REV. ELIOT H. PAYSON, speaking for "The Aged of the Church," said:
"I feel somewhat embarrassed over my subject, for if Dr. Jessup meant that I was to talk as a representative of the aged in the church, he was mistaken in the man, for I lack two months of being eighty-six years of age, and no man is aged until he is eighty-six. If he meant that I was to speak to the aged in the church, I cannot do it, as I see no one here who is aged except my good friend the venerable Dr. Loomis, and I don't need to talk to him---he's good enough without it. I am not here to make a speech; my speech-making days, such as they were, are past. I am here to extend my personal greetings and hearty congratulations that you have rounded out the first fifty years so successfully.
"You are here to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of this church, and you may think that that is very old, but fifty years come very soon. I became a resident of Madison County seventy-nine years ago, coming for the State of Massachusetts, where all the great and good men come from. Forty-nine years ago I returned to this section, after an absence of several years, as a minister of the gospel, and became connected with what is now the Utica presbytery."
After speaking of the different pastors of the church and their work Mr. Payson said that they were all successful, and all except Mr. Nichols, he probably being prevented only by an early death, had become doctors of divinity and had proved themselves worthy of the distinguished honor and high dignity to which they had attained.
"But the success of the church was due also to the fact that she had always had an able and faithful session. I speak more especially of those who are deceased. I cannot refrain from speaking particularly of William H. Carter, Robert Stewart, and Goodwin P. Soper, all good and faithful men whose work rounded up so auspiciously.
"You are now about to step off into the next half century. The question which must press itself home at this time is, What shall the record of the next half century be? Your individual efforts must tell, but I believe that in fifty years to come this church will be much more prosperous than in the fifty years that are past. In the absence of Dr. Hudson, who was to represent the presbytery, it may not be out of place for me to extend the hearty congratulations of that body, of which I have been a member for so many years. May God's blessing attend the varied work entered upon by this church, and when we are all gathered together on the other side we will together sing the praises of Him who has redeemed us with his most precious blood!"
The church was well filled in the evening to listen to Rev. George D. Baker, D. D., of Philadelphia, the immediate predecessor of Dr. Jessup in the pastorate of this church. The evening Scripture lesson was read by Rev. Albert Bacon Sears, pastor of the Baptist Church, and prayer was offered by Rev. William H. York, pastor of the Methodist church. Dr. Baker took for his subject, "Memory's Night," and spoke substantially as follows:
It is related of the great Duke of Wellington that in his last years, when honors were thick upon him, he revisited the school where as a boy he had studied, and as he looked at the familiar scenes his eyes filled with tears and he said, "It was here that Waterloo was won." If we could to-night gather here all those who would say that it was here that the great question of their lives was solved, what a company that would be! They would come from the north, south, east, and west, and many of them would come down through the shining portals of the heavenly city, for it is memory's night. I am not to be excused to-night because I do not form a part of the late history of this church, for those who live in the past are the ones to-day whose voices we have most gladly heard. I do not need, and many of you do not need to-night, the photograph to bring up the faces of those that in years gone by were seen in the old church yonder. And it is at the old church that my mind is to-night. How well I remember my first sermon from that pulpit, and how well I remember my installation, when the sermon was preached by the saintly and now sainted man Dr. Condit! He preached from the text, "Hinder me not," and the people never hindered me; they helped me. Reference was made in many of the letters to-day to the singing, and I want to add my work and say that, although I have heard much church singing since then, I have never heard singing that went deep down into my heart as that of the old choir, and that sweetest singer that I ever knew, that gentle woman so early called home. It was in the morning twilight that the message was brought to me that she was passing away, and hastening to her bedside, I saw the dear light fade from her beautiful eyes, and her souls took its passage to a brighter hereafter. Her husband lived for many years after, but he was never the same, and yet this eloquent testimony is given of him: that he was faithful unto the end. Much was said this afternoon about the pastors, but I want to tell you that it is in her eldership that this church has been abundantly blessed. Again, this church has been blessed wonderfully in that no trash has been preached in its pulpit. Seneca, in one of his essays, makes his pilot say, "O Neptune, you may sink me or you may save me, but I'll keep my rudder true." The rudder has been kept true in this church during all these fifty years, and it is not strange that God has given it his abundant blessing. This church is especially rich in its dead, and we refuse to be separated from them. Mrs. Charles Kingsley had placed upon the tombstone of her husband the words, "Amavimus, amamus, amabimus"---we have loved, we do love, we shall love. So with reference to those who have gone from us. We have loved them, we do love them, and we shall love them. One of the happiest experiences of a man's life is that he has in coming back to an old home and looking into the faces that he has not seen in many years and finding that time has not touched and cannot change the affections, that there is still that old love that existed when we were pastor and people; to come back and find that time which crumbles marble and eats brass does not touch human love which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Much has been said to-day about those who are gone, but it is not for you to live in the past. Christ lives, forward. You have received a goodly heritage: carry it forward so that those that you leave it to shall find it the same true, loyal church that it has been through all these years. To-night, it seems to me, is but a foretaste of the blessed reunion by and by when we shall talk of the sweet days of fellowship and thank one another for what we have been to each other.
Following Dr. Baker the pastor announced that over seven hundred dollars had been raised as a memorial offering to be devoted to the building of the north side chapel. He then said:
I HAVE feared that some things would be omitted that ought to be said to-day, but Dr. Baker has so far relieved my mind that I will only remind you that we are celebrating the history of the church and not of its pastors. The pastors of this church have been only a part of its life. The church members chiefly have made it what it is. I have always been thankful for the rich legacy Dr. Baker left me in the membership, and I would not have you forget how much we owe to the elders who have served us. Tender memories cluster around the names of Elders Robert Stewart, Goodwin P. Soper, Wm. H. Carter, and Wayne Barker, and others who have been examples of Godliness and faithful unto death in religious service. I must also say, in justice to those who have managed our business affairs, that much of the blessings we recall to-day is due to the careful attention our business men have given to the business department of the church. Above all, we are not to forget that we owe it to the grace of God that we are able to recall to-day so much of blessed memory.
The pastor then invited the members of the church and congregation and invited guests to remain for the reception. "Old Coronation" was sung with spirit, and Dr. Baker pronounced the benediction.
The reception that followed was a delightful reunion. The rooms of the chapel were made attractive with home furnishings, light refreshments were served, and the day closed with a general expression of satisfaction and enjoyment.
The committee acknowledges its indebtedness to the excellent reports found in the village papers, particularly the Oneida Dispatch.