English Class: American Literature

The Hebrews and The Puritans

Like the Hebrews of old who left Egypt for the Promised Land, the Puritans left their home in England for the New World. The Hebrews, who were mistreated in Egypt, were lead out by God through the wilderness and into the Promised Land. Although the Hebrews were disobedient, God remained faithful in bringing them to the land He had promised. He continued to bless them by helping them defeat their enemies and by blessing their lives.

Some of the Puritans of the early 1600s saw a connection between their lives and the lives of the ancient Hebrews. The Puritans were leaving England because of the persecution they faced for worshiping apart from the Anglican Church. They would face many hardships in journeying to the New World, but unlike the Hebrews, they trusted and believed that God would help and guide them.  Arriving in New England, the Puritans believed that God had prepared the way for them since in the previous years a plague had struck the Native Americans, leaving much land uninhabited.

John Cotton mentions this correlation between the Hebrews and the Puritans in his sermon God’s Promise To His Plantation (1630). John Cotton and other Puritans saw the discovery of the New World as God choosing a land fit for them to eventually live in. One point Cotton makes in his sermon is that of God leading the Puritans from their homes in England into the land He chose. Cotton also spoke about how God made room for the Puritans in the New World. He believed that God had cleared some of the land by sending a plague to wipe out many of the Native Americans. These three ideas can also be seen in the life of the Hebrews. God chose the land of Canaan for the Hebrews to settle in, then He lead them from their bondage in Egypt through the wilderness into the Promised Land. God made room for the Hebrews by aiding them in conquering the land of Canaan and defeating their enemies. These three points were connected in both the lives of the Hebrews and the Puritans.

Another correlation between the Hebrews and the Puritans was the reasons why they both left their homes and traveled to a new land. The Hebrews were commanded of God to worship Him and the Puritans wished also to worship God in the way they thought was right. Since neither of them were allowed to worship God, this gave them a reason to leave their homes for a new land. There were evils in their countries that needed to be avoided and which would also give them a reason to remove themselves. In England the Puritans faced the evils of being imprisoned for worshiping and preaching the Gospel. The Hebrews were facing the killings of their baby boys by a decree of Pharaoh. They had endured bondage at the hands of the Egyptians for many years. This evil treatment prompted both the Puritans and the Hebrews to traveled to a better land.

These similarities between the Puritans and the Hebrews gave Cotton a reason to encourage the Puritans to go and settle the New World.
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