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THE GIFT OF
LAWRENCE SHAW MAYO
F( IRTV-Fimi ANSI VI'.U»A l!\
REV. EDWARD BUXTON
railoi' of lie Smil CtiiiressliDEil Cliiircli urBostara,
AiTM i>Aniki«i( III* hvnMlwa** mtuil iiiii
A|titv» ni'via nvTitfi HiMffmt i
DECEMBER 18, ^682,
PRISFBD BV ilrr |t»'»'"r'ir(:A'* I'HVM tlH>CMTUiK>
E REPUBLICAN PRESS ASSOCIATION.
18 37. 1882.
EEV. EDWARD BTJXTON
Pastor of the Seconil Congregational CMrcli of Boscawen,
Now THE CONQBEQATIONAL CHUBOH OF WEBSTBB,
AND MABKINO HIS BETIBBMBNT FBOM THE
AOTIYE DUTIES OF THE MiNISTBY,
DECEMBER 13, 1882.
PRINTED BY THE REPUBLICAN PRESS ASSOCIATION.
(^./?/.:.. •■ ^ :. SXai'' fi.''^^ r
COMMTTTEE OP PUBLICATION:
JOHN C. PEARSON, of Boscawen,
SHERMAN LITTLE, of Webster,
WILLIAM W. fiURBANK, "
JAMES L. GERRISH, "
J. E. PECKER, OF Concord.
SKETCH OF KEY. MR. BUXTOIf.
Rev. Edward Buxton was born in New Boston,
N. H., August 17, 1803. He was educated at Phillips
Exeter Academy, and was afterwards preceptor of
the academy in Greenland. He studied theology
with Rev. Samuel W. Clark, of Greenland, and was
ordained to the ministry in that town April 10, 1836.
He preached at Rochester for a few months ; after-
wards at Dorchester and Whitefield, and was installed
over the Congregational church in Webster, Decem-
ber 13, 1837. He succeeded Rev. Ebenezer Price,
A. M., who was the first pastor of the church, and
whose connection with it was dissolved by mutual
council. May 10, 1837, after a pastorate of almost
thirty-three years. In 1876 Rev. Mr. Buxton was
elected a delegate to the convention for the revision
of the state constitution. As superintending school
committee he has taken great interest in the cause
of education, and has given individual instruction to
many young ladies and gentlemen. He has been
thrice married, — first, to Miss Elizabeth McFarland,
daughter of Rev. Asa McFarland, d. d., of Concord ;
second, to Mrs. Lois Jewett, of Laconia ; and third,
to Mrs. Louise Jane (Dix) Pillsbury, widow of Gen.
Moody A. Pillsbury, daughter of Col. Timothy Dix,
and sister of Major-General and Governor John A.
Dix, of New York. Mrs. Buxton is now living.
The celebration of the forty-fifth anniversary of
the settlement of Rev. Edward Buxton over the
Congregational church in Webster, formerly the
Second Congregational church in Boscawen, and
marking his retirement from the active duties of the
ministry, occurred December 13, 1882. The pro-
priety of observing this event began to be discussed
some months in advance by resident members of
the church and parish. The movement resulted in
calling an informal meeting of all interested persons,
at which the general plan of the celebration was
adopted, and the following committee of arrange-
ments chosen :
William W. Burbank,
Dea. Henry H. Gerrish,
Henry L. Dodge,
Moody A. Pillsbury.
The committee subsequently issued a printed cir-
cular of invitation, also containing the programme of
exercises. Copies of the above were mailed to all
former members of the church and society, and to all
other former residents whose addresses could be ob-
tained. The alacrity with which the people of the
town, whether connected with the society of not,
proffered their services, and the earnestness with
which they labored to make the affair a success, were
exceedingly gratifying to Father Buxton, as well as
to the people of his charge. At the same time, there
occurred the propriety of presenting to him a sub-
stantial token of regard, and generous contributions
were soon tendered. This proposition was men-
tioned in the circular sent out, and Dea. Henry H»
Gerrish was named as the person to whom people
from abroad might send subscriptions.
In preparation for the event, the ancient church
(a view of which is given) was decorated in an at-
tractive and tasteful manner. In the rear and over
the pulpit was the motto in evergreen, ** Our Pas-
tor : he points to Heaven and leads the way." Be-
low was a crown, and the figures ** 1837-1882."
On the front of the opposite gallery was the word
** Immanuel ;" on the right, ** Behold, thy Kingcom-
eth ;" and on the left, *' Christ the Lord." From the
star in the centre of the ceiling lines of evergreen
radiated to the corners of the gallery, and were
looped along its front. The pulpit and its surround-
ings were adorned with bouquets and flowering
For some days previous, the good ladies of the
town were busily engaged in preparing articles of
food for a collation, which were carried to the chapel
and placed on tables in the gallery. The general
committee also made arrangements for the further
entertainment of visitors who might desire to remain
in town over night.
opened with cold and threatening weather, and just
before noon a heavy snow-storm set in which con-
tinued into the evening. The hour set for the
exercises to begin was 2 p. m., and, notwithstanding
the storm and heavy roads, there was a large attend-
ance of Webster people, while surrounding places
were all represented, even as far as and including
Concord. A particularly gratifying feature was the
good attendance of aged persons who had known
Father Buxton during his entire pastorate.
The gathering was called to order by Ephraim
Little, Chairman of the Committee and President of
the Day, who briefly stated the object for which they
had assembled, extended a kind welcome to all, and
expressed his gratification at the good number pres-
ent. The choir then sang the anthem, ''The Earth
is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof."
Prayer was offered by Rev. Frank Haley, m. d., of
the First Congregational church of Boscawen.
BY SBV. K. BUXTON.
As I look on this assembly my mind is impressed
with the remembrance of that which filled this house
at my installation as pastor of this church forty-five
years ago this day and hoiir. How different is this
assembly from that, only a small proportion of which
are still in the land of the living ; and how different are
my condition and circumstances now from what they
were, when, being examined as a candidate for instal-
lation, I answered the searching questions which were
put to me by the ecclesiastical council that installed
me as pastor of this church. Then I was anxiously
anticipating the future under a solemn sense of the
work on which I was about to enter, and of the
responsibilities which would soon rest on me. Now
I am reviewing that work and the bearing of those
responsibilities as matter of historic interest. I still
live, while the voices which were heard in my exam-
ination and installation services are all silent in death.
The members of that ecclesiastical council have all
been transferred from the church on earth to the
church in heaven. But who can say that they are not
with us, regarding with lively interest the services of
this occasion ?
Oh ! yes, here they come. They are passing before
my mind, and I will introduce them to you. Here
comes my old friend, Rev. William Patrick, forty
years the faithful, ever-cheery, and beloved pastor of
the church in Canterbury. He was moderator of
the council, and offered the installing prayer. And
here is Rev. Moses Kimball, twelve years pastor of
the church in Hopklnton. He was scribe of the
council. Here, also, is Rev. Benjamin F. Foster,
nearly thirteen years pastor of the church in Salis-
bury. To him was assigned the reading of the Scrip-
tures and the invocation. And here is my excellent
friend, Rev. Samuel W. Clark, eighteen years pastor
of the church in Greenland. His pastoral labors
were closed by sickness, which brought him calmly
and peacefully to the grave. When he perceived
that he was dying, he said to his wife, ** My dear, God
is come," and took leave of her. His brother Will-
iam coming in at the instant offered a prayer at his
bedside, at the close of which the dying man, with
the palsy of death on his lips, said feebly, ** I thank
you." These dying words indicate the spirit of his
life. He was an affectionate and kind-hearted man.
He preached my installation sermon.
Here, also, is Rev. Amos Blanchard, nearly three
years pastor of the church in Warner, and subse-
quently of that in Meriden. He offered the intro-
ductory prayer. Here, also, is Rev. Nathaniel Bou-
ton, D. D., ** whose praise is in the gospel throughout
all the churches." He was about forty years pastor of
the First Church in Concord. He gave the address
to the church. Here, also, is Rev. Caleb B. Tracy,
fourteen years settled in East Boscawen ; and Rev.
Asa P. Tenney, for a long time pastor of the church
in West Concord.
Such were the pastors that constituted the ecclesi-
astical council which installed me over this church.
They, together with their delegates, have all passed
away from earth, to mingle, we trust, with the spirits
of the just in heaven. While I think of them the feel-
ing comes over me to say, *' When shall I wake and
find me there?'' There I should meet a large pro-
portion of those who received me as their pastor at
my installation. The church then consisted of one
hundred and thirty-nine members, of whom one hun-
dred and ten are in their graves, as to their mortal
part ; while, as we trust, their souls, being absent
from the body, are present with the Lord. There is
with them their former beloved minister. Rev. Eben-
ezer Price, with whom I spent more than twenty years
of my pastorate, during most of which time he super-
intended our Sabbath-school. My intercourse with
him was ever in entire harmony and cordiality. He
most kindly recognized me as pastor of the church.
Among the last words which he ever spoke to me he
mingled expressions of affectionate regard, calling
me his dear pastor. He was indeed a lovely speci-
men of what an ex-pastor should be. He came to
his grave in a full age, ''like as a shock of corn cometh
in in his season." Without doubt he has many souls
as the seals of his ministry and ** crown of his rejoic-
ing in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at his
In taking a retrospective view of my pastorate, I
must regard it chiefly in its spiritual nature, respon-
sibilities, and results. So far as I have acted in ac-
cordance with the divine purpose respecting it I have
served him who has said, ** My kingdom is not of this
world." Here has been emphatically my life work.
I recognize the divine purpose in the whole provi-
dential process by which I was inclined to it, pre-
pared for it, brought into it, and have been kept in
it through so many years. This divine purpose was
first indicated by the fact that in my childhood my
father consecrated me to the work of the gospel min-
istry. He said that one of his sons must be a min-
ister of the gospel, and that I must be that one.
Early in my childhood I was taught the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism, and was made to feel my need of
a new heart. My spiritual enlightenment was grad-
ual, and often obscured by the temptations and trials
which beset my way in early life. Then a painful
impediment of speech seemed to preclude the idea of
my ever preaching the gospel. When, therefore, I
came to choose a profession for life I selected medi-
cine, but was prevented from entering on the prac-
tice of it by sickness brought on by severe applica-
tion to study. On measurably recovering my health
I engaged in teaching. While connected with the
academy in Greenland, of this state, where my friend
Rev. S. W. Clark was pastor of the church, I super-
intended the Sabbath-school, and in his absence from
his people I was left so much in charge of them as
to conduct their meetings, reading sermons to them
on the Sabbath. Finding that I could perform such
service acceptably, I felt that I was called to the
work of preaching the gospel. I therefore studied
theology, and was licensed to preach by the Piscataqua
Association, and labored some six months at Roches-
ter in this state. I was then ordained as an evan-
gelist for the service of the New Hampshire Home
Missionary Society, and preached about a year in
Lancaster, Dalton, and Whitefield, in Coos county.
I was then invited by this church to preach to them
as a candidate for settlement with them, and soon
after accepted a call to become their pastor. This
led to my installation, December 13, 1837.
From that period to the present my purpose of
heart, and my experience under the trials and diffi-
culties of my position, have ever kept me in sympa-
thy with Paul's declaration to the Corinthian church,
**And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with
excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto
you the testimony of God ; for I determined not to
know anything among you save Jesus Christ and
him crucified : and I was with you in weakness and
in fear and in much trembling.*'
When I came into this pastorate the peace of the
church was disturbed by conflicting views and feel-
ings, especially on the subject of American slavery.
Though those conflicting elements were apparently
quieted, their influence has retarded the progress of
the church ever since.
But we have had several seasons of deep religious
interest and spiritual ingathering. There have been
added to the church 152 by profession, and 38 by let-
ter; 88 have been dismissed, 7 excluded, and 116
have died. I have baptized 152 infants and 34
adults. I have solemnized 148 marriages.
In retiring from the active duties of the pastorate,
I feel that it is incumbent on me to express my appre-
ciation of the kindness and faithfulness with which
this church and society have ever treated me. They
have always received me to their dwellings with
much respect and kindness ; they have thrown the
veil of charity over my shortcomings and errors ;
they have attended on my ministrations with marked
attention and candor ; they have promptly paid me
my salary, and added thereto many valuable dona-
tions. I thank the people of Webster for the esteem
and kindness with which they have invariably treated
me. I thank the children and youth for the respect-
ful and affectionate courtesy which they have ever
extended to me. They can scarcely realize how
much good they have done me by thus admitting me
into their sympathies. I love the people of Web-
ster, and shall never cease to pray that the blessing
of God may rest on them.
The choir and congregation sang the hymn,
" How firm a foundation."
In behalf of the people, Charles Carleton Coffin,
A. M., of Boston, a native of Boscawen, delivered
the following address :
(pAa^^y^ GoJl^ct^it. U>i>l^^
A 1) I) U r. ;- S .
resigns llic care:-. ?jm\ i^'ii':--^ ;.:
' ;i'r. It vv;:i );e •nsirM^:li-'f\ i <i^M;:.,
iK.iS<:,i\ve:ii v.il-;:;ii ^;niv t! Ort'^'HTS 7..;.; ' •••
v\'.\ coMilitiorr' oi -he fjr;i'i: of Ict.u: ... • ih^- n.
v:f v.. .^ocouk \va-. ir;!.L oj)o (:i<-i5f\ ;..i'rih 1.. :•
r^.'::)v.nMl i)v rhi^ i'iliM ''-s. p^hk-uV' e\7!iv as-* ; ■
I. ><).!v of ];(.:!;:. /.• •; .1 i!)urrh, wi^h m. )\v(:rK) ic'f;" ■
'li.iii'';, ii« iopi.'iK!; ;i;!., i)f bishop. i^riciS'. or [m-.
\[ '■.KVfOr'ay \otr, li.:<! lr:'.:!i 0'''-«;)i(!tl bv thC S''!j* •
. ;\ l\iurin:ivl. ] ^?^ Puiltcin s^^tll< is ba«.l -j •'»•
iii-.i\ aiid t::iil iwr. \o ih<:. i hurch tb-. .1, te. 'i :
iSifi .' \--Ct^ GoA^CcZ^ir,
We meet to-day to commemorate two events, —
the organization of this church seventy-eight years
ago, and the settlement of him who, on December
13, 1837, began his labors as pastor, and who, in the
ripeness of years, after nearly half a century of ser-
vice, resigns the cares and labors of the pastoral
office. It will be instructive, I doubt not, on this
occasion, to briefly review the history of the church.
Previous to 1804, professing Christians residing
west of Beaver-dam brook were members of the
Boscawen church formed October 8, 1740. One of
the conditions of the grant of land to the proprietors
of Contoocook was, that one eighty-fourth part of
the land should be set aside for a parsonage, and
one additional eighty-fourth for the support of a
minister. It was further conditioned that ** a learned
and orthodox minister" should be settled within the
space of four years.
The polity of the churches of the New Testament,
adopted by the Pilgrims, making every associated
body of believers a church, with power to regulate its
affairs, independently of bishop, priest, or pope, by
a majority vote, had been adopted by the settlers of
New England. The Puritan settlers had gone fur-
ther, and had made the church the state. The town
was under obligation to support the preaching of the
Whoever studies the rise of the Puritans will see
everywhere through their history an all-pervading
sense of moral obligation. They owed allegiance to
Almighty God. They made the state, therefore,
theocratic. Each town was under obligation to sup-
port a minister. The minister had a claim upon the
town for his salary, and could invoke the power of
the law in case of delinquency on the part of the
town. Under such an arrangement there were towns
in which preaching was maintained even when there
was no church organization.
The settlers of Boscawen reared their log meeting-
house on the Plain, and buried their dead around it,
calling Rev. Phinehas Stevens, a graduate of Har-
vard, to be their minister, who maintained that rela-
tion, greatly beloved by the people, till his death in
1757. He shared all their toils and hardships, shoul-
dering his gun and going upon weary marches in
pursuit of savage foes.
The movement of population westward to Water
street. High street, and the families west of Black-
water, necessitated the building of a larger meeting-
house in a more central locality in 1769, near the
burial-ground on the road leading from Water street
to the Plain, which, till 1792, was the one place of
worship for all the citizens of the town.
At the close of the Revolution probably there were
not more than twenty legal voters within the limits
of the town of Webster ; but during the succeeding
decade there was a large influx of population, so
great that in 1791 we find seventy voters residing
west of Beaver-dam brook petitioning for a new .
town to bear the name of Bristol. It is probable that
there were from two hundred and fifty to three hun-
dred inhabitants, who, to attend meeting, must make
their way along the winding paths blazed through
the forests, over roads from which the rocks had not
In the bright mid-summer days, when the woods
were resonant with the songs of birds, when the
wild flowers were blooming in the meadows, the
weekly Sabbath journey on horseback, or even on
foot, may not have been regarded by the sturdy men
and women of that day as any great hardship ; but
in the short December day, in midwinter, when the
snow was lying breast deep in the woods, or piled
in drifts along the fences, and the mercury at zero,
great must have been the longing for religious ser-
vice, and lofty the sense of moral obligation, on the
part of Eliphalet Kilborn, living on the bank of the
Upper Blackwater, or Enoch Little, senior, on Little
hill, to make the toilsome journey to the distant
meeting-house. The sun would be sinking behind
the Sunapee hills, and the twilight deepening, before
they could reach their homes.
Although the meeting-house was so far away, in
summer almost the entire population of the town
assembled on Sunday. It was the habit of the time.
Possibly there were other motives for attending meet-
ing than a sense of moral obligation. A century ago
there was no daily, no weekly mail, no post-ofifice, no
means of conveying information other than by special
messenger on urgent public business. The meeting-
house, therefore, became the chief centre for the dis-
semination of news, the news-exchange, where, on
Sunday noon, all could hear what had transpired
during the week.
Possibly the young men thought not so much of
the words of truth which might fall from the lips of
the minister, as of the bright eyes and fair faces that
perchance might beam upon them from the crowded
With the coming of winter there was diminished
attendance, more staying at home. Sunday, there-
fore, in winter, became in a measure only a day of
rest from toil.
We are to remember that they had few books ; that
there were wanting aids to mental and moral culture.
There is no road so easy as that broad way which
leads downward. The people living west of Beaver
Dam comprehended that unless their children attend-
ed meeting regularly there would be a lowering of
the sense of moral obligation. The welfare of the
community demanded another place of worship.
Undoubtedly the building of a mill near that now
owned by W. W. Burbank, making the locality a cen-
tre for business, had some weight i'n deciding the lo-
cation of the meeting-house, now the town-house,
erected in 1791, the town providing the frame, indi-
viduals boarding the house, and finishing and own-
ing their pews. The people of all the surrounding
towns came to the raising. Somehow everybody,
whether attending meeting or not, made a point of
being present at the raising of a meeting-house.
Possibly they were actuated by mixed motives, — to
help on the cause of religion, and at the same time
partaking of the plentiful supply of rum furnished
on such occasions. It was estimated that more than
one thousand persons were present at the raising.
From 1 79 1 to 1804 religious services were held in
the newly erected house on alternate Sabbaths by
Rev. Mr. Wood. Under such an arrangement the
people of Water street. High street, and those on
Corser hill could attend service every Sunday with-
out great inconvenience ; but those residing on Little
hill. White Plain, and on Pond hill, and those on
Fish street, Boscawen Plain, and Fisherville, could
only attend service on alternate Sundays.
The burning of the lower house in 1 798, and the
construction of the new edifice the next year on Bos-
cawen Plain by an organized society, necessitated the
inauguration of a new order of things, — the forma-
tion of the Westerly Religious Society and the volun-
tary support of the minister, the members consenting
to be taxed according to the valuation of their prop-
The time had come for the formation of a
church, and we find Benjamin Sweat, Edward Gerald,
Thomas Kilborn, Paul Clark, Ezekiel Morse, Samuel
Pearson, Sarah Call, Sarah Sweatt, Anna Kilburn, and
Mary Morse, six men and four women, associating
themselves as a distinct church, September 26, 1804.
The council of ministers and delegates assembled
in the house now the residence of Henry L. Dodge,
for the settlement of Rev. Ebenezer Price as pastor.
Of ministers there were Rev. Walter Harris of Dun
barton, warm-hearted, zealous, fervent, able, — whom
I once heard preach with great power in the Old
North church in Concord, — Rev. Eli Smith of Hop-
kinton, Rev. Thomas Worcester of Salisbury, Rev.
Mr. Hidden of Tamworth, Rev. Moses Sawyer of
Henniker, Rev. Wm. Patrick of Canterbury, Rev.
Samuel Wood of the first church of Boscawen.
Although the population had largely increased,
although new roads had been laid out and the old
ones greatly improved, the journey to and from the
meeting-house on Sunday was no holiday affair,
especially to the residents of Bashan.
There was no direct highway from Sweatt's mills,
as now, to that section of the town, — none to Dingit
Corner. We may think of Moses Gerrish and wife,
in their attendance upon meeting, riding to Dingit
Corner up . Pleasant street to Mutton road, thence
over Corser hill to the place of worship, — a seven-
mile ride, the wife on the pillion behind her hus-
band, with an infant in her arms. Comfortless such
a journey on rainy days and in winter !
Allow me to present a picture of a Sabbath in
Webster three fourths of a century ago. No bell
summons the people, but they come at the appointed
hour, — from the north, Dea. Eliphalet Kilborn, Na-
than Pearson, and George Stone ; from Battle street,
Joseph and Benjamin Couch and Dea. Benjamin
Sweatt ; from Water street, Capt. Peter Kimball, stal-
wart in stature, wounded at Bennington, Joshua Jack-
man, Cutting Noyes, performer on the bass-viol,
Silas Call, Daniel Pillsbury, and widow Rebecca Cof-
fin ; from High street, Mr. Morse, Joseph Ames, and
John Flanders ; from Pleasant street, David and Jon-
athan Corser, Thomas Kilborn, Jonathan Thurston,
and Nicholas Noyes; from Bashan, William Danforth,
Benjamin Severance, and Moses Gerrish ; from Little
hill, Noah, Friend, Joseph, Jesse, Enoch, and Ben-
jamin Little, energetic sons of Enoch Little ; also
Caleb Knight, from the farm now owned by George
and Cyrus Stone ; Moses Coffin, from the present
residence of Jabez Abbot ; Jeremiah Gerrish, from the
present home of Charles Gliten ; from White Plain,
Benjamin Austin, David and Thomas Carter — these
and their neighbors on horseback, the wife upon a
pillion, dismounting at the horse-block. In imagina-
tion we see Rev. Mr. Price, with a high sense of the
dignity of the ministerial office, with courtly pres-
ence, conducting with becoming reverence the ser-
vices of the day.
Rev. Mr. Price studied theology with Rev. Elihu
Thayer, of Kingston. It was the era of long ser-
mons. The people expected a long sermon. If they
did not receive it, they were hardly getting their
money's worth. We need not wonder if, under the
fervor of the hour, the preacher became oblivious of
the flight of time, and that it was some minutes past
the hour of twelve when the forenoon sermon came
to an end. In winter there was no fire to abate the
keenness of the biting air nearer than the hearth-
stones of Paul Dodge and Samuel Morse, now the
residence of Wm. Pearson. Not unfrequently a fire
was kindled around the great pine stumps in the
It was the period of horseback riding. Wagons
had not come into use. When the ground was cov-
ered with snow, some of the people came to meeting-
It was the custom for all the members of the fam-
ily to attend meeting, children in arms, even the
house-dog keeping company ; and it was made the
duty of the tithingman to keep the dogs as well as
the boys in order.
It is narrated that one young mother carried a
pitcher of milk to feed her babe ; that a dog scenting
it thrust his head into the pitcher ; that the congre-
gation was suddenly startled by a shrill exclamation
from a female voice, ** Get out, you puppy!" that
the mother, confused by the sudden turning of heads,
further exclaimed, '' Why, I have spoken in meeting ;
I keep talking all the time ! " that the little dog, the
while unable to withdraw his head from the pitcher,
was making doleful bowlings, the milk streaming
about his ears, — all to the great delight of the boys
in the gallery.
The years 1810-1815 was a period of theological
discussion : The Unitarian movement, having its
origin in Massachusetts, swept many of the churches
of that commonwealth from their ancient moorings.
One of the leaders was Rev. Mr. Worcester, brother
of Rev. Thomas Worcester of Salisbury, who ac-
cepted the new belief. The Salisbury pulpit put
forth the doctrine of the Unity, discarding the belief
in the Trinity. This pulpit sent out its bugle notes
for the old faith so clearly, that a few of the steadfast
members of the Salisbury church, led by Dr. Job
Wilson and wife, attached themselves to this church.
We get a glimpse of the times from Dea. Enoch
Little's diary, Sept. i6, 1810: ** Mr. Price whipt Mr.
Though the church was in no way affected by the
movement toward Unitarianism, there had been for
many years a dissenting element in the congregation.
A portion of the people who owned pews did not
accept the theological beliefs of the church. Those
dissenting united in the formation of the Christian
Union Society. A committee appointed by the town
reported that the amount of taxes paid by the mem-
bers of that society entitled them to use the house
one fourth part of the time. The town voted to
accept the report.
The Westerly Religious Society questioned the
right of the town to control the use of the house,
and appealed to the courts. Pending a decision, the
house was taken possession of by the Christian
Union Society, and the church found itself without
There was much bitterness of feeling engendered
for the moment. Hard words were used. There
was coolness between old-time friends, but out of the
bitterness came a determination to rear a new house
of worship, and with it an energy that was the praise
of even those who had not exercised the largest de-
gree of Christian charity in the premises.
The first meeting was held May 19, 1823, and
$500 subscribed towards procuring the frame of this
edifice. On the succeeding week there was a ringing
of axes in the forests along the Blackwater, choppers
and hewers waking the echoes from early morn till
dewy eve. On July 3 the frame was in its place.
On December 25 the house was dedicated with ap-
propriate religious services. For fifty-nine years it
has been your church home. Through all the period
there has been no interim of public worship, save on
a very few tempestuous days.
It was a despondent day, that Sunday in April,
when the church found itself without a home ; but
beyond question the forcible seizure of the old home
was one of the best blessings that ever came to this
church. It brought unity, determination, zeal, en-
ergy. It enforced self-denial, sacrifice, — awakened
anew the sense of moral obligation. The church at
once became strong and vigorous;
Far better in any event separation than contention.
Is there a grander scene in history than the conduct
of Abraham and Lot ? Three score years have
passed since this house was erected, and through all
the period this community have been at peace. The
bitterness of the hour quickly passed, and to-day every
inhabitant of the town would find a welcome within
these walls, and to your communion, — all who love
the Master, irrespective of denominational name.
The time had come for Christian activity in benev-
olence, in missionary effort. The lay members of
the church up to that period had taken little part in
church meetings. Weekly conference and prayer-
meetings were almost unknown. The Thursday lec-
ture was the only weekly meeting.
The minister was expected to lead and direct in
all church work ; — but out of that prayer-meeting, by
the hay-stack in Williamstown, Mass., held by Sam-
uel J. Mills and his four fellow-students in college in
1806, had come the American Board. Out of the
resolve made in Rev. Mr. Wood's parlor in 1809, on
High street, by nine ministers, to circulate four thou-
sand copies of the little pamphlet entitled '* The
Child's Memorial," had come the American Tract
Society, followed by the Bible Society in 18 16.
The year 188 1 was the centennial of the Sunday-
school movement of Robert Raikes — the effort to
induce the working people of England to learn to
read instead of spending Sunday in drinking rum,
playing games, and indulging in fighting.
It was in 18 10 that Joanna Prince and Hannah
Hill, of Beverly, Mass., school teachers, invited the
children whom they taught during the week to com-
mit passages of Scripture to memory to be recited
on Sunday — the beginning of Sunday-school instruc-
tion in America. It was a new idea, an innovation,
which did not meet the approbation of some of the
ministers of the period. They were commanded to
keep the Sabbath day holy ; — would it not be break-
ing the ten commandments to teach a school on Sun-
day ? The ministers discussed the question. It was
the theme of conversation in private circles, the old
men shaking their heads, the young men advocating
It was probably in 18 16, the year succeeding a
great revival, that the first Sunday-schools were held
in this town, Sunday evenings, in summer, in some of
the school-districts, the boys and girls standing in a
class with their toes to a crack in the floor, bowing
and courtesying when the teacher said ** Attention !"
each scholar reciting the verses learned during the
I recall the anecdote that one girl, gifted in mem-
orizing, went on for nearly an hour, till the wearied
teacher informed her that he would hear the rest the
Memory goes back to the Sunday noons of 1830.
The general Sunday-school had not been organized.
I recall a group of men in yonder porch eating their
dinners, Daniel Pillsbury producing a supply of green
cucumbers from his lofty bell-crowned hat and capa-
cious pockets, and distributing them to those around,
eating them without salt as relishes to their dough-
nuts and cheese. The young men are in the horse-
sheds discussing the good points of the horses and
the young colts ; the older boys are hunting birds'
nests in Mr. Price's orchard, or helping themselves to
caraway seed in Daniel Corser s garden.
I recall a dreary winter day. No stove sends out
its warmth. The sun is clouded in — a blue day,
the mercury at zero. The air is sharp and keen.
Men sit with their coat collars about their ears, wear-
ing their mittens, their breath turning to frost upon
their mufflers. How I envied Stephen Sweatt with
three capes to his surtout ! There is a constant clat-
tering of boot-heels as the people thump their feet
upon the floor to keep the blood in circulation.
With the utterance of the Amen of the benediction
there is a quick movement towards the neighboring
houses, — women and girls to Rev. Mr. Price's, Hez-
ekiah Fellows's, and Mr. Fisk's, now the residence
of M. A. Pillsbury; a crowd of men and boys to the
houses of Daniel Corser, the residence of George
Little, to Moses Fellows's, the home of our pastor,
to Mr. John Danforth's, the residence of Mr. Heath.
Some leap into their sleighs and ride to Dea. James
Kilborn^s, the residence of Mr. Tilton. In every
kitchen great fires are blazing. In that of Daniel
Corser I see Benjamin Little, Esq., Thomas Carter,
and several other men advanced in years, light their
pipes, the room gradually filling with a cloud of
tobacco- smoke. Luncheons are eaten, foot-stoves
are filled with live coals, and when the bell ceases its
tolling the people are in their places patiently to
endure a temperature at zero from one till three
Then came the cold ride homeward, the blue-gray
of the day deepening as the twilight came on before
those living farthest from meeting finished their
In the evening came the Catechism, which must be
rehearsed from **What is the chief end of man?"
through the decrees of God, justification, adoption,
effectual calling, and all the rest. I do not think that
I very much appreciated then the hymn by Dr.
Watts, descriptive of the Heavenly Jerusalem,
** Where Sabbaths have no end."
In 1830 began the temperance reformation. I
recall the agitation, the holding of temperance meet-
ings in the autumnal evenings in this house, the
speeches of Z. G. Whitman in opposition and of Amos
Couch, on Battle street, in favor of temperance, the
earnest protest of some of the members of the church
to signing a pledge, or to the passage of resolutions ;
not that they were not themselves temperate, or were
opposed to temperance, but they protested against
any infringement of Christian liberty.
The world has moved during the fifty years. The
bill of supplies furnished by Hezekiah and Moses
Fellows at the raising of this house included thirteen
and one half gallons of rum. I am disposed to believe
that if all the rum in the town were brought together
at this moment it would not much exceed that quan-
The question arises, How much has this church
had to do with the changes in the drinking habits of
the community ? Would this people be as sober and
temperate as to-day, if Benjamin Sweattand his asso-
ciates had not been organized as a church ?
Let us pause in our historical review, and inquire
briefly as to the meaning of the church.
We think of it as instituted by Jesus Christ as an
agency for the conversion of the world to a belief in
him as its Saviour; as a y^;;^^7v holding sweet and
tender relation to him ; a family whose members are
recruited on earth for the society of heaven.
**One family we dwell in Him,
One church above, beneath —
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.
**One army of the living God,
To his command we bow :
Part of the host have crossed the flood,
And part are crossing now."
It seems to me that even this does not adequately
express the meaning of the establishment of the
church, but that in a higher analysis it is the manifes-
tation, the concentration, and, if I may use the term,
almost the incarnation of God's thoughts and plans
for the welfare of the world.
The last quarter of a century has been distinguished
from all other periods of history by the inclination of
men towards socialism, the formation of mutual aid
and cooperative societies, encampments, fraternities,
and brotherhoods, with pass-words and signals and
mystic rites. It is a manifestation of the longing of
the race to secure comfort and happiness, and to pro-
mote mutual well-being. It seems to me that the
church has not as yet comprehended the meaning of
this manifestation, this longing for association, this
calling of men upon each other for a helping hand.
Oh ! how infinitely beyond all societies for mutual
help is that ideal upon which the church of the Lord
Jesus Christ is founded — the seeking and saving of
the lost, of helping those who have no power to help
themselves. It is the unselfishness of the incom-
prehensible love behind the Christian ideal that is
yet to win this world to Christ.
Infinitely beyond all charity and benevolence, which
spring from the idea of mere mutual welfare, is that
divine announcement in the chant of the cherubim
eighteen hundred years ago to the shepherds of Beth-
lehem, at the birth of the Saviour, ** On earth peace,
GOOD WILL TO MEN."
What a declaration from Him who formed the
church ; **I came to seek and to save that which was
lost ! "
Institutions which have their origin in the tempo-
ral needs of men, when the purpose is complete will
cease to exist : the church of Christ is the only organ-
ization among men which is perpetual and eternal.
The time may possibly come when this pulpit will
be silent evermore, when there will be no worship-
pers within these walls, when the record will bear
no name of living member on its page ; but even
then it will not cease to exist.
The science of biology, which treats of the forces
of life, recognizes the transmutation of moral as well
as physical characteristics from generation to gener-
ation. No man liveth to himself alone. Material
things decay : they perish with their using. We
gather riches ; but they take wings, fire burns them,
rust destroys, thieves steal them. Goodness endures.
Moral forces never can perish : they are not born to
die. In their nature they are eternal.
There is an oft-quoted but greatly misapplied pas-
sage from Shakspeare, —
** The evil that men do lives after them ;
The good is oft interred with their bones."
It is from the harangue of the insincere and intrigu-
ing Marc Antony to the populace over the dead body
of the murdered Caesar. At best it is but a half truth,
while its philosophy is wholly false. The great mys-
tery underlying human existence is the conflict of
moral forces, the existence of evil, and the redemp-
tion of man. If it be true that the good which we
do is interred in the grave when our bodies are borne
to their last resting-place, then we may as well cease
all effort for the final redemption of the Avorld from
sin. If it be true, our labor for the building up of
moral agencies has been, in a great measure, in vain.
If it be true, the Bible is false and Christianity a
failure. If it be true, take down from the walls of
your houses those heart-sustaining mottoes, sugges-
tive of peace and rest and immortality, and write
instead, for time and for eternity, **No hope ! '' But
it is not true : the good which men do lives after
them. The writer of the book of Revelation recog-
nizes the great law as one of the crowning glories of
the redemption. '' Blessed are the dead which die in
the Lord from henceforth : Yea, saith the Spirit, that
they may rest from their labors ; and their works do
Generations come and go, advancing and passing
away like the waves of the ocean upon the pebbled
shore. We perform our little part, and disappear,
often depressed in spirit, may be, as we descend the
vale of years, that we have accomplished so little,
forgetting that God has so arranged his economies
that whatever we do, be it ever so little, for truth,
justice, liberty, and righteousness, whatever we ac-
complish for the well-being of our fellow-men, be-
comes a vital, celestial, eternal force. It is of divine
and heavenly origin, and in its nature imperishable.
It is transmitted from generation to generation.
Who can measure the odylic force, the far-reach-
ing, all-pervading influence, of that act of Benjamin
Sweatt and his nine associates in the house of Henry
L. Dodge, September 26, 1804?
In physics we have the microscope to make visible
atoms of matter of inconceivable smallness ; the mi-
crometer, to measure infinite distances and spaces ;
the telescope, to bring to view myriads of suns from
the unfathomable deeps of heaven ; — but genius never
will invent nor the hand of man construct a micro-
metric measure that can determine moral force.
Omnipotence alone keeps record of the weights and
measures of the moral and spiritual realm.
Men do not gather figs from thistles. Far more
intimate and subtle are the relations between sow-
ing and reaping in the moral and spiritual realm than
in the physical. We sow our wheat, but the midge
destroys it ; the rust disappoints the husbandman ; the
harvest fails ; but no mildew ever can blight sincere
and honest endeavor in the service of Almighty God.
Unrevealed to human eyes are God's harvest sea-
sons. Many a sower has toiled through life always
sowing, never reaping, never bringing home a single
sheaf, going down to the grave in sadness, feeling
that life has been a failure.
Without doubt Dea. Benjamin Sweatt, a man of
prayer and of earnest endeavor, ceasing from his
earthly labors in manhood's prime, felt in spirit that
he had accomplished nothing.
Without doubt Dea. Eliphalet Kilborn, attaining
the age of 92, counted his more than half a century
of service as unprofitable to the Lord.
I recall the faltering words of Father Price, in his
declining years: ** It troubles me that I have accom-
plished so little." It is the truly noble that make
no account of what they have done. But how far
this little candle, lighted on September 26, 1804,
throws its radiant beams !
Would Enoch Corser ever have been the power
that he was for so many years in the pulpits of
Loudon, Northfield, and Epping, if this candle had
never been lighted ? Would Jacob Little have left his
impress upon all central Ohio ? Would his brother
Henry have been a beloved home missionary, or-
ganizer of thousands of Sunday-schools and scores
of churches, if this church had not been organized ?
Would Arthur Little to-day be occupying an ex-
alted place of influence and power? Would there
be such a catalogue of worthy and illustrious names
as might be presented of self-denying, earnest, de-
voted men and women, who have gone forth from
this church to wield their influence for good in the
crowded city where good and evil are ever waging
mighty war, or on the distant prairies forming Sun-
day-schools, sustaining churches, moulding plastic
minds, sowing seed beside all waters ?
As we toss the pebble into the placid lake, and
behold its wavelets roll to the farthest shore, so
shall roll on forever, through time and through
eternity, the results that have come from that sim-
ple act on a September afternoon in 1804.
Beneath the calm waters of tropical seas ages
ago the little coral insect built his marble cell, lived
his brief hour, and died. How insignificant, how
useless, seemingly, its little life ! Myriads, count-
less generations, build their cells, and die. Cen-
turies roll away, and then islands rise from the
sea. Palms wave in the summer air, birds sing in
the branches of stately trees, savages rear their
huts amid the dales. The missionary, sent forth and
sustained by your contributions, comes to teach
them the way of life. So God's harvest-time comes —
the sowing here, the reaping there.
This church, since 1830, has been transmitting-
itself over all the land. It has been dividing and
distributing itself, transfusing its influence, power,
and spirit to every section of the republic, multi-
plying its moral and spiritual force for the earthly
and eternal welfare of the human race. Only
through distribution and multiplication is the leaven
of the kingdom of heaven to make its way, and the
mustard-seed become the spreading tree with the
birds singing in its branches.
As I stand here to-day I behold shadowy faces in
all these pews. They are angelic faces now, trans-
lated from earth, purified in the air of heaven, — such
faces as the great painter Raphael has outlined upon
the canvas of the wonderful picture of the Madonna
in the Dresden gallery.
Tuneful voices come to me from yonder gallery,
silent evermore on earth, but rehearsing these many
years the songs sung by the society of heaven.
"Never here, forever there,
Where all parting, pain, and care,
And death, and time shall disappear, —
Forever there, but never here."
Forty-five years ago this 13th of December, be-
loved pastor, it was my privilege to stand in yonder
gallery and join in the hymn that welcomed you to
the beginning of your pastorate. To-day I deem it
a high honor to be present on this commemorate
occasion, when, after forty-five years of service, you
resign your office as pastor.
In the rotunda of the capital at Washington hangs
a picture of the most impressive scene in the his-
tory of our country, — of Washington, after leading
the armies of the United States through their eight
years struggle to victory and independence, resign-
ing his commission, and becoming once more a pri-
vate citizen. The self-abnegation of that act has
won the admiration of the world.
To-day you do not resign your commission from
the great Head of the church to preach the gospel ;
you only lay down the burdens and cares of the
ministerial office. Great as was the cause which
called the father of our country from the quiet se-
clusion of his home on the banks of the Potomac,
how incomparably greater that to which you have
given the strength of your life. Through all the
years you have had but one object in view, but
one desire — to train this people for the society of
heaven. With an utter abnegation of self, you have
ever sought to promote their earthly and eternal
welfare. You have looked never for an earthly re-
ward, for you have been animated by the loftiest
ideal of the universe — to seek and to save that
which was lost.
No artist may portray this scene of to-day, — your
retirement from the sacred office which you have
so long and so worthily held ; but, oh ! how little
do we know what pictures are hanging up yonder
in our Father s hall of victories, painted by celestial
hands ! This only we know, that the victors in
self-abnegation shall cast down their crowns and
sing, ** Not unto us, but unto Him be all the
glory ! "
During the long period of your pastorate you
have seen many changes. The tide of emigration
had just begun to flow outward, when in 1837 Y^^
became the minister of this people. You have seen
members of this honored and beloved church, on
whom you relied for counsel and support, depart
one by one. Without doubt you have at times felt
a sinking at the heart ; but never for an instant has
there been a faltering in your labors. Those who
remained needed all the more your care, and you
have given it with untiring devotion. This thought
has been your comfort and consolation, that, as a
gardener from single parent stems fills his garden
with roses, geraniums, and heliotrope, till the sur-
rounding atmosphere is fragrant with their bloom-
ing, so from this garden of the Lord you have been
sending out slips which are putting forth their blos-
soms over all the land.
Since you began your pastorate a generation has
passed away. Ah ! how many times have you per-
formed the last sad rites for those who were very
dear to you. The great majority have gone be-
fore you to become members of the society of the
redeemed. Let it be your consolation that they
are there to bid you welcome when in God*s ap-
pointed time he shall call you thither.
But, dear pastor, you will, in one sense, never
die. The house you live in, the earthly tenement,
may waste away, but you yourself will only pass on.
Allow me to repeat the words of Jacob Little to
**Mr. Price, you will never die. I have received
from you precepts, doctrines, feelings, and ways of
doing good, and in central Ohio I am impressing
them on a great people. Sabbath-school teachers
and preachers are coming up in my congregation
to scatter what I have received from your lips, and
pass it to the next generation. What you have
taught by example and precept is spreading wider
and wider, going on to the second and third gen-
eration, and will ever keep going, so that you will
** Because I live, ye shall live also," are the words
of him to whom you have given all the strength of
Beloved pastor, on that day forty-five years ago,
when you were installed as pastor of this church, one
of your ministerial brethren welcomed you with the
right hand of fellowship ; but he is not here. One
by one all who took part in. those exercises have gone
on to their reward. Allow me, therefore, for and in
behalf of the people, to extend once more to you the
hand of that abiding friendship ; and I know that I do
but give expression to the united wish of this church
and people, that the remaining years of your life, be
they many or be they few, may be full of peace and
joy, crowned with the best of heaven's blessings.
In behalf of the pastors of neighboring churches,
Rev. J. H. Hoffman, of the Congregational society in
Henniker, spoke as follows :
Mr. Chairman: We read of sermons in stones,
and good in everything. The character of the two
preceding addresses is such that I could wish I were
not here to speak.
It would have been more in keeping with the na-
ture of things for old age, ''rich in story," to speak
in behalf of the neighboring ministers and churches ;
but, sir, your contemporaries are nearly all waiting
to address to you good wishes ** over there."
Age is no dishonor. The public mind, under God,
declares it. The Christian children of the present
generation will not cast away the fathers and moth-
ers, and send them to the public squares. David,
servant of God, taught that one's last days may be
useful: ''When I am old and grey-headed, O God,
forsake me not, until I have shewed thy strength
unto this generation, and thy power to every one
that is to come."
There is strength and power in old age. It is
your privilege, reverend sir, still to show the strength
and power of your God to this generation and to
every one that is to come. This can be done by a
cheerful mien. Father Buxton, you have grappled
with the " art of growing old beautifully," and have
There are advantages, and disadvantages, to one in
mature years. Wilberforce has said, "It is beauti-
ful to see an aged person contented with those pleas-
ures which are within his reach." A beautiful life,
as the years fill in, cheerfully takes a lower place.
One beautiful thing in the life of John Quincy Adams
was, that after being president of the United States,
he faithfully served in the lower house of congress
greatly to the appreciation of the people. It requires
grace to step down the ladder, but it may be a grace-
ful act. Sir, you can serve in the lower house of
congress, and to acceptance.
We love Richter. Writing upon old age he says,
**A truly Christian man can look down upon the au-
tumn of his existence : the more sand that has passed
through the hour-glass of life, the more clearly can
he see through the empty glass."
Some philosopher has said, '' It is pleasant to
grow old, with good health and a good friend." You
have a good friend in your faithful companion ; you
have a good friend in this church of Christ ; you have
a good friend in the township of Webster ; and you
have a good friend in your Master.
The Levites returned from the warfare of service
at fifty, but by counsel, by their rich experience, they
continued to be of great benefit to the younger breth-
ren. To you, father in the gospel, be it said, ** It
is towards evening ; the shadows fall along your way.*'
May your beautiful, strong, and godly old age be a
continual inspiration to the living.
But, sir, I must attend to my duty. It is all said
in a single sentence : the ministers of the neighbor-
ing churches love you, revered father.
They love you, first, for your fidelity to God.
There is at present a vast amount of man worship.
Give me this man ! — oh, let me sit under the preach-
ing of some famous man ! Daniel was loyal to God.
You have been true to God. We love you for this.
Second. We love you for your fidelity to this
church of Christ and to the church universal. Here
you have sown seed, harrowed it in, and " in due
season " seen the harvest. Further, in your fidelity
to this church you have set us a good example, in
that you lived beside your predecessor, Rev. Mr.
Price, for twenty years, and did not quarrel. I see
before me Rev. Mr. Gordon, who now preaches^ the
gospel from this pulpit; — he will take note of the
above fact, and not fight with Father Buxton.
Third. We love you as a defender of the faith once
delivered, one that was good enough for Abraham to
live by and die in, one that *' subdued kingdoms,
wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped
the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire,
escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were
made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight
the armies of the aliens."
Fourth. We love you as a guardian of the public
peace and welfare in general. Mr. Coffin has well
spoken of this.
Fifth. We love you as a man of progressive and
intelligent ideas concerning the kingdom of Christ.
Often have we sat at your feet, as we have met to-
gether to talk and pray of and for the kingdom of
our Lord, and as often have we received solid in-
struction. For this we thank you. For all these
things we love you, and will love you unto the end.
Accept, I pray you, the heartiest good wishes and
a *' God bless you ! " from the ministers who labor in
the neighboring churches.
The hymn, '' If through unruffled seas," was ren-
dered by the choir.
Dea. Gerrish, from the committee, stepped forward
and made a presentation of three hundred dollars to
Father Buxton, as a testimonial of esteem and regard
from the people of his charge, and other friends.
Rev. Mr. Buxton feelingly returned his thanks for
the generous gift, and remarked that during his en-
tire pastorate his salary had always been promptly
After an invitation had been extended to all to
remain and partake of the collation, the exercises of
the afternoon closed.
In the gallery a long table had been placed, which
was laden with tempting dishes of food, and pre-
sented an attractive appearance. Grace was said by
Rev. Charles E. Gordon, the new acting pastor of
the Webster and Salisbury Congregational churches,
after which full justice was done to the many good
things that the ladies of Webster had so generously
furnished. A social hour then followed, with intro-
ductions and the renewal of old acquaintances.
Upon reassembling, the president stated that he
had received a large number of letters from absent
friends who were unable to be present. He first
read the following from Rev. Arthur Little, d. d., of
the New England church, Chicago :
Chicago, December 9, 1882.
Gentlemen of the Anniversary Committee :
Brethren and Friends : I was greatly delighted
at receiving your circular announcing your purpose
to observe, in fitting manner, the forty-fifth anniver-
sary of Mr. Buxton's settlement among you.
It would surely be a mistake, almost a crime, to
allow such an event to pass without special emphasis.
I should like to be there in person, and have a hand
and voice in the services.
It is a significant event. Boscawen used to enjoy
the unique pleasure of having a name all to itself,
duplicated, nowhere. I doubt if the event you are
celebrating to-day can be anywhere duplicated in
New Hampshire or in the country. I speak now
of active pastorates continued for forty-five years.
There have been a few such, and even a little longer.
I do not, at this moment, recall another of equal
length with that which our honored and beloved
Father Buxton surrenders to-night.
Forty-five years ! And what years they have
been ! No other such as these since the world
Mr. Buxton has seen more, experienced more,
done more, lived more, enriched himself and others
more, in these years than Methuselah in all the in-
fantile, drowsy centuries of his existence.
*• Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay."
There were some other things happening in Web
ster in the year 1837, besides the settlement of tb
minister, which have been of considerable importance
to me. (Consult the Parish Register.) It was a
great year for that town. I am thankful for it.
But it is a question whether it would have been
any particular advantage to one to have been born
in that town, or to have spent his boyhood in it, if
there had been no settled minister there.
I have no time, this hurried Saturday morning,
adequately to express my interest in the occasion,
the reasons why it is worthy of your best commem-
oration, or my personal indebtedness to the noble
man of God who is compelled by your kindness and
love to lay aside, for a moment, his accustomed mod-
esty and reserve, and become the central figure of
attraction for the hour. He honors you quite as
much as you will find it possible to honor him.
When you have done your best, brought your choic-
est tokens and expressions of gratitude and appreci-
ation, you will still be in his debt.
The money value of such a ministry in a country
town is beyond all estimate. The intellectual, moral,
and spiritual value can only be computed in that day
when God shall make up his jewels.
The mere fact of a man staying forty-five years in
such a town as Webster, with small contact with the
outside world, not very much in the way of stimulus,
and yet keeping fresh, active, abreast with the times,
able to interest her people, — in a word, sustaining
himself, — is in itself a thing truly sublime.
That such a thing has come to pass is a fact alike
creditable to pastor and people. Both are to be con-
The Congregational ministry has now become per-
ipatetic, i. e., a travelling ministry. We speak of a
settled ministry, and yet our clergymen stay in a
given place, on an average, hardly as long as the
Methodists, who are by principle itinerant. The
thought of permanance ought to make glad your
hearts this evening. It is the men with staying
qualities that win.
What shall we say of Mr. Buxton's work, during
the almost half century of labor among you, — in
the homes, in the schools, in the church, in the
Sunday-school, in the town at large, in the county,
in the state ?
In the good old days the minister used to make
the town. Now the town makes the minister; and a
minister is measured by the size of the town he is in.
False estimate ! Dr. Emmons was larger than Frank-
lin, Dr. Hopkins than Newport, Dr. Edwards than
Dr. Buxton (as he ought to be, and let us confer
the degree to-night, — it is worth just as much by vote
of parish as by the trustees of Dartmouth) has never
been confined to the town he lived in, nor dependent
upon it for his sweep of influence or enviable good
name. But if he had been, it were ample field for
all his energies and power. For forty-five years his
hands have been on the main-springs and centres of
good influence there. Think of the lives which he
has been potential in shaping for good. They are
not all in Webster now. Many, many of them have
gone to their citizenship in the ** city which hath
foundations, whose builder and maker is God." I can
recall some in California, in Minnesota, in Iowa, in
Illinois, in Indiana, in Pennsylvania, in Massachu-
setts, and I doubt not they are to be found in almost
every state in the Union. No ! The man who
preaches the gospel faithfully for forty-five years in
a New England town is not the man of limited range
of influence. He sweeps the continent, if not the
Then, too, the quality of Mr. Buxton^s service must
be remembered. No man was ever more intoler-
ant of anything superficial, unreal, pretentious. It
has been his habit to go to the bottom and look after
the foundations. He had little patience with a poor
arithmetic lesson or a poor Christian experience. He
always insisted upon thoroughness in both. He has
always been wisely jealous of soundness in doctrine,
believing this the best way to secure soundness in
I want to take this opportunity to thank him for
his faithfulness in hammering the doctrines of the
Bible into me. It has been more to me than Ando-
ver and Princeton combined, — among other reasons,
because it came earlier. I fear he is among the last
of so-called doctrinal preachers.
Now, one word as to the real secret of Mr. Bux-
ton's power and abiding influence. It was not his
preaching, not his rare mental acumen, not any great
efforts of his, not any one signal achievement, — not
these. It is all summed up in one word, — his lifcy
his blameless life. That has been the secret of his
power. It has been the man behind the sermon that
has given potency to his ministry. Other men may
have preached more eloquent sermons perhaps : no
man ever lived a more eloquent life. Did you ever
know anybody who did not, at least, respect him ?
Did you ever hear the consistency of his daily life
commented upon unfavorably or criticised by the bit-
terest foe of the Christian faith ? Almost everybody
loves him ; almost everybody is glad to see him and
talk with him ; they like to hear him pray in the
Everywhere his life has stood for righteousness,
peace, goodness, gentleness, and whatever beautifies
the home and blesses a community. It may be said
of him as was said of another, —
** Such was our friend : formed on the good old plan,
A true and brave and downright honest man.
He blew no trumpet in the market-place,
Nor in the church with hypocritic face
Supplied with cant the lack of Christian grace ;
Loathing pretence, he did with cheerful will
What others talked of, while their hands were still.
His daily prayer, far better understood
In acts than words, was simply doing good.
So calm, so constant was his rectitude
That by its loss alone we knew its worth,
And feel how true a man has walked with us on earth."
I must close. I have n't said what I meant to say.
My heart is full. A pleasant evening to you. Make
my hearty congratulations to Father Buxton. The
dear Lord bless you all.
Interesting communications were also presented
from Rev. A. W. Fiske of Fisherville, formerly pas-
tor of the Congregational church in that place ; Rev.
E. H. Greeley of Concord, secretary of the New
Hampshire Home Missionary Society ; Rev. J. Rol-
lins of Tilton, formerly of the Methodist church in
Webster; Rev. John Gerrish, d. d., a native of Bos-
caweh, • and wife, of Kansas, 111. ; Rev. Howard
Moody of Andover, previously of the Congregational
church in Canterbury; Rev. Pres. Forrest Shepard
of Norwich, Conn., a native of Boscawen, and who
was baptized by Rev. Ebenezer Price in 1806; Rev.
Levi Little of Taunton, Mass., who was born in Bos-
cawen ; E. Sewall Price of Boston, son of Rev. Father
Price ; Mrs. C. A. Carroll of Jackson, Mich. ; Prof.
Moses G. Farmer, the celebrated electrician of Bos-
ton ; John P. Farmer of Glyndon, Minn. ; Dea. Enoch
Coffin of Beloit, Mich. ; Miss E. M. Buxton, daughter
of Rev. Father Buxton, and Miss Elizabeth F. Reed,
of Steubenville, Ohio ; Horace Little of Ridgeway,
Elk county, Penn. ; Silas C. Stone, Chas. H. Ames,
son of Nathan P. Ames, and Mrs. Eunice F. Pillsbury,
of Boston ; Charles S. Pillsbury of Londonderry ;
Thomas H. Currie, m. d., of Lebanon ; A. C. Sweatt
of Fisherville ; Gilman Sweatt of Manchester ; Miss
Vinie Dodge of Winona, Minn. ; Miss Annette Cogs-
well of New York city ; Miss Lydia Corser of Deny ;
Joseph A. Little of West Creek, Lake county, la. ;
and Walter H. Sargent of Bridgewater.
The following poem, written by Mrs. J. B. Good-
hue, of Webster, was read by Miss Detta Goodhue.
What's the meaning of the gathering
Of the people here to-night?
Why the music and the speeches?
Why this brilliant, cheery light?
Why are old and young so joyous —
Happy faces all aglow ?
Why this feasting? We can tell you,
Stranger, if you'd like to know.
We have come to meet our pastor.
From each hamlet, vale, and hill, —
Come with words of kindly greeting,
That his heart with joy may thrill.
Years ago he came among us.
In the flush of manhood's prime.
Ere his eye had lost its brightness.
Or his locks been bleached by time :
Came to dwell among this people.
Seeking not for fame or gold.
Only like a faithful shepherd
Gathering lambs within the fold.
He has watched them from their cradles
Through their childhood's happy days,
Cheered them on in ways of knowledge
By his heartfelt words of praise.
He has watched them grow to manhood'.
Filled with dreams of wealth and fame,
Tried to lead their footsteps heavenward
Through the precious Saviour's name.
By the bed of pain and anguish.
Where the feeble sufferer lies.
He has spoken words of comfort,
Pointing upward to the skies.
In the homes of joy and gladness
He was e'er a welcome guest :
Loved and honored by the parents.
Little children round him pressed.
Many has he joined in wedlock,
Calling blessings on their head ;
Many times has bowed in sorrow,
Grieving o'er the early dead.
He has not been free from trouble ;
Death has oft his shadow cast
O'er his threshold, and forever
From his sight his loved have passed.
In whatever place we've found him,
He's been faithful to his trust, —
Never weary, never faltering, .
Worn with labor, not with rust.
Now when time his locks has whitened.
Bowed his form and dimmed his eye.
Meet it is that he should listen,
Lay his heavy labors by.
He has borne the toil and burden
Of the noontide's fervid heat :
Now as draw the shades around him
May his evening rest be sweet.
Those who first gave cordial greeting.
Nearly all have gone before.
Waiting now to bid him welcome
As he nears the *' shining shore."
Stranger ! this is why we're gathered
Here within these walls to-night, —
Why with happy hearts and voices
Each and all as one unite
In a blessing on our pastor.
Who from labor now can rest :
Cherished by his loving people.
May his last days be his best.
In response to sentiments read, interesting remarks
were made by Sherman Little, Hiram G. Stone, Dea.
H. H. Gerrish, Dea. Henry F. Pearson, and Tyler C.
Sweatt, of Webster, and by Rev. Mr. Gordon, Dea.
T. D. Little, and Isaac N. Sawyer, of Salisbury.
J. E. Pecker, of Concord, formerly of Boscawen,
stated that although the attendance was large, yet
there were many not present whose thoughts would
be with the old church on so interesting an occasion ;
and he therefore moved that a committee of five be
appointed to publish the proceedings. He did not
wish, however, to be made chairman.
The motion was seconded by John C. Pearson of
Boscawen, formerly of Webster, and carried unan-
The president subsequently announced the com-
mittee to be, —
John C. Pearson, of Boscawen ; William W. Bur-
bank, Sherman Little, James L. Gerrish, of Webster;
J. E. Pecker, of Concord.
A poem, written by Luther B. Little, a. b., a Dart-
mouth College graduate of 1882, now of Chicago,
was read by Miss Sarah E. Sawyer.
FOR THE FORTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SETTLEMENT OF
MR. BUXTON IN WEBSTER.
When most men start out for to make a poem,
They pick their theme, and ask the Muse to show 'em
Why this and that thing happened as they did,
And thus they're sure to know what else were hid.
They take for theme some hero of renown,
Some mighty battle or some war-sacked town,
That everybody wants to know about,
And having learned the facts, just write them out.
I don't see why men write of " spring," and " snow,'
And " heroes," " gods," and " war," and then let go
Such themes as " honest men" and " patient wives,"
Who toil and struggle and wear out their lives
In doing good to ordinary man,
And doing this, serve God as best they can.
But thus it is : loud deeds and men are sung.
And modesty moves not the Muse's tongue ;
And from this fact, through all the ages long,
I doubt if ere my theme was writ in song, —
For, whosoever's ears my subject jars on,
'Tis simply this, "A Long-loved Country Parson,"
Well-nigh a half a century ago.
At time of year when earth is clad in snow, —
As if 'twere fitting his first look should be
Upon the town well decked in purity, —
There came to Webster, or 'twas Boscawen then,
One of the noblest of earth's noble men.
And why a noble man, does some one ask?
To tell the reasons is an endless task.
What has he done ? He's just stayed with the town,
And lifted up, when other things pulled down.
What did he come for? Not for gain, 'tis sure :
The Webster minister is always poor ; —
Nor did he come for fame : fame does not come
To Webster people, if they stay at home ; —
Nor yet for power : small power here would be :
The Webster people never bend the knee
To one who thinks to rule with iron sway :
If one should come for this, he'd never stay.
What did he come for to this lonely town ?
He came at duty's call, without a frown ;
He came to minister, to preach and pray,
To do men good, to show the better way
Up from this black sin-tarnished mortal life
To where men turn to angels and forget all strife.
Of course he preached at church — all ministers do that :
Of course he wore " the cloth," and donned a silken hat :
Of course his looks were grave, his bearing dignified :
Of course at him the young eyes opened wide.
All these things were, of course, to be expected ;
But still some other actions might have been detected.
When to the grave a mourning band was brought,
Their souls overburdened with the heavy thought
That one was gone, it was this reverend man
Who taught that death was but the broken span
O'er which we leap from nothingness down here.
Up to infinity in a holier sphere.
When youth and maiden had each other tried
Until their hearts in unity were tied,
His was the word that made the knot secure :
As two they came, as one they left his door.
His own mind filled with depths of hidden lore.
To other minds he opened wide the store.
He loved the school ; — ah ! what a sight for pity
The truant boy, when he was school committee !
Music he loved, and his deep soul within
He oft poured forth with bow and violin ;
And song came from his lips with potent fire :
Oh ! how he will enjoy the angel choir !
As ever at early dawn was seen his study light,
A beacon, firm set, shining into night.
So have his pious walk, his blameless life,
Shone out o'er all the land, with blessings rife ;
For men, whom he has taught by word and deed
Through all the land, still reap his well-sowed seed.
Long has he lived, waited, and prayed, and worked,
A quiet, simple man ; no duty shirked.
No word unspoke : his life a finished shaft :.
His soul upon the Infinite a well set graft.
And now, perchance, his active labors o'er,
Although he works not as in years before,
Still may he live, and by his actions teach
As potently as parson ere could preach.
He came twoscore and five long years ago ;
Here has his form been bent, his head turned snow ; —
But let us hope long years before him yet.
Ere on his head his diadem be set.
Luther B. Little,
Chicago, Dec. 9, 1882.
The following poem, by Miss Getchell, of Newbury-
port, Mass., was not received until after the celebra-
THE PROPHET'S RECKONING.
I SAM. : XI AND XII.
The sun halts over Gilead ;
The tide of battle stays ;
The archers and the men of might
Pant in the sultry rays :
The long fierce shout of victory
Rolls thro' the bare defiles.
For the Ammonite stout is put to rout.
And taken in his wiles.
A word speeds *mong the swaying host ;
The sling drops, and the spear :
" Saul led ye on to conquest ;
And the man of God is here :
Arise, Judah and Israel !
To Gilgal haste ye on ;
Ye must crown the king with offering
To the Lord, ere the day be done."
On GilgaPs place of sacrifice, ,
By the rocky altar's side,
Stands the man of God, while circling up
The smoke floats dense and wide.
His tall gaunt frame is stooping,
And his head and feet are bare ;
O'er his shoulders bowed, like a wind-swept cloud,
Fly his snowy beard and hair.
"Listen, ye men of Israel ! "
'Tis the prophet's solemn voice : —
"I have hearkened well to all your words ;
Behold your kingly choice !
I am old, and bent, and withered,
My head has long been gray ;
I have borne from the Lord to his people word,
From my childhood to this day.
^' Hearken ye ! bear me witness now, —
When have I done you wrong?
Whose ox or ass have taken.
The weak given to the strong?
Or whom oppressed, defrauded?"
And the people cried as one, —
"There is nothing found all Israel round '
Wherein thou wrong hast done !"
" Hearken yet, men of Israel !
The Lord your fathers freed
Of old from Egypt's bondage sore,
And ye shall be indeed
His own, his chosen people still.
If ye his voice obey,
You and your king ever following
His righteous laws alway.
"As for me, the Lord forbid it
That I should yield to sin.
And cease to pray for you, or teach
The way of right to win ;
But fear the Lord, and while ye serve,
His benefits rehearse.
Else he will efface your name and race,
And smite you with his curse."
The slow years swell the centuries
Till twenty-nine are told ;
And now the cycle is complete,
The new is as the old ; —
But from peaceful farms and firesides
The people wend their way,
With no warrior's shout, nor battle rout.
Nor gory marks of fray.
Over the rocky hillside ways
They blithely flock to meet
Many from near and far who come
With gifts and cheer to greet
Their fathers' teacher and their own.
Pastor and guide and seer,
Who from his place cries the word of grace,
Unwearied from year to year.
Faithful in earnest laboring.
Patient, exact, and just,
Seeking howe'er, in calm or storm.
To best fulfil his trust ; —
Now in life's later afternoon.
With twilight creeping on.
May his rest be sweet, after glare and heat.
Of a long day's toil well done.
''What grows upon your sterile hills?"
Was asked the statesman sage ;
"In ill-requited toil ye spend
Your years from youth to age."
And he of the eagle-eye made speech
E'en the simplest might understand :
"The granite rock that bears Time's shock,
And the brain that rules the land."
While the changeless hills like sentinels
Watch o'er the fathers' sleep.
And prophet watchmen stand to point
The way their sons must keep, —
Following the path they trod of old,
Who fears what may befall ?
Prosperity crown the ancient town,
While the good Lord keeps us all !
Dec. 13, 1882.
John C. Pearson, a commissioner-elect of Merri-
mack county, and who was for many years one of
the most substantial citizens of Webster, recalled
many interesting reminiscences, and closed by pay-
ing a high compliment to the Boston Daily Journal,
which had sent a special representative to report the
proceedings, and stated that the Journal had been
for many years extensively read in Webster, and had
exerted great influence in shaping public opinion in
that intelligent community.
The exercises of the evening were interspersed
with singing of sacred music of the olden time.
The celebration, which had been from the begin-
ning to the end a complete success in every partic-
ular, closed with singing the Doxology, and the pro-
nouncing of the benediction by Rev. Mr. Gordon.
^^^^g 3 2044 018 166 363
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