Cotton Mather was one of the most influential
religious leaders in early America. He assumed
responsibility for sustaining the reforming zeal of
the Puritan movement begun by his ancestors, who left
England to establish an idealised society in New
England. As the seventeenth century drew to a close,
the Calvinistic principles on which the early
communities had been based were no longer adhered to
quite so strictly, and Mather saw it as his religious
duty to revitalise Puritanism and stop the degeneracy
that he saw all around him. His Magnalia Christi
Americana was an enormously ambitious work with which
Mather hoped to demonstrate to the world God''s
support for the Puritan cause in New England, and
thus rekindle the Reformation throughout Europe and
the rest of the civilised world.
One of the issues this study will consider is to what
extent Cotton Mather achieved his purpose. It will
consider in detail the language he used to express
his beliefs and, like him, taking the Bible as a
guide, try to assess the value of his achievement.
His accuracy as a historian will also be considered
and an attempt will be made to understand the
relevance of his work to a modern audience.