Oliver N Bacon.

A history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) online

. (page 7 of 22)
Online LibraryOliver N BaconA history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 7 of 22)
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memory of his departed relatives. After his decease, his grave and
those of his family Avere enclosed with a picket fence, and a stone was
placed at one end bearing the following inscription :

Deposited in this enclosure

are the remains of

Rev. Stephen Badger.

He "vvas chosen by the Commissioners
for Propagating the Gospel in New England,
and ordained as a missionary over the Indians in
Natick, March 27, 1753 ; died Aug. 28, 1803, ait 78.
Mrs. Abigail Badger, his consort, died Aug. 13, 1782, set
69, and live children ; also Mr. Stephen Badger, Sec,
died June 19, 1774, a-t 80. As a tribute of affec-
tionate resj)ect this st»ne is here placed.
" While memory fond each virtue shall revere."

The following is a list of the publications of Rev. Mr. Badger :
1. Several essays on Electricity, printed in the Cambridge Sentinel
soon after the establishment of this paper in Boston. In these
he offers the conjecture that by drawing the electric fluid from the
clouis by rods, the necessary quantity of rain may be prevented
from falling. 2. A Letter from a Pastor to his People, opposing the
requiring of a confession of particular transgressions in order for ad-
mission to church fellowship. 3. Letter to the Secretary of the Massa-
chusetts Historical Society. 4. Two discourses on Drunkenness,
printed in 1774, and again re-printed in 1829, by the Society for
the Suppression of Vice and Intemperance-


locatiox of the meeting house. first meeting house. hl.story of societv.
Funds. Settlement of Rev. Fkeeman Seaks. List of its Ministers.
List of persons -who have held the office of Deacon in town. Bio-
graphical notice of Sears. Fourth of July Oration. Sickness and

The church of which Mr. Badger was so long the minister was
dissolved at his death. The next church emhodied was at the cen-
tre, and the one which bears the name of the First Congregational
Church and Society. By that name has it been incorporated by
the Legislature and funds secured to it arising from the sale of lands
granted by the Indians to Oliver Peabody and his successors in the
ministry at Natick for the support of Gospel preaching. It has had
a longer existence than any other, has received more persons into it
as members, and at this time is the largest in town. It now has
settled over it its fifth pastor. The following is a list of its ministers :
1. Rev. Freeman Sears, ordained Jan. 1, 1806 ; died June 30,
1811. 2. Martin Moore, ordained Feb. 16, 1814, dismissed Aug.
7, 1833. 3. Erasmus D. Moore, ordained Nov. 6, 1833, dismissed
April, 1838. 4. Samuel Hunt, ordained July 17, 1839, dismissed
May 22, 1850. 5. Elias Nason, ordained May 5, 1852. The
whole number of members received into this church since its first
organization until the present time is 360, of which number 165 ai^e
still in connection with it. The church now numbers 172 members.

The following is a list of those who have held the office of deacon
in town :

Joseph Ephraim, Ebenezer Felch, Nathaniel Chickering, Micah
Whitney, John Jones, Nathaniel Mann, Abel Perry, William Good-
now, Oliver Bacon, WiUiam Coohdge, Samuel Fisk, John Travis
Willard A. Wight, John 0. Wilson, John J. Perry, Isaac B. Clark.

This church organized in 1802 and consisted of twenty-three mem-
bers. Freeman Sears vras the first minister ordained in the central
meeting-house. From a sermon delivered in Needham, by Rev. Mr.
Palmer, his contemporary and friend, we extract the following notice
of him :



" He was born in Harwich, in the county of Barnstable, Nov. 28,
1779. At the age of seventeen, he moved with his parents to Ash-
field, in the county of Hampshire. About this time his mind became
seriously impressed by a sense of his danger while destitute of an
interest in Christ, and in the course of this year he was enabled to taste
and see that the Lord is gracious. In the winter of the following
year he taught school in Ashfield, and such were the serious impres-
sions upon his mind that his youthful diffidence did not prevent him
from praying morning and evening at his school. At the age of
nineteen he was called to part with an elder brother. Under this
affecting bereavement he was calm and composed, and prayed with
his brother in his last moments. In the year 1800, a little before
he was twenty-one years of age, he entered Williams College, and
was graduated there in 1804. April 10, 1805, he was licensed to
preach ; and January 1, 1806, he was ordained pastor of the church
and society in Natick.

Though he had a weak and slender constitution, yet he was ena-
bled, in general, to perform the duties of his pastoral office till the
latter part of the year 1810, when his health became essentially
impaired. His complaints were consumptive, and began to assume
an alarming aspect. In this critical situation his physicians ad-
vised him to go to a warmer chmate as the only probable means of

Accordingly in the month of December he sailed for Savannah,
in Georgia, where he arrived and spent the following winter. During
his absence from his family he found many kind and generous friends
who administered to his necessities. He was a stranger, and they
took him in ; sick, and they visited him.

Their acts of kindness made a grateful impression on his mind.
But though these kind attentions were soothing to his feelings, yet
his health was not restored, but seemed to decline. Still, however,
he indulged the hope that he should be able to return to his family
and friends, whom he wished again to see.

Accordingly about the first of April he left Savannah with a view
of revisiting his distant home, and concluded to return by land. He
was weak and debilitated, and the journey was long and fatiguing.
But through divine goodness he was enabled to accomplish his object,
and on the 2d of June he arrived at Natick.

He was now in a very low and reduced sta From his extreme


debilitated and emaciated appearance it was matter of surprise to his
friends, that he should be able to complete his journey. After his
return he continued gradually to languish till the 30th of June,
when he expired. On the 3d of July, his remains were respect-
fully interred at Natick, at which time a sermon adapted to the occa-
sion was delivered by Rev. Dr. Bates, of Dedham."

The following is extracted from the notice of him by Rev. Mr.
Palmer, of Needham :

" He died in the thirty-third year of his age and sixth of his min-
istry. This was not only an affecting loss to his family and people,
6ut to the public. His talents were respectable, his elocution was
pleasing, and from early life he was exemplary and distinguished for
his piety. He was however permitted to remain but a little while in
the vineyard of Christ, before he was called, in the judgment of
charity, to receive the reward, not of a long, but useful life. From
the bright prospect that he had of entering at so early an hour into
the joy of his Lord, the language of his departure seemed to be
* Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves
and your children.' Not only for ourselves and our children, but for
the interests of Zion we then had and still have occasion to weep.
He was dear to me, and in a feeling manner I am still constrained to
say, 'Alas ! my brother.' "

The following is believed to be the only production of his pen
which survives him ; and although it was not a professional perform-
ance, yet as it possesses throughout the spirit of Christianity, and
carries us back to the manner of celebrating the nation's birthday at
the commencement of the present century, it is thought not to be out
of place in the ecclesiastical history of this town. It deserves to be
preserved, not only as presenting an example of the style of Mr.
Sears, but for its intrinsic merit as presenting true ideas of the nature
of our government and of the duties of the American citizen and
soldier. Citizens still living well remember the occasion on which it
was delivered. The officers of the regiment were present, and the
military company in uniform, the tunes played by the band, as early
in the morning they escorted the company along the Common, and
the song sung by tl^p choir :

" Hail to the morning, the day-star of glory !
Hail to the banners by freedom unfurled !
Thrice hail the victors, the freemen of story,
Liberty's boast and the pride of the world ! "



Next to the concerns of eternity the interests and prosperity of our
country demand attention. The speaker to-day must descend from
subjects of the first to those of a secondary nature, and Avitness, ye
walls and thou sacred desk, that nothing be suggested, nothing be
transacted incompatible with the Christian character. The leading
subjects of this day then will be finite subjects, but they are suffi-
ciently large to fill finite minds. View an extensive country of
upwards a thousand miles square. See this large territory over-
spread with at least six millions of human beings, all pleading the
rights and privileges of men, all desirous of personal happiness and
freedom, and you are presented with subjects of no small magnitude.
Fellow citizens, let our reflections be profitable, seasoned with
decency and gratitude suitable to the occasion on which we have
convened. In aiding your thoughts relative to the concerns of our
country, I purpose in some measure to forget the things that are
behind, and look forward to those which are before. The rise and
progress of our country, the unparalleled conflicts of our fathers, the
unwarrantable subjugation of these colonies, the breaking asunder of
the British yoke, and the declaration of the independence of America
present a noble and pleasing theme. But though less pleasing, it
may be more profitable to inquire in what our independence consists,
and how it may be transmitted to the latest posterity. To review
our national affairs from 1776 to 1809 would create in the breasts of
men different emotions, and present to the eye of the beholder a
checkered scene. The hand of time has passed over them. They
are marked for the historian's page, and there for the present we shall
let them rest. Something more important commands our attention
than either to comment or animadvert upon past scenes. The present
and future glory of our country, the equitable form of government
under which we live, and the transmitting this invaluable legacy to
generations yet unborn are no mean, no puerile subjects. Be this
then our theme, — A brief account of the government under which
we live, and how this may be preserved and handed down inviolate
to posterity.

On this day of general independence, and in the prosecution
of this subject, the speaker wishes to indulge a suitable degree of


independence himself. Not that he feels disposed to wound either of
the contending parties, unless they voluntarily step into his way to
impede his course. While pursuing the subject in hand, he wishes
to pass over the whimsical politics of the day, as you would pass over
the dust in the street when in pursuit of a rich pearl. That some
kind of government is necessary in this fallen world, experience and
facts demonstrate ; to attempt to live without it might be pleasing in
theory, but horrible in practice. The great query then is, What gov-
ernment is best ? The answer is at hand. That which will afford the
greatest degree of liberty, and at the same time effectually guard
life, character, property and order.

All power, whether in despotic, aristocratical or republican gov-
ernments, is originally vested in the people. They, naturally, are
the executive, legislative and judiciary authority. All men come
into the world equal upon the footing of natural rights. Notwith-
standing this, individuals may act in a legislative capacity, and their
transactions be binding on generations to come. The two great
extremes of government are those of perfect despotism and complete
democracy. The former supposes the individuals to have given up
all their natural rights into the hands of one man, whose will is ever to
constitute their law ; the latter, is where the people retain all their
natural rights, and have given none of them to any man or set of
men. A mean between these two extremes is the government of
America, approximating, perhaps, nearer the latter than the former.
Part of our national rights we give to individuals, for a limited time,
for one, two, four and six years ; at the expiration of which periods
we come in possession of them again, and as before are at liberty to
give them to whom we will, provided the person or persons possess
certain general qualifications. These men thus elected by the
majority of suffrages, are vested with the supreme authority of the
land for the time being. They are, however, in no case, to act
repugnant to the Federal Constitution, which has been adopted and
sanctioned by at least seven-eighths of the nation. When intrusted
with the helm of government, they are not authorized to shape their
course wheresoever their fanciful notions dictate, but invariably to
steer the political ship by this national chart. If, in pursuing stead-
fastly this course, they providentially dash the ship in pieces, they
ought not, they cannot be blamed. But if, in trying experiments
repugnant to the Constikition, they make shipwreck of our liberties,
the curse of millions may justly come upon them-


Our national government consists of three independent branches,
all props and helps to each other, all designed to support the fabric.
It may properly be called a Federal Republican Government. The
first of these terms aptly represents the condition of the States. Our
national constitution is denominated the Federal Constitution, because
it unites in one compact body a number of smaller bodies ; like the
planets in the solar system, all complete in themselves, yet subject
harmoniously to revolve around their common centres.

The term republican is significant of our right of election, liberty
of acting for ourselves. It supposes every citizen possessing the sum
of .£60, whatever his profession or occupation in life may be*, at per-
fect liberty to act for himself in the choice of men to rule over him.
Whoever shall attempt to deprive an individual or any class of legal
citizens of the right of suffrage, may justly be considered defective in
his republican principles.

The government of America, though it may not be perfect, is
undoubtedly the best now in the world. Various have been the forms
of republican government heretofore, but none of them exactly upon
our plans. Whether ours, on the whole, will prove better than theirs,
time alone must determine.

The gazing world is now looking to America to see whether she
will maintain her liberties. So long as this is the case the kingdoms
of Europe will envy our happiness ; but should we, like the republics
of old, fall into the gulf of anarchy or despotism, they will laugh at
our folly. At present, fellow citizens, we possess an admirable form
of government, — a government which unites energy with mildness,
liberty with security, and freedom with order : one friendly to the
arts and sciences, to the accumulation of property, and the enlarge-
ment of the human mind ; — a government designed to reward genu-
ine merit, wherever found, by the richest of her gifts.

Such is the independence we celebrate ; such are the liberties pur-
chased with the price of blood. Americans, are they worth preserv-
ing ? if so, you will lay aside your prejudices and carefully attend
to the necessary requisitions.

How shall the rights, liberties and independence of America be
transmitted to future generations ? A question noble in itself,
deserving the attention of every statesman and patriot. We shall
now present a number of props without which this beautiful
fabric must fall, with which it may be supported.


Kno^Yletlge and information disseminated among the people is one
essential requisite to our preservation. The human mind unculti-
vated is prepared for nothing but either mean submission, or bloody
revenge and hostility. The ignorant negroes of the South, mere
vassals of burden, at one time received the goad more patient than
the ox : at another, with anger flaming into rage, they rise and
massacre all their lords, — a just portrait of man in the rubbish of
nature. The uncivilized tribes of Africa, the barbarous Turks, the
uncultivated Tartars, in their present degraded state, could no more
adopt and preserve a republican government, than the vegetable
kingdom could arise and come to maturity without the light of the
sun. Instances might be cited to prove the fact. Experiments of
this kind have been tried, but they have ever proved abortive. Vain
and preposterous is it for us to dream of existing as an independent
republic, unless we pay special attention to the general diffusion of
knowledge. Gross ignorance and freedom were never formed for
companions ; they will not live together. Our youth should be early
taught the value of a well-cultivated mind, and our riper years ought
not to scorn the voice of instruction. Americans, what you give for
the education of your children is money at interest, for the benefit of
your country, the preservation of your liberties. Here, to their honor
be it spoken, some of the States, particularly those of Connecticut and
Massachusetts, have not been dilatory in their exertions. They
have, in some measure, paid that attention to the general diflfusion of
knowledge, which its high importance in a political view demands.

Next to education we mention a free, open, and manly discussion
of all political subjects, as being highly conducive to the preservation
of our country. By this I do not mean newspaper slander, defama-
tion, or libelling of churches ; I do not mean the petty disputes of the
bar-room, or the fanatic resolves of caucuses. These, like so many
canker worms, are incessantly devouring the tree of liberty. But I
do mean that our national and state cabinets should ever be frank,
open and manly in all their deliberations, that every important sub-
ject may be scanned by sound argument and weighed by the whole
legislature in the balance of truth. Business which belongs to the
whole legislature ought not to be transacted by a few individuals in
secret conclave. The very idea of secrecy in public matters creates
jealously, and jealousy, you know, hath an inventive genius. She
can portray a hideous monster and imagine it real. In order to pre-


vent jealousy, surmises and hard speeches, let public business be
transacted in open day, and in the presence of all concerned. Rea-
son, good sense and sound argument, are the only sufficient -weapons
to be used in a republican government. We may unsheathe the sword
to meet a foreign foe, but domestic armies ought, if possible, to be
conquered by sound argument. An appeal to arms for the purpose of
enforcing laws or quelling insurrections is veVy dangerous ; it may and
must be done when no other expedient will answer ; but never ought
it to be until the very last drop is exhausted from the cup of reconcilia-
tion. Whenever a people so pervert their reason as to sacrifice their
good sense and sound argument upon the shrine of passion and party
feeling, their liberties and independence are on the verge of destruc-
tion. Americans ! if we will not be governed by good sense, we can-
not be governed in a republic. It is a melancholy truth that men,
both in politics and religion, are often governed more by their feel-
ings than they are by reason and argument. Everything said and
done must be brought to the test of this governing principle, viz.,
inclination. Should they happen to agree with this, they pass cur-
rent ; otherwise, they are condemned as counterfeit. Let people
erect for their standard good sense, and we are ever ready to con-
verse with them. Till then, reasonable things are as liable to be
cast away, as those which are perfectly unreasonable. It is to be
expected in this fallible world that people of sense will see things in a
different light. It is nothing strange that our legislature should be
divided in opinion. What then ? Shall we load each other w^ith infamy,
or, like the people of the Dark Ages, determine which is right by force
of arms, or by single combat ? No ; rather let us decide by the
sword of truth, reason, and argument. Let our legislature wield
these weapons, open, manly, and let the people judge which can han-
dle them best. Let the great body of the people carefully peruse
these debates, say less, think more, and at the proper time act wise.

Another preservative of a republican government is a strict and
prompt attention to all its laws.

We cannot expect to exist as an independent people unless wo
submit to the powers that be, and lend our aid to the support of law-
ful authority. Those laws that are injudicious and oppressive, must
be obeyed until they are repealed, and this redress must come through
the agency of the authority which imposes the grievance, or else we
subvert the government. Even those laws which are considered by


some unconstitutional, must be observed until this unconstitutionality
is pointed out, and publicly declared by some authority adequate to
the purpose, else vfe open a door for individuals to object to any
law, however pacific or wise.

The speaker is not advocating mean submission to hostile and
unconstitutional laws, but he is advocating manly submission, the
American submission.

Again, order, virtue, and religion, constitute another prop to sup-
port a free government, the most essential of any that has been enu-
merated. Fellow citizens ! you have often heard that without reli-
gion a free government cannot long exist. This is no novel idea,
therefore the danger of not giving it its full weight. It is not my
business at present to speak of religion as it respects the salvation of
the country. There is a near and inseparable connection between
religion and government.

This sentiment is not a whimsical and sacrilegious notion of the
clergy, invented for bad and selfish purposes, but it is founded in the
very nature of things. Ye cannot overturn it unless ye overturn
the whole system of good sense and experience. With equal pro-
priety might we attempt to separate time from eternity, or man from
his Maker, as a republican government entirely from religion. Take
away the sacredness of an oath, all expectation of future rewards
and punishments, break up all religious order in towns and societies,
let it become a common sentiment " that death is an eternal sleep,"
that there is no God who takes cognizance of the conduct of men,
that it is no matter how people act if they can only escape human
tribunals, and you take away the very life and soul of a republic.
It falls as naturally as the body will when the breath is gone. The
most celebrated lawgivers, both of ancient and modern date, bear
testimony to this truth. Llackstone, Vattel and Priestley, in their
learned and admirable treaties on the general nature of government
say, that " virtue and religion are the bases of a republican

Need there be any additional evidence to substantiate the proposi-
tion ? I turn you to the most famous republic of Athens, a city
celebrated for its philosophy and knowledge of the arts and sciences,
but depraved in heart and life, boldly denying the true God, which
was the procuring cause of its destruction.

But why go so far back when the same truth is demonstrated by


a farcical and horrid scene recently passed before the eyes of the
world ? The scene is too much to the present purpose to escape un-
noticed. It presses itself upon us. Behold and tremble ! Soon after
the independence of America the kingdom of France caught the
flame of liberty. The fire spread from city to city, from heart to
heart. They erected the guillotine, slew all the royal family, from
the king on the throne to the smiling infant at the breast. Thousands
of her countrymen shaved the same fate, till their blood crimsoned
the ground and nauseated the air. And why this unprecedented
effusion of her country's blood? It was to open the door for the
millennium of freedom. Liberty and Equality became the burden of
their song. At length they were ready to adopt a republican
government. They collected the materials and reared the beautiful

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Online LibraryOliver N BaconA history of Natick, from its first settlement in 1651 to the present time; with notices of the first white families, and also an account of the centennial celebration, Oct. 16, 1851, Rev. Mr. Hunt's address at the consecration of Dell Park cemetery, &c. .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 7 of 22)