Samuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) Worcester.

New England's glory and crown : a discourse delivered at Plymouth, Mass., December 22, 1848 online

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Online LibrarySamuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) WorcesterNew England's glory and crown : a discourse delivered at Plymouth, Mass., December 22, 1848 → online text (page 1 of 5)
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Hlfei lEElIfflEl'^ ffilocg ail ®E®ferl»



DECEMBER 22, 1848.


Pastor of the Taternacle CliuTcli, Salem.



1849. -A





children's children are the crown of old men, and the glory of
children are their fathers.

In respect to human happiness and glory, there is a
remarkable difference between the words of the " holy
men who of old spake as they were moved by the Holy
Ghost," and those of other men generally, whatever their
land or their language. Other men speak of happiness,
without any reference to " joy in God," or " delight in
his law " ; and of glory, when the Most High, who only
is " great," " wonderful in counsel and excellent in work-
ing," "is not in all their thoughts" of greatness, of wis-
dom, and of excellency. But they, who, " at sundry
times and in divers manners," have spoken of happiness
and glory, in the name of the "Father of lights" and " the
God of comfort," always speak of happiness, as but " the
pleasure of sin/' and oi glory, as but "a vain show " and
a fatal delusion, unless the " soul doth magnify the Lord,"
and the "spirit rejoice in God" the "Saviour."

It is, therefore, undoubtedly to be understood, that the
" old men " who would find the " crown " of their earthly
satisfactions and hopes in " children's children," were
those pre-eminently, who had feared the Lord from their
youth, and whose " hoary head was a crown of glory,"

because "found in the way of righteousness." And while
the ancient people of God accounted a numerous family
and posterity a very special and signal favor, it was
one of the most dreadful of all bitter experiences, to have
sons and daughters, whose vicious and impious conduct
would bring down their " grey hairs with sorrow to the
grave." Hence "children's children " could never be the
"crown " of the "old men," whom God would "not cast
off in their old age," — unless they " walked in the stat-
utes and ordinances of the law of the Lord," and gave
promise of transmitting the legacy of a godly example to
their own "children's children."

" A man's descendants," says one of our wisest com-
mentators, "ought to be his honor and comfort in old age.
His children should be educated in such a manner, as may
warrant a confidence that their pious and prudent conduct
will render them such, and that they will train up their
families in like manner ; and it is the duty of children,
and children's children, to consult the credit of their pro-
genitors, as far as it can be made consistent with superior
obligations. Parents also should act in such a manner,
that their children and posterity may be respected for
their sakes, and have cause to rejoice in their relation to
persons of such piety and wisdom. And thus it will be,
in proportion as men attend to the dictates of heavenly

In this free exposition of the spirit of the significant
and beautiful language of the text, we have, as I con-
ceive, a just and very interesting view of the relation of
children to parents, and of posterity to their ancestors.
Natural talents and dispositions are very far from being
always hereditary. Yet we often perceive as marked a
likeness of intellectual endowments and original elements
of character, between a parent and his offspring, and
between progenitors and their progeny, as we ever see of
correspondence and resemblance in the features of coun-

tenance, which unequivocally proclaim kindred blood and
a common lineage. And while " that which is born of
the Spirit, is spirit," by a divine and not a human genera-
tion, we are so instructed by the " words which the Holy
Ghost teacheth," and by the history of Providence, in
respect to the covenant with Abraham, comprehending all
believers in Christ among the Gentiles as well as the
Jews, — that it should be accounted no strange thing, but
a delightful fulfilment of the promises, if children, in
this our beloved New England, should be found partakers
of the richest of all the blessings of a God of love. And
this too by their relation, not merely to parents, friends
and benefactors whom they have seen and known, but to
those fore-fathers and fore-mothers, who, for our sakes,
and for God's purposes, endured so much, and who have
long since been translated from the duties, responsibilities,
and trials of earth to a glorified immortality in heav«ti.

The nations of this Western hemisphere and of the
Old world, are now a spectacle of extraordinary interest
to every intelligent and reflecting man in this country.
We have hopes or fears, or hopes a?id fears, for our own,
and for other lands. These are difierent in different indi-
viduals, but in all aro materially aifected by personal
religious principles and opinions. We may be unanimous
in believing and proclaiming our own, our " native land,
of every land the pride," while yet we may widely
differ, when we trace our distinction as a people, to its
real origin or source, through all the connected agencies,
circumstances, and influences. And as we judge of our
own land, in its early history and its present and pros-
pective condition, so are we likely to judge of the state
and prospects of those kingdoms or republics, which are
now as " raging waves of the sea ; " and so are we likely
to determine what may be our duty, as a nation, or as
individuals, at this eventful conjuncture of the world's

In general terms, we refer to our ancestors and to the
institutions which the Pilgrims and the Fathers of New
England have founded and cherished, when we would
explain the peculiar characteristics of their descendants,
and rationally account for the manifold and unequalled
excellency of "our goodly heritage." Some will make
this reference, but with very large reservations, if not
very significant and somewhat inconsistent qualifications.
There are those who will " garnish the sepulchres " of
the " Pilgrims " of Plymouth Rock, and the " Fathers " *
their associates of Salem, Charlestown, Boston, and other
primitive settlements ; while they are slow to recognize
the true secret of the moral worth, and energy, and
endurance, by which those godly sires achieved their
noble deeds and won their renowned conquests and
possessions. There are theorists and dreamers, who
would have all forsake " the old paths," and enter upon
one or another individual or social experiment, in full
confidence of a progress and happiness, which no received
form of Christianity can ever secure or promote. On the
other hand, we have those, and I bless God that the
number is not small, who are more and more persuaded,
that it was the distinctive faith, and the life inspired by
that faith, of our ancestors, to which, under the watchful
and beneficent care of their covenant God, we are now
indebted for all that makes the difference between New
England and New Grenada, or between Massachusetts
and Mexico. It is believed also, with all the confidence
of a self-evident certainty, that to the same causes we
are to ascribe the marvellous contrast of the American
Revolution to the first revolution in France, and to all
the other revolutions which have followed, on either side
of the Atlantic.

If we diff'er in regard to the leading and legitimate

* Those who came to Plymouth are properly called " The Pilgrims " ; —
because they had previously sojourned in Holland.

causes, which, working out their effects in past genera-
tions, have crowned the present with its chief blessing
and glory, we shall of course differ in our judgment of
the best means and aims, for the highest good of the
generations which shall come after us. In our amazing
increase of territory and population, we have some start-
ling questions to be settled, in respect to which we must
act in our political capacity, as citizens. But it is to me
a great comfort to know, that there is a Power and
Wisdom above all mortal power and policy ; and that
whatever rulers or statesmen may decree, or may strive to
accomplish. He who says to the ocean billows — " Thus
far but no farther," — will, in his faithfulness and loving
kindness, and in his own sovereign right and appointed
time, extend the dominion of truth and holiness ; and
will multiply, by thousands of thousands, the freemkn,
who can shout the triumphs and rejoice in the felicities
of " the glorious liberty of the children of God."

Of all that have ever lived, there have never been any,
upon the broad face of the earth, who more devoutly,
than the "old men," om fathers' fathers, adopted the true
sentiment of the words, that "children's children are the
crown of old men." They are such, be it remembered,
not by their numbers, or wealth, or worldly eminence,
but by serving their generation according to the will of
God; or by cherishing and spreading the institutions
and influences of that kingdom, which is established in
the hearts of the "faithful in Christ Jesus." And the day
is far distant, before any who reverence the memory of
illustrious progenitors, will have more reason than our-
selves, to respond their loud Amen to the words — " And
the glory of children are their fathers ! "

From the character of the Fathers of New England,
and from the history of their children and " children's
children," I propose to show, that, in accordance with the
genuine import of the sacred aphorism of the text, — we


have the most grateful occasion to praise God, both for
the "Glory " and the '' Crown."

For a long period, America was to Christians of Europe
the great field of missionary effort. It is even maintained,
that the inspiring idea of Columbus was derived from the
prophecies ; and that Isabella, his patron, made the con-
version of the heathen an object " paramount to all the
rest." When our fathers came hither, these were all
^^ foreign parts." It was all heathen ground. Long after
their coming, the churches in England were accustomed
to pray in their songs : —

" Dark America convert,
Aiid every pagan land."

And if I do not mistake, these lines are still sung, strange-
ly as they sound to the ear of a New England man who
may chance to hear them. So vast is the change ; so
accustomed are we to our Christian institutions ; that we
are all in danger of forgetting that we live upon the soil
that has been rescued from Paganism. Never, never
should it be forgotten ! And never should it be forgotten,
that the settlement of New England was in reality, though
not in name, a Missionary Enterprise. Or if you please to
call it by other terms, you may call it a Mission of Evan-
gelical Colonization ; and you may proclaim it in every
language, as the sublimest mission of modern times.

The History of New England is yet to be written.
Posterity may, perhaps, do justice to the memory of our
Fathers. But it is incumbent on their living " children's
children " to acquaint themselves with their character,
and never be unmindful of their extraordinary virtues and
achievements. Those persecuted and exiled Puritans had
no such purpose in coming hither, as has often been as-
cribed to them, even by some of their favored descend-
ants. It was not for political immunities, nor republican

institutions. In the " love of Christ constraining " them,
it was for the advancement of that Reformation, which, a
century after it iiad moved all Christendom, was still but
in part accomplished ; for they were not satisfied, that the
" Prince of life " should only be acknowledged by the
church, in his prophetical and priestly offices. It was, that
as "the Lord's freemen," they might give him his kingly
RIGHT, and thus be " complete in him, which is the Head
of all principality and power." It was, that in the "liber-
ty," " wherewith the Sou makes free," they might enjoy
the gospel, without " human mixtures and temptations^- "
and worship in peace, " while worshipping in spirit and in
truth." It was for the holier and surer training of a conse-
crated progeny, at the distance of a " nine hundred league
ocean," from the corruptions of the old world. And not
least of all in their desires and hopes, was the salvation of
the benighted heathen, while in every way which should
be prepared before them, they would toil and pray for the
enlargement of the kingdom of " the Lord of all."*

These were their motives and ends in separating them-
selves from the church of England, which originally
adopted the Reformation from paramount purposes of state
policy. Above all things, it was in their hearts to call no
man master, but to obey Him as their King, whose in-
spired word was their sun, and whose atoning blood was
their eternal life. For this it was, that in the pure and
undying " love of their espousals," they " went after hini
in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown." And in
their own graphic expression, it was indeed in a " wilder-
ness world," that they built their habitations and their
sanctuaries. For an object, holy and sublime as ever
angels celebrated, they lived here in hunger and in cold^
and toiled and watched in weariness and in painfulness ,;
where, when the bullock lowed, the wild beast answered
him ; and where, at the rustling of a leaf, the fond mother

* See Appendix.



clasped her infant closer to her bosom. All the charters
enjoined npon the colonists the doty of instructing and
christianizing the pagan aborigines. The seal of the
Massachusetts colony is a true exponent of the aims and
aspirations of our fathers. In expressive harmony with
their benignant desires, they adopted the figure of an abo-
riginal, with the memorable words of " the man of Mace-
donia." Nothing, therefore, was further from their hearts
than the wish or the thought of colonizing an immense
" howling wilderness," and redeeming it for " a goodly
heritage," at the price of the blood of the children of its
forests and its streams. And if the venerated Robinson
had occasion to write to the Governor of Plymouth, — ' O
that you had converted some, before you had killed any,'
— it was not because these were wantonly destroyed, or
hunted down as " tawny and bloody salvages ; " nor be-
cause their moral ignorance and wretchedness were not a
distinct object of early and intense solicitude. In less
than two years, 1 think it was, one of the Plymouth set-
tlers was specially designated to promote the conversion
of the Indians.

In the labors of several pastors before Eliot and the
first May hew, as well as in the more celebrated exertions
of these devoted evangelists, and in the contributions
and personal sacrifices of those who out of their " deep
poverty " sustained them, the first generation of New
England furnished examples of as self-denying and ex-
alted missionary spirit, as has ever yet found a record or a
memorial in the uninspired annals of redemption. And
to all appearance, we may ourselves hardly expect to see
the day, when " the thousand of thousands " shall become
as "the little one " was, and the "strong nation " as " the
small one," in the all-pervading and ennobling power of
such zeal, for the salvation of the perishing.

The honor of the first plan in England, for sending
missionaries to the heathen, has by mistake been given to


that wonderful man, whose character is now at last re-
ceiving a just and brilliant vindication, against the atro-
cious calumnies, which have prevailed for two centuries.
But the magnificent design of Cromwell, which contem-
plated the establishment of a Council for the Protestant
religion, in opposition to the Jesuitical combination at
Rome, and which was intended to embrace the East and
West Indies, in its fourth department of operation, — was
more than thirty years later, than the manifesto of the
Pilgrims, — declaratory of the "great hope and inward
zeal they had, of laying some good foundation for the
propagation and advancement of the gospel in these re-
mote parts of the world " !

A Society had been formed in England, and collections
had been taken, in aid of the missions of Eliot and his
associates. It is beyond a doubt, that the first settlers of
New England were the first Englishmen^ who devised
and executed a mission to the heathen !

As early as 1646, the Legislature of Massachusetts
passed an act for the propagation of the gospel among the
Indians. From that day onward, more or less of legisla-
tive provision has been made for their religious instruc-
tion, as well as their social comfort. And it may be
remarked in a word, that with all the changes that have
passed over the " fathers " and the "children's children,"
there never has been a time, when they have not fur-
nished some laborers in the heathen part of this western

As it respects the religious faith of the Fathers of New
England, there can be no good reason for any misunder-
standing, mistake, or misstatement. They were Trini-
tarians and Calvinists, intelligently, thoroughly, and most
earnestly. In church government, they were much per-
plexed, in shaping their mould of Congregationalism, so

* See Appendix.


as to be neither Brownists or Independents, nor Presby-
terians. A great and arduous work it was which fash-
ioned and executed the Cambridge Platform of 1648 ; —
according to which, mainly and substantially, we have
the prevailing ecclesiastical polity of New England.

Some turbulent and innovating spirits, like Roger Wil-
liams, bewildered enthusiasts like the antinomian Ann
Hutchinson, and incomprehensible schismatics like the
pestilent Gorton, made no small trouble by their opposi-
tion to the earliest civil and religious order of the Massa-
chusetts Colony.* But out of more than seventy minis-
ters among a population of thirty thousand, there is no
reason to suppose, that there was a single one, who did
not receive the doctrine of the Father, Son, and Holy
Ghost, as one God ; or who did not receive as well as
avow, most openly and decidedly, the fundamental doc-
trines of the present faith of our evangelical Congrega-
tional churches.

It was to a few individuals among the laity, beyond a
doubt, that Edward Johnson refers, who, as early as 1654,
had published the fact, which I here notice, without any
invidious intent, that, besides the Antinondans, Fami-
lists, Confonnitants, and Seekers, " there were Arrians,
Arminians, and Q,uakers."

A most egregious and singular error has been committed
in represeiitii]g the founders of the First Church in Salem,
— the first, as I need not say, in the Massachusetts Colo-
ny, — as having organized themselves, without any Con-
fession of Faith ; and as having had a form of Covenant,
designedly so framed, as to give liberty to all, who might
choose to call themselves Christians, to enter their com-
munion and fellowship. What has been generally print-
ed, for a hundred and fifty years, as the First Covenant of
that Church, and adopted Aug. 6, 1629, is not that Cove"

* See Appendix.


nant. It was adopted as a Special Covenant, in 1636. —
The Covenant of 1629 was a very brief and comprehen-
sive document, by which the signers pledged themselves
to walk together in obedience to the rules of the Gospel ;
while the " Confession of Faith " was as explicit and de-
cided, — Trinitarian and Calvinistic, — as would of course
be expected from men, who would rather have been burnt
at the stake, than have given the least occasion for a
doubt, concerning their interpretation of " the faith once
delivered to the saints."

The error in respect to the Covenant, commonly printed
as the First Covenant in the Massachusetts Colony, — was
discovered a few years ago, during an investigation of the
history of the Tabernacle Church, a Church which origi-
nated in a secession from the First Church, in 1735.
Soon afterwards, a printed copy was found of the Con-
fession and Covenant, for substance, as adopted in Salem,
6th of August, 1629. It is the identical document,
which was printed for the use of the churches, when
they so generally renewed their covenant in 1680 ; and
when the design was, as far as possible, to unite all to-
gether in one common concert of recognition of the doc-
trinal and practical sentiments of the venerable Church, of
which Higginson and Skelton were jointly pastor and
teacher, and of which Endicott, the first Governor of
Massachusetts Colony, was a leading member.

Hugh Peters was the pastor of the First Church, in
Salem, at the time the Covenant was propounded and
adopted, which has so unaccountably passed into so many
" Historical Collections " and discourses, as if that of
1629. The evidence that it was a new covenant, which
was required by the disorders occasioned more especially
by the movements of Roger Williams, is perfectly con-
clusive. And as the very preamble, as well as other iii-
ternal evidence, is so palpably against the idea of its
being the first Covenant, — it would seem to be most ex-


traordinary, that so important an error of history should
have been committed and blindly perpetuated.*

With the doctrines of Arius and Pelagius, of Arminius
and Socinus, and with all the prominent objections to the
Trinitarian and Calvinistic faith, the first pastors and
members of the New England churches were no less, if
not more perfectly acquainted, than at the present day
are pastors and members of the churches generally, which
are built upon the same foundation. — Those early minis-
ters had been educated in the English universities, and
had been called to investigate every article of their reli-
gious belief, — with every advantage which was needed for
a correct judgment.

When in 1648, the ministers of the four Colonies of
Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Haven,
(as the Colonies were then geographically divided and
named,) assembled in the Synod at Cambridge, "their
learning, their holiness, their purity struck all men that
knew them, with admiration. They were Timothies in
their houses, Chrysostoms in their pulpits, and Angus-
tines in their disputations." Such was the witness of
the venerable John Higginson, of the First Church in
Salem, and of William Hubbard of Ipswich, who, at the
time they wrote, near the close of the seventeenth cen-
tury, were the two oldest ministers of New England.

The idea, which some have attempted to disseminate,
— that our fathers lived in a dark age, and would not have
been what they were in their denominational sentiments,
if they had lived at a later period, for example, in our
times, has not the least foundation in history or in reason.
It might just as well be asserted and argued, that they
would have been atheistical transcendentalists or Four-
ierites, as that, in any essential point, they would have
been otherwise than what they were, namely, — avowed

* See Appendix.


and firm believers in the Confession of Faith of the
Westminster Assembly of Divines ! — And it has been
stated as a fact, which speaks whole volumes in few
words, — that, for one hundred and fifty years, such a
wretched creature, such a living monstrosity, as an infidel,
was not known among their children !

How could they have been otherwise than they were,
with their holy reverence for the Scriptures of the Old
and New Testament throughout, as the inspired Word of
God ; as the infallible repository of their faith and the
rules of their life in Christ ; and as the ultimate appeal in
all questions of theology and of morals ? The Bible
they exalted above all things human. They were '* not
ashamed of the Gospel," any more than was Paul. They
"gloried in the cross." They " sanctified the Lord God
in their hearts;" and were "ready always to give an
answer to every man that asked a reason of the hope that
was in " them, " with meekness and fear,"— /ear of God,
not that " fear of man " which " bringeth a snare." They
were honest, as every one must admit, who knows any-
thing of them, — and were most hearty in all which they
professed to believe, in answer to the question, — " What
saith the Scripture ? "

With special allusion to the early ministers, it was
written a century and a half since ; — " Indeed the minis-
ters of New England have this to recommend them unto
a good regard with the crown of England, that the most
flourishing plantation in all the American dominions of
that crown, is more owing to them than to any sort of

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Online LibrarySamuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) WorcesterNew England's glory and crown : a discourse delivered at Plymouth, Mass., December 22, 1848 → online text (page 1 of 5)