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Hist Paper 2 - Throughout the 17th century and the 18th...

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Throughout the 17 th century and the 18 th century, different forms of ideas and opinions existed about God, human nature and their interactions. Two prevailing points of view concerning these interactions can be compared by analyzing the beliefs and practices of Puritans and Deists. Puritans appeared in New England as early as 1620, escaping religious persecution and repression found in the Church of England in hope of maintaining their religious and cultural identity. There are many other differences and similarities between Puritans and Deists which can be seen by analyzing the works of authors during this time period. John Winthrop, Michael Wigglesworth, and Mary Rowlandson were strict Puritans whose religious beliefs permeated their writings. Benjamin Franklin, whose writings were widely distributed during this time, expressed views that suggested individuals abilities to chart their own destinies with a broad based view of the multiple ways in which God and man interacted. Franklin, among others, are classified as the “enlightened” and a Deist, elements of which can be seen in his respective writings as well. These authors, although different in their secular and religious backgrounds, illustrate, in their writings, a passion for their beliefs by relating it to personal and social life events, political struggles, and even changes they envisioned to make the world a better place. In John Winthrop’s speech to the Massachusetts legislature, his puritan way of thinking becomes apparent when he stresses the difference between natural and civil/federal liberty. He states that natural liberty “makes men grow more evil and in time to be worse than brute beasts . . .” Winthrop believed that civil and federal liberties are “moral.” He based his opinion on the fact that civil and federal liberties involved the presence of authority, while natural liberty did not. This “authority” Winthrop spoke of was the authority of God. This constant mention of the “authority of God” shows his strong belief of the world being centered around God, and the way that people must submit to the will of God, “. . .we shall govern and judge you by the rules
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of God’s laws . . .”
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