Essay on the History of the Puritans
Puritanism, a radical form of protestant and an extreme religious movement within the Church of England that operated in the 16th century, was founded by the Puritans. They believed that the church had not undergone enough changes following the English Reformation. In many ways, the Church of England, in their opinion, still resembled the Roman Catholic Church. The Puritans believed that because the transformation process had little effect on the church’s doctrines and structure, further action was required. Bishops continued to live like princes, while corruption in ecclesiastical courts persisted. The Puritans advocated for the abolition of all Catholic influence, including ceremonies and practices, in order to “purify” the church.
The Puritans first appeared after James I became King of England in early 1603. The Puritans fought hard for several reforms, including the abolition of bishops, most of which King James rejected. During Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the puritanism movement gained more popular support. During this time, the puritans became well-known for their staunch opposition to Queen Elizabeth’s religious settlements. The majority of puritans were Cambridge University graduates who advocated for significant changes in local Anglican churches. The Puritans promoted a genuine religious experience supported by pure moral conduct, with the Bible serving as the focal point of all worship.
The movement gained even more traction in the early 17th century, thanks to the likes of William Ames and Richard Baxter. The government and Catholic supporters, particularly Archbishop William Laud, increased their opposition. As a result, a large number of Puritans were forced to relocate. Among those who remained were the pilgrims who established the Plymouth Colony in 1620. The first and largest puritan migration to New England occurred ten years later. The Puritans established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Boston upon their arrival. Despite how difficult life was in Boston, the Puritans were free to live and worship as they pleased. Their worship was solely based on the Bible, and their services were kept simple. There were no organs or instruments allowed, and all of their songs were performed acapella.
Puritanism gradually faded over time, but the precise point at which this occurred is unknown. Some scholars argue that Puritanism lost its influence in New England by the early 18th century, while others insist that it happened gradually over time. However, there were several attempts to revitalize the puritan ways in various denominations up until the early 1800s, led by Presbyterian leader Jonathan Dickinson and Baptist leader Isaac Backus. Puritanism had almost vanished by the nineteenth century. However, the influence could be felt indirectly during the colonial period in a variety of ways, such as the emphasis on the importance of religious leadership education.