Puritan Beliefs Essay, Research Paper
When people hear the word Puritan, one will notice faces of displeasure,
because nobody wants to hear about these uptight people. Our misconceptions of
these people have spread all over America, when in fact these peoples’ morals
and beliefs are what shaped our nation today. If one looks deeper into puritan
meditations they will find that these people were not just uptight people.
Stereotypes that we have can be easily altered by actually reading Puritan
literature. The Puritans’ believe that the Bible is the sole source of God’s
law, they believe in original sin, and they believe that God plays a direct hand
in the affairs of men.
Puritans’ main belief is that the Bible is the sole source of God’s law. They
believed that the Bible has all the answers to life’s questions. One sample of
Puritan literature that supports this idea is the New England Primer, which is a
book that the parents used to teach their children at a young age. In the New
England Primer there is a section that is devoted to the alphabet. The letter
"B" has a picture of the Bible next to it and a passage saying
"Thy life attend, this book attend"(NEP 29). The letter "B"
basically shows us that right from the start Puritan children are taught to
follow the ways of the Bible. Along with the letter "B" other letters
have sayings that go along with stories of the Bible. The New England Primer has
another section entitled "The Dutiful Child’s Promises" which says
"I will as much in me as lies keen all God’s holy commandments"(NEP
28). The passage shows how important God’s laws were in the Puritan culture.
Puritans also believe in natural depravity, or the belief that all are born
sinful. Again in the New England Primer it states for letter "A"
"In Adam’s fall we sinned all", which describes to us that through
Adam’s sin we are all sinners. Jonathon Edwards, a Puritan minister, writes
"So thus it is, that natural men are held in the hand of God over the pit
of hell, they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sustained to it
…." ("Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" 43). Edward’s
writing tell us that we are all over that pit of hell and it is up to us to get
out of this situation. Natural depravity was a very real belief that was
ingrained into them at an early age.
The belief that God plays a direct role in the affairs of men is another
Puritan belief that can be found in sources of their literature. Since Puritans
believe that God is the creator of all things in existence, then he can take
anything away just as fast as he created it. "Upon the Burning of my House,
July 10th 1666", by Anne Bradstreet, is about how God took all her
possessions but she does not cry or morn for her losses. "He might of all
justly bereft / But yet sufficient for us left"(Bradstreet 33) tells us
that even though all is lost she will be able to survive without her
possessions. The poem goes on to tell us how she felt that she cared about her
possessions to much, and that they were only getting in the way of glorifying
God to the fullest. "Raise up thy thought above the sky / That dunghill
mists away may fly" shows us just how serious Puritans were about there
faith. Bradstreet sees her misfortune as a blessing so that she can rejoice his
name with even greater passion. Jonathan Edwards in his Personal Narrative also
speaks of God’s hand in his life. "When it pleased God to seize me with
pleurisy, in which he brought me nigh to grave , and shook me over the pit of
hell" describes to us how Edwards was blessed with pleurisy, a very fatal
disease, and lived so that he could realize that he was living a life of sin and
could fix it. Both Bradstreet and Edwards had tragic things happen to them which
they saw as blessings from God so that they could truly glorify god. Puritans
definately believed that God plays a direct hand in our lives.
The belief that the Bible is the sole source of God’s law, natural depravity,
and that God play a direct hand in the affairs of men are all Puritan values
that are shown though their literature. By reading Puritan liturature we can
further understand their ways. Knowing their ways can clear up our
misconceptions of them as a whole. Learning things in different concepts can
help clear up stereotypes that we might have. Do not be quick to judge without
exploring all sides of the story.