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 6 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 6 of 51)
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whose mortal part now lies in the shrouds of death be-
fore us. Of him you expect me to say something; and
it is right that something should be said: for the "mem-
ory of the just is blessed," and ought to be embalmed
in the hearts of survivers.

This beloved servant of Christ was born at London-
derry, (N. H.) on the 5th of March, 1765. Blessed
with pious parents and a religious education, his mind
was early imbued with the truths of the gospel; and by
means of those truths, under the power of divine grace,
he appears to have been early brought to a saving knowl-
edge of Christ. Having devoted himself to God, his
thoughts and his heart were gradually turned to the gos-
pel ministry, until he became settled in the persuasion,
that duty required him to consecrate himself to this
sacred work. Under this impression, and with this
object steadily in view, he commenced and prosecuted
a regular course of study; during which, as he has been
often heard to say, his great concern was to qualify him-
self for the holy vocation which his heart had chosen,.
He was graduated at Dartmouth college in 1791. Af-
ter spending about three years, partly in direct applica-
tion to theological studies, and partly as a licentiate
preacher, on the 22d Oct. 1794, he was ordained the
pastor of the second church in North Yarmouth, where
he continued about ten years. His labours there were
abundant, and in no small degree successful; his trials
were arduous, but salutary in their influence, and happy
in their results. Many precious seals of his ministry
there, as we are warranted to believe, will be his joy
and crown, at the appearing of the Lord Jesus. His
separation from that people was with good mutual un^
derstanding; and under circumstances, which appear to


have fixed no imputation of particular blame, on the
one side or on the other. On both sides, however, it
was tenderly painful, and the necessity of it was deeply
regretted. The dear flock at North * Yarmouth, once
his special charge, he ever continued, as I am witness,
to bear on his heart, with most affectionate regard and
concern; nor am I without personal knowledge, that
among them his memory has been cherished with great
tenderness and respect.

Of the beloved flock in this place, he was installed the
pastor, on the 10th July, 1805. Concerning his minis-
try here, I need not be particular. "For yourselves
know, brethren, what manner of entering in he had unto
you;" — and "you have fully known his doctrine, man-
ner of life, purpose, faith, long suffering, charity, pa-
tience; — how gentle he has been among you, even as a
nurse cherisheth her children; — how affectionately de-
sirous he was of you, even to a willingness to have im-
parted unto you not the gospel of God only, but also
his own soul, because ye were dear unto him;. — how
holily, and justly, and unblameably he behaved himself
towards them that believe, and towards all men — warn-
ing every man, and teaching every man, in all wisdom."
These distinguishing traits of apostolick character should
not be applied by me, to my deceased friend and brother,
under the present solemn responsibility, were I not con-
fident of a ready testimony in your consciences, that the
application is strikingly just.

Mr. Anderson was possessed of good natural talents,
improved by diligence in study, especially in the study
of the Holy Writings. His mind was active and effi-
cient; and, in regard to objects deemed by him impor-
tant, would easily kindle into ardour. His passions,
naturally quick and strong, restrained and sanctified by
divine grace, diffused around him, a mild and benign.


k warming and cheering influence. In his various rela-
tions, as a husband, a father, a friend, a brother, a pastor,
a citizen of his country, and a denizen of Zion, the be-
nevolence of his heart was manifest, in constant endea-
vours, and in desires unequivocally expressed, for indi-
vidual happiness, and for publick good. His conversa-
tion was distinguished for its simplicity and godly sin-
cerity, and for being always with grace seasoned with
salt; and the man is rarely to be found, of whom it
might be said with more evident appositeness, "Behold
an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile."

As a minister of the gospel, he was "not as many
who corrupt the word of God;" nor as many who deem
it prudent to conceal, or but indistinctly, or ambiguous-
ly to declare their views of divine truth; but "renouncing
the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in crafti-
ness, not handling the word of God deceitfully; but by
manifestation of the truth," he seemed anxious only to
"commend himself to every man's conscience in the
sight of God." A firm and enlightened believer in the doc-
trines, distinctively denominated the doctrines of grace,
of these doctrines he was never ashamed; but to bear his
testimony to them, to shew their truth and importance,
and to press them home to the consciences and hearts
of men, was the great business of his life. He was a
preacher of Jesus Christ, and him crucified: of Jesus
Christ, as truly God and truly man; and of him cruci-
fied, as the propitiation for the sins of the world, and the
only name given under heaven among men, whereby we
can be saved. — His thoughts, his sentiments, and his
manner, were his own; his thoughts were luminous, his
sentiments were rich, his manner was plain and unaf-
fected, but solemn, affectionate, and impressive.

...._.... "Much impressed

Himself, as conscious of bis awful charge,


And anxious mainly that the flock he fed

Might feel it too; - - -

By him the violated law spoke out

Its thunders, and by him, in strains as sweei

As angels use, the gospel whispered peace."

He was eminently a man of prayer; and his prayers
were distinguished ibr the spirit breathed into them of
unaffected piety and lively faith. In them, as in all that
he did, his devotedness to Christ and his cause was
manifest. Zion, the purchase of the Redeemer's blood
— Zion, the object of God's everlasting love — was ever
near his heart. He took pleasure in her stones; he fa-
voured her dust. His heart kindled at whatever con-
cerned her prosperity: he was forward to lend his aid to
the measures for her enlargement which distinguish and
brighten the present age; and he hailed with holy glad-
ness the evident advances of her King, to put an end to
the days of her mourning, and to "extend peace to her
like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing

As he lived, so he died. His last days were serene.
Knowing whom he believed, he was persuaded, that he
was able to keep what he had committed to him. "I
have the assurance," he repeatedly said, "I have the as-
surance of faith: though not constantly the assurance of
hope." In the truth of the doctrines which he had
preached, he maintained an unwavering and lively con-
fidence; and his greatest grief appeared to be that any
should preach another gospel. His tender concern for
his dear people, his ardent love to Zion, his sacred de-
votedness to Christ, were conspicuous to the last.

Such was the servant of Christ, who statedly, for years.,
dispensed the word of life, from the sacred place in
which I stand. But the eyes that have seen him here.


will see him here no more. At a much earlier day, than
our affections and wishes would have marked for the
£vent, his divine Master, whose will is always good, has
called him to rest from his labours. To him we be-
lieve it is gain; to us only who survive it is loss, Up-
on his dear family, upon this church and people, upon
our ministerial circle, and upon our Zion, the breach
is great. — Might an expression of personal feeling be
indulged, I would say, I am distressed for thee, my
brother Anderson; very pleasant hast thou been unto
me! — But the sorrows of others claim condolence: the
sorrows particularly of the afflicted widow, and father-,
less children, and of this bereaved flock.

Upon you, dear Madam, the stroke is heavy. But
the anguish of it is relieved, we trust, by the consideration
that it is from the hand of your heavenly Father; and
we pray that his consolations may not be small with
you. Thankful should you be in this day of your
mourning, that you have not to sorrow as others who
have no hope. The lover and friend indeed, who is
now put far from you, will not return to you; — but you
must go to him. Follow him then with your affections
and desires to that better world. Let the precious gos-
pel which he preached, and which was all his salvation
and all his desire, dwell richly in you; look steadily for-
ward to the end of your faith: and the time will not be
long, ere your spirit shall join his, in the presence of
God, where there is fulness of joy, and at his right hand,
where there are pleasures forever more.

Dear Youth, Sons of the deceased, he who has beeii.
your friend, your guardian, your guide, your example;
who gave you to God, who has instructed you in the,
way of peace, who has sought your welfare with many
prayers and tears;-— your worthy and beloved father —
is now no more with you. He has left vou at a critical

age, and in an evil world. But his dedication of you
to God, his instructions, his examples, his prayers and
tears will not, we trust, be in vain. They constitute a
precious legacy; a legacy more valuable, than thousands
of gold and silver; a legacy in the possession of which,
you may be truly rich and happy. "Know then the
God of your father, and serve him with a perfect heart
and with a willing mind:" and he will be your God;
will supply all your need; will guide you with his coun-
sel, and afterward receive you to glory.

Brethren and Friends of this Church and religious
Society, the present is a solemn day to you. He who
has watched for your souls with most affectionate care,
is gone to render up his account to his Judge andjyew
Judge; and you are left as sheep not having a shepherd.
We grieve for your loss; we feel a deep solicitude on
account of your destitute state: we are devoutly desirous
that this solemn dispensation may be sanctified to you.
We pray God the breach made upon you may not be
irreparable. Has not your beloved and lamented pas-
tor left a testimony in all your consciences, that he is
pure from your blood; — that he has not shunned to de-
clare unto you all the counsel of God; — that he has
taught you the way of life in truth and with all fidelity.
And as he is now gone to render up his account, does
it not behove you individually and seriously to reflect,
how the account must stand as it regards you. Happy,
if you have received the truths of the gospel, dispensed
by him, into good and honest hearts; and are built up
and established in the most holy faith. Mournful the
fact, if in regard to any of you, he has laboured in vain,
and spent his strength for nought, and been only a savour
of death unto death! — His great concern in his last da} r s
was, lest "after his departure grievous wolves should
enter in among you, not sparing the flock." "Therefore,

we beseech you, watch, and remember, that by the
space of eight years, he ceased not to warn every one
night and day with tears." And could he now speak to
you from his bright abode, what could he more, than re-
peat in effect the instructions, exhortations, and entrea-
ties, which while here he so affectionately delivered to
you. Brethren, it is not a small thing, if a prophet has
been among you. O may his message abide in your
minds and in your hearts; may even his death be as
life from the dead to many of you. May the dews of
heavenly grace yet cause the good seed, here sown by
him, to spring up into a rich and glorious harvest; and
may the breach here made by his removal, be soon re-
paired by the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls.

My Fathers and Brethren in the ministry, our belov-
ed brother and fellow labourer is gone. Let us deposite
his sacred remains, to be kept by Him to whom his all
has been committed; affectionately drop a tear upon his
grave; embalm his memory in our bosoms; and return
to our labours with quickened diligence, fidelity and
zeal. Soon will our Lord call also for us. What we
do for him, and for the souls committed to our care, we
must do quickly: we are dying — our people are dying.
Let us seize the moment, and, in view of the judgment
seat, declare to them all the counsel of God, warning
everv man, and teaching everv man with all wisdom and
fidelity. God grant we may so preach, and so live, and
so die, as to save ourselves and our dear people.

My hearers of this numerous assembly, the hope and
the end of the true believer have been ser before you:
the hope is full of glory, the end is peace. But, alas!
how different the hope, and the end of them that believe
not! They live without God in the world; in continual
transgression of his law, abuse of his grace, and refusal
©f his Son the only Saviour. Die they must; but when


they die — ah! what will become of them! Their souls
and their bodies they have neglected to commit to the
Saviour's hands. Their sins are not forgiven; their
persons are hot sanctified; they have no title to heaven —
no preparation for that holy place — no treasure laid up
there. In the dark valley of death, no light from heaven
cheers them; no convoy of angels attends them; no
friendly hand is extended to guide or support them.
Hopeless and forlorn, the distracted soul is torn away
from its earthly tenement, and hurried by demons down
into the abyss of eternal darkness and wo; and the body
is consigned to the dust — to rise indeed, when the trump
of God shall break the slumbers of the grave — but to
rise to shame and everlasting contempt. At the final
day, when the heavens are passing away with a great
noise, and the earth is dissolving before the splendors
of his throne, they must stand at the bar of their Judge;
— whose mercy they have refused, whose blood they
have spurned, whose terrors they have defied; — and
hear the dreadful sentence, "Depart from me, ye cursed,
info everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his an-
gels." — O be warned, my hearers, every one of you,
and flee from the wrath which is to come. Flee for
refuge to the hope set before you. Repent and believe
in the Lord Jesus Christ; and live the life, that you may
die the death of the righteous, and your last end be like
his. Amen.










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ROMANS i. 1.
A Servant of Jesus Christ.

THERE is a natural propensity in the human heart to
perpetuate the memory of those we have highly esteemed
in life. This disposition is manifested both in ancient and
modern history : we see it inscribed on the scupltured
marble, the splendid monument, and the homely tomb-
stone : we read it in the refined sentimental elegy, and
vulgar epitaph. When the deceased has answered the great
design of creation, the eulogy is worthy to be revered.

The word of God is a grand repository of characters of
the highest worth; a sacred monument enriched with names
that shall never perish : God himself insures the perpetuity
of their excellencies : " The righteous shall be in ever-
lasting remembrance." We read with more than ordi-
nary pleasure, the piety of Enoch, the meekness of Moses,
the resolution of Joshua, the patience of Job, the devotion
of David, the beauties of Isaiah, the faithfulness of the

A 2

Prophets, the wisdom of St. Paul, the zeal of Peter, and
the affection of St. John ; and are constrained to say, " The
memory of the just is blessed." But this honour is not
confined to those gracious men ; days of more recent date
are fond to panegyrise those characters that have been
eminent in their Master's work. Does not a Missionary
Sermon appear incomplete, if not adorned with the names
of Luther, Wesley, and Whitefield ? men so highly dis-
tinguished, and blessed of God. May we not hope, when
Missionary exertion is the subject of a discourse in future,
that the name of Coke will not be forgotten ? A minister
so indefatigahly zealous in circulating Truth, deserves
more tlian a second rank in the annals of Missions ; his
name is worthy to be perpetuated to all future generations.
It is not merely as a father, or a friend, to whom I am
called to pay this tribute of respect ; though in both these
characters 1 revere him. It is in a character of higher
distinction ; it is as a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A servant of this description is of the highest order, and
the greatest importance, if we consider, his Work — his
Qualifications — his Faithfulness — his Privileges.

I. His Work. The solemnity of the present occasion
sufficiently indicates, that in the character I am about to
represent, I confine myself to a servant of Christ, officially
employed in the ministerial service; hence he immediately
derives his work from his Master. The present opportunity
is so very limited, that it will not admit of my giying more
than an outline of the principal branches of this work.

The grand work, which particularly employed our Lord.,

— ■


was, to destroy the work of the devil; to save souk from
ruin ; to glorify God. Hence the servant discovers it to
be his business,

1. To destroy the 'work of the devil. " For this purpose
the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the
works of the devil." In order to accomplish this, it is
necessary to explain the nature of Satan's devices, to
expose their fallacy, and to guard the children of men
against their pernicious influence. Had Peter listenedjto
the voice of his Master, he would have been preserved
from the snare of the devil. With the caution given, our
Lord connected advice to vigilance : Satan hath desired
to have thee ; Watch and pray, lest thou enter into temp-
tation. Bitter experience taught him the value of our
Lord's very important lesson ; and after his recovery from
his fall, he attacked and exposed the artifice and malignity
of the devil in the most pointed manner. Hear him con-
victing Ananias; u Why hath Satan filled thine heart, to
lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price
of the land ?" Mark his advice ; " Be sober, be' vigilant ;
because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh
about, seeking whom he may devour ; whom resist, stead-
fast in' the faith." By being properly apprized of the
designs of our enemy, we guard against him, we oppose
him, we defeat him. It is impossible to be courageous
without being victorious. His influence must be destroyed.

2. Another principal branch of our Lord's work was, to
■sate souls from ruin. Our Lord asserted, that he " came
to seek and to save that wbich was lost." St. Paul bears


a striking testimony to this : Ci This is a faithful saying,
and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into
the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Never-
theless, ho employs his servants in this work ; and the
work of salvation is sometimes ascribed to them. Thus
St. Paul to Timothy ; " Take heed unto thyself, and unto
thy doctrines; continue in them, for in so doing, thou
shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." Cer-
tainly the apostle did not intend to insinuate, that Timothy
was the author of his own salvation, or of that of his
auditory; he knew how to discriminate between the
author and the instrument. lie was ever bold to affirm,
"Salvation is of the Lord;" that there is "no other
name given under heaven by which a sinner can possibly
be saved, but the Lord Jesus Christ." However, he
engages his servants to explain to the children of men, the
nature of salvation in all its branches, the absolute necessity
of it, and the dreadful consequences of neglecting it. By
such discoveries they are induced to seek it. When the
depravity of human nature, and the turpitude of the heart
have been exposed, the sinner has recognized his own
likeness, he has been filled with shame and confusion.
When the displeasure of God has been represented, as
revealed from heaven against sin, he has dreaded the con-
sequences. When the redeeming acts of Christ have been
displayed, he has seen the ali-sufficiency and suitability of
Christ as a Saviour, he has embraced him with all his
heart, and all glory is given to God.

3. To glorify God. Our Lord, at the close of his public
ministry, informs us, that this had particularly engaged his

attention. " 1 have glorified thee on the earth : I have
finished the work which thou g-avest me to do." In his
public ministry he gave a grand display of the love of God,
in that impressive address to Nicodemus : " God so loved
the world, that he gave his only- begotten Son, that who-
soever believeth in him should not perish, but have ever-
lasting life." He represented, by the most striking objects,
the providence of God : " Behold the fowls of the air ;
they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns,
yet your heavenly Father teedeth them. Are ye not much
better than they ? Consider the lilies of the field, how
they grow ; they toil not, neither do they spin ; and yet,
I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was
not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore if God so clothe
the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is
cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe vou,
O ye of little faith ! "

He was faithful to all his covenant engagements, as
a Servant, Son, and Saviour. In the most impressive and
authoritative manner he asserted his divinity : " He that
hath seen me, hath seen the Father also : I and my Father
are one." The servant is called to imitate his Master, by-
strict attention to all his covenant engagements ; by giving
clear and extensive discoveries of the love of God ; by
enlarging on the superintendence and providential care of
God over his creatures ; and especially, by dwelling- on the
Divine excellencies of our Lord Jesus Christ; his re-
deeming acts; his official character; the names he assumed ;-
the titles he bore: ever hailing him as "Lord of all;"
giving him the pre-eminence in all things. What rendered


the apostle Paul so illustrious ? It was his strong attach*
ment to Christ. It was the exalted strains in which he
exhibited the Lord of life and glory. Herein is our Father
glorified. The Gospel without Christ, would be like the
world without a sun, a body without life, and the temple
without its glory. — Such displays of the Gospel, evidently
testify the servant qualified for his work, which will appear
clear, if we consider,

II. His Qualifications. To decry human science,
and to reckon human acquisitions of no value, would be
absurd, and calculated to promote a disposition to idleness,
and to cramp the very sinews of genius. Nevertheless,
human learning, however extensive, should never be
estimated higher than a subordinate auxiliary. Servants
that our Lord and Master employs, are divinely taught ; —
having their minds richly stored with the word of God, the
Spirit leads them into all truth, unfolding luminous views
of the beauty and glory of the Gospel of Christ ; taking
indeed of " the things of Christ," and revealing them to
the mind, which the apostle styles, " the light of the
glorious Gospel of Christ." Hence the apostle speaks of
his commission to preach the Gospel, as derived imme-
diately from God, thus, in his epistle to the Galatians:
" For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught
it by man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Our
Lord assured Peter, that whatever knowledge he had of
Christ, the Son of the living God, he had not received it
through any human medium; " flesh and blood had not
revealed it unto him, but his Father which is io


The servants of Christ are not only represented as hav-

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 6 of 51)