This project seeks to reconcile two conflicting schools of thought within the historiography of American Puritanism by arguing that even within the parameters of Puritan religious and political orthodoxy, dissent played a recognized and expected role in the life of early Massachusetts. Challenging previous interpretations that have depicted a monolithic Puritan establishment ruthlessly crushing all principled opposition within the colony, this book emphasizes the enormous importance the colony's leadership placed upon balancing their allegiance to the colony and its institutions with the Christian duty of reconciliation. At the same time, this study addresses more recent scholarship that dismisses the notion of a discernable "Puritan identity" entirely and contends that 17th century New England was a turbulent sea of competing ideas and enthusiasms that wholly lacked a coherent unifying ideology. Instead, this book contends that under the threat of social and intellectual chaos on the frontiers of America, there emerged a core Puritan mission that was either embraced or spurned by New England's founders, but widely understood by all. Only when opposition to that mission pushed beyond accepted boundaries and finally rose to a threatening level did the authorities of Massachusetts act decisively in defense of the colony.