Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

serious, good man, of good learning, and of sound principles. Upon which they agreed with him to preach every other Sabbath for three months, and then desired him to move into the town, that we might be better acquainted with him. I let him know that my people grew more and more disposed to fix him among us, and there would be no hazard of his being chosen; and he came to dwell with us, as above. The 14th of January, 1762, we had a day of prayer for direction and a blessing; and January 17th, we had a church meeting, and unanimously chose Mr. William Whitwell for our minister; the same day the congregation met, and unanimously concurred with the church's choice. When they were about to vote for his salary, they let me know that they feared it would be offensive to me, if they voted him more than they gave me. Upon which, being present at their meeting, I declared to them, that it would be so far from an offence to me, that I verily thought he would need more than I had, and it would be highly pleasing to me to see them fix a better stipend upon him, especially after my decease, when they would not have the burden of two to support. Upon which they readily voted him a salary of one hundred and four pounds during my life, and an hundred sterling after my decease. August 25th was appointed for the day of his ordination, when, having sent to the eleven churches of the Association, and Dr. Sewall's church in Boston, to which Mr. Whitwell belonged, the greatest part of the churches came together; and I laid before them the regularity of our proceeding, and the unanimity of our choice of Mr. Whitwell; and demanded of Mr. Whitwell a confession of his faith, which he gave us; and the whole Council was satisfied in all parts. I then desired them to concur with us in the public solemn separation of Mr. Whitwell to the work of the ministry, and co-pastor in this church, and nominated Dr. Sewall to begin with prayer. They agreed that it was most fitting for me to ordain and give the Charge, and voted the Rev. Mr. Simon Bradstreet to give the Right Hand of Fellowship. We then went into public, where was a full, crowded house, and each performed the part that was assigned them, and the Rev. Mr. T. Barnard of Salem preached an excellent sermon upon the occasion. Strangers, that were assembled with us, were pleased to observe, that they never saw an ordination managed with greater decency, gravity, and solemnity.

Thus it hath pleased God, in his great goodness, to lead us with all peace and quietness through the difficult affair of settling a minister among us; and my people are provided with a very good man, an excellent preacher, and worthy minister, and I with a very obliging, dutiful son. I heartily rejoice, and give thanks to a gracious God, and the merciful Head of the church, that I have lived to see this day; and earnestly pray God that the Rev. Mr. Whitwell may be long continued, and do more service to the church and people of God than I have done; and, by the purity of his doctrine, the fervor of his address, the wisdom of his counsels, and the holiness of his life, be a greater blessing to this people and in the world, than I have been.

Sept. 6. The Rev. Mr. Whitwell went to Martha's Vineyard, and married one of the daughters of the Rev. Nathaniel Hancock, Esq. and returned with his wife to Boston the 25th of the said month, and Oct. 20 brought her to town, and became settled among us.

Having obtained help from God, I continue unto this day, ministering, in my turn, unto my people, and waiting for a dismission from the state of service to that of rewards; which, through the mercy of God, I hope will be glorious.

Suffer me to turn aside, and take a view of the very different state of the town, upon worldly accounts, since I came into it. When I first came, [in 1714] there were two companies of poor, smoke-dried, rude, ill-clothed men, trained to no military discipline but that of "whipping the snake," as they called it; whereas now, [in 1766] and for years past, wre are a distinct regiment, consisting of seven full companies, well clad, of bright countenances, vigorous and active men, so well trained in the use of their arms, and the various motions and marches, that I have heard some Colonels of other regiments, and a Brigadier General say, they never saw throughout the country, not in their own regiment, no, nor in Boston, so goodly an appearance of spirited men, and so well exercised a regiment. When I came, there was not so much as one proper carpenter, nor mason, nor tailor, nor butcher in the town, nor any thing of a market worth naming; but they had their houses built by country workmen, and their clothes made out of town, and supplied themselves with beef and pork from Boston, which drained the town of its money. But now we abound in artificers, and some of the best, and our markets large, even to a full supply. And, what above all I would remark, there was not so much as one foreign trading vessel belonging to the town, nor for several years after I came into it; though no town had really greater advantages in their hands. The people contented themselves to be the slaves that digged in the mines, and left the merchants of Boston, Salem, and Europe, to carry away the gains; by which means the town was always in dismally poor circumstances, involved in debt to the merchants more than they were worth; nor could 1 find twenty families in it that, upon the best examination, could stand upon their own legs; and they were generally as rude, swearing, drunken, and fighting a crew, as they were poor. Whereas, not only are the public ways vastly mended, but the manners of the people greatly cultivated; and we have many gentlemanlike and polite families, and the very fishermen generally scorn the rudenesses of the former generation.

I soon saw that the town had a price in its hands, and it was a pity they had not a heart to improve it. I therefore laid myself out to get acquaintance with the English masters of vessels, that I might by them be let into the mystery of the fish trade, and in a little time I gained a pretty thorough understanding in it. When 1 saw the advantages of it, 1 thought it my duty to stir up my people, such as I thought would hearken to me, and were capable of practising upon the advice, to send the fish to market themselves, that they might reap the benefit of it, to the enriching themselves, and serving the town. But, alas! I could inspire no man with courage and resolution enough to engage in it, till I met with Mr. Joseph Swett, a young man of strict justice, great industry, enterprising genius, quick apprehension, and firm resolution, but of small fortune. To him 1 opened myself fully, laid the scheme clearly before him, and he hearkened unto me, and was wise enough to put it in practice. He first sent a small cargo to Barbadoes. He soon found he increased his stock, buik vessels, and sent the fish to Europe, and prospered in the trade, to the enriching of himself; and some of his family, by carrying on the trade, have arrived at large estates. The more promising young men of the town soon followed his example; that now we have between thirty and forty ships, brigs, snows, and topsail schooners engaged in foreign trade. From so small a beginning the town has risen into its present flourishing circumstances, and we need no foreigner to transport our fish, but are able ourselves to send it all to the market. Let God have the praise, who has redeemed the town from a state of bondage into a state of liberty and freedom.

Thus, dear sir, at your earnest desire, I have given you a short and faithful epitome of a long, but unprofitable and sinful life. And oh ! what reason have I to blush, and be ashamed, and deeply to humble myself before God, when I reflect upon the innumerable errors and sins, both of my youth and riper years; especially for my sloth and negligence, in the great and important work of the ministry; and that in the course of so long a life, 1 have done so little service for God, and his church, and people in the world; and have basely hid my talents in a napkin, or buried them in the earth, when I should have improved them, to increase them, and in paying a due tribute to the great Author of my being, and glorious Head of the church. Many a time have I reflected, with shame and grief of soul, upon my vile mispence of my time while at the College; very much occasioned by the wickedness of my heart in abusing my readiness to perform the College exercises, to almost a total neglect of my studies, which ought to have been an encouragement to me to have applied myself more closely to reading and meditation, that I might have been better furnished with some useful knowledge, wherewith to have served God and my generation; which afterward I found it very difficult to recover any thing of, when I came to be taken up with the study of divinity, composing sermons, and attending the care of a flock. Oh, that our youth at the College, especially such as design for the ministry, would know their advantages, and wisely improve the price put into their hands to get knowledge and good literature, that they may not hereafter have occasion (as I have had,) to lament their folly, in letting slip the proper opportunity, which they may never expect will offer itself to them again.

I can truly say, that in the course of my ministry, I have endeavored to preach Jesus Christ and his laws, and not vain philosophy or the traditions of men; to set forth Christ, as the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and the alone Saviour of a guilty world, and the Judge of the quick and the dead; adorable in his person and natures, most amiable in his offices 242 Autobiography of the Rev. John Barnard.

and benefits; as an all-sufficient and willing Saviour, even for the chief of sinners; who yet will save none without a life of repentance and new obedience, and a sincere subjection to the government of his righteous sceptre. I have also endeavored to show to poor sinners their wretched, sinful and miserable state, in their fall by Adam, and from their own wicked hearts and lives, and to convince them of their absolute need of a Saviour, and, by the most powerful motives of the Gospel, to persuade them to accept of Jesus Christ as their only Saviour, upon Gospel terms, and become his obedient followers, by a sober, righteous, and godly life and conversation. These have been the chief and constant subjects of my preaching. But, after all, what abundant reason have I to cry out, my leanness! my leanness! and bewail my want of zeal in the cause of God, of Christ, and the souls of his people, and the many neglects and unfaithfulness in the work of my ministry; and what I fear has been the sad consequence thereof, my very great unsuccessfulness. Though I bless God, there are several who are evidently the epistle of Christ, ministered by me, written, not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. Yet, alas! the generality of my people cannot be prevailed with to come to the holy table, nor to live as the disciples of the holy Jesus. The seafaring business, (which is very much the business of the town,) which one would think should teach them to pray, and live like dying persons, but tends to encourage them in their insensibility and immoral practices. My deficiencies have been so many, and my transgressions so great, that upon a view of them, I might well fear lest, after I have preached the Gospel to others, I myself should prove a castaway. But my hope is grounded, not upon the perfection of my works, but the infinite mercy of God, and merit of Jesus Christ, whom (if I know my own heart,) I have sincerely accepted of, and devoted myself unto; and therefore I trust my poor sinful person, and my defective services will finally be accepted, through that advocate with the Father, and propitiation for our sins.

While therefore, with the deepest prostration, I would humbly implore the divine mercy may be magnified to me, the chief of sinners, I would earnestly entreat of you, dear brother, to join with me in your fervent supplications at the

« ZurückWeiter »