The Visible Saints – Book Review

visible saintsThe Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea by Edward S Morgan. Publisher: Martino Fine Books (November 6, 2013), 174 pages. This book is based on a set of lectures that Morgan gave as the Anson G Phelps Lectures delivered at New York University in 1962. He used these lectures as the basis of four chapters of the book and then expanded a little by writing a conclusion. Despite its length, Visible Saints has become classic work on Puritanism.

What are Visible Saints? The Puritans saw themselves as Visible Saints. Visible saints were godly Christian people who would go to heaven when they died. They took upon themselves the task of demonstrating their sainthood. They started the movement in the 16th century to eradicate the remnants of the Catholic Church. They spent part of each day privately praying. They attended church regularly. Although they were interested in their church and being good Puritans, they realized that commerce and financial success were important. They, in effect, established in New England the idea of the protestant work ethic: be true to God, pray, and make money.

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Categories: Book Review, History of Religion, United States History


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