Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Paul Royster

Document Type

Archival Material

Date of this Version



After the Restoration of the English monarchy in the person of Charles II in 1660, the new king and his first Parliament declared the anniversary of the beheading of his father Charles I (January 30, 1649) a religious holiday with a special commemoration in the Book of Common Prayer, naming the late monarch a saint and martyr. This holiday was not generally celebrated in Massachusetts until the emergence of several Anglican churches there in the early eighteenth century. In 1750, Jonathan Mayhew, the twenty-nine-yearold pastor of the West (Congregational) Church in Boston, took occasion to dispute the first Charles’ credentials to saintship, martyrdom, and even his kingship as well. Mayhew’s Discourse is an extremely interesting bridge between the radical Puritan past and the American Revolutionary future. His sermon contains the language, rhetoric, symbolism, typology, and religious and philosophical arguments that would be used extensively in the agitation for American independence twenty-five years later. Mayhew (1720-1766) would subsequently take a leading role in the resistance to the Stamp Act of 1765, and his sermons and writings had an enormous impact on the evolution of New England Puritanism into American republican ideology.

This online electronic edition contains the full, unabridged text of his sermon, as published at Boston in 1750 (other online and reprint versions contain only excerpts). The work is approximately 18,000 words long and runs 66 half-letter pages (33 sheets) in this edition.