Benjamin B. (Benjamin Blydenburg) Wisner.

A sermon occasioned by the death of the Hon. William Phillips : preached on the third of June, 1827, being the Sabbath after the funeral. online

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Online LibraryBenjamin B. (Benjamin Blydenburg) WisnerA sermon occasioned by the death of the Hon. William Phillips : preached on the third of June, 1827, being the Sabbath after the funeral. → online text (page 3 of 3)
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The Hon. Samuel Phillips of Andover married, July 11,
1738, Miss Elizabeth Bernard of that town. They had sev-
en children, one only of whom lived to mature age. This
was the late

Lieut. Gov. Samuel Phillips of Andover, who was born
February 5, 1752. This gentleman came into public life,
as a representative from his native town, four years after he



41



left the University, in 1771, and continued in it till his death
in 1802. He was a member of the Provincial Congress
which met at Watertovvn in 1775, and of the succeeding
Houses of Representatives every year, till the adoption of the
State constitution in 17S0; and was frequently employed on
important committees in those bodies during the revolutionary
war, and spared no exertions in his power for attaining the
object of that struggle. He was a member of the conven-
tion in the county of Essex, whose measures led to the call-
ing of the State convention of 1780 ; and also of that body,
and of the committee which prepared the drauglit of the con-
stitution. On the adoption of the constitution, he was elect-
ed a member of the first Senate under it, and was continued
in that branch of the Legislature till 1801, except in the
memorable year succeeding the insurrection, commonly call-
ed Shays' Rebellion, when his election was precluded by his
mission, with that of two other distinguished patriots, to the
western counties, who discharged their trust in a manner
highly grateful and conciliatory. He was chosen President
of the Senate in 1785 ; and, amid the diversity of political
opinions in that body, was continued in the office, in most
cases by a unanimous vote, till 1801, when he was chosen
Lieutenant Governor. He was also, in September 1781, ap-
pointed Justice of the Court of Common Pleas for the coun-
ty of Essex, and held that office till the close of 1797, when
declining health, borne down by incessant fatigue, induced
his resignation. His conspicuous services, talents, and vir-
tues, not only placed him high in the popular affection and
confidence, but procured him honourable testimonies from
the most enlightened and respectable bodies. He was hon-
oured with a place among the original members of the Amer-
ican Academy of Arts and Sciences, incorporated early in
1780 ; and also with the degree ol Doctor ofLaios by Har-
6



42

Vard University in 1793. He was married, in June 1773, to
Miss Piiebe Foxcroft of Portsmouth, N. H. Their children
were John and Samuel. The latter died in his youth, and the
former settled in the north parish in Andover, where his wid-
ow and children now reside. Lieut. Gov. Phillips died
Feb. 10, 1802, ^t. 50. From early youth he appeared to
feel the sanctifying influence of religion. " His strict and
deep views of evangelical doctrine and duty, of human de-
pravity and mediatorial mercy, evidently formed his heart to
a penitent and lowly, a kind and condescending spirit, join-
ed with devout and habitual dependance on the grace of God
through the atonement of his Son. At the same time they
produced high efforts of zeal and grateful imitation, suited to
the transcendent discoveries and enforcements of benevolence
and moral perfection. Influenced by these and similar senti-
ments, he was a distinguished pattern of diligence and resolu-
tion. His mind was too serious and benevolent, too active
and great, to relish, or even endure, the fancied pleasures
either of useless indolence or dissipating amusements. Both
his solitary and social hours were intensely devoted to some
object of utility. This remarkable activity was joined with
great economy and simplicity. He was conscienciously op-
posed to that luxury and splendour, which sacrifice to per-
sonal vanity and pleasure the wealth and opportunity which
heaven bestows for very different ends. By cherishing in
himself and his connexions habits of simplicity and economy,
he aimed to increase their power and disposition to do good.
That ability and attention, which were hereby diverted from
purposes merely selfish and vain, were earnestly directed to
solid and charitable uses. His cordial and extensive hospi-
tality, his tender and zealous patronage of friendless and in-
digent merit, his eager sacrifices of private business and inter-
est to public exigences, his efforts to rouse, direct, and en-
courage the charity and public spirit of others, his distinguish-



43

ed contributions of time, influence, and property to seminaries
of learning and religion, loudly attest his pure and exalted
philanthropy. These and many similar facts evince, that he
lived, not to himself, but to the good of his fellow men and
the honour of his God. The history of man does not often
furnish a character so full of various, wrell directed, and useful
energies. It does not often illustrate the art of living so
much in so small a compass of years. Though cut off in the
midst of his days, yet, if life be measured by those exertions
and improvements which answer life's great end, he had at-
tained to a rare and honourable longevity. His soul was on
the stretch to do good almost to his latest breath." * Beside
other illustrations of this last remark, the following are wor-
thy of particular notice. " In an instrument signed and seal-
ed Dec. 12, 1801, he directed and bound his heirs and
executors to pay to the Trustees of Phillips Academy in An-
dover one thousand dollars, to be by them and their suc-
cessors always kept out at interest ; one-sixth part of this
interest to be annually added to the principal, and the other
five-sixth parts to be laid out in the purchase of pious writ-
ings, viz. Dr. Doddridge's Address to the Master of a
Family on family religion, his Sermons on the religious edu-
cation of children, the Westminster Assembly's Shorter Cat-
echism, Stc, to be distributed among the inhabitants of /In-
dover, according to the best discretion of said Trustees,
assisted by the Congregational ministers of that town. He
pardcularly directs that the above named address on family
religion, be given to every young man about to enter into the
family state. He further directs that, whenever the income
of this fund shall exceed the objects above specified, the sur-
plus shall be applied to the use of Phillips Academy. In
another instrument, dated Jan. 27, 1 802, he directs the sum

* Dr. Tappan's Sermon delivered at Apdover, at the funeral of
Lieut. Gov. Samuel Phillips.



44

of FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS to be paid in trust to the same
Trustees, to be made a perpetually increasing fund in the
same manner with the preceding, and the interest appropriat-
ed to the following purposes, viz. five-sixth parts of the inter-
est arising from one-fourth part of said capital to be applied,
partly for the better qualifying of Females to teach in the
District Schools of Andover, and partly for extending the
term of their instructions ; and the five-sixth parts of the re-
maining three-fourth parts of said capital, to be laid out in
procuring Bibles, Testaments, and Psalters, the pious writings
mentioned in the former donation, and others of a similar
character, to be distributed among poor and pious Christians
not belonging to Andover, and also among the inhabitants of
new Towns and Plantations, or other places, where the
means of religious knowledge are but sparingly enjoyed.
And to enable the Trustees to form the most correct opinion
of the proper objects of this donation, they are desired to
seek information from pious Ministers of religion in different
parts of the country." *

Another benefaction of this branch of the family deserves
to be mentioned in this place. By an instrument signed and
sealed, May 3, 1808, by Samuel Abbot, and Phebe Phillips
relict, and John Phillips son, oi Lieut. Gov. Samuel Phillips,
the two latter, — " in pursuance of the benevolent and pious
object " of the founders and benefactors of Phillips Academy
in Andover, " and with a desire to devote a pajt of the sub-
stance with which heaven had blessed them to the defence
and promotion of the Christian religion, by making some pro-
vision for increasing the number of learned and able defend-
ers of the Gospel of Christ, as well as of orthodox, pious, and
zealous Ministers of the New Testament," — jointly and sev-
erally obligated themselves " to erect and finish, with all con-
venient despatch, two separate buildings, one of which to be

* Notes to Dr. Tappan's Sermon before quoted.



45

three stories high, and of such other dimensions as to furnish
convenient lodging rooms for fifty [Theological] students ;
and the other building to be two stories high, and of such di-
mensions as to furnish, in addition to a kitchen and private
rooms necessary to a Steward's family, three public rooms,
one for a Dining Hall, one for a Chapel and Lecture room,
(each sufficiently large to accommodate sixty students,) and
a third for a Library ; the said buildings to be located by di-
rection of the Trustees of Phillips Academy." This obliga-
tion was promptly fulfilled ; and by this means, together with
a donation made in the same instrument by Samuel Abbot
Esq. of twenty thousand dollars, as a fund for the purpose of
maintaining a Professor of Christian Theology, was founded
the Theological Institution at Andover, now so flourishing and
so useful to the church and to the world.

John Phillips, the second son of the Rev. Samuel Phil-
lips of Andover, was born Dec. 27, O. S. 1719. He was
graduated at Harvard University in 1735. After having kept
the public school at Andover and in some other towns, he went
to Exeter, N. H. where he married, and " entered upon the
business of merchandising, and also kept a private Latin
school. He was prosperous in business ; was a Ruling Elder
in a church at Exeter, one of the Justices of the Peace for the
Province of New Hampshire, and authorized to be, in some
singular cases, one of the Judges of the Superior Court.
He received the degree of Doctor of Laws from Dartmouth
University ; and was several years a member of the Council
of the State. He was much esteemed as a man eminent for
piety and virtue ; and rendered himself very conspicuous,
while he lived, for his benevolent deeds." He assisted, as
has been already stated, his brother Samuel in founding the
Academy at Andover, and subsequently made a donation to
that institution of twenty thousand dollars ; he also establish-
ed a professorship of divinity in the College at Hanover, N. H.



46



and founded and liberally endowed the Phillips Academy
at Exeter, N. H. At his death, he bequeathed one-third
of his estate to the Academy at Andover, and two-thirds
to the Academy at Exeter. He was twice married, but had
no children.

William Phillips, the third son and youngest child of
the Rev. Samuel Phillips of Andover, was born June 25,
O. S., 1722. After receiving a good school education, he
removed to Boston, at the age of fifteen years, and became
an apprentice to Edward Bromfield, Esq., a highly respect-
ed merchant of that tow^n, son of the Hon. Edward Brom-
field, for many years one of his Majesty's Council in the
Province of Massachusetts Bay, and great-grandson to the
Rev. John Wilson, first minister of Boston. " His appren-
ticeship being finished, Mr. Phillips married, June 1 3, O. S.,
1744, his late master's eldest daughter. Miss Abigail Brom-
field, a lady eminent for virtue and piety. By this marriage,
it is worthy of remark, the families of the Rev. George Phil-
lips and the Rev. John Wilson, who came over from Eng-
land together, and officiated as colleagues under a large tree
jn Charlestown, until the first removed "to Watertown and
the other to Boston, were conjoined by the wedlock of the
great-great-grandchild of each." In addition to the partic-
ulars mentioned in the Sermon respecfing this Mr. Phillips,
it is stated, that he was greatly " prospered in his business as
a merchant, was much esteemed by his fellow townsmen, and
often reached forth his hand to the needy, and was given to
hospitality." He took a decided and active part in the pro-
ceedings which preceded and attended the revolution, was
on many of the committees appointed by the town of Boston
in those trying times, and often contributed liberally of his
money to carry forward the measures which issued in the es-
tablishment of our independence. At his death he bequeath-
ed five thousand dollars to the Academy at Andover. He



4t

had eight children, only four of whom survived the period of
childhood, viz. Abigail, born April 14, 1745 ', William, born
March 30, 1750 j and Hannah and Sarah, born Nov. 29,
1756. The first of these v^^as married to that distinguished
patriot, Josiah Quincy Jun., whom she survived several
years, and died March 25, 1798. The second was the late
Deacon William Phillips. And the other two still survive.

The late Hon. William Phillips, as was mentioned in
the sermon, married a daughter of the late Hon. Jonathan
Mason. She was a lady distinguished for intelligence and
discretion ; was eminent for piety and benevolence ; and
died, greatly lamented, May 7, 1823. They had seven
children. Of these, two only are now living, viz. the Hon.
Jonathan Phillips of this City, and Abigail Bromfield, now
Mrs. Ebenezer Burgess of Dedham. Of the others, two,
Miriam and Edward, deceased within the past year, and
three died in childhood. Miriam, the late Mrs. Samuel H.
Walley, was born June 9, 1779. In the seventeenth year
of her age she gave satisfactory evidence of piety, and was
admitted to membership in the Old South Church May 1,
1796, of which church she continued a worthy member till
her death in March 26, 1827. Edward was born June 24,
1782 ; and died Nov. 3, 1826. His occupation was that of
a merchant. He was greatly respected and loved in all the
relations of life. His prominent traits of character were ju-
diciousness, integrity, amiableness of temper, and unobtru-
sive but decided and consistent piety. His disposition was
retiring ; he, however, accepted several important public
trusts, which he discharged with fidelity and usefulness.
The religious sentiments which he embraced, and to which
he continued firmly and dovotedly attached through life, were
those of the Fathers of New England. He was admitted a
member of the Old South Church March 2, 1806, and chos-
en deacon May 8, 1817, which office he held till his death.



48

The Rev. Dr. Miller, formerly of New York, now a pro-
fessor in the Theological Seminary at Princeton, N. J. re-
marks, in his " Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century," that
" in furnishing instances of individual liberality to public insti-
tutions, it is believed that Massachusetts exceeds all other
states." He also observes, " The family of Phillips in Mas-
sachusetts and New Hampshire, has been long distinguished
for its great wealth, and also for its love of religion and liter-
ature. A complete history of the munificence towards pub-
lic institutions, at different times, by the members of this fam-
ily, would probably furnish an amount of benefactions seldom
equalled in this country."

JsTote B, page 32.

The last benefactions of Deacon Phillips to public chari-
ties were as follows : to Phillips Academy, Andover,

^15,000 ; Theological Institution at Andover, 1 10,000 ; So-
ciety for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians and oth-
ers in North America, $5,000 ; Massachusetts Bible Society;
^5,000 ; American Board of Commissioners for Foreign
Missions, $5,000 ; American Education Society, f 5,000 j
Massachusetts Congregational Charitable Society, for the re-
lief of the destitute widows and children of deceased Congre-
gational Ministers, $5,000; Medical Dispensary, f 3,000 ;
Massachusetts General Hospital, for the relief of the sick poor
of Boston, $5,000 ; Female Asylum, |2,000 ; Asylum for
Indigent Boys, $2,000. Total, $62,000. Of most of these
institutions, as well as of several others of a similar character,
he had, for many years, been a liberal and efficient member.
To the Massachusetts Bible Society, to the Society for Propa-
gating the Gospel, and to the Congregational Charitable So-
ciety, he, annually, for a series of years, contributed $500 ;
and to several other societies $100 ; beside liberal donations



49



whenever they were specially needed. During the last three
weeks of his life, he contributed to different charitable objects
above ^5,000 ; an amount which would doubtless have been
nearly doubled had he lived a few days longer, and been
permitted to attend the religious anniversaries held on the
week of the General Election. At the time of his death he
was President of the Massachusetts Bible Society, of the So-
ciety for Propagating the Gospel, of the American Education
Society, of the Foreign Mission Society of Boston and Vicin-
ity, of the Congregational Charitable Society, of the General
Hospital Corporation, of the Boston Dispensary, and of the
Trustees of Phillips Academy at Andover ; and honorary
Vice President of several other benevolent associations in this
City, and in other parts of the country.

The time of his decease, the Saturday evening preceding
the week on which the annual meetings of most of the relig-
ious and charitable societies of this City and State are held,
contributed to deepen the sensation produced by the event.
In the reports of several of these institutions the afflictive oc-
currence was noticed in a respectful and feeling manner.
The report of the Directors of the American Education
Society, presented at the annual meeting on Monday, May
28, commenced with the following remarks : —

" The Directors of the American Education Soci-
ety, in common with all who celebrate the religious festivals
of the present week, feel the gloom which overspreads this
city. The venerable man whose benevolence has so long
flowed in a thousand streams among the poor, in the seats of
education, and through the wide spreading valley of moral
desolation in our own country, and in distant lands, has gone
to his rest. He has ceased from his labours, and his works
do follow him. To this Society, over which he has presided
from its first formation, and whose treasury he often replen-
7



50

ished by his liberality, the loss is great, and is one which will
long be felt. The name of Phillips will ever have a dis-
tinguished place among the friends and benefactors of the
Society, and will always be cherished with deep and tender
emotion. The monuments of his beneficence are many j
but none are more durable, nor more honourable to his mem-
ory, than the minds which his benevolence has assisted to
form for usefulness. Hundreds there are who might go
to the place where he lies, and as they behold his pale
form, exclaim, O my Father, my Father ! These will re-
member him when the places which have known him, shall
know him no more ; and their zeal and efforts for the good
of their fellow men will perpetuate his influence, when every
other monument has crumbled into ruin."

The Executive Committee of the Foreign Mission So-
ciety OF Boston and Vicinity, in their report presented to
the Society at the annual meeting, on Thursday, May 31, ob-
served, near the close of the report, " While we admit the
importance of the missionary enterprise, and feel it to be our
duty actively to promote its interests, we are constantly re-
minded of the uncertainty of hfe, and are cautioned to be up
and doing while the day lasts, for the night of death ap-
proaches, in which no man can work. Especially at the
present time is this important truth forcibly taught us, by the
recent afflictive dispensation of Providence, which has called
us to mourn the death of our late venerated President.
And, whilst we listen to the admonition thus addressed to us,
the Committee cannot, on an occasion like the present, re-
frain from paying their feeble tribute of respect to his memo-
ry. He was one of the founders of our society ; and for
fifteen years, the whole time since its formation, he has pre-
sided over its interests. But he did not merely lend the in-
fluence of his respected name to commend the missionary
enterprise to the confidence of his fellow citizens. Its pros-



;i



perity was an object dear to his heart, and for its advance-
ment he contributed liberally of the abundance wherewith
God had blessed him. Nor, whilst his compassion was ex-
cited by the contemplation of the wretchedness and misery
of heathen nations, was he forgetful of the many other benev-
olent enterprises which, in the present day, advance their
claims upon the charity of the Christian public. His views
were expanded and liberal ; and to the numerous charitable
and religious societies which commended themselves to his
approbation, his donations were always generous, often munifi-
cent. His charity was not ostentatious ; and, though, when
duty required it, he was willing to let the light of his exam-
ple shine before men, he did it not that he might have glory
of them. And doubtless many are the instances in which
his almsdeeds were known only to the objects of his benevo-
lence and to Him who seeth in secret. He has left behind
him a precious memorial : and, whilst his name stands promi-
nent among the public benefactors of his age, it is also
deeply engraven on the hearts, and will be embalmed in the
memory, of many a child of affliction from whose eye the
tear of sorrow has been wiped away by his kindly charity.
But time will not allow enlarging on the virtues of him whom
a righteous Providence has removed, as we trust, to a better
world. It is indeed a hope full of immortality that cheers
the hearts of mourning friends, when a voice from heaven
breaks in upon the silence of their sorrows, saying, " Blessed
are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth ; yea,
saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and
their works do follow them."

The Managers of the Prison Discipline Society, in
their report presented at the annual meeting, on Friday, June
1. after an acknowledgment of the continued smiles of Provi-
dence upon the institution during another year, proceed as
follows. " We had written this acknowledgment of gratitude



•52

to God, and were just ready to enter upon a new year, with-
out any providential dispensation, in regard to the Society, of
a different character from those already described. But on
Saturday last, the Hon. William Phillips, First Vice Pres-
ident of the Society, died. Before this Society was formed,
when it Was generally supposed, that there could be no ne-
cessity for such a Society in this country, he was first to give
his name and patronage, that an examination might be made.
After it had been ascertained, that great evils existed in Pris-
ons, and that combined effort must be made to correct them,
he was among the first to sanction the existence of a Society
and to give his name and liberal patronage to aid in the pros-
ecution of its object. From that time till the present, he has
watched its progress, and has not failed to extend to it his
cheering approbation. What is said of him, in regard to this
Society, is true in regard to almost all others of a similar
character. His name was generally first, his subscription
largest, and his patient continuance in well doing was as re-
markable, as the extent of his means, and his cautious and
judicious selection of the objects of his charity. In all these
respects, he was so greatly useful, that our hearts sicken with-
in us, at the remembrance of his death. But we must re-
press our grief, for he has gone ' to receive his reward.' We
will endeavour, therefore, to forget ' our loss,' and think of
' his gain ; ' we will be grateful, that we were permitted so
long to share in his munificence ; we will pray that we may
imitate his example ; and we will hope to meet his departed
spirit in Heaven, where there is no more death ; and where
we shall unite in the praise of him, who, ' though he was rich,
became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich ; '
saying, ' Worthy is the Lamb, that was slain to receive povjer,
and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory^
and blessing.'



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Online LibraryBenjamin B. (Benjamin Blydenburg) WisnerA sermon occasioned by the death of the Hon. William Phillips : preached on the third of June, 1827, being the Sabbath after the funeral. → online text (page 3 of 3)