The creation of spiritual autobiographies helps readers to understand the intensity of the spiritual growth that the authors experience. Examples of significant spiritual autobiographies include John Woolman who creates “In the Journal of John Woolman” and Anne Bradstreet who creates “To My Dear Children”. There are significant differences in the denominations of the two authors. For example, Woolman is a Quaker while Bradstreet is a Puritan. They create their narrations in similar ways because of the respective attachments that they seem to have with religion. In both their autobiographies, the
y take their time in exampling significant religious occurrences throughout their lives. At some points in their narrations, they go back to their respective childhood and attempt to examine spirituality from the point of view of children. The intent of this paper is to provide a comparative analysis on these autobiographies while concentrating on three major issues covered in these autobiographies.
Woolman’s Faith as a Quaker
John Woolman creates a spiritual autobiography that chiefly concentrates on his moral, intellectual and spiritual growth as a Quaker. He is a Quaker priest whose work becomes extremely significant to people of diverse denominations. For example, his teachings continue to educate people against the negativity of the war. He advocates for intense spiritual humilities among the people who he thinks need to be religious in their actions.
“Woolman was scrupulous in calling attention to all those things in daily life that arecompromises with “the true ministry” of Christ” (Woolman, 292).
Woolman’s faith seems to be against any act of slavery evident from his contempt of the trade. He uses his autobiography to ask people to shun away from wars and other situations that would create unnecessary conflicts among their respective societies. His development in the Quaker denomination is exemplary because he keeps convincing people to be spiritual. Woolman keeps asking his audience in the narration to display admirable characters that have significant relations to spirituality.
Bradstreet’s Faith as a puritan
In her autobiography, Bradstreet displays extreme love for her faith. This can be evidenced by the following quote:
“I know whom I have trusted, and whom I have believed, and that he is able to
keep that I have committed to his charge” (Bradstreet 114).
This is probably because she wrote most these works when her husband was way for politics. Her puritan faith makes her to be indifferent to material wealth. Bradstreet’s faith is deep because of how it trains Bradstreet. She is able to determine significant aspects about human judgments through her faith. She also displays an admirable hope in the future from the teachings of her faith. This hope that she sustains in her narrations is evident in her love for insignificant sects, for example, nature. Bradstreet also displays the depth of her spirituality despite the challenges that she encounters. She has a faith that allows her to concentrate on significant family values. For example, she raises her children in a spiritual way probably because she wants them to be religious.
Bradstreet’s sense of doubt in her puritan faith
Bradstreet keeps registering her doubts on the existence of God because of extreme patriarchy in her faith. She does not believe that the male gender is supreme and in turn doubts that God really exists. Later in her life, she joins church, but thus she admits her uncertainties in the puritan faith. For example, the following quote proves that she was doubtful of the puritan faith.
“Many times hath Satan troubled me concerning the verity of the scriptures many times by atheism, how could I know whether there was a God; I never saw any miracle to confirm me, and those which I read of how did I know that they were feigned.” (Bradstreet 113)
It is later in her autobiography that Bradstreet affirms her faith in God. She prefers that people should concentrate their love to God instead of other earthly ideas. She confirms that her love for God cannot be compared to anything. The comparison that she offers seems to suggest that God is the only one to be given extreme love.
Woolman’s sense of doubt and sinful nature
Woolman decides to change his sinful character after he realizes that sins are unacceptable.
“I knew I was going from the flock of Christ and had no resolution return; hence serious
reflections were uneasy to me” (Woolman, 295)
This suggests that before he finally accepts to be spiritual in his endeavors, he doubts God’s existence. The only reason that he displays immoral character in his former years is because he does not believe in the existence of God. The sinful life that he lives before his conversion is a reflection of uncertainty on the existence of supreme powers.
Woolman’s conclusion as a man of faith
Woolman proves to be extremely faithful in most of the endeavors that he registers in the autobiography. He wishes for people to have just systems that do not make them to feel inferior. Woolman also displays his faith by the suggestion about equality that he carries in the autobiography. He is effective in his delivery of Christianity messages because of the manner in which he chooses to engage with his readership. Woolman describes a significant change in his character in the narration. This change in character only comes after he decides to change his life and be faithful to God.
“I kept steady to meetings, spent First Days afternoon chiefly in reading the Scriptures
and other good books, and was early convinced in my mind that true religion consisted
in an inward life, wherein the heart doth love and reverence God the creator and learn
He also discourages people from sinful acts. For example, in his narration Woolman explains that he felt a significant relief when he finally accepted to live a sinless life.
Bradstreet’s conclusion as a woman of faith
Bradstreet’s puritan faith seems to encourage her to be grateful for almost everything in her life. She is constant in her faith and remains grateful and trustful to God in all the things she does. This is especially in the area of her provision. This can be evidenced by the following quote;
“I have had great experience of God’s hearing my prayers and returning comfortable
answers to me, either in granting the things I prayed for or else in satisfying my mind
without it, and I have been confident it hath been from Him, because I have found my
heart through His goodness enlarged in thankfulness to Him” (Bradstreet, 112)
Both authors attempt to include the sinful world in their respective autobiographies. This is because their roles as preachers allow them to change diverse evil characters among their respective congregation. The two authors are people whose understanding of their respective faiths cannot be changed by anything. This is because the two do not live in holy societies. Instead, their respective societies are sinful and one would imagine that this situation would compromise their faith. They use the situations that are sinful to preach their respective messages. There should be several other creations of such spiritual autobiographies. This will ensure that preachers create alternative ways of preaching to their respective congregations. For example, people will not be required to attend church for them to access such significant guidance in their spirituality.