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Mather’s most famous collection of essays is Bonifacius, or Essays to Do Good which has since usually been published under its subtitle only. It is one of three books that Benjamin Franklin specifically mentions inspiring him. Doing good is a theme that is found again and again in the essays of Mather and often those words can be found somewhere in the extended title. The most surprising thing about this theme it is not entirely consistent with Puritan convention or even with itself. Mather’s work is sparked by an unusually prickly sense of independence from Puritanical groupthink and even though he is lockstep on doing good by battling witches, he could be out of stop on something as simple but obvious as using positive reinforcement rather than punishment to motivate students.
Somewhat unfairly, perhaps, Cotton Mather’s reputation has suffered ever since he came to the defense of those claiming witches were running rampant in Salem. The great irony this connection between Salem and Mather is that more than any other Puritan religious leader he tried to champion science and reconcile it with faith if God. Foremost among a truly breathtaking volume of words devoted to just about every scientific principle known at the time is “The Christian Philosopher: A Collection of the Best Discoveries in Nature with Religious Improvements” which delivers on exactly what it promises in a series of essays on everything from insects to rainbows to forces of gravity.
Worth remembering is that Mather’s day job was a minister and he was following in the footsteps of the founders of the Puritan colony in Massachusetts as well as a father who was one of the most famous men in the New World. As a result, many of his essays are concerned with themes related to improving religious instruction or means of devotion. This idea of essay-as-teaching tool covers a broad range of subjects within this particular topic: from Instructions how the piety of singing with a true devotion, may be obtained and expressed” to “The Negro Christianized An essay to excite and assist the good work, the instruction of Negro-servants in Christianity” as well as a host of more precise and specific essays directed toward the actual ministry of services.
The history of the settling of an untamed continent was personal for Mather. His family was at the vanguard of the flight from religious persecution in England. As such, many of Mather's essays deal with history of the creation of America and much of it comes to him firsthand from witnesses who participants and vice versa. The linking of religion—especially Puritanism—with the very purpose of this new society is inextricable. One simply does not exist without the other so in a sense history is the story of religious belief for Mather.
Беккер встал и потянулся. Открыв полку над головой, он вспомнил, что багажа у него. Времени на сборы ему не дали, да какая разница: ему же обещали, что путешествие будет недолгим - туда и обратно.