« PreviousContinue »
To this meeting have resorted not only Congrogationalists, but our Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, and Presbyterian brethren, and have been cordially welcomed. The spirit that has prevailed in it has been at the furthest remove from sectarianism; and the utmost liberty, consistent with Christian order, has been enjoyed in the remarks which any individual might deem it proper to make. The chair has been occupied by brethren invited at each previous meeting, and held by no religious denomination consecutively. A lovely spirit of harmony has appeared to prevail, and those who have been able to attend most constantly have professed most strongly their attachment to the meeting, and their appreciation of its privileges.
Some of those who have attended, either occasionally or statedly, and taken an active part in the services, have been called away by death, and have joined, as we trust, “the general assembly and church of the first-born." Colonel Vinson was one of these, and his name is precious to many survivors. Another was Chris. Dean, Treasurer of the Sabbath School Society. A third was Rev. N. W. Williams, of the Baptist communion. Rev. Dr. Bates, formerly President of Middlebury College, was a fourth. Mr. Hersey, a member of the citywatch, a pious, devoted man, whose heart felt for sinners, and for all the destitute, was a fifth. Mr. Dwight, who has been mentioned, was a sixth, and his death has been deeply felt. He had been accustomed to collect and compare the statistics of religious bodies of men, as well as those which related to his own particular purview of duty, as Secretary of the Prison Discipline Society for the last thirty years; and from him we expected accounts of
revivals in other cities and towns of our own country, as well as exhortations to Christian duty in reference to the poor, and the various suffering classes of the community. For his successor we thus far look in vain. The Lord in mercy raise up many such, of large, self-denying, Christian benevolence!
The seventh and last instance of death was that of the Rev. Mr. Farnsworth. His attachment to the meeting grew stronger and stronger. While officiating as a chaplain of one of the houses of our Legislature, it was his pleasure to attend frequently, and he has told us that after his residence had been changed to the place where he closed his useful life, he has journeyed in the morning thirty miles to meet us.
Besides those who have been removed by death, one, our Brother Palmer, of South Boston, was disabled by a fall, during the last winter, and is still confined, suffering a paralysis of the lower limbs. But his mind has been unaffected, and his interest in this prayer-meeting has been evinced habitually in his affectionate inquiries made of the brethren who have visited him in his sickness.
Some months ago, the subscriber was appointed by the meeting, in connection with the late lamented Mr. Dwight, to prepare a report concerning it. To this Mr. Dwight was unable to give attention afterward, and it has been omitted until now, when, at the approach of another year, it has borne with considerable weight on the mind of the surviving member of that committee, who offers this narrative with a few further observations.
The special design of our prayer-meeting has been stated to be, “to pray for the revival of religion, in the outpouring of the Spirit on the in
habitants of this city.” It is natural to inquire what have been the perceptible results, and what answers have we obtained.
And what are we to reply? These have been, assuredly, no general revival of religion in this city, like that, for instance, of 1827. But we have witnessed a movement, the like of which was never known by our fathers. The associations of young men for purposes of religious or benevolent effort, and the invitation from them to the ministers of the Gospel to give stated religious instruction, on which they attend in crowds—who shall say how much good this has effected, or how much evil it has hindered? The enlargement, too, of the city mission institution, and its efficiency among the poor and destitute, have been observable and exceedingly gratifying during the period. The opportunity given to Christian strangers to enter our meeting and declare what God has wrought in the field of their own observation—what a privilege has this been! And how have our hearts burned within us, when fervid exhortations have been addressed to us, or we have joined with those who have offered their fervid petitions for us! Some of these seasons we shall probably very long remember to our profit.
God is pleased to answer the prayers of His people in His own way and time. The efficacy of these prayers eternity alone may be left to shew. But that "men ought always to pray and not to faint” is acknowledged Christian duty-and it is Christian privilege, too.
The meeting has admitted, occasionally, special requests. Notes have been presented, as in the public assemblies on the Sabbath, for persons needing relief, either spiritual or temporal. It has
happily been found impracticable to confine the privilege of access to the throne of grace to one single object, with whatever sense of infinite importance the work of the Spirit has been supplicated. That work of the Spirit has been felt, apparently, to be necessary to the development of God's plan of mercy, not only towards the comparatively small community of our own personal connection, but equally to all parts of the earthly dominion of God. It is the coming of His kingdom, the doing of His will, the accomplishment of His gracious promises, and that in submission to His infinite wisdom, which, as Christians, we are bound to seek, and which Christians will seek. And, whether the answers to prayer be given in Burmah or the Sandwich Islands, in India, China, or Japan, or our own Western States and Territories, the glory of God in the salvation of souls will, when known, not only gladden the hearts of true believers on earth, but excite new praises among the hosts of heaven.
for presenting a Report. (Read at the meeting, and accepted, Saturday morning, December 30th, 1854.)
“At a subsequent meeting, W. J. was chosen its permanent Secretary, and desired to hold correspondence, occasionally, with such as elsewhere held similar meetings."
This finishes the first record which was made at the Old South Meeting. It must be borne in mind that it was made four years after the meeting was established. The second, third, fourth, and fifth records, or reports, were made by Rev. Dr. Jenks,
and were read at the meeting. The following are exact copies :
SECOND ANNUAL REPORT OF THE MORNING PRAYERMEETING AT THE OLD SOUTH CHAPEL.
(Read December 29, 1855.) At the closing of another year, it may not be unprofitable, and will probably have been expected, that we take a review, however slight and brief, of what has transpired during its course, in reference to our morning assemblies for prayer.
The anniversary, indeed, of the institution of them, or rather their resuscitation, occurred on the 4th of the month. But the close of the year, transferring us to another division of passing life, seemed the fittest period for the service.
Let us, then, solemnly inquire into the results. These, it would seem likely, may profitably divide themselves into outward and visible changes, and those which are internal.
With respect to the former, which, as observed in the last year's report, partake of the special design of this meeting, in the minds of its founders, in 1850—namely, to pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the inhabitants of this city, that religion may be revived in its power throughout the churches, or, to speak in a manner more consonant with the spirit of Christian union, within the Church of Christ, in its different branches among us—we have, thus far, experienced nothing of a very peculiar nature. Some, indeed, of the churches have received considerable additions, especially that of Mount Vernon ; but there has been no such movement of public feeling' as marked the years 1792, 1827, and 1842.