Samuel M. (Samuel Melancthon) Worcester.

The life and Labors of Rev. Samuel Worcester, D.D.; former pastor of the Tabernacle church, Salem, Mass online

. (page 9 of 42)
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 9 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

fell short, it was easy to meet the emergency, by with-
drawing some of the laborers. And in general, it ap-
pears to have been a rule of procedure, to incur no
liabilities beyond the limit of very certain supply;
and a small amount of surplus funds, at the disposal
of the M. M. S. was invested from time to time, by
the Treasurer.

* Rev. Jacob Norton's Sermon, pp. 25, 26, 27, 28.


Far different, then, was the responsibility of con-
ducting missionary operations, within or near our own
borders, from those of a similar character, in countries
separated from us by thousands of leagues of ocean.
Annual contributions were needed, and an available
credit in the commercial world, which it would have
been presumption to expect, unless there could be an
organization, enlisting in its support a much greater
number of the friends of Christ, than any existing
Missionary Society in the United States could claim
as its members or supporters. Besides, the commo-
tions in Europe, and the wars of Napoleon had now
so affected the financial interests and political rela-
tions of our country, that the undertaking of a single
mission to Burmah or Ceylon was ten-fold more re-
sponsible and formidable, than the present mainte-
nance of all the missions of the American Board.

Hence, neither the Directors of the Mass. Miss. So-
ciety, nor those of any kindred institution, could have
been justified in sending forth the young men, whom
Providence had been preparing. The counsel of the
wisest, therefore, was needed. By concerted arrange-
ments. Dr. Spring and Dr. Worcester met the Profes-
sors, at Andover, with a few others, for consultation.*
It was a meeting, never to be forgotten. Advice was
given to Mills and his associates, to submit their case
to the General Association, which was to meet, the
next day, at Bradford, and which Dr. Spring and Dr.
Worcester were expecting to attend, as delegates.
And when this advice was given, the idea of such a
body of men as the American Board of Commissioners
for Foreign Missions^ had not been suggested, and

* At the house of Prof. Stuart, Monday, June 25, 1810.


does not appear to have occurred to any one. Much
less was it then anticipated, that " our associated en-
terprises, for the propagation of Christianity, at home
and abroad," were destined so soon to " become, al-
most the greatest of the material and visible interests
of the christian commonwealth."

The association was organized at Bradford, Wed-
nesday, A. M., June 27th. From the Minutes, it
appears, that, on Thursday, P. M., " four young gen-
tlemen, members of the Divinity College, were intro-
duced, and presented the following paper." *

" The undersigned, members of the Divinity College,
respectfully request the attention of their Rev. Fathers,
convened in the General Association, at Bradford, to
the following statement and inquiries.

They beg leave to state^ that their minds have been
long impressed with the duty and importance of per-
sonally attempting a mission to the heathen ; that the
impressions on their minds have induced a serious, and
they trust, a prayerful consideration of the subject in
its various attitudes, particularly in relation to the
probable success, and the difficulties attending such
an attempt; and that, after examining all the informa-
tion which they can obtain, they consider themselves
as devoted to this work for life, whenever God, in his
providence, shall open the way.

They now offer the following inquiries^ on which
they solicit the opinion and advice of this association.
"Whether, with their present views and feelings, they
ought to renounce the object of missions, as either
visionary or impracticable ; if not, whether they ought
to direct their attention to the eastern or western

♦ Said to have been draxyn up by Mr. Judson. It is also said, that " it first
contained the names of Mr. Richards and Mr. Rice; but upon cons^ideration,
they were withdrawn, lest the Association should he alarmed at the probable
expense of supporting six missionaries in a foreign land, and shrink back in
diseourasemeat from the undertaking.-'— ilw^ A. B. C. F. M.


world ; whether they may expect patronage and sup-
port from a missionary society in this country, or must
commit themselves to the direction of a European so-
ciety ; and what preparatory measures they ought to
take, previous to actual engagement.

The undersigned, feeling their youth and inexperi-
ence, look up to their fathers in the church, and re-
spectfully solicit their advice, direction, and prayers,

Adoniram Judson, Jr.,
Samuel Nott, Jr.,
Samuel J. Mills,
Samuel Newell,*

After hearing from the young gentlemen some more
particular account of the state of their minds, and their
views, relative to the subject offered to consideration,
the business was committed to the Rev. Messrs,
Spring, Worcester and Hale,

The committee on the subject of foreign missions,
made the following report, which was unanimously

The committee to whom was referred the request
of the young gentlemen, members of the Divinity Col-
lege, for advice relative to missions to the heathen, beg
leave to submit the following report.

The object of missions to the heathen cannot but be
regarded, by the friends of the Redeemer, as vastly in-
teresting and important. It deserves the most serious
attention of all who wish well to the best interests of
mankind, and especially of those who devote them-
selves to the service of God in the kingdom of his
Son, under the impression of the special direction, ' Go
ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every
creature.' The state of their minds, modestly expressed
by the theological students, who have presented them-
selves before this body, and the testimonies received
respecting them, are such as deeply to impress the con-
viction, that they ought not to renounce the object of

* "The history of the rise and progress of the missionary spirit of which this
communication was a result, may be seen in the Life of Samuel J. Mills."
First Ten Reports, A. B. C. F. M.— Editor 1834,
VOL, IL 9*


missions, but sacredly to cherish their present views,
in relation to that object; and it is submitted whether
the peculiar and abiding impressions by which they
are influenced, ought not to be gratefully recognized,
as a divine intimation of something good and great in
relation to the propagation of the Gospel, and calling
for a correspondent attention and exertions.

Therefore, Voted, That there be instituted by this
General Association, a Board of Commissioners for
Foreign Missions, for the purpose of devising ways and
means, and adopting and prosecuting measures, for
promoting the spread of the Gospel in heathen lands.

Voted, That the said Board of Commissioners con-
sist of nine members, all of them, in the first instance,
chosen by this association ; and afterwards annually,
five of them by this body, and four of them by the
General Association of Connecticut. — Provided, how-
ever, that, if the General Association of Connecticut
do not choose to unite in this object, the annual elec-
tion of all the Commissioners shall be by this General

It is understood, that the Board of Commissioners,
here contemplated, will adopt their own form of organ-
ization, and their own rules and regulations.

Voted, That fervently commending them to the
grace of God, we advise the young gentlemen, whose
request is before us, in the way of earnest prayer and
diligent attention to suitable studies and means of in-
formation, and putting themselves under the patronage
and direction of the Board of Commissioners for For-
eign Missions, humbly to wait the openings and guid-
ance of providence in respect to their great and excel-
lent design.

Pursuant to the report of the Committee, the Asso-
ciation proceeded to institute a Board of Commission-
ers for Foreign Missions, and the following gentlemen
were chosen : — His Excellency John Treadwell, Esq.,
Rev. Dr. Timothy Dwight, Gen. Jedidiah Huntington,
and Rev. Calvin Chapin, of Connecticut; Rev. Dr. Jo-
seph Lyman, Rev. Dr, Samuel Spring, William Bart-


let, Esq., Rev. Samuel Worcester, and Deacon Samuel
H. Walley, of Massachusetts.

Voted, That the gentlemen of the commission, be-
longing to Newburyport, Salem and Boston, consult
with the other members, for the purpose of appointing
a time and place for the first meeting of the Board."

The General Association at this meeting numbered
only eighteen regular members, representing ten Dis-
trict Associations. Dr. Manasseh Cutler, of Salem
Association was Moderator, and Dr. Worcester of the
same was Scribe.* Some of the members had great
doubts of the expediency of the measure recommended
by the " Committee on the subject of Foreign Mis-
sions." But the major part were prepared to go for-
ward, relying much upon the character of Drs. Spring
and W^orcester. And by their action at the meeting
in Bradford, this body assumed a new importance ; and
ever afterwards appeared before the ministers and
churches of Massachusetts, with claims to a consider-
ation, which very much exceeded the expectations of
the members, when the Association was formed at
Northampton, July, 1802.t

Mr. Richards, writing to his parents, July 4, 1810,
refers to the transactions at Bradford, and says, — "You
may think it strange that my name was not among
them ; but those four were thought a sufficient number ;
and all of them except Mills are of more advanced
standing than myself." It was feared that the names
of six would embarrass, if not defeat the measure con-
templated. " The little band of brethren," in 1808,

* The place of meeting may have awakened some ancestral associations.
See Vol.1, Chap. 1, pp. 2S, 39. For names of members, see Paiioplist
and Miss. Mag. Vol. III.

t Dr. Snell's Hist. Gen. Asso. Also, Minutes of Gen. Association, 1&51,


" had increased to eighteen^ although not all at Ando-
ver."* Even Hall was not one of the " four." And
yet " in case all other means of getting to the heathen
in Asia, should fail, he was ready to pledge himself
that he would vjork his passage to India, and then
throw himself under Providence, upon his own re-
sources, that he might preach the Gospel to the hea-

" Mr. Nettleton was at this time Butler in Yale Col-
lege. Had he gone to Andover after he graduated, as
he intended, he would doubtless have been one of the
company. When he heard what had been done, he
lamented with tears that he could not have been there.
He feared that it was an indication of Providence, that
he was not to be permitted to become a missionary.
His purpose, however, remained steadfast."!

One of the gentlemen, who were present at the
meeting of consultation and prayer, in Andover, has re-
lated of Mr. Evarts, that his influence was of no incon-
siderable weight in determining the important ques-
tion at Bradford. J

The Professors, Woods, Griffin, and Stuart, were
all earnestly engaged in promoting the new movement,
but in consequence of their arduous duties, were not

=* Dr. Fisk, to Rev. J. O. Choules, Newport, April 28, 1832. — Christian
Times, Jan. 4, 1850.

t Memoir, pp. 43, 44. " The reasons why he did not become a missionary,
can be staled in a few words. Soon afier he began to preach, his labors
were crowned with signal success. Wherever he went, the Spirit of God
seemed to accompany his preaching. His brethren in the ministry, witness-
ing the success of his labors, were of opinion that he ought, at least, to delay
the execution of his purpose to leave the country. In deference to their
opinion, he consented to delay ; and as his labors became increasingly suc-
cessful, his brethren were more and more convinced that God had called him
to labor as an evangelist at home. Still, he never entirely abandoned the
idea of a foreign mission until his health failed in 1822."

X Life of Evarts, by E. C. Tracy, pp. 96, 97.


called into immediate service, as members of the

The distinguished biographer of Mr. Mills " does not
claim for him the honor of maturing the operations of
the A. B. C. F. M.," but says, that " he is justly enti-
tled to the praise of originating the plan of that noble
institution." * Dr. Worcester has himself testified on
this point, in a letter to his wife, March 12,1819;
while tenderly noticing the death of his tried friend,
Dr. Spring. " I did not know before how deep an in-
terest I had in that good man. In age he has been to
me as a father ; in action, for a course of years and in
many interesting scenes, as a brother. About twenty
years ago, we jointly united in forming the Mass. Miss.
Society, and in the concerns of this society we have
acted together ever since. Nine years ago come June,
' — passing in a chaise together from Andover to Brad-
ford, we planned the A. B. C. F. M., and have since
been together in all its important deliberations and
transactions." * * * *

In the letter, also, to Mr. Evarts, from Natchez,
March 23, 1821, he says of the Report of the Com-
mittee at the meeting of the Board, in September pre-
vious : — " It exhibits a system of progressive and ex-
tensive operations, with early results and opening pros-
pects, not unworthy, I am persuaded, of general atten-
tion ; and to one who has had a perfect acquaintance
with these operations from the beginning, in no ordi-
nary degree interesting, and gratefully impressive.

' The day of small things ' is in fresh remembrance.f

* Dr. Fisk also attributes " the whole scheme " to Mills. The error arises
from confounding the plan of the Board with the conclusion to ask advice of
the Gen. Association ; it being understood that a new missionary organiza-
tion would probably be deemed expedient.

t In ten years, the progress had been so great, that very naturally, the


On the 25th of June, 1810, serious deliberation, attend-
ed with fervent prayer, was held at Andover, relative
to the burning desire of three or four theological stu-
dents there, to be employed as missionaries to the
heathen. The result was, to refer the momentous
question to the General Association of Massachusetts.
The next day. Dr. Spring took a seat in my chais^*,
and rode with me to Bradford, where the General As-
sociation was to convene. In the conversation on the
way, the first idea^ I believe, of the American Board
OF Commissioners for Foreign Missions, was sug-
gested ; — the form, the number of members, and the
name,* were proposed. On the 27th, the question
came before the Association, and the report of the
committee which was adopted by that body, was the
substance of the result of the conversation in the

It is remarked in the History of American Missions,
— " Dr. Worcester does not ascribe the honor of first
suggesting this idea to his companion, as he would
have done, had truth permitted ; nor did his modesty
allow him to claim that honor for himself. The truth,
probably is, that the suggestion was first made by Dr.
Worcester, but grew out of their mutual conversation,
and was perfected by their united counsels."

After what is said of the ^^ first idea^^ of the A. B. C.
F. M., Dr. Worcester proceeds in his narrative : —

commencement of operations thus appeared to Dr. W. He seems almost as
if he had forg-otten what a day of great things, it really was, as compared
with all that had gone before, and as represented by himself, when the scenes
were passing. It was not a day of notJdng, as some have supposed ; nor
any more to be lightly esteemed, than " the day of Pentecost "

* Most likely suggested by the " Board of Commissioners " of the Society
in Scotland for promoting Christian Knowledge." This name appears in the
" Massachusetts Register" of 1810, in close proximity to the notice of the
Mass. Miss. Society.


" On the 5th of the ensuing September, the first
meeting of the Commissioners was held, and the Board
was organized. But what individual, who took a part
in those inchoative deliberations and proceedings, had
any adequate anticipations of the magnitude and im-
portance to which, in ten years, they would grow ?
American Christians had never combined in any great
enterprise or plan for spreading the knowledge of
Christ, or advancing his kingdom ; had never sent, from
these shores, a single missionary with the message of
heavenly mercy to any portion of the widely extended
pagan world, lying in darkness and in wickedness,
without God, and without hope. Some scattered and
transient efforts had indeed been made, for the benefit
of some of the native tribes of the American forests ;
but without any general union, or any expansive or
systematized plan of operations. In these respects
there was no experience — no example ; all was untried
— all to be begun. What disposition would be found
in the community, in regard to the great object, was
problematical. For any certain calculations, or safe
expectations, as to the contributions, which might be
obtained, no sure grounds were afforded."

" Our readers," said Mr Evarts, in his ' Brief Me-
moir,' "need not be told in what manner, or at what
time, the American Board of Commissioners for For-
eign Missions had its origin. The faithful pen of our
revered associate has recorded, in the last letter of
considerable length, which he ever wrote, the forma-
tion and the early history of this society. He recorded
it as an act of gratitude to God, for his favor to the
rising institution ; and as an attestation, (the event has
proved it to be his dying attestation,) to the great
truth, that trust in God is the only safe principle of
missionary enterprise.

When the Board was first organized, it was little
suspected by any one, that its concerns would soon
become so weighty and complicated as they actually
became ; or that the duties of Corresponding Secreta-
ry would be so arduous, as they actually were. Yet
the choice was just as it would have been, had all these


things been foreseen. Before the embarkation of the
first mission, in February, 1812, there had been little
opportunity for active labor. No funds had been re-
ceived ; no plan of extensive operations had been
adopted. The Secretary, however, had not been slum-
bering at his post. Always an observer of missions,
and well acquainted with the modern history of at-
tempts to propagate the Gospel, he applied himself
with new diligence to obtaining a correct knowledge
of the heathen world ; — to learning the difficulties and
discouragements, which every missionary society must
expect to encounter; and to the consideration of those
great motives to action, which the steady view of a
world lying in wickedness will impress upon a pious

According to the " Minutes " of the first meeting of
the Board, there were present, " His Excellency John
Treadwell, Esq., Rev. Dr. Joseph Lyman, Rev. Dr.
Samuel Spring, Rev. Samuel Worcester, and Rev.
Calvin Chapin.* The meeting was opened with prayer
by Dr. Lyman." A Constitution was adopted, and
the officers chosen for the year ensuing, were His Ex-
cellency John Treadwell, Esq., President; Rev. Dr.
Spring, Vice-President ; William Bartlett, Esq., Rev.
Dr. Spring, and Rev. Samuel Worcester, Prudential
Committee; Rev. Calvin Ch-di^m^ Recording Secretary ;
Rev. Samuel Worcester, Corresponding Secretary;
Dea. Samuel H. Walley, Treasurer ; and Mr. Joshua
Goodale, Auditor.

Votes were passed, in reference to several subjects.
That relating to the missionary candidates was : " That
the Board highly approve the readiness of the young
gentlemen at Andover, to enter upon a foreign mission ;
and that it is advisable for them to pursue their stu-

* Dr. Chapin, the last of the original members, died March 16, 1851. What
he lived lo see !


dies, till further information relative to the missiona-
ry field be obtained, and the finances of the institution
will justify the appointment." " The following Ad-
dress and form of subscription were prepared, read, and
adopted, viz. : —

The American Board of Commissioners for For-
eign Missions, solicit the serious and liberal attention
of the Christian public.

The Redeemer of men, who, although *he was rich,
for our sakes became poor,' just before he ascended up
on high to give gifts unto men, gave it in special
charge to his disciples to ' go into all the world, and
preach the Gospel to every creature." Almost eighteen
centuries have passed away since this charge was de-
livered, and yet a great proportion of our fellow men,
ignorant of the Gospel, are ' sitting in the region and
shadow of death.' The promise, however, is sure, that
the Son ' shall have the heathen for his inheritance,
and the uttermost parts of the earth for his posses-
sion,' and that the ' world shall be filled with the
knowledge of the glory of the Lord.' The long ex-
pected day is approaching. The Lord. is shaking the
nations; his friends in different parts of Christendom
are roused from their slumbers ; and unprecedented
exertions are making for the spread of divine knowl-
edge, and the conversion of the nations. In our own
country, the missionary spirit is excited, and much has
already been done for imparting the Gospel to the des-
titute in our new and frontier settlements. But for the
millions on our own continent and other parts of the
world, to whom the Gospel has never been preached,
we have yet those exertions to make, which comport
with the Savior's emphatical directions, and our dis-
tinguished advantages for promoting the great object,
for which he came down from heaven and labored and
suffered. A new scene, with us, is now opening. It
is ascertained that several young men, of good reputa-
tion for piety and talents, under sacred and deep im-
pressions, hold themselves devoted for life to the service

VOL. n. 10


of God, in the Gospel of his Son, among the destitute,
and are ready to go into any part of the unevangelized
world, where Providence shall open the door for their
missionary labors. Is not this a divine intimation of
something great and good ? And does it not call with
impressive emphasis, for general attention and exer-
tion ? In the present state of the world. Christian
missions cannot be executed without pecuniary sup-
port. Shall this support be wanting? When millions
are perishing for lack of knowledge, and young disci-
ples of the Lord are waiting, with ardent desire, to
carry the Gospel of salvation to them ; shall those mil-
lions be left to perish, and that ardent desire be disap-
pointed ? Is there, then, in those who are favored
with the Gospel, the same mind that was in Christ,
when he freely gave his own blood for the redemption
of men ? Should not this reflection come home to the
hearts of the rich, and of all who, by the bounty of the
Savior, have it in their power to contribute even their
mites, for the salvation of those for whom he died ?

The Commissioners hold themselves sacredly bound
to use their best endeavors for promoting the great de-
sign for which they have been appointed ; and solemn-
ly pledge themselves to the Christian public faithfully
to appropriate, according to their best discretion, all
monies which shall be contributed and committed to
their disposal, for aiding the propagation of the Gospel
in unevangelized lands.

For promoting the object of their institution, we the
subscribers; engage to pay to the American Board of
Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the sums annex-
ed to our respective names."

It need not be said, that this Address was from the
pen of Dr. Worcester. Nor is it unsuitable to add,
that, in the incipient stages of the operations of the
Board, there would have been very slow progress, if
he had decidedly opposed the new enterprise, or had
been in the least doubtful of its expediency and sue-


cess. Personally, he had the courage which feared no
man or number of men, when conscious of acting as a
co-worker with God ; and in that position or relation,
the thought of being accounted an enthusiast or ridi-
culed as a visionary, appears never to have disturbed
his feelings. And from the 28th day of June 1810,
when he advocated the formation of the A. B. C. F. M.,
till the 7th of June 1821, when he finished his course
at Brainerd, no man ever saw him unwilling to appear
before all the w^orld, in the whole magnitude of the

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 9 of 42)