Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: Mr. Thayer's Death

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Mr. Thayer's Death

From this time, nothing occurred, so far as is known, to interrupt the harmony between pastor and people, till the close of his ministry, which terminated only with his life. His death occurred in the early part of autumn, in the year 1792, and was very sudden. On the first Sabbath in September, he performed the usual public religious services. The next day he made several pastoral calls, being then in his usual health. On Wednesday evening between ten and eleven o'clock, he was seized with a violent pain in his stomach. A physician was immediately called, but no relief was afforded, and when the sun rose on Thursday morning, September 6th, he lay in the agonies of death, and a few minutes afterward expired. The tidings spread rapidly through the town, and fell heavily on the ears and the hearts of his stricken people, many of whom, only four days before, had listened to his teachings from the sacred desk. An event so solemn, so sudden and unexpected, could not fail to cast an air of gloom and sadness over the whole community; but how much would that gloom have been deepened, if the veil that hides the future had been withdrawn, and the people had foreseen the divisions and contentions that soon after they experienced.

The funeral obsequies were performed on Saturday, the 8th, and were attended by a large concourse of people. Neighboring clergymen served as pallbearers. Rev. Samuel Webster, D.D., of Salisbury, preached the funeral sermon, from Psalm XII : 1. "Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men." Two appropriate discourses were also delivered the next Sabbath, by Rev. Samuel Langdon, D.D., of Hampton Falls, from Matthew XXIV, 44—46.

Mr. Thayer's age was about 58 years. His pastoral relation to this people had continued almost twenty-six years. During this time 641 persons had been baptized, and 102 admitted to full communion with the church.

For several Sabbaths after his death, the pulpit, as was then customary in such cases, was supplied by neighboring clergymen, for the benefit of the widow. The town also, besides paying the funeral expenses, appropriated £30 for her use, and allowed her, though without any formal vote, to occupy the parsonage-house several years without paying rent.

Mr. Thayer's sentiments on some points of doctrine differed somewhat from those of many of his ministerial brethren. His orthodoxy was less rigid; but his life was as much above reproach as that of any man. Amiable in his disposition, upright and honest in his dealings, affable and courteous in his intercourse with others, he was greatly beloved by the people of his charge. Five years after his death, his successor in office, addressing those who had been under his ministry, said of him: "The affection with which his name is mentioned, and the tears which do annually drop over his grave, are the surest testimony of your attachment, and of his virtues." The following inscription is on his gravestone in the old burying-ground.

"In memory of the
Reverend Ebenezer Thayer

who for nearly twenty-six years dispensed the bread of life to the society in this place; and on September 6th, 1792, fell asleep in Jesus, supported by the Christian hope of a resurrection to eternal life: ae. 58.

While o'er this modest stone religion weeps,
Beneath, an humble, cheerful Christian sleeps,
Sober, learn'd, prudent, free from care and strife,
He filled the useful offices of life;
Admir'd, endear'd, as Husband, Father, Friend,
Peace bless'd his days, and innocence his end;
Blameless throughout, his worth by all approv'd,
True to his charge, and by his people lov'd,
He liv'd to make his hearers' faith abound,
And died, that his own virtues might be crown'd."

Mrs. Thayer survived her husband some years, and died in Boston, in 1809; "leaving that good name, which is better than precious ointment." [See Genealogies -- Thayer.]

Mr. Thayer's best cane, given to "the senior deacon," descended to. Dea. John Lamprey, and is now owned by Dea. Lamprey great granddaughter, Mrs. George W. Mace; his "every day cane" is still treasured as a relic, having lately passed into the possession of Dea. James Perkins. Both are of extraordinary length.

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