Puritans and Anglicans

In his 1976 study of Godly Man in Stuart England: Anglicans, Puritans and the Two Tables, 1620-70 (Historical Publications) , J. Sears McGee uses the law’s “two tables” to distinguish Anglicans from Puritans. Puritans were men of the “first table,” Anglicans of the second.

Both worked with the same “palette of sins and virtues” and used the same tubes of paint with the same pigments. But “Anglicans tended to squeeze dry the tubes labelled ‘obedience to crown and mitre,’ ‘material charity,’ and other ‘Second Table duties.’ Puritans, on the other hand, used up tubes of ‘obedience to God first,’ ‘spiritual charity,’ and ‘First Table duties.’ Anglicans put the hearing of sermons and the careful observation of the Sabbath in their icons” of godliness; but they did so “with fine detail brushes rather than palette knives.” Puritans for their part considered obedience to rulers a part of godliness, “but only against the strongly colored background of a higher duty to God” (236-7).

It’s a typology that has some purchase even today.

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