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paralytic affection which somewhat affected his mental as well as his physical powers.
He had attained the advanced age of four score years, and seemed awaiting the time of his departure. He was confined to his house but a few days before his death, which occurred December 13, 1819. On the sixteenth the funeral rites were solemnized in the presence of a large concourse of people. The body of the deceased was carried to the meeting-house in which he had so long officiated as pastor. Prayers were offered by the venerable Dr. Chaplin of Groton, and a sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr. Foster of Littleton, from II Corinthians, iv, 7,-"We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” His remains were borne to their final resting place by the Congregational ministers of the neighborhood, who came to sympathize with the bereaved family and parishioners of the deceased pastor.
His grave is in the churchyard, in the centre of the town, hard by the sanctuary of his former public devotions and instructions, and is marked by a plain marble slab, erected by his eldest son, Thomas Whitney, Esq. He is the only minister that ever died in the town, and his remains sleep in the cemetery that contains the relics of his family and parishioners—to whom he ministered for more than half a century, and who have now been gathered about him in the place of the dead.
Mr. Whitney had a large family* and always labored for a small salary; yet by care and economy he secured for his children a good education, and at the time of his death was in possession of an estate of considerable value. The permanency of the relation between pastor and people, in his time, greatly facilitated the means of a comfortable livelihood to those who entered the sacred calling. When once settled in a town they supposed that they had found a home; and immediately proceeded to purchase real estate, to erect buildings, if these were needed, and to supply themselves with the permanent temporal comforts of life.
*See Genealogical Register, Part III of this History.
The changes that have become the order of later times are no less prejudicial to the spiritual interests of the people than to the temporal interests of ministers. Of late years it is almost impossible for a congregation to become acquainted with their religious teacher before some disaffected individuals will advocate his removal; and to preserve the peace, if not the very existence of a society, it becomes necessary for him to be at the labor and expense of finding a new place and making new acquaintances. The prosperity of our parishes and the usefulness of our ministers require a return to the paths of our fathers, in regard to the permanency of their relations as people and pastor. This may be effected by the mutual exercise of the virtues of long-suffering and forbearance; and when it shall be done Zion will again prosper, and religion will adorn her subjects with the beautiful garments of salvation.
Mr. Whitney held a respectable standing with the ministers in the vicinity of his labors. He was a classmate and particular friend of Rev. Zabdiel Adams of Lunenburg, and preached his funeral sermon. sisted at the ordination of several young men in his neighborhood and elsewhere, and during his entire life, although he assented to some important articles of the ancient standards, was noted for the liberality of his feelings and intercourse with people of a different faith. He seemed rooted and grounded in the noble principles of Arminian Congregationalism, and felt that on these principles the church militant could be most securely established.
He gave the right-hand of fellowship to Dr. Chaplin of Groton, at his ordination, and to Rev. Mr. Bullard of Pepperell, at his ordination; and he made the prayer of consecration, at the ordination of Rev. Dr. Thayer of Lancaster. The following is a list of his printed works: -1788, a charge at the ordination of Mr. Whipple, in Alexandria ; 1800, sermon at the funeral of Rev. Zabdial Adams of Lunenburg ; 1801, a charge at the ordination of Mr. Smily, at Springfield, Vt., and a sermon at the ordination of his son, at Hingham.
The Sunday following the interment of Mr. Whitney, Rev. Mr. Bullard of Pepperell preached in Shirley, from Zech. 1, 5:—"Your fathers, where are they ? and the prophets, do they live forever?”
With the death of Mr. Whitney the civil and ecclesiastical concerns of the town were separated, and the institutions of religion have since been entirely supported by the voluntary contributions of individuals.
Shaker Society-Brief Sketch of the Origin, Progress
and Faith of the Shakers in general-History of the Community in Shirley.
The ecclesiastical unity of the town was preserved down to the year 1781, when the first religious secession was effected through the agency of Ann Lee, the distinguished preacher of Shakerism and founder of the sect commonly called Shakers. At this early date religious dissension—which has since been so much deplored in every section of this Commonwealth—began in Shirley, and has been carried to such extent that a self-sustaining religious body can scarcely be found in the town.
The new order was commenced with two families, who lived in the extreme south part of the town, and though an imposing establishment has grown out of this small beginning, it has never received large accessions from the immediate vicinity. It has now existed for a century, always sustaining a respectable position both in the number and character of its supporters.
As, however, it belongs to a communion that has not been sufficiently numerous to be well known, and yet sufficiently conspicuous to be "everywhere spoken against,”— the reader's attention is respectfully invited to a brief