Congregational Church Centennial Celebration 1874

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Centennial celebration of the Congregational Church, Wendell, Mass., Wednesday, December 2, 1874 (Amherst, Mass., H.M. McCloud, 1875)

“Address of Welcome”

by Rev. B.B. Cutler

We, residents of Wendell, cordially welcome you, visitors, each and all, to this feast of wit and flow of soul;  to these old hills and hollows, stone walls and cellars, built and dug by your fathers and ours;  to that which remains of what once was, and regret that we have not the privilege of making a better show.  But such as we have give we unto you, and cordially invite you to go with us in the past, so greatly superior to the present.  No doubt you will inquire: “Where are the forests, and the cattle upon the hills?”  Well, after you went away, enterprise came in, and we, like Esau, foolishly sold the birthright given us, and lost the blessing we might have had.  Commerce carried away the forests to build and beautify the cities and villages, paying us, it may be, honestly enough;  but vitiated appetites played the saddest game with us, so that what we might have become we are not, perhaps.  We see it, and those of us who think, regret it, but can’t help it now.  The consequence is sad enough, as you must see;  for those noble old forest trees are all fallen and gone, and in their places are ten thousand saplings that only remind us of our folly.  And the once extensive cattle-thronged fields and pastures on the hillsides, are overgrown with brush and wild weeds, and there is left about “one cattle upon the thousand hills, and nary a sheep to shear.”  But, like the prodigal, we are beginning to come to ourselves, and regret the past, and do hope that we shall soon be soundly converted, with no possibility of falling from grace, but of being kept, through faith, from the sins that have well nigh ruined our prospects.  As to the fathers and mothers, alas!  they are nearly all gone, around whose memory your thoughts cluster as you look upon the vision of other days.  Some of them have gone over the river, and the place of their sepulchres is with us unto this day.  The sacred trust we keep as well as we can, and have done it for what our scant means would allow;  and, were it suitable, we would go sorrowfully and view the place where we must shortly lie.  But many went out from us, carrying you away with them.