Early Puritan And Pilgrim Literature Essay

1066 words - 4 pages

The Puritans and the Pilgrims both migrated to North America to escape religious persecution due to their views about the Church of England. They created very little literature because writing was viewed as satanic in both cultures. All that was written in Puritan New England were works to glorify God and record journeys for historical purposes. The most famous poets of this period include Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor. William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, kept a journal of the events that took place on the journey over on the Mayflower and life within the colony. Jonathan Edwards, a minister during the Great Awakening wrote the sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." These authors illustrated the following religious beliefs in their works: natural depravity, irresistible grace, and unconditional election.Puritans believed that all men sinned and that all men were of an evil nature. Ministers instructed them to search their souls for sins and ask God for forgiveness. In the 1730's and 1740's the Puritan religion began to lose followers. Several ministers went to extreme measures to get their followers to adhere to the teaching in the Bible more sternly. "There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God's restraints."(101). The prior excerpt demonstrates the natural depravity of men. Puritans were instructed to frequently search through their souls for instances of which they had done evil doings. The act of constant soul searching wore many puritans down and caused them to convert to a different faith while others were driven in to a psychotic state. Edwards also stated that "Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards Hell;..."(103). The passage refers to the wickedness of men. Hearing every Sunday that you possess natural wickedness which drags you down towards hell is one of the reasons the Puritan faith became unpopular and eventually died out. In his sermon, he also stated "So that 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 sentenced to it;..."(103). Edwards and other preachers of the Great Awakening depict God as an angry and cruel man and end up losing many followers of the Puritan faith in the end as members of the faith viewed God as mean and inhumane and they felt he was inaccessible to them.Another Puritan belief that was prominently displayed in their literature was unconditional election. Unconditional election states that God decides whether a man will go to heaven or hell before he or she is even born. The poet, Anne Bradstreet illustrates the theme in her poem "Upon the Burning of Our House" "And, when I could no longer look,/ I blest His name that gave and took,/ That laid my goods no in the dust:/ Yea so it was, and so 'twas just./ It was his own:...

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