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Puritan Beliefs Essay, Research Paper

Puritan Beliefs

When people hear the word Puritan, one will notice faces of displeasure,

because nobody wants to hear about these uptight people. Our misconceptions of

these people have spread all over America, when in fact these peoples’ morals

and beliefs are what shaped our nation today. If one looks deeper into puritan

meditations they will find that these people were not just uptight people.

Stereotypes that we have can be easily altered by actually reading Puritan

literature. The Puritans’ believe that the Bible is the sole source of God’s

law, they believe in original sin, and they believe that God plays a direct hand

in the affairs of men.

Puritans’ main belief is that the Bible is the sole source of God’s law. They

believed that the Bible has all the answers to life’s questions. One sample of

Puritan literature that supports this idea is the New England Primer, which is a

book that the parents used to teach their children at a young age. In the New

England Primer there is a section that is devoted to the alphabet. The letter

"B" has a picture of the Bible next to it and a passage saying

"Thy life attend, this book attend"(NEP 29). The letter "B"

basically shows us that right from the start Puritan children are taught to

follow the ways of the Bible. Along with the letter "B" other letters

have sayings that go along with stories of the Bible. The New England Primer has

another section entitled "The Dutiful Child’s Promises" which says

"I will as much in me as lies keen all God’s holy commandments"(NEP

28). The passage shows how important God’s laws were in the Puritan culture.

Puritans also believe in natural depravity, or the belief that all are born

sinful. Again in the New England Primer it states for letter "A"

"In Adam’s fall we sinned all", which describes to us that through

Adam’s sin we are all sinners. Jonathon Edwards, a Puritan minister, writes

"So thus it is, that natural men are held in the hand of God over the pit

of hell, they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sustained to it

…." ("Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" 43). Edward’s

writing tell us that we are all over that pit of hell and it is up to us to get

out of this situation. Natural depravity was a very real belief that was

ingrained into them at an early age.

The belief that God plays a direct role in the affairs of men is another

Puritan belief that can be found in sources of their literature. Since Puritans

believe that God is the creator of all things in existence, then he can take

anything away just as fast as he created it. "Upon the Burning of my House,

July 10th 1666", by Anne Bradstreet, is about how God took all her

possessions but she does not cry or morn for her losses. "He might of all

justly bereft / But yet sufficient for us left"(Bradstreet 33) tells us

that even though all is lost she will be able to survive without her

possessions. The poem goes on to tell us how she felt that she cared about her

possessions to much, and that they were only getting in the way of glorifying

God to the fullest. "Raise up thy thought above the sky / That dunghill

mists away may fly" shows us just how serious Puritans were about there

faith. Bradstreet sees her misfortune as a blessing so that she can rejoice his

name with even greater passion. Jonathan Edwards in his Personal Narrative also

speaks of God’s hand in his life. "When it pleased God to seize me with

pleurisy, in which he brought me nigh to grave , and shook me over the pit of

hell" describes to us how Edwards was blessed with pleurisy, a very fatal

disease, and lived so that he could realize that he was living a life of sin and

could fix it. Both Bradstreet and Edwards had tragic things happen to them which

they saw as blessings from God so that they could truly glorify god. Puritans

definately believed that God plays a direct hand in our lives.

The belief that the Bible is the sole source of God’s law, natural depravity,

and that God play a direct hand in the affairs of men are all Puritan values

that are shown though their literature. By reading Puritan liturature we can

further understand their ways. Knowing their ways can clear up our

misconceptions of them as a whole. Learning things in different concepts can

help clear up stereotypes that we might have. Do not be quick to judge without

exploring all sides of the story.

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