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 39 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 39 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

doctrine, evangelical or transcendental, compared
with the likeness of the life to Christ's, and the near-
ness of the spirit to God's." His utterance was
"without seeking mortal favor or shrinking from
mortal blame," and with that transfiguring demonstra-
tion of the spirit and of power which belongs to the
genuine minister of the truth of God. In his first
sermon in his first parish, there was a judicious but
thorough widening of the application of the gospel,
by which room was made for whatever might seem to
his unrestrained conscience an application of the pure
good-will of God, with express and extended mention
of the several great reforms of the day. His sensi-
bilities were quick and deep within, pure as living
water, true to the demands of simple humanity ; and
it was for truth only, and in extreme self-distrust, that
he so little opened his heart where society expects
the expression of sentiment, but too often does not
respect its divine nature and sacred use. To the
proffer of friendship, and to the clear call of human
yearning, his heart was never closed. Among the
people, who have not learned to desecrate the divini-
ties of human feeling, and who demand nothing out
of the heart for form and show, he was ever open
and hearty ; and not a few, wherever he went, will
witness, that with him, of all men, heart was joined to
heart as with hardly any that are left on earth. He


indeed kept his inward nature with reserve, but it was
for divine uses ; and wherever he found an open access
to a soul, either the invitation of affection or the call
of duty, he entered with simple human sympathy,
with direct force of the unveiled spirit : and the hold
which he obtained was like the striving of a messen-
ger from God ; the comfort which he brought, like
bread of eternal life.

In his preaching, as you know so well, the man
stood up, keeping nothing back ; pouring out the re-
sources of his soul, the plain sense of the experience
of man and the demands and help of God, with a
richness of illustration from his wide and varied read-
ing which wonderfully sustained and impressed his
thought. Those who have conversed much with his
mind, and who know the veil hardly rent away from
his inward life, must deeply feel that the promise of
all his faculties exceeded even the unusual perform-
ance of his short career. It is not often that men
appear directly moved by a quick sense of the close-
ness of the spirit of man to the Spirit which God is.
A Paul, a Luther, a Wesley, thus converse with eter-
nal realities, and rise on the world in the majesty of
this inspiration ; but after them comes a long succes-
sion of learners of their words, who hear but the echo
of the voice of God in venerable tradition. We are
come to the dawn of the long-expected age of the
Spirit, to that hour of which Christ prophesied to the


woman of Samaria ; and the life of him we mourn,
short as it was, and humble as he thought it, was a
precious fruit of the new faith in the presence of God
with man. The sense of this vocation which he had,
his sacred passion for this ministry of the spirit and
the truth of the Father's worship, filled full the cup
of his sadness when he surrendered all, and with
burdened and broken body and bleeding feet, but with
lofty and patient cheer, pressed the footsteps of Christ,
until captivity was led captive, and death swallowed
up in victory. For we know of a certainty, by a
faith whose evidence is like the sun, that a life so
prepared, so begun in inward truth, so frustrated for
earth, and so outlasting here the failing frame, has
its progress, its success, its utter triumph of all de-
lights of the heart and all nobilities of life, in that
new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth right-



Letter from Rev. Theodore Tebbets to his People, and Resignation of
his Pastorate.

Appledoee House, Isles of Shoals,

Oct. 19, 1859.
To the First Parish in Medford.

My beloved Friends, — In this sorrowful interruption of our
personal intercourse, my thoughts and hopes are constantly revert-
ing to you ; and I know, better even than before, how strong and
vital is my attachment to my people, and how deep and perma-
nent my interest in their welfare and happiness. I have had new
assurance too, in countless ways that have cheered my heart,
of the readiness of their sympathies, and of the warmth of their
affection, for their sick and absent pastor.

You will therefore, I am sure, be glad to receive some direct
information concerning my health and plans, since they concern
the parish nearly as much as they do the minister : and I am
glad to be able to say, that, ever since I came to these islands, my
health has been steadily, and of late rapidly, improving ; so that
now it is better, in every respect, than when I came home from the
"West, last June. There has been no symptom of a return of my
original disorder ; and every day still witnesses a continued gain.

Yet, though these facts are all of the most encouraging kind,
my physician advises, that, in order to make sure of the entire
restoration to perfect health, I should abstain from preaching, and
lead a comparatively idle life for some months ; although I may
be able to reside among you, and perform the duties of a pastor


in whole or in part. And this advice my own judgment pro-
nounces wise, though my heart protests.

Now, I cannot conceal from myself two facts : that, in this
interval, your interests as a parish may suffer through the want
of a permanent preacher and a working pastor ; and that, at any
rate, while thus so idle, I shall not be performing the duties de-
volving upon me by virtue of our relation as minister and people.
Accordingly, both my conscience and my regard for your welfare
direct me to but oue course ; namely, to give you an early oppor-
tunity of obtaining a minister more able — he cannot be more
willing — to serve you faithfully in the pulpit and in the parish.

And therefore, though I confess that to write these words
causes me a pang of unutterable sorrow, because I thus surrender
not only the highest ambition, but the chief happiness, of my life,
I resign into your hands the office of pastor which I received from
you two years and a half ago.

And may the everlasting Father give us all a clear vision to
discern, an unfaltering courage to do, and a cheerful patience
to bear, his holy will !

With unchanging affection, your friend and pastor,

Theodore Tebbets.

Response of the Parish, declining to accept Mr. Tebbets's Resignation,
Nov. 7, 1859.

" Resolved, That we receive from our ' sick and absent pastor,' Theo-
dore Tebbets, new assurances of his returning health, with the encoura-
ging prospect of his entire restoration, with great pleasure ; and while we
fully appreciate and respect the feelings which have prompted him to
tender his resignation of the pastoral office, in the exercise of which he
has become so greatly endeared to us, we do not see sufficient cause
for severing the tie which binds us together in the affectionate relation
of pastor and people.

" Resolved, That, while we deeply regret the necessity which has sepa-
rated him from us for so many months, we entirely acquiesce in and ap-
prove of the course which he has pursued in procuring temporary supplies
for the pulpit during his enforced absence, and desire that he may


continue to make such arrangements for the future as he may deem

" Resolved, That we feel the fullest sympathy for him in his illness ;
that, holding in grateful remembrance the zeal, earnestness, and devotion
with which he has ministered over us, strengthening us as a parish, winning
the personal affection of all, and awakening in us, as we trust, a higher
and deeper spiritual life, we cannot abandon the hope, that God in his
goodness will yet restore him to health, and to his former usefulness in
his sacred office, and permit him again to minister to us with a profounder
experience of his love ; and therefore we respectfully decline to accept his
tendered resignation.

" Resolved, That the clerk of the parish be requested to communicate
a copy of these resolutions to our pastor."

Eev. Theodore Tebbets, Appledore House, Portsmouth, N.H.

Second Letter to the Parish, and Final Resignation.

Medfoed, June 23, 1860.
To the First Parish in Medford.

My dear Friexds, — When, last October, I sent the commu-
nication to my people to which they made so noble and affection-
ate a response, I cherished a confident hope, that, after another
winter's rest, I should be able to resume my pleasant labors as
their minister. But this hope has proved illusive, and the expe-
rience of the last few months has convinced me that it is necessary
for me to give up preaching altogether ; and this conviction is
now confirmed by the decided opinions of my medical advisers.
I must, therefore, — hard and sad as the duty is, — abandon my
parish, my profession, and, I fear, my New-England home, and
seek the restoration of my health in a less-trying vocation and in
a more genial climate.

Accordingly, I hereby tender to you the final resignation of the
charge which I assumed, three years ago last April, as your
preacher and pastor. I will not, for I cannot, try to tell you the
feelings with which I make this communication ; for I had hoped
and prayed to live and die as the minister of the First Parish in
Medford, where all my ambition and all my affection have centred.



The terms of my settlement provide, I believe, that the relation
between us may be dissolved by a notice of six months, given by
either party. Practically, my sickness has been giving that notice
for sixteen months ; and I would, therefore, ask that our official
connection, so brief and yet so happy, may terminate on the thirty-
first day of July next.

I trust, that, in the mean time, it will be possible for me to visit
every family in their own home ; and I hope, that, on the last Sun-
day of July, I can, by a parting sermon which a friend will read,
take farewell at once of my people and of the Christian ministry.
May God bless us all and our homes, and lead us into that eter-
nal life of faith and trust and holiness, which, beginning here,
ripens in immortality !

Faithfully and affectionately, your friend and pastor,

Theodore Tebbets.

Resolutions of the Parish in accepting Mr. Tebbets' s Resignation.

At a meeting of the parish, held July 9, 1860, the following
resolutions were adopted : —

" Resolved, That the First Parish in Medford receive with profound
regret the recent communication from the Rev. Mr. Tebbets.

" Resolved, That accepting the resignation, now a second time offered,
of his pastoral office, because it is no longer right to Mr. Tebbets to re-
fuse to do so, they desire to express to him their sense of the great value
of the services which they so unwillingly relinquish ; their gratitude for
his kind, unwavering, personal interest in themselves and their families ;
their appreciation of all the good he has done and would do for them ;
and they especially wish to express the real, warm, brotherly interest
which they, every one of them, have in his welfare ; their sincere hope that
his health may be restored, that he may yet be able, at some not distant
day, to resume those pastoral duties which he loves so well, and is so well
able to discharge. In the too short relationship which has existed
between their pastor and themselves, their only regret has been caused
by his ill health : their single disappointment has been, that his health has
not improved.

" Resolved, That the salary of the Rev. Mr. Tebbets be continued for
three months from July 31, the period of his resignation."


Letter from Mr. Tehbets to Rev. Edward C. Towne, his Successor in
the Ministry of the First Parish, Medford.

Washington Heights, N.Y., April 2, 1861.

My dear Sir, — Though I am personally a stranger to you, I
am sure that you will permit me to extend the right hand of fel-
lowship, and assurances of congratulation, from the last to the
next minister of the " First Parish in Medford." I am truly glad
for them that they are to have a minister again, and one, I trust,
more able, and if possible more willing, than his predecessor, to do
for them a Christian minister's work ; and I do most heartily
congratulate you on going to a parish which has in it all the
essential elements of the highest prosperity, and which is always
proud and glad to work for and with its pastor, to make him a
happy and useful man. After three years spent among the Med-
ford people, I have only unmingled feelings of love and gratitude
towards them. I owe not a single pang of pain to them ; but I do
owe three years of happiness. You, too, will find them generous
and just, considerate and forbearing, everywhere. They are essen-
tially a minister-loving people. I went there against the wishes
of a large minority; but I never felt any hinderance at their hands,
and I always found them the kindest of friends.

I sincerely hope that you may pass many years of peace and
prosperity as their minister, and do for them more than I could
ever hope to do, and vastly more than, in my feebleness and sick-
ness, I really did.

When I go East, in a few weeks, I hope that I shall have the
pleasure of seeing and knowing you ; when, I suppose, I shall find
you pleasantly established in your new home.

My impulse was to write to you the moment I heard of your
acceptance, which was only last week ; but circumstances have
made me unwillingly tardy.

Believe me very truly your friend and brother,

Theodore Tebbets.


%ttaxm% unto Counsellor at ITafo,


Petttunai; $ *nri**is.


Preached in the Bowdoin Square Church, Sunday, Dec. S5, 1864,




Co. D, 55th. Mass. Regiment.



' He being: dead yet speaketta.



Mjemuritfl £ * r v i t e



Preached in the Bowdoin Square Church, Sunday, Dec. 25, 1864,




Co. D, 55th. Mass. Regiment,



' He being (load yet epeaketb.'




Rev. 2 : lO.


It becomes my duty, as pastor of this church, to
speak of one this morning who has fallen on the field
of battle, one that you loved and honored as a Chris-
tian young man, a brave soldier, a dutiful son, a be-
loved friend. I feel that I cannot do justice to one so
noble and so good, whose name is so sweet a fragrance
in all your hearts. Not having been personally ac-
quainted with him, so early gone to his reward, I
have felt perhaps that another might do the duty de-
volving on me more satisfactorily to his numerous
friends assembled at this hour in this sacred place,
than I could. I claim your indulgence and an interest
in your prayers while I proceed to sketch, as I am
able, the life and labors of our fallen brother, both at
home and on the field of deadly strife. I regard the
text selected on this occasion as being peculiarly ap-
propriate — "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will
give thee a crown of life."

The faithful child of God is promised a crown of life.
It is represented as a gift, a free gift. It is not intima-
ted that it is given to him for his faithfulness. It is

not in the light of a reward, for services rendered ; but
from his love to his faithful servants. He gave him-
self to redeem us; in return we give him our hearts;
we love and serve him ; and the last act of our Re-
deemer is, to crown us in his kingdom with eternal
life. He has power to do this. Pie destroyed princi-
palities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high
places ; He conquered the world, the flesh and the
devil ; He is King in Zion, on his head is the crown of
creation ; He is Lord of all worlds ; on the brow of the
Son of God sparkles the crown of heavenly dominion ;
the cherubim and seraphim, yea, all the angelic host
execute his high behests ; He wears the crown of vic-
tory over Satan, wicked men and wicked angels ; for on
His head are many crowns. He has subdued all things
under him ; He has grappled with death in his rocky
tomb, wrenched from his hand his cruel sceptre, taken
from him his sting, destroyed his power, and poured a
flood of light into the grave. In that conflict death
lost his " iron crown of despair." He opened up a way
for revolted men to return to God ; he conquered the
natural heart, and came preaching peace to them that
were afar off, and to them that are nigh. Satan is
under his control ; his power is broken ; his dominion
invaded by the conquering Prince of Peace. Sin and
Satan had a mighty battle with the Son of God ; but
they found him a conqueror. How completely from
•the grave to the open gates of heaven, he took away
every obstacle to the salvation of the believer. Now
he can say, turning to the ransomed soul, — " Be thou
faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of
life." I have overcome Satan and the world ; so shall
you. I have risen from the grave ; so shall you. I

have disarmed death, and to you now he shall be no
enemy. I live, and because I live, ye shall live also.
I wear my crown of righteousness, henceforth there is
laid up a crown of righteousness for you, and for all
who shall love my appearing. Not only a crown for
Daniel and Elijah and Paul, but a crown for every sol-
dier of the cross, who dies fishting the battles of his
country. Such a crown our fallen Christian hero wears

" I ask them [him] whence their victory came ;

They with united breath,
Ascribe their victory to the Lamb,

Their triumph to his death."

Blessed is he who is found faithful ; he shall wear the
crown of amaranth in the paradise of God. Our de-
parted brother, who fell in battle Nov. 30th, at Hone}^
Hill, South Carolina, was born in this city, Aug. 29th,
1841. He has gone to his reward, young in years,
being only 23.

His early life was spent in the same way in which
many of our youth are brought up. He had every
advantage for early training, and was fitted for college
very young. He was an obedient and dutiful son,
making home pleasant by his cheerful and happy dis-
position. He early developed those traits of charac-
ter which eminently fitted him for his chosen position,
and had he lived, would have given to the world a
splendid future. Pie was quick of perception, clear in
thought, decided in character ; qualities which made
him the admiration of his friends in early manhood,
and constituted him the idol of his regiment. Boston
gave him his birth, his education, and we can say he
was a child of whom none were ashamed. He received

his religious education here also. Trained by Chris-
tian parents, and early taught the ways of the Lord in
the Sabbath school, he promised to be of great service
in the church of which he was an honored member,
and the community in which he was reared. But he
has been cut short in his career, and it becomes us to
consider our relations to God, and bow submissively to
his will.

We cannot but feel that he has died as the Chris-
tian soldier dies, under the Divine hand, by the Divine
will. I love to think that nothing is left to chance.
God rules all, governs all. To us His designs may not
always appear plain, but He " is his own interpreter."
Humanly speaking, we can say it is a great loss. To
his kindred it is a severe stroke. No pains had been
spared to fit him for usefulness. He had gone step by
step through his academic course, and through his col-
lege course also, until he came forth with honors en-
circling his brow. His parents looked on with just pride
and anticipated a career of usefulness for him which
might be denied to others ; but he hears his country's
call, and can a mother plead in vain to the child of
her love in the hour of danger ? What son could turn
his back upon her mournful pleadings ? He heard the
summons of his bleeding land, and with a manly, pa-
triotic heart, gave himself to the cause of human lib-
erty. The motives that governed him were noble,
lofty and pure. A class of minds untutored and un-
learned needed his plastic hand to mould them ; his
mental culture to train them. The persuasions of
friends, the entreaties of those he loved, could not hold
him back from duty and danger. God had a special
mission for him; that mission performed, he takes

him to himself from amid the flash of musketry and
the roar of the dread artillery.

We are paying a great price for the redemption of
our country. Our best and bravest young men are
being cut down in early manhood's prime. The best
minds have been enlisted, and the best blood shed.
Think not the price too great or the purchase too
dear. It took the blood of the Son of God to redeem
our souls. It costs the blood of our sons to redeem our
country. Capt. Winthrop P. Boynton has died as a
saviour of his country. In the language of one of his
companions in arms, writing home to his friends, " We
shall be successful at last, however, for we can never
let such men as Boynton die in vain."

He gave his all, home, health and life, obedient on
hearing " his country's call."

We cannot say, we dare not say he has died too
soon ; too soon for his country, too soon for the church
of which he was a valued member, too soon for weep-
ing parents, a fond brother and sister ; and yet as we
recall him, his manly form, his cheerful look, his
bright beaming eye, his pleasant words of cheer and
hope, his noble, generous deeds, and we remember
that with mortal eyes we shall no more see him,
that another chair is vacant ; we say, then, it is too
soon for our earthly affections ; too soon for these
poor hearts of ours ; too soon for our earthly ex-
pectations. But when by faith's foreseeing eye we
behold him safe in the heavenly land, attired in the
royal robe of a Saviour's righteousness, with a crown
of glory on his head, which shall never fade away ;
when we hear him rejoicing that the conflict is ended,
the last battle fought and the victory won, then we

say, " The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away,
blessed be the name of the Lord." " Even so, Father,
for so it seemeth good in thy sight."

In this connection I am constrained to speak of his
noble friend, Capt. Crane, who was a classmate of his
in college. Their friendship was close and intimate dur-
ing their four years' course of study ; they graduated
together on the same day, with honor to themselves and
credit to their Alma Mater, and enlisted as officers in
the same regiment, to educate and train the colored
soldiers for service in the field ; and well did they
execute their mission ! With minds disciplined by
severe mental training, they infused into others their
own brave and heroic spirit that fitted them for the con-
flict, so that when the hour of battle came, they were
ready and eager for the fight. Of these two friends we
can say, as it was said of Saul and Jonathan," Lovely and
pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not
divided." How true, in their case. They fell near
each other in the same battle, and about the same
time. We can say, as David said again, referring to
the same, — " The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy
high places : how are the mighty fallen !"

On the fatal day, Nov. 30th, when Capt. Boynton
led his men to that deadly charge, he fell wounded,
but he rose and cheered his men onward. There was
no truckling cowardice in his nature, no hesitancy in
the critical hour. He had nearly gained the fort when
the fatal bullet struck him. Now came the exchange
from death to life ; " the joy for the tear ;" " the peace
for the pain ;" from his work to the plaudit, " Well done,
good and faithful servant ;" from fading honors to a
crown of dazzling glory ; from the din and roar of bat-

tie and the clash of contending hosts, to the sweet
music of heaven. mourning and stricken joarents,
brother and sister of the fallen hero, he has not died
too soon, nor died out of time. It may be too soon
for your loving hearts ; but not too soon for him.
Filial love would say, give him back to me. But as
your heroic son and brother looks down from the bat-

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 39 of 51)