Separating the Vile from the Precious

Just as Christ separates the wheat from the chaff, it is my task to separate the precious from the vile among those who attend the Church. I must encourage and comfort those who act according to God’s laws, and refute and reject the others.

Unfortunately the vile are greater in number than the precious, with my enemies outweighing those who support me and the Lord’s work. And yet I know there are those who silently agree with me in their hearts, but doubt themselves excessively. Today being a Sacrament Day, I counseled them not to let their dismay be a stumbling block and instead to take Communion as a public show of their belief in all that is good.

It is an evil time when the wicked prosper but the godly are vexed. And when those vexations overwhelm us, it is easy to believe that God has forsaken us. And how do we know that He has not? How do we know that Christ protects his little ship, bound for the port in Heaven? Just as the Sun is high in the sky and yet warms the earth below with its rays, we do not need to look up to heaven to know whether God cares for us. We need only to look down into our hearts to find the warmth of God’s love and care.

As for me, when I look into my own heart, I know that I am sitting at the right hand of the Lord, and my enemies will be my footstool.

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The Muttering Pauper

An unwelcome visitor appeared at our little house today: The pauper Sarah Good came begging with her girl Dorcas. It was a great temptation to turn them away. Sarah is a distasteful hag who walks from house to house with her hands out, seeming insulted by those who offer charity, but threatening and cursing those who do not.

Sarah has not been to the Church in several years, saying it is for want of clothes. The smell about her is enough to make me glad that she is absent. Even so she is large with child, and her daughter Dorcas is but four. I could not reward Sarah’s absence from the Church, but I took pity on the babe unborn and on the child. So I pressed a shilling into the girl’s hand, upon which Sarah dragged the girl away and muttered under her breath. I could not make out her words, but I was glad to shut the door and resume my prayers.

My suspicion was aroused tonight with Abigail and Betty growing more fitful, hurling themselves about as if to throw themselves into the fire. Could Sarah’s muttering have been a curse, or a prayer to the Devil?

Indians Attack

A great and horrible tragedy has befallen us. Indians have brutally attacked the good people of York, slaying at least 50 men, women, and children and capturing nearly 100 more. Only one small mercy was offered: the oldest women and youngest children were freed, though one can hardly imagine their horror as they watched the village burn and the horses and cattle slain.

My Brother in Christ, the Reverend Shubael Dummer, was shot dead from his horse and shamed by nakedness and mutilation. The people of York have hardly been able to pay him even scant wages, and the place is exceeding dangerous. Many a time have I advised him to leave, and yet he refused.

Goodman Thomas Putnam reports that his maid Mercy Lewis is full of terror at the news, having been orphaned in just such an attack only two years ago.

The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
– Isaiah 49:14

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A Mysterious Illness

My long silence here belies my constant prayers and supplication, for evil has visited my family. I have long known that Satan and his assistants aim to tear down the Church and drive  me from this Village. But only the purest evil would choose vulnerable children as a tool for wickedness.

My daughter Betty has been ill for a fortnight. Our family prayers are interrupted by her tears and screams, and she flinches at every crackle of the fire. She eats but little and is pale with lack of sleep. My niece Abigail is much the same. Mrs. Parris and I have prayed with vigor for a release from their torment, but the girls only grow worse, crouching beneath the table with the dogs and gabbling nonsense. They are but 9 and 11.

I fear that the Lord has allowed this affliction to visit my family because of my own sin and complacency. And so we will continue to pray with ardor and meditate on this reading:

Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever. For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land and dwell upon it forever.
– Psalm 37, 27-29

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Fasting and Reformation

Today is Lecture Day and, by order of the General Court, a Public Fast. And so we have spent the day in prayer and contemplation.

Brother Thomas Putnam kindly brought me a load of firewood which has warmed our little cottage. The kitchen fire has also burned brightly, and Tituba is preparing a great feast with which to break our fast. Abigail and Betty have spent much time with her in the kitchen, learning housewifery with somber devotion, and laughter only rarely.

My own time and energy are spent in prayer, dividing wheat from chaff, and sheep from goats. Satan has raised up an army of knaves and cheaters who aim to drive me away from this Village and tear the Church down. But they shall not succeed, for the Lord’s army stands with me.

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Thankful Resolve

It has been two months and a few days since the Lord’s servants were removed from the Village Committee and replaced by those whose aim it is to pull down this church. Since that time, they have refused to collect support for the ministry in hopes that I will depart, as others have before me.

It is true that without firewood cooking is difficult, even for the resourceful Tituba, and heat is not possible. Without money I have been forced to hire out my Indian man John to help Nathaniel Ingersoll with his Ordinary. He is given enough in exchange to feed our small family. I thank the Lord for this hardship, which only strengthens me and purifies my resolve.

Today, five years ago, our Susannah was born, a delight to her mother and a blessing to me. Tonight our family prayers concluded with one of thanks for the Devoted Child she is and the Godly Woman she will become.

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Remaining Steadfast

The snow continues. Several windows in the parsonage are broken, and so I have nailed boards over them. Without income from the townspeople I cannot fix them, and the house has become intolerably cold and dark. And yet I shall not falter, writing this by the light of a candle made by my own good wife.

While my wife is cheerful and industrious about the house, my Indian woman Tituba occupies the kitchen, teaching housewifery to Abigail and Betty and keeping them warm at their tasks. The littlest one stays by her mother’s knee, while my first-born and only son studies the Scripture by the same candle. I will admonish and reprove them to greater good, just as the Lord tries and tests his own.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. – 1 Peter 4:12-13

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