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 46 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 46 of 51)
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nature, the chaffering of mousing politicians was ever dis-
tasteful to him, and he loathed the schemes of legislative
knavery so rife in these degenerate days of our Republic, but
ever honored exalted talent, and paid due deference to legiti-
mate and high-toned statesmanship.

Espousing the cause of the opponents of General Jackson
in the "removal of the deposits," he ever after acted in con-
junction with the whig and republican parties. Being
elected to Congress from the Saratoga District in 1845, he
was continued in that position by reelection s during six con-
secutive years. Though not much gifted as a parliamentary
debater, Mr. "White exercised, nevertheless, an important
influence on the legislation of Congress during his long
incumbency of the post, through his assiduous labors in
committees, where, by the cogency of his reasonings, and
his persuasive manner of urging a case, he most generally
carried his point. And when his last term expired, he left
the national legislature with an untarnished escutcheon,
and was awarded the high merit of having ever been actua-
ted by the principles of patriotism, of honor and integrity,
in discharge of all the trusts confided to him. As a climax
to his public career, it was well understood in diplomatic
circles at Washington, that, on his retirement from Con-
gress, the appointment of Minister to Spain was to be
conferred upon him. But the early demise of President
Taylor, and the accession of Vice-President Fillmore to the
Presidency, disappointed Mr. White and his friends in their
reasonable anticipations of his diplomatic preferment.

It may, in truth, be said that Mr. White was born a busi-
ness man. His plans were broad, rather than diffuse ; and
with an analytic order of mind, a considerable grasp of
intellect, and an indomitable persistence in right, he would


accomplish more, with given means, under apparently dis-
couraging circumstances, than most men of his day. These
qualities, in fine, endowed him with an executive talent for
the attainment of practical results, where others would have
recoiled from the attempt.


At this point I may appropriately introduce a sketch,
politely furnished by De.Edwakd Noeth, the distinguished
Professor of the Greek Language and Literature in Hamilton
college, as indicative of Mr. White's early proclivities.

" Department of Greek Language and Liteeatuee, )
" Hamilton College. Clinton, Oct. 27, 1870.)
" Hon. Philo White :

" My Dear Sir : If the enclosed sketch is too long I beg
you will feel at liberty to condense it," &c. " The memory
of Hugh White will be always pleasant to me.
" With the highest esteem, yours very truly,


•'Fifty years ago Hugh White was a Sophomore in
Hamilton college, and boarded with Dr. Josiah Noyes, in
the house now owned by Mrs. Harriet C. Wood. Me_
White's native fondness for gardening and tree culture soon
warmed a large place for him in the heart of the Professor
of Chemistry, who gloried in a like infirmity. The two
talked over their horticultural experiences at the dinner-
table. The Sophomore spoke of a quantity of grape-seed
which he had planted two years before in his father's garden
in Whitesboro. The Doctor had heard of good results from
such experiments, and asked to be admitted as a partner.
Out of the many hundreds that came up from this planting,


Mr. White selected one more promising than the others and
planted it beside an elm-tree east of Dr. Noyes' house. This
seedling proved to be a vigorous grower. It kept pace with
its " husband-elm," until both became the wonder of College
Hill. The elm and vine are living to-day, and are graceful
memorials of the taste and skill of those who planted them.
The vine is sixteen inches in girth, and wonderfully pro-
ductive. Its fruit is palatable in September, but is improved
by frost. It is popular with those who prefer a grape so
thoroughly hardy; it will take care of itself, and bear more
abundantly the more you let it alone. This vine has been
propagated from until its offspring are past numbering.
Me. White used to say that he had been successful in many
large business enterprises, but that none of these gave him
more of genuine satisfaction than the success of that seed-
ling grape-vine which sheltered the house and gladdened the
heart of his instructor in chemistry.'"

The foregoing reminiscence of Mr. White's college career,
illustrates a characteristic trait of his, — a proneness to
utilize every thing he busied himself about. Having
attained his majority previously to entering "Hamilton,"
his mind was of course likely to be imbued with more
mature thought, and his views to be the result of more
rational deduction, at the threshold of his matriculation as
a student of that institution, than those of most of the
juvenile novitiates of our colleges: Hence, it is quite
natural that a personal and social cordiality should, from
his first entrance as a freshman, have grown up and con-
tinued during his college life, between Mr. White and the
late eminent Professor, Dr. Josiah Noyes, on terms of
such intimacy as is rarely witnessed in the scholastic rela-
tions between professors and pupils. And it may here be

reiterated, that Mr. White's uniform genial frankness of
manners, and his pleasant quaintness of expression at
times, with a varied intelligence on all topics, secured him
a cordial welcome, as a valued guest and associate, in the
most refined circles of public and private life.

As a financier, Mr. White attained to a somewhat large
experience, in his extensive manufacturing and other
business operations, and was connected with, and partici-
pated largely in, the management of various banking and
moneyed corporations, during his long residence at Waterford.
He was President of the Saratoga County National Bank ;
and on being apprised of his demise, the Board of Directors
held a special meeting, and passed resolutions of sorrow for
the loss of their honored associate and presiding officer,
and of condolence with the bereaved family, — paying a
merited tribute to his financial ability, his social virtues,
his large-hearted benevolence, and his ever watchful eye
for the public good. And as a token of their high esteem
and regard, they attended his funeral as mourners in the

As a prominent and valued citizen, Mr. White was ever
active in promoting the public weal, and in contributing,
by essential aid and judicious counsel, to all feasible pro-
jects for useful improvements, and to all legitimate objects
of benevolence. Though exacting in his demands for right
and justice, his ear was ever open to the pleadings of
mercy, and his hand always extended for the alleviation of
suffering. Loved and revered in his domestic circle, he
was generous and liberal in all dispensations for the good
of society, and in all deeds of heavenly charity and Chris-
tian kindness. He never ce^ild to cherish a reverence for
the Christian Eeligion. Through life he was an adherent


of, and a regular attendant on, the Presbyterian form of
worship; and was one of the Trustees of the society of
that denomination in Waterford, to the day of his death.
His funeral obsequies were celebrated in the Presbyterian
House of Worship there, the Rev. Mr. Vail, his favorite
Pastor, officiating, and preaching a funeral sermon on the
occasion, which was an appropriate, scholarly, and eloquent
production. The remains were attended to the tomb by a
numerous procession of relatives and mourning friends,
and were interred in a beautiful burial lot, which had been
prepared under his own supervision, in the romantic and
superb "Albany Rural Cemetery," (in the neighborhood of
Cohoes) where lie the mortal remains of those of his off-
spring and others of the family who preceded him to the
realms of eternal bliss.

P. W.
Whitesboro, December, 1870.








TROY, N. Y. :





Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth
and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

Thou turnest man to destruction ; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a
watch in the night.

Thou carriest them away as with a flood ; they are as a sleep ; in the morning
they are like grass which groweth up.

In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up ; in the evening it is cut down, and

For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy counte-

For all our days are passed away in thy wrath ; we spend our years, as a tale that
is told.

The days of our years are threescore years and ten ; and if by reason of strength
they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow ; for it is soon cut
off, and we fly away.

Who knoweth the power of thine anger ? even according to thy fear, so is thy

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.

O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years
wherein we have seen evil.

Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us : and establish thou the
work of our hands upon us ; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

JOHN XL, 21-27.

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not

But I know that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the
last day.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me,
though he were dead, yet shall he live :

And whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die. Believest thou this ?

She saith unto him, yea, Lord: I believe thou art the Christ, the Son of God,
which should come into the world.

I. COR. XV., 50-58.

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God ;
neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump : for the trumpet shall
sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on im-

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall
have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written,
Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is thy sting ? O grave, where is thy victory ?

The sting of death is sin ; and the strength of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding
in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in
the Lord.

I. THESS. IV., 13-18.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are
asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep
in Jesus will God bring with him.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and
remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which ai e asleep.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of
the archangel, and with the trump of God : and the dead in Christ shall rise first :

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in
the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air : and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.

REV. VII., 9-17.

After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all
nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before
the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands ;

And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the
throne, and unto the Lamb.

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the
four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God.

Saying, Amen : Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour,
and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are
arrayed in white robes ? and whence came they ?

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they
which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them
white in the blood of the Lamb.

Therefore arc they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his
temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more ; neither shall the sun light
on them, nor any heat.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead
them unto living fountains of waters ; and God shall wipe away all tears from their


I would not live alway! I ask not to stay
Where storm after storm rises dark o'er the way,
The few lurid mornings that dawn on us here
Are enough for life's woes — full enough for its cheer.

I would not live alway, thus fettered by sin!
Temptation without and corruption within!
E'en the rapture of pardon is mingled with fears,
And the cup of thanksgiving with penitent tears.

I would not live alway ! no, welcome the tomb !
Since Jesus hath lain there I dread not its gloom.
There sweet be my rest till he bid me arise,
To hail him in triumph descending the skies.

Who, who would live alway, away from his God —
Away from yon heaven, that blissful abode,
Where the rivers of pleasure flow o'er the bright plains,
And the noontide of glory eternally reigns :

Where the saints of all ages in harmony meet,
Their Saviour and brethren transported to greet,
While the anthems of rapture unceasingly roll,
And the smile of the Lord is the feast of the soul!


Death has a two-fold aspect. It is not all dark,
and it is not all bright : it is not all sorrow, and it is
not all joy. But it is both dark and bright; it is
both sorrowful and glad. To the grave of every
godly man there are two sides : one is cold and
cheerless ; the other is warm and green. A poet of
England once walked along the paths of a grave-
yard on a sunshiny April day, at noon. The spring
was well advanced, and the blades of grass were
green. During the night there had been a light fall
of April snow, which had covered the yard in which
he strolled. The graves lay east and west. And
the sun, as it made its circuit, inclining towards the
south, shone gently on their southern side, and
melted the snow that was lying there. And on that
side of all the graves the young grass appeared in
fresh life and beauty. But the northern side was
still cold, and white, and wintry. It was death in
its two-fold aspect. Wintry, one, cold and cheer-
less, like the snow : the sundering of old ties, and
loves, and associations ; the breaking up of a loved
home ; the parting from one who is dear ; the thought
that he is never more to be met in the familiar walks
of life ; and his pleasant voice is to be no more heard ;


and his kind hand is to be no more clasped. That
is the winter side of death : — it is the dark, sad
aspect. And it is this that makes hot tears fall
npon the cheeks.

The other view is warm and pleasant ; it is vernal
as the spring. It tells of resurrection ; of new life
springing out of death, as the grass and flowers of
the spring-time ; of mortals putting on immortality,
and dwelling forever in the land of light. It tells
of tired men gone to eternal rest, of immortal souls
gone home to God, of pilgrims reaching their jour-
ney's end, and wayfarers of earth reaching a better
country, that is, an heavenly. This is the sun-lit
side of death — fresh, green, and beautiful. So,
friends, death is not all dark, and not all bright ;
not all sad, and not all glad ; but dark and bright ;
sorrowful and pleasant together.

The saddest of all tasks which man performs for
fellow-man is that of burial. For it is taking him
out forever from his earthly home, and it is hiding
a loved face forever from earthly view. Yet with
this two-fold aspect of death, the task need not be
altogether sad.

For the performance of this duty we have come
up to God' s house to-day : here to pay our last
tribute of love and respect to the memory of one
who had the esteem and kind regard of all who
knew him : and from this place where, on the Sab-
bath days, he has long been wont to worship Father,
Son, and Holy Ghost, — to bear his body to its
burial . Loving memory may well weep to-day ; for


on the earth she will see his pleasant face no more.
Yet it mnst not be all sadness'here. For Hope may
come, and stand by weeping souls and speak words
of comfort and cheer.

Yon do not mourn when the sun goes down on a
summer's evening, and leaves a golden flood of light
behind. For the bright sunset tells of a glorious
sunrising on the morrow. The day that dies in
beauty is the harbinger of another living day to
come. And when the light of a human life goes
down from earthly view we need not always weep,
for it may speak to us, in hope, of a brighter rising
in another world. Thus, dear friends, I trust we
have a right to think of this fair life that has set in
our midst. The day that we have known is dead ;
but a brighter day may have begun to shine. And so
we must not altogether mourn over this departure,
but think of the new life in the eternal land.

The grain of wheat must fall into the ground, be
hid from human view, and die, before it can be
quickened and bring the harvest of the year. And
this mortal body, and the mortal bodies of us all,
must be sown in the earth, and be buried out of
sight, ere they can spring up to immortality ; ere
this corruptible can put on incorruption and be
clothed with glory. With such thoughts the sad-
ness of our burial-service to-day, for one who was
dear to us all, and from whom we mourn to part, is
not altogether unrelieved.

Remember, beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ, God's
Son, once lay in a grave at Jerusalem, as you and I


are to lie in our tombs. On the third day he rose
from the dead. Since then the grave has been
stripped of its terrors, and men may now rest in it,
as they sleep upon their beds at night, and wait, in all
confidence, for the light of the resurrection-morning
to dawn, to wake their bodies from death's slum-
bers. Christ's resurrection is the pledge of your
resurrection and mine. Because he lives, we shall
live also. Before Christ lay there, the grave was,
indeed, all darkness. But now, through that opened
tomb in the garden, there streams forth to man
going down to death, the blessed light of immortal-
ity and heaven. And as we go forth to the burial,
to-day, we may lay this familiar body in its last
resting-place, as a mother, at night, rests her little
one upon the bed to sleep till the morning's sun
shall awaken it to the life of a new day.

Dear friends, Religion speaks no eulogies. It
points the living to the Lamb of God, who taketh
away the sins of the world, and it buries the dead
to await Christ' s call. It sings the praise of Christ,
and not the praise of man. The words which I shall
speak, therefore, concerning the life and character
of our honored friend, will be few, and only such
as a loving heart cannot restrain. God's house
is not the place, and this is not the time, for an
elaborate sketch of his useful career, and a worthy
description of the beauty of his manhood.

To us, who have known Mr. White only of late,
he has been a genial, pleasant, kindly old man,
whom it was ever a pleasure for young and old,


rich and poor, to meet. At his home, on the street,
in the place of business, at an evening company, in
the church of Christ, one always felt grateful and
honored to receive the smiling light of his eye, the
cordial grasp of his warm hand, and the cheering
word of his lips. As a young man, while I always
looked up to him with veneration and respect, I
found myself drawn to him by a feeling of friend-
ship that exists generally only among those near of
age. And so, I think, in his pleasant way, this old
man ever drew the young to him ; for none could
come near his side without perceiving the kindly
interest of his heart in them. For he was a large-
hearted man, with room enough within himself to
take in others' troubles, and their joys ; to feel
deeply for those in want and care, and to help them
in their need by generous gifts of sympathy and
gold. There was nothing small in his character, in
his feelings, in his deeds. It would take a large
book to record the unostentatious actions of his
liberal life. And, as with all large-hearted men,
magnanimity was a ruling trait in his soul. He
hated, with a righteous hatred, all that was wrong,
contemptible, and mean. But he knew how to suffer
long, and to be kind ; and could pity men of little
souls who were beneath him ; and could forgive
them for their ingratitude of kindness, and their
personal injuries to himself. I could tell you in-
stances in which his magnanimous spirit displayed
itself that would surprise you. Yet I know not
they would surprise you, since you knew the man.


To those of you who have known Me. White for
many years he was the polished gentleman of stately
bearing, and graceful manners ; a refined and able
speaker, acute in argument, and pleasant in address ;
a man excellent in judgment, true in his words,
wise in forethought, and of good business sagacity ;
an accomplished statesman, whose character politics
never soiled ; who frowned on all dishonesty and
fraud ; and who belonged to a class of men in the
national congress which the nation looks back upon,
to-day, with utmost respect and pride.

Of the events of Mr. White's life, I now say
nothing. Many of you know them far better than
I. He has had much of prosperity, and much of
adversity, much of affliction, and much of joy. The
volume of the life is closed now, and sealed. There
is nothing to be added, for the life is at an end.

We shall all miss him, dear friends, miss him far
more than we think now, in all the walks of life.
He will be greatly missed in that charming home of
his, where he has lived so long, just on the border
of our town. • Our feet may not enter the doors of
his home, our hands are all too rough to lay against
the hearts that bleed, and we cannot know how
sadly they will miss him there where he has been
husband, father, friend.

We shall miss him in this church of Christ,
whither he has come so many years to worship God.
I always loved to see that venerable man coining
down the aisle ; and I always felt the better to have
him in his pew as I tried to preach the glorious


gospel of our blessed Gocl. It is a heavy sorrow to
my heart to think I shall never see his up-turned,
listening face, looking towards this pulpit again.
The people said of the good centurion, he had built
for them a synagogue. The liberality of Me.
White's open hand has done much to build this
house of God for us ; and may God reward him
from his throne !

We shall miss him at the counting-house, in the
place of business, in the social gatherings, in our
homes. The poor, the rich, the old, the young, the
seekers of advice, they who are in trouble and in
want — these all will miss him sadly to whom they
used to go. The end has come. And they will
bear his body down the aisle, for the last time, and
away from our sight.

Concerning the religious life of our departed friend
I need keep no reticence. He was not a communi-

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 46 of 51)