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Models for Reformation: Cotton Mather (1663-1728)

By Jay Rogers
Published March 31, 2008

Cotton Mather was the most famous minister in New England at the close of the 17th century. Toward the middle of the 1600s, the Puritan revival in America began to wane. The social order of Puritan society had begun to degenerate very early in its history because of the lack of a much needed evangelical awakening.

The second generation of Puritans were often unable to claim that they had had the same experience with God as their parents. When the high standard of the law which was embraced by their parents was imposed in turn on their children, it only served to inflame their passions. The result was occurrences in the late 1600s such as the witchcraft hysteria, severe punishments for non-violent crimes such as the stocks, public floggings, hangings, etc.

“By the time Mather undertook his history, Magnalia Christi Americana, the original Puritan community had vanished, leaving behind heirs to its land and fortunes but not to its spirituality…. Everything that Mather wrote can be seen as a call to defend the old order of church authority against the encroachment of an increasingly secular world. As an apologist for the ‘old New England way’ there is no doubt that Mather left himself open to attack, and by the end of the 17th century he had become a scapegoat for the worst in Puritan culture.“1

1 The Norton Anthology of American Literature, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1979. p.4,118.

See also: The Boston Awakening


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All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

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Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

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