History of the Puritans
The Puritans formed Puritanism, a radical form of protestants, and an extreme religious movement within the Church of England that operated in the 16th century. They believed that the church did not go through enough changes after the English reformation. In their view, the church of England still resembled the Roman Catholic Church in many ways. The Puritans believed the transformation process barely affected the doctrines and structure of the church that further actions must be taken. They observed that Bishops still lived like princes while the corruption in ecclesiastical courts persisted. The Puritans sought to “purify” the church by advocating for the abolishment of all Catholic influence including ceremonies, and practices.
The puritans initially appeared after James the first become the king of England early in 1603. The puritans strongly advocated for several reforms, such as the abolishment of the Bishops, most of which King James rejected. The puritanism movement would later gain more popular support during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. During this period, the puritans became popularly known for their extreme attitude towards the religious settlements of Queen Elizabeth. Most of the puritans were graduates from Cambridge University and pushed for significant changes in local Anglican churches. The Puritans encouraged a sincere religious experience backed by pure moral conduct, and making the bible the center of all worship.
During the beginning of the 17th century, the movement had gained even more support from the likes of William Ames and Richard Baxter. The opposition from the government and catholic supporters, particularly Archbishop William Laud, also intensified. This caused a significant percentage of the Puritans to relocate. Among those left were the pilgrims who formed the Plymouth Colony in 1620. Ten years later, the first and major puritan migration to new England ensued. Upon arrival, the puritans established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Boston. As hard as life was in Boston, the puritans could freely live and worship as they chose. All their worship was solely based on the bible, and they kept their worship services simple. No organs or instruments were allowed, and all their songs were sang acapella.
Over the years, Puritanism gradually diminished, but the exact time when this happened remains unclear. Some scholars argue that Puritanism lost its influence in New England by the beginning of the 18th century, while others are adamant that the process occurred gradually over the years. However, there were several attempts to revitalize the puritan ways in various denominations led by the Presbyterian leader Jonathan Dickinson and Baptist leader Isaac Backus up to the early 1800s. By the 19th century, Puritanism was diminished entirely. However, the influence could be felt indirectly during the colonial period in various ways, such as the emphasis on the need for education in religious leadership.