Anne Bradstreet: Poems

The Materialist Views of Spiritual Settlers College

Early America was settled and inhabited by a religious group known as Puritans who left their native land of Britain for a fresh start in a new country. A man named John Winthrop, a prominent Puritan and governor delivered a sermon that expressed the ideals of a perfect Christian community in a new country. His goal of a selfless, utopian community brings up two very different questions. Were these Puritans idealist spiritual people whose sole purpose was to please God? Or were they simply materialist proto-capitalists that sought wealth with the backing of their religious beliefs to support their cause? Winthrop’s sermon and other writings of Puritans of this time show that they placed an extreme importance on material wealth that was excused by their strict religious beliefs.

It is very clear from the opening of Winthrop’s sermon that God determined those who were worthy of his love by determining who was rich and who was poor. Winthrop said that God, in his infinite wisdom, showed that “some must be rich, some poor, some high and eminent in power and dignity, others mean and in subjection” (Winthrop 147). This statement shows an important ideological belief of the Puritans: predetermination, the idea that God determines who...

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