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Manuscripts of Colonial and Revolutionary America
Sermons and Religious Texts

What follows is a list of Colonial and Revolutionary sermons and religious texts, from the North American manuscript holdings in the Department of Special Collections, University Libraries of Notre Dame. Manuscripts and manuscript groups included here date wholly or primarily from the years before 1788.

  • NATHANIEL ROGERS SERMON NOTEBOOK. ca. 1634-ca. 1645. 1 vol., 16 cm., 198 leaves, with 392 pages of manuscript. Rev. Nathaniel Rogers (1598-1655) was one of 35 first-generation New England Puritan divines whose biographies appear in Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana (1702). After serving as rector at Assington, Suffolk Rogers left for Massachusetts (1636), eventually finding a settlement as pastor at Ipswich in Essex County. The volume contains nearly 400 pages of closely written sermon notes in Rogers' hand, dating from both before and after his emigration. Included are notes for at least 19 sermons audited by Rogers, and more than 100 composed by him. MSN/COL 9405-1-B. [Finding Aid]

  • JOSHUA AUSTIN CONVERSION NARRATIVE. 1697. 1 manuscript (2 pp.) An autobiographical narrative describing the religious conversion of Joshua Austin (1673-1760) of New Haven, Connecticut, presumably written to be delivered before the congregation of New Haven Church as a condition of full membership. The manuscript is docketed "Joshua Austin's Relat—n of God's Grace Publisht & accepted in N-Hav: Ch—h 12 Sept 1697". Church records show that Austin was in fact received into the church on that date. The text is around 1000 words in length, and written in the first person; it may be in Austin's hand or it may be a copy, perhaps in the hand of the minister at New Haven, James Pierpont (1659-1714). Conversion narratives were a defining characteristic of the early New England Congregational church—especially at New Haven, during the ministry of John Davenport (1639-1668). By relating his or her spiritual rites of passage, the applicant hoped to demonstrate the presence of that saving grace that distinguished God's elect. Austin's narrative is broadly typical in its general adherence to the prescribed stages of Puritan spirituality: a knowledge of the law; a conviction of sin; a will to faith; a combat against doubt and despair; and a true (because imperfect) assurance of sanctification. MSN/COL 9402-1.

  • ANONYMOUS. SERMONS. 1727-1738/9. 3 manuscripts. Two complete sermons by an unnamed author or authors, in separate sewn gatherings of seven and four 15 cm. sheets. The text of the first is Hebrews 10:23; the manuscript is inscribed  "Newb: April ye 2.nd 1727" (7 recto). The text of the second is Luke 15:7; the manuscript is inscribed "Tis: 14:Jenuary:1738/39:" The inscriptions probably refer to where and when the sermon was delivered. The former location is very likely Newbury, Essex County, Massachusetts; the latter may be Tisbury, Dukes County, Massachusetts. MSN/COL 9400-1 to MSN/COL 9400-3.

  • ELEAZER MAY SERMONS. 1753-1787 (bulk 1753-1770). 28 manuscripts. A group of 28 sermons written and preached by Eleazer May (1733-1803), mostly as minister of the First Congregational Church in Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut. May, born in Wethersfield, graduated from Yale College in 1752. He was ordained at Haddam on 30 June 1756 and remained in office there for the rest of his life. The sermons are written on sheets sewn into small octavo or duodecimo-sized booklets; individual booklets range from 8 to 92 closely written pages. All but one are complete. On the concluding page of each sermon, May typically noted the date (or dates) on which it was preached, and the location. Most are also numbered; the numbers of the sermons in this group range from 14 (March 1753) to 2354 (1787). Three of the sermons predate May's arrival at Haddam; most of the rest were preached at Haddam in the 1750s and 60s. MSN/COL 9401-1 to MSN/COL 9401-28.

  • EBENEZER GARNSEY SERMONS. 1757-1763. 52 manuscripts and 1 newspaper clipping. Ebenezer Garnsey (or Guernsey, 1737/8-1763) was a 1757 graduate of Yale who studied with the Rev. Robert Breck of Springfield before receiving a license to preach in 1759. Though he never found a settlement, he preached in the Connecticut River Valley, at Pontoosuk (Pittsfield), Massachusetts, and around his native town of Durham, Connecticut, prior to his death in 1763 at the age of 25. The collection includes 44 sermons, sermon fragments, and sermon notes written by Garnsey on sheets sewn into 16 cm. pamphlets; locations where the sermon was preached are often indicated. MSN/COL 9404-1 to MSN/COL 9404-47. [Finding Aid]

  • COMMONPLACE BOOK. c1760. 1 vol., 20 cm., 13 leaves, with 26 pages of manuscript in an unidentified hand. A sewn pamphlet entitled "A book contain a few Observation & Saying of wise men—With a few of my own Observations". The owner/compiler is not known, but the manuscript possibly originated in the Middle Atlantic colonies of North America sometime around 1760, since 1r bears a table ("The Value and Weight of Coins as they Now pass in England, New-York, Philadelphia 1756") presumably copied from a newspaper or almanac of the indicated date. The body of the book contains more than 100 discrete entries, many of which are paraphrases of scriptural commentary, with source indicated. MSN/COL 9403-1.

  Related Collections:   Colonial & Revolutionary America Early National & Antebellum America American Civil War Modern America Sports

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