American Puritanism (I)

American Puritanism (I)


>>Alright, let’s
get started today. I wanted to start by reviewing
some of the stuff that we talked about at the end of last
time, which the piece by Bruce Kuklick should have
helped you to understand and to put into context. The concept of type and anti-type is sometimes
confusing to people. Remember I said last time that the type should
be considered something like the dye that produces a
coin or the stamper that you ink and produces the stamped image. It’s almost like a
reverse of the thing that is going to be produced. And it has no meaning
really in and of itself. You don’t care about
either the dye that produces the
coin or the stamper. You care about what’s produced. In that sense, the type is
not what we’re interested in. It’s the anti-type that
we’re interested in. The thing that the
type produces. The thing you might
say is the fulfillment of the potential
within the type. So here’s a little bit
about the etymology, which comes from the
Oxford English dictionary. And you can see that
the definition is that which is shadow
forth or represented by the type or symbol. And they in fact use the idea
of the dye, and they talk about the way in
which that’s part of the etymology of the term. So once you get those things
start, type and anti-type. Type, when you’re
thinking about the way in which the term typological
human hermeneutics arose, it’s a way of reading the Bible. A form of Biblical exegesis in
which the Old Testament is full of types which are fulfilled by
the anti-types which are present in the New Testament, and
of course the anti-type of all anti-types
if Christ himself. Later on, I suggested to
you when the Puritans come to the New World,
they start to get away from what you might
think of as strict or of conventional notions of
typological reading and start to use it as a method of
interpreting their entire world. So that is, and in which
they think the Bible as a whole now becomes the type,
and they and their experiences in some sense are now the
anti-types that the types of the Bible have foreshadowed and which can be
interpreted in that way. Let me give you a quick
example of this that comes from some reading that actually
isn’t I don’t think for today, but we’ll take a look at it. It’s in the Norton anthology. It’s from the journal
of John Winthrop, and this is on page
159 of your text. And you can see how even the
littlest thing can be subjected to a typological reading, although this I guess is
somewhat unusual event that therefore begs to
be interpreted typology. It’s the little section
of Winthrop’s journal on 159 that’s called
overcoming Satan. July 5th, 1632, at
Watertown there was, in the view of diverse
witnesses, a great combat between a mouse and a sick. And after a long fight, the mouse prevailed
and killed the snake. The pastor of Boston,
Mr. Wilson, a very sincere holy man hearing
of it gave this interpretation. That the snake was the devil. The mouse was a poor
contemptible people, which God had brought hither
which should overcome Satan here and dispossess him
of his kingdom. Upon the same occasion,
he told the governor that before he was resolved
to come into this country, he dreamed he was here and
that he saw a church arise out of the earth, which grew up and became a marvelous
goodly church. Right, it’s a strange
little thing. How does the, we don’t really
know how the mouse defeats the snake, but you can
see how something like that immediately what
they’ll do is, they’ll go and think of a way to
relate that to a kind of Biblical reading and then
to take that Biblical reading and apply it to their
own situation. You might say that in fact this
little journal entry has the structure of a sermon as
we’ll see in a little bit, but in this case, the text
comes not from the Bible but from this little anecdote
of the mouse and the snake. It is then read and interpreted
by means of the Bible and then applied
to the situation of the Puritans themselves
in the New World, which is exactly what
Winthrop does in his sermon as we’ll see in a little while. So, just want you
to see the ways in which typological
thinking can work, and part of what we’ll do
is investigate typology at work both in Bradford’s
history and in Winthrop’s sermon. But first, let’s make
sure we’ve got some of these basic principles down. So John Calvin’s institutes of the Christian religion is a
founding text for the Puritans who we might say are one
variant of Calvinism that arose in the aftermath of
Calvin’s life and teaching. Calvin places particular
emphasis on God’s sovereignty and therefore on the idea
of fatedness, of providence, on the lack of human free will. And that’s again something that
we should keep thinking about, the way that the Puritans and
others interpreted this is that in fact free will
does exist in one sense. In the sort of earthly sense, the sense of individuals
making choices, at any moment you’re
given a choice. That for you is the
exercise of your free will. The only catch is that God
always already knows how you’re going to choose in that moment. So in some sense, it’s already
destined or providential. Calvin wants salvation not
at all to rest on good works, which are not pendable, but on God’s eternal
and unwavering will. So, remember I talked to you
last time about the covenant of works and the covenant of
grace and the way in which as a result of the fall,
evil comes into the world, or at least the knowledge of
evil comes into the world. This original sin is
something for which Adam and his progeny are
all responsible. It creates a debt to
God through disobedience that can never be fully repaid. Except that God sends down
Jesus Christ to repay that debt at least for some people. So, that is the only way
that salvation can occur, through the agency of Christ
for a few chosen people. So this Calvinist to a doctrine
of what we call election in which God has chosen
some people for salvation and others are not
chosen for salvation. And the Puritans believed that
they are those who are elect. They are the ones who
are chosen for salvation. So, the principles that
are discussed by Calvin, in a philosophical way and not
a schematic way, are codified into this variant, which
is created in a meeting of church elders, Synod, which
takes place in Dort in Holland from 1618 to 1619, which is
the year before the Bradford, and the pilgrims go from
Leiden to the New World. And, the Synod of Dort is
directly addressing a heresy, an anti-Calvinist heresy,
that they are worried about which is called
Arminianism, which his named after the Swedish
philosopher Arminius who emphasized the ability of
sinners to respond to do good or evil as they chose. And therefore, he said, they
would earn their way into heaven through good works, and
this is something akin to other doctrines you
would find in other versions of Christianity such
as Catholicism. Good works have a
certain kind of efficacy, not so for the Puritans. There is no way to earn
your way into heaven, and that is a result of the
total depravity of human kind. So remember we came up with
this acronym tulip last time to help you remember these five
different principles that come out of the Synod of Dort. The idea that after
original sin, human beings are all damned,
they are totally depraved. Their election is unconditional. There’s no strings on it. You might say, there’s no
way of human intervention into the process of election. God has already decided, and
there are no strings attached. It is limited. It’s for some people
and not for others. It’s irresistible in the
sense that you don’t get to choose the time or the
place when you receive grace, and when you receive,
you really receive it. So that there’s no
resisting it at all, and once you have
it, you have it. That’s what they mean by the
perseverance of the saints. Of course, what they
also mean is that who the saints
are is already set. God has already foreseen who
the saints are going to be. So the elect already you might
say have a place in heaven, the problem is they don’t know. Or they can’t be sure. No one can be sure that he
or she is among the elect. That wouldn’t be so bad except for the Puritans were also
trying to create a polity, a social organization, and
a politics that was based on these principles in which
they wanted people who were full of church members were the
ones who were running society. So you need to figure out a
way to make the earthly church, what they called the visible
church, resemble as closely as possible the invisible
church. So this is part of the Puritan
project in the New World. Today we’ll be talking a
little bit about the startup or the setup of this project. Next time, we’ll be
talking about the ways in which it starts to go awry. And, in which compromises need
to be, but if you hold on to that paradox, how can free
will and fatedness exist at the same time for individual
human beings, and what kind of coded conduct can
come out of this. I mean, if you’re elect and you
don’t have to do anything good, why should you do anything good? Why don’t you just get drunk
all day, secure the notion that you’re going to be
elect in the time comes, when the time comes,
you’ll be converted and you’ll get your one
way to the big, to heaven. Why wouldn’t you want to act
that way if you were a Puritan? Sure.>>Maybe because the type
of
person that God would choose to be elected wouldn’t have
the desire to be that way.>>There you go. If he says, the kind of
person that God would choose to be among the elect wouldn’t
have the desire to do that. That’s right. You would sort of be calibrating
what you wanted to do versus what you’ve been told
the elect person actually does, so if you find yourself
tending toward sinfulness and drunkenness, you would say
oh boy that’s not a good sign is it. I’d better mend my ways maybe
the signs will be changing at that point. Or maybe my desires to
mend my ways is a sign that I’m among the elect. People sometimes ask, well
if you think that heaven is so great and things are
really tough here on Earth, why don’t you just
kill yourself and get up to heaven that much faster? Well what’s the problem
with that? Yeah you’ll be committing
a mortal sin and therefore obviously
you weren’t among the elect to begin with. The thing you have to
understand about these people, that I will try to
get across today, is that they are fundamentalists and they really believe
this stuff. They believe all of this. They want to believe. It’s not even a matter of
wanting, they believe it. The Puritans among the pilgrims,
and they want it to work. So it’s a problem for them
when they come across paradoxes and contradictions and they try
to figure out ways to work for, the idea that always is that
humans are fallible compared to God, but it doesn’t
lead them to a kind of cosmopolitan understanding
of fallibility. In other words, they have
faith about certain things. That faith is predicated on the
idea that they are fallible. That only God is infallible, but there’s no questioning
the faith itself. So, the people wouldn’t want to make false confessions
of conversion. They want real conversions
to happen. They want to be among the elect,
and really most of them believe that they will be
among the elect. But, we’ll see next time that there are problems
that occur in this. Again, I’m setting all this up. I want to refer you back
to again where the endpoint of the course is going
to be with Moby Dick. That one of the things
that Melville sees in Hawthorne’s writing is
a continuing engagement with these Puritanic ideas. He calls it a touch
of Puritanic gloom. And when we read Hawthorne,
you’ll remember maybe. How many of you said you
read The Scarlet Letter in high school? Okay. How many of you read
The Custom House along with short story that’s
called The Scarlet Letter? Do you even know what
I’m talking about? The Scarlet Letter in italics is
a book that contains two things. One of them is a sketch
called The Custom House, a long sketch called The Custom
House, which is introductory to a long tale which in
quotation marks is called Scarlet Letter which intended
to be only the first of a number of tales that were to be
included in this volume, but it got so long that it
became the volume itself. So there’s the novel The
Scarlet Letter has two parts. In the first part,
which I’m actually, going to read more closely
than you’re probably used to. In fact in certain ways
more important to me than the long short
story itself. Hawthorne has his
moment of thinking back about what his ancestors are
thinking about him as a writer. He thinks about the
beetle browed Puritans who are looking over him. Like his descendants are, what
is he a writer of stories? Why he might as well
be a fiddler. Writing doesn’t rate, and
that’s part of the dilemma for the writer like
Hawthorne and Melville. Is there a sense in which
there’s something frivolous about writing. There’s a larger sense in
which the culture, as we talked about in the first day, the
culture is inclined to believe that certain kinds of writing
are better than others, and imaginative writing, what
we now consider the literary, is not among those. So there’s a kind of
weird guilt that Hawthorne and Melville are
working thorough, but they’re also trying to
change the status of writing, to make arguments on
behalf of both the important and the worth, the moral worth, of the kind of writing
that they want to do. Certain it is, Melville
writes, that this great power of blackness in Hawthorne
derives its force from its appeals to
that Calvinistic sense of innate depravity
and original sin. And now I think we’re
getting a sense of what that means, where it comes from. How it’s embedded in a
larger cultural logic. From whose visitations,
in some shape or other, no deeply thinking mind
is always and wholly free. And remember I pointed
out all the kind of weird hedging
that’s on in there. But one of the things you
might say is, that in terms of that model of dominant,
residual, and emergent in the moment that we’re
looking at, in the 17th century. When a new culture is brought
to the shores of the New World, it quickly becomes
the dominant culture. Puritan New England
dominates what is around it, and ultimately dominates
the line of American literary history
that Hawthorne becomes part of. So what we see here, you might
say, is the continuing residue of Puritanism in a time when Puritanism should have
been pretty much left behind in the wake of enlightenment. Still, there’s something. Puritans were on to something. And now in the modern
19th century, we don’t call it original sin, but we can’t get
away from it either. Something, some shape or
other, has to be there in that place occupying
original sin. Keeping us honest, making
us sure of an understanding that we are limited beings. We no man can weigh this world
without throwing in something like original sin to
strike the uneven balance, so we’re working our
way towards that. So let’s talk about
Bradford now. What I’m hoping to show you in some sense is how
Bradford’s text is example of that typological way
of looking at the world. And last time, we were
talking about that excerpt from a pamphlet that’s
called Mourt’s Relation that was prepared
in 1620 or so just after the Plymouth
Puritans had settled. It was thought to be
co-written by Bradford and someone named
Edward Winslow, and is named Mourt’s Relation
after a guy named George Mourton who brought it back to England
saw it through the press. Winslow would later
publish his own pamphlet that was called Good
News from New England that was four years
later in 1624. And so, it’s a tract that
takes the form of a history, but as I suggested last time, it may perhaps be presenting
an overly optimistic reading of the circumstances that
they’re encountering. But it’s really not
too much different than the promotional tracts
that are famously written by Captain John Smith trying
to encourage immigration from England and Europe
into the New World. If you compare Mourt’s
Relation to Smith’s writing, many scholars believe that Mourt’s Relation
provides a more matter of fact, slightly more trustworthy
account of things than Smith’s does. One thing to know
about Bradford was that he was a great linguist. He became interested enough to
learn Hebrew in his old age. He knew Greek and Latin, but
he wasn’t at all interested in native languages and
cultures as we will soon see. So that’s one of the paradoxes
you might say about Bradford. And I think when you read the
history of Plymouth plantation, one of the things you
see is where this idea of virgin land starts
to come from. You get the sense that the
wilderness is pretty much deserted except for
a bunch of savages. That really all the people
that there are in the New World who matter are simply the small
group of Puritans, and of course that is a consequence of the way in which he’s written
the thing up. So, his thought has often
been described as writing in something we might call
the Puritan plain style. It seems to be just
matter of fact. And that’s supposed to be one
of the hallmarks of Puritanism. As you’ll see next week when
we’ll get to Puritan poetry, the Puritans actually
rewrite the book of Psalms. They retranslate them in trying
to get away from the kind of poetical translation they’ve
brought with them from England. To try to get to
something that’s closer. They go back to the Old
Testament passage that suggests that God tells the Israelites
to create and alter for him and it should not be of
hune or graven stone. They don’t want anything carved. Richard Mather writes the
preface to this new translation and says, because God’s alter
needs not our polishings. It’s enough by itself. So we don’t want
figurative language. We just want a plain style, but
of course, one of the things to say about that is that it’s
not exactly true or rather, their language is
very figurative. The thing is that just it
depends on a whole symbolic and figurative system that
we’re calling typology. So it’s not a language that’s
full of rhetorical flourishes and metaphors, but it
depends on a sign system, a system of symbols which means that really it’s anything
other than simply plain. Alright, let’s take a look at
the passage in Mourt’s Relation. Again, and I wanted you to
keep track of the dates, and while you’re at it you
should probably turn back now to the other thing I asked you
to look at which is on page 114 of Plymouth plantation. And that’s the corresponding
passage, so what we basically see is
that Mourt’s Relation turns out to be a kind of
draft for the history. Their retelling the same events. One of the co-authors of Mourt’s
Relation is the person who’s writing this history of Plymouth
plantation, and at the time that he’s writing this, he is,
the time that he’s recounting, Bradford is the governor
of Plymouth plantation and he’s thinking back and retelling the
story that’s told here. So again, let’s just
take a look at it again. Wednesday the 6th of September,
the winds coming east northeast, a fine small gale, we
loosed from Plymouth. The appearance of much
comforted us especially seeing so goodly a land and wooded
to the brink of the sea. It caused us to rejoice
together and praise God that had given us once
again to see land. And thus we made our
course south south west, purposing to go to a river
ten leagues to the south of the Cape, but at night
the wind being contrary, we put round again for the bay
of Cape Cod; and upon the 11th of November we came to
an anchor in the bay, which is a good harbor
and pleasant bay. Right and we see
all the stuff here. It’s got all these
different kinds of trees, which are individually named. It’s a big harbor
where you can bring in a thousand sail of ships. You have wood and water. The greatest store of
foul that we ever saw. And he goes on. As soon as we could,
we set ashore 15 or 16 men well armed fetch wood. We had none. They also go to explore. He repeats again
he excellent it is. Like the downs in
Holland but much better. The crust of the earth a
spit’s depth black earth wooded with oaks, pines,
sassafras, juniper, blah blah. At night our people returned,
but found not any person, nor habitation, and laded
their boat with juniper, which smelled very
sweet and strong and of which we burnt the most part
of the time we lay there. So it’s a place where they
see it looks like a kind of virgin land at
least at the start. It’s got all these
natural resources. It’s wonderful. Its part, in other words
Mourt’s Relation takes part in that discourse of wonder that
we were talking about last time. But they didn’t see
anybody unlike Columbus, they don’t find people
innumerable, and it takes them a while
to meet up with the natives. For a long time, if you
read into Mourt’s Relation, one of the things that you
see is they find little kind of remnants of things
that people would’ve left, but they don’t meet
people themselves. Now, let’s take a look
in the Norton here, chapter 9 of their voyage
and how they passed the sea and of their safe
arrival at Cape Cod. So we see the date is the same. It’s September 6th, these
troubles being blown over and now being all-compact
in one ship. They put to sea again with a
prosperous wind, which continued to first days together which
was encouragement under them, yet according to the usual
manner, many were afflicted with seasickness, and I may
not omit here a special work of God’s providence. So, immediately you’re
getting this idea that there’s something
providential, good fate, that God has seen. There was a proud and very
profane man, one of the seamen of a lusty able body, which
made him the more haughty. He would always be
condemning the poor people in their sickness and
cursing them daily with grievous execrations. And did not let to tell them
that he hoped to cast off half of them overboard before they
had come to the journey’s end and to make merry
with what they had. And he would by gently
reproved, he would curse and swear most bitterly, but it pleased God before
they came half sea’s over to smite this young
man with a grievous disease from which he died in
a desperate manner. And so was himself the first
that was thrown overboard. We call that what cosmic
irony or something like that. And you can see in that,
that’s God’s providence, but we can see a little bit
of vindictiveness in it. And that’s something that we’re
going to be thinking about. What’s the interplay of the
charity that they’re supposed to be pursuing, and some of the
other impulses that come along with having in your mind
that you are a chosen people. Let’s take a look at
the middle of 115 here, and let’s take a
look at what we find. Being thus arrived in a good
harbor and brought safe to land, this is the first
full paragraph on 115, they fell upon their knees
and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over
the vast and furious ocean and delivered them from all
perils and miseries thereof. Again to set their feet on
the firm and stable earth, their proper element,
and no marvel if they were thus joyful seeing
why Seneca was so affected with sailing a few miles on
the coast of his own Italy as he affirmed that he
had rather remain 20 years on his way by land than
pass by sea to any place in the short times so tedious and dreadful was
the same onto him. So this isn’t typology. This isn’t citing the Bible, but it does have something
in common with that. Again, it’s that same kind of
comparison that you see here. It’s like the downs in
Holland but much better. This is like the experience
of Seneca but much worse, and that’s the kind
of comparison that characterized the
history of Plymouth plantation. There’s a sense in which what
Bradford does is look back to the past as a way of showing
how much worse the current chosen people have it. You think it was bad
for them in the Bible? So much worse for us. Seneca he was a wise revered
Stoic philosopher, he complained about just a little bit of
seasickness so much around, just sailing around that
Italy that never wanted to get in a boat again. But look what we did. We sailed all the way
across the Atlantic. So much the worse for us. And then, there’s kind of a
moment that Bradford takes here. Right here after that. And it’s a signal moment. A moment that in fact
asked you to highlight it. And he’s pausing rhetorically
and he asks us to pause, and it’s worth looking at. But here I cannot stay but make
a pause and stay half amazed at this poor people’s
present condition. And so I think will
the reader too when he well considers the same. One of the things you
can see is there’s a kind of awareness of a
readership here. And that’s kind of in part
because Bradford is writing this in 1630 when Winthrop’s group
of Puritans is about to arrive, as we’ll see that group of Puritans doesn’t have
exactly the same understanding of Calvinism that this
group of Puritans does. There’s no guarantee at this
moment that the Puritan mission or the Puritan civilization here
in Plymouth is going to survive. So Bradford is both describing and writing a work
that’s clearly of advocacy with a future reader in mind. Some people would say that future reader is
his own people’s progeny. Thinking about ways in
which they are going to be justifying what they’ve
done to future generations and using that justification
as a way of inspiring those
future generations to continue that project on. So he’s aware of a reader, and here he actually
addresses the reader. I think you’re going
to be amazed reader. If you pause, as I’m
doing, to take stock and think about the situation. Being thus passed
the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles
before in their preparation as may be remembered by
that which went before, they had now no friends to
welcome them or inns to refresh or entertain their
weather beaten bodies. No houses or much less towns to
repair to, to seek for sucker. And one of the things
to say right here is that this is taking place in the
aftermath of the third chapter, which talks about the
Holland experience, and some of those chapters
that talk about it after that. I gave you a tiny
little excerpt from that. It’s on the black board site. If you haven’t taken a look
at it, take a look at it. It’s a couple paragraphs long, but one of the things it does is
it makes a sense of comparisons within Holland where there are
towns extensively for sucker. But one of things you find
is that Holland is just as treacherous in many ways. It’s a hospitable place,
it seems civilized, it is no good for the Puritans. People are against them. They are being persecuted
even there. So you might say that’s
rationing up the stakes again, even the towns that were helping
them weren’t such great towns. Here don’t even have that. It is recorded in scripture
as a mercy to the apostle and his shipwrecked companies that the barbarians showed
them no small kindness and refreshing them. And you’ll see here
that this comes in the Acts of the Apostles. That book of the New Testament
that’s written by Luke which talks about the immediate
missionary work that goes on in the aftermath of
Christ’s crucifixion. So, the apostles go out as
these current saints are doing and they go out and meet a
bunch of barbarians and try to convert them, but guess
what those barbarians gave them refreshments. These barbarians when
they met them as, oh we haven’t met
the barbarians. He’s talking on and
saying, look, our situation is really terrible and then there’s
these barbarians. Oh, you haven’t met
the barbarians yet. Well, you will see that, now ask
yourself why does he break the chronology right there? It’s not there in
Mourt’s Relation. It took them a while
to find these people. They would see signs,
but they don’t find them for quite a while. What’s the point of it? One of the things you can see is
again, it’s a rhetorical moment. He’s stopping and taking stock. He’s addressing the reader, and how he’s going
to break chronology. He’s going to foreshadow
their future meetings with the Indians, and he’s going
to foreshadow them in such a way that you already know how to interpret those
Indians when you see them. What are they? They’re barbarians, and
they’re worse barbarians than Biblical barbarians because
the Biblical barbarians gave the apostles sucker. And these savage barbarians,
when they met with them as after will appear, were
ready to fill their sides full of arrows than otherwise. So again, you can see
that one of the things that Bradford is doing is subtly
manipulating the history too here and it doesn’t
stop at that. If you go back to this, you’ll
see what the land looked like. It seems like a pretty good
place full of natural resources. It’s better than Holland. Like it but much better. The earth is a spit’s deep,
excellent black earth. You can plant stuff here. Ah well, but for the season, he
tells us here in the history, it was winter and they
didn’t know the winters of that country know them to be
sharp and violent and subject to cruel and fierce storms. Dangerous to travel to
known places much more to search an unknown coast. And again look at this
constant comparative logic. Bad enough if you have a map
or you know where you’re going but look what we had to do. We had no idea where
we were going. And besides, what could
they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness full
of wild beasts and wild men. Again, on the date that
he’s talking about, he didn’t know anything
about the wild men. They hadn’t really seen beasts, and he wasn’t interested
before with beasts. He was interested in
all this good stuff. What’s happened? What multitudes there might
be of them he knew not, but it’s here we’re going to
get another moment of typology. We’re going to get
a Biblical story. He’ll be compared to
the current situation. The current situation will
be not only the fulfillment of that story, but
it’ll be a lot worse. Neither could they as it were
go up to the top of Pisgah view of this wilderness a more goodly
country to feed their hopes, and the footnote tells
you that’s the mountain where Moses could see
the promised land. So he had some sense that the
promises were to be fulfilled. These guys only had faith. For which so ever way
they turned their eyes, telling a parenthetical
save upward to heavens, that’s the only sucker
you’re going to get. Right up there, can’t
look down here. The Earth, forget it. Only God. Which so ever
way they turned their eyes, save upward to the heavens,
they could have little solace or content in respect
of any outward objects. For summer being done,
all things stand upon them with a weather beaten face and
the whole country full of woods and thickets represented
a wild and savage hue. If they looked behind them,
there was the mighty ocean, which they had passed. And now as a main bar and
gulf which separates them from the civil parts
of the world. If it be said that they
had a ship to succor them which is true, but what heard
they daily from the master and company but that with speed
they should look out a place with their shallop where they
would be at some near distance for the season was such as
he would not stir from then until a safe harbor
was discovered by them where they would be. And he might go without danger. And that victuals consumed
a place but he must and would keep the fishing
for themselves in return. So, don’t look for
a ship to help you. Got to find your own stuff. We’re definitely
leaving ourselves enough to make the ocean voyage back. We’re not staying here. You guys are staying on
your own really soon, the captain is telling them. Yea, it was muttered by some
that if they got not a place in time, they would turn them and their goods ashore
and leave them. Let it also be considered
what weak hopes of supply and succor they left
behind them, that might bear up their minds in this sad
condition and trials they were under and they could
not but be very small. And again going back to
the conditions at Holland. It is true, indeed,
the affections and love of their brethren in Holland was
cordial and entire towards them, but they had little power
to help them or themselves; and how the case stood
between them and the merchants at their coming away hath
already been declared. What could now sustain them but
the spirit of God and His grace? May not and ought
not the children of these fathers rightly say. In other words, you who
are reading this book. Our fathers were Englishmen, which came over this great
ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness, but
they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and
looked on their adversity. Let them therefore praise
the Lord, because He is good and his mercies endure forever. And then he ends
this with this idea that the wonderful works of God. So you can see the
logic of this. This is very Puritan logic in its typological
thinking in action. This new-ish kind of typology. It’s what you do as you look
back to the Bible for precedent and then you think
of your own situation in terms of that precedent. It gives you some hope,
but you also understanding, and you might say, well
gee what is he doing. He’s saying, it’s so much worse
for us than it was for them, but again with the
logic of the Puritans, you would see that’s
the cause in a funny way for even more hope because God
afflicts those worst whom he loves best. He gave the Israelites
a hard time. He’s giving us a worse time. He really took care
of the Israelites. He’s really going
to take care of us. Why, because we’re living
in New Testament time. Not only that, we’re
living in the fulfillment of New Testament time
hence the final emphasis on God’s grace, God’s mercy. So that’s Puritan logic for you. It’s the same logic that goes
from the covenant of works to the covenant of grace. Covenant of works, big fall, then risen up to grace
end up in a higher place. So that’s the logic. It’s worse for us but
better for us in the end. Just a couple of
other things then. This is an example of
the way in which one of the things that’s
going on is a kind of heightened level
of abstraction. If you go back here, you’ll
see that he’s quite interested in certain details
of the coastline. By the time you get to Plymouth
plantation, he doesn’t care about those details anymore. It’s all a hideous and
howling wilderness. It’s almost like everything
that’s actually there has got to be erased so that the
Puritans can rewrite themselves onto the landscape. So here’s just a little moment, but again it gives
you this sense of it. This is from Mourt’s Relation. It’s about a battle when
they meet the Indians. One of our company, being
abroad, came running in and cried, they are
men, Indians, Indians, and with all their arrows
came flying amongst us. Our men ran out with all
speed to recover their arms, as by the good providence
of God they did. In the meantime,
Captain Miles Standish, having a snaphance ready, made
a shot, and after him another. After they two had shot,
other two of us were ready, but he wished us not to
shoot till we could take aim. Okay so it’s a battle
is going on. And then we find all of this. We heard three of their pieces
go off, and the rest called for a firebrand to
light their matches. One took a log out of the
fire on his shoulder and went and carried it unto them, which was thought did not a
little discourage our enemies. The cry of our enemies
was dreadful, especially when our men ran
out to recover their arms. Their note was after
this manner. Woach woach ha ha hach woach. Our men were no sooner
come to their arms, but the enemy was
ready to assault them. Let’s look at the corresponding
passage of Plymouth plantation. This is on page 119. So from the cry of our
enemies was dreadful. Here we get this. This is about 12
lines down from 119. Men, Indians, Indians, and with
all their arrows came flying amongst us. Okay so we got that. Their men ran with all
speed to recover their arms, as by the good providence
of God they did. In the meantime, of those
that were there ready, two muskets were discharged at
them, and two more stood ready in the entrance of
their rendezvous. I don’t think Standish gets
a shout out in this one. He’s here, but we’re
too busy for that. We got to make it
more abstract here. The cry of the Indians
was dreadful, especially when they
saw their men run out of the rendezvous toward the
shallop to recover their arms. The Indians wheeling
about upon them. But some running out with
coats of mail on, and cutlasses in their hands, they
soon got their arms and let fly amongst them and
quickly stopped their violence. Now look at the slight
difference in that passage alone. The cry of the Indians
was dreadful. No sense that they had language, instead they are
simply crying out. They’re kind of wheeling
about creating what seems to be a kind of chaos. And I told you Bradford
was a linguist, but he wasn’t interested
in the native languages, and rhetorically he becomes
less interested when he comes to write the history
of Plymouth plantation. So, that little phrase
there is excised, and all the Indians do is
get to have a kind of crying. No sense that they were able to
speak or communicate in any way. What’s at stake here is
creation of the Indians as a set of barbarians. And more than that
we might argue, a set of Biblical
type barbarians. Worse than the Biblical
type barbarians, and you know what happens
to barbarians in the Bible. You can get rid of them. God takes care of them for you or he licenses you
to take care of them. And that’s exactly what happens. Ultimately, the Pequot tribe
is wiped out by these Puritans. And even their minister
John Robison who’s back in Holland writes
to them and says, you know you might have
converted a few before you killed them all. Or you might have used that
kind of time honored method of killing their leaders
and not everybody. And they basically write back
and say, you had to be there. [ Laughter ]>>Right? If you’d been
there, you would’ve realized those
were not options, just massacre. So they’re not, they don’t see
themselves as missionaries. They’re done with that. What they see themselves as,
that’s in some sense different from the Spanish in South
America who do have a sense of mission as well as a sense
of murder, theft, and repine, but there’s no missionary
impulse really among the Puritans where it’s
really kind of submerged. You see that here. They just simply are caught up
in their own Biblical drama. And they write the history of
the New World as a continuation of the history of
the people of Israel and the Christians thereafter. So these are the things I want
you to see about Bradford. How he uses this set
of rhetorical devices, they have to do with typology. They have to do with
a heightening of the abstraction
of the New World. The transformation of the
world of Mourt’s Relation, which is a world
of wonder still, into a world of no
wonder at all. A world of only savagery,
barbarism, a wilderness that is howling and
inhospitable. In some sense you might say,
they erased what’s there, sketched it all over in black so that their own light can
shine out more brightly. That’s the rhetorical
thing that he’s doing here, and it’s very much in
keeping with the kind. It’s almost like a more
hardhearted version of what we see Winthrop
trying to do. There’s a sense in what
Bradford, in what comes across in Bradford in these
particular passages is the darkness of the New World. Whereas Winthrop in
some sense in a model of Christian charity is trying
to concentrate on the light. And the image that he comes
up with at the end is an image that has everything
to do with this idea of creating light
in the New World. So let’s take a look now
at Plymouth plantation, but there are a few things I
want to tell you about Winthrop and his Puritans as well. I think you’ll get a sense of
this in that Berkavitch article which is called the Puritan
vision of the New World. It’s worth saying a few
things more about it. The Purtaisn who came with
Winthrop were more kind of middle of the road Puritans. They weren’t quite as
doctrinaire as the Puritans who were part of the pilgrims. And remember the thing
about Plymouth is that they actually
tried an experiment in communal property holding. When they started out, the
land was held in common and everybody was kind
of shareholders in this, but property was
going to be held. They thought it was a way of knitting people
together more effectively. That is a kind of
radical version that these joint stock
companies that they belonged to might be organized and Winthrop’s Puritans
don’t do that. They are much more interested
in as what we might think of as individual, the problems
and rights of the individual, and that’s one of the things
that Winthrop himself has to combat as he’s trying
to give this sermon. So there’s some things
to know demographically about these people. Winthrop starts what’s
called the great migration. It starts in 1630
and this migration to the New World
takes about ten years. And over that ten-year period, you have quite a
few coming across. I think the number is
something like ten thousand, no twenty thousand
follow Winthrop’s group. And there have been demographic
studies of what the people are like in this great migration. It’s interesting
to think about it. 10% of the people
were poor servants. I’ll give you these figures
in the post lecture notes, which I’ll get up today. 10% of them were
unskilled laborers and therefore lower class. The combination of aristocrats,
children of aristocrats like second and third
sons of aristocrats, and complete underclass
riff raff, together they make up only 1%. So that’s 21% accounted for. The rest of them, 79%,
the bulk of these people, were what were referred
to as middling sorts. You might think of
them as middle class. They were artisans, tradesmen, shopkeepers, independent
farmers. Not everyone who came with
Bradford was a Puritan, but even those people who were
Puritans, weren’t only rebels against a state of
religious persecution. They were also seeking a
kind of economic opportunity in the New World as well. There was a study recently of the Puritans called
profits in the wilderness. It was a pun because most people
think if you say that title, you would assume they
meant Biblical prophets, but its profits with an ‘f.’ It’s about economics. And one of the things
they say is, the Puritans who came were interested
in both things. They were interested in
getting ahead spiritually, or not being persecuted, and
they were also interested in getting themselves to have
a better economic future. So, they belonged to what was
called joint stock companies. That means they were
shareholders in this enterprise. They had to raise money also. It’s not cheap to send boats across the Atlantic
with supplies. So the idea was they created
these joint stock companies. They were shareholders
back in England. They were shareholders
amongst the company themselves. They would come. They would farm. They would do everything
else in the New World. They would send back
stuff to England and profits would be made, and
these profits would be shared. So that’s a sense in
which they were part of an economic enterprise. It’s how they fund their
way across the Atlantic. And I think that’s important to
remember as a kind of context for everything that
we’re thinking about. Certainly, it’s the context
of Winthrop’s sermon. It’s not just a sermon
that’s supposed to promote certain Biblical
ideals, he’s speaking to a very particular audience
that has a demographic make-up, and he’s aware of both their
concerns, and their tendencies. Now one thing to say
about sermons generally. The Puritan sermon will
generally take this form. It will start out
with a Biblical text, often very short Biblical text, and then you’ll get a section
that’s called the explication. You’ll get a quick gloss
on this Biblical text. A quick interpretation
of this Biblical text, and then you will get a longer
section that’s called the doctrine in which a larger
doctrine behind the text and its explication
is laid out for you. And then you will get what’s
called propositions and reasons. Sometimes it takes the form of
questions and answer session in which different facets of the
doctrine are explored, questions and answers might be raised
and then gotten rid of, and then finally you will
get a section that’s called application in which you’re made to understand why it is you’ve
heard this particular sermon. Why the message has been given
to you and that is the form of the typical sermon
as it would be preacher by a member of the clergy. Now, it may well be that the
most famous sermon that comes out of Puritan America,
which we read for today, is in fact atypical
because it’s not a church. It’s not preached by a
clergyman, it’s in fact by a member of the laity. And it’s therefore
called the lay sermon. And one of the things we would
say is that prominent people like John Winthrop
were permitted to give sermons on
certain events. And so Winthrop takes,
who becomes the governor of Massachusetts Bay colony,
takes advantages of this and gives this sermon. And, I want to say a little
bit more about the way in which this sermon works, because it isn’t the
same as other sermons. Let’s take a look
at it therefore. It takes place in your
book it’s page 147. It’s called the model
of Christian charity, and it starts off in this way. God almighty in His most
holy and wise providence, hath so disposed of the
condition of mankind, as in all times some must be
rich, some poor, some high and eminent in power
and dignity, others mean and in subjection. Now, what immediately
do you notice about that as a starting point? You can flip the
page if you want. Where, how does this
structure that’s given to you in the Norton anthology
map on this structure that I just told you about. What part is that
that I just read? Yes?>>It takes the place
of a Biblical text.>>That’s right. It takes the place
of a Biblical text. There’s no Biblical text here. I mean there is a Biblical text. It comes out of Saint Paul. It’s a very famous one actually. It’s where he talks about
giving up childish things, and it’s about charity in the
original King James translation. Now call it Paul’s Hymn to Love. I’ll give you an excerpt
from it in the notes that you can see it, but
in the original King James it’s charity. So that’s the text. He doesn’t cite the text. He could’ve, he’s done
something different. He’s given you in lieu of a Biblical text,
he gives you a model. Now it’s being called a
model of Christian charity. His audience probably would’ve
thought, well if we’re going to be talking about charity, we’re going to be
clearly going to Paul. That’s the place that you’d go. Fine, so why begin this way. God almighty in His most
holy and wise providence, hath so disposed of the
condition of mankind, as in all times some must be
rich, some poor, some high and eminent in power
and dignity, others mean and in subjection. Now if you take a moment to look
at the piece that I assigned to you from this book, which is
this brand new literary history of America. It’s kind of like one of Entertainment Weekly’s
top books of the year. It’s gotten a lot of place
for an academic book, but in a way it’s interesting
because each of these essays that are in here, and I’ve given
you a few to read in the course of the term, are about
2,500 pages long, which is a pretty short
length for an academic essay. In fact, in a panel discussion, I’ve kind of joked the first
kind of academic reader, this book makes good bathroom
reading if that’s what you do. You can pretty much polish
off 2,500 words very quickly. And they’re meant to
be sort of invitations to think about a text again. So this piece that I
asked you to look at, the city on a hill subtitle is
John Winthrop explains the bonds of community. It’s written by one of his
descendants, Elizabeth Winthrop, and if you look at it, in some
sense it’s making an argument on behalf of Winthrop. Winthrop, the Puritans, the
sermon have gotten a bad rep. Their meanings have
been misrepresented. By the end of the hour, you’ll see one prime person
who’s done some misrepresenting of the meanings of this
sermon, and she really wants to bring back this idea
of, the radical idea, of a community that’s
formed in the bonds of love. I would say to you actually
that’s still pretty much a radical idea just
presented that way. Emerson would later say that a
state that’s based on the power of love hasn’t been tried yet. And if you look at our current
state, around the United States, and we don’t love each
other very much do we. So, maybe if we did
it would be better. Of course, there’s a
lot of other things that that interpretation
of the sermon and the Puritan is
sweeping aside. I want to give you
one example of that. So, when she talks
about this on page 29. She says, she’s speaking,
I think it’s good and gives you a vivid
sense of the sermon and where it was preached. She says, we don’t know
really, where it was, but I think most
scholars tend to think that this sermon was
preached when they’re on the verge of reaching land. So preached on the boat,
which is called the Arbela, and he’s about to, he’s telling
them we’re about to get there so we need to talk and this
is what I’m going to say. He says, speaking directly to the diverse members
of the expedition. Winthrop began his
sermon by attempting to explain why God
made all men different. And from these reasons, he argued stemmed
important implications for their new community. True enough. The first reason according to
Winthrop was to hold conformity with the rest of his
works, being delighted to show forth the glory of
his wisdom in the variety and difference of the creatures. Okay then. Diversity then is inherently
superior to uniformity as a reflection of
all of God’s parts. The second reason for
diversity, Winthrop continued, was so that God quote
might have more occasion to manifest the work
of his spirit. First upon the wicked and
moderating and restraining them so that the rich and mighty
should not eat up the poor, nor the poor and despised rise
up against their superiors and shake off their yoke. Let’s stop there and see
if there’s a kind of trick in the argument that
she’s making there. And since we’re being
self-conscious this term, we want to keep it,
we want to see works of advocacy and persuasion. What’s the trick
that, there’s one word that she’s using here that’s in some sense the argument
she presents turns on it, but there’s something
slightly dodgy about it. Anybody? I’ll read it again. The second reason for
diversity, Winthrop continued, was so that God might
have more occasion to manifest the work
of his spirit. First upon the wicked and
moderating and restraining them so that the rich and mighty
should not eat up the poor, nor the poor and despised rise
up against their superiors and shake off their yoke. Yeah?>>Manifest.>>He’s what?>>Manifest.>>What’s manifest?>>[inaudible]>>So why would manifest
be the trick word? Have more occasion to manifest
the work of his spirit.>>Thinks he’s doing
the work of God.>>Okay, to me that
doesn’t
seem entirely contradictory. I mean, part of what
Winthrop does want people to do is he wants to show
how our work should manifest God’s providence. So this idea of manifesting
is sort of making clear, so that doesn’t make it quite
as problematic as other things. Yeah?>>Yoke.>>Yoke. Yoke’s a good
word.>>What’s the definition
of
the word in that passage?>>Of yoke?>>Yeah.>>It’s what oxen have. You throw it off. In this case, the poor have it. And we don’t want
them to throw it off.>>I just got the sense
of yoke as an egg.>>It’s not yoke with
an lk, yoke with a ke.>>Ah, okay.>>Anybody else?>>If he’s talking about
God
being manifest through his work on Earth then he’s not
making sense [inaudible] it’s like a common humanity
as opposed to slavery>>Okay, now we’re
starting
to get at something. We have this idea of stressing
the common humanity instead of, it’s not quite slavery
but it’s poor. Some people are definitely
going to be mean and that doesn’t mean nasty. That means low and
in subjection. So you’re not exactly
enslaved, but you’re not free. So there is a sense
of oppression. Yeah?>>It just seems kind of
strange that the rich would
not oppress the poor, yet the poor still have a yoke,
which would kind of be like,>>It’s a comfy yoke, you
can put a little velvet on it or pad it. It’s not so bad. [ Laughter ]>>But then they should
not throw off that yoke>>Well you need the yoke. Somebody’s got to work. Who’s going to plow the fields? With Winthrop has
done you might say, he has a sermon that’s called
a model of Christian charity, and he begins it with
a defense of hierarchy. Some were born rich,
and some were born poor, some were born mean
and in subjection, some were born to rule. And that is not accidental, in
fact, that’s part of God’s plan. Okay the trick from my
perspective is the way that she, Elizabeth Winthrop, describes
what John Winthrop does. John Winthrop talks a little
bit about difference here. Differences among
people, and he’s thinking about differences
in degree and rank. She uses a word that
we all love these days if we’re good multiculturalists. What is that word but diversity. She says this is
about diversity. Diversity is inherently superior
to uniformity as a reflection of all of God’s parts, and it
helps her to make the argument that there’s something good
and worth reconsidering in Winthrop’s sermon,
because we all love diversity. Diversity’s great. Look at us all around here. Look at your professor,
he’s brown, isn’t that great diversity. [ Laughter ] But he doesn’t mean
that kind of diversity. For him that might’ve
even been a radical idea, but the difference here is
not about cultural diversity. It’s about economic difference. It’s about social inequality. I’m sounding like
Walter Ben Michaels now. There’s a famous argument that
Walter Ben Michaels makes. At least one of you heard
him make it ad nauseam the other day. In which he says,
look we all feel that we’re good progressive
lefties if we support multiculturalism
but that does nothing to address social inequality
and the real social injustice. If we’re more diverse
that just means that proportionally there
are more African Americans and Asian Americans in
the top tier of society than there used to be, so great. 20% African Americans would
mean 20% among the rich, 20% among the middle, and
20% among the abject poor, but you still have
the abject poor. You just feel better
about them now. And what she’s doing is in some
sense getting away from the fact that the primary
kind of diversity that he is defending
is economic inequality. He’s defending hierarchy. He’s defending the organization of human culture
in rich and poor. Again, in the context
of a communal experiment that they knew to have
happened in Plymouth where there wasn’t the same
kind of economic diversity or inequality because people
were engaged in the kind of communal property
experiment, which didn’t work. Why would you begin a sermon
like this, which is supposed to be about charity,
with a defense of hierarchy and inequality. A Biblical, a divine defense,
why would you do that. Any thoughts? Yeah.>>[inaudible] why should
I
give charity to someone else, we’re all on the same page, as
opposed to a hierarchal system. If you accept the fact
that you’re upper class, or someone else is upper
class, you embrace it and realize some
people are lower class. And that opens up the
possibility of charity. Charity to someone, the one
in need, one less fortunate. So when hierarchy is supported. It’s not a bad thing, you
shouldn’t be afraid of it, you should embrace it
and then doing that, you should welcome in charity.>>I think that’s right. I think that’s part of
what he’s trying to get at. He says in some sense,
charity is good and it’s a good that we need to promote. It’s a form of divine love, and
it is more clearly necessary because of the fact
of inequality. It means that the, it
also, the rich realize that they have an
obligation to be charitable because they’re rich,
because there are poor people who depend on them. There is a system of obligations in which the rich’s
obligation to the poor is clear. The poor also have a
system of obligation. They understand that
the owe something. They owe labor, they
need to work hard, so one of the things
you might say is that inequality creates a kind
of hierarchy that has a place of binding people
together in a way that they wouldn’t be bound
together if they were all equal and didn’t owe anybody anything. So what he’s defending
you might say is hierarchy because it’s a system
of obligation. Yes?>>I was just going
to say that it seems like the second point he
makes is a rhetorical move to placate his audience. Yes, I am creating this
radical idea of caring, but the status quo is something>>Well it wouldn’t be
such
a radical idea in that sense. It would’ve been
familiar to them from Paul’s Hymn to Charity. They would understand that charity is an
expression of divine love. One of the things
he wants to talk about theologically
is how this works. Theologically you shouldn’t try
to do anything about hierarchy or be upset about it
because God ordained it. It’s the way God
created the world. There are hierarchies
of animals. There’s a lot of
diversity in nature. Human kind should necessarily
mirror that and also it creates as we see this system
of obligation. He actually what he is doing
is taking a familiar even by now metaphor from political
science or political philosophy, which would be the body
politic, and rethinking of it in Christian terms. In which the body politic of
the Puritans is knit together, and he uses exactly
this language, through the ligaments
of Christ’s love. It’s a body that’s literally
going to be knit together. What knits it together,
Christ through love. What promotes Christly love? Inequality. That’s the theological, the official version
of the narrative. The unofficial version of
the narrative or the one that goes hand in hand below,
is that it’s a better way for this society to actually
do which is to generate profits if everybody is not
upwardly mobile looking to change their class
position, looking to much out for themselves,
and not looking for the common good enough. So one of the things you might
say is that Winthrop is trying to do is harness the energies
of what we might call a kind of incipient individualism. He wants to keep those energies because that will create
an economic dynamism. The people these days
talk about the need to have a vibrant economy or
making the belief on behalf of getting government out of
the way and letting individual and individual businesses
do their own thing. The kind of laissez
faire Capitalist model that Adam Smith will later on go to write the great
philosophical statement about. Winthrop is in some
sense wanting to maintain those energies, but he wants them
strictly reigned in. So one of the things
that’s at stake in this sermon is a particular
notion that he’s trying to create about the relationship between individual
and community. And in his case, it’s got to be community first
individual second. The individual has to
subordinate himself or herself for the good of the community. The individual energies that
we’re going to pay attention to those but they always
have to be recognized as part of this larger body. We are knit together in
a system of obligation, and that works theologically but it also has practical
consequences. We don’t want people
to be worrying about making too much money
or being upwardly mobile. We want to preserve
things as they are. It’s a message of conservatism,
and you might say, to keep. Immediately they start, it’s not
a fresh start in other words. You don’t come to the New
World if you were a servant in the old world; you get to
be a lord here and vice versa. You bring in your baggage
with you, and we’re just going to set it up here
and make it all work. We’re not trying to radicalize
here in the New World is part of the message that
he’s sending across. If you look at the beginning
of the sermon on page 148, he talks about two rules. He says two rules about
the fourth paragraph. Two rules, this is after
he’s talked a little bit about the system of obligation. Justice and mercy. These are always
distinguished in their act and in their object,
yet may they both concur in the same subject
in each respect. Sometimes there may be an
occasion of showing mercy to a rich man in some
sudden danger or distress, and also doing of mere
justice to a poor man in regard of some particular
contract, etc. What’s that? And then there’s a second one. A double law by which
we are regulated in our conversation
towards another. In both the former respects, the law of nature
and the law of grace. So, two things. Justice and mercy, nature and
grace, they’re mapped onto what. Old Testament and
New Testament, right. Justice, eye for an eyetooth
for tooth, Old Testament. Mercy, turn the other cheek. Love thy brother thy
neighbor as thy self. Christ in revising the
Old Testament keeps the top commandment. I am Lord thy God there shall
have no other God before me, but changes several
crucial things particularly about the relationship
between justice and mercy. Puritans don’t believe in,
there’s no such thing as justice when you’re talking about
your relation to God. You don’t deserve anything. You get everything you get
because God is merciful. Therefore, mercy is a
higher value than justice. Justice somehow goes along
with the state of nature. Mercy goes along with the state
of grace and the New Testament and the Puritan mission. Anything you can do
therefore to produce mercy, the need to be merciful,
is good. It’s Christly. It’s Godly. So that’s one of the
things I want you to see that he’s setting up. He’s setting up sort of
these interlinked things. He’s mapping them on to the way in which the Puritans
typically think about the Old Testament,
the New Testament. He’s mapping them onto the ways
that people think about ant-type and anti-type, and he’s creating
these interlinked ideas. Individual and community, we’re
going to put community first. Another one would be materialism
and idealism, and we might think of those in a double sense. The low sense of
materialism is greed. You’re greedy, you’re
materialistic. The low sense of being
idealistic is you want to do good works. That’s part of it I suppose. But really, there’s a way in
which this is also an attitude that we might call
philosophical materialism and philosophical idealism. It’s philosophically idealist. That means, it believes that the
real truths in the world are not in the world at all and cannot
be discerned from the world, but are only to be found above. And we’ll go on and
talk more about this as the term continues, but for
now let’s just say philosophical materialism takes
a look at the world and tries to reason from it. Tries to find evidence in
the world of various things and uses the world
as its evidence for making larger statements
about the nature of the world, the nature of the
mind, whatever. You might say, for those of you who know any philosophy,
it’s Aristotle. Looking around and
seeing how things work. How do we do the
poetics, how do we figure out how to do a good play? We see a shitload of plays
and then we write about it. Socrates would have a wholly
other way of going about it. He would believe there were
certain first principles and we would try to
discern what those should be by logic and intuition. In the Christian context, we would say the real
world is undependable. Why? Well, what do we
know about the real world or this world, the
earthly world. I shouldn’t use that term real. It’s all depraved. As a result of the fall,
the Earth is depraved. You couldn’t possibly
derive truth from it. You need to look out there. Bradford, we couldn’t see you in
getting those sucker from here or straight or down,
got to look up. Same thing for Winthrop. So therefore what
you’re saying is, he wants to harness the
energies of the individual to promote the communal good. He wants, in some sense, to
start to think about materialism in both of its senses, but
ultimately use any of those as a vehicle for certain kinds
of philosophical idealism. So finally, we get at the end
to the application of this, and I think it’s
worth looking at. The first part, which is longer, is full of references
to the New Testament. The second part,
the application, this starts on page 156. Suddenly starts to get a
little bit more preoccupied by the Old Testament. So up until this point it’s been
very Pauline in its approach. It’s about love to others. Saint Paul the apostle goes
out and preaches a doctrine in which both the Jews and
the Gentiles can be converted and saved. Those who were circumcised and
uncircumcised can find salvation so long as they come to the
word of the lord Jesus Christ. Paul is also famous for
emphasizing Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, but he does
that because he sees it as the ultimate act of love. It’s not a form of discipline
that he’s interested in. He’s interested in Christ
was willing to suffer that because he loved
us so much. That’s the measure of it. He suffered so much, we
can’t even understand it. It’s boundless and that’s
why it can wipe out the debts of everybody else who
would come to see Christ. The Puritans should believe
in a doctrine therefore in which the Jews and the
Gentiles, the circumcised and the uncircumcised,
they and the Indians, everybody can be saved. Doesn’t quite happen that way
and part of the reason for that, I think you start to see here,
they get fixated on the idea of themselves as
the chosen people. So in the last part of Winthrop’s sermon there
are many more references to the Old Testament. Take a look here, 157,
he’s talking commission. He uses a language that
seems somewhat Old Testament. He uses the language of covenant
and somewhat 17th century or more modern commission
and contract. Those two were put
together here. So he’s talking about Saul
being given a commission. He indented with him upon
certain articles, okay. Middle of 157. Famous passage. Thus stands the cause
between God and us. We are entered into covenant
with Him for this work. We have taken out a commission. So the Biblical language,
17th century language. We’ve taken out a commission,
the Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles. We have professed to enterprise
these actions upon these and those ends. We have hereupon besought
Him of favor and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to
hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire. If he gets us to the New World,
he is ratifying this contract. He ratified this covenant
and sealed our commission, and will expect a
strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if we neglect the
observation of these articles which are the ends
we have propounded, and prosecute our
carnal intentions. That doesn’t only mean sexual. It even has a bodily,
material, earthly intentions. Seeking great things for
ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break
out in wrath against us. Be revenged of such a people,
and make us know the price of the breach of
such a covenant. Now the only way to avoid
this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to
follow the counsel of Micah. Again, going back to
the Old Testament. To do justly, to love mercy,
to walk humbly with our God. For this end, and here
we get all the language coming together. This idea of knitting
together and you can look at the way the rhetoric
quickens up. He starts to omit the subject
of these senses as he goes on. For this end, we
must be knit together in this work as one man. We must entertain each other
in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge
ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of
others’ necessities. We must uphold a
familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness,
patience and liberality. We must delight in each other;
make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together,
mourn together, labor and suffer together,
always having before our eyes and community in the work. Our community as
members of the same body. If we do this, if we buy
into this kind of idea of the ligaments
of Christly love, something really good
is going to happen. And that is this. We will become the glory
of the Christian world. That’s the idea of
shedding light. When He shall make us a praise
and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations,
the Lord make it like that of New England. For we must consider, now he
goes to a moment on the Sermon of the Mount, we must
consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people
are upon us. So that if we shall deal
falsely with our God in this work we have
undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present
help from us, we shall be made a story and
a by-word through the world. Right, the stakes are higher,
we are setting ourselves as this beacon for everyone
looking, and if we screw it up, we will be that much worse off. We will be perjured. We will be a laughing stock. Worse than that, we will make
Christianity a laughing stock. We will as he puts it, open the
mouths of enemies to speak evil of the many ways of God and
all professors for God’s sake. So that’s what’s at stake here. It’s again that same logic. It is harder for us because more
is at stake, but in the end, we become this idea of the
shining city on the hill. And that’s why this sermon
is thought in some sense to be a kind of blueprint
for the community that they are trying to create. He’s trying to get them to
see how they need to behave in their social, their
religious, their economic lives in order to make themselves
keep their covenant and avoid being perjured. So one of the things you would
say here is that the first part of the sermon draws heavily on
Matthew and the Pauline sections of the New Testament
that are all about love. Paul is a great missionary and
these are missionary texts, but in the end, we get the city
on the hill image from Matthew but heavily contextualized
by the language of the chosen people
from the Old Testament, and it’s that interplay
that makes Winthrop and the Puritans reign in
the possibilities of love. Love yes but for us. We are not turning
the other cheek. Now, one other interesting
thing to say about the city on the hill is that
it became very famous in the late part of
the 20th century. It was revived as an image,
and it was revived by this man. Does anybody know who he is? [ Laughter ] Good I’m glad to hear it. The great communicator, the
guy who was the populist. It’s morning in America again. In 1980, everybody
was just really, America was humiliated abroad. There was a terrible economy. Does this sound familiar? Reagan comes in and he
says this, this is in 1977 after they’ve lost the White
House, the preservation and the enhancement of
the values that strengthen and protect individual freedom
family life, communities, and neighborhoods
and the liberty of our beloved nation should be
at the heart of any legislator or political program presented
to the American people. This is how the Republicans
will revitalize themselves. Liberty can be measured by how
much freedom Americans have to make their own decisions,
even their own mistakes. The Republican party, he said, must be the party
of the individual. So he’s not like Winthrop
putting the group first. It must not cater to the group, that’s Democratic
party politics. No greater challenge faces our
society today than insuring that each one of us can maintain
his dignity and his identity in an increasingly complex
centralized society. Then with God’s help, we shall
indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of
all people upon us. So here’s the symbol. He takes it from Winthrop,
although for most of his career, he doesn’t actually
credit Winthrop, but he uses it and
it’s powerful. People are like, yes
the city on the hill, and what does it mean
the city on the hill? It’s a city of free enterprise. Can’t sell out the individual
to cater to the group. And there’s a certain logic that
he has in which, you might say, if you pursue individual goods, you ultimately have this
kind of ripple effect. When you start to care
about the family’s good, the neighborhood’s good, the
church’s good, the community, the state, the national society. It all kind of builds on
the idea of the individual. I don’t have time to show you
the speech that he would give, maybe I’ll do it next time. It’s worth looking at. In his final speech,
1980 farewell address, people are watching this
all over the country, people are weeping that this
great president is leaving the public stage. He says this, what Winthrop
imagined was important because he was an early pilgrim. An early freedom man,
he journeyed here on what today we’d call
a little wooden boat and like the other
pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free. So far from taking up
Winthrop’s sort of subordination of the individual, Winthrop
is turned into a cowboy, a rugged individualist, a
freedom man, a frontiersmen, by Reagan, and I want
you to bear this in mind. It’s what happens to symbols
as they circulate in a culture. Once you let it out, you can’t
control its meanings anymore. Alright we’ll take it
up from there next time.

29 Replies to “American Puritanism (I)”

  1. @AmmorMagnusDoctorEst Puritanism – The haunting reality that at one time in history people were given the ability to examine themselves in light of how they ought to live and how short we come from that standard.

  2. @gvassi17 I respect that but that is not what is visible when purely examining their theology — "Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice" Strains of Calvinist interpretations have caused many to go astray on one side, and have "Somber Christian Syndrome" on the side of the flock

  3. @EnglishEthnicPride2 Yeah, I mean why let THOSE "devils" ruin your lack of fun, right? Typical wasp reaction, blaming others for how boring they really are.

  4. @AmmorMagnusDoctorEst Early Puritanism worked! I am not saying that it ran on down the drain, but it has more fruits than any Marxist economic principals!

  5. @samjelli Key word in that statement,: "Almost". Regardless of your religious views, it's important to learn about historical mindsights and their impact on the modern world.

  6. Very erudite analysis. Unforunately only an apt student of both history and theology such as myself can understand what he is saying. Why in the world did I pay to go to a third rate college when I can get such lectures online??

  7. This Harvard Phd is quite misinformed. From basics as pronouncing synod (sin-ed) as "sYnod" to foundational errors as saying the Puritans believed that "no one can be sure he or she is among the elect" (9:17), errors abound.

    Dr. Patell is obviously an intelligent man, his presentation however is filled with ignorance regarding Calvinism and Puritanism.

  8. @EnglishEthnicPride2

    Liberal? hardly. they were more conservative than todays conservatives they repressed everything involving entertainment and the arts and believed that anything involving the arts is viewed as the worship of false idols which is a mortal sin. children couldn't sing non religious songs, dance, play pretend the only thing they could do for fun was read the bible? liberals are open minded. the puritans were not.

  9. @beastboixxx define what you mean by liberal. liberal in the sense of liberty like libertarian, than no. they believed that everything should be for the community and didnt believe in individualism. To relate it to todays politics they resemble todays democrats more than the republican/libertarians.

  10. i'm european and Imho puritanism worked bad for europe. ( in the past )
    it ruined the whole europe.

  11. @EnglishEthnicPride2,
    First of all, the Jewish community isn't particularly prominent in New England outside of the part of Connecticut that is really more like New York City than New England. Secondly, the Puritans evolved into several sects and became tolerant as a continuation of their moral mission. The Irish and Italian immigrants did not make New England liberal. Assimilating them into the Unitarian culture made NE liberal.

    Many Catholic cops supported the Watch and Ward Society.

  12. @EnglishEthnicPride2,
    Also, only southern New England is predominantly Irish, Italian, and sometimes Portuguese. Northern New England and the part of Upstate New York that is an extension of New England is predominantly of Yankee(meaning colonial) ancestry.

  13. @sacchaw0,
    It really depends on the period of Puritanism. The very early Puritans were quite left-wing(arguably Communist) on the economic spectrum. A man named Robert Keayne was actually arrested simply for making too much money. However, quickly, the Puritan theologians held strict free-market capitalism to be the best because they held man to be too totally depraved to regulate the economy. Samuel Adams, the staunchest capitalist, is often considered the last bona fide Puritan.

  14. @sacchaw0,
    Have you read Max Weber? His work isn't perfect, but it sheds lots of insight on the connection between Puritanism and Capitalism.

  15. Having grown up twenty miles away from Plymouth, I have been waiting to hear a lecture that touches on the Puritans' belief system in such depth for some time now.

  16. What a strange comment to make. Settler-colonialism anyone? What was the indigenous culture of England like before christian imperialism destroyed it and then created genocide on Turtle Island?

  17. It always makes me laugh to see supposed 'Christians' trying to create their own civilization and politics in this world – while claiming they follow Christ and his teachings – when Christ himself clearly stated that his kingdom was not of this world. (John 18:36)
    And if you read the clear words of James 4:4, you even see that friendship with this world will make you an adulteress in God's eyes, since he demands exclusive devotion and will not allow any 'adultery' with worldly politics.
    *sigh*

  18. You should quit laughing and start studying. The Bible covers ALL aspects of government, taxes, economics, business practice, etc. Yes, it is true Jesus' kingdom was not of THIS world, but he told His people to be salt and light in this world, and that His people would do greater works than He did. Christianity has literally built Western civilization. Your idea of Christians being aloof and detached from the sin in this world, and from doing good, is just not Biblical.

  19. When he said his followers would do greater works than he himself could do, he was talking about the same work he was doing, only on a much larger scale. That's why he gave them the task of making disciples of people from all nations.

    Besides, you assume the people who started the Western civilization and called themselves Christians are TRUE Christians who actually did what Jesus asked them to. However, it didn't take them long to fail the strongest quality predicted by Jesus; John 13:34, 35

  20. As I watch, I am reminded that I learned this context (Puritan Separatists who deliberately set out to build their own ideal society in the New World) in middle and high school, in direct contradiction to the seeming idea of modern Britons that the "Puritans were fleeing persecution" mythic trope is more than some sweet canard we tell little kids.

    We do actually know our own history, thank you.

  21. There is a God but not these Puritan extremists who killed off Native Americans for money and were prejudice against all other Christians. Christians are supposed to love sinners like Jesus did and convert them. But not force conversion to people who do not want it with a gun. But debate with sinners peacefully and emotionally except it if they say they do not want Christ. The Bible says "If a town does not accept Christ leave the town and knock its dust of your feet." That does not mean hate the town as evil because "You do not judge the sinners unless your sins as well be judged." The Bible also says "Forgive your neighbor's Sins 70 Times 7 Times." and "He who without sin cast the first stone."

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