To show the cleavage between Puritan and modern attitudes, I have arranged Puritan views as a series of critiques of modern outlooks.

The Puritan Critique of
THE SUCCESS ETHIC

Modern Western culture is based overwhelmingly on the success ethic—the belief that material prosperity is the ultimate value in life and that a person’s worth can be measured by material or social standards. By contrast, the Puritan Thoman Watson asserted that “blessedness… does not lie in the acquisition of worldly things. Happiness cannot by any art of chemistry be extracted here.” Samuel Hieron was far from the success ethic when he prayed:

“Oh, let not mine eyes be dazzled, nor my heart bewitched with the glory and sweetness of these worldly pleasures …. Draw my affection to the love of that durable riches, and to that fruit of heavenly wisdom which is better than gold, and the revenues thereof do surpass the silver, that my chief care may be to have a soul enriched and furnished with Thy grace.”

The Puritan Critique of
THE SELF-MADE PERSON

American culture has been strangely enamored of the image of “the self-made person”—the person who becomes rich and famous through his or her own efforts. The idea of having status handed over as a gift does not appeal to such an outlook. Yet the Puritans denied that there can even be such a thing as a self-made person. Based on an ethic of grace, Puritanism viewed prosperity solely as God’s gift. John Preston wrote regarding riches that “it is God that gives them, it is he that dispenseth them, it is he that gives the reward…. The care of the work only belongs to us.”

The Puritan Critique of
MODERN BUSINESS ETHICS

It has become an axiom of modern business that the goal of business is to make as much profit as possible ...

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