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 39 of 42)
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and his cause must not be a matter of mere theory ; it
must be carried into living and demonstrative practice.
On this general topic I have some thoughts, which I
wish to communicate to you. But this letter is al-
ready long, and I will reseve them for another,*
With affectionate and very high esteem.

Yours faithfully, Samuel Worcester/*

* One other letter of the series intended, was written at Natchez, March
23, the most important parts of which have been cited in Chap. II. — la Dr.

VOL, II, 39*


Feb. 3d. His Journal, from Jan. 8, was sent from
the English Turn, fifteen miles below New Orleans.
" The voyage throughout has been a severe experiment.
* * My hopes are not depressed. * * My shattered
constitution may, with the same Almighty support,
endure a little longer, and possibly recover a little
strength." His description of his suffering, from va-
rious causes, some of v^hich should not have been, was
sufficiently painful at the time, and the recital would
not now be of any advantage.

At New Orleans, the elements were all unpropitious
to him. His noble frame was but a wreck of " its form
and comeliness." Still he engaged "with all his ardor
in promoting the cause of missions. He addressed
the people of Louisiana, in an appeal of dignity and
power, which, in his extremely shattered condition,
would not have been anticipated by any, who had not
intimately known his intellectual endowments and
spiritual graces. The success of it was very grateful
to his feelings.

He received numerous letters, some on subjects of
business, but all filled with testimonials of Christian
friendship and fervent sympathy. Prayer without

W.'s Note-Book, on the voyage, are such scraps as these : — " Whatev«?r
concerns religion is viewed with reference to the State. Ecclesiastical law
of Massachusetts supersedes that of the Constituiions of Christ, — subjects
the churches," &c. — " Alarmed at the raising of $30,000 for the work of
missions — high-minded, honorable men!" — '-Ministers show something of
the same spirit — must take care at home ! " — " Christian Observer — senti-
ments worthy of the minions of Rome, &:c It stands a dreadful memento of
the influence of prescription over the best of minds ! " — " Episcopal bench,
a splendid pageant of state trophy — monument of subjection as really as the
column is of the burning of the city. More of true greatness, I see in El-
liot with his Indians at Katick, — more in Brainerd with his at Crossweek-
sung." *' If we are not raised higher in holier afTeclions and fellowship, — it
will be a deplorable case. The spirit of Martyn, — this spirit must rise, till
ihe primitive times are restored,"


ceasing had been offered for him, — the evidence of
which touched his heart, in its tenderest chords. His
character of piety was unfolded in yet more delightful
manifestation, as new trials gathered upon him ; and
although the improbabilities of his recovery multiplied
every week, his hope of seeing his family and friends
was still firm.

His letters gratefully acknowledged the kindness of
new and old acquaintances and friends.* — " The pious
ladies, especially," as he wrote to Mrs. W., Feb. 24,
" have honored me with frequent calls, in larger or
smaller groups, and with a praying society of them, I
have been permitted to unite in social devotion, — a
sweet and refreshing privilege, reminding me of pre-
cious seasons enjoyed with our dear female friends
in Salem."

" My heart is every day gladdened with expressions
of the warm afiection, with which my dearly beloved
colleague is remembered in this place. Present to him
and his precious w^ife as much of the love and grati-
tude as you can ; and distribute the same most fully,
as you have opportunity, to all our dear friends. Your
letter was a most exhilarating cordial to me. Write me
as often as you can. Tell the lovely little girls Pa is very
glad, that they have been good, and kiss them for me.
Samuel, Fidelia, and Jonathan, are ever in my heart,
with your dearest self. Samuel Worcester."

" I hoped," he said in a letter to his ' dear Associate
and Brother,' " to have seen you in Boston, and the fail-

* From Alfred Hennen, Esq., Rev. J. B. Warren, Capt. Wm. Brown,
Capt Timothy Haraden, Mr. Joshua Goodale, and others, — chiefly from the
North ; — Rev. J. B. W., in particular, who providentially was passing through
New Orleans, on his way from Mobile to Natchez ; and who, until the arri-
val of Dr. Pride, '' most devotedly volunteered his services," said Dr. W., —
" scarcely willing to be absent from me a moment, by day or night." A let-
ter of inlroduclion from Mr. W. to a friend in Natchez, has the remark, — " I
need present no motives to induce you to render every possible aid to this
invaluable man."


tire occasioned me no small regret. Had you come on
board the evening I was held at the wharf,* I should
have had many things to say, and our communion, I
am sure, would have been sweet ; but that gratifica-
tion was not included in the blood-scaled covenant,
which comprises all that is good for us." * * [A case of
discipline had sorely grieved them.] " Perfect unan-
imity, greatly as it was to be desired, was little to be
expected. It is the infelicity of some minds, always, or
at least, very often, — to 'see men as trees walking.'
There are some whose first concern is, that the church
should be preserved from the influence of the pastor
or pastors ; and this weighty duty, with which they
have charged themselves, presses upon them in pro-
portion as their pastor or pastors have a reputation for
wisdom in counsel and energy in action. This is for
the trial of the patience and meekness of the church, and
of those who are set over them in the Lord! " * *

" By the account you have so feelingly given me of
the meeting of the church for prayer on my behalf, on the
Friday week after my embarkation, my heart is melt-
ed. What am I, a powerless, useless, moth-crushed
thing — that prayer in so special a manner should be
made for me ! Verily I am nothing — less than noth-
ing. — So it is that Divine Wisdom delights to show
its wonders. The cross borne by ' Simon, of Cyrene'
— of what consequence is that ! It is the instrument
of the world's redemption. The excellency of the
power and the grace was of God. By the same power
and grace, even so frail a thing as myself may be made
an instrument for the accomplishment of some great
purpose of mercy." * *

March 3, he again wrote to his wife, — " You would
sometimes have pitied your poor husband, had you
seen him attempt to rise, to stand, or to walk. Every
one around me has been kindly and solicitously assi-
duous in lending the aiding hand and the supporting
arm, and to only one of them, I believe, have I been

* Mr. C. reached the wharf, next morning, an hour or two after the vessel
had sailed.



so ungrateful, as to lay him in the street mud. I was
sorry even for that. — Hitherto the Lord hath been my
Helper. * * * Exhausted indeed my spirits have often
been, but not in the usual sense depressed. For this
I would devoutly bless Christ Jesus my Lord, — es-
pecially because, as I have the satisfaction to know,
the impression is favorable, and in no slight degree, to
his holy religion, of which, with all my unworthiness,
I am a professor and a preacher. Yes, though sepa-
rated by eighteen hundred miles of mountains and
champaigns, bays and creeks and rivers, forests of all
sorts, hamlets and cities, — from the dear objects of my
heart — wife, children, friends, church, and parish, — yet>
enfeebled and shattered as I am, I do cherish the de-
lightful hope, that I shall see them again, and again
with them go into the house of the Lord, to give
thanks unto the Name of the Lord. If it seem good
to Him, I shall."

Dr. Wm. W. Pride, of the Elliot Station, was an.
attendant of Dr. W. from New Orleans.

" Upon entering the room," where he first saw him
in that city, " what was my surprise to behold a figure
resting upon a cane, his limbs swollen, and bent
through weakness J * * * I should not have recognized
Dr. Worcester, had I met him unexpectedly in any
other place. He did not, at first, recollect my counte-
nance ; but when I made myself known, surprise and
pleasure brought tears into his eyes. After a few mo-
ment's silence, he said, ' Sir, it is interesting to see you
at this time. I need not say much ; you can at once
see my situation. I consider it a kind Providence that
has sent you here ;' and other expressions of the kind.
* * * During his continuance at New Orleans, there
were but few days favorable for exercise. He frequent-
ly rode in a carriage, but returned without receiving
benefit from the excursion. Under all these dis-
couraging circumstances, a peculiar calmness of mind
never forsook him. And though, when in conversa-
tion respecting the peculiarity of his situation, the


mention of ' home ' was made with an excitement of
the tenderest feelings ; yet the most cheerful submis-
sion to the will of God was always manifested. Often
was I surprised at his peace of mind, when earthly
hopes and comforts appeared just ready to forsake

That intensity of zeal in the service of Christ, which
had brought him to his present debilitated state, was
not readily yielded; and although his physicians and
friends repeatedly urged him to relax in his industri-
ous attention to the great object of his delight, the
sacrifice was made with great reluctance. His time
was much occupied with the subject ; and often when
fhere had been interruptions by company, during the
day, the loss, as he called it, w^as made up by labor in
the evening.

* * * * Several friends, gentlemen and ladies, ac-
companied him to the steam-boat, to bid a last fare-
well to the man whom they loved and esteemed. From
many he had received the kindest attentions during
his stay ; and now, with prayers and tears, they com-
mended him to God. From the officers of the steam-
boat he received the kindest attentions, during his
passage ; but the voyage was distressing to him. Had
he been in health, he said, he should have derived
high enjoyment from the many interesting and de-
lightful prospects along the banks of the Mississippi.
But during most of the time he was confined to his

After four days he stopped at Natchez. An inti-
mation of his arrival soon brought Mr. Posthlewaite
to the boat, who welcomed him, in the most cordial
and liberal manner, to the comforts and attentions of
his family. For a few days, the kindness of friends
and the soft and pleasant air of March, revived the
drooping traveller ; and hopes were entertained, that
his health would soon be materially improved.* But
a sudden change of weather produced a renewal of

* He issued a circular in the same style and spirit, as that at N. 0. Some-
what larger collections were obiained.


his unfavorable symptoms. With regret on the part
of his friends, he determined to commence his journey
through the wilderness. A pair of horses were ac-
cordingly purchased, and on the 27th of March, ac-
companied by Mr. Byington and myself, he bade adieu
to the hospitality of the w^armest friends, to enter on
the hardships of an uncultivated country.

Few can know the trials endured by the good man
on this part of his journey. But the kindness of God
was conspicuous in lifting him above the dishearten-
ing occurrences in the way ; and our minds were led,
by his example and exhortations, to look only to that
rest, which remains for the people of God." *

Rev. Cyrus Byington, of the Choctaw Mission, met
him at Natchez, greatly to his joy and comfort. Jan.
20th, 1849, he communicated a copy of his Journal,
with notes from Natchez to Pigeon Roost.

At Washington, six miles from Natchez, March 26,
1821, — " We stayed," he says, " during the night, and
were kindly received by Rev. D. Smith and family. It
was in this family, that your father prayed, sitting in
his chair, — making request to do so. on account of his
infirmities. It was an affecting scene. I remember
the stillness of the room during that prayer. * * 27th,
a cold day. Rode to Port Gibson. * * * This was a
very comfortable place for your father, on account of
diet, a bed, a chair too for the sick. (Here we had a
chair made to carry with us. His diarrhoea was ur-
gent, and we had to stop often during the day, and be
up with him in the night") * * * [April 2nd, the com-
pany reached a place, w^here Dr. W. was obliged to
sleep on a bear-skin, spread on the floor of a cabin.
The Journal records various incidents, until his arrival
in the Choctaw country, — from which time he received
more especial kindness, no charge being made for any-
thing that was furnished.]

" April 9th. Rode to Leflore's, a Frenchman, with a
Choctaw family. * * * He was kind, and made no

* Missionary Herald, April 1S22.


charge. I recollect his telling some anecdote at table,
in which he repeated some profane expression, which
changed your father's countenance to sadness very
soon. Dr. W. slept on the floor again in a bed ; I
slept on a bear-skin. It was in this house, in the
night, when your father having often to be up, that I
once took him in my arms, and laid him down on his
pallet. He said, ' Oh my dear sir, it is too much for
you.' — But I dreaded to have him, with his palsied
limbs, make the effort, that his situation required.
Tuesday, April 10th. We reached the Pigeon Roost,
where Capt. David Folsom lived. He and his family,
treated us kindly. — He had begun to repair his build-
ings, and there was a difficulty in giving your father a
retired room, with a fire-place in it. — Your father was
a very delicate man. His sensibilities were very acute,
in regard to the proprieties of life. * * * We here met
Brethren Vail of the Cherokee Mission, and Dyer of
the Choctaw Mission. Monday, April 11th. * * *
Brethren Vail and Dyer started off early for Mayhew,
(33 miles) to request Mr. Hoyt of the Cherokee Mis-
sion, to come hither without delay. April 11th, Father
Hoyt, his daughter Anna, Brothers Kingsbury, and
Hooper, arrived at Capt. Folsom's. There we all met.
It was a happy meeting. — Dr. Worcester leaning on
my arm walked out to meet Father Hoyt. They met
and embraced each other, — Dr. W. saying, ' Dear sir,
the desire of my heart is fulfilled.'

We remained at Capt. Folsom's, till April 16th. The
latter part of this week, Dr. W. was very sick. His
room was cold, and he suffered exceedingly. He was
greatly reduced by his disease. His situation became
dangerous. He appeared heavenly. In the midst of
pain and distress, and while often called up from the
nature of his disease, he says to me, ' Am I impatient?'
He said, too, — ' How would my dear family feel, did
they know my situation V He often spoke of his
friends, and tears would sometimes How. During this
season, I had a kettle of wood coals set in the room to
warm it. And I proposed to him to leave my pallet
on the floor in the same room, and lie down by his


side. — He assented, but as soon as I had lain down
near him, hoping thereby to impart warmth, he ex-
claimed, — and I found he could not bear to have me
in bed. So I arose and left him, and fixed his bed as
well as I knew how. And as soon as he felt returning
warmth, he would call again to get up. — Oh my dear
sir, this will pain you. — But it was a sacrifice in the
cause of Jesus Christ, on the part of your father. * * *

Sabbath evening. Dr. W. concluded that it would
be out of his power to visit Elliot, and he gave up his
expectation of visiting that place. This was a pain-
ful trial. * * Monday. I went early in the morning
to his room. He wished me to write a letter, which he
would dictate, to the brethren at Elliot. * * When I
went to him to bid him good bye, as I was leaving for
Elliot, he said, that no event during his illness or jour-
ney, had cost him so severe a struggle, as his not being
allowed to visit Elliot. Tears flowed freely. He wished
me to give his love to each of the brethren and sisters
particularly. It was raining, but we set off, and went
to Elliot. * * Here ends my journal.

Brother Kingsbury took your father to Mayhew,
where I afterwards visited him. * *

After we left Washington, near Natchez, till our ar-
rival at Pigeon Roost, there was no night, during
which we did not have to be up w^ith him. It fell to
my lot to attend to him at night. — I had many precious
opportunities of conversation, and of witnessing the
spirit with which he was endowed. I inquired why
no young missionary brother did not attend him, even
from home. He told me — I can not give his exact
answer. — But I have an impression, the state of the
Treasury, he thought, forbade the expense, and he
made the sacrifice himself, and determined to start

As you are now, one of the members of the Board,
of which your father was among the Founders, and
can give counsel in regard to Missions, which he com-
menced, in faith and prayer, — you will bear in mind
that the life of such a man is more precious, than any

VOL. II. 40


bullion of any amount, in this lower world. * * Your
father gave me a copy of the Life of Henry Martyn,
whose dosing days were much like his. I have the
book in my lap as I write, having taken it down, to
read the name of the donor as entered on the fly
leaf. * * *

From your brother in the Choctaw Mission,

Cyrus Byington."

Mr. Byington, in a recent visit to Salem, related of
his journey, that Dr. W. was always cheerful, enliven-
ing the dreary way by his instructive remarks and an-
ecdotes. One day he alluded to Buchanan and his
early death. " God took him away, because his breth-
ren so leaned upon him. And I confess, that I have
not been without my apprehensions that God has laid
his hand upon me for a similar purpose.''^

To Rev. E. Cornelius.

'•''Doak^Si Choctav) Wilderness^ April 6, 1821,

Most dear friend and Associate, —

Your very interesting letter of Feb. 26th, I took from
the post-office at the Choctaw Agency, on the day be-
fore yesterday, together with one from each of my two
sons. My heart was greatly refreshed. * * I seize the
earliest opportunity, for giving a brief answer, particu-
larly to a part of your letter, on which you lay especial
stress ; not, however, without apprehension that the
earliest opportunity will be too late for the desired

The question of admitting a Unitarian into the As-
sociation of Salem and Vicinity, may fairly be regard-
ed and treated as a new one. No avowed Unitarian
has ever been admitted. No precedent or usage of
the Association can be pleaded in favor of admission.
Not only is the question a new one; — it is one in-
volving most deeply the interests of religion and of
the churches, not only within the limits of that Asso-
ciation, but extensively in the State and country. —


Most clearly, therefore, it demands very serious delib-
eration. And my opinion is that it would be wise to
delay a decision of the question, referring it to a com-
mittee, whose duty it shall be to consider and report
upon it in three months. This will have no appearance
of rashness, and ought to give umbrage to no person ;
and as the measure itself will be a moderate and tem-
perate one, so should all that is said and done relative
to the subject be mild and conciliating. There can be
no occasion for raising a wind or afire, by any precipi-
tate or vehement proceedings ; there need be no con-
cern lest the storm should not be sufficiently high. The
friends of truth in the Association will do well to put
on not only the whole armor of God, but the whole
spirit of Christ, especially the meekness of wisdom.*
This is all that I can say at the present. * * Let
my friends all be assured, that never have they had a
livelier or deeper interest in my heart, than at this mo-
ment. In this assurance you will please accept for
yourself an unlimited share. S. Worcester."

* From the above it may be seen " what manner of spirit " Dr. W. ex-
ercised, in his freest conjideutial cornvtiMnicahoas. He once said, in reply to
a question which may be inferred, — " l( a man intelligently rejects the doc-
trine of the atonement, I do not see that we can have any hope of him as a
Christian " Many specific proofs might be adduced, that he had no other
spirit of exclusiveness, than that of the Spirit of Christ.

A well educated lady, moving in a fashionable circle, once accompanied a
friend from Bxjslon to the Tabernacle Vestry. " As 1 went in, I pulled my
bonnet over my face, and sat down at the first seat near the door, that I
might not be recognized. The meeting had commenced. Your father was
then speaking- and the first words he said, after I was in meeting, made an
impresjiion on my mind, wliich time can never obliterate. ' When the an-
gels in heaven first see a sinner admitted into heaven, they will turn their
astonished and inquiring eye to the throne of God. He will point to the Son
expiring on the cross, and the great mystery of the redemption of sinners
will be manife-ted to them ' Before then I was entirely ignorant of the doc-
trine of the atonement, — hardly knew that there was such a doctrine, but
from your father's remarks, 1 determined to know something of this great
subject." Afterwards, when she called to converse with him, he left her, as
she savs, " to choose the subject of conversation. I once said to him, I
hardly know what to believe Dr. Channing explains the Bible one way;
you and Prof Stuart ex[»lain it differently. ' At the day of judgment,' he
said, ' it will not be asked, if you believe with Dr. Channing, Prof. Stuart, or
myself, — but. Do you believe in the Bible ? You have it in your hands, you
can read it for yourself, and must believe for yourself.' He never argued
with me. neither did lie ever recommend any reliirious book for me to read
but ilie Bible. This advice was of great advantage to me, for I afterwards
confined myself entirely to the Bible, in forming my religious opinions," &c.


From Pigeon Koost, April 11, Dr. "Worcester wrote
to his family some account of his journey, for up-
wards of two hundred and thirty miles from Natchez,
" the most of the way in the wilderness." He still en-
couraged their hope of seeing his face again.

" Tell the dear little girls that Papa has their pretty
little hearts;* is very glad that they are good, and
loves them more and more. He will be delighted to
see them after the lilac tree has blossomed, and when
the strawberries and cherries begin to be ripe. He
hopes the oranges were not spoiled, and that Elizabeth
and Amelia and Mary have some delicious ones. They
must grow good girls every day, and learn to know
and to love God and Jesus Christ.

There is yet, my dearest, a long distance between
us; but I am every day at Salem, and every day my
heart is with you. Most gladly would I cheer you
with pleasanter accounts of my health. But you wish
to know the simple truth. Let us trust in God, and
we shall yet praise him. The trial indeed is sharp
and long. But we needed it. There remaineth a
rest. The beloved church and people, and friends,
whom I left at Salem, are more and more dear to my
heart. And so, too, is my beloved Zervia."

Under this same date, he wrote to Mr. Evarts, who
had informed him of his very "serious alarm," in
the embarrassments of the treasury. " I have been
distressed for you ; but God is yet with us, and the
treasury will not sink. * * With all the adversities of
my pilgrimage, the Lord is very gracious to me. Fee-
ble as I have been, I hope I have done what will turn
to some little account."

The following letter was carried by one of his at-

* They were of ages, six, four, and one. Their sister had enclosed
in a letter three figures of heart?, irilerloclved, — inscribed with tiie initials of
Iheir names, and " Iheir love to dear Papa."


tendants, who pushed his way through the wilderness,
as speedily as possible. A verbal message was also
sent, which deeply moved the heart of the messenger,
and those by whom it was received. The letter was
dictated upon his sick bed, — " a letter," as remarked
by Mr. Evarts, in his Report of the Prudential Commit-
tee, 1822, — " fraught with apostolical tenderness and

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 39 of 42)