Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Date of this Version
Theopolis Americana: An Essay on the Golden Street of the Holy City was published in Boston in 1710. It is based on a sermon delivered to the Massachusetts General Assembly on May 9, 1709, by Cotton Mather (1663–1728) who was then (along with his father Increase Mather) pastor of the Second or Old North Church in Boston. The work is an extended interpretation of Revelations 21.21: “The street of the city was pure gold.” Mather makes a twofold application of the verse—“publishing” (as he says) “A TESTIMONY against the CORRUPTIONS of the Market-Place. With Some Good HOPES of Better Things to be yet seen in the AMERICAN World.”
Mather enumerates and condemns all forms of commercial dishonesty and business corruption—including the kidnapping of Africans into slavery. He also gives us a sense of the accommodations of the old theocracy (20 years after the Glorious Revolution and 18 years after the witchcraft crisis) with the new horizons of the eighteenth century, telling the Assembly: “In two or three too Memorable Days of Temptation that have been upon us, there have been Errors committed. You are always ready to Declare unto all the World, That you Disapprove those Errors. You are willing to inform all Mankind with your DECLARATION; That no man may be Persecuted, because he is Conscientiously not of the same Religious Opinions, with those that are uppermost. And; That Persons are not to be judg’d Confederates with Evil Spirits, meerly because the Evil Spirits do make Possessed People cry out upon them.”
Finally, and as expected, he applies the lesson to the place of America in the grand drama of redemption, holding out the hope that the churches of New England will play the leading role in the accomplishment of the new heavens and new earth.
The text of this online electronic edition was prepared by Reiner Smolinski and appeared in his The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: The Millennial Impulse in Early American Literature (Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt, 1998). It is based on, and preserves all the features of, the first printing of 1710. The work is approximately 10,000 words, and occupies 43 pages (printable as 22 letter-size sheets) in this edition.