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 9 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 9 of 51)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the incorruptible seed, the undying principle of eter-
nal life, must be implanted in the soul by the Holy
Spirit, or you could neither see nor enter the king-
dom of God.

And while he urged the necessity of beino- created
anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, how earnest
was he to have prayer offered in every family, and
devotions in every closet! He pressed upon you the
duty of dedicating your children to God in baptism^
that, as lambs of the flock, they might be trained up
in the Church, a seed to serve God, when he and
you should be here no more. He catechised your
children himself, and urged parents to be unceasing
in that primary duty. Your eyes have seen and
your ears have heard, the fervent and elevated de-
votion of his soul, at the Lord's table. Remember,
I beseech you, how he magnified Christ, and him
crucified, and copy his example in your future cele-
brations of that Institution, which is the memorial of
the death of Him who loved you, and gave himself
for you, an offering and a sacrifice unto God, for a
sweet-smelling savour. He has illustrated, in the
plainest manner, the moral duties of the Gospel, and
pressed you with eternal motives, by the worth of
your souls, by the blood of Jesus, by the sorrows of
perdition, and the joys of salvation, to be zealous of
(food works, to deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and


to live soberly, and righteously, and godly in this present
world. And here say, what more could he have
done, that he has not done, to persuade you to deny
yourselves, to take up the cross daily, and to follow

But the time would fail, to retrace his ministerial
course, for a period of more than forty-two years.
Many who have heard him, and many who have for-
borne to hear, his message, have gone before him to
the invisible world, and to God, the Judge of all,
But what think ye, who survive him, who have en-
joyed his labours in the fulness of his strength, and
the ripeness of his experience — has there not been
an able Minister of Jesus Christ among you? And
now, whether you have ever been serious in self-ex-
amination, or whether you have not, come, and let
conscience speak — have you heard, or have you re-
fused to hear, the word of God at his mouth ? And
that you may more correctly determine this momen-
tous question, I will,

II. Describe those hearers who have, and those
who have not, received his message from God.

1. Those persons who have had an ear to hear
the instituted preaching of the word, have hailed
with pleasure the arrival of the evening and the
morning of the Lord's day. The cares of the world
have been put off, and they have girded more close-
ly to their souls the whole armour of God. They
have endeavoured to make the Sabbath and its ser-
vice a delight ; esteeming the Church below as an


emblem feebly shadowing the great assembly above.
They have come early, and been seasonably in the
house of worship. The heart has been solemnly
impressed, in secret devotion, with a sense of the
words of Christ, that they ivho worship God, must
ivorship him in spirit and in truth. They have called
to mind their sins, their mercies, and their wants ;
that they might devoutly offer " their desires unto
God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of
Christ, with the confession of their sins, and a thank-
ful acknowledgment of his mercies*."

2. Those who have inclined their ear to the law
and the testimony, have received the word preach-
ed, not as the word of men, but (as it is in truth) the
word of God, which ivorketh effectually in them that be-
lieve. 1 Thess. ii. 13. Using the means of grace,
with a single eye to obtain the end for which they
are appointed, they have believed, that without
Christ they could do nothing ; and therefore they
have sought and depended on the influences of the
Holy Spirit, which alone leads to Christ, and effec-
tually conforms the soul in which it dwells, to his

3. Those whose ears have been circumcised to re-
ceive the word from the mouth of their minister, as
the ambassador of Christ, have been jealous for the
cause and the prosperity of Zion. They have sought
by all means, to keep the unity of the Spirit in the
bond of peace. If at any time they have wandered

* Assembly's Catechism.


from the right way, they have readily received re-
proof, and anxiously returned to the path of duty,
with more vigilance to pursue the end of their call-
ing. These have willingly ministered of their earth-
ly things, for the support and comfort of him who la-
boured among them, that he might give himself
wholly to the ministry of the word, and to prayer.
They have respected their pastor, and honoured him
in his office, as commissioned of God to do his work ;
and have affectionately shared with him his burdens,
in his trials and labours, and defended his reputation
and conduct from unjust aspersions. They have
been stable in the faith, and, by their prayers, they
have held up his hands, when the children of Ama-
lek have opposed the progress, and sought to de-
stroy the usefulness, of their pastor, and the union
of the people in their worship. If those hearers who
have received their minister as the ambassador of
Christ, have not been active in all these particulars,
they have had at least something of the disposition
to be so ; and have, with more or less stability,
thought upon and done those things which are true, which
are honest, which are just, which are pure, and which
are of good report. Phil. iv. 8.

But I pass to show who those hearers are who
have not received the message of God by his ser-
vant. And,

1. These have been occasional hearers, who, en-
tering the sanctuary without considering the objects,,
and regardless of the nature of divine worship, have


sought their own pleasure, and not the glory of God.
Mere idle spectators, without ears to hear, they have
observed the things and persons about them, while
they have forgotten their souls, and their immortal
destination. They have regarded their minister on-
ly as a man, like themselves, who was speaking to
them for hire, of things to which they were indiffer-
ent, never casting one sober reflection, on the ac-
count which both he and they must give to God,
for the use which they made of the sacred season of
devotion. These are the occasional, careless, self-
serving hearers, to whose taste the ordinary truths
of the Gospel are insipid, and the essential doctrines
disgusting. And such, probably, have indulged in
light behaviour, trifling thoughts, worldly schemes,
and vain whispers, under the most solemn preaching
of the word of God.

2. Others have come to the house of worship,
with itching ears. These have been curious to be
amused with something new, with mere words in
polished order ; or with nice speculations upon mys-
terious subjects, with rhetorical flourishes or pointed
stories ; and, as they came for no higher purpose,
so they have seldom been entertained ; and though
sometimes startled with that two-edged sword which
pierces and troubles the heart, and lays open to it-
self its thoughts and intentions ; yet, alas ! the life-
giving wound has fretted and closed, without dis-
charging the deadly corruption. These curious
hearers may have been pleased with the pathetic


movements of the animal passions, as they would be
gratified with the relation of any tragical event.
These are those hearers whom God describes to the
prophet Ezekiel, chap, xxxiii. 31, 32. And they come
unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee
as my people, and they hear thy ivords, but they will not
do them ; for with their mouth they shew much love,
but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo,
thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath
a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument ; for
they hear thy mords, but they do them not.

3. Some have heard the word preached, with a
disposition to cavil and criticise upon the language
used, or the things taught. Averse to the thoughts
of death and judgment, and unwilling to be probed
to the heart by the sword of the Spirit, lest they
should know its plague and deceitfulness, they have
girded on their self-righteousness, and justified them-
selves, as being good enough, or as good as others.
They have brought with them, into the very sanctu-
ary of God, a pride and arrogancy of temper, which
prompted them to measure the doctrines taught and
proved from the Scriptures, by their own wills, pas-
sions, and interests, without once searching the Bible
to see if these things were so. These are the hear-
ers who, when the word preached is applied to their
own conscience, and they are cut to the heart, rise in
rebellion against both the truth and the preacher;
and, like those high-minded, self-willed professors of


old, who were uncircumcised in heart and ears, they
resist the Holy Ghost. Often these cavilling hear-
ers become irritated hearers, because the minister
does not preach what they believe, nor justify what
they practise ; and, instead of making war upon
their own opinions and habits, they turn their hosti-
lity upon the ambassador, and the instructions of
God. Like Ahab, in his evil course, they hate the
prophet who tells them the truth, and would gladly
have him imprisoned, and fed on the bread and wa-
ter of affliction, while they presumptuously contend
for peace, in their wicked ways, and in defiance of
the counsels of the Lord. 1 Kings xxii. 8. 27.

Now all the several hearers of this class are alike
in some respects. They none of them hear with
a meek and teachable spirit. They mix not that
faith with hearing, which renders the word profita-
ble. The weight of their individual guilt may vary,
not only in the degree in which they wrong their
own souls, but also as they superadd their obdurate
efforts, to break down, divide, and scatter the cove-
nanted family of Christ.

Having thus concisely stated some things which
characterize those who have heard, and those who
have forborne to hear, the word of God at the mouth
of his servant, I shall proceed,

III. To show, that both shall know that there has
been a minister of Christ among them.


J. Those who have received, with meekness, the
word preached by their pastor, have searched the
Scriptures to see if these things ivere so, and, compar-
ing the one with the other, they have already ac-
knowledged him to have been commissioned of God.
They know this, by the delight which they haye found
in the service in which he has led them, and in the
doctrines, duties, and promises which he has taught
them ; by the communion they have had with
him, and the fruits they have gathered from his lips ;
fordo men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
The tree is known by its fruits, and under his ministry
they have relished the essential doctrines, tasted the
sweets of forgiveness, and rested in the grace of the
promises, which he has held out to them, and which,
like the clusters of Eshcol, were a token that their
minister had seen the good land himself, and could
lead others in the right way to its possession.

But those who have received the ingrafted word,
shall most assuredly know, in the day of final retri-
bution, that their minister was commissioned of God;
when, having received that Jesus whom he preach-
ed, they shall be admitted into the joy of their Lord,
to the visions of the divine glory ; for, in the day of
the Lord Jesus, they shall be his crown and rejoicing
— then both pastor and hearer shall know as they
are known, and, in sovereign, ineffable, and eternal
blessedness, shall see Christ as he is. be where he is,
and be like unto him.



2. So also, on the other hand, those hearers who
have been careless, curious, or cavilling, shall know
that a minister of Christ has been among them.
Some of them have doubtless acknowledged this
truth, here in this life. For those who have lived
under the light of the Gospel, have the convictions
of the Spirit, sometimes accusing them of holding the
truth in unrighteousness. These rebellious hearers
have some solemn moments, some painful agitations
of soul, when they tremble like Felix, in the view of
death and judgment, and are compelled to say with
Judas, I have sinned, and to admit, with bitterness and
anguish, that the minister has been faithful in his
warnings, as a watchman of the Lord. And when
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of
life, have failed to yield their gust of pleasure, they
have been painfully brought to the reflection, How
have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof!
and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor in-
clined mine ear to them that instructed me ! Pro v. v.
12, 13.

But admitting that the uncircumcised in heart and
ears should have no pangs in their death ; yet, when
the judgment shall be set, and the books opened,
then shall they acknowledge the faithful minister,
and the truth of his message ; then will the testimo-
ny of sermons disregarded, ordinances despised, and
instructions hated, rise against them, and, under the
pressure of the sentence, Depart from me, for I have


vailed, and you have refused, they shall go away into
everlasting punishment.

And now, all ye who hear me this day, under-
stand and know assuredly, that the minister who
holds his commission from God, to preach his word,
and administer his ordinances, stands in a dignified
and awfully responsible office. And you, whether
you will hear, or whether you will forbear, will know
that the word preached by the faithful minister shall
not return unto him void, but shall accomplish that
whereunto God hath sent it, either in beino- a sa-
vour of life unto life, or of death unto death.

The brethren of this Church, and the people of
this congregation shall know, that the pastor who has
so often and so affectionately warned them from this
desk, and who is now separated from them by death,
was an able minister, commissioned and sent to them
hy Jesus Christ. Come ye, who were the dear peo-
ple of his charge, incline your ears to the testimony
of your pastor on his dying bed. It was at a mo-
ment when the soul was trembling on the eve of its
departure from the body, now worn down to a skele-
ton by disease and distress, that he said to a brother
in the ministry : I have not shunned to declare unto my
people, according to the best of my understanding and
abilities, the whole counsel of God ; I believed — and
therefore have I spoken. O ye who were the people of
his charge, let these words sink deep into your hearts,
and be prepared to hear them again from his lips,


when he shall meet you at the judgment-seat of
Christ. Take heed, I beseech you, lest you fail of
the grace of God ; and, under the rebuking weight
of the slighted calls of mercy, sink in that day into
endless perdition.

But, in my anxiety for your wise improvement of
this holy dispensation of Providence, I must not for-
get to call the attention of the afflicted family to a
few observations.
Dear Madam,

It is your covenant God, who has again taken
from you a beloved husband. He has put the
cup of sorrow into your hand ; but has he not
mingled with its bitterness, the sweetest consola-
tions of his grace ? He was indeed a husband, in
the most endearing sense of the word ; he was, too,
a minister of Christ. You have shared deeply in his
affections, his counsels, and his prayers. He has
left you all the consolation which his hope in Jesus,
and his ardent desire that he might have a joyful
transplanting from the Church militant to the Church
triumphant, can afford He has taught you, at the
awful moment when his spirit was on the point of
leaving its house of clay, that it was safe trusting in
the Hope of Israel. Dear Madam, let your hope and
trust, in this affliction, be more strongly fixed in the
Lord your God.

Respected Children,

Your father was a minister of Christ. He stood


in both of these interesting relations to you. Strong
and endearing were the ties with which you were
bound to him; — but death has broken them, and
he will speak to you no more, as a father or a mi-
nister, in this world. Come, then, and retrace in
your minds the counsels he has given you, the fer-
vent and affectionate prayers he has offered for you,
when, in seeking the good of your souls, he has
poured out all his own. Was he not a dear father?
Was he not, too, in his family, a faithful minister of
Christ? — And have you received his counsels?
Oh ! search and see ! They were weighty counsels,
the counsels of a minister and a father. Remember
them now, therefore, O ye children, and depart not
from the words of his mouth. Call to mind his la-
bours, his cares, his watchings for you, from your
tender infancy ; and let the weight of his love for
your souls, press you to be doubly in earnest for
them yourselves, now he is gone, and can counsel
and pray for you no more. He was ripe in years,
and in piety ; he served his generation with zeal,
prudence, and success, and has finished his course
with joy. Consider, that it is the God, to whom he
devoted you in your infancy, who has ordered these
things so graciously, and who now afflicts you so se-
verely. Cast, then, all your cares on him, and look
more earnestly to him, for he careth for you. You
have seen your dear father, in the severest distress of
body, waiting his appointed time, till his change


should come, and praying for an enlargement of
soul, in spiritual communion, that he might be en-
abled to say, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. You
have witnessed his faith, his patience, and his hope,
unwavering and unabated, in his last trying scene.
You have received his blessing from his dying lips.
I too have seen those graces flowing with vigour and
comfort from his heart. Permit me to add — he was
my friend : nor will I forget his parting words,
when, with an expressive look and clasping hand, he
said, " My Brother, may the good will of Him who
dwelt in the bush be ever with you /" — He could no
more — it was enough — it bespeaks the man, the
friend I have lost. Permit me, then, while I write
these words on the table of my heart, with no indif-
ferent feelings, to reciprocate to you, his beloved
children, the same comprehensive blessing — May
the good ivill of Him who dwelt in the bush be ever ivith

The occasion reminds me of the duty of address-
ing a few words to the Ministers of Christ, who arc
here present.

Dear Brethren,
God has called us together, and his voice this day
is also directed to us. Our father, in the consociat-
ed Churches in this district, has finished his course,
and gone to surrender up his commission, and to give
his account to his Lord. This event admonishes
us, that we have this treasure in earthen vessels.


which must one day crumble to pieces, beneath the
hand of death. Our work is great, our time is short,
and the account of our stewardship will be solemn.
Oh, how awakening the thought, that we must ap-
Dear before the tribunal of the heart-searching Judge,
to give an account of the souls committed to our
charge ! And say, have we been faithful to warn
every man, and to teach every man, in all wisdom,
that we might present every man perfect in Christ
Jesus? Let us unsparingly examine our own
selves, and see what answer we shall return, on
our part, to Him who hath placed us on the walls
of Zion. Awful indeed will be the doom of the
self-serving- and sect-serving* watchman, at whose
unfaithful hands the blood of unwarned sinners
shall be required. Our departed father has left
us an example of activity, punctuality, and faith-
fulness in his high calling, not only in his own
Church, but as a member of our Association and our
Councils. And although in them we shall meet him
no more, yet his ability to moderate, to plan, and
execute business; his constant and seasonable at-
tendance, his love of peace, and of the Church's
prosperity ; his cautious attention to watch against
innovations in doctrine and discipline, and his firm
adherence to the principles of both, as handed down
from the first fathers of the State, you, all of you,
have seen : and, by his example, we, all of us, may
still profit. He possessed, among his many good
qualities, a most happy talent at healing breaches,


quieting contentions, and fulfilling all the duties of the
blessed office of a peace-maker. Hospitable at home,
and cheerful abroad ; a lover of order, and an opposer
of changes in Church and state ; and a friend to liberty
of conscience, and an enemy to bigotry ; he moved in
his sphere of life with ease and dignity, and fulfilled
the duties of his station with usefulness and honour.
Considering these things, my Brethren, and observ-
ing how our fathers have been removed, who were
our oruides in counsel, what a mournful breach is
made among us ! what a frown of Providence upon
us and our Churches, is the death of Dr. Ely ! But
to Jesus, our Master, belongs the kingdom, the
power, and the glory; and he does all things well.
Our brother has been taken from us, like a shock
of corn from the field, fully ripe. Our loss is his
gain ; and we may believe, that, dismissed from his
labours here, he is gone to receive a prophet's re-
ward in the mansions of glory. Let us be faithful
unto death, and we shall, with him, receive a crown
of life.

A word of advice to this bereaved Flock, and I
shall have done.

We loved and confided in the piety and prudence
of your deceased pastor. He was indeed worthy
both of our confidence and of yours ; but he can nei
ther counsel us, nor instruct you, any more. You
will no more converse with him at the fire-side, nor
meet him in this house of God. You are now, for


the first time daring a period of more than ninety
years, left without an earthly shepherd ; and this cala-
mity has befallen you at a time when God is beginning,
as we humbly hope, a gracious work of the Spirit
among you. The heart of your pastor was cheered
by gathering some of the first-fruits, which, he could
but hope, were the earnest of an abundant harvest
and ingathering of the souls of this people. Ponder
well on that active and affectionate concern which
he manifested for your souls, and the souls of your
children. He has sown the seed of the good word
among you with an unsparing hand, and his prayers for
you are in remembrance before God. Oil, be sober,
vigilant, and give yourselves to prayer. Satan is an
enemy to revivals, and, with all subtlety, perverts the
work of the Spirit, and the right ways of the Lord ;
but there is One who is stronger than he, whose
counsel shall stand, and who will do all his pleasure;
One who has, by his blood, prepared the way and
the means, and has sent the Spirit to make them
both effectual, in bringing the children of wrath into
the privileges of the children of grace. Take heed,
and look, in humble confidence, to the Rock of Is-
rael, from whom flows the water of life. Do this
with a submission, proportioned to your need, under
your bereavement, and you shall taste and see that
the Lord is good in his chastisements and rebukes.

My Brethren, you need a pastor, to lead your de-
votions, to hold forth to you the word of life, and to



break to you the bread of life. Be not discouraged ;
the Shepherd of Israel still lives ; acknowledge him
in your ways, and lean not to your own understand-
ings ; and he shall direct your path, and supply all
your need, according to his riches in glory, by Christ
Jesus. Amen.








On the Death of Captain Paul Cuffee*








The New- York African Institution,,


The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church,
OCTOBER 21, 1817,











v ~ ' rnmmmmmmsmm

Printed by Hargrove, Gawthorp, an$ Cobl*
HeraW-Ojfke, York.



PAUL CUFFEE, an American and a man
of colour, to whom the following Discourse
relates, was well known to many in this
country, not only as an efficient agent of the
African Institution in London, and a zea-
lous coadjutor in its benevolent exertions ;

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 9 of 51)