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rendered to the church constant and invaluable service in many ways. We are strong in men of this standing, with whom we would most gladly share our closest fellowship. It has been a common usefulness in which we have prospered, with one accord and one intent. Through all our association we have been well agreed. I think that this long agreement in usefulness is worth noting in connection with the independence of thought which has been manifested and the liberty of expression which has never been restrained. It has not been the agreement of men of one mind, content to let things run as they would, but an agreement among men of decision and force, who would have things run as they ought.
I wish to add to this testimony to the fidelity of the officers of the church and parish this special instance of consideration, that while they have met their own duties willingly, they have done all they could to make my own lighter. I have many times remarked with appreciation their evident purpose to lay upon the minister no burden which they could themselves carry, and to ask of him no work which they could perform. The permanence of membership in the board of deacons is characteristic. We have often spoken of the continuity in the pastorate, where in two hundred and seventy years there have been but eleven pastors, and but one of these has left this church for another. There has been a similar habit among the deacons. Changes have been few, and those who have come into the places of those who retired have been of like opinion and spirit. The sacred office has thus been made the more honorable and delightful.
I wish to mark another instance of constancy which has been of much service. The value of a meeting-house depends largely upon him in whose care it is. The comfort of a minister, and with this his efficiency, depend in a good degree upon the sacristan, the man in whose hands the house is left, day and night and all days, with its multiplied and often conflicting demands, and its requirement of serious and unfailing
sagacity and fidelity. I should wrong my own thought if I did not make special mention of the two men who, under one name and in one spirit, have administered the office. They are honored in the community which they served and serve in sacred ministrations. When " that good gray head that all men knew" was lost to our sight, we set his name in bronze above his chair, witnessing to his love for the habitation of God's house, and the place where His honor dwelleth. The service continues, and I want to express my indebtedness to the pains and thoughtfulness and indulgence which have done so much to provide the minister's life with all possible ease and content, and I desire to make known my gratitude to my friend, the honored sexton of this church.
We are, as we should be, a busy church. Membership means that. Whatever we may receive, we are set together not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Each life has its place apart. Many are the men who are thus leagued, and few are the women who have no share in these activities. The call and the opportunity are liberally regarded. We are completely organized, in all ages and conditions, with much regard for special interests and preferences, and a general regard for the widest usefulness. The men have consolidated their interest and their strength, and we feel the new vigor which their wisdom and energy supply. In our historical society we stand in friendship with all who have been here. Around the the story written by Thomas Shepard for his sons already a valuable collection of historical books and manuscripts is among our possessions. Activity has found ways of immediate and daily usefulness. The church which, in good degree, owes its beginning to a woman's courage, has embodied the faith and sympathy of women for widespread beneficence.
Maturity has its place, transforming its means into benefits; the sons and daughters have their visions to be interpreted; the boys learn to be masters of their hands, and the girls wear Margaret Shepard's name, while the cradle rocks under our
roof. This means care and toil for the few, but these are cheerfully rendered and openly rewarded. The number of untitled workers, unpaid save in our gratitude and the consciousness of the value of their service, easily wins and holds our admiration. Very high among our agencies must stand our Sunday school, one of the oldest and one of the best, standing in modern methods, fashioning its thought and teaching in the light of the day, seeking to advance the knowledge of the Bible, and to lead all who consent into an intelligent Christian life.
These years have been marked among the churches by the earliest rising of the young life, foretold at Pentecost. It was certain that here, where the church doors stand open before the colleges, the young life would assert itself and reach out into the world. At first all was informal. Then concentration came. The Young People's Alliance has been vigorous in its purpose and its influence extended. While the purpose was active long before it took on this form, it has found advantage in definite organization, but has preserved its independence in action and its freedom in responsibility, and has not consented to formal affiliation with larger and excellent movements. It is in friendly connection with them, but it chooses its own promises and purposes. Few societies have been a greater power for good, or have stood in pleasanter relations with the church. It was the Alliance which carried the name and influence of the church to the river side, and there began the beneficent work in which we rejoice. It is impossible in this hour to tell the full story of our plainest efforts. Enough that we acknowledge the vitality which has wisely confessed its duty and accepted its opportunity.
This hurried narrative cannot pass without mention of the service of song which is of so large moment in our worship. There have been many changes, but the voice of praise has never ceased to be heard, and voice and organ have raised our minds on high. In these years many have come and many
have gone. It is the fashion of the times. But it is now for a long time that one man has conducted this ministry of sacred harmony, bringing ability and fidelity to his high mission; one who has been a pleasant associate in our common interests, wise but kindly, firm but generous, knowing the dignity and beauty of his calling, and content within its bounds.
It is a fitting close to this part of my narrative that I make thankful acknowledgment of the priceless help which has been given in the two men who have shared my work. After many years it again came to pass that the care of the enlarged and enlarging parish was beyond any man's time and strength, and you placed at my side one who should be my companion and helper; a man whom we knew and who knew us; of long experience, of real wisdom, of entire simplicity and sincerity; who was a counselor and a friend; whose presence brought gladness, a beatitude in the sanctuary and in your homes, and in a marked degree where, in retirement, pious and lonely souls watched for his coming, and rested in his sympathy and prayer. When at last, after more than fifteen years of service, he ceased from his walks among us, from this house which he loved he was carried to his rest. But his memory abides, and every thought of him is for our good. We look upon his calm, spiritual, hallowed face to be glad that he has lived.
I may not say all that I would, beyond this: from a pleasant village above Lake Lucerne, where the Rigi and Pilatus look down on the quiet waters, my mind and heart at leisure were with you who were here and with our life together. It was a place for quiet reflection and peaceful expectation. I sent across the sea a pastoral letter to my friends, the officers of the church, to pledge my devotion, and to tell them what they knew, that there was still, and more than ever, the need of a man to stand with this ministry and within it. That I wrote and little more. I made no request, and none was needed. The word fell into wise and willing minds, and was at once regarded. Soon the man was seen,
chosen, called by the church, through its own action, although of course with my concurrence. Then the man who now leads our worship on Sunday morning was in his appointed place; in the fullness of his strength, the integrity of his purpose, the abundance of skill and learning which diligent years have given him, and who also has had the advantage of a business training. Already his service is measured by years. We think and work together, day by day, in mutual confidence, in actual independence, with an increasing friendship, and an expanding influence. The relation is a comfort and pleasure to me. I have reason to believe that it is a pleasure and comfort to him also.
Thus I have summed up too briefly the elements of our life and work. Where all is known, little need be said. We are advancing even while we speak. The church stands in strength, strong in the confidence of those who are allied with it. This is the present. I was asked not long ago by an editor what I regard as the largest expression of this pastorate. I had no answer ready. But my mind and my eye turned instinctively to this stately building as a very substantial creation and memorial. But I did not build the house. More expressive still is the Church itself, the Church of devout souls, with its great membership, reaching into other lands, and beyond the splendid stars. But the Church is not of my making. What was there which I could call mine? I am by no means disposed to deny my part of the work which is embodied in the Church and its house. I have built too many years into both. But they are not mine. Better than that, they are ours, yours and mine, and thus they stand an immovable witness to the years wherein we have wrought together.
Good years they have been! I came when the young life was making itself manifest. The patient prophecy of prophet and apostle was entering on its fulfillment. A new chapter in church history was to be written. The young life was coming