An Address of the Life and Character of Chief-Justice Samuel Sewall

An Address of the Life and Character of Chief-Justice Samuel Sewall

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Excerpt from An Address of the Life and Character of Chief-Justice Samuel Sewall: Delivered in the Old South Church, Boston, Sunday, October 26, 1884

IT would not have been at all a matter out of course or reason, if the name of Samuel Sewall, instead of finding a separate place of honor on a commemorative tablet in this Church, had appeared on the roll of its ministers. Preceding that of his son and some others. In his time the ministry was the first thought of young graduates of Harvard, like him self, of the original New England stock, who had a serious purpose for a useful and honored life. Some of his own most eminent contemporaries - like Governors William Stoughton, joseph Dudley and Gurdon Saltonstall, had first had the min istry in view. Two of these had preached, as had many others, who afterwards found high magistracy, teaching, or other service preferable to them. In fact, Sewall did, once at least, make trial of his gifts at the desk. He records that in April, 1675, four years after he had graduated, he helped preach for his old teacher, Mr. Parker, of Newbury, the min ister of Sewall's parents. Carried away by the exuberance of his thought and feeling, he writes Being afraid to look on the glass [the sand glass in the pulpit] ignorantly and unwittingly, I stood two hours and a half. Though he had entered upon mercantile business, he was urged by some friends to engage in the ministry. He remained, however, through all his life, the most ministerial layman in this com munity, where there were many such. Very few, if any, who filled the desks, surpassed him in biblical, theological.

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