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 19 of 42)
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body, it was too evident, that they would have coerced
him to exchanges with the ministers of the Boston
Association, if it had been in their power, or they
would certainly have crushed him, — in the name too
of "charity," or of "Catholicism!" The injustice
and the cruelty of the proceedings at Dorchester would
require much space for an adequate presentation. It
was affirmed, by the reviewer in the Panoplist, as a
melancholy fact, which truth could not deny, — that
"the following opinions were held by one or another
of the Boston Association, viz.

That Christ was a mere man ; — That no such doc-
trine as that of the atonement was taught in the
Scriptures ; — That the idea of an atonement is per-
fectly ridiculous ;— That the common opinion of con-
version is fanatical ; — That reason is superior to reve-
lation ; — That the religion of nature is of higher au-
thority than book-religion ; — That repentance of sin is
all that is required for the enjoyment of happiness,
here or hereafter; — That men are justified by their
works ; — That those who do not repent in this world,
will become wiser, and repent, and be happy in the
future world; — -That there will be no general judg-
ment ; — That the soul sleeps with the body, from death
to the resurrection ; — That Christ made but two con-
siderable additions to the religion of mankind; viz.
the fact of the resurrection of the body, and the insti-
tution of the christian , ministry; — That the soul of
man is material; — and many other unscriptural no-
tions. * * All but two of these opinions have been de-

VOL. II. 19*


livered from the pulpit, and most probably they have
also. * * That we may not be misunderstood, we again
say, that the Boston Association contains members,
who differ widely from each other in doctrine ; and
that they range from decided and consistent Calvinism
down to the lowest Socinianism, if not down to the
station of Geddes ; whom we should place about half
way between Socinus and Voltaire."

In political sentiments. Dr. Worcester agreed with
more of the Massachusetts clergy of this period, than
in doctrinal. Some members of the church at the
Tabernacle were troubled by his uncompromising fed-
eralism. They were particularly offended by his omis-
sion to read the proclamation of the democratic Gov-
ernor Gerry, for a day of thanksgiving, Nov. 1811.
He would not read it, because it called upon him and
many thousands to thank God for " blessing " them
with a mode of national and state administration,
which they believed to be a calamity and a scourge ;
and for " favoring " them " with a clergy, whose con-
duct, with few exceptions, was influenced by the mild,-
benign, and benevolent principles of the Gospel, and
whose example was a constant admonition to such
pastors and professors of Christianity as were too
much under the guidance of passion, prejudice, and
worldly delusion !" The innuendo of these passages
was most inexcusable.

It was not very common for clergymen of Massachu-
setts, if elsewhere, to exercise the right of suffrage, in
those days of commotion and fiery party-spirit. The
right was denied by a portion of the people, on the
ground that ministers ought to be clean from such de-
filing matters, as politics. Others more plausibly ob-
jected, because they were not then required to pay
taxes. Dr. Worcester was not one of the first of his


order in Salem, to go to the ballot-box ; though he
never considered the clergy as disfranchised by their
office, or by the favor of the law of taxation. After
he had gone the first time, he went again only when
his vote might be of special account. But he is
known to have said, — probably in such an emer-
gency ; — " I deem it as much my duty to vote^ as to
pray .'"

Dr. Worcester might now, as it would seem, have
been expected to decline any new responsibility.
After his friend Mr Evarts had assumed the editorial
charge of the Panoplist and Missionary Magazine, he
had felt entirely relieved from any care of that valua-
ble publication. Still his concern for the Massachu-
setts Missionary Society was unabated. And encum-
bered as he was with new labors and solicitudes, he
consented, in May 1812, to take in addition the office
of Corresponding Secretary of that Society.*

One consideration, in favor of accepting the office,
may have been that he was likely to have but little
more of labor than, for several years, had been laid
upon him as a Trustee, while receiving communica-
tions from the missionaries, and preparing Reports for
the Society, and for publication. Another considera-
tion doubtless was, that he should have much aid from
his friend Mr. Evarts, and working together, they
could do more than had been done, to give efficiency
to the Society's operations.

As kept by Dr. Worcester, during six years, the
E-ecords of the Society indicate much progress and a

* Dr. Spring was chosen President, at the same time, Jeremiah Evarts,
Esq., Treasurer. Thus were the same individuals the most responsible and
efficient members of the A. B. C. F. M. and of the M. M. S. at the same
time. For sLx years, each Association had the same Secretary and the same


great extension of the field of labor. Soon after he
became Secretary, Messrs. John Schermerhorn and
Samuel J. Mills received a commission to labor as
missionaries, for a short period, at New Orleans.
They were aided by several other benevolent associa-
tions. And by exploring the south-western parts of
the United States, as the leading purpose of their
tour, their reports of the moral destitution of the in-
habitants "conferred a great benefit on all religious
societies." In 1814, the Masssachusetts Missionary
Society appropriated $600, for a similar missionary
exploration of the region north of the Ohio, and the
territories watered by the Mississippi. Messrs. Mills
and Smith were their agents. Their communications
were full of stirring intelligence.*

The Society also made appropriations to aid Mr.
Eleazer Williams,f " in his preparation for an Indian
mission." He was of the Caghnewaga tribe, in Cana-
da, and the A. B. C. F. M., at their meeting in 1811,
voted $100, for the same object. Thus the two organ-
izations co-operated for the advancement of the Gos-
pel, agreeably to the sentiments of the Annual Report
of the Trustees, at the meeting of the M. M. S., May
26th and 27th, 1812. " While we gratefully rejoice,
that devoted servants of the Lord Jesus, burning, as
we trust, with apostolic zeal, have gone from our
shores to carry the Gospel of unbounded grace to far
distant heathen, we devoutly hope that their exem-

* See an extended report of the M. M. S. in Pan. and Miss. Mag. 1815.
Mr. Mills was at New Orleans, a short time after the great battle of the Slh
of January, visited the sick and wounded, in the hospitals, &c. &c.

t The same who has been recently represented in a romantic storj"", as if
of Bourbon descent ! He is now an Episcopal missionary, at St. Regis.
He lately visited the former residences of Drs. Lyman, Morse, and Worces-
ter, for whom he manifests great veneration. He has no wish to be identi-
fied; as having royal blood in his veins, through the Dauphin of France.


plary devotedness, and the uncommon spirit of exer-
tion and liberality, which has appeared in favor of
their mission, will provoke a holy emulation in favor
of missions to the destitute of our own country. The
silver and gold, men and their talents are the Lord's,
and he will employ them to build his house. May
this Society ever be found forward in his cause, and
successful in his service."*

In course of the summer of 1812, Dr. Worcester at-
tended a Council at HoUis, as an advocate for his
father and others, in opposition to the proceedings of
the church, relative to an excommunicant of the
church of Dunstable. The service was of a very deli-
cate nature, because of his family connections, but
chiefly because some of his much esteemed ministe-
rial and lay brethren had given "aid and comfort" to
the excommunicant, by their doings in an Ex parte

Rev. Leonard Worcester.

" Salem, Aug. 3, 1812.
My dear Brother, —

* * * Since the Council at Hollis, my father has
been as far as Salisbury, and I presume you have
been informed of the purport of the result. It certain-
ly was not quite such as I could have wished ; but
the Council was placed under great embarrassment.
Nothing implicating individuals was submitted to
them, nor was Dunstable church or party before them.
^ Their Result was, therefore, necessarily made up on
incomplete ground. The aggrieved, however, gained
in substance all for which they had contended, and I
am persuaded that good has been done.

As an advocate, my main object was to establish
principles and to apply them. By the principles which

* Pan. and Miss. Macr. 1812.


I attempted to establish, I examined with freedom the
doings or the Ex parte Council at Dunstable, and the
proceedings, grounded on them, at HoUis. Judge
F , Dr. P , and Mr. H , principal mem-
bers of the Ex parte Council, were present. They
felt to their fingers' ends, and sometimes thought they
\vould do well to be angry ; but on the whole, I be-
lieve, I was so happy as not to offend them. Mr. H.
said, rather pleasantly, and with allusion to an anec-
dote, ' You cut not only between us, but among' us.'
Dr. P. — ' Well, if we must be whipped, it is comforta-
ble to have it done in a neat and handsome manner.'
Judge F. — ' You have done no more than what be-
longed to you to do ; and of the manner of it we can-
not complain.' I am confident those good men will
never do so again ; nor am I less confident, that all
who were present were convinced, that they ought
not to do so again. My father has attended the com-

The war! the war! The sensation is strong, and
the gloom is heavy. Privateering is but a miserable
substitute for the fair and extensive commerce to
which this town has been accustomed. A single
ship belonging to this port, captured and carried into
Halifax, was worth between 300,000 and 400,000
dollars ; more than ten times the value of all the
prizes which as yet have been brought in here. And
besides, by most of the Federalists, privateering is
regarded with abhorrence, as involving those who are
concerned in it, in the guilt of robbery and murder !
You will have heard of the horrible scenes at Balti-
more ! The same spirit is here, but as yet is kept
under restraint. The friends of peace, however, think
it prudent, to have their arms* in readiness for any
want. May God preserve us, and our beloved country.
Our love to our dear sister and the children.

Very affectionately, your brother,

Samuel Worcester."

* Not to fight the British, but the Democrats !


At the time of wiiting this letter, he was probably
preparing for the press his " Sermon, at the Tabernacle,
July 23d, — the day of the public fast in Massachusetts,
on account of the war with Great Britain." The Ser-
mon was entitled, " Calamity, Danger, and Hope."
Before announcing his text, he must have arrested every
eye and every ear.

" My Brethren, — We are convened on a serious and
awful occasion. For many years our nation ' dwelt
safely, every one under his vine and under his fig-tree.'
Those years are gone. — The sound of the trumpet, and
the alarm of war, are now heard in our land. New
scenes are opening : scenes in which our earthly in-
terests and hopes are deeply involved, and the termi-
nation of which no human eye can see.

' The wide, th' unbounded prospect lies before us ;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness, rest upon it.'

At such a time as this, what should we do, but re-
sort to the God of our fathers ? To his house we have
been called this day; in his holy and dread presence
we are assembled. And, my Brethren, we are here,
not ' for strife and debate' — not to agitate questions
which divide and distract the nation — not to examine
the public measures which have brought us to the
present conjuncture — not to applaud, or to censure any
class of men, or system of policy ; but to consider how
we stand in relation to the great Sovereign of the
world, to contemplate our concerns as under his ad-
ministration, to view things in the light of his law and
truth, and to commit ourselves, our families, and our
country to his care. Here then, our passions should
*■ be hushed ; our prejudices should be dismissed ; op-
probrious names and odious distinctions should be
forgotten; sinister views and worldly influences should
be abjured. Our business is ^ith Him in whose holy
' sight, that which is highly esteemed among men is
abomination.' And if here, in the shade of his sanc-
tuary, at the foot of his throne, undisturbed by the


strife and tumult of the world, we can spend but one
hour in sober reflection, it may turn to substantial and
lasting good.

For myself, little disposed as I have always been,
never was I less disposed, than at this moment, to dis-
turb your minds, or to heighten your excitements, in
regard to points which have engaged the passions of
the country in long and fearful conflict. Were the in-
dulgence admissible, I could utter the feelings of my
heart in the language of the pious poet :

' Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumor of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
Might never reach me more. My ear is pain'd,
My soul is sick, with every day's report
Of wrong and outrage with which earth is fiU'd,
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart,
It does not feel for man ; the natural bond
Of brotherhood is sever'd as the flax
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.'

But I must stand in my lot. I hear the voice of
God : ' Son of man, I have made thee a watchman
unto the house of Israel : therefore hear the word at
ray mouth, and give them warning for me.' This
voice I must obey. The moral aspects of the times I
must faithfully represent. I must declare to you the
law and the truth of Jehovah ; I must display before
you the glories and the terrors of his holy majesty and
government ; I must proclaim in your ears the sins and
the dangers of our land, and point you to the way of
safety and peace. — A sacred text suitable to my pre-
sent purpose may be found in Psalm Ix. 1 — 4.

O God, thou hast cast us off", thou hast scattered us,
thou hast been displeased ; O turn thyself to us again.
Thou hast made the earth to tremble ; thou hast broken
it: heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh. Thou
hast shewed thy people hard things ; thou hast made
us to drink the wine of astonishment. Thou hast
given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be
displayed because of the truth."

The heads of discourse were, " I. That God is dis-
pleased with this nation. II. That there is gi-eat rea-


son for his displeasure. III. That it is most important
to us, that we obtain the return of his favor. And, IV.
That we have reason to hope, that the return of his
favor may be obtained." In reference to each of these
topics, the preacher was truly eloquent; and when
pleading with " good men," as the soldiers of the Cap-
tain of Salvation, to " unite under his banner, and let
their motto be one, ' For Christ and our Country,' "
his exhortations were in a style of grandeur, very near-
ly approximating the best efforts of Robert Hall.

The Lecture on the " Martyrdom of Stephen," to
which allusion has already been made,* was delivered
very soon afterwards.f The subject was treated in a
novel and deeply impressive manner. But on the day
of "National Humiliation and Prayer," Aug. 20th,
1812, a discourse, which was published under the title
of " Courage and Success to the Good," while in no
respect inferior to that of July 23d, has some passages,
in which the preacher would seem to have been en-
tirely overpowered by his emotions.

From the words in the 2d Chron. xix. 11, — Deal
courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good, —
the " general instruction" was deduced, " That they,


rely on the HELP OF GoD." The truth of this senti-
ment was shown by the witness of history, ancient
and modern ; and with an affluence of illustrative ex-
amples, which might naturally have suggested to a
constant hearer that the more abundant were his re-
sources, the more he was urged by the pressure of fre-
quent and exciting occasions.

But some even of members of the Church which he
so loved, did not at all " view the country to be in

* Vol. L p. 398. t Aug. 9, 1812.

VOL. II. 20


danger " and were slow to " acknowledge the present
to be evil times." — '• O my God !" he exclaimed,
after an appalling description of " national sins," of
" divisions, animosities and feuds," under which " the
land trembled," — " the people in all parts of our coun-
try, hardening their hearts, rousing their spirits, bra-
cing their nerves, and sharpening their swords — for
what ? — O, my God, can any deny that these are evil
times !"

In the conclusion, he most earnestly insisted, that
" if union be restored, it must be by a coalescence of
the parties ; and not by the submission of one party to
the other. Is not a coalescence practicable ? May it
not be effected without a sacrifice of principle ? Are
there not good men on both sides ? men who fear God
and love their country; who are more desirous that
their country should be saved, than that their party, as
a party, should triumph ; and who would be willing to
make any proper sacrifices, and any exertions in their
power, for the public good ? Let such men meet on
conciliatory ground ; and feel that there must be mu-
tual condescension — that minor considerations must
be mutually waived- — that points, not involving the sa-
crifice of principle, must be mutually yielded. Let
them recur to first principles, and remember that in the
several states, and in the nation, the government of
laws, and not of men, is to be acknowledged ; that
there is no merit in being on the side of any men, or
any measures, and no wrong in being in opposition to
them, any further than those men and measures are on
the side of truth and right : but before Him who hath
prepared his throne for judgment, an awful responsi-
bility must be incurred, by supporting particular men,
and particular measures, in violation of truth and
right; and to the hazard of the essential interests of the
country. Let them recur to the state and national
constitutions ; and on them take their stand : and to
the principles of the constitutions, and the great design


of the federal union, let all considerations, regarding
particular men and particular measures, be fairly re-

Standing upon this ground, and with these views,
let them freely and amicably confer together ; agree on
terms of coalition, and erect the standard of union and
peace. Then, sinking all party objects, and forgetting
all party distinctions, let them exert all their influence,
and employ all proper means, to conciliate others, and
to advance their noble design. Let them silence the
cry of treason, and the vociferation of opprobrious
names ; dissuade from the burnishing of arms for the
slaughter of neighbor by neighbor, and brother by
brother ; and strive to soften inveterate asperities, and
to assuage the popular passions. Let them have the
courage, the magnanimity, while firm and efficient,
to be temperate and conciliatory ; and make it to be
understood and felt, that to the cause of God and their
country, their influence, their fortunes, and their lives
are sacredly devoted.

All this, my friends, belongs to good men ; and if
the good men of this nation will engage in this design,
and deal courageously, the Lord will be with them,
and their work will prosper. A coalition, a union will
be formed, which the violent or the designing can nei-
ther break nor withstand ; men, in whose hands the
public interests will be safe, will be brought into place
and power ; internal tranquillity and order will be es-
tablished on solid foundations ; our rights and liberties
will be vindicated and maintained with impartiality,
firmness, efficiency, and success ; and peace, commerce,
and prosperity, will return and bless our land.

This is no romance; it is sober verity. It is truth,
warranted by the word of Jehovah. May the Spirit of
Jehovah carry it home to the hearts of my countrymen,
and produce the great, the firm, the decisive resolve.
May he cause it to be proclaimed through the land with
irresistible energy. Deal courageously^ and the Lord
shall be with the goodP



From such themes and occasions, the best energies
of his mind and the noblest feelings of his heart were
turned to the preparation of the Annual Report of the
Prudential Committee, which was presented at the
meeting of the American Board of Commissioners, at
Hartfordj Sept. 16th and 17th. It was a grateful
meeting. The Report communicated in detail the
measures of the Committee for the commencement of
a mission in some part of Asia, the ordination, in-
structions, and embarkation of the missionaries, — to
which ample reference has been made in the forego-
ing chapter. Other subjects of interest are duly no-

" On a review," the Report concludes, — " the Com-
mittee are persuaded that their brethren, as well as
themselves, will recognise many precious reasons of
thankfulness to God; many impressive tokens of his
gracious regard to our great design; many signal en-
couragements to prosecute the design with renewed
and increased devotedness and activity. The war
may embarrass our operations, but should not restrain
our efforts. If the sure word of prophecy warns us of
perils and calamities, of distress of nations with per-
plexiti/ ; it gives us assurance also, that in these troub-
lous times^ the Gospel shall be extensively propagated,
and that in overturning^ and overturning^ and overturn-
ing^ the Lord is making way for the establishment in
all the earth of that kingdom which cannot be shaken.
If the Day of vengeance is in his heart, the year of his
redeemed is come. Great Britain, while sustaining a
conflict unexampled in the history of the world, is dis-
playing a liberality, a zeal, and a spirit of enterprise,
for imparting the word of life and the blessings of sal-
vation to all people, to enemies as "well as to friends,
not less strikingly unexampled. And in this glorious
work, so far from being checked by any pressure of
burdens or difficulties, she continues without remis-


sion, and abounds more and more. By her admirable
example, America should be provoked to emulation.
Under no circumstances should we faint or be dis-
couraged ; but, trusting in God, in whose cause we
are engaged, if difficulties present themselves, our zeal
should rise, and our efforts be augmented. The word
is sure ; He, who reigns on the holy hill of Zion, shall
have the heathen for his inheritance^ and the uttermost
parts of the earth for his possession. We hail him
Lord of lords, and King of kings ; we rejoice in the
opening prospects of his kingdom ; and to be instru-
mental in extending his dominion, and the blessings
of his salvation, will be our highest glory."

At this meeting of the Board, thirteen new members
were appointed from the Northern and Middle States.
It was voted, " that the Prudential Committee pay an
immediate and particular attention to the circulation
of the Holy Scriptures in the various languages of un-
evangelized nations ; and that, as soon as expedient,
they expend upon this object as much at least of the
funds of the Board, as the Act of Incorporation re-
quires." The Committee were also directed to trans-
mit a report of the doings of the Board to the Gen-
eral Associations of New Hampshire, Connecticut,
and Massachusetts, the General Convention of Con-
gregational JVIinisters in Vermont, and the General
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. Other mea-
sures were adopted, which showed an energetic pur-
pose to " attempt great things /or God," in expectation
of " great things /rom God."

From the meeting at Worcester, Sept. 1811, to June
20, 1812, the donations amounted to $12,587 36.
This was an exhilarating evidence of increasing confi-
dence and interest in the Board and the cause of

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 19 of 42)