Wonderful 1701 manuscript sermon on delighting in God by an important American puritan divine who prevented the spread of the Salem Witch Trial mania.
Here is a lovely piece of Americana! A four-page manuscript sermon preached over a series of five Sabbaths by Henry Gibbs [1668-1723]. His father, Robert, came to America during the Great Migration. And Henry, taking up the cause of religious liberty, attended Harvard and trained for the Ministry. He received his AB from Harvard in 1685 and was an effective pastor at Watertown. Importantly, during the height of the Witch Trial hysteria, he made a trip to Salem to assess the situation before it spread to his parish.
Importantly, he arrived in May of 1692 and watched the trial of Andover’s Martha Carrier, charged with being the “Queen of Hell.” After witnessing her accusers alternate between trance-like drones and earsplitting shrieks, with the queen herself refuting the charges in a voice even louder, he wrote in his diary, “Wonders I saw, but how to judge and conclude I am at a loss.”
He decided, upon reflection, quite rightly, that it was all concocted. When it was tempted to spread outside of Salem to Cambridge and Watertown, he opposed it and prevented the persecutions from spreading any further.
The present manuscript, again apparently covering five sabbaths, has very much the feeling of Thomas Shephard or Thomas Hooker's "evidences of the elect." It is a searching text attempting articulating the marks of the elect, especially as demonstrated in their obedience out of a regenerated heart of love.
The writing is very, very small, containing between 4,000 and 4,500 words on four 4 x 6 inch sheets. That said, it is very legible with some patience. Chipped at the extremities with losses and it is unclear if this is the entire manuscript.
Gibbs, Henry. The Certain Blessedness of All Those whose Sins are Forgiven; Considered, Confirmed, and Applied, from Psalm 32:1, 2. Boston. S. Kneeland. 1721.
Gibbs, Henry. Godly Children their Parents’ Joy; Exhibited in Several Sermons. Boston. S. Kneeland. 1727.
Gibbs, Henry. The Right Method of Safety; or, the Just Concern of the People of God to Join a Due Trust in Him with Diligent Use of Means. Preached before the Company of Artillery at Boston. 1701. [This sermon references already the reasonableness of the military defending American should its civil or religious liberties be infringed].
All truly godly not only endeavor to keep the commandments of God, but also true Christians express the experience of delighting in the observance of them. This is the just characteristic of the sons of God and Children of grace; indeed the peculiarly holy make conscience of yielding obedience to the commands of God and they do it with joy and thankfulness of Spirit.
The Christian delights in obedience by keeping communion with God. Enjoyed with God, all things become delightful to the Godly. God’s goodness is the only truly soul satisfying object, for his goodness is infinite. The purest pleasure and delight are to be partaken of by drawing near to him.
So, considering the nature of God and His end in the giving forth His commands, it may not seem to be delightful work, yet it is appointed by him. He who is sovereign Lord of all whose dominion is Supreme and incontestable and supremely good. In him is all light and no darkness. All that proceeds from him is good, all his ways and work must also be so.
Wonderful early Colonial manuscript sermon by an important and influential divine; preserved between glass which seems to date from the 19th century.