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Puritanism (655 words)

Puritanism, a religious reform movement in the late 16th and 17th century which
sought to “purify” the Church of England, Anglican Church. Puritans
became noted for a spirit of moral and religious pledge that determined their
whole way of life, and they sought through church reform to make their lifestyle
the pattern for the whole nation. Their efforts to transform the nation led to a
civil war in England, and to the founding of the colonies in America as working
models of the Puritan way of life. The excerpt from Jonathon Edwards’ sermon
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, is an example on how Puritans followed
their religion. Jonathon Edwards’ work describes how God hated Puritans for
their sins; which led the Puritans to feel guilty for their sins. With the wrath
of God and the guilt man felt, the damnation and salvation principal became the
focus of Puritanism. The Puritans religion had the belief that they were
sinners, and that God hated them for their sins. According to Jonathon Edwards,
God hates man… “‘Tis true that judgement against your evil work has not
been executed…” (Edwards 41). He used evil work as a metaphor for sins.

Bremmer’s article Puritanism, its Essence and Attraction describes God’s
creation of man, man’s fall from his grace, and how we became sinners. “Man
was part of God’s creation and was made in the image of God. The relationship
between God and the first man Adam was described as a covenantal bond. In the
words of the Puritan West – minister Confession, ‘life was promised to Adam, and
in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.’ But’our first parents’ violated this covenant…” (Bremmer 20). Since our
first parents violated this covenant, they fell from their original
righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in their sin. The
effects from this original sin were born by all men thereafter. Since the
Puritans believed that we were all sinners, the Preachers often utilized the
concepts of the wrath of God and guilt in their sermons. God was so angry with
man that his wrath was great. Edwards in his sermon described God’s wrath in
terms of metaphors. His wrath was so vengeful that he described floodwaters
being held by a dam. It was God’s will that the dam did not break, and wipe man
out. “Puritans spoke frequently in his benevolence” (Bremmer 20). God
had ill will toward man, and only salvaged a few and left the rest for
damnation. Man after the fall was by nature sinful, and for sinning against God
man deserves damnation. This was a central belief of Puritanism. Every man was
in the hands of an angry God. “Thus are all you that never passed under a
great change of heart by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls;
… ’tis nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this movement
swallowed up in everlasting destruction” (Edwards 42). At the time God
created Adam, man’s salvation depended on his own actions. God pledged happiness
to Adam in return for man’s absolute obedience to the will of God. The Covenant
of Works exemplifies this concept in Puritanism. In the fall, man broke the
covenant, and lost his opportunity to be salvaged. The consequences of man’s sin
could only be reversed through divine action. God provided the release by the
Covenant of Redemption. “… the agreement whereby the Father compacted
with the Son to provide the salvation of some men and women through Christ’s
sacrifice” (Bremmer 21). This superficial order for the sins of mankind
made possible individual redemption through the Covenant of Grace. Once man
reached this Covenant, believing in God could redeem him. The excerpt from
Jonathon Edward’s sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, focused on
Puritanism theology. He addressed the issues of man as a sinner, God’s hate of
sinners – wrath of God. Throughout the sermon he addressed the damnation of man,
the process of salvation and redemption. He hammered at his congregation using
guilt and fear for their souls. Thus Edwards’ sermon incorporated the three
covenants; Covenant of Works, Covenant of Redemption, and Covenant of Grace.

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