For Puritans of the seventeenth century, Transcendentalism lay hidden in the wallet of time, and they were blissfully unaware of any incipient antagonisms in their conception of human nature. If ever they had misgivings they could always reassure themselves that knowledge in this world is limited, and must fall short of perfection, particularly concerning so complex a subject as the nature of man, as long as man remains a hybrid of flesh and spirit. Meanwhile, the psychology was of great practical value to the divines simply because it enabled them to explain specifically what happens in regeneration. The substance of their thinking might be put briefly thus, though such a statement is more crude than any Puritan would actually have phrased: if original sin is a dislocation of the faculties, then regeneration must set them right again. If in nature the original sequence of sensation, common sense, fancy, reason, memory, will, and affection is now broken, it follows that in a converted nature the reflex must be reconstructed. When conversion was described in the vocabulary of psychology it became in effect a realignment of twisted pulleys and tangled ropes, permitting the blocks once more to turn freely and the tackle to run smoothly, in accordance with the first plan of the rigging.
Thus in Puritan philosophy the concept of spiritual regeneration, which pertained to the piety, was integrated with a concept of the physical powers of the soul, which pertained to the heritage of classical and medieval physics, because Puritans were inheritors at one and the same time of the religious and of the scientific view of man. The ministers could not keep these two concepts apart, and consequently whenever they descended from the plane of lofty piety to concrete particulars, they had to translate the process and phases of regeneration minutely into the language of the faculty psychology