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THE CHRISTIAN'S ARMORY.
FEBRUARY, 1807. [No. 9. VOL. II.
To the Editors of the Panoplist.
DESIROUS of paying a tribute of respect to the memory of a good and useful man, who exhibited through life, an example worthy of imitation; and at the request of a respectable member and officer in the church founded by the Rev. Mr. Moorhead, I take the liberty to enclose the following sketches of his life.
In my youth, I was well acquainted with him, though he was then considerably advanced in years. From information of some of his aged acquaintances and my own knowledge, I have collected the following account of him. It is imperfect, because little is known of the early periods of his life. His contemporaries have long since deceased, and the few writings which he left, were lost in the siege of Boston. Very respectfully yours, &c.
MEMOIRS OF REV. JOHN MOORHEAD,
FIRST MINISTER AND FOUNDER OF A PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN BOSTON.
ABOUT the year 1729, a number of Protestant, Presbyterian families from the North of Ireland, came to Boston. They were from the counties of Londonderry, Donnegall, Antrim and Down. The motives inducing a removal from their native country, were the enhanced price of their leased lands, ecclesiastical oppression, the prospect of the acquisition of property here; but chiefly that they might enjoy religious and civil liberty, in this land of freedom. They were a company of religious, moral and industrious people. They met. with opposition at their landing, and patiently suffered the insults of the misinformed rabble. Some were opposed to their reception into the town, ignorantly imagVol. II. No. 9.
ining, that, as they came from Ireland, they must necessarily be 'Papists. But the truth was, that the Protestant sect, to which those strangers belonged, had suffered far more dreadfully by the Papists in Ireland, in plunderings, massacres, and all the horrors of persecution, than the fathers of New England ever had, by all the oppressions of the English hierarchy, conducted by the sanguinary bishop Laud and his associates.
They were generally descendants of ancestors, who emigrated from Scotland to Ireland, in the reign of king James I.; and settled in the north part of the Island, which had been conquered, and the estates confiscated, by his predecessor Queen Elizabeth. Ccc
Hence they were called Scotch voices, they worshipped and honIrish.
oured Him, who, for our salvation, On their admittance into Bos- condescended to be born in a stable. ton, their first care was to pro- - As the congregation increased, cure a place for the peaceable by migrations from Ireland and worship of Almighty God, ac- Scotland, they enlarged the place cording to his word. They pur- of worship, by adding two wings chased a lot of land in Bury to the lowly building. The presstreet, cornering on Federal ent commodious and decent edistreet, then called Long Lane. fice was built Anno 1744. Either before they left Ireland, or The first meeting of the brethon their arrival, they invited Mr. ren, with their minister, for the Moorhead to be their minister, election of Elders, according to and he arrived in Boston, soon the discipline of the Church of after them.
Scotland, was at the house of Mr. Moorhead was born in John Little, in Milk Street, July Newton, near Belfast, in the coun- 14th, 1730. ty of Down, of pious and respect- The Elders then chosen, were able parents.
His father, who John Young, Robert Patton, Samwas a farmer, gave him the best uel M'Clure, Richard M'Clure, advantages within his power, for and Thomas M'Mullen, who were improvement in learning. He solemnly consecrated to that of finished his education at one of fice. the universities in Scotland. He In doctrine, worship and discicame to Boston about the twenty- pline, the church was formed acthird year of his age. There cording to the model of the Presis no record of his ordination.* ' byterian Church of Scotland. This little colony of Christians, The Elders with the Pastor formfor some time, carried on the ed the session, and constituted an public worship of God in a barn, ecclesiasticalcourt, for the adjudiwhich stood on the lot which they cation of all matters of governhad purchased. In this humble ment of the congregation, and temple, with uplifted hearts and discipline of its members. All
About the time of the arrival of baptized persons, as well as memMr. Moorhead's fock, a considerable bers in communion, were subnumber of families, with three or four jected to the watch and discipline ministers, also came over from Ire. of the session. Candidates for land, and fixed down in different parts admission into the church, were of the country:
Particularly, the Rev. John M'Kinstry, who with his examined and admitted by them. people, in 1730, began the settlement Their discipline was strict, and of Ellington, (in Connecticut) then conducted with great solemnity called Windsor Goshen. The Rev. and decorum. The session met Mr. Abercrombie, who, with a num
frequently, either at Mr. Moorber of families, settled in Pelham ; several at Coleraine, and also in the
head's, or the houses of the El. North Society in East Windsor, and ders, in rotation. It began with at Brookseld.
The Rev. James prayer, by the Minister, and M'Gregore, with a considerable con- closed with the same by one of gregation, in 1719, began the settle.
the Elders. inent of Londonderry, in New Hampshire. He was succeeded by Rev.
In 1744, the number of ElMatthew Clarke in 1729.
ders of his church, were
zwelve, and the congregation was were within his ability to bestow; divided into twelve districts. or solicited assistance for them. The duty of each Elder was to Virtuous strangers from North visit and pray with the sick, with Britain and Ireland, were sure in his bounds; to counsel, ad- to find a friend in him. vise, and reprove, when needful ; good Bishop, he was given to : and to notify the session of the hospitality. As a sample of this circumstances of the poor, and benevolence, allow me to men. obtain for them some pecuniary tion, that it was his custom, when assistance.
he heard of ministers from the Once or twice in the year, Mr. country, who were strangers in Moorhead visited all the families Boston, at public houses, to go of bis congregation, in town and or send for them, to come to his country ; (one of the Elders, in hospitable roof. rotation, accompanying him,) for He was faithful and impartial the purpose of religious instruc- in his duty, as a reprover of ertion. On these occasions, he ad- ror and vice in all their forms. dressed the heads of families While he rebuked with sharpwith freedom and affection, and ness, he shewed an affectionate inquired into their spiritual state. concern for the offender, and by catechised and exhorted the chile meekness and condescension, la dren and servants, and concluded boured to reclaim him. With his visit with prayer. In this last equal cheerfulness, he visited the solemn act, (which he always hut or the garret of the poor, and performed on his knees, at home the parlour of the rich, to do and in the houses of his people) them good. Some were offendhe used earnestly to pray for the ed at the severity of his reproofs, family, and the spiritual circum-' and withdrew from his society stances of each member, as they to others, where they could find respectively needed.
more indulgence. He was uni-: In addition to this labour of versally respected by the good, family visitations, he also con- and feared by those of the oppovened, twice in the year, the fam- site character. He appeared less ilies, according to the districts, at ambitious of fame, than of faiththe meeting-house, when he fulness as a minister of Christ. conversed with the heads of fam- Mr. Moorhead was a plain, ilies, asking them questions, on evangelical and practical preachsome of the most important doc- He paid very little attention trines of the gospel, agreeably to to the ornaments of style, in his the Westminster confession of pulpit performances. His disfaith; and catechised the chil- courses appeared to be extempodren and youth.
raneous. He expounded the He was unwearied in his en- Scriptures in course in the morndeavours to promote the edifica- ing, and delivered a sermon in tion and salvation of his people. the afternoon. He preached the His thoughts and plans of be- law and the gospel, in their spirnevolence extended also to ituality and purity. He insisted their temporal concerns. He principally on the peculiar doc, encouraged the industrious, by trines of the gospel,—the deep such small pecuniary aids as depravity of human naturembo
Divinity of Jesus Christ, and the efficacy of the atonement-the special agency of the Divine Spirit in regeneration; the necessity of repentance; of faith in Christ, and of good works.
He possessed strength of mind, sprightliness of imagination, and readiness of expression; but appeared indifferent to the choice of the most appropriate phraseology. His manner was solemn, affectionate, and pathetic. His language and manner were the index of his mind. He spoke from the heart. His tears flowed in the earnest, alarming, or persuasive applications of his sermons. He was án Israelite, in whom was no guile." Such was the success of his faithful labours, and the accession of foreign Protestants, that in six years, after the founding of the church, the communi
were about two hundred and fifty. Four times in the year, he celebrated the Lord's supper. They were seasons of reat solemnity. On these occasions Mr. Moorhead commonly had the assistance of one or two of his brethren, particularly the Rev. Mr. M'Gregore, and afterwards the Rev. Mr. Clarke of Londonderry, and once, of the celebrated Mr. Whitefield, when every heart was moved by his solemn and enraptured performances. On these occasions, each minister served a table in rotation.
At those seasons of fervent zeal in religion, the house could not contain the multitudes, eager to hear the words of eternal life. The doors and windows were crowded with spectators.
The society in general were respectable for good morals, industry, sobriety, attention to the
duties of family religion, and the government and education of their children."
At the age of twenty-six, Mr. Moorhead married Miss Sarah Parsons, an English lady of a bright genius and good education. With her he lived happily, many years; and by her had several children. The only surviving one, is the widow of the late Capt. Alexander Wilson of Boston.
He continued the faithful pastor of the church about forty-four years, and died at the commencement of the revolutionary war, and entered we trust into everlasting rest.
The children of the founders of the church, feeling less attachment than their fathers, to the particular forms of Presbyterian church government, and finding themselves locally distant from those of the same denomination, with whom to associate; changed the Presbyterian, for the Congregational form of government, at the settlement of the Rev. Dr. Belknap, the successor of Mr. Moorhead.
May the purity of evangelical doctrines and manners, be forev→ er maintained in a church founded by the signal direction and blessing of Heaven!
LIFE OF REV. JOHN SERGEANT.
(Continued from page 355.)
BESIDES Contending with the difficulties, which arose from the ignorance, the degradation, the habits of the Indians, Mr. Sergeant met wit: obstructions to his benevolent designs from an unexpected quarter. If indignation ever rises in the breast of
a good man, he will feel indignant when he reads, that certain Dutch traders from Hudson's river, who had supplied the Indians with rum at a very advanced price, and who took advantage of their folly, when in a state of intoxication, to make a good bargain with them, fearing that their profit would be diminished and their "craft be in danger," made every attempt to produce in their minds an aversion to the Christian religion and a suspicion of the design, for which a missionary was sent amongst them. But such conduct, how much soever it may excite abhorrence, is neither surprising nor uncommon. When men prefer the acquisition of wealth to a good conscience, we must suppose that they will overlook every consideration of humanity and benevolence; and how many do we now observe, who oppose the progress of the gospel, if not exactly in the manner adopted by the Dutch traders, yet by refusing to obey it, by their pernicious examples, and by casting contempt upon the righteous? Mr. Sergeant, however, was so happy as to convince the Indians of the design of the traders, and thus counteracted the insinuations of those, whose gain was their godliness.
In December, agreeably to his promise when he left New Haven, he returned to the college to remain until commencement with the class, which had been committed to his care. He took with him two Indian boys, the sons of the Captain and Lieutenant, and left in his school at Housatonic Mr. Timothy Woodbridge of Springfield, who was very serviceable in promoting
the objects of the mission. The number of scholars had now increased to twenty-five, and the opinion which Mr. Sergeant had formed of the capacity of his tawney pupils, will be seen in the following extract from a letter addressed to Adam Winthrop, Esq. Secretary of the board of Commissioners. "If I do not judge amiss, the Indian children excel the generality of ours in pregnancy of parts and good humour. I am sure that I could not have found an English school any where, that would have pleased me so much." He proceeds to say, proceeds to say, "Capt. Kunkapot is an excellent man, and I do believe has the true spirit of Christianity in him. He knows a great deal, and by the character all his acquaintance give of him, his conduct is unexceptionable."
While at New Haven, he was not unmindful of his Housatonic friends, but sent them several letters; in one of which he tells them, "you are always in my heart, and I cease not every day to pray to God for you. We are all sinners, and deserve to be punished; but Christ took upon himself the punishment due to us. They cannot be your friends, that try to discourage you. They only endeavour to keep you in ignorance, that they may be un-, der better advantage to cheat you. Knowledge is certainly good. It is to the mind what light is to the eye. You would think them your greatest enemies, that should endeavour to put out your eyes; especially if you were travelling a difficult road. This world is like a thick, and entangled wilderness; and why should not you, as well as other people, enjoy the benefit of