Samuel Willard


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(1640–1707), Congregational clergyman, graduated from Harvard (1659), preached in western Massachusetts, and became pastor of the Old South Church (1678–1707), where he established himself as an influence second only to Increase Mather. His many sermons, precisely expounding orthodox theology, condemning those of different faiths, and questioning the court judgment in the Salem witchcraft trials, were collected in Compleat Body of Divinity (1726), the largest volume ever published by a colonial press. His orthodoxy and sound scholarship led to his being made vice-president of Harvard (1700–1707), of which he was nominally president for six years while Increase Mather was at odds with the colonial government. An elegy on Willard was written by Benjamin Colman.

From The Oxford Companion to American Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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