“rational religion” the more highly. The phrase is significant. Upon the arrival of Whitefield in Boston in 1749, Mayhew claimed that the evangelist's hearers were chiefly “of the more illiterate sort,” and that the discourse itself was “confused, conceited and enthusiastic.” The old term of reprobation reappears. So, like Chauncy himself, Mayhew offers the same antidote. In place of a God of wrath and terror, he would put the Scriptural God who is represented “under the characters of a father and a king, the wisest and best father, the wisest and best king.” This sentiment eventuated in two Thanksgiving sermons On the nature, extent and perfection of the divine Goodness. In these the argument is ingenious. While Chauncy held that wisdom without goodness might be good, Mayhew held that goodness without wisdom might be bad. The political writer now appears in the doctrinal and shows that his God is no easy-going monarch whose goodness is to be considered mere good nature.
But the argument must not lead to the Calvinistic cul-de-sac, whereby there is no other end for punishment, on the part of the king of heaven, save his own glory. As Mayhew in his Discourse concerning unlimited submission and non-resistance to the higher powers (1750) had remonstrated against the orders from Whitehall, so here he remonstrates against the immutable decrees of the Westminster Confession. His reasoning leads to a literal reductio ad absurdum.
“As we recall certain well intentioned governors,” he argues, “who, despite their paternal affection, have wrought prodigious mischief to the State, so we may in some measure conjecture, if we are not afraid even to think, what might be the consequence of boundless power, though accompanied with universal benevolence, but not adequate wisdom, extending itself at will thro-cut the universe.”Divine Goodness, p. 16.
Thoa God is, in the highest sense, an absolute sovereign; yet in that ill-sense, he is not certainly an arbitrary Being .... For what glory could possibly redound to any being acting unreasonably, or contrary to the dictates of true goodness? It is peculiarly absurd to suppose that He, who accounts goodness his glory, should aim at advancing it by such a conduct.Divine Goodness,, p. 26.