previous next
[60] judge he deduced from the constitution of man, and
chap. III} 1749.
held to be as universal as reason itself. At once becoming revolutionary, he scoffed at receiving opinions because our forefathers had embraced them; and pushing the principle of Protestantism to its universal expression, he sent forth the American mind to do its work, disburdened of prejudices. The ocean which it had crossed had broken the trail of tradition, and it was now to find its own paths and make for itself a new existence, with not even its footsteps behind it, and nothing before it but its own futurity.

In January, 1750, the still youthful Mayhew, him-

self a declared ‘volunteer’ in the service, instinctively alarmed at the menaced encroachments of power, summoned every lover of truth and of mankind to bear a part in the defensive war against ‘tyranny and priestcraft.’1 He reproved the impious bargain ‘between the sceptre and the surplice.’ He preached resistance to ‘the first small beginnings of civil tyranny, lest it should swell to a torrent and deluge empires.’ ‘The doctrines,’ he cried, ‘of the divine right of kings and non-resistance are as fabulous and chimerical as the most absurd reveries of ancient or modern visionaries.’ ‘If those who bear the title of civil rulers do not perform the duty of civil rulers,— if they injure and oppress,—they have not the least pretence to be honored or obeyed. If the common safety and utility would not be promoted by submission to the government, there is no motive for submission;’ disobedience becomes ‘lawful and glorious,’ —‘not a crime, but a duty.’

Such were the ‘litanies of nations’2 that burst

1 Sermons of Mayhew, preached and printed in 1750.

2 Ralph Waldo Emerson's Poems, The Problem.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Jonathan Mayhew (2)
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1750 AD (2)
January, 1750 AD (1)
1749 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: