"OUR VINDICATION TO THE WORLD": ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITION OF COTTON MATHER'S FAITHFUL ACCOUNT OF THE … CHURCHES OF NEW ENGLAND, 1726, WITH THE OWNER SIGNATURE OF LEADING REVOLUTIONARY-ERA MINISTER MOSES HEMMENWAY, A CLOSE FRIEND OF JOHN ADAMS
MATHER, Cotton. Ratio Disciplinae Fratrum Nov-Anglorum. A Faithful Account of the Discipline Professed and Practised; in the Churches of New=England… Boston: Printed for S. Gerrish, 1726. Small octavo (4-1/2 by 6-3/4 inches), contemporary full brown paneled calf, later red morocco spine label, raised bands; pp. (2) i-iv, 1-10, 1-207, (3). $6800.
First edition of Cotton Mather's "important exposition of the tenants of Congregationalism," signed on the title page, dated 1772, by Minister Moses Hemmenway, a Harvard classmate and friend of John Adams who described him in a July 2, 1774 letter to Abigail Adams as "my old worthy learned ingenious Friend Hemmenway."
"If Cotton Mather had not existed, historians would have been tempted to invent him. An extraordinary man, the best known member of a distinguished New England ministerial family… Mather left an indelible mark on his time… In fact, without Cotton Mather, it is hard to imagine how the historiography of American Puritanism would have been created" (Hiner, in History of Education Quarterly II:195). He worked on this treatise of correct ecclesiastical structure and conduct over the course of nearly two decades, noting in his diary that he hoped it would "praeserve [sic] our Discipline, and procure a Beauty to the Exercise of it in all Administrations. And it may also be our Vindication to the World." In this volume's "important exposition of the tenants of Congregationalism," Mather also "reaffirms the principles of the Cambridge Platform " (Streeter 672), which was "the standard formulation in Massachusetts through the 18th century" (Dictionary of American History).
In this volume's prefatory "Attestation" by Increase Mather, he writes: "The Churches here, were Planted a Nobel Vine… a Degeneracy from the Principles… would be more Evil in the Children of New-England, than any other People in the World." Issued anonymously, with the printed name of Cotton Mather in the Postscript. With "Attestation" signed in print by Increase Mather, Cotton's father and president of Harvard College. Table of contents at rear as issued. ESTC W28991. Sabin 46474. Evans 2775. Church 903. This association copy possesses the owner signature of the Revolutionary-era Congregational minister Moses Hemmenway, dated 1772. While at Harvard he was a classmate of John Adams, and the two remained close friends during the nearly six decades Hemmenway was pastor of Congregational Church in Wells, Maine. Adams, in a July 2, 1774 letter to Abigail Adams, wrote: "I have concluded, to mount my Horse, tomorrow Morning at four, and ride to Wells to hear my old worthy learned ingenious Friend Hemmenway." As author of a number of works, Hemmenway was "an Old School Calvinist… critical of the theology of the New Divinity developed by followers of Jonathan Edwards" (Encyclopedia of Christianity 5:1075). "In 1784 Hemmenway preached in Boston to the legislators… he cautioned them that 'liberty of conscience must not be abused into a pretense for neglecting religion'" (Curry, First Freedoms, 169). With occasional marginalia reportedly in the hand of Hemmenway.
Text with light scattered foxing, free endpapers renewed, expert restoration to contemporary calf. A desirable very good association copy.