“A PROMINENT PASTOR DURING THE YEARS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION”: WINCHESTER’S CONTROVERSIAL 1781 SERMON SEED OF THE WOMAN
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) WINCHESTER, Elhanan. The Seed of the Woman Bruising the Serpent’s Head, A Discourse Delivered at the Baptist Meeting House, in Philadelphia, Sunday April 22, 1781. Philadelphia: [Benjamin Towne], 1781. Slim octavo, 19th-century half burgundy cloth, marbled boards; pp.58. $1600.
First edition of this controversial sermon by influential Revolutionary orator Elhanan Winchester, his first published sermon, laying out the main point of his Universalist faith.
The influence of preacher and abolitionist Elhanan Winchester is especially clear in this first edition of his “first published sermon, The Seed of the Woman Bruising the Serpent’s Head, [in which] he laid out the main points of his Universalist faith” (Unitarian Universalist Association). Controversial in its time, this work and the importance of Winchester to American thought are best “understood against the backdrop of the transatlantic spiritual awakenings occurring before, during and after the American Revolution. These years were filled with political and religious turbulence… Americans demanded an unpretentious and lively leadership adept at the art of persuasion and intent on searching for the Divine in revivals, dreams and visions, and biblical prophecy. Winchester thrived in this environment… A remarkable orator, an early antislavery advocate, and a prominent pastor during the years of the American Revolution… Winchester preached in Philadelphia from 1781 until 1787, earning great praise and the friendship of Benjamin Rush and other prominent Philadelphians. Rush, in particular, was enamored by Winchester’s mind and his oratory” (ANB). The Seed of the Woman (3-18) with one-line errata at rear, complete with Winchester’s “Attempt to collect the Scripture Passages” (19-35) and “Objections usually brought from the Scriptures” (36-58). Evans 17441. Contemporary owner correction and marginalia (26). Lightly penciled notes to front free endpaper.
Light scattered foxing and occasional mild dampstaining, tiny closed margin tear (19). Cloth spine with expert repair.