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William Bradford was one of the leaders of the English Puritan Separatists who are now called Pilgrims. Puritanism was a religious reform movement in the late 16th and 17th centuries.  The Puritans, most of whom were Calvinists, wished to purify the Church of England of the remaining vestiges of its Catholic roots.  Puritans desired a skilled, educated preaching ministry.  The Puritans advocated few ceremonies in the church as possible, as well as the abolition of the traditional role of bishops, and the establishment of one government-sanctioned church, controlled by Puritans.

Puritanism stressed the pastoral responsibility of the clergy and placed an unprecedented emphasis on the sermon as the central rite of religious life. Puritans did not believe that the preaching ministry drew its legitimacy from superior church officers.   Puritans believed that God spoke primarily through the preaching ministry, not through the sacraments.  Puritans considered religion a very complex, subtle, and highly intellectual affair requiring ministers and leaders of the community to be highly trained scholars.

Puritans also believed that God saves only those he wishes and that only a few are selected for salvation meaning that Jesus died for the chosen only, not for everyone.  Puritans also believed that God’s grace is freely given, it cannot be earned or denied.

William Bradford, a Puritan, traveled to America on the Mayflower in 1620.  He became the second governor of Plymouth colony.  The stated goal of the Puritan Separatists of the Plymouth colony was to separate completely from the Church of England.  Puritans believed that the church itself was corrupt and that the reforms of the Church of England had simply not gone far enough to divest the church from the vestiges of Roman Catholic dogma.

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