Samuel Ward stuffed himself with plums one evening. In his journal the next morning, July 19, 1596, he confessed his sin—“my gluttony in eating plums and raisins and drinking so much after supper.” It was one of many such confessions.

Samuel was a Puritan, born in 1577, who attended St. John’s College, Cambridge, and was a fellow at Sidney College. In 1603 he became town preacher at St. Mary’s in Ipswich. He married Deborah Bolton, a widow from Cambridgeshire, the following year. When King James approved a new translation of the Bible, Samuel was selected as part of the New Testament translating team. Samuel, known as the youngest of the King James translators, is better known for his diary in which he daily confessed his sins:

May 13—My desire of preferment over much. Thy (he often addressed himself in the second person) wandering regard in the chapel at prayer time.

May 17—Thy gluttony the night before.

May 23—My sleeping without remembering my last thought, which should have been of God.

May 26—Thy dullness this day in hearing God’s word … thy by-thoughts at prayer time same evening.

June 12—My too much drinking after supper.

June 14—My negligence … in sleeping immediately after dinner.

June 22—My immoderate diet of eating cheese.

June 27—My going to drink wine and that in the tavern, before I called upon God.

July 8—My immoderate laughter in the hall.

July 15—My incontinent thoughts at Hobsons.

July 23—For eating so many plums, although thou heard that many died of surfeits (intemperance).

August 13—My intemperate eating of damsons, also my intemperate eating of cheese after supper.

August 21—My long sleeping in the morning.

Despite his vices (and perhaps because of his diligence in confessing them, being tender of conscience) he did a great work for Christ and helped translate the most beautiful version of the Bible in history.

Let’s come near God with pure hearts and a confidence that comes from having faith. Let’s keep our hearts pure, our consciences free from evil, and our bodies washed with clean water. (Hebrews 10:22)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). July 19.

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