I will now explain the significance and implications of the line "For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill," from A Model of Christian Charity written by John Winthrop. First, he implied with his statement that they, as a society, needed to set a good example because they were visible to everyone in the world. In addition, he insinuated that their success would be dependent on the path they chose. For instance, if they followed God, they would live well and prosper. In contrast, if they disobeyed him, they would most definitely perish. Throughout his writing, he attempted to provide guidance, or quests as he called them, to his fellow Christians or countrymen when he said, "There are two rules whereby we are to walk on towards another: justice and mercy" (Winthrop 69). Furthermore, he discussed the foundations of giving, lending, and forgiving. He also connected his message to the Bible whenever possible to add support to his thoughts/beliefs. For instance, he stated, "In all these and like cases, Christ was a general rule, Matthew: 7.22: Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye the same to them also" (Winthrop 73). Finally, his overriding message seemed to focus around a message of love. Although he went into more detail one quote seemed, to sum up, his thoughts, "Love is the bond of perfection" (Winthrop 75). In conclusion, I feel the main purpose for this, his best-known work, was to serve as a word of warning or caution. As he so put it, "...the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God" (Winthrop 82).
Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley
I will now describe what the poems by Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley revealed about mortality and life in colonial America. First, Bradstreet in "Before the Birth of One of Her Children," wrote to her husband that she feared dying during childbirth by stating, "How soon't may be thy lot to lose thy friend" (Bradstreet 88). Although her words expressed that death is an unchangeable part of life, they also expressed a mixture of apprehension, expectation, and affection for her children. Nevertheless, it is obvious that childbirth posed a great risk of death for women in the late 1600s. Next, in her poem, "To My Dear and Loving Husband," Bradstreet expressed her undying love and affection for her husband, praised him. She also asked God to treat him to many blessings for all the good he has done. Finally, in her two poems entitled, "In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet, Who Deceased August, 1665, Being a Year and a Half Old" and "In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Anne Bradstreet, Who Deceased June 20, 1669, Being Three Years and Seven Months Old," she sadly showed that children died at a very young age and that death was accepted as part of life because it was by God's will that it happened.
As for Wheatley, she wrote in the poem, "On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield 1770," that although he was dead that he would live on in spirit because he did a lot of good while he was alive. For instance, she said, "New England deeply feels, the Orphans mourn " (Wheatley 384). Next, Wheatley, "On Being Brought from Africa to America," illustrated the importance of slavery during this time, but surprisingly viewed her slavery in a positive way. She believed that it was by God's hand that it happened and thus was just. Third, in "To S.M., a Young African Painter, on Seeing His Works," she admired the young man's paintings and with her words described how he would be repaid in heaven by saying, "And may the charms of seraphic theme conduct thy footsteps to immortal fame!" (Wheatley 385). Finally, in "To His Excellency General Washington," she expressed how the colonists tried to work out their differences with Britain but to no avail, so they had no choice but to continue the war in order to gain independence. She also believed that heaven was in support of their efforts and was even on their side fighting the battle with them. Nevertheless, her views of mortality, or life after death, were of a grand place that all would desire to go.
From The Journal of John Woolman:
I will now discuss how John Woolman in The Journal of John Woolman and in Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes used religion and the Bible to disprove the Biblical defense of slavery. First, in The Journal of John Woolman, he briefly mentioned his thoughts on slavery when his employer asked him to write a bill of sale for a Negro woman. It is very apparent that he had reservations against it but convinced himself to do it by telling himself that his master wanted it done, and it was for an elderly man. However, he also said to his master that he, "...believed slavekeeping to be a practice inconsistent with the Christian religion" (Woolman 295). Next, in Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes, his words were directed to the issue of the slavery. For instance, he stated, "...if a summary of the means is not to do that to another which (in like circumstances) we would not have done unto us, then these are points of moment and worthy of our most serious consideration" (Woolman 297). He effectively used religion and the Bible in many instances such as when he stated, "...that all nations are of one blood (Gen. 3:20)" in order to prove that they were no better or superior to the Negro slaves (Woolman 297). Later, he warned them that "To consider mankind otherwise than brethren, to think favours are peculiar to one nation and exclude others, plainly supposes a darkness in the understanding (Woolman 299) and that these actions would show the opposite of true religion. Finally, he showed that God would certainly disapprove of their actions by stating, "If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him; but the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be as one born amongst you, and thou shalt love him as thyself. Lev. 19:33, 34" (Woolman 300-301).
I will now compare and contrast how Thomas Paine in Common Sense and Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence characterized Britain. First, in Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote that Britain's "motive was interest not attachment" (Paine 320). He believed that Great Britain only protected the colonies because they desired the trade established with other nations. Next, he discussed that it would be detrimental to stay under the control of Britain because if they went to war with a particular country then trade between that country and America would cease. In addition, he showed Britain's unwillingness to compromise because they had to be the ruler. In support of this argument, he explained that if Britain continued its rule than the king would make all the laws and not give the colonists a voice in matters. This showed Paine's view of Britain as a country that is arrogant and uncaring. Finally, he characterized Britain as "barbarians" who not only murdered Americans but also strived to rule over them, as if they were God (Paine 328).
Next, in the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson, where he discussed the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states" (Jefferson 346-347). In order to justify this statement he provided many examples of the wrongful acts of the king, which included but were not limited to: "He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good" (Jefferson 347); "He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power" (Jefferson 347); "He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitutions and unacknowledged by our laws..." (Jefferson 348); and "He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people" (Jefferson 348). Finally, he also expressed that numerous requests were made, but they only resulted in conflict. In conclusion, I feel that both Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson presented different examples but agreed that Great Britain was not treating America justly, and thus they felt the only solution was to separate and create their own nation.