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I. The history of the Puritans
The Puritans didn't give themself this name. At first it was used to humiliate the Puritans. But after a while they adopt the name for themselves. The name comes from the word pure and has the meaning "clean", "unspoiled", "proper".
The Puritans origins are in England during the early 16th Century. The Puritanism was a form of protestantism in England. The Puritans are people, who believes in predestination, because of their religious conflict with the church of England and as a result of the persecution they were forced to leave England.
Puritans are discontented with the Church of England. The Puritans are people, who stand in for the pure doctrin of the bible. They reject all forms of religious practise. Every written word in the bible must be believed from them. Who follows God's moral codes will be blessed with eternal life. The conflict between the King, the Church of England and the Puritans had reached the climax when William Laud became the new Archbishop of Canterbury. He brought new beliefs in the Church, but this was unacceptable for the Puritans. This new beliefs included emphasise on individual acceptance or rejection of God's grace, toleration for a varity of religious beliefs, and the incoporation of "high church" symbols. For the Puritans is this not true belief. So they wished to get rid of all catholics influence in their religion. Thats the reason why they split from the Church of England in 1633.
So they travelled by ship to New England in the early 17th century. The New England region became the center for Puritanism. To controll most of the colonies' activity they held a strong connection between church and state. This strong controll could be hold up until the end of the 17th century.
II. Puritans beliefs & values
The Puritans had five basic beliefs, which were very similar to Calvins' doctrins. Johannes Calvin was a french Protestant reformer, who lived in Geneva.
A. Total Depravity that means because of the original sin of Adam everyone is a siner by birth and no one has the right to salvation. Every person is absolutly bad and doomed.
B. Unconditional Election God has chosen some for salvation and some to be condemned. Whether or not one is predestinated for salvation can not be affectet by oneself. Its not because of what one has done or not done, there is no reason for the predestination and no possibility to change the own status.
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Puritans Moral Codes 17th Century Eternal Life Religious Conflict 16th Century Religious Beliefs Predestination New England Reformer
C. Limited Atonement In contrast to the catholic's doctrins one can not work off a debt. The acts to please God are limited.
D. Irresistible Grace when one is chosen from God for salvation, one can not resist his grace.
E. Perseverance When someone is predestinated for salvation, nothing he does can change that fact.
The Puritans strongly believed, that God intervens actively in their lifes. They believed that God is present in every human action and natural phenomenon. Hence, nothing happens by chance but everthing happens on purpose. Through the events God shows his wrath or reward.
Furthermore, they believed that they are God's chosen people and that they are a shining example for the rest of the world. Hence, they wanted to create a model theocracy in America.
Their beliefs led to a own view in many areas.
No one could know whether or not he is predestinated for salvation, but when one obeys God's will and succeeds in his life he probably is.
As a result, the Puritans tried to obey every single word from the bible. That produced strict laws and moral codes in their community.
What is more, they had a strong work ethic. They were very disciplined, worked hard and didn't spend their money for their own pleasure.
Moreover, they brought forward education in their communities. Everyone should be able to read and understand the bible, because they believed in the "pristerhood of all believers". That means, there is no difference between minister and farmer, every Christian has to follow God's will.
Also, they had a strong believe in the devil. To their mind, the devil was behind every evil action and his desire was to lead them astray. Each person should continually read the bible, pray and go to church, to avoid the devils influence. They were afraid of everything that could contain evil, like witchcraft, pagan or occult rituals and practices.
III. Salem Witch Hunts
Early in 1692 the witch hunt hysteria began in Salem. A doctor examined Rev. Parris' daughter and niece and decided that the only explanation for their strange behaviour were witchcraft. The Puritans of Salem believed the doctors conclusion without any questioning. On march 1, 1692 the two magistrates John Hawthorne and Jonathan Corwin started to examine the accusation of witchcraft in Salem. During this questioning, Tituba confessed first to being a witch and claimed that she and the accused girls had all made pacts with the devil. Through this confession the Puritans of Salem felt that their suspicion were valid. Hysteria ruled in Salem. No one were save of this paranoia. Governor William Phips was forced to create a special court to hear the witch cases. This court was known as Oyer and Terminer. The charge of witchcraft were only based uppon gossip or hearsay, and the only way to avoid execution was to admitt to being a witch. Nineteen people refused to confess and they were all executed in 1692. Among these nineteen people where Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor. These trials were the harsh answer for religious purity that does not allow any individual thinking.
Where Did the Puritans Come From?
In England in 1530, the English separated from the Roman Catholic Church and reformed their beliefs. The Church of England became the English Protestant Church.
After 1560, those who wanted to continue the "purification" of the church were called Puritans. If a practice or hierarch was not in the Bible, the Puritans wanted to eliminate it. However, the Puritans could not agree on how far or to what degree to "purify." Those who wanted more purification broke away. A group came to America in 1620; the great migration to New England started in 1630.Once the Puritans arrived, they worked in the New England Colonies and placed the church and God at the center of their lives. The ministers of the church were very influential people in these colonies.
Ideas for Further Research
The following is a list of possible research topics for you to research. Very basic information is included in this article. However, you will need to complete additional research for a research paper or project. There is a list of resources/references at the end of this article where you can start your research.
Family Life: The family was very important to the Puritans and most were farming families. The average Puritans lived longer than their counterparts in England, and many lived long enough to be grandparents, which was not common. Many kept journals of their daily lives.
Clothing: The Puritans wanted simplicity in their clothing and many times wore dark clothing.
Homes: Early on, families lived in single room mud homes with thatched roofs.
Food: They farmed and fished. A feast may include fish (fresh or salted), meats, and a stew with vegetables from their gardens. For dessert, there might be custard or sugared almonds. And, surprisingly, they would drink wine and ale, just not to excess.
Female Roles: Women were not allowed to vote or make decisions in the church. They worked in the home and the garden.
Male Roles/Jobs: Men who followed the church and were "chosen" were allowed to vote. A male might have the occupation of minister, cooper, hunter, miller, tanner, furrier, surveyor, farmer, etc.
Education: The literacy rate amongst Puritans was rather high due to the fact that they wanted their children to be able to read the Bible. If a community in Massachusetts had 50 families or more, a school supported by taxes was mandatory.
Church: Puritans attended church at least two times a week. Government meetings would sometimes follow church meetings. All church members had to pay tithes to the church and attend regularly.
Punishment: Those who did not follow God's laws would be punished. The punishment was harsh, such as hanging, public whippings, cutting off ears, boring holes in tongues, stockades, etc.
Once you have chosen a topic and completed your research paper on Puritan daily life, you can share it with your teacher. Make sure to follow the proper format, such as MLA or APA style. And, edit and revise your work before typing or writing your final copy.
Colonial America, http://www.richmondancestry.org/colonial.shtml
Daily Life of Puritans, http://gtines1600puritans.weebly.com/process--daily-life.html
Puritan Clothing, http://www.fabrics-store.com/blog/2008/01/28/political-dissent-puritans-and-the-use-of-linen/
Puritan Daily Life, http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~jklumpp/comm460/lecture/ne.html
Puritan Food, http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2007/11/18/so_what_did_the_puritans_eat/
Puritan Homes, http://www.ctlibrary.com/ch/1994/issue41/4136.html
Puritan Life, http://www.ushistory.org/us/3d.asp
The Puritans, http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/english2/puritans_intro.html
By engraved by L.S. Punderson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Davenport_puritan.jpg