Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Worcester, Noah (clergyman)

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WORCESTER, Noah, clergyman, b. in Hollis, N. H., 25 Nov., 1758; d. in Brighton, Mass., 31 Oct., 1837. He was descended from Rev. William Worcester, who came from Salisbury, England, and was the first minister of the church in Salisbury, Mass., which was organized in 1638. Noah's father, of the same name, was one of the framers of the constitution of New Hampshire. The son was a fifer in the Continental army in 1775, entered the service again for a short time as fife-major in 1777, and was at the battles of Bunker Hill and Bennington. In September, 1778, he removed to Plymouth, N. H., where he taught, and in February, 1782, settled at Thornton, filling several local offices, and was chosen to the legislature. Having turned his attention to theology, he published a “Letter to the Rev. John Murray Concerning the Origin of Evil” (Newburyport, 1786), was licensed to preach by a Congregational association in 1786, and in 1787 was ordained pastor of the church in Thornton, where he remained till 1802, receiving a salary of $200. In 1802 he was employed as its first missionary in the New Hampshire society then organized, and in that capacity preached and travelled extensively through the northern part of the state. He removed to Salisbury, N. H., in 1810, and there supplied the pulpit of his brother Thomas till 1813, when he settled at Brighton, Mass. He edited the “Christian Disciple” in 1813-'18, and “The Friend of Peace,” a quarterly magazine, in 1819-'29, founded the Massachusetts peace society in 1815, and was its secretary till 1828. Mr. Worcester received honorary degrees in arts from Dartmouth in 1791, and that of D. D. from Harvard in 1818. In addition to his editorial work he contributed to the “Theological Magazine,” and published “Familiar Dialogue between Cephas and Bereas” (Worcester, 1792); “Solemn Reasons for Declining to adopt the Baptist Theory and Practice” (Charlestown, 1809); “Bible News, or Sacred Truths Relating to the Living God, his only Son, and Holy Spirit,” which was censured by the Hopkinsian association, of which the author was a member, as unsound on the doctrine of the Trinity (Concord, 1810); “Impartial Review of the Testimonies in Favor of the Divinity of the Son of God” {1810); “Respectful Address to the Trinitarian Clergy” (Boston, 1812); “Solemn Review of the Custom of War, by Philo Pacificus,” which was republished in Europe in several languages (1814); “The Atoning Sacrifice: a Display of Love, not of Wrath” (Cambridge, 1829); “The Causes and Evils of Contentions among Christians” (Boston, 1831); “Last Thoughts on Important Subjects” (Cambridge, 1833); and single sermons and tracts. See “Memoirs of Noah Worcester, D. D.,” by Rev. Henry Ware, Jr., D. D., with a preface, notes, and a concluding chapter by Samuel Worcester (Boston, 1844). — His brother, Thomas, clergyman, b. in Hollis, N. H., 22 Nov., 1768; d. 24 Dec., 1831, having studied theology under the direction of Rev. Daniel Emerson, of Hollis, was ordained pastor of the Congregational church in Salisbury, N. H., 9 Nov., 1791. He adopted the Unitarian views of his brother Noah, arid this, together with his impaired health, led to his dismissal, 24 April, 1823, by a mutual council. He remained afterward without a pastoral charge. He received the honorary degree of M. A. from Dartmouth college in 1806. Mr. Worcester published “A Call for Scripture Evidence that Christ is the Self-Existent Eternal God” (Boston, 1811); “New Chain of Plain Argument Deemed Conclusive against Trinitarianism” (1817); “The True God but one Person” (1819); and separate sermons. — Another brother, Samuel, clergyman, b. in Hollis, N. H., 1 Nov., 1770; d. in Brainard, Tenn., 7 June, 1821, was graduated at Dartmouth in 1795, licensed to preach in 1796, and was pastor of the Congregational church in Fitchburg, Mass., from 1797 till 1802. He became pastor of the Tabernacle church, Salem, in 1803, which charge he held till his death. He declined the professorship of theology in Dartmouth in 1804, became corresponding secretary of the American board of commissioners for foreign missions in 1810, and in 1815 engaged in the Unitarian controversy, his immediate opponent being the Rev. William E. Channing. At the time of his death he was travelling for the benefit of his health. He published “Discourses on the Covenant with Abraham” (Salem, 1805); “Three Letters to the Rev. William E. Channing on Unitarianism” (Boston, 1815); “Watts's Entire and Select Hymns” (1818); single sermons and pamphlets; and reviews and essays in religious periodicals. After his death a collection of his sermons was published (1823). See “Life and Labors of Rev. Samuel Worcester,” by his son, Rev. Samuel M. Worcester (2 vols., Boston, 1852). — Samuel's son, Samuel Melancthon, b. in Fitchburg, Mass., 4 Sept., 1801; d. in Boston, 16 Aug., 1866, was graduated at Harvard in 1822, studied for a year at Andover, was a tutor in Amherst in 1823-'5, and professor of rhetoric and oratory there from 1825 till 1834. He was pastor of the Tabernacle church, Salem, from 1834 till 1860, when impaired health caused him to resign. He was a member of the Massachusetts senate and house of representatives. Mr. Worcester published “Essays on Slavery, by Vigorinus” (1826); “The Memorial of the Old and New Tabernacle,” Salem, Mass. (Boston, 1855); the life of his father that has been mentioned; single sermons and discourses; and articles in religious periodicals. — Noah's son, Thomas, clergyman, b. in Thornton, N. H., 15 April, 1795; d. in Waltham, Mass., 12 Aug., 1878, was graduated at Harvard in 1818, and spent two years and a half at the divinity-school, but embraced Swedenborgian tenets, and was the first clergyman of that faith in Massachusetts, serving as pastor of the Boston society of the New Jerusalem church from 1821 till 1867. He was president of the Massachusetts association of his denomination, and also of its general convention from 1839 till 1875. Harvard gave him the degree of D. D. in 1856, and he was one of its overseers in 1854-'60. He published sermons, addresses, and magazine articles.