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duction of the New Version.” Many were grieved because of the change, and two individuals proceeded further. The version of Sternhold and Hopkins,* the first metrical version of the Psalms, in English, was never used in this town. This was not in bigb repute; Eliot, Welde, and Richard Mather, in 1639, attempted a translation, but their labors were not valued; and President Dunster, the following year, was called upon to revise the collection. His improved version was the one in use in most of the New England Churches for many years—and, in Lancaster, till the time of Mr. Harrington. Probably about the year 1763, the collection by Tate and Brady was introduced. Early in 1665, a complaint was made that one of the members of the church, Moses Osgood, with his wife, Martha, had been absent from the communion service more than a year. On being inquired of by the church, why they absented themselves from the Supper, they sent a written reply, in which they say that the reason is, “the bringing in of the New Version, as we think, not in a prudent and regular way. Also we find, in said Version, such words and expressions as are unknown by us, so that we cannot sing with the understanding also. The composers of the said version, we find, have taken too great a liberty to themselves, as we think, to depart from the scriptures. And as for the hymos taken from the other parts of the bible, we know of no warrent in the bible for them, and sball humbly wait on such as are the maintainers of them to produce and demonstrate the warrantableness for them from the word of God. We are therefore waiting the removing or in some way or other the satisfying the above said doubts; for they are a matter of grievance to us, and we think we are wronged in our highest interest, &c.” Further complaint was made against them, that they had declared “the church had broken their covenant with them, in bringing in the New Version of the Psalms, which they affirmed to be made for Papists and Arminians, to be full of her. esy, and in an unknown tongue.” Also, that “Mr. Harrington asserted at the conference meeting, that he was one half the church, and that he would disannul the meeting.”
For this second charge, the offenders made satisfaction ; but on the first, the evidence that was adduced to exculpate, being consid
*Thomas Sternhold, a Court poet, translated 51 psalms. John Hopkins, a clergyman,58. The other contributors were, principally, William Whytting. bam, Dean of Durham, and Thomas Norton, a Barrister. See 3 Ellis' specimens of the early English Poets, p. 116.
ered insufficient, and no excuse being offered, the church voted an admonition and “ suspension.” The wife afterwards (1780, May.) came forward, made explanations that were deemed satisfactory, and was restored. The husband probably continued steadfast in adhering to the old version by President Dunster. I do not find that he forsook his first love, or that his suspension was broken off.*
Many of the clergy, of Mr. Harrington's time, bad departed from the standard of faith professed by the churches in general, from the first settlement of New England. The prevailing doctrines from the beginning were those of Calvin, and it required no ordinary moral courage, seventy years ago, for any one to break asunder the skackles of religious dogmas that had encompassed all, and come out in the independent and conscientious avowal of a new system of doctrine. The people were not prepared for a sudden change of the faith which had been banded down from parent to child, for many generations, and which had collected veneration in its progress and by its long continuance. Most of the clergy, in this vicinity, who embraced the tenets of Arminius, soon found that the age was not arrived that would tolerate a departure from the metaphysical speculations of the old school. They were obliged, therefore, as honest men, to avow their sentiments, at whatever hazard, and in consequence, to relinquish their pastoral relations to their persuasion of the truth. Mr. Harrington hower. er, who was of this class of believers, was regarded with singular affection by his people, and in that way probably, escaped the fate of his brethren.t
A history of this period in our Ecclesiastical affaris, impartially and faithfully written, would be a work of great interest to exhibit the spirit of inquiry and speculation, then just starting into existence, tracing it from its beginning, and shewing how the excitement of political discussion that was preparing the way for national independence, opened the mind to general inquiry in other subjects, especially to those relating to the true interests of man.
* He died, March 10, 1776. Rev. Zabdiel Adams of Lunenburg, in 1771, delivered a discourse in Lancaster, “ on the nature, pleasures and advantages of Church Music.” This was probably about the time of the change introduce ed in the mode of singing, &c. See page 87, Note, The discourse was printed. Watt's superseded Tate and Brady, and Belknap, Watts in Lancaster.
+ In justice however, it should be stated, that his conduct at this time was not decided and manly. Although fully an Arminian, he displeased many, at the time, by the temporising course be adopted. He was of the council assembled to decide upon the difficulties at Leominster, and voted for the dismission of Mr. Rogers, a theologian of the same persuasion.
The difficulties in Bolton resulted in the dismission of Rev. Mr. Goss, the minister, by a majority of the church in that place. To this cause they seem to have been driven by the course pursued by the Ecclesiastical council, which acquitted Mr. Goss of the charges brought against him-charges which, it seems, were true—at least sufficiently so to disqualify him for the duties of his holy office. The Council, besides, passed a censure on those who had dismissed Mr. Goss, and attempted to exclude them from partaking of christian privileges in other churches. The ground work of the whole difficulty was an effort, on the part of the clergy, to assume an arbitrary and irresponsible power over the laity, which led to a proper resistance on the part of the latter. In June, 1772, Samuel Baker, Ephraim Fairbanks, and Nathaniel Longley, a Committee in behalf of the Church in Bolton, sent a letter to the first Church. in Lancaster, containing a clear and satisfactory defence of their proceedings, as not being a usurped authority, but as being the practice of the primitive churches—as being allowed by their own platform,--but still, a power they were unwilling to exercise, unless reduced to real necessity.” They then inquire whether they are to be excluded from communion with other churches, and to be condemned without being heard. This letter was laid by Mr. Harrington, before his church, and the following is a copy of the proceedings. “At a meeting of the first Church in Lancaster, by adjournment, on July 21, 1772, voted as follows-Whether this church be so far in charity with the brethren of Bolton, whose letter is before then, as to be willing to receive them to communion with them in special ordinances occasionally."
Passed in the affirmative. Which vote was nonconcurred by the Pastor as follows :—“Brethren, I think myself bound in duty to God, to the Congregational churches in general, to this church, in particular and to my own conscience, to declare, wbich I now do before you,
that I cannot concur with this vote. 66 This vote shall be recorded, but my nonconcurrence must be recorded with it. Aod as the brethren from Bolton now see your charitable sentiments towards them, I hope they will be so far satisfied. But as the church act in their favor is not perfected, I hope they will not offer themselves to communion with us, till their society is in a more regular state.”
Mr. Harrington continued to live in harmony with his people, during a long and useful ministry: no lasting disturbance igjured his good influence ; no root of bitterness sprang up between bim
and his people. He is represented as having possessed respectable powers of mind, with great mildness and simplicity of character. Liberal in his feelings, he practised charity in its extended, as well as its narrow sense. True piety and an habitual exercise of the moral and social virtues, rendered bin higbly useful in his sacred office, and an interesting and instructive companion in the common walks of life.
In 1787, Mr. Harrington, being quite advanced in life, received some aid from the town, in the discharge of bis duties. From March, 1791, till the following spring, the gentlemen, who, in part, supplied the pulpit, were Messrs. Alden Bradford, H. U. 1786, afterwards seitled at Wiscasset-now residing in Boston, and late Secretary of State ; Thaddeus M. Harris, H. U. 1787, S. T. D. now a minister in Dorchester ; Daniel C. Saunders, H. U. 1788, President of Burlington College, now minister in Medfield ; and Rev. Joseph Davis.
lo March, 1792, it was voted to settle a colleague with Rer. Mr. Harrington, and a committee was appointed to wait upon Mr. Harrington, touching his inclination respecting a colleague, &c. and to supply the desk for twelve weeks.* In July, 1792, 6 voted' that the town will hear Mr. Thayert a further time. June 3, 1792, the town voted unanimously to concur with the church, in giving him an invitation to be their minister, with a settlement of £200, and a salary of £90, during Mr. Harrington's life time, and £120 ($400f) after his decease. The invitation was accepted in a letter dated Cambridge, July 11, 1793. The ordination was Oct. 9,1793.Ş The sermon was preached by Rev. Dr. Osgood, of Medford, from Acts xx. 27. The other services were as follows, viz: Introductory prayer by Rev. Dr. Belknap; consecrating prayer, by Rev. Mr. Whitney ; Charge, by Rev. Mr. Jackson ; Right hand of Fellowship, by Rev. Mr. Emerson ; Concluding prayer, by Rev. Dr. Clark. The following were the churches present: Leominster,
*The other gentlemen who preached here before the invitation given to the present minister, were Rev. Thomas Gray, D. D. of Roxbury, Rev. Hezekiah Packard, D. D. of Wiscassett, Maine, Rev. Aaron Green, of Malden, Rev. Hezekiah Goodrich, of Rutland, Rev. Thomas C. Thatcher, formerly of Lynn.
+ H. U. 1789. Tutor, S. T. D.
Messrs. Joeph Wales, Oliver Carter, and Eli Stearns, were thanked by the town “ for their timely and useful exertions in preparing suitable provision, &c. for the ordaiping council, and for tbe polite mapoer in which they conducted the business of atteuding upon them, and it was voted, that their freely rendering this service be recorded in gratesul remembrance of their generosity."
Rev. Francis Gardner; Lunenburg, Rev. Zabdiel Adams ; Shirley,
Mr. Harrington, preached but little during the last five years of bis life. After being in an infirm state of health for some time, he died, December 18, 1795, in the 80th year of his age. A sermon was preached by his colleague and successor, at the funeral, Dec. 23, from 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8, and was afterwards printed.*
Mr. Harrington was born in Waltham, Feb. 10, 1716, and graduated, Harvard University, 1737, in a distinguished class. He was first ordained, as we have already seen, at Swansey, in New Hampshire. After leaving Swansey, he preached in this town and other places as a candidate, till his settlement here, in Nov. 1648.
The building that had been used as a house for public worship from 1743,being old, and inconvenient, the town voted, Dec. 4, 1815, to erect a new building of brick. A farm a little to the northeast of the old house was purchased of Benjamin Lee, Esq. by a number of individuals, and two acres were conveyed by them to the town for the sum of $633 33, as apprised by Messrs. James Wilder, Moses Thomas and Thomas H. Blood, of Sterling. Messrs. Eli Stearns, Jacob Fisher, and William Cleaveland, were chosen a
• Further, as to his character, see the above sermon, also two others from the same hand, printed Feb. 1817. Mr. Harrington's printed discourses, besides his Century Sermon, May 28, 1753, Psalm CXIX. 1, 2, were, “ Prevailing wickedness, and distressing judgments, ill-boding symptoms on a stupid people.” Hosea, vii. 9. Also, one at Princeton, Dec. 23,1759, from 1 Cor. vii. 15.
Mr. Harrington was twice married. His first wife was Anna Harrington, of Lexington, a cousin, born June 2, 1716, and died, May 19, 1778. Their children were Henrietta, born at Lexington, 1744, and married John Locke, of Templeton, brother to President Locke, of the University ; Arethusa born at Lexington, 1747. Eusebia, born at Lancaster, May 1751-married Paul Richardson, sometime of this place; afterwards of Winchester, N. H. Timothy, born Sept. 1753. H. U. 1776, a physician in Chelmsford, died, Feb. 26, 1804. His only son, Rufus, died in Boston, eighteen or nineteen years since. Dea. Thomas Harrington, born Nov. 1755, now living in Heath. Anna, born July, 1758, married Dr. Bridge, a physician in Petersham, son of Rev. Mr. Bridge of Framingham. After his death, she was married to Joshua Fisher, M. D. M. M. S. &c. of Beverly. They are both living. Mr. Harrington had other children who died in ip fancy. His second wife was widow of Rev. Mr. Bridge, of Framingham.