Tuesday, March 8, 2011

there are my arms...

Today marks the anniversary of the passing of Ebenezer Gay who died in 1787 at the age of 90. Minister at Old Ship in Hinghan for 69 years, Rev. Gay was an important figure in the development of Unitarianism in America.
Though he was fairly liberal for his time in religion, he did not support the American effort to achieve independence. An excerpt from his biography in "Heralds of a Liberal Faith"

"In the Revolutionary period Dr. Gay adhered to Tory sentiments, and continued for years to pray for the king and all the royal family, yet such was his discretion that he maintained his position at the head of a parish largely composed of supporters of the Declaration of Independence without seriously impairing his usefulness. Mr. Solomon Lincoln has recorded this anecdote of these times:
It was a part of the duty of the Committee of Correspondence, Inspection, and Safety to call upon suspected citizens, and those known to be Loyalists, to demand a search for arms. It was proposed that the committee should call upon Dr. Gay, and demand his arms, probably not because they supposed he had any of which he would make improper use against the new government, but because the opportunity was a good one to give him a sort of official admonition that he held obnoxious sentiments, in which some of the most influential of his people did not share. That the thing to be done was a little aggravating did not take away the zest of doing it. It would have been ungenerous, also, had there not been a very perfect accord between Dr. Gay and his parish, as pastor and people, on all subjects save politics. The committee presented themselves before the doctor, who received them in his study, standing, and with entire calmness and dignity, when he inquired of them, “What do you wish with me, gentlemen?” “We have come, sir, in accordance with our duty, as the Committee of Safety, to ask you what arms you have in the house.” He looked at them kindly, perhaps a little reproachfully, for a moment or two before answering, and then said, laying his hand upon a large Bible on the table by which he stood, “There, my friends, are my arms; and I trust to find them ever sufficient for me.” The committee retired with some precipitation, discomfited by the dignified manner and implied rebuke of Dr. Gay; and the chairman was heard to say to his associates as they passed out of the yard, “The old gentleman is always ready.”

RIP and blessings

1 comment:

David G. Markham said...

Beautiful story

"The old gentleman is always ready."

That we can agree to disagree and still respect each other for each person's inherent worth and dignity is the base pillar on which UU is built. It is inspiring to learn of its deep roots.

All the best,

David Markham