The day of doom, or, A poetical description of the great and last judgement, with other poems : also, a memoir of the author, authobiography, and sketch of his funeral sermon online

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d §m^',






tOul) 0tl)er poems.



TeacTier of t7ie Church at MalOeii in New England,





Acts 17 : si. Because he hath appointed a Day in the which he
■will judge the World in Righteousness by that Man whom he hath

Mat. 24 : 30. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in
Heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the Earth mourn, and they
shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Ileaveu with power
and great glory.


Ncla Yorfe?



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year of our Lord, 1867, by


In the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern
' District of New York.

C. 8. WE9TCOTT & Co., Printers, 79 John street.


The following is the substance of an article published
in the " New England Historical and Genealogical
Register," for April, 1863, written by John Ward
Dean, Esq., of Boston :

A century ago no poetry was more popular in New
England than TVigglesworth's Day of Doom. Francis
Jenks, Esq., in an article in the Christian Examiner for
Nov., 1828, speaks of it as "a work which was taught
our fathers with their catechisms, and which many an
aged person with whom we are acquainted can still re-
peat, though they may not have met with a copy since
they were in leading strings ; a work that was hawked
about the country, printed on sheets like common bal-
lads ; and, in fine, a work which fairly represents the
prevailing, theology of New England at the time it was
written, and which ^Mather thought might, ' perhaps,
find our children till the Day itself arrives.' "

The popularity of Wigglesworth dated from the ap-
pearance of his poem, and continued for more than a cen-
tur}''. Expressing in earnest words the theology which
they believed, and picturing in lively colors the terrors
of the judgment day and the awful wrath of an oifended
God, it commended itself to those zealous Puritans, who
had little taste for lofty rhyme or literary excellence.
The imaginative youth devoured its horrors with avidity,
and shuddered at its fierce denunciation of sin. In the
darkness of night he saw its frightful forms arise, and
was thus driven to seek the " ark of safety" from the

4 M E M I R F T II E A U T II R .

wrath of Jehovah. For the last century, however, the
reputation of the Day of Doom has waned, and few at
the present day know it except by reputation.

The author of this book, whose wand had summoned
up such images of terror, was neither a cynic nor a
misanthrope, though sickness, which generally brings out
these dispositions where they exist, had long been his
doom. His attenuated frame and feeble health were
joined to genial manners ; and, though subject to fits of
despondency, he seems generally to have maintained a
cheerful temper, so much so that some of his friends
believed his ills to be imaginary.

Rev. Michael Wigglesworth was born October 28,
1631, probably in Yorkshire, England. lie was brought
to this country in 1638, being then seven years old, but
in what ship we are not informed. Ilis father, Edward
Wigglesworth, was one of those resolute Puritans who,
with their families, found an asylum where they could
enjoy their religion without molestation in our then
New England wilderness, the distance of which from
their English homes can hardly be appreciated now.
Here they suffered the severe hardships of a rigorous cli-
mate, and the fearful dangers from savage tribes around
them, while uniting to build up villages which are now
cities, and which still retain some of the characteristics
of their Puritan founders. The determined purpose and
strength of principle that conquered every obstacle was
a school of severe training for the children of that
period. It was natural that a father who had endured
so much for conscience' sake should desire to see his
only son a clergyman.; and, although the father's means
were not large, the son was devoted to the ministry and
given a thorough education. Michael, after nearlj' three
years of preparatory studies, entered Harvard College
in 1647. Here he had the good fortune to have for a


tutor the excellent Jonathan Mitchell, "the glory of
the college," and famous as a preacher. The friendship
here begun appears to have continued after both had
left the college walls. Probably the eight stanzas " on
the following work and its author," signed J. Mitchel,
were written by that tutor and preacher, who was a
native of Yorkshire, the county in which Yv^igglesworth
is believed to have been born.

In 1C51 Mr. Wigglesworth graduated, and was soon
after appointed a tutor in the College. Some of his
pupils were men of note in their day. Among them
were, Rev. Shubael Dummer, of York, I\Ie. ; Rev. John
Eliot, of Newton ; and Rev. Samuel Torry, of Wey-
mouth ; but the chief of them, it will be admitted, was
Rev. Increase IMather, D.D., pastor of the second church
in Boston, and for sixteen years president of Harvard
College. That the tutor was faithful to his trust, we
have evidence from the sketch of the funeral sermon
appended to this work, preached by Rev. Cotton Mather,
D.D., son of Increase, who probably derived his infor-
mation from his father.

While a tutor, he prepared himself for the ministry,
and before his father's death he had preached several
times. He was invited, probably in the autumn of
1654, to settle at Maiden, as the successor of Rev.
Marmaduke Matthews, but owing to long-continued
sickness was not ordained there till 1056. The precise
date of his ordination is not known, but it must have
been subsequent to August 25, 1656, for his letter of
dismission from the church at Cambridge bears that
date. This letter, addressing the " Church of Christ at
^laldon," states that " the good hand of Divine Provi-
dence hath so disposed that our beloved and highly
esteemed brother, Mr. Wigglesworth, hath his residence
and is employed in the good work of y Lord amongst

(5 M E M I R I^ T II E A U T H R .

3'ou, and liath cause to desire of us Letters Dismissive
to your cliurch, in order to his joining as a member with

The ill health which had delayed his ordination at
Maiden returned soon after his settlement there, and
interrupted his ministry several years. He took a voy-
age to Bermuda, sailing Sept. 23, 1GG3, and being absent
about seven months and a half. But the tedious and
stormy voyage seems to have impaired his health so
much that the change of climate afforded him little re-
lief, and he returned much discouraged. He met with
a very cordial welcome from his friends and parish-

While he was thus withheld from his ministry, he
employed his time in literary labors. His Day of Doom
was published about 1C62, the j'ear before his voyage to
Bermuda. The first edition consisting of 1,800 copies,
was sold, with some profit to the author, within a year,
which considering the population and wealth of New
England at that time, shows almost as remarkable a
popularity as that of Uncle ToTii's Cabin.

While absent on his voyage in search of health, Dec.
9, 1663, llev. Benjamin Bunker was ordained pastor of
the church at Maiden. It seems that a distinction was
observed at this time in New England between pastor
and teacher. Wigglesworth calls Bunker " pastor" in
some verses composed on his death, while on the title-
page of this work he calls himself " teacher." After
Wigglesworth became sole minister, he was probably
considered the pastor. Bunker held this office over six
years, till his death, Feb. 3, 1669-70. In the elegy on
the death of his colleague, Wigglesworth highly extols
Bunker's piety and usefulness. The next colleague of
our author was Rev. Benjamin Blackman, settled about
1674. lie supplied the desk four years and upward.

M E M I R F T n E A U T 11 R . 7

and left in tlie year 1G79. His next colleague was Rev.
Thomas Clieever, son of bis early teacher, the celebrated
New England schoolmaster, Ezekiel Cheever, author of
Latin Accidence. These three ministers were all edu-
cated at Harvard College, Bunker having graduated in
1658, Blackman in 1GG3, and Cheever in 1G77. Mr.
Cheever began to preach at Maiden Feb. 14, 1679-80, was
ordained July 27, 1681, and was dismissed May 20, 1686.

Wigglesworth, though long prevented by sickness
from officiating, never resigned his ministerial charge,
as appears from a letter which he addressed to Samuel
Sprague, July 22, 1C87. He was now left alone as
minister of the church. He had, however, recovered
Ms health in a measure about this time, which had suf-
fered for nearly twenty years, and for the remainder of
his life he continued in public usefulness.

He died on Sunday morning, June 10, 1705, in the
74th year of his age. The epitaph on the last page of
this work is believed to have been written by Cotton
Mather, as it appears in the appendix to his funeral
sermon as by " one that had been gratified by his Meat
out of the Eater and Day of Boom.''''

Mr. Wigglesworth had at least three wives : Marj^,
daughter of Humphrey Reyner, of Rowley ; JIartha,
whose maiden name was probably !Mudge ; and Sybil,
widow of Dr. Jonathan Avery, of Dedham, and daughter
of Nathaniel Sparhawk, of Cambridge.

By his first -nife he had (1) 3Iercy, b. Feb., 1655-6; m. 1st,
rSamuel ?^ Brackenburv, by whom she had at least one son,
William; m. 2d, fRev. 'Samuel ?1 Belcher.

By his second wife, Martha, who d. 11th Sept., 1690, a. 28, he
had:— (2) Abigail, b. 20th March, 1681; m. Samuel Tappan,
23d Dec, 1700;— (3) J/ar^^, b. 21st Sept., 1082 ; unm. in 1708 ;—

(4) Martha, h. 21si; Dec, 1083 ; m. Wheeler;- (5) Esther,

h. 16th April, 1G85; m. 1st, John Sewall, June 8, 1708, who d.
1711; m. 2d, Abraham Tappan, Oct. 21, 1713;— (6) Dorothy, h.
22d Feb., 1687-88; m. 2d June, 1709, James Upham ;— (7) Kev.
Samuel, b, 4th Feb., 1689-90, d. 3d Sept,, 1768.

8 M E >I I R F T H E A U T II R .

Bv his third wife, Sybil, who (1. Gth Aug., 1708, a. 53, he
had":— (8) Prof. Edward, D.D., b. about 1692, d. Jan. 16,

Rev. Samuel "Wigglesworth, the elder son, was settled in Ham-
ilton Parisli, in Ipswich, Mass., in 1714. He m. 1st, Man-, dau.
of John Brintnal, of Winnisimmet, SOth June, 1715, who d. June
6, 1723, a. 28, having borne him four children, Mary, Michael,
Martha, and Phebe. He m. March 12, 1730, Martha Brown, and
had nine children.

Edward Wigglesworth, D.D., the younger son, took his degree
of Bachelor of Arts in 1710. and applied himself to the study of
Divinity. He preached for some time in different parishes, and
in 1722 was installed Hollis Professor of Divinity of Harvard
College, Not long afterward he was chosen one of the fellows of
the corporation. He left an onh' son, who succeeded him as
Hollis Professor in the same cJlegc, and an only surviving
daughter, who married Prof. Sewall,

The following' are the various editions of the Day of
Doom, so far as we have been able to ascertain :

The first edition was published in 1661 or 1662, and
the second four years after. These facts are obtained
from memoranda by the author, which are printed in
the Historical ^Magazine for December, 1863. An edition
was printed in London, England, without the author's
name, in 1673. This was, probably, the third impres-
sion; the date of the fourth is unknown. The fifth
edition is said to have been published in 1701. Mr.
Dean has made diligent search and repeated inquiries,
but can only find two or three copies of the edition of
1673, and several fragments which must have been parts
of some of the other editions.

There was an edition published at Newcastle, in Eng-
land, in 1711. The next edition was published in 1715,
called " the 6th edition, enlarged, with Scripture and
marginal notes" — " printed by John Allen, for Benjamin
Eiiot, at his shop in King street." From this edition,
which was evidently the seventh, the present one is re-
printed, being carefully compared with that of 1673.
Another edition appeared in 1751, " Printed and sold by
Thomas Fleet, at the Heart and Crown, in Cornhill,"


Boston. The next edition appeared in 1811, " Published
by E. Little & Company, Newburyport." Mass. The last
edition, prior to the present, -was published in Boston in
1828, by Charles Ewer.

Besides the Day of Doom, INIr. Wigglesworth published,
in 1669, " Meat out of the Eater ; or. Meditations con-
cerning the necessity and usefulness of Afflictions unto
God's Children." The "fourth edition" appeared in
1689, and subsequent editions in 1717 and 1770. In
1686 he preached an Election Sermon, which was printed
by the colony. Among his unpublished writings is a
poem entitled " God's Controversy with New England,
written in the time of the great Drought, Anno 1662.
By a lover of New England's prosperity."

]Mr. Wigglesworth borrowed little from other poets,
and what he borrowed was probably froni the commen-
taries and theological treatises with which his library
abounded, rather than from the poets. Not that his
style is wholly prosaic, for there are passages in his
writings that are truly poetical, both in thought and
expression, and which show that he was capable of at-
taining a higher position as a poet than can now be
claimed for him. The roughness of his verses was surely
not owing to carelessness or indolence, for neither of
them was characteristic of the man. The true expla-
nation may be, that he sacrificed his poetical taste to his
theology, and that, for the sake of inculcating sound
doctrine, he was willing to write in halting numbers.

The author of the Day of Doom, belonging to the
straitest sect of Puritans, was, like many others of that
sect, a man of generous feeling toward his fellows.
Rev. Dr. Peabody calls him " a man of the beatitudes."
Obedience to the supreme law gave a heavenly lustre to
his example and a sweet fragrance to his memory. The
clergy of his day possessed a deep religious earnestness


and a fervent piety. They were Bible students and
men of prayer. Even many who consider them erro-
neous in doctrine, are willing to allow that they were
strict in morals ; that, if they were wrong in faith, they
were right in life ; that, if their creed was opaque, their
hearts were luminous ; and that, if their vision did not
discern the additional light which' the saintly Kobinson
had prophesied was yet to break forth from God's
"Word, they sincerely accepted the light they saw.
They were patient, hopeful, humble, believing, faithful.
They stood on a higher plane than their successors, and
exercised a proportionally higher power over their
hearers. Their people revered them, were constant in
attendance on their services, and submitted gladly to
their sway.


I WAS bom of Godly Parents, that feared ys Lord greath-, even
from their youth, but in an ungodly Place, where y^ generality
ofy" people rather derided than imitated their piety; in a place
'■where, to my knowledge, their children had Learut wickedness
betimes ; in a place that was consumed with lire in a great
part of it, after God had brought them out of it. These godly
parents of mine meeting with opposition and persecution for
Religion, because they went from their own Parish church to
hear y word and Keceiv y^ Lords supper &c, took up resolu-
tions to pluck up their stakes and remove themselves to New
England ; and accordingly they did so, Leaving dear Relations,
friends and acquaintance, their native Land, a new built house,
a flourishing Trade, to expose themselves to yo hazzard of j°
seas, and to y" Distressing difficulties of a howling -ftMlderness,
that they might enjoy Liberty of Conscience and Christ in his
ordinances. And the Lord brought them hither and Landed
them at Charlstown, after many difficulties and hazzards, and
mo along with them, being then a child not full seven years
old. After about 7 weeks stay at Charlstown, my parents
removed again l)y sea to New liavcn in y^ month o? October.
In our passage thither we were in great Danger by a storm
^vhich drove us upon a Beach of sand where wo lay beating
til another Tide fetcht us off; but God carried us to our port


in safetj'. Winter approaching wc dwelt in a cellar partly
under ground covered with earth the first winter. But I,
remember that one great rain brake in upon us and drench t
me so in my bed, being asleep, that I fell sick upon it ; but
ye Lord in mercy spar'd my life and restored my health. When
ye next summer was come I was sent to school to Mr. Ezekiel
Cheever, who at that time taught school in his own house, and
under him in a year or two I profited so much through yo
blessing of God, that I began to make Latin and to get forward
apace. But God who is infinitely wise and absolutelysoverain,
and gives no account concerning any of his proceedings, was
pleased about this time to visit my father -with Lameness
which grew upon him more and more to his dying Day, though
he liv'd under it 13 j'ears. lie wanting help was fain to take
me off from school to follow other employments for y" space
of 3 or 4 years, until I had lost all that I had gained in the Latin
Tongue. But when I was now in my fourtecntli year, my
Father, who I suppose was not wel satisfied in keeping mo
from Learning whereto I had been designed from my infancy,
and not judging mo fit for husbandry, sent me to school again,
though at that time I had little or no disposition to it, but I
was willing to su'omit to his authority therein and accordingly
I went to school under no small disadvantage and discourage-
ment, Being those that were for inferior to me, by my dis-
continuance now gotten far before me. But in a little time it
appeared to be of God, who was pleased to facilitate my work
.and bless my studies that I soon recovered what I had lost,
and gained a great deal more, so that in 2 years and 3 quar-
ters I was judged fit for ye Colledgo and thither I was sent
for from my parents and acquaintance among strangers. But
when fother and mother both forsook me then ye _ Lord
took care of me. It was an act of great self denial in
my father that notwithstanding his own lameness and great
weakness of Body which required ye service and helpfulness of
a son, and having but one son to be ye staff of his age and sup-
I)orter of his wealiness, he would yet for my good, be content to
deny himself of that comfort and Assistance I might have Lent
him. It was also an evident proof of a strong Faith in him, in
that he durst adventure to send me to ye, though his
estate was but small and little enough to maintain himself and
small family left at home. And God let him Live to see how
acceptable to himself this service was in giving up his only son to
.X , ,,• . ^-^ .-_ x_ T ! :„ii„ ,.e Lively


ye Lord and bringing him up to Learning ; especially y
actings of his faith and self denial herein. For first,


standing his great weakness of body, yet he Lived til I was
far brought up as that I was called to be a fellow of ye Col-
ledge and improved in Publick seivice there, and until I had
preached several Times ; yea and more than so, he Lived to seo
and hear what God had done for my soul in turning mo from
Darkness to light and from ye power" of Sathan unto God, which
filled his heart full of joy and thankfulness beyond what can bo
expressed. And for his outward estate, that was so far from
being sunk by what he spent from year to year upon my cdu-


cation, that in 6 years time it -was plainl}' douMed, -nliich lilm-
self took great notice of, and spake of it to m3'self and other?,
to jo praise of God, with Admiration and thankfuhiess. And
after he had lived under great and sore affliction for y« space of

13 years a jjattem of faith, patience, humility, and heavenlv
mindedness, having done his work in my education and receiv^i
an answer to his praj'ers, God took him to his Heavenly Rest,
where he is now reaping y® fruits of his Labors. When I came
first to ye CoUedge, I had Indeed enjoyed je benefit of Religious
and strict education, and God in his mer'cj' and pitty kept me
from scandalous sins before I came thither and after I camo
there, but alas I had a naughty vile heart and was acted by
corrupt nature, therefore could propound no Risht and noblo
ends, but acted from self and for self. I was indeed studious
and strove to out doe my compeers, but it was for honour and
applause and preferment and such poor Be<rgarly ends. Thus I
had my Ends and God had his Ends far differing from mine, yet
it pleased him to Bless my studies, and to make me grow in
Knowledge both in y^ tongues and inferior Arts and also in Di-
vinity. But when I had been there about three years and a
half; God in his Love and Pittv to my soul ^vrought a great
change in me, both in heart and Life, and from that time for-
ward I learnt to study with God and for God. And whereas
liefore tliat, I had thoughts of apptying m3'self to y" study and
Practice of Physick, I wholy laid aside those thoughts, and did
chuse to serve Christ in y« work of y" ministry if he would
please to fit me for it and to accept of my service in that great

Note. — ^In the foregoing Autobiography the original spelling is re-
tained, lu the following poems the spoiling is modernized. The use of
the acute accent (') to indicate the former pronunciation of the final e(Zas
a separate syllable will be obvious; in other exceptional cases the old
apostrophe is retained. In a few instances the termination Hon is
divided by a hyphen, to indicate its ])ronunciation as two syllaliles
(she-on). The mjacru double commas aro also usai to mark quotations.

W. H. B.


Reader, I am a fool,

And have adventured

To play the fool this once for Christ,

The more his fame to spread.

If this my foolishness

Help thee to be more wise,

I have attained what I seek.

And what I only prize.

Thou wonderest, perhaps,

That I in Print appear.

Who to the Pulpit dwell so nigh.

Yet come so seldom there.

The God of Heaven knows

"What grief to me it is,

To be withheld from serving Christ ;

No sorrow like to this.

This is the sorest pain

That I have felt or feel ;

Yet have I stood some shocks that might

Make stronger men to reel.

I find more true delight

In serving of the Lord,

Than all the good things upon Earth,

Without it, can afford.


And could my strength endure
That work I count so dear,
Not all the Riches of Peru
Should hire me to forbear.
But I'm a Prisoner,
Under a heavy Chain ;
Almighty God's afflicting hand
Doth me by force restrain.

Yet some (I knoic) do judge

Mine inability

To come abroad and do's work,

To be Melancholly ;

And that I'm not so weak

As I myself conceit :

But who in other things have found

Me so conceited yet ?

Or who of all my Friends
That have my trials seen.
Can tell the time in seven )-ear3
When I have dumpish been ?
Some think my voice is strong,
]\Iost times when I do Preach ;
But ten days after, what I feel
And suffer few can reach.

My prison'd thoughts break forth.
When open'd is the door.
With greater force and violence.
And strain my voice the more.
But vainly do they tell
That I am growing stronger,
Who hear me speak in half an hour,
Till I can speak no longer.


Some for because they see not

My cheerfulness to fail,

Nor that I am disconsolate,

Do think I nothing ail.

If they had borne my griefs.

Their courage might have fail'd them,

And all the Town (perhaps) have known

(Once and again) what ail'd them.

But why should I complain

That have so good a God,

That doth mine heart with comfort fill

Ev'n whilst I feel his Rod ?

In God I have been strong.

But wearied and worn out.

And joy'd in him, when twenty woes

Assail'd me round about.

Nor speak I this to boast.

But make Apology

For mine own self, and answer those

That fail in Charity.

I am, alas ! as frail,

Impatient a creature,

As most that tread upon the ground,

And have as bad a nature.

Let God be magnified,
"Whose everlasting strength
Upholds me under sufferings
Of more than ten years' length ;
Through whose Almighty pow'r
Although I am surrounded

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Online LibraryUnknownThe day of doom, or, A poetical description of the great and last judgement, with other poems : also, a memoir of the author, authobiography, and sketch of his funeral sermon → online text (page 1 of 6)