Born in New England
John, born the 29th of 6t.
baptized the 2nd of 7t. at Salem by Mr. Peter.
Escaped a great danger at Wenham in passing with the stream under the mill wheel, when the mill was going. Anno 1647, 6th of 3rd., at what time he received (as twere) a new life, not a bone broken &c.
Sarah, born 24th of 5t.
baptized 26th of 5t. at Salem by Mr. Peter.
Moses, born 12 of 2d. at Wenham.
baptized 6th of 4t. at Salem by Mr. Norris.
Anna, born 15th of 11t.
baptized 2d of 1st., 1645, (1st child baptized at Wenham).
Eliezer, born 8th of 12th.
baptized 15th of 12th at Wenham; he deceased 16th of 10th. 49.
The said Anne Fiske, wife to the said John Fiske, having lived with him about 37 years deceased 14th of 12th. at Chelmsford.
Elizabeth Hincksman married to the said John Fiske 1st of 6 mo. at Chelmsford.
1 In John Cotton, The Covenant of God’s Free Grace (London, 1645), appendix.
2 Joseph B. Felt, The Ecclesiastical History of New England (Boston, 1855), 1. 529.
3 Cambridge Platform (Cambridge, 1649), reprinted in Williston Walker, The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism (Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1960), 208.
4 Ibid., 205; Edmund S. Morgan’s, Visible Saints (New York: New York University Press, 1961) provides an excellent analysis of the origins and development of regenerate membership in New England churches.
5 Meetinghouse Hill (New York: MacMillan, 1952), 145.
6 John Fiske, The Watering of the Olive Plant in Christs Garden, or a Short Catechism for the First Entrance of our Chelmsford Children (Cambridge, 1657).
7 Quoted in Edmund S. Morgan, The Founding of New England (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1964), 165.
8 Walker, Cambridge Platform, 224–226.
9 Bernard Bailyn, The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955), 56; Samuel E. Morison, “The Plantation at Nashaway,” Publications CSM (1927–1930), XXVII. 208–209; Francis X. Maloney, The Fur Trade in New England (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1931), 74–75; Records of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay, ed. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff (Boston, 1853–1854), IV. part 1, 354.
10 Walker, Cambridge Platform, 227.
11 Ibid., 228.
12 Ibid., 219.
13 Every person desiring to join the church, even if previously admitted to another Congregational church in Massachusetts, had to go through the entire procedure for admission including the narration of the regenerative experience.
14 The church initially defrayed the cost of the wine for the seals or sacraments from these weekly contributions, but later shifted to direct assessment on the communicants.
15 “Public relations” meant the recounting of a regenerative experience by the candidate.
16 A “mixed congregation” included communicants, children of the church, and virtually all non-member residents of the parish.
17 The Reverend John Rogers (1572?–1636), vicar in Dedham, England, from 1603 until his death. Noted for his “awakening preaching,” his lectures were suppressed between 1629 and 1631 for nonconformity.
20 This probably refers to the difficulties which attended the Antinomian controversy of 1636–1637, although she may have meant to signify the problems which arose during Roger Williams’ brief ministry in Salem.
21 The Reverend Hugh Peter (1598–1660), pastor of the Salem church from 1636 to 1641 when he returned to England as an agent for Massachusetts and remained to serve Parliament and Cromwell. Peter was executed as a regicide early in the Restoration.
22 The errors of the Antinomians.
23 The confession of faith was a prepared statement of the fundamental tenets of Reformed religion. Assent to the confession represented his “historical faith” as opposed to the “saving faith” of his relation.
24 The question whether non-members should share in the prayers and blessing before communion was one of the few times the church discussed the privileges of nonmembers in worship.
25 The statement openly recognizes that even the ideally constituted church included hypocrites and excluded some saints.
26 The term “children of the church” denotes the baptized children of communicants, whether in their minority or adult. They were considered members of the church and included in the church covenant, but were ineligible for communion or voting in church affairs until they had demonstrated their conversion.
27 Not even a visitor could receive communion at Wenham, although a member of another church, unless Fiske and the church members gave permission in advance.
28 The churches in New England frequently set aside solemn days of humiliation, either on their own initiative or at the request of the General Court, to pray for the Lord’s assistance in solving local, colonial, or international problems. The “errors” mentioned here refer to the ascendancy of the Presbyterian faction in England.
29 This marks the beginning of an extended debate regarding the Newbury church and its relation to Wenham. Newbury’s ministers, Parker and Noyes, had established a quasi-Presbyterian church in that town which meant that unlike Congregational churches more power resided in the hands of the elders. Congregationalists considered all church actions to flow from the congregation through the ministers, and Newbury, by sending letters directly to Fiske and only in the name of the elders, violated that principle.
30 This decision joined the deacon with the minister in screening candidates for admission. If they approved, the matter would then be brought before the church for formal consideration.
31 The church constantly sought a balance between privacy, to protect both the church and the individual, and the enlightenment of the entire congregation by example.
32 The decision to have a “second propounding” offered non-members the opportunity to raise questions about suitability of candidates and was intended to insure that only saints in life as well as in profession entered the church.
33 In line with the Presbyterian polity of Noyes and Parker this letter is addressed only to Fiske and not to the entire church.
34 The “great and doubtful dispute” between Presbyterian and Independent factions over church polity.
35 Each candidate had to have a public recommendation from a communicant supporting his outward behavior.
36 Although Ipswich held a fast at the same time, this was initiated by the churches rather than by the General Court.
37 This letter originally appeared later in the Notebook.
38 The Reverend Robert Parke (1600–1668), vicar and lecturer at Bolton, Lancashire, until 1630 when he fled to Rotterdam. Parke returned to Bolton in 1644 but was excluded in 1662.
39 Dr. John Preston (1587–1628), one of the great Puritan leaders as Master of Emmanuel College and preacher at Lincoln’s Inn where he succeeded John Donne in 1622. He was also chaplain to Prince Charles and a favorite of James I. His writings, published posthumously by Sibbes, Davenport, Ball, and Goodwin, were a storehouse for Puritan ministers.
40 The doctrine attributed to Jacob Arminius, the Dutch theologian, and condemned by the Synod of Dort in 1619. It represented a semi-Pelagian concept whereby men could initiate their own salvation apart from God’s grace.
41 The Reverend Nicholas Byfield (1579–1622), lecturer in St. Peter’s, Chester, and later vicar at Isleworth, who published four small volumes of sermons between 1614 and 1622.
42 The Reverend Roger Williams (1603–1683), minister at Plymouth and Salem until he fled to the Narragansett country in 1635 to escape banishment to England for his opposition to the prevailing policies in Massachusetts.
43 The Reverend John Cotton (1584–1652), teacher of First Church Boston after 1633 and the most articulate and prolific defender of the New England Way.
44 The Reverend Thomas Hooker (1586?–1647), pastor at Newtown (Cambridge) 1633–1636 and at Hartford after 1636; noted for his evangelical preaching.
45 Refers to the innovations of Laud and the “high church” faction which began to dominate the Anglican Church after 1628.
46 The Reverend George Phillips (1593–1644), pastor of the Watertown church from 1630 until his death and one of the first ministers to implement Congregational polity.
47 The child would appear to have died from an accidental craniotomy.
48 Nathaniel Ward (1578–1652), lawyer and minister who served briefly as assistant minister in Ipswich, but was most noted in Massachusetts for drafting the “Body of Liberties” of 1641.
49 The source of the squabble was the division of the estate of a former member.
50 The General Court order the day of humiliation on March 5, 1648; Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay, ed., N. B. Shurtleff, 11. 229.
51 A member was first required to deal in private with a person concerning an offense before it could be brought to the minister or discussed openly.
52 Henry Barrowe (d. 1593), imprisoned by Whitgift and ultimately hanged at Tyburn. Barrowe was an associate of Greenwood and has been claimed as an early Congregationalist.
53 The calling of the Cambridge Synod by the General Court in 1646 met with scattered opposition on the ground that this interfered with Congregational autonomy.
54 The “adversay,” the devil, Satan.
55 “Court held at Salem 20:12:1648. George Norton, for lying and subborning witnesses to scandalize the church at Wenham, to pay 20 s. for two lies and seven witnesses three days, and to confess before the assembly met at Wenham in the meetinghouse as follows: ‘I do confess and acknowledge that I have sinfully endeavored to justify myself and my turbulent and factious agitations against the just and orderly proceedings of the church against me for my sin in that I have incessantly labored out of the pride of my heart to gather up witnesses of all sorts to testify against the dealings of the church with me, seeking thereby to lay a scandal upon the church which cannot but greatly tend to the dishonor of God and the reproach of religion.’ Refusing to make this confession, to sit one hour in the stocks.”
56 The Reverend John Allin (d. 1671), longtime minister of the Dedham church (1638–1671).
57 In October 1649 and again the following June the Massachusetts General Court directed every church to consider the results of the Cambridge Synod and “returne their thoughts and judgments touchinge the particulars thereof” to the court.
58 A Platform of Church Discipline (Cambridge, 1649); chap. 10, sect. 8, lists the power of the elders over church meetings; chap. 16, sect. 5, recommends the acceptance of synodical decisions.
59 This letter marks the beginning of the formal negotiations to move the church from Wenham to Chelmsford.
60 This decision clearly reveals the paucity of members; these seven men constituted a majority of the men.
61 Because the Wenham church still existed, although transplanted to Chelmsford, the probationary deacons who had served in Wenham claimed a continuing right to office.
62 By adopting the half-way covenant at this point Chelmsford became the first church in New England to implement a practice that gained a prominent place in Congregationalism in the succeeding decades.
63 Esdras Reed’s new employment was as a tailor.
64 The repentant sinner was expected to show the source, preferably from scripture, of his conviction that he had erred.
65 The church kept seeking a satisfactory mechanism to support communion costs without apparent success.
66 John Fiske, The Watering of the Olive Plant in Christs Garden, or a Short Catechism for the First Entrance of our Chelmsford Children (Cambridge, 1657).
67 The Reverend Antipas Newman (d. 1672), began preaching at Wenham in 1657 and was ordained there in 1663.
68 For the controversy over long hair see Charles Chauncy, God’s Mercy Shewed to his People (Cambridge, 1655); Samuel E. Morison, Harvard College in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, 1936), 1. 87–89, 327–328.
69 The court’s refusal to appoint Adams to military office because of doubts about his orthodoxy is one of the rare examples of civil interference over minor nonconformities.
70 The Cambridge Platform of 1648.
71 The Reverend Peter Bulkeley (1582–1659), minister of the Concord church from 1636 until his death, and the former pastor of many of the Chelmsford settlers.
72 Fiske’s doubts centered on Fletcher’s failure to give a personal relation of regeneration since he had joined when the church moved from Wenham and this requirement had been waived.
73 The Cambridge Platform and Thomas Hooker, Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline (1648).
74 Every town had the right to exclude undesirable settlers, and one assumes the church was advising the selectmen of their feelings toward Newman.
75 The joining together of members from several churches with the Wenham church after its removal to Chelmsford had created several problems, particularly with regard to the former Wenham deacons.
76 Propositions Concerning the Subject of Baptism (Boston, 1662), the results of the Half-Way Synod which recommended the expansion of baptism.
77 Although Whiting favored the adoption of the half-way covenant which had only recently been recommended by the synod, those who opposed this innovation had stopped the gathering of the church.
78 The third proposition affirmed that children of the church, when adult, remained under the watch and care of the church. The fourth proposition denied the children of the church access to the Lord’s Supper without a regenerative experience.
79 The stock of Fiske’s catechisms had been depleted and the church was using the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
80 The correct sum should read: 10–11–02.
81 The half-way covenant, although implemented in 1657 and again favorably voted in July, 1663, still faced opposition from some of its members.
82 King Philip’s War, 1675–1676.