An Early Puritan Commentary

Cotton, John, 1584-1652. A Practical Commentary: Or an Exposition with Observations, Reasons, and Uses upon the First Epistle Generall of John. 2d ed. much corrected and inlarged, with the addition of an alphabeticall table not in the former edition. London: Printed by M. S. for Thomas Parkhurst, 1658. 4 p. l., 431, [6] p. 27 l/2 cm. [R.B.R. folio BS2805.C6 1658]

The author of this work, John Cotton (1584-1652), was born in England and for twenty years served as vicar of St. Botolph's Church, in Boston, Lincolnshire. Because of his Puritan views, he was summoned to appear before the High Court of Commission in 1632. Instead of appearing, he resigned and fled England with some of his parishioners to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The naming of its principal city "Boston" is often said to be in honor of him, although the name had been adopted in 1630. As "Teacher" in Boston's First Church, he was a leading figure in the colony. He was the author of The Way of the Churches of Christ in New England, (1645), one of the earliest descriptions of New England Congregationalism. His daughter Maria (1642-1714) married Increase Mather (1639-1723) and was the mother of Cotton Mather (1663-1728).

This book of expository sermons was first published in 1656, after his death, but the sermons appear to have been first preached while he was still in England.

This copy was owned by some of the author's descendants. The signatures and dates of ownership place it in the family of his grandson John Cotton (1658-1710), son of Seaborn Cotton (1633-86), both ministers of the church in Hampton, New Hampshire. John Cotton wrote the Latin form of his name in the book. His daughter Anne's ownership of 1734 dates to the death of her brother-in-law, the Rev. Nathaniel Gookin (a quarter of his estate consisted of books), also a minister in the church in Hampton. The ownership of John's son Thomas (1695-1770) is dated to the death of Anne (1697-1745).

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Sources of information:

Dictionary of American Biography. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1928-58.

Noyes, Sybil, Charles Thornton Libby, and Walter Goodwin Davis. Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Pub. Co. 1972. (Reprint of the 1928-39 ed.)

Ziff, Larzer. The Career of John Cotton: Puritanism and the American Experience. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1962.