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grown up together with themselves, they had been neighbours, friends, and parishioners, with whom they had often taken "sweet counsel, and gone to the house of God in company." Many of them they had baptized and called them their spiritual children. They were now compelled to see them growing up in ignorance and immorality; to see them scattered in the wilderness without a shepherd to protect them from the wolves; and their hearts yearned in compassion. Hence, these ministers left their own flocks, while they went to seek those who were formerly under their care. These visits were occasional; were very thankfully received, and were apparently very useful. In consequence of similar applications, the several associations of the State, sent out one or more of their ministers, whose pulpits were supplied during their absence by their neighbouring brethren. In the year 1788, the General Association of ministers of Connecticut took up the subject, and recommended the several associations to send out ministers as far as they had power. But as they had no funds, and as the calls for labour at home and abroad were fast increasing, comparatively little was accomplished. In 1792, the General Association petitioned the Legislature of the State for an annual contribution for three years, to be applied to missionary purposes. This petition was granted, and the first contribution was taken up in May following. From that time to the present, the new settlements have never been destitute of missionaries from the State of Connecticut. In the year 1798, the General Association resolved itself into "the Missionary Society of Connecticut." This was only taking a name; for the Society had existed in fact, since 1792. The Society was incorporated by the Legislature in 1802, before which body the trustees annually present an account of their receipts and expenditures. The business of the So
ciety is managed by twelve trustees, of whom six are civilians, and six clergymen, all of whom are annually elected by the Society. The Treasurer is made responsible for his trust by heavy bonds. Thus this Society was brought into existence by the urgent wants of the early emigrants; its object is "to christianize the Heathen in North-America, and to support and promote christian knowledge in the New Settlements; its plan is one of great simplicity. What have been its effects, is yet to appear.
Difficulties encountered by the Society.
It will be recollected that this Society is the oldest of its kind in our country. At the time it was formed, and for many years afterwards the subject of missions was new, and but little understood. Though the trustees have ever been men of sound, discriminating judgment, yet, confined as they were at home, and with but little experience in the business, it could not be expected that their early operations would be marked with that efficiency, with which they are at the present time. The judgment necessary to select proper missionaries, the requisite knowledge of the exact condition and wants of those to whom they were to be sent, could only be acquired as they advanced. The difficulties in the way of obtaining good missionaries were many, in the early stages of their operations. Few of those who were appointed, could accept the office of a missionary on account of the many inconveniences of leaving their own parishes; and if they did accept, many delays occurred before they could get into the field of labour. The funds too of the Society were at first small, though they have been increasing, as their exigencies demanded.
About the time of the commencement of the operations of this Society, the march of Infidelity was desolating the fairest portions of Europe. Reason became the guide of men ; and after trampling on the revelation
of God, she covered the earth with the slain, and wading through the blood of nations, ascended the throne, and ruled the greatest part of the continent. It was a fearful time. Infidelity had almost "put out the sun of Righteousness," " and brought back "darkness visible." It was a sweeping storm, whose bursting nearly overwhelmed all that is cheering in this life or the next. As might be expected, a part of the cloud soon spread, and rose over our country, darkening our prospects, and threatening to drown us in the fury of its tempest. We were at this time in a kind of wild exultation, or heyday of liberty, having just thrown off our allegiance to England, and become an independent people. Hence freedom, for a time, was little else than another name for licentiousness. The contagion reached our new settlements in a peculiar manner, and the missionaries were often necessitated to combat Infidelity in her boldest attitudes. Perhaps they encountered more hardened and daring infidelity during the first six years, than during all the remaining period. This was a great obstacle; but it was one from which it would not do to shrink. Our missionaries were generally able, judicious, pious, energetic men, and they finally rebuked avowed impiety from their presence, wherever they came.
The population of our new settlements is composed of emigrants from all parts of New-England, and indeed, from almost all parts of the world. Hence our missionaries have found almost as many opinions and sentiments on the subject of religion, as individuals. They were of many different sects or denominations, and each bigoted and tenacious of his own. They were often jealous lest the object of the missionaries, was to gain proselytes. In Vermont especially, it was often the case, that when a minister arrived, the most skilful or jealous men of the village would assemble and examine him as to his capacity to teach. By watching over
each other, and by practice, they became expert in asking knotty questions; but as the Society commonly sent out none but men of sterling character, they generally yielded him his place, or, as they expressed it, "gave him the great chair," and listened to his instructions. Our missionaries manifested a desire to make christians, and not proselytes; and the different denominations gradually laid aside their peculiar prejudices and heard them gladly.
Another obstacle has been the prevalence of bigoted and ignorant preachers, with whom our new countries have ever abounded. They have often crossed the path of preachers from this Society, and by their cavils and boisterous conduct, have caused them no small trouble. They usually are ignorant, illiterate men, some of whom are scarcely able to read. They commonly substitute rant and noise for the solemnities of the Gospel. They have produced many divisions and disagreements among infant churches; and spent no small quantity of breath in railing against educated ministers, and against doctrines and truths of the import of whose names, they are entirely ignorant. They are "zealous, but not according to knowledge." I do not pretend to deny that uneducated ministers have been in a degree useful in our new settlements. I am only stating facts, without theorizing.
The trustees have often had malicious reports circulated, impeaching sometimes their motives and characters, sometimes those of their missionaries. These have been industriously propagated at home and abroad. But as the Directors have ever been discreet, disinterested, and public in all their measures, the enemies of evangelical religion have found it hard to pass coin so evidently base, and such reports have commonly sunk under the weight of their own sins. All these obstacles have been met and overcome with a patience that does honor to our religion.
Success of the Society.
If this society has not appeared majestic in its march-if it has shone only with the brilliancy of a star of lesser magnitude, its light has been pure, and its rays steady. It has unceasingly illuminated the dark corners of our land, and guided many a wandering pilgrim to the fold of Christ. The Trustees have annually presented an unadorned matter-offact statement, which has attracted but little notice from men. But he who died for the church, has constantly watched this silent fountain as it has sent forth its purifying waters, which have been gradually growing broader and deeper, and which have gladdened the desert, and caused the waste places to bud and blossom as the rose. The field of labour has extended from Canada to the Missouri, within which limits, there has been no corner so dark, no shades so gloomy, no neighborhood so degraded, that the missionary has not entered them, bearing in his hand the torch of hope, and pouring the light of immortality into the cabins of ignorance and darkness. The Society has often employed between forty and fifty missionaries in the course of one year. These have usually been ordained ministers who were tried men, and who shrunk from no toil, who were checked by no discouragements. They have generally preached upon an average, as many as five, and often eight times during a week, besides other duties. They have formed new churches,strengthened those which were feeble and languishing,-assisted in introducing and permanently settling many ministers,-healed jealousies and divisions in churches and societies,-distributed Bibles and other religious books,-established and encouraged schools, visited the sick, the distressed and the dying,-attended funerals,-visited from house to house, and poured the phial of consolation into every bosom of sorrow which they met. In latter years the preachers employed by
this Society, have been men who were formerly sent out from this state, but who are now pastors of litthe churches which they have gathered, and to which they statedly preach a part of the time. These men are experienced, are on the spot, and can labor with great efficiency.
In examining the documents of this Society, I cannot arrive at any thing like an accurate estimate of the aggregate of labor performed by their missionaries. In some of their reports, for the sake of brevity, and lest they become uniform, the Trustess mention no particular data by which we can judge of the amount of labor in a given year. In others, they are not, and for want of information them. selves, could not be so particular as would seem desirable. For example, they begin one of their reports as follows: "Conciseness has been regarded in the compilation of the following Narrative. On this principle, the number of miles travelled ; of families, schools, and sick persons visited; of conferences, councils, church and prayer meetings, and funerals attended; of hopeful converts admitted to christian privileges on a profession of piety; and of sacramental administrations; with those more minute details of missionary duty which every man employed is required to give, in the journals of his labors, will be found to have been omitted."
But, notwithstanding this want of data in making out a general result, I have been able to obtain the following particulars. If I am not sure the several items are arithmetically exact, I shall mention it as I proceed. The number of missionaries employed by the Society since its organization is one hundred and seventy. Very many of these men have left their remains in the field of their labors. Some are laid beside the Lakes of the north, some on the banks of the Ohio, and some have found a repose too humble and obscure to be pointed out. They were devoted men, who laboured faithful
ly for their Master on earth, and we trust their deeds have been acknowledged in heaven. Their graves have often been wet with the tears of gratitude.
It will readily be acknowledged that a missionary, who goes from place to place, unincumbered by any other business besides his employment, can preach much oftener, and perform more duties in a given number of weeks than a settled minister. I have before stated that the missionaries of this Society have averaged at least five sermons a week. Now, although I presume not more than two thirds of the time actually spent has been mentioned, yet I find the names of particular individuals mentioned, who have spent 11,533 weeks on missionary ground; which, at five sermons a week, would amount to 57, 665 sermons, besides lectures, conferences, &c. Allowing a settled minister to preach three sermons during a week, I find the above estimate of labor actually mentioned by the documents of the Society, to amount to a total, equalling the labours of one faithful man for 370 years. But could we know all the labours of these missionaries, the last item might probably be doubled without any fear of exaggeration.
It is likewise imposible to state, with precision, how many churches have been gathered in the wilderness by means of this Society, or how many have been preserved from becoming extinct. I find the names of 135 places mentioned, in which new churches have been formed. Most of these have now a settled minister, either the whole or the greater part of the time. I find also 1,013 individuals who have been admitted to the communion table, and 2,532 baptisms. Probably not half are here enumerated.
The missionaries of this Society bave generally travelled on horse back, the only mode in which they could pass through the forests. I know not how great is the extent of ground actually passed over by all these
heralds of salvation: I only know that a part of them have travelled 148,788 miles.
For many years past, the Trustees have annually sent out by their missionaries, a considerable quantity of Bibles and religious books, suitable to the condition of the people. These have uniformly been received with the utmost eagerness, and their effects have been visibly happy. The number of books thus distributed, is 45,304.
The number of Bible, Missionary, Education, Moral, and other benevolent Societies, which the missionaries of this Society have been the means of forming in the new settlements, is very considerable. In those regions where twenty five years ago they had no preaching except what was furnished by this Society, there are now missionary Societies of their own, whose influence is extremely felt in this and other countries.
The relation of particular instances of good, effected by the ministers sent out by this Society, would occupy more room than can be devoted to this part of the history. Yet it will not be uninteresting to mention the circumstances which led to the formation of one or two of the churches. They are only particular instances out of hundreds, which might be mentioned. I state these facts as I received them from a missionary of the Society, and although they are not in the printed documents, they are literally correct.
Several years since, a poor but pious man, removed his family from this State, into the northern part of the State of New York. Here he built him a little log cabin in the wilderness, shut out as he supposed from all christian society, and all prospects of usefulness, save in his own domestic circle, where he bad erected the family altar on his first arrival. Neighbours gradually began to come around him, though not of a kindred spirit. For a very considerable time, the solitary christian
saw the sabbath dishonoured and profaned,and wickedness rapidly increasing, without any hope of his being able to check the current. His neighbours would spend the sabbath in drinking whiskey at each other's houses, or in tapping their trees and boiling the sap into sugar, or collected in parties, they would go out and hunt. He
was alone, and knew no other christian in that region. At length he came to the bold resolution of establishing a meeting at his own house. To accomplish this, after having fasted, and prayed for divine assistance, he informed his neighbours that if they would assemble at his house on the ensuing Sabbath, he would read a sermon, and make a prayer.' He next split a tree and hewed it into rough benches. The novelty of the proposal filled the little cottage with attentive hearers. This was the first
christian meeting in that region. At the close of it, a second was proposed, and met with a hearty approval. The man continued his meetings, and had hearers from ten and twelve miles. This brought him in contact with two or three other pious men, who like himself had been mourning in secret places, without knowing of each other's existence. They united their hearts and their prayers, and were soon strongly cemented in the work of doing good. Their meetings continued to increase in frequency, and in the number of attendants for a considerable time. Things were in this state, when a missionary from this Society arrived. He was received with tears of joy. He preached and visited as long as he could tarry: during which time he gathered a church, which though small, was firm and strong in the faith. I have only to add, that this people have now a large church, a good meeting house, and a faithful minister.
At the commencement of the settlement of a flourishing village, (I believe it was Batavia,) in the State of New York, there removed from Connecticut a pious lady. She had
enjoyed all the privileges of the Gospel till she came into the 'new country,' and now mournfully looked back upon the time when she 'sat under the droppings of the sanctuary' of God. She knew no one to whom she could unbosom herself, or with whom she could take sweet counsel. She felt herself to be a stranger and a pilgrim in quest of a better country, but she had no fellow traveller to help and cheer her on the way. While making a visit one afternoon, she met with a lady whom she had not before seen. She providentially mentioned the subject of religion, and feelingly compared her present, with her former privileges. The manner of her speaking was such as to fill the eyes of her new acquaintance with tears; and they immediately knew that they had then found, what they had both so much desired -a christian companion. The first social prayer ever offered in that village was from the united hearts of these two females, as they that evening knelt together in a little thicket. From that time they met as often as once every week for prayer; and they never prayed without praying for the ordinances of the Gospel. After some time they found a third of kindred feeling. The story that there was a praying circle there, was spread, and many who were not professors of religion, earnestly requested to be admitted into the circle, and were received. It was thus that the foundation for a church was laid. A missionary from the Connecticut Society arrives, and a church is immediately gathered. And there are now two meeting houses, two ministers, two considerable churches, and upwards of three thousand inhabitants in that village, where but a few years since, a solitary female was weeping and praying for the ordinances of the Gospel.
The Trustees, at different times, have endeavoured to establish missions among the Indians, according to a part of the articles of their constitution. Their success here has been