Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

most illegally shrouded in silence, and a vote was thus surreptitiously obtained, that he should forthwith depart from the borders of Gloucester; of this vote he was advertised by an officer-let us not say of justice. Still, however, he continued witnessing both to small and great, what Moses and the prophets had testified, concerning Jesus of Nazareth, that he died for our sins, and rose again for our justification. The most unwarrantable means were employed; old slanders were resuscitated, and new accusations brought forward; tales which had been repeatedly confuted, were new garbed, and sent abroad, swelling the bosom of integrity with unutterable anguish. Among countless other calumnies which were afloat, a story was embellished, and published, originally propagated by one Maxwell, wherein the preacher, the lover of the Redeemer, is represented as treating the Eucharist in a ludicrous manner! although the gentleman-Mr. afterwards General Greene, at whose house, and in whose presence, the irreverent profanation was said to have taken place-had written to Doctor S- and others, completely exonerating the accused. Mr. Murray's sentiments upon the sacred and consolatory ordinance of the Lord's Supper, are explained and expatiated upon, in his Letters and Sketches of Sermons, to which the interested reader is referred. It cannot be denied, that characters generally respectable combined to stimulate the mob to the most desperate measures; but every unwarrantable project was frustrated. The doors of the meetinghouse being now closed, the parlors of respectable friends became the places of assembling, until at length a spacious room was consecrated for that purpose. Letters of excommunication were now addressed, by the established Minister, to seventeen of the most respectable Church members, and this, for their attachment to the Gospel of God our Saviour. While others, availing themselves of a Provincial Law, endeavored to expel the Ambassador of their God, as a Vagrant. To meet and obviate which difficulty, the kind friend under whose especial patronage he then was, presented him with a deed of gift which constituted him a freeholder in Gloucester. The months of March and April, in this year, were, by the preacher, devoted to visiting his friends in Boston, and various parts of Rhode Island, and toward the close of April he returned to his highly favored home, rejoicing that the zeal and attachment of the Gloucesterians were nothing diminished, and their meetings for scriptural investigations were joyfully resumed. In the month of May, 1775, the leading officers of the Rhode Island Brigade, assembled in the neighborhood of Boston, dispatched a respectable messenger, with a letter, soliciting the attendance of the promulgator, as chaplain* to their detachment of the Revolutionary Army. We transcribe a verbatim copy of this letter.

*It is not difficult to see the cause of Mr. Murray's appointment to this office. In his journeys through Rhode Island he had become intimately acquainted with several of the officers, particularly Mr. after

'DEAR SIR:

'AMIDST that concurrence of events which the great Creator in infinite wisdom directs, for the accomplishment of his own purposes, a British armament hath set hostile foot upon American ground. What the design of the Almighty may be, we cannot at present absolutely determine. One thing we know, our cause is just, and also that the Parent the universe can do no wrong. An army hath been raised in this Colony, which is now stationed upon Jamaica Plains in Roxbury, and that this army may do honor to themselves, and the cause in which they are embarked, it is requisite propriety of manners, regularity of conduct, and a due reliance upon the Almighty controller of events, should be cultivated and enforced. The most probable human means we can devise to effect an object so ardently to be desired, consist in a decent, sincere, and devout attendance, at opportune seasons, upon divine worship. We have, therefore, selected you, as a Chaplain to our Brigade, well convinced that your extensive benevolence and abilities will justify our choice. We cannot, without doing vio lence to the opinion we have formed of your character, doubt of your ready compliance with our united request. The support you will receive shall exactly correspond with your feelings, and your wishes. We are, dear sir, &c. &c. &c.

'Signed in behalf of the Brigade,

J. N. VARNUM.

'May 24, 1775.'

A persuasion that he could be of more use in the army than elsewhere, would not allow the preacher to balance, and, accordingly, resigning the calm recess of friendship, he presented himself in the American camp, and 'armed with the sword of Jesse's youthful son,' he was indeed most ardently engaged. The scene, however, was not calculated to give pleasure to a philanthropist. In a memorandum of this date, he thus expresses himself: My troubles have recommenced; I am now indeed in the world, and shall doubtless encounter tribulation; I am associated with an ungovernable set of people. It is true, the officers are gentlemen, and call into action every effort to strengthen my hands; but the soldiers-alas! the fact is, I am not in my own company.

Upon the 3d of July, the chaplain accompanied a detachment

wards General Greene, who through the whole war held so high a rank in the affection and confidence of the commander-in-chief, and who was regarded as second only to him in patriotism, stability, prudence and military skill. His previous acquaintance with the first officers of the Rhode Island Brigade, was the unquestionable cause of his appointment. Evans, in his Sketch of the Christian Seets, and Southey, in his Life of Wesley, have both erred, in stating that Mr. Murray was chap. lain to General Washington. He was chaplain only to the Rhode Is land Brigade. T. W.

of the brigade, to compliment General Washington upon his arrival to take the supreme command of the army at Cambridge; and he was received by the immortal chief with that urbanity which he so well knew to practise. The subject of the first sermon, preached on sabbath morning at the camp, Jamaica Plains, was Psalm xliv. 1, 2, 3, and upon the evening of the same day, the last verse of the same Psalm. The preacher was engaged occasionally at Jamaica Plains, and on Prospect Hill. Every morning at 7 o'clock he met the several regiments upon the parade; gradually the habits of swearing and the rough manners of the soldiery, yielded to the christianized eloquence of their chaplain, and his success in the army was indeed most wonderful. His benevolence and benignity while there, is storied by many a tongue; we indulge ourselves by selecting an instance, which did not reach our ears until since his decease. A detachment of the army was ordered to march; a river was to be forded: a poor soldier in years, and struggling with sickness, was tottering under his burden: the preacher instantly accoutred himself with the knapsack, arms, and cartouch-box, and thus arrayed, proceeded on, while the suffererer disencumbered, passed lightly over. The writer of this sketch could furnish a series of similar anecdotes; often, when his finances have been at the lowest ebb, and the prodigious expense of living has produced distressing embarrassments, she has seen him extend to the necessitous, an extricating hand; and he not only indulged and cherished, but invariably stimulated every charitable purpose of her soul.

General Washington honored the preacher with marked and uniform attention; the chaplains of the army united in petitioning the chief for the reinoval of the promulgator of glad tidings; the answer was handed them, in the general orders of the ensuing day, which appointed Mr. John Murray chaplain of the three Rhode Island regiments, with a command from his Excellency GEORGE WASHINGTON, that he should be respected accordingly. Mr. Murray's commission was made out, and delivered to him; when, enclosing it in a respectfully polite letter of thanks, he returned it to the noble minded chief, earnestly requesting permission to continue in the army, as a volunteer. General Washington, after perusing, folded the paper, and observed, 'Mr. Murray is a young man now; he will live to be old, and repentance will be the companion of his age.' The preacher lived to see this prediction fulfilled. Had he embraced the rich opportunity then presented, he might have continued in the family of General Greene, whose friendship was unbroken, and where his abode was hailed as a distinguishing favor, his daily ratio would have augmented for his emolument, his salary would have accumulated, he would have retired upon half pay, or commutation, and during the years of languor and decrepitude, he might have commanded his own carriage and servants; but the reader must have seen that the preacher was accustomed to withdraw from the approaches of affluence.

Mr. Murray continued in the army so long as his health would

permit; but being violently seized by an indisposition, which terminated in a bilious fever that precipitated him to the gates of the grave, he was, by the physician of the brigade, conducted to Gloucester; and no sooner was his health re-established, than his strongest feelings were powerfully excited by the sufferings of the sons and daughters of want in that town. War of any description is particularly oppressive to the inhabitants seated upon the margin of the ocean: their subsistence is principally derived from the deep. The rich sources of commerce, thrown open by the genial hand of peace, became to the hardy and enterprising Gloucesterian, legitimate objects of pursuit; and his uniform and industrious efforts are crowned by competency. But whatever obstructs his adventurous plans, inevitably involves him in distress; and the period to which we advert, was, perhaps, the most gloomy of any during the revolutionary war. It had continued long enough to try without familiarizing or indurating the feelings, and hope had almost become the victim of despair. The humane preacher surveyed those multiplied children of penury-and he surveyed them with a philanthropic eye; nor was this all-commencing a journey in the depth of a severe winter, he addressed the general officers in the American army, beginning with their revered chief, and extending his application to many other gentlemen, whose confidence and whose friendship he enjoyed. He addressed to those distinguished individuals the voice of supplication, and so successful was his embassy, that he returned to Gloucester with a large sum of money, which he converted into rice, meal, and molasses, rendering a scrupulous account to the selectmen, and praying them to recommend such persons as were proper objects of this providential bounty. The whole was punctually distributed, and many sufferers most essentially relieved. Yet on the 27th day of February, in the succeeding year, 1777, we find this same feeling solicitor summoned from the house of a friend, Mr. Winthrop Sargent, where he was suffering from indisposition, and arraigned at the bar of the then committee of safety for the town of Gloucester. Some gentlemen counselled him to disregard the summons, especially as the whole committee were not assembled, and those who were collected were decidedly his inveterate enemies, but he answered, that possessing a consciousness of innocence, he could not fear the face of man.

The following account of the extraordinary proceedings which ensued, is from the minutes of a gentleman, who was an ear witness of the scene. The chairman of the committee opened the business. 'We have sent for you, to know who you are, and from whence you came?' 'Your question is rather difficult, sir, I hardly know how to answer you; do you mean where did I come from last?' 'I say where did you come from?' 'I have been in various places in this country, sir. 'I say where did you come from when you came into this country?' From England. From what part of England?' 'London.' "What business had you to come to this country?' 'Business, sir! I felt disposed to

6

"

come, and came-' 'What business have you in this town?' "The same as I have in every town where I happen to sojourn.' Here one of the committee, arose, and requesting leave to speak, which was granted, said: '1 conceive we have sent for this man to know from whence he came, who he is, and what business he has here; this is a time of difficulty, we are at variance with England, he calls himself an Englishman, we do not know what he is. He associates with a great many, whom we look upon as enemies to this country, and they go to hear him converse-I think I cannot call it preaching.' Here Mr. Murray would have spoken, but he was imperiously, not to say impudently, commanded to be silent, and his accuser proceeded, until at length the chairman again resumed: "Where did you come from? We want to know where you were born, and brought up?' Mr. Murray answered, Gentlemen, it is not my wish to give you unneces sary trouble. I was born in England; shortly after I had attained my eleventh year, I accompanied my father to Ireland, where I continued many years under his care; when I was between 10 and 20, 1 returned to England, where I abode, living generally in London, until I quitted it for this country. Since I came into this country, my residence has been in Maryland, Pennsylvania, the Jerseys, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.' 'What did you come into this country for?' In pursuit of retirement, but concurrent circumstances rendered me a preacher.' 'Have you any credentials?' 'Yes sir.''Show them.' 'I have none present, there are many in this town who have heard me, and received my testimony; they are my credentials.' 'Ay, that is nothing-you see he has no authority. How could you think of preaching without authority?' When I came into this country there was no war, I believed it to be a land of civil, and religious liberty-every charter, and every law made among yourselves, breathed a spirit of toleration, I felt assured I should he allowed liberty of conscience; my intentions were upright; a conviction that God had ordained me to proclaim the gospel, has been powerfully impressed upon my mind, and I am still convinced, that I ought to preach the Gospel.' 'How long do you intend to stay in this town?' 'I do not precisely know; but certainly until the weather and roads shall be good.' The weather will do, and it is pretty good travelling now. (At this time the winter having been extremely severe, the roads were nearly impassable.) 'I do not believe I shall quit Gloucester until April; about that time I expect to commence a journey to Philadelphia.' 'The town is very uneasy at your continuance here, and we are a committee of safety. We are to take up all strangers, and send them out of town.' 'Sir, I have already been warned out of town, and if you be apprehensive of my becoming a charge, I can procure bonds.' One of the committee addressed the chair for liberty to speak, which having obtained, he said: "Your stay in this town, is cause of uneasiness to many; you hurt the morals of

6

« ПредишнаНапред »