A Model Of Christian Charity By John Winthrop Analysis

Pages: 5 (1117 words) Published: February 17, 2018


Aboard the Arabella in 1630, a group of Puritans headed by John Winthrop endured the journey across the Atlantic in pursuit of founding the Massachusetts Bay Colony in order to escape religious persecution in England. As a Cambridge scholar, upper-class man, and politician, Winthrop assumed position of governor in the newly established community. Even from the start of their journey, Winthrop spoke in depth about his vision for an independent Puritan society in “A Modell of Christian Charity." He outlines the various social responsibilities of the community from the perspective of a European and Christian society. Centered around the importance of justice and mercy in the unity of the Puritan society, Winthrop approaches the difficulties of...

He introduces his idea of a social hierarchy in religious context within the first sentence stating that “some must be rich, some poor” and later introducing his intent behind this position by transitioning into God’s will for Puritan charity: “that every man might have need of other” (173). Generally, this ideology introduces a practical approach to maintaining unity throughout the hardships faced in developing the Massachusetts Bay Colony from scratch; those fortunate to have good health and more than the bare means of living should provide for those in need. However, it seems odd that Winthrop would not desire to completely abandon the feudal-like hierarchy that pervaded Europe, oppressed the Puritans, and inspired the removal to the Americas. In contradiction, Winthrop designs the argument of his speech around the dichotomy of mercy and justice, grace and morality, and to commit to Christian responsibility through charity. This proposal alone seems instead to seek establishing a socialist community. Ideally, this would produce a community of complete equity. However, in his proposal for a system of giving, lending, and forgiving “by way of Commerce” Winthrop once again denotes a leniency towards capitalism that naturally permits economic inequality (176). Winthrop seems to struggle with applying...

Certainly, in creating an identity for the Puritan society it is important to define the religious values that differentiate them from their parent country and the social contract between the people and consented government. The latter is described by Winthrop as “the lawe of nature” and “the morrall lawe” (174). This appears to be an over simplification because both of these categories of community values lack a logistical plan for establishing the type of social contract necessary for the beginnings of a unified nation. Perhaps, Winthrop believes his leadership alone will be enough to navigate the journey and turmoil ahead. Additionally, Winthrop dismisses over the overlap of justice and mercy. However, should he even name the two categories separate when moral values are so dependent on religion in a Christian community? On the other hand, the former concept revolves around charity, and in terms of utilizing this value for the sake of maintaining social order this is a much more practical way of instilling cooperation and unity while also promoting Christian behavior. For example, Winthrop expounds the need for active participation “rather than tempt God in putting him upon help by miraculous or extraordinary meanes” (175). Once again, Winthrop manages to convince his audience of his...
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