The PURITAN FAMILY by EDMUND S. MORGAN
PURITANISM AND SOCIETY
There was a type of man whom the Puritans never tired of denouncing. He was a good citizen. Does everything right, but is on his way to hell. Salvation not civilization is the goal of man. And yet had blueprints and rules for all conduct.
Good social conduct was the result of salvation, not the cause of it. Catholics believed in good work
s, not puritans. If you had the spirit you would make extra exertions. Not just civil, random and following your hearts desire. And the true convert seeks to destroy all sin.
Abrahams covenent requires responsibility for him and all of his descendents. But all will not be saved. There is a different covenant for the group. All cannot be saved, but the group will get good or bad as they merited as isreal did. The rules to follow were in the scripture and they studied them relentlessly. The fifth commandment was their favorite. “Honor thy father and they mother: that thy days may be long upon the land. This extended to all relations. To understand human relations they used concepts the order of creation, the social order and the logic of relationships and the origin of relationships.
The order of creation.
All was created to glorify god. All did this in a different wa
y. not equality and a heap of confusion or variety. All were to serve him indirectly by serving another.
Man comes after god in creation. He is next to be served. Man occupies the key position in the order that god ordained and when man neglects this end the rest of creation looses its purpose. Eating and drinking show glory, but if a man grows to love them and never looks how to employ it to gods service he propounds no right end.
The social order
Since god created the world with some beings subordinate to others, he naturally proceeded upon the same principle in constructing human society. The puritans were no levelers. Social classes and the various offices and positions of social rank existed for them as part of a divinely orered plan.
Jives in societies first, family second, church third. All done against the order is done against god. The essence of social order lay in the superiority of husband over wife, parents over children, masters over servants in the family. Ministers and elders over congregation in the church. Rulers over subjects in the state.
The logic of relationships
They phrased all in terms of logic. This was Ramist logic. This logic was a copy of reality that god had inserted into the framework of creation.
It was based on affirmative contraries. Exact opposites that didn’t exist without and cause eachother (buyer seller, hot cold, virtue vice).
The origins of relationships
But as god created man, parent to children was the only non-chosen relationship. All voluntary covenants. You choose state, family and church. You don’t choose w
Jhether, but which. So you may change governments. So within order there was freedom and mobility. But all relationships had rules.
HUSBAND AND WIFE
When god presented Eve to Adam he “solemnized the first marriage that ever was”. Women are like governments: a bad one is better than none at all.
After the fall we get to choose our mate. But once the covenant is made it is done and has rights and duties. You had to write a contract, publish it, rewrite it in the present tense, do the service, celebrate and consumate. Marriage also required convincing the father that you would provide well for his daughter. But they could not make the child marry someone they didn’t want to.
Divorces were rare and they gave you the right to remarry. But Separations were to be had. Adultery resulted in death, whippings, fines breanding or
made to wear the letter a , or stand in the gallows with a rope around your neck. For having parties at the house or failure to support your wife properly you cwould be fined.
Peaceful cohabitation, sexual union and faithfulness and economic support were essential to the maintenence of marriage.
A womans place was in home educating her children keeping and improving what is got by the industry of man and seeing to it that none was wasted.
Women were assumed the weaker vewsel in body and mind and not t
oo much was to be expected of her and some went mad from too much reading.
The man stood before the family in the place of god. But could not strike her or command her to do anything contrary to the laws of god.
Love was a sugar to sweeten married life. Not essential, but a duty imposed on married folk. Otherwise disobeying god. And the love needed moderation as the highest love was for god and there would be no marrying in heaven. Even the wdow had to show moderate grief to show his love was within bounds. It was a rational love.
Mate selection had little to do with love, a lot to do with social rank.
So there was room for laughing and love, but their best hours were spent on a heavenly goal.
PARENTS AND CHILDREN
The parent was responsible for the child until they were able to make a living. So you must bring them up diligintly in proper business.
A boy usually chose his calling between the ages of 10 and 14. Apprenticeship was 7 years. Changing jobs was hard due to the length of preparatio
n. And due to the meaning of the word calling.
God called man to every right act as he called them to salvation and he gave them a particular calling.
Apart from sleep and lawful recreation a true christian spent his whole life in the performance of his “particular” and “general” callings. Anything less than hard work with minimal sleep was bad.
Thus by yoking together in name the business of earning a living and the duties of religion the Puritans emphasized the sacredness of every man’s work in the world.
A calling was given to man, not by inward voice, but by general rules. First the choice of calling may not aim at personal, but that publick good. no occupation is lawful but what is useful unto humane society. This wa s the basis of condemning the loteries. They also condemned monks.
Second god called via talents and inclination.
Children were shipped off to their master apprentice for day and night . Parents did not trust that they would not spoil the child with too much affection.
ATION OF A SAINT
When the child was established in marriage and calling, their responsibility was done. But they were also responsible for the sould of the child. to that end law required they teach them to read because the one chief project of Satan was to keep men from the knowledge of the scriptures. One must read every day. Not for gain or leisure but intensely for salvation. Grace enters via understanding and therefore the Catholics were inferior.
Converts or natural christians sons were not automatically saved. The saving was complicated because the child was naturally evil, inclined to its own will. Good poem on pg.93. The father wept at this too as it was not a fairy tale. Hell is real
The secret to saving the child is good habits. Children can be saved by this alone. Habit training neglected in youth could not be made up later and though salvation was possible without education it was very difficult.
The problem of discipline was to make an evil natured buyt at least partly rational a
nimal act against his nature and according to his reason.
Start small by pointing out the lessons in all things. Then go towards the memorization of the catechism. They later might go to grammar school and learn classics and in the meantime started on church as soon as possible. Example and corporeal punishment were also used. Better whipped than damned! But the whip was the last resort. Raving and kicking instruction was slavish, abominable and brought dreadful judgement from god.
Parents should be a little distance as familiarity would breed looseness.
But individual proclivities and tendancies were to be taken in in the rearing of children and the relationship between parent and child was not one of harshness ans severity , but of tenderness sympathy
MASTERS AND SERVANTS
Servitude in New England was not simply a device by which one class of men got work out of another class. It was also a school, where vocational training was combined with discipline in good manners and guidance in religion, a school of which all servants were the pupils and to which many respectable and godly men sent their children.
Most of the inhabitants of 17th century New England were or had been servants (servant having a wider meaning then. People were VOLUNTARY servants for money or training . Or to pay for their passage. INVOLUNTARY servants worked for a master as punishment for wrongdoing. Prisoners of war (including indians, and irish and scotsman taken by cromwells army). Slaves were few as it had to be voluntary (as engaging in the war that made you a prisoner was). When a man stole and couldn’t make restitution in cash. or debt.
Obedience was the order of the day.As to christ the servant must be faithful and reverent and with holy fear
Voluntary and involuntary
servants had to do nothing without order, work the wohole day and perhaps night. He had no private time. The master was like father. But could not be cruel without cause. A minimum of food and respect.
The pay depended on the type of servant. But indentured servants got a set of toools and a suit of clothes at the end of his term. Hired servants got the most money. Apprentice servants got training.
You were to teach servants religion so they would work due to other than punishment. Often they were unreligious and unruly due to a shortage of labor. And servants were not allowed to marry, but had relations.
ıTHE FAMILY IN THE SOCIAL ORDER
If only man had not fallen he wouldn’t need churches and civil government. This was the first premise of Puritan plitical and social thought.
Family was the first society. God could of made millions to worship hom but chose to propogate via family. Abraham’s family was the first church. The church included children and was so like a family. But the family
was the main inculcator. If the family failed neither churchnor states efforts would amount to much. So the church and the state. But the church was not enough. The family having no government to itself, needed a commonwealth government. The government didnot supercede the family, rather it backed it up.
Those who were unmarried the law said had to live with a family. To be under the control of a family. Those unworthy of having a family would have their children taken from them or not be allowed to set up a household.
As the population grew “tithingmen” were each given the responsibility and authority to monitor 10-12 families.
Puritan people considered far afield relatives close kin and showed affection by keeping in touch and with business dealings. Poor dealing would be excused moreso if the person was family.
Thus in their economic, as in their ecclesiastical and plitical affairs, the puritans assigned a major role to their families. As long as families were well ordered, as long as men re
spected the logic of relationships, corruption would be restrained within bounds and society would escape those iniquities that invited divine judgement.
PURITANISM AND TRIBALISM
God was also made in the image of family. The practitioners were gods wife. This image was used more than king and subject, master and servant or body and soul. Marriage was the highest relationship between mortals.
As in marriage to christ..when a wife is betrothed and married to a man all her old debts are laid upon her husband. The husband protects, provides, upholds counsels and corrects and commends them.
The day of judgement is the marriage day when adultory and sin shall be known. Thus idolotry is adultary.
God was not inscrutable, but a father. In being so much like t
hem he became , in a way, tribal.
It was commonly said that Puritans left the old world for their children (as England and Holland were evil and no place to raise kids). Many bad people came to America (perhaps the religious were in minority. They made all attemptsto keep their children from mingling with outsiders (as temptations was suductive). This too is tribal. Love thy neighbor was made love thy family. And they new people would not change due to punishment. Punishment was more to show god that the communities did not condone sin. Churches were confined to those who could prove they didn’t require conversion. Preaching was to inculcate family descendants, not outsiders. Their reason for neglect was that few were saved and bad ones often came from the bad families. The churches withered through the children not converting and them not going outside for converts. When theology became the handmaid of geneology, Puritanism lost.
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