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Further to exhibit the nature of Mr. Thacher's piety, let me make use of an extract from a sketch of his character by the Rev. Dr. Channing, to which I have already referred.* “ It was warm, but not heated; earnest, but tranquil; a habit, not an impulse; the air which he breathed, not a tempestuous wind, giving occasional violence to his emotions. A constant dew seemed to distil on him from heaven, giving freshness to his devout sensibilities; but it was a gentle influence, seen not in its falling, but in its fruits. His piety appeared chiefly in gratitude and submission, sentiments peculiarly suited to such a mind as his. He felt strongly, that God had crowned bis life with peculiar goodness, and yet, when his blessings were withdrawn, his acquiescence was as deep and sincere as his thankfulness.--His devotional exercises in public were particularly striking. He came to the mercy seat as one who was not a stranger there. He seemed to inherit from his venerable father the gift of prayer. His acts of adoration discovered a mind penetrated by the majesty and purity of God; but his sublime conceptions of these attributes were always tempered and softened by a sense of the divine benignity. The paternal character of God was not only his belief, but had become a part of his mind. He never forgot that he worshipped the Father. His firm conviction of the strict and proper unity of the divine
* Published in the Christian Disciple, Old Series, vol. iv. p. 141.
nature taught him to unite and concentrate in his conception of the Father, all that is lovely and attractive, as well as all that is solemn and venerable; and the general effect of his prayers was to diffuse a devout calmness, a filial confidence, over the minds of his pious hearers."
He possessed a mind naturally strong, and had cultivated it by a judicious course of study. It was rather discriminating than original in its character; and rather clear and comprehensive than bold. Judgment predominated over fancy and invention; and you would therefore be more likely to see him following the best path of many that were presented to him, than striking out a pression of his sentiments, that he wanted ability to support, or firmness to adhere to them.
The success with which he applied his mental powers, may be estimated from the circumstance of his taking the first rank in his class, at the university where he was educated ; and the distinction which he there acquired as a scholar, he always maintained.
His opinions were the result of impartial, serious and mature examination of the best evidence within his reach. They were rational, liberal, charitable. Being deliberately taken up, they were neither rashly avowed, offensively maintained, nor easily resigned. He regarded human authority as the mere dust in the balance, when weighed against truth; and though he feared dissension, he feared God and conscience more. moderate in all things, and yet always resolute and decided. · There could be no greater error than to suppose, because he was not forward and boisterous in the ex
His manner of thinking, and style of writing, will be judged of from his sermons. He treated a subject as if he had well reflected, before he began to write upon it. He presented those views which he thought the best adapted to secure the attention of his hearers, to enlighten their understandings, and reach their hearts. The topics of his discourses were almost always devotional or practical; and when he did preach on a controverted doctrine, he spoke in a calm and christian spirit, and preferred giving a lucid and forcible statement of what he held as the truth, to abusing and denouncing what he believed to be errour. He was particularly attentive to the proper division of his subject. In looking over his manuscript sermons for the purpose of selection, I do not remember that I met with one, which did not recommend itself by a clear, methodical, and natural arrangement. In this manner he not only led his hearers by easy and sure steps to the proposed end, but imprinted the way on their memory, and enabled them, by the order and distinctness of his discourse, to carry home something more than a confused idea of what he had been saying. He aimed in all his preaching to convince and persuade, rather than to terrify. If he spoke oftener of heaven than of hell, it was not because he was afraid to pronounce the latter word in “ears polite,” but because he conceived that he had better authority from his master to invite men to the abodes of light, wisdom, peace and
joy, than to consign them to outer darkness, torture, and misery. He forgot not to warn and rebuke; he besi. tated not to declare the certain and awful penalties of sin;
“ Yet held it more hamane, more beavenly, first,
It will be seen that his style is plain, perspicuous, unaffected, copious. His taste avoided all gorgeous and misplaced ornament, and yet could employ with effect the timely and legitimate graces of diction.
Something has already been said with regard to his manner in the pulpit. He laboured under a difficulty of utterance, connected no doubt with the weakness of his langs, which in the lattér period of his ministry was painful both to himself and those who beard him. His gestures, and indeed his whole carriage, had a tendency to give strangers the impression that he was affected. But it was an impression which soon wore off; and they who knew him, saw in this peculiarity only an external proof of his earnestness in the sacred cause, and his deep and affectionate solicitude for the spiritual improvement of his people. In other respects his manner was highly impressive and agreeable.
His deportment in private and social life was distinguished for being gentle and engaging, and at the same time dignified. They who were led by his mildness and affability, to think that he might be too nearly and familiarly, approached, were sure to be deceived. There was a line drawn about him, imperceptible but impassable, which repelled the intrusions of rudeness or levity. He won without effort the regards of friendship, and made himself the object of respectful attachment both at home and abroad. His temper was calm and equable; for his heart was the dwelling of piety and peace.-In conversation he was instructive, various, fluent; assuming no more than his part, but taking that part with readiness and ease.—To his pastoral duties he was unexceptionably attentive; and he seemed willing to sacrifice health, and even life, to their requisitions. This devotedness was repaid by the universal and zealous affection of the people of his charge. There never was a clergyman more sincerely loved, nor more deeply lamented. His loss yet seems recent to those who were accustomed to participate in the benefits of his ministrations; the gloom has not yet passed away from his church; the long day of mourning has not yet gone down; a shade of sorrow still lingers over the places which knew him, because they will know him no more.
* Paradise Regained, .
His ashes repose in a foreign land. His friends are deprived of the melancholy gratification of paying their frequent visits to his tomb. The peasant of France passes carelessly by it, and knows not how cherished and excellent he was, whose remains it covers. The weeds may grow round it, and the long grass may wave over it, for there is none to pluck them away. But his