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Taken at the age of nlnety-seven 












George Street above Eleventh. 



WHO DIED MAY 1, 1858, 

By Rev. B. B. HOTCHKIN. 


The filial relation which I sustained toward the subject of the 
following sketch, as his eldest son in the pastorate of the Fairfield 
Church, was probably the reason why the duty of preaching a Fune- 
ral Discourse at his burial was assigned to myself. I was afterwards 
requested by members of his family and others to furnish a copy of 
the Sermon for publication. This I engaged to do, provided material 
could be obtained for improving the biographical notice which formed 
perhaps its only point of interest. Having had only the time of the 
evening before the funeral for preparation, I regarded its historical 
details as too imperfect to be placed into permanent form. The 
matter which I have since found, has enabled me to make such cor- 
rections and enlargement that I do not regard it proper to claim for 
the present production any identity with the Funeral Discourse. I 
have therefore dropped the form of a Sermon, and in its place I here- 
with present to my bereaved friends this " Memorial" of their vene- 
rated and glorified parent, an affectionate tribute to his memory, and 
a testimony to the grace that was in him. 

B. B. H. 
Wallace, Pa., 1S58. 





When we laid tlie remains of the sainted father, 
of whom I write, in their last resting place, a 
Christian minister stretched his hand over the grave 
and said — '^ Mark the perfect man, and hehold the up- 
right, for the end of that man is peaceV Around 
him stood an audience — in numbers almost an 
army — but it is believed there was not a heart 
among them all to withhold the responsive '^ Amen." 
"Whether we consider the length of time during 
which such a character was borne, the uniformity 
with which it was sustained, the blending of energy 
and inojQTensiveness in acting it out before the 
world, or the consistency of the various experiences 
and acts which make up the life, we are impressed 
with the propriety of applying the highest Scriptural 
terms for describing the good man, to the late Fair- 
field Pastor. We adopt them, not in their unquali- 
fied meaning, but in the comparative sense which 
alone justifies their application to beings this side of 


A Stranger, brought for the first time into the 
company of Father Osborn, would observe an air of 
general goodness and Christian simplicity in his 
speech and deportment; but he might wonder what 
were the striking traits— the strong salient points of 
character— which created his high reputation, and 
preserved it in growing strength through more than 
two human generations. Closer intimacy would 
reveal the secret of this wonder. The strength of 
his character did not lie in individual traits, and 
this memorial of his life will have little to say of 
salient points. In the unity of his excellences'^ lay 
the hiding of their power. His life, as a whole, 
was a striking life. All its parts revealed the ever- 
present influence of Divine grace. In the intima- 
cies of home or out among men, in sacred or secular 
duties, in seasons of festivity or in the chambers 
of the dying, in the church or in the world, his 
demeanor was uniformly marked by habitual com- 
munion with God. It is true, there were fine traits 
in his mental constitution; still we feel our chief 
indebtedness to the grace of God that was in him, 
for the precious fragrance of his memory. 

Eev. Ethan Osborn, the subject of tliis memorial, 
was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, August 21, 
1758. I am indebted to one of his relatives resid- 
ing in that place, for a few statistics respecting his 
family, which his near friends will be glad to see 


preserved. The remarkable longevity wliicli the 
record exhibits, will also engage the attention of 
the general reader. 

His father, Capt. John Osborn, died January 7, 
1814, aged eighty-six years. His mother, (maiden 
name, Lois Peck,) died ITovember 28, 1819, aged 
eighty-seven. They were the parents of nine chil- 
dren, five of whom died at ages ranging from 
seventy-nine to ninety-nine, viz: John, who died at 
the age of seventy-nine; Ethan, ninety-nine; Elia- 
da, eighty-six; Rebecca, (Mrs. Samuel Seymoure,) 
eighty; and Elizabeth, (Mrs. Ebenezer Marsh,) 
seventy-nine. One daughter, Anna, (Mrs, James 
Riley,) died at the earlier age of forty-six. Two 
children died in youth — Heman, while a member 
of Dartmouth College, at the age of nineteen, and 
Lois, aged twenty-one. There is one survivor, Mrs. 
Thalia Kilbourn, Widow of Whitman Kilbourn, 
now eighty-one years of age, in good health, and a 
regular attendant at church in Litchfield, three 
miles from her home. 

It may not be without interest to give, in this 
place, another table of longevity among the early 
friends of Mr. Osborn. It was communicated to 
me from the necrological records of Dartmouth 
College, through the kindness of Rev. John Rich- 
ards, D. D., of Hanover, (N. H.,) the seat of the 
College. Of Mr. Osborn's class, seventeen in num- 
ber, eleven are known to have died at the following 
ages respectively: Mr. Jacob Osborn, (cousin to 
Ethan,) sixt^^-two ; Rev. Christopher Page, sixty- 


four; Eev. Gilbert Tennent Williams, sixty-four; 
Rev. Solomon Aiken, seventy-five ; Rev. William 
Montague, seventy-six ; Rev. John Wilder, seventy- 
eight; Rev. Nathan Church, eighty-two; Rev. Wil- 
liam F. Rowland, eighty-two; Rev. Thomas Gross, 
eighty-four; Rev. David Porter, D. D., eighty-nine; 
Rev. Ethan Oshorn, ninety-nine. Almost cotem- 
poraneously with the death of Mr. Osborn, a college 
associate of a previous class. Rev. Zechariah Greene, 
of Hempstead, L. I., at the age of ninety-eight years, 
passed to the world of spirits. 

The records of Mr. Osborn's early life are few. 
There are almost none living to tell us the incidents 
of his childhood and youth, or even his entrance 
upon public life. My chief resources for his per- 
sonal history until the first third of the duration of 
his pastorate had expired, are two auto-biographi- 
cal discourses, and his occasional reference to the 
events of that period in conversation with myself 
or others who have favored me with their recol- 

In the year 1822, having been the Pastor of the 
Fairfield congregation more than thirty years, he 
gave to the people an account of his life and labors 
up to that time, in the two discourses mentioned 
above, preached on consecutive Sabbaths, using for 
his text, Acts ;s:x. 18 — "Ye know from the first day 
that I came into Asia, after what manner I have 
been with you at all seasons."* These sermons will 

■" For a copy of the first of these discourses — the most important, 
because reaching back beyond all other means of information — I am 


contribute largely to the narrative wliicli follows. 
He approached his subject through the following 
apology for bringing himself so prominently into 
the pulpit — an apology which the reader will not 
require, when it is remembered that he had even 
then filled out an ordinary day and generation of 
ministerial labor. 

"Having lived and labored among you in the gospel ministry 
for more than thirty years, it seems reasonable that T\^e should 
take a brief review of the ground we have traveled over, and of 
God's dealings with us. It is hoped that such a review may 
afford us some lessons of useful instruction. The general design 
of these discourses is to lay before you some of the principal 
events which have occurred during my residence among you, and 
as I pass along, to express my thoughts and opinions respecting 
them. This I shall do with the utmost freedom, and shall per- 
haps disclose to you some of my secret thoughts which have 
never yet been made known. The time has arrived when I have 
nothing to fear from such a frank disclosure. My motives of 
action, my regard or disregard of your welfare, are known to God, 
and must ere long be known to yourselves, whether I speak them 
out or not. You have been eye and ear witnesses of the principal 
events of providence and grace which we shall review, and thanks 
to God ! many of you have been heart witnesses by your own 
happy experience.'' 

He then introduced the review of his pastoral 
labors with some notices of his childhood and youth, 
including his early religious experience, and his 

indebted to the care of J. Barron Potter, M. D., of Bridgeton, whose 
reverential regard for its author led him many years ago, to secure 
it from the oblivion which otherwise would probably have befallen 
it. The last I was fortunate enough to find among the manuscripts 
of Mr. Osborn. 


entrance upon the great work of his life, the min- 
istry of salvation. The account must have heen 
highly welcome to his people of that day, but his 
giving it was especially providential for us, after this 
lapse of thirty-six more years. Beginning with his 
childhood in Litchfield, he proceeds — 

" My condition and school education were like those of other 
children in my native place. I was favored, thanks to God ! with 
religious parents and a religious education. My parents are 
gone to their long home, and I trust sleep in Jesus. They trained 
me in the habit of attending public worship, but for some years 
I went to meeting rather reluctantly, or against my inclination. 
Some alarming providences impressed my mind with serious 
thoughts of death and the judgment.* This was perhaps before 
the age of nine or twelve years.f After my serious impressions 
began, I went to religious meetings without persuasion or driving. 
I then went, not to see and be seen, but to hear the word of God, 
and to learn how I must escape the wrath to come and obtain 
eternal life. The Sabbath became a most welcome day, which I 
tried to keep holy, and improve for my best spiritual interests, 
for this was my principal concern. Compared with my souVs 
salvation, every affair of this life appeared low and trifling. 

" About this time I began secret prayer, which I have continued 
more or less to this day, though I am conscious that I have often 
been too remiss in it. * * -x- * I fgit conscious that the eyes of 
the Lord were upon me, and I fully resolved carefully to avoid 
whatever would incur his displeasure, and to do whatever my 
conscience and his word and Spirit should tell me was my duty. 
But, like David, I soon found that innumerable evils had com- 
passed me about, and mine iniquities had taken hold upon me. I 
found that my own strength was weakness ; temptations assaulted 

* The alarming providences here referred to were two shocking 
casualties, each resulting in the death of a family relative, 
f Does he not mean bekveen nine and twelve ? 


me and too often prevcailed against me; yet like Job, I tried to 
hold fast mine integrity. 

" When I was preparing for college, wliile studying the Greek 
Testament, I saw more clearly than ever the amiable excellency 
of our Saviour. My mind was enamored of his heavenly beauty, 
and my soul's desire was to be like him and with him. ^t^r 
since, I have had a trust that I have received the Saviour by 
faith, and am interested in the special favor of God through his 
merits and mediation, though it often seems too exalted a favor 
and blessedness for such a sinner to expect. And scarcely, if 
ever, do I feel that assurance of salvation which I desire. May 
the Lord perfect in us all that which is lacking of grace, faith, 
and assurance V 

We cannot now tell liow much distrust of his own 
acceptance with God, he intended the last two sen- 
tences should express. It is certain that in his later 
years, he was a living illustration of the peace which 
the full assurance of hope affords. In the last inter- 
view which the writer had with him, a few months 
previous to his death, to the question, "How do you 
do. Father Oshorn?" he replied in his cheery tone, 
"I am very well, thanks to a merciful Providence! 
well in hody, and in good spiritual health." If any 
regard such a reply as presumptuous, let them con- 
sider the man, the spiritual experiences of a long, 
long life, and his consciousness of his then present 
position on the threshold of eternity, and then say 
what other testimony they would have him give 
respecting the work of God in his soul. 

In the foregoing outline — for it is only an out- 
line — of a long travel from carnal security to a full 
appreciation of Christ his Saviour, the discerning 


reader must have noticed liow distinctly the j^rogres- 
siveness of Divine influences on his heart, is In-ouglit 
out. "We first find him under the alarms of a Provi- 
dential warning, and with some rising convictions 
of sin and righteousness, striving to do what is right. 
Then through years of legal experience — perhaps in 
the twilight of grace — he tries to hold fast his integ- 
rity, tries to keep the Sabbath holy, and avoids what 
he thinks will incur the displeasure of God, because, 
as he says, "I felt conscious that the eyes of the 
Lord were upon me." At length ^'the amiable excel- 
lency of our Saviour'' unclouds itself before his soul, 
and Christ is to him the end of the law for righteous- 
ness. "Where should such a gradually developing 
experience rest, short of that faith which, standing 
on the shore of time, sends back the testimou}^ — "I 
know that my Redeemer liveth !" 

The following sentence closes his account of his 
early religious experience: — 

" While I was a student in Dartmouth College, I was admitted 
to full communion with the Presbyterian^-' Church there. Never 
shall I forget the first time I partook of the Lord^s supper. My 
mind was solemnly and devoutly exercised, and with a good 
degree of consolation.'' 

The reader will regret the rapidity with which 
the foregoing account runs over the period included 
in it. I have no means of supplying its deficiency 
of incidents in his spiritual experience, except as I 
have heard him refer to the influences which he 

" Congregational ? 


enjoyed under a work of grace among the students 
during liis college course.* He spoke of those in- 
fluences as liaving wrought in his soul new and 
enlarged views of the blessedness of laboring for 
Christ, but whether they were the immediate cause 
of his selection of the gospel ministry for the work 
of his life, I am not informed. In estimating, at 
this distant period, the effects of that revival, there 
may be some significancy in the fact that thirteen 
of the seventeen graduates of 1T84, (Mr. Osborn's 
class,) became ministers of the gospel. 

The auto-biographical sermons pass in silence one 
important part of Mr. Osborn's life, previous to his 
entering college. Perhaps it was left without men- 
tion, under the impression that it did not properly 
belong to his religious experience. I refer to his con- 
nection with the army of the American Eevolution. 

He was eighteen years of age when the colonies 
were in the second year of their memorable strug- 
gle for independence. During that year, his native 
township furnished a company of volunteers for the 
service, and no one who knows the readiness for 
self-sacrifice and intrepidity for the right, which 
were elemental in his natural constitution, will be 
surprised that the list contained the name of Ethan 

* I find in the sketch of a sermon preached at the funeral of Rev. 
Zachariah Greene, in Hempstead, L. I., on the 20th of June, 1858, by 
Rev. N. C. Locke, furnished for the New York Observer, the following 
notice of this revival. " There was a very general awakening in the 
parish around and in the College. Some fifty converts were the fruits 
of it — all admitted to the church in Hanover, in the winter of 1782. 
The pastor of the church was Sylvanus Ripley, D. D." 


Osborn. His connection with the army was brief, 
but it extended through one of the darkest periods 
of the war — the campaign of 1776. He was with 
the forces under the immediate command of Wash- 
ington, in the retreat through ITew Jersey. From 
this field of personal observation, his memory 
gathered up many incidents illustrating the noble- 
ness and virtue of the commander-in-chief; and 
during the later years of his own life, his eye was 
rekindled with the fire of those days, whenever his 
friends made a draft upon his personal recollections 
of the war. 

He kept in his mind a catalogue of providential 
deliverances from imminent perils of death. One 
of these interpositions of heaven on his behalf, 
occurred during this service. While the division 
of the army to which he belonged occupied Fort 
Washington, above New York, he was compelled, 
by sickness, to accept a short furlough. During 
his absence, the fort was taken hj the British, and 
the prisoners were removed to 'New York. Some 
were confined in the building known by the name 
of the Sugar House, and others were thrown into 
prison ships. Close confinement and a fare that 
was next to starvation, produced a mortality so 
great, that only four persons of the company to 
which Mr. Osborn belonged, survived. If in his 
then enfeebled health, he had been subjected to 
those exposures, there is little doubt but his per- 
sonal history would from that time have belonged 
to another world. But there remained for him a 
more distinguished warfare in the army of the Cap- 


tain of Salvation, and until this was accomplished, 
Divine providences were arranged to secure him 
alike from the arrow by day and the pestilence in 

Mr. Osborn had become a member of Dartmouth 
College previous to his enlistment, probably when 
he was seventeen years of age ; but his course there 
was interrupted by the temporary breaking up of 
the College in consequence of an invasion from 
Canada. This, with him, must have produced a 
delay of some years in his studies, as we find him a 
graduate of the class of 1784. 

His conversational references to his college life, 
in after years, contained many affectionate allusions 
to the then presiding ofiicer. Dr. John "Wheelock. 
For him, he seems to have cherished a peculiar 
attachment, and once after his settlement in 'New 
Jersey, he paid him a visit of friendship and con- 
dolence under the trials which beclouded his declin- 
ing years. 

The scant outline of his auto-biographical ser- 
mons is all our clue to his spiritual history, from 
the time of his leaving College to his entrance upon 
his public ministry. He says — 

"After I left College, I was disemployed- for about three years. 
Daring that time, being often exposed to vain company, I insen- 
sibly and gracfually became too much conformed to the spirit and 

* I give this word as I find it, presuming he does not mean to say 
that his time was not employed in some specific pursuit. It is cer- 
tain that he was licensed to preach the gospel in ] 786, and he else- 
where says that he received his licensure after he had studied Divinity. 



fashion of the world. More than once my feet, like David's, were 
almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. More than once I 
was almost drawn into the whirl of iniquity. But in mercy the 
Lord sternly rebuked me, stopped me in my presumptuous course, 
and once more turned my feet unto his testimonies. For ever 
blessed be his name !'' 

Mr. Osborn entered the ministry before the exist- 
ence of Theological Seminaries in this country. He 
pursued his theological course of study in part, 
under the tuition of Kev. Andrew Storrs, of Ply- 
mouth, Connecticut, and for the remainder, with 
his cousin. Rev. Joseph Yaill, of Hadlyme, in the 
same state. 

In 1786, he received his license to preach as a pro- 
bationer for the holy ministry, and without any 
delay, he gave himself to the pursuit of his chosen 
work. A few weeks afterward, he was formally 
invited to become the pastor of the Presbyterian 
Church in Spencertown, IT. Y. He declined this 
call, chiefly because he wished to take a wider ob- 
servation of the great field for ministerial labor, 
before settling himself in a pastoral charge. With 
this view he came on to Philadelphia, and from 
thence, under the advice of the late Rev. Dr. Sproat, 
made an excursion to the lower counties of New 
Jersey. Those who are accustomed only to the pre- 
sent rapid and easy modes of journeying, may smile 
at the mention of this tour as a formidable enter- 
prise. But in that day, over the country as it then 
was, a journey from Connecticut to Lower ISTew 


Jersey, was an event in the history of a man. It 
was performed by Mr. Osborn on horseback. 

On his way down, he preached and remained a 
few days in Pittsgrove, Salem county. From thence 
he came to Deeriield, where he spent his first night 
in Cumberland county, (the night of the thirtieth 
anniversary of his birth,) in the house of Ephraim 
Foster, Esq., to whose family he allied himself, some 
thirty years afterwards, by marriage. He then came 
on to Fairfield, where, after laboring with accept- 
ance through what was then the usual time of trial, 
he entered upon that pastoral settlement which was 
destined to be so enduring, and so fruitful of blessed 
results. On the 3d of December, 1789, the Presby- 
tery of Philadelphia inducted him into this charge, 
under the ordination formula of his church. The 
sermon was preached by the Kev. George Dufiield, 
D. D., Pastor of the Pine Street Church, Philadel- 
phia, whose descendant of the third generation was 
Mr. Osborn's co-presbyter at the time of his death. 

f *> 



We liave readied tlie point where the ministerial 
life of Mr. Osborn becomes so interwoven with his 
church, that some anterior notice of the last becomes 
almost an essential introduction to a history of the 
pastorate now to be reviewed. 

When in 1789 the Presbyterian Church in Fair- 
field welcomed its young Pastor, it was already 
venerable among the churches of this country. We 
have no means of ascertaining its exact age. Its 
records previous to 1759, were destroyed in a fire 
which consumed the house of one of its pastors, 
and there is neither documentary history, nor any 
preserved tradition of the date of its organization. 
The remotest known document bearing incidentally 
on the point, is a provincial law of 1697, which 
enacts "that the tract of land on Cohansey, pur- 
chased by several people lately inhabitants from Fair- 
field, in 'New England, from and after the date here- 
of, be erected into a township, and be called Fair- 
field."* These ''several people" were a colony of 
Puritans, whose descendants remain, to the present 
day, the principal occupants of the township, with 
little intermixture by foreign marriages, a still less 

* Contributed by Hon, L. Q. 0. Elmer, to Dr. Hodge's Constitu- 
tional History of the Presbyterian Church. 


alloy by immigration. It would be difficult, even 
in New England, to find a community where tlie 
truths, order, and moralities of religion, as taught 
by Brewster, Hooker, and Davenport, have suffered 
less corruption, than in these isolated congrega- 
tions which have grown out of the former parish 
of Mr. Osborn. Doubtless his long administration 
of its spiritual affairs — being himself of Puritan 
stock, and a connecting link between the old and 
new times — contributed not a little to this result. 

The custom of the times suggests the probability 
that a church was organized in the colony before it 
entered the Delaware Ba}^ At least it would vio- 
late all our notions of Puritanical order, to supj)0se 
the settlement existed any length of time without 
such an organization. We are, therefore, safe in 
carrying its date back to 1697. Probably the truth, 
if it could be known, would remove it a little 
farther into the past distance, as the colonists may 
have occupied their new home a short time before 
obtaining a township incorporation. Doctor Hodge, 
in his History, makes this one of the three oldest 
Presbyterian Churches in 'New Jersey, without de- 
termining to which of the three seniority belongs. 
The others, he says, are Freehold, instituted in 1692, 
and Woodbridge, which appears on the Presbyterial 
records in 1708. The first mention of Fairfield on 
the same records, is in the same year. It must be 
remembered that there was then but one Presby- 
tery in the country — that of Philadelphia. It was 
not organized until 1705, and the churches then in 


being, did not all drop in at once, so tliat nothing 
regarding their exact age can be settled by their 
first mention in the Presbyterial minutes. 

Mr. Osborn preserved a few traditionary points in 
the early history of the church, which he informed 
me were handed down to him by Ephraim Harris, 
Esq., a member of the session at the time of his 
settlement. These were written out by him in 1846, 
and published in the Christian Observer, Philadel- 
phia. But all which relates to the time previous to 
the destruction of the church records, is comprised 
in less than a quarter of a column. I find that 
the Presbyterial records, and some other reliable 
authorities, modify this tradition in a few particu- 
lars, and where I depart from the account in the 
Observer, it may be understood that I do it in obe- 
dience to recorded evidence. 

Mr. Osborn supposes, with much probability, that 
the colony brought a minister with them from E'ew 
England, and gives the name of Kev. John Bradnor 
as the first settled minister. Some doubt, however, 
rests upon the tradition which has placed this name 
at the head of the list of Fairfield pastors. A man 
of the same name, said in the record to be from 
Scotland, was licensed by the Presbytery in 1715, 
but there is no account of his having preached in 
Eairfield; neither could the first pastor be identified 
in him, without an anachronism. 

Coming down to 1702, we have a notice of Eev. 
Thomas Bridge, as preaching to this congregation 
in that and the following year, but I find no account 
of his installation. 


The first known settled pastor was Eev. Joseph 
Smith, from Connecticut. He came as a licentiate, 
and Avas here ordained to the ministry and installed 
in this charge, May 10, 1709. His pastorate must 
have heen very brief, as in 1711, the church is again 
found vacant. So it appears to have remained until 
October 15, 1714, with the exception of the inci- 
dental mention of the name of a Mr. Exell, as 
preaching here in 1711, but not as pastor. 

Under date of 1714, we have the record of the 
installation of Rev. Howell Powell over this congre- 
gation. He is said in Mr. Osborn's account to have 
been from Wales — a su^Dposition which is corrobor- 
ated by the circumstance that his name was some- 
times written Howell Ap Powell. His work was 
soon done, and it is said, Avell done. The Synodi- 
cal record of 1717, records his name among the 
deceased brethren. 

In 1722, Rev. Henry Hook, from Ireland, is found 
ministering to this church, but without any pastoral 
connection with it. His name soon after appears as 
a minister in the State of Delaware. * 

Following this, in each of the years 1724 and 
1726, we find notices of Rev. ^oyes Paris in a simi- 
lar relation, and then we are brought to the record 
of a more memorable installation. 

In 1727, Rev. Daniel Elmer, from Connecticut, 
under the sanction of the Presbytery, took his posi- 
tion as the appointed watchman on these heights of 
Zion. His connection with the church continued 
until 1755, twenty-eight years. This was the first 


loDg continued pastorate wliich the clinrcli, now 
more than half a century old, had enjoyed. 

Up to the period of Mr. Elmer's settlement, all 
history of its spiritual condition is lost. "What ef- 
fusions of the Spirit of converting grace were en- 
joyed, how its members walked in the light of 
the Lord, what jealousy was exercised over the 
cardinal truths of the Christian system, how minis- 
ters preached and people prayed, with what unction 
the means of grace were sustained — all these things 
are without any written record, and beyond the 
memory of men. The lips from which we might 
have learned, have long been mute in death. It is, 
however, a very suggestive fact, that our earliest 
reading of the reliable history of the church, brings 
us into the presence of a praying people. 

The pastorate of Mr. Elmer was cotemporaneous 
with the great religious revivals in connection with 
the preaching of Whitefield and the Tennents, and 
there is no reason to doubt the tradition preserved 
by Mr. Osborn, that this place shared largely in the 
prevalent influences. In 1740, Mr. Whitefield per- 
sonally aided in the work in Greenwich, on the 
opposite shore of the Cohansey, and the influence 
of his presence there could hardly fail to be felt in 
Fairfield. Indeed, it is not an improbable supposi- 
tion that his own labors were extended across the 
narrow channel which divides the two parishes.* 

* I find in the American Tract Society's edition of the Life of 
Whitefield, an account of Mr. Whitefield's preaching at Cohansey. 
This was the original name of the Fairfield church, on the book of 


Throiigliout tlie country these seasons of refresliing 
were seldom free from some real or supposed inno- 
vations upon Christian order, which led some good 
men to withhold their sympathies from the popular 
religious movement, and in not a few instances, to 
assume the attitude of bitter hostility toward them. 
Serious alienations followed, both in individual 
churches, and in the Synod, which then embraced 
all the Presbyteries Vvdiich had been formed in this 
country. The rupture of the Presbyterian S^^nod, 
dividing it into what was then termed the Old and 
Is'ew Light sides, occurred in 1741, and continued 
until 1758, when our Zion again returned to the 
blessed unitv which should distiuo-uish the kins:- 
dom of Christ. The last fourteen years of Mr. 
Elmer's pastorate were included in this period, and 
while this church enjoyed a good share of the pre- 
valent gracious effusion, it did not escape the 
opposite excitement of party spirit. It, however, 
preserved its connection with the Presbytery of 

the Presljytery, but at this time it was applied to the country on both 
sides of the creek. It cannot, as used in Mr. Whitefield's journal, 
refer to Greenwich, because that place appears under its own name, 
a few lines above. It is claimed for a locality near what is now 
Shepherd's Mill, on the same side of the creekj once the site of a 
Baptist church. There was also, at that time, a Baptist church in 
Cedarville, on the Fairfield side, which was then in the temporary 
possession of a party from Mr. Elmer's church, prominent among 
whom — strange to say — was Daniel Elmer, jr., a son of the pastor. 
Mrs. Ruth Davis, now a lady of great age, and very reliable memorj-, 
says that her mother spoke of Mr. Whitefield's preaching in this last 
church, as a well known fact. 



Philadelphia, which remained in the Old Light 
Synod. It speaks mueli for the pastoral qnaliiica- 
tions of Mr. Elmer, that under the numerous em- 
barrassments to which this state of things must have 
subjected him, he was able so long to maintain his 

Mr. Elmer's mortal remains lie among those of 
his ilock, in an ancient burying-ground on the bank 
of the Cohansey. It has loiig been unused, and is 
now grown into a pleasant forest. A little human 
care, added to its present rural adornments, would 
make this one of the most beautiful sanctuaries of 
the dead in lower isTew Jersey. The descendants 
of Mr. Elmer are numerous in Cumberland county, 
and many of them in distinguished positions, and 
by intellectual and moral worth, have imparted an 
abiding fragrance to the name of their common 

Kev. William Ramsey, who succeeded Mr. Elmer, 
was ordained as pastor in 1756. His ministry ap- 
pears to have been one of signal prosperity and use- 
fulness. Harmony was restored to the church, and 
the new era of revivals which opened during the 
administration of Mr. Elmer, came out from the 
clouds of discord and appeared as the shining day. 
In relation to the most interesting period of this 
pastorate, Mr. Osborn has left the following minute : 
" In 1765, there was a remarkable awakening and 
revival of religion. In almost every house, one or 
more were subjects of the gracious work. The 
whole number added to the church in 1765-6, was 


eighty-nine. It has l)een observed, that the revival 
was still and orderly, though powerful." 

After a ministry of fifteen years, Mr. Ramsey, at 
the comparatively early age of thirty-nine years, was 
removed by death. 

In 1773, he was succeeded by Rev. William Hol- 
lingshead, who presided over the church ten years, 
and was then transferred to a pastoral charge in 
Charleston, S. C. Of his ministry, Mr. Osborn says, 
— "E'othing uncommon occurred until the winter 
of 1780-81, when the Lord was pleased to visit his 
people with another shower of Divine grace. In 
May, 1781, there were forty-eight admitted to full 
communion. In December following, forty-six more 
were added to the church, and several afterward, 
so that the whole number added to the church in 
1781 and 1782, was one hundred and fifteen. Well 
may the people of Fairfield say — Hitherto hath the 
Lord helped us, and blessed be his name!" In one 
of his manuscript sermons, I find this additional 
remark respecting that season of special interest — 
"It has been said that this revival was attended 
with more commotion and crying out than the pre- 
ceding one. ' There are diversities of operations, 
but it is the same God which worketh all in all.' " 

The time honored edifice, now so extensively 
known as the Old Stone Church, was built during 
the pastoral administration of Mr. Hollingshead, 
and used by him during the last two years of his 
continuance here. In our remotest knowledge of 
the congregation, we find them worshipping in a 


log meeting-house, called the Cohansey Church, 
situated in the entrance corner of the old grave- 
yard referred to in the notice of Mr. Elmer, and 
about a mile from where the present Old Stone 
Church stands. The log house was supplanted hy 
a wooden structure, on or near the same site. This, 
in ^Ir. Hollingshead's time, became so decayed as 
to be unsafe for use, and the pulpit was removed 
to the open air, under the shadow of a large tree. 
There he continued to address the congregation 
until they entered their new sanctuary, September 
7, 1780.* The graves of Mr. Elmer and Mr. Eam- 
sey are where the shadow of the Avooden church fell 
upon them. Mr. Powell was doubtless buried in 
the same cemeter}^, but no trace of the place of his 
interment remains. 

After the removal of Mr. Hollingshead, in 1783, 
the congregation appears to have lived under the 
precarious and comparatively thriftless ministry of 
occasional sup^Dlies, until in the winter of 1788-9, 
when in the manner already described, the provi- 
dence of their covenant God guided hither the 
youthful minister whose long walk and labors 
among them now come up for notice. 

Much of Mr. Osborn's pastorate was like his 
general life, tranquil and not abounding in histori- 
cal points. The quiet every-day labors of a faithful 

* For this date I am indebted to the researches of Judge Elmer. 


minister of God, will fill a large space in the reve- 
lations of eternity, but they present few biographical 
incidents. The leading events of his ministry are 
the special effusions of the Holy Spirit, which, from 
time to time, swelled up the numbers of the church, 
and preserved the wholesome tone for which it was 
distinguished in the times now under review. In 
his own account of his pastoral administration, 
revivals were his historical eras — the landmarks by 
which he kept himself historically accurate. Still 
the first twenty years of his ministry appear to have 
passed with only the ordinary amount of spiritual 
prosperity. "Writing to the Christian Observer, he 
says that in 1790, (immediately following his settle- 
ment,) the number of church members was one 
hundred and twenty-five. In his historical sermon, 
he informs us that in April, 1809, there were one 
hundred and twenty-four, thus barely keeping up 
with the current losses. Of the state of things dur- 
ing this time, he says — 

"Regular discipline in the church was kept up, and the sacra- 
ment of the Lord's Supper was administered. Members of the 
church very generally walked in the commandments and ordi- 
nances of the Lord, blameless. Small additions were made to 
the church from time to time, so that the number remained 
nearly the same/' 

This ''regular discipline," in those days, took a 
high rank among the means of spiritual edification. 
In the Fairfield church, the administration of it was 
sometimes rather unique, but it was applied in a 
gracious mood, and generally to the purpose. Let 


US take an example from the records of the Session, 
under date of August 25, 1792 : 

"Mr. John Ogden having brought a complaint against Mrs. 
-, they both appeared and produced their evidences before 

the Session, which being heard, it was judged that Mrs. 
deserved a severe censure for accusing Mr. Ogden of stealing her 
corn, and that both of them should he cautioned concerning several 

"Mr. Zeb Woodruif also brought a complaint against Mrs. 

, [same defendant again.] The evidence being given in, 

the Session judge that both of them should be admonished to lay 
aside ill-grounded suspicion and all contentions, and live as be- 
cometh the Christian religion." 

This defendant's tongue appears in the end to 
have been an overmatch for the diligence of the 
Session, for we find eight months afterward, a 
record of her "exclusion" for falsehood. 

Another example : — 

"1st May, 1797. The Session met, and was constituted with 
prayer. Present — Ethan Osborn, Amos Westcott, Jeremiah Har- 
ris, Jedediah Ogden, William Bateman, and Thomas Burch. 
Several members of the church were mentioned as persons faulty, 
either in commission of offences or omission of duty. After due 
consideration of their particular cases, it was agreed that Mr. 
William Bateman make inquiry of concerning a com- 
plaint made against her for breach of the Sabbath ; that Amos 
Westcott, Esq., inquire of , his reason for absenting him- 
self from the Lord's Supper ; that Mr. Thomas Burch inquire of 

his reason for not having his children baptized ; and that 

Mr. Jer. Harris inform , that it is the desire of this Session 

that he refrain from the sacraments till a certain criminal alle- 
gation, now depending in law, is cleared up. The reports of these 
several cases to be made at the next meeting of the Session. 
Concluded with prayer." 



Kear tlie close of 1805, Mr. Osborn, in connec- 
tion witli some neigliboring pastors, entered upon a 
course of co-operative effort for tlie advancement of 
religion in tlie region around tliem. An extract 
from a letter to liis familiar and mucli beloved 
friend, Gen. Ebenezer Elmer, of Bridgeton, then in 
Congress in Washington, will exhibit the character 
of this effort. It is dated January 11, 1806. 

"We had a monthly meeting at Bridgeton. We began them 
at Fairfield the first Tuesday in last month. The next is to be 
at Decrfield, the first Tuesday in February. These meetings, 
agreed upon by the neighboring ministers, are to be by rotation 
from one congregation to another, where ministers reside, on the 
first Tuesday in every month. 

"A little past the middle of last month, Mr. Freeman and my- 
self took a preaching tour three days successively, at Alloway's 
Creek, Pittsgrove, and Deerfield, and talk of taking another after 
awhile. Last Tuesday evening, we four^" agreed to preach at 
seven places, mostly in the outposts of our congregations, on the 
same day and hour at four of the places, and about once a fort- 
night by rotation. The general object of all these meetings is 
the promotion of religion.'' 

This movement on the hearts of these pastors 
may have been the dawning of a special operation 
of the Holy Spirit, which in Fairfield, three years 
afterward, culminated in the first great revival 
under Mr. Osborn's ministry. We will take our 
account of this work of grace from his own pen. 

" The Lord once more appeared for his favored church in Fair- 
field. Through the summer and fall of 1809, a general awaken- 

* The four present at the monthly meeting in Bridgeton, Mr. Osborn, 
Mr. Freeman, Pastor in Bridgeton and Greenwich, Mr. Davis, Pastor 
in Millville, and a fourth now unknown. 

32 MR. osborn's first revival. 

ing to the concerns of the eternal world prevailed among the 
people. Conference, or prayer-meetings, were held in dlifercnt 
parts of the congregation, not less than six or seven evenings in 
the week. It was truly a revival time, both to saints and sinners; 
the Spirit of grace was poured upon each. Some were severely 
experienced and brought into deep distress ; others were exer- 
cised in a mild manner. Though there were divers operations, 
yet the same God wrought in all. In a few months, a consider- 
able number entertained a hope, and thanks to God ! he continued 
his gracious work for many months. On December 3, 1809, just 
twenty years from my ordination, twenty-four were admitted to 
the church. In April, 1810, thirty were admitted to full com- 
munion; in August following, twenty-seven more, and small 
numbers at the two communions following, so that in the space 
of two years, there were added to this church one hundred and 
twelve. The Lord hath done great things for us, and blessed be 
his name ! 

" Though various means were used, yet it was evident that the 
excellency of the power was of God, and not of men. This appears 
from the great change wrought, and the good fruit following. 
Though I was not idle during the revival, yet it seemed as if I 
was a spectator beholding the wonderful operation of Divine 
grace convincing and converting sinners. My brethren of the 
Session were alive and diligent in prayer and religious conver- 
sation, and perhaps I may have aided, in some measure, the good 
work of the Lord. But I was only one among a multitude of 
agents who were active in the same employ. Truly my soul 
rejoiced to see many return unto the Lord and enlist under the 
banner of King Jesus." 

This revival, Mr. Osborn informs us, was fol- 
lowed by a maiutenance of prayer-meetings, and 
an orderly walk in tlie cliurcli generally, "keeping 
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," but 
"no remarkable occurrence in the state of religion," 
until the year 1819. Then the soul of the Fairfield 
pastor was again enlarged in a year of the right 


hand of God. The revival of that year was first 
manifest in prayer-meetings, commenced in the 
part of the township known as Sayre's l^eck, hnt 
its influences were felt in other parts of the congre- 
gation. As the result of it, fifty-six were added to 
the church. 

In the sermon which contains the account of this 
revival, Mr. Osborn again speaks of his own agency 
in a tone of humility, which his friends will not fail 
to recognize as in keeping with his uniform spiritual 
temper. Those who are familiar with this temper, 
will have no doubt that he felt as he spoke when he 
said — 

" Though I promptly seconded the proposal, yet a Christian 
brother whom I shall forever esteem and love, first proposed the 
prayer-meeting, which was so signally blessed for the spiritual 
good of the congregation. I think that brother, as an active 
instrumental agent, has done much more in promoting the good 
work than I have." 

He then adds some reflections on the power of 
lay agency in promoting revivals, which come with 
a double interest to us in this year of our Lord, 
1858— a year in which the use of this agency forms 
so prominent a feature of the stupendous work of 
grace now in progress over our whole country. 
He says — 

" I now speak it as my candid opinion, that in any revival of 
religion, the ministry is only one among many agencies which 
co-equally operate in promoting the blessed work of God. If a 
lay brother is active in prayer and exhortation, the people are 
more impressed with his sincerity, so that what he says and does 


may have more influence on their minds. And not a little have 
my Christian brethren and sisters, as agents under God, con- 
tributed to maintain and promote the blessed religion of our 
Lord Jesus Christ. I thank them for their labors of love, and I 
thank my God for moving them to labor. Mine exhortation to 
them is, not to be weary in well-doing, for in due season they 
shall reap a glorious harvest.^' 

During tlie next few years, there was only the 
ordinary amount of spiritual movement in the 
church. The pastor labored as usual, faithful and 
affectionate, in public and private, and some Divine 
influences distilled as the gentle dews. About this 
time, Mr. Osborn preached to his people a sermon 
descriptive of his pastoral visits to fiimilies — a mode 
of effort which he had reduced to a system. I have 
the manuscript of this sermon before me. An ex- 
tract from it will afford a fine specimen of the man 
in the character of a Christian shepherd. 

" In the first place, I aimed to represent religion as the most 
important of all things with which we have any concern, and 
that it ought to be the chief object of our desire and pursuit. I 
aimed to show that our neglect of religion must lead to everlast- 
ing ruin. I also represented religion as good and amiable in 
itself, as it assimilated us to the blessed God, and generally said 
some things concerning the nature of religion, as it consisted in 
a heart and life conformed to God. xind as we are fallen, 
depraved creatures, I urged the necessity of a change, by the 
renewing and sanctifying influences of God\s Spirit. As such a 
change is all-important to us, I urged it home to the conscience 
by this serious question — 'Do you really think you have experi- 
enced such a change, or ptossess true gospel religion?^ I generally 
observed, that though we may not know as certainly as God 
knows, yet we ought to make it a frequent serious question to 


ourselves, in order to form a right judgment of our religious 
character and present preparation for eternity, whether if we 
should now die, our eternity would be happy or miserable. I 
put this or a like question to heads of families; indeed, it ought 
to be the great question with all, both old and young. 

"When the answer was in the affirmative — that they enter- 
tained a prevailing hope of being in a gracious state, I reminded 
them of their constant need of the grace of Christ to keep them 
in such a state, and their obligation to live near to God, by walk- 
ing as Christ walked. I observed, that to live thus would con- 
duce to their own peace and comfort, as well as to the glory of 
God. I also cautioned them against the deception of a false hope, 
and exhorted them to be always willing to examine themselves 
by whatever might serve as a test of their sincerity. So doing, 
they might be either undeceived, or find their piety and faith 
made more evident. 

"When the answer was in the negative — that they did not 
consider themselves in a gracious state, I reminded them of the 
lamentable character of such a conclusion, and their gloomy 
prospect beyond the grave. I solemnly warned them of the 
danger of resting there, and exhorted them immediately to seek 
for mercy by imploring God to bring them out of a state of con- 
demnation, and to pardon and save them through the redemption 
by Jesus Christ. Here I frequently enlarged, by putting them 
in mind of life's uncertainty, of the folly of risking their salva- 
tion on their possible repentance at some future day, and how 
dreadful their eternal state must be, should they die impenitent 
and unpardoned. 

" After mentioning some essential duties, such as repentance, 
faith, love, and obedience, I spoke of the relative duties of parents 
and children, and urged on parents and guardians the important 
duty of bringing up their children in the fear of God. I observed 
that they should discourage in them what is evil, and endeavor 
to restrain them from it, and encourage them in what is com- 
mendable and right. At the same time, they must pray God to 
prosper their endeavors for the good of their children. 

"After this, I led on the conversation to the duty of family 


prayer, and inc[ulred ■whether it was performed in tlie family. 
AVhen the answer was in the affirmative, I observed that we 
sh(juld pray to God with reverence, in sincerity and faith. I 
mentioned some good effects which, by the blessing of God, it 
tends to produce in the minds of both parents and children. 
When the answer was, that family prayer was not attended, I 
then observed that the neglect of it must certainly imply a fiiult 
in them; that they either had no grace, or neglected the proper 
exercise of it. I told them they ought to pray, and do it right, 
and I exhorted them seriously to consider it, and to pray for a 
spirit of prayer. 

"After this I turned my conversation to the children and others 
present. Here I urged the importance of obtaining religion in 
early life, as youth is the most favorable time for it. I repre- 
sented religion as conducive to their own peace and welfare, the 
welfare of others, and the glory of their Heavenly Father. I 
recommended it as Divinely excellent, and of absolute necessity, 
for without it, we must be miserable, but in the spirit and prac- 
tice of it, we shall be like angels, and qualified for the joys 
of heaven. Sometimes I asked them questions, and counseled 
them to learn, and advance in goodness as well as knowledge. I 
reminded them of their duty to their parents, and solemnly 
charged them not to neglect that or any other known duty, but 
to be dutiful and pious children. And in order to move them to 
it, I led on their thoughts to the solemn day of judgment, the 
joys of heaven and the sorrows of hell. After speaking of our 
present state of probation and the all-important consequences 
which must follow, I concluded with prayer. 

" Such, my brethren, was the general line of conversation 
which I pursued in those religious visits, aiming to bring into 
view things of universal concern, our duty and happiness in time 
and throughout eternity." 

It is a suggestive, as well as interesting fact, that 
a round of pastoral labor, similar to wliat is here 
described, preceded the last general eftnsion of the 
Holy Spirit noticed above. 


In this connection, we ought not to pass over 
another form of pastoral hibor which Mr. Osborn 
performed with strict punctuality, until the grow- 
ing np of denominational jealousies in after years, 
forced him to abandon it. Once in three months, 
he visited all the schools in the parish, for the pur- 
pose of hearing from the scholars recitations of the 
Westminster Assembly's Shorter Catechism, and 
affording such exxDlanations of its doctrines as he 
"thought adapted to their age and condition. It 
must be remembered, that during the early part 
of his ministry, his church stood alone in the 
township. The Baptist Church in Cedarville, (since 
resucitated.) was scattered and dead, and the Meth- 
odists had not come in. The custom of teaching the 
Shorter Catechism in the public schools, brought 
from New England, was agreeable to the antece- 
dents of the people, and there is no doubt but it 
contributed largely to that clear, discriminating 
appreciation of preaching which prevailed among 
hearers thus trained. It would not be an unprofit- 
able meditation, to reflect here upon the contrast 
between that practice, together with the general 
Scriptural knowledge of the people under it, and 
the times when prejudice has expelled the primary 
catechism of our church, even from many of our 
own parish Sabbath-schools. 

One of the three remarkable preservations from 
death, in moments of imminent peril, which were 
registered in the memory of Mr. Osborn, occurred 


during one of tliese catechetical instructions.* It 
was some forty or fifty 3^ears ago, in a scliool-liouse 
which stood near the present residence of Ephraim 
H. Whiticar, Esq. While he was standing with the 
children around him, the house was struck hy light- 
ning, and the fluid, apparently following the course 
of a row of nails in the floor, entirely tore away a 
toe from one of his feet, without inflicting upon him 
any other injury beyond the temporary shock of his 

The disasters of the day were not, however, ended. 
In the evening, the house was accidentally set on 
fire by a light carried by one of the family into the 
attic, while searching for a bandage for his foot. It 
was first discovered by some person in the road, and 
for the second time in the history of this parish, the 
wild cry of fire! rung fearfully out from the pastor's 
house. f Help was gathered in sufiicient time to 
save the building, but not without injury extending 
to the destruction of a considerable portion of the 

It was on the whole, a gloomy night for the 
family, but doubtless a good one for the man who 
was armed with the life-long habit of faith, and to 

* One of these providential deliverances was experienced during 
his boyhood, in connection with the upsetting of a loaded wood-sled. 
The second has been recorded as following the capture of Fort Wash- 
ington. The third is now related. 

■j- The house of Mr. Elmer was consumed by fire, in, or a little pre- 
vious to A. D. 1759, involving the loss of the records of the church, 
already noticed. 


whom tlie trial of tins grace was more precious than 
gold. The Lord ivill i^rovide. The earnest of it was 
not long in coming. The next morning, almost 
before the family had time to deliberate upon 
measures of relief, parishioners were seen coming np 
with boards, rafters, shingles, nails, saws, hammers, 
and whatever else the occasion demanded, and be- 
fore night, the household were snug and dry under 
a sound roof, and went quietly to their rest, after 
blessed thanksgivings, mingled with many prayers 
for that ''kind people" who were so often on Mr. 
Osborn's lips and in his heart.* 

Eeturning to the spiritual history of Mr. Osborn's 
pastorate, we find no strongly marked events until 
the year 1826. That year closed amidst another 
extensive work of grace in the congregation. The 
most full account which I have obtained respecting 
it, is in a letter to his brother, Capt. Eliada Osborn, 
of Litchfield, May 19, 1827. 

^ In relation to the peril of this house, one might almost say, as a 
Fairfield gentleman once said to the writer, at another strife with the 
consuming element. In the spring of 1848, I believe, while a town- 
ship election was going on within it, the Old Stone Church was fired, 
through a defect in the stove-pipe, between the ceiling and roof. 
Men were plenty, but it was not so with ladders, buckets, and the all- 
important article of water. For some minutes, the salvation of the 
building was regarded as an impossibility. The gentleman referred 
to, (not a professor of religion,) was standing near me. I said de- 
spairingly—" The church must go.'' "Not a bit of it," was the reply, 
"it canH burn down." "Why not?" I inquired. ^^ Because,'' said he, 
" the good man above won't let that building be burned; 7ni?id I fell you." 
I may add, the fire was subdued, with only some inconsiderable 
damage to the roof. 


"The Lord, ttg believe, has been carrying on a wonderful 
gracious work among us since last November. There seemed to 
be some unusual seriousness among the people through the fall, 
and nine were added to the church on the first Sabbath in De- 
cember. From that time, a general awakening seemed to prevail, 
and a wonderful spirit of prayer was poured out on old and young. 
Prayer-meetings were multiplied, and that cold weather in Janu- 
ary could not stop the people from going to them. They were 
often crowded. 

" Such a degree of general earnestness and anxiety in religion, 
I never before witnessed, either here, or in any other place. 
Many were seriously inquiring what they should do to be saved; 
and there were several instances of alarming conviction and dis- 
tressing fears, sinking almost in despair. One young man, after 
conversing with another in the evening, on the interesting sub- 
ject of religion, while returning home, felt such a burden of guilt 
that he could hardly move along. He said it seemed every 
moment as if the lightning would strike him. After going along 
awhile, he kneeled down by the fence and prayed ; he went 
further and prayed again, and again after he returned home. The 
heavy rain of that evening had thoroughly soaked his clothes, but 
he scarcely thought of that, so intensely was his mind occupied 
with the concerns of religion and eternity. 

"A meeting for prayer and conversation with the anxious, was 
established, and afterwards another, but so many crowded in, that 
in a few weeks they became common prayer-meetings. The boys, 
of their own accord, began a prayer-meeting, and afterwards 
another, both of which are yet continued. You will understand 
that all these prayer-meetings are weekly, on fixed evenings. 
But besides these, there were in the winter, frequent extra meet- 
ings collected in the two villages,* on two or three hours' notice. 
One week our people counted nineteen meetings, fixed and extra. 

" Previous to the sacrament, the Session appointed two days to 
converse with those who should come forward. The total num- 

■^ Fairton and Cedarville, four miles apart, with the Old Stone 
Church nearly midway between them. 


ber propounded and admitted to full communion with the church 
was fifty-one. This we believe is the Lord's doing, and while it 
is marvellous in our eyes, we would rejoice and give thanks. 
Among the aforesaid number were five men with their wives. A 
large proportion of the new members are young people, and two 
of the age of thirteen, one of whom — thanks to God ! is our dear 
son, Robert.* The gracious work seems to be still in a measure 

In Mr. Osborn's notice of the clinrch, published 
in the Christian Observer, he says, without adding 
any particulars — "In 1831, we were blessed with 
another revival, during which about eighty were 
added to the church." But in this account, his 
mind evidently embraced the work of 1827, which 
is not otherwise noticed in that article. The jcsly 
1831 was certainly a season of peculiar religious 
interest. On March 30th of that year, he writes to 
Litchfield — 

" The state of religion is more encouraging. Four or five were 
added to the church last December; nine are coming forward next 
Sabbath. We are to have a three days' meeting, beginning on 
Friday and continuing on Saturday and Sabbath. Four or five 
neighboring ministers attend and preach, and one of them stays 
with us over the Sabbath.'' 

In the following August and December of that 
year, there were twenty-seven received on profes- 
sion into the church, so that regarding the move- 
ments of this time as a continuation of the interest 
of 1827, we have the ''about eighty" much more 
than made good. 

* Now Rev. Robert Osborn, of Point Pleasant, Western Virginia. 



At this time, witli but little numerical increase of 
tlie population of the township, the number of com- 
municants in the church had increased from one 
hundred and twenty-five at the time of Mr. Os- 
born's settlement, to three hundred and thirty-six. 
The Old Stone Church had become so filled that 
not a pew, and scarcely a sitting, either on the floor 
or in the spacious galleries, remained without rent. 

In 1836, (Mr. Osborn then being in his 78th year,) 
Kev. David McKee, from Kentuck}^, was installed as 
co-pastor, to take part in the labors of this large 
parish. During this year, the Spirit was once more 
poured from on high, in a work of grace which the 
aged pastor characterized as the most powerful 
which had occurred during his ministry, with the 
single but lamentable exception of its short continu- 
ance. In August of that year, sixty-one united with 
the church, the largest number received at any one 
communion during his pastorate. 

As this closes the history of ingatherings under 
his pastoral administrations, it may here be said the 
number received on profession under his ministry, is 
a fraction over six hundred. And it is recorded 
with peculiar satisfaction, that notwithstanding his 
was so eminently an administration of revivals, still 
the aggregate number which we have counted up as 
the fruit of those revivals, makes but little more 
than one half of the total accessions just named. 
Almost one half were the occasional dropping in of 
new members as the fruit of the every day faithful- 
ness and faith of the pastor and people, in the regu- 


lar moans of grace. It is a notable evidence that 
the absence of great outward religious demonstra- 
tions, is no evidence that Christ has forsaken his 
ministers, or is not present in their administrations. 
Mr. McKee's pastoral relation to the church con- 
tinued only about two years. After his dismission, 
Father Osborne, as it is now time to call him, under 
his weight of four-score years — the time when men 
are generally expected to 

" Rather sigh and groan than live," 

was once more left alone in the pastorate. His labors 
would have been suificiently arduous, even if the 
sky had been as serene as formerly, over his admin- 
istration. But he was now to pass under some 
clouds and meet some anxieties and cares which 
were new in his experience. 

Though calm in his spirit toward men^ he seldom 
failed to take his position on questions, and it was 
done in such a way that all knew where to find him. 
In the troubles of the Presbyterian church previous 
to 1837, and which then resulted in the organic di- 
vision into w^hat are now known as the Old and l^&w 
School, Father Osboru's sympathies were with the 
latter, while some influential members of his session 
and church, and a majority of his Presbytery were 
with the former. 

Although he believed and preached the doctrines 
of personal election and the certain perseverance of 
Christians, still his friends never claimed that he was 
a strongly Calvinistic theologian; and in this time of 
unusual sharpness in searching out heresies, he 


made several free exposures, (once at least before an 
assembly of co-presbyters, under much provocation 
as he averred,) of views of the atonement which were 
sure to be oiFensive to a rigid Calvinist. 

It was in the midst of these excitements that the 
Presbytery of West Jersey, which geographically 
includes Fairfield, was set off from the Presbytery 
of Philadelphia, and in the new Presbytery he stood 
alone among the ministers, on the questions which 
were rocking the church. Although he had for 
long years been an acceptable co-presbyter with men 
of the highest orthodox stamp, such for example as 
Doctor Ashbel Green, still his ecclesiastical position 
was now seriously imperiled. Measures did not, 
however, reach the length of formal charges of 
heresy, but there was much earnest discussion of the 
matter, both in and outside of the meetings of the 
Presbytery. The final result of the agitation was 
the dismemberment of his church, and the organiza- 
tion of the Presbyterian church in Cedarville, known 
as the Brick church, and finally the transfer of him- 
self and the old church, from the Presbytery of 
West Jersey to the Third Presbytery of Philadel- 
phia. * In this last connection he continued to the 

* It is proper to say that the Cedarville organization is not wholly 
due to this disturbance. The necessity of a separate church in that 
village, had long been a subject of thought, and without the excite- 
ment of the times, things were nearly ripe for it. There is, however, 
no question that the events recorded above were the immediate oc- 
casion of the separation, and it is certainly owing to the earnest 
strife of that day, that the village of Cedarville now contains two 
Presbyterian churches. 



end of life, in great peace with all branches of the 
chnrch of our common Redeemer. 

But while Father Osborn took his position strong- 
ly, and maintained it amidst a warm excitement 
rising sometimes to asperity, he was enabled to main- 
tain in the view of all sides, his character for integ- 
rity and piety. The settling away of the first excite- 
ments of the dispute, found him still high in the 
confidence of both Old and E'ew School, and in the 
society and pulpits of all, he was once more the dear 
and honored minister of Christ. The difterence, so 
far as it affected his personal relation to his breth- 
ren, was soon forgotten by almost all, and by none 
sooner than himself. I believe I may say that at the 
time of his death, every church in Fairfield bearing 
any relation to his former charge, and every minis- 
ter of the Presbytery to which he formerly belong- 
ed, regarded him with the same unaffected reverence 
as if the times from 1836 to 1840, had never had an 

I knew him when these events were yet fresh, be- 
fore lacerated tempers generally have time for heal- 
ing, and my relations to him were such that if he 
was disposed to transmit any latent grudge to any 
living mortal, he would probably have sought to im- 
bue me with it. But I rejoice to say I never heard 
from his lips a word which would have gone harsh- 
ly to the feelings of those with whom he had come 
into ecclesiastical conflict. It was a subject upon 
which he seldom spoke, and as time wore away, he 
as seldom thought. It is a fact full of significance 


respecting his spirit, that when his memory hegan 
to he seriously impaired, the division of the Presby- 
terian church was the first ecclesiastical event of 
any importance which in his mind, was clouded 
mth a haze. Four years previous to his death, 
when the outlines of the history of his pastoral 
charge were still clear in his remembrance, and 
when he spoke freshly of the formation of the Pres- 
bytery of West Jersey, he was bewildered when ask- 
ed for the circumstances of his separation from it, 
and only succeeded with great difficulty, in recalling 
the fact of the division of the church. It is a mourn- 
ful spectacle to witness the waning powers of a noble 
mind, but the thought could hardly be avoided, that 
if the failure of his memory had produced no obli- 
vions more painful than this, he might almost have 
been congratulated on its decline. 

About the same time with the organization of the 
Old School church in Cedarville, Father Osborn was 
called to give up another portion of his people who, 
on account of the local inconvenience of the Stone 
church to them, formed a E'ew School church in 
Cedarville. Most of the members of this church 
went in with certificates from the old Fairfield ses- 
sion. Thus the organization which had remained 
intact for about a century and a half, became sud- 
denly multiplied into the three Presbyterian churches 
which now exist in the township of Fairfield, to wit : 
The First Presbyterian church of Fairfield, since re- 
moved to the village of Fairton, which retains the 
legal succession, and is now under the pastoral 


charge of Rev. James Boggs ; the First Presbyterian 
church of Cedarville, (the Brick church,) of which 
Rev. John A. Annin is pastor; and the Second 
Presbyterian church of Cedarville, (the "White 
church,) under the pastorate of Rev. Charles F. 
Diver. The first and last are connected with the 
Fourth Presbytery of Philadelphia, and the Brick 
church with the Presbytery of West Jersey. All of 
them are in a state of thrift, perhaps exceeding that 
of the average of churches of their circumstances 
and breadth of field ; and they live in as harmonious 
intercourse as any group of churches within my 
knowledge. Harmony was the spirit breathed into 
their parents under the ministrations of their sacra- 
mental father, and until recently, the sight of his 
venerable form among them, has been a gentle and 
living admonition — ^' Children, love one another!" 

Father Osborn continued to preside over the 
mother church after its severe depletion ])y the drafts 
from Cedarville, until 1844. He had then reached 
his eighty-sixth year, and his weight of years seemed 
to present an imperative necessity for his release 
from the care of a congregation. He presented his 
request for a dismission, to the Presbytery, and that 
body thereupon sundered the long, well sustained, 
and mutually afiectionate relation between the pas- 
tor and people of the Old Stone church. It was felt 
by all concerned as a mournful necessity. It is sel- 
dom that a minister becomes in so many respects, 
the spiritual father of his fiock. There was but here 
and there one who could remember his comins: 


among tliem. Of all wlio were members of the 
church at that time, one aged man alone remained. * 
Fairfield, since his settlement, had received but little 
increase by immigration, and consequently acces- 
sions to the church by certificate, had been rare. 
Almost all who were members at the time of his dis- 
mission, had received their baptism at his hands, and 
their covenant vows from his lips. They were the 
children for whom he had travailed in birth until 
Christ was formed in them. But it was a necessity 
which should be met by submission, not rebellion ; 
and the Presbytery, pastor, and people all bowed 
under it and said, " The will of the Lord be done!" 
In closing the history of his pastoral administra- 
tion, the minute adopted by the Presbytery, on the 
occasion of his dismission, April 1844, may be ap- 
propriately subjoined. It was prepared by Rev. 
David Malin, D. D. 

" In complying with the request of our venerable Father and 
Brother in the ministry, the Rev. Ethan Osborn, to dissolve 
the Pastoral relation between himself and the church and con- 
gregation of Fairlield, New Jersey, the Presbytery feel that there 
are circumstances of interest which render it worthy of peculiar 

" For fifty-four years, Father Osborn has ministered to this 
branch of Zion, during which time a degree of harmony and 

* Mr. Nathan Bateman, whose subsequent death and burial are 
noticed in a letter to Father Osborn's sister, Mrs. Kilbourn. " Nov. 7, 
1848. This morning Nathan Bateman died. Of 125 members of the 
church at my ordination, he was the last. I am requested to preach 
at his funeral to-morrow. 8th. I returned from the funeral near 
noon. A large number attended-. My text was Heb. iv. 9." , 


friendship has subsisted between pastor and people, and a suc- 
cess has attended his ministry, highly creditable to them, and 
happily illustrating the beauty and importance of a permanent 
pastoral relation. 

" Now, late in the evening of life, in the eighty-fifth year of his 
age, after having been permitted to enjoy in connection with his 
labors, several revivals of religion ; and after having buried all 
but one of those who composed his flock at the time of his instal- 
lation ; and after having seen the children of two generations, 
baptized with his own hands, succeeding to the places in the 
church vacated by their fathers, he comes with an undiminished 
regard for his people, and in the unabated enjoyment of their 
confidence and afi'ection, to commit his united and happy charge 
to the care of this body. 

" The Presbytery commend this church for providing that their 
worthy and venerable Pastor may continue to lean upon their 
arm while he lives, and recline on their bosom when he dies, and 
hope that other churches may follow their example." 



FouETEEN years of life remained to Father Osborii 
as a minister without a pastoral charge. Those who 
supposed that after his dismission, he would resign 
himself to the repose which an old man is expected 
to'seek, underrated the strength of his devotion to 
the work of God. In his own breast there was no 
such thought. In a letter to his Litchfield friends, 
written after he had announced his intention to ask 
a dismission, but before it had been carried into 
eflect, he says — " Do remember me to James Birge, 
Esq. * and tell him I shall still preach more or less, 
when I am dismissed." The ruling sentiment of his 
heart had been love to Christ, to his work, and to 
the souls of men. From step to step, it had carried 
him through rising degrees of devotion to his profes- 
sion, until at the moment when he received ecclesi- 
astical liberty to retire, he found himself under 
another. law, as if written upon the chamber of his 
heart, '' Necessity is laid upon me, yea woe is unto 
me, if I preach not the gospel !" 

Throughout the churches of the region, his name 
was a household word, and there were few of them 
to whom a pastor could ofifer a more accepta- 
ble occasional treat, than to present before them 

* A companion in arras during his service in the army. 


Father Osborn as the preacher for the day. He 
availed himself of numerous invitations to supply 
neighboring pulpits, either to fill vacancies, or to 
give pastors a Sabbath's respite. Preserving those 
methodical habits for which he was peculiar, he was 
accustomed to spend the months from the cooling 
off of summer heat to the time for "going into 
winter quarters," as he expressed it, in a round of 
preaching excursions sometimes reaching from Pitts- 
grove to Cape May. In this circuit, denomination- 
alism was ignored. To him, the pulpits of Presby- 
terian, Baptist, or Methodist churches were all the 
same, if he could but use them to " speak as a dying 
man unto dying men." IsTovember 7, 1848, (re- 
member he has now passed his ninetieth year,) he 
writes to his sister Kilbourn : 

" Since my return, [from his last visit to Connecticut,] I have 
not been idle, but have preached here and there among the Bap- 
tists, Methodists, Old School and New School Presbyterians. Out 
of twenty-five Sabbaths in succession, I have preached nineteen; 
in all cases but two, in the surrounding congregations." 

By the "surrounding congregations," I suppose 
he means those which are in Fairfield and the re- 
gion around. He was a frequent preacher in the 
Old Stone Church, the scene of his former labors ; in- 
deed for at least six years, he conducted the morn- 
ing service there about once a month. 

The last sermon which he wrote, was a farewell 
to that venerable edifice, on the occasion of the re- 
moval of the congregation to Fairton. The setting 
off of the Cedarville churches had created such a 


geograpMcal change in tlie congTegation, that a new 
location became essential to its prosperity. A new 
house of worship had been erected in the growing 
village of Fairton, about a mile and a half west, and 
by arrangement, March 20, 1850, was designated as 
the time when, with preaching and sacramental 
communion, we should turn from the consecrated 
walls, hallowed by so many exhortations, prayers, 
sacraments, sorrows and joys, and leave them alone, 
a silent memorial of the past, a monument of change 
and death. 

At the request of the pastor and session. Father 
Osborn accepted the charge of preparing a sermon 
for the occasion ; indeed there would have been an 
unpardonable impropriety in any other arrangement. 
The reader will be grateful for some quotations from 
this sermon. * I will offer no apology for lengthen- 
ing the number of these pages with copious extracts 
from a performance which may exhibit less vigor 
than some of his earlier efforts would show. We 
have passed his prime. I now wish to bring out the 
aged preacher, in all the faithfulness of his still lov- 
ing heart, and under circumstances which could not 
fail to awaken for him the sympathy of his audience. 
He is now in his ninety-second year. The place 
where he stands was the scene of his eventful minis- 
trations for more than half a century, and he does 
not expect ever to preach from that pulpit again. 

■^ For a copy I am indebted to the family of liis son-in-law, Rickart 
Hurd Esq., of Cincinnati, through whose care the original MS. has 
been preserved. 


After referring to the ministry of liis predecessor, 
who in 1780 preached the first sermon in the house, 
to his own labors there, and to those of the writer 
of this memorial, then the pastor of the congrega- 
tion, he proceeds — 

" I may safely say that by the preaching of these three minis- 
ters, in this house, the doctrines and all things essential to duty 
and salvation, have been clearly explained and faithfully urged 
upon the people. The doctrine of human depravity has been ex- 
plained and proved from Scripture and common observation. Here 
also the doctrine of regeneration has been repeatedly set forth, 
and the absolute necessity of it urged upon the people. It has 
been shown that we must be new created in Christ Jesus, must 
have the love of God ruling in our hearts, or we can never be ad- 
mitted into his kingdom. 

" Also the doctrines of repentance toward God and faith in the 
Lord Jesus Christ, have been faithfully preached in this house, 
and their absolute necessity in order to obtain pardon and heaven- 
ly felicity. Likewise the duties prescribed in the gospel have 
been explained and insisted on. The people have been informed 
that supreme love to God is their indispensable duty. Here also 
they have been taught the duties we owe, one to another, to do 
good to all according to our abilities and opportunities : and 
to ourselves, to live sober and religious lives in the world. Here 
also, that the law forbids every sin, whether in action, word or 
heart, and pronounces a curse on every transgressor of it. For 
* cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are 
written in the book of the law to do them.' And as all have sinned, 
therefore no human being can be justified before God by the deeds 
of the law, or by meritorious obedience. The law requires per- 
fect and perpetual obedience. But as no man has yielded such 
obedience, or possessed sinless perfection, therefore in vain do you 
now look to the law for justification, 

' Since to convince and to condemn, 
Is all the law can do.' 



" But, thanks to God 1 the gospel reveals a way of justification, 
how we may obtain forgiveness and the favor of God. And this 
blessed gospel has often been preached in this house, the gospel 
which ofiers a free pardon to every humble penitent. ' This is a 
faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus 
came into the world to save sinners.' The blessed Saviour in- 
vites the weary and heavy laden sinner to come to him, assuring 
him that he will raise him up at the last day, to eternal life. 
Such is the inviting and beneficent language of the gospel. But 
at the same time, both law and gospel denounce everlasting pun- 
ishment on such as reject the Saviour and die impenitent. 

"Now the interesting question is, How have the people im- 
proved the preaching of the law and the gospel ? Most of those 
who lived under the ministry of my predecessor have gone to the 
grave.* But to you who are yet living and hearing the gospel, 
the question is solemn and important. Have you so improved 
the preaching of God's word as to become wise unto salvation 
through faith in Christ Jesus ? 

" To those who are pious believers, I would say, you have 
chosen the good part, and God has begun a gracious work in you 
which he will carry on until it terminates in glory. So that by 
faith in Christ, having laid hold on the hope set before us, you 
may have a strong consolation, and go on your Christian course 
rejoicing. Be not satisfied with your present relative attainments, 
but press forward to the mark of perfection, the prize of the high 
calling of God in Christ Jesus. Use the appointed means of read- 
ing and hearing the word of God, not forsaking the assembling 
of yourselves for public worship, as many do, and by no means 
neglect the privilege and duty of prayer. Ask and receive, not 
only that you may have grace to serve God^ but that you may 
also grow in grace and in the knowledge of your Lord Jesus 
Christ. In this way religion will become more pleasant. The 

■^ He might have said all — literally so, if he referred to those who 
when they heard his predecessor, were old enough to recall any of 
the instruction imparted. 


nearer you advance toward heavenly perfection, the more delight- 
ed you will be with heavenly enjoyment. * taste and see that 
the Lord is good.' 

* Come learn his pleasant ways, 
And let us taste his grace.' 

" Never be weary in well doing, for in perseverance, you shall 
in due time reap a glorious harvest. As an inducement thus to 
live and spend your remaining days, remember your judge and 
mine will ere long call us to answer, how I have preached the 
gospel and how you have improved it. 

" I now turn to those of you whose future happiness is not yet 
secured by faith in the Mediator. Your situation is awfully 
dangerous. You are now suspended between the possibility of 
eternal happiness or eternal misery. You are now between the 
two vast extremes, or if I may more plainly express it between 
heaven and hell. Either celestial happiness or infernal misery 
must in a short time be your everlasting portion. How solemn is 
the prospect before you — the joys of heaven or the sorrows of 
hell, one of which must be your everlasting portion, — the latter 
except ye turn at God's reproof. ' As though God did beseech 
you by us, we pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to 
God.' Believe me when I say it is my heart's desire and prayer 
to God, that you and I may have a joyful meeting at the judgment, 
in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

" As we expect this to be the last Sabbath on which I shall 
speak to you from this pulpit, let me say, in the presence of God 
who knows my heart, that I have endeavored and prayed that I 
might faithfully perform my ministerial duties. Though I am 
conscious of much imperfection, God is my witness, that I have 
ever preached such doctrine and precepts as I verily believe are 
agreeable to his word. I have repeatedly said, ' the lines are fal- 
len unto me in pleasant places ; yea, I have a goodly heritage.' 
With gratitude to God I look back upon the religious revivals 
with which he has blessed us and the friendly relations which 
have subsisted between us. It is no small satisfaction that as 
pastor and people we separated as friends, and that a pleasant 


intercourse subsists between myself and my successor, your 
present pastor. Never were the people more dear to me, I shall 
love them as lonji; as I live. 

*' Excuse my plainness, and permit me once more to say in the 
fullness of my feelings, that my heart's desire and prayer to God 
for you all is, that you may be saved. As it will not be long 
before we must each answer to God — I for my ministry, and you 
for your improvement of it, let us be diligent in what duty re- 
mains and in advancing toward heaven. Let brotherly love con- 
tinue and abound, until it shall be perfected in the heavenly 
kingdom. And may God prepare us all to meet in heaven ! I 
now bid you a cordial farewell, praying that it may fare well 
with you in this world, in blessings of health and prosperity, as 
far as shall be for God's glory and your own good, and that in 
the future world, entered with your blessed Saviour into the joy 
of your Lord, you may fare well." 

There is a mournful comeliness in the circum- 
stance that his last attempt to compose a sermon 
should have been reserved for the last Sabbath ser- 
vice that was held within that venerable sanc- 
tuary, which, to him, was the most sacred place 
this side of heaven. It almost seems as if the build- 
ing which, while its walls were yet fresh from the 
hands of the builder, had received him as the mes- 
senger of heaven, and which had advanced along 
with him from youth to old age, grew weary of the 
voice of men as the time approached for his plain 
and gentle-toned utterances to be heard no more. 

In speaking of this discourse as his last attempt 
at sermonizing, I refer to the labors of his study — 
writing for the pnlpit. It must not be understood that 
he then ceased to preach. From this time forward, 
it is true, there was a more perceptible falling away 
of power for public labors; still his friends in this 


region know how dearly that blessed old servant of 
Christ loved to preach, and how earnestly he con- 
tinued, for several years more, to lift np his voice 
for the gospel. But nature could not hold out for- 
ever. The intervals between his pulpit labors 
lengthened, until the summer of 1855, when at the 
age of ninety-seven, in the church in Fairton, he 
preached for the last time. Who can tell how aflect- 
ing a service it would have been to himself, had he 
supposed that it was, with the exception of assisting 
in subordinate parts of service, his last official min- 
istration. Was it not a gentle providence that he 
did not ? This service, reckoning from his licensure 
in 1786, completed sixty-nine years of actual service 
as a preacher of the gospel of salvation. 

While among the last things of Father Osborn, 
the reader will find room for some thoughtful re- 
flections in perusing what is supposed to be the last 
letter which he wrote.* It is dated a little more 
than two years previous to his death, and addressed 
to the sole survivor among his brothers and sisters, 
Mrs. Thalia Kilbourn. Mark how oblivious he be- 
comes of long periods, speaking of the characteris- 
tics of the country as if he were a fresh emigrant 
giving information that was all new to her, and of 
his exchange with Mr. Smalley, a clergyman who 
had been deceased some twenty years, as if it were 
a recent event. Observe also, how the fact that all 
his brothers and sisters, except herself had gone, 

* One of later date has been discovered since this paragraph was 

58 AN OLD man's letter. 

has passed from his memory. The thought of his 
offering himself, at ninety-six years of age, to supply 
a vacant congregation in Connecticut, may excite a 
smile, but it will be one of pleasure in the inex- 
haustible strength of his devotion to the work of 
his Master. It is the expression of his indomitable 
passion to be always preaching Christ. 

"Fairfield, New Jersey, 

January 23, 1855. 

*'Dear Sister, — Through the goodness of God, who is the 
giver of every good gift, we enjoy good health. I say we, mean- 
ing Sarah McQueen and myself. We live in a two story house, 
with a good cellar under it and chambers. The water is not 
quite so good as it is in Connecticut, though better than that 
which is still nearer the salt marshes. The face of the country 
is one vast extended plain for miles around. No stones on the 
surface ; some are found in brooks and rivulets. The land has 
been so worried with crops, year after year, that it produces 
about the same as in Connecticut.* The land does not produce 
potatoes so plentifully as in Connecticut, but they are more mild 
and have no strong taste. They make no use of potatoes for 
fattening and raising hogs. They feed their horses almost 
altogether with corn. 

" Their religious practices are commendable. Very few 
families who attend no religious meeting. I know of none. We 
have different sects as you have ; the Presbyterians most nume- 
rous ; then the Methodists, and then the Baptists. They are 
mingled in the same neighborhood without any contention, and 
unite in business as if of one denomination. I have exchanged 
pulpits with Mr. Smalley, a Baptist minister : no complaint was 
made. In religion, the earth seems to be still and at rest. I 
trust many have vital piety. The ordinances of baptism and the 

* He is speaking of the couiitry as it was before the agricultural 
advancements of the last twenty-five years. 


Lord's Supper are regularly administered quarterly — four times 
in a year. 

"Do write before long, and tell who of our father's children 
and grand children are living, and who of the Landons are liv- 
ing. Who is your minister now ? And who preaches in Milton? 
If they have none, I think I should be willing to preach for them 
awhile. I was dismissed by my own request. Mr. Meeker is 
our minister now, and is well esteemed. We live in peace, and 
may the God of peace be with and bless you. 

*' Ethan Osborx.'' 

From this time forward, there was supposed to be 
a rapid decay of his mental powers. Having before 
this time been transferred to a parish in another 
State, I had few opportunities for a personal obser- 
vation of the condition of his mind. "When I occa- 
sionally did see him, it appeared to me — and in this 
view I am supported by some of his most judicious 
friends — that his faculties generally were in a much 
sounder condition than casual observers supposed. 
His memory was far gone, sometimes so far that he 
seemed to lose the recollection of those who were 
dearest to him in life. Often he could not remem- 
ber the common events of life, an instant after they 
had passed. He would sometimes perform family 
worship twice in the morning, and I believe in some 
cases a third time, forgetting that it had been ob- 
served at all. It is however a striking index to the 
state of his heart, that his memory of worship was 
never treacherous in the opposite direction. He 
never forgot to observe family devotions. 

Still I could never perceive but his perception of 
truth, his reason, and even his judgment were sound, 


when some friendly voice was at hand to keep his 
mind from losing the points of a conversation. 
Without such assistance, he would soon become be- 
wildered. But with the simple aid of prompting his 
memory, I have heard him, within the last year of 
his life, make observations, and even draw conclu- 
sions from a process of reasoning, with the sense 
and shrewdness which belonged to his better days. 
Let it be remembered how the loss of the single 
faculty of memory seems to unhinge the whole mind, 
and the ap'parent intellectual decay of Father Osborn, 
in his last year, is explained. 

With all the infirmity which he carried into these 
years of almost absolute retirement from the world, 
it may with truth be said that his last days were his 
best days. His spiritual sense was never dimmed. 
Ask him of things of this world, even the number 
and names of his own children, and in the effort to 
gather up a correct reply, his mind would often be- 
come so confused, that the whole subject would es- 
cape his attention. But ask him of the dealings of 
God with his soul, and his bow abode in strength. 
Among earthly things, he might often be lost, but 
he never wandered in the way to the throne of 
grace. People said with wonder — ''How happy 
Father Osborn is ! and how happy he makes all 
around him !" It did seem strange that one so lost 
to the natural enjoyments of life, and who was such 
an object of care and anxiety, requiring for his safe- 
ty an almost sleepless vigilance, should still retain 
the power of diffusing such a serene tranquillity 


around him. But there he sat, or walked from room 
to room, or wandered ahout the grounds, singing 
some happy song of Zion, or rehiting some sweet ex- 
perience, talking always of mercies, and wondering 
how any can complain when God is so good. 

But his work for God is not yet done, and we are 
to contemplate him once more in the field of active 
duty. The winter of 1857-8, was to all the churches 
of Fairfield, a season of great refreshing. The work 
was general, powerful, and full of incidents illustra- 
ting the power of prayer. 

The cry — A Revival ! was one which would almost 
move Father Oshorn in his coffin : certainly while 
living, it could not fail to kindle all the inflamma- 
bility that was left in his nature. It did not start 
his spirit into new life, for it found him already gird- 
ed, arming himself for his last battle in the earthly 
Christian warfare. It came not to rouse him to pray- 
er, for it found him praying for this one more sight 
of the glory of salvation among the community 
whom he never ceased to call his people. It may 
well be doubted whether, in the sight of God, there 
was any human agent in that great revival, more 
active than the old pastor, wrestling with the Angel 
of the Covenant, in his Bethel home. Like the pa- 
triarch, he^ wrestled almost literally until the break- 
ing of the day, for so engrossing had the work be- 
come to his own soul, that he sometimes rose from 
his bed, in the dead of night, to pray for particular 
unconverted persons whose spiritual peril awakened 
in him anxieties too deep to allow slumber. 


His apprehension of things around him, such as 
the spiritual condition of his neighbors and the state 
of the churches, experienced an astonishing resus- 
citation, and he was once more in the blaze of the 
old revival years. Most of this, it must be remem- 
bered, was at a remove from the sympathetic influ- 
ences of crowded assemblies with their mourning 
sinners and happy converts. It was mostly in the 
quiet of his own household, and in the deeper seclu- 
sion of his communion with God. He attended 
only a few of the public meetings; his infirmities 
forbade his going abroad oftener. But he kept him- 
self advised of all that was going forward, and 
preached to his family, (then consisting of two 
persons in addition to himself,) of the wondrous 
salvation of God, and held with them many meet- 
ings of prayer for a blessed ingathering of souls. 

His last appearance in church was in connection 
with this work. He was then in the one hun- 
dredth year of his age. It was in the "White 
Church," in Cedarville, at a meeting of ''young 
converts," in number from one hundred and fifty 
to two hundred, to listen to a sermon from Rev. 
Mr. Parker, who had greatly aided some of the 
local pastors during that season of arduous labor. 
He heard Mr. Parker with fixed attention, through 
a long and interesting discourse, and was then 
called on to add an exhortation, and offer the con- 
cluding prayer. Concerning this performance, the 
pastor, Mr. Diver, writes me — " He seemed like an 
old veteran commander in the army, taking a view 


of tlie recruits just entering the service for King 
Immanuel. He reminded them it was a service 
for life, and their warfare would not be done until 
they obtained their crown. In such a manner he 
spoke, and then prayed God that they might be 
faithful unto death." 

From this scene he returned to his house, and 
when he next went to the sanctuary, it was where 
the glorified congregation worship — 

" Where the assembly ne'er breaks up, 
The Sabbath ne'er shall end." 

His translation was at hand. Though more vigorous 
in body and mind than he had been a few weeks 
previous, he saw with unerring accuracy, that the 
time had almost come, and his peace was as a river. 
He expressed his consciousness of the near approach 
of death to his beloved niece, who for many years 
had filled a daughter's place and given to his aged 
heart a daughter's love. Filled with sorrow by the 
suggestion, she inquired — "What shall I do with- 
out you?" He took her by the hand, and looking 
upon her out of his loving eye, bade her be com- 
forted, and said — '' "When thy father and thy mother 
forsake thee, then the Lord will take thee up." 

I have been furnished with a letter, written by 
this lady to Rev. Robert Osborn, containing a vivid 
sketch of the experiences of the last week of his 
life. Though written without a thought of its pub- 
lication, it comes so freshly from the chamber of 
death, that with Mr. Osborn' s permission — indeed 


at Ills suggestion, I subjoin it as better than any 
other account which it is now possible to furnish of 
that ahnost beatific scene. As Mr. Osborn justly 
remarks, in his note forwarding me a copy of the 
letter, the description is peculiarly valuable in view 
of the source from which it comes. " She was," he 
says, '' an eye witness, and was not one who is liable 
to be swayed by her feelings alone." 

" My Dear Cousin, — It appears to me like months instead of 
weeks, since I stood by the dying bed of my ever dear uncle, and 
saw him draw his last breath. Of how little importance did the 
world then appear to me! He had so long been the object of 
constant care and solicitude, the centre of all my thoughts and 
labors, that it almost seemed that there was nothing left for me 
to live for ; and I still feel an indescribable dreariness that none 
can realize who have not felt the same. I am glad it is not 
wrong to weep, and I can at times rejoice that his glorified spirit 
is free, no longer cramped and bound by the frail tenement that 
had borne the trials of almost an hundred years. But he was so 
ripe for heaven and enjoyed such a blessed nearness to the Sa- 
viour, and was so abundant in prayer, that although for him to 
depart and be with Christ was far better, yet his death has left a 
void that no common Christian can fill. 

" How I wish you could have been with us the day before he 
was taken down. I shall always feel thankful for the privilege 
of being with him when he had, (as I believe,) a view^ and fore- 
taste of heaven. lie had passed a night of suffering. In the 
morning he slept till ten o'clock. When he awoke he was all life 
and animation, and his whole appearance was changed. He had 
been so long confined, mostly to the house, that his complexion 
had become very fair and clear. Now, his face was full, without 
a wrinkle, his eyes sparkled, he walked erect ; the stoop in his 
shoulders was all gone — his appearance was beautiful. He 
came out of his room singing words that I never heard him sing 


before, '0 happy! happy! My happy, happy home !' then 
spake in a loud clear voice, '0 what a glorious King is Jesus! 
The martyr Stephen saw Heaven opened and Jesus standing on 
the right hand of God/ He then spoke of the glories of Heaven 
as described in the Revelation. After repeating the passages— 

* and there shall be no night there ; they stood on a sea of glass ; 
they sang the Song of Moses and the Lamb ;' and after speaking 
in the same strain a long time, he sang — 

' glorious hour! blest abode ! 
I shall be near and like my God,' &c. 

■ " I could but look and listen almost spell-bound, and the words 

* They shall flourish in immortal youth,' were constantly in my mind. 
He took a slight dinner, and then seated in his rocking chair, 
with his head resting on the back of it, and eyes fixed upwards, 
he sang songs of praise most of the afternoon, without the least 
apparent fatigue ; not low, humming, but loud and clear, ringing 
sweetly through all the house, and heard distinctly at the barn. 

" When asked to supper, he said, ' Yes, willingly and thank- 
fully.' He wheeled round his chair, asked a blessing, and then 
sang — 

' My flesh shall slumber in the ground 
Till the last trumpet's joyful sound ; 
Then burst the chains with sweet surprise, 
And in my Saviour's image rise.' 

" It was the first time he had sung that verse, though the pre- 
ceding ones he had repeated often. He took supper with a good 
appetite, and in the evening asked us to sing — 

' How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord.' 

" He attended family prayer three times, and went to bed ap- 
parently in good health. He was awake most of the night, but 
did not sufi'er as usual. 

" Next day he slept till noon, took a little dinner — then slept 
again. At three o'clock I found he was unwell, and called the 
Doctor, who was very attentive to the last. About midnight he 
expressed his belief that he would soon leave us and be with the 



Saviour, where there is * fullness of joy.' He gave me his last 
charge to trust in the Lord, look to Him and He would not for- 
sake me. These were his last connected words. But let me pass 
over those two days and a half. Suffice it to say, ' he was made 
perfect through suffering,' and left us at noon on Saturday ! 

' Servant of God, well done ! 
Praise be thy sweet employ.' " 

Sucli a close of such a life ! Could the one better 
befit the other ? Almost literally like the prophet 
Elijah, he went on talking with us along the coun- 
tr}^ of Jordan, until it came to pass as he still went 
on and talked, there appeared a chariot of fire and 
horses of fire, and parted him from us. It is not 
strange that when we beheld such a translation, we 
cried — "My father! my father! the chariot of Israel 
and the horsemen thereof!" Be ours the supplication 
that a double portion of his spirit may rest on us ! 

From among the numerous testimonials to the 
worth and loveliness of Father Osborn, contained 
in letters of sympathy addressed to his family, the 
following from the Eev. Heman L. Yaill, of Litch- 
field, Conn., is selected, as affording an interesting 
illustration of the abiding remembrance in which 
he was held in the home of his childhood. 

" Litchfield, Connecticut, 

May 24, 1858. 

" JBenj. Thompson, Esq. 

" My Dear Sir. — The tidings that the venerable Ethan Osborn 
has at length passed away, came somehow very unexpectedly to 
me, for, notwithstanding his great age and consequent feebleness, 
I had in a manner hoped, and almost believed, that he might be 
permitted to remain on earth a little longer, at least till the round 


hundred of his years should have been complete. I wrote on the 
5th instant, to one of the Professors in Dartmouth College, and 
expressed my hopes as above stated, not knowing at that date, 
that our venerated friend who had so long ' walked with God,' 
had been already translated. I also sent, at the same time, to 
the Faculty of the college, some historical sketches of the four 
Osborns, his cousins, who were educated at Dartmouth, and a 
brief notice concerning himself and the Rev. Joseph Vaill— his 
cousin, for more than fifty years pastor of the church in Hadlyme, 
Conn. These six young men, born and reared through their youth, 
in the same neighborhood, all went within a few years of each 
other, to the same college ; and as its next Triennial Catalogue 
will show, have now all gone to the eternal world. 

" Your friend Ethan never received, nor sought for, the secondy 
or master's degree from college; but he did receive from all the 
friends of Christ who knew him, a nobler honor than earthly uni- 
versities can give— the honor of being ' a good minister of Jesus 
Christ'—' a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost :' and now be- 
yond all this, he has received that last and highest degree, such 
as the Lord himself confers, when he calls to his faithful and 
worn out servants, who have finished their course, saying, ' Come 
up hither !' 

I am now myself an old man, of upwards of three-score ; but I 
remember with pleasure, far back to the days of my earliest 
childhood, the visits of our departed friend and father to the old 
homestead where he was born ; and the calls he was wont to 
make on the families in the neighborhood. I well remember how 
he used to preach, and how he used to converse — grave and 
serious always— and yet always genial and attractive. Yes, and 
I remember how in the little social religious meetings, held 
here, because lie was here, how he used to sing ; that high, yet 
soft and sweet tenor voice, in the Psalm 89th of Dr. Watts, ' With 
reverence let the saints appear,' &c., sung to the tune ' Virginia.' 
But though this good old tune is now a thing of the past, that 
same 89th Psalm, as David wrote it for 'Ethan the Ezrahite' 
remains ; and the Ethan of ancient time, and our Ethan the 
* Saint of God' may now be singing the same words, ' I will sing 


of the mercies of the Lord forever/ members of the same choir, 
and worshipping before the same throne. Praying that we may 
all be the true and faithful friends of Jesus Christ, while here on 
earth ; and be at length all welcomed home to the Heaven where 
they all sing, I remain, 

"Yours very respectfully and truly, 

"Herman L. Vaill." 

"Where cleatli lias been, there must be a funeral. 
The attendance, the expression of the countenances 
of the assembly, and the general cast of the services 
at the obsequies of the departed, are sometimes good 
indications of the estimate jDlaced upon them while 
living. Probably the county of Cumberland was 
never before the scene of a funeral where people as- 
sembled in such a throng, and where the assembled 
throng came, attended, and returned under liiore 
profound impressions. 

Father Osborn's mortal remains were interred 
with the customary Christian services, on Thursday, 
the fifth day after his death. Several well written 
notices of the event were published in the local pa- 
pers, and in Philadelphia. One from the Bridgeton 
Chronicle, is selected for insertion here, in preference 
to those in the religious papers, only as coming from 
a secular publication, it may better show the hold of 
our departed father upon the affections of the people 
at large. 


" Thursday, May Gth, 1858, was a great day in Fairfield. The 
whole township seemed awake for some great gathering. There 
was to be a funeral, but not a time of great mourning. There had 


been no untimely frosts to blast the ties of blood and friendship, 
but one had come to his grave in a full age, like as a shock of 
corn Cometh in his season. * Father Osborn,' the man longest 
and best known, and best beloved, had died among the people of 
his first choice, and ' devout men' were about to carry him to 

" We started from Bridgeton with another carriage or two, but 
before arriving at Fairton, we found we were in company with a 
dozen, which was increased to between twenty and thirty after 
we had passed through the town. 

*' In Fairton, business was hushed — 

' No busy hum, 
Nor sound of anvil, nor of plane Avas heard, 
But peace and holy quiet reigned around.' 

"The faces and dress of the inhabitants wore a Sunday-like as- 
pect, and their ways were turned toward the 'Old Scone Church/ 
The meeting at the house was at 10 o'clock, and in more than 
half an hour after, the procession arrived, with the body, at the 
church. But long before this — excepting the seats reserved — the 
building was filled from the neighboring country around. Bridge- 
ton, Greenwich, Hopewell, Deerfield, Pittsgrove, Millville and 
Newport, were all represented and nearly 250 carriages were on 
the ground. Hundreds remained outside upon temporary seats 
in front of the church, or standing at the side windows. There 
would have been hundreds more if the early morning had been 
tiuspicious and accommodations prepared. Seventeen ministers 
were present, mostly occupying the platform and pulpit. After 
the hearse had been raised to the platform, the Rev. B. B. 
Hotchkin stated that the last time our lamented Friend and 
Father sat at the table, he spontaneously broke forth in singing 
the last three stanzas of the 17th Psalm, to the tune of Glasgow, 

'This life's a dream, an empty show,' &c., 

which was accordingly sung by the congregation, to the same 
tune, led by Mr. Williams. 

"Rev. Mr. Cattell, of Deerfield, read from the second chapter of 
2 Kings. 'And it came to pass, when the Lord would take 


up Elijah into heaven/ — following with prayer. The Rev. Mr. 
Ilotchkin then arose and stated that it had been deputed to him, 
as eldest son in the pastoral office to the venerated dead, to take 
the principal part in the services, and although he had but little 
time for preparation, with such an inspiring theme, he could plead 
no apology. His text was in the 12th verse of the 12th chapter, 
of 2 Kings, — ' My Father, my Father, the chariot of Israel and 
the horsemen thereof.' 

[The synopsis of tlie discourse, as here given, is 
omitted, all its particulars being reproduced in the 
present Memorial.] 

"The 2d, 3d, and 4th stanzas of the 623d hymn were then sung. 

' Servant of God, well done ; 
Kest from thy loved employ ; 
The battle fought, the victory won, 
Enter thy master's joy. 

' The voice at midnight came, 

He started tip to hear ; 
A mortal arrow pierced his frame, 

He fell — but. felt no fear. 

' Tranquil amidst alarm, 

It found him on the field, 
A veteran slumbering on his arms 

Beneath his red cross shield.' 

*'Pvev. Dr. Kollock, of Greenwich, made a short and interesting 
address from these words : ' And when they had taken up the 
body and buried it, they went and told Jesus.' He was followed 
by the Rev. Mr. Cattell of Deerfield, who feelingly called to the 
minds of his hearers, the eternal themes, which the voice now 
hushed in silence before them, had so often sounded in their ears. 
The Rev Mr. Boggs, of Fairton, read the Testimonial of the Pas- 
toral Association of Philadelphia, to the churches of Fairton and 
Cedarville. The congregation then sang the 1st, 3d and 4th 
stanzas of the 624th hymn 

' Why do we mourn departed friends.' 


"The Rev. Mr. Gillette, of Shiloh, made the concluding prayer 
in the church. After which the body was removed to the front 
of the church, that all might take a last lingering look at all that 
was mortal of Father Osborn. 

"At the grave, the Rev. S. Y. Monroe, gave out the beautiful 

' Unveil thy bosom faithful tomb, 

Take this new treasure to thy trust, 
And give these sacred relics room 
To slumber in the silent dust.' 

"Mr. Monroe then closed these interesting services by exclaim- 
ing, ' Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end 
of that man is peace ;' and pronounced the Benediction. Thus 
ended probably the largest and most interesting funeral ever at- 
tended in our country. Who can estimate the good done by the 
life of such a man ! What a living epistle ! From the exhibi- 
tion of Christianity, as seen in him, influences have emanated, 
which, like dews and showers, have distilled upon generations. 
And it is not improbable that his life and glorified death have 
given as sweet a savor to religion as his inculcation from the 



We have followed tlie career of Fatlier Osborn, in 
consecutive order, from his entrance upon the mor- 
tal to the immortal life. Some remarks upon his 
official and personal character, illustrated from his 
discourses and family correspondence, which were 
not convenient for chronological arrangement, have 
been reserved for this place. 

The first impressions of a stranger making his ac- 
quaintance, w^ould be that he was in the presence of 
a calm, equable Christian of a gentle heart, and whose 
life was running like an even spun thread — a plain, 
common sense thinker, and an earnest friend of 
Christ. It is true, further intimacy would confirm 
these views, but it would reveal some unexpected 
traits, such as deep, native shrewdness, a tact for the 
administration of affairs that was peculiarly his ow^n, 
and a prudence of manner which seemed almost 
feeble, but which was found in the end to grasp some 
bold results. I have often noticed with surprise how, 
with the least appearance of doing it, he would read 
men through and through, and how, in a few simple 
words, almost pointless to one who did not compre- 
hend their drift, he would make the power of rebuke 
felt in exactly the place wdiich he wished to reach. 

The portraiture of Father Osborn as a preacher, 


he Shall draw for himself. I have obtained from 
among his manuscripts what is labeled, "A Charge 
delivered at Mr. Edwards' Ordination." There is no 
information accompanying it respecting the tmre or 
place of this ordination. It was probably at Cape 
May, near the beginning of the present century. In 
a letter to his brother, June 1809, he mentions Mr. 
Edwards as the pastor at Cape May. From this 
char-e the reader can learn his theory of the preach- 
ino- and conduct of a Christian pastor, and there is 
no'lack of living witnesses that what he regarded as 
a good theory, was with him a law of performance. 

"DeaeBrother,-You are now, mth your own consent, sol- 
emnly set apart to take part with us in the mm.stry of the gos- 
pel You have devoted yourself to a most weighty and usefu 
employment. See that you undertake it from right moUves, and 
ulfilJt in such a manner .as to meet with the approbation of 
your Master and Judge. ' Take heed unto thyself and unto the 
doctrine' Let thy preaching and example so correspond with 
f: r tier, and wfth the gospel, as to n^tually strengt en and 
enforce each other's influence. Consider thyself a worker together 
with God, employed by him, and self-devoted to the bmld:ng-«p 
of his churci among men. Therefore be f'ke md.fferent to 
human censure or applause. Let the Word of God be the rule of 
your preaching, his approbation your most endeavor, 
and his glory in the edification of his church, your highest end. 
Endeavor so to vary your subjects and discourses, as to su.t the 
various characters and cases of your hearers. Deal out to every 
•one a portion in due season. , „ , • ,, 

" Preach the law and preach the gospel. Preach the law in all 
its strictness and spirituality, as an eternal rule of right, bmdmg 
on every moral agent, and as covering all the exercises of the 
mind as well as outward actions, requiring perfect and perpetual 


obedience in every act, word and thought, on pain of condemna- 
tion. And make close application to the conscience for the con- 
viction of impenitent sinners, to make them duly sensible of their 
sin, and to make them feel as if standing in the day of judgment. 

" But not confining yourself to the law, preach the gospel. Hold 
up the blessed remedy it provides for guilty, pe/ishing sinners. 
Preach Christ and him crucified, in all his fullness and freeness to 
save. Preach him in all his offices and sacred characters, as the 
way and the only way to the Father, through whom alone we can 
be redeemed from the curse of the law, and obtain salvation. 
Show his ability and willingness to save all who come to him be- 
lieving, and also the necessity of the Holy Spirit's influence to en- 
able and dispose them to come believing. Show the happy con- 
sequences of belief, and the fatal consequences of resisting the 
Spirit's influence and remaining in a state of impenitency and un- 
belief. Show the indispensable duty of all to repent and believe, 
and the increasing guilt and just condemnation of such as persist 
in the neglect of it. 

'* Do not confine yourself to general doctrine and truths. De- 
scend frequently to particulars, that so you may touch the par- 
ticular cases of your difierept hearers, whose different cases study 
to know, that you may be able rightly to divide the word of truth, 
giving to each one according to his respective case. In a word, 
declare the whole counsel of God as a faithful ambassador of 
Christ, and keep back nothing that may be profitable for the 
people to hear and know. 

" And let your practice correspond with your preaching, that 
it may appear you do believe and feel the influence of those truths 
which you preach to others. Let your conversation be as becometh 
the gospel. Be an ensample to the flock among which you are 
made an overseer, * showing thyself a pattern of good works, that 
he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil . 
thing to say of you.' 

" And should you have occasion to contend against heresies, be 
zealous yet temperate, * in meekness instructing those that oppose 
themselves, if God, pcradventure, will give them repentance to the 
acknowledging of the truth.' In a word, let the life of our bless- 


ed Saviour be the pattern of your deportment, conversation and 
life, that your light may shine before men, and your example may 
reconmiend to them the heavenly religion which you preach. 
As you have time and opportunity, visit the sick and such as are 
awakened or in distress, and administer to them such instruction 
and counsel as their cases seem to require. 

" Pay a proper attention to the discipline of the church to puri- 
fy and build it up. And as the success of your ministerial la- 
bors depends on the efficacious influence of the Divine Spirit ac- 
companying them, accustom yourself to secret prayer, and exhort 
your people to do the same, as the means which has the most 
direct tendency to keep up the life of religion in the soul, and to 
draw down the blessing of heaven upon your ministry. 

"And in all things approve thyself a minister of God, in much 
patience and perseverance in the blessed work to which thou hast 
devoted thyself. ' Preach the word : be instant in season, out of 
season ; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and doc- 
trine.^ ' Watch for souls as one who must give account, that thou 
mayest do it with joy and not with grief.^ ' I charge thee before 
God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou 
observe these things.' Be faithful to thy Lord until death, and 
he will give thee a crown of life." 

In this charge we have Father Osborn's ideal of 
a gospel preacher. We turn next to his effort to 
give Ideality to this ideal, in his own person. I quote 
again from his autobiographical discourses. The 
text it will be recollected, is, "Ye know * * * after 
what manner I have been with you," &c. 

" Ye also know after what manner I have varied my subjects 
of discourse. Well knowing from mine own experience, and from 
the remarks of others, that the people wish to hear discourses on 
various subjects, and observing how much sameness there is in 


some preachers, I have aimed to discourse on many different sub- 
jects. This I have done with a view of entertaining the people, 
not only with an agreeable, but also a profitable variety. How 
far I have succeeded in this endeavor, you can judge. 

" But after several years, I was convinced that in trying to 
shun one error, I had run into another ; that I had spent too 
much time on some points less interesting, and had dwelt too 
little on others which are of vital importance. For although the 
parts of religion are numerous, yet those which relate to expe- 
rience and practice, are certainly the most essential and interest- 
ing, and should therefore be most frequently brought into view. 
¥r ¥r * ^ Yov a time, my aim and labor Avas to find out new 
subjects and matter, but for many years past, the chief difficulty 
has been to bring forward subjects in due season. Sometimes 
several things seemed to demand an immediate hearing, and I 
have to bring them forward, one after another, as they seem to be 
most urgent. 

" You know after what manner of style I have preached to 
you — that it has been a simple and plain style. Though I might 
have used a more elegant, learned, or sublime style, yet I 
thought it my duty to follow the example of Paul in speaking to 
you with great plainness of speech. For the design of preaching 
is to convey ideas, and give instruction and knowledge to the 
hearer. But if my language is above the understanding of many 
hearers, I might as well speak to them in Greek or Hebrew. And, 
therefore, to speak the truth has been ray first object, and next 
to speak it in such language as to be intelligible or easily under- 
stood. I have been all along sensible that by using such a plain 
style, I have sacrificed my reputation for learning. But that is 
a matter of little consequence. I ought not to care whether I 
am thought learned or ignorant, if I can but promote your Chris- 
tian knowledge and be a helper of your faith." 

There spoke our blessed Father Osborn ! " ISTo 
matter for my reputation as a speaker, if I can only 



be of good to your soul !" The reader wlio lias 
been accustomed to hear him, can easily supply the 
rest from his own recollections. Recall in your 
mind the slender and lithe form standing in the 
lofty eagle's nest of a pulpit, under the '' sounding 
board," in the Old Stone Church, bending over the 
congregation, with his manuscript (to which, how- 
ever, he is but loosely confined,) held before his face 
with one hand, while the other is stretched over the 
people : in imagination listen again to the flow of 
that mellow, earnest voice, but shghtly modulated, 
except as it occasionally rises to a majesty of utter- 
ance, or breaks under the fullness of emotion, yet 
never aspiring to anything higher than simplicity of 
speech, and you have a vivid likeness of Father Os- 
born as a preacher. 

The trait of earnestness in delivery abode with 
him to the last. When he was so far enfeebled by 
years that it was painful to witness his embarrass- 
ment in some other parts of service, let him. once 
get out his subject and feel himself settled in the 
harness, and the hearer was soon made conscious 
that all was right — the old minister was at home. 
"Does the old man fail in the pulpit?" was the 
question which one of his absent friends asked of a 
Fairfield gentleman in 1852. The reply was, "He 
fails among the hymns and chapters, but get him 
on his preaching legs, and he goes like a house a 

Between himself and his constitutional associates 


in tlie government of the church, the session,* great 
corclialitj seems in general to have existed. Speak- 
ing of the commencement of his pastoral adminis- 
tration, he says — 

" I was favored with a session of able and pious men, and 
never shall I forget the first prayer meeting, in which they as- 
sisted me in this house. They prayed with the spirit, and my 
mind was so sensibly afiected, that perhaps I could not refrain 
from tears of gratitude and joy. And respecting the session ever 
since, the Lord has highly favored me and the church." 

It was common for him, in his later years, to speak 
in pleasant terms of those who had shared with him 
the governmental administration of the church. 
One circumstance which I had never before heard, 
and which I presume would otherwise have been 

* From the time of his settlement to his dismission, the following 

persons had seats in the session. 

Eleazer Smith, Jeremiah Nixon, 

Ephraim Harris, John Bower, 

Levi Stratton, John T. Hampton, 

Amos Westcott, Jedediah Ogden, 

Jeremiah Harris, William Bateman, 

Norton Lawrence, Joseph Ogden, 

Thomas Burch, Thomas Harris, 

Henry Howell, Daniel Burt, 

John Howell, Ephraim Westcott, 

Nathaniel Diaraent, Bergen Bateman, 

Asa Fish, Ephraim H. Whiticar, 

Nathaniel Howell, John Holmes. 
Only five of this number were living at the time of his death. By 

reading across the columns above, the names appear in the order of 

their election. 


lost from the knowledge of men, is presented in his 
iiutobiographical sermons. 

•* After a few years, [from the date of his settlement,] the ses- 
sion on some accounts were dissatisfied with me, and conversed 
with me on the subject of their complaints. Whether I gave 
them any degree of satisfaction, or not, there was no further al- 
tercation between us. Believing that they did what they thought 
was their duty, I cherished no ill will toward them. And ever 
since, my friendly attachment to the session and church has been 
growing stronger. May our friendship be immortal I" 

The fancy of those of us who were intimate wdth 
Father Osborn, can readily supply the meagreness 
of the account of that interview with the session. 
They doubtless found him open to conviction. If 
he saw they had just cause of complaint, he frankly 
acknowledged it, and rendered all reasonable satis- 
faction. But if he regarded his own position as 
right, he certainly said so, and he said it in such a way 
that we may be sure " there was no further alterca- 
tion" in the matter. 

It is true he was a man of much humility. We 
have seen this in the spirit in w^hich he speaks of 
the success of his ministerial labors. Extracts from 
other sermons and from his correspondence, might 
be given in further illustration. Two of the marked 
and often mentioned traits of his character were 
humbleness and meekness. But he had no mawkish 
affection of modesty. He knew how to appreciate 
his position, and in the sight of men, to respect him- 
self. " If you thought," he says in one of his ser- 
mons, "that I intend to do my duty, you thought 


riglit. Respecting my aims, I have like Paul, lived 
in all good conscience before God, until this day. 
* * * * You will consider that in choosing the 
subject of a discourse, I have to judge alone. I 
have no human counsellor, no earthly friend to con- 
sult how I shall proceed, or what I had better say. 
Single and alone I have to judge for myself, to be 
responsible for my judgment, and bear the burden 
of my labor." 

The prevalent gentleness of his temper is a more 
noticeable trait, from the fact that it appears to have 
been one of the triumphs of grace within him. He 
often spoke of his habitual mildness as a thing very 
foreio;n to his natural constitution. In one of the 
sermons before me, he says : — 

" If I have followed Paul's counsel to let my moderation be 
known to all men, I have not acted out my natural temper. One 
of my friends observed to me, ' You are a moderate man/ 
Thought I, you do not know what I am made of. Though I wish 
to follow the aforesaid counsel, still my natural constitution is 
fire and thunder. Ye avaricious misers who grind the faces of 
the poor, I would trample you under foot and thrust you out of 
the world. Ye cruel and tyrannical oppressors, I would blast 
you with the lightnings of Heaven. Y^e profane swearers, 
drunkards and liars, I would strike you through with a thunder- 
bolt. That is the * moderation' of my natural constitution. If 
by the aid of reason and religion, I have been enabled to confine 
it within proper limits, or give it a right direction, it is ' by 
the grace of God I am what I ara,^ and I have reason to thank 
him if 'his grace which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain.' " 

Throughout his life, an occasional scintillation 
from that pent "fire and thunder" betrayed the 


truth of his faithful judgment of himself. But it 
gave a brighter reflection from his grace, that it so 
ahoundecl over the corrupt nature that extraordinary 
mildness was generally supposed to belong to his 
native temper. Yes, gentle father, we will blend our 
thanksgivings with thine, that the grace bestowed 
upon thee was not in vain ! 

N"o one acquainted with him will doubt that if he 
ventured an imprecation upon any human being, 
none would sooner come in for it than those " who 
grind the faces of the poor." i^othing could sooner 
rouse his sympathies than the cry of the needy. 
This was with him an inherited susceptibilit}^, 
quickened also, like the gift of young Timoth}^, by 
the counsels of his piother. He has told us that her 
first charge to him, on his assuming the care of a 
church, was — ^'Be kind to the poor." He was 
located in a community where people are not severe- 
ly pressed with calls for the relief of poverty imme- 
diately around them. There is li-ttle known in 
Fairfield of either of the extremes of overgrown opu- 
lence or biting penury. In their pecuniary condi- 
tion, the families are generally well. off, in the true 
sense of the term. But there have been periods in 
the history of his pastorate here, which brought out 
the temper of those who possessed any means of 
helping the distressed. He has described one such 
season in a letter to his brother in Litchfield, dated 
June 20, 1817. 

" Such difficult and distressing times, the oldest man living 
never saw. For weeks and months past, there have been con- 


stant vendues of household goods and other property, by the 
sheriff and constables, for less than half their value ; sometimes 
less than a third or quarter. I was told of a horse lately bought 
at vendue, for one dollar, by a man who said he would not take 
thirty for him. Many families not long ago in independent or 
comfortable circumstances, have been sold out, and reduced to 
beggary and want. The paupers increase. People are tired of 
going to vendues. Many have no ready money to pay for arti- 
cles, and to see one family after another stripped of food and 
clothing, is enough to sicken and draw tears from a person of any 
feeling. May the Lord have mercy on them !" 

I liave no record of his personal sacrifices in aid 
of the distressed at that time, but I find this sentence 
in a sermon preached a few years afterward. 

" If I am a friend to the poor, or partial in their favor, you 
will not wonder at it. If I was not their friend, after having re- 
ceived so many tokens of their friendship, I should be a monster 
of ingratitude. May the Lord bless them with every needful 
good, making them rich in faith and heirs to his heavenly 
kingdom V 

But we need no written record of his habits of 
practical benevolence, either toAvard the children of 
want, or the institutions for the advancement of re- 
ligion. His living epistles are all around him. The 
cause of the poor and the support of religious enter- 
prises, were all his life brought prominently into the 
very methodical manner in which he managed his 
pecuniary affairs. His salary never exceeded what 
is -regarded as a living mark ; indeed many would 
say it was never up to it. He began his service of 
the congregation, with a salary of XlOO, equivalent 
to $2Q6M, and the use of a parsonage. In a few 


years it was raised to f 300.00. In 1807, Laving pre- 
viously given up the parsonage, his salary was rais- 
ed to ^400.00. In 1809, it was further raised to 
$450.00, and in 1812, to $500.00, at which last mark 
it remained until the settlement of a colleague in 
1836, when it was reduced to $300.00. When he 
was again left alone in the pastorate, the division of 
the church had so weakened its pecuniary ahility, 
that no attempt was made to increase his compensa- 
tion. At his dismission, he received the guaranty 
of an annual payment of $100.00 during his natural 
life. Although this salary was his main means of 
support, still under his careful management, a small 
^property was eventually secured from it. 

But he was accustomed to say that he must pay 
his salary also. Accordingly he set apart from it, an 
annual stipend for widows in straitened circumstan- 
ces. He kept a list of these beneficiaries, and when 
death or any other circumstance, removed one from 
the list, another was sought out to fill the place. 
One half of his marriage fees was sacredly devoted 
to charitable purposes. How much was realized from 
this, may be judged from the fact that in the course 
of his ministry, he solemnized between seven and 
eight hundred marriages.* During my own pastoral 
administration in Fairfield, in our collections for be- 
nevolent objects, his figures uniformly took the lead 
in magnitude, and such I was informed, had long 
previously been the case. Indeed the disparity be- 
tween his contributions and those of others, must 

* In 1846, the record has 725. 


sometimes liave been quite too striking ; certainly 
so, if there is no slip of the pen in this sentence 
which I find in a letter to his relative in Litchfield, 
under date of July 10, 1844, — '' We took up a col- 
lection on Celebration Day, of $5.00, to which I have 
added $50.00, and enclosed it in a letter directed to 
the Treasurer of the Colonization Society in Wash- 
ington city." Toward this Society, he cherished a 
peculiarly warm attachment. His usual (contribution 
to it was $10.00 at a time. 

For his short service in the army, he obtained in 
his old age, a small pension. Although there was 
then every prospect that he would be obliged to 
draw upon the substance of his little property for 
the support of his declining years, still with his 
habitual trust in God, he divided all but $10.00 of 
this pension between the American Board of Com- 
missioners for Foreign Missions, the Philadelphia 
Home Missionary Society, and the Colonization 

Let it not be thought, however, that his faith in 
God as a provider for his old age, was a' reckless or 
improvident trust. The following extract from a 
letter, written to his nephew, Myron Osborn, shortly 
after his dismission, will show that there was calcu- 
lation as well as faith in the matter. 

"Perhaps I mentioned to your father that the terms on Avhich 
I was dismissed were, that the congregation should continue to 
me the annual payment of one hundred dollars. This is ratified 
by a written agreement. I feci not the least uneasiness about a 
comfortable living, for if my income is not enough, I can easily 
lean on my (nvn resources. Tt is calculated that the growth of 


my wood land, (one hundred and sixty or one hundred and seventy 
acres,) is as much as fifty or sixty cords every year. All that I 
have sold, (several.hundred cords,) I have sold for $2.00 a cord, 
on the stump. And the people would not let me suffer, for they 
have ever been kind and friendly, and done for me all that I 
asked of them, so that I ought to love them and pray for them as 
long as I live. You see that I linger on this subject, as if I could 
not leave it. And truly I feel interested in it and affected with 
it. I ought to be very thankful that the Lord has cast my lot 
among such people.'' 

Of tlie $10.00 reserved for himself out of Ms pen- 
sion, after tlie expenses of collection, only about 
seven remained annually for liis personal use. A 
better picture of his spirit and life could hardly be 
drawn, than to produce him sitting at his table, and 
as he noticed the absence of some favorite article of 
food, saying with a smile— '^ We will have it when 
my pension comes. It is but little, hut it is a great 
deal better than nothing r It must not, however, be 
supposed that Father shorn was allowed to want 
while waiting for the pension. The means which 
he had stored were more than enough for his com- 
fort, and if they had not been, he had children who 
loved him, and around him were "the people" of 
whom he so often spoke. He was safe enough. 

It is impossible to transfer to paper the pleasant- 
ness in which his content and gratitude were 
expressed, not only in relation to his pecuniary 
condition, but on all subjects involving his comfort. 
In 1850, at the age of ninety-two, he had a severe 
attack of erysipelas, which it was thought at the 
time would prove fatal, and which in the end, left 


one of his eyes in total and permanent blindness. 
^' Thanks to a merciful Providence !" he said in a 
letter to the writer, shortly after his recovery, 
"thanks to a merciful Providence! my health is 
once more restored. The disease has, however, 
blinded my right eye, but I cannot complain, for I 
have one eye left for which I would not take all the 
gold in California." It would puzzle the brain of a 
satan to contrive a method of seriously disturbing 
the happiness of such a man. 

Sometimes his pleasantry varied from a devout 
to a mirthful tone. Judge Elmer, of Bridgeton, in 
a letter to myself, containing some valuable mate- 
rial and suggestions for this memorial, relates the 
following incident: — "About 1815 or 1816, I re- 
member stopping at his house with a carriage load 
of young people — he had a daughter then grown 
up. Some one asked for water. It was brought in 
a pitcher, but no glasses. Mr. shorn, in his pecu- 
liarly pleasant manner remarked, 'I would tell you 
that all our glasses got broken, and in these war 
times we could not afford to buy any more, but it 
rather mortifies Mrs. Osborn, [she was present.] So 
I suppose I mustn't say any thing about it.' " 

Though not exactly german to the last point, I 
may as well in this place relate an incident fur- 
nished me by another gentleman, for whose aid I 
have already expressed my obligation. It illustrates 
Father Osborn' s considerateness for the feelings of 
others — a trait around which a host of pertinent 
anecdotes might be gathered. In his later years, 
after his memory was seriously impaired, he at- 


tended the funeral of a man wlio left a wife to 
mourn his death. He prayed earnestly for the 
parents, brothers, and friends of the deceased, but 
omitted any supplication for the widow. In the 
evening, he was told that he had forgotten to pray 
for her. ^'Didn't I?" he exclaimed in sorrowful 
surprise. He waited only until the early morning, 
and then set off, post haste, to assure her of his sym- 
pathy, and commend her to the widow's God. 

Another scrap, bearing on his personal habits : — 
Writing, in 1831, to his Litchfield friends, who it 
appears had with him taken an early stand in favor 
of the temperance movement, he says — "I advise 
you to give up the use of tobacco as well as rum, as 
I have done. ISTot a morsel have I chewed or smoked 
since last September. I think it will be for your 
health as well as mine." He was not, however, cor- 
dial toward what he regarded as fastidious abstemi- 
ousness, and he resolutely adhered to his favorite 
beverage of coffee. Sometime about his ninetieth 
year, a guest at his table declined coffee and took 
water instead, adding a remark on the subject 
which did not tally with the old gentleman's liy- 
giene. He, however, only replied with his bland 
humor — " Some folks say that coffee is poison, but 
it has been a very slow poison w^ith me." 

While in the sporadic way, another incident may 
be related, illustrating the wide respect which his 
name commanded. A Cumberland county farmer, 
whose general good character was marred by one 
bad habit, was one night picked up by the police in 


the streets of Philadelphia, in a state of intoxica- 
tion. A night in the lock-up restored him to sober- 
ness, but he was notwithstanding marched up to the 
police magistrate to give an account of himself. He 
stated, as was true, that this was his first offence 
against the peace of the city ; that he was an lionest, 
and in the main, a quiet citizen of ISTew Jersey, and 
that if now discharged, he would go home and of- 
fend the majesty of Philadelphia no more. 

"In what part of New Jersey," inquired the ma- 
gistrate, " do you live ?" 

"In Cumberland county." 

" Cumberland — Fairfield is in Cumberland coun- 
ty, is it not?" 

"Yes sir, and I am well acquainted there." 

"Perhaps you know Father Osborn, the min- 

" Know Mm ! yes, well — have been to his meeting 
often. Every body there knows that good man." 

"Well, if you are a neighbor of Father Osborn's, 
I think we must let you go this time." 

And out from the clutches of the municipality he 
went, wondering and rejoicing that such a name 
should have been to him a shield of defence afar 
off, where he supposed himself out of all reach of 

It is not, however, to be supposed that a respecta- 
ble official's sense of duty, was so light as to allow 
the bare fact of a man's neighborhood to Mr. Os- 
born to settle the question of his discharge. He 
doubtless saw that the dismissal of the offender was 


in itself proper, and happening himself to knoAv of 
the aged pastor, took this playful method of honor- 
ing his name. 

To return to the weightier points of his charac- 
ter ; his sacred office did not overlap his sense of his 
civil responsibilities. Father Osborn was a patriot, 
and he was not scrupulous of making himself known 
as such. He came down to us from the times when 
the absence of such a virtue would have been little 
less than moral treason. He brought the spirit of a 
soldier of the Revolution along into his whole fol- 
lowing life, and he felt no hesitation in linking the 
patriotic duties of the citizen to the articles of prac- 
tical religion. He never lost his interest in public 
celebrations of our national independence, and 
whenever, as was often the case, he took part in 
them, he sought to turn the minds of the people 
into a religious meditation on God's mercy to our 
country. He was a uniform voter at the political 
elections, and not always a silent politician, especi- 
ally when he supposed that any class in the land, 
were suffering under political oppression. He held 
aggressive war in peculiar abhorrence, and nothing 
raised his hostility toward an administration to a 
higher mark, than measures of a warlike tendency. 

In this connection, I am permitted to quote from 
a letter of Judge L. Q. C. Elmer, who, as well as 
his father. General Elmer, was on terms of personal 
intimacy with Mr. Osborn : 

** A biographical sketch [of Mr. Osborn,] which does not men-, 
tion his political opinions, will be incomplete. He was a sup- 



porter of Mr. Jefferson. I have before me five letters from him 
to my Mher, then in Congress, dated in 1802, 3 and 6. In Feb- 
ruary, 1803, he says — ' I was ghid to hear of your good health, 
and congratulate you and every well wisher to his country on the 
happy effects produced by our beloved President, and the brave 
patriotic republicans at the last session. From the verge of na- 
tional ruin, we are rescued and set in a prosperous way. A de- 
gree of national gratitude is due to the beneficent agents, but the 
highest degree to the Divine moving cause who hath not dealt so 
with any other nation.' 

" Three-fourths of his congregation [Judge Elmer adds,] agreed 
with him in politics, until the contest between Adams and Jack- 
son in 1828. It had been a frequent custom of his to preach a 
political sermon previous to the fall election, which was gener- 
ally well received. During the presidency of John Quincy 
Adams, he together with the most leading republicans of his 
flock, adhered to him, and rejected Jackson. The congregation 
became about equally divided. In 1832, he preached his last po- 
litical sermon, which produced such a ferment that he abandoned 
the practice." 

An anecdote concerning fhat last political sermon, 
will show tliat there was a vein of shrewd humor in 
some of the hearers, as well as in the Pastor of the 
old church. As already noticed, there had always 
seemed to hang a little mist over his Calvinism, and 
he had some hearers who occasionally expressed a 
wish that he would preach the doctrine of election 
a little often er, and a little more plainly. While re- 
turning from church, a member of the session re- 
marked to his family, who were sitting with him in 
the carriage — "Well, I do not think any one can 
complain that we have not had the doctrine of elec- 
tion preached to-day." 


It is presumed that this sermon was fully up to 
the ferment point ; for at that time, his mind was 
highly incensed by what he regarded as a breach of 
a solemn treaty of our government with the Chero- 
kee Indians, and the imprisonment of the Cherokee 
missionaries, Worcester and Butler, by the courts 
of Georgia, in consequence of the refusal of the ad- 
ministration to regard that treaty. 

My correspondent is, however, not aware that 
Father Osborn did carry his politics into the pulpit 
at subsequent times. The Mexican war excited his 
warm hostility toward a subsequent administration, 
and his sentiments were incidentally but unsparing- 
ly proclaimed in his sermons, on more occasions 
than one between 1844 and 1848. 

I give these particulars because I think, with 
Judge Elmer, that they are essential to a fair view 
of his life and character. When it is remembered, 
that in his youth, and especially in ]N"ew England, 
politics was not an uncommon theme for the pulpit, 
and also how deeply his spirit was imbued with the 
civil events of those times, we can with great com- 
placency accord to him a privilege, which under pre- 
sent circumstances, ministers of the gospel cannot 
claim without deep detriment to their aj)propriate 

There is a precious odor in the remembrance of 
Father Osborn, as he was known in the domestic re- 
lations of life. As he advanced in years, his mind 
often went back to the home of his childhood, and 
its circle of parents, brothers and sisters, with a 


warmtli which seemed to melt the frosts of age, and 
rejuvenate .all the affections of his nature. In a 
note to his mother, appended to a letter to his Bro- 
ther, under date of September 9, 1816, he says — 

" Dear Motuer, — Your son, Ethan, is yet alive, and through 
the goodness of God, is, with those of his family who survive, 
in good bodily health. And I pray the Lord we may be in good 
spiritual health. And may the Lord support my kindest of pa- 
rents, and grant you those consolations of his grace which are 
neither few nor small. Never shall I forget my obligations to 
you for all your care, forbearance, indulgence and kindness to- 
ward me, from my infancy up. Though I can never reward you, 
I pray and trust the Lord will, and with the blessings of eternal 

Writing to his last surviving brother, Eliada, 
March 15, 1832, he commences — 

"Dear "Brother, — Your last letter, dated the 9th of last 
month, we received a few days after it was written. The melan- 
choly news it contained was quite unexpected. When I read — 
* I write to you as my only brother,' my mind was so agitated 
with grief that I stopped. I anticipated the words which follow- 
ed, that my other brother was gone to his long, long home. Read- 
ing on, I soon found that what I anticipated was true — that bro- 
ther John was indeed gone, and as we trust, gone to his heavenly 

A few extracts from another . letter to the same 
brother, February 21, 1833, will close our notice of 
his yearnings toward Litchfield. 

" Though I have so long neglected to write to you, I have often 
thought of you and desired to see you. No distance or length of 
time can ever separate you from my thoughts and affections. As 


our relatives are removed by death, and ^ve are left more alone, 
it seems as if we become more endeared to each other. AVhen I 
look to my father's family, my parents are gone, my oldest bro- 
ther is gone, besides many of my cousins and former neighbors. 
But I espy one dear brother left, and dear to me he ought to be. 
Often do I run back with a kind of mournful pleasure, to our 
days of childhood and youth. How many days and nights we 
have worked and slept together ! In my mind, I often go with 
you into the cornfield, or into the meadow to mow and rake. And 
when our day's work is done, we walk together down to the brook, 
and sometimes get on the great rock a little north of the bridge, 
to wash our feet. Those childish affairs do often occupy my 
thoughts, and afford some pleasant meditation, though mingled 
with serious reflections. 

"As our relations are, one after another, going the way of all 
the earth, we must ere long follow them. I can truly say that 
after I went away from my father's house, and for months and 
years was far absent, I felt very sensibly the ties of affection be- 
tween us, and you seemed to be the nearest relation I had in the 
world. Yet those ties must be dissolved. And happy for us if 
we are so united to the blessed Jesus by the ties of faith and love, 
as that when all things here fail us, we shall be received into 
everlasting heavenly habitations. Dear brother, I hope you are 
giving diligence to be found of God in peace, not having on your 
own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is by faith 
in Christ Jesus, that so you may be accepted and welcomed to 
the joy of our Lord. And whether or not we ever meet again in 
this world, I pray that God would prepare us for the first resur- 
rection, and for a happy meeting in his heavenly kingdom." 

To pass over Father Osborn's Fairfield home, 
would be an unpardonable omission, even in an out- 
line of his life. That home was a centre of attrac- 
tion for some of the best society in Cumberland and 
adjacent counties, who sought it, not for its hospit- 
ality alone, but for the impressions of tranquillity 


which they were sure to carry away, Father Os- 
born's love for the society of his friends was un- 
bouudecl. Those who were in the habit of visiting 
him, will never forget the benignant smile with 
which they were alwa^^s welcomed, the cordial sur- 
render of his time to their enjoyment, and the pe- 
culiar art with which he turned discourse on any 
subject into a cheerful current. 

He loved a home, in the local as well as domestic 
application of the term. "We have seen with what 
words of fondness he spoke of the things as well as 
friends of his home in boyhood — the cornfield, mea- 
dow, brook and rock — we almost expected him to 
add — 

"The old oaken bucket that hung in the "well." 

It seems to have been with him, a hereditary love. 
His nephew, Myron Osborn, writes from Litchfield — 
" Grandfather, [Mr. Osborn's father,] was a farmer, 
and if I am not mistaken, was seven years old when 
his father came with his family, to this place. The 
fourth generation are now in possession of the old 
homestead where my progenitors lived and died." 
The above account leaves the family in possession 
of their Litchfield home, one hundred and thirty- 
seven years. 

At an early period of his ministry, Mr. Osborn 
took measures to obtain a place which he might call 
his own. He secured a central situation, highly eli- 
gible for his purpose, and abandoning the parsonage 
owned by the congregation, he took possession of 


it in 1803. His own care in giving it improvements, 
has made it the pleasant home so w^ell known to 
his friends. There he trained his family, and there 
he died. 

He was twice married. His first wife was Eliza- 
heth Riley, horn near Bridgeton, January 30, 1775, 
to wdiom he w^as married, September 18, 1794. Their 
children were — 

Anna — born August 7, 1795 ; married to Lorenzo 
Lawrence, 1815 ; died in Cincinnati, September 13, 

Betsey, born June 7, 1797 ; died September 28, 

Ruth — born September 5, 1799 ; married to Ben- 
jamin Thompson, March 16, 1^25; died June 4, 
1836. . 

Ethan— born June 12, 1801 ; died August 6, 1811. 

John'Elmer — born December 4, 1803 ; married to 
Margaret Harvey, of Massachusetts ; now living in 
Hennepin, Illinois. 

Mary — born February 6, 1805 ; married in 1827, 
to Rickard Hurd, of Cincinnati, and now living. 

Harriet Seymoure — born October 30, 1810 ; died 
September 2, 1816. 

Robert — born August 27, 1813 ; noAv a clergyman 
in Point Pleasant, in "Western Virginia, where he 
married Josephine Browne. 

It will be seen that only three of the eight named 
above, survive. Mrs. Thompson is represented in 
the living world, by her children, Mrs. James Pow^ell 
of Cedarville and Mr. Ethan Osborn Thompson, of 


Philadelpliia. Mrs. Lawrence has one living repre- 
sentative, in the person of Mrs. Marv Elizabeth 
Eiohardson, residing in Ohio. All the living chil- 
dren have tamilies around them. 

Their mother, the fii*st Mrs. Oshorn died, October 
9, 1817, at the age of fortj-two years. 

He vras married to his second wife, Esther Foster, 
of Pittsgrove, Salem Co. K J. May 8, 1822. She 
was born in 1785, and died June 7, 1835. 

Father Osborn had a peculiar manner of nourish- 
ing his domestic afleetions in silence. I have often 
been surprised to observe that he spoke least of 
those whose memories I found, on careful scrutiny, 
were most deeply treasured in his heart. Perhaps 
this habit grew out of his settled method of bringing 
forward only cheerful themes for conversation. 
Perhaps he was unwilling to trust his voice in the 
effort to speak where his feelings were too' deeply 
interested. In a letter to his particularly beloved 
brother Eliada. he refers to their last parting which 
proved their final separation in this world, in these 
terms — " Since in parting, we shook hands, but 
could not speak." He talked but little of his be- 
reavements, or the absence of his children, but his 
domestic relations had been happy, and his heart 
was often with the dead or absent ones of his house- 

His survi^dng children have for many years, been 
settled in homes of their own, in distant parts of the 
country, and since the death of his last wife, the ad- 
ministration of his household has been conducted, 


as already mentioned, by the devoted niece wliom 
God in mercy preser^-ed for the support of his help- 
less years. Her long, faithful watch over his com- 
forts, merits at least this humble notice. * 

Passing from his home to his spiritual family, 
the church, the welling up of affection from his 
heart, thousfh no more real, was oftener brouo*ht to 
the notice of the people. His love of his flock was 
one of the elements of his long influence over them. 
It was not alone the heavenly sentiment of love for 
their souls, but also the personal attachment of 
friend toward friend. They seldom listened to a 
sermon in which this did not in some way. so break 
forth, as to secure a response in their own hearts. 
An example of this will be afforded by another quo- 
tation — ^the last which I shall make from the dis- 
courses which have so liberally contributed their 
material to this narrative : 

" My cordial attachment for my Christian friends has for many 
years been growing strong. I trust our friendship in Christ 
Jesus will be immortal in the happy heavenly realm. I love 
you because you love my Saviour, and are my fellow-travelers 
to the heavenly Zion, and candidates for a like crown of glory. 
As long as I live, your Christian friendship will be dear to me, a 
sweet balm of mv life : and in the morning of the resurrection, I 

^ The personal friends of the parties, will be pleased with the no- 
tice of a transaction highly honorable to all concerned. During the 
last visit made by ilrs. Hurd to her father, while as yet he was com- 
petent to make a devise, at her earnest instigation bis will was so al- 
tered as entirely to supersede herself in favor of Miss McQueen, the 
lady referred to. 




hope to spring forward to greet you with ineffable delight. Let 
our brotherly love continue and advance until it be pei^fected in 

^ We may well imagine how this unaffected expres- 
sion of his holy attachment, wrought up the sympa- 
thy of his hearers, and prepared them to listen to 
the following sentences with child-like reverence and 
love. They close his autobiographical sermons, 
and in transcribing them, the writer parts from what 
has been to himself the interesting service of pre- 
paring this memorial. 

"And now, brethren and friends, we have been together a 
long time, and how soon we may separate, God only knows. But 
whether our separation for this world be sooner or later, I solemn- 
ly charge all of you, in the name of God, to be ready to meet me 
at the right hand of our final judge. Let not one of you neglect 
the salvation of his immortal soul. 

" We shall all stand on a level before our Judge, and he will 
pass sentence on us without respect of persons. I shall have no 
advantage over you on account of my present station. We shall 
each be tried by the same rule, the word of Christ who will judge 
us in the last day. If some of you are better Christians than'^I 
am, as I hope you are, you will be more glorious, and I shall re- 
joice with you in your superior dignity and happiness. There 
is no envy in that blessed world: all rejoice in each other's joy. 
My only hope of reaching it, is through the mercy and grace of 
God in Christ Jesus. Brethren, do continue to pray for me, and 
I pray the God of peace to sanctify you wholly, and preserve you 
unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 







AUGUST 21, 1858, 






The remains of Father Osboru were hardly left 
to the quiet of the grave, before his friends in Fair- 
field and Bridgeton, started the enterprise of pro- 
curing a suitable token, of remembrance to stand 
over the grave. The effort resulted in the- erection 
of a plain, comely monument, composed of a shaft 
about ten feet in height, wrought from Italian mar- 
ble, standing upon a square plinth, the whole spar- 
ingly, but neatly ornamented, and corresponding 
with the character which it is set to commemorate. 
Carrying out this likeness, the inscriptions on the 
four sides are brief, simple, and pertinent. 

Front—" Erected August 21st, 1858, to the memory of Rev. 
Ethan Osborn, born in Litchfield, Conn., August 21, 1758 ; died 
full of faith, and in the hope of a joyful resurrection, May 1, 
1858, aged 99 years 8 months and 10 days. 

Right Side—*' Graduated at Dartmouth, 1784, licensed 1786, 
called to Fairfield 1788, ordained 1789, and resigned his charge 
1844, having been pastor of this Church 55 years. 

Rear — " A soldier of the Revolution, a good man, a faithful 
minister of the Gospel. 

Left Side — " He obeyed the command — * Go preach my Gos- 
pel.^ His children in the flesh and in the spirit lie around him." 

Saturday, August 21, 1858, was the one hundredth 
anniversary of his birth, and it was selected as an 



appropriate time for public services in connection 
witli the erection of this monument. Once more a 
great assembly was gathered within and around the 
Old Stone Church. They came, as at the funeral, 
from all the country around, crowding about the 
outside of the doors and windows, after the seats, 
aisles, galleries, and pulpit and gallery stairs, were 
all crowded. 

The presence of all Father Osborn's surviving 
children, who for more than thirty years, had not 
before been together under the family roof, was a 
feature of no small interest in the scene. His old 
Litchfield friends also sent on a delegate, in the per- 
son of his nephew, Mr. Myron Osborn. The follow- 
ing, as far as recollected, are the clergy who occu- 
pied the pulpit and platform. — The Rev. Messrs. 
James Boggs and Charles F. Diver, resident pastors 
with the supervision of the exercises ; Rev. John A. 
Annin, also a resident pastor ; Rev. George "W. Jan- 
vier, of Pittsgrove, the patriarch of the Presbytery 
of West Jersey, and Rev. Messrs. S. B. Jones, D. D., 
T. W. Cattell, and J. W. Hubbard, pastors in the 
same Presbytery; Rev. Messrs. Challis and Ken- 
nard, of the Baptist church, and Hugg and Duffield, 
of the Methodist, all of Cumberland county. From 
without the State, the venerable William I^eill, D.D., 
of the Second, Rev. B. B. Hotchkin, of the Third, 
and Rev. A. Converse, D. D., of the Fourth Presby- 
tery of Philadelphia, and Rev. Nathaniel C. Burt, of 
the Presbytery of Baltimore. 

The services were commenced by Dr. JSTeill, who 


gave out the following lijmn, which was sung with 
great effect hy a choir under the leadership of Mr. 
Daniel Williams, now of Philadelphia, hut for many 
years chorister under the old pastor : 

" God of Bethel, by whose hand 
Thy people still are fed, 
• Thou through this weary pilgrimage, 
Hast all our fathers led. 

" Our vows, our prayers we now present 
Before thy throne of grace ; 
God of our fathers, be the God 
Of their succeeding race. 

" Through each perplexing path of life 
Our wandering footsteps guide ; 
Give us each day our daily bread, 
And raiment fit provide. 

" spread thy covering wings around 
Till all our wanderings cease, 
And at our Father's loved abode, 
Our souls arrive in peace. 

" Such blessings from thy gracious hand, 
Our humble prayers implore, 
And thou shalt be our chosen God 
And portion evermore." 

Prayer was then offered hy Eev. Mr. Janvier. 
Hon. John T. l^ixon, of Bridgeton, followed with a 
statement respecting the monument, and the various 
documents deposited in the foundation stone, com- 
prising the names and proceedings of the Committee 
of Erection, a manuscript sermon written hy the 
deceased, notices of his death and funeral, and other 


articles, from the West Jersey Pioneer, Bridgeton 
Chronicle, Christian Observer, and American Pres- 

The audience then listened to the Eulogy pro- 
nounced by Judge Elmer, and the Address of Rev. 
Mr. Burt, copies of both of which are subjoined at 
the earnest solicitation of the family, find other 
friends of Father Osborn. The interval between 
the delivery of them was occupied by singing a 
hymn given out by E,ev. Dr. Jones. 

Rev. Dr. Converse, editor of the Christian Ob- 
server, and co-presbyter with the deceased, was then 
called upon for remarks. He responded by saying 
"That our late Father Osborn was loved, and honor- 
ed, and held in high esteem by all the members of the 
Presbytery, and that at their last regular meeting 
they appointed a large committee to be here on this 
day, to unite with you in commemorating the hun- 
dredth return of his birth-day.* In this appoint- 
ment it was no doubt their purpose to act in accord- 
ance with the precept which God gave his ancient 
Church : 

' Thou shalt stand up before the hoary head, and honor the 
face of the old man, and fear thy God : I am the Lord.' 

" The Presbytery would have rejoiced to be here by 
their Committee of which I am a member, to greet 

* At the spring meeting of the Presbytery, while Father Osborn 
was yet living, and his friends were looking for the continuance of 
his life beyond this period, a committee was appointed to represent 
the Presbytery in a contemplated congratulatory festival on the pre- 
sent anniversary. 


and honor our aged and revered co-presbyter ; but 
it lias pleased God to disappoint our hopes, and to 
call our father to the assembly and church of the 
First-born in Heaven. "We cannot regret his ab- 
sence. Having accomplished the great purposes of 
life and finished the work God gave him to do, it 
was far better for him to be absent from the body 
and present with Christ, than to be here suffering 
under the infirmities of a hundred years. The 
speaker added that he could not think it proper to 
occupy the time of this large assembly, with desul- 
tory remarks suggested by the occasion, after the 
able and interesting discourse to which they had 
listened. Before closing he referred to the faithful 
sketch of Father Osborn, given by Judge Elmer. 
The honorable speaker had not called him a great 
man ; he had presented him before us as a good man, 
unassuming — of great simplicity of character, — a 
man of true humility and modesty. And is not sm- 
'plicity an element of greatness ? Are not modesty 
and humility characteristic of greatness ? We may 
mistake in our estimates of men, but our departed 
friend was a man of great influence, of which the 
hundreds convened here to-day are living witnesses. 
The influence of such a man survives on earth when 
he has gone to his rest." Dr. C. closed with a brief 
remark on transmitted influences as seen in that com- 
munity, with a passing reference to the Rev. Daniel 
Elmer, who was the Pastor of that church a hun- 
dred and thirty years ago. 

The services were closed with a benediction pro- 
nounced by Rev. Mr. Challis. 


[Statement by the Publisher. — It was expected and earnestly 
desired, that the complete Eulogy, pronounced by Judge Elmer, 
should be given in this place. It is proper to state, that he and 
Mr. Hotchkin were engaged at the same time on their respective 
performances, and without any such facilities for conference, (be- 
ing a long distance apart,) as would enable them to keep their 
tracks from interfering. Having both, to some extent, access to 
the same materials, and being in common familiar with the most 
observable traits of Mr. Osborn, their pens could not well avoid 
falling into several coincidences. These, however, are found to 
have been fewer than might have been expected. Still, it turns 
out that some historical portions of the Eulogy, and a few 
thoughts in review of the character of its venerable subject, had 
been anticipated in the "Memorial." 

In view of this fact, the Judge felt great embarrassment in 
yielding to the request for a copy for publication. The consent 
at first given reluctantly, has since been followed by a letter so 
deprecatory of its appearance as a whole, for the reasons above 
stated, that we are constrained to defer to his feelings, and con- 
tent ourselves with the publication of copious extracts, embracing 
however, more than three-fourths of the entire Eulogy.] 


I COME to speak of the character and virtues of 
Ethan Osborn, with feelings of lively sensibility. 
Although out of the bounds of his congregation, 


from my earliest recollection I liave known and 
revered him. He was long the pastor of a people 
once ministered to by the Eev. Daniel Elmer, from 
whom all of the name, in this part of the State, 
are descended. He was the life-long friend of my 
father. Many ties bonnd them together. Although 
not then acquainted, they had both fought in that 
great contest which established our Independence. 
They were generally of one mind, in politics and in 
religion. Looking recently at Mr. Osborn's family 
Bible, I found recorded in his own hand-writing, the 
dates of the birth and death of Ebenezer Elmer; he 
alone, of all his friends, in nowise related by blood 
or marriage, being thus remembered. 

But why this monument, this solemn ceremony, 
and this eulogy of a deceased minister? He neither 
coveted nor expected such distinctions. He was a 
plain man, and not specially distinguished for learn- 
ing or eloquence. He was far more anxious to per- 
form well the duties of a humble station, than to 
reach a high seat in the synagogue. His voice was 
seldom heard in the pulpits of fashionable congre- 
gations ; and when it was, attracted no applause. 

All of us who knew the man, feel, however, that 
he deserved to be thus commemorated. Our object 
is, not to glorify him, for to him the applause or 
censure of men is nothing. Our object is to benefit 
ourselves and posterity, by a record of the life, 
labors, and death of a faithful minister of the gos- 
pel, a true patriot, a prudent counsellor, a reliable 
friend, an humble, consistent Christian. He spent 


a long life in the service of the one people, among 
whom he first settled. He was spared to an extreme 
old age, and from the beginning to the end of his 
life, commanded the respect and love of all who 
knew him. Children's children grew up and called 
him blessed. 

A century has elapsed since his birth ; a century 
of great events. Born a subject of King George II., 
he died the citizen of a great and prosperous repub- 
lic. Seventy years, the allotted period of human 
life have gone by, since he left his nativ/e home in 
Connecticut, after having graduated at Dartmouth, 
I:i[. II., and been licensed to preach about two years 
and a half. ISTo steamboats or railroads then ren- 
dered a long journey easy and of quick despatch. 
Traveling on horseback, and not intending at first 
to go farther south than Philadelphia, he was provi- 
dentially directed to this congregation, which had 
been about five years destitute of a pastor. He 
came to a people prepared to receive, and needing 
such a man. They were of Puritan origin. For 
many years in their early history they had resorted 
to I^Tew England for pastors. Daniel Elmer was 
born and educated there ; and when William Eam- 
sey, who was of Irish parentage, and had been 
educated at the new College at Princeton, was 
selected to succeed him in 1756, it was thought 
advisable that he should go to Connecticut, and be 
there licensed. After a probation of six months 
Mr. Osborn received a very cordial invitation to 
settle, and obeyed the call. He was received by 


the Presbytery of Philadelphia, ordained and in- 
stalled December 3, 1789. Following Mr. Ramsey, 
a man of uncommon eloquence, and Mr. Hollings- 
head, who was also distinguished as a preacher, 
although differing much from them, he must have 
been an acceptable preacher. That, considering all 
his qualifications, he was well fitted for the place, is 
shown by the fact, that from the commencement of 
his pastorate, until advancing age and infirmities 
induced him to resign, after a service of fifty-five 
years, no one talked, no one thought of a separa- 
tion. He had enlisted for life; his people chose 
him for life ; and to the end of his life he remained 
among them, only ceasing to labor wdien his strength 
no longer permitted. 

When he arrived, he found this '' Old Stone 
Church," now in its turn abandoned, newly erected 
and occupied. The frame building, following the 
temporary structure of logs, which stood in the old 
grave yard, on the bank of the Cohansey, about a 
mile from this place, and which had been known 
for three-fourths of a century as the " Cohansey 
Church," having become unfit for use, the property 
here had been purchased and stone collected for a 
new building in the year 1775. But the trials and 
privations of the Eevolution suspended the work 
until the year 1780, when it was resumed, and the 
building completed in that and the succeeding year. 
In the meantime the old house had so decayed, that 
it became necessary to remove the seats aud the 
pulpit and place them under the large, old corner 

110 JUDGE Elmer's eulogy. 

tree, now gone, where Mr. Hollingshead was accus- 
tomed to preach. The first sermon in the new 
house was preached by him September 7, 1780, from 
the text, ^'But what things were gain to me, those I 
counted loss for Christ." Philip, iii. 7. The labors 
and sacrifices of the people, considering the time 
and circumstances, must have been great, and a 
great blessing from God followed them. About 
one hundred and twenty persons were added to the 
church during the ensuing two years. Such, how- 
ever, was the efiect of the destitution that followed 
the removal of Mr. Hollingshead, that when the 
new pastor commenced his work, he could find but 
one hundred and twenty-five members in all. 

The congregation was scattered over the whole 
of Fairfield township, and in parts of the adjoining 
townships of Downe and Deerfield, including a por- 
tion of the people of Bridgeton where there was no 
church of any denomination, although it had been 
the county town forty years. The only churches 
then in the county were the Old Cohansey Baptist 
Church, founded in 1690, probably the first in the 
county, which then worshipped at a house in lower 
Hopewell, near where Sheppard's mill now is ; the 
Presbyterian churches at Greenwich and Deerfield; 
the Seventh-Day Baptist Church at Shiloh ; a Baptist 
church at Dividing creek; a German Keformed 
church in Upper Hopewell, which had no pastor and 
soon went to decay ; and the Friends meetings at 
Greenwich and Port Elizabeth. The population de- 


X3endcnt on tliis churcli for religious instruction, 
may be estimated at about two tbousand. * 

It was the understanding of the new pastor and 
his people, as I have already remarked, that he set- 
tled for life. Such was then the usual tenure of the 
pastoral office, in the land of steady habits from 
which he came. He did not sit down among a 
secluded people, to prepare himself by a few years 
of careful composition and study, for greater useful- 
ness in a more important charge, nor did the con- 
gregation stipulate that six months' notice should 
terminate the engagement. He did not come with 
a partner already chosen, but after a few years of 
careful saving, as one important preparation for 
housekeeping, found a wife among his hearers, and 
soon afterwards purchased a convenient and com- 
fortable but modest house, with a few acres of 
ground, leaving the old parsonage and farm to be 
sold. In this house he lived fifty-five years, and 
there he ended his days, and died in the joyful hope 
of a glorious resurrection. 

* Since the above was spoken, I have ascertained that property 
was conveyed to Trustees for a Methodist Episcopal church at Port 
Elizabeth as early as 1785, and it is probable that there vs^ere a few 
Methodists in other parts of the county before 1789. The whole num- 
ber of communicants belonging to all the churches at the last date 
did not exceed 600. The population was then about 6000, so that 
the communicants were about one in ten. At this time there are 8 
Presbyterian churches with about 1150 members, 7 Baptists with at 
least 1000 members, and 17 Methodist Episcopal, with near 3000 
members, the whole number exceeding 5000, which is more than one 
in four church members in the present population of 19,000. 

112 JUDGE Elmer's eulogy. 

Laboriaus in his habits, blessed through his long 
life with imcoiiinion health, he went faithfully to 
work, to win souls for Christ. He adapted himself 
in all respects, to his circumstances. Although a 
very fair scholar, he soon lost his character for 
scholarship, as he has been heard pleasantly to re- 
mark, by striving to be plain and intelligible to the 
weakest capacity. In a sermon preached in 1822, 
he said with his characteristic simplicity: "As to 
my proceedings in the affairs of the church, I aimed 
to follow the practice of my worthy predecessors, 
wdthout making any alteration, unless it could evi- 
dently be made for the better. I was favored with 
a session of able and pious men ; and never shall I 
forget the first prayer meeting in which they assisted 
me in this house. They prayed with the spirit. My 
mind was so sensibly affected, that perhaps I could 
not refrain from tears of gratitude and joy. And 
respecting the session ever since, the Lord has high- 
ly favored me and the church." 


For twenty years or more after his settlement, he 
followed the ancient custom of preaching two ser- 
mons on the Sabbath, in the meeting house, with an 
interval of half an hour. But during the intermedi- 
ate time, he was by no means idle. He visited the 
schools in the different neighborhoods ; was at all 
times attentive to the sick and suffering, and visited 
and prayed with his people systematically and 

When he began his labors, Bible, Tract, Mission- 

JUDGE Elmer's eulogy. 113 

ary and Colonization Societies were unknown ; but 
when in the good providence of God, the church 
was aroused to some proper sense of duty in these 
matters, he entered at once and heartily into 
measures for promoting them. He was one of the 
founders of the Cumberland Bible Society, which 
preceded the American Bible Society, and was 
among the first in the country. He was also an 
earnest promoter of the movement in favor of tem- 
perance, cheerfully relinquishing his long practice 
of taking a small quantity of spirits daily, which he 
had been taught to consider important for his 
health, and acting upon the apostolic principle of 
total abstinence from whatever might make his 
brother offend. 

But while he did not hesitate to combine with 
others to set a public example of abstinence when 
the emergency required such a testimony, and to en- 
deavor by all suitable means to promote the welfare 
of his fellow-men, he was too wise, and too deeply 
imbued with the spirit of his Master, to fall into the 
prevalent error of attempting reforms, upon princi- 
ples not sanctioned by his infallible guide, the re- 
vealed will of God. 

[After some remarks upon the superficialness and certain re- 
action of reforms which ignore the moral and spiritual element, 
and after a notice of the political views and course of Mr. Osborn, 
corroborative of what is contained in the " Memorial," the 
Eulogy proceeds to speak of his Theological opinions in terms 
more to be regarded, because coming from one whose ecclesiasti- 
cal connections are with the Old School branch of the Presbyte- 



rian church. They probably express the vie-vys now entertained 
of the departed pastor, by the body from which, the asperities of 
the times severed him. J 

His theology was that of a very moderate Calvin- 
ist. Believing and preaching the doctrines of per- 
sonal election and final perseverance of the saints, 
he ias firmly believed and tanght a general atone- 
ment. And this he did with the sincerity and open- 
ness that always characterized him. Abont twenty- 
five years ago, not being listened to when the sub- 
ject was discussed at the monthly association, with 
the respect to which he thought his age entitled him, 
he prepared a sermon in defence of his views, which 
on a subsequent occasion he preached before them. 
When accosted, after the services by one of his bre- 
thren with the remark, " Well, brother Osborn, you 
gave it to Cahanism to-day with an Arminian 
cudgel," he good humoredly replied, " My opinions 
have been a good deal questioned, and I thought I 
would let you know my views." 

Firm and decided as he was in maintaining his 
own opinions, he was entirely free from envy and 
jealousy, and was willing to accord to all others the 
same freedom of opinion he claimed for himself. 
He disliked controversy, and was a model and ad- 
vocate of peace. So thorough was the conviction 
of his sincerity, so meek was his spirit, so blameless 
his life, and so courteous his manners, that although 
his brethren were grieved, at what they could not 
but regard as a departure from the true doctrine of 
their confession of faith, and of the Bible, they 


never failed to accord to him their love and esteem, 
and to tolerate diiFerences, which exhibited by an- 
other man or with a different spirit, might have pro- 
duced very unpleasant consequences. 

When the disruption of the Presb3i:erian body 
occurred, no one doubted, on Avhicli side he would 
be found. But he was in no hurry to break up old 
associations. "Writing to a sister in 1840, he said : 
" I have been frequently asked, what is the differ- 
ence between the Old and 'New School. Yesterday, 
agreeable to previous notice, I answered the question 
from the pulpit. After explaining some difference 
of opinion respecting the doings of the Assembly of 
1837 and 1838, and of a few doctrines, I drew sev- 
eral inferences, one of Avhich was that the New 
School Assembly is the genuine constitutional Pres- 
byterian Assembly in the United States. Whether 
we shall remove our standing to a ISTew School Pres- 
bytery, we have not yet determined. I am much 
perplexed in a troubled situation, between two fires. 
May the Lord direct me, to do what is right and 
best." His church very soon seceded from the 
West Jersey Presbytery, and united with one con- 
nected with the other party. Before this, there had 
been a secession from his church and a new one 
constituted. The final result, as you know, has 
been that the one Old Cohansey Church, has become 
three, that at Fairton, claiming to be the regular 
successor, so far as I know, without a contestant. 

Fairly to characterize Mr. Osborn's preaching, 
will be difficult. As I have already intimated, it 


cannot be said that lie was an eloquent man. Too 
busy to be a great student, be drew bis sermons di- 
rectly from tbe Bible, and depended on bis own 
tbougbts. Many bere, remember bis common prac- 
tice, at a certain period of bis discourse, of stopping 
and looking at bis watcb, and tben saying, ^'Hav- 
ing gone tbrougb tbe doctrinal part of my discourse, 
I come now to make some practical remarks." He 
bad a clear, distinct voice ; " tbe finest, some of us 
tbougbt, in tbe Pbiladelpbia Presbytery," is tbe tes- 
timony of one, for many years a co-presbyter. His 
sermons were eminently practical, were well 
tbougbt out, and well adapted botb to edify bis flock, 
and to alarm tbe careless. I can never forget tbe 
solemn empbasis witb wbicb I once beard bim pro- 
nounce tbe awful warning of tbe last ten verses of 
tbe first cbapter of Proverbs. 

You bave all beard of tbe famous Wbitefield, tbat 
" prince of preacbers," wbose voice was once beard 
by multitudes of tbis and tbe otber congregations 
in tbe county, wben be preacbed in tbe year 1740, 
on a small bill near tbe meeting-bouse at Greeu- 
wicb, and wbere in bis own language ; " Tbe words 
gradually struck tbe bearers, till tbe wbole congre- 
gation was greatly moved, and two cried out in tbe 
bitterness of tbeir souls, after a crucified Saviour, 
and were scarcely able to stand. My soul was re- 
plenisbed as witb new wine, and life and power flew 
all around me." "Wbat was said by tbis wonderful 
man, wben put on paper, evinced no superiority to 
tbe productions of ordinary preacbers. Gifted witb 


a most musical and powerful voice, and with deep 
feelings, his matchless power, like the power of all 
great orators, w^as due to his heing able to commu- 
nicate his own emotions and passions to his hearers, 
and thus to bring their whole minds into sympathy 
and union with his own. 

The influence exerted by Mr. Osborn, although it 
fell far short of that exerted by Whitefield, I am per- 
suaded was due to" a similar power of bringing the 
feelings of those he addressed, to a lively sympathy 
with his own. His natural temper was quick and 
irritable, entirely controlled by perfect self-com- 
mand ; and he was endowed with a lively sympathy 
for others, and especially for those in trouble, and 
the poor and humble. 

A strong feeling for the poor, and for every class 
of his people, was shown in his countenance, and in 
every word and action. If he rose to address a 
Sabbath-school, with his ordinary greeting, " Well, 
children, I am glad to see so many of you here," 
every eye brightened, and every little heart beat with 
quick emotion, for all felt that his feelings toward 
them, were those of the most aiFectionate parent, 
and every word he spoke fell on listening ears. 

He was not addicted to writing for the press. I 
am not aware that any of his sermons have been 
printed. In May, 1812, just before the declaration 
of war against Great Britain, he delivered a short 
address to a company of soldiers, then recently en- 
listed and about to depart, which in his own words, 

118 JUDGE ELMEK'S eulogy. 

was " by request (unexpectedly) of the officers and 
others, submitted to publicity." This address as 
now read, is in nowise remarkable, but it made a 
deep and lasting impression on his hearers, some of 
whom could repeat much of it from memory, and 
many preserved the paper containing it, among their 
choicest relics. He spoke from a heart deeply im- 
bued with the feelings of a true patriot ; he knew 
from experience the dangers and trials of a soldier's 
life ; and he was anxious to benefit his hearers. 
First addressing to the soldiers suitable cautions and 
admonitions, he closed with the affecting words : — 
" And now, in taking leave of you with brotherly 
affection, we bid you a cordial farewell, praying that 
God would have you in his holy keeping, give you 
prosperous success and a safe return." Then to the 
people, he inculcated the duty of contributing to 
the comfortable support of the soldiers. ^' And at 
the call of proper authority, let us cheerfully and 
promptly aid their exertions, and consider them not 
as military slaves, dragged into service by a press- 
gang, but in the honorable character of volunteer 
citizens, going forth to put themselves between us 
and the hostile foe, defenders of our rights and 
avengers of our wrongs. Let us boldly aid the 
Christian cause, by frowning upon vice and wicked- 
ness of every kind and encouraging the duties re- 
quired by the gospel. And as the battle is not al- 
ways to the strong, let us implore the blessings of 
Almighty God, that he would bless rulers and peo- 
ple with wisdom and grace to rightly perform their 


respective duties, that he would preserve our armies 
in camp from wasting sickness, shield them in the 
day of battle and give them the victory, and cause 
the war in its consequences to be subservient to the 
best interests of mankind and Divine glory." 

With this spirit, he addressed himself to his peo- 
ple from w^eek to week, with. unwearied assiduity, 
carefully adapting his discourses to the times and 
seasons. There was much sameness of manner, com- 
bined with a great variety of topics. In his ser- 
mons, and in his conversation, he was accustomed 
to dwell very much, upon the ove^Tuling providence 
of God, in which he put his trust. When a drought 
occurred, he would appoint a day of fasting and 
prayer, taking care to say. If it pleases God to send 
us rain before that time, we will make it a day of 
thanksgiving and praise. And such faith did the 
community come to have in these special interces- 
sions, that it became a common remark far out of 
the bounds of his parish, " We shall soon have rain; 
Mr. Osborn has appointed a day for fasting and 

5fC 5ji ^ ^ ^ SjC 5JC 

Acceptable and successful as a preacher, he was 
still more beloved in the sick-room and at funerals. 
Who that has ever been present, can forget his man- 
ner of speaking to the mourning friends of the de- 
ceased? Ready at all times to ^'rejoice with them 
that rejoice, and weep with them that weep," per- 
haps no one ever more skilfully adapted his remarks 
to the circumstances of each particular case, and no 


one was ever beard with more aiFectionate rever- 
ence. Speaking manifestly from a full heart, he yet 
maintained a calm demeanor, and spoke in a clear 
and distinct tone, eminently calculated to soothe and 
edify. So true was his sympathy and so delicate 
and nice was his perception of what was due to his 
hearers, that he could speak with a plain directness, 
which very few could imitate. He was felt to be a 
sincere friend and a wise counsellor. 

In social intercourse he was kind and courteous, 
and was always an acceptable guest. Like most 
men of naturally quick temperament, he had a strong 
sense of the ludicrous, and although always mind- 
ful of his holy calling, would often let off a flash of 
wit or tell a humorous anecdote with no little zest ; 
and being able to accommodate himself readily to 
every description of persons, he gained access to 
those who to others were almost inaccessible, and 
was thus enabled to enlarge the sphere of his use- 
fulness. At his own house he was a model of hos- 
pitality and kindness, and let no one depart, with- 
out exciting the wish to see him again. I remem- 
ber calling there a few years ago, after his faculties 
had began to fail, but while he still retained his re- 
collection, and could converse intelligently, with a 
clerical friend, who afterwards remarked how much 
he was struck with his cordial manner, his grateful 
sense of attention, and especially his mode of tak- 
ing leave of us, following us out of the gate, thank- 
ing us for the visit, and showing as well as express- 
ing how much he was pleased, looking after us until 

JUDGE Elmer's eulogy. 121 

we were out of sight. From my first knowledge of 
him, his manner was the same. I saw .him for the 
last time, about a fortnight before his death, and al- 
though I could not be sure that he knew who I was, 
when he followed me to the door, and in his old 
pleasant cordial manner thanked me for the visit, 
and expressed his hope that we should meet again, 
if not here, in heaven. He seemed the same kind, 
courteous Christian friend I had always found him, 
during the more than fifty years of our acquaint- 

Whatever might be thought of him as a preacher, 
he was mighty in prayer. Long before I could ap- 
preciate his excellence in this respect, I remember 
to have heard his prayers spoken of as peculiarly 
acceptable to devout minds. They were the prayers 
of a man used to converse with God. After his 
faculties had so decayed that he could not remember 
the names of his children and grand children, he 
could lead the devotions of the family and of a con- 
gregation, with entire propriety. He preached his 
last sermon in this building, and took an afiecting 
leitve of the place where he had so long stood as an 
ambassador for Christ, in the year 1850, and attend- 
ed public worsliip for the last time at Cedarville, 
about three months before he died, closing the ser- 
vices with some appropriate and impressive remarks 
to the people, and a touching prayer to the God and 
Saviour he had so long served. 

Very few ministers of the gospel, could be so 


aptly described in the language of Cowper, as Ethan 

'' Would I describe a preacher, such as Paul, 

Were he on earth, would hear, ajiprove and own, 

Paul should himself direct me. I would trace 

His master strokes, and draw from his design. 

I would express him simple, grave, sincere. 

In doctrine uncorrupt ; in language plain, 

And plain in manner ; decent, solemn, chaste, 

And natural in gesture ; much impress'd 

Himself, as conscious of his awful charge, 
• And anxious, mainly, that the flock he feeds 

May feel it too ; affectionate in look, 

And tender in address, as well becomes 

A messenger in grace to guilty men. 

He 'stablishes the strong, restores the weak. 

Reclaims the wanderer, binds the broken heart ; 

And arm'd himself in panoply complete 

Of heavenly temper, furnishes with arms, 

Bright as his own, and trains by every rule 

Of holy discipline, to glorious war. 

The sacramental host of God's elect." 

In the fullness of time he has been gathered to his 
fathers.. We do not sorrow. His body has been con- 
signed to the tomb, his spirit has ascended, as we 
trust, to his heavenly home. But the good that men 
do lives after them. His faithful teaching, his fer- 
vent prayers, and his Christian life, have not been in 
vain. Many of his spiritual children, lie around 
him in this graveyard, where he buried the fathers 
and mothers and very many of the children of his 
flock. Some survive, to cherish his memory, and to 


be living witnesses of the power of the gospel he 
preached. If there are any within the sound of my 
voice who turned a deaf ear to his faithful warn- 
ings and earnest entreaties ; let me affectionately 
remind them, that soon they must stand at the judg- 
ment bar of Christ, and there meet the pastor, who 
in the long suffering mercy of God, was spared to 
them so many years. If "he that despised Moses' 
law, died without mercy under two or three wit- 
nesses ; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, 
shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under 
foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of 
the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an un- 
holy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of 


It is a sadly pleasant duty, wliich lias been assign- 
ed me, my respected friends, of speaking to you tlius 
to-day, as from beside the grave of our late lament- 
ed and venerated pastor. It is a sad duty ; for a 
few months ago I bad hoped that when this day 
should arrive, we should be gathered here just as 
now, but with him in the midst of us, laden with 
the mercies of a full hundred years, and, while re- 
ceiving our congratulations, once more — if only once 
more — pronouncing upon us his blessing. 

How sadly this occasion contrasts with that anti- 
cipation. Yet, as it hath pleased God to remove 
him from us, the duty is now a pleasant one, of 
doing what we may to call to mind the many things 
of his long life among us which we desire to have 
in lasting remembrance, and for the sake of which, 
especially, we have to-day reared this monumental 

It is as a parishioner, more particularly, that I 
would speak of Father Osborn : — it is as one upon 
whose infant head he laid his hand in baptism, — as 
one who often, in all the growing years of childhood, 
saw his beaming face in the Sabbath-school, and 


heard there that uniform salutation so familiar to 
you all, — as one who dwelt for many years amidst 
the breakings of the word and the bread of life from 
his lips and hands, — as one whose parents' and 
grandparents' marriages he solemnized, and some 
of whose remoter ancestors he buried, — as one thus 
nearly and tenderly related to him, like as were so 
many of you ; — it is as one of his parishioners, and 
in the name of all his parishioners present, that I 
would speak of him. 

I could have wished, indeed, that the duty of 
speaking thus as a parishioner had fallen to the lot 
of some older person — t)f some one whose memory 
reaches farther back upon his life, and comprises a 
greater variety of its occurrences; for although 
thirty years have gone since my recollections of him 
begin, — since I first sat in yon pew, next the front, 
and looked up into his face as he stood here, and 
childishly feared lest this sounding-board should fall 
upon him, — although thirty years have gone since 
then, yet he was then fulfilling his threescore and 
ten ; so that it is only as an old man, and a very old 
man, that I have any recollection of him whatever. 
• This deficiency has been made up, perhaps so far as 
could be, by the honored gentleman who has pre- 
ceded me, speaking, as he has done, with the inter- 
est and affection of long acquaintance, and as a de- 
scendant of one who here occupied the pastor's 
place long before Father Osborn. I say the defici- 
ency has been made up, so far as could be ; for who 
is there among us old enough to recall his early 



years? I see here and there, among his former 
flock, a form bowed down with the weight of years, 
but even these were young to him. The last survi- 
ving member of his original congregation, after 
lingering the last for many years, as you know, long 
since died. Yes; he was a rare exception in the 
matter of age. We are all children compared with 
him, whose life, stretching backward and forward, 
touched upon six generations. 

We celebrate these services for the centenarian. 
And centuries ! these are not periods in the life of a 
man, but in the life of nations and the world's his- 
tory. Yet, what an affecting view we have of the 
shortness of life and the speedy flight of successive 
generations, when we think that even the long life 
of the venerated deceased was short, when compared 
with the brief existence of many things about us. 

He is gone ; but this house, which was new when 
he was young, still stands. He is gone; but that 
hickory tree yonder, which throws its evening 
shadow on these windows, which lived before this 
house was built, against which my grandfather lean- 
ed his gun when this roof was raised, — that tree 
waves its limbs as if in benedictions on the pastor's 
grave hard by, and still is young. 

It is fit, my friends, to engage to-day in such ser- 
vices as these. You have done well to devise and 
execute the purpose which this monument speaks. 

In honoring the memory of one so aged, you 
honor the memory of your own fathers, and fathers' 
fathers, whose companion and friend he was. 

iiEV. MR. burt's address. 127 

In honoring bis memory, you pay a tribute of de- 
served praise to the heroes who won our nation's in- 
dependence ; for at the call of his country, as you 
haye heard, in the ardor of youth, he threw down 
his books, and put off his student's gown, and catch- 
ing up musket and sword, hastened to the standard 
of Washington. 

In honoring his memory, you fulfill the decree of 
Heaven, that '^the memory of the just shall be 
blessed," and you avoid the -reproach of Heaven, 
which cries, "The righteous perisheth and no man 
layeth it to heart." Ah ! he was a good man. The 
common phrase in all this region, as you know, has 
been, — " as good as Father Osborn." And if they 
whom the world calls great receive applause and 
win a monument, — nay, if it be so ofttimes with 
even those who excel only in what is fiendish in our 
nature, and whose career is one of crime and desola- 
tion, shall not he be honored who adorned himself 
with heavenly graces and scattered blessings all 
along his pathway ? 

'Nor is this all ; but more than all this, in honoring 
his memory you honor him who, for more than half 
a century, well and faithfully discharged the duty of 
a Christian Pastor among us. '^ I magnify mine of- 
fice." Where is an office so sacred and so honor- 
able ? An ambassador of God — a minister of Jesus — 
a herald of salvation, — shall we not have him in re- 
vered remembrance who, more fully than most who 
occupy this office, felt its weighty import, and strove 
to meet its large demands ? And where, further, I 


may ask, is an office that so connects with it the 
tender and precious interests of men, — that enters so 
familiarly and fully into the aiFairs of social and per- 
sonal life, acquainting itself with them and busying 
itself about them in loving sympathy ? 

The pastor is not only the interpreter of the ora- 
cles of God in the gathered assembly ; he is a visitor 
in every home, and a personal friend of every indi- 
vidual. In every crisis of life he is at hand, sooth- 
ing in sickness, comforting in sorrow, counseling 
in perplexity, and, at last, accompanying the dying, 
as far as he may, toward the brooding shadow^s of 
the dark and solitary valley ; and in all this he is the 
friend of the soul, drawing from earth, leading to 
Christ, and inspiring with heavenly hopes. O there 
is none who so fully and so tenderly interweaves his 
whole life with that of each of a community, and 
draws after him and binds upon him such a train of 
ardent and holy affections, as the faithful and 
loving pastor. And such a pastor was he, whom 
we mourn. Kay, his career, extending through 
generation after generation, and ever widening and 
deepening its sympathies and cementing its affec- 
tions, identified with him the life of this community 
to a degree seldom known. He has been a repre- 
sentative character among us, and his biography 
would be the history of Fairfield, in the most im- 
portant respects, for the period which it would 

As one, then, venerable for years; as one who 
took his young life into his hands for our country's 


deliverance ; as one radiant with the virtues which 
God approves and which bless mankind ; and as 
our worthy, long-tried, long-trusted, ever-loving 
pastor, we do well to honor him and call him to re- 
membrance, by monuments more enduring than 

It is fit, too, to celebrate these services in this 
place. Here, rather than any where else, did he 
perform his life's work. And so little comparative- 
ly has this house been occupied since he ceased 
from his active labors, it seems sacred to his memo- 
ry alone. 

All things here speak of him. This was his pul- 
pit, this his Bible ; these walls echo his voice ; this 
room is pervaded by his presence. I can almost see 
him — can you not ? — coming in at yon door, walk- 
ing up that aisle, treading these pulpit steps so sol- 
emnly, hanging his hat on that knob, (the right 
hand one, not the left,) closing the door of the pul- 
pit as he seats himself, and then giving himself to 
brief meditation. 

At such a time as this, the heart prizes the recol- 
lection of the little peculiarities which marked the 
object of its affection. — And thus in picturing him 
to ourselves in the pulpit, we love to think of such 
things as these, the frequent wrinkling of his fore- 
head, his occasional rising on his toes, his opening 
his eyes for a moment, and at regular intervals, in 
prayer. — We all remember the form in w^hich his 
sermons were cast, — of the doctrinal and the practi- 
cal part, and the habitual performances with watch 

130 REV. MR. hurt's ADDRESS. 

and spectacles and handkerchief, which separated 
the two parts in the delivery. — We call to mind 
certain peculiarities of language ; * particularly the 
pronunciation tlioufore for therefore^ the suhstitution 
of who and which for that in his reading, as also the 
suhstitution of shall for will, in cases where Scottish 
usage had prevailed against correct English. — So we 
recollect the heartiness with which he joined in the 
singing, and the readiness and interest with which 
he caught and used our new tunes, notwithstanding 
his natural partiality for the older music. — And 
who, that has ever heard his preaching, will forget 
that silvery voice, so distinct in its articulation, that 
the dull ear of age caught every quavering syllable 
of his calm utterance, when the vociferations of 
others would give the impression only of a confused 
noise. — And although he could hardly he called an 
orator, yet we all remember the serious earnestness 
which marked his speaking. Yes ; and there were 
times when this earnestness kindled into eloquence. 
It has often seemed to me, that I never stood so 
nearly face to face with the Great Judge of all, as 
when, sometimes, in the closing of his sermon on a 
summer day, he would turn and look through these 
open windows out upon the churchyard, with its 
great congregation of slumbering occupants, and re- 
ferring to the scene, turn again to us, and, with 
roused voice, press the exhortations of his subject 
by the consideration of death and the life after 

* See Note A. 


death. Often, at such times, I thought the archan- 
gel's trump might the next moment sound, and I 
could not but imagine the pious dead of the church- 
yard trooping forth from their graves, and, in robes 
of white, pluming themselves to meet the Lord in 
the air, while I trembled, lest the day of my doom 
had come. At such times, he was "the old man 
eloquent." He seemed indeed transfigured and in- 
spired for a moment, — a heavenly messenger let 
down into the midst of us, to ply the ministries of 
God's mercy by the urgencies of the world to come. 
And what a congregation was that which here 
listened to his discourse. For a long time, almost 
all Fairfield worshipped in this place. And, even 
within my own memory, the Sabbath assembling of 
his congregation, in the summer season, was a sight 
to behold. Kecall the scene. Out from Cedandlle 
on the south, Fairton on the north, Sayre's Neck 
and Back 'Neck, on the west, and even the woods on 
the east, come pouring uncovered wagons and 
great covered carriages, and throngs of people on 
foot, men and women and children. The grove of 
oaks at the end of the church, and the road in front, 
on both sides of it for a long way, at length are fill- 
ed with the vehicles. Those persons arriving be- 
fore the time go — some at once into the church, 
others into the churchyard, others again into the 
grove or dooryard. By and by, but punctual to the 
hour, the pastor is seen slowly approaching. * He 

* See Note B. 


leaves -his carriage in the grove. He advances up 
the dooryard, his summer gown flowing" in the 
breeze. His coming is the signal for the scattered 
multitude to assemble and enter and be seated. And 
soon they come sweeping in, filling the seats below 
and the seats above, and often running over into 
stairways and aisles. — Aye, this broad gallery was 
crowded then, back to the wall. It contained in- 
deed a large proportion of the entire audience, and 
perhaps it was this nearly even division of the as- 
sembly which suggested the classification of his 
hearers which the pastor often made in his preaching 
— a classification which I have never heard made 
elsewhere or by any one else, and in this case made 
upon what principle or for what purpose I have 
never exactly known, the classification of " all who 
are here present, either below or in the gallery." 

It is not my desire to dissect very closely the 
character of our departed father and friend. Our 
hearts are full of reverence and esteem for him, and 
we wish to look upon him as our hearts picture him, 
and receive the impression of his character and life 
as a whole, and in its broad native colors. Yet the 
picture, as a whole, has its strong features ; and it 
may be w^ell to glance at some of the prominent 
points of his character— those of which we cannot 
but think when we think of him at all, and those 
which most of all made him what he w^as. 

If to any extent I should traverse the field gone 
over by the gentleman who has preceded me, it still 
may not be useless ; for in the mouth of two or three 


witnesses every word shall be established. Good is 
the word, as already iutimated, most often used con- 
cerning him. And perhaps his goodness was his 
most prominent attribute. He was good, if by that 
we understand that he was remarkably free from 
imperfections of character generally, and possessed, 
in remarkable degree and combination, the various 
virtues and graces. — He was a holy man. — And he 
was good, if by that we understand that he wa.^ un- 
selfish and benevolent. His was a gentle disposi- 
tion, and an even course of life spent in doing good. 
He wished well — he thought well — he spoke well, 
of every one possible ; and he acted as he felt and 
spoke. This gentleness may not have been wholly 
natural. It was, no doubt, in part acquired. He 
was not without a certain natural quickness of 
temper, and in view of what was mean and wrong 
he was capable of a read}'- indignation. But a St. 
John was once a Boanerges, while it may be said of 
Father Osborn, that his natural temper was, on the 
whole, singularly amiable, and that all his life long 
he was characterized bv eminent 2:entleness. 

Yet the word good does not fully describe him. 
The word kind, in its primitive meaning, must be 
added to the word good. He felt his kindred with 
mankind. He was of ready and tender and wide 
sympathies. His was not an intense and rugged 
personality walling him off from his fellow men; 
but in him humanity prevailed over individuality, 
and he came in contact with others at many points. 
He thouo-ht that " nothino' of human concern was 


foreio'ii to himself," and reckoned as liis friends all 
wliom he could befriend. And with such a nature, 
stimulated and sanctilied, he could not but have 
power. Yes ; he was good if he was not great; and 
if he had not genius he had geniqlity^ and these two 
are perhaps more nearly allied than we commonly 
think. As minor traits, suitable to be simply 
mentioned here, were his courteousness and cordial- 
ity of manners, his facetious humor, and his general 
and pleasing simplicity — all of which might readily 
be illustrated.* 

His piety was like his general character. Its ex- 
ercises were of the calmer sort. His faith was sim- 
ple, his love hearty, his peace ever flowing. 

His theology answered to his religious experience. 
With no manifest exhibition of the Divine sove- 
reignty in his conversation, such as that seen in the 
case of the Apostle Paul, and with no stormy con- 
flicts of soul, such as WTung from that Apostle the 
exclamation, " wretched man that I am," and 
wrought in him the profoundest sense of his abso- 
lute and immediate dependence on the grace of God, 
it was natural that Father Osborn should delight to 
dwell on the more general aspects . of the divine 

His preaching addressed the conscience and the 
heart more fully than the understanding. It made 
statements of the truth rather than analytic exhibi- 
tions. It was popular rather than profound. He 

^ See Note C. 


commended tlie simple truths of salvation to every 
man's conscience in the sio-ht of God. And he 
rung these again and yet again, until they sounded 
loud and long through the soul. 

His 2?astoral intercourse was familiar and confiden- 
tial. He will he especially remembered for his 
words of comfort in the house of mourning, and at 
the newly-made grave. * He renewed his youth 
perpetually by perpetual intercourse with the young. 
And not only was his heart a fresh fountain for new 
personal sympathies, but he kept pace with the 
moral and religious progress of the age. Early he 
caught the missionary spirit. He was the fast friend 
of the Sabbath-school, and rehearsed the story of 
E-obert Raikes with an ever increasing admiration 
for the founder of Sabbath-schools. He stood in the 
van of the temperance movement ; he was an early 
and active supporter of the Bible Society ; and he ap- 
preciated and urged, as few others in these parts 
have done, the claims and glory of the scheme of 
African colonization. His heart indeed embraced 
every good cause, and his hands were ready for 
every good work. Considering his extreme age, 
and the calmness of his natural disposition, and the 
comparative seclusion of his position, this spirit of 
moral and religious enterprise, was, in my opinion, 
as remarkable in the venerable pastor as anything 
we can say of him. 

The heroic element did not largely enter into his 

* See Note D. 

136 Ri]v. Mil. burt's address. 

character, and his leading a soklier's life for even 
eight months, may seem an incongruity. Yet, 
while, no doubt, he well fulfilled his duty as a sol- 
dier, and would have done so in any case, it was 
providentially so ordered, that he was never called 
upon, though often in near prospect of hattle, and 
for a long time dwelling amidst the hostile move- 
ments of great armies, and almost witnessing terrific 
engagements of portions of them — he was never call- 
ed upon to face the enemy or fire a gun. It may 
seem amusing to sum up a soldier's history in the 
statement, that he was never in a battle, but was in 
a retreat : yet it was something to have been in the 
Retreat of the Ten Thousand Greeks, and so it was 
something to have been in the retreat across 'New 
Jersey, in the dark days of seventy-six. He was 
called to endure as a soldier, if not to fight. The 
virtue exercised is none the less valuable, if it be not 
so brilliant ; its exercise was, perhaps, more in accord- 
ance w^ith his general character ; and, in view of his 
after history, his negative career as a soldier is not 
to be regretted. We are glad that the necessity 
was never laid upon him who loved so well his 
every fellow man, and whose life was to be occupied 
in holy and merciful ministries to men, to mingle 
in the infuriate and deadly strife of battle. 

It is the Providence of God which assigns to in- 
dividuals as well as nations the bounds of their 
habitation ; and we cannot but admire the wisdom 
and goodness which appointed to Father Osborn his 
residence in Fairfield. How admirably was he 
adapted to his position. 


Connecticut-born himself, he found here a people 
largely of l^ew England and Connecticut origin, and 
a people eminently Puritan in their manners. He 
was not a prophet in his own country, to fail of any 
proper honor ; and yet he was a prophet in his own 
country, to perceive at once the ways and wants of 
the people, and to know how to apply himself to his 
work among them. He had not violently to deny 
himself the habits of his early training, but happily 
to preserve and perpetuate them. — And then, this 
peninsular position, retired from the great thorough- 
fares of business and travel — this nook of eddying 
waters, aside from the great rushing tide — how well 
it met his quiet disposition, how much it contribu- 
ted to his even course of life, — nay, how materially 
it contributed under God to the wonderful lengthen- 
ing of his life and the consequent significance of his 
life's work. 

Old age is not the fruit of the hot excitements 
and intense living of the crowded city. It is the 
genial suns of many da^^s and the gentle dews of 
many nights that bring on the harvest to its richest 
ripening. — I have seen the graves of three men side 
by side — successive pastors of the same church, 
whose united pastorates swelled to the period of one 
hundred and fifty years ; but it was a country church- 
yard in which they lay, and it was a peninsular re- 
gion in which they had lived, — a region secluded 
and quiet bej^ond even this. — In these days of the 
almost universal restlessness of men, in these days 
of perpetual movements and migrations, when the 


attractions of native soil and homo and friends dis- 
solve before tlie jirospect of new lands and El Do- 
rados, and when tlie pastoral tie is readily sundered, 
and great bodies of ministers are always to be found 
in pastoral transit on tlie bigb roads of travel ; it is 
well and delightful here and there to see an exam- 
ple of the permanency of home, and of the peculiar 
and happy results of a life-long ministry. — We bless 
God, this day, that to such a place as this, he sent 
such a man as him whom we mourn, and that he 
permitted him here to exercise his ever-growing 
ministry upon children's children, and live out his 
honored days. 

It is no marvel, that God ordered it that he should 
live to such an extreme age. 'No ; painful as it may 
be to witness the decay of the powers of the aged, 
and burdensome from its multiplied infirmities as 
old age may often be to itself and to others, I do not 
wonder that God here and there preserves a man 
to extreme old age. If it be not needful for such 
an one himself, it is desirable for others. If God 
have nothing more for him to do, it is much for 
such an one to stand in the midst of us as a simple 
witness for the Past. For not only do w^e dissolve 
our connections with things around us — with soil 
and home and living friends, but much more are 
we disposed to cut ourselves oiF from the Past — to 
lose the knowledge of its events, the memory of its 
people, the sense of our obligations to it, and the 
whole impression of its sacredness. ITow to have a 
representative of the Past among us, a living tradi- 


tion before our eyes, one whose life rooted in a re- 
mote veneration blossoms and bears fruit in the 
present, — is it not of manifest and essential service? 
— These aged ones, — they are the overlapping mem- 
bers which tie the separate parts of the rising 
fabric ; they afford the needed splicing for the joints 
of the loose construction ; by them the life of the 
race finds continuous flow through its successive 

And well may we bless God to-day, that he per- 
mitted our departed father to live so long, after his 
life's work seemed to have been finished. He was 
with us, not only to afibrd a bond of union among 
ourselves, by his personal influence as was Joshua 
of old amidst the newly scattered tribes of Israel, 
but he was with us also, as Joshua was with his bre- 
thren, to testify of the past, to remind us of our an- 
cestry and ancestral obligations, and to teach us 
to adore God's wonders of old which our fathers 

Yet he, too, must die. The stroke long delayed 
must at length come. He had survived so many 
people, he had buried so many who were so much 
younger than himself, and the hand of time rested 
so gently upon him, that, aged as he was, we did not 
think much of his dying. But of each of the ante- 
diluvian patriarchs whose name has come down to 
us, whose life numbered almost its thousand years 
—it is still written—" and he died." " The fathers 
where are they, and the prophets do they live for- 


And what a death was that of our pastor! So 
loDg a life, running so even a course, we should 
have supposed, would end, amidst the decays of 
age, in a gentle and peaceful slumber. We might 
well have anticipated a calm assurance, a steadfast 
faith, and a ha]3py hope, fully sustaining him to the 
end ; yet beyond this, in the matter of religious ex- 
periences, we should have expected little. But how 
different the fact! How much beyond this the 
realitj> ! What raptures of joy and what seraphic 
devotions kindled about his departure, how for days 
he sung the music of heaven and walked as on the 
borders of glory, they have told, who so fondly and 
faithfully watched with him, and he has recorded, 
who occupies so worthily the old pastor's place. 

His countenance seemed transfigured, and his go- 
ing was almost a translation. We feel, in hearing 
the faithful narrative of his death, that had we been 
permitted, we should have watched for his depar- 
ture, ready to cry, "My father, my father, the cha- 
riot of Israel and the horsemen thereof," and to 
catch his falling mantle. 

His triumphant death was due under God, proba- 
bly, to two causes. He had just been receiving the 
fulfillment of his unwearied and earnest pra^^ers for 
a revival of religion in this region of the church. 
A blessed tide of spiritual influences had set in upon 
Fairfield, as upon many other portions of the coun- 
try, and, in the abundant watering, scores, and even 
hundreds, were incpiiring after the Saviour or rejoic- 
ing in the hope of salvation. The cup of his bless- 


ing was now full. It w^as his to say exultingly Avith 
the aged and holy Simeon, " Lord, now lettest thou 
thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen 
thy salvation." Moreover, he was called to undergo 
great bodily suffering. He who for fourscore ^^ears 
hardly knew the meaning of pain, in his last days 
endured its sharp conflicts and long agonies. His 
mortal frame was wa-ecked at last, when just about 
to enter a quiet harbor. His declining sun, just 
read}^ to set, passed behind a storm-cloud hanging 
low on the horizon. Aged as he was, he yet did 
not die from old age, but from acute disease, such 
as may at any time overtake you and me, and before 
which we might fall. !N"ow apart from such expe- 
rience of suffering, probably his spiritual exercises 
would have been of a more quiet sort. His end 
would have been peace, yet not triumph. But under 
these strokes of God's hand his spirit mounted 
higher and higher. In his infirmity the power of 
Christ rested on him. From the conflict he issued 
a conqueror. Palms and robes of white were already 
his, as one coming out of great tribulation. 

We cannot now wash that his death had been 
longer delayed. Long time God kept him from his 
home and crown, that he might still be with us. 
The friends of his youth, and nianhood's prime, and 
even of his great old age, had passed into the bless- 
ed mansions in advance of him. The attractions of 
heaven had so multiplied before him and brighten- 
ed upon him, his exile of earth and of age must 
have been weary. Yet still God had said to him — 

142 Rcv. MR. bukt's address. 

" A little longer : Stay tlie aspiring hope : Bear the 
weariness and the exile : Abide still in the flesh." 
Ah ! it was because this was more needful for us. 
But now, through a glorious death he has entered 
into peace : he has joined the companions from whom 
he had been long parted : he mingles with the gen- 
eral assembly and church of the first born : he looks 
on the face of the Lamb, and rests in the bosom of 
God. We bless God that he was so long with us, 
but we cannot mourn that his death was not lonorer 

Almost a translation may have been his depar- 
ture, yet not quite. His bones are with us. We 
have reverently laid them to rest. In this church- 
yard, filled with those to whom in their lives he 
ministered and whom in death he buried, all that 
was mortal of him reposes. Yet, if God has not 
translated him, as Elijah, but called him to die, and 
if God has not buried him in a secret place, as 
Moses, but given us his grave to have in the midst 
of us ; we would not abuse the privilege thus grant- 
ed us to any vain or idolatrous purpose, but even 
while honoring him with suitable monuments and 
memorials, would still look away to his God and 

It is well, as already said, that we have raised this 
day, this beautiful monumental stone. He deserved 
such a token of our respect; and there let it stand 
to honor the worthy dead. But more than this, we 
needed to raise this monumental stone for the sake 
of ourselves ; for his worthy life was especially em- 


ployed ill ministering to us of God's great grace for 
our eternal blessing, and herein had for us its signi- 
ficance. There, then, let that monument stand, to 
testify our gratitude to God for such a friend and 
pastor. There let it stand, to remind us of all his 
prayers and labors, in which he sought our salvation. 
And there let it stand, to warn us of the solemnities 
of the judgment, when all this life of privilege shall 
come in strict review. 

And as often as we come from the places of our 
distant sojourning, to stand by the pastor's grave 
and read the inscriptions on this monument, or as 
often as in our daily familiar goings about this scene, 
we catch glimpses of its shining from afar, let us 
call to mind the responsible Past and the retributive 
Future, and ponder it well, that as he once stood in 
the midst of us a pleading witness for God, and as 
his monument here presides conspicuous over the 
tablets of the surrounding dead, so, in the great day, 
when the graves shall have given up their dead, and 
we all have appeared before the great white throne, 
he will again stand in the midst of us, a foremost 
witness in the great matter which shall decide our 
destiny; and let us strive evermore to be found then 
among those upon whom he shall smilingly look as 
they flock to his side, and of whom he shall say in 
joyful gratitude, ^'Here, Lord, are the children 
whom thou hast given me." 


Note A., p. 130. " Certain peculiarities of language." Many of these were of New 
England origin. Thus, ho was accustomed to say hum, for home, and ceounty, for 
county. Fairfield, the name of his church, and township of residence, he always 
pronounced Furjield. 

Note B , p. 131. " At length, but punctual to the hour, the pastor is seen .slowly ap- 
proaching. " Punctuality was one of the strict moralities of his life. The following 
is an instance of his punctuality. In the spring and summer' which closed his 90th 
year, he made his last visit to Connecticut, traveling alone, excepting as he chanced 
to find company. Some weeks before his return, he wrote to his friends in Fairfield, 
to have his carriage at the steamboat wharf for him, on the afternoon of July 1st. 
On that day, the writer happened to be in Delaware, with a friend, waiting to return 
on the boat which would bring Father Osbor.'i. Knowing his appointment to be at 
home that day, the writer said to his friend, " Now, we shall find Father Osborn on 
board, you may be sure, if he has met with no accident." Going on board, we im- 
mediately looked for him, but were disappointed at not finding him anywhere in the 
more ordinary resorts of passengei-s We began to fear that some accident had be- 
fallen him : but no ; ascending the hurricane deck, we descried him in the extreme 
end of the boat, quietly enjoying the ride, and happy in the prospect of soon meet- 
ing the friends whom he knew to be expecting him. 

Father Osborn was not famous for his fast driving — but rather the contrary. His 
favorite horse, Selim, named from General Marion's fleet charger, — perhaps lucus a 
nan Ivcendo, — was trained j ust to his mind. He could trot over a bridge at any time, 
without violating the ordinance against going " faster than a walk." 

NoteC, p. 134. "Minor traits of character." His old parishioners speak of the 
exceeding grace of manner, with which he would conduct a strange minister into 
his pulpit. In the few words of exhortation which he usually gave at the close of 
a stranger's sermon, he had a very happy way of commending the truth spoken, 
without flattering the speaker. 

He was by no means a retailer of jests ; yet he could very readily offset a good 
story told by another, by something as good from his own resources. A person talk- 
ing with him about the exceeding depravity of a certain people, said, " I have been 
told that it is the rule with them to lie, and the exception to tell the truth." "Yes," 
replied Father Osborn, " I heard of one of them being prosecuted for telling the 
truth, because it deceived everybody." 

His cordiality of manner was visible in everything, yet perhaps in nothing more 
strikingly than in his mode of shaking hands. It was rather a shaking of anns than 
of hands, and a, peculiar shaking withal, lateral and longitudinal, vibrating the arm 
through a pretty large arc, and for a considerable time. 

Father Osborn was reared to the observing of Saturday night as a part of the 
Sabbath. This was not a universal custom in his congregation, some keeping Sun- 
day night. In order that his example might be wholly unexceptionable, he kept 
both Saturday and Sunday nights. And so strict was he in his observance of the 
Sabbath, it was commonly reported that he put off opening his letters received on 
Saturday afternoon, until Monday morning, lest their contents should distract hi.s 
Sabbath meditations. 

In connection with this remark about his conscientiousness, it may be said that his 
unaflected piety spoke in his most ordinary conduct and words. His common re- 
sponse to inquiries after his health was this, " Thanks to a kind Providence, I am 
quite well." 

Note D., p. 135. "His words at the newly made grave." How solemn, as well as 
tender, were these words ! His address at the grave was nearly the same at all fu- 
nerals, and many persons may recollect its language. After thanking the company 
" in the name and on behalf" of the bereaved mourners, for their presence and sym- 
pathies, he would thus speak of the deceased — " Go to his late home — he is not there : 
go to the house of God on which he was so constant an attendant — he is not there. 
His spirit has gone to God who gave it, while his body lies here until the resurrec- 
tion morning, when the archangel's trump shall awake the dead and call the living 
to judgment."