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in 1699, was a school master in Salem. He was afterwards settled in the ministry.
In May, 1701, Mr. Andrew Gardner was invited to preach, and in the following September received an invitation to be the minister of the town. He preached in town, to great acceptance, for a number of years. Mr. Gardner was unfortunately killed by one of his society, Oct. 26, 1704, as has been already mentioned. He was soon to be ordained when this unfortunate occurrence brought sorrow upon the town. Why his ordination was so long deferred does not appear. It was indeed not customary to have this ceremony follow so soon after the invitation, as at the present day: but the delay was unusual even for that period. Tradition speaks in praise of Mr. Gardner; and Mr. Harrington remarks that he died, "to the great grief not only of his consort, but of his people, who had an exceeding value for him."* The late Wm. Winthrop, in his manuscript catalogue, says that Mr. Gardner " was the son of Capt. Andrew Gardner who was killed in Canada.”+
Mr. Hancock also, in his sermon preached at the installation of Mr. Harrington, speaks of him as “son of the worthy Capt. Andrew Gardner, who miscarried in an expedition to Canada, under Sir William Phips.” Mr. Gardner was but thirty years of age when he died. He was born, I have reason to believe, in that part of Cambridge, which is now Brighton, and graduated at Harvard University, 1696, in the same class with Samuel Whitman. He is not in italicks in the catalogue of the University, because he never received ordination.
On the 31st July, 1704, a short time before Mr Gardner's death, the meeting house was burnt by the Indians. This as I have al. ready mentioned, escaped destruction in Philip's war and was the first house of public worship in town.
From the records of the General Court, it appears that some difficulty attended the erection of a second building. For, on the 28th December, 1704, the Court voted to allow the town forty pounds towards a new building, as soon as the inhabitants sbould erect a frame. And on petition of sundry of the inhabitants, referring to the place of setting the building, a committee was chosen 6 to hear
See also Mr. Hancock's sermon, mentioned below.
+ Letter of James Savage, Esq. Aug. 1826. The first Judge Joseph Wil. der and his brother, Col. James Wilder, married sisters of Rev. Mr. Gardner. Ten acres of land, in town, were set off by the proprietors to his heirs in 1747.
| Letter from Rev. Mr. Homer of Newton.
the parties, and report.” In May, 1706, John Houghton, Esq. the Representative of the town for that year, petitioned that “the restriction might be taken off against the said town's proceeding in the finishing of their meeting house in the place where they had raised a frame for that use.” The request was granted, and the building was probably completed that year. It was situated on the Old Common, so called, opposite to the second burying ground.*
lo May following Mr. Gardner's death, Mr. John Prentice commenced preaching in Lancaster. He continued to supply the pulpit until February, 1707, when he was invited to become the minister of the town. The invitation be accepted, and was ordained March 29, 1708. On the same day, previous to the ordination, a covenant was signed by the members of the church, general in its nature, binding those who professed it, to holy lives, with watchfulness of each other's conduct, acknowledging the equality of the churches, and the sufficiency of holy scripture, and refraining from the injunction of particular doctrines as necessary to enable one to participate in the ordinances. It is reasonable to suppose that the earlier covenants were not more technical and precise, and that, while due regard was paid to Orthodox faith, christian liberty was regarded as a sacred right. I
In 1726 and 1727, motions to build a new house of worship were negatived. Another attempt for a new building where the first meeting house stood, or on School House bill, where the town house now stands, was made without success, in 1733, and 1737. A motion for one on the west side of the Neck, and another on the east side of the river, was negatived in 1734. A new petition in 1741, for two buildings, one for the accommodation of the mile and the south part of the town, and another for the remaining inhabi.
* This burying field was given by Capt. Thomas Wilder, who died in 1717. He was the eldest son of Thomas Wilder, the first settler of the name. The old burying ground, was probably separated for that use as early as 1653. The third, was purchased of Rev. Dr. Thayer and Hon. John Sprague, in 1798.
+ March, 1731-Town voted to buy Rev. Pres. Samuel Willard's “ Body of Divinity, to be kept in the meeting house for the town's use, so that any person may come there and read therein as often as they shall see cause, and said book is not to be carried out of the meeting house, at any time, except by order of the selectmen or the town." This divine was son of Major Willard before named, one of the original purchasers of Concord, and great grand father of the late President Willard, of Harvard University.
Nov. 1734-ooted, that any desirous of admission to full communion, and declining to make a relation of his or her experiences, may be admitted by making a written confession of their faith. Church Records.
tants, met with the same fate. However, in January, 1742, at a town meeting called by a magistrate, it was voted, to build two houses, according to the petition of 1741, viz. one of them for the new precinct near Ridge hill in Woonksechauckset, and the other, on School House hill.
March 8, 1742, the old or first parish formed itself into a precinct, and chose officers. The new building in the first parish was completed in 1743.* It contained thirty three pews on the lower floor, with many long seats, as was usual at that day.
The church and town were in great harmony during the ministry of Mr. Prentice. In 1746, his health began to fail, and, from that period to the time of his death, his pulpit was supplied by Messrs. Benjamin Stevens, William Lawrence, Cotton Brown, and Stephen Frost.f He died much lamented, January 6, 1746, aged 66, " after a life of much service and faithfulness."I He is said to have possessed great dignity and severity of manuers, and to have been bold, direct, and pointed in bis style of preaching. “God gave him the tongue of the learned” said Mr. Hancock, knew how to speak a word unto him that was weary; the God of the spirits of all flesh fitted him for his work, and taught him how
* The committee consisted of Joseph Wilder, Samuel Willard, Josiah White, Oliver Wilder and William Richardson. The parish granted £1045, 55. 8d. old tenor, to build the church; the actual cost was £863, 3s. 7d.
+ Benjamin Stevens, S. T. D. was a native of Charlestown, and minister of Kittery, in Maine. Graduated Harvard University, 1740. Mr. Lawrence Harvard University, 1743. Mr. Brown, Harvard University, 1743, born in Haverhill, and minister in Brookline. Mr. Frost, Harvard University, 1739. The same who is mentioned ante in note p. He was a member of Mr. Prentice's church.
#Mr. Prentice was twice married. His first wife was Mrs. Mary Gardner, widow of his predecessor. Their sons were Staunton, Thomas and John. Mary, the eldest daughter, married Rev. Job Cushing, minister of Shrewsbury, March, 1727; Elizabeth, Mr. Daniel Robbins, of the west parish, and alter his death, Capt. Curtis, of Worcester ; Sarah, Dr. Smith, and afterwards Col. Brigham of Southborough. The second wife was Mrs. Prudence Swan, mother of Rev. Josiah Swan, before mentioned. She was born in Charlestown, and her maiden name was Foster. Prudence, a daughter, married Josiah Brown, of the west parish, a graduate at Cambridge. Relief, married Rev. John Rogers, minister of Leominster, March, 1750. Rebecca, married Rev. John Mellen, of the west parish.
$ He preached a number of occasional sermons, viz. an Election sermon, May 28, 1735, from 2 Chron. III. 4,5 and part of 6th verses, which was printed. A sermon at the opening of the first Court in the County of Worcester, Aug. 10, 1731, from 2 Chron. XIX. 6, 7. A sermon at the ordination of Rey. Ebenezer Parkman, Oct. 28, 1724, from 2 Cor. XII. 15. A funeral discourse, at Marlborough, on occasion of the death of Rev. Robert Breck, Jan. 1731.
he ought to behave himself in the house of God. They that knew him esteemed him for his piety, bis probity, his peaceableness, and gentleness, and for his commendable steadiness in these uncertain times. He was a practical, scriptural, profitable preacher. As to his secular affairs, with the help of that PRUDENCE,* God gave him, he managed them with discretion.” Mr. Prentice was a native of Newton. He graduated at Cambridge in the class of 1700, which contains the names of Winthrop,Bradstreet, Hooker, Whiting, Robert Breck, &c. His father was Mr. Thomas Prentice of Newton, who married Mary Staunton. Thomas Prentice, a brave and distinguished commander of a corps of cavalry in Philip's war, was a relation. Thomas, the father, died Nov. 6th, 1722, aged 93. He had been, according to tradition, together with Captain Prentice and another relation of the same name, one of Oliver Cromwell's Body Guard. By an ancient manuscript, in the possession of Rev. Mr. Homer of Newton, it appears that Mr. Prentice (without doubt Rev. John Prentice) was admitted to the church in Newton, March 14, 1708, and taken out the same day. His relation was then, I presume, transferred to the church in Lancaster, orer which he was ordained Monday, March 29, 1708.f
On the fourth of January, 1748, a few days before the death of Mr. Prentice, it was voted to settle a colleague "if God should spare their minister's life.” Thursday the 21st was set apart for a day of fasting and prayer, and the neighboring ministers, Messrs. Gardner, Secomb, Rogers, Goss, and Mellen, were desired to assist on the occasion. Feb. 28, 1748, the society united with the church in inviting Mr. Cotton Brown to be their minister; and voted to give him £2000 old tenor, to enable him to purchase a parsonage, and £480 old tenor for bis annual salary. Mr. Brown probably declined the offer ;for, on the 8th August following, they voted to hear no more candidates till they came to a choice, and desired the church to select one from those who had already preached. Accordingly, on the same day, the church made choice of the Rev. Timothy Harrington, with but two dissenting votes, and the society immediately concurred in the choice. They offered him £1000,
* His second wife. She died, July, 1765.
† For what relates to the parentage of Mr. Prentice, I am indebted to Rey. Mr. Homer of Newlon, and John Mellen Esq. of Cambridge.
Mr. Prentice's salary in 1717, was £70: 1718, £85: 1726, £100: 1731, £130: 1737, £210, old tenor : the same in 1744, 5 and 6," in the present currency." I He was ordained at Brookline, Oct. 6, 1748, died, April 13, 1751.
old tenor, as a settlement, or £2000 for the purchase of a parsonage, and the same salary* that was offered to Mr. Browa. Mr. Harrington accepted the invitation, and was installed Nov. 16, 1748. The sermon was preached by Rev. John Hancock, of Lexington.f Thirteen churches were represented by their “ Elders and delegates, viz: Mr. Loring's of Sudbury, Mr. Gardner's of Stow, Mr. Stone's of Southborough, Mr. Parkman's of Westborough, Mr. Secomb's of Harvard, Mr. Goss' of Bolton, Mr. Rogers of Leominster, Mr. Mellen's of the west parish, (Sterling,) Rev. Dr. Appleton's of Cambridge, Mr. Hancock's of Lexington, Mr. Williams' of Waltham, Mr. Storer's of Watertown, and Mr. Stearn's of Lunenburg."
Mr. Harrington had been the minister at Lower Asbuelot or Swansey, in New Hampshire. That town was distroyed, April 2, 1747, and the inhabitants were scattered. Monday, Oct. 4, 1748, bis church met at Rutland, Mass. and gave their former pastor a dismission and warm recommendation to the first church in Lancaster. The letter was, signed by Nathaniel Hammond, Timothy Brown, and Jonathan Hammond, and was highly acceptable to the church in this town.
During the ministry of Mr. Harrington, great changes took place in the state of society in New England. No period of our history is fraught with greater interest and instruction. Ancient simplicity was yielding to the alterations, if not the refinements, in manners, induced by a widening intercourse with the world, the increase of general intelligence, and the number of well educated men. The profession of law had acquired weight and influence, and its members were taking the lead in all that related to the political existence and improvement of the provinces. An inquisitive spirit began to stir in the church, which is still active and busy, under a change of the points of discussion.
I do not find that the introduction of instrumental music as a part of public worship, or the change in the mode of singing, gave rise to any uneasiness in the parish. Not so however with the intro
* The salary was annually settled by the price of the principal articles of life, £480 old tenor, equal to £64 lawsul money, or $213 33. For a few years the salary was as high as $300.
+ This sermon was printed. The text was from 1. Cor. IX. 19. Mr. Hancock was father of Rev. John Hancock of Braintree, and Grandfather of Gov. Hancock.
$ Except Mr. Wheelock used to shake his head, when the pitch pipe was sounded, and Thomas Holt would leave the house at the sound of the pitch pipe, or when “ funeral thought” was sung.