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more to incur new expenses, — all these considerations combined, led to a proposal in September, 1788, of a reunion with the Second or Upper Parish for one year, by way of trial ; provided their minister, the Rev. John Bradford, officiate one half the time in this church. Committees from both societies were chosen to confer upon the subject ; but having met, the ideas of each relating to the terms, were so wide apart, that the proposal was relinquished altogether, and the pulpit supplied by occasional preaching only,sometimes by subscription, at others by a general tax, and very often the doors of the church were closed, and the parishioners scattered in whatever direction they preferred. The society notwithstanding displayed a steadiness and propriety of conduct, during the whole of this period, truly worthy of commendation, in that, while many societies had been torn in sunder by sectarians, and the peace and order of families destroyed by unnatural divisions on religious subjects, where union ought invariably to exist, it preserved itself from all such difficulties, and continued to walk firm and undeviating in the order and fellowship of the gospel.
On Sunday morning, April 22d, 1792, your present pastor first preached here from Luke ii. 14th verse : “ Glory be to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will towards men.” Soon after the small pox broke out in Boston and the vicinity, so as to require a general inoculation, and the public services of this temple were, for a time, suspended. As soon as possible they were resumed, and officiating occasionally here, till accepting an invitation the parish had extended to him to become their pastor, he was ordained over this religious society in the afternoon of March 27th, 1793, the parish consisting of only fifty-four families.
Rev. Joseph Eckley, of Boston, preached the sermon from 2 Cor. i. 24: “ Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy.”
September 25th, 1810, late Dr. John Warren, of Boston, presented the two volumes of the Pulpit Bible we still make use of.
In 1815, Dr. Belknap's Sacred Poetry was introduced in place of Dr. Watts's Psalms and Hymns, which had been previously used here.
March 24th, 1817. The subject of a separation of this parish together with the upper, from the town of Roxbury, was a second time agitated, and a committee of five persons chosen to investigate the propriety of an application to the General Court for an act of incorporation into a distinct town.*
The parish still increasing, this church underwent an enlargement May 12, 1820, of thirteen feet in clear back, and complete repair within and without in its present form, new pulpit, new long pews instead of the former square ones, excepting those on the wall, new ceiling of the whole church, by means of which addition thirty pews on the lower floor were given, besides ten in the galleries.
On the 29th May, 1821, the bell which had been presented to the society by late Gov. John Hancock, in 1783,+ was removed, and the present one placed in its stead.
In 1825 the burying yard was enlarged. Same year, September 25th, Ebenezer May, of Paris, France, who was born here, sent to us a large pulpit folio Bible, for the acceptance of this society, with a request that it might be kept in the pulpit.
March 29th, 1830, the pews were first voted to be assessed in this church, instead of a parish tax on real and personal estates for the support of the ministry, as had heretofore been the case.
In the summer of 1931, the erection of Eliot Hall commenced, and on the 17th day of January, 1832, being completed, it was dedicated in the afternoon by prayer. I
July 22d, 1832, our delightful organ first poured forth its sweet tones of melody in this church.s
In 1833 the whole cemetery was greatly beautified, by trees being placed in it, and enclosed within iron railing, obtained partly by subscription, but principally from the munificence of a generous individual.||
February 10, 1836, Rev. George Whitney, of West Roxbury, was installed here at 2 o'clock, P. M.
July 3, 1836, Mr. Greenwood's selection of hymns was introduced by previous vote of the parish.
In order to the completion of our history I have only to add now the few recent occurrences already as familiarly known to your
. * See Appendix, Note F.
| See Appendix, Note G. # See Appendix, Note H.
§ See Appendix, Note I. || Mrs. Maria F. Greenough, now Mrs. Sumner.
selves as to me. And if I have already, or in so doing may be again compelled to speak in the first person oftener than I have been accustomed to do, or even approve, my only apology must be found in the occasion, and its consequent personality.
Five or six years since an English gentleman * accidentally residing here, purchased an estate bordering upon Jamaica Pond, and conceived the plan of gathering an Episcopal Church. There were, at the time, not more than five or six families of that denomination among us, and all but two of them worshipped with us.
After a time a religious service in the Episcopal mode was held in a private house by some few clergymen of that order. Soon after a cellar and foundation were prepared for a small church, but failed in further progress, through deficiency of means; both Trinity and St. Paul's churches in Boston, though solicited, withholding their aid, considering the object to be premature.
At length a gentleman in Brookline, being willing to unite and aid in the erection of a building, a site was purchased, and a small chapel, called St. John's Chapel, erected thereon. It commenced building Sept. 22, 1840, and was consecrated on Sunday evening, July 25, 1841.
Two rival candidates were next selected for the Rectorship, but a decided difference in preference having prevailed among the friends of each, a disruption took place, and left the society disabled from proceeding. An Episcopal clergyman finally purchased the church, became its rector, and divine service is still held there.
The great increase of the city of Boston, and consequently of its vicinity, has largely contributed, within a few years past, to swell the population of what is called Jamaica Plain Parish, and greatly enhanced the value of estates thereon. Persons of different religious denominations ; some of the Catholic, some of the Swedenborgian, some of the Methodist, some of the Universalist, and some of the Baptist name, have recently found their residence among us. One gentleman from Boston of the latter denomination,t in union with some others from Brookline, previously established here, projected the formation of a Baptist Society. And in December, 1840, the village hall was obtained for Sunday ser
* Mr. Charles Beaumont.
† Mr. John Moffat.
vices therein, and on 13th of same month these services commenced. Since that period, a site has been purchased in view of the erection of a meeting-house. It is said, however, to be suspended at present in consequence of some disunion. But neither that, nor the other has at all injured our own society. On the contrary, a new interest and impulse seems to have been imparted therefrom. Both the societies carry with them our kind feelings and prayers for their spiritual improvement, and for their success in doing good, and promoting the cause and interests of our common master. We
are perfectly willing that every one may worship God as seemeth meet unto him, as we do ourselves.
“ And censuring none, are zealous still
To follow as to learn God's will.”
It will never be our fault then, I trust, so far as in us lieth, if we do not live peaceably and in love, too, with them, and with all men honoring every where such as bear the stamp of Jesus.
I would here simply remark, as a somewhat curious coincidence, but not conveying the smallest reproach, that the three individuals with whom the three societies now here originated, have been successively disappointed, not in the loss, but in the very attainment of the object itself. The founder of this society in the person of his own selection and settlement as his minister; the founder of the Episc.pal Church in the result as just stated; and the originator of the Baptist society has already quitted it from some dissatisfaction. Not one of the three originated with the old Roxbury inhabitants, who have never been remarkable for their love of restless innovation, of perpetual novelty, or unceasing changes in religion ; but sought the good old tried paths, and walked safely and surely and quietly in them. But times have now changed, and men with them. And both the times and men, too, require perhaps that now it should be otherwise, and we unhesitatingly acquiesce in the result.
But for ourselves, we love this habitation of our God, this temple where his honor dwelleth. Our fathers worshipped in this place. Its interests, therefore, are or ought to be identified with every thing that is holy, lovely and venerable in our recollections ;
and sooner shall our right hand forget its cunning, and our tongues cleave to the roof of our mouths, than we forget thee, thou fair city of our God.
In the review of the half century now gone, we are insensibly led to observe the incessant changes in the characters and conditions of individuals, of families and societies.
The whole scenery of our lives is perpetually shifting, and there are endless variations in the aspect of every thing with which we are conversant upon earth.
Different maxims are adopted, different plans pursued, different opinions entertained. As each successive wave upon the sea shore obliterates the former, so does each generation the manners, opinions and habits of the last. And they are almost as different from the past as though they pertained to a different race.
Our days, too, upon earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. The earth is continually opening her bosom even to the slightest tread. How soon, too, does the feeble age of infancy give way to the sportive amusements of childhood. The bloom and freshness of youth and beauty but scarcely appear before they begin to fade ; and after a few short years of maturity and vigor are passed, the evil days arrive, when we are compelled to say, we have no pleasure in them, and then God changes our countenances and sends us away. And what changes have I not seen in them! What changes the most painful and unlooked for, did not even a single day bring forth before both your eyes and my own in the sudden removal of my so much loved colleague !*
The lapse of a few years only deprives us of the society we had been accustomed to value and enjoy. Old friends and acquaintance are withdrawn from our side ; and if our pilgrimage be protracted upon earth, we are left solitary and alone in the midst of a new generation that know and understand us not.
Brief as the period of my residence with you seems to have been, and it appears to me only as a short dream of the night, I have lived to see consigned to their final resting place, every man in this society who was head of a family when I came into it, and every woman of the same, with the exception of four only, — all of whom are far advanced in the vale of years; and I have been co
* Rev. George Whitney died April 2, 1842. See Appendix, Note J.