John Winthrop, an English Puritan lawyer, was one of the central figures in founding the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Before he and the settlers reached New England, he delivered a sermon that later became famous. In his speech, Winthrop shared his expectations of their and the colony’s future. The purpose of this paper is to explain Winthrop’s view regarding inequality and describe the covenant the members of the community entered, the consequences of failure to keep it, and the specific behaviors Winthrop expected of the colonists.
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In his sermon, Winthrop expresses his opinion regarding people’s inequality. He states that, in all times, some must be rich and powerful and some – poor and mean. Winthrop agrees with God’s decision to divide people into poor and rich and accepts inequality. According to Winthrop, there are three reasons for approving the division, and the first is to demonstrate the glory of God’s wisdom in the difference and variety of creatures.
It is crucial to respect the decisions and actions of God because everything he does should be considered to be right and necessary. The second reason is so that God could have more opportunities to manifest and demonstrate the work of his Spirit. The third reason is about all people needing each other, being united in all situations, helping, and teaching one another.
Winthrop believes that people are entered into a special covenant with God. They ask him to let them do certain things the way they want to, draw their own articles, and follow their own rules and laws that are indicated in the covenant. So, the settlers need God’s blessing, and if they reach the land they desire so deeply, it means that God ratified the covenant and will demand strict and certain performance of the rules contained in it. After entering the covenant, it is important to follow its laws and not make God angry with people.
In his sermon, Winthrop expects the settlers to forget about their own rights and start paying more attention to others and less to themselves. The only way of escaping God’s anger and revenge and continue living on the Earth is to follow the articles of the covenant. People should love each other, be merciful, kind, and fair. They should not care about money, glory, and fame; their happiness lies in unity, not in wealth.
It is possible to prosper and live happily only if people rejoice together, be merry together and for each other, mourn together, suffer and labor together. These are the behaviors Winthrop expects from people, and that is how humankind is able to survive. If the settlers act and live this way, God will help them to prosper and fight the enemies, and all other people will admire them.
However, there are some horrible consequences of failure to keep the covenant with God. The settlers’ enemies will doubt God’s ways and decisions and speak evil things about him and his followers. The settlers will shame and disgrace the faces of thousands of God’s devoted and worthy followers and servants. They will desecrate their and God’s reputation, and turn their prayers into dreadful curses upon the settlers until they disappear from the Earth. Breaking the rules of the covenant will destroy people, make them cursed and miserable, and make God stop helping them and leave them forever.
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