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A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission…

A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-resistance to the…

by Jonathan Mayhew

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Mayhew was a Congregational Minister, serving at the Old West Church in Boston. He published this booklet; which was a self-annotated version of the sermon he delivered there on January 30, 1750. In the original, it is a somewhat difficult read due to the typeface used, but it is worth the effort based on the light it sheds on the mid-eighteenth century nature of the American outlook.

His major theme is the requirement that we peaceably obey government, but that this obedience is limited. The limits are based on the habitual actions of governors yielding the good of society. He concludes that the English Revolution and the Glorious Revolution of the 17th century were justified. The work gives an interesting preview to the American Revolution as he reviews the usurpations of Charles I, and gives credence to the supremacy of conscience in defining the obligations to obedience. The value of the discourse is later emphasized as some of his words will re-appear in the Declaration of Independence.

Along the way, Mayhew also gives great insights by the nature of his remarks; into the struggles between New Lights and Old lights in the Great Awakening; to the beginning of the emergence of Unitarianism; and to the general hostility of the Congregationalists toward the Catholic and the Anglican churches. The booklet offers a great glimpse into the politics history of both America and England, and to the religious struggles of the day. It is well worth reading for any student of those issues. ( )
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