The Puritans believed that the sole purpose of writing was to bring the writer to debase himself before God, and teach him the true importance of humility. The Fundamentalist thinkers of the Enlightenment saw things quite differently. They believed that writing was a method for recording logical reasoning, and often provoked rational thought. Whereas the Puritans wrote mainly memoirs and sermons, Enlightenment writers such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine wrote volumes on topics that questioned life, and the means by which one should live. Though there are a few small similarities between the writings of the two periods, there are a considerably greater number of differences.
Though the views of Puritans and Fundamentalists were dramatically different, they both believed in a certain code of morals and ethics. An example of this is found in Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, effectively titled, "The Autobiography." He describes the significance of sincerity with the words, "Use no hurtful Deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly." This concept, along with those of cleanliness, justice, and most importantly, humility are very similar to the concepts of the Puritans. Thomas Paine also makes a comment in "Common Sense" that may appear, in essence, rather Puritan-like. He states that "It hath been reported of the late Mr. Pelham, who though an able minister was not without his fault- This insinuates that Paine understands the Sin and impurity of all men, even clergymen. The similarities between Puritan and Enlightenment thought, though apparent, simply do not compare with the drastic differences.
The differences between the Puritan and Enlightenment way of life are quite evident throughout the works of Franklin and Paine. Where the Puritans believed that it was vile and sinful to take pleasure in worldly things, Fundamentalist thinkers saw the need to take advantage of worldly things in order to gain knowledge.