The Puritans were a religious group who had very strong religious beliefs in the 16th, 17th and 18th century in Europe. The name puritan means purification and to them the bible was the ground norm for guiding human behavior, the Puritans first settled in England in the New England area. However, with time they grew dissatisfied and discontent with the Church of England. The Church of England was a ground for political struggles and doctrines that favored whoever made them. The puritans were of the view that the Church of England was beyond reform and they could do nothing to change that. In the 1600s they fled to America for fear of religious persecution. The puritans were against drinking, gambling, skimpy dressing, breaking the Sabbath and swearing and wanted the government to ban all these things to keep the society and community pure. The puritans worked towards morality and positive behavior in the society. This paper will discuss the spirituality of the puritans, how their beliefs have shaped morality in the American society.
The spirituality of the puritans.
The puritans included Anglicans such as William Perkins, the Separatists such as William Bradford, and the independents such as Thomas Godwin, Baptist such as John Bunyan, and the Presbyterians such as John Howe. The puritan’s spirituality was based on experiencing communion with God. The puritans’ way of life was stressed on the stress of Christian experience. In fact, philosophers like Geoffrey Nuttal defines puritanism as a movement towards immediacy in relation to God. Charles Stowe, on the other hand, describes it a devotional movement rooted in religious experience. Puritans generally emphasized on the experimental nature of Christian faith.
Puritanism was dependent on the bible and the supreme source of Christian faith and life reformation. They were committed and believed that the bible was inspired by God’s message to the people. Thomas Watson notes that the Puritans read every line of the bible as if God was speaking to them. They further reasoned that biblical word and authority was absolute. Puritan preachers stressed the need for their listeners to exercise intense appetite for the scriptures. Richard Baxter convinced his readers to love, study, obey and stick close to scriptures; John Cotton on the other hand, implored the readers to feed on the word of God.
Puritans spirituality emphasized on divine grace and confession of sin. They followed Luther and Calvin way of life that emphasized on Augustinian view of human depravity which required Gods gracious initiative to work out salvation in the human heart. William Perkins for instance, during the discussion of Golden Chaine emphasized on the human inability that requires God’s forgiveness through confession.
Another emphasis of the Puritan faith is the work of the Holy Spirit in any believer’s life. Richard Baxter for instance, declared that the Holy Spirit is a guide, comforter and sanctifier of human life. To them the understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit was the same as understanding Christian life. Like the Word, all human actions were also guided by the Holy Spirit. Puritan leaders and theologians emphasized on the need of all Christians to welcome the holy spirit into their lives for better understanding of the word of God .Thomas Godwin’s Paper, the Work of Holy Spirit our salvation and many other works of the subject shows the utmost respect that puritans’ had for the Holy Spirit.
Puritans and Moral Values.
The typical Puritan family was headed by the husband who gave instructions to the wife and children. The wife was expected to help instruct the children and do house chores. The children on the other hand were required to be quiet, attend school and help in the house chores, the family was expected to be a little church, a school and little government within the larger puritan society. The puritans spent most of their time tiling in their fields. They were required to be calm and not emotional. They frowned against plays, musical instruments and gambling. The puritans were seen and treated in different ways during by both civil and religious thoughts. They were tolerated against the will of others and severally persecuted. King Charles I of England made efforts to get rid of all puritans and their influence during his reign. It is this vendetta declared by Charles I that the Puritans migrated from Europe to American colonies.
As mentioned earlier the puritans believe solely on the bible; they believed that it was the only true law of the living. However, apart from their strong religious beliefs and strong moral belief the Puritans have been credited for their fight for freedom. It is said that all the created the need to ensure production of safe, quality and healthy products based on predetermined standards as indicated by Jaffee (2000). freedom that exist today is all as a result of the struggle and persecution the Puritans went through. They came up with philosophies such as the divine right, which guaranteed liberty and recognition of right of the common man. Another philosophy is the Yankee work ethic that came about because of the belief that all actions of humans is usually done first by God’s approval. They also contributed towards the achievement of a public education system; they help from schools and colleges in America so that people would read the bible on their own. Morality is the United States is also attributed to the efforts made by the Puritans in their quest for good behavior.
Puritanism originated from the Church of England that had influence on religious warfare among Christians, Muslims, and other religions. It explains these as causes as political, social, economic, ethical and religious view, before they migrated to America. The Puritans considered themselves a special religious group that was tasked with the responsibility of spreading beliefs to others. Puritans thirsted for personal. Political and social freedom. They believed that through guidance of the Holy Spirit and the scripture the society would be morally upright.
The colonial history of America primarily centres on the struggle of Spain, French and England to gain control of the region. According to Digital History, settlers crossed the Atlantic Ocean to American region because of different reasons and had great impacts on the area. The impacts of the colonisers created both advantages and disadvantages that affected profoundly the fate of the new world. This section of the paper will compare and contrast the impacts of Spanish and English colonialism in the Americas using the writings of Columbus, Las Casas, Rowlandson, Paine, Jefferson, Equiano, and Jemison. The impacts of Spanish and English colonialism in the Americas were similar in nature because they had similar interests on America such as expansion of their empires, trade, settling, spreading of Christianity, their languages and cultures to the native Indian Americans.
The first impact from the Spanish colonizers was cultural impact. The Spaniards who colonized America were committed to convert the indigenous subjects in their new world to Catholicism by Royal Decree. Cultural impact was successful as the Catholicism was added by the indigenous people in their traditional ceremonies and beliefs. Moreover, many items of art, practices, forms and expressions of the natives were prohibited and considered idolatry or destroyed by the Spanish civilians, military and missionaries. These included sculptures, religious items and jewelry made of silver and gold which the Spanish melted and shipped away.This was similar to the impact of the British where they erode the behavior, languages, customs and beliefs of the native Indians gradually and undermined them by introducing their cultures to the indigenous people.
One similarity of the impacts of the impacts of Spanish and English colonialism in the Americas are the new diseases brought by the settlers, colonists and traders. The native Indians in America had no resistance to the diseases which included influenza, whooping cough, measles, small pox, yellow fever, cholera and typhoid. This led to the falling of the population of the Native Americans to under 1 million from 80 million in less than 500 years.
Another impact of English colonialism was wars and conflicts with the native Indian Americans. The massive immigration of the European colonists resulted to hostilities and increased tension between the native Indian Americans and the Europeans. There were bloody wars fought for dominance in America and control of the lands.
Digital Library pointed out another similarity in the impacts of Spanish and English colonists in America. The European colonists who were established soon began running out of labor needed to exploit the wealth in the colonized territories. This led to emergence of slave trade since the highly lucrative crops like cotton, rice, tobacco and sugar needed large source of labor which the settlers lacked.
meeting the consumer needs. In the case of the café, the consumers often need to eat, fresh and tastefully prepared Food exchange between the Europeans and the native Indians led to change in diet between the two groups, and this was a positive impact. The food items exchanged from Europeans to the Indians included bananas, chicken, cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, wheat and sugarcane. On the other hand, food items from the Indians to the Europeans included chocolate, catfish, potatoes, pineapple, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, tobacco and tomatoes. This widened the variety of foods available and the diet.
Another impact of colonialism between Spanish and English colonists was the change of weapons and tools the native Indians used. Before the immigration of the Europeans colonists, the weapons used by the natives included spears, bows and arrows which were used in battle and for hunting. The European settlers and colonists in America introduced the rifle which was more powerful compared to the weapons used by the natives. The impact of this was that with time, the rifle proved powerful and this changed the nature of warfare and hunting. Eventually, the Native Americans started trading for the European weapons and this improved their hunting.
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Geoffrey, Nuttall. The Holy Spirit in the Puritan Faith and Experience. London-University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Gleason Randall and Kelly Kapic. Who were the Puritans? Devote life book,2004.
Lamont, William. Puritanism and Historical Controversy. Mc-Gill-Queens Studies in History of Religion,1996.
Kang, Ning. Puritanism and Its Impact upon American Values. Journal of Review of European Studies, 2009.
Williams, Haller. Liberty and Reformation in the Puritan Revolution. Columbia University Press, 1955.
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- Randall Gleason and Kelly Kapic, “Who werethe Puritans?’ Devote life book,2004. ↑
- Charles, Cohen “The psychology of Puritans Religious Ecperience”.Oxford University Press,1986 ↑
- William Lamont, “Puritanism and Historical Controversy”. Mc-Gill-Queens Studies in History of Religion, 1996. ↑
- Steven Carbone II, “William Bradford, The Puritan Ethic,& the Mayflower Compact” StudentPulse.com,2010. ↑
- Nuttall Geoffrey, “The Holy Spirit in the Puritan Faith and Experience”. London University of Chicago Press,1992 ↑
- Haller Williams, “Liberty and Reformation in the Puritan Revolution”. Columbia University Press,1955. ↑
- Ning Kang, “Puritanism and Its Impact upon American Values”. Journal of Review of European Studies, 2009. ↑
- History, Digital. 2015. ‘Digital History’. Digitalhistory.Uh.Edu. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/era.cfm?eraID=2&smtid=4. ↑
- History, Digital. 2015. ‘Digital History’. Digitalhistory.Uh.Edu. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/era.cfm?eraID=2&smtID=2. ↑
- Ibid ↑
- Rowlandson, Mary. 2015. ‘Narrative Of The Captivity And Restoration Of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson’. Gutenberg.Org. Http://Www.Gutenberg.Org/Files/851/851-H/851-H.Htm. ↑
- Library, Digital. 2015. ‘Digital History’. Digitalhistory.Uh.Edu. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/era.cfm?eraID=6&smtid=2.
- Library, Digital. 2015. ‘Digital History’. Digitalhistory.Uh.Edu. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/era.cfm?eraID=6&smtid=2. ↑
- Gutenberg,. 2015. ‘A Brief Account Of The Destruction Of The Indies By Bartolomé De Las Casas’. Gutenberg.Org. http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20321?msg=welcome_stranger. ↑