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The rest of humanity was condemned to eternal damnation.
But no one really knew if he or she was saved or damned; Puritans lived in a constant state of spiritual anxiety, searching for signs of God's favor or anger.
If they honored their obligations to God, they would be blessed; if they failed, they would be punished.
This "Covenant of Grace" contrasted with the "Covenant of Works," which stressed the importance of righteous behavior. The experience of conversion did not happen suddenly; it proceeded in fits and starts punctuated by doubt, as divine power worked its way on fragile human material.
But it was not only individual salvation that mattered; the spiritual health and welfare of the community as a whole was paramount as well, for it was the community that honored and kept the covenant.
In 1679, a Puritan synod met to deliberate the causes of widespread spiritual malaise.
Blame was assigned to an increase in swearing; a tendency to sleep at sermons; the spread of sex and alcohol, especially in taverns, where women were known to bare their arms and, upon occasion, even their breasts; and, most telling, the marked increase in lying and lawsuits.