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2. Discuss theideas of Roger Williams as reflected in his "A Letter to theTown of Providence," written in 1655, as forerunners of theseparation of church and state that was established as the coloniesbecame a nation.
In his letter, Roger Williams emphasized the common destiny shared byall men, regardless of their religion. He stated that there could be“many hundred souls in one ship, whose weal and woe is common”(Founder’s Constitution). Furthermore, he suggested that thefreedom of choice concerning the form of travel or religionrepresented "a true picture of a Commonwealth."Consequently, it was highly likely that different groups of "Papistsand Protestants, Jews and Turks” could be gathered in one vessel.In such a scenario, Williams argued that none of these groups shouldbe “compelled from their own particular prayers or worship.”Respect for “the liberty of conscience” would also require thatnone of the passengers be forced to attend the “ship’s prayers ofworship” (Founder’s Constitution).
Nevertheless, Williams recognized and upheld the ship commander’sright to determine “the ship’s course.” The commander also hadthe mandate to demand that all seamen and passengers practice“justice, peace, and sobriety.” In this regard, Williams listedseveral unacceptable forms of conduct on the part of sailors andpassengers. For example, seamen were obligated “to perform theirservices” while passengers had “to pay their freight.” Eachperson was equally bound by the “common laws and order of theship.” Besides, the commanders and officers on the ship had to beaccorded due honor. Rising or speaking against the ship’s officerswas an intolerable offense. Williams believed that everyone on thevessel was “equal in Christ.” In addition, he held that thecommanders could ‘judge, resist, compel and punish suchtransgressors, according to their deserts and merits” (Founder’sConstitution).
Therefore, Williams succeeded in establishing clear boundariesbetween state and church. Indeed, his letter served as a forerunnerto the ultimate separation of church and state. Political powers andother leaders had no right to dictate or interfere with the religiouspractices of their subjects. A state religion could not be imposedthrough any means such as elevating one form of faith above another.On the other hand, the state had the right to maintain law and order.All citizens were required to abide by the established laws andstatutes notwithstanding their religious affiliation.
4. Discuss thearguments Samuel Sewell used against slavery in "The Selling ofJoseph," published in 1700, as a forerunner of the anti-slaveryargument in the "New World" which would eventuallyculminate in the Civil War.
Samuel Sewell presented a passionate disclaimer against the incidenceof slavery. He believed that no individual had the right to “depriveothers” of liberty. Sewell was compelled to speak out due to the“numerousness” and “uneasiness” of slaves under compulsion towork. He also realized that many other people had been “thinkingwhether the foundation” of slavery was firm and well-laid.Furthermore, Sewell was convinced that all men were "sons ofAdam" and hence coheirs with an "equal right unto libertyand all other outward comforts of life” (Onion). He interlaced hisarguments with Scriptural quotations. For example, he referenced Acts17:26 to prove that God had made all nations of men from the originalcouple, Adam and Eve. Moreover, their children had been granted equalopportunity to own and cultivate as much as land as they deemed fit.
Although Joseph`s jealous siblings traded him to merchants, heexperienced a dramatic reversal of fortunes. In fact, his brotherswere at his mercy when they later traveled to Egypt in search of foodsupplies at the peak of widespread famine. Sewell pointedly refutedseveral views that had been adopted in support of slavery. The firstview held that “blackamores” were the “posterity of Cham, andtherefore under the curse of slavery” (Onion). In response, Sewellnoted that the “extent and duration” of God’s vindictive wrathwere “to us uncertain.” He also highlighted “that a propheticaldenunciation of judgment against a person or people would not warrantthem to inflict that evil.” Canaan had been “cursed three timesover, without the mentioning of Cham” (Onion). Moreover,Blackamores had descended from Cush, not Canaan. Therefore, thedivinely uttered curse did not justify the enslavement of particularethnic groups.
Some people contended that slavery freed people from pagan countries“into places where the Gospel is preached.” Nevertheless, Sewellmade reference to Joseph’s mistreatment at the hands of hisscheming brothers when stating that evil could not be used toaccomplish good. In addition, others claimed that slaves were littlemore than “lawful captives” taken in wars. However, he pinpointedthat “an unlawful war can’t make lawful captives.” Failure toapply the Golden Rule of Scripture would be tantamount to partakingin “barbarous cruelties.” Some proponents of slavery noted thatAbraham had “servants bought with his money” (Onion).Nonetheless, Sewell replied that the “circumstances of Abraham’spurchase” were not recorded. Since the Israelites were “strictlyforbidden” from trading slaves, he reiterated that slavery had tobe unconditionally discontinued.
6. Discuss AnneBradstreet’s witness to the hardships of early colonial life andher Puritan beliefs.
Before the Birth of One of Her Children by Anne Bradstreetpresents the difficulties associated with early colonial life. Thepoem also outlines the disquieting thoughts associated with Puritanbeliefs. In particular, Bradstreet laments the inevitability ofdeath. She states that “all things within this fading world hathend” (Bradstreet). The poet is disillusioned by the apparentcapability of “adversity” to trounce all joy. Also, death has apermanent stranglehold on human life in that it’s “parting blowis sure to meet.” Bradstreet is saddened to contemplate that evenstrong ties and dear friendships lack the potency to counter thepower of death. Her Puritan beliefs are evident when she refers toher predicament as a “sentence” that “is most irrevocable”(Bradstreet). In this regard, she alludes to the judgment that waspassed onto the first woman upon disobeying God. Therefore, she isresigned to her fate of enhanced pain during childbirth and theheightened risk of subsequent death. In the poet’s estimation,death is not only “common” but also “inevitable”(Bradstreet).
Bradstreet’s fear of dying during childbirth was a reasonableconcern during early colonial life. At that time, women had a lowerlife expectancy compared to men. In fact, the increased likelihood ofdeveloping fatal complications contributed to high death rates duringchildbirth. She addresses her husband as her “dear” and regretsthat he would lose his “friend” in case she succumbed to death.Although Bradstreet imagines “how soon” she would die, sheacknowledges that they were “both ignorant” with regards toprecise timing.
Nevertheless, the poet uses the poem to serve as a farewell to herhusband "when that knot`s untied that made us one"(Bradstreet). If she has to forfeit half of her days, her wish isthat God grant them to her husband. The poet also wishes that her“many faults” be interred in her “oblivious grave.” Granted,she remains hopeful that her virtues would “live freshly” in herhusband’s memory. However, Bradstreet does not restrict her husbandfrom remarrying to alleviate his “grief” and “loss.” Such arealization reflects the Puritan view of women as family custodians.Despite her absence, the husband was obligated to nurture her “littlebabes” while safeguarding her “dear remains” from “step Damesinjury” (Bradstreet). Contemplating her probable death causedplenty of sentiment and sadness.
7. DiscussMichael Wigglesworth`s vision of "The Day of Doom," itswarnings and ultimate offer of comfort based on scripture.
The Day of Doom by Michael Wigglesworth relates extensivedetails about the fabled Judgment Day. The poet warns about theseeming peace and security that would engulf the world beforejudgment. Stillness, serenity, and calmness would lull many peopleinto a spiritual slumber. Scriptural passages are referenced so as toestablish a sequence of events leading to Judgment Day. Wigglesworthwarns the people “wallowing in all kind of sin” to learn from thediligence and preparedness of the ten virgins. Imminent destructionwould occur suddenly while “men sleep fast in their security”(Wigglesworth).
The poet describes the fear and trembling that would characterizesinners upon the revelation of Son of God “who with his train comeson amain to judge both quick and dead” (Wigglesworth). Theglorified Jesus is described with a mighty voice that causes “hideousnoise more terrible than thunder.” Also, his radiance dampensheaven’s “glorious lamps.” Several groups of people arementioned as viable for impending destruction. These individualsinclude ridiculers, atheists, “stout courages,” potentates,powerful states, “captains, and men of might.” Dreadful thoughtswould paralyze “mean men” and lead to horrible despair, "weepingeyes, and loud outcries" (Wigglesworth). Although some would“hide themselves in caves and delves,” no hiding place wouldsuffice to keep the executioner at bay. Further warnings are providedwith descriptions of smoking mountains, shaking hills, roaring seas,and fleeing wild beasts.
The poet provides comfort to righteous individuals by highlightingtheir transformation “to immortality” as they are made to die nomore. Such upright persons include holy martyrs and those adjudged as“sheep.” Individuals who suffered shame, woe, and calamity forthe sake of Christ would revel in their crowning glory. Inparticular, they would “sit on thrones” and judge the world.Henceforth, they would enjoy living devoid of fears, cares, andtears. On the other hand, the “goats” would include apostates,insincere ones, and hypocrites. The latter group “must be painedwith everlasting fire” along with the dragon and his “legions ofsprights” (Wigglesworth). Several groups of hypocrites may attemptto list excuses as they seek mercy. Nevertheless, Christ will exposetheir folly and assign them to destruction. Consequently, The Dayof Doom contrasts the gloomy future in store for evil people withthe bright prospects of the righteous.
Bradstreet, Anne. Before the Birth of One of Her Children. PoetryFoundation. Web. 21 Jun. 2016.
Onion, Rebecca. “Caveat Emptor!”: The First Anti-Slavery PamphletPublished in New England. Slate. 22 May 2015. Web. 21 Jun.2016.
The Founder’s Constitution. Amendment I (Religion): Roger Williamsto the Town of Providence. Pree-Pubs.uchicago.edu. Web. 21Jun. 2016.
Wigglesworth, Michael. The Day of Doom. Puritansermons.com.Web. 21 Jun. 2016.