John Harrison Mills.

The Christian examiner and theological review, Volume 2 online

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these notes; the text being taken from Psalms, xzxvii. 37.


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110 Biographical Sketch of Oovemoar Brooh.

several of the neighbouring towns, our deceased friend con-
sented to resume the office of physician. Shortly after, be
was elected a fellow of the Massachusetts Medical Society.
How ably and successfully, with what unsparing toil and pa-
tience, with what suavity, fidelity and acceptance, he dis-
charged the duties of his responsible calling, is known unto
all my fathers and brethren. His professional judgment and
skill, it is well known, were held also in high estimation by
the members of the Faculty, a signal proof of which was theif
spontaneous election of him in the latter years of his life, to
the dignified office of President of the State Medical Society.
With all bis conscientious devotedness to the duties of his
immediate profession, he yet found time to meet many calls
to honourable exertion for the publick weal. He was a man
whom the community loved to distinguish. Besides the im-
portant trusts with which the citizens of this town, from time
to time, invested him, as their representative in several Legis-
latures and delegate to the State Convention for the adop-
tion of the Federal Constitution, he was elevated to seats in
the Senate and Executive Council boards, and also to a
high rank in the Militia of the State. But why need I
mention these marks of publick confidence and regard, or
spread in recital before you his other eminent honours?
Why remind you of his selection by the Father of our country,
when the note of war was sounded at the close of the last
century, to fill one of the principal stations in the army then
contemplated to be raised ; a distinction more illustrious
firoro the circumstance, that the highest military talents of the
land were open to the discriminating choice of the Great
Chieftain, and the name of our honoured friend was asso-
ciated with those of the proudest heroes of which the Repub-
lick could boast? Why speak of the eo^inent post he held as
bead of the military department of this Commonwealth during
the most perilous crisis of the late war ? Why mention his
subsequent elevation for a period of seven successive years
to the government of this state with large majorities of the
free suffrages of his fellow-citizens ; or expatiate on the ac-
knowledged abihty, the rare dignity, the unequalled urbanity,
with which he discharged the duties of that arduous station,— f-
qualifications, which obtained for him the homage of ail, and
exhibited him in the rare light, (as has beeu well observed,)

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Biographical Sketch of Govemour Brooks. ^ 1 1 1

of * a ruler not of a party, but the people ?' Why enumerate
the various publick associations and institutions, with which
Ae deceased was connected, or over which he was invited
to preside ; patriotick or professional, religious, literary or
masonick ? Why mention the several diplomas expressive of
respect for his intellectual eminence and erudition, which
were spontaneously conferred upon him by the neighbouring
university, and which embraced the highest honours in its
gift f All these distinctions, it is presumed, are fresh in the
remembrance of all whom I address ; and a general reflection,
I have only to oflfer on the whole ; — what must have been the
preeminent worth of him, whom men of all classes and
professions, and walks, and pursuits, thus delighted, and
were emulous to honour f

To none who were conversant with the deceased, need it
be said, that he courted not publick honours. He was supe-
rior to the little vanity and sordid ambition of one, who would
play a part in the great drama of life, for the paltry pleasure
of being seen and gazed at. No one prized more than he,
the judicious estimation of his fellow-citizens, or was more
ready to move at the clear call of duty, to the post of labor-
ious eminence. But it was not the honour for himself, but
the good thereby to be accomplished for others, which was
the magnet that led him ; and the benefits which he was
enabled to render the publick, in the high stations to which
he was advanced, gladly would he have conferred by a
personally invisible agency.

It is well ascertained, that when the dominant political
party in the year 1816, turned their eyes to him as the most
suitable candidate to fill the chair of chief magistracy in this
stattf, — to the committee who waited upon him to request his
consent to the proposed nomination, he returned a refusal,
on grounds, which he deemed to justify fully his decision, and
which exhibited the consistent purity of his views. When
bis negative was reported at an adjourned convention, such
was conceived to be the urgency of the publick need, they
refused to accept it. It was decided, that without a renewal
of the personal application, (in the hope that he would at
length yield to the exigency,) the press should forthwith
announce him as the federal candidate for the chair of
state. And yet, when ck>tbed with the office, from the

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lis Biographical Sketch of Ootemour Brooh$.

emineDce of which be thus modestly shrunk, be more thta
rose adequate to its novel and complex duties, and proved
himself as a ruler, equally able and virtuous, enlightened and

His private deportment in the latter office, cannot have been
forgotten by us. Equally accessible to all, he maintaired
the same affable and urbane, yet di§;niGed address, tor which
be was wont to be distinguished. His crowded avocations
did not cause him to neglect the duties and charities of social
and domestick life ; nor produce a suspension of the kindly
interest he had ever cherislied in our families and homes.
How various and delicate his offices of courtesy and friend-
ship ! And how ready, to the last, his gratuitous bestowment
of professional advice and the fruits of his long-tried skilly
whenever sought in cases of illness ; — always in company, or
known accordance with the wishes of his respected successor
in the medical office.

In the character of this most estimable man, there was a
rare junction of qtiaiities,* equally great and good. Cheat
qualities he certainly possessed. The facuhies of his mind,
naturally of no inferiour order, had been unusually strength-
ened by culture and exercise. Separately, they were all
entitled to respect on the score of power ; and had the entire
Assemblage centered in some one, not endued with his genu-
ine goodness of heart, or in whose breast a baleful ambi-
tion reizned, they would have clearly proved the possessor to
be a talented man, in the popular sense of the phrase. la
the case supposed, they would have stood all naked and open,
and have glared upon human observation. But in him, tbey
were accompanied and relieved by virtues of equal eminence.
Tliere was a happy admixture of these, and an evenness in
their elevation, which gave a rounding and finish to his cha-
racter ; and> added to an unostentatious address, they pre-
vented the particular effect of his mental powers, either viewed
singly, or m their aggregate. In short,

* He was a man mott lika to rirtue, is all
And every action ■

Of a body as fair
At was hb oumI, and no lets rereread
In face than fame He couM so use his state.
Tempering his f^reatness with his gravity,
Ai h avoided all self4ot« in him
And Iwie in otiMrt.'

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Biographical SkeiA of Goffemaur Brooki. 113

It remains now that we turo our attention more particularly
to the religioui principle, the ' golden thread/ which ran
through the contexture of his life and actions.

From his youth, he entertained a deference for religion.
But a remarkable providence befel him when about twenty-
three years of agr, which drew his attention seriously to
the' subject. It pleased Grod to visit him with an alarming
illness.''^ At that critical juncture, he possessed the calm
exercise of reason. He was led to revolve deeply on the
state of his soul, and the anticipated consequences, should
he be shortly called out of the world. He found with
concern that he could not give so full and satisfactory a
reason of the hope that was in him, as he had been wont
to conceive ; and altogether, he felt that religion had not
been with him that paramount concern, that it both might
and should become. Yet, be it observed, his conduct had'
been stainless and irreproachable ; nay, externally, a patteri
of correctness.

On his restoration to health, he began seriously to investi-
gate the subject of religion. He read, as opportunity enabled,
the works of those solid English divines, Clarke, Barrow,
Taylor, Butler, Atterbury, and, more recently, the writings
of the great Paley. Beginning with researches into the
being and attributes of God, he next proceeded to examine
the foundations of revealed religion, and settled his fiiith id
its great principles, on a known and immovable basis. A
remark of his is well remembered, * that from the period of
his life alluded to,-«of any three books to be found on his
table, at least one would prove to be on the subject of reli-
gion.* This fact shows the measure of attention, that, among
his multifiirious engagements, he still unfailingly gave to re-
searches in Christian Theotogy. But he did not merely read
and reflect ; he felt that he must act. ^ True religion,' he
once said to the speaker, * is not a matter of speculation, to

* This ticknets oecmred in the year 1776, about the time of the eraenatioB of
Loo; Island bj the American troops. Gov. (then Major Brooks,) was obliged
to be renoired, in a state of great weakness, to New York. The relation of the
impressions produced by the iHness, or rather of the eerioos Tiews then enter-
tained, was given me by himself, two years ago. Whilst on this point, I would
add, that I received at different times, viva vocCy from the same source, the state-
flients of the prominent particulars contained in these brief memorial sketches.
They claim, tfacraibre, to be considered as faithfully accurate.

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114 Biographical Sketch of Govemour Brooks.

recreate the mind, — ^nor yet food for the passions to nourish
fanaticism. It is a pendulum thatj moving unthin^ should
regulate and control all the actions of the life J

His peculiar views of the great doctrines of religion were
ever strictly liberal. By this I mean, that they were narrowed
by no sectarian bias ; and he put that rational construction on
the proclamations of divine grace, — that salvation by them is
freely offered to all men, though the acceptance or rejection
thereof, depends upon their own will. Liberal as he was in
^ntiment, yet his faith was evangelical.''^ He never aban-
doned that great cardinal doctrine of the Grospel, — the media*
iorial agency of Jesus Christy as necessary to human salva-
tion. But as be was a protestant in heart, as well as in pro-
fession, he freely allowed the same right of private judgment
in matters of faith, to others, which he claimed for himself.
He conceived, nevertheless, that diversities of religious senti-
fnent .might exist among Christians, without destroying their
union in the bonds of peace. He deprecated the spirit of
uncharitableness, so prevalent in the present day, alienating
the hearts of believers, and baptising them with the waters
of strife. Enough he had seen of the collisions of the woiJd,
to desire harmony at least in the Christian Church. ^ Peace,'
be would say, ' peace be to this house.' In the sanctuary we
have seen bow reverent was his deportment. In daily Kfe,
we can testify how blamelessly he walked. And all before
whom I speak this day are witnesses to the consistency of his
exemplary rectitude, in every visible relation which he bore
to life. If ever, in mixing with the world, he lost sight for a
moment of the ' prize of high calling,' and measured back a
step or two to earth, the effect was to redouble his subsequent
zeal in his pilgrimage toward heaven. And tnily his ' path
proved the path of the just, that shone brighter unto the per-
fect day.'

Such a life could not but terminate in peace. The end
at length drew nigh, which was to put the seal to profession,
and display triumphantly the power of principle.

The constitution of Governour Brooks, though naturally
strong, had received several severe shocks from illness. It
recovered but imperfectly from a dangerous attack, expe-

* The word is used in its precise not ieehnictH tense.

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Biographieal Sketch of Govemour Brook$. 115

rienced two years ago ; and it was too evident to an observant
eye, that tbe springs of lire were fast giving way. From the
beginning of his last sickness, or more properly, when the
malady became fixed and determinate, he seems to have had
a premonition that it would prove mortal. On the third day
of his attack, he so expressed his expectations, but yet de-
clared his entire acquiescence in the divine wiU. This con-
viction, and the resignation he displayed, he retained un-
shaken to the last.

Omitting a recital of the progress of his disorder, the
remembrance of which is too painfully fresh, 1 will pass to a
closing scene.

On the evening of the last Lord's day, — his last sabbath
upon earth, — having then a respite from the bodily pains with
which for the most part he had been exercised, he requested
tbe auendance of his pastor. On visiting him, I found his
bodily strength to be greatly reduced. Nature, it was appa*
rent, could sustain the conflict but a little longer ; yet the
faculties of his mind were in full and unclouded exercise.
Collecting his shattered powers, like dying Jacob, he strength-
ened himself upon his bed. The effort of nature to rally
her feeble forces partially succeeded. With laborious and
broken, yet sufficiently distinct accents, he was at length able
to articulate. Such remarks as were made, that evinced the
happy and edifying frame of a dying christian, the unshaken
composure of a good man's soul in the near view of certain
dissolution, — I shall only repeat. But these will be given, 9.s
near as may be, with verbal accuracy.

In reply to the satisfaction I expressed on seeing him, as
was expected, amid all the pains of his body, enjoying in-
ward serenity, and strength, and comfort, giving evidence
thereby, that he was borne up by the influence of that reli-
gion in his death, which he had aimed to exhibit in his life,
he saia ; — ' I see nothing terrible in death. In looking to the
future, I have no fears, — no,' he added with emphasis, ' no
apprehension I experience, as I dwell on the prospect before
me. I know in whom I have believed ; and I feel a persua-
sion that all the trials appointed to me, past or present, will
result in my future and eternal welfare.'

Shortly after, he resumed ; ^ I look back upon my past.
Kfe with humility. I am sensibfe of many imperfections that

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116 Biograpkieal Sketch qf CfovemMr Brooki.

cleave to roe. I know the! the present is neither die seisoo
Bor the place, m which to begin the preparation for death.
Our wkoh life is given us for this great object ; and the work
of preparation should be early coromencedy and be never re-
laxed till the end of our days. My own term of life is a-most
spent. What I have done, is done. Grod has seen all ; and
known all. To htm 1 can appeal, that it has been my humble
endeavour to serve him in sincerity, and wherein I have failed
in duty, I trust to his grace to forgive. / now rest mjf
soul on the mercy cf my adorable Creator^ through the only
mediation of His iSon our Lord.'*

*• Oh, what a ground of hope,' he immediately added, * is
there in that saying of an Apostle, that Oo4 is in Chrikt^
reconciling a guilty world to himself^ not in^uting their
trespasses unto them P

After an interval, he continued ; ' I know what it is to
leave this world. I look back, and I look around me, and
I see what life is, and the many innocent charms it pos-
sesses. How many have been the blessings I have enjoyed,
all which a merciful Providence has bestowed upon me. I
have been connected with life by a thousand close and pleas-
ant ties. What friends have I had, and what comforts in
their friendship ! 1 cannot speak of the innumerable tender
associations which crowd in my mind, as I pursue these
reflections, and indulge the survey of the past. — ^And to die,
is to leave alL Yet aU, all I have resigned. The relinquish-
ment is unreservedly made. I now only look to the world
before me, and very soon I shall be there. In Grod 1 have
placed my eternal all ; and into Mis hands I commit my spirit.*

When a confident hope was expressed that his patience
would not fail, and it was suggested, that seemingly his fur-
ther period of suffering could not be long, he resumed, and
said ; * The conflict is sharp ; may it be short. Sometimes
my pains are indeed great. But I have prayed for a spirit
of submission, and that it may continue with me to the last.
The will of the Lord be done ! — ^Yes, I repeat ; not my mff,
but the wiU of my Father in Heaven be done P

He next requested a prayer, but said, * Pray not that I

may recover. I have no desire to be raised up from this

. illness. But pray, that my sufferings may be mitigated, if it

please Grod, and that at length my death may be easy. And

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BiograpMeal Sketch <f G^vemour Brooks. 117

forget not my absent' bis lips faultered, — it was only hkv-

mentary, — ' my absent children/ he soon audibly pronounced.
• And as by an all-wise Providence, it is not permitted to us
to meet in this world, may we be blessed with a happy re-
union, in the world beyond the grave.'*

In his parting words, on this affecting occasion, he forgot
not the church and religious society with which he had so
long walked and communed. A blessing he fervently ejacu-
lated upon them, and implored the divine presence to be
continued in the midst. It was the blessing of one just
arrived at the gate of Heaven. Zion still dwelt upon his
heart, and this seat of her solemnities. May the prayer that
be uttered, be visibly followed by rich and lasting effusions
of grace from above !

Thus have I imperfectly sketched a few particulars in the
life and death of one whom living, we honoured, and now be-
reaved from us, we bewail. The distinguished excellencies
in the character of the deceased, and the near relation he
bore to us demanded, it was deemed, some tribute from this
place. But the subject, however interesting to dilate on, or
profitable to pursue, must at length be concluded.

And now, sainted immortal, farewell ! Though we cannot
rise to thy greatness, may we emulate thy goodnes. May the
bright mrtues thou didst display upon earth, adorn our lives.
May we follow thee • in all things wherein thou didst follow
Christ. Like thee, may we persevere to the end in wisdom's
ways. In the last conflict of nature, may our souls, like thine,
be borne up by the hope, which entereth within the vail. And
in the future world, may we receive with thee, the portion of
everlasting blessedness and peace.

'If aDjr thine was wanting to prove Uie firmness of soul of this Christian
hero, in his dying hour, the disappointment above alluded to, was a decisive
triaL Wheh his sickness first assumed an alarming character, intelligence
was sent to his only son. Major Alexander S. Brooks, of the United States'
Artillery, Commandant of Fort Preble, Maine. It was not then known, that
the latter was also confined to his bed, by a severe and dangerous illness. It was
■ecessary, at length, to apprise the father of this. The tidings occasioned a
short struggle, but he immediately professed his entire submission to the will
of Heaven. The trial was the more painful, as the illness of the son precluded
the consolation of the presence of the lady or chiklren of Major Brooks. Tha
disappointment of the dying parent, and the grief of the ion, may be faintly
coBceired, but cannot be expressed.


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118 Letters of Evelyn and Tajfhr.

[John Evelyn, Esq. author of the Sylva, a distinguished scholar
and gentleman in the n^gn of Charles 11. was honoured with the
friendship and confidence of the eminent men of his day, and par-
ticularly of Dr. Jeremy Taylor, whom he was accustomed to con-
sult as his spiritual adviser, and with whom he lived in the itearest
intimacy. The following are among the letters, which have re-
cently been published with the Diary of Mr. Evelyn, relating id
part to interesting domestick occurrences, which called forth the
sympathies of that amiable, as well as eloquent prelate. The first
is an acknowledgment from Dr. Taylor, of some kindness confer-
red by his friend, probably at that period of his life, when, not-
withstanding his preeminent genius and fame^ he was no stranger
to the perplexities of a straitened fortune.]

From Dr. Jeremy Taylor,
Honoured and Dear Sir, — A stranger came two day»
since from you with a letter and a token ; full of humanity
and sweetness that was, and this^ of charity. I know it is
more blessed to give than to receive ; and yet as I noways
repine at that Providence, which forces me to receive, so
neither can I envy that felicity of yours, not only that you
can, but that you do give. And as I rejoice in that mercy,
which daily makes decrees in heaven for my support and
comfort, so I do most thankfully adore the goodness of God
to you, whom he consigns to greater glories, by the minister-
ies of these graces. But, sir, what am I, or what can I do,
or what have I done, that you can think I have or can oblige
you f Sir, you are too kind to me, and oblige me, not only
beyond my merit, but beyond ray modesty. 1 only can love
you, and honour you, and pray for you ; and in aU this, I
cannot say but that I am behind hand with you, for I have
found so great effluxes of all your worthinesses and charities,
that I am a debtor for your prayers, for the comfort of your
letters, for the charity of your hand, and the affections of
your heart. Sir, though you are beyond the reach of my
returns, and my services are very short of touching you, yet
if it were possible for me to receive any commands, the
obeying of which might signify my great regards of you, I
could with some more confidence converse with a person so
obliging ; but I am obliged and ashamed, and unable to say
so much as I should do, to represent myself to be

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Letters of Evelyn and Taylor. 1 19

Honoured and Dear Sir, your most affectionate and obliged
friend and servant, Jer. Taylor.

Mr. Evelyn to Dr. Jeremy Taylor, to come and Christen his
son George.

Sir, — ^I heartily acknowledge the divine mercies to mc,
both in this, and many other instances of his goodness to me ;
but for no earthly concernment, more than for what he has
conveyed me by your charity and ministration towards my
better and eternal interest ; and for which I wish that any
new gradations of duty to God, or acknowledgments to you
from me, may in the least proportions second my great obli-
gations, and which you continue to reinforce by new and
indelible favours, which I know myself to be so much the
more unworthy of, as I am infinitely short of the least perfec-
tion, that you ascribe to me ; and because you best know
how much a truth that is, I have not reason to look upon
that part of your letter but as upon your emanations, which
like the beams of the sun upon dark and opaque bodies,
make them shine indeed faintly and by reflection. Every
one knows whence they are derived, and where is their na-
tive fountain. And since this is all the tribute, which such
dim lights repay, I must never hope to oblige you ; but what
I am able, that will I do. — Sir, I had forgotten to tell you, and
It did indeed extremely trouble me, that you are to expect
my coach to wait on you presently after dinner ; that you are
not to expose yourself to the casualty of the tides in repair-
ing to do so christian an office for

Sir, yr. fac. John Evelyn.

Says Courty 9 June^ 1657.

Answer from Dr. Jeremy Taylor.
Honoured and Dear Sir, — ^Your messenger prevented
mine but an hour. But I am much pleased by the repetition
of the divine favour to you in like instances ; that God hath
given you another testimony of his love to your person, and
care of your family. It is an engagement to you, of nei9
degrees of duty, which you cannot but superadd to the
former, because the principle is genuine and prolifick ; and all
the emanations of grace are universal and alike. Sir, your

Online LibraryJohn Harrison MillsThe Christian examiner and theological review, Volume 2 → online text (page 12 of 49)