Puritans

[Puritans desecrating a church]
Article

A term originally applied to those who in the established Church of England strove to “purify” it from “all taint of popery.” The separation of the English Church from Rome did not go far enough to suit the extremists who, affected by the dour sternness of Calvinism, sought to repress every external sign of the old religion. Bishop Hooper, who was imprisoned in 1550 for refusing to be consecrated to the See of Gloucester in pontifical vestments is often referred to as “the first Puritan.” At all events, Puritanism always frowned upon such adjuncts as vestments, candles, the sign of the Cross, the keeping of Holy Days, and similar practises. The Puritans were at first a party in the Church of England, and they were divided into three groups

  • those who would tolerate episcopacy and the Book of Common Prayer (revised if possible to suit them)
  • those who sought to introduce Presbyterianism
  • those who desired to set up a complete congregational independency

Obviously the latter two could not remain long in the established Church as it was constituted, and they subsequently withdrew. The first settlers of the Massachusetts colony were Puritans who had not left the Church of England at home, but who did so in drawing up their articles of government in America. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Baxter’s Saints’ Everlasting Rest, and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs are works characteristic of Puritan thought and temperament. Puritans generally have been characterized by a gloomy outlook on life, gaiety or festivity being looked upon by them as essentially evil, or as inevitably leading to evil.

MLA Citation

  • “Puritans”. New Catholic Dictionary. Saints.SQPN.com. 22 August 2010. Web. 25 July 2014. <http://saints.sqpn.com/puritans/>