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 29 of 42)
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works of love and mercy.

Thus, Sir, have I attended, amid various unpropi-
tious circumstances, to some of the principal things in
your Letter. There are others which I certainly deem
not unexceptionable, but which my design does not
require, nor my limits permit me particularly to notice.
If in any instance, I have misapprehended ycui, mis-
represented you, or done any injustice to you or to
others, I can truly, I think, say it has been uninten-
tional ; and to correct any error, or redress any wrong
would afford me real pleasure.

I have done what I have felt to be a painful duty^


The Lord pardon what is wrong, — and prosper what
is right. And may the Spirit of truth guide us into
all truth, and cause us to ^ see ey.e to eye,' — keep his
people from falling, fill the churches with light and
peace, and make his word ^ mightily to grow and pre-

I am, Rev. and dear Sir,

With sentiments of affectionate respect,
Your friend and brother,

Samuel Worcester,
8alem^ July 15, 1815." *

Dr. C&anning had said ^ that he should not feel
himself bound to notice any replies which might be
made to his letter, especially if they appear in the
Panoplist.^' And tMs very announcement may have had
its weight in determining the mind of Dr. Worcester
to respond himself. Some other reason, tlian an " ap-
pearance in the Panoplist" would thus be required of
laim by the candid public, if the reply should not be
noticed, " But the flame, which his own Letter to
Mr, Thatcher had kindled, was deadened, if not en-
tirely quenched, by the fiood of reasoning and eioquence
so readily poured forth. It would not do to be silent,
Something must be said." f And no ^ime was to be
lost Scarcely had Dr. Worcester'^ Letter gone forth,
before it was reported, that Dr. Channing would notice
it, at a very early day. Ax\d with some, probably, the
anticipation of an answer was taken as evidence, that
there was some deficiency, or vulnerableness, in Dr.

* The passages qiwt-ed are somewhat less than a third part of the Letter.

t Panoplist, 1S16, p. 216. — There was probably not another pastor, who, in
so short a time, could have produced such a masterly reply. The truth was,
that Dr. W. was " read np,^'' on the whole subject. He knew every inch of
the ground on which he stood ; and with the resources which be possessed,
he also knew that no power on earth could move him.

VOL. II. 29*


Worcester's Letter, which they had not been able
themselves to discover.*

Some extracts from Dr. Worcester's Memoranda
will exhibit a sort of " bird's-eye " view of his employ-
ments during this controversy.

^^June 21. Preached at the ordination of the mis-
sionaries, Messrs. Mills, Richards, Warren, Meigs,
Bardwell, and Poor.

22. In business of the Prudential Committee.

23. A. M. do. P. M. Returned from Newburyport.

24. Variously employed.

25. Mr. Richards preached for me.

26. Parochial visits. Church meeting.

27. In my study. 28. Do.

29. Sent letters, &c. Brothers L. and T. and sis-
ter F.— Preached at poor-house. Vestry.

80. In study. Funeral.

Juli/ 1. In my study. [Date of Letter to Mr. Evarts,
p. 322.]

2. Mr. Hitchcock preached for me.

3. Parochial visits. Chh. meeting.

4. Ministerial Conference, Danvers.
0. In my study.

6. Beg-an Letter to Mr. Channing,

7. In shidy. 8. In study.

9. Preached at home. Com. — T. W. Fox came to
me sick.

10. Parochial visits. Chh. meeting.

11. Association, S. V. Beverly.

12. In study. Funereil.

13. In study. Vestry meeting. 14. In study.

15. ^ Miscellaneous. Went to Boston. Contracted
for printing Letter to Mr. C. [Comp. p. 341.]

16. Preached at Park Street. My nephew, Thomas
Worcester Fox, died in my house.

* Some gentlemen of the highest professional rank, in Salem and else-
where, — concurring with Dr. Channing, in general views of doctrine, —
made no secret of their opinion, that Dr. W.'s Letter was a logical, manly,
and triumphant answer to Dr. C.


17. Parochial visits. Chh. meet. 18. In study.

19. Trustees of Bible Society met.

20. Vestry meeting. 21. In study.

22. In study. Letter to Mr. Channing published.

23. Preached at home. 24. Parochial visits. Ch. M.

25. S. Essex Musical Society Meeting.

26. Miscellaneous. 27. In study. Vestry.

28. In study. 29. Rode to Boston on Miss. bus.

30. Preached, A. M. Seized with illness and con-

31. Confined.

Aug'. 1. Confined with illness. 2. Do. 3. Do.
4. Do. 5. Do.

6. Mr. J. B. Felt preached.

7. Able just to ride out.

8. Feeble, but slowly convalescing.
~ 9. Do. 10. Do. 11. Do.

12. Do. Rode to Beverly, with Mr. Blatchford.
Mr. Channing's Remarks on my Letter published.

13. Mr. Walker preached at Tabernacle through
Mr. Felt.

14. Feeble. Doing a little towards an answer to
Mr. C.'s Remarks. 15. Do.

16. Still feeble, but able to write a little.

17. Do. 18. Do. 19. Rode to Andover.

20. At Andover. Br. Porter preached at Tabernacle.

21. At Andover. Wrote some.

22. Rode to Boston, and left a part of copy of 2d
Letter to Mr. C. Returned home.

23. In my study, engaged in forwarding the Letter.

24. Do. 25. Do. 26. Do. 27. Dr. Woods preached.
28. Rode to Boston, — about the Letter, and other

business. 29. At Boston.

30. Letter published. Attended Commencement.
Rode to Brighton. 31. Returned home.

Sept. 1. Miscellaneous. 2. Do.

3. Mr. Smith, Missionary, preached.

4. Business with Mr. S.

* Another bilious attack, like that of the previous summer. Passage of
gall stones, — with indescribable suffering.


5. Miscellaneous. 6. Do. 7. Do.

8. Preparing for Sabbath. 9. Do. 10. Preached.

11. Visited families. 12. In study.

13. Miscellaneous. 14. Leonard Worcester.

15. Saml. M. to Hollis. 16. In study.
17. Preached. 18. Visited — in study.

20. Engaged with Board of Comm. for For. Miss.

21. Do. 22. Do. 23. With Prud. Com.

24. Dr. Davis preached. 25. Visited. Chh. Meet.

26. Employed in visiting on missionary business.

27. Do. 28. Do. Vestry meeting.

29. In study. 30. Do.

Oct 1. Mr. Ellingwood preached.
2. Visited families. C. M. 3. In my study.

4. Occupied with missionary concerns.

5. Do. Vestry. 6. In study. 7. Do.

8. Preached at home. 9. Visited families. C. M.

10. Association at Marblehead.

11. Engaged in preparing Instructions, &c. for
missionaries. 12. Do. Vestry.

13. In study. 14. Do. 15. Preached at home.

16. Rode to Newbury port, on missionary business.

17. At N — pt, fitting away missionaries.

18. Returned from N. 19. Miscellaneous. 20. Do.
21. Do. 22. Preached at Marblehead.

23. Visited families. Funeral of Mrs. Gould.

24. Confined with influenza. 25. Do. 26. Do.
27. Do. 28. In study. 29. Preached at home.

30. Visited families,

31. Occupied with attention to my sick family.
Nov. 1, My little son John Norris so sick, as to

engross my attention. 2. Do. 3. Do.

4. My son died. 5. Mr. Dow preached. Son buried.

6. Family visits. Attended funeral of Mrs. Cutler,
Hamilton. 7. Miscellaneous. 8. Do.

9. S. M. Conference at my house. 10. In study.

11. Do. 12. Parochial visits. Ch. meeting.

13. Went to Boston. Sem. An. Meeting, Mass.
Miss. Society.

15. Returned from Boston. Son, Jonathan Fox,
sick of fever.


16. In study. 17. Occupied with family concerns.

18. In study, engaged in 3d Letter to Mr. Channing.

19. Exchanged with Br. Walker.

20. Parochial vis. C. M. 21. In study. 22. Do.
23. Miscellaneous. V. M. 24. In study. 25. Do.
26. Preached at home. 27. Parochial visits. C. M.
28. Miscellaneous. Met Committee of Branch

Church, to endeavor a settlement of long existing dif-
ficulties. 29. In my study. 30. Do. V. M.

Dec. 1. In my study. Conferred again with Com.
of B. C. Agreed upon terms of amicable settlement.
2. In study. 3. Preached at Upper Beverly. Mr.
Colby at Tabernacle.

4. Parochial visits. C. M. Church adopted the
agreement with B. C.

5. In study. 6. Do. P. M. Kode to Charlestown.

7. At Boston. Assisted in organizing Am. Soc.
for young men. [Education for the ministry.]

8. Returned from Boston. 9. In study.

10. Preached at home, A. M. At S. M. P. M.

11. Parochial visits. C. M. Members of B. Church
present. 12. In study.

13. Do. Meeting at Branch Vestry.

14. Do. Dea. Adams. V. M. 15. Do. 16. Do.

17. Preached at home. 18. Parochial visits.
19. In study. 20. In study. Mrs. Grant's.

21. In study. Finished 3d Letter to Mr. C.

22. Miscellaneous. 23. In study.

It may seem incredible, and yet it is true, that these
Memoranda are but an average index of Dr. Worces-
ter's life and labors, year by year, from 1803 to 1821.
But these months were selected, because it was much
desired to impress upon the mind of the reader, that
his part in the controversy^ which was the greatest of
his life and his times, was " strange workj'' and was
that in which he could never have engaged, but from
the most urgent convictions of personal duty to the
cause of truth and the glory of his Master.


It appeared to some, and not without reason, that
Dr. Channing began his " Remarks " on the Letter of
Dr. Worcester, as if painfully conscious of his itiability
to answer him. But it was not 'treating such an op-
ponent with due respect, to publish " Remarks " upon
his Letter, instead of addressing him directly. And
it is hard to avoid the surmise, that the mode chosen
was dictated by the necessity of making the most of his
means to sustain himself; and by addressing the pub-
lic, Dr. C. could have a far better opportunity of using
to the best effect his peculiar talents.* As he pro-
ceeds in the discussion, he becomes animated and
confident ; but no man of logical acumen and perfect
impartiality of judgment can be so blind as not to see,
that his " Remarks " are seriously wanting in candid,
honest, and valid argument-!

In Dr. Channing's " Remarks," there was a dis-
claimer of personalities, yet they abounded. The strong-
est points were more or less avoided or evaded. Many
things were said, as if arguments, which had no re-
levancy to the points at issue ; yet were well suited to
awaken smpathy in the writer's behalf. There was an

* A few years later, he did not attempt to answer Prof. Stuart's Letters,
addressed to him respecting some statements in his Sermon at the Ordina-
tion of Mr Sparks, at Baltimore. Prof Norton reviewed those Letters, — but
instead of meeting Prof Stuart's arguments directly and manfully, he gave
a general view of reasons for adopting Unitarian sentiments, in opposition to
the Trinitarian system of faith. This is a mode of controversy, which is
well understood by some advocates at the bar, and some orators in the halls
of legislation. A man may thus say very much, that passes for argument
and truth ; when if he had tried to meet his opponent just where his oppo-
nent stood, he could not have concealed his weakness and his discomfiture.

t In patience, accuracy, calmness, discrimination ; in short, in every re-
quisite for a successful management of a controversy, Dr. Worcester was
acknowledged by those best qualified to judge, whether friends or opposers,
to be incomparably the superior of his opponent. But his greatest superior-
ity was in the cause, which he defended.


effort to embarrass Dr* Worcester, by references to the
conflicting views of Calvinists and Hopkinsians ; and
more especially, by placing before him, in the most in-
vidious form, the sentiments of the author of the " Bible
News." The unkindness of this last procedure was
felt very keenly by Dr. Worcester, and was regarded
as unworthy of Dr. Channing. But there was a " mis-
statement " in Dr. Channing's " Remarks," which he
did not hesitate to pronounce " flagrant ;" and of
which, for the grievous injury inflicted by it, he de-
manded an explicit acknowledgment and correction.

He was accustomed to the strictest accuracy in all
his own statements, and chose his words, with the
most rigid discrimination and conscientiousness. He
would have humbled himself, as without excuse, if
through excitement, haste, or inadvertence, he had mis-
represented Dr. Channing ; and to have misrepresented
knowingly, would have been morally impossible.
Hence he considered it a fault of no common aggra-
vation, that Dr. Channing should have made the egre-
gious, if not " flagrant misstatement," which he cer-
tainly did, whatever he might honestly say of his
" impressio7is^^^ or those of his friends.*

Dr. Worcester's Second Letter followed his First,
after an interval of little more than a single month,
during which his engagements and his severe illness
have been seen in his Memoranda. The contents and
character of this able production cannot be better des-
cribed, within the same limits, than as follows:

* The minds of the two men, in habits of logical statement, were about as
different as geometry and poetry. Dr. Channing admitted that " a verbal
critic, with a dictionary m his hand " might make less of the words of Dr.
Worcester; but insisted upon a rule of interpretation according to imj^res-
5io??s,— which, if carried out, would leave any man's language at the mercy of
every other maifs ignorance, or carelessness, or angry passion.


" After correcting the ' flagrant misstatement,' and
several others of minor consequence, Dr. W. proceeds
to show, at some length the radical difference between
Trinitarians and Unitarians. He shows, that the or-
thodox believe in the plenary inspiration of the Scrip-
tures, and that Unitarians disallow such an inspira-
tion ; that the orthodox believe in the doctrine of the
Trinity ; that they hold this doctrine to be fundamen-
tally important ; that they believe in the divinity of
Christ, in his incarnation, in his expiatory sacrifice,
and in justification by faith alone ; while Unitarians
reject these doctrines, or entirely explain them away.

At the commencement of this Letter, Dr. W. ex-
presses his ' deliberate judgment, in which he had the
concurrence of all with whom he had conversed, that
Mr. C. had not directly met him at a single point,
shown him to be incorrect in a single statement, nor
refuted him in a single position, or argument ; and, in
a word, that Mr. C.'s Remarks were no real answer to
his First Letter.' Dr. W. then inquires, by wha,t means
Mr. C. had been able to give his Remarks the appear-
ance and effect of an answer ; for that it had that ap-
pearance and that effect, in the view of some persons,
is admitted. By a very clear and powerful analysis.
Dr. W. shows, that the Remarks of Mr. C. owed what-
ever efficacy they possessed, to the imputation of a had
intention ; to his representing Dr. W.'s Letter as light
and trifling ; to his diverting the reader'' s attention from
the point and the argument ; and to misstatements

The Second Letter is written with moderation, sol-
emnity, and great ability. It bears evident testimony,
not only to the conscientiousness of the writer, but to
his care, patience, and diligence, as well as to his pro-
found veneration for the Scriptures, and his habit of
fair and close investigation." *

A pamphlet had just been published, as the last
sheet of Dr. Worcester's Second Letter was put into
his hands for correction. His attention was called to

* Panoplist J 816, pp. 222-3.


it, in the book-store of his honored publisher and friend,
S. T. Armstrong, Esq. After reading it, he retired to
a room, and immediately wrote a " Postscript," which
in an hour or two was in the printing office. The
"Layman" never recovered from the well deserved re-
buke of his personal invective and phrenzied vitupera-
tion.* It was a remark of Dr. V/orcester, suggested
by the arrogant pretensions of some self-constituted
umpires in doctrinal controversy, — " I have no great
confidence in these lay theologians.^^

* " A pamphlet by a Layman has come to hand, just in season to receive
as much attention as it seems to require. The pamphlet bears this title,
' Are you a Christian or a Calvinist ? Or, Do you prefer the authority of
Christ to that of the Genevan 'Reformer V Whatever in this publication con-
cerns me, and the cause which I have espoused, has been almost entirely
anticipated, and, as I believe, sufficiently answered, in the foregoing Letter.

The title, the spirit, the whole tenor, import that Calvinists are not Chris-
tians. I am not in the least angered by this ; nor do I apprehend that
any of my brethren implicated, will think that they will do well to be angry,
or will feel themselves called upon to express, even ' a virtuous indignation/
If the Layman and his party really believe that Calvinists are not christians,
they have my full and hearty coni?ent to declare it with the utmost freedom ;
nor will I contend with them at all about their consistency in claiming to be
thought most charitable, in entertaining and expressing this opinion, and in
continually denouncing us as being utterly devoid of charity.

' I expect,' says this unknown writer, the ' intolerant among the disciples
of Calvin will be ready to consign a layman to the fate of '•'■ unrr generate
reprobates^'' who shall dare to intermeddle with the sacred mysteries of their
faith.' The gentleman, I believe, need give himself no concern on this score.
' Their master,' he proceeds to say, 'would never sufl'er any one to question
his doctrines under pain of the fagot. He wished to dethrone the Pope, only
that he might put the tiara on his own head. His disciples in this country,
and in this alone, retain the same spirit.' — Tliese are the first sentences. To
these I will add a quotation from the 6th page. ' The orthodox believe in
Calvin and the Westminister Assembly ; the liberal christians in Christ and
his apostles. The former are Calvinists — the latter are christians. Yet so
intolerant and unreasonable are the party who have arrogated to themselves
the title of orthodox, that they venture to deny the name and title of chris-
tians to the followers of Christ, and apply it exclusively to the followers of
Calvin, and of human councils, assemblies, and creed-makers.' Those who
have not the opportunity or inclination to read the pamphlet, may rely on
these quotations, not only as a lair specimen, but as containing the sum and
substance, the pith and marrow of the whole. Such is the 'document'
which this writer is careful to let us know it was his intention ' to furnish ' to
be deposited in the archives ' of our historical societies and the alcoves of our
colleges;' a monument more durable than brass, to proclaim and exemplify
to the generations to come, the talent and taste, the truth and argument, the
correctness and wisdom, the dignity and urbanity, the meekness and mo-
desty, the candor and charity of the liberal men of Massachusetts ' in the
beginning of the nineteenth century.'

The Layman states, or intimates, more than once, that I deny, and endea-
vor to prove, that the Reviewer did not charge the liberal clergy and party

VOL. II. 30


To Dr. Worcester, amidst his labors and infirmities,
it was gratefully providential, that the annual meet-
ing of the A. B. C. F. M. for 1815, should have been
appointed to be held, Sept. 20, in Salem. With warm
affection he greeted the coming of his associates. In
his Report, Mr. Newell's departure from Ceylon, to
join his brethren in Bombay, — the latest intelligence
from this first mission, — the ordination of the new
missionaries, — ^the change of the destination of Messrs.
Warren and Meigs, were duly noticed. " The design
of a Western Mission," though " suspended," was not
"relinquished." The judgment of the Board was
sought, in relation to a plan for missions to the Indian
tribes, — such as was briefly stated in the Letter of Dr.
Worcester to Mr. Evarts, July 1.*

with ' hypocritical concealment ;' and upon this he bestows many words. I
said, however, expUcitly, * I mean not to deny that the Reviewer does
charge ministers, and perhaps others, of the party called liberal, with want
of openness and clearness ; nay, with designed concealment and culpable

P. 12, the Layman says, * We agree wuh Dr. Worcester, and we are
happy to agree with him in some points, that south of Massachusetts there is
very little freedom of religious opinion. Men must think as they are bid, not
as they believe.' How the gentleman came to know this to be my opinion,
I will not attempt to divine ; but sure I am, he can find not the slightest in-
timation of any thing of this sort, not the most distant reference to the people
south of Massachusetts in my Letter.

For an answer to the main scope and argument of bis pamphlet, I beg
leave to refer the Layman to pp. 11—14, 22—25, and 28—40 of the foregoing

What is principally to be apprehended by me and my brethren, of danger
to ourselves and our cause from the Layman's attempt is, that we shall not
duly remember, that * charity rejoiceth not in iniquity ; hut rejoireth in truth.''
We have strong temptation to rejoice in this publication. This shower of
' poisoned arrows ' has not reached us. I confess, however, 1 like the Lay-
man's openness. He conceals nehher his sentiments, nor his spirit, his party
prejudices nor his private enmities, his designs nor his resources ; — nothing
but his name.

' Alack ! 'tis he I why he was met even now
As mad as the vex'd sea : singing aloud,
Crown'd with rank furmiter, and furrow weeds,
With harlocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,
Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow
In our sustaining corn.'

***** ' That close aspect of his
Does shew the mood of a much troubled breast.' "
* That Letter contained the model of the missions afterwards established,
— with modifications from some circumstances, — as that of the invention of


In anticipation of the sailing of the Ceylon mission-
aries, Dr. Worcester apprized his associates, that there
must be a large increase of expenditure ; also, that
an increase must be expected, from year to year, with
" every addition to the number of our missionaries,
and to the extension of our operations." After some
suggestions of a financial nature, the assured hope was
expressed, that, " under Providence," the Board might
safely depend " on the liberality of the Christian pub-
lic." * The example of England should silence the
objection, that other benevolent societies were so mul-
tiplying, or so enlarging their operations.

* * " A similar spirit is rising in this country, and
by proper means may be advanced to a proportional
activity and productiveness. Nor is there any danger
that by this spirit of liberality the community will be
impoverished. It is estimated that the total annual
expenditures of all the Missionary and Bible Societies
in England do not amount to the annual expense of
supporting a single ship of the line. What we have
most to fear is, that the?principal functionaries of the
Board will not be able, with their other occupations,
to bestow upon the continually accumulating business
that attention which its augmenting importance will
demand. In regard to this subject, however, as well
as in regard to every other concern, pertaining to this
institution, the wisdom of the Board will be exercised,
under the direction of Him in whom all fulness

the Cherokee syllabic alphabet by Guess, the half-breed, — an invention,
which thoug-h as a literary fact remarkable, yet of very doubtful advantage to
the Cherokees. There are reasons to think, that it would have been better
for their progress, if it had never been known. At the present time, the na-
tional schools of the Cherokees do not teach in the native, but in the English

* Balance carried to the credit of the Board, in new account, Sept. 1,
1815, $19,833 35. Dr. W.'s appeal in March was not unheeded. The Board
had no hesitancy in going forward.



Dr. Worcester so arranged his work, that whatever
in particular he undertook, was prosecuted to its com-
pletion. A change of labor afforded relief. Letters
could be written or answered, in hours when the mind
and body were hardly in sufficient vigor for such ex-
ertion, as that of writing his Letters to Channing. And
many and wearying as were the hours of his labor, in
pushing forward the designs of the Prudential Com-
mittee, he always seemed cheerful and happy.

He was seldom, if ever, happier in appearance, than
during the Unitarian Controversy. It was partly, no

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 29 of 42)