A Model of Christian Charity: City on a Hill

In this classic work of Puritan theology, John Winthrop argues that the Christian community should be a model of charity and love.

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In his 1630 sermon “A Model of Christian Charity,” John Winthrop articulates the key tenets of the Puritan tradition that would shape the values of Massachusetts Bay Colony and, consequently, the larger American experiment. In this sermon, Winthrop calls upon his fellow English Puritans to build a just and pious society in the New World, a “city upon a hill” that would serve as an example to the Old World of what was possible if one adhered to God’s laws. This concept of America as a “city upon a hill” or as a unique nation with a special role to play in human history has often been invoked by American political leaders from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan.

The City on a Hill

The “City on a Hill” is a phrase from the parable of Salt and Light in Matthew 5:14, where Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” In this parable, Jesus is teaching His followers that they should let their light shine for all to see. The “City on a Hill” has come to be a symbol of Christianity, and is often used to describe the ideal Christian community.

The Puritans and the City on a Hill

The Puritans were a group of English Protestant Christians who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1620. One of the most famous Puritans was John Winthrop, who led the colony from its early days. The Puritans believed that they were creating a “city on a hill” – a perfect society that would be an example to the rest of the world.

The Puritans had high standards for their community and their government. They wanted their colony to be free from corruption and greed. They also believed in hard work, education, and self-discipline. The Puritans were very strict in their religious beliefs, and they did not tolerate dissent.

The Puritans’ experiment in creating a perfect society did not last long. By the 1640s, the colony was in turmoil due to religious disagreements and economic problems. In 1641, the colonists abandoned their plans for a city on a hill and adopted a more realistic model of government.

Despite its failures, the city on a hill remains an important symbol of America’s ideals of freedom and opportunity.

The City on a Hill in American History

The City on a Hill is a phrase that has been used throughout American history, most famously by Puritan minister John Winthrop. In his 1630 sermon, “A Model of Christian Charity,” Winthrop said that the Puritans were building a “city upon a hill” that would be an example to the world of what a Christian society could be.

This idea of America as a shining example to the rest of the world has been invoked by many other leaders over the centuries, from presidents to social activists. In recent years, it has been used as a rallying cry by both conservatives and liberals.

The City on a Hill is often seen as an idealistic goal that America has never quite reached but always strived for. It is a reminder that our nation was founded on principles of freedom and equality that have inspired people around the globe.

A Model of Christian Charity

John Winthrop first uttered the phrase “City upon a Hill” in 1630, when he was elected governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” sermon was a model of Christian charity, and it’s a phrase that has been used by presidents and politicians ever since. In this essay, I’ll explore the meaning of Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” sermon, and how it applies to our modern world.

The Puritans and Christian Charity

The Puritans were a group of English Reformed Christians who sought to purify the Church of England from within in the 16th and 17th centuries. They were known for their simple lifestyle, plain dress, and strict moral code. In addition, the Puritans believed strongly in the importance of Christian charity.

The Puritans felt that it was their duty to help those in need, both spiritually and physically. They believed that by helping others, they were displaying the love of Christ and fulfilling His commandment to love thy neighbor as thyself. The Puritans also believed that Christian charity was a way to evangelize and bring others to Christ.

The Puritans practiced Christian charity in a number of ways. They provided financial assistance to those in need, such as the poor, the sick, and orphans. They also helped people who were struggling with addiction or had been imprisoned. In addition, the Puritans offered spiritual guidance and counseling to those who needed it.

The Puritans’ model of Christian charity was based on the Bible verse Matthew 5:16, which says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” The Puritans believed that by showing others the love of Christ through acts of charity, they would be more likely to come to know Him themselves.

Christian Charity in American History

The idea of Christian charity has always been an important part of American history. From the early days of the colonies to the present, Americans have always been willing to help those in need.

One of the most famous examples of Christian charity in American history is the story of the City on a Hill. The City on a Hill was a colony founded by Puritan settlers in 1630. The Puritans were a group of Christians who believed that they had a responsibility to help those less fortunate than themselves.

The City on a Hill was an attempt to create a perfect society, where everyone would be treated equally and with respect. The colonists believed that if they could create such a society, it would be an example to the rest of the world.

Sadly, the City on a Hill did not last long. The colony was plagued by problems from the start, and it was soon abandoned. But even though the colony itself failed, the idea of Christian charity lives on in America today.


In conclusion, the “city on a hill” is a model for living out the love of God in community. It is a place where people can come together and experience the love of God and neighbor. It is also a place where people can learn to love one another more deeply. This model can be applied to any community, whether it is a physical place or an online community.

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