Boston: Printed by R. & S. Draper, Edes & Gill, and T. & J. Fleet. 1765. 52pp. Lacking the half title, disbound, mild foxing. Good+. Attractive type ornamentation at page 5. Erratum note at page 52. Mayhew's "Advertisement" at the end notes, among other things, "A pretty remarkable prayer of Gregory Nazianzen to St. Athanasius." Contemporary ownership signature, 'Jonathan Lee,' on title page.
An articulate and outspoken New England clergyman for the rights of conscience, Mayhew was highly respected and a formidable opponent. "He combined the talents of a divine with those of a first-rate propagandist" [John Chester Miller, Origins of the American Revolution, page 191(1959)]. He opposed establishmentarian claims of the Church of England, not only because he supported democratic and home-grown religious institutions, but also because he viewed the Anglican Church as virtually indistinguishable from the Church of Rome. Mayhew regarded each of them as hierarchical and authoritarian; and he recoiled from them.
"The struggle over an American episcopate was much more than a religious quarrel: it was a phase of the conflict between privileged aristocracy and popular leaders that was being waged in the colonies" [Miller]. "Fear of the association of priesthood and magistracy in arbitrary rule" is a constant theme in Mayhew's works. See, Bailyn, Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Thus Mayhew consistently advocated colonial self-determination; and opposed England's rule from afar.
Mincing no words, Mayhew launches his Discourse with an uncomplimentary dissection of Catholic doctrine, which "is as plainly absurd, self-repugnant, and impossible to be true, as any one that can be imagined." Indeed, the Catholic Church is "a filthy prostitute." Mayhew's controversy with the Church "is not merely a religious one...But a defence of our laws, liberties, and civil rights as men, in opposition to the proud claims and encroachments of ecclesiastical persons, who under the pretext of religion would engross all power and property to themselves, and reduce us to the most abject slavery."
The owner of this pamphlet was likely Rev. Jonathan Lee [1718-1788], the first minister of the Congregational Church of Salisbury, Connecticut, installed in 1744; he held the position until his death.
Evans 10068. Bailyn 99 [1992 Belknap Press edition]. Item #34597