Peter Thacher (1752-1802) graduated from Harvard (1769), was ordained pastor in Malden, MA (1770), and also served as pastor to the Brattle Street church (1785-1802). He was a supporter of the Americans during the Revolution, preaching a sermon against standing armies and publishing a “Narrative of the Battle of Bunker Hill.” Thacher was also a delegate to the Massachusetts state constitution convention (1780) and served as chaplain to one or the other of the branches of the state legislature for 15 years. The following sermon by Thacher was preached in 1790 on the death of James Bowdoin.
PREACHED TO THE
SOCIETY IN BRATTLE STREET, BOSTON
NOVEMBER 14, 1790
AND OCCASIONED BY THE DEATH OF
The Hon. JAMES BOWDOIN, Esq. L. L. D.
Lately GOVERNOR of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
BY PETER THACHER, A. M.
PASTOR of the Church in Brattle Street.
II. SAMUEL, iii. 38.
AND THE KING SAID UNTO HIS SERVANTS KNOW YE NOT THAT THERE IS A PRINCE AND A GREAT MAN FALLEN THIS DAY IN ISRAEL?
Observations upon mortality and the universal empire of death, are so frequently made in the pulpit, as sometimes to become tedious The ravages of this great enemy t mankind are constant, and our afflicted friends frequently call us to sympathize with them; so that every topic relating to the subject, fruitful as it is, appears to be exhausted, and I scarcely know whither to lead your thoughts on these occasions, till a new calamity takes place, and the peculiar circumstances which attend the stroke, point out some passage of scripture, seemingly dictated for the occasion.
The holy and wise providence of God has rendered the words of the text a proper subject to employ our present meditations; and not a person is there in this assembly perhaps who did not feel that propriety when they were first mentioned. We mourn this day on of those distinguished characters, which in life command the respect and esteem, and at death excite the sorrow and lamentations, of every good man. Never do we more regret the dominion of death, that when its power is exerted upon such men, nor do we ever more deeply feel the vanity of all things below the sun and the uncertain natures of earthly enjoyment, than upon these occasions.
It was the treacherous and violent murder of Abner, commander in chief of the forces of Israel, which drew from king David the words of the text. This great man was negotiating an union between Israel and Judah, and was preparing to set the crown of the United Kingdoms upon the head of David when this fatal event took place. Joab, captain of the host of Judah, was jealous of the influence which his service would give to Abner over his royal master; and ambition, burning, restless ambition stimulated him to an act of mean and treacherous cruelty, which his religion as a man ought to have prevented, and his honour as a soldier should have led him to detest. He met Abner as a friend; he saluted him in the mode, and with the language of a friend; but in the very act of salutation, while the suspicions of Abner were lulled to sleep, Joab plunged a dagger in his bosom, and removed forever this obstacle to his influence and advancement. Fatal indeed are the effects of a thirst for power! It destroys every feeling of religion and humanity in the bosom : It steels the heart against the dictates of justice, of honour, and of pity; and often embrues the hands in the heart’s blood of thousands!
David reprobated in pointed terms this conduct of his servant, and though the strength and influence of the sons of Zeruiah were then so great as to prevent him from doing justice upon Joab, yet he afterwards commanded it to be done. He lamented over Abner, and attended his remains with every mark of respect and honour, to the grave. Upon this occasion the words of the text were spoken, and they are the eulogy upon this faithful servant of the house of Saul.
The frailty of human nature and the social qualities of man, have rendered law and government necessary; and those who exercise them are, in the language of scripture, called princes. When magistrates answer the purposes for which power is entrusted to them; when they guard with vigilance and firmness the lives, the liberties, and estates of those whom they govern, they are the delights of mankind, and the favourite servants of heaven. For, government is an ordinance of God, and those who rule well over men are as “the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds, as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.” When men therefore who have sustained these useful and honourable stations are taken away from the world, we are called to deep lamentation over them, to cease from man whose breath is in his nostrils,” “to avoid putting our trust in princes, or in the son of man in whom there is no help, for his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”
The idea of greatness is generally annexed to power and authority, and it is annexed with propriety, when such power originates from its purest source, the unbiased suffrages of a free people. To enjoy the confidence of enlightened citizens to be marked out by them as the “man whom they delight to honour,” to be at the head of a free, sovereign, independent commonwealth, and thus to be designated as his favourite citizen, this is real greatness among men. It is a greatness far different from that which is caused by the fortuitous circumstance of descending from royal progenitors, or which is purchased by the base arts of adulation and venality. The latter may be the lot of a weak or wicked man, the former is not to be supposed attainable by any but the wise, the patriotic, and the good.
The phrase “great” is a relative term, and a comparison must be made with some other person, or objects, in order to its being applied to either with propriety. God alone is supremely great. Compared with him, “all nations are as the drop of the bucket and are counted as the small dust of the balance. He hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighted the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance. He setteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; he stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in; he bringeth the princes to nothing, and maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.”
It is in comparison with his fellow men only, that any mortal can be termed “great.” God hath been pleased to make a difference in the moral and intellectual faculties of men, as well as in their outward situation and circumstances. There is a difference also in the manner wherein men approve their faculties and use their advantages. And I will now attempt to describe with brevity, to whom the epithet of the text can with propriety be applied, and when we are justified in calling one of our fellow mortals a great man. Such a detail will prove the fitness of my text for this melancholy occasion, and will point out the course to be pursued by those who wish to become great and honourable.
The unthinking world have agreed to call heroes and conquerors of nations by this flattering appellation, because they have been distinguished by their valour and their triumphs. The mind of man is dazzled with the prospect of splendid actions, and they cast such a glare upon the optic of the soul, as prevents true and just vision. Hence Alexander of the ancient age and Frederick of our own, both arbitrary despots, both lawless invaders of the rights of men, both scourges, heavy bitter scourges to their subjects , have been dignified with the name of great : when they were really enemies to the human race, and by yielding to their mean and sordid passions, they discovered a littleness which is truly distinguishing. They were wild beasts of the earth, who preyed upon innocent and defenceless men. The sacrificed to their own lust, ambition, and avarice, the happiness and the lives of millions better than themselves. They were the common foe of humanity and peace, and merit their contempt and abhorrence of mankind, instead of their applauses.
By governing his spirit, and regulating his temper and conduct according to the rules of reason and religion; by performing the duty which he owes to God and man; by promoting the public and private happiness of his country and his friends; by cultivating his mind and improving his faculties in the attainment of science, human and divine; by filling with dignity and propriety every department in which he is placed; finally, by “living the life of righteous, and dying his death,” a man may purchase to himself the flattering appellation given to Abner in the text.
The government of our ourselves appears to be considered by scripture, as the first mark of greatness. “He, saith the wife man, that is slow to anger, is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” This dominion over ourselves implies not only a constant suppression of the angry, the envious and resentful passions, but also a resistance, an uniform and constant resistance to every impure, unjust intemperate, or sinful inclination. It implies a watchful attention to the state of our minds, and a power to deny ourselves, whenever our wishes and our duty interfere, This conquest is an evidence of a real greatness, because it proves our superiority to the strongest feelings of the human heart, and evidences that we can triumph over an enemy of equal strength, equal policy, and equal advantages with ourselves.
The good are always great. The man who reverences the DEITY in his heart, and who embraces the religion of the despised and persecuted Nazarene, proves himself superior to the casuistry and the sneers of thoughtless infidels. He is great enough to avow an attachment to his master, when others forsake him, and manifests himself to be above the reproaches and contempt of a misjudging world. He proves that he is great and wise, because he can look beyond present to future and more important objects, and can keep under his feet, and view with indifference what the world esteems as the most valuable good. He is great because he acts rightly according to fitness and propriety; because he honours GOD, recommends religion, and by these means does good to his family, to society, and the world. His religion teaches and induces him to practice sympathy with the afflicted, and charity to the poor; it enforces upon him impartial justice and strict fidelity to all men, and renders him temperate, decent and agreeable in his own person. Religion obliges us to improve our time and to cultivate all our talents, and where it is felt in its power, it effects an attention to everything which can dignify, adorn and improve human nature.
True it is that the world in general do not consider piety or religion, as indispensable to greatness. But still a brief consideration of the importance of morality and virtue to society, will shew us the justice of the above remarks. Let a man, destitute of principle, be endued with common talents, or invested with great riches and power, and how much injury will he do! We are to expect nothing from him but violence, oppression, and lawless indulgence, and his example is contagious to all around him. He is a scourge and a curse to society, and when he dies, the world rejoices that it is freed from one of its burdens. A man, destitute of religion and morality, a man who indulges his passions with out control, who is without principle in his mind, and who is debauched in his life, does not enjoy the reverence of mankind, nor will they agree to call him great.
Real religion is indeed real greatness, and is the true dignity of man; but it may with reason be observed, that eminence in the Christian virtues, as well as some superiority in moral faculties, if not in external circumstances, are necessary to constitute greatness of character. The mild virtues of Christianity may submit in the heart, and shine in the life of a man who is not, in other respects, superior to his fellow men.
There is a great difference, we know, in the faculties of mankind. But whence this difference arises, except from the will of the DEITY, whether from climate, the formation of the body, or the peculiar qualities of our parents, has not yet been determined. The faculties of some men are weak; they do not appear capable of receiving, comparing, or recollecting ideas. Others are endued with strong and vigorous minds, and every thing within the ken of human knowledge, appears to be easily attained, and faithfully remembered by them. Some persons are placed by providence in situations favourable to expand their faculties; while others are depressed by the hand of poverty and discouragement, so as effectually to cramp their powers, and nip in the bud the blossoming genius. Certain situations are necessary to call out men’s exertions, and discover the extent of their capacities, otherwise they will lie dormant, and never make their appearance. A warm and genial influence must arouse the latent faculties, and prove what fruit they are capable of producing. Perhaps Newton and Locke, had they been educated at the plow, and compelled by poverty to labour for their support, would have descended to the grave, undistinguished and unknown, like other peasants. And perhaps in the meanest walks of life there exit men, who, if they were properly called out, would sine with distinguished lustre as philosophers, statesmen and heroes.
But much, very much, depends upon the manner in which we improve our abilities and advantages, for in the intellectual as well as moral world, “to him that hath shall be given, but from him which hath not shall be taken away even that which he seemeth to have.” God almighty places us in particular situations, and furnishes us with opportunities of exerting our faculties, but we exercise our own volition inn improving them. Diligence, industry, and attention, will often render men of slow and narrow faculties “great.” Such persons frequently outstrip those of livelier fancies and more brilliant talents, who think that they have no need of exertion or diligence, because they have a native fund within them, competent to every demand. That man is great, who, from small beginnings, by his industry, his diligence, and prudence, rises to the universal learning or honorary distinction in the fields of science.
He is a great man, who, with patriotic fervor, resists strong temptations from wealth, power or honor, and boldly espouses the cause of mankind. It is great to resist these allurements so fascinating to mankind in general. It is great to have the bosom warmed with the love of our country, to sacrifice our own prospects to public emoluments, to contribute by our self denial, by our own counsels or arms, by our whole energies, to emancipate men from slavery, and secure and happiness of millions, who “are yet to be born.” Such patriotism affords the purest delight to the human breast. It elevates our prospects in this world, and death itself is not so painful, when we consider that we leave behind us the “good name, which is as precious ointment,” and that future generations shall “rise up and call us blessed.”
The compliance, or rather the false judgment of the world, hath induced them to call those who are affluent in their circumstances, and who can thus procure to themselves better accommodations, and more refined enjoyments than their neighbours, great men. But, although the goods of fortune are not to be despised, for they are valuable as they give us opportunity to honour God, and make mankind happy; yet no wise man will suppose that they give him any real greatness, or raise him above those who, with less property, have more wisdom or more virtue.
In these respects men are great during their lives, but there is a period approaching upon every one of the human race, which will try the efficacy of our principles, and assay the real value of our characters. This period is death, and the manner in which we die, will throw a light or shad over our whole lives. The great man, the Christian philosopher, will discover a superiority even to this formidable enemy, and will meet the king of terrors without apprehension, and with a calmness, serenity, and dignity, which shall evidence that he is not “weak like other men.” Death conquers all men, and he who conquers death, must necessarily be great. Delightful as well as affecting is it to see such a man bidding a farewell to the world, unappalled by those distressing circumstances which strike terror into others, laboring to do good, even in his last moments, and yielding to the fatal stroke, only because it is the will of God, and because it is inevitable. The principles of Christianity alone can give us this superiority, and divest death of its sting, for they alone hold out to us the certainty of pardon for our sins, and the glorious prospects of immortality.
The picture drawn in this discourse, is a bright and pleasant one. Its traits are agreeable and flattering to us, and we are ready to “call the great happy,” and look up to them with envy; but how mortifying is the last circumstance mentioned, how mortifying is the reflection, that great and “wise men die as well as the fool and brutish person!” How humiliating to human pride is the idea, that none of these distinctions can avail us in the hour of death, but that the greatest, the wisest and best of men must be weakened by disease, and conquered by death, as well as he who “knows not his right hand from his left,” and who “grinds at the mill” for his daily bread! But this we know to be the fact, for it is verified in daily and most affecting instances. Where are the heroes who have freed their country from slavery, and broken the chains of oppression; the legislators who have laid the strong and permanent foundations of great and happy states; the philosophers who have arrested the thunder of heaven in its course, and taught us to investigate the laws and properties of nature; the moralists who have defined the limits of right and wrong; and the patriarchs, the apostles, the evangelists, who have make known to us the pardon, the light and immortality of the gospel? — They are “gone the way hence composed their names only are known to us, and their dust is mixed with common clay! Universal indeed are the ravages of Death! He is no “respecter of persons,” and he visits, with equal certainty and equal indifference, the superb palace of the wealthy, and the humble cottage of the peasant!
Why are these things so? why doth “death pass upon all men,” and thus indiscriminately draw within its fatal vortex, everything that hath life? It is so ordered to shew that a future state shall succeed to the present, as men die before they reap the rewards, or the experience the consequences of their actions in the present world! It is to repress the towering thoughts of human vanity; to display the sovereignty of God, and the frailty of man; to quicken us with the greatest earnestness, to seek an int4erest in future and more important blessings; to nurture us in the school of affliction, and to shew us that sin is hateful above all things in the sight of God.
Let the consideration, I observe by way of improvement, of human greatness, lead us to admire the goodness of God, in bestowing such faculties, opportunities, and advantages upon men. The divine influence is the source of all things, good and great in man. “Every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from the father o lights, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning.” We are sinful and unprofitable creatures, but his “gentleness has made us great.” He is “the father of our spirits and the former of our bodies.” He hath implanted “a spirit in man, and his inspiration hath given us understanding.” To his free grace we may ascribe all that we now are and all that we hope hereafter to be. Let our attainments in virtue, in science, in rank, or in property, be what they may, still we must ascribe them to him “in whom we live, and move, and have our being.”
This reflection with a sense of our mortality, should constantly keep us humble, and prevent us from “thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.” For with the utmost propriety asks the apostle, “who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not receive it? “Thus faith the Lord, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the might man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let them that glorieth glory in this, that he knoweth and understandeth me.”
Great men are useful to the world. Those who act under the influence of religion, and who are exemplary in their deportment, recommend the Christian profession, and induce others to embrace it. Their precepts and their example introduce the social and relative virtues, and thus increase the sum of private happiness. Patriots are blessings to their country, and good rulers are as the “shields of the earth.” Men of elevated stations and affluent fortunes, who conduct with wisdom, dignity, and prudence, shine with peculiar lustre, and warm, while they bless all within their circle.
To God then let us be thankful when he raises up such persons to do good to individuals and our country; and let us be properly affected when they are taken away from us. Good and great men are the pride, the ornament, and the defense of their country. They are “the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof.” And when it pleaseth “the Lord of hosts to take away from Judah and Jerusalem, the judge and the prophet, and the prudent and the ancient, the honorable man and the counselor,” deep sensibility and humble grief are proper exercises for our minds. When “a prince and a great man falls in Israel,” it becomes us to say with the psalmist, “For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. Return, O Lord, how long? And let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we may be glad, and rejoice 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.”
These, my brethren, are the duties which we are this day called to perform. The death of the Hon. Mr. Bowdoin is one of those dispensations of Providence, which ought to awaken our attention to the vanity of the world, and the uncertainty of its best enjoyments. It should excite us, let our station and circumstances be what they may, to attend to the “one thing needful.” “The fashion of this world is passing away.” “We have here no continuing city; let us then seek one to come, a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
The character of this great man has been already faithfully drawn, and is now under the public eye. There is no need of my adding to it. But were this my practice, and were there propriety in eulogiums from the pulpit, I have anticipated myself. In the past discourse I have drawn his character, for he was the great man described by it. He feared God; he believed, professed, and practiced the religion of Jesus Christ. His family, his friends, the church of God, can testify how punctually he discharged the private and public duties of religion; how constant he was in the observance of family devotion; how conscientious in keeping holy the Christian Sabbath, and how unvaried in his attendance upon the duties of God’s house and table. These offices of religion he evidently performed with that reverence, which we should always feel under the immediate eye of God. His religion was rational, uniform, and energetic; it induced him to patronize every useful public institution, and made him tender but manly, affectionate but wise, as an husband, a parent, a master, and a friend. Religion strongly marked his whole character in life; it enabled him to bear with singular fortitude and patience, and long and distressing illness, and it finally strewed “the dark valley of the shadow of death” with flowers, and enabled him to triumph over this grand enemy to the human race.
He was “great” in the faculties of his mind, and he improved with singular diligence and industry, the advantages which God had given him; so that we admired, in his character, the man of science and the philosopher, as well as the polite man and the Christian. He merited the approbation of his county, from his patriotic exertions in the period of its distress; he was favoured by his fellow citizens with their warm esteem, and he was repeatedly invested with their highest honours. Under these honours, and amidst the flattering distinctions given him by several illustrious literary societies, at home and abroad, he conducted with that decent but sincere humility, which proved him to be truly a great man. He was affluent, and he used his affluence to the best purposes, for I personally know that his charities were abundant and extensive, much more so than many persons have imagined. His religion was without ostentations, his learning without pedantry and his dignity without pride. He lived an amiable, useful and honorable life, and he died a calm and peaceful death. “Mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.”
With his bereaved family this whole assembly will deeply sympathize. Cordially do we wish to each of them, the supports and consolations of the religion of Christ. They cannot forget his amiable example and his excellent precepts. They will, we sincerely hope, imitate his virtues, listen to his dying counsels, and conduct in such a manner as that they may finally meet him in a better world, to part no more forever!
This church of our Lord may upon this occasion with great propriety, adopt the exclamation of the psalmist, and say “Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth, the faithful fail from among the children of men.” Our numbers are constantly decreasing. Let us be humbled before our maker under his frequent rebukes, and pray earnestly to God that he would raise up others to fill our vacant places, and like our departed brother, to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”
May the learned and humane societies over which Mr. Bowdoin presided flourish and increase! May their useful and charitable exertions be attended with a divine blessing! And, while the death of their president reminds them that the “time is short,” let them be excited to redeem the short portion of which remains, and not be weary in their attempts to advance human knowledge, and mitigate human calamity.
It is certainly right for the ministers of Christ to make use of the testimonies of such a great man as we now lament in favour of religion, for its enemies are desirous of making us believe that all wise and great men doubt its truth, and scruple its influence. It is the joy of my heart that I can now bring the living and dying testimony of the late Mr. Bowdoin to the truth and excellency of the religion of Christ; and I trust that you will now esteem my adducing this testimony, which may be to useful, as improper or redundant. He embraced Christianity in consequence of strict examination and serious conviction. He mentioned during his last sickness, that the perusal of “Bishop Butler’s Analogy” had been of great use to him in satisfying his doubts, and confirming his mind upon this subject. “From the time of my reading that book, said he, I have been an humble follower of the blessed Jesus.” His illness did not for a long time affect his reason, nor weaken his mind, so that he expressed, in strong but humble terms, his sense of the benefit of afflictions, the efficacy of Christian principles alone to support the mind under them, and the importance of religion to our present peace and future happiness. His hope was fixed “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone,” and it was an anchor to his soul, sure and steadfast, entering into that within the veil. In his dying addresses to his family and servants, he recommended religion to them above all things; and assured them that it was the only foundation of peace and happiness in life and death. His prospects of immortality were bright and glorious, for when he apprehended his dissolution to be approaching, he expressed his satisfaction in the thought that the was “going to the full enjoyment of God and his Redeemer.” These declarations were not occasioned by the debility of mind, which weakness of body sometimes occasions. When he made them, he appeared to his physicians and friends to be in the full exercise of his faculties. His mind was collected and calm, and he retained that sense of propriety, and that dignity of deportment, for which he was remarkable in his full health.
The testimony of so dignified a character to the truth and excellency of religion, will, I trust, have a proper effect upon those who indulge themselves in skeptical doubts, and who search for no evidence, except such as will confirm them in those doubts. Let them examine both sides of this important question. Let them be careful that the fashionable liberality of the present day, which has substituted justice and charity to our fellow men, in the place of piety to wards god, and the faith, repentance and obedience which the gospel requires — let them be careful, I say, that this liberality does not render them indifferent as to so interesting question. But let them search examine and listen, “for it is their life.” Happy should I be, if the detail now made, by which my late excellent friend yet speaketh might have such an effect, and thus add to the honor of Christ and the happiness of mankind.
All human greatness, my brethren, is fading fast away. The men who now act the most important parts upon the theatre of the world, and who have been the friends, the saviours and benefactors of their country, must soon “go the way whence they shall not return,” and “the places that now know them shall know them no more.” “The heavens shall soon pass away as a scroll, and the elements shall met with fervent heat. The earth and the things that are therein shall be burnt up.” The monuments of human pride and magnificence, shall, in that day, fall to the ground. “The sun shall become black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon shall become as blood, and the stars of heaven shall fall, as a fig tree sheddeth her untimely figs.” Then the great object of solicitude with mankind will be, that they may experience the pardoning mercy of God, and be admitted to the enjoyment of heaven and glory. And while the wicked “call upon the rocks and mountains to fall” and conceal them from the view of “him whom they had pierced;” they who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb,” shall be acknowledged as the children of God, and the heirs of heaven. They shall enter upon the enjoyment of perfect and endless happiness, and they shall behold the face of their glorious master, and reflect his brightness through endless ages.
And now unto him who is able to bestow upon us this blessedness; unto the King eternal, immortal invisible, the only wise God, be ascribed almighty majesty and dominion both now and forever,
The following CHARACTER was written by another hand, and was published in the Herald of Freedom, printed in Boston, of November 9th, 1790.
On Saturday morning last, at one o’clock, Death, with inexorable hand, summoned to the world of spirits, the very much respected and highly revered character, the Hon. JAMES BOWDOIN, Esq. late Governor of this Commonwealth.
If native genius, embellished with all the ornaments of polite learning; if deep researches into the nature and principles of philosophy, and of the arts and sciences in general; if a profound knowledge of government, and the politics of his country; if the love and esteem of his fellow citizens and of the literati of the world, from an extensive reputation; if the prayers of the poor and needy, to whom he bestowed with a silent, but a liberal hand; if the tears of his relations and household; if the ardent wishes of his particular friends, and of all who knew him; if sincere and unaffected piety and religion, added to the most exemplary morality, from earliest youth, could have emancipated from the grave any character, this truly dignified one would have never tasted death : But “it is appointed for all men once to die.”
No trait in his character was perhaps more distinguished than his last, his DEATH : — Inspired by religion, and upheld by the Father of Mercies he endured a most painful sickness, with the greatest firmness and patience, and received the stroke of death with a calmness, a resignation and a composure that marked THE TRULY GREAT AND GOOD MAN. Thus has died, if not the pride, at least on of the brightest ornaments of his country and of human nature.
Governor BOWOIN, to the honour of Harvard College, was educated at the seminary of learning: and so highly was he distinguished for his abilities that at a very early age, he was a chosen Representative to the General Court, by the town of Boston; and was continued in that office until he was removed to the Council Board, where he served with great reputation until negative by Governors Barnard and Gage, for his decided and able opposition to British measures. He took a distinguished part in the revolution, having been President of the Council of this state for a number of years during the war; was President of the Convention that formed the state Constitution, and since the revolution he has been Governor of the Commonwealth. He died President of the Academy of Arts and Science, in this state; President of the Humane Society; Fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Dublin, and of the Society of Arts in Great Britain, and also of other Literary Societies, both in Europe and America; he was Doctor of Laws in the Universities Edinburgh and Cambridge.
No man was more known to the literati in all part of the world : Few men have contributed more to the general knowledge and improvement of his country.
“SWEET peace, and heavn’ly hope, and humble joy,
Divinely beam on his exalted soul;
Destruction Gilds and crowns him for the skies,
With incommunicable lustre bright.”