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The following is from a MS. letter received from Miss Ellen Larned, of Thompson, Conn.:
“I think that all the ministers of Windham county were earnest patriots during the Revolution, helping first to form public opinion, and giving to the last all public aid and comfort to the popular cause. At a meeting of the Windham County Association in 1777, it was agreed that, “considering the peculiar circumstances of our land during the present calamities of war, wherewith the holy and righteous God is pleased to exercise us, the declension of religion and prevalence of iniquity, we think it our duty to stir up ourselves and the people of our charge, to a diligent attention to our duties, and propose the Gen. Association to recommend professors of religion to renew their covenant with God, that family religion and order might be maintained, &c.'” An address to that effect was accordingly prepared, printed, and a thousand copies distributed among the twenty parishes of Windham county.
Rev. EBENEZER DEVOTION, of Scotland parish, though dying before the breaking out of the war, deserves to be ranked among the patriot clergy of the Revolution. He was a man of strong character, and much influence. His fellow-citizens in Windham showed their confidence in his judgment by sending him as their representative to the General Assembly in the Stamp Act agitation of 1765, which was, according to Dr. Stiles, “a very singular instance." His successor, Rev. JAMES COGSWELL, was a warm friend of the patriot caus and after the return of peace, was selected to preach the celebration sermon at Windham, which was received with great approbation.
Rev. ABIEL LEONARD, of Woodstock, was deeply concerned in Revolutionary affairs. In May, 1775, he was appointed chaplain of the Third Connecticut regiment, at the earnest request of General Putnam. He is described “as a man of noble presence, a finished gentleman in manners, and an accomplished pulpit orator." He was very popular in the army, and officiated on many public occasions to great acceptance. July 18, 1775, all the companies under General
Putnam's immediate command assembled on Prospect Hill to hear the Declaration of Congress, setting forth the causes and necessity of the war, and receive the elegant new standard presented by Connecticut. Mr. Leonard read the Declaration, and “made an animated, pathetic, and highly patriotic address to the army, followed by a pertinent prayer.” You will see in Dr. Tarbox's Life of Putnam several allusions to Mr. Leonard's public ministration. Besides these he was active in providing religious reading for the soldiers. I have seen a notice of “A Prayer composed for the benefit of the soldiery in the American Army to assist them in their private devotions, by Abiel Leonard, Chaplain to Gen. Putnam's regiment,” Cambridge : printed by S. E. Hall, 1775. It was said to be in nine pages ; "a highly creditable performance,” but I have not been able to find it. It is well worth notice, as, perhaps, the first attempt to furnish religious literature for soldiers.
The church at Woodstock was very reluctant to relinquish their pastor, but yielded to the call of their country. The following letter will show you the estimate in which he was held:
“ To the Church and Congregation at Woodstock :
“Mr. Leonard is a man whose exemplary life and conversation must make him highly esteemed by every person who has the pleasure of being acquainted with him. It therefore can be no surprise to us to hear they are loth to part with him. His influence in the army is great. He is employed in the glorious work of attending to the morals of a brave people who are fighting for their liberties—the liberties of the people of Woodstock—the liberty of all America. We therefore hope that knowing how nobly he is employed, the congregation of Woodstock will cheerfully give up to the public a gentleman so very useful, and when by the blessing of a kind Providence this glorious and unparalleled struggle for our liberties is at an end, we have not the least doubt that Mr. Leonard will with redoubled joy be received in the open arms of a congregation so very dear to him as the good people of Woodstock are. This is what is hoped for-this is what is expected by the congregation of Woodstock's sincere well wishers and very humble servants,
ISRAEL PUTNAM." HEADQUARTERS, CAMBRIDGE, 24th of March, 1776.
Mr. Leonard went with the army to New York, and continued to serve as chaplain to General Putnam. In 1777 he received the degree of S. T. D. from New Jersey College. His end was most unfortunate. Overstaying his furlough in consequence of sickness in his family, he was met on his return to camp by the news of his supersedure. Very impulsive by nature, and keenly sensitive to applause or censure, he was unable to endure the disgrace and mortification, and took his life with his own hand.
Rev. Elisha ATKINS, afterwards pastor of the First church of Killingly, served as chaplain during the war.
FROM A MS. LETTER RECEIVED FROM MISS ELLEN LEARNED,
Election sermons were preached in Connecticut from 1674 until 1830, or thereabouts—in all, 156 years. To preach these sermons, men of the first ability were appointed by the Governor. These sermons were expected to treat of the sins, the dangers, and the duties of the year. They thus are the exponents of the temper of the times during this period, and are therefore, historically, of considerable value.
From a sermon delivered in 1766, by JONATHAN LEE, of Salisbury; born, 1718; Yale College, 1742; died, 1788:
“ Dominion, or right to rule, is evidently founded neither in nature or grace, but compact, and confederation.”
From a sermon delivered in 1770, by STEPHEN JOHNSON, of Lyme; born, 1725; Yale College, 1743 ; died, 1786:
“We rejoice, we boast in the British constitution, and in our royal charter, the best privileges and immunities, the happiest constitution and form of government in the whole world; the next matter of highest moment to us, to our enjoyment of the best blessings we can hope from civil polity, is a good administration pursuant to the spirit and grand intention of it.
“It were ingratitude to God, and to our British sovereigns, not to acknowledge we have generally enjoyed ample indulgence and protection of our liberties and privileges under the administration of the British court; especially since the glorious revolution. But justice requires it to be said, we have ever made answerable returns of affection and loyalty, duty, and obedience. We never betrayed their trusts, their confidence, or their interests; but every requisition constitutionally made, has been readily answered with duty and loyalty, to the good acceptance of His Majesty and the British court.
“This day brings us the recognition and enjoyment of the important privileges we hold; by the spirit of the British constitution and by our royal charter—privileges more precious than the gold of Ophir, and of greater importance to the welfare of human society, than all the treasures of the Indies."
From a sermon preached in 1775, by Joseph PERRY, of East Windsor; born, 1733; Harvard College, 1752 ; died, 1783.1
“In this State have they endured with great patience and fortitude, till at length we are assured, by good intelligence, open hostility is commenced by the king's soldiers. In the late battle at Concord and Lexington, inglorious to the British arms! they have imbrued their hands in the innocent blood of their fellow subjects with a relentless cruelty and inhuman barbarity, too much like that we have experienced from the merciless savages of the wilderness.
“ The metropolis of that unhappy province is now become a garrison town, the inhabitants, by thousands, confined within its walls, in the greatest consternation, from fearful apprehensions of being put to the sword, or of perishing by famine.
“As members of a community, our interests are at stake as well as others;—whatever, therefore, is proper for us to do in our places, should be diligently attended to; we should encourage our people, and animate them to stand firm in the liberties wherewith GOD, NATURE, and CHRISTIANITY have made them FREE, and never thro' fear of suffering loss, or any temptation, basely give up the rights of Men and Christians; for, as on the one hand, he that in his way, shall seek to save his life, shall lose it ; so, on the other, he that shall lose his life, in religiously supporting so good a cause, shall find it, and in the end shall receive an hundred fold."
From a sermon preached in 1777, by John Devotion, of Saybrook ; born, 1738 ; Yale College, 1754; died, 1802 :
“Britons, elate with confidence in martial skill, looking down with disdainful contempt on the sons of America, marched out to Lexington, in all the pride of vainglorying. American annals record the memorable morn. Ye fields, be witness of innocent blood—that first opening of the sluices not yet shut. They returned under the influence of a panic which the Lord of Hosts suffers to fall upon self-sufficient creatures. When our brethren, not yet suitably arranged, near Charlestown, took the ground, fierce wafted o'er the British Legions came, boasting their intended route through Cambridge, Roxbury, and Boston Neck : like sheep to the slaughter, their road through the dark valley of the shadow of death,' oft trod by mortals never to return, till the archangel, with the trump of God arouse them.
"God's servants in authority, should imitate him all whose ways are judgment;' who speaks in righteousness.' America groaning under the most barbarous treatment-condemned, unheard-her children pronounced rebels, when in the peace of God and the king—praying for the welfare of the king, and nation; sentenced to be dragged away in chains to Britain, upon suspicion of crimes troops let loose upon us, sheathing their swords in the bowels of them, whose honest industry fed great numbers in the British isle, loudly calls upon you, to form laws in righteousness, consonant to the mild and equitable government of Zion's King."
From a sermon delivered in 1778, by CHAUNCEY WRITTLESEY of New Haven; born, 1718; Yale College, 1738; died, 1787 :
“We are naturally led to reflect, with gratitude, upon the distinguishing goodness of God towards this Colony or State, from its beginning down to this day; his distinguishing goodness in providing for this people, and raising up and setting