Puritanism finds its origin in the term ‘puritan’ which means ‘follower of pure religion’. Historically, puritans were those people who were dissatisfied with what they claimed to be an in complete break with the Catholic Church at Rome that the Church of England had made. Defining Puritanism, James C. Spadling says, “ Puritanism, a reform movement in the Church of England during the late 16th and 17th centuries, sought to carry the Reformation beyond the stage it reached at the beginning of the reign of queen Elizabeth I( 1588-1603)”.1 Describing the origin of Puritan, he further says, “ The name Puritan apparently was first used in the 1560s against those who thought it was necessary ...view middle of the document...
”3 Therefore, redemption from the Original Sin could be attained only by God’s own self-sacrifice, of course through Christ, who is God incarnate.
Thus, in view of the helplessness of men and God’s determination to redeem some of them to natural life, he places the whole burden of his regeneration on the divine mercy through the ‘covenant of Grace’. This covenant , the Puritans believed, was a true contract of mutual obligation in which the condition for the mortal partner was faith. This mutual contract takes pace between God and man. Since God is omnipotent, it is His will that matters. As per His predetermination , some few people are restored to their natural life. However, it exclusively depends upon God’s will as to who those individuals will be. They are called ‘elect’. ‘Election’ , in other words, is a manifestation of God’s Grace.
As regards the doctrine of ‘predestination’, man is predestined to either salvation or damnation. However, through the ‘covenant of works’, God had given him the right of free will, so that man could attain salvation progressively through good works and virtuous life. Whereas it is not possible only through the ‘covenant of works’, the ‘covenant of Grace’, also plays its part, which means that man is not judged for his actions alone. And thus, he should not trouble himself about the consequences of his conduct on earth. Harisharan S.Ahluwalia, quoting Perry Miller, says, “The covenant theology held to both the grace and consent, to the decree of God and the full responsibility of man, to assurance in spite of sin and morality in spite of assurance.”4
Throwing light on the doctrine of ‘election’ Mr.Ralph Batron Perry remarks, “Man’s destiny is transposed from this world to the next where he forever suffers the deserved penalty for his sin, or in his regenerate condition forever enjoys restored favour of God.”5
Therefore, since man is imperfect, the task of religion is essentially to counsel him of perfection. He can strive to achieve perfection. With the best of his efforts to repudiate flesh, he must yield to its appetites. And however much he condemns the world in which he lives as futile, he must accept the condition which it imposes. And though a Christian may condemn the natural intellect, he cannot live by faith alone. Intellectual powers do not only help him to adapt himself to the natural environment, but to elucidate and interpret faith itself.
As result, the Puritans became highly responsive to stricter discipline and morality in social life. Man, fallen as he is, has no option but to lead a virtuous life, if he is to regain the state of perfection. The Puritans were thus extremely serous about their moral purpose. So much so that, they believed, if man sincerely took the ‘covenant of works’, the ‘Kingdom of God would follow. In short, the Puritans came to be strongly opposed to amusements and recreations, which, they believed, were impediments...