THE
Seventh-day Baptist Memorial
VOL. 1] NEW YORK, APRIL, 1852. [NO.2.

Biographical Department


Copied from an original copy of Volume 1, No. 2, April, 1852, pp 49-58, of the Seventh-Day Baptist Memorial, a quarterly magazine, devoted to biography, history, and statistics. Published in New York, by the Seventh-Day Baptist Publishing Society, No. 9 Spruce Street.

Transcribed by Sheila Smith
Submitted By Dan Maxon

JOHN MAXSON, SENIOR

The advocates of the true Sabbath look with a dignified pride to the example of great and good men who have sustained the banner of truth, through trials and sufferings, from generation to generation, till the time when that faith was planted on the shores of America. Beginning coeval with the establishment of civilization on this continent, they were made partakers of many hardships and perils, to which they, as founders of their church organization here, were peculiarly exposed. They were nevertheless earnest, practical, God-fearing men; no mad enthusiasts, crazed with new doctrines, and following in misguided zeal each ignis fatuus that flickered in the religious atmosphere. For, having been thought liberality by persecution, and steadfastness by suffering, they were at once good citizens and exalted Christians.

Among them was the subject of the present sketch, the first leading Elder of the Seventh-day Baptist Church in Westerly, R.I. His parents came from England, and were among the earliest settlers of New England, and also among the first who attempted a landing on the shores of Connecticut.

The party with which they were connected made a temporary settlement, it is supposed, near Throgís Neck, hence for some time after called Maxsonís Point. They carried on a trade with the Indians, and prospered, until about the time of the breaking out of the Pequod War, in 1637, when the Indians who surrounded them, instigated probably by emissaries from the Pequods, suddenly abstained from intercourse with [page 50] the settlers. Upon their sending to the natives to inquire why they did not come in as usual to trade, they received answer, that they feared their dogs, which they allowed to go unconfined, but that if they would shut them up, they would come in again. The unsuspecting colonists, blinded by their apparent good will, complied with the condition; and their watchful sentinels once confined, the savages made an attack upon the settlement, and drove the whites to their shallop. A portion of them landing in a boat the next day, to procure more provisions and produce from their gardens, were again attacked, and Mr. Maxson and his son Richard were killed. Mrs. Maxson escaped with the survivors in the shallop, and after a long and tedious passage, landed on the island of Aquetneck, the nearest place on the coast at that time free from danger of the hostile Indians; where, soon after landing, John was born. This was in the spring of 1638; and as the island was purchased of the Sachems Miantonimoh and Canonicus on the 24th of March of that year, and settled by the English immediately thereafter, Mrs. Maxson remained there, and devoted herself to the support and education of her son. Mr. Maxson, thus has the distinction of being the first white child born on the island of Rhode Island, or Aquetneck as it was then called.

This is the substance of the family traditions, and we regret that they do not give us more knowledge of the Christian mother and heroine. We would have been glad at least to have known that she lived to be repaid for all her sorrows and privations by seeing her son advanced to the great usefulness and consideration to which he attained. Oh, how the great usefulness and consideration to which he attained. Oh, how dear that hope to the heart of the Christian mother, and how supreme the joy at its fulfillment! Then and by that only are the toils, the pains and anxieties of the past recompensed, and the subdued and grateful heart rests a moment in the purest happiness earth can give, ere it passes hopefully, trustingly, yet tremblingly, to the final rest. Who but the Omniscient can read that holiest page in humanityís record - - the heart of the Christian mother, sanctified by privation, hallowed by suffering, and finding its highest, only, and sufficient reward in the fulfillment of the noblest duty God has appointed to it. None other than herself can comprehend it. The matron who, in the appliances of wealth and ease, has reared her children, as she has not known the trials, neither can she know the rapture of the sorrow-stricken soul winning its way to the throne of God by its trustful humility, and there rendering back its improved talent. Such a return was the son of that widowed mother an energetic, earnest, useful man.

[page 51] In 1661, Mr. Maxson, then twenty-three years old, joined a company which was formed at Newport for the purchase and settlement of a portion of the Narragansett country, called by the Indians Misquamicut, as appears from the records of the company. The articles of agreement were signed on the 22nd of March, 1661, and Mr. Maxson soon after removed to the new settlement, which thence became the scene of his labors. He was married to Mary Mosher, the daughter or sister of Hugh Mosher, one of the purchasers of Misquamicut, whose name is among those recorded in the Rhode Island Historical Societyís Collection.

We have no other information respecting Mr. Maxson until the year 1692. In the mean time the colony had generally embraced the views of the Seventh-day Baptists, and had connected themselves with the church in Newport, of which William Hiscox was pastor; and John Crandall, who before that time was an elder of the First Baptist Church, became a colleague, residing in Westerly. Meetings were held weekly at Westerly, and church meetings were alternately held there and at Newport. Yearly or "general Meetings" were also established, and were attended in alternation at Westerly and Newport.

It is not known precisely at what time Mr. Maxson became a member of this church. The first entry in the existing book of church records is under date of July 3d, 1692, and the next is of July 30th, at which John Maxson, Jr., and his wife Judith, were admitted to membership of the church. His daughter Tacy was added on the 24th of September following. On the 24th of January, 1694, Joseph was baptized; and on the 23d of July, 1710, Jonathan submitted to the ordinance. He was probably the youngest son of the Elder, being born about 1680, and died in 1732.

Mr. Maxson took an active interest in the church, and was often appointed to act as messenger to delinquent members or distant brethren. He evidently had the advancement of true religion much at heart, and delighted in the service of his Divine Master, while his holy and blameless life, giving him an eminent degree that influence which was calculated to harmonize conflicting views, and allay all unkindly feeling among those around him, he was enabled, according to his desires, to do much towards the building up of Zion. His brethren, recognizing the value of his labors, desired to call him to the office of the church; and at a church meeting held at his house on the 15th of 9th month, 1703, "Mr. Maxson was desired by the church to officiate in the dis- [page 52] pensing of the ordinance of breaking bread in Bro. Gibsonís absence, which he did accept."

In 1708 the church was divided, and the members residing in and about Westerly were formed into a separate church, when according to the records of the new church, "taking into consideration the necessity, as also our privilege and duty, by the authority of Godís word, that one be chosen to the place and office of an elder to the congregation in and about Westerly, it is agreed and desired, that our aged brother John Maxson, Sen., be the person." And by another paragraph we are informed that "on the 20th of the same month our beloved brother John Maxson, Sen., was ordained to the place and office of an elder to the congregation in and about Westerly, by fasting and prayer and laying on of hands."

Mr. Maxson was then at the advanced age of 70 years, an elder indeed, ripe in judgment and good works, tried and found worthy, not a mere book-taught ecclesiastic, but a practical leader of the church militant. He continued, even at this great age, to perform the duties of an elder, and seemed particularly desirous of stirring up the gifts of the church, that the order of the Gospel might not be interrupted, and that efficient officers of the church might be ready to succeed in the place of those who were ready to depart. His anxiety on this subject was deeply impressed upon the minds of the leading members, and a response was made which enabled him, on the 12th of 10th month, 1710, to submit the following resolution: -

"Whereas, it hath pleased Almighty God, of his goodness, grace, and mercy, to endow several brethren with the gifts of his Spirit to the edification of the church, therefore, each and every one of the said gifted brethren be requested to exercise their gifts in the church of their privilege and duty, that the church might be partakers of the same." It was therefore agreed, that "the Elder, with William Davis and John Maxson, Jr., should improve the next Sabbath; the Elder, with Joseph Clarke, Jr., and George Stillman, should improve the Sabbath following; and the Elder, with Joseph Clarke, Sen., and Joseph Crandall, the next Sabbath after them; and so on successively till the church order otherwise; provided always, that if any brother be pressed in his spirit by the Spirit of God, and moved thereby to speak, the aforesaid brethren in their order and succession shall not obstruct or hinder such brother."

But the infirmities of age could could [sic] not be resisted entirely, even by his zealous spirit. The voice that had proclaimed the lessons of wisdom to the children of God, was beginning to falter; and on the [page 53] 26th of June, 1712, Elder Maxson requested the congregation to make choice of a person from among them to take the place of an elder of the church, alledging [sic] his age and consequent inability to serve the congregation as her formerly had done. The church selected Joseph Clarke, Jr., as a candidate for the sacred office, and appointed a meeting for the 9th of the next month to determine the choice. At this meeting, Mr. Clarke having consented, the church appointed the 21st of August for the ordination, when he was ordained an elder and colleague of Eld. Maxson. John Maxson, Jr., was at the same time ordained a deacon. The church at this time consisted of about 130 members.

In 1716, Eld. Maxson proposed to the church to resign his office, on account of his age; but the church not considering the office revokable, or that they had power to release him from it for that reason, refused to accept his resignation. They however proposed to appoint a colleague, and an additional number of deacons, in order to relieve him from as much of the burthen as might be. Eld. Joseph Clarke, his colleague, died June 5th, 1719, when they proposed John Maxson, Jr., as an elder, to take the charge as senior elder, and nominated William Tanner, Jos. Maxson, and Benj. Burdick, as deacons. These brethren declined the office of deacon, on the ground that none ought to be appointed deacons who had not the gifts for an elder, which they considered themselves not to have. Whereupon Thomas Hiscox was appointed to the office of deacon, which he accepted, and in 1719 was chosen an elder, making at this time three elders, viz. John Maxson, Sen., John Maxson, Jr., and Thomas Hiscox.

Mr. Maxson lost the venerable partner of his lifeís journey on the 2nd of February, 1718, in her 78th year. For about half a century they had traveled hand in hand, and the fulfillment of all the promises to the righteous had been theirs; and when the old man, surrounded by the children of their joy, followed her to the tomb, for a short separation, we will not believe that the so near approach of death chilled one degree more his blood; but now, in the twilight of life, as the earth darkened around him, heaven grew brighter and more desirable; and as day passes into night, he also sank peacefully to rest on the 17th of December, 1720, aged 82 years. He was buried in the Clarke burying-ground, near the Pawcatuck river, in view of the old site of the Hopkinton meeting-house, where, upon a blue slate-stone, is the following inscription: -

"Here lieth the body of John Maxson, died Dec.ye 17, 1720, in the 82nd year of his age.

Copied from an original copy of Volume 1, No. 2, April, 1852, pp 49-58, of the Seventh-Day Baptist Memorial, a quarterly magazine, devoted to biography, history, and statistics. Published in New York, by the Seventh-Day Baptist Publishing Society, No. 9 Spruce Street.
 


JOHN MAXSON, SECOND.

JOHN MAXSON, 2d, was the son of the venerable Elder of whose life we have just given a brief sketch. We must suppose the piety of the elder Maxson to have been the practical kind, bearing with influence upon all the relations of life. That he left the impress of his excellent character upon his children, may be inferred from the fact that two of his sons were chosen successively to follow him in the pastoral office. Of these the present subject was the first. He was born in the year 1666; and in 1687 married Judith Clarke, a sister of Joseph Clarke, Jr., one of the first settlers of Misquamicot, and a niece of Eld. John Clarke of Newport, the founder of the first church in that place. They had ten children. Judith was born in 1689, Mary in 1691, Bethiah in 1693, Elizabeth in 1695, Hannah in 1698, John in 1701, Dorothy in 1703, Susan in 1706, Joseph in 1709, Avis in 1712. They generally became members of the church, and useful citizens. Joseph and Mary died in infancy. He was an extensive land-holder in Westerly. "Maxsonís Purchase," containing 2,684 acres, belonged to a company of which he was one. He was also interested in other grants, as may be seen in the Rhode Island Collection, vol. 2, p. 218.

Mr. Maxson and his wife united with the Seventh-day Baptist Church in Newport on the 30th of July, 1692, and labored efficiently and zealously in the cause in which they had enlisted. In the churches at that day, as compared with those of the present, the distinguishing trait seems to have been the earnestness with which every member entered into their duties toward one another. The church organization was to them no compact for convenience, but a union as the body of Christ, to which each member owed an imperative duty. Thus were the erring reclaimed, and the angry reconciled, and a lively element of good-will was kept up in the composition of the church.

Mr. Maxson and his wife were eminent examples of this spirit from the day they became professors of the name of Christ. They were faithful attendants of the meetings of the church, and he was very frequently appointed to perform the duty of messenger, in the disciplinary measures of the church. His zeal and force of character indicating him as a leader in the congregation, he was chosen a deacon, as appears from the following extract from the church records: -

"At a meeting of the church on the 9th of the 7th month, 1712, by appointment, the church taking into consideration the necessity of choosing a person to the place and office of a deacon, did make choice and mutually agree and desire that Bro. John Maxson, Jr., be the person as [page 55] aforesaid. The said Bro. Maxson did desire some time for consideration before he gave answer thereto."

The careful self-examination and caution shown in the acceptance of the church offices at that period, indicates a high sense of the importance of their being filled efficiently, and a noble and desirable sense of duty towards them. The church had appointed the third day of the week before the last Sabbath of the next month for the ordination of Deacon Joseph Clarke as an elder of the church, to serve as an assistant to the senior elder; and therefore "the church, appointed the aforesaid day for the time of his giving his answer; and in case he granted their desire, then the aforesaid day to be the time of his ordination thereunto, by laying on of hands, according to the rules of Godís word." The result of his reflections appears from another extract from the church book: -

"At a church meeting by appointment, the 21st of the 8th month, 1712, Bro. Joseph Clarke, Jr. was ordained elder to the church by fasting and prayer and laying on of hands of the presbytery, and Bro. John Maxson, Jr., was ordained to the office of deacon to, the church in the same solemn manner and order aforesaid."

About the same time that Mr. Maxson was thus called to the service of the church as deacon, he was also called upon to improve his "gift" for the edification of the church in conjunction with several others. This invitation was however revoked soon after the ordination of Elder Clarke.

In connection with the name of Dea. Maxson, there appears a transaction so illustrative of the times, that we give the notice of it as it stands on the records: -

"At a meeting of the church on the 24th of January, 1713, Dea. Maxson proposed for consideration the fact that some persons in the congregation were exposed to the want of corn for their comfortable subsistence, and not being able to procure money in order to supply themselves with the same for their present want. Upon consideration thereof, the church did order that what money there was in the church treasury that could be conveniently spare (sic) should be by the deacons laid out for corn, to supply said persons at the discretion of the deacons."

But the colony was visited not alone by famine, but also by the pestilence. The year 1719 was remarkable for the severe sickness that prevailed in Westerly, and many deaths occurred, among them being that of Eld. Joseph Clarke, the colleague of Eld. John Maxson, Sen., who died June the 5th. The following record is made on the occasion:

"Upon the consideration of the dispensation of the Most High upon this part of the wilderness, by visiting the inhabitants of the same with [page 56] grievous sickness, and death itself, and other considerations, it was on the 13th of June, 1719, concluded that the next fourth day of the week next following be solemnized by fasting and prayer to Almighty God, that he would be pleased to stay his hand of correction, which hath been so awfully lifted up amongst us."

This fast was generally observed by the church, and was followed by a revival of religion, by which many were added to the church. Immediately after, Dea. Maxson was, upon the death of Eld. Clarke, selected by the church to the office of an elder, and at the same time Thomas Hiscox was nominated. The following entry records his ordination: -

"At the church meeting July 5th, 1719, at the meeting-house in Westerly, Bro. John Maxson 2d, was ordained to the place of an elder to this church, by Bro. Joseph Crandall, of Newport, by laying on of hands of Eld. Crandall, with hands of Bro. Joseph Clarke, Sen., and Bro. Peter Barker."

On the death of the aged leading Elder, the next year, Eld. Maxson succeeded him as pastor, though he was himself well advanced in life, and in a measure disabled from active duties by reason of lameness so that he was not always able to attend the meetings. But though failing in body, his mind was still burning with zeal to advance the prosperity of the church of God, and insure its peace. This was sometimes no easy matter, as the district being agricultural, and the lands imperfectly laid out and defined, disputes continually arose concerning the boundaries of the possessions of the members. One such arose in which the elder was a party, and the settlement of it, as it appears in the following minute, and in the subsequent good feeling, shows the deference of the members for the authority of the church: -

"WESTERLY, Sept. 20th, 1720.

"Whereas, there having been some dissatisfaction between Bro. John Maxson, elder, and Bro. Thomas Hiscox, concerning the south extent of said Maxsonís lands lying eastward of the highway which runs to the mill, the said Maxson and Hiscox jointly agreeing to leave the decision of the matter to us, the subscribers, obliging themselves by their words forever to abide our determination in the premises; we having circumspectly viewed the land, and diligently inquired into all the circumstances and evidences offered to us to enlighten us in the matter, do order and determine as followeth, viz.: that the said John Maxsonís lot of land shall extend to the fence which is now standing, ranging westward from the great river to the aforesaid highway, and no farther; and that the fence as it now stands shall be his perpetual bounds of the southernmost bounds of said land; and this instrument we desire may be entered in the church records.

SAMUEL BEEBEE,

THOMAS RHOADS,

THOMAS BURDICK, and others"

[page 57] The following thanksgiving proclamation is interesting, and shows that at the age of 70 years Mr. Maxson was as strong in heart as in mind, and that, though the lamp of life was waning, that the love of God was still bright: -

"NOVEMBER 20th, 1736.

"Whereas, we have been wonderfully indulged by Godís providence with many unmerited blessings, and we think it but our reasonable service to render to him our tribute of praise, and notwithstanding the infirmities and troubles of many among us, yet it must be confessed, I think, that God hath dealt with us in much mercy, and in judgment. He hath shown himself to be very gracious, but in general there hath been much more cause of thankfulness and joy than of dejection and complaint. There are many reasons which occur to us for rendering praise to God, among which I think the following ought not to be forgotten, viz.: the favorable state of the distemper with us, that hath been so mortal in many parts of New England, yet with us scarce any have died; also, that the season of the year has been so favorable and plentiful; and most of all, though the harvest is plenteous, and the laborers few, yet that the Lord of the harvest has seemed to interpose in a most gracious manner by the increase of many which we hope are sincere professors of the truth of the Gospel. Therefore I have thought proper to appoint the fourth day of the week, being the 24th of Nov. inst., to be set apart as a day of thanksgiving to God for all such as are disposed thereto.

JOHN MAXSON, Elder

By GEORGE STILLMAN, Clerk"

This occasion was well attended. None entered into the exercises of the day with more real and sincere thankfulness than did the venerable pastor. There had been a large number added to the church, and the prospect seemed pleasing to his faith. He thus continued to labor and rejoice, and as age advanced upon him, he became anxious that the order of the gospel might be perpetuated by the gifts of the church, for which purpose he proposed that set times be given to such as were inclined to improve their talent for the ministry of the word.

About this time Mr. Maxson became desirous that the church should appoint a colleague or assistant for him in the performance of his official duties; and in 1739 his brother, Joseph Maxson, was appointed to the office of an elder, to assist the senior elder in the service of the church; and soon after Thomas Hiscox was also appointed to the office of an elder, to assist in the administration of the ordinances.

The "New Lights," a people that made some noise in that part of New England during the latter part of Eld. Maxsonís administration, gave him some trouble by their unscrupulous denunciation of the faith which he professed and defended; but his wisdom was the more apparent from the kindness with which he treated all the aspersions cast upon him and his brethren.

[page 58] The last act recorded of Eld. Maxson was assisting Eld. Joseph Maxson at the ordination of Eld. John Davis, of Shrewsbury, N.J., whither Mr. Davis had gone, with others who had been dismissed from the church at Westerly, to form a Sabbath-keeping church in that place. The ordination took place July 12th, 1746.

Eld. Maxson was now approaching the verge of life. The weight of years and many infirmities pressed upon him. He could say with the apostle, "I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith," and could look with him to the crown laid up, to be conferred by the Master whom he served. He died July 1747 in the 81st year of his age.

Copied from an original copy of Volume 1, No. 2, April, 1852, pp 49-58, of the Seventh-Day Baptist Memorial, a quarterly magazine, devoted to biography, history, and statistics. Published in New York, by the Seventh-Day Baptist Publishing Society, No. 9 Spruce Street.



JOSEPH MAXSON.

  JOSEPH MAXSON was the son of John Maxson, first elder of the Seventh-day Baptist Church in Westerly. He was born in 1672, and consequently was but six years younger than his brother who preceded him in the pastoral office. He was baptized on the 24th of January, 1694, and became a member of the Seventh-day Baptist Church at Newport. Like his brother, he was early engaged in the more active duties of the congregation; and in 1700 he was sent, in company with Joseph Crandall, on a mission to New London, requiring considerable judgment, for the investigation of circumstances relating to a complaint of John Rogers, of New London, against some of the members of the church. In 1710 he was sent on a commission to Shannock, with Joseph Clarke, Joseph Crandall, Joseph Clarke, Jr., and Thomas Hiscox, "to hear, debate, judge, and conclude what they or a major part of them, shall think fit in behalf of the church," concerning the church and brethren residing there,

Mr. Maxson was chosen to the office of a deacon in 1716, with Thomas Hiscox. At the same meeting John Maxson, Jr., was chosen as a colleague to his father; and in 1732 Mr. Maxson was ordained an evangelist, or traveling minister, as appears from the following entry in the records of the church at Newport: -

"At a church meeting held at the meeting-house in Westerly, Sept. 17th, 1732, voted, that Bro. Joseph Maxson and Bro. Thomas Hiscox go to visit some friends at the eastward, in answer to their request to Sabbath-keepers in this colony; also, voted, that our sister church of Newport, with the assistance of our deacon, is desired to ordain and qualify the said persons fit for evangelists or messengers in Godís service, as occasion may require, if said church see cause.

"A true copy from the church book in Westerly, Sept. 18, 1732.

"Per George Stillman, Clerk."

[page 59]Accordingly, they were, agreeable to the above request, ordained by the church at Newport, and the following entry was made in its records: -

"NEWPORT, Oct. 8.th - This day our beloved brethren Joseph Maxson and Thomas Hiscox were solemnly and regularly ordained evangelists or traveling ministers in Godís service, agreeable to a church vote passed at Westerly, Sept. 17, and a church vote passed in this church Oct. 1st. Our expectation and intention is, that the above-mentioned brethren, Joseph Maxson and Thomas Hiscox, are qualified and empowered by virtue of this ordination to administer the ordinances of the gospel as they may be occasionally called by either of the churches."

After the ordination of these brethren at Newport, they set out, accompanied by Henry Collins, of Newport, on a mission to the eastward, where there were scattered brethren belonging to both churches. A number of families were in New Bedford, some of whose descendants are still in the observance of the seventh day. On their return to Newport, they were invited by the church to administer the Lordís Supper, and to serve the church on other occasions, as they might be led, or as circumstances might require. A most intimate and affectionate connection was uniformly maintained between these churches, and each seemed anxious to promote the glory of God and the spiritual welfare of the other, to the extent of their powers. They lost no opportunity of the other, to the extent of their powers. They lost no opportunity of extending to each other those acts of courtesy which evinced their desire for harmony and good will.

Mr. Maxson was appointed by the church, on the 25th of April, 1727, to visit the members of the church, with his brother the pastor, as appears by the following preamble and resolution, which we insert as a useful precedent for similar action on the part of churches in the present day: -

"Voted, Whereas, there hath for some considerable time past a great neglect appeared in the members of this church in assembling on the Sabbath meetings in general, and on sacramental days in particular, as also at the appointed church meeting; which we esteem discommendable, reproachful, and evil. In hopes of redressing said disorders, we appoint Bro. Joseph Maxson, Sen., to bear our elder, Bro. Maxson, company, and to assist him in the visiting of the members so neglecting, and to inquire the reason of their omission, and to help, council (sic), and admonish them, according to their various circumstances, to the diligent attending their duty for the future, and to make report to the church of their proceedings therein."

Ordination as traveling ministers did not at that time, in the estimation of the church, qualify for the oversight of a church, or for the [page 60] eldership in any particular church; and when the pastor required an assistant minister, it was thought necessary to ordain one especially to that office; and consequently, in 1737, when the leading elder, from his infirmities, desired the church to select some one to act as an elder, several meetings of the church were appointed to consider the qualifications of brethren for the office. Among the candidates proposed were Thomas Clarke, Joseph Maxson 2d, Joshua Babcock, and Joseph Maxson 3d. After a protracted canvassing of their merits and qualifications, it was determined to appoint Joseph Maxson, Sen., then at the age of 69 years. He notwithstanding made it a subject of inquiry and self-examination, before giving an answer, as the record shows: -

"At a church meeting in Westerly, April 24th 1739, it was voted, that Bro. Joseph Maxson, Sen., be appointed for ordination as an elder to assist our present elder in the service of the church. Bro. Maxson desired time to answer until next church meeting by course."

On the 24th of June, 1739, he "gave his answer, that he accepted of the office of an elder to assist the senior elder in the service of the church."

The eldership was a matter of serious consideration, both to the candidates and to the church; and while the latter properly appreciated the authority and wisdom of age, and desired that their leaders should indeed command the respect of elders, the former only approached the sacred office with much misgiving and self-depreciation. When in 1743, the church deemed it advisable to add to the number of elders, the senior and junior of that office were respectively 77 and 70 years of age. At this time Thomas Hiscox and John Davis were chosen by the church to the office, but declined the appointment. Mr. Davis, however, was afterward ordained by Mr. Maxson an elder to the brethren in Shrewsbury, N.J., where a church had been formed from members of the Westerly church dismissed at that place.

Upon the death of the pastor, in 1747, Joseph Maxson succeeded to the pastoral office. He was then at the age of 75 years, and could not of course long continue to serve the church in the capacity of a leader; yet, being ripe with the experience of years, and of well-tried character in all his business relations, he was too well qualified for the station to allow of his declining the responsible office which the providence of God seemed to devolve upon him. The period of his administration, though short, was one of considerable difficulty. Several of the members were from time to time put under admonition for their defection from the faith through the influence of the New Lights, whose meetings were held frequently in various parts of Westerly and vicinity; and [page 61] among them was one of the licentiates of the church, who withdrew from the church to join that sect, contrary to his former profession and covenant with the church. His license was consequently revoked, and the fellowship of the church withdrawn. The disciplinary proceedings in these cases were painful to the aged pastor, and led to great discouragements, but while the faith of some was overcome, that of others was strengthened, so that these difficulties seemed to come as a trial of their faith and patience. They had hitherto enjoyed undisturbed quiet in the settlement in regard to opposing interests, and had mostly forgotten the sharp conflict in which their predecessors engaged with opposing creeds, and were therefore exposed to greater danger from the boldness of these new assailants.

Mr. Maxson was assisted in the duties of his office by Eld. Thomas Hiscox, who was appointed his colleague soon after his confirmation to the leading eldership of the church. After continuing in the exercise of the pastorís functions for three years, Mr. Maxson was released from his earthly responsibility, and, like a shock of corn fully ripe, was gathered to his fathers. He died in September, 1750, in the 78th year of his age.
 




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