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PURITAN LIFE AND RELIGION

Religion played an important role in Puritan life. They felt that they were chosen by God for a special purpose and that they must live every moment in a God-fearing manner. Every man, woman, and child was expected to attend the meeting on the Sabbath without question. Puritans were required to read the Bible which showed their religious discipline. If they didn't read the Bible, it was thought that they were worshiping the devil.

Preparatons for the Sabbath began the say before. All of the good had to be cook and clothes ready. No labor, not even sewing, could be done on the Sabbath. The Sabbath began at sundown the night before, and the evening was spent in prayer and Bible study.

The church was usually a small bare building. Upon entering people would take their appropriate places. The men sat on one side, the women sat on the other, and the boys did not sit with their parents, but sat together in a designated pew where they were expected to sit in complete silence. The deacons sat in the front row just below the pulpit because everyone agreed the first pew was the one of highest dignity. The servants and slaves crowded near the door and rushed to a loft or balcony.

The service began with a prayer given by the minister that usually lasted around an hour. Puritans did not like music in their services. They also felt that music and celebrating were not appropriate in the church meeting house. It was many years before any musical instruments were allowed in the church.

After the prayer, the minister would contiue with an emotional sermon. The minister's sermon would last for two, three, even four hours at a time without restroom breaks or intermissions. The Puritans listened intently to the terrible warnings of sin and punishment.


Strict Order in the Church

Church Deacons, such as this one, kept strict order in the church. Using this "staff," deacons would poke anyone misbehaving in church. In this illustration, the boy is being punished for turning around to talk to his friend.

Churches were unheated and for many months of the year, they were unbearably cold. Women carried small footstoves (like the one shown above) from home full of hot coals which were used to warm their feet during the church service.