Puritans view God as a higher being that is involved in the occurrences of the universe. Transcendentalists believed that God is connected to mankind through nature and intuition. Puritan writing can be perceived as plain and self-reflective, whereas transcendentalist writing can be described as using feelings and thoughts about nature to rise above rationality and logic.
Regardless of how seemingly different these two periods and styles of writing might appear in regards to mankind’s relationship with God and nature, they are more similar than one would be inclined to think by just looking at it on the surface. The puritan doctrine involving God was very strict and rigorous, and the transcendentalists were free thinkers and not very strict. The Puritans and Transcendentalists compare in that they both believed that God and nature was a guiding and nurturing force that watched over mankind.
One of the examples of the way puritans view God’s power over man can be found on page 292 of The American Tradition in Literature v.12. The work found on this page is called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and it is Written by Jonathan Edwards.
This piece is a sermon by Edwards to his congregation trying help them understand that God is angry with them and that it would be so easy for him to throw man into the depths of hell. Edwards uses the metaphor of a spider’s wed being crushed by a rock to help his congregation visualize how easy it would be for God to send us into Hell “…and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock” (267). Jonathan Edward’s sermon is just one example of the strict, intense way that the puritans portrayed God’s control over humans. The Transcendentalists have a much lighter way of getting their ideas of God and nature having jurisdiction over humankind.
They believed that one’s- mind could commune with God and that God was a part of all nature rather than a distinct being set apart from it. In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s work Nature Emerson writes “all the parts incessantly work into each other’s hands…circulations of the divine charity nourish men” (1284). What Emerson is trying to say here is that God works for the good of mankind. When he talks about the wind, sun and rain, he is using it as a symbol of how God nourishes men.