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Does this excerpt show more influence by Puritan beliefs or by the Age of Reason (the...

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starcrossedlove | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 3, 2009 at 4:42 PM via web

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Does this excerpt show more influence by Puritan beliefs or by the Age of Reason (the Enlightenment)? I need two reasons for the answer.

This is an excerpt from an essay written during the Revolutionary War to inform the American public of what was happening on the battlefields and to encourage them to continue the war for independence. Does this excerpt show more influence by Puritan beliefs or by the Age of Reason (the Enlightenment)? I need TWO reasons for the answer.


Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to tax) but "to bind us in all cases whatsoever," and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish who have so earnestly and so repeatedly

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 3, 2009 at 5:48 PM (Answer #1)

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Since this excerpt is from Thomas Paine's "Crisis No. !," his thoughts are more reflective of the Age of Reason., for he denied divine authority to any particular creed.  In fact, Paine himself is the author of the book, "The Age of Reason" in which he writes,

The most formidable weapon against enemies of any kind is Reason.  I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall. (1st reason)

In Paine's passage about Heaven knowing how to assess a price upon its goods, his logical reasoning is displayed.  For instance, Paine argues that if Britain...has declared that she has a right (not only to tax), but "to bind us in all cases whatsoever, and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then there is not such a thing as slavery upon earth.

Clearly this is a rational, logical argument, typical of a Rationalist. (2nd reason)

Throughout this essay, Paine employs phrases such as "I see no real cause...." and "My own line of reasoning is...."  These are the words of a Rationalist, a logical man, not a Puritan who believes in predestination and arbitrary acts of God.

And, although God is involved in his third reason and Paine thus shows his religious faith, Paine's argument still remains logical:

God will give up a people to destruction who have so earnestly and repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent.

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