Cotton Mather

1663-1728


Cotton Mather was an American Congregational minister.  He was an author and  supporter of the old order of the ruling clergy, who became the most celebrated of all New England Puritans.  Cotton Mather was born February 12, 1663 in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Cotton was the son of Increase Mather and the grandson of John Cotton and Richard Mather, Cotton Mather lived all his life in Boston. He entered Harvard at the age of 12, easily passing entrance requirements requiring him to read and write Latin and to "decline the Greek nouns and verbs." He devoted himself unremittingly to study and prayer. At 18 he received his M.A. degree from the hands of his father, who was president of the college.

He preached his first sermon in his father's church (Old North Church) in August 1680 and in October another from his grandfather John Cotton's pulpit. He was formally ordained in 1685 and became his father's colleague.

He devoted his life to praying, preaching, writing, and publishing.  Cotton Mather wrote and published more than 400 works. His
magnum opus was Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), an ecclesiastical history of America from the founding of New England to his own time. His Manuductio ad Ministerium (1726) was a handbook of advice for young graduates to the ministry.

Cotton Mather had three wives and fifteen children.  Only his last wife and two children survived him. Mather died February 13, 1728 in Boston and is buried near the Old North Church on Copps’s Hill.

 

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