|Title:||Nathaniel Rogers sermon notebook|
|Dates:||ca. 1634-ca. 1645|
|Collection No.:||MSN/COL 9405|
|Creator:||Rogers, Nathaniel, 1598-1655|
|Extent:||1 volume; 2 linear inches|
|Language:||Collection material in English|
|Repository:||University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556|
|Abstract:||A journal of sermon notes compiled by the Puritan divine Nathaniel Rogers (1598-1655), before and after his emigration from England to Massachusetts in 1636. The volume contains notes for at least 19 sermons audited by Rogers, and more than 100 composed by him.|
First Congregational Church (Ipswich, Mass.)
Rogers, Nathaniel, 1598-1655
Preaching -- New England -- History -- 17th century
Preaching -- England -- History -- 17th century
Puritans -- England -- Clergy
Puritans -- New England
Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection
Preferred Citation: Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Notebook, MSN/COL 9405-1-B, Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.
Acquisition and Processing Note: The Rogers notebook was purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in January 2015, from Michael Brown Rare Books, LLC of Philadelphia (List 128, item 32). Arranged and described 2015-16, by George Rugg. Finding aid 2016, by George Rugg.
Nathaniel Rogers (1598-1655) was born at Haverhill, Suffolk in 1598, the second son of the famous Puritan divine John Rogers (ca. 1572-1636) and his wife Bridget Ray. From 1605 "Roaring John" Rogers was lecturer (preacher) at Dedham, Essex, and Nathaniel Rogers received his initial education at the grammar school there. On 9 May 1614 he entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, receiving his B.A. in 1617 and his M.A. in 1621. After two years as a domestic chaplain Rogers became curate (ca. 1627-31) to Dr. John Barkham of Bocking, Essex. During his time at Bocking Rogers' views seem to have become more nonconformist, perhaps due to his friendships with Thomas Hooker and other Essex Puritans. In 1631 Rogers was dismissed from his living at Bocking for performing the burial office without a surplice. He then became rector at Assington, Suffolk (1631-36), where his patron was Brampton Gurdon, a friend of John Winthrop. After William Laud was made Archbishop of Canterbury Rogers' suspension from his ministry for nonconformity became increasingly likely, and on 1 June 1636 he sailed for New England, arriving on 17 November after a difficult passage of 24 weeks. Accompanying him to America were his wife Margaret (d. 1655/6), the daughter of Robert Crane of Coggeshall, Essex, whom he had married in 1626, and two children, Mary and John. Four sons were born in America: Nathaniel, Samuel, Timothy, and Ezekiel.
In the late summer of 1637 Rogers attended the ministerial synod at Cambridge called to resolve disputes arising from the Antinomian Controversy. He was first offered a ministerial settlement at Dorchester, with Richard Mather, but was forced to decline because the church could not accommodate the followers who had accompanied him from England. He subsequently accepted a settlement at Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts, where he was ordained on 20 February 1637/8. He shared the ministry at Ipswich with John Norton (1606-63), who served as teacher while Rogers served as pastor. (At this time fully organized New England churches typically supported two ministers of theoretically equal status. The pastor focused mainly on questions of salvation, the teacher on more systematic theology. Both gave sermons, but teaching ministers were more likely to preach occasional sermons, and were also more likely to publish; this latter distinction certainly holds with Norton and Rogers). Rogers remained at Ipswich until his death, ministering with Norton until the latter departed for Boston's First Church following the death of John Cotton in 1652. Many among the Ipswich congregation blamed Rogers, however unjustifiably, for failing to dissuade Norton from moving to Boston—a sentiment which troubled Rogers greatly, according to Cotton Mather. Rogers occasionally gave advice on the colony's civil affairs, and was invited by the General Court to preach the election sermon in 1647. Rogers died at Ipswich of unclear causes, 3 July 1655.
Much of what is known of Rogers' life and ministry derives from a biography written by Cotton Mather for his providential history of 17th century New England, the
"While he lived in
The rhetoric employed by Mather to describe Rogers' ministry is broadly typical of that used by commentators to describe pastors, and in many respects atypical of that used to describe teachers. Much is made of Rogers' exemplary life, and his effectiveness in the pulpit; little is made of his theological knowledge (see Vergil V. Phelps, "The Pastor and Teacher in New England,"
The Rogers notebook is a single volume, 15.5 cm. high and between 3 and 4 cm. thick. It is bound in period vellum over stiff paper boards, though most of the vellum has peeled away, exposing the boards. When acquired by Notre Dame the back-strip was lacking, the front board was nearly detached, and some leaves were loose. The volume has since been conserved and re-sewn. The original volume may have contained over 220 leaves; 198 leaves survive. These contain 392 pages of script in Rogers' hand. At some point in the book's history the pages were numbered. The numeration is generally serviceable, though occasionally numbers are repeated (28-29, 215-16, 219-22, 278-79, 407-08), and there are gaps indicating missing leaves (117-20, 203-08, 223-30, 375-94). It is quite clear that the volume was acquired and used as a notebook, and not assembled by the owner from independent gatherings.
An attribution to Rev. Nathaniel Rogers of Ipswich seems evident. The back free endpaper of the manuscript bears the scattered signatures or names of at least five family members: Nathaniel Rogers, John Rogers, Samuel Rogers, William Rogers, and William Smith. Smith (ca. 1780-1855) was the great-great-great grandson of Rev. Nathaniel Rogers. Given the inscriptions, it is plausible that the book descended to Smith through his maternal grandfather Samuel Rogers (1709-1772), his great-grandfather John Rogers (1666-1745, longtime minister at Ipswich), and his great-great grandfather, John Rogers (1629/30-1684)—Nathaniel's oldest son. The early "Nathaniel Rogers" inscription at bottom center may be the signature of the original owner, or it may be that of a descendent. In any case, the volume's textual content, including the relatively few date and place names appended to sermon notes, is consistent with what we know of the life of Nathaniel Rogers. The 17th century handwriting in the present volume is comparable to one of the hands in a volume of sermon notes of 1653-63, known to be Rogers' (American Antiquarian Society, Ipswich (Mass.) Records, Mss. Octavo Vols. I).
The volume contains roughly 135 discrete sections of notes, most of which reveal the structure and apparatus of the plain-style sermon. Nineteen of these bear attributions to other ministers; the remainder, all unattributed, are presumably notes for Rogers' own sermons. The attributions to fellow ministers are significant, not least because they occasionally indicate when and/or where the sermon was preachd, and allow us to recognize, among other things, that the book's contents are broadly chronological. None of the notes for Rogers' own sermons bear dates. A list of the attribution inscriptions follows:
pp. 9-10, Psalms 31:23: "Mr Tanner"
pp. 12-15, 1 Corinthians 3:16: "Mr Walker" [George Walker, ca. 1581-1651].
pp. 15-19, 1 Thessalonians 4:18: "Mr Walker"
pp. 19-25, Hosea 2:13: "Mr Walker"
pp. 25-29, John 1:16: "Mr Arthur of Sproughton"
pp. 29-30, Mark 2:5: "Mr Anderson of Boston"
pp. 30-33, Proverbs 4:23: "Mr Symmonds of London" [Joseph Symonds, d. 1652].
pp. 33-35, ?: "Mr Goodwin of London" [Thomas Goodwin, 1600-1679/80].
pp. 41-45, Galatians 3:14: "Mr Bersall [?] of Stysted"
pp. 51-53, Isaiah 49:14: "Mr Symmonds of London at Dedh. Aug:16"
pp. 54-56, Matthew 5:12: "My Fath." [John Rogers, ca. 1570-1636]
pp. 59-62, Job 21:15: "Mr Burrowes at Colch: at a Bap." [Jeremiah Burroughs, ca. 1600-1646].
pp. 69-71, Hosea 6:4: "Mr Peck" [Robert Peck, 1580-1656].
pp. 80-83, Hosea 9:12: "Mr Angier. Oct. 2. Dedh." [John Angier, 1605-1677].
pp. 124-126, 2 Thessalonians 3:13: "Mr Walker (of ?)"
pp. 129-131, Luke 2:51: "Mr Smith"
pp. 216-219, Matthew 9:38: "Mr Mather on the day of Ordination" [Richard Mather, 1596-1669].
pp. 221-232, 1 Thessalonians 2:6: "Mr Norton at Ipswich Octo:1.1637" [John Norton, 1606-1663].
pp. 370-372, Ecclesiastes 3:10: "Mr Miller M.1.1642 1643" [John Miller, 1598-1664].
Most of the attributions appear in the first third of the 400-page volume, with a disproportionate number at the very beginning (14 in 80 pages). None of these early attribution notations includes a date (the first date in the volume is associated with an unattributed sermon on Romans 11:1, 29 September 1635, on p. 77). All the more prominent ministers mentioned as deliverers of these sermons—George Walker, Joseph Symonds, Thomas Goodwin, John Rogers, Jeremiah Burroughs, Robert Peck, John Angier—were nonconformists preaching in England in the 1630s. It seems likely that the journal was begun by Rogers when he was rector at Assington (1631-1636), in the years before his emigration. It also appears that it was begun as a journal of auditor notes (most likely worked up after the sermon, in the relative comfort of the study, with textual resources at hand). The first sure indication of Rogers' presence in America appears on p. 216, with notes for a sermon on Matthew 9:38 preached by Richard Mather "on the day of Ordination"—perhaps Rogers' ordination or installation at Ipswich, 20 February 1637/8. This is closely followed by notes for a sermon delivered by John Norton at Ipswich, 1 October 1637. The only remaining section of notes bearing an attribution appears close to the end of the volume, on pp. 370-372: this is a sermon on Ecclesiates 3:10 by John Miller, formerly settled at Rowley, Massachusetts, delivered on 1 March 1642/3. If the attributions are the chronological markers they appear to be, it is reasonable to date the book's contents from ca. 1634 to ca. 1645. (For auditor notes generally, see Meredith Marie Neuman,
There are no immediately obvious distinctions between the sermon notes bearing attributions and those lacking them—which are mostly, one would assume, outlines for Rogers' own compositions. Notes for individual sermons typically occupy from two to five pages. Rogers maximizes the space at his disposal by employing a very fine hand, so closely written as to achieve 50, 60, and even 70 lines per page (in a volume whose pages are less than 15 cm. high). This, coupled with Rogers' extensive use of abbreviation, results in pages that commonly contain upwards of 600 words. The text is generally clean, with relatively few cross-outs, emendations, or additions.
The notes almost invariably adhere to the familiar branching structure of the plain-style sermon, which Perry Miller summarizes thus: "The Puritan sermon quotes the [scriptural] text and 'opens' it as briefly as possible, expounding circumstances and context, explaining its grammatical meanings, reducing its tropes and schemata to prose, and setting forth its logical implications; the sermon then proclaims in a flat, indicative sentence the 'doctrine' contained in the text or logically deduced from it, and proceeds to the first reason or proof. Reason follows reason, with no other transition than a period and a number; after the last proof is stated there follow the uses or applications, also in numbered sequence, and the sermon ends when there is nothing more to be said." (
Most of Rogers' sermons appear to be of the common Sunday variety, treating the salvation of the soul and the life of sanctified obedience. Given the demands of preaching several one- to two-hour discourses weekly, ministers found it expedient to deliver sermons in series (sermons
The assumptions and generalizations herein made should not obscure that fact that this was, after all, a working notebook kept over a period of years, subject to idiosyncrasies that a closer examination will no doubt reveal. Whether Rogers carried the notebook with him into the pulpit, or used its outlines to write out the full texts of his sermons, are matters that require further consideration.
The American Antiquarian Society holds a volume that includes sermon notes written by Nathaniel Rogers ca. 1653-55 (Ipswich (Mass.) Records, Mss. Octavo Vols. I). The Massachusetts Historical Society holds a volume of auditor notes on sermons delivered at the First Church in Ipswich in 1645-46 that includes notes on sermons by Rogers (Ms. SBd-76). This latter volume is discussed in Neuman,