Mayhew, Jonathan

Mayhew, Jonathan D.D., a celebrated American divine, was born at Martha's Vinevard Oct. 8, 1720. He was a descendant of Thomas Mayhew, the first English settler of that island. In early childhood Jonathan gave indications of great vigor of mind and a strong will. He was fitted for college by his father, who was a very intelligent man. During his college course at Harvard he was distinguished not only as a fine classical scholar, but also for his skill in dialectics and his attainments in ethical science. He graduated with great honor in 1744. Three years later he received a call from West Church, in Boston, and continued in this station for the remainder of his life. On the day first appointed for his ordination only two clergymen of those invited were in attendance, owing, no doubt, to his extreme rationalism; and even these two refused to act, and a council, consisting of fourteen ministers, had to be convoked, June 17, after which the new candidate was duly installed in office. Mr. Mayhew's liberal opinions were so unpopular in Boston that he was for some time excluded from membership of the Boston Association of Congregational Ministers. In 1750 the degree of doctor of divinity was conferred upon him by the University of Aberdeen. His publications excited great attention not only in this country, but also in England. In 1755 he published a volume of sermons on the Doctrine of Grace. At the close of one of these sermons there is a note on the doctrine of the Trinity, which was offensive alike to those who did and did not endorse his general views. Subsequently the doctor himself appears to have regretted having written it, and he unsuccessfully endeavored to prevent its being published in the London edition. Dr. Mayhew was at this time scribe of the Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers. In 1763 the Rev. East Arthorp published a pamphlet entitled Considerations on the Institution and Conduct of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, occasioning a violent controversy, in which Dr. Mayhew bore a prominent part. Dr. Mayhew was extensively known throughout Great Britain, and numbered among his correspondents such men as Lardner, Benson, Kippis, Blackburn, and Hollis. He died July 9, 1766. Dr. Mayhew possessed a mind of great acuteness and energy, and in his principles was a determined republican. He had no little influence in producing the American Revolution. Among his best-known publications are the following: Seven Sermons (1749, 8vo): — A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-resistance to the Higher Powers (1750, 8vo). See Mr. Bancroft's notice of this sermon, and his eloquent tribute to Mayhew, in his Hist. of the United States, 4:60-62: — Thanksgiving Sermon for the Repeal of the Stamp Act (1766): — Sermons to Young Men (1767, 2 vols. 12mo). See Memoir of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, by Alden Bradford (1838); Riche, Bibl. Amer. Nova, 1:140, 145, 153; Allibone, Dict. Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.; Sprague, Annals Amer. Pulpit, 7:22 sq.

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