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 30 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 30 of 51)
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that probably many more have been under the same min-
istry, preparing themselves for everlasting misery. Oh !
consider, whoever ye are to whom his long service of the
Gospel has as yet been but the savor of death, consider
how this withdrawal by God of His messenger should
startle you ! His death, " full of grace and glor}-," is no
earnest to you of your own happy exit from probation.
Does it not seem rather the sealing up of that probation,
when God takes away the ambassador by whom for so
many years He has bidden you to accept the Gospel invita-
tion, and bidden all in vain? His entrance upon his rest
is no comforting encouragement of your rest with him in
Paradise. Oh ! does it not seem rather the closing of the
doors of salvation upon you, when God removes the min-
ister who, for forty years, has instructed you in the way of
life, and who, in the combined power of precept and ex-
ample, has so long in vain

" Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way ?"

Particularly do I exhort those who are fast approaching,
or have already past the bounds of threescore years and
ten, and especially you who, by reason of strength, have
reached the age of fourscore years, to which your deceased
pastor had nearly attained, and who are still without a true


interest in Christ's salvation, who have gone almost through
time, and yet have made no provision for eternity, to heed
this last warning of your pastor, who now speaks to you
from the grave. The last year has made fearful work in
the little band of seniors, of whom, three years ago, he
said : " they seem like the lad shaking of the olive tree, or
the gleaning grapes, when the vintage is done." How few
now are they who still remain, and with what a slender
grasp do they retain their hold on life. It will be no sur-
prising thing, nay, will it not be almost a thing of course,
that within the next three years his contemporaries and
seniors shall have entirely passed away ? Oh ! if there re-
mains aught to do in this great matter of your salvation, it
must be done quickly. Your sun of life is at the horizon.
But a few feeble rays more, and it goes down in the darkness
of death. Take heed that it be not the night of death eternal !
And, in conclusion, I know of no words in which to urge
upon you all attention to the voice of him who, though
dead, still speaks to you, than the words in which, three
years since, he bade you profit by his living ministry.
Imagine these words coming up from his grave, or rather,
coming down from Paradise, and with these tender recol-
lections of labor and care thronging in upon your hearts,
in these sombre courts listen again to his earnest admoni-
tion : " When you feel and realize that time is rolling on,
that our allotted days are passing away, that our years
are brought to an end as a tale that is told, that our mu-
tual labors here on earth must, ere long, terminate, and
that the great account by which we are to stand or fall at
the final day, is soon to be closed, will not these considera-
tions quicken you to a more immediate sense of your duty?
And will you not resolve, by the help of God, so to act
in future that the ministers who watch for your souls, as
they that must give account, may do it with joy and not
with grief."*

* Pastoral Letter, p. 13.


[From the New Haven Journal and Courier, March 11, 1858.]


The mortal remains of Dr. Croswell were consigned to the
grave yesterday afternoon, and the general outpouring of the people
to pay the last tribute of veneration, exceeded any similar manifest-
ation we have ever witnessed in New Haven. Long before the hour
appointed for the services, the whole of Trinity Church, (the largest
in the city,) except the portion reserved for the especial attendants
upon the funeral, was densely crowded, and very many were obliged
to go away without being able to obtain a foothold within the au-
dience room. The church was shrouded in mourning. The lower
part of the immense chancel window was covered with black ; from
the capitals of the tall pillars, the black cloth hung to the floor, the
front of the galleries was covered with it ; two series of black
festoons were carried around the walls ; the chancel and all its fur-
niture were covered with it, and the organ loft also presented the
tokens of grief. The lowering sky deepened the gloom which seem-
ed to pervade the church and to strike a responsive chord in the
sympathy of the audience, which awaited in silence the hour for the
commencement of the ceremonies.

At about half past two, the tolling of the bell announced the ap-
proach of the mourners from the residence of Dr. Croswell. Bishop
Williams, attended by Bishop Southgate of Boston, Rev. Dr.
Eaton of Boston, and Drs. Beardsley and Littlejohn and Rev.
Messrs. Benedict, Brewster, Huntington and Kellogg of New
Haven, attired in surplices, met the corpse at the porch, borne on
a bier by Rev. Drs. Mead of Norwalk, Todd of Stamford, Coit of
Bridgeport, Hallam of New London, Goodwin of Middletown,
Clark of Waterbury, Rev. Messrs Bennet of Guilford, and Vibbert


of Fair Haven, who were in their black gowns, and were followed by
the family and relatives of the deceased, some thirty -five of the Clergy,
and the Yestry of Trinity, St. Paul's, St. Thomas', Christ, St. John,
St. Luke's, and St. Paul's Mission Churches of this city. The organ
commenced a low dirge, and the procession moved towards the chan-
cel, Bishop Southgate reading the sentences at the commencement
of the Episcopal Burial Service, beginning with " I am the Resur-
rection and the Life." The bier being placed in front of the chan-
cel, and so much of the procession as could find room, being seated,
together with a large number of resident Clergymen of other de-
nominations who were present, the choir sang the anthem of the
Burial Service, taken from the 39th and 90th Psalms.

The Rev. Dr. Littlejohn read the Lesson, after which the Rev. Mr.
Benedict gave out a portion of the 13th selection of Psalms, which
was sung by the choir. Bishop Williams then pronounced an ad-
mirable sermon from II Timothy, chapter iv, 9th verse : " I have
fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the

At the conclusion of the sermon prayers were offered by the Rev. Dr.
Beardsley, and the audience were offered the opportunity to pass
through the aisles and take a last look at the deceased. This occupied
more than an hour, there being many hundreds anxious to avail
themselves of the privilege. The body lay in a long, deep, oblong box
of black walnut, cushioned with satin. It was dressed in the officiating
robes of a clergyman, and on the breast rested a garland of camelias,
with evergreeens. The face retained a perfectly natural expression
of repose, though somewhat thinner than when the deceased had last
appeared before his congregation. The coffin was studded with
silver screws, and a silver cross was inlaid in the lid. Near the
coffin stood the baptismal font, filled with white blossoms and
green leaves. It was affecting to witness the eagerness of the au-
dience to take a last look at their Rector or friend, and to see the
traces of emotion which the sad spectacle called out. There were
the high and the low, the rich and the poor, the white and
the black, all participating in the same grief, all silently wit-
nessing to the universal grief at the loss of a man so well be-
loved. We have heard it frequently said in the last few days,
" the poor will miss him most," and it w r as among persons whose


dress and manners gave token of humble circumstances, (and there
were many of them,) that there seemed to be the strongest feeling
of grief — none more sincere, perhaps than the colored members of
his Church, who we were glad to see uniting on a common Christian
ground in the expression of a common sorrow.

After the audience had passed in view of the corpse, the procession
again formed and proceeded to the old Cemetery, where the last
services were performed by Bishop Williams and Eev. Messrs. Ben-
edict and Brewster, the Quartette Choir of Trinity Church singing
the verse from Revelations, beginning, " I heard a voice from
Heaven, saying."

Thus closed the impressive and solemn services of the day. The
following is a list of the Episcopal clergy present at the funeral, be-
ing forty-eight in all : — Rt. Rev. Bishop Williams, Rt. Rev. Bishop
Southgate of Boston, Rev. Dr. Eaton of Boston, Rev. Dr. Van
Kleeck of New York, Rev. Dr. Morgan of New York, Rev. Dr.
Pitkin of Albany, Rev. Drs. Richardson, Littlejohn, Beardsley,
Mead, Clark, Hallam, Todd, Goodwin, Rev. Messrs. Purves,
Carder, Fisher, Garfield, Scott, Shears, Townsend, Flagg,
and Tuttle of New York, Zell, Dewey, Deshon, Jacocks, Shep-
herd, Vibbert, Bennett, Coit, Bryant, Hitchcock, Everest,
Davies, Olmsted, Harriman, Prescott, Putnam, Covell, Fitch,
Pynchon, Holley, Morton, Huntington, Kellogg, Benedict,

[From the New Haven Daily Register, March 13, 1858.]


The death of this good man, for several days expected, occurred
this morning, March 13, at 10 o'clock; and the announcement of
it produced a solemn sensation in our community, where his faith-
ful ministrations, unpretending godliness, universal kindness, and
great dignity of character, for nearly half a century, had won for
him an admiration and respect, as general as it was deserved. For
many years he was the only Episcopal clergyman in our city, and
to his faithfulness must be mainly ascribed the rapid growth of
the Church in our midst. Possessed of a heart that beat with the


utmost kindness for his fellow men, a rare intuitive knowledge of
human nature, and great observation, he was equally useful, by the
bedside of the sick, as the religious comforter, or the friendly ad-
viser, and gifted beyond most men, in his capacity for administer-
ing consolation to the dying, and comfort to the bereaved, through
the blessed offices of his holy calling. By night or day — in sun-
shine or in storm — he was at the pillow of the sick and the grave
of the dead, as his services were requested — and as readily at the
abodes of want and poverty, as at the gates of the affluent. Wher-
ever he went, he was hailed as a messenger of love and hope, and
as sent of God. From his lips, the beautiful service of the Church
came as from one inspired, imparting a double influence from his
majestic and venerable aj>pearance, and his peculiarly impressive
manner. He has lived through a life of usefulness, to a ripe old
awe, and fallen like a good soldier of the Cross, in the " full armor "
of his Divine Master, and been gathered to the reward of his labors.
His sepulchre will arrest the steps of thousands who have enjoyed
his kindness, to drop a blessing and a tear upon the good man's
grave. It will be the task of those better fitted, to furnish a proper
biography of his life and services. But as we are of those who
have known his great kindness in seasons of affliction, as well as
of rejoicing, we have ventured to place our humble tribute of our
love and veneration upon his tomb.

Rev. Dr. Croswell was born in West Hartford, in this State, in
June, 17*78, and at the time of his death was nearly eighty years of
age. In 1814, he was ordained a Deacon in St. John's Church,
New York, and after spending a few months in charge of Christ
Church, Hudson, N. Y., he was called to the Rectorship of Trinity
Church, New Haven, and entered upon the discharge of his duties
in January, 1815, in which he continued over forty-three years,
until the day of his death.

P. S. — Since the above was in type, we have been handed the
following, from the pen of one of the parishioners and friends of the

This community again mourns at the death of a distinguished,
venerable, and universally respected Christian minister. The Rev.
Harry Croswell, D. D., has departed this life. He died on this
morning, the 13th inst., at the advanced age of about fourscore


years, after a confinement of but a few days. It was a week ago
last Sunday, that be attended church, and officiated in the services
as usual, in the morning and afternoon. No one of the congrega-
tion then thought it was the last time his venerable form would be
seen there. He was, however, it is believed, then seriously ill, but
his devotion to the cause of his Divine Master enabled him on that
occasion, to overcome " the ills that flesh is heir to." On his
return home from church, he yielded to his bodily infirmities, as if
to say, " not my will, but thine be done." It was evident from that
time, the hand of death was upon him. Like a veteran soldier of
the Cross, he has fallen with his armor on.

Dr. Croswell entered the ministry later in life than is usual.
He was brought up a printer, and in his early manhood was the ed-
itor of a talented and influential newspaper, first in Hudson, and then
in Albany, N. Y. It was when thus situated, and when surrounded
by worldly friends, and in the midst of worldly attractions, to
which most men would have yielded, that he turned his thoughts to
the solemn subject of Religion, and the Christian duties that rest
on our race. He soon withdrew entirely from secular pursuits, and
devoted his vigorous intellect and manly talents to a thorough and
systematic preparation for the ministry. From that time to his
death, he has never attended a public meeting except for reli-
gious purposes, or given a vote in any political election. He
was ordained about 45 years ago, by the late Bishop Hobart,
of New York, according to the usages and requirements of the Pro-
testant Episcopal Church. Soon after, in the winter of 1815, he
was called to the Rectorship of Trinity Church in this city. The
parish then consisted of but about 100 families, and their church
edifice was a modest wooden building of moderate dimensions, situ-
ated in Church street, near the corner of Chapel.

From this beginning, and from this hive, if the expression may be
allowed, and during the ministry of this excellent man, have pro-
ceeded the several large and flourishing congregations of the Epis-
copal denomination, now in New Haven. He has probably baptized
more persons, united more in matrimony, and officiated at more
funerals, than any other clergyman that ever lived here. No man in
this community ever devoted himself to his calling with a firmer faith,
or labored with more untiring diligence, in his ministerial duties.


Whether in the church, or out of the church — whether impress-
ing on the minds of his hearers the pure precepts of Christianity from
the pulpit, or comforting the sick at the bed-side in humble prayer,
he never faltered. In the dwellings of the destitute, the afflicted
and broken-hearted, he was a frequent visitor ; wherever, indeed, it
was known to him that consolation could be administered, the
words of kindness and Christian encouragement be made accepta-
ble, or good could be done, there he directed his footsteps. As a
preacher, Dr. Croswell was eminently practical and impressive.
His style was easy, vigorous, never elaborate, always pure and fin-
ished, occasionally eloquent. Respected, venerated, and beloved, he
has ceased from his labors in a good old age. Though taken from
those for whom, and among whom, he labored so long and so well,
his good name, and his good deeds, will be cherished with affection-
ate regard, by them and by their children's children, long after the
hand which pays this humble tribute to his memory and his worth,
will have crumbled into dust.

[From the New Haven Daily Palladium, March 13, 1858.]


The Rev. Harry Croswell, D. D., Rector of Trinity Church in
this city, departed this life at ten o'clock this morning, March 13th,
at the ripe old age of 79 years, 8 months and 27 days.

Dr. Croswell was born at West Hartford, Connecticut, June
16th, 1778. He received his early education under the care of the
venerable Rev. Dr. Perkins, as his Pastor, and of Dr. Noah Web-
ster as his schoolmaster. The first years of his manhood were de-
voted to secular pursuits ; and in that period- of strong political ex-
citement, Dr. Croswell occupied a prominent place. In 1802, he
became Editor and proprietor of a newspaper at Hudson, N. Y.,
called " The Balance," which is even now preserved as an inter-
esting and valuable work of reference. The trenchant wit and
pungent sarcasm of his editorials, and especially his article in a pa-
per called "The Wasp," brought him into collision with "the pow-
ers that be," and the able speech of Alexander Hamilton at his


trial, and in his defense, was, we believe, the last forensic effort of
that distinguished man. Dr. Croswell afterwards removed to Al-
bany, where he was also connected with a political newspaper ; and
he exhibited in this department of labor, a talent and power which
would have enabled him to wield vast influence, had he made poli-
tics his permanent field of labor. But he became dissatisfied with
the pursuit; and in 1812, conformed to the Church, and turned his
attention to the study of theology. He was baptized in St. Peter's
Church, Albany, N. Y., July 19, 1812 ; and on the following Sun-
day received the rite of Confirmation. He was admitted to Dea-
con's Orders, by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Hob art, May 8, 1814, in St.
John's Church, New York city ; and on the following Sunday com-
menced ministerial labors rn Christ Church, Hudson, N. Y. On the
1st of January, 1815, he commenced his services in this city, in an
old wooden building standing in Church street; and was instituted
into the Rectorship of the Parish on the opening of the new Trin-
ity Church, Feb. 22d, 1816. He was admitted to Priest's Orders
in Christ Church, Middletown, June 6, 1815, by the Rt. Rev. Bish-
op Griswold. The honorary degree of A. M. was conferred upon
him by Yale College, in 181V; and of D. D., by Trinity Col-
lege, in 1831. At the close of the forty-first year of his ministry
in New Haven, Jan. 1st, 1856, he had officiated personally at 2,553
Baptisms, at 837 Marriages, and at 1,842 Burials.

A full sketch of the late Dr. Croswell's life and character will,
we presume, be given to the public. In this city, where he is asso-
ciated with the earliest recollections of so many, it is scarcely ne-
cessary to say that the familiar form of the Christian gentleman of
the old school, will be missed by all ; and there are multitudes of
the poor, who will feel that they have lost their best friend. In na-
tive shrewdness, sagacity, and judgment; in masterly power of self-
control, and in the power of controlling others without effort, and
apparently without design ; and in conversational talent, he was
one of the most remarkable men whom we ever knew.

As a preacher, his style of writing was pure, chaste, and neat. We
have sat many years under his ministry, and never heard him utter
a misapplied word or a slovenly sentence. He was always instruc-
tive ; and during the latter years of his life, seemed, at times, to be
more than usually earnest and impressive.



As a Pastor, Dr. Croswell's usefulness was preeminent. His
knowledge of human nature, his gentleness of manner, and his
Christian faithfulness, made him more than welcome to the cham-
ber of sickness and the hearts of the desolate ; and many a tear
will be shed that the messenger of mercy to so many of the sorrow-
ing, ha3 at length fallen. Emphatically, Dr. Croswell " dwelt
among his own people." Nobody ever heard of him at a fashion-
able watering place, or traveling about the country as a public lec-
turer. He was uneasy away from his Parish ; and happy, only in
his appointed work. And to this oneness of purpose, may, to a
large extent, be attributed the almost unparalleled growth of the
Church in this vicinity, from the little band of one hundred and
twenty families, when he came to New Haven.

As an author, the fruits of his labor have been numerous. Sev-
eral of them were anonymous ; but all bear the marks of his clear
head, his severe taste, and unfaltering fidelity to Christ and the
Church. A full account of these belongs to another place.

Dr. Croswell was at his post on Sunday, Feb. 28, all day ; and
up to that time, had been unfailing in his attendance at the Lenten
Services ; and he was also busy in preparing his annual Class for
Confirmation, at the Bishop's anticipated visitation.

His disease was complicated and remediless. Though apparently
enjoying the best of health, and having a stout physical frame and
a robust constitution, yet for many years he has struggled with an
organic difficulty which has at times been excruciating to a degree
known only to his near friends. During a portion of his last sick-
ness, his mind was bewildered ; but lucid intervals were granted,
when the strength and "confidence of a certain faith," and " the com-
fort of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope," were fully evinced.
He died at last like a Christian veteran, whose work is done and
well done.

The Church where he has so long officiated, and where his mem-
ory is so deeply embalmed, is draped in the sable weeds of mourn-
ing ; and the sadness of the large congregation on Sunday morn-
ing, showed the respect and affection which belong to the aged and
faithful Pastor.

Dr. Croswell, for a long course of years, occupied the most
important posts of usefulness and trust in the councils of the


Church, both in his own Diocese and in the Church at large.
Few men in his Communion were more widely known, and his
death will be universally mourned as a public loss.

[From the New Haven Journal and Courier, March 15, 1858.]


Died, in this city, March 13, 1858, at 10 o'clock, A. M., Rev.
Harry Croswell, D. D., Rector of Trinity Church.

Dr. Croswell was born in West Hartford, Conn., June 16, 1778,
of Congregational parents. In his youth, he was clerk in a coun-
try store in Warren, which he soon left to learn the printer's art, in
the office of his brother, in Catskill, N. Y. While very young, he
evinced his aptitude for composition in anonymous and most accept-
able contributions to the newspaper published in the office where
he was learning his trade. These communications led, when traced
to him, to his employment as Editor of the only newspaper then
published in Catskill. In this place he married, Aug. 16, 1800,
Miss Susan Sherman, of New Haven, whose virtues commended her
to his love for more than half a century.

Soon after his marriage, he removed to Hudson, and established
a newspaper called the "Balance," which, as early as 1804, be-
came a " leading paper " of great influence and wide circulation.
It was conducted with great ability and independence ; and the tact
and talent of the Editor drew the attention, and secured the confi-
dence and friendship of a circle of remarkable men — chief of whom
was Alexander Hamilton. That gentleman made in his behalf a
speech, memorable as the greatest forensic effort of the greatest
mind of his age, and which led to that constitutional immunity of
freedom, that the truth, properly uttered, cannot be a libel.

By the persuasion of his political friends, who regarded him as " a
gentleman of talents and great power as a political writer," he was
induced to remove to Albany, in 1809, where his paper obtained a
wide reputation ; but owing to the condition of parties, then break-
ing up, it failed to be profitable, and was, after a short trial, and in
a most touching and eloquent valedictory, discontinued.


In the political wars of that day, Mr. Croswell was intimately
associated with the most eminent men of the time — men distin-
guished for their ability, their public services, and high principle.
And it was in that society that he learned to distrust all partisans,
for he saw clearly the tendency of all party ambition to lead to the
use of sorrowful and defiling means to secure the best and worthiest
ends; and turning from the war field of politics to a higher and
holier warfare, he never looked back.

At Albany, Dr. Croswell's attention was turned to the subject
of the Christian ministry; and a careful examination led him to
conform to the Episcopal Church, and to prepare to enter its
ministry. In 1814, he was ordained Deacon in St. John's Church,
New York, by Bishop Hobart. After preaching a few months
in Hudson, he was, on the resignation of Mr. Whitlock, in Oct.
1814, invited to become Rector of Trinity Church, New Haven,
which office he assumed, then in Deacon's Orders, Jan. 1st, 1815.

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 30 of 51)