new charter that reduced the legal role of the churches; and, by the start of the eighteenth century, the growth of luxury and a new desire to imitate the ways of the English upper classes, especially in Boston. Despite concern over declension, expressed in fervent sermons appealing for colony-wide repentance, Massachusetts and the equally Puritan Connecticut remained the most cohesive, most religiously self-assured colonies in the New World.
For the Puritans, formal theology was also important. And there was a lot of it, from the early immigrant preacher-theologians and from later pastors trained entirely in America, including the Boston minister, Samuel Willard, who produced a massive set oflectures on the Westminster Confession during the 1670s and 1680s (published in 1726 as a Compleat Body of Divinity). But theology in action rather than just theology by the book was the key to what made American Puritanism work.
Almost all ventures in European colonization proclaimed an intention to evangelize Native Americans. None succeeded, at least with anything like the success so easily anticipated. Sharp differences in world-view, the largely unintended destruction of native populations by European diseases, the assumption accepted almost universally that Christianity entailed European forms of civilization, and an inability to segregate altruistic missionary efforts from the acquisitive pursuit of land doomed efforts at Christianizing the native peoples.
In Acadia, the earliest Jesuit missionaries established a North American precedent when in i6ii they began serious study of the Micmac language. Later mission work in Acadia would be taken up by the Capuchins, another renewed Franciscan order, but this effort was crushed at mid-century during armed conflict with New Englanders. Along the St Lawrence, Jesuits took the lead with Algonquian-speaking tribes by establishing a settlement for converted Indians at Sillery near Quebec. Similar efforts would later include an important settlement organized by the Sulpicians on Mount Royal in the present Montreal. The most significant early mission effort throughout all of North America, however, was the Jesuit work among the Iroquoian-speaking Huron far to the west on Georgian Bay.
The Jesuit Jean Le Brebeuf had first travelled to Huronia in 1626 where he remained for three years to study the language and culture. After a hiatus caused by conflict with England, Brebeuf reopened the mission in i634.By 1647, there were nineteen Jesuits at work, and converts numbered in the thousands. The relative success of the Jesuits was in part a product of hard-won lessons
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