Robert Randall McLeod.

The articles of faith and covenant of the First Church in Newton : with a list of its members online

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3 1833 01811 4808






Jfirst €\\\xt\i h Uetolon,




No. 11 Milk Street.

18 5 9.


The First Church in Newton having voted to
publish a new list of its members, and a revised form
of its Confession of Faith and Covenant, it has been
thought desirable to connect with it a brief sketch of
its origin and historjr, God has given it a long
experience of his goodness, and has favored it from
time to time with "rain from Heaven and fruitful

It is matter of regret that so few mementos of
.its early pastors remain to it. It should carefullj
preserve what it has, that both present and future
generations may " remember those who have spoken
unto it the word of God," and follow their faith.

At the time of the formation of this Church, in
1664, Newton was a part of Cambridge, and bore
the name of Cambridge Village. The original name
of the whole district now occupied by Cambridge,
Newton, and portions of other towns adjoining, was
New Town. At the time of the founding of Har-
vard College, in 1638, this name was changed to
Cambridge. The part of the toAvn which lay on the


south side of Charles river, aiid which is now New-
ton and Brighton, was known by the Indian name
Nonantum. Keligious meetings began to be held on
this side of the river, in 1654, from which time
Nonantum was called Cambridge Village. It bore
this name until 1679, when it was set off from Cam-
bridge and organized as an independent town. It
was then called New Cambridge, until 1691, when
it resumed the origmal name. New ToAvn, which was
gradually altered to Newtown and Newton.

In 1656 the inhabitants of Cambridge Village
had become so numerous as to form a distinct con-
gregation for public worship. There Avas a hall in
the house of Edward Jackson, which stood near the
present dividing line between Newton and Brighton,
in which their meetings may have been held.

Their first meeting-house was built in 1660, in
the old burial place, on the spot now occupied by the
monument erected to the first settlers of the town.
In the year following they were released from pay-
ing church rates to Cambridge. They were organ-
ized as a distinct Church, July 20,* 1664, during

* All the dates previous to 1752, in this sketch, are understood to be given
in Old Style. They may be reduced to New Style by dating ten days later any
event which occurred in the nth century, and by dating eleven days later any
event in the I8tli century. E. G July 20, l(i(i4, O. S., is July 30, 16B4, N. S., and
Nov. 3, 1714, O. S., is Nov. 14, 1714, N. S. The true anniversary of the forma-
tion of this Church, is July 30, and not Aug. 1, as it has hitherto been written.


the ministry of Mr. Mitchell, the second pastor of
the Shepard Church, in Cambridge, and were prop-
erly a colony from that Church, though a consider-
able number were from other neighboring churches.
The congregation was composed of about thirty
fomilies, and the Church of about eighty members,
forty male and forty female.

On the same day Mr. John Eliot, Jr., son of
the celebrated "Apostle Eliot," was ordained as its
pastor. He had taken his degree at Cambridge, in
1656, and began to preach in 1658. In Jackson's
History of Newton, from which many of the facts
here presented are gathered, it is said to be " proba-
ble that he supplied the pulpit of the new meeting-
house in the village, much of the time previous to
his ordination." In the Dorchester Church records
it is stated that " Thomas Wiswall was dismissed
from the Dorchester Church, June 5, 1664, for the
beginning of a Church in Cambridge Village, where
Mr. John Eliot doth 'preach.''''

From this it appears that he was preacher to the
people of Cambridge Village for some time before
his ordination. The pastors of the Dorchester and
Roxbury Churches, Rev. Richard Mather, and
Rev. John Eliot, the father of the pastor elect,
were present at the ordination. The young pastor,


then nearly twenty-eight years of age, had before
him but a brief career. After a ministry of a little
more than four years, he died October 11, 1668,
aged thirty-two, and was buried within a few feet of
the pulpit where he preached. He died greatly
lamented, both by his own people and by the In-
dians of Stoughton and Natick, to whom he often
preached. Cotton Mather says of him, "He bore
his father's name, and had his father's grace. He
was a person of notable accomplishments, and a
lively, zealous, acute preacher, not only to the En-
glish at New Cambridge, but also to the Indians

Dissensions arose in the church after the death of
Mr. Eliot, and it was more than six years before
another minister was settled. This was Mr. Nehe-
MIAH HoBART, graduate of Harvard College, and
son of the Rev. Mr. Hobart, of Hingham. He was
ordained December 23, 1674. He had, however,
preached to the people two and a half years before
he was settled, during which time he succeeded in
healing the dissensions and restoring harmony.
Hence he was called "the repairer of breaches."

Dr. Homer accounts for the long delay of his
ordination, on the ground of his connection with the
college as a fellow and tutor.


Soon after the settlement of Mr. Hobart, the
meeting-house was repaired and enlarged. Thus
improved, it continued to serve the congregation
until the year 1698, Avhen a new meeting-house was
erected "on the westerly side of Dedham road,"
opposite the burial place, and very near the spot
where Mr. Colby's house now stands. From a
record made nineteen years after this, we learn that
the old meeting-house (the first) was still standing.

Mr. Ilobart died Aug. 25, 1712, in the 64th year
of his age, having preached in the town a little more
than forty years. The length of his ordained min-
istry Avas thirty-seven years and eight months. His
epitaph in Latin, is translated by Dr. Homer as
follows : —

" In this tomb are deposited the remains of tlie
reverend and very learned teacher of divinity, Ne-
hemiah Hobart, an estimable fellow of Harvard
College, a highly faithful and watchful pastor of the
Church of Newton, for forty years. His singular
gravity, humility, piety, and learning, rendered him
the object of deep veneration and ardent esteem to
men of science and religion."

After the death of Mr. Hobart, the Church was a
little more than two years without a minister, when
Mr. John Cotton, graduate of Harvard, great


grandson of the celebrated Rev. John Cotton, of
Boston, was ordained, Nov. 3, 1714.

Measures soon began to be taken for the building
of a third meeting-house, to occupy a position more
central to the parish. The site of the present meet-
ing-house was chosen, a house erected and ready for
use upon Sabbath, Nov. 5, 1721, when the first
meeting was held in it, and a discourse preached by
Mr. Cotton, from 1st Kings, 6 : 11, 12, 13.

The second house Avas sold and removed to

Two revivals occurred during Mr. Cotton's minis-
try; one in 1727-8-9, Avhen fifty were added to
the church, in the space of four months; one in
1740-1-2, when one hundred and four were added
to the church, in the space of ten months. This
was in the time of the great awakening which was
felt throughout New England, in the time of Ed-
wards and Whitefield.

A few years after this, Nov. 8, 1748, Whitefield
preached in this town "before crowded and attentive
audiences." Twenty- two years after, he preached
here again, Sept. 2'0, 1770, in the time of Mr.
Meriam. It is not known that his visits to Newton
produced any very powerful impression.

Mr. Cotton died May 17, 1757, in the 64th year


o£ his age, after a ministry of fortj-two and a half
years. The following is a part of Dr. Homer's
translation of his epitaph : —

' ' Here lies the mortal part of the Rev. and truly
veneral)le John Cotton, lately the very faithful,
prudent and skilful pastor of the Church of Newton.
He Avas eminent for the faculty of praying and
preaching, was respected for his piety, and held in
high and universal esteem for his pure and attractive
virtues. His loss is especially deplored by his flock,
to whom, even dead, he ceases not to preach."

Before the close of the year in Avhicli Mr. Cotton
died, Mr. Jonas Meriam, a graduate of Harvard,
Avas chosen to be his successor. He was ordained
March 22,- 1758, and was the fourth and last min-
ister that was settled by the whole toAvn.

In 1770 ^Ir. jNIeriam's house was burned, and
■ AAuth it the church records, by which much of the
early history of this ancient church Avas irrecover-
ably lost.

Mr. Meriiim died Aug. 13, 1780, at the age of
fifty, having preached in NcAvton tAventy-two years
and four months. His remains AA'ere conveyed to a
tomb belonging to the family of Mrs. Meriam, of
Boston. There is, hoAvever, in the bu.rying ground
an inscription to his memory, prepared by Dr.


Homer, and placed upon the same stone which
commemorates Mr. Hobart. It describes him as
" learned, mild, benevolent, and an example of

The space of a year and six months intervened
between the ministry of Mr. Meriam and that of
Mr. Homer. During this interval, in Oct. 1781,
twenty-five members of this Church, twelve male
and thirteen female, were dismissed to form the West
Parish Church.

The following year, February 13, 1782, Mr.
Jonathan Homer, native of Boston, graduate of
Harvard, was ordained as successor to Mr. Meriam.

A new meeting-house (the fourth) was dedicated,
Thursday, Nov. 21, 1805. The third house had
been occupied eighty-four years.

A powerful revival occurred during the ministry
of Dr. Homer, in 1827, in which year seventy-two
persons were added to the Church by profession,
many of them heads of families.

From the year 1824, and onward, Dr. Homer
was for many years engaged in an unwearied and
enthusiastic study of the principal English transla-
tions of the Bible. His aim was to improve the
text of the common version. This he critically
compared with the text of Tyndale, Coverdale,


Rogers, the Cranmer Bible, the Genevan Bible, the
Bishops' Bible, and with the Hebrew and Greek
originals. It was his intention to publish a history
of the English versions of the Bible from that of
Wjcliffe to that of 1611. He was eminently quali-
fied for such an undertaking. The late Prof. B. B.
Edwards, of Andover, speaks (Bib. Repos. Oct.
1835) of the "long and indefatigable attention"
which Dr. Homer had given to this subject, and
adds, ''he is more intimately acquainted with it
than any other individual in the country."

Th« pastoral relation between Dr. Homer and this
Church, was dissolved April 17, 1839,, after having
existed fifty-seven years and two months. He lived
after this a little more than four years, receiving an
annual stipend from the church and society, and
occasionally performing some ministerial labor. He
died Aug. 11, 1843, aged 84, having been an or-
dained minister sixty-one years and a half. The
following is the inscription upon his monument : —

' ' Erected by his congregation as a grateful tribute
to the many virtues of a devoted pastor, who watched
over them with tender interest. Christian diligence,
and parental affection, more than sixty years."

During the last eleven years and a half, nearly,
of Dr. Homer's active ministry, the Rev. James


Bates was associated with him as colleague pastor.
Mr. Bates was ordained November 14, 1827, and
continued his labors until April 17, 1839 ; his pas-
toral relation and that of Dr. Homer being dissolved
on the same day.

Under their united ministry an extensive revival
was enjoyed, in the years 1831-2. There were
received into the Church, in 1832, sixty-five by
profession and eleven by letter.

More than a year of the time between the dismis-
sion of Mr. Bates and the installation of his successor,
the pulpit was supplied by the Bev. S. S. Smith.

Rev. William Bushnell was installed May 24,
1842, and resigned December 13, 1846. During
his ministry the Church sent out its second colony,
June 18, 1845, to ' form the Eliot Church, at
Newton Corner. Ten males and twenty females
were dismissed for this purpose.

After the resignation of Mr. Bushnell, the Church
remained without a pastor one year, within which
time a new meeting-house (the fifth) was completed
and dedicated. It stands in the position of the two
preceding structures, on the spot which has now
been a place of worship one hundred and thirty-
eight years. It was dedicated March 24, 1847, and
has been in use twelve years.


Mr. D. L. FuRBER was ordained Dec. 1, 1847,
and is the present pastor.

The meeting-house was enlarged and a new vestry
built in the latter part of the year 1854.

It will be seen that this Church has had an organ-
ized existence of nearly one hundred and ninety-five
years. It has had eight pastors. The intervals of time
in which it has been without a minister amount to only
about twelve years. Nearly the same length of time
it had two associated ministers. So that the aggre-
gate term of ministerial labor which it has enjoyed
would about cover the whole period of its history.

All the pastors but one received here their ordi-
nation, and this was the place of their first labors in
a settled ministry. The first five finished their
labors here, died here, and with the exception of
Mr. Meriam, already mentioned, were buried here.
"Their sepulchres are with us unto this day; " all
of them not far from the spot where the first
meeting-house stood.


No. 1,
No. 2,

built in 1660,
" " 1698,


as a plac

3 of worship 38 years.
23 "

No. 3,

" " 1721,


(1 IC

84 "

No. 4,

" " 1805,


« «

" 42 "

No. 5,

" " 1847.



Rev. John Eliot, Jr.,

ord. July 20. 1664, died Oct. 11


Rev. Neiiemiah Hobart,

" Dec. 23, 1674, '

Au,s. 25


Rev. John Cotton,

" Nov. 3, 1714, '

May 17


Rev. Jonas Merfam,

" Mar. 22, 17.=i8, '

Aug. 13


Rev. Jona. Homer, D. D.,

" Feb. 13, 1782, '

Aug. 1 1


Rev. Jas. Bates, (CoU'fiue

)" Nov. 14, 1827,res'd Apr. 17

1 839.

Rev. Wm. Bushnell, installed May 24, 1842, '

Dec. 13


Rev. Daniel L. Furber

ordained December 1, 1847.


Thomas Wiswall, Rulin<,

Elder, chosen 1664, died 1683,

ige —

John Jackson, Sen.,


" 1674,

" —

Samuel Hyde, Sen.,

" 1664,

" 1689,

" 79

Isaac Williams,

" 1707,

" 69

James Trowbridge,

" 1717,

" 81

Edward Jackson, Jr.,

" 1707,

" 1727,

" 75

Thomas Oliver,

" 1707,

" 171.5,

" 70

Richard Ward,

" 1739,

" 73

John Staples,

" 1740,

" 82

William Trowbridge,

" 1744,

" 60

Ebenezer Stone,

" 1754,

" 92

John Stone,

" 1769,

" 76

John Clark,

" 1773,

'■ —

Ephraim Ward,

« 1772,

" 69

Thomas Greenwood,

" 1774,

" 78

John Woodward,

" 1801,

" 76

David Stone,

" 1802,

" 74

Jonas Stone,

" 1804,

" 82

Ebenezer Woodward,

" 1806,

" 49

Samuel Murdock,

" 1814,

" 62

Jeremiah Wiswall, chosen Sept. 21, 1798,

" 1836,

" 76

Ebenezer White,

" June 11, 1815,

" 1853,

" 87

Elijah F. Woodward,

" June 11, 1815,

" 1846,

" 60

William Jackson,

" Feb. 15, 1828,

" 1855,

" 71

Luther Paul,

« Aug. 24, 184.'),

Asa Cook, .

« June 10, 1846,

^tcfcsiastical IJiincipIcs anb |iuks.

1. This Church claims the right of self gov-
ernment, and holds itself amenable to no other
ecclesiastical body, except by its own consent, in
accordance with the established usage of Congrega-
tional churches.

2. This Church Avill extend to other evangelical
churches and receive from them that fellowship,
advice, and assistance which the laws of Christ

3. The stated officers of the Church shall be the
Pastor or Pastors of the Church, and Deacons.
There shall also be a Standing Committee, Clerk,
and Treasurer.

4. The Standing Committee shall consist of the
Pastor, Deacons, and three other members of the

5. It shall be the duty of the Standing Com-
mittee to examine all candidates for admission to the


Church, and to present to the Church the names of
such as thej approve, at the same time giving some
account of their examination, or reading a written
statement of personal religious history and expe-
rience prepared by the candidates.

6. The approved candidates may be received by
vote of the Church, on the condition of their signing
its articles of Faith and Covenant, and giving a
public assent to the same at the time of their admis-
sion. They shall stand publicly propounded two

7. It shall be the duty of the Treasurer to take
charge of all monies belonging to the Church, and
of all collections for religious and charitable objects,
and make a written report of the same at the an-
nual meeting.

8. It shall be the duty of the Clerk to record the
doings of the Church at its business meetings, to
record the names of the children baptized, with the
date thereof; and at the annual meeting present a
written report on the state of the Church, and its
history during the previous year, including an ac-
count of members received, dismissed, deceased, and


9. The annual meeting of the Church shall be
held on the last Thursday evening in December.

10. The Clerk, Treasurer, Standing Committee,
and Superintendent of Sabbath School, shall be
chosen by ballot at the annual meeting. Their term
of office shall extend from the first of January to
the last day of December, or until a new election, in
case of any flulure to elect at the annual meeting.

11. All meetings for business shall be opened
■with prayer.

12. A monthly Church meeting for religious
conference and prayer, shall be held on the third
Thursday evening preceding the preparatory lecture,
and at the corresponding time in the months in
which the lecture does not occur. At this meeting
the Church may act on the reception or dismission
of members, and any suitable business may be

13. The ordinance of the Lord's Supper shall be
celebrated on the afternoon of the first Sabbath in
January, and of every second month following.
The preparatory lecture will be held on the Friday


14. The Standing Committee shall meet on the
second Tuesday evening of each month, for the
examination of candidates, and the transaction of
any other appropriate business.

15. This Church regards it an important part of
Church duty to aid in sending the Gospel through
the world, and believes it to be the duty of every
church member to contribute, from time to time, as
the Lord has prospered him, for the support of the
religious charities of the day.

16. It is the duty of church members to attend
such stated meetings as are appointed by vote of the
Church, unless providentially prevented.

IT. Any member having cause of complaint
against another, should immediately seek to have
it removed in a Christian manner, according to the
directions in Matthew 18 : 15, 16.

18. The following are the offences which are
subject to the censure of the Church, viz. : immoral
conduct, breach of express covenant vows, neglect of
acknowledged religious or relative duties, and avowed
disbelief of the Articles of Faith to which the mem-
bers have assented.


19. The censures inflicted on offenders, are
private reproof, public admonition, or excommunica-
tion, according to the aggravation of the offence.

20. Members of this Church removing their
place of worship, shall obtain a dismission from this
and a recommendation to the Church with which
they worship, within one year from the time of such
change, unless reasonable excuse be rendered for
their neglect.

21. When any member of a sister church shall
statedly worship and commune with this Church for
more than one year without removing his relation to
us, it shall be the duty of the Clerk to notify the
Church of which he is a member, of that fact.

22. It shall be the duty of the Standing Com-
mittee, together with the Superintendent of the
Sabbath School, to attend to the condition of the
Sunday School Library, and to select, recommend
and purchase library books and question books, from
time to time, as may be necessary for the use of the



Beloved Friends : —

You have now presented yourselves before God
and this assembly, to make a solemn profession of
your faitli, and to enter into an everlasting Covenant
with God and his people. We trust you have well
considered the nature of the engagements into which
you are about to enter, and that you are prepared by
divine grace to give yourselves away as a living
sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God through Jesus

You will now attend to the Confession of Faith.



We believe that there is one God, the Creator
and Preserver of the Universe, infinite in all natural
and moral perfections.

Isa. 44: 6, I.e. 45: 5. Mark 12: 29. 1 Cor. 8: 4, 1. c—
Gen. 1: 1, 27. Neh. 9: 6. Ps. 33: 6, 9. Ps. 102: 25.
148: 5. Rev. 4: 11. — Neh. 9: 6. Ps. 36 : 6. 1. c. Heb.


1: 3. — Ps. 90: 2. Eom. 1 : 20. 1 Tim. 6: 16. Rev. 1:
4. Ps. 33: II. Mai. 3: 6. Heb. 13: 8. Jas. 1: 17. — Gen.
17: I. Jor. 32: 17. Rev. 1: 8. 19: 6. — Ps. 147: 5. Prov.
15: 3. Rom. 11: 33, 34. Col. 2: 3. — Ps. 145: 17. Isa. 6:
3 — Deut. 32: 4. Ps. 92: 15. Ps. 119: 137. Rev. 15: 3.—
Ps. 33: 5. Ps. 119: 68. — Ex. 34: 6. Ps. 145: 8. Eph. 2:
4. — Num. 23: 19. Ps. 146: 6.


That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testa-
ments were given by inspiration of God, and are the
only sufficient rule of religious faith and practice.

Jno. 14: 26. 1 Cor. 2: 13. Gal. 1: 11, 12. 2 Tim. 3:
16. 2 Peter, 1 : 25. — Gal. 1:8. 2 Peter, 1 : 19.


That God is revealed in the Scriptures as the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and that
these three are one, and in all the attributes of
Godhead equal.

Matt. 28: 19. 2 Cor. 13: 14. — Jno. 10: 30, 33. 14: 9.
(C. Jno. 1: 13. 3: 5.) Acts 5 : 3, 4. 1 Cor. 8 : 4, 1. c.—
Phil. 2: 6. Jno. 5 : 18. — Isa. 9 : 6. Jno. 1 : 1. 20:28. Rom.
9: 5. Heb. 1:8. 1 Jno. 5: 20. (C. Isa. 6:3, 5, 10. Jno.


12: 40, 41.) — Jno. 1 : 3. 2:24,25. 21:17. (C. Rev. 2:23.
Jer. 17: 10.) Acts 1: 24. Col. 1: 16, 17. Heb. 1: .3, 10.
Rev. 1: 8. Matt. 18: 20. 28: 20. — Jno. .5: 23. 20: 28.
Acts 7: 59, 60. Rom. 10: 9-14. 2 Cor. 12: 8, 9. Phil. 2:
10, 11. Heb. 1 : 6. Rev. 5: 11-14.


That God governs all things according to his
sovereign and eternal purpose, yet in such a manner
as not to impair the freedom of man or his accounta-
bility for all his actions.

Isa. 46: 10. Dan. 4: 35. Matt. 11 : 25, 26. Rom. 9 : 15.
Eph. 1: 11. 1 Tim. 6: 15 — Ps. 110: 3. Prov. 1: 29, 30.
Isa. 44: 28. 55: 7. Ezek. 33: 11. Acts 2: 23. 4: 25-28.
27 : 24, 31. (C. Job 17 : 9. Ezek. 33: 13.) (C. Phil. 1 : 6.
Heb. 4: 11.) (C. 1 Peter 1: 5. Mutt. 24: 13.) (C. 1 Cor.
10 : 12. 10 : 13.) Jno. 6 : 37. Phil. 2 : 12, 13. 2 Pet. 1 : 10.


That our first parents fell from the state of holi-
ness in which they were created, by transgressing
the divine command ; and that in consequence of
their apostacy, all their descendants are by nature


alienated from God, and while left to themselves, do
invariably choose a life of sin.

(C. Gen. 2: 16, 17. 3: 6.) (C. Gen. 5: 3. Job 14: 4.
Jiio. 3: 6. Rom. 7: 18. 8: 7, 8.) Rom. 5: 12, 19. Eph. 2:
1, 3.— Gen. 6: 5. 8: 21. Pro%'. 1: 29,30. Jer. 17: 9. Jno.
3: 19. 5: 40. Rom. 3: 9-12, 23. 1 Jno. 5: 19.


That the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God and
man, has bj his obedience, sufferings and death,
made an atonement for sin, which is adequate to the
salvation of all men, but is effectual in the salvation
of only those who accept its provisions, by repent-


Online LibraryRobert Randall McLeodThe articles of faith and covenant of the First Church in Newton : with a list of its members → online text (page 1 of 2)