Samuel Sewall’s Millennialist Vision of America

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Sewall, Samuel. Phaenomena quaedam apocalyptica ad aspectum novi orbis configurata. Second Ed. 1727. Together with: Willard, Samuel. The Fountain Opened. Third Ed. Boston: Printed by Bartholomew Green, Boston, 1727

Evans 2959, Sabin 79444

Binding: Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good Condition. Item Type: Book.

2 leaves (title page and address to Sir William Ashhurst) printed in facsimile on laid paper. 64 p., 24 p. Although the two works are paginated separately, the signatures are continuous (Sewall ends with Sig. S and Willard begins with Sig. T). The reprint of Willard’s pamphlet is followed by an appendix written by Sewall. Size: 8"-9" - Octavo (8vo).

In bringing together his earlier work, Willard’s sermon and an update in his appendix, Sewall marshals the evidence for his position that the Millennium is near and that the discovery and Christianizing of America is a crucial and perhaps final development to that end.

In his introduction to a 1998 reprint of Phænomena, Professor Reiner Smolinski of Georgia State University provides this assessment: “Often misunderstood, Phænomena illustrates the intricate connection between prophetic exegesis and New England politics, between eschatological speculations and self-representation and policies toward the Indian populations of North America.”

Drawing from prophetic passages describing the coming Millennium, Sewall find significance in the discovery of the Americas as the final remaining area to be found. He also sees the New World as a logical place for the New Jerusalem to be established. Drawing upon others, including Manasseh Ben Israel, who speculated that the native Americans were the remnants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, Sewall writes, “God’s removing Israel out of his sight, is no less than three times mentioned; which may insinuate the Remoteness of that Land, into which God by his Providence intended to cast them. And none was no remote, and so much out of sight, as America” (p. 41).

Sewall also saw in the promise given in Isaiah that God’s salvation would extend “to the End of the Earth” (Isa. 49:6) as being a sign “that the Conversion of American Indians is an Accomplishment of those glorious Prophesies” (p. 50). If the Indians were descended from the Ten Tribes, then their conversion to Christianity would be a fulfillment of the expectation that the Jewish people would recognize Jesus as their Messiah, a necessary antecedent to Millennial Reign of Christ. As he reaches his conclusion, he urges his readers, “Desire then, Pray and Labour that the Gospel may be preached in all the World; in this Indian End of it. For till then, Christ himself tells you, He will not, He cannot come. The Door is, as it were, shut against Him. … For Love, or Shame, Get Up! and Open the Door!” (p. 64).

The connection of Sewall’s work to Willard’s is evident from the subtitle of the latter’s sermon: “The admirable blessings plentifully to be dispensed at the national conversion of the Jews.” In fact, the running head for his booklet is “The National Conversion of the JEWS.” Viewing Christ as a fountain from which blessings flow, Willard states as doctrine, “THERE will be a more peculiar Opening of CHRIST as a Fountain of Life, when the JEWS shall be Called” (p. 3).  As with Sewall, he calls his readers to action: “BE Exhorted to Pray much and earnestly, for the Conversion of the JEWS” (p. 13).

Sewall adds an appendix after Willard’s sermon, explaining why he saw fit to reprint it: “The Arguments used by the Learned and Judicious Author, to prove that there will be a National Conversion of the Jews, are very Cogent, and demonstrate that this Doctrine is worth of universal Acceptation” (p. 16). He then cites a number of others to buttress his argument, closing, before he signs his name in print, with the note, “Midweek, Nov. 1, 1727. Three days after the EARTHQUAKE” (p. 24). He undoubtedly saw in that a prophetic significance – a sign that the end was near.

WorldCat shows four holdings, each under a difference OCLC number: New York Public Library (38665283), The British Library, St. Pancras (503798861), Yale University Library (702168525) and Michigan State University Libraries (21191597, which is for Willard’s sermon, bound with Sewall).

Rebound in leather over boards, the leather paneled with a line embossed around the borders of the front and rear cover. Spine scored to give the effect of four compartments. Laid paper has been used for the replacement end papers.

Text block is tight. The first two leaves (title page for Sewell and address to Sir William Ashhurst) are printed in facsimile on laid paper and trimmed slightly smaller on the outside edge as the original pages. The original text begins at Sig. B (p. [iii]). There are three holes in the outside margin of that leaf, affecting two of the marginal notes on the recto and another hole on p. 43 in the middle of the page. There is a tide mark on pp. [iii] to 52 and 57-62.

Any prefatory pages for Willard's work have not been reprinted here; the pages go directly from the last page of Sewell to the first of Willard's, but with no break in signatures. The last two leaves of the appendix to Willard's pamphlet have been strengthened at the edges with paper tape. Both of the pages are missing their upper corner. The page edges are slightly browned. 

Shipped Weight: 0 lbs 9 oz.

Inventory No: 1250.