Nature and Desire in Seventeenth-Century Puritanism
In seventeenth-century Puritanism, on both sides of the Atlantic, the importance of stirring and channeling holy desire was central to the spirituality inherited from John Calvin. The Puritans identified two “Schools of Desire” that were able to allure and instruct the hearts of believers in nurturing a passion for God. These included Nature's beauty, functioning as a “second book” alongside the Scriptures, and the ordinance of Marriage, modeling the believer's relationship to Christ as lover and bridegroom. In the process of attending to these “schools,” the Puritans were drawn to a compassion for creatures in the natural world as well as to a passionate delight in their spouses.
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