John Smith and John Winthrop Essay

This essay has a total of 1859 words and 8 pages.

John Smith and John Winthrop




Life in New England in the early years of America was a chance for people to start over
while including in this new way of life the philosophies they believed in. Leaders and
prominent men like John Winthrop and John Smith saw America as a place to spread their
ideas and make them into a functioning community. These men had different visions of what
America was when they arrived there and of what it should become in time. Each of them
wanted a type of change to occur in the New World. Winthrop was interested in forming a
close community, serving God and avoiding selfishness. Smith saw America as a place to
achieve wealth and become financially independent. Smith also emphasizes the importance
of being hard working people in order to achieve this wealth.

The Puritan John Winthrop came to America and saw a fresh start in which to form a
community locked together by religion. On the political side, Puritans were a group of
Protestants who were opposed to the corruption and abuses of the Church of England. The
Puritans wanted to purify their church, to make it holy and pleasing to God. On the
spiritual side, Puritans were men and women with a strong personal devotion to God. They
believed that the chief goal of man was to: “…. do more service to the Lord, the comfort
and increase of the body of Christ whereof we are members…”(4). The community Winthrop
would start in New England would only contain people who shared these beliefs; a place
where they could live, work and be among people who supported each other spiritually.
Winthrop envisioned his New England community as being free from the corruption of the
Church of England, which must have seemed to him to be too preoccupied with grandeur and
money:

…manifest the work of his Spirit: first, upon the wicked in moderating and restraining
them: so that the rich and mighty should not eat up the poor, nor the poor, and despised
rise up against their superiors, and shake of their yoke. (1)

The main focus of Winthrop’s new community would be to serve God. To Winthrop, the
believer's true home is not on earth but in heaven, so he must be careful not to lose his
heart to the all the things that this world has to offer: pleasures, material wealth,
achievement, human love. The goodness of the things that God created should also not be
denied. In New England, away from anything familiar, without a frame of reference for the
world they would observe, there would be no distractions. The people in Winthrop’s
community could worship and serve God in a way that they saw was right. This type of God
serving community is described in the Bible:

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my
treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of
priests and a holy nation. ((Exodus 19:5-6).

This passage from Exodus is a clear example of the kind of following of the Puritan idea
of God’s demands that Winthrop wanted to achieve. If any nation observed God's laws and
commands, God

would give protection, prosperity, and the spiritual blessings of knowing him and living
as his people. Or, if a people rejected God's decrees and turned to idolatry and sin, God
would eventually reject them. The Puritans of seventeenth-century England were greatly
concerned about the future of their nation; they saw the corruption of government and
church officials, growing immorality, materialism, and lack of concern for the poor as
signs that their nation would either have to repent or experience God's wrath.

Members of the community helping one another is also a significant part of the new life in
America for Winthrop. Winthrop was not interested in he or his people becoming wealthy
from self-interest, but from brotherly love. In his sermon “A Model of Christian
Charity”, Winthrop often mentions avoiding self-interest and helping each other to
overcome sin:

That every man might have need of other, and from hence they might be all knit more nearly
together in the Bond of brotherly affection: from hence it appears plainly that no man is
made more honourable then another (1)

If people are civil to one another and help each other when they are in need, the
community will stay strong. Winthrop also shows how not being selfish will bring the
people of the community closer together because respecting one another is key to holding a
community together: “Each discerns by the work of the Spirit his own image and resemblance
in another, and therefore cannot but love him as he loves himself”(3). Here, Winthrop
makes the point that each person in the community is part of God and should be respected
and looked after by the other members. Winthrop also emphasizes the concepts of Justice
and Mercy. He says that “By the first of these laws man as he was enables so withal is
commanded to love his

neighbor as himself…”(1) Avoiding self interest is not only important to community
togetherness, but is also dictated in the Bible according to the Protestants.

John Smith had a different approach to America. Where Winthrop saw it as a kind of
paradise for religious freedom, Smith saw New England as a place to start over
economically. America for Smith was a new venture in the world of money. The New World had
resources to be collected. Used and sold. In A Description of New England Smith speaks of
his surroundings in the New World as many opportunities for successful business
transactions. “…where this is victual to feed us, wood of all sorts to build boats, ships
or barks; the fish at our doors, pitch, tar, masts yards and most other necessaries only
for making?”(3). Though Smith’s essay was mostly an attempt to lure adventurous young
settlers to New England, Smith also had personal reasons for writing it. Smith was
involved with a company called the Virginia Company. Smith promoted the Virginia
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