I just finished one of the most fascinating books I have read in quite sometime. It is a biography on the life of Samuel Sewall entitled, “Salem Witch Judge.” Sewall was a Puritan (at least made the cut in Beeke’s Meet the Puritans) in early colonial America and sat as one of the judges who presided during the Salem Witch Trials in New England where 20 people were executed in 1692 over the accusation and conviction of being a witch. As you can imagine, already an interesting topic if you like American history.
There were, however, a few other details that raises the interest of this account, as Sewall was the only one of the Salem Witch Judges to later publicly repent over his role in the questionable executions of these accused witches. It was also written by his great, great, great, great, great, great-granddaughter who gives this account a very personal touch that is evident throughout the book. Sewall goes on after his repentance to become an advocate against slavery and for women’s rights, both way before the time these issues would become hot topics in America.
Although I love history and was intrigued by the story, I found my pastor’s heart moved in unexpected ways. This man was appropriately labeled a Puritan. He loved the gospel, hated his own sin, feared the Lord, and lived in that constant state of need for Christ Puritans modeled so well. To see this man’s devotion to walk with the Lord, love and instruct his children, daily sing Psalms, walk in a constant state of prayer, wrestle with the reality of his sin, and fear the judgment of God; all while trying to battle his regretful role in the witch trials and face the loss of 2 wives and several children, moved my soul. I was challenged afresh to walk more closely with the Lord.
I commend this book and this amazing story of redemption to pastors and history lovers alike....
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Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the husband of Cara and adoring father of four children, son, Samuel and daughters, Abby, Isabelle, and Claire. He has served in pastoral ministry for over fifteen years and is currently in his eighth year as Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. He was educated at both Belmont University and Indiana University receiving his B.A. in Sociology. He also undertook some graduate work at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He is also the author of Visit the sick: Ministering God’s grace in times of illness (foreword by Mark Dever) and Test, train, affirm, and send into Ministry: Recovering the local church’s responsibility to the external call (foreword by R. Albert Mohler Jr.). Both of these volumes are published by Day One in their pastoral series designed to serve pastors, church leaders, and those training for local church ministry. Brian has also published Help! He’s Struggling with Pornography and Conduct Gospel-centered Funerals (co-written with Phil Newton).
A Faith That Endures: Meditations on Hebrews 11 is Brian’s newest book, released in fall of 2011. His next book on The Pastor’s Family, co-authored with his wife, is due to be released by Zondervan in Fall 2013.
To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.