6 June 2011

The Reverend John Wise in Essex, Massachusetts

 The Old Graveyard in Essex contains the remains of the Reverend John Wise (1652-1725), and although a potted biography is sketched out on the plaque on the table-like grave, it doesn't remark on the power of his writings. Wise wrote the satirical The Churches' Quarrel Espoused in response to Increase and Cotton Mathers' plans to institute a hierarchy for colonial churches, which was never implimented. And in 1717 he published Vindicaton of the Government of New England Churches, which, in its thesis against a ruler's perceived divine right, has been interpreted as a strong pre-revolutionary argument for colonial rights.

 The table tombstone.

'Underneath lies the body of the
First Pastor of the 2nd Church in Ipswich
Graduated at Harvard College 1673
Ordained pastor of the said church in 1681
And died April 8, 1725. Aged 73
For Talents, Peity and Learning he shone
As a Star of the first magnitude.
This monument repaired 1815.
Restored 1883.'

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