William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

History of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) online

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preached on the death of his father, by the Rev. William Phipps,
who afterwards preached Archibald's ordination sermon : —

" And may a double portion of the Spirit of Wisdom and Grace rest
on that Son who has, by his Father's care and Kindness, been favored
with the Advantages of a liberal Education, and who may in due time,
if God will (according to the earnest Desire and Hope of his departed
Father), devote himself to the Service of God in the Gospel of his
Son ! And may he be a rich blessing to the Church of God in his Day ! "

Two of his brothers were not turning out well, and Archibald,
if we may judge from his father's will, was the favorite; for he
left him, in addition to one thousand pounds Old Tenor (then
worth about one hundred and thirty-three pounds, lawful money),
" my apparel of all sorts, my whole library of books, my watch,
my gold wrist-buttons, my knee and shoe buckles, and my young



black mare, to be well kept and supported on my said Farm sum-
mer and winter, cost free, when said Archibald Campbell has no
occasion to use her."

November 15, 1762, he married Hannah, daughter of Isaac
Barnard, of Sutton, Mass. Not to recognize what is implied in
the fact that this was a compulsory marriage, would be to miss
the one clew that explains much that otherwise would be unin-
telligible in the life of Mr. Campbell. But we must pass it by for
the present, as it was not known in Easton for many years after-
wards. All that was at first known was, that the Easton church
had secured the services of a young man of excellent talent and
education, who came to its ministry after a long period of discord
and strife had made every one in the parish desirous of peace.
He was well fitted to promote peace, and tradition has repre-
sented him as a man of popular gifts and affable manners.

Mr. Campbell, however, found affairs very much disorganized
in the Easton church. The church records were not to be found.
Mr. Prentice had probably carried off the records, which he be-
gan in 1747. Consequently the covenant was gone, and the
church must begin anew. A new covenant was accordingly pre-
pared and signed, — which the reader may find in the Appendix
to this History. It is noticeable that among the signers are very
! few of those who were of the Prentice party, and there are less
! than half the number who signed the covenant of 1747. Dea.
James Dean is appointed clerk ; Dea. Robert Randall and Joseph
Crossman, Sr., are chosen elders, and Samuel Phillips is made
j "tuner." The " Christening bason" is brought from Joshua Phil-
1 lips's house, and all is ready for active religious work. During
the first ten years of his ministry Mr. Campbell had one hundred
and fifty-six baptisms. Sometimes whole families of children,
whose baptism had been neglected during the times of church
t strife, were baptized at once. There are interesting cases of
;; " difficulties " between church members, being cases of misrep-
f resentation, slander, dishonesty, etc., which are settled by wise
J action and counsel, in which a truly Christian spirit seems to
il prevail, — giving evidence that the church is under wise and
ii considerate leadership.

; The years roll by bringing no events of special importance.
[ William Pratt, Jr., and Daniel Littlefield are chosen deacons in



1774, and accept and take their seats in the deacon's pew.
EHjah Copeland and Captain Matthew Randall are chosen
tuners in 1777. Meantime the Revolutionary War had come
on. In our chapter upon that subject we shall see that Mr.
Campbell had a good word for the great cause, though his
wife was suspected to have Tory proclivities. He had bought
for his homestead the house built by Mr. Farrar, not many
rods west of the present location of the Almshouse, with the
barn and surrounding farm of thirty-five acres, purchasing them
of David Keith. Here he lived until June, 1777, when he sold
his place to Isaac Lothrop, of Bridgewater, uncle of Howard

Not long after this the clouds began to gather about him.
The exact nature of these troubles cannot be ascertained.
Some things are, however, certain. By some means the story of
that early act which led to his compulsory marriage had been
whispered among his people. The secret had rankled in his
own heart for many years. Such things were not uncommon at
the time ; and even church-members thus guilty, after repent-
ance and public confession, were " restored to their usual stand-
ing" in church and society. But he had made no confession.
H.e had come to them loaded with a sense of shame, but had
withheld all knowledge of it, for what no doubt seemed to him
sufficient reasons. He was repentant : should he blast his pros-
pects and ruin his chance for usefulness in the world by a revela-
tion that could benefit no one } Should he not rather, by a
devoted life, by consecrated effort, and lowly though secret peni-
tence, seek to atone for the misdeed of his ardent youth .'' So
he hoped he might do ; so for some years it appeared he would
succeed in doing. But alas for any man whose peace depends
upon the protection of secrecy ! He could not hide from his
own heart the fact that all this time he was, however good his
reasons for doing it, violating one of the rules of his church, —
that of public confession and humiliation. And now the story
was known, and he was required, or perhaps volunteered, to per-
form the act of repentance. On the nth day of April, 1779,
before the church and congregation to which for sixteen years
he had ministered, he made his public confession of an offence
that had occurred seventeen years before, and of which he had




already bitterly repented ! His acknowledgment was voted satis-
factory " by the usual signe of lifting up their hands."

For the time the matter rests. Mr. Campbell continued
preaching, and there seem to have been the usual number of
baptisms and admissions to the church. But it was natural that
what had occurred should gradually undermine the minister's
popularity and influence. Two things conspired to the same
result. One was the fact that his wife was a woman who neither
gained the love nor deserved the respect of any one. She was,
let the truth be told, the bane of his life. She never joined his
church, and apparently had little sympathy with it. Not only
tradition, but direct statements of those who knew them in their
later days, and who had been much in their company, represent
her as addicted to intoxicating drinks. She was, withal, proud-
spirited, and scorned her husband's simple tastes. Such a wife
must have been not only a burdensome cross to the minister,
but must have intensified any disaffection that had arisen. The
second trouble was, if an apparently trustworthy tradition may
be credited, a case of slander. It is said that some person made
one of the gravest charges against him that could affect a gentle-
man's honor. Although this charge appears to have been re-
tracted upon the dying bed of the slanderer years afterward, the
retraction did not come soon enough to prevent the slander,
when once started, from doing its venomous work. November
21, 1 78 1, a meeting of the church was held "to enquire Into
some Reports prevailing among the People Detrimental to the
Rev. Mr. Campbell's character." This matter was debated in
several meetings. Advice was sought of a convention of minis-
ters held at Taunton, February 19, 1782. The slander, after all,
does not seem to have made a very deep impression, and the
other difificulties do not appear to have been of a very grave
character, as the church, February 25, agreed that if "the Pastor
would make Christian satisfaction wherein he had acted out of
character, they would receive him as their minister." On the 4th
of March such satisfaction was rendered, and "all the brethren
voted to Receive him as a Brother, and all excepting two voted
to Receive him as their pastor." A decided opposition to Mr.
Campbell, however, had arisen in the midst of all this trouble,
headed by Capt. Matthew Hay ward, son of Edward Hay ward.



Esq., — the same who was the leader in the opposition to Mr.


One of the humorous anecdotes that have come down to us
from this period, illustrates the prominence of Captain Hay ward
in this new trouble of the church with its minister. When
Ebenezer Ames was an old man, he was accustomed to go about
putting to every one his stereotyped inquiry, "What's the news.''"
Meeting another and quite eccentric old man, who was known
by the not very respectful name of Old Drake, Mr. Ames asked,
" Well, Mr. Drake, what 's the news ? " " The news," said Mr.
Drake, " is a dream that I had last night. I dreamed that I
died and went, — well, you know where I would go if I died.
When I got there, I rapped upon the door, and some of Satan's
imps let me in ; and I must say I was never treated more hand-
somely in my life. By and by Satan himself came in. ' Hello ! '
he said to me, ' where did you come from ?' ' I came from
Easton,' was my answer. 'Why, that is where they are having
a church quarrel over their minister,' said Satan : * who leads
the opposition to him } ' I told him it was Capt. Matthew
Hay ward. 'Good!' said his Satanic Majesty, ' that is exactly
as well as though I were there myself.'"

On May 26 Mr. Campbell " refused Preaching with the People
in Easton on account of a Disaffection and a neglect of support,
etc.," and on the 4th of July next he asked for a dismission
from the pastoral charge of the church in Easton. This brought
matters to a crisis, and the church and town joined in calling a
small council of neighboring churches for advice. The coun-
cil met July 31, 1782, and the following is the report of their
action :^ —

"July 31, 1782. The Venerable Council met and Imbodied, before
whom the Pastor Renewed his Request for a Dismission both to the
Chh. & Congregation ; & then the Council advised the Pastor &
Chh. to a mutual Conferrence In order to see If they Could not Come
to some agreement. Accordingly, altho by far the greater Part of the
Chh. were unwilling to let their Pastor go, yet at length, because he
Earnestly Requested It, & for Peace sake, & because of a Consider-
able alienation of affections in the Congregation, they Consented, and
In the Presence of the Council Unanimously voted to Dismiss &
1 See second book of Church Records, p. 11.

■ .M


Recommend their Pastor. Further, August 5*.'', 1782, the Council Read
their Result to the Congregation, in which they agreed that It was
Best for M^ Campbell to leave this People because of Disaffection &
alienation that appeared among them, signifying that the Chh. had
Dismissed him, & advised the Congregation to Concurr with the
Chhs. vote."

It is to be especially noted that the council recommended that
Mr. Campbell and the church should confer together again to
see if they could not come to some agreement By this it is
evident that no objections of any really serious character to
the pastor had been sustained. It is noteworthy also, that " by
far the greater Part of the Chh. were unwilling to let their Pastor
go," which confirms the above conclusion. And the good opinion
of the parish is proved by the fact, that at the town-meeting
next subsequent to this council, the town actually refused to
concur with the council in their recommendation to dismiss Mr.
Campbell. It is also to be considered that the church unani-
mously voted to recommend as well as to dismiss their pastor.
All these facts sufificiently prove that the Rev. Archibald Camp-
bell, whatever may have been the difficulties and alienations re-
ferred to, left the church and town with a good record. It was
not until five months after the church's vote to dismiss him that
the town would consent to this action, and it was done then at
his earnest solicitation. January i, 1783, the church renewed
their vote, and recommended their retiring pastor to the Gospel
ministry in Charlton, and to the confidence of any church where
his lot might be cast. And so in company with his coarse and
unamiable wife, and with the children who were to do their part
towards embittering his lot, he sadly turned his back upon the
scenes of his first ministry, which had opened with bright prom-
ise, but closed in disastrous eclipse. The previous dealings of
the town with its ministers were of such a character that we can
now feel no surprise in learning that more than seven years
elapsed from the date of his dismissal, before Mr. Campbell re-
ceived in full the payment of his just dues.

He was installed as pastor in Charlton, January 8, 1783. His
life there was in some respects a repetition of his experience in
Easton. Beginning with the interest excited by his gifts as a
preacher, and by his amiable personal qualities, it was not long


before the same dark fate overtook him here that had made his
last years in Easton unhappy. His wife was observed to take no
interest in his work, preferring, as she now did, the inspiration
of the bottle to any that religion had to offer her. Nor was it
long before his children began to add to the bitterness of the
cup he was forced to drink. It was while Mr. Campbell was in
Charlton that Stephen Burroughs, of notorious fame, made that
place his home. He was a man of versatile talent, but a counter-
feiter, a rake, and a thoroughly unprincipled villain. He taught
school in Charlton, and was arrested and brought to court
charged with gross improprieties towards some of his pupils.
Mr. Campbell was present at the trial, and Judge Robert Treat
Paine severely reproved the town of Charlton for hiring, and
Mr. Campbell for countenancing, Mr. Burroughs. Mr. Campbell
undertook to reply, but was peremptorily silenced by the court.
The most damaging thing to be said of Mr. Campbell is that
he received a compliment from Burroughs, who wrote that he
" was a man of feeling, and had expressed his natural repugnance
at my imprisonment." How much occasion Mr. Campbell had
to rue the day that made this bad man an acquaintance in his
family, may be inferred from the fact that one of his daughters
named her son, born before marriage, Hiram Burroughs. Mr.
Campbell's eldest son, Archibald, Jr., brought a similar disgrace
upon the family name, the victim being his own cousin. It is
not therefore strange that our sorrow-stricken minister, whose
influence for good was now destroyed, and whose heart was
burdened by a triple load of shame, should wish to leave this
second scene of trouble and sorrow. Accordingly, at his own
request, he was dismissed from his ministry in Charlton, April 9,
1793, — a ministry of ten unhappy years. He did not have the
heart to settle again, though he lived for twenty-five years after-
wards, preaching occasionally as opportunity offered.

Mr. Campbell's failure to settle again was from no loss of ability,
and from no decline of religious interest. There is evidence, as
we have said, that he was a man of superior gifts as a preacher ;
and his services, but for his family, would anywhere have been
eagerly sought. By great good fortune, and through the kind-
ness of the Rev. T. S. Hubbard, of Stockbridge, Vt., the writer
has in his possession a manuscript sermon by Mr. Campbell. A


portion of it will be given below. It shows exceptional ability
of composition and much rhetorical power. Its theology is anti-
quated, for its doctrine of the atonement, which represents Christ
as actually suffering under the wrath of an incensed God, long
since gave way to a more rational and merciful theory. But it
is full of feeling and power. It shows a heart deeply affected by
love of Christ, and thoroughly permeated and possessed with a
devout and adoring faith. The first page, with the text, is miss-
ing. The following selection will be read with interest ; and it
will prove that the troubles that had poured like a flood upon
him had not weakened, and may even have intensified, his faith
and love : —

" He whose Dignity is unchangeable, undevided, and all his own,
he vouchsafed to wear a Body of Clay ; he was content to appear as
a Bloody Eclipse, shorn of his Resplendant Beams, and surrounded
with a night of horror which knew not one Reviving Ray. Thus he
has impowered his Church to tread the world under her feet,^ and
inspired with the hope of Brighter glory, of more enduring Bliss, to
triumph over all the vain anxieties and vainer amusements of this sub-
lunary transitory world. He who has the ControU of the Lightnings
that formerly laid in ashes the Licentious Abodes of Lust and Vio-
lence, that will ere long set on fire the elements, and Co-operate in the
Conflagration of the globe ; He Who Directs you when to sally and
when to strike ; He who Commissions your whirling bolts whom to
kill and whom to spare, — He Resigned his Sacred Person to the most
Barbarous indignities. Submitted his Beneficent hands to the Ponder-
ous hammer and the Piercing nail, yea, withheld not his heart from
the stab of the executioners spear; and instead of flashing Confusion
on his outrageous tormenters, instead of striking them Dead to the
earth, or Plunging them into the Depths of Hell with his power, he
Cried in his last expiring moments, and with his agonizing lips he
Cried, ' Father, Forgive them, for they know not what they Do ! ' A
Pattern of Patience for his saints ! What an object of admiration for
angels ! Hence it is that we are not trembling under lightnings of
Mount Sinai ; that we are not blasted by the flames of Divine Vean-
gence, or Doomed to Dwell with everlasting burnings. He, instead
of Discharging the furiousness of his wrath upon a guilty world,
Poured out his Prayers and Sighs, Poured out his veiy soul for
me and my fellow transgressors, that by Virtue of his_ inestimable

1 Rev. xii. i.


Propitiation the overflowings of Divine good-will might be extended to
sinful men, that the skies might Pour Down righteousness, and peace
with her Downy wings and balmy Blessings might Descend and dwell
on the earth. He uttered a infantile cry in the stable, and strong
expiring groans on the accursed tree, that he might in the gentlest
accents whisper peace to our souls, and at length tune our Voices to
the melody of heaven.

" He, in the unutterable bitterness of his spirit, was without any Com-
forting sense of his almighty father's Pressence ; he, when his bones
were burnt up like a fire brand with the flames of avenging wrath, had
not one Drop of that sacred Consolation which on many of his af-
flicted servants has been Distilled like the evenings Dew and given
songs in the night of Distress, that from this unallayed and inconsole-
able anguish of our all-glorious Master we, as from a well of salva-
tion, might Derive large Draughts of spiritual Refreshment. He
through all his life was arrayed in the humble garb of Poverty, and
at his exit wore the gorgeous garment of Contempt, in-so-much that
even his own familiar friends, ashamed or afraid to own him, ' hid as
it were their faces from him ' (Isa. liii. 3), to teach us a becoming
Disdain for the unsubstantial and transitory glitter of all worldly vani-
ties, to introduce us in Robes brighter than the tinges of the Resplen-
dant arch, even in the Robes of his own immaculate righteosness,
to introduce us before that august and venerable throne which the
Peacful Rainbow surrounds. As a Pledge of inviolable fidelity and
infinite mercy he went, all meek and gentle, like a lamb to the slaughter
for us ; and as a sheep before her shearer is Dumb, so he opened not
his mouth. Thus are we instructed to bear, with Decent magnanimity,
the various assaults of adversity, and to Pass with a becoming tran-
quility of temper through the Ruder blasts of injurious treatment ;
thus are we Delivered from the unutterably fiercer storms of incensed
and inexorable justice, from the fire, the Brimstone, and the horrible
tempest which will be the final Portion of the ungodly. He in his
holy humanity was arraigned as a Criminal, and though innocence
itself, yea the very Pattern of Perfection, was Condemned to die like
a Criminal, like the most execrable Miscreant, as a Nuisance to so-
ciety, and the very bane of the Public happiness ; he was hurried away
to execution and hammered to the gibbet, that by his Blood he might
Prepare a Sovreign Medicine to Cure us of a more fatal Distemper
than the Pestilence which walketh in Darkness or Destroyeth at noon-
day, that he might himself say to our last enemy, ' O Death, I will be
thy Plague ! O grave, I will be thy Destruction ! ' Yes, the King of
heaven and Controller of universal nature, when Dwelling in a taber-


nacle of Clay, was exposed to Chilling Damps and smitten by sultry
beams ; the stars in their Midnight watches heard him Pray, and the
sun in his Meridian fervors saw him toil : Hence are our frozen
hearts Dissolved into a mingled flow of wonder, love, and joy, being
Conscious of a Deliverance from those insufferable flames, which
kindled by Divine indignation burn to the lowest hell. Our allglori-
ous and everblessed Creator's head was encircled with the thorny
wreath, his face was Defiled with Contemelous spitting, and his Body
bathed in a bloody sweat, that we might wear the Crown of glory that
fadeth not away. All the waves of vengeance and wrath, of tribula-
tion and anguish passed over his crusified body and his agonizing
soul, that we might emerge from those Depths of misery, from that
abyss of guilt into which we were Plunged by Adam's fall and more
erritreavbly sunk by our own transgressions ; that at last we might be
restored to that happy world which is Represented in the vision of
god as having 'no sea' to Denote its perpetual stability and undis-
turbed serenity. He who Blesses the labors of the husbandman, and
enriches your well-tilled plains with waving harvests, and Calls forth
the staff of life from your furrows. He was no stranger to Corroding
hunger and parching thirst. He, alas ! ate the Bitter Bread of wo,
and had plenteous of tears to Drink ; yes, he who supplies all the
fountains and currents of water from his own overflowing and inex-
haustible liberality, — he, when his nerves were racked with exquisite
pain and his Blood inflamed by a Raging fever, Cried, ' I thirst,' and
was Denied the poor refreshment of a single Drop of water in his
great and last extremity, that we having all-sufficiency in all things
might abound unto evry good word and work ; that we might partake
of Richer Daintes than those produced by the fountains or the Dew
of heaven, or that proceed from the fatness of the earth ; that we
might feed on the hidden manna and eat the Bread which giveth life,
eternal life to the world, and be filled with the fulness of spiritual
Blessings here and hereafter, be satisfied with the fulness of joy
which is at god's Right hand forevermore.

" Our Allglorious and everblessed Creator's head was incircled
with a thorny wreath, his face Defiled with spitting, and his Body
bathed in a Bloody sweat. He sunk beneath a load of woes, — woes
insupportable, but not his own, when he took our inequities upon
himself and heaved the more than mountaneous burden from a
guilty world. He when sojourning on earth had no Riches but the
Riches of Disinterested Benevolence ; had no ornament but the or-
nament of unspotted purity. Poor he was in his Circumstances
and mean in all his accommodations, that we might be Rich in


grace and obtain salvation with eternal glory ; that we might in-
habit the new Jerusalem, — that splendid City whose streets are
paved with gold."

That this sermon was written in his old age is apparent from
this sentence : " For me the author of all blessings became a
curse ; for me he hung with streaming veins upon the cross ;
for me his bones were dislocated and his flesh was torn. O,
may I in my little sphere, and amidst the scanty circle of my ac-
quaintance, at least whisper these glad, transporting tidings, —
whisper them from my old hearth If at this time he could write
with such feeling and power, it is obvious that in his prime he
must have been a preacher of uncommon rhetorical ability and
fervent religious spirit. The latter half of the sermon is a
touching appeal to rouse in his hearers a devout and ardent
gratitude to the Redeemer, whose sufferings for their sakes he

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 19 of 78)