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In this state of humiliation the mercy of God appeared for those who were brought out of darkness into marvellous light. The enmity of their hearts was slain, and their minds enlightened in the spiritual knowledge of God and divine things. The result of which was unfeigned submission and self-consecration to God, all issuing in repentance towards Him, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that composure, peace and joy of mind which these divine graces and that standing in the new covenant which they ensure, never fail to inspire. Though the experience of individuals in circumstantial things was very different, in essentials there was a remarkable sameness. All embraced and rejoiced in the gospel as a system of free grace in all its parts, intended to humble the creature and exalt the glorious Creator. In the course of this revival as many as fifty obtained hope of such a reconciliation to God. Among these were not a few of the stout-hearted, and such as were indeed far from righteousness. But in this day of the mighty power and sovereign grace of God, they were made willing and brought to bow as loyal subjects to the sceptre of the Prince of Peace. The additions made to the church were between forty and fifty, and the more immediate fruits of this work of grace were a great external reformation, both moral and religious—the prevalence of a spirit of brotherly love—and a great increase of knowledge as to the peculiar and appropriate doctrines of the gospel.” It was indeed a wonderful work of grace. Oh that it might be repeated in our day! In April of that year, namely, 1816, the Rev. Stephen Tracy, a Congregational minister, renewed his labors on this island, having preached here the previous year. On May 5th, after divine service at a parish meeting, he was engaged to preach for six months from April 28th. He arrived in the midst of the great revival, and is accredited with accomplishing two very important matters for this church. “One was the gathering into the church of the fruits of the great revival of the winter of 1816, and the other was the building of this sanctuary.” Rev. Stephen Tracy was born in Norwich, Conn., in the year 1749. He graduated from Princeton College in 1770. The same year he began his ministry at Peru, Mass., where he was ordained in 1772. Here he remained until 1775. Became pastor at Norwich (now Huntington), Mass., May 23, 1781, and remained there until January 1st, 1799. After that he labored as a home missionary until his death, in 1822.
Without doubt the results of that great awakening of 1816 had much to do with the erection and completion of the church building. True, it had been proposed and set on foot before the revival began, and considerable subscription and material had been gathered for it. Yet faint were the hopes, even by its best friends, that the project would be so soon accomplished, if accomplished at all. Such is the testimony of Dr. Woolworth. We need to remember that the community at this date was still a small one, numbering only between two and three hundred people, and that for them such an effort was indeed a great undertaking. But the coming of that gracious outpouring of the Holy Spirit united the hearts and hands of the people in their purpose and inspired them to success to the degree that in a little over a year from the time of starting the work was completed. It was considered by all a great achievement for this community, and has been so spoken of to me by some of the older persons in our midst.
The amount expended in the erection of that building was nearly four thousand dollars. And now that it is finished we turn our attention to its description and dedication. For information concerning these things I must rely on the historical discourses that the Rev. Mr. Harries delivered in 1871. Speaking of the edifice he says: “It was fifteen feet shorter than what it is to-day. On each side of the platform were four seats. In front of it was a platform about ten inches high, on the outer edge of which was a paneled breastwork elevated nearly four feet, with a small desk in the middle directly in front of the pulpit, for the use of the elders when reading and of the chorister when singing. This enclosure was called 'the altar'—as great a misnomer as to call Christ's ambassadors ‘priests. There were forty seats before the pulpit and four each side of it, making forty-eight. The first range on the south end, consisting of four seats, were reserved by the trustees for the colored people, and the next range for 'any white person.' The body pews were assessed at $2 each and the 'long side pews' at $3.50. They were rented on the 20th of June, at a meeting appointed for the purpose. The attendance was very large and the demand for seats pressing. The four reserved free for ‘any white person’ were consequently rented. All but two were sold at a premium, some of which were forty per cent. above the assessed value, the whole to be cancelled at the expiration of twelve months, but next year it was to be paid quarterly.”
COPY OF THE FIRST PEW LIST. AN ACCOUNT OF THE SALE OF THE PEWS IN THE MEETING HOUSE ON SHELTER
ISLAND, JUNE 20, 1817, FOR ONE YEAR.
1 Henry Reeve ..........X
Elizabeth Havens... 10 Phineas King..
George Congdon.. 12 Samuel Lord.... 13 Samuel Lord..... 14 Benjamin Conklin. 15 Joseph Case...... 16 Henry Hains..... 17 John Chester...... 18 Lodowick Havens.. 19 Jeremiah King...... 20 Benjamin Nicoll. 21 Justus Horton... 22 Sineus Conklin... 23 Jeremiah Case....... 24 George Cartwright.....X
Sylvester Dering ......
Esther Havens 1:26..
ARTICLES OF VENDUE RESPECTING THE SALE OF THE PEWS IN THE MEETING
HOUSE ON SHELTER ISLAND AGREED TO BY THE TRUSTEES, JUNE 20, 1817.
The sale of the Pews to be for one year. The Pews to be set up by any person at the price set on them by the Committee, and if no person will give any more, to be struck off to them, but any one has a right to bid and the highest bidder to have the Pew.
The money for which the Pews are sold is to be paid at the end of the year, and it is expected the money will be punctually paid to the Trustees without putting the Parish to the expense of collecting. By order of the Trustees,
SYLVESTER DERING, Clerk. "On the 17th of the following month, namely, the 17th of July, 1817, the building was dedicated. It requires no stretch of the imagination to conceive of its being filled to its utmost capacity. As you enter you behold ‘a sea of faces' upturned to fix an excited eager gaze on the sage, ministerial veteran in the pulpit, Dr. Aaron Woolworth. To the left of him on the platform is the deacon's seat,' or more properly the ‘elders”. There are seated the five off