Puritan pages

 17th and 18th Century Calvinist Theology and the Issue of Toleration

»» The Indictment of Galileo (1633) The height of the conflict between religion and science

»» Healing Question, Sir Henry Vane, 1656, published the following tract, expounding the principles of civil and religious liberty, and proposed that method of forming a constitution, through a convention called for the purpose, which was actually followed in America after the Revolution.

»» A Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes; Showing That it Is Not Lawful For Any Power on Earth to Compel in Matters of Religion, John Milton (1659). A formative influence upon the ideals of religious toleration adopted by John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

»» Institutes of Elenctic Theology, [excerpt on predestination] Francis Turretin (1660) The principle textbook used by students in American colleges in the 18th century (used at Princeton into the late 19th century).

»» A Compleat Body of Divinity, Samuel Willard. The primary textbook used at Harvard College.

»» The New England Primer, The best-selling textbook used by children in the colonial period. Millions of copies were in print. Filled with Calvinist principles, the influence of this little document is inestimable.


»» Magnalia Christi Americana, Cotton Mather (1702)

»» Theopolis Americana (“God’s City: America”), Cotton Mather (1709) This excerpt from Mather’s sermon shows how Mather, with other Puritans, believed that America was truly the “Promised Land.” This thinking led ultimately to the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, whereby Anglo-Americans believed that it was their divine commission to spread their culture from Atlantic to Pacific.

»» Awakening Truths Tending to Conversion, Increase Mather (1710). A sermon wrestling with the paradox between predestination and man’s effort toward salvation. Mather appears nearly contradictory throughout.

»» The Works Of Jonathan Edwards, Enlightenment Philosopher, Theologian, Orator, Scientist; Edwards was the most important American-born Great Awakening preacher and defender of orthodox Calvinism.

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