Imatges de pàgina

The Rev. Joshua Bates, now President of Middlebury College, Vt., was ordained as colleague with Mr. Haven, March 16, 1803, and resigned his office after a ministry of Gifteen years to accept the appointment to his present useful and honorable station, Feb. 20, 1818. He needs not the writer's commendation. His record is in the hearts of an affectionate people, and in the prosperity of the College under bis Presidency.

state, but look well to the foundation on which they build. I earnestly exhort and warn you all, of every age and in every condition, to take heed that you be not injured, and perhaps ruined, by the snares and temptations of the world; whether its riches, honors, or sensual pleasures; and to consider how momentary and very imperfect the satisfactions are, which arise from these sources. I warmly recommend to you a daily, devout performance of the duty of secret prayer, according to Christ's direction, in Matt. vi. 6.-If you, who have known the grace of God in truth, grow careless and negligent in this duty, you will find the graces and comforts of religion languish and decline in your souls-If you, who are strangers to real piety and devotion, neglect this duty, you put yourselves out of the way in which God usually sends his Holy Spirit to operate on the hearts of sinners, for their conversion and salvation—and I recommend this duty particularly to you, who are youth and children.

My dear young Friends !—You have some special advantages and encouragements to seek the Lord-He says, I love them that love me; and those that seek me early, shall find me~ These encouragements neglected in youth, can never be recalled.-I also entreat you to be cautious of a great fondness for light and trifling amusements, and spending too much time in them-Let them have no share of your time and attention on Sabbath days.- Remember your Creator in the days of your youth. - Improve this best season lo seek the Lord, and to engage beartily in his service. I warn persons of every age and condition, carefully to avoid ihat heinous, God-provoking sin, of taking his sacred name in vain, or using any impious and profane language. As to a religious and proper conduct towards your fellow men, let me entreat you, to get that one perfect rule of our Saviour fixed in your memory, and, as it were, written on the iable of your hearts, to be called to mind on all occasions, to guide and govern your conduct, As ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them. Matt. vii. 12.—This would be of more service to you, than to seek acquaintance with many curious rules, designed minutely to state the boundary line between justice and injustice, right and wrong.

Finally.-Consider, my dear friends, That the great business of lite, is to prepare for a peaceful and happy death, and for a blessed immortality beyond it.- Pray attend to this, as the one thing needful; and attend to it agreeably lo the method which the Gospel prescribes; in which alone sinners of mankind can obtain pardon, justification, and eternal life, viz. by sincere repentance towards God, and faith unfeigned towards our Lord Jesus Christ--a faith, which works by love, purifies the heart, overcomes the world, and is a living, abiding principle of holy obedience. Beware of temptations to delay this great and necessary work. Think much of the shortness and uncertainty of human life, and of the daily approaches of death, judgment, and eternity:-Oh! that ye may be wise, and understand these things, so as to consider your latter end, and effectually prepare for it! These are the dying counsels, which an affectionate concern for the welfare of your precious and immortal souls, hath induced your languishing Pastor to leave behind him, for your perusal, when he is gone into the world of spirits.

Jason HAVEN.

It is desired, that the Rev. Mr. Prentiss may communicate the foregoing, the first time he shall preach in the first Parish in Dedham, after the death of his affectionate Friend and Brother in the Gospel.

J. Haven. * Some of the friends of President Bates have expressed a strong desire that some of his Discourses should be included in this volume. But these would make a volume by themselves, which may hereafter be collected and published. A selec

The secession of this church from the Parish may be dated from the ordination of a " teacher of piety, religion and morality" over the Parish without the choice of the church, Oct. 29, 1818. Such ordination was a new event in the ecclesiastical history of New England.* The consequent secession of the church deeply enlisted the sympathy of the evangelical pastors and churches in all this vicinity. The subsequent loss of the funds, which were the exclusive property of the church, was a serious inconvenience, requiring great sacrifices and a liberal charity.t But you liave been prospered and enlarged. There was no young man in the church and few young people in the society, when you commenced this enterprise in faith and hope. This house of worship was completed and consecrated to the service of the one Jehovah, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Dec. 30, 1819. Your present Pastor came to you in July, 1820, and was ordained March 14, 1821. Several years did the fathers survive to enjoy the fruit of their labors, and have departed this life in peace, grateful that it was in their heart to make sacrifices and endure reproach for the name of Christ. “ The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.” The goodness of God is to be celebrated in reviving the work of bis Spirit.* “ The promise is unto you and to your children.” The Records of the church during seventeen years since my ordination, exhibit the following statistical facts : 94 were the original members at the time of the secession : 345 have been added, 67 by letter, and 278 on a profession of repentance for sin and faith in Christ : 64 removed by death, 120 transferred by letter to other churches, and 4 excluded : 160 children baptized, and 109 adults : 134 marriages celebrated : 100 usually present in Bible classes, 150 in the Sabbath school: 238 have died in this congregation, and about twice that number within the territorial limits of the First Parish.

tion was not easy. Besides, it would be a departure from the plan of this volume, which was to confine it to the 17th and 18th centuries. The just popularity of Dr. Bates and his official station have called him to preach before the American Education Society and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, at the ordination of ministers and on many other public occurrences.

* If any one shall hereafter wish to review the history of this unhappy affair, he is referred to the records of the church and of the Parish, to the periodical papers of the day, to the “ Spirit of the Pilgrims,” pp. 175, 328, of vol. ii.-—to “ Statement of the Proceedings in the First Church and Parish in Dedham respecting the settlement of a Minister, 1818. 8vo. Cambridge, 1819, by a Member of said Church and Parish,”—and to Massachusetts Reports, vol. xvi. pp. 488-522. Eminent jurists have protested against the judgment of the Court in the case, and a large proportion of the people of Massachusetts have ascribed it to the bias of religious prejudice.

† The character and services of Dea. Samuel Fales, who was a pillar in this church at the time of its secession from the Parish, and who died Sept. 20, 1834, are entitled to a distinct notice. Like Samuel, the ancient prophet, he was called by the grace of God when a child. He maintained secret prayer at an early age, and lived a most exemplar and peaceful life. Retiring in his disposition, slow of speech, distrustful of himself, he still exhibited a fortitude, a liberality and a greatness of soul in the day of trial, which a supreme love to Christ and a near prospect of eternity could alone inspire. By habitual industry and economy in the culture of his paternal estate, he had laid aside a moderate sum of money, which he now expended to honor his Saviour and maintain his cause. Often did he say that “he never did any thing more cheerfully in his life, and that if it were to be done over again, he would not wish to do less, and that he was compensated even in this world a thousand times." It is understood that he expended nearly three thousand dollars in this enterprise, which, when we consider his frugal habits as a farmer, exhibit a remarkable spirit of liberality. His last days were full of peace, hope and joy: His tongue was unloosed. His pious exhortations and counsels were replete with wisdom, which his surviving friends will never forget. As he had defrayed the expenses of the Communion Table during the last fourteen years of his life, so he made provision by a small legacy for the same purpose after his death. He would have left his estate, in part or wholly, to the church, if his deliberate conclu. sion had not been that the order and purity of our churches are more safe without permanent funds, which are so often perverted from their original design.

His daughter, widow of the late Dea. Joseph Swan, gave to the church two silver flagons and a baptismal font.

Without a further prosecution of the history, there are several topics entitled to our notice. Such are the character of the ministers, the peaceful spirit of the people, the uniform adberence to evangelical doctrine, and to the Congregational discipline and mode of worship, and the terms of admission to the church.

The ministry has been uniformly considered as a divine institution, indispensable to the existence and prosperity of the church. It has been permanent, not by rotation or for a definite term of years. The ministers have been settled for life, and there has been no instance of dismission in consequence of sickness, or removal to another church, or of rejection under the infirmities of age. Nor did they remove, because they were discouraged with difficulties, or because the people thought their usefulness at an end, or because they were fickle in mind or could obtain a more eligible situation. The five ministers, who have departed this life, died in office and in the affections of the people, and their remains sluinber among you. In the grave-yard, the pastors and the people lie side by side. The duration of their ministry was comparatively long, extending through 165 years. And such was the unblemished integrity of their character, that nothing appears to their disadvantage, no impeachment, no accredited scandal, no calling of council. All this speaks in praise of the pastors themselves and of the church. They were all men of classical education, trained up to their profession, of good repute for natural gists and acquired learning. They read the Scriptures in the original languages. Their sermons expound Scripture, state doctrines, contain plan and method, inferences and application. They made good use of the pen in their preparation for the pulpit, and did not depend on the incidental effusions of the moment. Their sermons were one and two hours long, as measured by a glass in the pulpit. And, at an early period, both men and women were accustomed to take down notes. The necessity of a learned and well educated ministry in the churches led to the establishment of Harvard College, and it was this that drew forth their frequent and liberal contributions for its support and enlargeinent.

* There have been "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,” as in 1821, 18:27,1831 and 1834, in which it is hoped that three hundred individuals have felt the renewing power of the Spirit and been emancipated from the bondage of sin. Several of these have been admitted to churches in other towns.

On June 11, 1835, thirteen members were dismissed from this church, who with others now constitute the “ Spring Street Church in West Roxbury.'

This Vine, which the Lord hath planted, bids fair to flourish in future years. Rev. Christopher Marsh is its Pastor.

This people bave not been given to contention or to change. They were not early divided into sects or parties. They were not rent asunder by the Antinomian controversy, nor infected with the mania of witchcraft. As a body they have been stable and consistent Congregationalists, with liberal views of the rights of conscience, strict in their moral habits, exemplary in their attendance on domestic and public worship, and patriotic in their spirit. The Congregational discipline and mode of worship are in bappy accordance with a republican form of government, while their simplicity and scriptural authority give them a fair prospect of being sustained among us for two hundred years to come.

In respect to Christian doctrine, there is no controversy that all the ministers of this church bave been strict and uniform in their adherence to the same great principles of the gospel. They have exhibited the same spirit, taught the same catechism, and entered into the same covenant. Their printed sermons sufficiently show the barmony of their faith. None were admitted to the church before 1793 without giving satisfactory evidences of vital piety. These were, a heart renewed and enlightened by the Spirit, a sincere renunciation of sin, a cordial trust in Christ as the true and only Saviour, an assent to the doctrines of grace, and an exemplary course of life. These credible evidences of personal or experimental piety were to be ascertained, not by the private examination of the pastor or elders alone, but by a public consession before the full assembly of the church. This mode was attended with serious inconveniences, as on the part of illiterate persons and timid females. We may well presume that a written narrative of religious experience was often substituted for a public consession. This was the usage of the New England churches extensively. In the great revival about 1742, during the Rev. Mr. Dexter's ministry, it was left discretionary with the candidate to make his confession before the whole church or before its officers only. But the terms and style of admission suffered no important change until 1793, when it was left to the candidate to make a profession in public or to subscribe to the covenant in private. The form of the covenant, too, was so changed, as to

favor the admission of any, who were not openly infidel or immoral. This last act prepared the way for the disruption of the church in 1818. Many other causes contributed to the same result. Subsequent to the Revolutionary war, there was a lamentable change in public morals. The camp is the school of vice. The Sabbath was desecrated, the word and ordinances of God were neglected,- public attention was diverted from things spiritual and divine,-infidel principles and pamphlets were imported from France,—the pastors of the churches had been chaplains in the army,—Harvard College, whence emanated the ministers of the day, became cold in its piety,—the worship of God in the family was widely suspended, and the Spirit in his convincing and sanctifying power withdrew. Some churches became alienated from the true saith, and perhaps all suffered in their vital interests. This church did not escape the contagion of the age.

Unconverted persons obtained access to its ordinances, and discipline was relaxed. In the review, what do we owe to our ancestors ?

66 Whose are the Fathers." It is an honor to claim such a lineage. They were a peculiar people. They are entitled to our veneration for their private virtues and public services. They claim our gratitude and filial respect. Their good example merits our imitation. We ought to beware how we root up what they planted, and break down what they built up. They labored, suffered and bled for us. They exercised self-denial for our comfort, and endured privations to secure to us our literary, civil and religious advantages. This ought to endear to us our Bibles, schools and republican institutions. We ought to carry their plans into execution, so far as we can with a sober judgment and a good conscience. They desired us to receive nothing with an implicit faith in human authority, but left to us the right of private judga ment which they claimed, and the same standards of truih 10 which they resorted. And how can we meet their frowns, if we subvert the church wbich they founded, divide the Republic which they united, and reject the Saviour whom they adored ?

What do we owe to our successors ? To transmit to them the equitable laws and free institutions which have been entailed to us, to improve our schools, to preserve our churches pure, to perpetuate a healthsul state of public morals, to multiply our Bibles, and to render ourselves worthy of their respect and imitation, are a part of our duty toward them. We can take our children by the hand and lead them to the tombs of our fathers, and tell them the story of their achievements and sufferings. We can enter into covenant with God in their behalf, consecrate them to his service in the precious ordinance of baptism, govern them in his fear, instruct them in the elementary principles

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