Martha Ballard's Story
Chapter 2

Martha likes Foster's sermons

Martha approved of the sermons delivered by the young new minister, Isaac Foster, and his brother John Foster. As a woman who measured life in doing for others, she might be expected to enjoy Foster's July 23 sermon on Matthew 25, the chapter in which Jesus distinguished between those on his right and his left hand, the sheep and goats, according to whether they had fed the hungry, clothed the naked, or comforted the afflicted.

But there was a faction in town, led by the town clerk Captain Henry Sewall, that was alarmed by the beliefs of the Fosters.

What did Henry Sewall say about Foster's July 23 sermon?

When Martha heard Isaac Foster's brother John preach on October 8th, she reported that she was "agreeably Entertaind" by his "discoarce."

What did Henry Sewall say about the October 8th sermon?

Find out what Sewall did to block Isaac Foster's ordination.

John Foster was in town for the ordination vote on his brother Isaac. Three days later, on October 11, Martha reported the weather as "Clear & Pleasant." She also noted, "the Revd Isaac Foster was ordaind in this Town."

Although the skies were clear, a storm was brewing. Henry Sewall continued to criticize the young minister.

The New Minister
And Isaac Foster replied by suing Henry Sewall and his cousin, Thomas Sewall, for slander.

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Martha Ballard's Diary

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July 23, 1786 (Sunday)

23 A


a hott day. I attended Divine Servise aftern. mr Foster Delivird a discoarce from Math 25/41ver, a Shour after servis. mrs Woodward & Nbr Savage Supt with us. Isaac Cowen Enformd of ye Death of Susanah Sautbe who Deceast Last weak. Doct Coney returnd ye Rhubarb which he Borrowd of me and 1 penny wt & 20 grains over plus. Lucy Town is one year old this Day  

October 8, 1786 (Sunday)

8 A


Clear. I was at mr Porters ys fore noon, attended Divine Servis aftern, was agreeably Entertaind with a discoarce Delivrd By Revd John Foster of Paxton