On this day in 1788: Murray ordained

Or ordained for the second time, but as so much with early Universalism, the first was irregular enough to be legally suspect.

John Murray was the minister of the Independent Christian Church, Gloucester, Massachusetts; the record of the ordination follows after the jump, from Universalism in Gloucester, Mass. (1892, 191 ff.) A polity note: see the parallels between the institution of the parish and the proprietors and regular congregation. Oh, and the Shorter Catechism referenced is the Westminster Shorter Catechism!

The record:

Last Thursday (being Christmas Day) Mr. Murray was ordained to the pastoral charge of the Independent Church of Christ in Gloucester. The ceremony of his Ordination was conducted in a solemn, serious and Christian-like manner. The business of the day was introduced by an Anthem suitable to the occasion. Mr. Murray prayed, and after singing, the Church’s committee (appointed for that purpose) introduced the transactions of the ordination thus, one of them declaring — “This Independent Church of Christ having years past, before the Constitution we now live under was formed, made choice of Mr. John Murray for our Minister, and having called him, and he accepting of our call, we then ordained and did set him apart to the office. But since the formation of our Constitution, the ordination of our Minister not being thought sufficiently made known, we now proceed in this publick manner to declare the Choice of this Church, their call of Mr. Murray, his acceptance of the call, with the resolve of the Church and Congregation respecting this public Ordination. We, therefore, the Committee appointed by the Church and Congregation, in behalf thereof, again present you with this call, to Continue to be our Minister.”

To which Mr. Murray replied:

“Persuaded of the truth of the declaration made by the compilers of the Shorter Catechism, ‘That God’s works of Providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful, preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions;’ and from a full conviction that the affairs of His Church are in an especial manner under his immediate direction, and that you, my Christian friends and brethren, are now, as formerly, under the directing influence of that divine spirit, who, ‘taking of the things of Jesus, and showing them unto me,’ constrained me to become a preacher of the Everlasting Gospel, and directed you to set me apart, or ordain me to be your Minister, I now again, with humble gratitude to my Divine Master, and grateful affection for you, my long-tried, faithful Christian Friends and Brethren, most cordially accept of this call.”

One of the Committee [Capt. Winthrop Sargent, Mr. David Plummer and Barnett Harkin] then read the vote of the Church:

“Resolved, that we, the proprietors of the Independent meeting-house in Gloucester, the members of the church and congregation usually attending there for the purpose of divine worship, do, by virtue of that power vested in us by the great High Priest of our profession, the Bishop of our souls, and the great and only Head of the church ; and according to the institutions of the first churches in New England, and in perfect conformity to the third article of the declaration of rights, in this public manner solemnly elect and ordain, constitute and appoint Mr. John Murray, of said Gloucester, clerk, to be our settled minister, pastor, and teaching elder; to preach the word of God, and to inculcate lessons and instructions of piety, religion and morality, on the congregation; and to do, perform and discharge all the duties and offices which of right belong to any other minister of the gospel, or public teacher of piety, religion and morality; and it is hereby intended and understood, that the authority and rights hereby given to the said Mr. John Murray, to be our settled ordained minister, and public teacher, are to remain in full force so long as he shall continue to preach the word of God, and dispense instructions of piety, religion and morality, conformable to our opinions, and no longer.”

The committee then solemnly presented him the Bible, saying on its presentation: “We present you these Sacred Scriptures as a solemn seal of this your Ordination to the ministry of the New Testament, and the sole directory of your faith and practice.”

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