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Prodigal NationMoral Decline and Divine Punishment from New England to 9/11$
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Andrew R. Murphy

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195321289

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195321289.001.0001

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Puritan New England and the Foundations of the American Jeremiad

Puritan New England and the Foundations of the American Jeremiad

(p.17) Two Puritan New England and the Foundations of the American Jeremiad
Prodigal Nation

Andrew R. Murphy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides an in‐depth exploration of the jeremiad in second‐generation New England (c.1660–1685). Delivered primarily in the form of election or fast day sermons, the New England jeremiad decried the community's falling‐away from its godly origins, praised the colonies' founders and founding generation, and called for repentance and reformation. The New England jeremiad's lamentation of decline appeared hand in hand with parallels between New England settlers and the ancient Israelites, reinforcing the community's sense of chosenness. The jeremiad was used by clergy and magistrates in New England as a form of social control, but performed this function not merely by suppressing dissent but by offering early New Englanders a vision of their community as singularly blessed by God. The jeremiad did not fade away after the seventeenth century, but continued into the Revolutionary and early national periods as a central part of American politics and culture.

Keywords:   New England, Mather, election day sermons, fast day sermons, New England jeremiad, jeremiad, American jeremiad

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