Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Double Marriage

Although his conversion process clearly began years before, John Cotton claimed that he first received assurance of salvation on his wedding day. He married his first wife Elizabeth Horrocks, who was introduced him by Puritan Paul Baynes, on July 3, 1613.

Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana, Vol. 1, p. 237:

Settled now at Boston [England], his dear friend, holy Mr. Bayns, recommended unto him a pious gentlewoman, one Mrs. Elizabeth Horrocks, the sister of Mr. James Horrocks, a famous minister in Lancashire, to become his consort in a married estate. And it was remarkable, that on the very day of his wedding to that eminently vertuous gentlewoman, he first received that assurance of God's love unto his own soul, by the spirit of God, effectively applying his promise of eternal grace and life unto him, which happily kept with him all the rest of his days: for which cause he would afterwards often say, God made that day, a day of double marriage to me!

Their marriage lasted 18 years until her death in 1631 and had no children. Elizabeth was noted for her piety and discretion. In fact, female parishioners felt so comfortable speaking with her that they shared their spiritual concerns with her (and she with her husband), that Cotton was enabled to address those same concerns pastorally. Cotton wedded his second wife, "a vertuous widow, very dear to his former wife," Sarah Story (née Hawkred), in 1632 and soon after emigrated to New England.

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