Archives for October 17, 2019

Thomas Hooker and Thomas Shepard

We spent Wednesday on our PRTS tour exploring the rich history and heritage of Boston and its surroundings, beginning at First Church in nearby Cambridge, where I gave an address on its first pastor, Thomas Hooker, who in turn was succeeded by Thomas Shepard—two of New England’s most well-known and fruitful Puritan ministers. Afterward we sang the five stanzas of Amazing Grace in this sanctuary with its amazing acoustics, and then met a young lady who was a direct descendant of Thomas Hooker, with whom we had a fascinating conversation. From there we went to Harvard University where we took a group photograph in front of the famous statue of John Harvard, who was connected with the beginnings of Harvard Divinity School. After a tour, Dr. Tom Berdeja, Dr. Terry Chrisope, and I managed to gain access into the Harvard Library, which contains some ten million books. Regrettably, our time was limited. 

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground

Later on Tuesday afternoon, our PRTS tour group visited Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, which was laid out in 1659 and named after shoemaker and early settler William Copp. Here I gave an address on Cotton Mather, New England’s most prolific author (he wrote 469 books and died at 65!), as we stood around his grave (picture: with Dr. Michael Haykin at the Mather family crypt). His father Increase was buried here as well. After I spoke a young man broke through our group and said some mean-spirited words to me about Cotton Mather, and then stormed off. Despite this interruption, it was wonderful to be here and meditate on what God accomplished through the gifted Mather family that produced several influential Puritan ministers for several generations. We then checked in at our hotel, enjoyed a delicious dinner together, over which each of our forty travelers introduced themselves to the entire group. That was special indeed!

King ‘s Chapel Burying Ground

On Tuesday afternoon, our PRTS tour group visited King ‘s Chapel Burying Ground, where the famous John Cotton was buried (see picture of me kneeling beside his memorial stone) as well John Winthrop and his family (second picture). I was privileged to give a short address on Cotton as we stood around his grave as well as make some remarks on Winthrop. Remarkably, these two Puritan stalwarts are buried only a few dozen feet from each other. For me, it was a moving experience to be there.