A Model of Christian Charity Winthrop Sermon

Winthrop Sermon

Where did Winthrop delivered his sermon, “A Model of Christian Charity”? In prison On board a ship In church Outdoors, on the site of the future settlement

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Consider the following words of Winthrop’s:

“[God is] delighted to show forth the glory of His wisdom in the variety and difference of the creatures.”

In plain English, what does Winthrop say here? The rich are better off than the poor, because they are wiser than the poor. There are infinite differences among people, because God’s wisdom is infinite. The poor are more likely to appreciate God’s wisdom, because they are not distracted by material comforts. Mankind is the only species in God’s creation whose members are unequal in wealth.

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Consider the following words of Winthrop’s:

“The Reason [why God has ordered the world so that some must be rich, some poor … is so] that the rich and mighty might not eat up the poor, nor the poor and despised rise up against their superiors and shake off their yoke.”

Based on this passage, which of the following phrases BEST describes John Winthrop’s view of the relationship between the rich and the poor?

Rich and poor should exercise Christian virtues in relating to each other. Both the rich and the poor must submit to the authority of government. The rich must devote most of their time to charity towards the poor. The poor must at all times obey the rich, unquestioningly.

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When Winthrop says that

“no man is made more honorable than another or more wealthy, etc., out of any particular and singular respect to himself, but for the glory of his creator and the common good of the creature, man,”

what does he mean by that?

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Choose the phrase that BEST expresses the meaning of Winthrop’s words! Wealth comes with an obligation to God. Wealth comes with an obligation to society. Wealth comes with an obligation to honor God and help one’s fellow man. Wealth is a gift from God, and therefore deserves to be honored and respected by other people.

“We must be willing to rid yourself of our excesses to supply others’ necessities; we must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience, and liberality.”

In plain English, what is Winthrop saying, here? “We must willingly make sacrifices for the good of all.” “We must not tolerate greed and envy.” “We must not tolerate vanity.” “We must sacrifice some people for the benefit of the group.”

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According to Winthrop, how far should good Christians take the virtue of charity? Help others, only if they are good Christians, themselves. Help others, if your own family has enough to survive. Help others, if they have been kind to you before. Help others who are in need; if they are Christians, help them even if it means giving beyond your own means.

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Towards the end of his sermon, Winthrop talks about pursuing “pleasures, and profits”. What does he think about this pursuit?

The only pleasures and profits Christians can expect are of a purely spiritual nature. Pursuing pleasures and profits means to worship false Gods, and will lead to damnation. Pleasures and profits will be the reward for obeying God and doing good. The hard work ahead of the settlers will be worth it, but only the next generation will reap the benefits of pleasures and profits.

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Winthrop states that the settlement of “New England … shall be like a City upon a Hill.”

What does he mean by that? Consider the context of this quote in Winthrop’s sermon! God will be watching over the settlement, for as long as it remains a success. The rest of the world is watching, raising the stakes for the success (or failure) of the settlement. The settlement will be closer to God than any other place. In the certainty of their moral righteousness, the settlers will be able to look down upon the rest of the world.


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