Thanksgiving, the Bay Psalm Book and Jonathan Edwards
Posted On November 27, 2013
The week of Thanksgiving, the Bay Psalm Book is auctioned for $14 million:
The little volume of psalms, one of only 11 known to exist out of roughly 1,700 printed by 17th-century Puritans in Massachusetts, went for $14,165,000 at auction on Tuesday.
The Bay Psalm Book was published in 1640, more than a century and a half after the first Gutenberg Bibles and 20 years after the Pilgrims had landed at Plymouth. It was the first book turned out by a printing press that had been shipped over from England. The press operator was a locksmith who was apparently learning as he went along: some of the pages were bound in the wrong order. At the bottom of one, someone wrote, “Turn back a leaf.”
Thinking of the Psalms and New England, one is put in mind of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the Puritan preacher and one of the great minds in American intellectual history. His Farewell Sermon, given on July 1, 1750 after being fired as pastor of First Church is long but powerful:
The improvement I would make of the subject is to lead the people here present, who have been under my pastoral care, to some reflections, and give them some advice suitable to our present circumstances, relating to what has been lately done in order to our being separated, but expecting to meet each other before the great tribunal at the day of judgment.
The deep and serious consideration of our future most solemn meeting, is certainly most suitable at such a time as this. There having so lately been that done, which, in all probability, will (as to the relation we have heretofore stood in) be followed with an everlasting separation.
How often have we met together in the house of God in this relation! How often have I spoke to you, instructed, counseled, warned, directed, and fed you, and administered ordinances among you, as the people which were committed to my care, and of whose precious souls I had the charge! But in all probability this never will be again.