Puritans and Puritanism Essay

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Puritans and Puritanism

This essay addresses the questions: What is Puritanism. What is the meaning of puritanism in American history? What is the Covenant as Puritans understood it. How were their ideas about the Covenant applied to their experience in America?

Puritanism is one of the most important aspects of the American culture. Many of this country’s beliefs come from puritanism background. What is Puritanism and the meaning of it in American history?

Puritanism is a term that originates from the religious group called the Puritans. They were a denomination formed by the great Protestant Reformation in Europe. They were known as nonconformists and dissenters because of their refusal to submit to the Church of England.
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A covenant is an important agreement or promise. The Covenant of Grace states that God approached mankind, not the other way around and all mankind had to do was accept this covenant of grace. This allowed mankind, as sinful as they were, the chance to return to God.

The Puritans perceived their coming to America as God’s grace. They viewed their life in England, with all of the persecution and hardship, as a kind of banishment from Eden by God. America was a wilderness to the puritans. In the Old Testament of the Bible, Moses led the Israelites into the wilderness and wandered for forty years before reaching Canaan, the Promised Land. The New World was, at the same time, the Wilderness and the Garden of Eden. It was uninhabited (at least in their view), pristine, and beautiful.

Having created this concept of the Covenant and the sovereignty of God, the Puritans believed that everything they did was for the will of God. This meant that they could take over the land of the Indians and exploit these “heathen”. And they did. In 1636, Puritans in Massachusetts massacred hundreds of Pequot Indians in what they called “a sweet sacrifice.”

The concept of puritanism did not end with the Puritan community. As they joined the rest of the other English colonies, many of the puritanism beliefs permeated into society. As we look back in history, we can see how this has affected the history of America. During each period in time, the United States has felt that

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