Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: The Second Society of Young Men

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The Second Society of Young Men

One of the means employed by Mr. Cotton to promote the moral and spiritual interests of his people, was to form them into societies, for mutual improvement. How many such societies were formed, we do not know. The regulations, or constitutions, of three, at least, have come to our notice. That the character and objects of these associations may be understood, we here transcribe the articles of agreement, by which one of them was governed. This was the SECOND SOCIETY OF YOUNG MEN, and was formed during the season of special religious interest, in the spring of 1742.


We whose names are hereunto set, being sensible that it is not only our duty, but interest, to seek God early, and to encourage and edify one another in the ways of Religion, do for these ends, with the Cheerful consent of our Pastor, the Rev. Mr. Ward Cotton, form ourselves into a Society for the worship of God in a more private way, and declare our consent to the following Articles, drawn up by him.

1. That we will meet together for the worship of God on Sabbath-day evenings, at some suitable place, and at all other times that the greatest part of us silall agree upon.

2. Being met, we will, as God shall enable us, by turns perform the several parts of our meeting, namely: we will pray to God and sing his Praises, and read some portion of Holy Scripture, or some good book; but, if any desire for good reasons to be excused from praying, they shall [be].

3. We will bear with one another's infirmities, and not make known anything, of what nature soever, that may tend to the prejudice of our meeting.

4. We do oblige ourselves to go directly from our meetings to our several homes; that is, not to go to, or tarry in, any unworthy company whatsoever.

5. They that would be admitted into our Society, shall be first propounded, and stand so one week, and if the major part do consent, they shall set their names to these Articles, and, if they will, take and keep a copy of them for their serious and diligent perusal.

6. That all manner of disagreeings, strife and quarrellings shall be suppressed by us, and we will live in love and peace.

7. When we are absent from our meetings, we will endeavor to carry ourselves so as that none may justly speak evil of us.

8. If any of us see or hear any of our Society say or do anything unbecoming a member of such a Society, we will reprove them with a spirit of meekness, love and tenderness.

9. But if any, notwithstanding such reproof, continue in any evil courses, we will debar them from coming to our meeting, till there shall appear some signs of repentance or reformation; but in this and all other cases that may seem to require it, we will ask advice of our Pastor.

10. We will endeavor to get and keep in our minds an awful sense of the bonds we are under by our Baptism, to be the Lord's and in due time to approach the table of Christ.

11. If any one leaves the Society by marriage, or for any other good reason, he shall acquaint the Society therewith, that so they may no more expect him, and that he may have their earnest prayers for him.

12. The first Sabbath-day night in every month, we will read over these Articles, and call over our list, so that, if any one has been absent, he may in a brotherly way be asked the reason of it.

13. We will avoid all worldly and unsuitable discourse, before and after meeting.

Finally. We hope that the grace of God will be sufficient for us, and that his Spirit will help our Infirmities, and that he will fulfil that gracious promise, Matt. 18: 20. -- "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I In the midst of them."

And now, my young people, for whom I have drawn up these Articles, let me tell you that the eyes of God and man will be more upon you than ever, and as for me, I shall have no greater joy than to see and hear that you walk in the truth, and in order hereto you shall have my earnest prayers for you; and to the blessing of God I commend you, hoping that you and the other Society of young men will ever be blessings and comforts to one another, and, in your day and generation, to the church and people of God here. Amen & Amen.

Hampton, February the 5th in the year 1741—2.

John Marston James Philbrick
Simon Dow Simon Marston
Josiah Moulton Jonathan Godfrey
Samuel Brown Benja Philbrick
John Tuck Elisha Marston
Nathl Batchelder Samuel Palmer
Amos Knowles Richard Muchimore
Joseph Philbrick Daniel Philbrick
James Garland William Marston
Ephraim Marston Joseph Dow
Benja Batchelder Simon Jackson
William Hues  

Tn 1744, the church purchased four new flagons for £21 and four new silver cups for £64 7s.

After the reduction of Louisburg, in 1745, and while a military force from New England was still maintained there, the committee of war, of Massachusetts, invited Mr. Cotton to go to Cape Breton and remain a few months as a chaplain. He laid the subject before the church in February, 1746, but only ten votes were given in favor of his going, and those by persons who "had children or other relatives there." -

Early in December, 1749, a public fast was observed, as recommended by the Convention of Ministers in New Hampshire. During the next year, there appears to have been more than ordinary religious interest, if we may judge by the number of admissions to the church.

In the course of the year, twenty-six persons rere received into full communion. In 1754 twenty-five were admitted, and in 1756. nineteen. From that year to the close of Mr. Cotton's ministry, but few were admitted.

Inthe spring of 1750, an arrangement was made for selling several tracts of the parsonage land for cash, the interest arising from the proceeds to be appropriated for the payment, in part, of the minister's salary. This plan met with considerable opposition, and twenty-nine persons entered their dissent. The ground of their opposition is not stated.

Mr. Cotton was of an ardent temperament, and when preaching, sometimes nearly lost control of himself. On such occasions, a signal from one of his deacons, which he well understood, instantly restored his self-possession. He seldom confined himself wholly to what he had written, but generally added some extempore remarks. Each sermon usually occupied an hour in its delivery. When he began to preach, his hour-glass was turned and placed on the pulpit by his side, and when the last sands had run out, his sermon was brought to a close. On one occasion, owing to some obstruction, the sand failed to run as usual, but the preacher did not observe it till his sermon had been protracted to an extraordinary length. When made aware of the fact, he exclaimed : "I might preach and preach, to all eternity -- and the sand would not run out!"

It was Mr. Cotton's habit to preach several sermons from the same text, and from some, he preached many times. For instance: he preached eight sermons from I. Cor. XIII: 1-8 and 13. From Gal. V: 17-25, he preached thirteen sermons; and no less than thirty-one, from James IV: 7 -- "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

Gladly would we draw a veil over the last years of Mr. Cotton's pastorate, for it ended in sorrow. Suspicions were excited and darkly hinted, several years before any definite charges, affecting his moral character were openly brought against him. But such charges were at length preferred. A council was called, which convened on the 22nd of October, 1765, being composed of ministers and delegates from the following churches: the church in Newburyport, the Second church in Amesbury, the church in Newmarket, the church in Rye, the Second church in Salisbury, the First church in Exeter and the church in Brentwood. The council was organized by the choice of Rev. John Lowell, of Newburyport, as moderator, and Rev. Samuel Webster, of Salisbury, as scribe.

After giving both parties a public hearing, and considering the case "with great care and diligence," the council came to a result unfavorable to the pastor. In making up their result, they gave their opinion in relation to the several charges separately. They mentioned some extenuating circumstances, particularly the fact that Mr. Cotton's mind had been greatly impaired by a paralytic shock. But after making all due allowance for this, the council said: "Thus to our great grief, it appears that the church have sufficient ground of uneasiness with their pastor, and have supported the spirit and tenor of their charges against him." They therefore advised the church and people to give him a dismission, and him, to accept it.

Mr. Cotton was accordingly dismissed, November 12. He continued to reside here for some time afterward, and was at length restored to the communion of the church. He eventually removed to Plymouth, where he died, in 1768. [See Genealogies -- Cotton (4)].

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