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CHAPTER XIV.

THE BAPTIST CHURCH.

 

    From the earliest settlement of this town its people have been strongly sectarian in religious matters. Personal recollections of the old people are, that they conceived it to be a vital importance to make a public confession of religion, and to be constant in their attendance upon its ordinances. Without reflecting that (in many cases) it was only an outside garment for Sunday use, the sentiment grows upon one that these solemn faced old gentlemen, whose constant appearance at the meetinghouse, riding on horseback and bringing their wives upon a pillion behind them, were men of God to whom no evil could come nigh. My own increasing years and a more extended knowledge of human frailties and infirmities has considerably modified that sentiment. But that which used to excite my admiration greatly was the individuality that marked the rugged character of those men. There were none learned among them — nor were they much given to reading, except in the Bible and a few religious books they brought with them. Each man was his own expounder of the faith and doctrine he held to. They were all more or less given to expressing their views on Sundays, and having once announced their beliefs, they were not inclined to modify them, however they might differ from received opinions. There were strong voiced persons among them, who gradually monopolized the time, and at length crowded out the feeble. These- men and women were never favorable to being taxed to pay for preaching, because they considered themselves qualified to preach for nothing. The records for many years give us only negative votes upon the subject. At length, when young Thomas Baldwin, one of their own boys, sprightly, eloquent. and consistent, by hard study and steady application, had- been set apart and ordained as an evangelist, and placed over this young church and people they yielded gracefully to him as- their leader. The women loved and petted him, and the men honored and respected him for his manly, yet gentle