« FöregåendeFortsätt »
JOB 14: 6.
TILL HE SHALL ACCOMPLISH, AS A HIRELING HIS DAY.
The days of our years, says the Sacred Poet, are threescore years and ten. This is the appointed time to man upon earth. And afterwards the faded look, the grey hairs gathering thick upon him, the bald head, the dimmed eye, the deafened ear, and the faultering step-all admonish him that his tabernacle of clay is beginning to totter, and must shortly fall — that it is now almost time to be at home, and that the short residue of his continuance here, to use the strong expression of another, is an encroachment upon eternity.
The sweet psalmist of Israel adds — Yet if by reason of strength they be fourscore years. Some persons, from vigorous constitution, continued activity and elastic spirits, never suffering themselves to grow old in mind, however they may in years and every man may prolong his term of activity and of youth on the one hand, by wholesome energies, or on the other, contract them and become old, by self-indulgence and sluggishness — never suffering himself, as the wise saying is, “to rust out, but to wear out”working while the day lasts, be that day longer or shorter, reach their fourscore years; and some even go beyond that period; yet, is that strength labor and sorrow, and it is soon cut off and we fly away. But if any one give vent to morbid feelings, he will find himself, even while a young man,
up into an old one. As a man thinketh so will he always be. And if he be not slothful in
in old age.
business, but fervent in spirit serving the Lord, by continued service to his fellow-beings around him, he, in the truest sense, will be young, even while far advanced in years, and bring forth fruit too
And more than one, I this moment see before me, who answers to this enviable description.
Now that period of most vigorous activity, and, certainly, of most extensive usefulness, assigned to man, by the psalmist in our text, I have already past. And a day or two since I completed a ministry of fifty years among you,- forty-nine and one month of which, I have been your ordained minister. Fifty years since, I preached my first sermon to this Society. The fulfilment of previous engagements alone prevented my remaining then, as requested. But I promised to make no further ones and afterwards to return. The small pox, however, in the mean time, had broken out, and in the general alarm, the doors of this church were closed, till November the 11th, when I resumed my ministry here, and accepted a call on the 24th day of the next month to settle down in this place, with a small handful of people,- a people of exhausted means, but of noble hearts; and here I have ever since continued, and have now accomplished, " for weal or for wo,” as a hireling my day.
To me, therefore, this is among the most solemn and thoughtful events of my life. I have ever been conservative in my feelings – I never forsook a friend, unless he had first forsaken me. I never forgot old friends in the accession of new ones, though the former may have passed away. And did not this occasion touch my heart, I should be destitute of the best affections of our nature. In the mouldering away of any ties that do not bind us to suffering, there is always something that is painful. But in the decay of those that
form one of the most tender relations of life relations, which time has rendered venerable, and recollection hallowed; which friendship made sweet, and religion sacred, I freely own that it saddens my heart," and casts a shade around its gladness. These ties though not now severed, yet, I full well know, are one by one, gradually loosening. I have, heretofore, seen many whom I loved both of my earlier and later days, gathered peaceably to the tomb, and monuments of their worth were then erected, and still remain fresh in my heart.
. I see a few others waiting, till their discharge shall come. Every
returning Sabbath, I discern around me, the faces of many of you, whom I look upon as my spiritual children, whose fathers and mothers, in by-gone days, were dear to me, and I to them. Many of you in your infancy I folded in my arms, and carried to the Baptismal Font; and gave you back again to Him from whom you came, in covenant blessings never to be broken. And not a few of whom, I may hope one day to present before the mercy seat,” and say, these are the children thou gavest to me. I can express no better wish for them, than that they may be true scions of the original stock. For though it had its imperfections, as has every thing below the skies, it had along with them its all powerful redeeming qualities, worthy of the Pilgrim Fathers. And my mind still lingers fondly with cherished affection on their virtues, and it is my earnest prayer, that I may be worthy one day to be associated again, and to rejoice together with them in that brighter world, which is far removed from the power of chance, and from the reach of change.
From time immemorial a custom has prevailed in our churches, of delivering on an occasion like this, an appropriate discourse, containing a minute history of the Society, during the preceding half Century ; by means of which, the history of the town, the county, the Commonwealth, and finally the country may be preserved, and perpetuated in durable records. But we live in times, when the love of change, "inscribed upon all mortal things, has taken so boundless a sweep, as seems aiming to subvert all that is venerable in our institutions, long hallowed by sacred recollections, consecrated by holy associations, or grateful to the memory of our fathers ; so that now, even a fifth part of the former period is considered as the long ministry ; - and if any one continue twenty years with a people, with whom the connection, formerly, lasted, like that of man and wife,“ till death them did part ;" it is thought high time to give a similar discourse. And a similar one I gave six years since, in the forty-fourth year of my ministry ; not from the slightest distrust I ever entertained, even for a moment, of your fidelity or affection, but simply, because I considered it possible, if not even probable, that I might not live to reach the arrival of this day. And anxious that the history of this Parish, fully known in all its facts, by no one living, so much as by myself, from its earliest foundation, might be rescued from oblivion. I will here repeat
part of it.
The Third, or Jamaica* Plain Parish in Roxbury, had its origin in the piety of an amiable female. I refer to Mrs. Susanna, wife of Benjamin Pemberton. She was the daughter of Peter Faneuil, Esq., who, in 1740,erected and gave to the Town of Boston, the far famed Hall which still bears his name ; and who built, also, the dwelling-house, now standing here, recently known as late Dr. John Warren's Country Seat. This house Mrs. Pemberton with her husband, first occupied somewhere about the year 1766, or '7. Finding her situation too far removed from any place of public worship to render her attendance convenient, she proposed to her husband who possessed ample means, and had no children, or very near relations, to enter into the then very arduous undertaking of forming a new Parish out of the second, which extended almost to his own dwelling - of erecting this church, where we are now assembled, at his own expense, and of settling a minister therein, in whom they could alike enjoy the benefits of a social friend and a religious guide.
This Society, at that time, constituted a part of the second or Upper Parish, under the pastoral care of Rev. Nathaniel Walter, the limits of which extended not above eighty rods below the spot which this church now occupies. The proposed object Mr. Pemberton at length accomplished, in union with some little aid obtained from a few individuals who, by work performed by themselves on the building, or by contributing for the object the sum of £25 sterling, purchased to themselves pews here, and by paying what was then thought a considerable sum to the Upper Parish, to reconcile them to the separation. But their meeting-house being, at the time, very much decayed, and the erection of a new one becoming shortly necessary, favored the division more than any other circumstance. Nor did Mr. Pemberton neglect to avail himself of this advantage. He proposed to give by four instalments the sum of £533.6.8 sterling, to which Jamaica Plain Society agreed to add by similar instalments £133.1.6 sterling, amounting in the whole to £666.7.8. This was to aid the second Parish in rebuilding on the spot, where their present meeting-house stands, about one mile or more further from
* See Appendix, Note A.
He deceased in 1742, the year in which Faneuil Hall was finished.