1639 RICHARD MATHER. 225 Word Unpublished Excised MSs by Father of American Puritan Theology.
1639 RICHARD MATHER. 225 Word Unpublished Excised MSs by Father of American Puritan Theology.
1639 RICHARD MATHER. 225 Word Unpublished Excised MSs by Father of American Puritan Theology.
1639 RICHARD MATHER. 225 Word Unpublished Excised MSs by Father of American Puritan Theology.
1639 RICHARD MATHER. 225 Word Unpublished Excised MSs by Father of American Puritan Theology.
1639 RICHARD MATHER. 225 Word Unpublished Excised MSs by Father of American Puritan Theology.

1639 RICHARD MATHER. 225 Word Unpublished Excised MSs by Father of American Puritan Theology.

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An important and nearly unobtainable excised manuscript portion by one of the theological founders of America, Richard Mather. We trace nothing even remotely similar having been offered publicly in many decades. It would be lovely framed with an original reproduction of John Foster's woodcut of Richard Mather, often thought to be the first woodcut ever produced in America. 

The excised fragment measures 1 - 1.25 x 4.5 inches, is stained for one inch rendering the ink very faint, and appears to have 1-2 lines of text obscured by a previous mount. Likely recoverable by a conservator. 

The text, being in a minute hand, is difficult to read, but phrases of note are evident and the entire content could likely be deciphered with time.

Phrases include: "to pull down the proud flesh to stop their mouths" . . . "the promise of it being wrought & set up." And the content seems to deal with the challenge of false profession, or hypocrisy, mentioning religion that "outwardly be expressed" but "most will be found dangerously [deceived?]" . . . their faith but "a dream and a fable." 

These passages not extant in any known publication of Mathers', thus unpublished and worthy, though minute, of investigation. Approximately 225 words. 

Richard Mather ]1596 – 1669], as the father of Increase, grandfather of Cotton Mather, and having nearly 100 ministers in his lineage through the year 1890, he may perhaps be considered, in a very literal sense, the father of American puritan and colonial theology.  

Born in Lancashire, England Mather studied theology at Brasenose College, Oxford and began in November 1618 to preach at Toxteth. He was ordained there in early 1619.

He early on developed Puritan sentiments and between August and November 1633 was suspended from his pulpit for nonconformity in matters of ceremony. He was again suspended in 1634 when word reached Richard Neile, Archbishop of York, that Mather had never, in his 15 years of ministry, worn a surplice. York refused to reinstate him under any circumstances and stated publicly "it had been better for him that he had begotten seven bastards,” i.e. had seven children from adulterous relationships, than that he had so marred the ministry with his lack of conformity.

For all that, he had developed an excellent reputation as a preacher, a lively expositor of the Word, and as an earnest Pastor. In correspondence with John Cotton and Thomas Hooker he was persuaded to join the company of Pilgrims in May 1635 and embarked at Bristol for New England aboard the James.

Upon arrival in America, and already famous for his preaching and his deeply valued non-conformity, he received offers to pastor at Plymouth, Dorchester, and Roxbury. He chose Dorchester, where the Church had been greatly depleted by migrations to Windsor, Connecticut; and where, after a delay of several months, in August 1636 there was constituted by the consent of magistrates and clergy a church of which he was "teacher" until his death in Dorchester on 22 April 1669.

As pastor, he oversaw the baptism of Dorcas ye blackmore, one of the first African American Christians in New England, and Mather worked to help free her. The Mather family, though in many ways still informed by their cultural context, would be for generations a force working for the rights of women, of Native Americans, and of enslaved people.

Richard Mather’s gifts made room for him, and was quickly recognized as a leader of New England Congregationalism, whose policy he defended and described in the tract Church Government and Church Covenant Discussed, in an Answer of the Elders of the Severall Churches of New England to Two and Thirty Questions [1639] and An Answer for the Ministers of the Colony to 32 Questions Relating to Church Government that were Propounded by the General Court [1639]. And it was Mather who drew up the Cambridge Platform of Discipline, an ecclesiastical constitution in seventeen chapters, adopted (with the omission of Mather's paragraph favouring the "Half-Way Covenant", of which he strongly approved) by the general synod in August 1646. His Reply to Mr. Samuel Rutherford [1647] is a polemic against the Presbyterianism to which the English Congregationalists were then tending.

With Thomas Welde, Thomas Mayhew and John Eliot he wrote the "Bay Psalm Book", or, more accurately, The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre [1640], probably the first book printed in the English colonies. He was the author of Treatise on Justification [1652), etc.

In 1624, Mather married Katherine Hoult, who died in 1655. He then re-married the following year to Sarah Hankredge, the widow of the Rev. John Cotton. Of six sons, all by his first wife, four were ministers:

Samuel [1626–1671], was the first fellow of Harvard College who was a graduate, Chaplain of Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1650–1653, and Pastor [1656–1671, excepting suspension in 1660–1662] of Church of St. Nicholas Within Dublin;

Timothy Mather [1628-1684]. Also known as "The Farmer Mather" as he was the only son who was not a minister. He was made Selectmen of Dorchester, Massachusetts during the years 1667-69 and 1675 and 1676. He died in 1684 after a fall in his barn.

Nathaniel [1630–1697], who graduated at Harvard in 1647, was vicar of Barnstaple, Devon, in 1656–1662, pastor of the English Church in Rotterdam, his brother's successor in Dublin in 1671–1688, and then until his death pastor of a church in London;

Eleazar [1637–1669], who graduated at Harvard in 1656 and after preaching in Northampton, Massachusetts, for three years, became in 1661 pastor of the church there; father-in-law to the Rev. John Williams of Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Increase [1639–1723], who was a Puritan minister and a major figure in the early history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay. Son-in-law to the Rev. John Cotton (minister); Father of the Rev. Cotton Mather (1663-1728) Harvard Class of 1678.

Horace E. Mather, in his "Lineage of Richard Mather", (Hartford, Connecticut, 1890), gives a list of 80 clergymen descended from Richard Mather.

From the important collection of Rev. Robet Crawford [1804-1896]. He was a student of and son-in-law to the President of Williams, and prominent Second Great Awakening preacher, Edward Dorr Griffin. Crawford also had a lengthy friendship with perhaps the theological and Americana autograph collector of the day, William Buell Sprague. From his album, by descent through the family, entirely fresh to the market.