Initially I viewed Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” as Puritan pride-fullness, but after I reread it over a few more times, I saw it more as a set of guidelines for the Puritans. Throughout the sermon, Winthrop tells the passengers they have a unique opportunity of being a society that others would want to emulate. That they have the chance to make a loving, accepting, and Godly society. They cannot let themselves become corrupt like England or else face the wrath of God. To add upon the wrath of God,they would also face the scrutiny of the world as all eyes would be on them to see what mistakes and successes they achieve.
The Puritans also believe they will achieve this Godly society not by ridding their society of evil, but by loving one another. They talk about not forcing religion, but letting it occur naturally through the love and the coming together of everyone no matter what class. I believe that it still holds the same meaning for Winthrop as it does today because the Puritans came looking for freedom, a home, and success in the unlikeliest of places. This is an idea that is still prevalent today as numerous past presidents and politicians have incorporated this phrase to stand for freedom and the American Dream.
I believe Winthrop was expressing a faith in American exceptionalism that predates the official founding of the United State, because he calls for justice and idealism. Two things that later works would soon call for as well, such as the Declaration of Independence. I do not believe Winthrop and Milton had the same religious and political ideas when referring to their “city upon the hill”, because Milton was saying that the elders were the English people whose power was reduced through Parliament censorship.
- Andres Quezada