Thursday, October 9, 2008

John Winthrop’s Arbella sermon, 1630

Quote 1.

“The definition which the scripture gives us of love is this: ‘Love is the bond of perfection.’ [I]t is a bond or ligament. . . . There is no body but consists of parts and that which each part so contiguous to others as thereby they do mutually participate with each other, both in strength and infirmity, in pleasure and pain. . . . Christ and his church make one body. The several parts of this body, considered apart before they were united, were disproportionate and as much disordering as so many contrary qualities or elements, [however, when united], it is become the most perfect and best proportioned body in the world[.]”

a. For Winthrop, what is the benefit of a well coordinated (social, spiritual, political) body?
b. Why might the metaphor of the body make sense to Winthrop’s audience?
c. How might this union of separate parts create a genuine COMMONWEALTH?

- A well coordinated or synchronized social, spiritual, & political body would benefit Winthrop and his entire group of followers in a series of ways positive. It seemed that one of the puritan’s goals in the new world was to maintain the roots of their “pure”, idealistic values. With everyone in unity as a functioning body in spirit, politics, and social standings they would be able to root themselves successfully into the new world and maybe even realize their objectives.

- The reason why the metaphor of the body makes sense to Winthrop’s audience is because they are familiar with Christian principles. In a religious connotation, the puritans are “Christ’s Body” and I feel that this symbolism is deeply rooted into them. The concept of a unified body is one that becomes literal in the New World, and I would imagine that this “bond” between them kept them stable and allowed them to survive both spiritually and socially as long as they did.

- Because every person in the Puritan society had their own “job”, or sense of responsibility in the group, by working together in a integrated entity, the puritans would be productive and effective in their tasks. The mere fact that they were able to be productive in working as a group, greatly enhanced their chance of survival in the “New World”, and potentially increased the chance of advancement and dispersion of their ideals.

Quote 2.

“Whatsoever we did or ought to have done when we lived in England, the same must we do, and more also, where we go.”

• What is in the word new? What did it mean to name the colony New England? Why not come up with some kind of name that denoted complete newness and separation from the Old World?

- By naming their colony New England, the puritans were demonstrating an religiously untainted version of their origin, and at the same time keeping ties with the politically influential greatness of England.

Quote 3.

3. “Thus stands the cause between God and us. We are entered into covenant with him for this work. We have taken out a commission, the Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles. We have professed to enterprise these actions . . . . Now if the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath he ratified this covenant and sealed our commission, [and] will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it.”

• How did the Puritans, and Winthrop, view their charter for colonization as a spiritual mandate to purify the world of Christendom (or at least the Church of England)?

-Winthrop and the puritans viewed their charter for colonization as an opportunity and in a sense, an obligation to establish a stable society ruled by their chaste principles and godly morals. Although not emphasized on very often, a second objective that the puritans had was to convert natives, but that would come only after the solidity of their own establishment.

Quote 4.

4. “[W]hen he shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding [colonies], ‘the Lord make it like that of New England.’ For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us[.]”

• What does it mean, or what did Winthrop mean, to be a “city upon a hill”?

-By being a “city upon a hill” literally and symbolically, the puritans are able to exemplify their superior wholesomeness and set an example for new colonists in the new world, possibly inspiring them to take up Puritan ideals and values as well.

No comments: