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A remarkable series of these meetings began in 1774, at the residence of Deacon Nathaniel Whipple, on account of his daughter, who was unable to attend public worship. These were continued with more or less regularity until Dr. Cutler's failing hcalth compelled him to relinquish them, a few years before his own death.
Rev. Dr. Wadsworth observes of Dr. Cutler, that, as a minister, “his object was to win souls to Christ, and establish them intelligent, judicious, and exemplary Christians. His devotional exercises were fervent, breathing the spirit of primitive piety. He was of easy access and ready to communicate, remarkably conversant with his people, and took a deep interest in all their concerns. Conciliating in his disposition, he consulted the things that make for peace and edification."
Temple Cutler, Esq., states : “ During the early years of Dr. Cutler's pastorate there were several seasons of uncommon religious interest, and in 1799 occurred a marked revival, commencing among the young people of the congregation, and resulting in very considerable additions to the church. Many of these were intelligent and excellent persons; three of them afterward became settled ministers of the Gospel in other towns. An evidence of the thoroughness of this work was the fact that the church, in no instance, found it necessary to deal with any of them on account of irregularities. A number of conversions occurred in the latter part of his ministry.”
Dr. Cutler writes to his son, Ephraim Cutler, in the Northwestern Territory, July 1, 1800: “ There has been a very remarkable attention to religion in this town since last fall. It is general, but more especially among young people. It has been still, and without the smallest appearance of excitement. Some instances have been very remarkable, in the alteration which has taken place in the most thoughtless, loose, and careless. Through the winter I gave much attention to it, and now it calls for the whole of my time. I frequently meet with them in small societies; have had many private lectures, and almost daily conferences. Between thirty and forty have been added to the church, and many more will soon be added. I found it necessary to be with them myself as much as possible to prevent enthusiasm, extravagance, or errors. There has been good attention in many towns in Massachusetts and New HIampshire.”
Dr. Cutler read law, and was admitted to the bar in 1767, but abandoned it for the ministry. Ile completed a regular course of study in medicine, and practiced it with signal success, gratuitously administering to the relief of the indigent.
It has been truly said of him, that “patriotism glowed in his heart; that, whether at home or abroad, his mind was intent on projecting great and good plans, consulting the benefit of generations to come. His knowledge of botany, astronomical calculations, meteorological observations, and agricultural improvements, evince the extensive sphere in which his active mind was employed, and how industriously his time was occupied. The asthma, with which he was afflicted, subjected him to peculiar inconveniences, and was attended by paroxysms of extreme distress, which he endured with patience, preserving his usual cheerfulness, and rarely, until near the end of his life, omitting sanctuary or parochial services."
In his diary, September 11, 1821, he writes : “ This day it is 50 years since I was ordained in this place. My state of health renders it impracticable to take any public notice of the day. How wonderful that my life should be prolonged to this day! How much I have to be thankful for! And much to be humble for!”
The Rev. Dr. Wadsworth, of Danvers, who preached his funeral sermon, and was an intimate friend, says: “In a familiar interview with Dr. Cutler, a short time previous to his decease, apprehending himself upon the confines of eternity, he observed that he had long been expecting to put off this earthly tabernacle, and could cheerfully welcome the summons. Death was no terror to his mind. Many wearisome days and nights had been appointed him; but he had enjoyed those precious consolations which he had often endeavored to ad. minister to others in trouble. Infinite wisdom, he said, orders all aright, and will overrule all for the best. I have no will of my own, but acquiesce entirely in the divine disposals. Upon a retrospective view of life, he expressed an humble sense of
deficiencies and infirmities, but, with melting emotions, declared that his dependence was solely upon the righteousness, atonement, and intercession of Christ, as the foundation of his hope as a Christian.”
Obituary notice of Dr. Cutler, published in the Salem Observer
(being a communication to that paper) and in the Essex Register, immediately after his death.
Died at IIamilton, on the 28th of July (1823), Rev. Manasseh Cutler, LL.D., in the eighty-second year of his age, and fifty-second of his ministry in that place. The God of nature had endowed him with a sound mind of a superior order, and in the pursuit of knowledge he labored with uncommon success. In several of the sciences, his researches and communications attracted the attention of the literary world, and procured him many honorable marks of distinction. In 1781, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1784, of the Philadelphia Philosophical Society. In 1789, the degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon him by Yale College, where he was educated. In 1792, he was constituted a member of the Historical and Agricultural Society of this Commonwealth ; in 1809, of the Philadelphia Linnæan Society; in 1813, of the American Antiquarian Society; and in 1815, of the New England Linnæan Society. He was also an honorary member of the Massachusetts Medical Society. He was an ardent, distinguished friend to his country, and possessed an enlightened, discriminating understanding of her best interests. In 1800, and again in 1802, he was chosen by his fellow-citizens as a representative in the Congress of the United States; a station which he filled with dignity, and with satisfaction and advantage to his constituents. But there were studies and services still more important, to which most of his long life was devoted. Of his scientific and political pursuits, though in themselves highly interesting and beneficial to the community, congenial to his taste, and introductory to intercourse and correspondence with men of celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic, he observed during his last sickness that he reviewed them with but little comparative satisfaction, as interfering in some measure with the more imperious claims of that holy office, to which all other claims should be subordinated by those who are invested with it. He regarded the employment of an ambassador of Christ as the most important and honorable on earth. The people of his charge know with what ability and faithfulness he discharged its sacred duties. They can tell the .concern he uniformly manifested for their spiritual as well as temporal welfare, with what solemnity and earnestness he reproved, rebuked and exhorted, with all long-suffering and patience, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that he might present every man perfect in Christ, and how ready he was to spend and be spent in the service of God and of souls.
Respecting his views of divine truth, we have his living and dying testimony of his belief of what are distinctly denominated the doctrines of grace, embracing the essential divinity of the Savior, the necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, and justification exclusively by faith. His confidence in these and kindred doctrines of the Gospel was strengthened to the last; they were, in his apprehension, the fundamental principles of the Christian system; he inculcated them to others, and on them he rested his own hope of salvation; indeed, what, in the prospect of dissolution, he was particularly desirous to have noticed concerning him, was the deep sense he entertained of the importance of Gospel sentiment, as distinguished from that self-styled rational and liberal faith, which, he said, in his sober judgment, after a careful attention to the most able discussions of the subject, reduces the glorious economy of salvation by grace to a level with the religion of nature. Yet few exemplified a greater degree of candor toward such as differed from him on topics of minor consequence, or paid less regard to the shibboleths of any party. He esteemed it a privilege to live in this age of benevolent enterprise, and was not an unconcerned spectator of the noble exertions of the Christian world to extend the blessings of our holy religion to the ends of the earth. We well remember his zeal in the formation of the Bible Society of Salem and Vicinity, the fervor with which he spoke and acted on that oc
casion, and the impressive manner in which he officiated as president of that useful institution.
While he delighted to associate with great and good men, and to promote great and good designs, he was remarkably condescending to men of low degree, was particularly attentive to the minute details of business, and by unwearied assiduity and perseverance seldom failed to accomplish what he undertook. Among his ministerial brethren he was esteemed and honored for the commanding dignity of his deportment, the maturity and correctness of his judgment, his refined affability, and affectionate kindness. His extensive acquaintance with men and things, combined with an amiable social disposition, rendered him exceedingly interesting and valuable as a friend, companion, and acquaintance. As a parent at the head of his family, and in all the relations and intercourse of life, he exhibited the temper, and was habitually governed by the maxims of the Gospel, approving himself an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Having, as is supposed, long lived the life, he apparently died the death of the righteous, to whom remains a most glorious rest. After a scene of protracted extreme bodily suffering, which he endured with Christian heroism and patience, he calmly resigned his spirit into the hands of the Redeemer, and now we trust is inheriting the promises. “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.”