The Puritan Dilemma Essay

2433 words - 10 pages

John Winthrop was born in Suffolk, England in 1588. He was his parents' only son. His father, Adam Winthrop, was the lord of Groton Manor, a small estate in the English countryside. John grew up on his father's estate, among hills, fields of wheat and rye, and shallow ponds. In his childhood he as educated by a private tutor, and at the age of fourteen his father enrolled him in Trinity College in Cambridge. He studied there for two years and then returned to Groton to begin practical training in running his father's estate.Soon Adam Winthrop saw his son's hidden marriage problem and introduced him to Mary Worth, the daughter of a distinguished nobleman. Three weeks later John was married at the age of seventeen. Ten months later, just after his eighteenth birthday, he became a father. John and his wife Mary worked hard and had six children in ten years. Then Mary suddenly died. After six months John remarried, but on his first wedding anniversary his second wife died. One year later John married his third wife, Margaret. By all accounts, Margaret was one of the most appealing women in all of American history. She was beautiful and gracious. She was also a woman of faith. John Winthrop treasured her as his greatest possession. When he traveled away from home, he never failed to send her letters.In every letter, John expressed deep love for his wife Margaret. But he never failed to promote her faith and to remind her that he was only a mortal man, and that their first and greatest love must be reserved for the Creator God. She was his spiritual coworker and his faithful companion as they journeyed through life.In his early thirties John began to study law. This would equip him with the legal expertise he needed to handle landlord-tenant disputes, collect rents, and deal with government authorities. In due time, John would follow in his father's footsteps as the next lord of Groton Manor. John's father did his best to establish John as an upper-middle class country gentleman. But John was not like his father. Sometime in his early years, either on the estate or when he was away at college, a change took place in John. His heart caught fire. It was the fire that they called Puritanism.Puritanism had two sides. On the political side, Puritans were a group of Protestants who were opposed to the corruption and abuses of the Church of England. The Puritans wanted to purify their church, to make it holy and pleasing to God. On the spiritual side, Puritans were men and women with intense personal devotion to God. They believed that the chief goal of man was to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.The Puritans' devotion manifested itself in three ways. First, they believed that man should be in the world but not of the world. The believer's true home is not on earth but in heaven, so he must be careful not to lose his heart to the all the things that this world has to offer--pleasures, material...

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