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Puritanism Essay Research Paper English 208February 22

Puritanism Essay, Research Paper English 208 February 22, 2000 Puritanism The puritan religion is one that is hardly understood in today?s world of never-ending excuses and finger pointing. This is human nature at it?s finest. Puritanism

Puritanism Essay, Research Paper

English 208

February 22, 2000

Puritanism

The puritan religion is one that is hardly understood in today?s world of

never-ending excuses and finger pointing. This is human nature at it?s finest. Puritanism

probably couldn?t make it today. In fact, it probably wouldn?t have a chance. Today?s

society would not be willing to make the sacrifices of chosen hardships to make the cut.

One of the most demanding religions, puritan belief forced its followers to change their

life in accordance to God?s holy word, only to guess that he could possibly be one of the

elect. The puritan religion was based on five basic principles; supremacy of the divine

will, the depravity of man, election, free grace, and predestination. Each having a

distinct and overpowering effect on all who followed and basically scaring the living *censored*

out of people who did not. To live in the puritan society, a person had to play by the

puritan rules, or face banishment or even death.

The first major belief, and subject of great controversy, was the belief of the

supremacy of the divine will. Simply stated, everything that happened in the world was

because God wanted it that way. If God was pleased, good times came. If he wasn?t

hardship and famine followed. Another possible explanation to hardships, though, was

that since god was good, unexplainable negatively impacting phenomenon that seemed to

be unheralded must be the work of something outside of God?s realm. This is where not

only did the religion get tricky, but actually entered a sort of slippery slope. The Salem

witch trials are a prime example of this. Although the Bible states, ?Judge not, lest ye be

judged?, the puritans apparently did not believe this pertained to them, and if it did, they

felt they were justified in trying to preserve the ?city on the hill?. Although in theory this

ideal is harmless, it relied on the entire congregation buying it in good faith, taking it

home and swallowing it whole. What tends to happen, alternatively, is that

undereducated people when given a philosophical doctrine such as this seem to

misinterpret minute things, such as bum luck, as them being cursed, or out of god?s favor.

Since it would be harder to accept their own shortcomings, it would be much easier to

find a scapegoat. As Cotton Mather exemplified in his book The Wonders of the

Invisible World, trivial matters such as the death of cattle, personal disease, and infection

were attributed to witchcraft and sorcery. One such ?witch? Martha Carrier, due to her

passive following of the religion, was prosecuted and sentenced to death over evidence

that was neither seen nor proven. All this was accepted in the faith that she was the

cause of everything wrong with the afflicted. (423)

The next most powerful ideal was that of predestination. This belief stated that

from the beginnings of time, God wrote the script, and man was to carry it out without

any ad-libs. Although this too can be seen as a scapegoat mechanism, this belief still

shines through in some religions today. The difference between most religions and the

puritan religion, though, is that while other religions believed man is predestined to hell

and through the grace of god may escape to heaven, the puritans believed that no matter

how hard a person tried, or how well and holy they lived their lives, they could do

nothing to change where God wanted them to end up.

Almost all Christian religions believed that man was destined to hell because of

his original sin. The depravity of man dates back to the Bibles story in Genesis of

Adam?s fall from grace due to his disobedience of God. Because of this, all men were

sentenced to eternal damnation. God though, sent Christ to Earth as a means of

consummating a new covenant with man. This ensured that at least some of mankind

would be saved. This number, though, according to the Puritans, was a very limited

amount. This was called the process of election.

This transcended to several important aspects of the puritan society, including the

notion of free grace. Free Grace was the belief that there was nothing a man could do

influence what God had in plan, being their final destination of heaven or hell. Grace

was given freely to his elect. Most people believed themselves to be part of the elect, and

lived their life as an example to others. This then created a society of self-righteous

people who believed themselves to be part of the elect and most everyone else to be

destined for hell. This created animosity with people of alternate faiths and led to an

extreme intolerance.

The puritan religion as a whole seemed to produce a God fearing society that

produced healthy Christians. Unfortunately, as bibles became more and more common,

church became less and less necessary. As the church lost some of its power, there was

an influx of immigrants, which helped dismantle the entire city. The religious

intolerance of the Puritans helped limit it?s growth to none at all and eventually the

religion died out. Much like the walls of Babylon were torn down, so too were the walls

of the ?city on the hill.?

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