Middleboro, Mass. First Church

Collection History

The town of Middleboro (now Middleborough) was incorporated in 1669, settled by a group of men from Plymouth. The first meetinghouse was built in 1680, and the First Church of Christ (also called the "Church at the Green") was officially organized in 1694 following the Articles of Christian Faith laid down by John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Church in Leyden, Holland.

The present building, built in 1828 and designed by architect James Sproat, is the fourth meetinghouse of the church. Membership waned during the denominational reorganization of the early 20th century, but has revived significantly starting under the leadership of Rev. Manfred Kohl in the 1970s. The current church is known as the First Congregational Church at the Green and is a member of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC).

The collections below include two volumes of church records, dating from 1707-1821 and 1745-1816 respectively, as well as a series of relations of faith and other documents related to individual parishioners (1724-1865). Also included are a large number of sermons preached by resident ministers Rev. Peter Thatcher and Rev. Sylvanus Conant between 1737 and 1779.

For additional details please see the finding aid.

 

Digital Materials

Before accessing transcriptions, please read this Note on Transcription >

Church records, 1707-1821

This volume contains membership records, including admissions, dismissions, and confessions of faith, as well as records of baptisms, marriages, and a few disciplinary cases. The later pages are primarily devoted to minutes of church meetings, and includes a copy of the church covenant.

A full transcription of this volume is available.

Church records, 1745-1816

The records in this book were kept in two separate sections, starting from either cover. The front section contains administrative and financial records for the precinct. The back section has the treasurers' records of pew fees and other payments.

Relations and Personal records, 1724-1865

Relations are written accounts of individuals' religious experience, often required in the process of applying for full membership. This collection contains approximately 500 such documents, many in the congregants' own handwriting. It also includes related membership records, such as letters of transfer to and from other churches, requests for baptism, and confessions of sins written in order to return to the good graces of the church.

Full transcriptions of most of these documents are available.

Rev. Thatcher sermon, 1737

This single sermon on Acts 2:37, originally delivered by Rev. Peter Thatcher of Middleboro in 1737, was copied and preached subsequently by his great-grandson at the First Church of Middleboro, in February of 1847.

Rev. Conant sermons, 1744-1747

This folder includes a large number of sermons by Rev. Sylvanus Conant, delivered between 1744 and 1747. They were preached both at his own church in Middleboro and also in neighboring parishes.

  • Colossians 3:1 – "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God…"
      first preached at Plympton, 1 May 1755

  • Psalms 119:2 – "Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart…"
      first preached 16 July 1744

  • Malachi 3:1 – "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts…"
      first preached 14 December 1744

  • Leviticus 26:23-24 – "And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins…"
      first preached during a "fast for the [Jacobite] Rebellion", 1746

  • Ephesians 2:1 – "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins…"

  • Habakkuk 2:4 – "…but the just shall live by his faith…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 15 February 1746

  • Matthew 27:51 – "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent…"

  • Canticles 8:7 – "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be condemned…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 12 October 1746

  • Romans 1:17 – "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 8 November 1747

  • Luke 17:32 – "Remember Lot's wife…"
       first preached at Middleboro, 26 October 1746

  • Amos 3:6 – "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?"
      first preached at Middleboro, 28 January 1747

  • Deuteronomy 32:5 – "They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 7 February 1747

  • Acts 16:14 – "whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 28 February 1747

  • Luke 10:20 – "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 26 April 1747

  • Matthew 22:4 – "All things are ready: come unto the marriage…"
      first preached at Wareham, 25 March 1747

  • Amos 3:6 – "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?"

  • Canticles 1:12 – "While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 24 May 1747

  • Jeremiah 2:13 – "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 26 July 1747

  • Ruth 1:16 – "And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 30 August 1747

  • James 3:17 – "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 13 September 1747

  • James 1:19 – "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath..."
      first preached at Middleboro, 9 August 1747

  • Revelations 5:9 – "…and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 16 August 1747

  • Canticles 8:7 – "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be condemned…"
      first preached at Bridgewater

Rev. Conant sermons, 1748-1749

This folder continues with Rev. Sylvanus Conant's sermons through the years 1748-1749. Most of them appear to have been preached first at Middleboro, and often at other venues subsequently. Dates and locations are listed where available.

  • 1 Peter 5:8 – "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 14 February 1747

  • Galatians 5:18 – "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 1 January 1748

  • Matthew 27:51 – "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 24 April 1748

  • Matthew 22:42 – "Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David…"

  • 1 Corinthians 2:12 – "…that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 28 April 1748

  • 2 Corinthians 6:17 – "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you..."

  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 – "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 17 July 1748

  • Psalms 110:7 – "He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head…"
      first preached at Guilford

  • Isaiah 26:20 – "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 25 December 1748

  • Galatians 5:18 – "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law…"

  • Mark 10:52 – "And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 23 April 1749

  • Psalms 103:17 – "But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children…"

  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 – "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 8 October 1749

Rev. Conant sermon, 1776

In this single sermon preached in May of 1776, Rev. Conant urges humility among his congregants and discusses how errant brethren should be dealt with according to Matthew 18:15-18.

  • Matthew 18:15-18 – "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.…"
      first preached 12 May 1776

Rev. Conant sermons, 1770-1776

This folder represents the latest dated sermons preached by Rev. Conant, during the course of the 1770s, until his death from smallpox in 1777.

  • Isaiah 40:15-17 – "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing…All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity…"

  • Matthew 18:20 – "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them…"
      first preached at Middleboro, 1770

  • Ephesians 6:4 – "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord…"
      first preached at Richmond, 1770

  • 1 Peter 1:5 – "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time…"
      first preached at Fairfield, 19 February 1775

  • Isaiah 45:22 – "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else…"
      first preached at Newbury, March 1775

  • Genesis 24:63 – "And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming…"
      first preached at a lecture in Castleton, August 1775

  • Jeremiah 5:9 – "Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?"
      first preached at Jud's Meadow, 1776

  • 1 Timothy 1:15 – "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief…"
       first preached at Jud's Meadow, 1776

  • 2 Timothy 2:3 – "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ…"

  • John 10:11 – "I am the good shepherd…"
      first preached at Salem North, 1776

  • Ephesians 1:11 – "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will…"

  • 1 Corinthians 13
      first preached at Sheffield, 1776

Rev. Conant sermons, undated

This folder contains Rev. Conan's undated sermons. Locations are also not recorded.

  • Romans 5:11 – "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement…"

  • Romans 5:1 – "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…"

  • Philippians 1:6 – "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ …"

  • Hebrews 2:3 – "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him…"

  • Deuteronomy 32:5 – "They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation…"

  • Jeremiah 2:13 – "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water…"

 

Special Thanks

The digital resource has been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.

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