common degree of sanctity has been connected with it.
His principles were highly Calvinistick, and all his sermons
bore strong marks of his warm attachment to that system.
The natural strength and ardour of his feelings, indeed,
imparted zeal to whatever opinion he espoused, and ac-
tivity to whatever duty he performed. Yet with all his
quickness of perception, and acuteness of feeling, his
temper was under admirable control, and he was always
the thorough master both of his w-ords and actions. Thus
embracing what have been denominated the distinguish-
ing doctrines of the gospel, he explained and enforced
them with clearness, and with an apostolick zeal and
On the leading principles of the gospel, he always
preached and conversed as a Christian minister, who
took a deep and hearty interest in their diffusion and es-
tablishment. But he did not depend for success on his
zeal and fidelity. He knew that what he was, and what
he was enabled to do in the cause of God, were \vholiy
by his gracious influence. Whilst he realized his own
entire dependence, and that of others, he was animated
in duty, believing that the Lord meeteth all who rejoice
and work righteousness, those who remember him in
372 Biography of Samuel Stillman.
A subject on which he often spoke with grateful ado-
ration was, the true and proper Godhead of the Lord Je-
sus Christ. His views of sin as an infinite evil necessarily
impressed upon his mind this truth. He considered the
Saviour as an infinitely worthy object of divine worship,
and in consequence of this dignity of character qualified
to make atonement for sin. On this foundation rested
his hope of salvation ; and if this were not a reality, he
despaired of entering into glory, and believed the salva-
tion of every sinner an impossible event. But having no
doubt on this cardinal point, he was enabled to preach
the gospel with clearness.
On the subject of the trinity and unity of God, he lit-
erally believed the declaration of John, " There are three
that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and
the Holy Ghost, and these three are one ;" but as to an
explanation of the manner or mode of subsistence of the
divine nature, he would say he had nothing to do ; for
revelation did not explain it. He only declared it as a
truth to be believed on the divine testimony.
The total moral depravity of man was a principle on
which he much insisted on all proper occasions. He
had no idea that there was any latent spark of holi-
ness in the heart of a natural man, which, as some sup-
pose, can be kindled by the exertions of the sinner, and
kept alive by the same means. This opinion he repro-
bated with all his heart, viewing it as a denial of that
grace which is revealed in the gospel, and as having a natu-
ral tendency to take the crown of glory from the head of
IMMANQEL. In contradiction of this error, he would of-
ten remark on this text as a motto congenial to -the feel-
ings of a believer, " Upon himself (Jesus) shall his crown
flourish." So far was he removed from this mistake,
that he believed the real Christian, though renewed by
the Holy Spirit, was constantly dependent on God's im-
mediate agency for the origin and continuance of every
gracious exercise. Although he believed the entire sin-
fulness of the natural heart, he did not erroneously con-
nect with it a license to sin, nor suppose that men are re-
leased from moral duties because they are indisposed to
them. From the fact that man is endowed with reason,
will and affections, he argued his moral obligation to be-
Biography of Samuel Stillman. 373
lieve what God has revealed, and obey what he has
As his views of man's depravity were clear and dis-
tinct, he of consequence saw the necessity of regenera-
tion by the free and sovereign agency of the Holy Ghost.
That operation of God by which this change is effected,
he did not consider as a mere circumstantial alteration
or new modification of the sinful affections, but that a
new disposition was given to the soul, well described by
Paul as a new creation. In this change he supposed the
person was brought to have entirely new views of moral
Respecting the atonement of Christ, his sentiments
were honorary to truth. He considered it as an illustra-
tion of the divine perfections not discoverable by any
other medium ; exhibiting to all intelligent beings the
odious nature of sin, God's love to holiness, and his un-
speakable mercy to the guilty. He viewed the merits
of Christ in his obedience and death, as having an infi-
nite value, and as possessing a sufficiency for the salva-
tion of every individual of the human race, had it been
the will of God to make its application to the conscience
so extensive ; but from divine revelation he learned that
its design was particular, respecting, in its application to
the heart, the elect only. He did not, however, connect
with this the erroneous idea of some, that all men were
not under obligation to repent of their sins and believe
the gospel ; but whilst he believed the condemnation of
sinners was by the moral law, he supposed that this con-
demnation would be greatly aggravated by a rejection of
the gospel, and that they would be treated as those who
despised God's grace.
His ideas of the faith which accompanies salvation were,
that it was a belief of the gospel ; a hearty reception of
that plan of grace which is revealed in Christ Jesus, ac-
companied with holy love and every gracious exercise.
He rejected the error, that the essence of faith consists
in a person's believing that Christ died for him in par-
ticular ; no such proposition being contained in the word
of God, and no one being warranted to believe this till
he has good evidence of his regeneration. From his
ideas of faith he naturally inferred that good works would
374 Biography of Samuel Stillman.
uniformily follow. These he zealously enforced ?.s an
evidence of faith, but not as designed to originate if.
Practical godliness was a subject on which he often
preached, and which he urged on believers from the
noblest gospel motives.
The purpose of God in his eternal election of a certain
number of the human race to salvation, was a principle
dear to Dr. Stillman, as a truth clearly revealed. Be-
lieving the carnal mind, or natural heart, to be enmity
against God, he very justly concluded, that if any sin-
ners were saved, their salvation must be effected by an
influence extraneous from themselves. To imagine
with some, that God had left it with depraved men to
meet him in any conditions which they were to perform,
he would represent as dishonorary to the Divine Majesty,
who will not give his glory to another. Neither could
he believe that any of God's designs originated in time ;
but that all his purposes were, like himself, eternal. This
was his ground of encouragement to preach, knowing
that God had determined by the foolishness of preaching
to save them that believe, and that he had promised to
make a willing people in the day of his power.
From his clear apprehension of eternal personal elec-
tion, he was firmly established in the final perseverance
to eternal glory of all those who are regenerated by the
Spirit of God ; and that the grace given is an incorrupti-
The opinion that religious establishments are contrary
to the New-Testament, was defended by him. His ideas
on this subject are plainly expressed in his sermon before
the General Court of Massachusetts, in 1779. The in-
terference of rulers, as such, in matters of conscience, he
ever considered as an infringement of natural right. In
this sermon he shewed that his own ideas on this subject
were similar to those of the immortal Locke. He was a
cordial friend to religious liberty ; and all his conduct
in life towards Christians from whom he differed, mani-
fested that he was heartily willing that every conscien-
tious citizen should worship in the manner which agreed
with the dictates of his conscience, after a candid exam-
ination of the word of God.
Biogr.aphy cf Samuel Stiilman. 375
He preached much to the feelings, and to the heart ;
and numbers on whose minds naked reason and simple
truth could produce no serious effects, his powerful elo-
quence was a happy means both of touching and reclaim-
ing. Nor was he only a preacher of righteousness. Few
men ever exemplified more than he did, the virtues he
recommended to others. Whilst he exhibited to his
flock the various trials and comforts of Christians, whilst
he guided them in the way to eternal life, he led them
also by his own example.
His sermons were always studied, and it was his judi-
cious practice principally to write them. Yet from his
manner of delivery, (a manner peculiar to himself) he
always appeared as easy as if speaking extempore. In-
deed it was his constant method to add at the moment
such thoughts as occurred to his mind whilst speaking.
These thoughts were as naturally connected with the
subject as though they had been a studied part of it ;
and as they were usually delivered with much pathos,
they had the happiest effect upon the audience.
As a publick speaker, as a pulpit orator, he was second
perbaps to none. Nature had furnished him with a
pleasant and most commanding voice, the very tones of
which were admirably adapted to awaken the feelings of
an audience, and he always managed it with great suc-
cess. 115s manner, though grave and serious, \vas pecu-
liarly graceful, popular, and engaging. His remarkable
animation gave additional interest to every subject he
handled. Those who heard him might with propriety
have said of him what was s,aid of another eminent
preacher " This man is in earnest ; he believes what he
says, and says what he believes. Verily this is a man of
God. Ten such men, and Sodom would have stood."
His eloquence was of the powerful and impressive,
rather than of the insinuating and persuasive kind, and
so strikingly interesting, that he never preached to an
inattentive audience. And even those who dissented
from him in some minor theological opinions, were stiil
pleased with hearing him, for they knew his sincerity,
they knew him to be a good man.
Few persons are alike eminent in all the different du-
ties of the ministerial office ; but it would perhaps be
376 Biography of Samuel Stillman,
difficult to say in which of these Dr. Stillman most ex-
In prayer he always seemed to his audience as if en-
gaged with a present Deity, His addresses to Heaven
were generally short, but very comprehensive ; they
were solemn a,nd edifying, and usually very feeling and
impressive ; and thus coming from the heart, they sel-
dom failed to reach the hearts of others.
In the chamber of sickness and affliction he was always
a welcome visitor. So well could he adapt his conversa-
tion, as to comfort or to caution, to soothe or to awaken,
just as the case seemed to require. And if he adminis-
tered reproof, it was done in so delicate and mild a man-
ner, that it oftener conciliated esteem, than created of-
fence. In his prayers with the sick and afflicted, howev-
er intricate the occasion, he was always both appropriate
and highly devotional. So eminent was his character for
piety, and so universally was he beloved, that he was of-
ten called to the sick and afflicted of other denominations.
And his sympathetick feelings, and his fervent supplica-
tions seldom failed to pour the balm of consolation into
the wounded bosom. The sick would almost forget their
pains, and the mourner cease to sigh. How many wound-
ed hearts he has bound up, and from how many weeping
eyes he has wiped the tears away how many thought-
less sinners he was the means of awakening, and how
many saints he has edilied and built up unto eternal life
how many wavering minds he has settled, and to how-
many repenting sinners his words have administered
peace, can be fully known only at the great day !
It havingpleased the Author of Wisdom to visit Dr. Still,
man with peculiar trials, and having largely experienced
the supporting influence of religion under them, he was
eminently qualified to administer consolation to others.
Few persons could describe with such accuracy, or enter
with such facility into the feelings and exercises of the
tempted, tried believer. Like a skilful surgeon, he knew
when the wound was sufficiently probed, and when to
apply the healing balm of promise.
In the course of a few years he was called to bury sev-
en of his children, all adults, and some of them with ris-
ing families, having previously buried five children in in-
Biography of Samuel Stillman. 377
francy. But notwithstanding his domestick trials were so
great, his Christian patience and submission were equal
to them all. Such was his perfect confidence in the wis-
dom of God's government, that with all his extreme sen-
sibilities, his mind lost nothing of its lively confidence,
or of its cheerful hope.
Dr. Stillman was possessed of great benevolence of
heart, and was a sincere lover of persons of every Christian
denomination, whom he esteemed pious and good.
Though from education and from principle a Baptist
himself, he never believed that the peculiarities of any
sect ought to form a separating line, or hinder the union
of good men, for the advancement of the common cause
of the Redeemer. With many such he long lived in
habits of undissembled friendship, and by them his death
will not very soon cease to be regretted.
With a view more especially to assist young men in
attaining a suitable education for the ministry, he suc-
cessfully employed his talents and zeal in aiding the inter-
ests of Brown University, Rhode-Island, which owes
much to his exertions.
It might be mentioned as a proof of the high estima-
tion in which his talents were held as a preacher, that
there is scarcely any publick occasion on which he has
not at one time or another officiated. The university of
Cambridge conferred on him the honorary degree of
Master of Arts, in 1761. The college in Rhode-Island,
of which he was both a Trustee and a Fellow, in 1788
gave him a diploma of Doctor in Divinity. Ke was
elected a member of the Federal Convention for the town
of Boston the same year, and distinguished himself there
by a most eloquent speech in its defence. In 17S9 he
was appointed to deliver the anniversary oration on inde-
pendence to the town of Boston, which he accomplished
in a manner both handsome and acceptable.
The social feelings of the Doctor were strong, and his
powers of conversation such as always pleased. In his
manners there was an unaffected elegance and ease, which
rendered him uncommonly agreeable to every circle.
The affability and kindness with which he treated per-
sons of every description, were not less the effect of a
natural delicacy than of a general knowledge of mankind.
VOL. 2. 4?J
378 Biography of Samuel Still man.
Henre to the great he never could appear servile, nor
imperious to those in humbler stations. To both he was
the gentleman, and in private company as much esteem-
ed as he was popular in his publick performances. His
benevolent heart was feelingly alive to distress of every
kind, and in contributing to its alleviation in every shape
he was actively useful. We find his name amongst the
first members of the Humane Society of this Common-
wealt'u. Of the Massachusetts Charitable Fire Society
he was a useful officer, and of the Boston Dispensary a
member from its beginning, and President at his death.
The Boston Female Asylum is likewise much indebted to
his exertions. He was also an almoner of the private
charity of many individuals, who confided in his knowl-
edge and judgment of suitable objects.
Such \vas the faithfulness with which he discharged the
various duties incumbent on him as a minister of the
gospel ; such was his zeal for the glory of God and the
good of souls, that it may be truly said of him, he was
the happy man. Holy, spiritual religion was not with
him a transient, visionary thing, but the element in which
he breathed. Bis soul was often so enlarged in declaring
the glorious gospel, and in expatiating on the riches of
God's grace as manifested in his word, that he not only
seemed himself to enjoy a prelibation of heaven, but to
have been enabled by divine influence to communicate
this blessedness to others ; so that his friends have often
said, after having heard his private conversation or pub-
lick preaching, Truly cur fellowship was with the Father,
with his Son Christ Jesus, and with one another through
the Spirit's influence.
To his church and people he was strongly attached,
and particularly attentive.* Nor did he ever suffer any
* For a long time previous to his death, lie w.is particularly anxious that a
coflrague pastor should be settled \vith him. Knowing that time with him was
shfvt, lie Lir.jLu:;}' wished to see his church and congregation happily united in
a. person, whose sentiments and character he should entirely approve, and to
whose c-ire he could cheerfully confide his charge, when lie should be called to
put on the earthly house <.*.i his tu'iernacle. To effect tins object, in his view so
important, his labours were incessant ; and Providence seemed to smile on hir>
endeavours. The Rev. JOSKPH CLAY, from Gerr^ia, having visited the tovm
of Boston, appeared, botry to the pastor and the flock, to be the very object of
their united wishes. Proposals having been accordingly made to him for set-
tlement, which he accepted, necessary arrangements were making for it. The
Doctor was delighting himself with the prospect ; but it please<l Heaven that
Biography of Samuel Still man. 370
calls of relaxation or amusement to interfere with the
conscientious discharge of the smallest professional duty.
His duty was indeed always his delight, and nothing in
his mind ever stood in any sort of competition with it.
His congregation always reciprocated his warm attach-
ment to them. They ever sat delighted under his preach-
ing, and felt a pride in him as an accomplished pulpit
orator, no less than a love for him as an excellent preach-
er ; and neither of them were any ways diminished by
the attention of strangers who visited the metropolis,
and were commonly desirous of hearing this celebrated
minister before they left it.
In the different walks of social and private life, Dr.
Stillman was peculiarly amiable. Those most intimately
connected with him, ever found him a pleasant compan-
ion, a judicious counsellor, and a faithful friend. The
various offices of domestick life were discharged with the
same fidelity and tenderness which marked his publick
conduct. Of husbands, he was one of the most kind
and affectionate ; of parents the most tender and endear-
ing. Indeed, all who resided under his roof experienced
his paternal care and goodness.
Through life his habit of body had been weakly, and
he was not unused to occasional interruptions of his min-
isterial labours ; yet he survived all his clerical cotempo-
raries, both in Boston and its vicinity. It was his con-
stant prayer that his life and usefulness might run paral-
lel : in this his desires were gratified. He had now at-
tained the age of seventy, when the time of his departure
had arrived. A slight indisposition detained him at
home the two last Lord's days of his life. On the Wed-
nesday following the second of them, without any pre-
vious symptoms, he was suddenly attacked at eleven
o'clock, A. M. by a paralytick shock. At ten at night he
grew insensible, and at twelve his useful life and labours
were terminated together. Could he have selected the
manner of his death, it had probably been such an one
as this, which spared him the pain of separation from a
he should not be permitted to realize its accomplishment Mr. Clay had re-
turned to the southward, to settle his affairs there. Two or more mouths before
his return, the period he hud fixed for it, the melancholy circumstance ot Dr.
Stillmaa's death occurred. The following Augvtst Mr. Clay's i;utallatit-
580 Biography of Samuel Stillman.
flock he was most ardently attached to, and a family he
most tenderly loved ; a scene which, to a person of his
feeling mind, notwithstanding all his religion, must have
occasioned a shock.
In one of his sermons, preached after the death of the
late Dr. Peter Thacher, of this town, he says, " Though
we would not wish to choose, or offer to dictate to Infi-
nite Wisdom, as to the manner of our exit, yet may we
be permitted to say, that when good men are suddenly
cut down, they avoid the pains and extreme distresses
that always accompany a lingering sickness. And though
we would not pray, From sudden death, good Lord, deliv-
er us, we would devoutly pray, For sudden death, good
Lord, prepare us."
On the Monday following his death, his remains were
attended to his meeting-house, where a pathetick and
appropriate discourse was delivered on the occasion, by
the Rev. Dr. Baldwin, pastor of the Second Baptist
Church in Boston, to an immensely thronged and deep-
ly affected assembly, from 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8 ; after which
his remains were conveyed to the tomb, amidst the re-
grets of a numerous concourse of people, who crowded
around his bier, anxious to take a last look of the urn
which contained the relicks of him, who once to them
was so dear, but whose face they should now behold no
Dr. Stillman was of the middling stature, of slender
habit of body, yet remarkably upright. He was dark
complcxioned,and rather pale. His countenance, though
naturally open and cheerful, yet either from principle
01 habit more frequently presented the appearance of
thoughtiuiness and solemnity. The vivacity of his mind
was strongly marked in the features of his face, which
enanied him with uncommon ease to give language to
the passions whenever his subject required it.
The gracefulness of his person, the elegance of his man-
ners, and above all, the dignity of his whole deportment
were such, as could not fail of interesting the feelings of
all who had the happiness of an acquaintance with him.
In a word, there was something peculiarly prepossessing
in that angelick solemnity, which he always manifested^
when engaged in religious duties.
Biography of Samuel Stillman. 381
Dr. Stillman's works, except one Oration, consist al-
together of Sermons, and are as follow :
1st. A Sermon on the repeal of the Stamp Act, 1766.
2d. A Sermon on the character of a good soldier: delivered before the
Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company in Boston, June 4, J770.
3d. Substance of a Sermon , delivered at the ordination of Rev. Samuel
Shepard, in Stratham, (N. H.) Sept, 25, 1771.
4th. A Sermon on the death of Hon. Samuel Ward, Esq. meml^er of the
Continental Congress, from Rhode-Island, and delivered betore that body in
Philadelphia, March 26, 177&
6th. A Sermon on the General Election in Massachusetts, May 26, 1779.
6th. A Sermon on Charity, preached before the Most Ancient and Honour-
able Society of Free arid Accepted Masons, in Charlestown, June 24, 1785.
7th. An Oration delivei'ed to the inhabitants of the town of Boston, July 4,
8th. A Sermon on the Ieath of Nicholas Brown, Esq. of Providence, (R. I.)
May 3i, 1791.
9th. A Sermon on the French Revolution, preached on the Annual Thanks-
giving Day, Nov. 20, 1794.
10th. A Sermon on the ordination of Rev. Stephen Smith Nelson, preached
in Boston, Sept. 15, 1797.
llth. A Sermon on the National Fast Day, April, 1799.
12th. A Sermon on the death of George Washington, late President of the
United States of America, 1800.
13th. A Sermon on the opening of the New Baptist Meeting-House in
Charlestown, May 12, 1801.
14th. A Sermon on the ordination of Rev. Thomas Waterman, Charles-
town, October 7, 1801.
1 Jth. A Sermon on the first anniversary of the Boston Female Asylum,
September 5, 180?.
16th. A Sermon on the first anniversary of the Massachusetts Baptist
Missionary Society, May 25, 1803.
17th. A Sermon on the death, and preached at the fnr.cral of Hezekiah
Smith, u. D. of Haverhill, January 31, 1805.
Besides these, soon after Dr. Stillman's death, his
friends collected and published in a volume twenty ser-
mons of his composing, eight of which were never be-
fore published. The titles of these sermons, in the order
in which they stand in the volume, are as follow :
1st. Mankind universally apt to trust in their own righteousness. PubJish-
e d by desire of the hearers, 1769.
2d. The Sinner's best Righteousness proved to be essentially deficient