Monday, October 4, 2010

Laus Deo

Sprinkled throughout the Diary of Samuel Sewall, which he kept from 1674 to 1729, one finds the Latin phrase Laus Deo, "Praise God." He often wrote this short ejaculatory thanksgiving after returning safely from a trip and finding "all is well," reporting on the healing or comfort of the sick, or receiving other good news. For example,

Monday, about 3. mane, June 4 [1688]. My wife is taken very ill with pains like travailing pains, of which afterward has an abatement. Laus Deo.

Wednesday, Augt. 9 [1693]. There falls a plentifull Rain after a long distressing Drought. Laus Deo.

Jany 31 [1703/4]. Second day of the week, about four hours before day, my Daughter Hirst was delivered of a Living lively Daughter. Her mother went to her after the forenoon exercise Jany 30. Mother Hirst came the evening before. We have an Answer of Peace to our many Prayers. Laus Deo.

Feria tertia, March 25, 1707....Am well notwithstanding my journeying in the Rain, and find mine well; Laus Deo!

Lord's Day, June, 15th [1707]. I felt my self dull and heavy and Listless as to Spiritual Good; Carnal, Lifeless; I sigh'd to God, that he would quicken me.
June, 16. My House was broken open in two places, and about Twenty pounds worth of Plate stolen away, and some Linen; My Spoon, and Knife, and Neckcloth was taken: I said, Is not this an Answer of Prayer? Jane came up, and gave us the Alarm betime in the morn. I was helped to submit to Christ's stroke, and say, Wellcome CHRIST!
June, 19th. The measuring Bason is found with Margaret Barton just carrying of it to Sea, to Hingham; said she had it of James Hews, he gave it her to sell for him. Mr. Secretary sent her to Prison.
June, 21. Billy Cowell's shop is entered by the Chimney, and a considerable quantity of of Plate stolen. I give him a Warrant to the Constable, they find James Hews hid in the Hay in Cabal's Barn, on the Back side of the Common; while they was seising him under the Hay, he strip'd off his Pocket, which was quickly after found, and Cowell's silver in it. At night I read out of [Joseph] Caryl on Job, 5. 2. The humble submission to the stroke of God, turns into a Kiss -- which I thank God, I have in this instance experienced. Laus Deo.

June, 30 [1711]....Just as I had written this I went to look of the Rain at my East-Chamber, and saw a perfect Rainbow. I think the setting of the Sun caus'd its Disappearance. Laus Deo.

In reviewing the three volumes of Sewall's Diary, published in 1878-1882 in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, I came across about 113 instances of this expression of praise and thanksgiving over a 55-year period. Many more instances, I suspect, went unrecorded. In this way, Sewall exemplified the Apostle's injunction to "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thess. 5.18).

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