The Puritan Dilemma

1539 WordsFeb 15, 20117 Pages
[H]e which would have suer peace and joye in Christianitye, must not ayme at a condition retyred from the world and free from temptations, but to knowe that the life which is most exercised with tryalls and temptations is the sweetest, and will prove the safeste. For such tryalls as fall within compasse of our callinges, it is better to arme and withstande them than to avoide and shunne them. -John Winthrop There, in Winthrop's own words, is the Puritan dilemma of which Mr. Morgan speaks here, "the paradox that required a man to live in the world without being of it." Superficially Puritanism was only a belief that the Church of England should be purged of its hierarchy and of the traditions and ceremonies inherited from Rome. But those…show more content…
The first question concerned how the colony was to be governed, how "democratically" as we would say now. Here, the Puritan concept of the "covenant" with God, which bound them to His laws, led naturally into the idea that the people so bound should have a covenant among themselves about how to enforce God's laws. The second, a classic form of separatism, arose most spectacularly in the person of Roger Williams, who thought it necessary for the members of a congregation to "make a public declaration of their repentance for having communion with the churches of England, while they lived there." Thus it was sufficient in his eyes to have banished that Church's errors from Puritan congregations; it was even necessary to renounce the Church. Winthrop understood the danger of Williams's ideas, that they might/must lead one to keep withdrawing further and further from the world and burrowing deeper into oneself, in the ultimately mistaken belief that only one's own vision of God's truth is pure. Third, in the confrontation with Anne Hutchinson, Winthrop faced the sins of Arminianism, the belief that one could influence God and secure salvation by "preparing" oneself to receive it, and of Antinomianism, the belief that since God has predetermined who is to be saved one's behavior here on Earth does not matter, that one's sinfulness or
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