The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century

By Perry Miller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
THE AUGUSTINIAN STRAIN OF PIETY

Four hundred years after Christ, Augustine of Hippo enacted an arduous pilgrimage, driven by his insatiable quest for satisfactions that nothing of this earth was ever able to supply him. Even while deluding himself with Manichean palliatives, he cried out,

O Truth, Truth! how inwardly even then did the marrow of my soul pant after Thee, when they frequently, and in a multiplicity of ways, and in numerous and huge books, sounded out Thy name to me, though it was but a voice. . . I hungered and thirsted not even after those first works of Thine, but after Thee Thyself, the Truth. . . Yet they still served up to me in those dishes glowing phantasies, than which better were it to love this very sun. . . than those illusions which deceive the mind through the eye.

Twelve hundred years later, in a rude wooden structure by the Connecticut River, built in a newly cleared field that had just been named Hartford, Thomas Hooker preached to faithful Englishmen who had crossed an ocean that they might have the privilege of hearing him. He did not speak in the first person, for he was not uttering Confessions, but he spoke of what he and every one of his congregation could attest from their own experience. In his words sounded once more the accents of St. Augustine.

Sin is truly cross and opposite. . . to the Nature of the soul in a right sense: Look at the soul in respect of the end for which it was created, and that impression which is enstamped and left upon it unto this day, whereby it's restlessly carried in the search, and for the procurement of that good for which it was made. . . The soul was made for an end, and good, and therefore for a better than it self, therefore for God, therefore to enjoy union with him, and communion with those blessed excellencies of his. . . this impression remains still upon the soul, though the work thereof is wholly prejudiced. . . Being possessed

-3-

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The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Contents *
  • Book I - Religion and Learning 1
  • Chapter I - The Augustinian Strain of Piety 3
  • Chapter II - The Practice of Piety 35
  • Chapter III - The Intellectual Character 64
  • Chapter IV - The Intellectual Heritage 89
  • Book II - Cosmology 109
  • Chapter V - The Instrument of Reason 111
  • Chapter VI - Knowledge 154
  • Chapter VII - The Uses of Reason 181
  • Chapter VIII - Nature 207
  • Book III - Anthropology 237
  • Chapter IX 239
  • Chapter X - The Means of Conversion 280
  • Chapter XI - Rhetoric 300
  • Chapter XII - The Plain Style 331
  • Book IV - Sociology 363
  • Chapter XIII - The Covenant of Grace 365
  • Chapter XIV - The Social Covenant 398
  • Chapter XV - The Church Covenant 432
  • Chapter XVI - God's Controversy with New England 463
  • Appendix A - The Literature of Ramus' Logic in Europe 493
  • Appendix B - The Federal School of Theology 502
  • Notes 507
  • Index 525
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