Puritanism and the Wilderness: The Intellectual Significance of the New England Frontier, 1629-1700

By Peter N. Carroll | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
"The Pleasant Gardens
of Christ"

IF the Puritans believed that a Hedge of grace surrounded New England, they were equally confident that similar barriers secured their church societies. Such partitions, they felt, distinguished the Lord's Saints from the reprobate of the world and preserved the churches from unorthodox incursions. The younger Thomas Shepard declared that the existence of doctrinal purity within the New England churches constituted a wall which separated the Jew from the Gentile, the saint from the sinner. By excluding the unregenerate, this shield defended the godly churches from the onslaughts of disbelievers. The Lord preserved His churches "from being Licked and swallowed up among these wilde beasts of the field," maintained John Cotton, "so as they that kicked, kicked against a thorny hedge, and pricked and galled themselves at length." Religion as well as civil order, suggested the General Court of Massachusetts Bay, protects Christians "against the Injuries of men," and those enemies that assault the Hedge "will find [that] the thornes will prick them."1

____________________
1
Thomas Shepard, Jr., Sermons on Canticles, July 27, 1669, Shepard Mss., American Antiquarian Society; Cotton, A Brief Exposition with Practical Observations upon the Whole Book of Canticles, p. 36; TheBook of the General Lawes and Libertyes

-109-

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Puritanism and the Wilderness: The Intellectual Significance of the New England Frontier, 1629-1700
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Two Worlds 5
  • Chapter I - The Good Land 7
  • Chapter II - Sad Stormes and Wearisom Dayes 27
  • Chapter III - A New World 45
  • Part II - The Symbolic Wilderness 61
  • Chapter IV - A Sorrowful Estate 65
  • Chapter V - A Place of Safetie 87
  • Chapter VI - The Pleasant Gardens of Christ 109
  • Part III - A Wilderness Society 127
  • Chapter VII - The Welfare of This Commonwealth 131
  • Chapter VIII - The Unity of the English Colonyes 161
  • Chapter IX - The Further Improvement of the Wildernes 181
  • Chapter X - A Smart Rod and Severe Scourge 199
  • Epilogue 223
  • Selected Bibliography 225
  • Index 241
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