BLTC Press Titles


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The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting


Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett


Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley


Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Discourse delivered before the Historical Society of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States

by Martin Luther Stoever

Excerpt:

At a very early period in the history of the American colonies there had been numerous settlements of Lutherans in different parts of our land, and some few of them had been 'provided with able and devoted ministers, but as a general thing, our Lutheran interests were sadly neglected. Frequently those, who had assumed the sacred office, were of doubtful character, ignorant and destitute of piety or love for the work, self-constituted pastors, who ministered in sacred things with the same feelings and motives, with which individuals engage in some secular profession. ''In those days, there was no king in Israel, but ever^ man did that, which was right in his own eyes." Deprived of the advantages of a regular ministry, many of the aged became callous and indifferent in the service of their Master, and the young grew up, in ignorance and vice. The Lord's vineyard ran to waste and multitudes perished. Yet there were those who remained "stedfast and immoveable," who earnestly desired the watchful care of the faithful shepherd to direct their

religious devotions in the manner, to which they had, from their childhood, been accustomed. In their destitution they naturally turned to their transatlantic brethren, whose sympathies and interest were not solicited in vain. In reply to repeated and importunate applications relief, at last, came from the Orphan House at Halle, at the time, under the superintendence of Prof. G. A. Francke, son of the immortal founder, who had rested from his labors in 1727, but whose fervid piety and active missionary spirit still pervaded the Institution and were reflected in the character of all, who emanated from its sacred halls. From this period (1742) the condition of our Church in this country gradually improved. It took a position and exerted an influence. It enjoyed the uninterrupted confidence and cordial regard of Christians of every name. Let us, this evening, with kind and grateful thoughts, gather around the graves of these Patriarchal Fathers, the venerable pioneers of Lutheranism in this Western world, whose memory the Church loves and reveres—not so much for the purpose of finding any new facts in reference to them, as to refresh our minds and our hearts with reminiscences of their eminent virtues and faithful services. They have all passed away. Their forms have faded from our sight; their voices have been hushed in our ecclesiastical councils, they rest from their labors and are now before the throne, among the "spirits of just men made perfect," in the eternal adoration of the living God. But their works do follow them. The train of events which they put in motion will never die. Even if their children should fail to "garnish their sepulchres," the impression they produced on the age, in which they lived, the moral power, which they exerted during life, will be transmitted with unimpaired vigor and will continue to be felt till the end of time. The influence of character cannot be destroyed by death. Vivit enim, vivetque semper. It guides, restrains, silently but irresistibly impresses itself upon successive generations and, from year to year, achieves fresh conquests. The memory of the good cannot perish. It is in the grateful keeping of

many hearts. It is held in everlasting remembrance. It lingers among us, after the sunset of the tomb, to shed light and to diffuse a rich fragrance among those who still survive.

Of this faithful band of Patriarchs comes first, facile prinoeps, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, around whose character and history the shadows of more than half a century have gathered, but who has left so many precious memorials of his honorable and useful career, as to secure immortality to hie name, whose children's children*—an inheritance which a good man leaves—are with us, this day, in the house of God, participating in the counsels and deliberations of that Church he labored to advance and whose posterity to the fourth generation,f are adorning the ministry of reconciliation, to which the powers and services of his life were consecrated. This eminent servant of God, whose intellectual and moral qualifications, enlightened zeal and laborious efforts, have always been acknowledged by the Lutheran Church in this country, seems to have been specially trained and peculiarly fitted by Providence for the important and responsible work. Born of pious parentage, instructed in the doctrines and principles of the Christian religion, in early life he was received by the rite of confirmation into communion with the Church. Deprived in his youth of his paternal guardian he was thrown upon his own resources for a support, yet his leisure hours were faithfully devoted to the acquisition of knowledge, to the prosecution of his studies, or the work of instruction. It proved to him a period of preparatory discipline, in which were formed those habits of

*F. A. Muhlenberg, M. D., Lancaster, Pa., son of Henry Ernest Muhlenberg, D. D. and grandson of the Patriarch : :uid H. H. Muhlenberg, M. D., Reading, Pa., son of Hon. H. A. Muhlenberg, and great-grandson of the Patriarch. Both of them delegates to the_Twentieth Convention of the General Synod.

fBev. F. A. Muhlenberg, Professor in Pennsylvania College, and W. A. Muhlenberg, D. D., Rector of the Church of the Holy Communion, New York, both great-grandsons of the Patriarch.

self-reliance, of careful discrimination and systematic effort, that strength of purpose and vigor of character, for which he was subsequently distinguished, and which qualified him so fully for his particular mission in life. Although compelled to struggle with difficulties, he triumphed over every obstacle. He enjoyed the advantages of a regular and liberal education under the direction of the ablest teachers of his day, first at Gbttingen, and afterwards at Halle, and laid the foundation of that ripe scholarship and extensive erudition which rendered him an honor to the Church and his name everywhere a praise. Whilst he was a student at Halle he was also employed as an instructor in the celebrated Orphan House, and, on the completion of his studies, served, for a brief period as Inspector of a similar institution at Great Hennersdorf in Lusatia. Whilst he was occupying this position he was seriously considering whether it was not his duty to embark as a missionary to India, where in Bengal it had been determined to establish a mission under the auspices of the Lutheran Church, when the earnest application for a minister from congregations in Pennsylvania reached Halle. The attention of Dr. Francke is immediately directed to young Muhlenberg, then in his 31st year, as a most suitable individual for the field of labor. Cheerfully yielding to the call, and believing that he is following the leadings of Providence, he is ready to relinquish the endearments of his native land and the society of friends, as well as the prospects of future distinction, to which a mind so highly gifted, could naturally have aspired, and with unshaken confidence in God to settle in this remote, and, at that time, inhospitable region, as a humble instrument for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom. He reached this country (Charleston, S. C.) in the autumn of 1742, and immediately proceeded to Ebenezer, Ga., for the purpose of consulting with his brethren in the faith, Bolzius and Gronau, who had come hither in 1734, in company with a colony of Salzburgers, exiles from their native land, in consequence of the religious persecution and Romish intolerance, from which they suffered.


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