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from Richard Lyman, born at High Ongar, England, in 1580. Ile came to America in 1631 in the same ship with Rev. John Eliot. He settled at Charlestown, and united with the church of which Mr. Eliot was pastor in Roxbury. In 1636 he joined a company of emigrants, about one hundred in number, composed chiefly of the church at Newtown (Cambridge), under the pastoral care of Rev. Thomas Hooker, who was the prime mover and main director of the enterprise, to plant colonies on the rich alluvials of the Connecticut. Driving 160 cattle before them, guided alone by the compass, and subsisting mainly on the milk of their cows, they struck into the unbroken wilderness, “ making their way over mountains, through swamps, thickets, and rivers," till, after many dangers and hardships, they reached their point of destination, more than a hundred miles distant. They founded Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield, Conn. Richard Lyman settled in Ilartford, of which he was one of the original proprietors, and died there in 1640. Ilis family, and that of Saralı Osborne, his wife, both enjoyed the dignity of" a coat of arms." His son John, born at High Ongar, 1623, came to America with his father and settled at Northampton, 1654. Ile held the office of Lieutenant, and commanded the Northampton soldiers in the battle with the Indians at Turner's Falls, May 18, 1676. Lieut. John had a son John, who was the father of Elias, the father of Mrs. Woodbridge. IIe died May 15, 1790, at the age of eighty years.
Mrs. Woodbridge became a Christian in early life. IIer religious views and character were formed under the preaching of Rev. Jonathan Edwards, and the precious revivals he promoted. She is remembered as “a mother in Israel.”' Her disposition was affectionate and kind; her manners bland and winning ; her conversation agrecable; her charities abundant. She was remarkably conscientious; her sense of duty was imperative. Her intelligence, combined with the warmth of her sympathies and gentleness of deport
ment, secured the love and respect of the numerous visitors at her house. The distinguishing doctrines of the Bible were the delight of her heart — the spiritual nutriment on which she daily fed. She lored prayer; and the female prayer-meeting always found her, when possibly consistent, in attendance. Her anxiety for the religious welfare of her children was intense. She ceased not to cry unto God for them with many tears till “Christ was formed in them the hope of glory." The house of the mother of the late Prof. B. B. Edwards, of Andover, stood about half a mile from her own. They often visited, and seldom parted without seeking some retired room where they unitedly poured out their hearts before God for the converting influences of His Spirit on their children. But while thus prayerful and faithful, she was not always on the wing. Her discriminating views of truth, and her habit of scrutinizing her motives, rendered her rather humble and self-distrustful than buoyant. Yet she was not gloomy or disconsolate. Her religion was of that serious and serene cast which is the product of scriptural thought and self-examination ; and when she passed away, all felt that she had entered into rest. One of her most intimate friends said, “If she has not reached heaven, who will ?”
Much as there is in race determining character, there is little less in early associations and conditions of life. The soul, when it comes from the hand of the Creator, is exceedingly impressible. The subtilest influences and the faintest pulse of events leave upon it their shaping touch. The first objects of thought and interest not only give it impulse, but direction. If constant or frequent, they set in motion trains of reflection, suggest inquiries, awaken sentiments, kindle the imagination, fire the sensibilities, and start currents of emotion which ripen into purposes and result in actions ; which, by being often repeated, reflect back upon and quicken kindred thoughts, sentiments, and affections, and stamp themselves on the character forever ; just as
every dewdrop and ray of light falling upon the tiny germ contributes to its growth, to the maturity of its stem and its crown, the blushing flower; and as influences too attenuated to be appreciable to our unaided powers on the sapling of the forest, appear in the shape, direction, and strength of the hoary trunk and its branches.
The birthplace of Dr. Woodbridge was originally settled by those who feared the Lord. Most of them came from Northampton. They had been accustomed to hear the stirring and searching preaching of Jonathan Edwards. They had passed through, or been powerfully influenced by, that remarkable revival occurring under his ministry in 1731, in which more than three hundred were hopefully converted. The work was profound and thorough, the result of the faithful presentation of the discriminating doctrines of the gospel. The whole town was moved. The church was quickened and elevated to a higher life. Vice was abashed, and Christian morality assumed a bolder and more commanding front. They had also listened to the holy cloquence of Whitefield, and felt its kindling power. Religion was with them a habitude of thought. The thirty heads of families who composed the original community were members of the church ; and in their dwellings morning and evening incense arose from their family altars. They commenced at once the worship of God in public. In their petition to the General Court to be set off as a Precinct, the reason assigned was, that “they might be enabled to build a meeting-house, settle a minister, and have the worship of God among themselves." As they desired the preached gospel it was given them. They set apart a day to fast and pray for the “ascension gift.” About noon Jonathan Judd, accompanied by Mr. Edwards of Northampton, arrived. In the afternoon Mr. Judd preached. After the trial of a few Sabbaths the church gave him a call. Ile accepted, and was soon ordained ; Mr. Edwards preaching the sermon on the occasion. He continued their revered pastor sixty years.
This infant church, composed of sixty-three members and embracing all the families of the town, received the great doctrines of the gospel with singular earnestness. They were rooted and grounded in them. These were their daily food. By them they grew and strengthened. They taught them to their children. A few swift years bore away the first generation, but they left their impress. The second generation came and were prepared to stand where their fathers had stood. The third became equally steadfast in truth and Christian fidelity. As the years passed ou niany became auxious for their souls ; but it was anxiety caused by clear apprehensions of the claims of the law and the promises of the gospel. Many were also hopefully converted to Christ; but it was “the result of long-continued personal application of the truth.” They had strong religious feelings, but they were feelings flowing from the contemplation of divine things. They were generations of humble and healthful Christians. Edwards's influence was mighty upon them.
The Christianity of these noble men was ingrafted into a firm and vigorous stock. They were men of nerve, of great strength and energy of character. Perils could not dishearten them. Several miles of forest lay between them and the mother settlement, and beyond, an unbroken wilderness stretched away to Canada. Traces of hostile Indians were often seen. They were compelled to carry weapons of war into the field of labor; some watched while others worked. One man
was shot, riddled with seven bullets, while threshing in his barn. Another, the drummer, was slain on his return from his pasture where he had been to drive his cow. Their wives and daughters often fled in alarm from their rude homes to the little palisade in the centre of the settlement. The French wars of 1741 and 1756 brought fresh trials. Several of their sons shared in the perils and hardships of the expedition against Crown Point; others served in the army at Ticonderoga ; some
fell in battle ; others narrowly escaped with their lives ; others, at a later period, suffered with Arnold in his remarkable march through the wilderness of Maine to Quebec. The spirit of liberty which aroused the country in view of British aggression, was nowhere stronger than here. The sons of Southampton readily enlisted in the army of the Revolution ; money was generously given, and life freely laid down, for the cause. Though humble men, they had broad views of education. About fifty of their descendants have received a public education ; nearly forty are, or have been, ministers of the gospel. In this respect Southampton has been called “the banner town of the state."
Sylvester Woodbridge, “the Southampton doctor," had five children. The two oldest died in early childhood. The remaining three, John, whose character we are about to delineate ; Mindwell, who became the wife of Rev. Vinson Gould, the successful pastor of the church in Southampton for more than thirty years; and Sylvester Woodbridge, D. D., who died a few years since, pastor of a Presbyterian church in New Orleans, — all survived their parents, and became eflicient workers for Christ. Four sons of the last are now in the ministry.
It is not strange that the descendant of such a worthy Puritan and ministerial ancestry, and trained in such a moral and Christian atmosphere as characterized the place of his nativity, purified and mellowed by such gentle and yet earnest domestic piety, should grow up a thoughtful youth, and feel some undefined aspirations for the sacred office. While yet a little boy, John once stole away into his father's garret, and there kneeling down, prayed that he might become a minister.
The first germinatings of his mind were deep under the surface, and seemingly slow. There was an apparent sluggishness in the movement of his thoughts. This, we believe, is common with reflective minds, especially those of either a highly metaphysical or imaginative turn.
Not that they