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A Model of Christian Charity Analysis

  • Date Submitted: 10/07/2012 02:45 PM
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Analysis of John Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity”
America’s roots in Puritanism are still evident nearly 400 years after the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. John Winthrop, in his sermon, “A Model of Christian Charity,” not only lays out the mission ahead, as he sees it, for the settling of the New Land, but he lays the foundation for American society. Seeing the founding of this colony (and by extension this country) as a holy, sacred mission, Winthrop contends that absolute unity, even conformity, must be insisted upon.
Through his diction and use of metaphor that both reinforce that unity and combine the sacred and governmental, his targeted biblical and historical allusions, and his dramatically shifting tone, Winthrop elevates unity to a sense of urgency, arguing that the Puritans’ colonial effort resides comfortably in the history of the world and God’s relationship with it: the stakes could not be higher.
Throughout his sermon, Winthrop’s figures of speech related to bonds and ties and his language choices that often address the same theme tend to reinforce his idea that absolute, even rigid, unity and conformity must be maintained for the colony to succeed. The entire sermon is delivered in the first person plural, suggesting that the Puritans, Winthrop included, are one undiversified group for which he speaks. He states twice that they are “knit together” “as one man” in a bond of common cause and common destiny, every individual’s fate bound to and subject to that of the group. He also refers to the Puritans, saying, “We must be as a city upon a hill,” suggesting once
more that the disparate individuals are all bound into one larger entity, one to which the world will look for guidance. Not only does he insist on unity between and among the individual Puritans, he also seeks unity between God and humans, the spirit and the flesh, the sacred and the governmental. He speaks of “the more near bond of marriage between [God] and [the...

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