolved to proceed.” (Of Plymouth Plantation)