To Be A Puritan
A Puritan lived a life with primary focus on serving God. They left religious persecution in England. They thought the New World would be a utopia, when the English Reformation had not gone far enough in reforming the doctrines and structure of the church; they wanted to purify their national church by eliminating every shred of Catholic influence. Their lifestyles were based on relative equality, with their primary settlement in the northern colonies. There basic beliefs revolved around grace, plainness, unity, and divine mission. I will be discussing those beliefs with information that I have gathered and also from A Model Of Christian Charity, by John Winthrop. “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us” (A Model of Christian Charity, p.35), one of the most famous quotes to stand out by him during this puritan era was the basis for which they all believed.
Grace is freely given. Humankind was inherently sinful and redemption could only be given by God; no amount of good deeds could redeem a soul. This was a main belief that built the structure of Puritanism.
Everything should be free of decoration and design. The idea was to be as plain as possible, therefore not to take any focus off of God. This idea was shone in the structure of their simple worship services, clothing styles, and writing. For example, Winthrops style of writing was extremely plain and to the point, with no emotion or feeling involved.
“For this end we must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities for the supply of others’ necessities, we must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience, and liberality, we must delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (p.36). These sentences were a model of how they were to be. Unity was a very important part of being a puritan, because that is what God wanted and expected from them. Winthrop was very strong on his beliefs of community that worked together.
Lastly, a primary belief of Puritanism was that of a Divine Mission. The New World was to be settled for God, not for man. They came to this land for religious freedom and focus on their savior. ” and that the Lord our God my bless us in the land whither we go to possess it Therefore let us choose life, that we, and our seed, may live, and by obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him, for He is our life and our prosperity” (p.37). Winthrop along with the many other Puritans of this time were very stong on the belief that God blessed them with this oppurtunity of access to this new world, therefore it was to be used to serve God.
Puritans continued to live a life that was constantly striving to be pure. With these four points I have just discussed; grace, plainess, unity, and divine mission, Puritans lived a life very structured and orderly.