Samuel Sewall was a Puritan judge, author and theologian. Throughout his life, he had a strong interest in biblical prophecies. He believed that marriage and family continued in the next life. He kept detailed journals in which he recorded his personal observations, dreams and impressions, as well as the history of the colony. He believed the Native American Indians were “Israelites unawares”.1
Samuel Sewall published his thoughts, regarding the New Jerusalem in a book entitled “Phaenomena quaedam Apocalyptica” or Phaenomena Concerning the Apocalypse. He detailed his belief that the heart of America would be the seat of the New Jerusalem and that the Millennium would be literal and was approaching. A century and a half later, it was revealed to Joseph Smith that the heart of America would indeed be the New Jerusalem.
Commentary on Ezekiel 37
“Some judicious and learned Divines have conjectured that America is prophesied of in the thirty seventh of Ezekiel, under the denomination of a Valley. Certainly, no part of the habitable World, can shew more Bones; or bones more dry, than these vast Regions do.” (Samuel Sewall, http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1025&context=etas, pg. 5)
This insight is interesting in light of the knowledge we as Latter-day Saints have. President Brigham Young stated:
The Old and New Testaments are the stick of Judah. You recollect that the tribe of Judah tarried in Jerusalem and the Lord blessed Judah, and the result was the writings of the Old and New Testaments. But where is the stick of Joseph? Can yon tell where it is? Yes. It was the children of Joseph who came across the waters to this continent, and this land was filled with people, and the Book of Mormon or the stick of Joseph contains their writings, and they are in the hands of Ephraim. Where are the Ephraimites? They are mixed through all the nations of the earth. God is calling upon them to gather out, and He is uniting them, and they are giving the Gospel to the whole world. 2
President Joseph Smith Fielding Smith also commented:
“In ancient Israel records were written upon tablets of wood or scrolls rolled upon sticks. … The stick or record of Judah—the Old Testament and the New Testament—and the stick or record of Ephraim—the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ—are … indeed one in our hands. Ezekiel’s prophecy now stands fulfilled” 3
- Letter to Sir William Ashurst: “In like manner the English Nation, in shewing Kindness to the aboriginal Natives of America, may possibly, shew Kindness to Israelites unawares.”
- Brigham Young, Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, May 29, 1870, reported by David W. Evans on pages 170-178 of the 13th volume of the Journal of Discourses.
- Joseph Fielding Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 73; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 51, 53.