Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Paul Royster

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Archival Material

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John Davenport’s A Sermon Preach’d at the Election is a notable and fascinating document on numerous counts. As a statement of Puritan political theory, it outlines the rights of the governed to self-preservation from abusive authority—a subject that would be more extensively explored in the years leading up to the Revolution. But as a document of its specific place and time—Boston in 1669—it bore a large part in the politico-theological controversies that followed the Synod of 1662 that recommended the adoption of the so-called Half-Way Covenant. Davenport’s long digression on the proper role of the state in convening “Councils” on religious matters, and on the proper relation of those Councils’ authority over individual church congregations, provoked a reaction that ultimately led to the defeat of his conservative Anti-Synodist party.