Samuel Dunham.

An historical discourse delivered at West Brookfield, Mass. (Volume 2) online

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a half, we find that whatever may be the sources of regret
as we revert to the past on this Anniversary Day, they are
far outnumbered and outweighed by the many occasions for
joy and devoutest thanksgiving to God.

This ancient Church has had its severe, though brief, trial
seasons, its short-lived days of darkness and sterility ; but it
has also had its long and happy periods of prosperity and


abundant fruitfulncss. Like the veteran soldier, not without
wounds and scars has it fought its battles and won its victo-
ries. But these visible marks of violence only make the more
clearly manifest that merciful and marvelous interposition by
which the Church has been preserved. To one baptism of
suffering, God has sent a score of the joyful baptisms of the
Holy Ghost ; so that the hearts of hundreds have here been
made to leap for joy, and their tongues loosed in the praise
of redeeming grace.

A precious, sacred trust is this, and exalted, blessed privi-
leges these, which our pious fathers have so carefully per-
petuated and handed down to us. But in proportion to the
greatness and sacredness of the blessings we have inherited
from the past, so great and solemn is our obligation to cherish
those blessings in our own day, and to deliver them over in
all their fulness to coming generations.

In view of our numerous past and present mercies, OUR
these one hundred and fifty years of Gospel privilege the
eyes of five generations of godly men look down upon us.
And upon their lips»to-day is the question, well-nigh solemn
as the eternity to which they are now mostly gone, " Will
you transmit unimpaired to posterity this noble heritage,
which, through much hard toil, and many tears and prayers,
we have committed to you?"

Yea, rather, from the bosom of eternity itself, there seems
to fall upon our ear at this memorable hour, in accents of
heavenly earnestness, the united voice of the hundreds whose
feet have reverently trod these earthly courts, but who now
walk the golden streets, saying, "Watch ye, stand fast in
tlie faith, quit you like men, be strong." " Earnestly con-


tend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
" Love this dear old Church of Christ unto the end. Stand
by her in the time of her trial. Seek her purity, her peace,
her prosperity, her continual growth. Pray that she may
keep her garments unsullied, her name without reproach, not
in the present merely, but down through the years and cen-
turies to come, until at last the Bridegroom shall ' present it
to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or
any such thing.' "

P o e 111 .



ANALYSIS. — Invocation and Gratulation — Scenery and Associations — Scenery stim,,
AND Cultivation, and Children — The Village, vtith its Walks, its Sanctuary and
Sabbaths — Moral and Industrial Habits of Society — Favorable and Beautiful
Surroundings — Former Residents and Local Attachments — Historic Reflections,
Education, etc. — Religious Usages — Excellence of Domestic Character and
Training — Worthy Ancestors and Ministers — Success of the Present Pastor —
Historic Incidents, Revivals, and their Influence, especially the Last — Afflic-
tions, Various and Personal — Fraternal Greetings — Anticipations, and Prayer
FOE Posterity.

God of eternity, whose power

Preserves us, and our fathers blest,
Be with us at this hallowed hour,

And let us in Thy presence rest.
Here would we come with praise and prayer,

Thy gracious goodness to confess,
Whose favor children's children share,

In trust Thou wilt our oftspring bless.
As pilgrims to a holy shrine,

We gather joyously to greet
Each other, as in olden time.

Thrice happy thus once more to meet.


A festival is this of years,

A jubilee of grateful kind,
Where minglings of smiles and tears

Refresh the heaven-aspiring mind.
No vain regrets or glooms we bring,

No sad remembrances of strife,
But rather one glad offering

To Him who is our spirit's life.
His may we be, a blessed band

Of brotherhood by heavenly birth.
All journeying to the better land

Whose paradise is not of earth.

Still cherish we this fiivored scene

Of toils, and friendships, griefs, and joys.
Though brighter visions intervene,

Of bliss that hath no dark alloys.
Fond memories of the past we trace,

'Mid plains, and hills, and sculptured stones,
And trees that with their grandeur grace

These sacred sites, and dear old homes.
Yon river, gentle as of yore,

Grlides peacefully towards the sea,
Repeating fondly o'er and o'er

Sweet strains of Nature's minstrelsy.
Nor less the birds that flit above,

Or skim the surface of that stream,
In warbling tones of truth and love.

Gladden the meadows fresh and green.
Yon lakelet in its beauty lies

As when our fathers dwelt around — ^

A molten mirror of the skies —

How clear, how tranquil, how profound !


Look thither, at the twilight hour,

The sunset or the moonlight scene,
And feel the pacifying power

Alluring to the world unseen.
There gaze upon the vault of night,

Whence stars look down on shadows here.
Discoursing of those realms of light

That canopy our dusky sphere.
What wondrous influences blend.

To bless the soul on heaven intent;
And pilgrims on the earth befriend

With sweet provisions for content.

Each hillside sloping towards the plain.

Has sightly homesteads nestling there.
With garden spots, and fields of grain,

And ripened fruits, all fresh and fair ;
And chubby children issuing thence.

In quest of berries or of flowers,
Blest samples of fair innocence.

Enjoy the glad autumnal hours.
Goodness ! what glories flood the fields,

Where lawns, and groves, and orchards lie,
And every acre somehow yields

Its affluence 'neath the sunny sky !
Whose is the heart that does not rise

In gratitude to God above,
Whose favor and whose grace supplies

Such proofs of His paternal love?

Tlien look again — the village green

Smiles cheerfully the church around.
While numerous shops and dwellings seen,


Say thrift, and skill, and taste abound.
The shaded walks across the plain,

Broad avenues beside, well trod,
Are traveled not alone for gain —

All leading to the house of God.
Thither assemblies oft convene,

For praise, and preaching, and for prayer.
Where generations past have been.

In search of heavenly guidance there.
Glad voices greet the day of rest ;

Hearts weary with their worldly care.
Or sorrow-stricken and distressed,

To Zion's altars here repair.
The Comforter, the Paraclete,

Whose office is to heal the soul.
Thus meets men at the mercy-seat.

Willing and waiting to make whole.
what a balm the Sabbath brings,

To spirits seeking fresh supplies
Of holy influence at these springs.

Whose source is found in Paradise !

The week day world is tranquil here —

Of riot and of ranting void ;
Nor child nor matron need e'er fear

With violence to be annoyed ;
Save such excess as sin and crime

May bring to any spot of earth,
Where baser passions in their time

Incontinently spring to birth.
What industries are well supplied ;

What habits savoring of health ;
Not nursing indolence, or pride.


Yet nourishing the common wealth !
No ministries to public vice,

Destructive of the social weal,
Or schemes of crushing avarice.

The doings of the day reveal.
Thus labor hath its recompense,

Work of the lusty brawn or brain.
And all have healthful competence,

The landlord, and the humblest swain.

Extend the view, on either side,

Wliich trade or travel may incline.
And see the prospect opening wide,

No artist's pencil can define;
The hills ascend — their summits climb —

And gaze around where'er you stand ;
Observe what elements combine

To beautify and bless the land !
Each sunny slope, and graceful swell.

Each pasture, with its lowing herd.
Each rivulet, and mossy well,

Salutes you with a welcome word :
" Pause, pilgrim, and enjoy the sight ;

Communion hold with Nature here.
Drink in the fullness of deliglit.

Which dignifies this earthly sphere ;
Nor deem it strange that those who trod

These paths aforetime, in their prime.
Held converse witli Almighty God,

'Mid flush of scenery so smblime ! "

Yet where are they — the stalwart men —
That traversed thus these hills and plains?


Whose like we ne'er may see again,

Save as posterity remains ;
And worthy women, meek in mein,

Of aspect and of movement bland,
What wives and mothers then were seen.

The joy and glory of the land !
Daughters of Brookfield, ever fair ;

With health and energy endowed,
Domestic jewelry most rare,

Of which the dwelling may be proud.
Sisters and sons, with grateful sires,

The labors of the homestead share.
While neither to the fame aspires

Of nselessness or ennui there.
All love the country — well they may ;

Its atmosphere, its trees, its fields.
The summer and the spring so gay.

And golden fruits that autumn yields.
Here winter hath its hearty joys,

With books, and friends, and music blest,
While each his industry employs

To render happy all the rest.

Tlu'ice fifty years their course have run,

Eventful in their various date.
Since godly fathers here begun

The history we commemorate.
Scarce had fierce savages retired

From streams and grounds they loved so well,
When friendly spirits prompt aspired

In Christian fellowship to dwell.
No respite to their toils and cares,

Would those heroic men afford,


Nor ceasing from tlioir alms and prayers,

Unitedly to serve the Lord —
Till place was found for worship free,

Amid these pleasant vales and woods;
Provision for society.

Instead of wastes and solitudes.
Honor to those who sought to lay

Foundations for religion pure,
And to posterity convey

A heritage of good so sure.

Their culture of the mind, no less

Than ground that needed earnest toil.
To rescue from the wilderness.
And render it a fruitful soil,
Secured at once most constant care.

And steady exercise of skill,
The harvest wealth of soul to share,

Which was their wisdom and their will.
Thus, near the church the school-house rose,

However humble, still at hand;
As with religion learning goes.
Enriching liberally the land.
E'en then what sportive games were seen.
When children sprightly, fresh, and fair,
Tripped gaily o'er the village green.

With guileless face, and flowing hair.
The spelling-book was not forgot,

Nor Testament perchance, though rare.
As issued from their humble cot

The little groups so free from care,
To meet the Mistress of the day,

Whose smile was sure, whose word was rule


Who favored knowledge more than play,

Within her well-taught, simple school.
True, John was roguish now and then,

And James too restless to sit still,
And Mary missed her page or pen,

[Now obsolete the gray goose-quill.]
Some stolen glances, too, were paid —

Ever, of course, against the rule —
From loving youth to blushing maid.

The merest accident at school ;
Still study was the main pursuit,

Good learning and good manners taught,
The young idea how to shoot,"

Was foremost in the teacher's thought.
Slight rivalries perhaps arise.

As pupils on success intent
The head to keep, and win the prize,

Nor suffer social detriment.
These have their stimulus, to aid

The indolent in quest of lore.
Inspiring those of various grade,

To lessons never learned before.
Fond intimacies ere long grow

To richer ripeness in the heart.
Till schoolmates are constrained to show

Reluctance evermore to pai't.
These signify their several choice.

In tokens never meaningless,
Each causing other to rejoice

In wedlock sui-e their lives to bless.
The nuptials finally are sealed,

With fitting rites and general glee,
And friendly feelings are revealed


In generous liospitality.
Thus families arise and spread —

Society its ranks extends —
Though fond ones drop among the dead,

The fairest and tlie best of friends !

Yet other strains our theme requires :

Time runs too rapidly to waste ;
And we are following our sires,

In paths no more to be retraced.
They had their Sabbaths, blessed days,

And sermons from the wise and good,
Sweet seasons oft of prayer and praise,

When worldling dared not intrude.
So had they sacraments of grace,

Such as their children still sustain.
The sacred font, in time and place.

Serving the covenant the same ;
Symbol of cleansing and of cure,

Pure water sprinkled on the brow.
Doth all of simple form insure.

Availing to the service now.
Christ's table spread with bread and wine.

Choice elements, expressive still,
Perpetuates the feast divine

Of those who seek to do his will.
What numbers here have followed him,

Obedient to his blest command,
Whose spirits pure have entered in.

And joined the l)righi celestial band.
There dwell they with the sainted host.

Whose song on earth was wont to rise

To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

Jehovah great, above the skies!


Those holy men who trod these ways,

In paths of pleasantness and peace,
Whose memory we rightly praise,

Whose influence will never cease —
Well liore the burden of their day.

Working with all their might and main,
Foundations here in truth to lay,

The cause of virtue to sustain.
What care had they to leave behind,

Not lands alone, and dwellings good,
But nurture for the immortal mind,

Substantial spiritual food !
Such training children had in course.

From saintly mothers and from sires,
As told the nature and the source

Of their intense and kind desires.
Born of the Spirit from above.

And blest with teachings so divine.
It was the prompting of pure love.

To let their bright example shine.
How intimate with Heaven were they ;

How conversant with sacred truth.
Which was their study day by day.

The rule of life, the guide of youth.
Happy those homes whence daily prayer.

In grateful offering arose
To Him whose tender mercies spare.

And give at night serene repose.
What favored families were theirs,

Whose parentage .was so replete
With blessings for themselves and heirs.

Forth flowing from the mercy-seat.


Ancestral honors well \vc prize,

And social benefits no less,
From " pai-ents passed into the skies,"

Who wrought such works of righteousness.
Preachers besides, for scores of years,

Glad tidings here of grace proclaimed,
With weary watchings, toils and tears,

Of whom we need not be ashamed.
Successive pastors reverence claim,

Who fed this flock in days of yore.
Whose record is enduring fame,

To live when time shall be no more.
One still survives, whose hoary head*

It gladdens us afresh to see,
Though most are numbered w"ith the dead.

Who waited on his ministry.
His is the privilege to wait

A little longer on these shores,
Ere passing to that higher state,

Where is tlie Lamb whom he adores.
Others there are who since have stood

On Zion's walls as watchmen here,
Whose influence, however good.

It may not be their choice to hear.
These severally have sought to know

Their higli commission from above,
And clearly to the people show

The riches of eternal love.
Of God — of man — of Christ — of heaven,

They taught right tenderly, and true ;
The way to have our sins forgiven.

* Rev. Eliakim Phelps, D. D.


And to begin our lives anew.
Ah, well they harmonized in this,

What every human soul must be,
To enter through the gates of bliss,

And dwell with God eternally.
Nor less do thi'j in heart rejoice

At Zion's increase and success.
Praying with one consent and voice,

That God will still bis servant bless.
This latest leader* may ho crown

With glory's signal coronet,
When he shall lay his armor down,

With trophies at our Savior's feet.
Historic incidents we trace.

In scenes *of joyance and of grief,
As blessings have enriched the place,

Or trials called for large relief.
Seasons of grace have been enjoyed,

In measure more than we can tell,
When God and men have been employed

In saving sinful souls from hell.
The spirit hovering around,

Has startled slumberers to think.
And made them hear the dreadful sound,

As standing on that fatal brink.
Whence fierce destruction flashes wrath.

And echoes vengeance at each 'breath.
Sweeping the guilty mortal's ])ath

With warnings of eternal death !
Anon there comes a welcome voice.

Winning the trembling heart to rest,

* Rev. Samuel Dunliam.


And bids it make the bappy cboice,

And be witb grace and glory blest.
What looks of loveliness has He

Who agonized for human guilt,
And hung upon that cursed tree,

Where blood, most precious blood was spilt !
Was it for us he bled and died —

The harmless sufferer for sin —
The Son of God thus crucified

That we might endless glory win !
Then dearest service evermore,

Submission sweet, and faith, and love,
Are due to Jesus o'er and o'er.

In realms below, and realms above !
All praise to that eternal plan

Which Sovereign Goodness saw and chose,
By which to save rebellious man.

And reconcile malicious foes !
Strains such as these have often rung.

From many ransomed souls forgiven.
Whose offerings of the heart and tongue,

Have raised their incense pure to heaven.

happy hours of praise and prayer,

When converts from the world have come
Like little children, to declare,

What love divine for them hath done !
Their tongues are loosed, their lips unsealed,

Their hearts with gratitude o'erflow ;
The blessedness to be revealed.

Is such as only Christians know.
These have their sympathi(;s expressed,

In joys the stranger feeleth not,


Or anxiousness for souls distressed,

Once felt, not easily forgot.
Yet harvest times have often come.

Ingatherings of goodly grain,
To this our temporary home.

So recently refreslied again.
Thanks to the Lord whose loving power.

The blessing in advance has sent
To consecrate this festive hour

As one of mutual content.
Third jubilee of years — how blest !

The period we celebrate.
Is worthily the pilgrim's rest.

In prospect of a purer state.

Let not our lyre refuse a strain

Of plaintive melody the wliile.
Though little more of time remain

Than friendly parting with a smile.
While- Providence hath largely blest

Our various residences here,
It hath not been unbroken rest,

Void of affliction, or of fear.
No — clouds have come o'er brightest skies,

And sorrow visited each heart ;
Grave memories of giief arise,

In which we shared a mourner's part.
What shadows have each threshold crossed.

Where sunlight had been briglit before ;
What treasures have our dwellings lost.

That nought on earth can e'er restore.
Parents and children have been borne

In turn to yonder sacred spot,

103 -

Leaving more lonely ones to mourn

Sad vacancies not soon forgot.
Sisters and brothers too, how fond,

Have separated at the grave,
Not solaced with a thought beyond,

But the Redeemer's power to save.
Othei-s more dear have gone the way

"Whence no returning footsteps come ;
And widowed mourners see no day

When seems it as before at home.
How many mingle thus their tears.

O'er sorrows which each heart can feel,
That e'en the silent lapse of years

Has no effective ])Ower to heal !

The youngest from the cradle' dear.

How sadly is it laid aside
In that receptacle so drear,

Where many of its class abide.
Yet few the families exempt

From sorrow over children fled,
And silencing of merriment,

That such are numbered with the dead.
Forgive the strain, the gentle sigh,

Parental londncss, if you please.
That brings some moisture to the eye,

In sympathy with scenes like these.
Three little graves are side by side,

In yon inclosure near the gate.
With tablets severally supplied

To mark the name, the age, the date :
A sister and two brothers there,

Sleep pt^cefuUy beneath tlie sod,


In after ages to appear

Among the risen saints of God.
Our infant offspring, why deplore,

When suddenly removed from siglit?
Faith says, "Not lost, but gone before,"

To regions of celestial light.
Thither let us henceforth aspire,

With purer ardor for the prize.
All cherishing devout desii-e

To dwell witli them above the skies.

Fraternal greetings we exchange

With friendly spirits here at home,
Ingathered from an ample range.

Whence various duty calls to roam.
This mother church her children dear

Invites beneath the old rooftree,
Together thus their hearts to cheer.

And bind in bonds of charity.
Daughters of comeliness and strength,

Surround her here on every hand.
Whose goodly influence at length

Extends, how widely in the land !
E'en foreign shores are sometimes trod

By those who go far hence to teach
The lively oracles of God,

And his incarnate love to preach.
Welcome, right welcome, all who come

To celebrate this festal day.
Which calls a mother's children home.

Their grateful offerings to pay.
Yes, welcome all to this repast.

So rich in sacred memories


Well gathered from the fruitful past,

To give us plenteous supplies.
Here let the hand, the heart, the voice,

Their friendly sentiments express.
And each in other's joy rejoice,

With pure unbounded thankfulness.
Thus as the moments glide apace.

As moves the Autumn's golden sun,
No cloud shall cross our cheerful face,

Till day's delightful work is done.

What though as now no more we meet.

To take such retrospect of time —
Or gather round this sacred seat,

Where memories so sweet combine?
A larger company ere long

Will greet us on the shining shore.
And join in one triumphant song,

That there we meet to part no more !
All hail the prospect, ever bright.

Of meeting in that world above.
Where all is purity and light ;

All righteousness, and peace, and love !
Still would we breathe a fervent prayer.

That those who follow in our train
May evermore most largely share

These priceless blessings that remain.
May children's children here enjoy

Itich benefits of Gospel grace.
And mightiest energies employ

To renovate and save the race.
Thus may the blest succession run,

In ages future as tlie past ;


Nay, brighter, like the shining sun,

Each generation till the last.
Then come with joy each golden year.

To celebrate this jubilee,
Till nations shout the triumph here,

Which earth has sighed so long to see !



At a meeting of the Congregational Church in West Brookfield,
Massachusetts, held at the conclusion of the preparatory lecture, FrMay
afternoon, July 5, 1867, it was voted to celebrate the One Hundred and
Fiftieth Anniversary of the formation of the Church, to occur on
Wednesday the sixteenth day of the succeeding October ; and at the
same time the following persons were chosen a Committee to make all
necessary arrangements for the occasion, viz :

Avery Keep, John M. Fales,*

Abner C. Gleason, Raymond Cummings,

Rev. Samuel Dunham, Warren A. Blair,

Dea. Moses Hall, Charles E. Smith,

Adolphus Hamilton, Dea. Alfred White,

Sherlock D. Livermore.

In the evening of the day on which the above Committee were chosen,
they met, and organized by the choice of Rev. S. Dunham, chairman,
and S. D. Livermore, secretary, and vot-ed to submit the whole matter
of the arrangements to the consideration of a sub-committee of three,
who should report at a future meeting. Messrs. Dunham, Gleason, and
Hall were appointed to that service.

The Committee subsequently met and voted that the pastor be invited
to deliver an Historical Discourse, and to procure the writing of an
Anniversary Hymn, and a Poem.

♦Died suddenly of heart disease Friday morning after the Anniversary, Octo-
ber 18, 1867.


They also issued a circular letter, inviting former Pastors, Ministers
reared in the parish, Members and Friends of the Church generally, to
be present and participate in the exercises of the celebration.

They further determined to have a general collation, and chose a
Comtnittee on Collation, consisting of the following named gentlemen :

Edward T. Stowei.l, Dea. Samuel N. White,

William Paige, William Adams, Jr.,

Joseph E. Bailey, Warren A. Blair,

Curtis Gilbert, Lyman H. Chamberlain.

The Committee of Arrangements likewise elected John M. Fales a
Committee on Finance ; appointed the officers of the day, and prepared
the^fcder of exercises.

The Celebration fell upon the delightful season of Indian Summer,
and proved to be one of Nature's balmiest days. The occasion drew

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