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Written for the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, and
approved by the Committee of Publication.
MASSACHUSETTS SABBATH SCHOOL SOCIETY,
Depository, No. 13 Cornhill.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847,
BY CHRISTOPHER C. DEAN, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.
The first settlers of New England were remarkable men. They were raised up in Providence, for an important purpose ; were trained for it by a most extraordinary discipline; and bravely, nobly, did they accomplish their vocation. Their characters, on every account, are worthy of our study. The knowledge and the benefits of their example cannot be too widely extended. I was glad, therefore, when I saw it announced, more than a year ago, that the lives of some of the chief fathers of New England were to be published, in a series of volumes, by the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society. The volumes already published have been well received, and I only regret that the one herewith presented to the public, is so little worthy to have a place among them.
Increase Mather was not a literal Pilgrim, but the son of a Pilgrim. He was born in this country soon after its settlement, and here he spent almost the whole of his long and useful life. For more than sixty years together, he was literally a public man. He sustained the most important offices, both sacred and civil; was called to act in the most trying and responsible situations, and although we claim for him no exemption from the infirmities incident to fallen
human nature, yet it may be safely said, that to no one of her sons is New England, on the whole, more deeply indebted. A brief sketch of the life of Increase Mather, was given in a volume, entitled, “ The Mather Family,” published in 1843. The present Memoir, though containing some part of the former, is yet a very different work. It presents a much more full and particular account of the venerable Mather, being extended to not less than four times the same number of pages.
The first chapter of the present Memoir is chiefly occupied with biographical notices of Mr. Mather's father and brothers. My reasons for devoting so much space to them are, in brief, as follows:
In a series of volumes purporting to contain “ The Lives of the Chief Fathers of New England ;” it seemed quite indispensable that some account should be given of Richard Mather; and I knew not where a notice of him could be so well inserted, as here.
Then the life of Increase Mather is so intimately connected with that of his father and brothers, that, in order to a right understanding of the former, the reader needs, and must have, some acquaintance with the latter.
It is to be considered, too, that the Mather family was a remarkable one, more especially in its first generations ;-one which exerted a controlling influence on both the civil and religious affairs of New England ; and it seemed proper to preface the Memoir of the more distinguished member of it with a short introduction to the family in general. At the same
time, it is hoped that the notices inserted are not without some interest in themselves, and will not be unprofitable to those who read them.
The second Memoir in the volume is that of the first Provincial Governor, Sir William Phipps. He was cotemporary with Increase Mather, though a little younger ; and the two were associated in some of the more important transactions of their lives. It is fitting, therefore, that their Memoirs should stand together.
Sir William Phipps was in the strictest sense, what is sometimes called a self-made man.
He commenced life under the most forbidding circumstances, and rose by his own exertions to the possession, not only of a large estate, but of the highest honors to which, in this country, he could at that time aspire. And yet he died at the early age of forty-four. The study of such a life and example cannot but be useful, more especially to the young. It will not be without interest, I hope to all.
In conclusion, I would humbly commit the volume to God, and under him to the Sabbath School Libraries, earnestly hoping that it may contribute to make known the deeds of our worthy ancestors, and to extend and perpetuate the benefits of their example.
Bangor, April, 1847.