Wadsworth, Benjamin. Sermons

Collection History

Rev. Benjamin Wadsworth (1670–1737), originally of Milton, Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard in 1690 and began to preach at the First Church in Boston in November of 1693. He was ordained as minister of the First Church on September 8, 1696. The ordination ceremony was notable for breaking with prior tradition; the "imposition of hands" was previously enacted by church elders, signifying that the power of ordination was in the church itself, rather than the ministry. At Rev. Wadsworth's ordination, however, only ministers performed the rite. He remained pastor of the First Church until 1725, when he was elected to be the eighth president of Harvard College. He died in 1737 at the age of 67. During his life he was known for his unusual powers of recollection, often delivering sermons by memory. A large number of his sermons and treatises were published, including one of the first explicitly anti-abortion tracts in North America.

The single digital collection below comprises a collection of sermons in which Rev. Wadswoth details his interpretation of chapters in the Old Testament, as well as providing general notes and commentary on the scriptural passages.


Digital Materials

Sermons, 1707-1712

In this voluminous collection of essay-style sermons, totalling 584 pages, Rev. Wadsworth records "Doctrinal and Practical notes on, and Inferences from, the several texts or Paragraphs of Scripture...". The sermons correspond to and elaborate on various chapters in the Old Testament, and are organized in the order in which the books and chapters occur in the bible. Not every chapter is included, though some books contain a more complete roster than others.


Related Materials

Benjamin Wadsworth Papers at Harvard Library


Special Thanks

This digital resource has 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.