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Heaven in the American Imagination$
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Gary Scott Smith

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199738953

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199738953.001.0001

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The Puritans

The Puritans

Celebrating the Glory of Heaven

(p.10) 1 The Puritans
Heaven in the American Imagination

Gary Scott Smith

Oxford University Press

More than most other American Christians, the Puritans lived with one eye on eternity. Especially as put forth by Increase Mather, the Puritan conception of heaven was theocentric, focusing on the glory and majesty of God and Christ. Well versed in scripture, frequently reminded of the perilousness of life, eager to reap the rewards of heaven, and desirous of being reunited with loved ones, many Puritans thought frequently about the nature of heaven and salvation. They frequently exhorted one another to receive Christ as their savior and work out their salvation with fear and trembling so that they could spend eternity with God and loved ones. While some later Christians rhapsodized as much about the wonders of heaven, no other group stressed the horrors of hell or the difficulties pilgrims encountered in the journey to the celestial city as much as the Puritans did.

Keywords:   Puritans, Mather, heaven, theocentric, salvation, hell, rewards

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