What might a woman carry in her purse that a man might drive and that was signed by the Pilgrims?
A compact, of course! In the first description, a compact is “a small cosmetic case (as for compressed powder).” In the second, a compact is “an automobile smaller than an intermediate but larger than a subcompact.” And in the third, it’s “an agreement or covenant between two or more parties,”* specifically the Mayflower Compact.
According to Wikipedia,
The Mayflower was originally bound for the Colony of Virginia, financed by the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London. Storms forced them to anchor at the hook of Cape Cod in what is now Massachusetts. This inspired some of the passengers to proclaim that since the settlement would not be made in the agreed upon Virginia territory, they “would use their own liberty; for none had power to command them.” To prevent this, many of the other colonists chose to establish a government. The Mayflower Compact was based simultaneously upon a majoritarian model (taking into account that women could not vote) and the settlers’ allegiance to the king. It was in essence a contract in which the settlers consented to follow the compact’s rules and regulations for the sake of order and survival.
The Compact stated:
In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together in a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.
Forty-one men signed their names.**
Faith Baptist Church has a compact too. We call it our covenant. If you haven’t read it recently, refresh your memory by reading it here.
Having been led by the Holy Spirit to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on the public confession of our faith, having been immersed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God and this assembly, solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
We purpose, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love and to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort. We will promote its prosperity and spirituality, and attend its services regularly. We covenant to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines, and to give it a sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origin. We will give faithfully of time and talent in its activities, and contribute cheerfully and regularly, as God prospers us. Such giving is to support the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel throughout all nations.
We also purpose to maintain family and private devotions, and to train our children according to the Word of God. We will seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances, and walk circumspectly in the world. We will be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our conduct. We covenant to avoid all gossip, backbiting and unrighteous anger, and to abstain from all forms of activity which dishonor our Lord Jesus Christ. We will be zealous in our efforts to advance the cause of Christ, our Savior, and to give Him preeminence in all things.
We purpose to encourage one another in the blessed hope of our Lord’s return. We will watch over one another in brotherly love, and remember each other in prayer.
We further purpose to aid each other in sickness and distress, and to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech. We will be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and [being] mindful of the guidelines of our Savior, to seek it without delay.
We, moreover, purpose, that when we move from this place we will as soon as possible unite with some other church of like faith and order where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word. In the event there is no such church, we shall seek, with the Lord’s help, to establish one.
Like the Pilgrims, we have seen God work in mighty ways to sustain us and cause us to grow. So, at this time of year, we give thanks for all of God’s blessings and especially for allowing us to live in America and attend Faith Baptist Church, Winter Haven, Fla.
*Definitions are from Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary.
**Learn more about the Mayflower Compact.