Puritanism was a movement that arose towards the end of the 16th century. It was a direct result of the split of the Catholic Church. The Anglicans became the dominant Protestant religion in England and disapproved of the Puritan beliefs.
To escape the religious persecution that followed, they escaped to the New World. (Religion of the American Republic)Puritans saw God as an omniscient and omnipotent being. They expressed His authority over all humans by preserving their covenant with God and by their righteousness within the aspects of church, religion, and community. The manipulation of the Puritan’s deep passion for righteousness within the social aspects of their community, through the fear based preaching of Jonathan Edwards, led to countless innocent deaths; However, revolutionists, Hawthorne and Miller, challenged this idea of blindly following God’s will by revealing the hypocrisy within Puritan beliefs which, ultimately, modified God’s influence in American social aspects with the introduction of individualism.Edward Taylor and Anne Bradstreet, through their literary works, reveal that with grace and hard work one may reach ultimate salvation.
Predestination was a mainstay in their religious beliefs, so God chose who he would save and send to heaven. As a result, each person was refined by the grace of God and worked their entire lives to adhere to his laws. They did this through grace and hard work (Puritanism in New England). The first of the covenants was grace and involved a strong faith in God.
The second covenant, hard work, depended on human action. Edward Taylor communicates his strong faith in God in his poem, “Huswifery.” He states, “O Lord, thy Spining Wheele compleate,” to demonstrate his servitude to God and his desire to find his destiny.
Secondly, Anne Bradstreet, in “Verses Upon the Burning of our House,” expresses her utter devotion and ambitions for heaven. With her quote “hope and Treasure lies above,” she is content with losing her home because she knows that with hard work she will receive a better house in heaven. A passion for righteousness and desire to do God’s will eventually became a fundamental belief within Puritan’s church, religion, and their community. Initially, they sought out education and religious truth. They thought that those who read the Bible could find true belief in God.
A good life could be lived out with an accurate and stern interpretation. Puritans established schools all over the country to reach this objective through education. This foundation balanced the difference between the classes and motivated the masses to believe that anything was possible. All these aspects mentioned provided for a strong belief in themselves driven by a stern passion for righteousness.
Eventually, righteousness became their mission to the world and a component of their morality. The Puritans now exhibited a strong desire to know and do God’s will. (Puritans) (Puritan Life)In the sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Jonathan Edwards deftly delivers an argument steeped in fear tactics to make his readers aware that they must adhere to the religious values expressed in the Bible. For instance, he made his audience aware that they could be cast into hell at any time and of the damnation God could cause.
To show that human beings were still at the mercy of God, Edward’s states, “There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment” (Edwards, p. 5). In spite of this, Edwards still believed that humans had the power to save themselves by overcoming their corruption. This is done by an individual’s actions and his work done throughout his life. To Edwards, sinners are kept on earth because God is not ready to take them yet. He proceeds to take these threats and direct them towards individuals.
Edward indicates, “Yea God is a great deal more angry with great Numbers that are now on Earth, yea doubtless with many that are now in this Congregation” (Edwards, p.7). He is attempting to inspire them to become better individuals and have a rebirth in their actions. This was different from many Puritan texts. They chose to believe Edwards when he stated that God’s goodness is the one thing that saves them.
The fear of denouncement to hell terrified them and focused them on their path for righteousness. The thought that “hell is gaping for them” creates a strong motivation to do God’s will (Edwards, p.11). Their life, therefore, becomes a mission and they must live their life trying their best to pursue the highest form of morality.