The puritans came to America to fee religious persecution from the Non-Anglicans of England. They wanted to purify and simplify the Church. They thought all men were sinners and it was al because of the original sin of the apple from the forbidden tree. These beliefs affected the writing of the time including William Bradford "Of Plymouth Plantation".
The puritans believed that the elite would go to heaven. The elite were the ones who did not sin. Therefore, whoever did sin would be "smited" by God. William Bradford shows an example of this when he speaks of a sailor "... who would always be condemning the poor people in their sickness and cursing them daily... But, 'it pleased God before they came half-seas over, to smite this young man with a grievous disease, which he died of in a desperate manner."(pg18, 1st clmn) The sailor was sinning by not helping the sick people on the ship but instead wishing them more sickness so they will die before they reached land.
God was punishing the sailor for this by cursing him with a sickness that would make him die before he reached land. The evil things one does leads the evil back to them. Like the old saying, "what goes around comes around three times worse".
If god punishes people who sin, then God blesses the "elite" who are going to heaven. Bradford tells a story of a man named John Howland. One day there was a terrible storm. The winds and the waves threw Howland overboard, but he caught the ropes and was able to climb back onto the ship with his shipmates help. "In sundry of... his life saved" (pg 18, 2nd clmn- pg19 1st clmn) Branford says that it "pleased God" when Howland caught onto the ropes. God...