entertain or refresh their weatherbeaten bodies; no houses or much less towns to repair to, to seek for succour . . . What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace?'5 Winthrop, coming over ten years later with more colonists and more financial backing, was able to indulge a dream that, since New England had publicly announced its intention to follow God in seeking 'out a place of Cohabitation and Consorteshipp under a due forme of Government both civill and ecclesiastical', the Puritans would 'be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are upon us'.6 These apprehensions and dreams took shape in the organization of society around the biblical theme of covenant.
This variety of European Calvinism held that the basis for individual salvation was God's covenant-promise that he would redeem those who placed their trust in Christ. Puritans explained that promise as the outworking of a covenant within the Godhead whereby the Father chose those who would be saved, the Son accomplished their redemption, and the Spirit made it effective. Although internal differences about the meaning of the covenant for the visible church spurred the collapse of English Puritanism, among New Englanders there was agreement on a congregational basis for church order: thoroughly reformed churches did not need the presence of a bishop or the actions of a presbytery, but only the commitment of a local congregation to God and to each other. In turn, Puritans believed that the basis for health in society was the promise made by God to his covenanted people as a whole.
The key to constructing a Puritan social order was the ability to combine personal belief, ecclesiastical purity, and a godly social order into an interlocking covenantal system. With religious enemies scarce in the new world, internal spiritual realities replaced a willingness to suffer external opposition as the criterion for church fellowship. New Englanders asked those who wanted to join the church to testify before the assembled congregation that they had undergone a saving experience of God's grace. Such a profession then entitled men to become freemen (or voters) in the colony as well as members of a church. It also provided women, who did not vote, with the potential for unusual spiritual influence (as illustrated by the wife of a seventeenth-century Massachusetts governor, Anne Bradstreet, who wrote widely noticed poems). New England public life could then fulfil the social covenant with God, if freemen selected godly rulers and put laws in place that honoured God's written word.
Under this general system Puritans overcame considerable practical and intellectual obstacles. Protests arose from mavericks like Roger Williams, who asked where Scripture sanctioned the coercion of conscience as required by the
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