The Puritan conception of right and wrong was at once trivial and grand. Upon what testament of the Bible was it predominately based? Why were some Puritan laws so picayune? Why were some so harsh? What did the capital crimes have in common? What was New England's relationship with God? What kind of behavior did this require? Why? What were the enemies of the New England ideal? Who was welcome in New England? Were the Puritans tolerant? What was the limit of their toleration? Why were the Puritans concerned about fancy clothes and long hair? What defined "excessive" apparel? Who was exempt from the restrictions on dress? Why? With what undesireable persons did the Puritans associate the wearers of long hair? What were the religious objections to long hair? What would be the objections of the society envisioned by John Winthrop?
The most famous sermon in New England's history was given not by a minister but by Governor John Winthrop ( 1588-1649) of the Massachusetts Bay Company on board the Arbella as it sailed toward New England in 1630. Winthrop's Modell of Christian Charitywas a blueprint for the future colony that would unite in one unfailing bond religion and society. As such it laid down the broadest standards of law and conduct for the New Englishmen. The excerpts which follow come from theWinthrop Papers ( Boston Massachusetts Historical Society, 1929--), vol. 2, pp. 282-295.