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1762 this commodious house, in which we this day present ourselves before the Lord, was built on nearly the same spot. It is constructed on somewhat larger dimensions, being 60 feet in length, 44 in width, and 26 feet stud; and has been admired for its just proportions and pleasing appearance. Having been lately well repaired, it affords a hopeful prospect of remaining a convenient temple for the worship of the Most High for many years. Thus God, in his goodness, has been pleased to continue to us the visible tokens of his presence for an hundred years. May he mercifully grant, that in this house his spiritual presence may delight to dwell.
For the greater convenience and advantage in managing their municipal concerns, the people made application to the Legislature, and on the 20th of June, 1793, obtained an act of incorporation, forming them into a town by the name of Hamilton. This separation from the ancient and highly respectable town of Ipswich.was a transaction in which the inhabitants of both felt themselves deeply interested. In accomplishing this desirable object, every proceeding of the people was conducted with entire unanimity. Altho' the pecuniary condition appeared to be large, it was promptly and cheerfully paid. And let it also be noticed, with peculiar satisfaction, that the unpleasant feelings excited in the minds of any of our brethren in Ipswich appear to have very happily subsided.
In taking this review of the century which closes with this day, it has been my intention to confine myself principally to the ecclesiastical concerns of this church and religious society. On this cursory retrospection of passing events, many reflections rush upon the mind, which time will not permit me to notice. I must, however, beg your patience while some of them are suggested.
The preservation of this church and society in uninterrupted peace and harmony for an hundred years claims our sincere praise and thanksgiving to God. May our hearts, warmed with gratitude and love, unitedly offer up ascriptions of glory to Him whose watchful care and tender mercy have been extended to this church and people during this period of time.
While many religious societies have been rent by divisions
among themselves, and divided and separated by intermeddling sectaries of various descriptions and denominations, this society has been happily preserved from any disturbances of this kind. Under the ministration of my worthy predecessor, the people discovered no disposition to contend on the ground of religious speculations and opinions. His uniform strain of instructive, evangelical and useful preaching united them in sentiment, and guarded them against an itching fondness for novelties. Steady habits were then established, and have happily been transmitted down to the present time.
In the management of civil and municipal concerns great unanimity has very uniformly prevailed. In few, perhaps in no society, has there been less of suits at law, unnecessary litigations, or bitter party contentions. While human nature remains as it is there will be occasional difference of opinions and temporary disagreements; but neighborly kindness, candor and friendship have undoubtedly been strong traits in the character of this society from the beginning.
In confirmation of the prevailing candid and peaceable disposition of the people, I must mention an event which rarely happens. Two ministers have supplied the pulpit for an hundred years, except a short interval between the death of one and the invitation of the other. That their lives should be continued so long is to be wholly ascribed to the sustaining power and mercy of God. But separations too often occur from other causes besides a removal by death. In few societies, I believe, have two ministers lived, and in succession continued their ministerial labors, for a century. It certainly reflects credit on the friendly disposition of the society. For myself I cheerfully embrace this occasion to tender to this Church and Society my sincere thanks for the candor and forbearance you have exercised towards me; and for the many instances and tokens of affection I have received during my ministry.
Since our union in this sacred relation we have seen troublesome times. We have been subjected to many privations and difficulties. I have found myself, at times, in perplexed and trying circumstances. But in no situation has your friendly attention been withdrawn. Marks of kindness and respect, by the donations of a number of individuals, have relieved present wants and claim my grateful acknowledge ments.
In frequent reviews of my ministerial labors I find deficiencies enough to humble me to the dust. I have to lament that no more success has attended my feeble exertions. Sure I am that your best, your eternal interests have lain with weight upon my mind. My conscience bears me witness that it has been my earnest prayer, and all my desire, to bring to your view and impress upon your hearts the most essential truths and doctrines of the gospel salvation: to preach to you a C'rucified Savior, to persuade you to rest on that sure foundation which God has laid in Zion, to exercise that faith by which the just do live, and to follow after that holiness of heart and life without which no man shall see the Lord. Whatever success may have attended these humble endeavors to promote the glory of God, to ailvance the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom, and your own best good, let it all be ascribed to the riches of free grace and mercy.
The time is at hand when your kindness to me and my labors with you must cease forever. My period of life having arrived to three score years and ten, is enough to teach me that my days upon earth must very shortly be numbered. But I have another monitor placed hourly before me—the disa tressing disorder with which I have been long exercise,* and which I find increasing upon me, admonishes me that a few hours may close the scene. Many times I have had reason 10 apprehend only a few breaths more remained. Often m er the pressure of this complaint, I have been sustained in the services of the sanctuary to my own a-tonishment. I think I can say, it is good for me that I have been alllitoit. (alled so constantly to familiarize my mind with the near view- of eternitr, it has had a tenileney, I trust, to strengthen a faith and hope which removes the fear of the la-t enemy.
Thus far it has piea-e! God to lengthen out the span, but nature must fail—the time is near. Although life may be
* The authaa for fourteen years.
protracted a little longer, I feel that on this occasion I am taking a parting leave of you, my respected and beloved people; that I may with propriety on this day bid you a long, a most endearing and affectionate Farewell. The tongue that now speaks shortly will cease to move; the heart that now throbs with affectionate concern for your eternal well-being, will be cold in death, and this worthless body you will deposit in the dust.
I commend you to God and the word of his grace, unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all you can ask or think. When you find yourself destitute of a minister, may the Great Shepherd take you under his gracious protection, and provide for you an able and faithful pastor, who shall feed you with the bread of life, and give to every soul his portion in due season. In all your concerns, seek light and direction from above-cultivate the true spirit of the gospeland may the God of peace be with you and bless you.
May this church see far more glorious days in the century now begun than in that which is just closed; may great additious be made of those that shall be saved—and may it be favored with the presence of Him who will be glorified in the church throughout all ages, world without end.
I had wished to have been more particular in this part of ny address, but the time, so long protracted, forbids. I will only add that, though we must part, we shall meet again; meet on that great day of the Lord, when I must render an account how I preached, and you must give account how you have heard—when the righteous Judge will pass sentence, and award our destiny in the ages of eternity. Solemn meeting! Awful day! O, that we may then meet with joy, and be permitted to inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundations of the world, and to unite with the redeemed in all ages of the church, in ascriptions of blessings, and honor, and glory, and power, unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever-Amen!
Abbot, Mr., i, 99, 111; ii, 339, 343, 345, 318
96, 113, 116, 117, 385, 437, 449; ii, 34, 109, 228, 267–271, 289, 300,