Beliefs of the Colonies of Virginia and Massachusetts: An Essay

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After reading the two articles, ‘Laws Divine, Martial, and Moral’ (1611) and John Winthrop’s ‘A Model of Christian Charity’ (1630), there is a clear difference in beliefs between the people that settled in the Virginia Bay and the Massachusetts Bay. These differences ranged from everything such as belief systems, punishments, and ideals of community. Although these colonies had some differences, they also had some similarities as well. Having both the similarities and differences displayed through these articles has helped us determine how their main missions may have shaped the expectations within their society.

These two documents have shown the different circumstances presented during the settlements in New England because they were not only expressing what rules the people within the colony should believe, but also how these people were going to be punished. In the article ‘Laws Divine, Martial, and Moral’ (1611), there were many beliefs portrayed as rules that the people settling into the colony of Virginia had to follow, and if there was any dissent, then that person of persons’ would be punished. A few of the rules that these people chose to set in place included:

  1. All mighty god must be served daily, no matter what rank you may be. This involved attending church when the second bell rang. If someone were to disobey this action they may be sentenced to no allowance, whipping, or sent off to the Galley.
  2. No sins or neglect of any god, nor service personal shall be tolerated or be sentenced to whipping, sent off to Galley, or death.
  3. There shall be no trade with Indians, no trade without authorized personal knowing, and no despoil or rifling of trade items. Failure to comply, results in automatic death sentence.

As you can see these rules were very strict and demanding. The punishments for not following these rules properly were fairly harsh and left no room for mistake. While the beliefs of the Massachusetts Bay Colony people presented in the article, ‘A Model of Christian Charity’ (1630) where quite different and included:

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  1. God created mankind to hold conformity, show his wisdom, and express diversity among ‘creatures’.
  2. Each person may need the help of another, be it fraternal or other help. There are rich and poor people and having these different spectrums is to help allow acceptance of one another.
  3. The land was created as rich land and mankind is meant to work and utilize the land.
  4. If you disobey the lord, you shall perish out of the good land.

These beliefs seem much more attainable and less harsh than those presented in the article about the Virginia Bay. These beliefs also seem to be similar to the beliefs we have today.

After going over the beliefs of both of the articles, the expectations can also be clearly shown. The Virginia Bay was much more strict on their religious views and wanted their community to be more united in that aspect. They expected everyone to have the same belief patterns and if they do not conform, they will be punished. On the other hand, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was more relaxed and just wanted people to obey god for who he is and what he has done for them.

I believe that the main missions of settlement shaped these expectations by possible exposure, language, and/or fear. People that had not been exposed, or those who were very informed upon religion may have come together during this mission and those who were very informed and set in their ways may have taken over in the religious aspect of things. As well as, these people were not only exposed to those on their same mission but also different tribes and colonies of people. The people they were exposed to may have had different beliefs or languages that caused them to pick up on some of it and decide that they were going to share that belief. Last but not least, I believe a big factor in their religion was fear. Fear filled the minds of many of these people leaving home to go somewhere new and to not know what they were getting into; whether they would have food, water, medicine, family, etc. These people wanted so strongly to believe in the one thing that they knew and so they choose god. These people believed that god controlled what happened and when, so they trusted him to help them.

Overall, the two articles ‘Laws Divine, Martial, and Moral’ (1611) and John Winthrop’s ‘A Model of Christian Charity’ (1630) were very different in their forms of beliefs. However, there were some similarities as to what they believed in and why they may have believed it. The Virginia and Massachusetts Bays were inhabited by similar people who would one day share a common belief.

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