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Forth to his honest toil he cheerful hies,
Ponders the page which heav'nly truth conveys,
Who spreads the beauties of the blooming spring,
These extracts sufficiently show the unaffected and unambitious character of the poein; which is not to be noticed as making pretensions to uncommon display of splendid genius ; but simply as an exhibition of religious truths in an engaging form ;-which ieads us to regret, that we do not meet with more publications of the same kind.
EVANGELICAL MISSIONARY SOCIETY OF MASSACHUSETTS.
This Society was formed in 1807. It was originally confined to the counties of Worcester and Middlesex. Its purpose was to provide the destitute inhabitants of our own country with the means of Christian instruction and moral improvement. Its means were furnished by the annual subscription of its members, the contributions of particular Churches, the donations of a number of Female Cent Societies, and by specific sums given by pious and charitable individuals. To secure the permanent existence of the society, and provide a source for an emergency, $1000 were early funded, and the interest has annually been added to the principal.
The design of the institution was to be accomplished by the employment of Missionaries and School masters, and by the distribution of religious and moral publications, school books, &c.* The Trustees commenced ibeir official duties in the conviction, that the utility of charitable Societies depends on the manner in which their purposes are carried into execution, and they adopted their plan on the result of serious deliberation. They supposed, that the ordinary effects of Christianity are to be expected from the stated ministrations of the gospel. In assigning, therefore, the services of their Missionaries, they did not embrace a large district of country and thereby induce the inhabitants of a number of towns to depend merely on occasional preaching; but they selected suitable places, and to these coofined the labours of those whom they employ. ed; and they authorized their Missionaries to assure the people, who attended on their ministrations, and who manifested a disposition to maintain the public institutions of our religion, that the Society would aid them in gathering a Church, and supporting a minister. This aid was given in the hope that a Christian society thus assisted, realizing the benefits resulting from the regular administrations of the word and ordinances, would become more united among themselves, and more able and willing to bear the expence of a preached gospel. The Trustees indulged the expectation, that, by Divine blessing, they might be instrumental in gathering regular Churches, and establishing evangelical ministers in succession among people, who without their assistance must long have been destitute of these blessings. In granting aid to schools, it was the aim of the Trustees to impress the minds of the people of our new settlements, with a just sense of the importance of the literary and Christian education of their children, and to hold up the prospect of assistance to those, who were disposed to make proper exertions for themselves.
In pursuance of this system of measures, the Trustees sought for Missionaries of established reputation, and of a catholic spirit, who in their preaching would dwell on the fundamental doctrines of revelation, and on the unchangeable duties of the Christian character. Several individuals of this description were sent into different places in the District of Maine. These were received with respect; their ministrations attended upon with apparent seriousness, and the warm expressions of gratitude, which were returned, led the Society to believe that good was produced ; but for the want of union among the people themselves, no permanent settlement of a minister was effected.
* It has also a committee to receive and appropriate such monies 49 shall be contributed in aid of foreign missions.
The Town of Ellsworth, and the Plantations of Jackson and Washington, gave a brighter illustration of the advantages of the Evangelical Missionary Society. By the representations of Mr. Brewer, who first preached at Ellsworth, and at the earnest request of that people, the Trustees were induced to make that place the object of particular attention. In 1810, Mr. Peter Nurse, a candidate for the ministry, engaged in a mission to Ellsworth; and at the solicitations of that people, he united the business of a school master with the labours of a preacher. The beneficial effects of bis assiduous application to bis various duties, soon became apparent in the increasing attention to the institutions of the gospel, in the more general manifestation of the Christian spirit, and in the elevation of the tone of public morals. In his school, Mr. Nurse engaged the love and respect of his scholars; and their improvement rewarded him for his unremitted endeavours. Under his care, numbers both of males and females were educated to become instructers in English schools.
A respectable committee of the town of Ellsworth, in a letter directed to the society, observed, “ As your views are disinterested, your highest reward will be to know that your endeavours to do us good are crowned with success ; and the extraordinary success of Mr. Nurse's labours among us, is an indisputable test of the utility of confining the labours of one Missionary to one society or neighbourhood. It is our deliberate opinion, that Mr. Nurse has done more good the past year, than ten such Missionaries would have done travelling in the usual manner.”
The people of Jackson and Washington Plantations, were assisted by the Society in the support of Mr. Silas Warren, their candidate. His faithful services in the pulpit and the school house, were attended with similar, if not equal success to tbose of Mr. Nurse. In 1812, the executive committee of the year, by the desire of those interested, made a journey into Maine, and assisted in gathering a Church and ordaining Mr. Nurse at Ellsworth, and Mr. Warren at Jackson. The people of Ellsworth now raised among themselves the great. er portion of the salary of their minister, and by the Divine benediction, peace and prosperity continue to attend his ministerial labours.* An act of incorporation being deemed expedient, was obtained from the Legislature of the Commonwealth.
* In 1816 a house of worship was erected at the sole expence of a respectable and liberal minded parishoner, Melatiah Jordan, Esq. It is remarkable that the first services performed in it were the obsequies of the lamented founder.
The society, under the direction of their missionaries and school masters, has distributed many religious and moral publications and school books, and several thousand copies of the catechism compiled by the Worcester Association of ministers. These all were the donations of individuals.
A number of respectable gentlemen, not resident in the counties of Worcester and Middlesex, in 1816, expressed a wish that the society should be opened for the admission of all in the Commonwealth, who approve its plan, and are disposed to promote its objects. The proposal was cordially embraced, and the necessary measures adopted to carry it into effect. A branch society was the last year formed in the District of Maine.
The parent society has recently received important and substantial patronage from Boston and Salem. Thus countenanced by the pious public, and aided by the liberality of the affluent, the Society, lifting up holy bands for the blessings of Heaven, now rise to more extended views and to brighter prospects.
The recent transactions and the present state of the society will appear from the following report of the Board of Trustees, presented in October last.
At a season in which the Christian community is beyond example fruitful in works of benevolence, and in which the hope is raised that the season is fast approaching, when “the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth,” the Trustees join the members of the Evangelical Missionary Society in devout acknowledgments, that our Association is allowed to take a humble part in building up the kingdom of the Redeemer.
In seeking for objects most deserving of our charity, and whom
upon the uniform principle of our institution, we might aid in the acquirement of Christian knowledge, we are established in the following important facts. A very large part of the newly settled territory in our country remains unfurnished with religious instructers. A field is found, to whose cultivation the combined charities of all the associations formed for the diffusion of a knowledge of the gospel, might be usefully applied. We find but few parts of this wide field which have not occasionally been visited by teachers, commissioned by some of the various classes of Christians. Their visits have been generally transient; their intercourse with the people limited; their instructions too often of a sectarian complexion.
We have, therefore, been left to deplore the disgust and division which have been excited, and the small progress which has been made on communicating consistent and reasonable ideas of the Christian religion, and in promoting the great interests of morality and piety. From ihe survey we bave made, and from the experiment of many succeeding years, we are still more confirmed in the belief, that missionary labour can seldom promise a barvest, unless a particular portion of the vineyard is allotted for cultivation; and the teachers who are employed, in addition to an enlarged charity and habitual piety, are also proficienis in general literature, and possess a good fund of theological knowledge.
We consider the instrumentality of this Society in the establishment, during the last year, of the Rev. Mr. Frothingham, at Belfast, in the District of Maine, as a signal smile of divine providence. In him we repose high confidence as a man of knowledge, a sound theologian, a pattern of Christian prudence and cbarity, and as one who will, by his enlightened and zealous instructions and corresponding example, shed a general lustre on pure and undefiled religion. Some of our members who aided in his installation, give the most encouraging views of the prosperity and prospects of the religious society in that place,* and they will probably stand in no farther need of our charity.
The usual appropriation of $200, has been made to the Rev. Silas Warren, of Jackson ; and the Trustees have a full persuasion of his diligence and fidelity as a minister, and of the success which has attended his endeavours to promote knowledge among the rising generation, and to advance the cause of Christ.
One hundred dollars has been paid Mr. John Barrett for service he has rendered in the vicinity of Belfast. His report gives satisfactory information, that be faithfully executed the duties of his commission, and that he addressed Christians who had a desire to be insiructed in the word of life.
As an expression of our sympathy with the Rev. Seth Stet. gon, of Plymouth, whom we view as an independent inquirer after truth, and wbo has at heart the honour of the Redeemer and the best interests of his religion, we appropriate towards his support among his own people, $50.
We have cheerfully met an earnest solicitation from respectable inhabitants of Brooklyn, in Connecticut, that we would aid them in their endeavours for the settlement of the ministry,
* See Christian Disciple, New Series, No. 4, p. 336.