The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century

By Perry Miller | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE INTELLECTUAL HERITAGE

For the content of their belief, for the meanings which they read into Scripture or the principles they deduced from it, the Puritans both in England and New England drew freely upon the stores of knowledge and the methods of thinking which were then available to educated men. Like other persons of cultivation in the period, they profited, sometimes deliberately, sometimes unwittingly, from the advantages of their location in the intellectual history of Europe. At the commencement of the seventeenth century it seemed as though many different countries of the mind as well as of the world, many continents of thought and many trade routes of culture, lay simultaneously ready at hand for intellectual exploitation. Piety did not inhibit the Puritan scholar from adventuring upon them. True, he surveyed them in a thoroughly didactic spirit, and exercised critical wariness lest in his travels he be lured into accepting as fact what might in reality be the fancy of a depraved mind. But the circumstances of the times enabled him to retain Christian caution without sacrificing impartiality. He could be both selective and eclectic without seeming to do violence to any field of knowledge, without seeming to suppress any idea merely because it was at variance with his creed. With every show of justice and fairness, he could combine the arts and sciences into one coherent scheme of knowledge, which tended at every point to substantiate the truth of revelation; whatever teachings were incompatible with his religious beliefs he could exclude, not on the grounds merely of that incompatibility, but by objective and rational demonstration of their falsehood, demonstrations which he did not believe his enemies ever succeeded in disproving. Being a Protestant, he had the vast literature of Protestantism to supply the main outlines of his system; yet because he lived a century after Luther and Calvin he could view

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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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