Letters Regarding the Publication of the Discourse.
MORRIS, ILL., Dec. 7, 1864.
REV. MR. TURNER:
DEAR SIR — The interesting reminiscences of the organization of the Congregational Church in this place, and of the first settlement of our city, contained in the discourse delivered by you on last Sabbath evening, render it very desirable that those of our citizens who had not the pleasure of listening to it should have an opportunity of reading it. We therefore respectfully request you to furnish a copy for publication.
JOHN P. SOUTHWORTH,
S. C. HINSDILL,
A. P. BULKLEY,
N. B. GRISWOLD,
W. B. FIELD,
J. N. READING,
C. H. GOOLD,
D. O. GOODRICH,
L. P. LOTT,
HIRAM C. GOOLD,
GEO. E. PARMELEE,
J. B. DAVIDSON,
MORRIS, ILL., Dec. 10, 1864.
TO MESSRS. COLQ'N GRANT, JOHN P. SOUTHWORTH and others:
Gentlemen — The discourse to which you refer above was prepared amid the confusion and excitement of preparation for removing to another city. If its publication will subserve the pleasure of any who did not hear it, I cheerfully submit it, as you desire.
E. B. TURNER.
Introduction. The Fruit of the Home Missions.
THIS history of a christian church in one of our western towns, is a fine illustration of the influence of home missions. It is all the more impressive from the fact that it is not an extraordinary case. Into the rough new community comes the home missionary, patiently seeking an audience, becoming a nucleus of good influences, rescuing the Sabbath, stimulating temperance, organizing the christian fellowship, and promoting revivals of religion. Out of this original church, in the growth of the city, four others spring. Under this pastorate of a decade, in two contiguous townships, two missionary churches have been developed, both of which are now supplied with pastors; while a mission school in the suburbs, originated by the central pastor, has resulted in a precious revival. Thus a missionary of the right spirit becomes the center of a widely radiating usefulness. We still want hundreds of such men to become organizers and spiritual guides in the frontier settlements, and in the disrupted communities of the south. What work more glorious than this of molding society in the interest of Christ and of our country.
Mr. TURNER — who was one of the "Andover Band," that came twenty years ago, under commission of the American Home Missionary Society, to the territory of Iowa, and gave character to that rising state — is now the agent of that society for Missouri, where he is meeting with great encouragement in planting churches, and in introducing ministers of the Gospel. He finds not only that the simple polity of the Apostles and the Puritans is adapted to that region, but that its fair record on the subject of freedom and of loyalty makes it peculiarly acceptable there. This Society, so far as the churches shall furnish the means and the men, intends to re-enter and re-occupy the south, out of which it departed several years ago, shaking off the dust of its feet. The Spirit of the Lord is now saying to the Philip of our evangelism, "Go toward the South, ... which is desert."
JOSEPH E. ROY,
Agent A. H. M. S.
ISAIAH liv. 2, 3, 7.
"Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thy habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee."
THESE passages contain a brief summary of the history of the latter days of the Jewish Church. Though these afflicted people were in exile in far off Babylon, enfeebled by the ravages of war and famine, degraded by oppression, and crushed to the earth by this accumulation of woes; there was yet to be written a glorious record of their spiritual exaltation and enlargement. Take your stand upon the sunny slope that borders some gently flowing stream, where are gathered a little band of these depressed and discouraged ones. Venerable age, the prime of manhood, and the freshness of youth are there. They sing not the Lord's song in this strange and dreary land, nor attempt to cheer each other's hearts by anticipations of better days to come. They have hung their harps upon the adjacent willows, and with countenances sad and with flowing tears have given themselves up to grief and sorrow. What could you say for their encouragement? In what direction could you point them for deliverance? Where on all the dark and threatening horizon could you discern the least glimmer of light? But suppose that while you are pondering the sad group before you, a stately, venerable form should draw near and with clear and solemn tones utter the words of our text. What a flood of light and joy would such an utterance pour upon that gloomy scene, coming, as it did, from the lips of a revered prophet. How would it change in an instant this sorrow and mourning into an occasion of
2exultation and praise. Thus has it often been. In the darkest hours of the church it has been God's opportunity to magnify His grace; and proclaim His most precious promises. It is when all the hopes of man have failed, and the future is wrapt in darkness, that with infinite magnamity he exclaims, "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee."
It was both the glory and the hope of Israel, that even in her exile, she was not without the true God, nor "without a teaching priest." Her prophets, those holy men of God, were ever with them to share their sorrows and privations, and cheer them with words of counsel and encouragement. As bards they enlivened their exile by singing of the glory that should yet enshrine the house of Israel. They called upon the people even to shout for joy, and lift up the voice of exultation and praise, in view of the glorious promises yet to be fulfilled. Amid the rapt visions thus held up before them, their present trials were almost forgotten. Their degradation seemed but the prelude to a grander exaltation, when "Gentiles should come to her light, and kings to the brightness of her rising." And none of her gifted sons did more to cheer and comfort the lonely captives than did Isaiah. The most sublime of all writers, he was especially eloquent upon the great theme of the future growth of the church. His language is all aglow with the grand subject. The great truth revealed to him respecting the future coming of the Son of Man, and the triumphant establishment of his kingdom upon earth, gleams and flashes along his pages. The majestic vision awakened all the fervor of his warm and large heart. His soul was enraptured at the sight of multitudes flocking to Zion as the gathering clouds, when all nations would be heard to say, "We will go with you; for we have heard that the Lord is with you."
It was while contemplating this glorious prospect, throwing himself forward in imagination amid the stirring scenes of the latter day, that he exclaimed, "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation: spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left. For
3a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee."
The successes and sufferings attending the establishment and growth of the Messianic kingdom on earth, shadow forth the history of almost every christian enterprise that has arisen and prospered. Religious institutions, beginning in feebleness, have their periods of trial. The tender plant must feel the harsh and rough handling of the storm, before it can reach its full vigor. Churches are not exempted from this law. If it is their privilege to "enlarge the place of their tent, and stretch forth the curtains of their habitations," they cannot expect to reach this enlargement without reverses. They will see times when they will feel that God has forsaken them. And yet these very trials may prepare the way for the higher exhibition of the divine care when in great mercy he will bestow increasing prosperity.
Every church has a history, therefore, that is more or less a counterpart and humble antetype of the establishment and growth of Christ's kingdom on earth. It is a history which never can be fully written. The sacrifice and toil which has been expended will never be entirely known on earth. Nor can the influence that has been exerted, or the work that has been done, be estimated, till they are weighed in the balance of eternity.
There are times, however, when it is well for churches to review the past, and take a note of the ways of providence, and gather from them lessons both of humility and encouragement. The review cannot but impart new strength and courage for the future.
Such a review seems specially appropriate to us, my brethren, at the close of a relation between us as pastor and people of ten years duration. While all that has been realized in our experience during this period, cannot be expressed in words, sufficient may be said to show that the words of our text and the promise contained therein, have been remakarbly verified in the history of this church. As this history is nearly identical with that of the town, it will be necessary briefly to review both. Reminiscences that illustrate the growth of one, as well as its reverses, equally diversify the history of the other.
Previous to 1841, what is now the city of Morris was the abode of but a single family. The house in which they lived was a few rods below the bridge on the bank of the river. Four years previous to this, the surveyors had passed through here seeking a route for the Illinois and Michigan canal. The thought that a city would spring up here had not yet its being. Nothing served to mark the place as differing in any respect from the surrounding wilderness save a row in Indian mounds
In 1841 Grundy county was organized, and the year following ten acres of the present town of Morris was laid off. About this time the canal was located, and the contracts being let, the line began to swarm with laborers. A sudden reverse in the financial affairs of the country immediately following this, which entirely prostrated the credit of this State, caused a suspension of work on the canal. From this time on to 1846 was a period of great financial depression. Illinois was nearly crushed by a vast debt, and immigrants passed by her to those states less encumbered.
Under these embarrassments the town made but little progress. Two or three log buildings, a frame store and a small public house were erected on Main street, and a few laborers' cabins along the banks of the canal, and two or three other small dwellings were all there was of the city of Morris in 1841.
From accounts given me by the older citizens, the morals of the place at that time were at a low ebb. And the increase of the population for a few years did not improve the order of things much in this respect. Very few, if any, religious meetings were held of any kind, nor was any permanent effort made at reform. Things took pretty much their own course. Every one sought his own amusement, and on his own hook, just as passion or interest dictated, and at such times as best suited his convenience. The Sabbath was disregarded, or
5made a day of business and sport. Vice abounded and every evil practice prevailed. This state of things continued up to the spring of 1846, when Rev. James Loughead, a missionary of the American Home Missionary Society came into this region. He came to Morris and offered to preach. So little interest was felt in his proposition, that he could scarcely get entertainment for himself and horse. He put up at a small tavern, and was charged two prices because he was a minister. One Saturday night he drove up to the tavern, and delivered up his horse to the landlord; but when he went to the stable on Monday morning, he found him standing with harness on, and checked up, having evidently had no food or drink; for which neglect the usual fee was charged.
The first Sabbath he was here, he had to make the third attempt before he could get enough together to hold a meeting. By the help of George Kiersted, Perry Armstrong and one or two others, who went through the town to drum up the people to meeting, an audience of about twenty were got together towards night. There were at that time seventeen dwelling places in the town, and in fifteen of them liquors were kept for sale. Through the efforts of this missionary a small Sabbath School was organized in the town during the first summer. The only persons to be found who were willing to take the responsibility of the school and pledge themselves to sustain it, were E. P. Seely and Dr. A. F. Hand, who were assisted occasionally by Perry Armstrong. To these three men were committed the important work of instructing the future citizens of Morris in the elements of the Christian religion. They found very little difficulty in conducting the school except when it came to the prayer. This was new and awkward business for them, and there was no professor of religion in the place upon whom they could call to lead in this exercise.
In the spring of 1847 a family of the Puritan stock arrived here, who were originally from the good old State of Vermont, that State which has given so many of her valuable sons and daughters to the West. This family was that of Deacon Horace Hulburd. From this time there was a growing respect for the Sabbath. Religious meeting were more frequent.
6The habit of having stores open upon the Sabbath having so long prevailed here, this deacon, who was a merchant, found it very difficult to resist the importunate demand of canal laborers, and others, to sell them goods on that day. He could not keep his store shut upon the Sabbath but by putting the key in his pocket and retreating to the woods. But there were other citizens here who respected the Sabbath, and by their combined efforts the practice of transacting business on that day was at length abandoned. The Sabbath School formerly kept up had ceased to exist, but another was organized, and sustained principally by the above family.
During the year 1847, the above missionary held meetings in town once every four weeks. He preached generally but one sermon here, having three of four other places of preaching. The first meeting which this Vermont family attended consisted of eight persons, but the number gradually increased, and before the end of one year they could count from 25 to 30 regular attendants. The meetings were held in the old court house, which stood in what is now the front yard of the new court house. The quiet of these meetings was often disturbed by the shouts and horrid oaths of those engaged in ball-playing, horse-racing, or other sports on the green near by. For nearly two years meetings were held in this noisy and inconvenient place for want of a better one.
During the year 1848, the population having increased to about 150, and a few more professors of religion having came in, the organization of a church was proposed. There was not a sufficient number of any one denomination to make a church of one order. It was finally agreed, according to the suggestion of Mr. Loughead, by whom the church was organized, to bring all into one body on the Congregational plan. It was stipulated that all those of other denominations should have leave to withdraw when churches of their own order should be established. This organization was effected July 2nd, 1848, and was composed of nine members, four of whom were Congregationalists, two Episcopal Methodists, two Protestant Methodists and one Presbyterian. At the next communion season in October following three more Episcopal Methodists and one Congregationalist united by letter. Mr.
7Loughead continued his labors with the church until April, 1849, when seven more persons had united with the church, making, at the close of his labors, a membership of twenty. In the meantime he had formed two other Congregational churches, one at Marseilles and one at Wright Creek. From this time to January, 1850, this church was without a minister. Preaching was had occasionally from neighboring pastors. During this interval, five more were received into the church, making twenty-five in all.
At the commencement of the year 1850, when the town had increased in population to about one thousand, Rev. A. W. Henderson began his labors here, and was dismissed at the close of 1853. During these four years, thirty-seven united with the church, which increased the number to sixty-two.
For the first two years of his ministry, the church worshipped in a small hall over Mr. W. H. Parmelee's drug store. In the summer of 1851, they erected the original part of the Congregational Church building, 24 by 45, and dedicated it in July of that year.
In the beginning of the year 1850, the Methodist Episcopal Church of Morris was organized, and the members of this church that were Episcopal Methodists withdrew to join it. That church has been in a good degree prospered. In 1852 it erected a house of worship, 30 by 40, which it has since enlarged to 30 by 62. It has sustained the regular ministrations of the Gospel since its organization. It has been blessed with precious revivals, and has now a large and active membership.
Early in the year 1854, the Congregational Church employed as their preacher, for one year, the Rev. W. A. Baldwin. During his ministry, the Church made its first attempt at self-support, having until this time been assisted by the American Home Missionary Society. His labors ended however, in about six months, or the first of July. About this time there was an addition of fifteen feet made to the west end of the church building.
From July to the first of the following October of the same year, the church was without stated preaching.
During this interval, Rev. Mr. Freeman, a Baptist minister, organized a small Baptist Church in the place. Some who had been supporters of the Congregational Church withdrew to unite with that. That church has passed through some seasons of trial, as well as seasons of precious interest. It has erected a neat and tasteful house of worship, and is now enjoying the stated means of grace.
October 1, 1854, your speaker was invited to supply the pulpit of this church, and if Providence should open the way, to settle permanently. After preaching a little more than a year, he received a call to settle. He was installed Nov. 22, 1855. During this first year's labor, there was an interesting revival of religion. This was the first season of religious interest the church had enjoyed, or that had been known in the town. For the first time, additions were made to this church by profession. Since then there have been four other seasons when the church enjoyed the special outpouring of God's spirit; one in the spring of 1856; another in the winter of 1858; another early in the year 1861, when some twenty-four united with the church, all but eight of them by profession, and the last one was mainly confined to the Sabbath School children.
This church, since I came here, has been subjected to great vicissitudes. The great financial reverses that have swept over the country, and especially that of 1857, nearly ruined the business prospects of this town. The leading men in the church and society, being largely engaged in business, were all crippled in their ability to sustain the enterprise. A number of the prominent families in the church, have by means of this derangement in business, been compelled to leave the place. This will account for the fact that the church and society has not increased more rapidly in numbers and wealth. Previous to this last crisis in financial matters, in the year 1856, this house of worship became again too strait for the congregation, and was enlarged the second time by taking down the partition between the vestibule and the audience room, and extending the seats to the front end of the house.
In the fall of that same year, steps were taken to organize an Old School Presbyterian Church in the place. Twelve
9members were dismissed from this church to join in the enterprise. After about two years, a part of which time that church had no preaching, their present house of worship was erected. It was dedicated Feb. 7, 1858. That church has now a settled pastor, a growing congregation, and the prospect of permanency and usefulness.
Some time in 1853, an Episcopal Church was started in town. To this also members were dismissed by letter from the Congregational Church. That church has barely maintained its existence. Much of the time it has had no preaching. It has no house of worship, though steps have been taken to erect one. At present it has a minister, and holds its service in the Court House.
During the years 1856 and 1857, some of you will recollect the rush of people into this town. Our population greatly increased, filling up every habitable place, compelling the erection of scores of new dwellings. There was a perfect mania among the country people around us to get into town. The business of the town suddenly took on huge proportions. Whole blocks of stores were erected, and immediately crammed with dry goods. Other branches of business were equally inflated. Of course such an increase of population would be felt in the churches. Sittings in this church, and in some others, could not be had for the growing congregations. The Congregational Church felt the necessity of more room. It was debated awhile whether the old building should be enlarged or a new one built. But every dollar was then needed for an expanding business. The cry was, "let us make hay while the sun shines, and when the fortunes are made, then we will build a splendid church." So the conclusion of the whole matter was, to add to the old church and make it do a year or two longer. Hence the third time the society "enlarged its tent, and stretched forth the curtains of its habitation," by adding a wing to each side, which about doubled it seating capacity. With the ante-room which has since been partioned off, it will now seat about four hundred and fifty.
Some may ask, why has not the society built a new house to correspond to its position and wants? I have told you why they did not build when fortunes were accumulating so
10rapidly. They did not build afterwards, because those fortunes were never realized. The crash of 1857, in the money world, burst many a bubble which had been inflated by the speculating mania. The enormous business of this town suddenly collapsed. Four-fifths of the stores were compelled to suspend. The buildings have been shut up ever since, and the people were compelled to leave the place for want of business, and went in all directions, suddenly diminishing our population at least one-third.
This of course left church seats vacant. This congregation was diminished nearly one-half, and its ability to maintain the expenses of the church was weakened in the same proportion. Then came the period of trial to the society and minister. The question for one or two years was, not whether we should enlarge our plans, and strive to exert a wider influence, but whether we should maintain an existence. But the Great Shepherd who careth for His flock, imparted a willingness to both pastor and people, to meet whatever sacrifice was necessary to sustain here the ministrations of the gospel. By His blessing they have weathered the storm. The days of depression and discouragement have been lived through. The society, though it has not a new house, owns the one they have, such as it is, free from debt, also the lot on which it stands, besides two other eligible lots in another part of the town. During the last two or three years, the congregation has increased in numbers and strength, until about all the seatings of the house are again occupied. Its ability to give a minister a good support, and meet its other current expenses, is now unquestioned. It has a Sabbath School, which has a large attendance, and is surpassed by few in interest.
But while this church has been passing through these vicissitudes, and maintaining and enlarging itself, notwithstanding these reverses, and the constant draft upon her number to supply other churches in town, she has also aimed to extend her influence over the county. In this respect, too, she has "lengthened her cords and strengthened her stakes." In 1858 she secured, through her pastor, the organization of a church in the town of Vienna, and during last year, another in the town of Mazon — to the last of which she dismissed five
11members — both of which churches now have pastors, and are growing in numbers and interest. The church has also maintained for the last year and a half, a flourishing Mission Sabbath School among the coal miners, about two miles from town, in connection with which a number of conversions have occurred.
Thus you have in brief, the items of a history that remarkably illustrates the declaration and the promise of the text. In the midst of the many calls to give up her members to other churches, five of whom she has thus assisted, and the financial disasters she has suffered, weakening her to almost the last extremity in numbers and means, she has been able by the blessing of God to "enlarge the place of her tent and stretch forth the curtains of her habitations," and though God "for a small moment seemed to forsake her," yet "with great mercies hath he gathered her."
During one or two years of my pastorate here, I was the only resident minister in town. I have been called to officiate at funerals and weddings, to a considerable extent, outside of the limits of my parish. I have solemnized fifty-nine marriages, and attended seventy-three funerals. The number of times I have preached exceeds nine hundred. This does not included addresses made on temperance and the Bible cause, and on other public occasions, nor the more than six hundred addresses at prayer meetings and to the Sabbath School. When I came here, there were forty-one resident, and nine absent members of this church. Twelve had been dismissed to other churches. Of that original number, there are now left but twelve. Since I came here, there have been added one hundred and fifty-nine — an average of a little over fifteen each year — sixty-seven of them by profession. The whole number that have united with this church from the beginning, is two hundred and twenty-one. Of these, there have been dismissed to other churches, ninety; thirteen have died; one has been excommunicated, leaving one hundred and seventeen members at present, twenty-two of whom are non-residents. Of infants and adults, I have baptized seventy-seven. Notwithstanding the embarrassed condition of the society, and the continual removal of members to other
12churches, it has much of the time contributed regularly to the great benevolent objects of the day. Two thousand six hundred and sixty-seven dollars and eighty-one cents, have been raised for these objects in the last ten years, which sum does not include amounts given at union Bible meetings, and on numerous other public occasions where contributions have been taken, nor the liberal donations with which the church and society have responded to the various calls for the contrabands, and for soldiers and their families. All this, including the more than $8000,00, raised during the last ten years to defray its current expenses, enlarge and repair its house of worship, and purchase lots, indicate a strength of purpose, and a willingness to sacrifice to maintain the ordinances of religion, that are worthy of praise. And I ought not to omit the mention here of the valuable help which the ladies of the church and congregation have rendered during the periods of trial. They have not pretended to do more than add their "mites," but they have paid several hundred dollars into the treasury when it was greatly needed. In addition to this, they have expended considerable money in fitting up the church; have filled several boxes of clothing for the families of missionaries, and for the Home for the Friendless, and it is owing to their noble exertions that one of Meneely's finest 1200 lb. bells peals out on the morning air of the Sabbath, inviting the people to the house of God. For three years past, they have also contributed a liberal sum annually for the support of students in the Theological Seminary at Chicago, and they have already commenced a fund for furnishing a new church. In the spiritual welfare of the church, they have been equally interested. Their circles of prayer, kept up with some interruptions, during the whole of my ministry here, and their numerous attendance on the weekly prayer meetings, have been a source of great encouragement to the pastor, and a means of spiritual enlargement to the church.
This church and society from the first, took a deep interest in the establishment and support of the public school. They have furnished many of the teaches, and through all its vicissitudes have been its warm supporters.
Their position upon the moral questions of the day has
13never been misunderstood. Organized as an anti-slavery institution, the church has never been known to occupy any equivocal ground upon that subject. There has been no danger that its pulpit would be muzzled in its utterances for the rights of humanity, on the plea that this was preaching politics, or that its edifice would be named after any of the Southern States. It stood up boldly in its condemnation of the outrages of Southern members of Congress, and in defence of the higher law when the North was made a vast hunting ground for fugitive slaves. If such plain teachings on these points have driven some out of the congregation, more have been drawn to it by this frank and outspoken advocacy of the rights of the oppressed. Stigmatized by a portion of the community as the "abolition church," it has been proud to own the name, and its present high moral position and strength are due in some measure to the Divine blessing upon its efforts to defend the cause of God's poor. Certain sons of Belial have attempted at various times to intimidate the pulpit, and frighten the pew into more conservative views, by efforts to arouse the opposition of the public. But such attempts have invariably resulted in adding strength and numbers to the congregation.
While neither the subject of slavery, or the war, has been made a hobby in the pulpit, it has not hesitated to speak when occasion demanded it. So also the subject of temperance, profanity, Sabbath breaking, gambling, licentiousness, and every other immorality and vice; the promotion of morals among vagrant youth, and the cultivation of a pure and upright life on the part of all, have been the themes of frequent and earnest discussion in this desk.
Being thus identified with the whole history of the town, who can calculate the influence this church has exerted upon the character of the place? It would be arrogance to supposed that all the good that has been done is due to her. But is it nothing, that for sixteen years the gospel has been proclaimed here with scarcely any interruption? Shall we take no account of the fact, that in the early settlement of the place, the salt of a pure morality was cast amid the forming elements, that vice has been rebuked, and every moral and educational improvement has received a helping hand? Ought we to ignore the cheerful aid rendered to the six churches, whom this mother has welcomed into being and to whom she has given her members, and whom she has assisted in erecting their houses of worship?
While she boasts not of her works, is it not just that she should have due credit? Is she stands to-day as a vessel that has nobly outridden the storm, with many weather-beaten scars upon her, with her cargo all safe, and her crew undiminished, able still to battle against coming tempests, who shall not render her the deserved honor?
Let no jealous feelings arise; she asks no flattery; she craves no obsequious attentions for what she has done, and would be guilty of no emulation but in good works. She is glad to welcome these other religious institutions that have arisen under her eye into the ranks as earnest workers for the same great and good ends for which she has so long labored.
But she would not have you despise her, because in the seventeenth year of her existence, she is not worshipping within frescoed walls, and under towers of dizzy height. What matters is though her temple of worship has such a plain
15and lowly look, since she has a record that is not lowly. What respect would you have for her, though she was worshipping to-day in a temple of marble, if she had during these years kept here a muzzled pulpit, and had been afraid to speak out boldly against vice and immorality, when they were running rife among you, or had refused to lift up her voice in behalf of enslaved millions, or had tried to cover up with her sacred mantle, sneaking disloyalists, when the very life of the nation was in peril?
It has not been her object to draw attention to herself, and win the flatteries and the applause of men, but to do a work for humanity and for God. Her record is in the hearts of those whom she has restrained from vice; in the promotion of good morals; in the encouragement of education; in the cultivation of loyalty to truth and good government; in the kindling of a love of justice and right, and above all, in the precious souls that have been redeemed to God through her efforts.
When the time shall come for her to erect a convenient and commodious house of worship, will not a community proverbially generous, and for whose good she has struggle to live, and to whom she has freely imparted her services, come up liberally to her aid? I am well assured your answer will be a substantial and generous affirmative.
Let me, in parting, say one word to my fellow-citizens. With many of you I have been long associated as a member of the community. I look back with pleasure to my residence among you, and it is with much regret that I leave you to take up my abode in another city. I shall not soon forget the uniform kindness and respect, and the many tokens of regard that I and my family have received at your hands. My intercourse with you has been unmarred by a single unpleasant thing of a business or social character, and I have been aided in various ways by your thoughtfulness and generosity.
You have the sincere thanks of me and mine, and our best wishes for your continued happiness and prosperity.
To many of you I have preached the gospel of Christ for
16years, and I hope that these messages of grace have not been uttered in vain.
With some of you I have rejoiced while aiding in the consummation of that most tender of all human relations of husband and wife. With many others of you I have wept in the sad hour of bereavement, when you have laid your loved ones in the grave.
I was struck the other day, as I walked through your cemetery, with the great number of names of those with whose faces I was once familiar, but whom I had followed to their long resting place. The names of once honored and respected citizens are there. Some of your once bosom companions are among the number. There too lie many whose sweet prattle was once the music of your house, and the joy of your heart. In looking over that sad list, and calling to mind the many touching scenes of which they remind me, I find that these ten years of pastoral labor among you, are full of precious memories, and that there are many tender cords that bind me to you. Nothing but a call to a higher and wider sphere of usefulness, could induce me to rend these ties.
But while absent is another State, helping to plant a christian civilization in a soil once cursed with the blighting system of human servitude, I trust I shall have your sympathy and good wishes still. Remember, fellow-citizens, the words which I have from time to time preached unto you. Your happiness and your eternal destiny are inseparably linked with your treatment of God's truth. If you are true to that, and loyal to God, it shall be well with you here and hereafter; if not, neither this life nor eternity will furnish you the least ground for hope or joy.
May you all be the happy recipients of the grace of God, and may we all meet by and by where there will be no more parting!