AMERICAN HISTORY

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AMERICAN HISTORY

 

Part I

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[1]. 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[2].

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[3].

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[4].

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 .[5]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[6].

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 t.............


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