Political Literary Overview in 1620-1783 in the US

In American history, the era from 1620 to 1783 is known as the Puritan Period and is distinguished by distinct features and a diverse cast of characters that shaped history. Since the printing press was unavailable, the majority of the literature was documented in handwritten leaflets. Christianity was at the heart of the Puritan era, and it had a major impact on other writings (Thompson 649). Sermons, political essays, captivity histories, poems, letters, newspapers, and autobiography were among the most common forms of literature at the time. Literature that was relevant and valuable to a society was sought, which explains why novels were rare. The literary overview will take a keen look at Jonathan Edward’s sermon called Sinners in the hands of an Angry God that is a call to repentance to the Americans, Anne Bradstreet’s poem entitled To my Dear and Loving Husband and finally the captivity narrative The sovereignty and goodness of God written by Mary Rowlandson.

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Sermon by Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards was a revivalist and a preacher who took upon himself the responsibility of preaching Christ among the Americans to reconcile them with God. He did this preaching regularly, and one sermon that stood out was Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God delivered on 8th July 1871. The discourse draws its major theme from Deuteronomy 32:35 of the HolyBible that states ‘Their foot shall slide in due time’ (Edwards 1). Jonathan started by providing the context of the scripture through explaining the spiritual condition of the initial recipients of the scripture that would seem relevant even in that period, 1871. Edward elaborated that God’s chosen people Israel had been redeemed from Egypt so that they would inherit Canaan as their possession. However, this blessing was conditioned on consistent obedience among the Israelites which they failed to do. As a result, many Israelites perished in the wilderness, coming short of the goal they were redeemed. In essence, the feet of the Israelites did slide in due time, confirming the scripture.

For the Americans, the danger was the certainty of hell if repentance did not come forth. Jonathan stated succinctly that America was treading on a slippery path in a spiritual sense. Further, the sliding was guaranteed, and it would mean a lifetime in hell burning in the lake of fire unless they believed in Jesus, the Messiah sent to save the whole world (Gallagher, 203). Nonetheless, Jonathan expressed his sorrow since he realized the people had rejected the mediator and found consolation in their prudence and wisdom. Despite state, the Americans would not have any power to stop the plans of God, and there was no escape to their sinful behavior. Edwards stated that “Men’s hands cannot be strong when God rises. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands” (7).

In fact, Jonathan portrays the sinfulness of the people he was speaking to worse than that of those already in hell were better. He reiterates that by suggesting that God was angrier with even part of his congregation which was at ease than he was to those already condemned in hell fire (Edwards 8). Jonathan uses symbolism to reveal the weight of sin by stating that the people are walking bent towards hell because they are laden with iniquity which is as heavy as lead.

Jonathan concludes his sermon by wooing his listeners to answer God’s call to repentance and accept Christ who would be the only savior to rescue them from the wrath of the Almighty God which was imminent. He makes this invitation to both men and women, old or young and all those who are out of Christ for salvation and rescue from the blazing fires of hell (Edwards 8). Apparently, in his closing remarks, Jonathan likens America to Sodom of the Bible which was the epicenter of lawlessness and sin and the people he was preaching to as Lot and his family. And in that regard, he urges them to escape for their dear lives in the mountains since any lingering is Sodom would result to God overthrowing them in His anger with fire and brimstones forever.

Poetry: To my Dear and Loving Husband compiled by Anne Bradstreet.

Anne Bradstreet was among the most educated women of the Puritan period having grown up in a wealthy family. Anne wrote this poem between 1641 to 1643 as a reflection of her happy marriage and appreciation of her husband. She wrote in Elizabethan English having lived and schooled in England though she also lived in North America.

To my Dear and Loving Husband was penned candidly and expressly to elaborate the rawness of marital relationship. Bradstreet gives a bold expression of the love they share by first stating that she and her husband are one, a symbol of unity. She compares herself to all other women as suggests that her marital happiness surpassed all other women because her husband was the best (Requa 6). She even provides material wealth with their value and beauty, but still, their value is less in comparison to the love she would enjoy in her marriage. Anne Bradstreet used symbolism to compare her romance with a river and highlighted that even rivers could not quench that thirst for love. In essence, she was expressing a desire that cannot be satisfied by anything tangible or material except her husband subtly insinuating intimacy with her husband.

Shortly after the perfect description of her love, Bradstreet gets spiritual and speaks boldly that she is unable to pay her husband for loving her, but his reward is far beyond this world. Bradstreet reiterates that by hoping that heaven will reward her husband in the manifold. The use of spiritual language affirms the considerable impact of Christianity in the lives of Americans then. Interestingly, Anne accepts the mortality of human beings and their mortal lives but also foresees life beyond the world in heaven. As such, she desires and hopes that they will love each other eternally including in Heaven when both of them die (Bradstreet 1). In this desire, it is evident that for the couple to enjoy their love in heaven, they must first love each other on the earth.

Anne concluded her poem by expressing her desire that they will persevere in their love for each other. In this last line, Anne was also realistic about the fact that love is not always bliss because of the vulnerability of humankind and as such there is a need for endurance. In this aspect of patient endurance in love, it is evident that there was no place for divorce in that period. Marriage was regarded a holy unity that would be annulled only in death and not any form of difficulties. However, the focus of the marriages then was also eternal and not only earthly. Couples sought to please God in their marriage to gain acceptance in heaven eternally. With this understanding and persuasion that Anne was able to write such a remarkable poem full of marital love and commitment to each other.

Captivity Narrative: The Sovereignty and Goodness of God Mary M. Rowlandson

Mary Rowlandson was an American woman of the Puritan period who was captured by Nipmuc Indians during the reign of King Philip. Her captivity lasted eleven weeks until she a ransom of twenty British pounds was offered by the Boston women. Upon her release, she wrote a captivity novel elaborating her experience in captivity as well as her reflections. The Sovereignty and Goodness of God revolve around Rowlandson, King Philip and one of the Quannopin’s three wives, Wettimore. King Philip and Wettimore are depicted as the causes of Rowlandson’s misery and pain. However, in all the difficulties, Mary Rowlandson concluded that God is sovereign and His ultimate will cannot be thwarted (Park 222). Ultimately, God’s goodness supersedes the challenges, and His counsel shall always stand.

Rowlandson started her narrative by explaining how she traveled after her release with her youngest Sarah who was just six and a half years of age while suffering depression and starvation to an Indian village. Unfortunately, Sarah died because of wound exposure a short period after getting to the destination. Rowlandson’s other children, Joseph and Mary were sold as property and kept separately. Additionally, Mary was allowed to see them but only shortly. Despite the animosity she faced in India, she was offered a Bible by an Indian warrior that would prove very instrumental in her ability to survive the hardships (Rowlandson 31). While Rowlandson would agree their captors poorly treated them, she also acknowledged that the captors were no better than the captives since they also struggled to get food. In fact, Mary highlighted that the only way they would get food supplies is asking for ransom. Mary and other captives survived by eating whatever was available, and in this provision, she states that she saw the hand of God.

As a Puritan, Mary Rowlandson wrote her epic account not just to help the readers grasp what she went through but also draw spiritual lessons from the book. In all her difficulties, she acknowledged the power of God particularly in the survival of the ordeal. The application and writing of this captivity narrative were profoundly affected by Christianity which seemed like the only objective lens to view matters and experiences of life.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the three literature pieces provide an overview of the Puritan period which was significantly affected by Christianity that was rampant. Jonathan Edwards is the icon of sermons and notably one titled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God which was a plea for repentance to the Americans then who according to Edwards were destined for hellfire unless they repented. Anne Bradstreet was among the women of the Puritan period to write poems, and one such piece titled To my dear and loving husband that is an expression of her gratitude and love for her husband. Anne uses symbolism to reveal the insatiability of that love by anything material and eventually as a believer in Christianity expressed her desire for eternal love. Finally, Mary Rowlandson wrote her detailed captivity narrative revealing that God’s goodness superseded the difficulties she went through. Notably, there is an aspect of Christianity in each all these pieces of writing asserting Christianity’s enormous influence.

Works Cited

Bradstreet Anne. To my Dear and Loving Husband. 1641-1643

Edwards, Jonathan. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Religious Tract Society, 1745.

Gallagher, Edward J. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”: Some Unfinished Business.” The New England Quarterly 73.2 (2000): 202-221.

Park, Heui-yung. “Mary Rowlandsons Dual Positions as Ideal Puritan Wife and Acculturated Captive in The Sovereignty and Goodness of God.” 미국학논집 49.1 (2017): 221-241.

Requa, Kenneth A. “Anne Bradstreet’s Poetic Voices.” Early American Literature 9.1 (1974): 3-18.

Rowlandson, Mrs. Mary. The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. Digireads.com Publishing, 2012.

Thompson, Peter. “Inventing a Christian America. The myth of the religious founding. By Steven K. Green. Pp. xiii+ 295. Oxford–New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.£ 19.99. 978 0 19 023097 5 Christian imperialism. Converting the world in the early American republic. By Emily Conroy-Krutz. Pp. xix+ 244 incl. 5 figs and 3 maps. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015.€ 45. 978 0 8014 5353 3.” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 68.3 (2017): 646-649.

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