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fice. Mr. Wheelock was thought of, before Mr. Hunting came among us. He was disappointed by the choice, but bore his disappointment with christian meekness.
We appointed the twenty-fourth day of the second month, 1639, for the ordination of pastor and elder. The power of election was allowed to be in the church, yet for the act of ordination, some desired to hear that matter discussed. We soon however all agreed that every particular church doth depend immediately on Christ, as the head thereof, from whom the church receives all power of jurisdiction. That as there are no footsteps in the gospel, of the subordinacy of one church to another, the power to ordain is derived solely from the church where the ordination is to be had. Letters from Roxbury, confirmed us in this opinion. The church deputied John Allin, Ralph Wheelock and Edward Allyne, to ordain the ruling elder, and agreed that when ordained, he should join with the two last named, to ordain the pastor. We sent letters to the neighbouring churches, notifying them of our intentions, and desiring their advice. The day being come, we set it apart as a day of fasting and prayer. After prayer by elder Hunting, the intended pastor prayed, and then preached in the forenoon. In the afternoon he preached another sermon.
After that, he turned to the congregation and inquired if any one knew of any thing which should make him desist. No objections being made, he then asked the church members to signify their approbation of elder Hunting, by uplifted hands, all hands being uplifted; he then exhorted the elder elect to a faithful performance of his duty.
Mr. Hunting then accepted the office. Mr. Allin requested the church to depute some persons to ordain the elder. Whereupon the church as before agreed, deputed John Allin, Edward Allyne, and Ralph Wheelock. Then the two last came into the seat of the elected officers, and they with John Allin, laid hands on the head of John Hunting, one repeating these words of ordination, “ We, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, ordain thee, John Hunting, into the office of ruling elder of this church.” Elder Hunting then, agrecable to the duties of his office, propounded John Allin as pastor. There was a general vote for him. Then he accepted the office. Then John Hunting with the two brethren, laid hands on his head, and pronounced the words of ordination, as before stated. Then the elders of other churches, signified their love and approbation of the proceedings, by giving the right hand of fellowship to each officer.
The next Sunday after this ordination, Mr. Allin celebrated the Lord's supper, by calling all the members around a table, where he prayed and exhorted the brethren to make a confession of sins, and when all had taken the elements, he dismissed them.
I have thus somewhat minutely, stated all the material parts of Mr. Allin's record, because he was well acquainted with the principles and discipline of the congregational churches in their origin. He wrote a book on the subject, highly approved by the clergy, and was deemed worthy to instruct that ecclesiastical council which established the Cambridge platform, by being appointed to preach before it.
Mr. Allin's church continued in great harmony all his life time, and afforded good evidence that his efforts to establish a pure church, if not entirely successful, were yet as much so perhaps as human nature will permit. The practice of requiring men and women to make a public profession of their faith and grace, before the whole congregation, was attended with some inconveniences. For not every person who possessed all the christian virtues, had confidence to make a profession in the full congregation. Hence say Mr. Allin's records, "the wife of our brother Hinsdale being timid and not able to speak in public, fainted away in coming into the church. She gave good satisfaction in private, and her relation was made for her in public, she assenting thereto. The wife of Joseph Kingsbury appeared to the church a tender hearted soul, full of fears and temptations, and was admitted in the manner above related.
We see in the following case, to what extent the members of the church supposed they were bound by their church covenant.
1641. Our brother Ferdinando Adams, having a purpose to sail into England, there to remain sometime out of the watch of the church, desired to render his reasons therefor, that none might be offended, or else if his reasons were not weighty, and his course warrantable, he was willing to hear advice about the same. The church after hearing his reasons, consented to his departure.
I see no instance of an admonition or ex-communication from the church during Mr. Allin's ministry: In ten years, there had been admitted into the church fifty males. The number of men assembled in town meeting that
year at one time was seventy. The number of those absent, removed, or deceased, may at least be estimated at thirty more, which will show that about one half of the men were then church members.
John Fairbanks did not join the church for many years, on account of his scruples in making a public profession.
Deacons for this church were not chosen until 1650. Deacon Chickering delayed sometime to accept his appointment, on account of his affection and relation to Mr. Phillips in England. The church had for sometime different apprehensions of the nature of the office. These were the causes of delay. Francis Chickering and Nathan Aldis were the first deacons. The Dedham church was the fourteenth organised in the Massachusetts colony. I adopt the arrangement of Mr. Savage. Winthrop's journal, vol. 1, p. 95.
Robert Hinsdale and John Frayre, of the first foundation of the Dedham church, removed to Deerfield. Mr. Wheelock to Med field. Mr. Timothy Dalton, who was at one time one of the inhabitants, was afterwards teacher of the church at Hampton. Why so many candidates for the ministry came early to Dedham, is not known. "Mr. Carter, afterwards minister of Woburn, was here several years. Mr. Henry Phillips lived here, except when he was absent as a candidate in other churches. Did they believe it a better school for the prophets, than the agitated churches or Salem, Boston, Lynn, Watertown, and Weymouth? Dr. Cotton Mather has placed Mr. Allin in that class of ministers who were ordained and settled in England. On what authority he does this, I know not. If he had been ordained in England, would he not as Mr. Wilson of Charlestown, and other ordained ministers, on their second ordination or installation here have done, either protested that the first ordination was not valid, or proclaimed that it was so? Did not his doctrine of ordination exclude him from it in England ?
December 3, 1673. The reverend William Adams was ordained over the church. The inhabitants interfered no farther therein than to vote him a salary of an hundred
pounds. I have not seen any church records kept by him. They are lost. Mr. Adams died on the seventeeth day of August, 1655. Not much evidence of the character of this minister, has been transmitted to us, yet on several occasions, I have noticed that his name is mentioned in several ways in the town records, that denote harmony among the people, and great attachment to their pastor. In 1632, Mr. Adams began an elaborate exposition of the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, which he wrote in a blank book, the remaining part of which was afterwards used to record the votes of the first parish. Mr. Adams resided in Dedham in its most depressed and humble situation, excepting several years after his decease. The first houses imperfect at first, had in the course of time grown much worse, and the people in the village were then beginning to disperse into the neighbouring woods. The year before his ordination, the second meeting house was built. This occasioned some difficulty. It had a bell. One year only was the congregation collected by beat of drum. Balch received ten shillings for drumming. Every man who hitched his horse's bridle to the meeting house ladder, forfeited six pence to Robert Onion.
After Mr. Adams' death, a vacancy in the ministry happened, which has been noticed in another place.
In 1693, the reverend Joseph Belcher was ordained over the church and society, both the church and town concurred in this measure, and this concurrence continued to be required in all succeeding ordinations in the town and first parish, until 1918, when by disagreement between the church and society, it was determined that the state constitution had virtually vested in the members of a town or parish a right to ordain a minister over the society, without the concurrence of the church. Mr. Belcher died April, 1723, at Roxbury. I have not seen any of his records. His reputation as a clergyman was high.
The reverend Samuel Dexter was ordained in May, 1724, and continued in the ministry here until his death, in January, 1755. His situation in the commencement of his ministry was unpleasant, and required great abilities and prudence to render it successful. He was here in what may be called the dark age of the town. His people were much scattered in the woods, badly educated, and strongly inclined to religious contention. The formation of new
parishes too, which happened in his time, would naturally create some disputes. A large share of conversation, and great attention by all classes, was at that time directed to subjects of religion. So far his relation to his people would be more pleasant, and would perhaps in the opinion of a pious clergyman, contribute much to his happiness. But then, when there is more zeal than knowledge, when the most active and restless minds in the society, find no other subjects for discussion but theology, and no occasion for public meetings but those of the church, for the purpose of discipline, then does the situation of the minister become perilous. This was Mr. Dexter's case. Very soon after his ordination, church meetings became frequent for the purpose of correcting disorderly members. These resulted in an ecclesiastical council, in July, 1725. The council after a long investigation, came to the determination that the brethren complained of, had wronged the church “ by hard, high and unjust reflections,” and had taken advantage of the perplexed state of the church; and for this offence should make a humble acknowledgment, and request to be restored on that condition. This was complied with by the offenders, and by the church. This council afforded matter for a new offence, and consequently for further admonition. Certain other members were supposed to be guilty of giving false testimony before the council, and consequently deserving admonition. It was a disputed fact, whether the accused members were guilty of falsehood or not. After much discussion, the church found itself a very illy organised body to arraign, try and convict a member of this crime, when there was contradictory evidence as to the fact, and the matter subsided after much discussion.
In 1735, the church suspended a female from the church for the offence of evil speaking, reviling, and reproachful language. She believed herself much wronged, and requested the church to unite with her in a mutual council, which was refused. An ex-parte council however was convened at her house, and published their result as follows: “ In the case of Sarah Gay, we do charitably hope and suppose, that the first church in Dedham think they have just cause for censuring and admonishing her, but nevertheless it has been a time of great temptation in the place, when inany persons are misled. We do hope, upon further con