Could I please have short notes about the Puritan literature....the definition and John Milton as a figure of Puritan literature.

Expert Answers
mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As you wish.  Also see the links below for great Enotes researched topics.  Calvinism and Baptist beliefs are forms of Puritanism.

From my notes:

A. Puritan / Calvinist / Baptist Socio-Political background

1. Cromwellian Puritanism (religious freedom) ends by 1660

2. Charless II revives "Act of Conformity" (must attend Church of England.

B. Religious background

1. Radical separatist groups in Anglican church emerged, among them the

Baptists (est. 1611)

2. Some believed "baptism" should be for only convinced believers

a. Shortly after being conversion

b. Necessary to get to heaven (Bunyan disagreed)

3. General Baptists believed Christ died for everyone, not a select few

4. Particular Baptists believed only a select group would be saved.

5. Early Baptist theology is Calvinism

6. Baptist beliefs:

a. Bible alone is guide to faith

b. Baptism by only believers as profession of faith

c. Only convinced Christians should belong to Church

d. Each member has equal say in running church; no priestly authority

e. Each local church is autonomous

f. Church and state are separate to guarantee freedom of belief.

7. Calivinist beliefs:

a. Total depravity (Original Sin): "Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto." Confession of Faith, Ch. 10, Sec. 3

b. Unconditional election (God's Election): "By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death"... R. L. Dabney

c. Limited atonement (Particular Redemption): "But we cannot admit that Christ died as fully and in the same sense for Judas as he did for Saul of Tarsus." R. L. Dabney

d. Irresistible grace (Effectual Calling): "This change must be more than an outer reformation of conduct; it is an inward revolution of first principles which regulate conduct. It must go deeper than a change of purpose as to sin and godliness; it must be a reversal of the original dispositions which hitherto prompted the soul to choose sin and reject godliness." R. L. Dabney

e. Perseverance of the Saints: "This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ; the abiding of the Spirit and of the seed of God within them; and the nature of the covenant of grace, from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof." Confession, in Chapter 17, Sections 1 and 2'

C.  John Milton 1608 - 1674

A.  Blind 1652

B.  Prose Controversy (1640 - 1660)

C.  Paradise Lost 1667 (10 books)

D.  Milton has a vision, a philosophy (unlike Shakespeare)

E.  Belief in Monism: 1 God (Satan, Jesus are sons of God)

F.  Redemptive nature of Christ

G.  Hell is not center of the earth (like Dante's cosmology); rather, Earth dangles from Heaven above Chaos.

D.  Restoration Period 1660 - 1685 (Most political period)


clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator


Here is perhaps an even broader view of the Puritans themselves.

A.  Puritans

1.  refers to a number of Protestant groups whose purpose was to “purify” the Church of England

2.  theology:

  • stressed humanity’s inherent evil – believed that all humans were sinners and deserved eternal damnation
  • believed in the mercy of God and that “the elect” would be saved through the death of Jesus Christ
  • the BIG question: How do you know if you are “saved” or “damned?”

3.  politics:

  • covenant (contract) existed between God and humanity
  • people should enter freely into agreements concerning their government
  • undemocratic: “the elect” had the most influence, little room for compromise
  • Ex: Salem Witch Trials

4.  The Bible:

  • provided a model for Puritan writing
  • Puritans used writing to explore their lives (inside and out) for signs of the work of God
  • diaries and histories – most common forms of Puritan expression
  • plain style – stressed clarity of expression and avoided complicated figures of speech. (Geneva Bible)