Peter Thacher.

A sermon preached June 12, 1799, before His Honor Moses Gill, Esq., lieutenant governor and commander in chief : the honorable Council, Senate and House of Representatives of the commonwealth of Massachusetts at the interment of His Excellency Increase Sumner, esq., who died June 7, 1799, aet. 53 online

. (page 1 of 51)
Online LibraryPeter ThacherA sermon preached June 12, 1799, before His Honor Moses Gill, Esq., lieutenant governor and commander in chief : the honorable Council, Senate and House of Representatives of the commonwealth of Massachusetts at the interment of His Excellency Increase Sumner, esq., who died June 7, 1799, aet. 53 → online text (page 1 of 51)
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at the INTERMENT of



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I HisHonor MOSES GILL, Efquire, j


l IN CHIEF ; . §

I The Honorable the COUNCIL, SENATE and |


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WHO DIED JUNE 7, 1799) MT - S3' ^




Printed by Young & Minns, Printers to the Government of



In Senate, June 13, 1799.

ORDERED, That the Hon. John Treadwell, Efq.
with fuch as the Honorable Houfe may join, be a
Committee to wait on the Rev. Dr. Thacher, and thank him
for the Sermon preached by him, at the requeft of the two
Houfes'j at the Funeral of His (late) Excellency INCREASE
SUMNER, and to requeft a Copy thereof for the Prefs.
Sent down for Concurrence,
JOHN C JONES, Prefident pro tern.

In the House of Representatives, June 13, 1799.
Read and Concurred, arid Mr. FEssENDEN,and Mr. Smith of
Bojion, are joined.

EDW. H. ROBBINS, Speaker.

;<^ 0<X-<XXX::^C<^



And SAMUEL died, and all the Israelites



H E frailty of human life j the vanity of
human greatnefs ; and the uncertain nature of all
human events, are now prefented to us in a light the
mod finking. The fable urn before us contains all
that was mortal of one of the moft amiable and ex-
cellent of men ; a man who was happy in his family,
warmly beloved by his friends, and elevated by the
free fuffrages of his fellow citizens to the higheft Ra-
tion which it was in their power to bellow ! In the
midfl of his days ; while the honors of the world
crowded thickly upon him ; and while we hoped that
he might be ufeful and happy for many years to
come ; Death, with inexorable hand, has feized him $
his fun has gone down at noon \ and we are now af-
fembled to pay our laft refpe&s to his remains, to
confign them, with decent folemnity, to the tomb



where they fliall moulder into dull, and arife no
more " till the trumpet lhall found, and the dead

To affift us in improving this melancholy provi-
dence, is the defign of the following difcourfe. And
how could we more naturally introduce it than by
the account of the death and funeral of Samuel,
who was long the Chief Magiftrate of Ifrael, who
travelled for many years through the nation to difc
penfe judgment and juftice, who maintained a fair
and honorable reputation to the end of life ; and
who, when he died, was attended to the grave by the
heads of the tribes of Ifrael with deep and fincere
regret ?

Such a teitimony in favor of any man, and fuch
univerfal forrow when he is taken away from life,
are ftronger evidences of his real virtue than any
which the poetic page, or the fculptured marble can
produce. We do not lament the ufelefs or the wick-
ed. We do not mourn for thofe whom we did not
efteem and love. A whole community is never in-
volved in woe and fadnefs, unlefs it has loft a friend,
a benefactor, and a ufeful fervant. And thus, the
tears of the public embalm the memory of a wife
and virtuous Ruler. They will tranfmit his name
with honor to pofterity in the annals of his country.

Samuel does not appear to have poffefTed the
fire of imagination and brilliancy of genius which too
often aftoniih and delude the world. He was not

a conqueror


a conqueror who extended by arms the dominions
of his Country, or gave it a falfe glory by fplendid
victories. He had a ftrong and capacious mind,
which could eafily difcern the jufl and the fit, and
could fteer calmly the veflel of State when a more
impetuous pilot would have darned her on the rocks,
An underftanding clear and informed, a will regulat-
ed by reafon, and never warped or corrupted by
paffion ; with affections warm but not violent, fin^
cere but not ardent ; a knowledge of the tempers
and feelings of mankind ; and an acquaintance with
the events of paft times and the hiftory of the world,
rendered Samuel more competent for the place
which he filled, than would thofe mining talents
which too often lead their poffeffors to diflrefs their
country and defolate the world, that they may pro-
cure to themfelves the fame of victory and the glory
of conqueft.

Early and fmcere piety formed a flriking trait
in the character of Samuel. Dedicated to God
by a pious parent, he was ftationed in the tabernacle
from his youth. Through a long life he preferved
the " fear of God which is the beginning of wif-
dom," and the refpect to duty which is the ftrongeft
incentive to public virtue, and the moft powerful re-
ftraint from a breach of truft. We find him ftri&ly
attentive to the ordinances of religion and the infti-
tutions of divine worfhip. But we find him more
careful of the weightier matters of the law, of the
great duties of morality and obedience. For, he
exprefsly declares to Saul, when he had neglected



fubmimon to the plain will of God, under pretence
of referring an offering to the Lord, " to obey is
better than facrifice, and to hearken than the fat of

In the prefent age of wonders, when the refults
of the wifdom and experience of many ages are view-
ed as the dreams of aged and feeble infanity ; when
nature is placed in the throne of nature's poD 5 and
the religion of Christ, mild, gentle and benevo-
lent, like its Divine Author, is represented as a cruel
and ferocious fuperftition : In this age of theory
and innovation, Religion has been confidered by fome
men and fome nations as an injury to fociety, and
incompatible with the character of a good Ru-
ler. But, when we confider the deep influence
which Chriftianity felt in its power, has upon the
very tempers and difpolitions of men ; how it leads
them to fear doing wrong ever fo privately, and de-
fire to do right, though no praife fhould attend
them ; how it places us always under the eye of the
Deity, and brings death and judgment near to our
view. When we thus view Religion in its nature
and effects, we mail perceive it to be one of the mofl
powerful and energetic principles which can operate
upon the human mind. This principle reaches
where no human law nor earthly confideration can
extend. It operates as powerfully when no eye be-
holds it as when furrounded by thoufands. It pen-
etrates the heart. It governs the temper. It guides
the conjducl. It fortifies us againft affliction, and
renders profperity more valuable and fweet. The
Ruler who embraces the fpirit, and copies the ex-


ample of Christ ; who relies on the promifes, and
U animated by the hopes of the Gofpel, will " ferve
his generation according to the will of God s " and
will be " received into everlafling habitations."

When a man is under the influence of Religion,
it will make him ftrictly upright, and will lead him
to pay a clofe attention to the great duties of juflice
and integrity. This effect had religion upon Sam-
uel. For many years he was a Judge among the
People, and diflributed juflice to the aggrieved and
opprelfed. " And Samuel," fays the facred hifto-
rian, " judged Ifrael all the days of his life, and he
went from year to year, in circuit, to Bethel and Gil-
gal \ and Mi-zpah, and judged Ifrael in all thofe places,
and his return was to Rama, for there was his houfe*
and there he judged Ifrael, and there he built an
altar unto the Lord." His patient attention to the
parties who litigated, his enlightened endeavors to
find out the truth, and his candid, impartial decifions
according to the evidence produced, procured him
the efteem and veneration of all, even of thofe
whom juflice obliged him to condemn. We find
Samuel always honored and efleemed in the nation
of Ifrael. He was received with the utmofl refpect
wherever he went. His decifions were implicitly
followed. " When the ear heard him, then it bleffed
him, and when the eye faw him, then it gave witnefs
to him."

When he a&ed as Chief Magiftrate of Ifrael, he
" approved himfelf to every man's confcience in the
fight of God." Although his fons conducted im-
B properly



properly in their fubordinate capacity, yet it does net
appear that he countenanced or fupported them, nor
do we ever find a fingle charge of incapacity, of
partiality or injuftice brought againft him. His
adminiftration was eafy to himfelf and ufeful to the
People, and would have continued to the end of his
life, had not that love of change, which ftrongly
marks the human character, but often defeats its own
purpofes, led the People to defire a King. Then
how mull his heart have triumphed, when, with the
firm and manly" voice of dignified integrity, he could
appeal to the aflembled tribes of Ifrael, in this ener-
getic language ! " Behold, here I am ; witnefs againft
me before the Lo rd and before his Anointed. Whofe
ox have I taken ? Or whofe whofe afs have I taken ?
Or whom have I defrauded ? Whom have I opprefT-
ed ? Or of whofe hand have I received any bribe to
blind mine eyes therewith ? And I will reftore it to
you." His fatisfa&ion mull have been perfect,, when
the People with one heart and one voice replied, fay-
ing, " Thou haft not defrauded us nor oppreffed us>
neither haft thou taken ought of any man's hand."
Happy Magiftrate ! Who was not only " approved
of God, but accepted of the multitude of his breth-

Samuel was a man of mild and gentle manners.
When the mod direct attacks were made upon his
family, and when the People applied to him to refign
his power, he polfenes, perfectly, calmnefs of mind.
We do not hear a reproachful word from him, not
a fingle reflection on the ingratitude of thofe whom
lie had fo long and fo faithfully ferved* Mildly he



l^monilrates with the People upon the impiety and
folly of their conduct. He does not fuffer himfelf to
be affected with the perfonal flight to him which
their application implied. He does not aflail them
with the afperity which flings, or the bitternefs which
provokes. This mildnefs of manners, this patience
of contradiction, is of great ufe to thofe who rule over
men, becaufe it gives dignity to the character. It
difarms refentment, and conciliates eileem.

But with all this mildnefs of manners the Patriarch
oilfrael Hill poffefled the firmnefs and decifion which
his religion dictated, and his ftation required. When
the Hebrews required to have a King, like the nations
about them, Samuel did not hefatate to reprove
them feverely for their ingratitude to God, who was
then their Ruler, and to fhew them that they were
enflaving themfelves and their poflerity, in order to
attain an empty pageant. Superior to the love of
popularity, which induces a man to conceal his fenti-
ments or flatter a multitude, he firmly and decidedly
proves to them that they are injuring themfelves and
deflroying their own fecurity. So honeft and inde-
pendent was he, as to hazard the difpleafure of the
People and his own influence over them, rather than
encourage them to that which was hurtful to their
true intereft. It was in obedience to Gop. alone,
that the Prophet fixed Saul on the throne ; and
God gave them a King in his anger, and took hkn
away in his wrath,"



It was the earned folicitude of the Prophet of
Jfrael to eflablifh fuch a confutation of government
as mould guard them from the dangers which they
had precipitately brought on themfelves. " Then
Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom,
and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the
Lord." He knew that fuch a precaution was nee*
effary to prevent the Ifraelites from becoming fubject
to the capricious humors or tyrannical paffions of
their King. Where the powers of Government and
the liberties of the People are accurately defined, and
proper checks are eftablifhed to prevent the en?
croachments of one upon the other, there true free-
dom is enjoyed, and there alone man exercifes his
rights. From this principle, the wife, the patriotic
and the good have always exerted themfelves to form,
and to fupport definite and free Confutations of

The love of God, and his country, animated this
good man, to exert himfelf in the caufe of Religion
and liberty. Thefe noble principles warmed his bo*
fom, governed his mind, and regulated his whole
conduct. A refpecl to the approbation of God,
" who hath pleafureonlyinuprightnefs," a fmcerewifh
to promote the fpiritual and temporal happinefs of
the People, whom he loved, induced him to exert his
utmoft energies in ferving the religious and civil in*-
terefls of his fellow-citizens. The profperity of his
Country gave him the mofl fenfible pleafure ; and
when the clouds of adverfity inveloped it, when it




fuffered from its own folly and rafhnefs, his joy was
turned into forrow.

The unfullied reputation and the faithful ferviceg
of Samuel, during his life, made his death a fubje&
of deep regret to the people of JfraeL They loved
him while his exiftence here was continued, and
when the common lot of all men befel him, they
deeply mourned the melancholy event. The tribes
of Ifrael afiembled j they bedewed his hearfe with
the tears of genuine affection and gratitude, and bu-
ried him honorably in the tomb of his anceftors.
This is the duty which we are now called to perform.

The character, briefly drawn, of Samuel in the
paft difcourfe, fo ftrongly refembles that of our de*
ceafed Friend and Governor, as that little need be
faid in addition to it. Your own minds muft have
made the application.

Endued with ftrong and vigorous faculties of
mind ; favoured with the advantages of a public and
liberal education ; impreffed with a fenfe of that Re-
ligion which forms men to virtue, kindnefs and
charity, he was early called by his fellow-citizens to
fill places of public truft and honor. As a Magif-
*rate, a Legislator, and a Judge, he discovered the
wifdom, the firmnefs, and impartiality which are fo
juftly celebrated in the character of the text. His
honor and integrity were never impeached, and had
jie made the fame appeal to the People as Samuel
did, he would have received the fame anfwer.



His wife and faithful conduct in offices of lefs dig.
nity ; their confidence in his patriotifm, integrity
and abilities, led the People of this Commonwealth
to call him to the office of their Chief Magiftrate.
This confidence was fully gratified. The warm
and decided Friend of our Federal and State Conftitu-
tions ; the warm and decided enemy of all foreign
interference in the affairs of our government ; the
watchful Guardian of the Civil, the Judicial and the
Military interefts of the Commonwealth, he was daily
more and more efteemed and refpected. His ap-
pointments were judicious, and he meant to confine
them to men of virtue and abilities. He fupported
the honor of the State with dignity. His own de-
portment, while it was eafy and agreeable, while it
difcovered the mildnefs of manners, the unaffuming
kindnefs which formed fo (hiking a part of his char-
after, was never fuch as to diminifh our refpect
and efteem for him.

Kind, charitable and good ; wifhing well to every
one, and defirous of promoting their interefts,
Governor Sumner was univerfally beloved and
honored. He was among the few men who,
though he had many friends, warm and affectionate
friends, yet, fo far as my knowledge has extended,
never had a perfonal enemy. Even thofe who on
political fubjects differed from him, and the inter-
efts of whofe party led them to oppofe his election,
cxpreffed perfonal refpect for him in life, and now
profefs deeply to lament his death.




This good man was a warm and decided friend Mr
the Religion of Christ. He early profeffed this
Religion, and his life appeared to be formed by its
divine and facred precepts. Thus influenced by its
temper, and governed by its commands in life, he
was animated by its hopes, and fupported by its con-
folations, when he came to die.

Shall I call upon you, my brethren, on this oc-
cafion to admire and imitate the tender hufband,
the wife and affectionate father, the dutiful fon, and
the faithful friend ! The grief which rends the bo-
foms, and the tears which fill the eyes of thofe to
whom he was thus related, prove the juflice of this
part of his character, and difplay its amiablenefs in
the moft ftriking manner.

And now, feeing " a Prince and a great Man has :
fallen in our Ifrael this day," let us humble ourfelves
under the divine correction ! Let us admire and
adore thofe difpenfations of Providence which we
cannot comprehend ! And let us learn the leffons of
wifdom, which an event fo folemn and affecting is-
calculated to teach us.

His Honor,, the Commander in Chief, while he
laments the Friend, whom, with fo much harmony.,
he accompanied in the public walks of life, will hear
the voice of Providence fpeaking loudly to him 5 and'
teaching him that the moft elevated ftation, the moft'
affluent cjrcumftances, and the warmer! efteem and
affection of our friends and fellow-citizens, cannot




fecure us from trie arrefts of the King of TerroH.
The duties, to which he is now called, are difficult
and important. May God give him wifdom and
grace to difcharge them ufefully and well ! " As his
day is, fo let his ftrength be alfo 1" And when the
common lot of the great as well as the fmall, the
rich as well as the poor, (hall befal him, may he,
like his excellent PredecefTor, leave behind him the
w good name which is better than precious oint-

Let me call upon our Civil Fathers of the Coun-
cil, the Senate and the Houfe of Reprefentatives, to
contemplate the folemn fcene before us, and fee the
vanity of human greatnefs, the infufficiency of the
higheft honors to " retain the fpirit in the day of
death !" There you behold the end of all flefh ! — .
There you fee the goal at which every man, who
runs the race of life, mull, fooner or later, arrive t
— 'Thence you may learn that the hour haftens when
all thofe diflin&ions, after which many men eagerly
pant, will foon be levelled, and become lighter in our
view than the dull of the balance !— * Although " ye
be called Gods," yet here you find that " ye mail
die like men and fall like one of the princes !" Re-
member, when discharging your important public
truft, that the eye of God is upon you ; that " he
has pleafure only in uprightnefs ;" and that when
your bodies fhall lie under the cold hand of Deaths
like the beloved duft before you, it will be of more
importance in your view to be confcious of one ad
©f true Religion or of public virtue, than to have



pofTefied the highefl honors which man can beftow.
Learn, from thi£ affecting Providencej to be more
diligent, active and faithful in all the relations of life^
fo that, when you lhall be gathered to the dull of
your fathers, thofe around you may " mark the per-
fect man and behold the upright, for the end of that
man is peace 1"

With the afflicted widow, the fatherlefs children,
the bereaved fillers, and the numerous relatives and
friends of this excellent man, we mingle our tears !
We hold out to them, while we wifh to feel ourfelves,
the confolations and fupports of Religion. We do
not " mourn as thofe who are without hope." Our
Friend is gone from us, but we trufl that his unem-
bodied fpirit now inhabits the courts of glory, and
has become " a pillar in the temple of our God !"

And now behold, my brethren and fellow-citizens,
behold how the " fafhion of this world pafleth a-
way i" See how infufficient are the bed earthly enjoy-
ments to fatisfy the cravings of the immortal foul, or
to protract for a moment our exiflence in this world !
Learn that the faith of Christ and the difchargeof
our duty, is the " one thing needful j" that while
life,and health, and reafon are granted us, they mould
be improved for the purpofe of preparing for another
world by performing the duty which we owe to God
and man in this ! " Now is the accepted time" ! Let
us improve itto fecure " an interefl in the better part
which can never be taken away from us," and to pre-




pare us for the " reft and the triumph which re-
main to the people of God !"

The Religion of Christ, our guide in life, and[
our fupport in death, which regulates us in profper-
ity and gilds our darkefl moments with light and
comfort—This Religion teaches us to look beyond
the grave to an heaven of infinite glory ! It teaches
us to depofit the precious remains of our Chriftian
friends in the duft, with " a fure and certain hope
of their refurre&ion unto eternal lifec" Yes, my
brethren, Death fhall not retain his dominion over
them ! They fhall burfl afunder his iron bands !
They fhall awaken to a new and eternal life ! They
fhall afcend to " their Father and our Father, tQ
their God and our God ;" and " with the ran»
fomed of the Lord fhall return and come to Zioij
with fongs and everlafling joy upon their heads l ,p






JULY i 7j



July io, 1803.


Minister of a Congregational Church in that Place,

BE YE ALSO READY.::::;::Jt$u3 Christ.


m m*M:.x s L mx*a **


MAN is a reflective being. The voice of for-
row and impreffions of grief ftrengly take hold of
the human mind. There is a time when folitude
has a charm ; when cheerfulnefs gives place to
melancholy ; and when the houfc of mourning is
better fuited to the foul than the houfc of mirth.
There are periods when with complacency we
give our attention to hifloriesof woe, lit fpectators
to fcenes of forrow, and devote the hours to mel-
ancholy and tears. Such is the prefent, when re-
gret for the dead and fympathy for the living fo
deeply imprefs the mind. To cherifli thefe, our
better fenfibilities, and to produce moral improve-*
ment from an afflictive difpenfation of heaven,
let us ;

" Hear attentively the noife of his voice, and
the found that goeth out of his mouth. He d{~
re&eth it under the whole heaven, and his light-
ning unto the ends of the earth. After it a voice
roareth ; he thundereth with the voice of his
excellency j and he will n&t flay them when his

Voice is heard . "

job, 33....S, g, 4.

f 4 J

This antient poem contains the hiftory of &
righteous man fallen from the height of profperi*
iy into fcenes of deeper! forrow. Defpoiled of his
goods, bereaved of his children, and fmitten by
difeafe, his heart bled with all the varieties of
pain. In the courfe of his complaint he fighs the
genuine voice of forrow, and unburdens his foul
in lamentation and woe. In the impreffive lan-
guage of eaftern eloquence he depidures the evil
day, fhews us the dark lide of things, and prefents
to view thofe fhades in the picture of human life
which muff, one day meet our eye. How uncer-
tain are the enjoyments of mortals ! Our hopes
are frequently blaited in the bud, and our defigns
defeated in the very moment of expectation.. —
When after much labor and care we have reared
the goodly ftructure; when we have fenced it as
we fondly imagine, from every Itorm that blows,
and indulge the hope that it will endure forever,
an invifible hand interpofes and overturns it from
the foundation. " Who knoweth what is good
for man in this life"? Who knoweth what awaits
him in life ? Who knoweth the changes through
which he is deftined to pafs ? -Son of profperity \
From thy fancied tower thou lookefl forth; thou
now gloneft. in thy excellence ; thou fayeft. that
thy mountain ftands ftrong, and that thou canft

Online LibraryPeter ThacherA sermon preached June 12, 1799, before His Honor Moses Gill, Esq., lieutenant governor and commander in chief : the honorable Council, Senate and House of Representatives of the commonwealth of Massachusetts at the interment of His Excellency Increase Sumner, esq., who died June 7, 1799, aet. 53 → online text (page 1 of 51)