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During the summer of this year, he continued to instruct a school, preaching occasionally, and improving himself for the work on which he had entered. In the autumn he dismissed his school, and journeyed into Connecticut; on his return, he engaged to supply the Second Baptist Church in Woodstock half of the time during the ensuing winter. Having fulfilled his engagement to the satisfaction of this people, by their request he removed to that place in the spring of 1813, and took charge of the church. Finding the church somewhat scattered, he set himself, like a good shepherd, to gather and regulate the flock. Having much of the kindness and skill of the shepherd, he happily succeeded, and was set over them in the Lord by ordination, August 28th, 1813. He continued with this church about three years in harmony and love. His labors were not in vain; for although there was no special excitement, yet thirty-five were added to the church by baptism. Feeling the need of more literary and theological knowledge, he gave himself to study, early and late, so that he made no small improvement in his ability to discharge the duties of his office. Feeling his own deficiencies, it was his settled opinion that no church ought to approve of a young man's becoming a preacher, until he had devoted some time to the acquisition of useful knowledge. In this field of his labor, he laid the foundation for his future useful
In the spring of 1816, he found some difficulty in procuring a tenement, and it appeared not very easy to raise the sum necessary for his support; he therefore made only a partial contract for the coming year:
About this time, Southbridge, Mass. was incorporated into a town; and as a majority of the people wished to be formed into a Baptist society, Mr Angell was requested to assist them in their organization. He complied with their request, and, in the end, was solicited to become their preacher. Not being bound to the society in Woodstock, he thought it his duty to comply with the solicitation. Although there was no church in Southbridge, and but few Christians, yet he thought it presented a field for cultivation which ought not to be neglected. In June, 1816, he commenced his labors with this people. Four weeks afterwards, God was pleased to visit him with affliction, in the death of his only child, a son, in the fifth year of his age. Not long after the death of his little son, he was blessed with a daughter ; but in about two years from his removal to this town, the mother and the daughter followed the son to the grave. He felt that the hand of God was upon him, and he applied to himself the words of the prophet, “I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath; he hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light; he turneth his hand against me all the day. My flesh and my skin hath he made old, he hath broken my bones; and when I cry, he shutteth out my prayer.” These afflictions operated on him as they ought on all; they weaned him from the world, humbled him before God, and made him submissively say, Thy will be done. At the same time they tested his friends, and gave him an increased confidence in them. Thus the Lord fitted him for greater usefulness. The tenderness which was produced in his soul prepared him to sympathize with the afflicted. From his own experience he could teach the deceptive nature of worldly good, and the value of religion in adversity. No doubt these trials were sent in mercy not only to our dear departed brother, but to the people of Southbridge. When he commenced his residence in this town there was no church connected with his congregation ; and as there were comparatively few who felt the value of religion, he found himself without much religious society. This in his circumstances, and with his feelings, must have been a great privation. How sweet to have an ear into which we can pour our sorrows, and a heart that can feel them! He gathered the few friends of God, and with deep solicitude for the cause of the Redeemer, and the souls committed to his care, he excited them to action and to prayer. His efforts were successful. We inspire those with whom we are connected with such feelings as we ourselves possess; prayer was made and heard, so that twenty were anxious to be formed into a church to maintain the ordinances of the house of God. In February, 1817, a Baptist church was constituted consisting of twenty-seven members. The vine now planted he tenderly cultivated ; and while he found a pleasure in the very labor which he performed, he found a greater pleasure still in the growth and fruit of the vine.
These labors were performed with many tears; but on this very account, they were the more successful. The more we are disengaged from the world, and the more closely we are driven to the cross, the more good we shall do for the souls of men. While he was anxious to promote the temporal interests of the society, he was more anxious for the welfare of their souls. During the year 1818, the Lord blessed his labors to the conversion of ten persons who were added to the church. Bereft as he was of all his family, this was to him a year of great solitude; and in addition to his other affliction, he was himself brought near the grave. In such circumstances, he needed other consolation than what this world can afford. And blessed be God, while he was afflicted in his temporal concerns, he was comforted by the prosperity of the church and society. As God has graciously set prosperity over against adversity, the next year was to him a year of much enjoyment. He formed a matrimonial connexion with Miss Rebekah Thorndike, daughter of Mr Paul Thorndike, of Dunstable, Mass. in whom he found a companion meet for him. In her he ever found one anxious to lessen bis toils and his sorrows, while she did what she could to aid him in the work of Christ. The Lord was also pleased again to visit his people with the gentle dews of heaven, so that ten were received into the church by baptism, and four by letter. In 1820, he was called to pass through many trials, in consequence of spiritual declensions and evil surmisings in the church. But by a prudent course of discipline, and the establishment of a weekly meeting for prayer, the dark clouds passed over, and a better state of things ensued. In the year 1821, God again visited them in mercy, and five were united with the church by baptism.
In view of the responsibility of his work, he always felt his insufficiency for it; but at this time he seems to have unusually felt his need of help from God. Hence the following petition : "Blessed God, make me more indefatigable in my study, spiritual and simple in my preaching, meck and consistent in my daily deportment; for I feel less competent for the great work of the ministry than when I first entered the field.” The state of mind here exhibited prepared him for enjoyment and usefulness. The subsequent year was one of great interest and success. “Never," says he,
was I so deeply sensible of God's benignity, as during this year. The closet, the study, and the sanctuary, are all witnesses of my sighs and tears, my earnest prayers and humble panting after sanctification and perfect resemblance to God and all holy beings. I have often been lost to this world, while contemplating the compassion of God as exhibited in osea xi. 8. ‘How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? how shall I deliver thee, Israel ? how shall I make thee as Admah ? how shall I set thee as Zeboim ? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.' Here it appears that God sustains a conflict in his mind, feeling deep reluctance to make his creatures monuments of his everlasting displeasure. This presents, in the clearest manner, that tenderness which I ought always to possess in discharging my many duties to saints and to sinners, who but for the mercy of God must perish forever. God be thanked, I have not sought the Lord in vain, nor have I gone away empty; for he has enabled me to labor more, and to witness greater success, than in any preceding year of my ministry.”
Eleven this year united with the church, while others were standing about the doors of the sanctuary. His labors were also abundant in other places, where the Lord gave him many souls for his hire. When he found his religious feelings declining, he movingly used the words of the Psalmist : “ Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit; then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”
In 1824, the Lord answered the prayers of his people, and granted a precious revival of religion, in which about forty were converted. Few feel the need of the gracious influences of the Spirit, more than did our departed brother, and few rejoice more in the triumphs of grace through these influences. And while he earnestly desired the conversion of souls, he was solicitous to maintain salutary discipline in the church, and to guide his people in wisdom's ways. From the organization of the church, he had made every effort in his power to render it a phalanx prepared at once for defence and for action. A church library was established which has proved a rich blessing. A well attended Sabbath school was conducted with prudence and success. He endeavored to make every person active in the cause of the Lord.
God delights to bless those who honor him.
The Spirit was again poured out upon Mr Angell's people the year before his death. He lived in possession of that spirit which produces revivals of religion, and makes them subservient to the interests of the kingdom of Christ. In this revival, as was usual for him, he visited from house to house, he exhorted, he prayed, he preached, like a dying man to dying men. Nor was he ever tired of his work. At the end of every year, he thought he had lived to no purpose, if he had done nothing for God; and he commenced ihe new with earnest desires to be active for his cause. These retrospective and prospective views, he was accustomed to put on paper. As these are such views as every minister ought to take, we shall insert what he wrote on the commencement of the year which closed his life.
“ January 1st, 1827. O thou most High God, who hast been the dwelling place of thy people in all generations, enable me to approach thee this morning with all that solemnity and candor which I shall possess at the hour of death.
And while I present my thanks for thy past mercies, enable me to consecrate my life, influence, and all the powers which I possess, to thy service, during the remainder of my days. And having commenced this year, as I humbly hope, in some sense as I ought, deign to remember me for good, and cause me to enjoy all that is requisite to prepare me to be useful in thy service, to enjoy thy presence here and hereaster, and to glorify thy great and holy name forever. Above all, make me what I profess to be ; permit me not to be deceived, as it regards my hope in Christ; and suffer me not to fall short of eternal life. Do thou in the greatness of thy mercy enable me to spend this year, should my life be spared, as shall best subserve the interests of thy kingdom. Let me have the assistance of thy Spirit in preparing and delivering my discourses, so as to evince to all that the great object of my labors is to save my own soul and them that hear me. And should this year end my mortal existence, 'Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.'"
From the time of writing the above, he continued to labor in his Master's cause, till he was called to his reward. The week previous to his fatal sickness, he attended the Ministers' Meeting in Worcester, in usual health. In this state he continued till Wednesday, February 14th, when he was seized with cold chills, which increased in violence through the day.
Medical aid was called, but did not prove efficacious in abating his complaints; they grew more violent, and, on Friday, they had assumed a form that was difficult to be understood. On Saturday, he was beyond the reach of man; his end was at hand. He grew weaker and weaker, till, at half past eight o'clock, Lord's-day morning, he fell asleep in Christ. His disorder from its first attack greatly stupified and deranged his powers; and not apprehending danger, he said but little. What he did say, was in perfect coincidence with the even tenor of his life; he died as he had lived, a good man. His sudden removal, occasioned a great shock to the feelings of his wife, of his people, of his brethren in the ministry, and,
in short, of all who knew him. On Wednesday after, his funeral was attended, when a sermon was delivered by the Rev. Abial Fisher, jr. then of Bellingham, founded on John ix. 4, I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work. Nearly all the ministers in the region, as well of other denominations as of his own, áttended, and paid him the sincerest respect.
Having followed this good man from his childhood to his grave, the reader will wish to know something of his person and character. Mr Angell was elegant in his person and manners. tall, and well proportioned. Seldom is the symmetry of the body so perfect as in his neat and graceful form. He was not athletic, but he was active, and by his diligence he was capable of doing much. His manners were easy, and always prepossessing. In his presence, none felt embarrassed. He was, in the best sense of that word, a gentleman. His mind was the exact counterpart of his body and manners. As his body was not distinguished by its strength, so neither was his mind; yet its powers were by no means inconsiderable. His thoughts and his plans were fitted to those exigencies, which are always occurring on the theatre of the great world. And as his disposition was mild and persuasive, so all he undertook was pursued with kindness and success. From this picture it will be evident, that, though he could not astonish by the depth of his investigations, yet he would be every where interesting and useful.
His sermons were neat and perspicuous exhibitions of Scripture truth. They were prepared with study and care; he was not accustomed to come before the people, till his discourses were artanged and matured. Nor did they contain any thing to give unnecessary offence. They were delivered in a manner interesting and always expressive of his deep feeling for those to whom he preached. None could hear him without pleasure and profit.
In the office of a pastor, he stood in the foremost rank. Prudence, a quality without which no minister can be a good pastor, never forsook him. He was kind, judicious, and faithful. To the unkind he was patient; the wanderer he sought and brought back to the fold; the fearful he kindly led and encouraged: with a soft hand he wiped off the tears of sorrow; the anxious inquirer, he delightfully pointed to the Saviour of sinners; most seriously and affectionately he called after the thoughtless, and when they did not hearken, he wept over them; he sustained tottering age and guided wandering youth. The removal of such a minister, must be no ordinary loss. His people felt that they had buried a father.
Among his ministering brethren, he was esteemed and loved. Much lamenting his want of greater early advantages, he was retiring, and ready to listen to instruction. In the Ministers' Meet. ing, of which he was long a useful member, his presence was ever cheering. And when we heard that he had fallen, we were individuJuly, 1829.