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SKETCH 



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Rev. Seth Sweetser, d. d 



By REV. EGBERT C. SMYTH, D. D., 

PROFESSOR IN ANDOVER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY. 



[Reprint prom ** The Congregational Quarterly," October, 1878.] 



BOSTON: 

ALFRED MUDGE & SON, PRINTERS, 

34 School Street. 

1878. 



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SETH SWEETSER. 



Death sometimes reveals the greatness of a life. On 
the afternoon of March 28, 1878, a remarkable audience gath- 
ered in the Central Church at Worcester. The rain was falling 
heavily, the season the most inclement of the year, yet the 
large church was full. Men were there from the halls of learn- 
ing and science, from the Senate Chamber at Washington, from 
bench and bar, pulpit and hospital, counting-room and the 
bedsides of the sick, men of various faiths and callings, from 
many villages and cities, all assembled to do honor to one 
whose highest distinction, like that of his Master, had been to 
be the servant of all. 

There is a natural and reasonable desire on the part of those 
impressed by such a spectacle, or by other expressions of pub- 
lic esteem, to know somewhat more fully respecting the early 
life and personal history of one thus honored at his decease. 
It is also a task not only grateful but inspiring to study a char- 
acter and career bearing the unmistakable stamp of genuine 
goodness. 

Seth Sweetser, the subject of this sketch, was born in New- 
buryport, Mass., March 15, 1807, and died at seven o'clock 
Sunday morning, March 24, 1878, having thus a little more 
than completed his seventy-first year. He was the fifth child 
in a family of five sisters and four brothers. All but one grew 
up to maturity. Five — two brothers, one an officer, and both 
active members in our churches, and three sisters — survive 
him. His father and mother were from Charlestown, for sev- 
eral generations the ancestral home. The mother was a 
daughter of Benjamin Frothingham, a captain of artillery 
before the war of Revolution, and a participant in that pro- 



tracted conflict from its beginning to its close, rising in this 
service to the rank of major. At the battle of Monmouth he 
was struck by a ball, taken up for dead, thrown into the dead- 
cart and carried off the field. The sword-belt which saved his 
life hung in his chamber to his dying day. His wife was a 
woman of remarkable courage, conscientiousness, and devo- 
tion. Some British soldiers coming unexpectedly to her home, 
she frightened them away by causing them to suppose that she 
was about to pour boiling water on their heads. A fire in the 
roof of her house she extinguished herself, mounting for the 
purpose by a ladder. •' My only fear for my husband," she 
remarked, alluding to the perils of battle and of the war, — " my 
only fear is that he should fail of doing his duty/' On the 
morning of the battle of Bunker Hill, Capt. Frothingham came 
to his home in Charlestown, and said to his wife, " I must go 
to the cannon, but I have engaged a man with a cart and 
oxen to take you out of town." The brave woman — the cart 
having been loaded with what it was thought best to carry — 
started with her five children, the oldest only about nine years 
of age, walking herself by the side of the cart, and carrying in 
her hand some china wrapped in a cloth. As they crossed 
Maiden River they were fired upon. They wandered on until 
night, asking at every house, " Can you take us in ? " and 
receiving the invariable reply, " No, we are full." At last, 
about nightfall, a shelter was found in the entry of a house, 
and a loaf of bread, which the mother's care had provided, was 
drawn out from a long meal-bag, broken up, and distributed to 
the children. 

One of these wanderers, whose life was thus early imperilled, 
lived to be the mother of a clergyman widely known in the 
Congregational churches of New England. Another became 
the mother of Dr. Sweetser. She inherited her mother's large 
conscientiousness and transmitted it to her distinguished son. 
She was also a woman of much decision of character, of tender 
and constant affection and great piety. Her early religious 
life developed under the ministry of Rev. Dr. Morse, in whose 
study were signed those articles of union which were virtually 
incorporated into the constitution of Andover Theological 
Seminary, and largely determined its character,-* that Seminary 



which was afterwards to educate his parishioner's son, and in 
turn to be served by him as president of its Board of Trustees. 
The father of Dr. Sweetser belonged to a family which is said 
to have been represented for more than two hundred years in 
the First Church of Charlestown, a " Seth Switzer having 
joined the church in 1638, six years after its foundation." 
When, in 1802, his descendant, bearing the same name, moved 
to Newburyport, his opinions appear to have agreed with those 
afterwards known as Unitarian, though he was not a professor 
of religion. His wife urged him to institute family prayers. 
He said that he could not conduct them. "Then say the 
Lord's Prayer," was her answer. He yielded to her gentleness 
and firmness, went on enlarging his petitions, and grew more 
devout. In 18 16, Leonard Withington, now in the sixty-second 
year of his honored ministry, came to Oldtown. Mr. Sweetser 
was pleased with the young preacher's ability, and to the joy 
of his wife, offered to attend upon Mr. Withington's ministra- 
tions, though the church was a mile away. Eventually, through 
the divine blessing on this preaching, and the wife's and 
mother's affectionate fidelity, not only her husband, but also 
eight of her children sat together with her at the communion. 
Dr. Sweetser always spoke of his father with great deference 
and even reverence. He was a shrewd and wise merchant, 
a man of fine personal appearance, of great dignity and self- 
control, and never spoke of himself as infirm, though he lived 
to be eighty years of age. His pastor once said of him that 
"he was about perfect in his family." Dr. Sweetser grew 
up in an almost typical New England home, — a large family, 
where the sports of Thanksgiving day and of winter evenings 
were shared by young and old, where the children received a 
goodly share of direct parental supervision and training, and 
where the Catechism was faithfully inculcated every Sunday 
night. On the same evening, also, as often as it recurred, it 
was the mother's habit to gather her children together for 
prayer. The father's words, " Your mother wants you," were 
a sufficient signal. While the son was in college his mother 
always took him to her room and prayed with him on his 
return. As a boy he worked in his father's store, " shovelling 
salt, selling rum with the rest, lighting fire on cold winter morn- 



ings with the flint and tinder-box or by borrowing coals from 
a neighboring store." When it was decided that he should go 
to college he began his preparation at the Newburyport Acad- 
emy, then at the height of its prosperity, under Mr. Alfred W. 
Pike, and numbering many pupils who have since been dis- 
tinguished in various callings. 1 

" As a fellow- townsman," writes Rev. Horatio Wood, of Lowell, Mass., 
•* my knowledge of the late Rev. Dr. Sweetser goes back to early play- 
days and pre-college times. I do not know that there was anything 
remarkable to record in his boyhood and first youth. He always main- 
tained a proper and grave demeanor, and yet was never without a ready 
smile, and had a vein of humor. He was affable and companionable. He 
was diligent and painstaking in preparation for college. When ascending 
the last steps toward the entrance to the college gate, he enjoyed and 
profited much by the pastoral and fatherly advice, the thorough teachings, 
scholarly influence, and direct spurring, it may be, of the Rev. Dr. With- 
ington, of Newburyport. As his chum in college through the four years, 
I bear willing testimony to his kindly fellowship, uniformly correct deport- 
ment, strict observance of study hours, and diligent improvement of them. 
While his general scholarship was of a high order, he took especial delight 
in mathematical calculations. He was distinguished in this branch. 2 
When the most formidable difficulty of figures faced him he would wrestle 
vigorously, and never give up till he had the mastery. One night, sorely 
perplexed and wellnigh beaten, the midnight lamp going out, he threw 
himself despairingly into the arms of sleep, but when the morning broke, 
he woke, and as soon shouted at the top of his voice, ' Chum, I have got 
it out all right, clear as day ! ' Of course his college rank was highest in 
mathematics. On account of his scholarship, his elevated sentiments, his 
social qualities, and moral character sound to the core, he was respected 
and beloved by the class. Among his intimate friends were Felton, after- 
wards president of the college ; Stearns, afterward president of Amherst 
College ; William M. Rogers, subsequently minister in Boston ; and E. S. 
Dixwell, soon well known as principal of the Latin School in Boston. 

" His religious life was well assured. It had been well grounded by 
his pastor and his pious mother, who had endeavored to fortify him 
against the vices of college youth. She followed up her teachings and 

1 I refer to Mr. Pike with peculiar pleasure, from gratitude as one of his 
pupils, though at a much later period and in another town and State. Of those 
who attended the academy with young Sweetser and his brothers may be men- 
tioned Rev. Drs. Rufus W. Clark, Chandler Robbins, John Pike, and Thomas M. 
Clark, bishop of Rhode Island ; Rev. Paul Couch, Rev. Horatio Wood, Josiah L. 
Hale, Richard P. Buck, George Lunt, Jacob Stone, Edward S. Moseley, Samuel 
W. Stickney, Allen W. Dodge, Dr. Henry C. Perkins, Judge Bonney, of New 
York, and Edward S. Rand, Esq., of Boston. 
8 He afterwards assisted the eminent Prof. Farrar in mathematics and astronomy. 



exhortations to him through the college course. If there were no neces- 
sity for it, it could not be without wholesome effect on his heart, ready to 
receive influence in the highest direction. It may seem superfluous to 
mention it, but it might stand to the credit of few students and is as mer- 
itorious as rare, that he strictly followed the habit of the daily reading of 
the Scriptures and of prayer." 

The reflective and forecasting bent of his mind appears in 
the subject of his Commencement part, " Prospects of Young 
Men in the different Learned Professions." Graduating in 
1827, he took charge for two years, in company with his class- 
mates, Cornelius C. Felton and Henry R. Cleveland, of a 
rising school in Livingston County, N. Y., now known as 
Geneseo Academy. Two years followed at Harvard, as tutor. 
Among the students was Charles Sumner. In 183 1, Mr. Sweet- 
ser entered Andover Seminary. His eyes had broken down 
from overwork, particularly early morning study, and copying 
late at night. A brother came with him, to read to him, and 
also to receive instruction. At the close of the year pupil 
and teacher went to Cambridge. Two boys went up also from 
Phillips Academy. One had stood first in Greek, the other in 
Latin. A professor examined them in his own room, and 
pacing up and down did his utmost to frighten them. At the 
close of the day the younger Sweetser sought out his brother 
in Mr. Felton's room. The older brother had received an 
intimation that his pupil's application was not likely to succeed. 
" Eben," he said, " if you do not get in, take the stage this 
night, and don't be seen round here." It was natural for him 
to be sensitive to the good opinion of those whom he respected, 
and behind his calm exterior there was an honorable ambition 
for excellence. He was spared in this case any mortification. 
His pupil received clean papers, yet, curiously enough, the two 
scholars from the Academy were conditioned each in the study 
in which he excelled, which shows that examining professors 
had not then become infallible. 

When Dr. Sweetser's religious life began I do not know, 
nor, I presume, did he. His responsibility to God and his 
indebtedness to a crucified Redeemer had been among his 
earliest lessons. Life had opened for him under the solemn 
shadow of eternity. His cradle had been shone upon by the 



8 

star of the Nativity. His childhood had been watched over by 
that pure maternal love Jesus did not forget to honor even on 
the Cross. In early manhood he openly recognized his supreme 
obligation to devote himself to the service of God. His com- 
ing to Andover Seminary was such a confession, yet it was 
more than a year later before he joined, on profession of faith, 
the church in Oldtown, of which he remained a member until 
his death. His seminary life was a marked period in his his- 
tory, a period not only of progress in mental discipline, but of 
great spiritual growth. He was not, one of his classmates 
informs me, active as a Christian, in the sense sometimes 
given to these words, but he laid broad and deep foundations 
in the study of God's word, in the discipline of his moral and 
spiritual powers, and in acquisition of useful learning. During 
his Senior year he participated, with some of his classmates, in 
missionary work, at Seabrook, N. H. There appears to have 
been no church there, and the services were held in a school- 
house. 

I have been impressed by the tokens which have been pre- 
served in various ways of the thoroughness with which at this 
time he examined into his motives of conduct, his aims in 
choosing the work of the ministry, and with the amount of 
culture of this sort which occupied these earlier years and the 
opening of his public career. It is on such hidden foundations 
that every stable and permanent ministry of spiritual truth 
must be reared. Caprice in life and career has marred many 
a pastorate, and the secret of much restlessness and changea- 
bleness and waste of power lies too often in the superficial 
character of the work done at the beginning. Some interesting 
reminiscences of Dr. Sweetser's connection with the Seminary 
as a student have been communicated to me for publication, 
by his classmate, Rev. H. A. Tracy : — 

a In the autumn of 1831 there appeared on Andover Hill a tall, spare, 
grave man, who it was reported had come to join the Junior class in the 
Theological Seminary. Upon inquiry it was learned that he had come 
from Harvard University, where he had officiated as tutor for two years. 
He took lodgings upon the hill, and kept himself somewhat aloof from the 
Seminar}*. In a few days the class learned that he could not join in the study 
of Hebrew. ... A disease of the eyes, or rather a weakness contracted 
by overtaxing them while a tutor in the University, compelled a disuse of 



his vision for years, and was a lifelong infirmity. He employed a reader 
during his entire seminary course, and seldom used his eyes except for the 
occasional private reading of the Scriptures. This severe deprivation was 
a great hindrance to him in the Seminary. Perhaps, however, this disadvan- 
tage was more than balanced by an increased power of meditation. ... In 
the middle of the second year he came to me with a request to occupy a 
room in Bartlet Hall, made vacant by the appointment of my roommate to 
a tutorship at Yale College. Then began an acquaintance and friendship 
which never have been interrupted. Our intercourse has ceased for a time, 
but not our love for each other. From his occupation of a room in the 
Seminary with me his intercourse with his own class and with members of 
the other classes became more intimate, and their personal regard for him 
was greatly increased. 

" I have ever esteemed it one of the greatest privileges of my life to 
enjoy his friendship. As a man, his character was matured when he 
entered the Seminary. If wisdom may be measured by years, then he was 
an old man when he entered the Seminary. The lightness and frivolity of 
youth he never manifested. He possessed a genial disposition, and with 
friends would give himself up often to free and lively conversation that 
rendered a passing hour one of great delight. Many such hours were en- 
joyed with a chosen few during his last years in the Seminary, in No. 12 
Bartlet Hall. He never obtruded his wisdom and his varied and rich 
stores of learning upon any one. A part of his wisdom, for which he was 
so eminent through all his subsequent life, consisted in not giving counsel 
or advice unsought. When sought it was freely given, with no assumed 
superiority, but modestly and clearly. He seemed to discern with won- 
derful precision the exact thing to be done or to be avoided. His judgment, 
founded upon his wisdom, was as nearly unerring as that of any man 
whom it has been my privilege to know. It was like an inspiration, nor 
was it confined in its range to a few kindred subjects, but was largely 
infallible in relation to a multitude. His subsequent life has demonstrated 
what his most intimate friends prognosticated of him in his seminary 
course. He was well known to but few of his classmates, but these few 
appreciated his great excellence in the respect mentioned, and always 
prophesied for him the career that he ran with such eminent success." 

His intercourse with classmates and fellow-students doubt- 
less aided in developing the catholic spirit and wide-reaching 
sympathies which characterized him in his subsequent career. 
His own class contained men who went as missionaries of the 
Cross to Southern and Western Hindostan, to Armenia and 
Syria, to Southern Africa, to Greece, and to the then rapidly 
extending borders of our Western civilization. It was com- 
posed also of men who have since been active in the Presby- 
terian, the Baptist, the Dutch Reformed, the Episcopal, as well 



IO 

as the Congregational Communions, and not a few who have 
attained special distinction as scholars and instructors. It 
included that distinguished Biblical scholar, the late Prof. 
Hackett ; Prof. Talcott, the accomplished teacher of Sacred 
Literature at Bangor ; Dr. Long, Professor of Theology at Au- 
burn Seminary, N. Y., afterwards at Dartmouth College ; Rev. 
Dr. Asa D. Smith, one of its honored presidents ; and that 
eminent classical scholar, Prof. Alpheus Crosby. From the 
same class, also, the universities of New York and New Haven 
have drawn the well-known Professor of Natural Philosophy and 
Astronomy, Dr. Loomis. Without mentioning others, enough 
have been named to suggest what a range and wealth of 
thought and beneficent action were germinant and developing 
in that single class, and as the view extends until it embraces 
others who were then at Andover, and also his earlier asso- 
ciates at Harvard and Newburyport, the thought at once arises 
that in such early companionships there was an obvious Prov- 
idential preparation of the man for the broad and varied activ- 
ity of his later life. 

Mr. Sweetser's pastoral life began at once as a home mis- 
sionary, in Gardiner, Me. He labored there with great dili- 
gence, efficiency, and success for four years. Then with a 
sacrifice of feeling which one has described as almost killing 
him, and after most careful deliberation, aided by advice which 
he sought from wise counsellors, and in obedience to what he 
deemed an imperative call of duty, he accepted the charge of 
the Central or Calvinistic Church and Society at Worcester, 
which he held until his death, a period of nearly forty years. 
The thoroughness with which he made this decision is char- 
acteristic of the man, and is suggestive as to how such matters 
are most wisely conducted. 

This Christian ministry of forty-four years cannot be 
reviewed within the limits of this sketch. It went on with- 
out noise or pretence, neither hammer nor axe was heard, 
but it rose and stood, symmetrical, complete; not in the 
least a sensational ministry, but how useful a one, and how 
holy ! Of twenty-five years of his pastorate in Worcester, Dr. 
Sweetser has himself sketched the history in a published dis- 
course, and in it clearly exhibited the scope and aim of his 



II 

preaching. Since his death many tributes have been paid to 
his ability and fidelity as preacher and pastor. 1 From one 
which was read at a meeting of the Central Church by Charles 
E. Stevens, Esq., I make the following extract : — 

" I first saw Dr. Sweetser more than thirty years ago, . . . and well 
recall his tall form and white forehead drawn in relief against the back- 
ground of the crimson curtain as he stood in the old high pulpit of that 
day. . . . From that time to this, more thaD a quarter of a century, my 
knowledge of him in private and in public has been continuous. . . . 
The great life-work of Dr. Sweetser was with the pen. In that small 
study behind the parlor, with the portrait of John Calvin ever before him, 
he sat and wove the fibre of his brain into the tissue of his manuscripts. 
. . . The little book called The Ministry we Need, is a marvel of conden- 
sation. It is packed with thought, the very pemmican of intellectual food. 
... It is a book to be read slowly. . . . This parsimony of expression, 
coupled with fulness of thought, seemed to be the law of his writing. 
He avoided padding as if it were a dishonesty. In the case of the little 
book which was published by the American Tract Society, he might have 
felt under double bonds not to pour through that channel of benevolence a 
flux of any superfluous words. But the consummate flower of all his writing 
is the Commemorative Discourse on the Death of Abraham Lincoln, . . . 
It seems to me fairly entitled to the praise and rank of a classic. ... As 
it happened, some small part fell to me in carrying it through the press. . . . 
It occurred to me to suggest whether he would not supply some appropri- 
ate motto. He at once accepted the suggestion and speedily produced 

1 Many obituary notices were published in the public journals. Specially wor- 
thy of mention are a very full and appreciative editorial sketch of Dr. Sweetser's 
life, which appeared in the Worcester Spy of March 25, 1878, and articles in the 
National Baptist, by Rev. H. L. Wayland, in the Christian Union (April 3), by 
Rev. Lyman Abbott, and in the Congregationalist (April 3), by Rev. Dr. Tarbox. 
Hon. B. F. Thomas, ll. d., alluded in appropriate terms to his death at the meet- 
ing of the American Antiquarian Society, in Boston, April 24, as did his classmate 
and early friend, Rev. Dr. Chandler Robbins. The latter's very just and beauti- 
ful tribute is to appear, I believe, in the published report of the doings of the 
society. Dr. Sweetser's death was also generally noticed in the city pulpits, par- 
ticularly by his colleague and successor, Rev. Mr. Merriman, Rev. Mr. Lamson, 
Rev. Mr. Hall, of the First Unitarian Church, Rev. Mr. Blanchard, Church of the 
Unity, and Rev. Dr. Huntington, rector of All Saints' Church. Resolutions 
expressive of high appreciation were published as adopted by the council of the 
American Antiquarian Society, by the trustees of the Memorial Hospital, Worces- 
ter, and of the Free Institute, and by the Central Church. At the funeral, addresses 
were made by Dr. Alden, secretary of the American Board, Rev. Wm. A. Houghton, 
of Berlin, Rev. Daniel R. Cady, D. D., of Westboro', Prof. C. O. Thompson, of 
Worcester, and the writer of this article. A memorial service was also held by the 
bereaved church, at which many touching expressions were given of personal 
obligation, esteem, and love. 




12 

from his ever-ready stores this most felicitous sentence from Lord Bacon : 
* That magnanimity that neither feareth greatness of alteration, nor the 
views of conspirators, nor the power of enemy, is more than heroical.' 
When the discourse had been published the demand for it speedily 
exhausted the whole edition, and too late we regretted that its pages had 
not been stereotyped. Its fame went abroad, and from distant places came 
letters asking for copies. 

" He was not an ecclesiastic in the peculiar sense of that word. I think he 
had no fondness for the business of church government. That which is 
so dear to the heart of a true churchman, an elaborate and stately polity, 
had no charms for him ; but neither was he indifferent to church order. 
While he would have reduced all ecclesiastical machinery to its minimum, 
he was for a strict adherence to the few rules which a sound reason dic- 
tated. In the early days of his ministry he was called to sit in a council 
with older brethren, in a neighboring town. After the council bad been 
constituted it was proposed that they should take in hand a matter not set 
forth in the letter missive. The elders were disposed to entertain the 
proposition, but Dr. Sweetser — doctor even then, though not by the grace 
of any college — demurred. He recalled to the council the terms of the 
letter missive whereby they were a council, showed that they had no 
authority to act upon any matter not contained therein, and with modest 
firmness announced that if the new proposition were entertained he should 
feel compelled to withdraw. This settled the point, the council recovered 
from its aberration and refrained from attempting to be wise above what 
for them had been written. On another occasion, at a later period, he was 
presiding in this lecture-room at a church meeting for the election of a 
deacon. When the ballots had been given in and counted he perceived 
that the number exceeded by one the whole number of male members 
present, and thereupon he directed a new vote to be taken. The offend- 
ing ballot had been innocently cast by one of the sisters. This he knew 
was contrary to the usage which had prevailed in the church from the 
beginning, and to that usage he felt it to be his duty to adhere. It was 
not a great matter, but it illustrated his scrupulous regard for the rules of 
the church. 

" To say that he was far from anything that savored of ritualism is patent 
to every observer. . . . Yet averse as he was to rites and ceremonies of 
man's devising, no one ever cherished towards the true and divinely 
appointed sacraments a more regardful and reverent spirit. I think all 
must have felt that the celebration of the Holy Supper was to him always 
a great high day. It was the one occasion that called forth the deepest 
emotions of his nature. It made him, likewise, in the best sense, senti- 
mental. The table that bore the bread and wine was for him a sacred 
thing. The beautiful one at which he so long ministered was, I believe, 
his own gift to the church ; the conception of its design was his, and it 
was he who caused it to be carved with the emblematic vine and clusters. 
It will stand in its place an ever-present memorial of himself and his devo- 
tion to the only worthy symbolism of the Christian church. 



*3 

" In his preaching he exhibited nothing of dogmatism. He had no 
heavy body of divinity to cast down upon his congregation Sunday after 
Sunday, in successive instalments. In all the twenty-five years of my 
listening I do not recall a strictly doctrinal discourse. I sometimes wished 
that he would put forth his strength in that direction, but that was not his 
way : his was rather the large, discursive method in which the doctrine 
was everywhere implied, just as in the Bible the existence of God is every- 
where implied. His sermons were not framed for the purpose of proving a 
thing. He did not tyrannize with the syllogism. It was said of Dr. Emmons 
that he would plant his batteries in the morning, and fire them off at the 
heads of his hearers in the afternoon. It was said of him again, that on a 
certain occasion, when his irresistible logic had driven his bearers into a 
corner, he pushed up his spectacles and with the glee of conscious mas- 
tery exclaimed, * Now I have got you, now what will you do ? ' But such 
joy of contest and conquest was not the motive of Dr. Sweetser's preach- 
ing. It did not comport with his nature to crowd and overpower his 
hearers, nor, again, was it in him to solicit and importune. There was 
a certain aloofness in his attitude. He stood and proffered good. ' I 
counsel you to buy of me/ he seemed to say. He recognized the man- 
hood of men. It was for him to proffer, but it was for them to take. 
Responsibility was theirs as well as his. 

"In society he was both genial and congenial. By this I mean that he 
was not only cheerful in and for himself, but that he had also an inter- 
changeable, a give-and-take cheerfulness. His conversation was as edify- 
ing as a good book. When he had himself spoken he paused for you to 
speak, nor did he occupy himself with meditating his next remark while 
seemingly listening to yours. He looked to take his cue from what you 
might have to say. A pair of shears would fitly symbolize his ideal of 
conversation, which is indeed the true ideal. Two blades must needs 
work together, the one closing upon the other. Performing his part keenly, 
he stimulated you to so perform yours. Not only what he gave you, but 
what he drew from you, inured to your double profit. 

" It was sometimes remarked that he failed to attract the young. I 
believe that he was himself aware of this, and that it gave him pain. The 
very thought is pathetic, for he had a yearning towards children, and was 
radiant if by chance one sought unto him. The fault was not in his nature, 
but in his make-up, so to speak. It was inaptness, not hardness, that barred 
the way. He knew not how to get at the children, but it was the easiest 
thing for them to get at him. Any boy or girl could carry the citadel of 
his heart by direct approaches. He surrendered at once, dissolving into 
smiles of love. Nor was he always without success in his efforts to please 
the young. I recall an occasion when he gave a garden party in his own 
grounds to all the children of the parish. The day was fine and he had 
provided cakes and ices and strawberries in profusion. The children were 
out in full force, and many parents were present besides. For the hour 
unwonted gayety reigned around the parsonage. No one seemed more 
happy, I had almost said even to friskiness, than the pastor. As his tall 



form moved actively about over the lawn and under the trees, ' on hospita- 
ble thoughts intent,' here serving a cream and there pushing a swing and 
anon chatting with a smiling mother, he looked for the time transfigured. 
It was a field day of delight for pastor and children." 

It is rare that a man so scholarly in his culture and natural 
tastes, so inclined to patient research and exact thought, and 
withal so charged with public duties, is so active and faithful a 
pastor as was Dr. Sweetser. The restraint already noticed, 
occasioned by the early injury to his eyes, may have conduced 
to this result ; yet the chief cause was his strong conviction 
of the greatness of the good offered to men individually in the 
gospel, combined with a sincere and profound benevolence of 
spirit. He had, in a remarkable degree, the tender, loving 
heart of a true shepherd of the flock. This was not always 
understood, for he was naturally dignified, and even reserved, 
in the expression of personal feeling, and his interest in 
others was apt to show itself more in deeds than in words ; 
yet few pastors, it is believed, have carried more constantly 
the individual sorrows and trials of their people on their hearts, 
few have been more instant in helpfulness, few more ready to 
rejoice in the hour of prosperity and gladness. Very touching 
was it to observe how eager he was, when withdrawn by long 
illness from the intercourse with his people to which he had 
been accustomed, to learn of their personal welfare, and how 
strong the habit had become of caring for them. In his earlier 
ministry he had been greatly aided in his pastoral labors by 
his wife, — a woman, like his own mother, of great sensibility, 
of rare delicacy of feeling, beautiful in countenance, thoughtful 
for others, winning in her ways, and strongly devotional in her 
habit of mind. 1 Her influence and memory, his long watch- 
ing by her side, her loss and other sore bereavements, devel- 
oped a tenderness of feeling and power of intelligent sympathy, 
which, combined with his clear discernment of those eternal 
verities from which alone true and lasting consolation can flow, 

1 Hannah Frances Vaughan was a daughter of Charles Vaughan, Esq., an 
Englishman, and one of the earliest settlers of Hallowell, Me. She was married 
to Mr. Sweetser, Dec. 29, 1836, and died May 10, 1855, after a sickness of nine 
years, during which her husband watched over her with an untiring devotion. 
Three children died in Worcester. Two, a son and a daughter, remain. A sister 
of Mrs* Sweetser married Rev. Jacob Abbott 



*5 

made him a strong support to many households in seasons of 
sickness and sorrow. His words were few, but how fitting, 
and who can forget his prayers ? One day, in his last illness, 
he said, " The hymns full of sentiment, beautiful ip them- 
selves, delicate and graceful, do not suit me now. I don't 
want to be pleased, I want to be strengthened." The remark 
conveys the secret of pastoral comfort. 

Dr. Sweetser valued highly the social element in a congre- 
gation, and did much to cultivate it. He had also a high sense 
of honor as respects the obligation of a pastor to his people. 
" He never preached for pay in vacation, feeling that he ought, 
for the good of his people, to rest in the time given him for 
it" He had, also, a due regard to the obligation of his people. 
When he first went to Worcester, as was usual then, no pro- 
vision was made for his vacation. " At first, when he found 
it necessary to go away for rest, he provided for the pulpit. A 
few individuals sent him more than once the money needed 
for this. When he found it came from a few, and that the 
parish was thus relieved from its duty, he refused the money, 
and this led afterwards to their voting him a regular vacation." 
He was noticeably faithful in educating his people to liberality, 
and his method was as admirable in spirit as effective in result. 
He seldom, if ever, endeavored to work up his people to give, 
as from impulse or under pressure. He taught them to give 
from principle. At the same time he fed them with knowl- 
edge ; and he was not only himself remarkably intelligent as 
respects the benevolent work of the churches, but thoroughly 
in sympathy with it, so that there was an unconscious, but 
perhaps all the more powerful appeal to his people from his 
whole character and spirit. To a life-long friend he writes, 
referring particularly to foreign missions : " I wish with all my 
heart to use whatever influence I may have in the way which 
will tell most upon the great work. It does not lessen but 
expands in my view. ... It would do them " (*. e. y the minis- 
ters and churches) " good, if they could be made to feel that 
the less selfishness there is in our religion, and the more 
breadth our religious sympathies have, the stronger religion is 
for all purposes." And the chapter entitled " The Broad 
View," in his work on The Ministry We Need, contains these 



i6 

words, which have been justly said to express the spirit in 
which Dr. Sweetser conducted his own ministry : " Japan and 
China must not be excluded from the problem of the age. 
India with its myriads, hapless Africa, and the islands of the 
ocean must be regarded. The problem comprehends the 
necessity and the condition of the race. A ministry for this 
age which comprehends its vocation, is a ministry fitted for 
this broad enterprise, and ready for the Master's work wherever 
the call is heard." Such a ministry will be likely to ensure, 
wherever it exists, gifts of benevolence like those elicited by 
Dr. Sweetser. 

The same breadth of view characterized Dr. Sweetser's rela- 
tions to the fellowship of ministers and churches. He endeav- 
ored from the beginning of his pastorate in Worcester to 
promote co-operation among pastors. For nearly twenty years 
he met socially with the other Congregational ministers of the 
city on Monday morning of each week. He favored united 
meetings of churches. Some twelve years ago he brought his 
brethren in the Congregational ministry and their families 
together in a social way, and a monthly meeting of this sort 
was kept up for some time In the beginnings of New Eng- 
land Congregationalism, John Cotton saw the importance of 
church conferences, if the new system was to have permanence 
and aggressive power ; yet, greatly to its injury, his wise coun- 
sels remained long unheeded, until in the conflict with Unita- 
rianism, the necessity of union and mutual watch and care 
among churches was clearly manifested. Such, however, were 
the complications arising from the previous history, that the 
simple and natural system proposed by Cotton has not even 
yet been carried out ; and it is a curious fact — often, however, 
paralleled in history when extreme views on the one side or the 
other have prevailed — that in Massachusetts, where there has 
always been a vigilant jealousy for the rights of individual 
churches and of the brotherhood, there was no organization 
dealing with the common work of these churches, to which 
they sent representatives, or which admitted lay delegates, 
down to the year i860. In that year the General Conference 
of Massachusetts was organized at Springfield by delegates from 
several local conferences. Dr. Sweetser was chairman of the 



*7 

preliminary meeting, and was also the first moderator of the 
Conference. It was a matter of deep regret to him that it became 
necessary afterwards to modify the plan, and form a body so 
peculiarly constituted as the present General Association, — 
an organization which does not arise, in accordance with the 
genius of Congregationalism, wholly from the churches, but 
springs in part from purely clerical associations. 

In the sermon which he preached in connection with the 
twenty-fifth anniversary of his settlement in Worcester, Dr. 
Sweetser notices " the necessary and influential connection of 
the ministry with all institutions, organizations, and schemes 
which aim to promote the highest public welfare," and the 
eminent devotion of the clergy of this Commonwealth " to the 
interests of education in schools, academies, colleges, and 
seminaries." He was himself a conspicuous example of such 
devotion. For twelve years he was an active and efficient 
member of the Board of Overseers of the schools in the centre 
district of Worcester, and drew up in 1844 a report submit- 
ting a plan of reorganization, which was adopted with great 
advantage. His relation to the Free Institute, of Worcester, 
has been publicly noticed by Hon. Stephen Salisbury, presi- 
dent of its Board of Trustees, and himself a devoted friend and 
liberal benefactor of the school. "Rev. Dr. Sweetser wag 
more than a friend of this Institute, he was more than the 
leading member of the Board of Trustees, — he was the father of 
this institution." Such testimony needs no confirmation nor 
augmentation ; yet a few facts — and our space restricts us 
to only a few — may be given as illustrative of Dr. Sweetser's 
influence and sagacity. Some time before 1857 he was con- 
sulted by several boys who wished to fit themselves as civil 
engineers without taking the regular college course. About 
the same time he had many and prolonged interviews with 
the late Ichabod Washburn, who was interested in endowing 
a school for mechanics' apprentices. This resulted in Dr. 
Sweetser's drawing up a scheme which was substantially the 
plan of the later Institute. Then came a financial crash, and 
the plan " slumbered " until 1865. All this time Dr. Sweetser's 
thoughts were busy about it. At last Mr. David Whitcomb com- 
municated to him in strictest confidence the desire of John 




i8 

Boynton to give J5 100,000 to found " some sort of school " for 
the benefit of the " youth of the county." It would have been 
easy for Dr. Sweetser, I am assured, to persuade his friend 
that " the youth of the county " required an additional classi- 
cal academy or a new college, and it shows his breadth of 
view and practical insight that, instead of such advice, he 
sought the establishment of a school which appears to be so 
remarkably adapted as the Institute to the peculiar educational 
necessities of the large manufacturing community in which it 
stands. 

It is one thing, however, to conceive, and another to 
execute. Apparently the most difficult part of the undertak- 
ing remained. Mr. Washburn was a man of great indepen- 
dence and force of will, and had it almost in his grasp to identify 
his own honorable name exclusively with an institution which 
would be identified with the prosperity of the city he loved, 
and to whose welfare he had largely contributed. Could he be 
induced to blend his purpose with that of Mr. Boynton ? Could 
the destructive blunder, so often committed, of dividing funds 
which ought to be united, be avoided ? Happily, and to the 
great credit of all parties, a union was effected. Dr. Sweetser 
drew up, at Mr. Boynton's request, the letter of gift, so that 
in these three particulars it has been justly said Dr. Sweetser 
was the original directing mind and energy: (1) The deter- 
mination of the essential characteristics of the institution ; (2) 
The harmonizing of conflicting views among strong and intel- 
ligent men; (3) The incorporation of sound and broad ideas, 
with just and proper limitations, into the charter and funda- 
mental documents. It is but just to add that during the pro- 
longed and laborious negotiations incident to the disposition of 
so much property, the late Hon. Emory Washburn, Mr. Icha- 
bod Washburn's legal adviser, rendered generous and impor- 
tant aid. 

With but one unimportant interval Dr. Sweetser was con- 
nected with Harvard College, either as tutor, examiner, or over- 
seer, nearly half a century. For nearly twenty-eight years he 
was a trustee of Phillips Academy, Andover, and of the Theo- 
logical Seminary. It would be a pleasing task to dwell upon 
his services to these institutions, the great amount of time he 



19 

gave to the promotion of their interests, his thoroughness* 
impartiality, urbanity, and judgment. It would not be with- 
out public interest, also, to give some account of an elaborate 
and masterly report which he prepared, in association with the 
late Chief Justice Chapman and President Stearns, upon the 
course of studies in Andover Seminary, — a report so wise 
and convincing that the changes it recommended were unani- 
mously adopted by the Board ; but these bare allusions to his 
services must suffice. How highly he was esteemed by his 
colleagues in the Board is evinced by his election in 1864 
as its president, — a position that had been adorned by his 
immediate predecessor, Hon. Wm. J. Hubbard, and by many 
eminent men in Church and State. I should add, also, that 
when Dr. Sweetser's illness rendered him unable to come to 
Andover, the Board met annually, and sometimes oftener, in 
his parlor at Worcester, rather than lose the benefit of his 
counsels, as did also, at least once a year, the trustees of two 
other important institutions. In addition to all these labors, 
which he never performed perfunctorily, but as one has said, 
with as much heart as though he were an officer in the insti- 
tution he was serving, he was a trustee of Leicester Academy, 
a member of the council of the American Antiquarian Society, 
president of the American Education Society, and a corporate 
member of the American Board and often consulted by its 
secretaries ; and to all this should be added the almost num- 
berless consultations in his study, frequented by men asso- 
ciated with the multiplied agencies by which our churches seek 
to fulfil the command to preach the gospel to every creature. 
That quiet study, always so orderly, became a sort of council 
chamber. 

The leading characteristics of Dr. Sweetser can be readily 
inferred from what has now been stated. A few remarks may 
serve to make them yet more distinct. 

He was unquestionably a man of superior natural endow- 
ment. He had the inestimable advantages of a pure and high- 
toned domestic training and of the best schools ; but all this had 
been of no avail but for his own effort. He was, what every 
strong man is, self-made by self-denial, by resolve, by vigorous 
and untiring effort. He was a man of an admirable economy. 




20 

This is a broad word, and covers many things apt to be under- 
estimated. It applies to time as well as money, and to every 
power of thought, feeling, and achievement. " Economy," says 
Dean Swift, " is the parent of liberty and ease." That readi- 
ness and competence of service which characterized Dr. 
Sweetser's usefulness had its root in an economy of life which 
embraced all his powers and all its moments. When a youth 
he kept an exact account of his expenses. In later years his 
time-book was as precise as his account-book. In the man- 
agement of his household, in habits of study, in reading and 
visiting, he was naturally and from principle systematic. He 
required, so far as he could, punctuality of others. When a 
home missionary, the people lagging, as people in the country 
will, in coming to an evening service, so that once no one was 
present on the hour but the sexton, he told the man to lock 
up and go home. When, in surprise, the question was asked 
this young and determined pastor, " Why were you not at the 
meeting ? " The reply was, — and it sufficed, — " Because you 
were not." 

Such habits are naturally allied with great industry. He 
preached much extempore; his weekly lecture was always very 
carefully prepared ; his public duties called him frequently from 
home ; he never was able to use his eyes as most men can : yet 
he left some fifteen hundred sermons fully written, and in manu- 
scripts of noticeable clearness and beauty. The mere statistics 
of his pastoral service are impressive : three hundred and ten 
marriages, about five hundred and forty-four funerals, and seven 
hundred and forty-four admissions to the church. During the 
last seven years of his life he was able, owing to lameness 
and pain, to preach but once, yet he did not stop working. He 
adhered to his regular hours of study, kept up his reading, 
though obliged by suffering to change somewhat its character, 
having, however, still an object, — some fact of science, some 
movement or character in history, some special Biblical inquiry. 
He prepared his treatise on The Ministry We Needy a manu- 
script volume on Heaven and its Inhabitants, an Address 
delivered before the Free Institute, an Essay read before the 
Congregational Club, of Worcester, and notes for addresses 
made at communion services. During nearly five of these 



21 

years of suffering and decline he held a teachers' meeting one 
evening of each week, continuing the exercise until he was so 
feeble that " all noticed the change in his voice." He studied 
as thoroughly for these Sabbath-school lessons, I am assured, 
as he would have done formerly for a sermon or lecture. Such 
industry implies great strength and tenacity of purpose, a 
characteristic which became more striking in his years of pain, 
but which was natural to him. He had a marked unwilling- 
ness to yield to what he would call " trifles." The winter be- 
fore he was laid aside from preaching, it is related of him, "that 
he had an attack of rheumatism so severe that when it first 
came he could scarcely move. It was Saturday and the day 
before Christmas. The next day he was little better ; but he 
had prepared a Christmas sermon for morning, and one for the 
close of the year for afternoon, and he insisted on preaching. 
A carriage took him to church, " but he had to be helped in 
and out, and once, when the driver failed to support him, he 
fell forward into the carriage, so helpless was he. He preached 
all day, but confessed afterwards that he doubted a little some- * 
times whether he could get up in the pulpit after he once sat 
down." In early life, probably when a tutor at Cambridge, 
he formed the habit of using tobacco, both smoking and chew- 
ing. He tried first to break the habit by resolving to abandon 
the use of the narcotic for a certain length of time, and kept 
his resolution, but naturally went back to it as soon as the time 
was out. Then, as he said, he found he was becoming a slave 
to it, and he would not be a slave to anything ; so he stopped, 
and in a characteristic way. He kept a piece of tobacco where 
he saw it every day for some time. This was the end of the 
habit. 

He early disciplined himself to exactness and thoroughness 
in the acquisition of knowledge. " I read to him," writes one 
who lived in his family for a time in order to render this 
assistance, " Motley's Dutch Republic, Life of the Haldanes, Life 
and Times of yohri Milton (part of it), scientific tracts, and 
many things I have forgotten. He never allowed a doubtful 
word to pass without reference to one or both of the great 
lexicographers to determine meaning and pronunciation ; a 
debatable place brought out the atlas, and a date the chrono- 



22 

logical chart." In college, as already noticed, he had a special 
fondness for mathematics. In later life he cultivated the exact 
sciences. Called upon unexpectedly to address the graduat- 
ing class of a technical school, he made a striking and impres- 
sive extempore address upon one of the metals, and declared 
with unusual fervor that, if he were not engaged in his sacred 
calling, he would rejoice to devote all his powers to the prop- 
erties of iron. He kept a meteorological record, in which he 
noted the temperature three times daily. On one occasion the 
family at dinner were startled by a very loud report. They 
immediately rushed to the door to ascertain the cause. In the 
confusion Dr. Sweetser was noticed " hurriedly consulting his 
watch, that he might know at what precise moment an occur- 
rence took place, the nature of which he had not yet learned." 
A boiler at the Washburn Wire Factory, it proved, had exploded. 

Some minds are clear because they have no depth, some 
are clear because of an extreme predominance of the faculties 
which measure and define, and because of quiescence of feel- 
ing and a certain drought and barrenness in regions of the soul 
where else the dews of heaven might fall and angels fold their 
wings. There is no haze in such minds, but also no atmos- 
phere, no glories of sunrise, no solemn stars, no infinitude. 

Dr. Sweetser was an exact man without being superficial, 
and because he was thorough, knew where knowledge ends and 
mystery begins. He was not without imagination, yet the 
predominant bent of his mind was doubtless, as one has said, 
scientific rather than literary. His eminence in his profession 
suggests the reflection that young men who have what is called 
" a turn for science," need not at once conclude that they have 
no call to the duties of the Christian ministry. In practical 
matters, ranging from the details of ordinary parochial life to 
affairs of State and the most comprehensive plans of Christian 
benevolence, he was a man of unusual and most " undis- 
turbed" judgment. "One naturally," writes an intimate ac- 
quaintance, " referred a knotty point to him. He was univer- 
sal moderator for all ecclesiastical assemblies in the county. 
His opinion was sought and valued by all the neighboring 
churches. Friends used banteringly to tell me he was * my 
pope/ and a mutual friend, writing since his decease, says, 
< One relied upon him as on Providence.' " 



23 

This wisdom and trustworthiness had a main root in moral 
qualities, — conscientiousness, faithfulness in self-examination, 
humility, love of justice, benevolence. 1 His conscience, even 
as a child, was instinct with the presence and authority of God. 
Once he committed some trifling offence. At night when his 
mother knelt by his bedside, and he came, in the prayer taught 
us by our Lord, to the petition, "Forgive us our debts," he 
burst into a paroxysm of tears. " I have done wrong," was his 
agonized cry. " God cannot forgive me ! " As his life developed, 
everything was brought by him under the law of duty. He 
acted habitually as the philosopher Immanuel Kant taught it 
is the duty of every man to act, — from maxims, that is, rules of 
conduct fit to be regarded as universal laws of nature. 

The pastor of a neighboring church, in noting Dr. Sweet- 
ser's symmetrical character, summed up the impression he 
made on men in precepts such as these, — as though the 
man's life, as known to his fellow-men, were a transcript and 
expression of the noblest ethics : — 

" Work and plan everywhere, not for the day, but for life." 

u Do the things that are good to remember." 

" Work hard, but do not advertise either your work or yourself." 

"Purity is the best prudence." 

" To be true is a greater joy than to be applauded." 

" Do not handle sacred things roughly." 

<4 Hide your own sorrows and troubles, but proclaim the truth that gives 
you strength." 

" Any work is narrow that does not consider the whole world, and any- 
thing short of * to every creature ' is selfishness." 

And this moral symmetry was due in part to a habit, 
early formed, of most thorough self-examination. I may not 
violate the sanctities of that personal scrutiny and judgment 
in which, as in the presence of God, and for his own improve- 
ment, he wrote out his consciousness of defects of temper, of 
purpose, of self-control, and his many experiences of baffled 
and defeated resolution, and pleaded for forgiveness and help ; 
yet it was by all this discipline and inward wrestling and self- 
judgment that he won a moral superiority which inspired an 

1 In his very beautiful delineation of the late Secretary Treat's excellences as a 
counsellor, Dr. Sweetser, it has been justly said, was unconsciously depicting his 
own character. (See Missionary Herald, May, 1877, p. 135.) 




24 

almost limitless confidence. A single illustration of this scru- 
tiny, I may perhaps be pardoned for extracting. When he 
went from Gardiner to Worcester, his salary was naturally 
increased, though he received but a thousand dollars. The 
month following his ordination he wrote these words : " I am 
greatly alarmed with the increasing tendency in myself to 
covetousness. When the support afforded us was small, I was 
less anxious than now when it is large. I acknowledge the 
need of strict care in regard to this sin, and will strive to root 
it out and will pray to be delivered from it." He never, for 
the nearly forty following years, said anything to his people 
about his salary, but simply took what they chose to give, and 
out of this he not only obeyed the apostle's command, " Owe no 
man anything," but that other injunction, " A bishop must be 
given to hospitality, a lover of hospitality, a lover of good 
men," and he was an example to his flock in liberal giving, — a 
virtue to which he trained his church quite beyond what is 
common. In his last illness he could say that he had always 
been true to his people, and had never courted any solicitations 
from without. 

The religion of Christ is now evil spoken of because mem- 
bers and officers of our churches have proved to be defaulters. 
The true lesson is, that there is no safety, I will not say in 
mere profession, but rather, even in a genuine conversion, unless 
followed by vigilance and prayer, by habitual self-examination, 
and by resistance of the beginnings of evil, and a dependence 
upon God which will keep the soul consciously under His eye 
and co-operative with His cleansing Spirit. Dr. # Sweetser's 
religion, let me hasten to add, was not a mere conscientious- 
ness, a law of duty and a striving to fulfil it. He accepted 
with a full trust the pardon of sin offered through a crucified 
Redeemer, the aid of the Holy Spirit, and the free service of 
gratitude and love to which Christ invites. Early in his min- 
istry he meekly wrote in his note-book, " I desire to remem- 
ber a salutary hint from a Christian brother, — that there is 
danger of not preaching Christ enough, and of not remember- 
ing Christ enough in prayer. The remark was suggested by 
attending service at our church." That Christ was the inspi- 
ration and joy of his ministry, there are many to testify on 



25 

earth and beyond. The world-embracing benevolence of the 
Redeemer informed, sweetened, ennobled his servant's preach- 
ing, prayers, and life ; it quickened and intensified his sym- 
pathy with his fellow-men, his purpose to live for their good, 
and all that fidelity in service which was so characteristic of 
him. 

In the sermon to which I have already referred he affirms, 
" One thing I am well assured of, — that every year has enlarged 
my sense of the profound truth and value of the doctrines of 
the gospel, — the pre-eminently evangelical doctrines, — espe- 
cially of the strength and comprehensiveness of the central 
doctrine, eternal life through the atoning blood op 
the Lamb of God, by repentance and faith in his name." 
The September before he died he wrote thus : " I do not sup- 
pose that our spiritual estate is measured precisely by our 
personal consciousness. God is judge, and will not only do 
justly but will show mercy. That is our true basis, — not our 
consciousness concerning ourselves, but God's merciful judg- 
ment of us. Under that, if anywhere, we are safe." 

Of the long illness which marked the closing years of his 
earthly life it is fitting that something should be said, and I 
can best do this in the language f one w ho watched over him 
with untiring assiduity and devotion, and to whom for many 
years he had been " not only father but almost mother " : — 

"On the 29th of Mirch, 1871, he went to see one of our neighbors who 
had just lost a child. As he rang the bell his hand slipped from the bell- 
puller, and he lost his balance, but by a great effort he saved himself from 
falling. He went down from one step to another, and came with a sort of 
twist on to the grass at the side of the walk, straining his back. He went 
to Wednesday-evening meeting, and was out all the next day as usual, 
though not feeling quite well. In the evening he attended a sociable at 
our chapel, and probably took cold. He was sick all night, but let no one 
know it, got up as usual and made the furnace fire, but was obliged to go 
back to bed at once. He objected to using some remedies as proposed, 
because they would prevent his attending the funeral of the child I spoke 
of, that day, and not till he was convinced that he could not go, would 
he give up and let us do what we wished. This was the beginning of his 
seven years of lameness and pain. The injury to the spine was more than 
was at first supposed, and probably roused and increased trouble in a spot 
where he had suffered from a fall years before, though that had never 
made him lame or given him serious trouble. A few weeks after this fall 




26 

the sciatic nerve becaire affected, and he left home, the parish giving him 
a vacation of three months. He gained a little, I think, while away, and 
after recovering from a severe carbuncle in September, he thought himself 
on the way back to health and work. He preached through October, and I 
never remember his being in better spirits when at work. He was encour- 
aged, and the very fact that he had gone back to his * loved employ ' 
seemed to give him a new inspiration. On the 2d of November he had a 
sudden and very severe attack of sciatica, which rendered him entirely 
helpless for the time. You know a little of the months of pain which fol- 
lowed ; after this he never walked without crutches, except a little in the 
house. He did not go up stairs from his study, where he was taken, for 
ten months. In the spring came the conflict connected with giving up his 
active ministry. I think no trial, since I can remember, has equalled it to 
him, except my mother's death. In June, 1872, the care of the pulpit was 
wholly given up to the parish, and all claim for support relinquished, 
though the parish gave him a 'gratuity' every year while he lived. As 
you know, he was never dismissed, and he worked as he could for his 
flock to the last, with love and prayers when he could not in any other 
way. . . . His last service in the church was a prayer on the 6th of Octo- 
ber, 1877. For twenty-five minutes he stood there, pouring out his soul as if 
he knew it was the last time, for his people, for the ministry, for the spread 
of the gospel through the world (it was the Sunday after the meeting of 
the Board, at Providence), till the strain of supplication and thanksgiving 
seemed almost inspired. It seemed to me wonderful, and I found I was 
not alone in my feeling. I think he had no idea of the length of it, for he 
never spoke of it afterwards. . . . One of his greatest trials in his years 
of lameness was that his flock were so much without a shepherd, and after 
it was decided that Mr. M. was to come he said, with emphasis, * It is 
an unspeakable comfort to me that my people are to have a shepherd 
once more.' He lived to see the reality. Our feeling about his dying on 

Sunday morning was sweetly expressed by little Harry W , i It *s the 

best day.' " 

The words Dr. Sweetser wrote for the monument which 
marks the grave of Prof. Stuart were doubtless fulfilled for 
himself : — 

" The Word which he loved in life 
Was his light in death. 
He now sees face to face." 

And the closing sentence of one of his printed sermons is a 
just epitome of his character : " True goodness is a power, an 
act, a life. It is a man in earnest for obedience, for righteous- 
ness. It is a prolonged and glowing effort to live benevolently 
and truly, and to gain at last the portion and blessedness of 
the friends of God in heaven." 



27 

The following is a list of Dr. Sweetser's publications, so far 
as known : — 

Report of the Board of Overseers of the Schools in the Centre District 
of Worcester, submitting a Plan of Reorganization, Jan. 6, 1844. 

Living to do Good. A Sermon occasioned by the Death of the Hon. 
Daniel Waldo. Preached on Sunday, July 13, 1845, by the Pastor of 
the Centre Church, Worcester. 

A Sermon preached on the day of the Annual Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, 1846. 

The Harmony of Faith and Works. A Sermon preached in the Central 
Church, Worcester, March 23, 1851, the Sunday after the Decease of 
Miss Sarah Waldo. By S. Sweetser. 

Rev. Mr. Sweetser's Discourse before the American Education Society, 
May, 1858. 

The Strength of the Battle. A Discourse delivered in the Central Church, 
Worcester, on the occasion of the National Fast, Thursday, Sept. 26, 
1861, by the Pastor of the Church. 

A Sermon preached to the Central Church and Congregation, in Worces- 
ter, on the Sunday following the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Settle- 
ment of their Pastor, December, 1863. 

A Commemorative Discourse on the Death of Abraham Lincoln. By Seth 
Sweetser, Pastor of the Central Church. Preached April 23, 1865. 

Three Sermons in the " Home Missionary." May, 1864 c Spirit and Duty 
of Christian Patriots. January, 1867 : The Future of our Country. 
April, 1875: Giving and Receiving. 

Report of the Council of the American Antiquarian Society, April 28, 1869. 

Sermon in '• Congregationalist " of July 29, 1869. 

Sermon in Worcester " Evening Gazette," Oct. 30, 1869. 

The Progress of Truth dependent upon Correct Interpretation. A Dis- 
course delivered before the Convention of Congregational Ministers, 
Boston, May, 1868. Reprinted from the Bib. Sacra for January, 1870. 

Commencement Address at the Worcester County Free Institute of Indus- 
trial Science. July 30, 1873. 

The Ministry We Need. Amer. Tract Society, Boston, 1873. 

Articles in the Bibliotheca Sacra. 

Short Articles in Newspapers upon various subjects, and Sabbath-School 
Cards. 



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