The Puritans - Creating the Perfect God Fearing Society
The Puritans dream was to create a model society for the rest of Christendom. Their goal was to make a society in every way connected to god. Every aspect of their lives, from political status and employment to even recreation and dress, was taken into account in order to live a more pious life.
But to really understand what the aspirations of the puritans were, we must first understand their beliefs. “Their goal was absolute purity; to live with out sin in a sinful world was to them the supreme challenge in life. They were derisively called Puritans because they sought to purify the Church of England of the popish and antichristian stuff with which they believed the simplicity of the primitive Christian church had been encrusted.” The Puritans believed that man’s only purpose in life was “to glorify God on earth and, if he were especially fortunate, to continue the good work in Heaven.”
For the puritans, to glorify god meant keeping him in mind at all times, working to the best of their ability at whatever job god had fated them to do, and following a strict moral code based on the bible. “Every act and thought was either a glorification of god or its opposite.” Thus, leading a pious life in the form of working hard, praying, and churchgoing, was considered paying homage to God. Through all of these things, the most important was to be mindful of God at all times. Pride, complacency, and gratification of the senses could not be permitted if they captured the place in the mind reserved for the Almighty.
This does not mean, however, (as many people have believed) that the Puritans did not allow themselves to be comfortable and happy. First of all, the Puritans took happiness in the knowledge that they were living a pure life the way God had intended it to be.
Second they believed in working hard, and if one acquired wealth by working hard, saving, and staying sober, than that was evidence of God favoring that person. “Eating well, drinking well, sexual indulgence within the bounds of matrimony, and enjoying the comforts of life were not proscribed by the Puritans. In actuality, the Puritans were waging war upon certain human propensities that they regarded as evils: covetousness, materialism, the love of ostentation, and concern with the externals of religion rather than with the things of the spirit.”
When a puritan felt that he had failed to meet the requirements set for him by God, he “flagellated himself remorselessly with introspective cross-examinations that usually took the form of thoughts of eternal reprobation and torment.” The puritan was in constant internal conflict, whether it was restraining his human desires, or if he failed in that, than scolding himself for faltering in his efforts. The Puritans believed that they were God’s select few that could carry out his original orders the way he had intended.
Now that we have made clear the beliefs that...