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 7 of 42)
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Is this, then, a work to be regarded with lightness ?
Is it all to no good purpose, that this divine ardor has
been excited, that these benevolent exertions have
been called forth ? No ; but the sublime edict of the
risen Savior is still in force, ' Go ye into all the world
and preach the Gospel to every creature ; ' his gracious
assurance also still remains, ' Lo, I am with you al-
ways, even to the end of the world ; ^ it is still by the
foolishness of preaching that God is well pleased to
save them them that believe ; and the eventual con-
version of all the nations to him is abundantly foretold
in his word. — Would not the salvation of a single
soul, of whatever nation or condition, be ample com-
pensation for all the monies expended, and for all
the exertions made, both in Europe and America ?
But not to a single soul only, but to many, we trust,
have the blessings of salvation been already imparted.
A great harvest; however, was not to have been im-
mediately expected. Before the wilderness become a
fruitful frield, the ground must be cleared and broken
and sown. Before ' the earth bring forth in one day,'
and ' a nation be born at once,' preparations for the
purpose must be made. These are now in forward-
ness. The extensive dissemination of the word of God,
the unlocking of the treasures of divine truth to all the
families of the earth, the general diflfusion and nurture
of a missionary spirit, and the establishment alt over
the world of missionary stations, are most important
preparations for the glorious scene in due time to en-
sue. Ere long the Lord will give the word, and great
will be the company of the publishers. Light will
break forth in all directions ; and the whole earth will
be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God.

Yes, my brethren, the oracles of God are sure, and
the expanding hopes of the church are not vain. The
Lord is on his way ; and the day, the long expected,
prayed for day of his promise is at hand. Else, why
this universal commotion ? Why the shaking of the
nations, the falling of thrones, the dashing in pieces of


the kingdoms, the vast and rapid changes of the world,
the amazing fluctuation of all human things ? Why
these perilous times of delusion, of heresy, of infidelity;
these desperate efforts of earth and hell, aroused and
combined against the Lord and against his Anointed?
And why, in the midst of all these tremendous scenes
— why the union and engagedness, such as before have
never been witnessed, among the faithful of all chris-
tian communions, for defending and spreading the
glorious Gospel of the grace of God ? Look into the
sure word of prophecy : Are not all these most dis-
tinctly predicted signs, sure, uneq.uivocal indications,
that the day approaches, even hastens to be present?
— The overturnings of the world shall have their end ;
the tumults of the nations shall subside ; He to whom
the crown belongs will come : all realms and all people
shall bow to the power of his Gospel ; ' the kingdom
and the greatness of the kingdom, and the dominion
under the whole heaven, shall be given to the saints of
the Most High ;' and ' from the rising of the sun unto
the going down of the same, the name of the Lord
shall be great among the gentiles.' Yes, ' all the ends
of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord ;
and all the kindreds of the nations shall come and
worship before him : the meek shall inherit the earth
and delight themselves in the abundance of peace;'
*they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and
signing shall flee away.'

' O, scenes surpassinsr fable, and yet true !
Scenes of accomplished bli?s I which who can see,
Though but in distant prospect, and not feel
His soul refreshed with foretaste of tile joy ! '

My brethren, my fathers and brethren of this Mis-
sionary Society, how interesting, how important, how
glorious, is the object for which we are associated! It
is to promote the benevolent design of Immanuel's
death; it is to further the grand expedient of Infinite
Wisdom for the salvation of ruined men ; it is to co-
operate with the faithful of all lands in forwarding the
preparations for the bright and unbounded scene of
millennial light and love and joy. — Glorious object in-


deed ! What in comparison with this are all the in-
terests of the world beside? What in comparison
with this, all the dazzling objects of earthly ambition
and toil and strife? — objects, for which the energies of
nations are exhausted, the treasures of empires are
lavished, and the lives of millions are sacrificed. The
interests of the world shall fail; the objects of earthly
ambition and toil and strife shall pass away : but the
kingdom, whose advancement we seek, shall endure,
shall increase, shall flourish with immortal glories, and
the fruits of our labors shall survive the wreck of all
terrestrial things, and swell the joys and the songs of
heaven for ever.

Shall our zeal, then, languish ? shall our exertions
be relaxed ? shall any thing deter us from the steady,
and ardent, and united, and persevering adherence to
the principles^ and pursuit of the object^ of our conse-
crated institution ? No, my brethren, never. Never
are we to be turned aside from our purpose ; never is
our union to be broken ; never are we to think that
enough has been done towards spreading the pure
savor of Christ's name, while yet we have power to do

This, let it be distinctly impressed, is not an af-
fair of a day. This Society, whose tenth anniversary
we now gratefully celebrate — this Missionary Society,
lightly esteemed as it may be by the wise men of the
world — this Society, in firm reliance on God, is to re-
main steadfast : is to survive all the perils of these
perilous times ; is to meet the opening scenes of provi-
dence with expanding views and extending exertions;
is to impart the knowledge of salvation to many ready
to perish; and to participate, at length, in the distin-
guished honor and felicity of introducing the anointed
King of Zion to his millennial reign. O, animating
thought! O, glorious prospect! Let it never, never,
dear brethren, sink from our view.

Brethren and friends of this respected assembly at
large, suffer me to ask, Why are you here in these hal-
lowed courts of Jehovah ? Why are you come to
mount Zion, to the city of the living God ? Why are


you lifting your eyes and your hopes up to the high
throne of divine mercy, in prospect, through the one
Mediator, of a holy and glorious immortality ? — Why,
rather, are you not bowing in a temple of idols ? Why
are you not paying your blind devotions to the host of
heaven, or to stocks and stones ? Why are you not,
with hideous orgies, surrounding an altar to demons,
reeking with the blood of your immolated children ?
Why are you not groping in the horrible darkness of
gentilism, utterly without God, and without hope in
the world ? — It is because the Sun of Righteousness
has risen upon you. It is because that since, in the
wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God,
it hath pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching,
to save them that believe.

Yes, it is to the gospel, to the gospel of our Lord
Jesus Christ, preached by divine favor to you, that you
are indebted for all your knowledge of God, for all the
benefits of his holy worship, for all your divine conso-
lations in life, and for all your elevated hopes, for
yourselves and your children, of everlasting felicity. —
O, the inestimable privilege you enjoy, and the im-
mense obligations you are under! And can you then
ever forget, or can you remember withou^t deep concern,
those of our fellow men, to whom the gospel is not
preached ? No, you cannot forget them ; neither can
you remember them but with the tenderest emotions.
You view them with solicitude ; you commiserate their
deplorable condition ; you long to impart to them the
blessings you enjoy.

Well then, ye tender, generous spirits, you have now
an opportunity suited to your noblest wishes. It is in
behalf of our destitute brethren in the remote parts of
our country, and our still more destitute brethren in
yonder wilderness, that we are this evening to cast
our offerings into the treasury of the Lord. How af-
fecting the scene I how interesting the object ! God is
present, Christ is present, angels are present, to wit-
ness our liberality for the salvation of our fellow men !
Surely we cannot have come to this place unprepared
for the occasion.

VOL. n. 7*


Does any one ask, ' How much shall I contribute V
Permit me to return the question to yourself. On a
fair estimate of the things of this world, in relation to
those of the worlds to come, how much, as an accoun-
table steward of the Lord's bounty, can you afford to
give ! — Is it a difficult question ? Shall I then refer
you to the apostles and primitive christians, who, in a
similar case, held their whole substance, and even their
lives, sacredly devoted ? — Are you still in doubt ? Go,
then, I beseech you, to Him, who though he was rich,
yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his
poverty might be made rich. Go to the summit of
Calvary, and ask the dying Redeemer of the w^orld how
much you shall give. — Are you yet unresolved ? Go,
then, at last, to the tribunal of God, and attend the
solemnities of the final day. Go see the Savior on
the throne of judgment, in the glory of his Father, with
his celestial retinue, and all the nations of the world
summoned before him. See the earth on fire, the hea-
vens rolled together as a scroll, and eternity opening
in boundless prospect before you : hear the address of
the Judge, first to them on his right hand, and then to
those on his left ; and while these are going away into
everlasting punishment, and those into life eternal,
listen to the shrieks of the one, and to the songs of the
other. Admit to your mind the full impression of these
amazing scenes ; and then determine for yourself what
you must do this night.

Standing, my brethren, in view of the great day of
God, what to us is money? what is its highest use ?
Is it not to promote the grand design of Immanuel's
death in contributing to the salvation of perishing men ?
Yes, the poor widow's two mites, thus laid up in that
rising kingdom, which is to survive the conflagration
of the world, is of more, incomparably more worth,
than all the riches of the Indies, invested with the best
earthly stocks, or appropriated to the most splendid
earthly purposes. Rather would I meet on the hill of
Zion, one, to whose arrival there I had the felicity in
the smallest degree to contribute, than be the possessor
here of hoarded or funded millions. Rather, infinitely


rather would I have a part in the gracious address of
the final Judge, ' Inasmuch as ye have done it unto
one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it
unto me,' than obtain for ages on earth, the highest
honors and praises of applauding nations.

God of his infinite mercy grant, that we and our
children may be heirs of the immortal blessings of his
Gospel; and that our offerings at his altar this night
may redound, through the thanksgivings of many, to
the praise of his glorious grace forever. Amen."

It will be at once perceived, that the mind which
could so interpret the purposes of the Great Redeemer
in his last command, would hail with unmeasured de-
light the appearance of " The Star in the East."
The memorable Sermon of Buchanan, thus entitled,
was first preached, at Bristol, Eng., Feb. 26, 1809.
When received by Dr. Worcester, he had no words for
his admiration. And when the " Researches " follow-
ed, he lost no time in spreading the auspicious influ-
ence. The days had now nearly arrived, which he
had long been praying to behold, when the American
churches should send forth to " the uttermost parts of
the earth," not their sympathies, supplications, and
supplies only, but their servants for Jesus's sake, to
gather sheaves of glory to the Son of God. The
young men were ready, and the hour at hand for the
fathers to give them the guidance of their wisdom and
the guardianship of their care.

Of the fathers indeed, no one was more highly es-
teemed, than Dr. Worcester, although in fact he was
not yet quite forty years old. By his most familiar
friends and associates, no less than by strangers, he
was treated as a man whose experience of years had
numbered him among the aged, with whom is the
maturest judgment and the soundest understanding.


It would seem impossible, that so much missionary
intelligence, with the influence of such revivals of re-
ligion,* from 1797 to 1807, could have failed to arouse
some of the youthful converts, to consider the ques-
tion of personal duty to the distant heathen. There
is probably but a small part as yet known of the
search! ngs of self-examination, and of the ardent long-
ings for the foreign missionary service, like those of
Asahel Nettleton and Samuel J. Mills. Born on the
same day, April 21, 1783, they were "born of the
Spirit," as they were permitted to trust, in the latter
part of 1801 ; Nettleton, perhaps, two months earlier
than Mills.

" About this time," says his biographer and much
beloved friend, " he became exceedingly interested in
the short accounts, which were published in the Con-
necticut Evangelical Magazine, of the operations of
the London Missionary Society and of the Baptist
Missionary Society in England. These awakened in
his breast a strong desire to become a missionary to
the heathen ; and he decided to devote his life to the
missionary service, if God, in his providence, should
prepare the way. This purpose was afterwards great-
ly strengthened by the perusal of Home's Letters on
IVIissions. The feelings which Samuel J. Mills ex-
pressed to his father, soon after his conversion, were

*" I could pour out my soul for Christ's dear ministers. Then my mind
turned on the cause of Zion. I longed to have it built up, and the present
work go on. I thought of the poor heathen, and said, O that the angel
with the everlasting Gospel might fly through the earth I" — Ne2v Eng. Re-
vivah, hy Dr. Tyler., p. 32. See same work for other examples of similar
feeling. The words cited were from a man, who had been a neglecter of
public worship and an " infidel ;" but when fifty years of age was hopefully
converted in Canton, Conn , during the revival there in 179S-9, and under
the minii^try of the devout Jeremiah Hallock. Dr. Griffin, at New Hartford,
received a fresh anointing of the Spirit, in that " time of refreshing,"


precisely the feelings of young Nettleton at this pe-
riod, viz : " That he could not conceive of any course of
life in ivhich to pass the rest of his days^ that ivould
prove so pleasant, as to go and communicate the Gospel
salvation to the poor heathenP*

This observation of Mills was made, it would seem,
sometime in 1802, — probably in the early part of the
year. It was when he had returned home from Litch-
field Academy, — and was "the first idea," we are told
in his Memoir, that " his father had of his change of
mind," after the agonizing disclosure of his feelings,
as he parted from his mother, in November ISOl.f
" His attention was directed, to the subject" of mis-
sions to the heathen, " by remarks, which in his child-
hood he had often heard from the lips of his mother.
She was a missionary ivoman, and frequently spoke of
Brainerd, and Eliot, and other missionaries : and as
she dwelt upon the glorious cause in which they were
engaged, he once heard her say respecting himself, —
^ I have consecrated this child to the service of God as
a missiona^'y.^ This remark made an impression on
his mind that was never effaced. Thus early did a
sovereign God, who has pity on the heathen, set apart
Sarnuel J. Mills for a missionary. And it is some-
what remarkable, that from the first hour of his con-
version he never lost sight of his darling object.
Though but a youth of nineteen, he discovered a zeal

* Memoir of Nettleton, by B. Tyler, D. D., p. 26. Compare Memoir of
Mills, p. 10, 2d ed. 1829.

t " O that I had never been born ! O thai I had never been born ! For
two years I have been sorry God ever made me." — " My son, you are born,
and you can never throw off your exii^tence, nor your everlasting accounta-
bility for all your conduct " The scene was soon changed, and he who had
" cursed the day in which he was born," was exclaiming, " O glorious sove-
reignty! O glorious sovereignly !"


in the missioDary cause, an eagerness in the pursuit
of missionary intelligence, and an enlargement of
thought in his plans, to become acquainted with the
true state of the un evangelized world, which left little
doubt that he was chained to his purpose by a supe-
rior power."

" It was a heart yearning over the miseries of perish-
ing millions, that first led him to think of acquiring an
education with a view to the gospel ministry. Hav-
ing consulted his parents, and unfolded all his pur-
pose, which, should God permit, was no less than to
devote his life to the cause of missions in foreign
lands ; and having received their approbation and
their blessing, he resolved on measures for changing
his course of life. Though the determination of the
son gained the joyful approbation of his parents, it
was not without feelings of self-denial : for when he
told his mother of his determination to go to the hea-
then, with the feelings of a mother, she replied, —
" / cannot hear to part ivith you my sonr But when
he reminded her of what she said to him when a
child, she burst into tears, and never after made the
least objection. The Spirit of God came over him,
like Elisha in the field. While toiling at the plough,
was his heart touched with compassion for the hea-
then world; and he bid adieu to his farm, to obtain
an education, on purpose to carry the Gospel to mil-
lions who perish for lack of knowledge. Thus, in a
retired field in Litchfield county, was the King of
Zion beginning* that grand course of operations which

* Not exactly " 3eo■^w?^wo•." And quite an error it was to affirm, that,
"in tracing the progress of the missionary spirit in this country, in respect
to Foreign Missions, we have little else to do, than follow the leading events
of Mr. Mills's life, from his first year in college to the embarkation of the
American missionaries for Calcutta,'" &c. p. 22. A geographical descrip-


have produced such a mighty revolution in the Amer-
ican churches, and which bear so intimate a relation
to the progressive glories of his kingdom. Having
put his secular concerns into other hands, Mills be-
came a member of Williams College, in Massachu-
setts, in the spring of 1806."

There were those in whom the same desires and
purposes, " in respect to Foreign Missions," was orig-
inated and cherished, without the slightest knowledge
of the designs or the persons of the young men at
WilJiams College ; and upon whose minds the same
Holy Spirit was operating, as upon them, with ulti-
mate reference to the new era of American Missions.
And there were thousands, more or less consciously
and simultaneously moved, in the providential prepar-
ation of instrumentalities for the great change, which
was about to be revealed in the faith and action of
the churches. But no one of all appears to have been
more signally favored, in this work of preparation,
than Samuel J. Mills.

To the exertions of Mills at college ; to the " retire-
ment " in the " meadow," where in 1807, he with Gor-
don Hall and James Kichards began to pray together,
*' by the side of a large stack of hay ;" and to other
incidents so often rehearsed, as connected with the
origin of the Society of missionary candidates at
Williams College, it is only necessary here to allude.
Through the kindness of the present highly esteemed
. Senior Secretary of the A. B. C. F. M., a very impor-
tant part of the "secret" history of that Society and

tion of the Mississippi would not begin with the Alleghany^ or the Ohio. And
if the sources of the Missouri had been known, a hundred and fifty years be-
fore Lewis and Clarke's Expedition, would the name of Mississippi now be
found upon any waters, as far south as St. Louis? And what would any of
Ihf rivers be, without " the upper springs and the nether springs?"


of the missionary spirit of Mills, Hall, Richards, Eice,
and their associates, is now for the first time to be
given to the world.

" Missionary House, Boston, June 30, 1851.

My dear Brother, —

Having had access to the most authentic sources of
information concerning the rise of the present system
of foreign missions from this country, I send you the
results, to be used, if you think proper, in the Life of
your honored father. The materials I send you are,
first, extracts from the Constitution and Records of
the Society formed by Mills and others in Williams
College, in the year 1808, made from a copy in the
handwriting of the Rev. Pliny Fisk, the well known
missionary to Palestine. It is a translation by him,
from the cypher, in which the Constitution and Re-
cords were originally composed, and which is also be-
fore me. Seco7idly, extracts from a letter of the late
Rev. Ezra Fisk, D. D., of Goshen, N. Y., who was one
of the original members of the Society in Williams
College, and was prevented from going on a mission
by the failure of health. Thirdly, facts obtained by
the Rev. H. G. O. Dwight, now in the Armenian mis-
sion, during an interview with Dr. Fisk in the year
1829. And fourthly, a single fact or two derived from
a letter of the Rev. Samuel J. Mills, which now lies
before me in the handwriting of Mills.

' Constitution of a Society of Brethren, Williams
College, Sept. 7, 1808.'

'2. The object of this Society shall be to effect, in
the persons of its members, a mission or missions to
the heathen.'

' 5. The utmost care shall be exercised in admit-
ting members. All the information shall be acquired
of the character and situation of a candidate which is
practicable. No person shall be admitted, who is un-
der an engagement of any kind which shall be incom-
patible with going on a mission to the Heathen. No
person shall be admitted until he express a firm belief


in those distinguishiiig doctrines commonly denomi-
nated evangelical.'

' 6. Each member shall keep absolutely free from
every engagement which, after his prayerful attention
and after consultation with the brethren, shall be
deemed incompatible with the object of this Society,
and shall hold himself in readiness to go on a mission
when and where duty may call.'


* Williams College, Sept. 7, 1808. The members of
the Society met and signed the constitution.'

[Among the five who appear then to have signed,
three were Samuel J. Mills, James Richards, and Lu-
ther Rice.]

* Nov. 9, 1808. Resolved, That we will, every Sab-
bath morning, at sunrise, address the throne of grace
in behalf of the object of this Society.'

' May 8, 1809. Resolved, to spend Friday, 28th inst,
in fasting and prayer in behalf of this Society.'

The reasons why the Constitution and Records
were written in cypher, and why a knowledge of the
Society was withheld from the christian public, are
thus stated by Dr. Fisk, in a letter dated Goshen, N. Y.,
June 24, 1829.

' The reasons for secrecy were the possibility of
failure in the enterprise, public opinion then being op-
posed to us ; in accordance with which good men often
said, the enterprise of a foreign mission, of which we
talked, was the result of overheated zeal, and would
be soon forgotten ; there was enough to do at home,
etc. Under these circumstances, modesty required us
to conceal our association, lest w^e should be thought
rashly imprudent, and so should injure the cause we
wished to promote. These were the general reasons.
Besides these, Mills always desired to be unseen in all
his movements on this subject, which, I am well per-
suaded, arose from his unaffected humility, never de-

VOL. II. 8


sirous to distinguish himself, but to induce others to
go forward.'

The Rev. H. G. O. Dwight states the following
facts, based on an interview with Dr. Fisk in the year
1829. — Mills was the founder of the Society at Wil-
liams College. He first unbosomed himself to Gordon
Hall, then to James Kichards, then to Ezra Fisk.

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 7 of 42)