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A City Upon a Hill by John Winthrop

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A City Upon a Hill by John Winthrop

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  • Jan. 18, 2011
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In John Winthrop’s essay “City Upon a Hill”, Winthrop expresses his distinct views on the aims of the Puritans coming to New England. During the early 17th century in Europe, some groups separated from the Church of England. These groups were known as the Pilgrims, who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620. This religion had a direct impact on religious ideas and culture in America. John Winthrop acquired a royal charter from King Charles I and created the Massachusetts Bay Colony. “City Upon a Hill” was written on the ship during the first mass Puritan migration to New England. This document provided the followers with a plan regarding their goals upon arriving in America. Winthrop firmly believes that the people who are willing to be fully devoted to God must start a new life in America and be unified and come together as one.

Winthrop has very comprehensive ambitions for the immigrating Puritans. He wants their religion to be a “City Upon a Hill”, or a model for other Christian churches. Winthrop is planning a rather perfect society in which everyone is 100 percent devoted to their religion and God. He tells the Puritans that they are a part of a special pact with God to create a holy community that serves as an example to the Christian world. He states that all of his followers will be “knit together in this work, as one man” and “rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together…”. Also saying that unity and peace will bring them closer to god, he is obviously confident that the people will do whatever it takes in order to become this perfect unified religion. This new society would be more than just a safe haven for Puritans; it would be a new religious land altogether and a basis for the formation and development of the New World.

Winthrop assumes in this sermon that a handful of the followers will not stay true to god. If they fail to be devout puritans by for example not praying every day or not going to church weekly, the lord will “break out...