God’s Role: The Age of Faith vs. the Age of Reason (1215 words)

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Works that express a deep religious faith abound in early American literature. Even those who wrote in the late 18th century, such as Phillis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano, acknowledge the work of God in their lives. By contrast, the ideals of the Enlightenment helped give rise to writings such as Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and The Crisis, Thomas Jefferson’y s Declaration of Independence, and Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography.
Write an essay in which you contrast the Age of Faith with the Age of Reason. Your primary focus should be the characteristics of each time period as well as the WORKS that we read and studied in this unit. Ask yourself questions about the works: For example, how do Bradstreet's poems or Bradford/>'s Of Plymouth Plantation reflect their religious beliefs? How does the plan for perfection that Franklin/>/> outlines in his Autobiography fit what you know about him and about the Enlightenment? What is the "common sense" that Paine is trying to set forth?
Also, consider any "crossovers" you may have noticed. For example, do you see any connection between the purpose of Jonathan Edwards's sermon and what Paine wants to accomplish through his writings? Does Paine totally forsake the work of God in the colonies? Where do Equiano and Wheatley fit in
Age of Faith
~ God is all-knowing and all powerful; he plays an active role in the lives of human beings.
~ God's word is the standard of morality and the basis of truth.
~ Nature is the creation of God, and it teaches us about Him.
~ All men have experienced original sin and can only become better (or saved) through God's grace.
Age of Reason
~ God is like a "clockmaker." He created the universe and set it in motion,but is not actively involved in its operation, just as a clockmaker makes a clock that then operates independently of him.
~ A belief in natural law and universal order and confidence in human reason were supreme.
~ Nature is a "machine" governed by natural laws.
~ Man's greatest asset is his intellect; it is with this that he betters himself and society.

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With the primary focus on God’s role in life, the Age of Faith played into how God is responsible for giving and ultimately, taking away from life. In contrast, or rather as a segue into another philosophy, the Age of Reason emphasized that while God gave life, humans are ultimately responsible for their condition. One can gain wisdom from God, among many other sages, but in the end, one is solely responsible for taking care of oneself.
The Age of Faith
Particularly strong in his belief that God can both give and take away life, John Edwards preached to his congregation about God’s wrath against sinners. In his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God,” Edwards suggests that people do not understand that they owe their lives to God. The only reason these sinners, as he calls them, are not in Hell right now is because God is the hand that lifts them up from their certain plight. God continues to bestow mercy on sinners though they are undeserving. If people continue to sin, then God definitely will curse them and cast them into Hell, letting...
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