Q: Meaning of "cut" below

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Jul 2 01:11:51 UTC 2013

Thanks, Garson.  I was not thoughtful enough to try this common
alternate spelling (or too reliant on Silverman's faithfulness to
Mather's original spelling!).

Unfortunately, the Diary entry does not provide me any more insight
into the meaning of "cutt" than does Silverman's book, which does a
good job of explaining Mather's disagreement with Stoddard.

So I'm still looking for help in understanding the meaning of "cutt"
here (or more accurately, which sense from the OED to apply).  The
notion is that since the government (the "civil Magistrate[s]") of
Massachusetts by law had no power over church governance, any
"Decrees" of provincial synods (a Presbyterian notion of church
governance) could have no power of enforcement in Massachusetts, and
would likely be ignored by the jealously self-governed Congregational
churches.  Thus "their Decrees will signify little, except they have
a civil Magistrate, that will make them cutt" is something like
"their Decrees will have little effect unless there is a civil
government (civil laws) that can enforce them."  What sense of "cut,
v." (or, perhaps, "cut, adj.") is this?


At 7/1/2013 12:57 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
>Joel: Below is a link into a 1911 edition of Cotton Mather's diaries
>to provide more context. The word "cutt" was used.
>Title: Diary of Cotton Mather, 1681-1724: 1681-1708
>Author: Cotton Mather
>[Begin excerpt]
>But they know very well, that their Decrees will signify little,
>except they have a civil Magistrate, that will make them cutt.
>[End excerpt]
>On Mon, Jul 1, 2013 at 12:35 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> > Subject:      Q:  Meaning of "cut" below
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > What is the meaning of "cut" in the following?  (Which OED sense?)
> >
> > "... when Stoddard visited Boston [circa 1700-1702] to assert his
> > views before an assembly of ministers, he [Cotton Mather] stood up
> > and spoke at length against [Stoddard's views]. ...In creating
> > national synods [which Mather saw as too much like Presbyterianism]
> > Stoddard would divest individual [Congregational] churches of their
> > power of self-reform, and give over their governance to synods whose
> > decrees would be impotent in New England, lacking 'a civil
> > Magistrate, that will make them cut'."
> >
> > This is from Kenneth Silverman, "The Life and Times of Cotton
> > Mather", p. 151.  The interior quotation containing "cut" is
> > presumably spoken by Mather.  Unfortunately Silverman does not give a
> > source, and the only hit I find in GBooks is the passage from Silverman.
> >
> > Joel
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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