Roses Would Have Been Better
Samuel Sewall, whose diary is a wonderful window into Puritan life, tried to woo a second wife by giving her an election sermon.
Election Sermons have unquestionably been instrumental for good in various ways: they have fired patriotic zeal, strengthened resolution, perhaps consoled the sick or needy, or converted the backslider: but I do not conceive that any mortal but Samuel Sewall would ever have thought of using an Election Sermon as a philtere to excite the tender emotions of love. In his famous but unsuccessful suit to Mrs. Ruggles, after the death of his first wife, on one occasion he “went in the coach and visited Mrs. Ruggles after Lecture. . . . Made some Difficulty to accept an Election Sermon, lest it should be an obligation on her.” Later, he says, “I gave her [the same lady] Mr. Moodey’s Election Sermon [for 1721] Marbled, with her name written in it.”
Lindsay Swift, “The Massachusetts Election Sermons,” 1 Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts Collection (1894), 415.