Winthrop’s “A City on a Hill”

“City upon a hill” is the phrase often used to refer to John Winthrop’s famous speech, “A Model of Christian Charity.” It was given aboard the Arbella not long before reaching New England. Winthrop referred to their home in the New World as a city on the hill that would be watched by the world in order to inspire the Puritans.

Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck and to provide for our posterity is to follow the Counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge our selves of our superfluities, for the supply of others necessities. We must delight in each other, making others’ conditions our own: rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our Commission and Community in the work, our Community as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us as his own people and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of his wisdom, power, goodness, and truth than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when he shall make us a praise and glory, that men shall say of succeeding plantations: the lord make it like that of New England. For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us. But if our hearts shall turn away so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced and worship other gods, our pleasures, and profits, and serve them, it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good Land whether we pass over this vast Sea to possess it.

Therefore let us choose life,
that we, and our Seed,
may live; by obeying his
voice, and cleaving to him,
for he is our life, and
our prosperity.

Source: Winthrop’s “A City on a Hill”
Copyright 2016 Digital History

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