The Fortune was the second ship to arrive at Plymouth on November 9, 1621, just weeks after the first Thanksgiving. My ancestor, William Basset was on that ship.
Truthfully, it is just as well that the Fortune’s passengers missed the first harvest festival, or Thanksgiving, as it is now known, for they had nothing to contribute. Unlike the Mayflower, the Fortune did not come with food or supplies. The thirty-five poor souls that arrived had little more than the clothes on their back. Obviously, this placed a great deal more strain on the food supplies of the colonists who had already arrived on the Mayflower a year earlier.
Thank heaven for the Native Americans who, through Divine Providence, helped the colonist, most of whom were Separatists from the Church of England. The term “pilgrim” was applied to these settlers in the late 1700’s after excerpts from William Bradford’s diary were published. Bradford, describing the Separatists final church service before embarking on their voyage to the North American continent, wrote that they “spent a good part of the day very profitably and suitable to their present occasion; the rest of the time was spent pouring out prayers to the Lord with great fervency, mixed with abundance of tears… they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place near twelve years; but they knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lift up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.”
Bradford, a leader in the Separatist movement, was clearly likening these “pilgrims” to those men and women of faith recorded in the eleventh chapter of the book of Hebrews. These all died in faith, it is written, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:13-16
When William Bradford, who arrived on the first ship Mayflower, realized that the Fortune was a friendly English ship rather than that of a hostile enemy, he would have been quite happy. This ship would surely be laden with much needed supplies. However, “Misfortune” might have been a more suitable name given that the new colonists, being completely destitute, would surely be a drain on already diminishing supplies. Still, they were ‘pilgrim’ brethren and they would, with God’s help, prosper in this new world.
As for William Bassett, with much hard work and perseverance, he became a very influential and wealthy man in the colonies, sharing much responsibility with William Bradford and other colonist leaders. Mr. Bassett stepped off the ship called Fortune and walked into a future of financial fortune. However, his greatest fortune was not monetary gain. His greatest fortune was the God-given opportunity to live in a free land; one where he and his family could worship God freely without having to compromise his beliefs nor comply with a religious system that the Separatists deemed corrupt.
Dear reader, it does not matter what country you live in presently, or which lands you may someday travel to, please remember that God is preparing a new home for His children called new Jerusalem. This is what John the Revelator wrote about it in the book of Revelation: And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelation 21:1-7.
I cannot speak for you, dear reader, but I am thankful to have lived in this goodly and pleasant world all these years, but my heart often yearns for my new, much better home – for the new heaven and earth which God has promised. Can you say the same? I hope so. If not, please contact me; I would love to show you the path that leads to salvation; and to new Jerusalem.
Postscript: Here in the States, we are celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday today. Like the pilgrims of old, we are celebrating God’s bountiful provision. If you and your loved ones celebrate Thanksgiving where you are, I pray that yours is happy and blessed!