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wa3rs, to remove his golden candlesticks
from a place which has been in a more
than ordinary measure illumined with
them," we may be sure that a malady worse
than French or Indian wars, was wasting
the churches. Nor are we lefl in doubt as
to its character and origin. With no per.
ceptible loss of Orthodoxy in their creedsf
they were losing their spiritual life, and
with it their interest in those means of
grace on which that life depends. The
support of the ministry had become a
burden, which, as it could not be entirely
thrown off, they sought, under various
pretexts, to lighten. A depreciated cur*
rency enabled them to do thb without
violating their civil contract ; for the nom-
inal salary, paid in full, would go but half
as far as it originally went in sup-
porting a family. Consequently min-
isters were quitting their vocation for
lack of a living ; ,or, what in the
end proved still worse for their flocks,
were supplying their pulpits on the Sab-
bath, and the farm or workshop during the
week. Vacancies were becoming more
numerous and of longer continuance.
Had there been a Home Missionary So-
ciety at that time, applications fpr aid in
making up inadequate salaries woul4
have greatly increased, on the plea of
" hard time^,"— ^ though when tinges are
really hard, it were not proportionally
l^ard to raise Home Missionary fui^ds. But
no help of this sort could be had, as no
such Society existed. What could be
done t we ask with emphasis — for, viewed
from our stand-point and its surroundings,
there is not a more perplexing question
connected with Home Missions. The
thing that toas done — and effectually
done too-^is not blazoned on the pages
of history ; nor is it committed to Church

Digitized by



A LesMn from the Pari.


records with very definite details. Jlevep-
thelesB, seyeral old pamphlets relating to
the subject have come down to as, one of
which, published anonTmooslj in 1725,
and foond among the collections of the
Congregational Library Association, gives
a sufficient answer to our question. It
was evidently written by a clei^gyman,
and, as appears from its preface, at the
request of a magistrate. His object is to
"lay open and set home" the people's du-
ty to support their ministers. And this
he does in a way which reminds one of
" the power of Elias," when dealing with
the sins of Israel, — though he frankly con-
fesses at the start, that he ** don't expect'
to convince all who have low and con-
temptible thoughts of God's word and
ministers, or such as are eat up with cov-
etousness." Statistics are produced to
verify his estimate of the cost of living ->
letting us into some curious secrets
about ministerial house-keeping; histori-'
cal facts are quoted to show with what
penalties God is wont to visit the '* sin of
sacrilege" — ^for such he charges upon all
who rob God's ministers of an adequate
support ; instances are cited of parochial
generosity, and what has come of it;
logic, hot and terrible and resistless as
lightning, is hurled forth at " the crying
sin." Viewing this document as a speci-
men of the treatment then administered
to churches, which in one sentence are
described as " perishing without vision,**
and in the next as " eat up with covet-
ousness," and knowing, as we do from
other sources of information, the curative
effects it produced, may we not conclude
that there are other means beside money,
to be used in carrying on the work of
Home Missions — ^moral means of immense
power, which pastors and laymen, if not
without money, yet over and above all
that money can accomplish, may employ
with happiest effect. At any rate we
may take courage, from this chapter in
our early history, to try the experiment in
cases where money cannot be had, or
frhere ^t has hitherto been employed to

Utile or no purpose^ Ruinous beyond re-
demption would have been the state of
a large prc^portion of our Congregational
churches at that time, if nothing hot
missionary appropriations could hare
saved the perishing-^as some of ns, pe^
haps, have been too ready to believe in
regard to similar cases now.

Neariy allied to Church-exfeenflion, if not
an integral part of it, is Churcb-efectioB,
or the building of meeting-houses, which
was also accomplished by our fathers in a
way suggestive of at least one useful les>
son. It is truly refreshing to see how sel-
dom the first hundred and fifty years of
our ecclesiastical history shows any trace
of a meeting house debt AJmost always
the building was paid for before it was
dedicated. Those Puritan fiithers appear
to have had a horror of die idea of w(n<-
shipping Grod in a mortgaged meeting-
house — ^perhaps for the same pious reason
that made David unwilling to offer borot-
offerings unto the Lord, of that which had
cost him nothing. The w»y they took to
keep out of debt was a very simple one.
It was merely to provide such a house as
they could pay for at the time, and buiid
a better when they were able. UsoallT
the first place of worship in the town was
either; a small and cheap structure, cor-
responding with the mde cabins of the fint
settlers, to be replaced beforo long by a
larger one ; or else the frame of a building
sufficiently lai^ for their future wants was
raised and covered in at the outset, withia
which the congregation worshipped for a
season, sitting on rough slab benches,
and hearing the gospel from a rude
board pulpit This was as far as the fint
appropriation of funds would go. Anoth-
er assessment brought about the glazing.
In due time, but no faster than the funds
could be afforded, the plastering was ac-
complished, the pews constructed, and the
pulpit put in its lofty place, with that
magnificent sounding-board hung over
the minister's head, — ^to the terror of weak
nerves and to the never-tiring gaze of
children. Tftus was the Sanctuary fio-


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The Ammem Oongr^aUonal tinilm.


ished tfiKf paid fo¥ ; and thus did the
boiiden bequeath to their children's child-
ren an enduring, oak-firamed house of
worship, suggestiye of filial obligations
ud gratitude, instead of bequeathing a
baidensome debt, as we are now accus^
tomed to do with our new meeting-houses,
which, if it do not ultimately crush the
society, becomes a lasting memorial of im-
providence and injustice. The plea so
often and so effectually urged in thb &st

age, that the interests of a rel^^us lociety
wiU be promoted by patting up a larger
or finer Church, by several thousands
of dollars, than the members can afford
just now, would have had no weight in
those early times. To the unsophisticated
minds of our fathers the idea of inducing
new members to join the society by con-
tracting debts for them to pay, would
hare seemed strange — ^perhaps ridiculous,
if they ever allowed themselTCs to langh !



The primitiTe simplicity of Congrega-
tioDslism leaves the way open for the
members of its churches to employ, with
perfect freedom, such instrumentalities as
they prefer, in furtherance of the work of
Christ The theory wlich makes the local
aaembly of believers an integral part of
s visible national body, whose special
functions are j&r different firom those of
the apostolic churches, has been discarded
bj Congregationalists; and such depart-
ments of labor as are outside the paro-
chial sphere of a particular Church have
Qsuallj been left to the care of voluntary
societies, which firom their dependence
for existence and support upon the sym-
pathy and confidence of the churches,
have probably been more fully conformed
to the wishes of their supporters, than
thej would have been under a more com-
plex organization.

These are the instrumentalities which
the members of local churches employ
for the dissemination of religious truth,
for the mttntenance of missionaries, and
for beneficence of every kind, in remote

Though under this system of things the
Congregational spirit has tended to coop-
erati?e rather than separate denomina-
tional action, and has given birth to but
few societies under exclusive control of
Congregationalists; there lias been a

gradual change within a few yean, and
the feeling has become more decided^
that, withoat modifying at all the princi-
ple of voluntary societies, there is need
of doing something more than has been
done, for the diffusion of distinctively Con«
gregational principles, and the encourage-
ment of those who adopt them.

This conviction has led to sev^nl im-
portant measures, among which may be
mentioned, the Albany Convention of
1852, th^ fund for boikling Church edifi*
ces, the Congregational Library Associn-
tion, and the American Congregational

The Convention at Albany did much
to develope and concentrate the interest
of the churches, both East and West, in
efforts to promote the kingdom of Christ
and the welfare of men through the Con-
gregational polity ; and the great practi-
cal measure recommended by it, called
forth an enthusiastic response. It was pro-
posed to raise the sum of fifty thousand
dollars for the erection of Congr^^onal
Churclhedifices at the West, by a simnl-
taneous contribution upon the first Sab-
bath of January, 1853 ; it being undei^
stood, at the outset, that one fifth part of
that amount was provided for by tke gen-
erous offering which accompanied the first
suggestion of this measure in the Conven-
tion. In accordance with this plan, not

Digitized by



The American Congregatumal Umon.


fifty thoasand only, bnt npwarclfl of rizty
thottsand dollars were collected and dis-
bursed, with hardly any deduction for ez-
penses ; and the results have fully shown
the wisdom of assisting young and feeble
churches to erect houses of worship, on
condition of their being completed with-
out the encumbrance of a debt

Before the Committee to which the
oversight of this work was entrusted by
the Albany Convention, had completed
their labors, the time seemed to have
come for some oi^nization more perma-
nent than a coumiittee, that might more
efficiently devise and execute measures
adapted to promote the welfare of the
churches of the land. And thus, almoet
contemporaneously, and with perfect har-
mony and sympathy, the Congregational
Union was formed, and the Library
Association re-organized, the one in
New York, and the other in Boston ; in
May 1853.

The Constitution of the * Union' defines
its objects in the following words :

** The particular business and objects of
this Society shall be, to collect, preserve^
and publish authentic infoimatlon concern*
ing the history, condition and continual
progress of the Congregational churches in
all parts of this country, with their affil«
iated institutions, and with their relations
to kindred churches and institutions in
other countries :

*'To promote, — by tracts and books, by
devising and recommending to the public,
plans of cooperation In building meeting-
houses and parsonages, and in providing
parochial and pastoral libraries and in
other methods, — the progress and well-
working of the Congregational Church

•'To afford increased facilities for mutual
acquaintance and friendly intercourse and
helpfulness, among ministers and churches
of the Congregational order :

** And, in general, to do whatever a volun-
tary association of individuals may do— in
Christian discretion, and without invading
the appropriate field of any existing insti-
tution, — for the promotion of evangelical
knowledge and piety in connection with

Congregatiofial principles of Church gov-
ernment* '

One object which the ' Union' has aimed
to accomplish in accordance with this cod-
stitution, and thus far with gratifying sac-
cess, is the awakening of a new interest
in the proceedings of the Annivemiy
week in New York. For thu end provis-
ion has been made in successive years for
a social gathering, in which the members
of the ' Union' from all parts of the coun-
try might meet and enjoy the fresh enter-
change of friendly feeling, and also for
public addresses carefully prepared and
fitted to instruct as well as to interest the
audiences assembled to hear them. The
addresses thus made and published, fonn
a valuable contribution to the religious
literature of the denomination. As a
matter of history, we give the names of
those who have rendered this service in
successive years.

In 1 854, three addresses were delivered,
and subsequently published in a single
octavo volume. Rev. Prof. Park spoke
on "^ The fitness of the Church to the
constitution of renewed men ;" Rev. T. M.
Post, of St Louis, on " The Mission of
Congregationalism at the West;" and
Rev. Dr. Bacon, on "The validity of j
New England Ordinations."

In 1855, Rev. Dr. Steams, of Amherst
College, delivered a discourse before the j
* Union* on " The Nature and Principles of
Congregationalism;" and the Rev. Br.
Sturtevant of Illinois College, an ad- j
dress on ** The Anti- Sectarian Tendency
of Congregational Church Polity."

In 1856, the attention of the audience |
assembled was chiefly occupied with the
subject of building houses of worship
at the West, and especially in Kansas; |
on which topic addresses were made
by Rev. W. I. Budington, D.D., Rev.
James Drummond, Rev. J. H. Towne, |
Rev. Richard Knight, and Rev. H. W.
Beecher. i

In 1857, the address before the < Union' |
was deliverecl by the Rev. Dr. Shepard,
of Bangor Theological Seminary, on

Digitized by



The American Congregational Union.


^The Congregational Pulpit;" and in
1858, by Rev. H. D. Kitchell of Detroit,
on ^ Congregationalism and Presbyterian-
ism compared and contrasted, in their
working and results."

The attractions thus presented have had
their effect upon the attendance at the anni*
veraaries in New York, and the address
and the collation of the Congregational
Union are now looked upon ad essential
parts in the programme of the week.

The publication of "• The American
Congregational Year Book" by the *Union*
has been of great service. The Minutes
of the various General Associations, in-
complete at the best, had, previously to
1854, been the only means by which the
numbers and strength of the Congrega-
tional denonunation could be proximately
ascertained ; and those Minutes had but a
limited local circulation. In the Year
Book for 1854, prepared with great care
and expense by the Rev. T. Atkinson,
then Secretaiyof the 'Union,' an attempt
was made, for the first time, we believe,
since Congregationalism crossed the Hud-
son, to collect and publish in one volume,
complete lists of the Congregational min-
isters and churches in the United States.
Successive years have given opportunities
for corrections and enlargement; and
though perfection is not by any means yet
attained, the Year Book fills a gap which
nothing else supplies.

Additional value is given to this an-
nual publication by the insertion of ** Bio-
graphical Notices" of Congregational min-
isters recentiy deceased, and by a ** Revival
record." Some valuable essays on Church
polity and history have also been inserted,
with engravings of Church edifices, in
different parts of the country. The vol-
ume for 1859, making the sixth of the
series, will be issued simultaneously with
the first number of this Quarterly, and
among other improvements, the catalogue
of Congregational ministers will show
when and where each one received his
Collegiate and Theological education, so

far as the facts can be ascertained by the

Beside these measures, the < Union' has
kept in view other objects of practical
benevolence, which are suggested in its
constitution. It has done something
towards furnishing pastoral or parish Li-
braries, as its means allowed, — not by
pul;(li5hing new works, but by grants of
books or money, on certain wise and just
conditions. It is still engaged in provid-
ing for the necessities of feeble churches
throughout the land, for whose existence
some inexpensive house of worship seems
indispensable. The multiplication of such
churches in distant localities, and even in
some parts of New England, and the pros-
pect of good to be accomplished by ren-
dering them assistance, will not allow this
Society to retire from the work which it
has undertaken, and in which it is a most
useful and important auxiliary of the
Home Missionary Societ}\

The resources of the * Union' from year
to year have been limited, and indeed
its work may be considered as, thus far,
only preparatory to a more enlarged and
comprehensive service. For some time
the burden rested almost entirely upon a
few men in New York, whose contribu-
tions were not made grudgingly, nor of
necessity, but with the utmost cheerful-
ness; but as definite objects of benefi-
cence have been held up to view, the
churches of the country have begun to
send in their gifts more freely. As the
* Union' becomes more widely known for
practical efficiency, it is to be hoped that
its usefulness will secure for it vastiy
greater contributions for ends which can-
not be accomplbhed through any other

The President of the » Union' is the Rev.
Dr. Bacon of New Haven, and its Corres-
ponding Secretary is Rev. Isaac P. Lang-
worthy, late of Chelsea, Ms., an esteemed
brother, whose energy, wisdom, experience
and tact admirably fit him for the work to
which the providence of God has led him

Digitized by



Father Sawger.




The Bot. John Sawyer was bom in
Hebron, Cfc. Oct 9th, 1756. There he
readed until his twelfth year, when he re-
moved with his parents to the town of
Orford, Coos Ca, New Hampshire. Or^
ford, now one of the most beautiful vil-
lages in New-England, was then a new
place; the first white settler having ar-
rived there only three years before. Of
course, the Sawyer family were subjected
to all the privations and hardships of a
new settlement Of these, the young
man of whom we speak (for he was then
young) encountered his full share, for the
next twelve years. During this period, a
Church was established in Orford, a min-
ister settled, and Mr. Sawyer had become
a hopeful subject of renewing grace. Of
the particular exercises of his mind, at the
time of bis conversion, we are not inform-
ed. His subsequent life showed that the
change was thorough and abiding.

It was during this period, also, that the
war of the Revolution commenced ; and
in the year 1777, when only twenty-two
years of age, Mr. Sawyer volunteered
under Capt Chandler of Fiermont, to re*
pel the advances of Gen. Buxgoyne. He
was at Saratoga, at the surrender of Bur-
goyne, and shared in all the rejoicings of
that eventful day.

Having had but few advantages of
school education up to this time, on his
return from the army, Mr. Sawyer ob-
tained the consent of his father (for he
would do nothing without that) to repair
to Hanover, and enter upon a course of
study. Dr. Wheelock's school at Hano-
ver was now in its infancy, having been
chartered as a College only a few years.
It offered few attractions or advantages to
studious young men, yet it was the best
which that part of the country afforded ;
and Mr. Sawyer made the best use of the

advantages he had. He entered Dart-
mouth College in 1781, and graduated in
1785. His class consisted cf twenty
young men ; among whom were several
who afterwards distinguished themselves
as ministers of Christ Among the most
distinguished were the late Dr. Parish of
Byfield, Dr. Kellogg of Portland, llmo-
thy Dickinson of HoUiston, and Mass
Shepard of Little Compton, R. I.

On leaving College, Mr. Sawyer had
no hesitancy as to his future oonrseof
life. He had, years before, consecrated
himself to Christ, and he folt bound and
inclined to devote himself to the great
work of preaching the gospel. He stud-
ied theology for a time with Pres. Whee-
loek, and for a loxi^r time with the late
Dr. Spring of Newburyport, and com-
menced preaching within a year after leav-
ing College. He preached his first sermon
in Orford, the place where he had been
brought up, and was earnestly invited to
settle there ; but not feeling Ailly compe-
tent to take upon himself the responsibil-
itiee of a pastor, he deferred, for a time,
acceding to the request Having preach-
ed in different places for nearly two years,
he returned to Orford, and was ordained
pastor of the Churoh, in October, 1787.
He made it a condition of his ordination,
that the Church should relinquish a prac-
tice, which had been continued fixmits
first organization, vis : that of baptising
children on, what was termed, the half
way covenant

It is evidence of the unexceptionable
character of Mr. Sawyer in his earlier
years, that he found so much &vor in the
place whero he had been educated. He
was an exception in this respect to the
general rule, that ** a prophet is not widi-
ottt honor, save in his own oonntay."

Mr. Sawyer continued in the ministry

Digitized by



Fatier Sawyer.


at Orfind about nine yean, wlien he ac-
cepted a call to become pastor of a
Church in Boothbay, Me. Previous to
his installaliont the Church atBoothbay
had been Presbyterian ; but at his sug-
gestion, the fbrm of organization was
changed, and it became CongregationaL

Mr. Sawyer continued at Boothbay
about ten years, when, at his own request,
he waa disnissed, and removed to New*
Castle. His object in going to New-
Castle, seems to have been two-fold ; first,
that his children might have the benefit
of instmctioii at the Academy ; and sec-
ondly, that he might be more at liberty
to itinerate, and ** do the work of an Evan-
gelist," in the more destitute parte of
Maine. Prom this period, his labors as a
Home Misnonary commenced; in the
prosecotion of which he travelled, in all
directions, through the fi)re6tB, and among
the new BettlementB of Maine, feeding
and comforting the scattered people of
God, and urging sinners to become re-
conciled to him.

About fifty years ago, Mr. Sawyer first
came to Bangor, and established himself
there as preacher and school-master, with
a promise of two hundred dollars a year
for his support; — a promise which (owing
to political hostility) the fathers of the
town declined to fulfil, but which was
made up to him by the efforts of individ-
uals. At this time, there was a great
mortality in and around Bangor, so that
he was called to attend more than a hun-
dred funerals, in the course of a year.

There was no Church or meeting-house
in Bangor, when Father Sawyer first
came there, nor fbr several years afteis
wards. Indeed, there was very little ap-
pearance of religion in the place. The
writer of this once heard him say, in the
pulpit of the first Church in Bangor :
" When I first preached here, I knew but
one person, within two miles of this place,
who gave me any evidence of being a
true Christian/'

But his ministry in the Penobscot re-
gioawasnotafiruitlessone. Though there

was no Church in Bangor, there was one
in what is now Brewer, on the opposite
side of the river ; and we are told that he
received sixty persons into this Church,
and baptized thirty children, in one day.
Here must have been the first revival of
religion that was ever enjoyed in this sec-
tion of country.

More than forty years ago, Mr. Sawyer
removed his family to Garland, a farming
town about twenty miles from Bangor,
where he engaged in his favorite work of
preaching and teaching, and, except at
some short intervals, Garland has been
the home of the family ever since. His
wife * was Rebecca Hobart of Plymouth^
Mass. She died twenty-two years ago, at
the age of seventy-six. Mr. Sawyer
died October 14th, 1858, at Bangor,
aged one hundred and three years and
five daysl His funeral was attended
on the Sabbath following, by an immense
concourse of people. Not less than three
thousand persons passed, one afier anoth-
er, by his coffin to take their last look of
his venerable form. His remains were in-
terred, the next day, beside those of his
wife at Garland, there to await the resur-
rection of the just

In looking back on the life of Mr. Saw-
yer, or perhaps we ought to say, and to
have said all along. Doctor Saw)'er ; (for,
at a late annual meeting, the Trustees of

Online LibraryCongregational FederationCongregational quarterly, Volume 1 → online text (page 11 of 73)