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A SERIOUS ADDRESS AND FAREWELL CHARGE To the MEMBERS of the CHURCH of ENGLAND In SIMSBURY and the adjacent parts. BY ROGER VIETS, Lately their MISSIONARY, NOW MISSIONARY at DIGBY in NOVA-SCOTIA.

HARTFORD; PRINTED BY HUDSON AND GOODWIN M,DCC,LXXXVII.

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My loving, and most tenderly beloved PARISHIONERS.

IT is almost needless to remind you of the anxious concern, generally attending the final separation of friends, neighbours and acquaintance. This concern is augmented by the uncommon warmth of friendship; the intimacy of neighbourhood, and the length of time, wherein the parties have been acquainted with each other.

Though I have delivered two public discourses to you, upon the occasion of my removal, still I could not depart without leaving with you somewhat further of my sentiments and advice committed to paper, hoping they will be considered as my last, and in some sense as my dying expressions.

Born as I have been and nurtured among you, hav­ing led your devotions almost twenty-eight years, of which term, more than twenty-four years I have been in holy orders, and have (within and without my mis­sion) administered the holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, to a great number of devout and exemplary communicants; have admitted into Christianity by Baptism no less than 122 persons of riper years, and 1749 infants; have joined in marriage 176 couple; have committed to the silent grave in full hope of their rising again at the last day, the bodies of 219 de­ceased persons; have received by profession, into the bosom of our excellent church 215 heads of families. From the year 1759 to the present time, the number of conformists to the church has increased from 75 to more than 280 families, exclusive of the many that [Page 4] have emigrated, and the few that have apostatized: Within the before mentioned period, I have (upon a moderate computation) travelled by land and by wa­ter, more than the extent of three times the circumfe­rence of the terraqueous globe.

The perfect unanimity subsisting for such a length of time both among the people, and between the peo­ple and their minister, has been extensively observed and mentioned, to the great honour of my people, and satisfaction of myself. You have indeed exhibit­ed a laudable example of charity and concord; an ex­ample, which has been admired by all, extolled by many imitated by few!

How shall I find words to express my gratitude for the numerous and estimable favours that I have re­ceived at your hands! Your undissembled friendship— your unremitted benevolence—your unmerited can­dour—your unlimited approbation, has made impress­ions on my mind too deep to be erased by the greatest change of circumstances—too durable to be annihila­ted by the hand of time: for every mark of your cor­dial love, unshaken fidelity and esteem, candour and generosity, zeal for the service of God and his church, be pleased to accept of my sincerest acknowledgments, my warmest gratitude. Whithersoever Heaven shall guide my steps, the dear remembrance of my former parish will never lose its place in my mind: a sense of your affection and beneficence, will remain deeply en­graves on the fleshy table of my heart.

Not is my gratitude confined to those of our own church only, many people of other professions of re­ligion have shewn the most lively demonstrations of a derential regard for me, and of courteous benevo­lence towards me: this regard and benevolence, merit [Page 5] the warmest gratitude of which my heart is suscepti­ble, and shall not be forgotten as long as memory holds a seat in my brain.

Never, perhaps, was a minister and people separated with more reluctance on both sides; never, perhaps, was their mutual regret more equally balanced. As our esteem and affection have been reciprocal, so is the grief of our parting. Nor was I ever sensible, till the present crisis, to what height your good will and res­pect for me have arisen.

But having with much satisfaction and undeserved applause expended the prime and best part of my life among you, and in your service; it can by no means be expected, that we can much longer remain in the present life, reciprocally a comfort and assistance to each other. Should my life, and the lives of such of you as are nearly coeval with me, be so lengthened out as to complete a full century, how swiftly would the remaining fifty years glide away! How soon would the last half of the century expire! And even much the greater part of this short remaining time, would be evil days and years, in which we should truly say that we had no pleasure. Since then the short re­maining space, that we can expect or even wish for, must pass away and forever disappear like the wind, or like the chaff which the wind driveth away; since time itself is as vain and fleeting as a shadow, a vapour or a dream, and the remaining part of our lives, can be but as it were, "dream of a dream, and shadow of a shade." How can the difference be thought very material, betwixt the parting of friends at the present time, and their parting twenty or forty years hence? Nay, on some accounts, it is more eligible to part from our friends at the middle stage of life, when old [Page 6] age and infirmities but begin to oppress us, than to dwell with them till we become (for reasons very ob­vious) a burden and vexation to each other. But still it is grievous, it is melancholy, it is painful, for us to be separated; and would it not be as much, or more painful, to be separated after we have dwelt together twenty or forty years longer? Length of time endears friends more closely to each other, and the interchange of benign offices, strengthens the bands of amity, in some proportion to the time lent us by indulgent Heaven, partly for the purposes of exercising those offices. The well known brevity and uncertainty of life, teach us the most obvious lesson of resignation, at bidding adieu to our dearest friends. For the short­ness and precariousness of life, clearly display to our sight, the vanity of all temporal enjoyments, the in­sufficiency of all friendships and connexions on this side of eternity, to satisfy a rational being, or to afford complete happiness to a mind immortal. Therefore let us dry up our tears, and like persons of sound reason, give all these arguments their proper weight, and bid farewell to each other with entire submission to the will of Heaven, with a decent chearfulness, and a lively hope of meeting again in a better country, in a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.

As to the motives inducing me to a removal. There is a general accusation thrown out against the ministers of all parties and religions (whether in jest or earnest I know not) that they are wholly actuated by worldly interest, by an insatiable desire of tempor­al gain. I hope ministers of the gospel do not in gen­eral deserve such severe censure. The clergy of our Church I am well convinced do not. To myself I know such an observation cannot be applied: and [Page 7] hope I have demonstrated by many years conduct, and shall hereafter demonstrate, that I am not chiefly guid­ed by a motive so mean and sordid. And I cannot but query, whether, laymen who are most liberal of such reflections on the clergy do not judge us accord­ing to some avaricious principles lurking in their own breasts? Whether they would not I say (in our situa­tion) act from the same sinister views, which they at­tribute to us? It is reasonable, and a duty incumbent on every man to have regard to his worldly interest, in a certain restricted degree, it is the will of God that we should by proper means make provision for the de­cent and even creditable support of ourselves and our families; and as far as is in our power by honest means, to leave somewhat behind us for the benefit of our families after our decease. But this temporal in­terest must not by any means be the sole or even the chief motive of our actions. God forbid, that any man, much more that any minister of the gospel, should set a greater value on this world than on Hea­ven! on time than eternity! The whole world in competition with one soul, is as the small drop of the bucket, the imperceptible dust of the balance.

A weighty inducement to my removal arose from gratitude to the pious and venerable society for the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts, who have been my principal and most constant supporters. Reason and gratitude bound me to pay an high regard to their commands. They directed me to remove myself to Digby in Nova-Scotia.

What influence the difference of constitution be­tween Connecticut and Nova-Scotia may have on me, is not proper for me to mention.

The people of my new mission, though earnestly [Page 8] desirous of enjoying the benefits of public worship and sacraments, had no minister of any denomination whatever of constant abode within the compass of eighteen miles▪ more than three hundred families dis­persed through a large extent of country, will receive a supply of their spiritual necessities by my new appoint­ment. Insomuch, that there can be no doubt, of my being able to do more for the advancement of God's glory, the kingdom of Christ, and prosperity of the church in my new residence, than among you; how then can I be blamed for the measures I have taken?

The situation of the place, and the disposition of the inhabitants, were strong persuasions with me, to expend the remainder of my days here. Every one hath his particular opinion and humour. Let others think and speak as they please of this place, I never saw a place or people more agreeable to me in all points.

Nova-Scotia is a peninsula, is situate in a happy climate, one of their best towns is Annapolis, from which Digby is distant about eigteeen miles. Digby is situate on a rising ground, upon the Bason and in the county of Annapolis Royal; and contains perhaps about one hundred families. On one side of the town is a most amiable prospect of the Bason, and a line of houses and farms, upon the adjacent shore, around the whole; on the other side is an agreeable walk, through pleasant woodlands, for about six miles to St. Mary's Bay; thence continues an agreeable passage by land or water, upon the Bay of St. Mary, for twelve miles further, till we come to Sissaboo, a fruitful village, possessed by a courteous, well-disposed people. The situation, and air of Digby, is exceeding healthy, and the soil is far from barren. I have seen some instances [Page 9] of vegetable productions, in that place, surprizing and almost incredible. The harbour is good; with a ve­ry high tide, and a plentiful supply of fish of many kinds.

But none of these circumstances recommend the country to my choice, so much as the worthiness and good disposition of the Inhabitants. Gentle and amia­ble, kind and hospitable, must every unprejudiced per­son allow them to be. Neither are they addicted to such vice and prophaneness, as the people of Nova-Scotia are throughout the states represented to be guil­ty of. During the whole time of my residence at Digby, I have not heard one obscene word, and but very few prophane words. In paying regard to the times, places and institutions of divine worship, they are equal, or superior, to the greatest part of the sea­port or populous towns of New-England. To all this may be added, as a very important benefit to the settlers, that much the greater part of the idle, disso­lute, litigious and helpless people, such as were in all probability likely to become a public charge, such as would not labour, or were inclined to more profligate morals, have emigrated to the states, chiefly to New-York: and there is great hope, that the few of this character remaining among us, will shortly follow their example: In whose stead, honest, industrious people from Europe, and from the states, charmed with the advantages of the place, and the ingenuousness of the people, are coming in, and bid fair to be useful members to the town, and the province.

The great and essential principles of christianity I have so constantly inculcated in my administrations, that it is needless to repeat them; such as a rational, firm, well established faith, an uniform holiness of life, [Page 10] purity of heart, charity, mercy, meekness, patience, temperance, justice, and all other fruits of the spirit. These general and well known subjects I will omit and give you a few words of advice upon some more par­ticular matters.

Let me beseech you then, by all our past friendship and present regret, to attend constantly and devoutly on the public worship of God; when you cannot have one in holy orders to officiate amongst you, still meet together, and read the common prayer and some good printed sermons amongst yourselves. I have found it an unexceptionable observation, that where ever a con­gregation make a constant practice of celebrating God's worship upon every Lord's day, they have more reli­gious knowledge, a more active spirit of devotion, they have more regard for God, his word, his ministers and his institutions, than is to be found among other people. In small congregations who can but seldom have a man in holy orders among them, the meeting together and worshipping God, is a laudable and edi­fying practice; a practice which cannot be too much commended or encouraged; and which has preserved an understanding of Christianity, and a spirit of ration­al devotion amongst the episcopal people of Connec­ticut.

If my last words to you, and as it were my dying ad­vice, can have influence upon you, I intreat you never to admit of any material alterations in your form of public devotion.—Indeed to admit of no other alter­ations, than such small ones, as revolutions may render absolutely necessary. Even small, unnecessary or wan­ton innovations, are more dangerous, and more per­nicious, than is generally imagined. When a spirit of idle innovation is let loose, none can foretell when [Page 11] or where it will cease. When a constitution in church or state becomes dissolved or unhinged, it is no easy matter to resettle it.—Your safety and your honour, consists in a firm and steady adherence to the church of England—should you once loose that church, you will not easily find a better.

The public has been already presented with three new books of common prayer, the Methodist, the So­cinian, and another without a particular name, and more are daily expected. In all that I have seen, they appear to have rejected the very best parts of the ser­vice of the church of England. Some have reprobat­ed two Creeds entirely, and an essential article of the Apostle's Creed; some have expunged the Gloria Pa­tri and have mended the Lord's Prayer—some have abolished all Holidays, because forsooth they have been abused; not considering that the same argument would hold equally conclusive against the Lord's Day, both the Sacraments, and all that is good.

Could the numerous authors of the new common Prayers agree in one, uniform book for divine Wor­ship, like that of the English Church; they could, with a better face, invite you to comply with them: But should they agree in one form, yet their best com­pilers could not produce a form, by any means, equal to the liturgy of the church, which is the collected wis­dom of ages and nations.

If any should care so little for God's worship, and be so void of the christian temper, as to think the pray­ers of the church too lengthy, I should think it absurd to enjoin a shorter form upon the Church to please them. The person who thinks an hour and an half in the forenoon▪ and an hour and a quarter in the after­noon, of one day in the seven, too much time for the [Page 12] worship of God would be best satisfied with no wor­ship at all.

If the liturgy of our church can be altered for the better, how comes it to pass that the united councils of the church and state in England (the most judicious nation in the world) have not found it out and made the requisite alterations? When you shall be enticed to adopt a new form of worship, follow the advice of the wisest of men: Meddle not with them that are given to change, for their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?

Suffer me to exhort you to preserve unity and godly love among yourselves, peace with your neighbours, and unity with all men. Finally, brethren, farewell Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

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