A Model of Christian Charity

In 1630, the Massachusetts Bay Company set sail to the New World in hope of reforming the Church of England. While crossing the Atlantic, John Winthrop, the puritan leader of the great migration, delivered perhaps the most famous sermon aboard the Arbella, entitled “A Model of Christian Charity.” Winthrop’s sermon gave hope to puritan immigrants to reform the Church of England and set an example for future immigrants. The Puritan’s was a goal to get rid of the offensive features that Catholicism left behind when the Protestant Reformation took place. Under Puritanism, there was a constant strain to devote your life to God and your neighbors. Unlike the old England, they wanted to prove that New England was a community of love and individual worship to God. Therefore, they created a covenant with God and would live their lives according to the covenant. Because of the covenant, Puritans tried to abide by God’s law and got rid of anything that opposed their way of life. Between 1630 and the 18th century, the Puritans tried to create a new society in New England by creating a covenant with God and living your life according to God’s rule, but in the end failed to reform the Church of England. By the mid 1630’s, threats to the Puritans such as Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, and Thomas Hooker were being banned from the Puritan community for their divergent beliefs. 20 years later, another problem arose with the children of church members and if they were to be granted full membership to the church. Because of these children, a Halfway Covenant was developed to make them “halfway” church members. And even more of a threat to the Puritan society was their notion that they were failing God, because of the belief that witches existed in 1692.
In 1534, King Henry VIII formally instigated the English Reformation. He therefore passed the Act of Supremacy, which outlawed the Catholic Church and made him “the only supreme head on earth of the Church of England” (Roark, 68). Puritans were looking for a more Protestant church and received what they wanted. Along with it, came the King’s total control over the Church. This is what the Puritans didn’t want. Puritans believed that ordinary Christians, not a church hierarchy, should control religious life. They wanted a distinct line between government and the Church of England. Puritans also wanted to eliminate the customs of Catholic worship and instead focus on an individual’s relationship with God developed through Bible study, prayer, and introspection (Roark, 68).

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