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 It is specially recorded, that, at “the raising” of this meeting-house, which took place July 26 and 27, 1769, “there was no one hurt.” That such an exemption was remarkable, at that period, may be explained by the fact, that probably our fathers did not put themselves into that condition which generally secures catastrophies. An authentic record from another town, under date of Sept. 13, 1773, may make this matter clear: “Voted to provide one barrel of West India rum, five barrels of New England rum, one barrel of good brown sugar, half a box of good lemons, and two loaves of loaf sugar, for framing and raising the meeting-house.” Here a natural consequence followed,--two-thirds of the frame fell: many were hurt, and some fatally. Thus our fathers procured for themselves their third temple of worship, placed near the centre of population, upon a commanding spot, and exhibiting a most respectable exterior, with a commodious and appropriate interior. It is agreeable to one's mind to contrast the three forms of meeting-houses which obtained in New England up to this time. The first was a one-story, square building, in naked and uncheerful simplicity, with straw-thatched roof; lighted, not by glass windows, but by the opening of outside shutters; and had within neither pews nor pulpit. The second was two stories high; had diamond-glass windows; a four-sided, sloping roof, of wood, with a turret in its centre for a bell; and sometimes a portico in front; and, within, a gallery, some pews, a deacon's seat, and a pulpit. The third was two stories high, had window-sashes and square glass, a two-sided roof, with a tower from the ground, and three porches; while its interior showed galleries round three sides, in which, fronting the pulpit, were seats for twenty-five or fifty singers; and, on the lower floor, wall-pews, three inches higher than the rest; two free seats, nearest the pulpit, for deaf old men and women; a deacon's seat, in front of the pulpit; and the sacred desk not at the end, as is now the fashion, but in the centre of one of the longest sides of the house, its top from eight to ten feet above the floor, and over it fastened a “sounding-board.” The sexton, up to this time, had his post of honor near the preacher; and his duty was to attend to any wants of the officiating clergyman, and also to turn the hour-glass when its sands had run out. This last operation was doubtless to inform the congregation how much instruction they had received, and to prophesy of the remainder.
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