Powerful preacher, political negotiator for New England in the halls of Parliament, president of Harvard, father of Cotton Mather, Increase Mather was the epitome of the American Puritan. He was the most important spokesman of his generation for Congregationalism and became the last American Puritan of consequence as the seventeenth century ended. The story begins in 1639 when Mather was born in the Massachusetts village of Dorchester. He left home for Harvard College when he was twelve and at twenty-two began to stir the city of Boston from the pulpit of North Church. He had written four books by the time he was thirty-two. Certain he was God's chosen instrument and New England God's chosen people, he disciplined mind and spirit in service to them both. Tempted to "Atheisme" and unbelief, afflicted early by nightmares and melancholy, then by hope and joy, he was a pioneer in recognizing the excitement of the new sciences and sought to reconcile them to theology. This well-wrought biography, the first of Increase Mather in forty years, draws on the extensive Mather diaries, which were transcribed by Michael Hall.

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