Beacon Street Diary blog

New NEHH material - Massachusetts ministers' sermons

These new collections in our New England's Hidden Histories program are provided in partnership with the New England Historic Genealogical Society. They comprise notes for eighteenth-century sermons preached by four New England Congregationalist ministers, all of whom originally hailed from Massachusetts. Two of the collections (Rev. Eells's and Rev. Parsons's) contain only a single sermon, while the other two are more comprehensive. The quality of the notes varies widely depending on their author, since they weren't intended for posterity. While some, such as Rev. John Hooker's, generally include dates of preaching and location information, others comprise hastily-written outlines without identifying headings. Each collection offers unique insights into sermon content, as well as the drafting and writing process.

 

John White's sermons

Rev. John White (1677-1760) was a Harvard graduate ordained in 1703, serving as minister to the First Church of Gloucester, Mass. until his death. He was married three times; his second wife was the widowed Abigail Blake (née Mather), daughter of Rev. Increase Mather. This small volume of loose papers contains fragmentary notes on sermons preached by Rev. White in Gloucester, Mass.

Nathaniel Eells's sermon

Rev. Nathaniel Eells graduated from Harvard in 1728 and became the minister of the East Congregational Church in Stonington, Connecticut in 1733. He was the son of Rev. Nathaniel Eells, Sr. of Scituate, Mass., and was evidently visiting his father's parish when he delivered this single Thanksgiving sermon on November 13, 1740. His chosen verse text was Ephesians 5:20: "giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ".

Moses Parsons's sermon

This single sermon on Galatians 6:3 was first delivered on July 27, 1746 by Rev. Moses Parsons of Byfield Parish Church in what is now Newbury, Massachusetts. Dates and locations of subsequent preaching are noted at the end of the document.

John Hooker's sermons

By far the most comprehensive collection of these four, the sermon booklets authored by Rev. John Hooker (1728-1777) span his entire career at the Congregational Church of Northampton, from 1753 until his death from smallpox in 1777. The quality of information provided varies extensively; a number of volumes are undated and lack a specified location. A prayer request is also included among the notes.

 

Special Thanks

These digital resources have been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.