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 38 of 42)
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yet with tones as if making an effort of self-control, — .•

* Sermon XXXIXth, of Vol. printed after his decease. The last hymns
were the 69ih and 70ih of his owa Select Hynjns.

VOL, ji, 38*



450 MEMOIR OF

he said, — " Well, my son, — I trust that God will be
with you. Give my love to all in the family, and to
all my friends in Salem. Say to themj that I go with
cheerful hope."

He said but little more, when he ascended the deck
of the vessel, and went down into the cabin. It was
severely cold, and he had but a forbidding prospect of
a comfortable night, on the water; a fire was kindled,
before which he sat shivering, when the orders to
" cast off" began to be obeyed. The paternal hand
pressed the filial. And the Son, who was the last of
all his kindred to leave him and to see him, returned
to fulfill the last charge, and to repeat the last words,
which he was permitted to hear from the father's own
voice.

ii ^fig Louisiana^ Jan. 4, 1821.
My dear wife, —

When Samuel left me, I expected to have been at
sea before this time, but it was difficult getting the
vessel through the ice, and the sun was down before
we completed the passage from the place where she
lay at India wharf to the end of Long wharf, where
she rests for the night. It was judged not quite safe
to go out at so late an hour,- — especially as the tide
was not favorable, and the ice is moving and floating
in the harbor. It is now about half past eight o'clock.
The Captain, my young fellow-passenger, and all
hands, excepting the mate — who already seems very
much my friend — are on shore. They are to return,
however, before midnight ; and early in the morning
we hope to be under weigh.

I felt a little disappointment when I learned that we
should not proceed to night, as I love to accomplish
things in the appointed time, and have felt in some
haste to get away from this frightful climate. But I
am content. The appointed time for going out is not
yet — it may not be tomorrow.



SAMUEL WORCESTER. 451

You know my maxim is to wait upon Providence,
and to folloiv as Providence directs or leads." [He then
referred to his first " thought " of a visit to the Indian
Establishments, — to his journey for his health, in
which he "went rather passively than otherwise," —
and to the advice of Dr. Shattuck and other phy-
sicians,* that he should take a voyage to the South.]
" The Prudential Committee requested me to go. It
seemed to be the finger of Providence. I am on board
the Louisiana, well accommodated and amply provided
by the affectionate and generous kindness of my friends.
Here I remain to-night — what will be on the morrow
I know not — nor do I know what the Lord designs in
bringing me hither. But let us keep these things and
ponder them in our hearts.

5. Slept pretty well — fine morning — channel clear,
wind fair — sails up at a quarter before 8, — we. are
going out in fine style. We are now, five minutes to
nine, down to the Light house. The pilot is about to
leave us. The Lord bless you and our family. Love
to all, Samuel Worcester."

By a vessel, which was spoken Jan. 18, a letter was
received by Mrs.. W. containing his journal of events
and occurrences, after sailing, on the morning of Fri-
day, Jan. 5. He first adverts to some providential
indications, and then describes the uncomfortableness
of the cabin and his berth, from the cold, or from
smoke if a fire was kept. For five days he did not
touch his pen.

" Jan. 6. * * * It was eleven o'clock on this same
Saturday morning before I could get a cup of coffee.
After taking my coffee, I succeeded in a second at-
tempt to put on my clothes, ventured out of my state
room, and even staggered up the companion way. But

* In a letter which follows, he remarked, — " Dr. Peirson almost alone had
a dread of the voyage ; and since I came on board, I have been ready to
think his apprehensions loo well grounded,"



452 MEMOIR OF

the fierce piercing wind instantly drove me back. I
was sick to fainting, and with the utmost difficulty
recovered my berth, where I lay through the day, and
through the long night, while the wind was roaring —
the sea foaming, the vessel running, rocking and heav-
ing, and the moveables inside rattling and clattering
with no small damage. It was to me a sleepless night,
— not T think from any fear, and not I trust without
some delightful confidence in Him whom the winds
and the waves obey.

Jan. 7. Sabbath. Having taken a little rice on the
preceding evening, which remained on my stomach,
and perceiving that we had reached another tempera-
ture of atmosphere, I made an effort to rise pretty
early, hoping to be able to keep out of my berth.
Again, however, before my clothes were on, I was
convinced that the hope was a delusive one. Yet
with much ado I ascended the companion way. It
was at the very moment of most profound and awful
interest. The gale which had blown all night from
the north had raised a tremendous sea. Now all at
once the wind came round the south-south-west, with
nearly equal strength; and meeting the billows rolling
in their majesty, the conflict produced a scene surpas-
sing in grandeur all power of description. All around
as far as the eye could reach, the waters were piled up
in sharp conical hills and mountains, as in lengthened
and towering ridges from the angry summits of the one
and of the other the comb was breaking with a thou-
sand appearances like enchantment, and the thickening
spray flying in all directions; each part by itself, and
the whole immense mass was moving with terrific
agitation. I knew not why, but I stood at the head
of the companion way and surveyed the scene with as
perfect calmness, as I had a few weeks before survey-
ed the hills and waters of the interior of New Hamp-
shire. I remarked to the Capt. who was standing near
me in some apparent anxiety, — 'This, sir, is worth a
voyage to New Orleans to see.' — 'It is just, sir,' he
replied, ' what I could wish never to see.' * * * I had
of this day and night another twenty-four hours in my



SAMUEL WORCESTER.



453



couch, with scarcely the least refreshment or relief
from food or cordial, from sleep or friend.

Jan. 8. Rose up in my berth— attempted to take
my clothes for dressing — but instantly fell headlong
upon the floor, or rather among the furniture of my
state room, which happened to be not in the best order.
One of my feet was brought into an uncomfortable
situation between my portable desk and a package of
books. In attempting to extricate it, I found that my
will had no power to move the limb; and for some
time I had the unpleasant apprehension that I should
never walk again. For three days and nights I had
been in my couch without nourishment, without the
application of the brush, without exercise, saving what
was occasioned by the heaving and rolling of the ves-
sel, which served to produce a high nervous excitement.
The nervous stricture and numbness all over me, and
especially from my loins downward were dreadful —
the feeling more like that of a tightly ligatured limb,
than any other I can mention. I set myself to work
as I could, to bring a little locomotive jDOwer into
action. In ten or fifteen minutes my foot was extri-
cated, and in about an hour and a half my clothes
were on — but it was after having for many a time
sunk down for rest from feeble efforts, and for many a
*time fallen back from attempts rendered abortive partly
by weakness, and partly by the incessant agitation of
the vessel. This towering little self was in a condition
to feel its weakness. * * How precious in such an
hour were the aid of a friend, or of a kind attendant —
how inestimable the tender assiduities of a wife ! —
You will ask was there no one to render any help ? —
No one. The Capt. and Mr. F. were on deck ; and
poor Jack, the cabin boy, was scarcely once or twice
within hearing. Had it been Capt. Haraden, some
inquiry would probably have been made respecting
me, notwithstanding the turbulence of the weather.
And yet Capt. D******** evidently means to treat me
with kindness and respect. The Lord was my
Helper.



454



MEMOIR OP



On getting out into the cabin and upon deck, I per-
ceived we had come into a different atmosphere — the
wind abated — the sea relaxed — and weak as T was I
made an effort to keep out of my berth ; for the most
of the day, I was no more sea sick ; but the languor and
torpor, and sinking feeling seemed to admonish me,
that the wheel at the cistern had nearly stopped. The
little I took into my stomach through the day, was
thrown off at evening. I went into my couch with a
chill, — a strong head wind and a heavy sea kept the
vessel in a toss, — and I had another sleepless night.

Jan. 9. As I was trying to get down a cup of
chocolate at the breakfast table — the vessel still work-
ing violently — I could not, or did not forbear saying,
and am afraid with some impatience, that, should the
incessant motion continue much longer, my nature
would inevitably sink under it. Weak as I was, and
my nervous system in dreadful excitement, every move-
ment of the vessel gave me indescribable distress.
Within fifteen minutes after breakfast, so it pleased
the goodness of God, the wind subsided, and soon
afterwards it came round, fair and gentle, and the sea
grew calm. The sky was serene — the temperature in-
dicated at 60° — and the day like a fine Massachusetts
May day. I crawled up on deck and enjoyed it as
well as I could. The air seemed all that I could desire
— ^and yet it was but wind. Though relieved and a
little refreshed, yet the languor and torpor which I felt
were excessive. The night was also serene, and not-
withstanding a morbid and febrile restlessness, I had
some refreshing sleep.

Jan. 13. At noon in lat. 27° 32". The four last
days have been serene and most refreshing— the wind
though for the most part not fair, has been propitious,
the sea gentle, and the vast expanse of ocean and sky
has only reflected the unbounded benignity of Him
who is present throughout the whole. I have borne
the bath pretty well in regular course for three days,
and I begin to feel, as if the springs of life were not.
quite dried up.



SAMUEL WORCESTER. 455

Jan. 14. Just from my berth, called by the cry of
* A sail ill sight.' Weather continues fine. My health
improves a little every day. Yesterday was able to
pray with the ship's company, and make a short ad-
dress to them. You will understand me to mean that
my health is recovering from the state, to which it
was reduced by the sea-sickness and its circumstances.
That was certainly a very low state. * * * But the
Lord has been very merciful, and blessed be his Name.
He was merciful in hearing me in the day of my dis-
tress, and calming so seasonably and so propitiously,
the wind and the sea. It may also in due time appear,
that the depression of my health to the extreme point,
was for its ultimate benefit. Already I feel a strong
persuasion that the soreness of my mouth is thoroughly
cured. I have perceived since my sea-sickness, not
only no soreness, inflammation, or morbid tenderness —
but a renovated sense of taste, and a natural state of
the mucus membrane, which seems to perform its
functions perfectly.

However this may be, or whatever the event, I have
yet seen only goodness and mercy in all that I have
experienced. In the most distressful hours, my pillow
was wet with tears of gratitude I trust, in part; and I
found a sweetness not soon to be forgotten, in com-
mitting myself and dear family — wife and children,
severally and together — to Him, in whose hand is
the sea and the dry land — a heart-filling satisfaction
in his gracious and everlasting covenant. * * *

With love to all,

Samuel Worcester."

Jeremiah Evarts^ Esq.

^^ Great Bahama Bank, Brig" Louisiana,

January 22, 1821.
My very dear Sir, —

It is now seventeen days since I became a tempora-
ry resident in this floating habitation — fit emblem of
human life. The reason is well known to you; and
you, I am sure, will feel the interest of a friend, and



456 MEMOIR OF

more than a friend, in whatever relates to my voyage
and its objects.

On the I8th we spoke the brig Sally, from St. Do-
mingo, on her return passage to New York ; and by
her I sent a letter to Mrs. Worcester, from which, if
duly received, you will have learned the principal cir-
cumstances of my passage, up to that date. The first
four or five days were severe ; and to me, in my feeble
state, tremendous. The cold intense — the wind vehe-
ment, and, at intervals, in gales compelling us to bare
poles — and the sea heavy and violent. Unable to en-
dure exposure to the weather, I could obtain relief
from incessant sickness, only by a fixed recumbency in
my berth ; and respite from the rocking and heaving
of the vessel, which were most distressing to me, day
or night, I had none. My strength was extremely re-
duced ; and my poor shattered system, in a situation
too critical to be long continued. One support re-
mained. The same unfailing Hand, which had borne
me through the many scenes and dangers of my muta-
ble pilgrimage, was present. To confide in that Hand
was as tranquillizing and refreshing, as it was reason-
able and safe.

On the fifth day, after a tempestuous night, and a
morning affording little promise of relief to my wea-
ried, exhausted, and recoiling nature, the winds were
hushed, the billows subsided, and the skies became
placid and benignant; and ever since, though variable,
the weather has been propitious. My health has re-
quired all the attention I have been able to bestow; I
have yet, I suppose, not half the strength that I had
when I left home. I am not, however, without hope
that eventually benefit to my health will result from
the extreme depression to which it has been reduced.
It may be otherwise ; and yet all will be well. The
everit is with Him, who, in his own way, and for his
own pleasure, has brought me hither.

You will not have forgotten a brief conversation
which I held with you, on a morning I believe of last
August, respecting a visit to our Cherokee and Choc-
taw establishments. Vivid as, after some meditations



SAMUEL WORCESTER. 457

upon the pillow, my view then was of the importance
of such a visit, the obstacles in the way of it appeared
insurmountable ; and I felt a misgiving, which perhaps
you perceived at the time, for having even suggested
a thought about it to you. Afterwards it would occa-
sionally come over my mind with the mysterious effect
of a night vision, whose interesting impressions are
fading away. Pressed with infirmities, and cares, and
avocations, I could only do from day to day what must
not be omitted or postponed, and refer all the future
to unerring Providence ; — little anticipating that so
soon, by the steady course of that Providence, no op-
tion would be left me but to enter upon an undertak-
ing seemingly so infeasible.

Before my six weeks' tour in October and Novem-
ber, a desire was expressed by some of my friends, that
I should try a voyage upon the water; but reasons for
a land tour prevailed. On my return I thought of no
more journies or voyages ; — but to get through the
winter as might be ordered for me, in the bosom of
home, where I greatly desired repose. It soon, how-
ever, became evident, that I should ill endure the win-
ter. And the opinion of six respectable physicians,
after a particular examination of the case, in favor of
a voyage to the south, as the only means from which
I could have a fair prospect of restored health, or of
lengthened life, was decisive. After this, to think of
remaining at home were presumptuous waywardness.

No voyage to the South was considered more eligi-
ble at this season, than to New Orleans ; no part of
the southern country preferable, for a two or three
months' residence, to the States of Mississippi, Alaba-
ma, and Georgia, in which our Indian establishments
are situated. — In the mean time, independently of the
considerations of health, a visit to these establishments
for special purposes, had become, in the view of the
Prudential Committee, so important as to justify a
great effort and sacrifice, if necessary, to its being ef-
fected.

The coincidence was striking. The pointing of the

VOL. IL 39



458 MEMOIR OF

finger of God was plain ; — to the South — to New Or-
leans — to Elliot and Brainerd — to the important ob-
jects, requiring attention at those stations.

It is thus that I read Providence ; — a Book not of
enigmas, or of prodigies, or of ambiguous or dubious
import, as seems not unfrequently to be supposed ; but
of plain style, in the language of fact standing in their
regular order, and of direct meaning not hard to be
understood. To a mind, which delights in searching
out the ways of God, and observing the indications of
his will, and which, by exercising, with unctions from
on high, has attained a readiness and accuracy in dis-
cerning time and judgment, a single fact, with its pro-
per circumstances, may be clearly intelligible. But
when we see a number of facts, regularly following one
another in the same direction, the intention of Provi-
dence becomes proportionably more clear and certain.
The certainty is still increased in clearness and strength,
when two or more series of facts, independent of each
other, and uncombined by any human contrivance or
force, are of the same tendency and import, or coincide
in the same direction or point. — In the present instance
an entire page was open before me, and the whole was
written as with a sunbeam.

I have felt no apprehension that in coming on board
this vessel, I had fled or was flying from the presence
of the Lord ; no fear that on any such account, the
Lord would send out a great wind into the sea. On
the contrary, it has been to my mind no slight satis-
faction, that I came hither in obedience to his direc-
tion ; and not as I would humbly trust, without some
degree of filial submission, and confidence, and hope.
What the end or event is to be, is not yet to be read.
It may be the final exit from all earthly scenes, and the
dropping of this slender tabernacle, though far away
from its kindred dust, yet in the place, whether in the
sea or upon the land, appointed by sovereign Good-
ness for its rest until the rising day. — It may be the
accomplishment of something for life and immortality
to the wanderers of the wilderness, or dwellers in the
dark places of the earth, by an instrumentality so fee-



SAMUEL WORCESTER.



459



ble, as to make it manifest for everlasting thanksgiv-
ing and praise, that the excellency of the power must
have been of God.

At the age of fifty — with a family requiring a fath-
er's as well as a mother's care — a people holding his
heart with a thousand ties — a study, his loved retreat,

* Fast by the Oracle of God,'

responsibilities the most sacred and the most weighty
— and objects of attention and action for which only
he would live and labor, — one could not leave home
for an absence so long, and with prospects so precari-
ous, without many reluctances and regrets, and thoughts
of serious import, and movements of the inmost heart.
But at no period of life, and in no situation or circum-
stances, while in this world, are we to think of exemp-
tion from trials; and where should we be tried, but
where we have sensibilities and affections — delights
and hopes ? — And what is time, or place, or outward
condition ? Our happiness is in neither. God is at
all times and in all places the same ; and to feel that
we are in him and he in us, is enough for happiness.
To feel, filially, that we are where he would have us
be, and doing what he would have us do, is all that
for ourselves we should desire.

In this suspension of my accustomed labors, and re-
moval from the scenes of action, I see only wisdom and
goodness. Amid the engagements and avocations of
active life, some important duties, and particularly the
most necessary and salutary exercise of self-examina-
tion, we are too apt to omit, or but remissly to per-
form. It is especially so in public life, when the weight
of cares, and the urgency of labors, allow little time
for any private purpose. It is in such a situation, and
especially when the public functions are of a sacred
kind, that self-examination — a strict and constant in-
vestigation and scrutiny of our motives and views, our
feelings and aims, is of the highest importance ; and
the servant of the Lord Jesus whose heart is sincere,
whose conscience is pure, and whose duties are multi-
plied and pressing, will regard as kind any ordering of



460 MEMOIR OP

Providence, which brings him to serious reflection,
and to a better acquaintance with the springs and ends
of his actions and pursuits — his standing with God,
and his account for the final day. For purposes such
as these, this solemn pause in my course is peculiarly
favorable. Placed as upon the limits between life and
death — between time and eternity — opportunity is af-
forded me, and necessity is laid upon me, to review
my course of action, and the objects, which have en-
gaged my mind and heart, under the most serious as-
pects, and in the strongest lights. The impression, let
me assure you, is intensely vivid, and awfully pro-
found. It is no light matter to live and act for an
everlasting state; and especially in public situations,
connected with the momentous interests of the king-
dom of God, under that Eye from which no deed, or
word, or thought, or feeling is concealed, and which
never loses sight of what the Cross demands of every
man.

One thing is consummated, and settled in my mind ;
and that is a full and delightful conviction, that the
cause of missions has never held too high a place in ray
estimation, or engaged too large a share of my atten-
tion. This is saying nothing and less than nothing.
It transcends — immeasurably transcends — the highest
estimation of every created mind. And what is the
sacrifice of health — what the sacrifice of life — ^to such a
cause ? Be the event what it may — ^recovered health,
or early death — I never can regret what I have done in
this work ; — but only that I have done so little, and
with a heart so torpid.

Though it may seem good to our Master and Lord,
to lay me aside, you, my dearest friend, will, I devout-
ly hope and pray, be continued in the work, for many
years. I know well that you too have found it ardu-
ous; and that you have long been, and still are, ur-
gently pressed by earthly considerations, to relinquish
the situation, which so much to the satisfaction of the
friends of missions, you have for nine years held. It
will not grieve you in the world to come, if it shall ap-
pear, that you have given up earthly objects of great



SAMUEL WORCESTER. 461

seeming magnitude and interest, that many might be
brought from the confines of eternal darkness to the
abodes of immortal light. The world has votaries
enough ; enough who are deluded by its shows, and
its promises ; and who, to the neglect of their own
eternal interests and those of their fellow beings, give
themselves wholly to its fascinations and pursuits.
Let the few, whose minds and hearts have been raised
to higher- views and aspirations, exhibit full and un-
questionable proof of their heavenly birth, their im-
measurable superiority to the world, and their unre-
served and unregretted devotedness to Him, who hath
called them unto his kingdom and glory. If, for the
unsubstantial, and momentary objects of earthy pur-
suit, the children of this world eagerly traverse land
and sea, encounter dangers of every form, and put
health and life and whatever is dear to them at stake ;
what labors or sacrifices, or sufferings, should not the
children of light ever hold themselves ready to yield,
when the imperishable interests of the kingdom of light
are to be promoted ? The world yet lieth in wicked-
ness — in darkness and corruption. The Gospel is the
only remedy — the means prescribed by sovereign wis-
dom for its recovery. To communicate the Gospel to
all the families of the earth, is a work to be done by
those who have felt its power, and know its value.
They have no time to lose — no advantages to be
neglected—no talents to be held unoccupied. Christians
h^ve yet to feel very differently from what they have
been accustomed to feel on this subject. The stand-
ard of piety must be raised. Devotedness to Christ



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 38 of 42)