Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: The Course of the Old Church

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The Course of the Old Church

The old church was now left in an embarrassing condition. A considerable number of its members, including two of the deacons, had separated from it. About five-ninths of the legal voters of the town had declared themselves Presbyterians; and, being a majority, they consequently had control of the parsonage land, the ministerial fund and the meeting house. The church, under these circumstances, set apart Wednesday the 2nd of March for fasting and prayer, and invited several of the ministers in the vicinity to meet with them and advise in relation to their future course.

The ministers invited were present on the day appointed, forming a clerical council, viz.: Rev. Samuel Langdon, D.D., of Hampton Falls; Rev. Samuel Haven, D.D., and Rev. Joseph Buckminster, of Portsmouth; Rev. Benjamin Thurston, of North Hampton; Rev. William F. Rowland, of Exeter; Rev. James Miltimore, of Stratham ; Rev. Jeremiah Shaw, of Moultonborough; Rev. John Andrews, of Newburyport; Rev. Huntington Porter, of Rye; Rev. Joseph Langdon, of Newington; and Rev. Messrs. Crafts and Perkins.

The public services of the day were held in a dwelling-house, owned by Capt. Morris Hobbs, near his own home, it being the same that was afterward owned and occupied by his son, Dea. Jeremiah Hobbs. A sermon was preached in the forenoon by Rev. Mr. Buckminster, from Acts XV: 39, 40; and another in the afternoon, by Rev. Dr. Haven, from John XIII: 34, 35. Mr. Buckminster's sermon was published, and the following sentences are quoted, as showing the views of the ministers present:

"By our coming and joining in these acts of worship, we publicly declare, that in our opinion, you have not forfeited your christian character, nor your relation to the churches in this neighborhood. We own you as a church of Christ and think that, as you are a majority of that body in this place, and have once and again made conciliatory proposals to your dissenting brethren, which have been declined or rejected, we act consistently, and have the countenance of the brethren at Antioch, with respect to Paul, in being with you this day and recommending you to the grace of God." "Though you may not be able to pray that persons may become Presbyterians, yet pray that Presbyterians and all other denominations of christians may become good men." "If you proceed in your present resolution of seeking a man to set over you in the Lord, be not governed by party names and distinctions, nor seek one who draws his doctrines from human formularies and systems; but seek one who bows to the gospel of the grace of God, that owns no master but Christ, and that is not ashamed of his peculiar doctrines, and will not be a shame to his pure and heavenly precepts; one who, from love to Christ and his cause, will feed his sheep and feed his lambs, and take heed to himself and his ministry."

The next Sabbath after the meeting of ministers, the Congregationalists began to hold meetings by themselves for public worship, and continued that course as long as time Presbyterians maintained a separate organization. Their first preacher was the Mr. Perkins who was present at the council of ministers. He remained here a few Sabbaths only, and on the 17th of April, Mr. Jesse Appleton, who afterward became their pastor, was with the people for the first time, and continued to supply them personally, or by exchanges, till his ordination, which took place about ten months later.

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