Believing the 17th Century Was in Decline

At a time when religion was centralized in one’s life, unfortunate events were often interpreted to symbolize religious meanings. Natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, and earthquakes were seen as warning signs from God. Even attacks from Native Americans were seen as proof of divine dissatisfaction as God was unpleased with current situations.

In the late end of the 17th century, New England clergymen had been warning of declension, the falling away from Biblically-prescribed ways. This encouraged Puritans to look for signs, which they found inevitably. Even jeremiads were given, in which the Puritans attended sermons filled with dire warnings of impending doom.

With Kind Philip’s War raging on, many Puritans were fearful of New England’s decline. Cotton Mather was a Puritan who was very convinced of this demise when his five-month-old infant died along with his younger brother, Nathaniel. This, followed by his witness of witchcraft, convinced him and others of the decline of New England.

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