Puritan Political Thought and the "Cases of Conscience"

Looking back over the stormy times of Revolution and Civil War, Thomas Hobbes came to the conclusion that it was superior force which had been decisive. The sword rather than the heavens had passed judgment upon the people of the Lord. The holy zeal of the early Puritans had run its course; the crus...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Church history
Main Author: Mosse, George L. 1918-1999
Format: Electronic/Print Article
Language:English
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Published: [1954]
In:Church history
Year: 1954, Volume: 23, Pages: 109-118
Further subjects:B Great Britain / England
B Puritanism
B Modern Era
B church-state relations
B Modern age
B Verhältnis Staat-Kirche
B Conscience
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Summary:Looking back over the stormy times of Revolution and Civil War, Thomas Hobbes came to the conclusion that it was superior force which had been decisive. The sword rather than the heavens had passed judgment upon the people of the Lord. The holy zeal of the early Puritans had run its course; the crusade was ended. Had Thomas Hobbes looked across the Atlantic he would have seen another “Holy Experiment” in decline. The second half of the Seventeenth century saw a debacle of Puritanism of such dimension that not even their most purposeful enemies of an earlier date would have had cause to complain. One recent historian has even called the Restoration of Church and King a “Laudian triumph.” Yet for all this, the Revolution took place and triumphed, if only for a time. In evaluating the political ideas which the Puritans held before and even during their rise to power, subsequent events have too often been taken into account. Puritanism led to Revolution; thus doctrine of resistance to authority must be stressed. The movement failed to hold on to power largely due to the Utopianism of its proponents. This also must be explained. The first view has often led to stress upon a straight line of Puritan thought from Christopher Goodman to John Milton. The second contention based itself on the literal application of Scripture which Puritans were sometimes apt to make. It was their urge “to build Jerusalem on England's green and pleasant strand” which led them into all sorts of follies. We are still inclined to think of the Puritan in sombre dress, his intellectual equipment symbolized by the sword in one hand and the Bible in the other.
ISSN:0009-6407
Contains:Enthalten in: Church history
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.2307/3161483