Chapter 7: ecclesiastical history (continued).
after the death of Dr. Osgood
, the eyes of so many were turned upon the Rev. Andrew Bigelow
, that the Committee
engaged him, March 25, 1823, to preach as a candidate.
On the 5th of May in that year, the town voted to invite him to become their minister.
Yeas, 95; nays, 70.
Salary, eight hundred dollars.
May 7, the church met; his Excellency John Brooks
Voted “to concur with the town in giving the Rev. Andrew Bigelow
a call to settle over them in the gospel ministry.”
Yeas, 20; nays, 3. Committee of conference: Nathaniel Hall, Jonathan Brooks, and Nathan Adams
June 14, 1823, Mr. Bigelow
accepted this invitation by a long and able letter, properly noticing a condition which, at a subsequent meeting, had been coupled with the first vote of the town.
The condition was, that either party may dissolve the connection by giving six months notice to that effect.
, in his letter, says, “After a painful view of the subject, and a strong internal conflict, my conclusion is to accept the invitation.”
July 9, 1823, the ecclesiastical council, invited by the town and church to install the pastor elect, was composed of the following clergymen, with delegates: President Kirkland
; Dr. Abiel Holmes
; Dr. Thaddeus Fiske
, West Cambridge
; Dr. John Foster
, Brighton; Dr. Charles Lowell
; Rev. Francis Parkman
; Rev. James Walker
; Rev. Aaron Greene
; Dr. Aaron Bancroft
; Dr. Ezra Ripley
; Rev. Convers Francis
; and Rev. Charles Brooks
The council met on this day. Rev. Dr. Ripley
, Moderator; and Rev. Mr. Francis
After all the doings of the town and church relating to the call of Mr. Bigelow
had been considered, and all other requisite inquiries had been made and answered, the record says,--
It was then moved, that the council, being satisfied with the doings of the church and society, and with the literary, moral, and theological qualifications of the Rev. Andrew Bigelow, do now vote that they are ready to proceed to installation.
Before this motion was put, some discussion took place relative to the manner in which a dissolution of the pastoral tie (between the minister elect and people), should that event ever occur, should be conducted; and it was objected to by some members of the council, that nothing was provided in the terms of settlement respecting the calling, in the above event, an ecclesiastical council.
After this discussion, the original motion was so far modified as to stand as follows:--
Voted, that though this council deem it expedient, in ordinary cases, that the separation of a minister from a people be the result of an ecclesiastical council, yet they are so far satisfied with the doings of the church and society, and with the qualifications of the candidate, that they are ready to proceed with the installation of the Rev. Andrew Bigelow as pastor of the church and congregation in this town.
The religious exercises were in the following order: Introductory prayer, by Rev. Charles Brooks
; sermon, by Rev. Dr. Bancroft
; prayer of installation, by Rev. Dr. Holmes
; charge, by Rev. Dr. Ripley
; right hand of fellow-ship, by Rev. James Walker
; concluding prayer, by Rev. Convers Francis
; benediction, by the pastor.
These several services (the prayers excepted) were published together by a vote of the parish.
was born in Groton, Mass.
, May 7, 1795, and graduated at Harvard College 1814.
After studying law for a short time, he turned with his whole soul to the study of divinity, and spent some time at Edinburgh, Scotland
. May, 1820, he was ordained as an evangelist, and labored with zeal and success at Eastport, Maine
, and at
; from which last place he married Miss Amelia Sargent Stanwood
Coming with reputation and experience to the work of the ministry in Medford
, he did all that could be done for making the divided waters mingle in peace; but, as irreconcilable differences of opinion were developed in the congregation, it was best that the dissentients should quietly withdraw, and provide for themselves a separate and satisfactory ministration of the word.
The first step in such a movement was taken by seventeen members of the church in writing and sending the following letter:--
The church received this short and respectful letter in the spirit in which it was written, and chose a committee of three to prepare a reply.
The reply is long, argumentative, and affectionate; and concludes, under deepest regret, to accede to the wishes of the petitioners, if they continue to desire separation.
They renew their wish, and are accordingly released from all connection with the primitive church of Medford
So far as the records speak, we find nothing to condemn in this dismemberment of the ancient parish.
parties were conscientious; and, as they differed in opinion, they could not walk together in peace; and therefore it was wise and Christian to separate.
Much greater evils would have come under a forced union.
The withdrawal of many members of the congregation, to join the new society, occasioned a less amount of complaint, exasperation, and controversy, on both sides, than is common.
Both parties had equally in view justice and charity as Christian graces, and both wished to exhibit them to each other.
To suppose that such sacred and durable ties can be sundered without exciting strong emotions and prompting to unreasonable speech, is to suppose that we are not human.
The lightnings that flash and the thunders that roll may terrify for a moment; but they release the rain, and purify the air, and make the earth more fruitful.
God's will be done.
In pursuing the history of the First Parish from this time, it will not be needful to speak of its connection with parishes subsequently formed, but only to record the facts arising out of its separate organization and private proceedings.
March 31, 1824: On this day, ten male members of the First Parish apply to James Russell
of the Peace, to issue his warrant, directing some one of the petitioners to notify all the legal voters of said parish to meet in their meeting-house, April 12, 1824, at two o'clock, P. M., for the purpose of electing officers, raising money, and doing all other necessary acts.
The warrant was issued, and the first meeting held at the time specified; and Abner Bartlett
, was chosen Clerk; Messrs. Jonathan Brooks
, John Symmes
, Darius Wait
, Nathan Adams, jun.
, and John King
, Parish Committee; Messrs. J. Richardson
, John Howe
, and Ebenezer Hall, jun.
, Assessors; William Ward
Thus the First Parish on this day became a separate body, under a legal organization.
On this day also, “Voted to raise the sum of one thousand dollars, to discharge the minister's salary and other incidental charges the ensuing year.”
“ July 27, 1823: Voted by the church, that the ordinance of baptism be hereafter administered at the commencement of the afternoon service on the Lord
's day, in place of being performed after sermon, as heretofore the practice has been.”
“July 27, 1823: The Hon. Peter C. Brooks
presented to the church two silver flagons; for which thanks were voted.”
Sept. 3, 1824: The subject of a fund
for the support of the gospel ministry is brought up and discussed by the church, and the wish expressed that one may be gathered.
July 3, 1825 : The proposition to print the church covenant, and the covenant for baptism, brought up the consideration of that adopted Feb. 11, 1713, and that of March 15, 1782; and the result was a vote by the church, that they “do not find it needful to propose any alterations in their confessions of faith, either in their articles or terms.
They conceive that the church-covenant especially combines the qualities of a true Protestant as well as gospel confession; the properties of being liberal and practical, yet deeply serious and evangelical.”
gave by will some valuable books to the church, “for the use of his successors in the ministry ;” and these are added to those received from his predecessor.
Aug. 7, 1825: The pastor proposed the formation of a parish and social library, and began with a donation.
Sept. 4: The proposition above was accepted, and a committee of five brethren of the church and six members of the congregation was chosen to collect subscriptions and receive donations.
Nov. 1, 1825: The parish voted to procure an organ, if four hundred and fifty dollars can be raised by subscription for that purpose.
Committee to procure subscriptions: Messrs. George W. Porter
, Turell Tufts
, and Darius Wait
The organ was purchased for the amount, and gave satisfaction.
Jan. 2, 1826: Voted, that the money received from the sale of the new pews to be built in the gallery be the beginning of a permanent fund for the support of the ministry in said parish.
In April of this year, the question arose respecting the right of the town to hold town-meetings in the meeting-house of the first parish; the Selectmen
contending for the right, the parish against it.
About this time, subscriptions were commenced for the “Congregational Ministerial Fund for the First Parish in the town of Medford
By the judicious investments of the Treasurer
, Dudley Hall, Esq.
, this fund amounts, in 1855, to $8,600. By special statute, one hundred dollars of the annual income must be added each year to the permanent fund.
The balance of the incomes may be expended for the support of the pastor.
On the 9th of July and the 29th of October, 1826, the Rev. Andrew Bigelow
preached sermons containing his reasons for giving the sixth months' notice previous to his dissolving his pastoral relations.
Nov. 6 of the same year, he wrote a letter to his parish, repeating,--
That it was from no decay of attachment to the people of my pastoral charge, or of earnestness of desire to be instrumental in promoting the interests of piety and vital religion among them. . . . Being about to leave this country on a distant voyage, in the hope of fully re-establishing my health, I should be pleased to know the mind of the parish in respect to the mode of supplying the pulpit, and to obtain their concurrence to my proposed absence, prior to the expiration of the time of my connection with them as pastor. . . . And, should they come together, I beg you to present them the renewed assurances of my most grateful recollection of their past favors to me, along with my fervent aspirations that grace, mercy, and peace may be multiplied to them all.
His request was immediately granted; whereupon a reply was sent to Mr. Bigelow
by the unanimous vote of the parish, in which they regret, for reasons stated, his relinquishment of office, and say,--
“We bear you witness, that, with true Christian forbearance and professional integrity, you have had your walk and conversation among us from the beginning, and that you have been the minister of much good to this people.... In taking leave of you, Rev. Sir, we would most heartily reciprocate the sentiments expressed in your farewell discourse for our future prosperity and happiness.”
“Voted, that the Committee be directed to request of Mr. Bigelow a copy of the two discourses mentioned in his communication, as delivered on the 9th of July and 29th of October last, to be deposited among the parish records.”
's connection with the parish legally ceased Jan. 9, 1827.
Returning from Europe
with recovered health, he became the minister of the Unitarian Society in Taunton, Mass.
, April 10, 1833, where he labored for many years.
He is now filling a most useful clerical office in the city of Boston
The time, therefore, to speak of his character is not yet; but we may quote the words of his successor in Medford
, whose opportunities for learning the facts were peculiarly great.
He writes thus :--
My regard to his feelings need not prevent my bearing testimony to the deep regret of his people that any circumstances should, in his opinion, have made a separation from them desirable.
He left behind him many aching hearts, and many warm friends, who will not forget how he labored among them as “ a good minister of Jesus Christ” in all faithfulness and love.
baptized 66 persons; married 37 couples; officiated at 105 funerals; and admitted 26 communicants to the church.
The parish-committee, consisting of Messrs. John Symmes
, Jonathan Brooks
, and John King
, engage Mr. Caleb Stetson
, a graduate of Harvard College in 1822, to preach as a candidate for five sabbaths.
At the close of his engagement, the parish passed the following votes :--
Jan. 8, 1827: “Voted unanimously to give Mr. Caleb Stetson an invitation to settle with us as our minister in the gospel.”
“Voted unanimously to give Mr. Stetson one thousand dollars salary.”
“Voted to give Mr. Stetson one thousand dollars over and above his salary, to be paid on the day of his settlement with us; which sum has been raised by subscription for that purpose.”
Jan. 16: Mr. Stetson
accepts the invitation, and on the 28th of February, 1827, was ordained.
The council was composed of the following clergymen, with their delegates: Rev. Dr. Kirkland
and Dr. Ware
; Dr. Holmes
; Dr. Lowell
; Rev. Aaron Greene
; Rev. Henry Ware
; Rev. James Walker
; Rev. Convers Francis
; Rev. Joseph Field
; Rev. George Ripley
; Rev. Samuel Ripley
; Dr. Fiske
, West Cambridge
; Rev. Charles Brooks
; Rev. Francis Parkman
; Dr. Foster
, Brighton; Rev. Thomas B. Gannett
; Rev. Bernard Whitman
; Rev. Charles Briggs
; Rev. Edward B. Hall
; Rev. Ira H. T. Blanchard
In the organization of the council, Rev. President Kirkland
was chosen Moderator; and Rev. Charles Brooks
After the usual religious services, the council examined the doings of the church and congregation relative to the dissolution of the pastoral relation of Rev. Andrew Bigelow
, and found them regular.
They next examined the doings of the church and congregation relative to the call of Mr. Stetson
, and found them satisfactory; whereupon they voted to proceed to ordination.
The services were assigned as follows: Introductory prayer and reading of the Scriptures, by Rev.
; sermon, by Rev. Convers Francis
; ordaining prayer, by Dr. Lowell
; charge, by Dr. Kirkland
; right hand of fellowship, by Rev. George Ripley
; address to the people, by Rev. Henry Ware, jun.
; concluding prayer, by Rev. B. Whitman
; benediction, by the pastor.
Copies of the within exercises were requested for publication, but were declined.
“March 14, 1827: In the church, voted, first, that the ceremony of owning the covenant, on the admission of members, shall, in future, be before the church only, at the communion.
Second, that the fourth paragraph of the present covenant be hereafter discontinued in the admission of members.
Third, that the pastor have discretionary authority to admit members from other churches, of whose Christian standing he is satisfied, without any public act.”
“Dec. 2, 1827: The church voted that the Lord's Supper should be celebrated on the first sabbath of every other month.”
“June 11, 1832: The church voted that the pastor, at his discretion, be authorized to receive persons into this church at a private interview; and that no public act shall be necessary to their membership, except propounding them in the usual form.”
“1827: Deacon Richard Hall bequeathed to this church the sum of seven hundred dollars, the interest of which should for ever be distributed among the poor women of this church.”
“April 25, 1827: The parish voted to raise twelve hundred dollars, to pay the minister's salary and other current expenses.”
At the same meeting, voted to introduce the “Cambridge Collection” of hymns in place of Dr. Watts
April 30, 1832: The subject of building a parsonage-house was discussed in a parish-meeting, and resolutions to build were passed, and three thousand dollars voted as the highest sum to be raised on the credit of the parish.
After plans and wishes on both sides had been proposed and argued, that Christian benefactor, who “does good by stealth and blushes to find it fame,” offered a piece of land, as a gift to the parish, for the site of a parsonage.
The parish accordingly voted “a formal acceptance of the very generous offer of Dr. Daniel Swan
, which they esteem doubly valuable from the amiable and accommodating spirit in which it has been thus promptly made.”
The committee chosen to build the house were Messrs. Abner Bartlett
, Peter C. Brooks
, and Jonathan Brooks
It was built immediately, at the cost of $3,824.05, and was acceptable to pastor and people.
.--This subject was a cherished one by a few earnest
members of the parish; and, at a public meeting on the 24th of March, 1834, a committee report, “that they find the act incorporating trustees passed the 9th of March, 1827; and it appears that Messrs. Jonathan Brooks
, Nathaniel Hall
, Turell Tufts
, Dudley Hall
, Nathan Adams
, John Symmes, jun.
, and Jonathan Porter
, were incorporated trustees by the said act.”
These originators of the fund performed the duties of trustees with judgment and perseverance; and the result is, that the fund now amounts to $8,600.
April 17, 1837: The parish voted “to raise $1,400, to pay the minister's salary and other current expenses.”
March 11, 1839: A committee of seven was appointed this day to consider the expediency of building a new meeting-house, and to procure plans and estimates.
They finally recommended the erection of a wooden house; and on the 2d of April, 1839, the parish passed the following vote: “That the present house be taken down, and a new one built on the same spot in its stead, not to exceed in cost the sum of $12,000.”
The building-committee were Messrs. Samuel P. Heywood
, Andrew Blanchard, jun.
, George W. Porter
, Samuel Lapham
, and Milton James
Whether the parish had learned wisdom from former times or not, we cannot tell; but surely the unanimity and heartiness seen in these movements evince solid judgment and Christian character.
Three judicious and disinterested gentlemen were chosen, from towns adjacent, to apprize the pews in the old meeting-house; and they performed their duty acceptably,--not awarding over twenty dollars to the best pews.
The parish took leave of the old house on Sunday, May 12, 1839; on which occasion the pastor delivered a valedictory discourse from 1 Chron.
This sermon was printed; and no one, whose early years were associated with that sacred edifice, can read the conclusion of that discourse without a throbbing heart and a tearful eye.
As soon as the first parish had voted to take down the old meeting-house, the second Congregational Society and the Universalist Society offered the use of their meeting-houses to the first parish at such times as would be mutually convenient.
We love to record these acts of Christian courtesy; for they were, in this case, offerings of the heart.
The building-committee were instructed to procure a new organ; and they say that the donation of $1,000, by the Hon.
Peter C. Brooks
, has helped them to secure a first-rate instrument, at the price of $1,650. The cost of the meeting-house and vestry was $12,566.22; of two furnaces, $220; repairs on clock, $224; carpets and pulpit trimmings, &c., $591.72; work on the grounds, &c., $195.69; making a sum total of $13,797.63. The parish paid the proprietors of pews in the old meeting-house $1,260, and received for said house $260. That the new house was larger than was needed, was a common impression; but the time may come when it will be crowded.
It was solemnly dedicated to the worship of God and the promulgation of Christianity on Wednesday, the 4th of December, 1839.
The exercises were: Introductory prayer, by Rev. Nathaniel Hall
, of Dorchester
; selection from the Scriptures, by Rev. Edward B. Hall
, of Providence, R. I.
; prayer of dedication, by Rev. Convers Francis, D. D.
, of Watertown
; sermon, by Rev. Caleb Stetson
; concluding prayer, by Rev. N. L. Frothingham
, of Boston
It was the intention of the pastor and people that the original hymns and all the public religious services (except the sermon) should have been furnished, as the record says, “by children of this society.”
It would have been so, had not the writer of this history been absent with his family in Europe
The preacher took 1 Cor. III. 16 for his text.
was his subject; and it was discussed with the power and beauty peculiar to the speaker.
The opening sentences disclose the central thoughts of the sermon.
“The soul that makes an offering is greater than the gift.
No sacrifice is so noble as the spirit that hallows it; no house built by human hands, for the service of God, is so holy as that which he hath chosen and sanctified for himself in every pure heart.”
O Thou that dost prefer
Before all temples the upright heart and pure.
Thus, on a spot sacred to many of our hearts, stands a second temple of the Most High
, whose desk, we devoutly hope, will ever be filled with able scholars and true believers; who, as teachers, shall “preach, not themselves, but the Lord Jesus Christ
, so as to make men wise unto salvation;” and who, as pastors, shall delight “to take the lambs in their arms, and carry them in their bosoms.”
Especially do we hope that its seats may ever be filled by those who hunger and thirst after God and Christ
and truth and righteousness;
who will labor for temperance, liberty, and peace; and who will not allow heaven-born, free inquiry to degenerate into licentiousness, nor Christian devotion to freeze into formalism.
According to the New England
usage, the pews were sold at auction, after a committee had apportioned upon them a relative value, sufficient to cover the cost of the house, vestry, &c. Those pews which were leased by the parish paid seven per cent on their apprized value.
On the sale of the pews, a premium was given for the right of choice.
The amount accruing from the sale of seventy-one pews was $12,397. There were several small items not here noticed.
The final balance against the parish was $2,024.47. In the last report of the committee are these words: “Your committee have much pleasure in being able to congratulate the parish on the entire success with which this enterprise has been accomplished, and the good effects that have resulted from it.”
The church has long enjoyed the counsel and services of John Symmes
and Nathan Adams
, Esqrs., as deacons.
March 4, 1840: “Voted to exchange the hymn-book now in use for Rev. Mr. Greenwood
There are few parishes in New England
which have had no trouble with their Sunday choir.
Singers are dangerously sensitive, and not always blamable, as some imagine.
Their popularity and success depend very often upon popular taste and fickle fashion; therefore all their feelers are out to discover what people think of them.
The poet and painter, depending measurably on the same principles of taste and fashion, are subjected to similar influences.
The conflict between rival singers is peculiarly fierce; and what committee-man, who has “had the care of the singing,” has not found that he must sometimes deal with the parish choir very much as he must with sick children?
has had some of these jarring experiences, is most true; and it is as true that it has enjoyed a general exemption.
The first parish has owned generous hearts and sweet voices, who have given their services freely; and the organ has been played gratuitously for years by a gentleman of taste and education.
It was customary with our early ancestors to appoint an individual from the church to read the psalm, two lines at a time; after which reading, the whole congregation sang the two lines.
The reading was so commonly done by a deacon, that this mode of announcing the psalm was called “deaconing”
The scarcity of psalm-books was the origin of this custom; and, when they became so common as to be left in the meeting-house through the week, the proposition to discontinue the “deaconing” of the psalm was made, and it met with quick opposition from the deacons and readers.
The habit continued till the Revolution.
It is related of the earliest days among us, that one line only was read at a time, but that this custom gave place to the reading of two lines from the following fact.
In the psalm, which the clergyman had selected to be “deaconed” and sung, occurred these two lines:--
The Lord will come; and he will not
Keep silence, but speak out.
By making a full stop at the end of the first line, very queer work was made with the sense of the poem.
Affirmation and contradiction came solemnly into the same breath; but even this bewilderment was deepened by reading the second line: “Keep silence, but speak out.”
April 27, 1846: The subject of congregational singing was brought before the parish by a committee, who discussed the topic well, and recommended “all the members of the congregation to join the choir.”
We trust that the introduction of music into all our public and private schools will soon restore congregational heart-and-voice singing to our churches (a mode so piously adopted by our fathers); and this will put an end to that impious mockery of devotion, now sometimes witnessed, where infidel and licentious opera-singers are hired to conduct this beautiful part of sacred worship.
The antislavery excitement had been conscientiously carried into many pulpits, and, in some parishes, had caused durable alienations between minister and people.
The first parish in Medford
felt somewhat the flux and reflux of the troubled waters.
Fiat justitia, ruat coelum
April 19, 1847: “Voted to raise $1,700, by tax, for the support of public worship and the current expenses of the ensuing year.”
On the same day, “Voted to raise, in like manner, three hundred dollars, for the reduction of the parish debt.”
Dec. 7, 1847: Rev. Mr. Stetson
having fallen from the sidewalk in Main Street, and much injured himself, the parish met, and passed the following vote: “To take measures
for the supply of his pulpit during his confinement, without trouble or expense to him.”
The parish expenses were as follows: In 1825, $1,208.16; in 1830, $1,235.35; in 1840, $1,701.24 ; in 1845, $2,348.01; in 1850, $1,523.21.
The change of the law in Massachusetts
respecting the support of ministers, and the consequent change of action in some parishes, had produced fatal results.
One statute provides thus: “No person shall hereafter be made a member of any parish or religious society without his consent in writing.”
The inhabitants of Medford
were not exempt from the operation of these and similar causes.
The Committee of the first parish saw their activity; and when Mr. Stetson
resigned his office of pastor, March 24, 1848, they say, in reply to his short and touching letter, that the parish, “under this state of things, must very soon become impotent for the fulfilment of its original contract by any legal form of taxation.”
They do not separate from their beloved minister without expressing their deep gratitude for his long and acceptable services.
Their letter to him ends with these words:
With such impressions of the character of your great ministry, accept, dear sir, assurances of our affectionate regard and sincere wishes for the happiness and prosperity of yourself and family.
During his ministry of twenty-one years, Mr. Stetson
baptized 210 persons; married 143 couples; admitted to the church 106 communicants; and officiated at 304 funerals.
He was very soon invited to settle as the minister of the Unitarian Society in South Scituate
, near Kingston
, his native town in the Old Colony; and as he is there now laboring, with his warm heart and ready hand, the time to speak of his character has not yet come.
May it be far distant!
But, when society shall lose him, there will not be wanting pens to note his various learning, to describe his brilliant conversation, to honor his large philanthropy, and record his ministerial faithfulness.
The time had now come, as it was thought, to abandon the former mode of raising parish taxes by assessments on polls and property.
After much conference and reflection, the parish resort to the system of voluntary contributions!
A paper, therefore, is offered to each individual, annually, with the following preamble and obligation:--
We, the subscribers, in order to testify our wish to be considered
members of the first parish in Medford for the present year, do hereby agree to pay to the collector of said parish the sum of money which is set against our names, towards the support of public worship in said parish the present year.
This temporary and precarious provision for the support of God's worship and the spread of Christianity does not sound much like those iron-bound resolves of our pious ancestors, wherein life and property were for ever
dedicated to God and to his church.
Whether “the voluntary system,” as adopted in New England
, is or is not a failure, is with some no longer a question.
April 9, 1849: “Voted, unanimously, to give Rev. George W. Briggs
, of Plymouth
, an invitation to settle with us as our minister in the gospel.”
$1,200 salary. April 15, Mr. Briggs
communicated his refusal in a short and satisfactory letter.
“June 11, 1849: Voted that the parish vote by yeas and nays on the motion to extend an invitation to the Rev. John Pierpont
to settle with them in the ministry for one year, with a salary of one thousand dollars,--provided the connection be dissolved on either side by giving a previous notice of six months. Yeas, 25; nays, 24.”
June 25, 1849: The above vote was amended so as to read as follows:--
That this parish do extend to the Rev. John Pierpont an invitation to become its pastor on a salary of one thousand dollars a year,--payable by quarterly yearly payments,--and with the understanding and agreement that either of said parties may put an end to the connection by giving to the other party six months notice, in writing, of his or their intention so to do.
July 9, 1849: At a meeting of the parish this day, the following was introduced and voted:--
Resolved, that, in view of the history of this parish, its present condition, and its future prospects, it is regarded as inexpedient, and hazardous to our best interests as a Christian church, for our pastor to preach any political abolition sermons or discourses in our pulpit on the sabbath.
This vote was interpreted by some as “limiting the topics upon which the pastor is to be at liberty to treat in the pulpit.”
This, however, was disclaimed by the friends of the resolution.
On the 23d of July, the vote was unanimously
Then other resolutions were introduced, but no final action had upon them.
Finding the parish so nearly divided in their vote of invitation, the friends of the pastor elect began to collect the signatures of those members of the parish who were not present when the vote was taken, and who were in favor of giving the call.
Twenty-six legal voters signed; twenty-one refused to act, and therefore are not counted on either side; ten persons, not legal voters, who considered themselves as belonging to the parish, subscribed; and four of those who voted in the negative.
After anxious and patient weighing of the whole matter, with the assistance of friends, Mr. Pierpont
accepted the invitation, July 5, 1849.
July 9, seven gentlemen were appointed a committee “to communicate with Mr. Pierpont
on the subject of his settlement, and for conducting and making arrangements for his installation.”
This committee report, April 8, 1850, as follows:--
At a meeting of the special committee of the first parish of Medford, appointed, July 9, 1849, to make arrangements with the Rev. John Pierpont for the commencement of his pastoral labors in its pulpit, on conference with the pastor and with his concurrence,--
Voted to dispense with the ceremony of an ecclesiastical council for the installation of our pastor.
Voted that the committee hereby ordain the Rev. John Pierpont to become the pastor of the first parish of Medford, and install him in that office.
Voted that the term of his engagement commence on the first day of August, 1849, and his salary be paid to him from that date, quarterly, as provided in the terms of the vote of his election to the office of pastor of this parish.
Voted to accept the report of the committee.
Having thus brought down the ecclesiastical history of the first parish, through all its changes, to the ministry of its present pastor, common usage requires that I here take leave of it. It has been my constant endeavor to record the important events in each ministry as I found them in the records of the town and parish.
That some representative facts may have escaped my notice, is quite possible; and that undue stress is laid upon some of the facts which I have noted, is equally possible.
I can only say, that I have wished to give a perfect daguerreotype likeness of every feature of the history.
In looking back through two hundred years, I can safely say, that Medford
has not had more than its share of religious trials; and that, under them, it has borne itself with intelligence, dignity, and moderation.
If the troubles of two centuries be gathered into the mind in one cluster, they seem to be many and great; but, when historically distributed over so long a period, they are few and far between.
The questions in Medford
which excited the deepest interest, and sometimes called out the warmest words, were those relating to the location of a new meeting-house; the terms of the minister's settlement, and the amount of his salary; the assessment of taxes; the changing value of money, and the modes of raising it; the alteration of a creed; and the freedom of the pulpit.
Of all these I felt myself called upon to be recorder, and not judge; and therefore have given the facts, without obtruding my private opinion.
A few words concerning Sunday schools, and this particular history closes.
Since 1820, Sunday schools have multiplied greatly in New England
, and books and manuals for them have abounded.
The first parish early followed the auspicious good examples, and established a school, which had its superintendent; also a teacher to each six children; and a juvenile library, accessible to all the pupils.
This school has had the best instructors; and so deep has grown the interest in Sunday schools and in the other schools of New England
, that ours is called the “children's age.”
It was believed they were needed, because parents did not sufficiently inculcate Christian doctrine and morals in their families, nor did the ministers communicate much juvenile instruction, nor could the public schools.
There are no scales that can weigh moral effects; but there can be no doubt that the salutary influences of Sunday schools have been immense.
The whole force of the common-school system being directed to unfold and sharpen the intellect mainly, moral culture in them is only incidental.
A consequence is, a most disproportionate development of mere intellect; as if the aim of life was to empower a child to gain money and secure office.
The consequence of this is, that the community becomes filled with men whose extensive knowledge, acute reason, boundless ambition, and unscrupulous selfishness, make them leaders in public plunder and commercial infidelity.
The more enlightened the intellect becomes, unguided by conscience, the more adroit it makes the villain.
instruction is no security against crime; therefore the Sunday school came to the relief and rescue of society when it maintained that something more was necessary to make men good
than to make them intelligent
. It taught that the affections are the source of happiness; and it endeavored to develop the moral powers, so as to introduce God and Christ
and truth and heaven as permanent occupants of the soul.
If it be true that the acquisition of mere science and literature imparts no adequate power to subdue vicious habit or restrain criminal passion, but often gives keenness to their edge and certainty to their aim, it follows, as a solemn consequence, that every patriot, philanthropist, and Christian
, is sacredly bound to patronize the Sunday school.
The “communion plate” belonging to the First Church
has its history, which is as follows :--
Two silver cups, bought by the church in 1719.
One silver cups, gift of Mrs. Sarah Ward
One silver cups, gift of Deacon Thomas Willis
Two silver cups, gift of Mr. Francis Leathe
One silver cups, gift of Thomas Brooks, Esq.
One large silver tankard, with a cover,--gift of Rev. Ebenezer Turell
One smaller silver tankard, with a cover,--gift of Francis and Mary Whitmore
One large, open, silver can,--gift of Hon. Isaac Royal
One silver dish,--gift of Hon. Isaac Royal
One silver dish,--gift of Deacon Richard Hall
Two silver cups,--gift of Mr. William Wyman
Two silver flagons,--gift of Hon. P. C. Brooks
One silver dish,--gift of Mr. David Bucknam
One antique silver cup; donor and date unknown.
One silver spoon;
Two silver cans,--gift of Turell Tufts
Previously to 1759, there were the following:--
One pewter flagon,--gift of Hon. John Usher
One pewter flagon,--gift of Deacon John Whitmore
Four pewter flagon, bought by the church.
Two pewter dishes,--gift of Thomas Tufts, Esq.
; and two pewter ones, bought by the church.
One silver baptismal basin,--gift of Mr. John Willis
gave a silver cup to the church in Medford
; but, he being an absentee, suspected of not liking the Amercan revolution, his agent could not deliver the cup without legislative authority.
The following public document will sufficiently explain itself:--
By a resolve of the church, in 1824, the pewter dish was sold, and a silver one purchased,--thus making the furniture of the table entire and appropriate.
|Rev. Aaron Porter,||Settled||Feb. 11, 1713.||Died||Jan. 23, 1722.|
|Rev. Ebenezer Turell,||Settled||Nov. 25, 1724.||Died||Dec. 8, 1778.|
|Rev. David Osgood.||Settled||Sept. 14, 1774.||Died||Dec. 12, 1822.|
|Rev. Andrew Bigelow,||Settled||July 9, 1823.||Resigned||Jan. 9, 1827.|
|Rev. Caleb Stetson,||Settled||Feb. 28, 1827.||Resigned||Mar. 24, 1848.|
|Rev. John Pierpont,||Settled||Aug. 1, 1849.|| || |
Desiring that full justice should be done to the history of each religious society in the town, I gave public notice in 1853, that whatever account should be furnished of any society, by its pastor or committee, should be inserted in these pages.
The following notices have been sent, and they are accordingly printed without alteration; and I have only to wish they had been more ample in details.
It should be recorded of all the religious societies of Medford
, that they
live together in peace.
All of them are faithful in laboring for the same great and holy end,--the salvation of souls;
and from my inmost heart I wish them all prosperity.
Second Congregational Society.
Early in June, 1823, after the death of Rev. David Osgood
, and soon after the settlement of Rev. Andrew Bigelow
as pastor of the first church, it appeared that the members of the church entertained different views of Christian doctrines; whereupon several members applied respectfully for letters of dismission, and began to meet by themselves for the worship of God.
In their letters addressed to the church, they disclaim personal unfriendliness, and base their action solely on the ground of different views of the gospel; particularly, as they say, “respecting the doctrines of the Trinity
, the native character of man, the divinity and atonement of Christ
, regeneration, and others allied to these.”
The following is the closing extract from their request:--
Under these impressions, dear brethren, we, conscientiously and in the fear of God, ask from the church letters of dismission, for the purpose of forming ourselves, in a regular manner, into a new and separate church; and while we deeply lament the necessity, which we think exists, for such a measure, we wish to adopt it from the sole desire of enjoying religious instruction which accords with our views of the system of truth laid down in the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The following is the closing extract of the reply of the church, after some reasoning and remonstrance:--
We shall then feel ourselves compelled in conscience, on the principles we have avowed (viz., privilege to determine our own religious convictions), to allow the liberty you ask. In such case, painful as the severance is, it will still meet with our sanction; and, should your purpose remain unchanged, we formally consent by this our letter.
In conclusion, permit us to assure you, that, whether in union with or separated from us, we shall ever cherish a lively and affectionate solicitude for your spiritual and immortal welfare.
We wish you grace, mercy, and peace from our common Lord.
It is our hearts' desire, that, whatever new relations you may mutually form, you may be edified therein, and may be built up in the most holy faith; and we implore of the Lord, that both we and you, and all his people, may glorify him with that holiness which becomes his house for ever.
On the 20th of June, 1823, a public meeting was held, and a new society formed, called “The second Congregational Society of Medford
After the following sabbath, the members of the new society fitted up a hall in the neighborhood as a temporary place of worship, and their members gradually increased.
Their pulpit was supplied by neighboring clergymen, and from the Theological Seminary in Andover
, till Oct. 2; when seventeen members from the first church, with nine members of other churches who had removed lately to Medford
, bringing with them letters of dismission, were organized into a church by an ecclesiastical council, of which Rev. William Greenough
, of Newton
, was chosen Moderator; and Rev. B. B. Wisner
, of Boston
The names of the original members were as follows (the seventeen first mentioned coming from the first church of Medford
, the others from abroad):--
, Jesse Crosby
, Thomas Jameson
, Gilbert Blanchard
, Mary Clay
, Hephsibah Fitch
, Nancy Fitch
, Mary Magoun
, Mary Blanchard
, Elizabeth Baily
, Harriet G. Rogers
, Ann Clay
, Mary R. James
, Mary Blanchard
, 2d, Nancy Jameson
, Hannah Crosby
, Mary Kidder
, James Forsayth
, Nathaniel Jaquith
, Thompson Kidder
, Thomas Pratt
, John T. White
, Jennet Forsayth, Phebe Pratt
, Cynthia White
, Lucy Blanchard
An act incorporating the new society passed the Legislature, Feb. 21, 1824, and measures were adopted for the erection of a house of worship; which, when completed, was dedicated to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Sept. 1, 1824; and, at the time of the dedication, Rev. Aaron Warner
, who had labored with acceptance nearly from the time of the organization of the church, was installed its first pastor.
His ministry of eight years was eminently successful.
There were many accessions to the congregation, and above a hundred additions to the church, in which his memory is most affectionately cherished.
He was dismissed at his own request, on account of infirm health in his family, Oct. 2, 1832.
His successor was Rev. Gordon Winslow
; ordained June, 12, 1833, and dismissed Nov. 12, 1834.
After him, Rev. Levi Pratt
was installed pastor, Aug. 19, 1835, who died of fever, in the midst of his labors, much lamented, Aug. 9, 1837.
The next pastor was Rev. A. R. Baker
, who was ordained April 25, 1838.
During his ministry, several precious seasons of revival were enjoyed, the church and congregation increased, and larger accommodations in the house of worship became necessary.
From this time, Zion
's children began to say, in prophetic language, “Give us room, that we may dwell;” and the church became, in an important sense, the mother of churches.
Besides furnishing members from time to time for the organization of several evangelical churches of other denominations, in July, 1847, she sent out a strong colony, sixty in number, to form the Mystic church
, now a flourishing society.
, after an efficient and successful ministry of over ten years, was dismissed by the decision of an ecclesiastical council in September, 1848.
For several years after, the church was without a settled pastor, passing through more than usual trials incident to such a condition; until, Feb. 25, 1852, Rev. E. P. Marvin
, who had been supplying the desk for six months previous, was installed pastor.
Under his labors, the society has regained more than its former peace and prosperity.
In the spring of 1853, they harmoniously renewed their church edifice,--replacing the desk with an elegant modern one, and the pews with those more commodious and pleasant; and, by painting and furnishing tastefully, they have rendered their church one of the most appropriate and pleasant places of religious worship.
The members of the church now number about 170 or 180; and, as they look back at their former experience, they are ready, no doubt, to adopt the language of devout Samuel: “Hitherto hath the Lord
This society was formed March 10, 1831.
The meeting-house was built in 1832, and completed Aug. 10th of that year.
The desk was supplied by transient preachers till the following spring.
In April, the Rev. Mr. Winslow W. Wright
was installed as pastor.
He resigned in April, 1835, on account of ill health.
Rev. Joseph Banfield
was soon settled as his successor, but resigned in 1838. Dr. Hosea Ballou
was settled in April, 1838.
The meeting-house was remodelled
and enlarged in 1850.
The society was kindly invited by the Unitarian parish to use their house for worship while the repairs were making.
This invitation was accepted.
Rev. Dr. Ballou
, having been called to the Presidency of Tufts's College, resigned in August, 1853; and, in April, 1854, the present pastor, G. V. Maxham
, was ordained.
The church was organized Jan. 19, 1834; at which time twenty-three persons joined it.
This is the only society of this denomination which has been gathered in Medford
It has great prosperity; and its Sunday school contains, on an average, one hundred and fifty pupils.
In the year 1843, no Methodist Episcopal church existed in this place.
Some twelve or fifteen individuals, members of that denomination, connected either with a church in Charlestown
or the one in Malden
, were accustomed to meet each week and hold a class-meeting, which was conducted by one of their number who had been appointed leader.
During the winter of 1843-4, Rev. J. W. Whitman
, stationed at Malden
, and whose circuit included this town also, preached several times, in a small building, to attentive congregations; and, the Holy Spirit
accompanying his earnest endeavors, a gracious revival was the result, and about sixty individuals were brought under a saving religious influence.
In the spring of 1844, “Father Pickering
,” a veteran soldier of our Lord
, was stationed, by the New England Conference, at this place.
With true apostolic zeal, he organized a church, gathered the trembling ones within the fold, and, by his heavenly teachings, led them on to more perfect trust and confidence in Christ
During this year also, and under his special supervision,--the result of the earnest self-denial of some, and the generous kindness of others,--a plain, neat, and commodious house of worship was erected.
In 1845, Rev. G. W. Frost
was appointed to labor here; and was succeeded, in 1846, by Rev. J. Augustus Adams
, a thorough scholar and an earnest Christian, who bent all his energies to the great work of guiding souls heavenward.
The year following, Rev. J. Shepard
, a good man and full of the Holy Ghost
, was pastor.
In 1848, Rev. I. W. Tucker
occupied the same station;
and was followed, in 1849, by Rev. Willard Smith
, who, in labors more abundant, was an instrument, in the hands of God, of an untold amount of good in this portion of God's heritage.
He labored here two years; and tears, such as were shed for Paul
the sorrow felt at his departure.
During the years 1851-2, the station was filled by Rev. A. D. Morrill
, who, as usual, labored with his whole soul for the spiritual benefit of his charge.
In the year 1853, Rev. John Perkins
, in the spirit of his Master, and with tender love and zeal, performed the duties of pastor.
He was followed by Rev. Charles Noble
; who was succeeded by Rev. Edward S. Best
, to whose watch-care it is now intrusted.
A prosperous and interesting sabbath school has, from the first, been connected with the church, where much good has been done for the rising generation.
Since the commencement of the present year (1855), the house has been neatly repaired, and now presents an inviting aspect to those who worship there.
The origin of the first Baptist Society in Medford
was in the summer of 1840, when a number of persons of the Baptist
persuasion, some of whom had long been residents in the town, associated themselves together for the purpose of sustaining the preaching of the gospel, and especially for opening a place of worship for the special accommodation of the many strangers who patrolled our streets and thronged the public square on the sabbath.
The use of the Town Hall
was secured; and public worship commenced on the 16th of August, 1840. The Rev. Dr. Lucius M. Bolles
, of Boston
of the Baptist Missionary Union
, officiated as clergyman, and preached to an interested and attentive audience.
The meetings were continued, with growing zeal, until late in the summer of 1841, when a church was formed, consisting of twelve members; and George W. Bosworth
, a graduate of the Newton Theological Institution, was invited to become its pastor.
A council of delegates from neighboring
churches was convened, Sept. 8, 1841, in the vestry of the Second Congregational meeting-house.
After due organization, the council proceeded to examine the articles of faith and covenant of the church; which were found to be substantially the same as the New Hampshire
articles, so called, and such as are generally adopted by the regular Calvinistic Baptist
churches in New England
The council then proceeded to examine the pastor elect; and, after a brief adjournment, the public services of recognizing the church were performed.
At the same time, and by the above-named council, George W. Bosworth
was publicly ordained to the work of the gospel ministry.
Rev. Mr. Bosworth
labored in his infant church, with great acceptance and success, for nearly five years; when he found that the demands of his family required a larger salary, and he removed to a wider field of labor.
He reluctantly yielded to a necessity, and left Medford
early in 1846, greatly to the grief of the church.
A society was formed to act in concert with the church; and was incorporated, under the general act of incorporation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
, May 29, 1842, on application of Moses Parsons
, Lewis C. Sorntas
, Robert L. Ells
, William Parsons
, and others.
Many inconveniences were experienced by the church and society from worshipping in a place so common, and appropriated to so many different uses, as the Town Hall
Preparations were now made for building a plain and neat chapel for the better accommodation of the worshippers.
The very kind and fraternal feeling of Dudley Hall, Esq.
, enabled them to secure a convenient and eligible piece of land, adjoining the old burying-ground, near the centre of the town.
The society proceeded to erect their chapel during the summer of 1842; being kindly assisted by some of their fellow-citizens, among whom were the late Peter C. Brooks
, and others, and also by friends of adjoining towns.
On the 14th day of September, 1842, their chapel, being finished and ready for occupancy, was publicly dedicated to the service and worship of Almighty God.
The church and society, rejoicing that they could now worship under their own vine and fig-tree, gladly removed to their chapel, where they still worship.
After the removal of Mr. Bosworth
, the church and society were for some months destitute of a pastor; when they united in the election of Rev. B. C. Grafton
formerly of West Cambridge
, as their pastor.
Rev. Mr. Grafton
continued but a few months in this relation, leaving the people again destitute of an under-shepherd.
Some months now elapsed; when Mr. G. F. Danforth
, a graduate of New Hampden, N. H., was called, publicly ordained, and installed as pastor.
Rev. Mr. Danforth
resigned his pastoral relation after the brief period of little more than a year.
A destitution of some months followed, when the people again succeeded in calling a minister to supply the sacred desk; and the Rev. E. K. Fuller
, of Somerset, Mass.
, was invited to fill the sacred office.
Rev. Mr. Fuller
commenced his labors on the 1st of April, 1849, and continued his work, with much success, until April 1, 1854,--a period of five years.
Notwithstanding the too frequent changes in the pastoral relation, it has been the good fortune of this church and society to enjoy its full share of increase and prosperity.
Since its organization, two new societies of the Protestant faith have been formed in Medford
, and two new churches have been built.
Ours is the only Baptist church in the town; but the increase of population, and the spread of our faith, have combined to make our present place of worship much too limited to accommodate the regular worshippers; and we contemplate, as early as practicable, the removal of our meeting-house, and the erection of another, of more modern architecture, and much larger dimensions.
We also take pleasure in acknowledging the generous gift of a piece of ground, by Dudley Hall, Esq.
, for the purpose of enlarging our meeting-house lot. The church and society have recently been so fortunate as to secure the pastoral services of Rev. Thomas E. Keely
, the former successful pastor, for a number of years, of the Baptist church in Kingston, Mass.
That his labors may be owned and blessed of the great Head
of the church, and that the little one may continue, increase, and multiply, bringing glory to God and salvation to souls, is the prayer of the flock.
This third Congregational Society in Medford
had its origin in the second society.
From its printed documents, the following history is extracted:--
In consequence of some difference of opinion in the church, a
conference of four neighboring clergymen was called, in March, 1847, to whom were submitted statistics and other facts, showing the necessity of increased church accommodation for the orthodox Congregationalists.
At this conference, Rev. Mr. Baker and a large number of the brethren of the Second Church were present.
As the result, it was the unanimous opinion of the clergymen from abroad, and nearly as unanimously the opinion of the brethren who were present, that it was highly expedient that a new church and congregation should be formed.
In pursuance of this advice, with the nearly unanimous consent of the Second Church, separate worship was established in the Town Hall, May 9, 1847.
A new church, called the Mystic Church, was here organized, with sixty members, by a large ecclesiastical council, the 6th of July. Rev. Abner B. Warner, a nephew of Rev. Professor Warner, the first pastor of the Second Church, was installed over the Mystic Church, Oct. 27 of the same year.
The present house of worship was dedicated Feb. 14, 1849. Rev. A. B. Warner
died May 26, 1853. Rev. Jacob M. Manning
was ordained pastor Jan. 5, 1854.
The liturgy of the Protestant Episcopal church was first used in public worship, in Medford
, on Christmas Eve, A. D. 1847.
About the same time, a hall was procured, and the services of a clergyman were engaged for a limited time, in the hope that it might be found expedient to form a parish.
It soon became manifest that a sufficient number of persons were interested in the enterprise to justify this step, and a meeting was accordingly called ; and, on the 15th day of February, A. D. 1848, a parish was legally organized, under the name of Grace Church.
In March following, the Rev. David Greene Haskins
was chosen rector.
In September, 1849, measures were taken for building a church.
A convenient location was chosen, and a small but neat and beautiful edifice was erected, and, on the 11th of May, 1850, consecrated to the worship of God.
retained the charge of the parish until February, 1852; when he resigned, and was succeeded by the Rev. Justin Field
, the present rector.