The Puritans dream was to create a model society for the rest of Christendom. Their goal was to make a society in every way connected to god. Every aspect of their lives, from political status and employment to even recreation and dress, was taken into account in order to live a more pious life.
But to really understand what the aspirations of the puritans were, we must first understand their beliefs. “Their goal was absolute purity; to live with out sin in a sinful world was to them the supreme challenge in life. They were derisively called Puritans because they sought to purify the Church of England of the popish and antichristian stuff with which they believed the simplicity of the primitive Christian church had been encrusted.” The Puritans believed that man’s only purpose in life was “to glorify God on earth and, if he were especially fortunate, to continue the good work in Heaven.”
For the puritans, to glorify god meant keeping him in mind at all times, working to the best of their ability at whatever job god had fated them to do, and following a strict moral code based on the bible. “Every act and thought was either a glorification of god or its opposite.” Thus, leading a pious life in the form of working hard, praying, and churchgoing, was considered paying homage to God. Through all of these things, the most important was to be mindful of God at all times. Pride, complacency, and gratification of the senses could not be permitted if they captured the place in the mind reserved for the Almighty.
This does not mean, however, (as many people have believed) that the Puritans did not allow themselves to be comfortable and happy. First of all, the Puritans took happiness in the knowledge that they were living a pure life the way God had intended it to be. Second they believed in working hard, and if one acquired wealth by working hard, saving, and staying sober, than that was evidence of God favoring that person. “Eating well, drinking well, sexual indulgence within the bounds of matrimony, and enjoying the comforts of life were not proscribed by the Puritans. In actuality, the Puritans were waging war upon certain human propensities that they regarded as evils: covetousness, materialism, the love of ostentation, and concern with the externals of religion rather than with the things of the spirit.”
When a puritan felt that he had failed to meet the requirements set for him by God, he “flagellated himself remorselessly with introspective cross-examinations that usually took the form of thoughts of eternal reprobation and torment.” The puritan was in constant internal conflict, whether it was restraining his human desires, or if he failed in that, than scolding himself for faltering in his efforts. The Puritans believed that they were God’s select few that could carry out his original orders the way he had intended.
Now that we have made clear the beliefs that the Puritans held so dear, we can better observe their aspirations when they arrived in Massachusetts. They came to the New World to erect a “City Upon a Hill” that would serve as a model for the rest of the Christian world. “Thus, in the eyes of the Puritan leaders, the settlement of New England appeared to be the most significant act in human history since Christ bade farewell to his disciples.” The city of God was destined to be built in New England and the Puritans intended to be the founders. An entire community living as God had directed men to live, this was the vision that spurred thousands of people to make the dangerous Atlantic journey to New England.
The Puritans goal in New England was to create the perfect pure society where nobody sinned and God ruled completely. They attempted this by making laws about and regulating every aspect of life in the colony. To achieve this, the church needed to rule the colony. And if the church ruled the colony, only the real Puritans could be part of the church. They believed only a minority of the population pure enough to be a part of the church. Consequently, the Puritans restricted church membership and