American Literature and Religion


America’s colonial period literature and that of its early settlers are marked by a deep sense of faith. This is discernible by way of the assorted authors’ writings that relate to faith (Gjelten, 2017). For that purpose, the evolution of the colonial American literature is thus extra seen as a mirror of the religious virtues that had been observed by the colonialists as this was assumed to be a method of advancing ethics and morality on the time. Colonial American literature is stuffed with obvious expressions of faith and its redeeming powers and the popularity of its mighty to assist humans overcome difficulties and triumph adversity.

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This paper will, subsequently, analyze the literary works of authors Jonathan Edwards, William Bradford, and Henry David Thoreau to indicate how their religious views formed their literary writings and the interpretation of historic and political events.

Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards was one of the famed preachers and philosophers in colonial America. He wrote many books and made quit many sermons.

Despite that, it’s the sermon of “Sinners within the Hands of an Angry God” that Jonathan is most renowned of (Edwards, 1741). He preached with conviction and fury of how Great God is to us all. The philosopher preached for those misplaced in religion and the wanderers. Throughout his literary work, the writer uses numerous figurative language and rhetoric methods to summon the unregenerate believers to bless their lives and reside in the picture of God with respect and concern. By his renewal, recognition, and allusion to God, Jonathan’s sermon exemplifies the thought of the age of the great awakening.

Edward was not solely a religious man but also an educated one as properly. As such, the author believed in private purity and he would later become the chief of his father’s church just after he had passed away. As a Puritan, Edward confused to revive his Puritan beliefs in Christians of the colonial instances. Other than being Christian believers, Edward wanted to transform the Christian believers of his time into people who have been motivated by their faith. Reasonably, that is the single most necessary purpose why his literary works have any type of spiritual impetus. As such, many of the writing he wrote are crammed with sermons to steer Christian followers to imagine more in faith. In his literary work “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Edwards’s writings are much more consultant of the aforementioned dialects. In this sermon, the writers embed the expression of hell to alert readers that if one does wrong, then he/she is fated for hell (Edwards, 1741). In the end, this scared many Christians in his time as many of these did not know what hell was as they thought that it was a place underground where sinners would be estranged and spend the eternity of their lives burning in pits of fireside.

William Bradford

William Bradford’s “Of Plymouth Plantation” chronicles a story the place he served as a governor on the Plymouth plantation. The writer starts with an outline of the pilgrims they faced and the non secular persecutions they confronted in England, their end result to maneuver to the Netherlands, the financial challenges they tolerated in Holland, and at last their decision to sail to the United States. Largely, his writing shares conceptions of the nationalist spiritual beliefs. In depiction of the hurdles they encountered whereas sailing to America, Bradford excerpts that “Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought secure to land, they fell upon their knees & blessed ye God of heaven, who had brought them over ye vast & furious ocean, and delivered them from all ye perils & miseries thereof, once more to set their feet on ye firmer and stable earth, their correct element” (Bradford, 1651).

By this, the creator gives an instance of God’s caring as typically he intervened to protect and provide for them for example once they were attacked by the sea pirates, this Bradford claims that they received punished by God via either demise or illness. He goes forward to reward the lord on how good he was to them by delivering them from oppression as he quotes “praise the Lord, as a outcome of He is good, and His mercies endure forever…let them which have been redeemed of the Lord, show how He hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressor” (Bradford, 1651). In basic, Bradford commits to reminiscence the persecution in England and the struggles they endured within the Netherlands for which he is grateful for the new world that God led them to where they were capable of follow a commerce and unwaveringly reward the lord.

John Winthrop

In John Winthrop’s account of “A Model of Christian Charity”, he described how the Puritans ventured into a model new land to establish a new society. Winthrop asked for patience and cooperation in this transition. He instilled the virtues and faith in God’s steering and windfall. John starts off by stating that every one males weren’t created equal. His causes had been that God put aside presents for the affluent to level out the glory of God, circumstances arise to examination character, and differences in social statuses create group dependency within one another. He rallied around the ideas of impartiality and compassion. A passage from this sermon caught out to me. It states, “Therefore allow us to select life, that we and our seed might reside by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him, for He is our life and our prosperity.” It speaks to me in a way that the Puritans migrated for the solely real purpose of serving their God. Their success depended on their obedience to the God they served (Winthrop, 1630).


Until the dawn of the seventeenth century, American literature was more dedicated to religion, politics, and documented events. Although many of these literary works lacked and have been dry into the authors’ views, they did a lot to induce the transmission of religious attitudes at the political stage and the standard society as a entire. Any writing at the time that did not fulfill any of the former purposes was kind of of a waste of time and certainly this could be mirrored through the literary works of William Bradford “of the Plymouth Plantation,” “A Model of Christian Charity” by John Winthrop, and Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”


Bradford, W. (1651). Bradford’s History “Of Plymouth Plantation”.
Edwards, J. (1741). Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards. Retrieved from
Gjelten, T. (2017). To Understand How Religion Shapes America, Look To Its Early Days. Retrieved from
The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vol. 1 Selections

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