Samuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) Worcester.

The life and Labors of Rev. Samuel Worcester, D.D.; former pastor of the Tabernacle church, Salem, Mass online

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Online LibrarySamuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) WorcesterThe life and Labors of Rev. Samuel Worcester, D.D.; former pastor of the Tabernacle church, Salem, Mass → online text (page 11 of 42)
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cording to knowledge," yet so ardent and sanguine,
that it had a very strong resemblance to enthusiasm.
For the actual number of the population, and of pro-
fessing Christians, at that time, — it was "no mean'*
proportion that viewed with unutterable delight, the

*Rev. Ezekiel Rich, then a licentiate preacher, undertook a vohintary
agency at this period, and had great success in collecting funds.



prospect of an American mission to the East. And
considering the poverty or very limited resom'ces of
most of the members of orthodox churches, in Massa-
chusetts and other States, it would be impossible
otherwise to account for the sudden contribution of so
large an amount of funds, in less than four weeks,
from the announcement of the designs of the Pruden-
tial Committee. The "money flowed in from all
quarters," so that he who had so urged forward the
movement, was almost literally electrified. Never was
he in higher animation ; never did he manifest greater
joy, than in thus finding his most confident expecta-
tions more than realized. There was incomparably
more of missionary spirit in the churches, than bad
ever been imagined to exist. The occasion had now
come, as never before, "when it could so be seen, to the
glory of the Lord of all.

The following is a copy of the Preamble of a sub-
scription paper, supposed to be the first of its kind in
Salem ; prepared by Dr. Worcester, to be put into the
hands of pious females, both " rich and poor," and which
came back to him, in a few days, with $271,75.

" Female Qiarity,

The adorable Savior of men, though he was rich,
for our sakes became poor, that we through his pov-
erty might be made rich. He came down from heaven
and died that we might live. After his resurrection,
he graciously directed that his Gospel, which is the
power of God for salvation to all who believe, should
be preached to all people. Agreeably to his direction
it has been preached to us, and to him we are indebt-
ed for our dearest privileges, and our most precious
hopes. Of these privileges, and these hopes, however,
millions of our race are yet destitute. Their situation,
in the region and shadow of death, is deplorable in-


deed ; and appeals in the most impressive manner to
our benevolence and charity. An opportunity is now
offered to do something for them. Four young men,
devoted to the service of Christ are ready to carry the
Gospel to a distant heathen land ; and if money can
be raised for the necessary expenses, will embark pro-
bably, in the course of two or three weeks. Two
thousand dollars are yet wanting. Shall not this want
be supplied ? Could a more precious opportunity be
presented for gratifying the best feelings of the human
heart ; for contributing to the best interests of man-
kind ; for doing the best service for Him who died for
us ; or for turning a portion of earthly treasure to the
best use for eternity ? The gracious mention which
Christ has made, of services rendered to him, and to
his cause hj females^ is more estimable than the high-
est applause of men, and affords the most tender en-
couragement to others to do likewise. Impressed with
these considerations, we, the subscribers, contribute the
sums annexed to our respective names, for the imme-
diate use of the American Board of Commissioners for
Foreign Missions."

Without the bequest of Mrs. Norris, the Prudential
Committee would have had much more of hesitancy,
in deciding to advise the Board to retain the mission-
aries under their own direction, and not consent to
have them go out with commissions from the London
Society. There was also a gracious dispensation ac-
companying the doubt and the delay of the reception
of that bequest ; inasmuch as others were stimulated
by the noble example of beneficence, to contribute ac-
cording to their " several ability," and found no pre-
text or apology for withholding. And while the Board
chose to depend, under favor of Providence, upon the
liberality of American Christians, the Committee, in
the formidable prospective of possible and not impro-
bable events and calamities, could satisfy the timid

VOL. II. 11*


and faint-hearted, by assuring them, that, in the last
resort, the missionaries could place themselves under
the direction and care of the London Society.

After the formation of the Board, it was deemed an
object of high importance to secure the co-operation
of evangelical Christians, out of New England, and
particularly within the bounds of the Presbyterian
Church. Dr. Worcester was at the meeting of the
General Assembly, at Philadelphia, in May 1811.
He had opportunity at this time of conferring with
some of the leading members of that body ; and the
conferences were doubtless promotive of his favorite
desire, although no definitive or formal arrangement
was made. The designs of the Board were conceived
in the exercise of the most enlarged spirit of christian
fellowship, and with no denominational exclusiveness
or sectional partiality.

And among the memorable indications of a guiding
Providence, should be noted the circumstance of the
expected embarkation of all the missionaries at Phila-
delphia ; with the subsequent change of plan, and a
partition of the company, by the unexpected sailing
of a vessel from Salem. Two sections of the country,
and these widely extended, were thus simultaneously
moved by the hand of God to give their substance,
with their benedictions and prayers, to urge onward
the new enterprise.*

* Rev. Mr. Nott was one who sailed from Philadelphia. The circum-
stances above noted, made a strong impression upon his mind. Robert
Ralston, like Henry Thornton, among the ^'' good men of Clapham,''^ yvhom.
Macaulay has so commemorated, {Ed. Keview^and LitteWs Living Age,
1844,) was ready for every movement, which promised a blessing for man-
kind ; and was now exhilarated by the opportunity of a missionary embarka-
tion in Philadelphia. His exertions were indefatigable, and nothing was left
undone by himself and other friends of the cause, which the sudden emer-
gency required.


It was late in the month of Jan. 1812, when Messrs.
Newell and Hall, who had been pursuing medical
studies in Philadelphia, returned in much haste with
the information, that a vessel was about to sail from
that port, and would take the missionaries as passen-
gers. " This return was by the particular advice of
Robert Ralston, Esq., a name," said Dr. Worcester,
" well known, and greatly endeared to the friends of
missions, in Europe and India, as well as in this
country ; and from him they brought a letter, present-
ing the opportunity in a very favorable light, and kind-
ly offering assurances of his attention and aid. The
Committee immediately met." * * *

With but $1,200 at disposal, the resolution was
taken, to send out four missionaries by the Harmony;
and their ordination was appointed to be on Thursday
of the next week, Feb. 6 ; " the latest day which would
leave time for them to get on to Philadelphia in sea-

The embarrassment of the Committee was increased
by the application of Mr. Luther Rice, — one of the
original members of the Society at WiDiamstown, —
that he might join the mission. " The case was a very
trying one. The Committee were not invested with
full powers to admit missionaries, and they still felt a
very heavy embarrassment from the want of funds.
In view of all the circumstances, however, they did
not dare to reject Mr. Rice ;" and they " assumed the
responsibility of admitting him as a missionary, to be
ordained with the four other brethren, and sent out
with them." •

" While the preparations were making," as Dr. Wor-
cester states in his Report, Sept. 1812, — " it came to
the knowledge of the Committee, that the brigantine


Caravan, of Salem, was to sail for Calcutta in a few
days, and could carry out three or four passengers ;
and, after attention to the subject, it was deemed ad-
visable, that two of the missionaries, with their wives,
should take passage in that vessel. This lessened the
general risk, and was attended with several advan-

According to appointment, on the 6th of February,
the missionaries were ordained, at the Tabernacle in
Salem. A season of more impressive solemnity has
scarcely been witnessed in our country. The sight of
five young men, of highly respectable talents and at-
tainments, and who might reasonably have promised
themselves very eligible situations in our churches,
forsaking parents, and friends, and country, and every
alluring earthly prospect, and devoting themselves to
the privations, hardships, and perils of a mission for
life, to a people sitting in darkness and in the region
and shadow of death, in a far distant and un propi-
tious clime, could not fail deeply to affect every heart,
not utterly destitute of feeling. Nor less affecting
were the views, which the whole scene was calculated
to impress, of the deplorable condition of the Pagan
world, of the riches of divine grace displayed in the
Gospel, and of the obligations on all, on whom this
grace is conferred, to use their utmost endeavors in
making the Gospel universally known. God was
manifestly present ; a crowded and attentive assem-
bly testified, with many tears, the deep interest which
they felt in the occasion ; and not a few remember
the scene with fervent gratitude, and can say, it was
good to he there.

Mr. Evarts's notice of the ordination, for the readers
of the Panoplistand Mass. Miss. Magazine, — gives the
names of Rev. Messrs. Samuel Newell, Adoniram
Judson, Samuel Nott, Gordon Hall, and Luther Rice,
as those who were " ordained to the work of the
Gospel Ministry, as Missionaries to the heathen in


" The Ordaining Council was composed of the pas-
tors of the North Congregational Church, in Newbury-
port, the Congregational Chnrch, in Charlestown, and
the Tabernacle Church, in Salem, and delegates from
the same churches ; and of the Rev. Dr. Griffin, pastor
of Park Street Church, Boston, late Professor at An-
dover, and the Rev. Dr. Woods, Professor at Andover.
The Rev. Professor Stuart was invited to attend, but
was necessarily prevented.

The young gentlemen were examined with respect
to their doctrinal views, their personal hopes of the
Divine favor, and their motives and prospects in offer-
ing themselves to this important service among the

The parts in the solemnities of the day were as fol-
lows : — The Rev. Dr. Griffin made the introductory
prayer; the Rev. Dr. Woods preached the sermon from
Psalm Ixvii ; the Rev. Dr. Morse made the consecrating
prayer ; the Rev. Dr. Spring delivered the charge ; the
Rev. Dr. Worcester presented the right hand of fellow-
ship, and the Rev. Dr. Spring made the concluding
prayer. The exercises were solemn and appropriate,
and evidently made a deep impression on a crowded
audience.* * * * * *

This transaction may justly be considered as form-
ing a new and important era in the annals of the
American churches, the era of Foreign Missions. It
would be natural to indulge in pleasing anticipations
of the blessings, which, with the Divine assistance,
these missionaries may be the means of communica-
ting to Asia. But while we leave the issue of this
benevolent enterprise to the disposal of infinite wis-
dom, the good effects of these missionary exertions
among ourselves ought to be mentioned with devout

Christians feel more sensibly than ever the value of

* By this ordination and others since, the Tabernacle in Salem has been
connected with the history of the missions and of the American Board, very
much as the Tabernacle in London with that of the missions of the London
Society. — See Ellis's History of the London Missionary Society.


their holy religion, while devoting their money and
their tinae to extend its blessings to the heathen.
Christians of different denominations, who love our
Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, experience the blessed-
ness of uniting in this great catholic labor of love."

Since the immense gathering of 1807, when Dr.
Blackburn was in Salem, there had been nothing like
such an assembly, as that which came together, Feb.
6th, 1812. For many miles around, ministers and their
people hastened to the scene. The Theological Sem-
inary, and Phillips Academy, at Andover, had a large
representation ; and the young men who walked the
sixteen miles on a February day, and returned in the
evening after the services, felt themselves repaid a hun-
dred fold. The commodious and venerable Taberna-
cle was crowded in every part, to the very utmost of
the space. " This western world had never yet be-
held" such a scene. The spectacle of five young mis-
sionaries, and the wives of a part of them, in
such circumstances of self-denying consecration to
Christ for the salvation of " the heathen" of his " in-
heritance," in " the uttermost parts of the earth," af-
fected every heart to tears, which could, and could
not, be wept. And there was a solemn grandeur which
often thrilled through every nerve, while the five re-
vered fathers and brethren conducted the services of
the occasion, as if each had been freshly anointed from
on high, and their lips had been touched like Isaiah's,
by "one of the seraphim," — when he " saw" the " glory
and spake of " the Lord Jesus; and the "seraphim
cried one to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the
Lord of hosts ; the whole earth is full of his glory." —
(Isaiah vi, and John xii.)

If any should now carefully read the admirable ser-


mon of Dr. Woods, and charge of Dr. Spring, and as-
sociate in mind the supplications and the songs, with
the eyes of the whole multitude of old and young, and
the irrepressible sighing and weeping aloud of many,
they might somewhat imagine the effect, when those
young men knelt forward, for their consecration by the
laying on of the hands of that " presbytery " of the
churches ; and when each of them was taken by the
hand of one of the fathers, while a single voice spoke
for all the united " right hands of fellowship."

" GOD IS LOVE. The Divine Persons of the adora-
ble Trinity inhabit eternity, in affection and fellow-
ship infinitely high and blessed. Holy angels, in their
different orders, all dwell in love, and dwell in God.
Man was originally formed for the same exalted hap-
piness ; but he fell by transgression into enmity and
misery. The fall was complete ; the enmity was fixed ;
the misery must have been hopeless ; but Divine mer-
cy interposed. The Son, who was ' in the bosom of
the Father,' assumed the office of Mediator, and died
on the cross to make reconciliation ; that as many of
our revolted race as should believe in him, might re-
ceive forgiveness, and be restored to the fellowship of
Heaven. Rising from the dead, he ascended up on
high, leading captivity captive, and received gifts for
men, even for the rebellious, that the Lord God might
dwell among them ; ' and he gave some, apostles ; and
some, prophets ; and some, evangelists ; and some, pas-
tors and teachers ; for the perfecting of the saints, for
the work of the ministry, for the building of the body of
Christ; till ' the redeemed, of every tongue, and kindred,
and nation, 'all come in the unity of the faith, and of
the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of
Christ.' Here ' there is neither Greek nor Jew, Bar-
barian, Scythian, bond or free; ' but ' there is one body
and one Spirit ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism ; one
God and Father of all.'


Such is the purport of the Gospel; and when this
glorious dispensation came to be rightly understood
and felt, James, Cephas, and John, the distinguished
apostles of the circumcision, perceiving the grace con-
ferred on Paul and Barnabas, affectionately and sol-
emnly gave to them the right hands of fellowship,
orable example is specially applicable to the present

By the solemnities of this day, you Messrs. Judson,
Nott, Newell, Hall, and Rice, are publicly set apart
for the service of God in the Gospel of his Son, among
the Heathen. With reference, therefore, to this mo-
mentous service, we who are still to labor in the same
Gospel here at home, in the presence of God, angels,
and men, now give to you, dear brethren, the right
hands of fellowship. It is not an empty ceremony ;
it is the act of our hearts, and its import is high and
sacred. It expresses our acknowledgment of you as
duly authorized ministers of Christ; our approbation
of the service to which you are separated ; the obliga-
tion upon us to render you every assistance in our
power ; and our readiness to welcome, as fellow citi-
zens with the saints, those, who by your ministry may
be turned from their vanities to embrace the common

We trust, dear brethren, that you are sincerely and
devotedly the servants of the most High God, whom
we also serve ; and we thank Jesus Christ our Lord,
that unto you this grace is given, that you should
preach among the Gentiles his unsearchable riches.

We hesitate not, in this public and solemn manner,
to testify our full approbation of the particular service
to which you are appointed. We are not of the num-
ber of those, who hold the religion of Bramah to be as
good for the people of India, as the religion of Jesus ;
nor can we believe the polluted and bloody rites of a
pagan pagoda to be as acceptable to the Holy One
of Israel, as the pure and spiritual worship of a Chris-
tian temple. No, dear brethren, we have not so learned
Christ. We know upon the word of God, that ' the


things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to de-
mons and not to God ; ' that righteousness has no fel-
lowship with unrighteousness, light no communion
with darkness, Christ no fellowship with Belial ; that
' all the world lieth in wickedness,' and under just con-
demnation ; and that ' there is none other name under
heaven, given among men,' by which to be saved,
than the name of Jesus. We believe, in a word, that
the blood of the Son of God was not unnecessarily
shed ; that the ministry of reconciliation through him
was not unnecessarily instituted. We are, therefore,
not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, nor do we esteem
it of little importance to mankind ; but we glory in it,
as ' the power of God unto salvation to every one that
believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.' We
also hold the unrevoked edict of the risen Savior to be
not only a sufficient warrant, but a solemn, authorita-
tive direction to go into all the world, and preach
THE Gospel to every creature. We, therefore, hail
the day — the auspicious day, which we have long de-
sired to see ; * — this day, dear brethren, on which we
solemnly present you to God, as a 'kind of first fruits '
of his American churches. We bow the knee with
devout thanksgivings to the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, the Father of glory, that he has inclined your
hearts and is favoring you with an opportunity to go
to ' them who are far off",' with the words by which
they and their children may be saved.

Go then, beloved -brethren, as 'the messengers of
these ' churches, and the glory of Christ.' Go, carry
to the poor heathen, the good news of pardon, peace,
and eternal life. Tell them of the God whom we adore ;
of the Savior in whom we trust; of the glorious im-
mortality for which we hope. Tell them of Him,
WHOSE star was SEEN IN THE EAST ; and poiut them
to that BLOOD, with which he will sprinkle many na-

We participate with you in this great undertaking ;
our hearts are joined with yours, and by the right hand

* Compare pag-e 59.
VOL. II. 12


which we give you we shall hold ourselves inviolably
pledged, as God shall enable us, for your help. We
are not insensible to the sacrifices which you make, or
to the dangers and sufferings to which you are devoted.
You stand this day ' a spectacle to God, to angels, and
to men.' You are in the act of leaving parents, and
friends, and country, ' for Christ and the . Gospel's
sake.' A land of darkness, and of the shadow of death
is before you ; and you are to erect the standard of the
cross where Satan has long held his cruel and bloody
empire. Your eyes will be pained with sights of re-
volting impurity and horror; your hearts will be wrung
with anguish for immortal souls in the most dreadful
bondage ; and while you strive for their rescue, you
will have to contend, not with flesh and blood, but with
principalities and powers, with the rulers of the dark-
ness of this world, with spiritual wickedness in high
places. But you go, we trust, in the strength of the
Lord ; and the weapons of your warfare ' are not car-
nal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of
strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every
high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge
of God.' This is our confidence, this is our consola-
tion respecting you.

But, dear brethren, we shall have you in the tender-
est remembrance, and shall not cease to make mention
of you in our prayers. We shall not cease to beseech
the All-sufficient God to be your shield, and your ex-
ceeding great reward ; evermore to cheer you with his
presence, and gird you with his strength ; to establish
your hearts with grace, and give you a mouth and wis-
dom which none shall be able to gainsay or resist; and
to open to you a great door and effectual, and cause
you to hear extensively around you the shouts of sal-

Our hearts' desire and prayer to God for the people
to whom you are going is, that they may gladly receive
the Gospel, and be saved. We shall wait with ardent
hope to be assured, that you have not run in vain, nei-
ther labored in vain. It will give us unspeakable joy
to know, that on the banks of the Indus, the Ganges,


or the Ava, by means of the pious liberalties and ef-
forts of this western world, the Gospel is preached with
success, churches are planted, and the praises of the
Redeemer are sung. Trusting in God, we anticipate
the glorious scene. Already do we seem to hear from
the farthest East, the grateful, swelling song, ' How
beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them who
bring good tidings, who publish peace, w^ho bring good
tidings of good, who publish salvation.' Blessed day,
when, from the throne of Heaven, Zion shall hear the
wordj 'Arise, shine ; for thy light is come, and the glory
of the Lord is risen upon thee ; ' and the- gentiles

NESS OF HER RISING. The day will come ; it is rapid-
ly approaching ; the word and the providence of God
declare it to be near. The gleams of the dawn are
even now to be seen. Let the cheering prospect, dear
brethren, animate your hearts and stimulate your ex-
ertions. You are but the precursors of many, who
shall follow you in this arduous, glorious enterprise ;
for the Gospel shall be preached to all nations, and all
people shall see the salvation of God.

Beloved brethren, be of good courage ; go in peace ;
and may the Lord God of the holy apostles and pro-
phets go with you. We commend you to him, and to
the word of his grace ; and devoutly pray, that in the
day of the Lord Jesus, we may have the happiness to
see you present many of the heathen before the throne
of his glory with exceeding joy. Amen."

Hundreds are yet living who remember the solemni-
ties of that day, as unequalled by those of any other.
They were not merely the solemnities of the ordina-
tion of missionaries^ or of the first missionaries from
the Western world to the heathen of the Eastern
world. But they were the solemnities oi farewell; and
the " right hands of fellowship " were the " parting "
hands. — " Dear young men," said Dr. Woods, in his
tenderly paternal address, — " I will not break your


hearts and my own, by dwelling on the affecting cir-
cumstances of this parting scene. If you must go, I
will animate and comfort you. Remember, then,
though ive must leave you. He, whom your soul loveth,
will not. * * * You will be as dear to our hearts, and
as near to God in Asia, as in America. — If we are
friends of God our separation will not be forever. At
the glorious appearing of the Son of God, we hope to
see you, dearly beloved, and those whom your labors

Online LibrarySamuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) WorcesterThe life and Labors of Rev. Samuel Worcester, D.D.; former pastor of the Tabernacle church, Salem, Mass → online text (page 11 of 42)