A City Upon a Hill

Within East Anglia, the Puritan movement was strongest in the small towns whence so many migrants left for Massachusetts. Of Colchester (Essex) one Puritan leader said that “the town, for the earnest profession of the gospel, became like unto a city upon a hill, and as a candle upon a candle stick.” That passage from St. Matthew, however inappropriate it may have been to the topography of East Anglia, was often used by Puritans to describe the spiritual condition of this region. When John Winthrop described his intended settlement in Massachusetts as “a city upon a hill,” he employed a gospel phrase that had become a cliché in the communities of eastern England.