Samuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) Worcester.

A discourse, delivered on the first centennial anniversary of the Tabernacle church, Salem, Mass., April 26, 1835 online

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Online LibrarySamuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) WorcesterA discourse, delivered on the first centennial anniversary of the Tabernacle church, Salem, Mass., April 26, 1835 → online text (page 4 of 6)
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to terms, by the aid of an Ex-Parte Council. Failing in this measure, they referred
their grievance to the Second Church in Boston. All the subsequent proceedings
were in strict accordance with Congregational rules.

" The Cambridge Platform, (Chap. XV,) in enumerating the methods of com-
munion among churches, mentions as the third, the dispensing of admonition ;
declaring not only the existence of the power, but the particular forms, according
to which it is to be exercised. ' A way, then, of communion of churches is by
way of admonition ; to wit, in case any public offence be found in a church, which
they either discern not, or are slow in proceeding to use the means for the remov-
ing and healing of.

" ' Paul had no authority over Peter, yet when he saw Peter not walking with a
right foot, he publicly rebuked him before the church, Gal. 2 : 11 — 14. Though
churches have no more authority, one over another, than one apostle had over ano-
ther, so may one church admonish another, and yet without usurpation.

" ' In which case, if the church, that lieth under offence, do not hearken to the
church, that doth admonish her, the church is to acquaint other neighboring churches
with that offence, which the offending church still lieth under, together with the
neglect of their brotherly admonition given unto them. Whereupon those other
churches are to join in seconding the admonition formerly given. And, if still the
offending church continue in obstinacy and impenitency, they may forbear com-
munion with them, and are to proceed to make use of the help of a s}'nod or coun-
cil of neighbor churches walking orderly, (if a greater cannot be conveniently had,)
for their conviction.

" ' If they hear not the synod, the synod, having declared them to be obstinate,
particular churches, accepting and approving of the judgment of the synod, are to
declare the sentence of non-communion respectively concerning them. And there-
upon, out of religious care to keep their own communion pure, they may justly
withdraw themselves from participation with them at the Lord's table, and from
such other acts of holy communion, as the communion of churches doth otherwise
allow and require.' "—Upham's Ratio Discipline, p. 207.

D. Page 10.

Dec. 8, 1735. A Committee of the Legislature visit Salem and hold a session of
three days in the Town House, concerning the new meeting-house, which Mr. Fisk's
supporters had begun for him. The Committee find that the frame was placed only
twelve perches and eleven feet from the First Parish meeting-house ; and their report,
presented Jan. 1, and accepted, requires that the meeting-house of Mr. F.'s friends
shall not stand nearer to the other than forty perches. — Felt's Annals, SfC. p. 411.

E. Page 12.

Oct. 23, 1745. Elders and delegates from the following Churches meet and form
themselves into a Council for ordaining Mr. Leavitt; 2d of Boston, 1st of Glouces-
ter, Kittery, 1st of Reading, Maiden, and Topsfield. This Council ordained Mr.
L. the next day, though Mr. Fisk and several of the brethren objected. So great
was the disturbance qii this occasion, that one of the Council desiredsilence. Some
justices belonging to the town, ordered a sheriff to stop him ; which he did in so un-
civil a manner, as to force him from the pulpit. Tradition says that Mr. L. was or-
dained in Mr. Kitchen's garden.


Mr. L.'s church had been some discommoded by the sentence of non-communion
against them. As a specimen in which such non-communion was commenced and
retracted, the following- is given. " March 12, 1735. Then the First Church in
Gloucester met by adjournment and voted — 1st, That they concurred with the
Grand Council met at Salem from time to time ; 2d, and passed the sentence of
non-communion with the First Church in Salem. And it was done deliberately,
and with a great deal of awfulness and solemnity. At a Church meeting, 1745,
upon an humble confession of the First Church in Salem, the First Church in Glou-
cester released her from the sentence of non-communion, and assisted in the ordi-
nation of Mr. Dudley Leavitt at their request." Churches in Boston and other
towns passed similar votes.

Dec. 23d. The Confederate Church vote to commune with the members of Mr
Leavitt's Church, who had been admitted by Mr. Fisk since the separation ; — to
commune with those who adhered to Mr. F. at the separation, if they confess their
fault for not using proper means of reconciliation ; — to have a committee write and
desire Churches, who had passed sentence of non-communion against the First
Church, to withdraw such sentence. — Felt's Annals, 8?c. p. 430.

I am indebted to a friend for the following extract from a Journal of the Rev.
Thomas Smith, of Portland, then Falmouth ; dated Nov. 28, 1745. " Mr. Leavitt
was ordained at Salem with vast disturbance."

In the Boston Evening Post, for Sept. 19, 1763, is a long communication from
Timothy Pickering, father of the late Timothy Pickering. He was one of the ad-
herents of Mr. Fisk, and was for many years an elder in the Church. In narrating
the difficulties and grievances, which he and his brethren had experienced, he thus
speaks of the " disturbance" at the ordination of Mr. Leavitt. " When Mr. L. was
ordained, a number of our adversaries, some of them Justices and members of Mr.
Barnard's Church, came into our meeting-house, and made a great disturbance,
talking and menacing, and when one of the ministers desired silence, and was go-
ing to begin the Exercises, one of the Justices told the Sheriff to stop him. Ac-
cordingly he threw his hat in his face, drove the minister out of the pulpit," &c.

F. Page 12.

The existing Records of the Church commenced at the time, when the Rev. Mr.
Fisk formally requested an Assistant in the ministry. The brethren of the Church
assembled at the house of Mr. Samuel Ruck, and proceeded to consider the Pas-
tor's request, after having appointed Dea. James Ruck, Moderator, and Timothy
Pickering, Scribe. The first entry upon the Records begins as follows : — " At a
meeting of the Brethren of the First Church of Christ in Salem, at the Desire of the
Pastor, the Rev. Mr. Samuel Fisk, at the Dwelling House of Mr. Samuel Ruck,
one of the Brethren of said Church, on Monday, Feb. the 20th, A. D. 1743— Duly
warned," etc.

It should be mentioned, that, as until 1752 the year began on the 25th of March,
the date 1743 of the Records should be 1744, in order to correspond with our pre-
sent method of computing time from the 1st of January.

Church Meetings were simply meetings for business, until the time of the Rev.
Mr. Spaulding. They were then held weekly ; and most of the time was spent in
prayer and other exercises for spiritual improvement. The Sisters of the Church
were also now permitted and expected to be present. Ever since the ministry of
Mr. S., the Church Meetings have been held in the same manner and for the same


G. Page 12.

In confirmation of this statement, suffice it to refer to the fact, that, in 1752, Dr.
Watts' Psalms and Hj'mns were introduced into the services of public worship, by
vote of the Church.

H. Page 12.

The following is the Letter of this Church to the Church then under the care of
the Rev. Mr. Barnard.

Brethren — As the comfort and edification of Christians undoubtedly depends
very much on keeping the unity of the Spirit, which is the bonds of peace ; a spirit
of discord and animosity must be directly contrary to the true interest of religion;

And whereas such a spirit, has too apparently reigned for a long time among us,
to the great detriment of religion, and which has rendered us in a manner infamous,
(though of late, we hope it has in some good measure subsided,) and especially as
our difference is about temporal things, which makes it still more shameful ;

We do hereby manifest our sincere desire of coming to an amicable accommo-
dation ; that all differences and disputes being settled between us, fellowship and
communion may take the place of animosity and alienation, which we pray God
may no more be heard of among us.

As to terms, our differences and disputes being about the name and estate of the
First Church, we are willing to leave it to the decision of indifferent men, that may
be mutually chosen among us ; by whose determination we will abide satisfied.

But as this will necessarily bring things to mind, that had better be forgotten ; if
you should think it more proper to make any proposals in order for settling our af-
fairs privately between ourselves, we will receive and consider such proposals, and
if found reasonable, comply therewith; and indeed should prefer this method as
most condusive to peace and good will. We trust you will comply with this, our
reasonable request, and desire you would give us an answer, that we may know
your minds in this affair as soon as you conveniently can.

And now our name being one thing in dispute, we will at present call ourselves by
no other name than the Church of which the Rev, Dudley Leavitt was late Pastor.
Signed by desire of the Church,


Salem, May 6th, 1762. BENJAMIN ROPES.

To Rev. Mr. Barnard, to be communicated.

I. Page 14.

To the Brethren of the Third Church in Salem,

Brethren — Messrs. Procter and Pickering, two of j'our members, have com-
municated your vote of the 25th inst, signifying that it will be very agreeable to
you and that you desire we would be present as friends to you, and the common
cause of Religion at your lecture to-morrow ; when all the Instalment of Dr. Whi-
taker which is designed will be performed.

It is with regret we decline complying with any request of our Christian breth-
ren ; but in this transaction you design something so unusual among our Churches,
and so unfriendly to our Ecclesiastical Constitution, that we think we shall rather
show ourselves " friends to you and the common cause of Religion," in absenting
ourselves at a time when our presence would be construed an approbation of such


Our worthy and pious ancestors of this Province esteemed the Congregational
plan of Church polity most agreeable to the Gospel and most favorable to the reli-
gious liberties and rights of individuals and societies. The First Church in Salem
(and in the Province) from which we all descended, did formerly from time to time
solemnly renew their original covenant, and professed their adherence to Con-
gregational principles, and particularly that they will no way slight their sister
churches ; but use their counsel as need shall be.

Now it has been the constant usage of these Churches from the beginning to ask
the presence of sister churches in the settlement of pastors whether at their first
ordination or instalment, and that for such obvious reasons, among others as fol-
lows, to testify their union and charily — to derive mutual help and strength from
each other — to be so satisfied of the qualifications of pastors, as to embrace them
in their public characters, and open their doors to them in all occasional acts of
their ministry, and thereby maintain that friendly correspondence and communiou
which is so beneficial to the common cause of religion.

It is a maxim of prudence not to deviate from established customs but for weighty
reasons. Your departing therefore from the practice of these churches into a mode
savoring of independency will we fear be found inconvenient to yourselves in con-
sequence ; and any act of ours showing an approbation of it, may so far as our
small influence reaches, be hurtful to the communion of churches, give umbrage to
our own churches in particular, and bring us under blame from those who wish well
to our ecclesiastical state.

We cannot but wish therefore that you would reconsider your proceedings, and
shew the usual respect to neighbor churches walking in the order of the Gospel, and
desire their presence and counsel in your intended instalment.

But if you think it best to proceed in this singular and novel manner, yet God
forbid, that we should cease to pray for your peace, and that pure religion and un-
dented may flourish among you ; and your intended Pastor be an instrument of
greatly promoting these happy interests.

We remain your brethren in truth and fellowship of the gospel,


The foregoing is extracted from a copy in the Church Records, which is in the
hand-writing and with the attest of Dr. Whitaker. Accompanying the copy is a
marginal note from the same pen. " N. B. The Wednesday after the instalment,
the Rev. Mr. Barnard invited Dr. Whitaker to preach, and scon after the Rev. Mr.
Dimond did the same ; and both have preached for the Doctor, and have prayed
for him as the Pastor of this Church."

J. Page 15.

The late Hon. Timothy Pickering was undoubtedly the writer of the Letter which
follows. He was the individual who officiated in behalf of the Church and Socie-
ty, when Dr. W. was inducted into his office.

To the Rev. Dr. Whitaker,

SiR' — Some proposals in your hand-writing are presented to us the aggrieved
brethren of your Church, which seem to import an intentional remedy, or palliate
the mischiefs which we think are and will be occasioned by the plan of government,
you with fair words and goodly speeches persuaded us to adopt ; but unhappily
they only seem to do this. For not to remark upon the absurdity of your making


two churches of one, which is nevertheless to continue to be but one ; what will
signify the ordinary acts of the brotherhood, if the ordinary executive officer refuses
to execute them 1

And by your proposals you are to be at liberty to do this or not as you think best.
In what does this differ from an effectual negative ? Judge, Doctor, so much arti-
fice appears in these proposals, we cannot but consider them a fresh attempt to
impose on our too credulous simplicity.

At the time we accepted your plan of Church Government, we must by our vote
have thought ourselves at liberty to alter it if found mischievous or inconsistent.
The reservation in that vote, must otherwise be most trifling and impertinent.

But Doctor, if your proposals above mentioned, to us appeared candid and in-
genuous ; if they contained any valuable concessions ; nay, if you were to consent
to erase from its very foundations, your whole system of church government 5 what
would it avail 1 Would the proud, the arrogant, the haughty man, hereby be ren-
dered humble ? or the violent and overbearing be inspired with the mild and gentle
spirit of the Gospel ? and all the difficulties in your Church and Society be re-
moved ?

Nevertheless, we would not refuse to reform one because we cannot reform eve-
ry evil. And your church government we account a great one ; and the more
grievous, because we think you have essentially departed from the spirit of it, and
your professed intention in setting it up. We therefore earnestly desire to have it
totally demolished ; and that this Church may return and rest upon the solid basis
of pure and unmixed Congregationalism.

We are, Rev. Sir, your aggrieved brethren,

Signed, Adison Richardson, Stephen Abbot, Benjamin Ropes,

James Nichols, John Waters, John Saunders,

Timothy Pickering, jr. Thorndike Procter, Samuel Very,
Robert Peele, Samuel Symonds, John Gardner.

Daniel Cheever, Thomas Needham,

November 18th, 1773.

K. Page 16.

" It was clandestine, if there was no regular act of the church for it, but only the
petition to the Pastor, signed by twenty-one particular persons, (several of which
say, they never were members of the Third Church in Salem, but were urged to
sign it by the Doctor;) and if their signing it was neither in an open church meet-
sng, nor in consequence of a church vote, passed in a regular church meeting, au-
thorizing them to do it ; nor in any sense by the church as an organic body ; but
separately and severally, by one here and another there, as the Doctor's words im-
ply, viz : ' I do not remember / ever shewed it to any, except two, who signed it
freely/ and in the Doctor's kitchen, (while a church meeting was held in his sitting
room,) one by one going in and signing it, and returning, while some of the mem-
bers present were entirely ignorant that they were signing the petition in the
kitchen. And if this signing the petition was carried on so privately, that the four-
teen brethren knew nothing of it till the church meeting to offer objections to the
motion, which, the Doctor says, was ' almost six months after the date of the ad-
dress,' then the method was clandestine. Some of the fourteen brethren tell me,
they can testify, that they knew nothing of the petition and its being signed, nor of
the design to apply to the Presbytery, till the Doctor announced it at his church
meeting on the Friday and on the Sabbath before the Presbytery was to set at
Palmer, and where the objectors were to appear to prosecute their objections."


At a Proprietors' Meeting, warned by authority, to meet on October 17th, 1774,
the two following votes were passed.

Vote 3. It was put, Whether they approve of the late innovation of a Presby-
terian government ? And carried in the negative unanimously.

Voted 4. It was put to vote, Whether they approved of the Rev. Dr. Whita-
ker's manner of making the late innovation ? And it was carried in the negative

Test, BENJ. ROPES, Proprietors' Clerk.

See a Pamphlet entitled : " The Rev. Dr. N. Whitaker's Neighbor is come, and
searcheth him : or a Brief Defence of the late Council's Result, &c, by John
Cleaveland, A. M, A member of said Council. Salem, 1784."

L. Page 16.

The North Church, or the Church now under the pastoral care of the Rev. John
Brazer, was formed in 1772. This Church then is the Fourth Congregational
Church. The South Church is of course, the Fifth, in order of time. The Coun-
cil, however, which organized the South Church, gave it the name of the Third
Church ; because the Third Church was then regarded as Presbyterian and not

M. Page 18.

I here allude to John Punchard, Esq., an elder and one of the oldest members of
the Church. He made a public profession of religion at the Tabernacle in 1783 :
and participated in all the movements which immediately preceded Dr. Whitaker's
dismission. From July 8, 1793, to July 8, 1833, he very faithfully discharged the
office of Clerk of the Church. In this period of forty years, his office was no sine-
cure. The Records of the Church bear witness to great labor, diligence, and ac-
curacy on the part of their Clerk. Having been for fifty years most intimately and
actively acquainted with their history ; being in possession of many facts which
they deemed worthy of preservation 3 and enjoying their entire confidence in re-
spect to his private worth and his ability to perform the service ; he was unani-
mously and urgently desired to prepare a Memoir of the Church. This work he
undertook and executed in 1833. It occupies 133 full manuscript (4to) pages ; be-
side a valuable Appendix of about 50 pages. When it was completed, it was read
to the Church, at successive meetings, and was heard with profound interest and
satisfaction. A copy of it, in a very neat style of eirirography, was deposited by
the Author among the Documents of the Church.

N. Page 19.

Extract from the Result.—" At an adjournment, the 24th inst., we were so un-
happy as to find, that Dr. Whitaker had taken no measures to remove the difficul-
ties subsisting between him and the Church and Society over which he had presid-
ed ; but on the contrary, under his hand explicitly resigned his pastoral relation to
them, yea absolutely denied that he ever was a Pastor over them as a Congrega-
tional Church, and declared that he never will be the Pastor of a Church of that de-
scription ; and the Church on their part declared before the Council, that they can-
not receive Dr. N. Whitaker as their Pastor :—

Therefore, resolved, That it is the opinion of this Council that the pastoral rela-
tion, which they have heretofore mutually acknowledged, is now as mutually dis-
solved by them.


Resolved, therefore, That the acknowledged pastoral relation is^ Ipso Facto, dis-
solved 5 and they think it is their duty to declare, that Doctor Nathaniel Whitaker
is no longer the Pastor of the Church and Society usually meeting in the Tabernacle.

That since Doctor Whitaker has absolutely and in the most peremptory terms
refused to submit his cause to this Council or any Judicatory mutually chosen be-
tween him and the aggrieved brethren of the Church, even though one half should
consist of Presbyterians ; we were constrained to take a general review of the Doc-
tor's character and conduct since his settlement in Salem ; and upon such view,
the Council do declare that in their opinion he has forfeited his character as a min-
ister of the Gospel of Christ, and therefore ought to be suspended from the exercise
of his office.

We cannot conclude without expressing with a very painful sense, the unhappy
breach that has been made between Doctor Whitaker and the people of his charge ;
nor can we help expressing our surprise, that a gentleman of such ministerial accom-
plishments, should appear so deaf to the cries of his brethren, and so insensible of
the deep wounds which a conduct like his must give, not only to his own character
and usefulness, but to the ministry in general, and to the cause and interest of the
Redeemer. * * * * And as for our brethren in whose service we
have spent so much time, we exhort them to prize and improve those blessings and
immunities they claim for themselves, and which they and we apprehend they may
enjoy under the Congregational form of government. We earnestly enjoin it upon
them to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free, and not to
be entangled with the yoke of bondage. Brethren, you are called to liberty 5 only
use not your liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Fi-
nally, brethren, farewell, be perfect, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of
love and peace shall be with you.

Library Chamber, February 26th, 1784.

Eli Forbes, Scribe. JOSEPH ROBIE, Moderator."

0. Page 20.

1784. Salem Presbytery at Groton, June I lth, justify Dr. W. ; decide that his
relation to his Church shall be dissolved when his Society shall have paid him his
clue, and withdraw fellowship from his Church. The Presbytery say, Sept. 9th,
that they cited the twenty brethren of Dr. W.'s Church to appear before them, to
prove their charges against him, and show cause why they should not be cut ofF
from the Presbytery ; but that these brethren had done neither. The Presbytery
renew their excommunication of Dr. W.'s Church, and their recommendation of
him. — Felt's Annals, fyc, p. 520.

P. Page 21.

Dea. Wm. SafTord. — To raise $1100, which was awarded by the Referees to
Dr. W., he made a forced sale of stocks at 5s 3d on the £, for a large part of the
amount. The Proprietors of the Tabernacle were not aware of being at all in-
debted to the Pastor, until the award was given. And when the)' were called to
make payment, it was almost impossible to obtain even very small sums of money,
and upon the very best securities.

Q. Page 22.

It ought here to be stated, that the relative value of money was at that time
much greater than it is now.

R. Page 23.

The " Half-Way Covenant" required of those who assented to it, that they
should be strict in the duties of morality.

" The plan, briefly stated, was this :— All persons, who had been baptized in in-
fancy, or at some subsequent period, and who sustained a good moral character,
were admitted, on requesting it, to a Covenant. And on condition of their assum-
ing such covenant, their infants and young children were admitted to baptism,
although neither of the parents had been members of the church in full communion.
The covenant, which they assented to, was not in the same terms in all churches,
although of similar import."— Upham's Ratio Disciplines, p. 221.

S. Page 32.

He died, and was buried at Brainerd, one of the " stations" of the American
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, among the Cherokees. He left
home in January, 1821, upon a voyage to New Orleans, and a visit to the Indian
Missionary establishments, in hope of thereby recruiting his health.

T. Page 37.

Among the principles and rules of this Church, those which relate to the choice
and settlement of a Pastor, may be interesting to some, into whose hands this Dis-

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Online LibrarySamuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) WorcesterA discourse, delivered on the first centennial anniversary of the Tabernacle church, Salem, Mass., April 26, 1835 → online text (page 4 of 6)