We must also lessen the number of theological books, and choose the best; for it is not the number of books that make the learned man; nor much reading, but good books often read, however few, make a man learned in the Scriptures and pious. – Martin Luther

Life Reminiscences of an Old Lutheran Minister by John Gottlieb Morris (1803-1895)

Life Reminiscences of an Old Lutheran Minister by John Gottlieb Morris (1803-1895)


John Gottlieb Morris (1803-1895) attended Princeton College and Dickinson College. He studied with Samuel Simon Schmucker at New Market, Va., attended Princeton Theological Seminary and was a member of the first class in Gettysburg Theological Seminary. He founded the Lutheran Observer and was president of the Maryland Synod and the General Synod. He and his nephew founded the Lutheran Historical Society. Morris was a frequent lecturer before the Smithsonian Institution and author of the Catalogue of the Described Lepidoptera of North America (1860), among other scientific and religious publications. – William and Mary Special Collections Database.1

On election

Some contemporaries of mine at Princeton became distinguished men, and some who were modest, pious and exemplary young men did not keep the faith when they entered upon public life. When I came to Baltimore I found one who had been one of the “Religiosi,” as they were called at college, practicing at the bar, besides holding a high position in the court, but he had abandoned his religious profession, as well as his moral life. I could say the same of others, but it gives me more pleasure to say that most of that class of men maintained their integrity to the end, as far as my observation extended. One of these young lawyers at the Baltimore bar, who had graduated with high honors at Princeton before I went there, was a student distinguished for his piety and Christian earnestness. He became skeptical, it was said, from reading philosophical writings, and lapsed into infidelity. He may have been a student of theology, but of this I am not certain. It is said Dr. [Archibald] Alexander [founder of Princeton, 1812] would never give him up, but believing him an elect child of God he would be brought back by divine grace; in other words, he could not finally fall away because he was predestinated to eternal life! He did not return, whence it follows either that he was not predestinated, or if he was, that the elect may “fall from grace.” – From Chapter 2


(281 pages)

  • Preface
  • Chapter 1. Youth
  • Chapter 2. Student Life At Princeton And Dickinson Colleges.
  • Chapter 3. Student Life.
  • Chapter 4. Licensed To Preach – Gettysburg Seminary.
  • Chapter 5. Call To Baltimore And Pastoral Life; 1827 To 1860.
    • Brief History Of The First English Lutheran Church [In Baltimore]
    • Anti-popery
    • Difficulties
  • Chapter 6. Early History Of The Lutheran Observer.
  • Chapter 7. Scientific Studies And Offices.
  • Chapter 8. Resignation As Pastor; Librarian Of The Peabody Institute.
  • Chapter 9. Summer Residence At Lutherville. - Lectures And Readings.
  • Chapter 10. Church Correspondence.
  • Chapter 11. The Diets.
    • Academy Of Lutheran Church History In The United States.
    • What Were My Reasons?
    • Lutheran Ministers’ Mutual Insurance League
    • Preaching In Other Pulpits
    • Good Advice From Members
    • Evangelical Alliance
    • Fliedner, Of Kaiserswerth
    • Consubstantiation
  • Chapter 12. Church Miscellany.
    • Style Of Preaching
    • Argument For Study
    • State Of Theology
    • Progress
    • D. D.’s In Our Church
    • Catechization, Pastoral Visiting, And Other Functions
    • Luther Memorial Meetings In 1883
    • Luther Statue
    • The Luther Statuette
    • Election Of Professors And Presidents
  • Chapter 13. General Miscellany.
    • Excursions
    • Private Libraries
    • The Rebellion [American Civil War]
    • Giving Offence Unintentionally
    • Köstlin’s Life Of Luther
    • Bad Treatment
    • House Robbed
    • Curious Wedding Event
    • Kossuth In Baltimore
    • Lists Of Lutheran Publications
    • Visits From Foreigners
  • Chapter 14. Offices Held – Published Writings And Manuscripts – Papers Read Before Historical Societies In Maryland – Learned Societies.
  • Chapter 15. Last Days.
    • In Memoriam. Rev. John G. Morris, D. D. , LL.D.

On Lutheran Orthodoxy

When I entered the ministry in 1826, what is called distinctive Lutheranism was not a subject of thought, much less of discussion. A few of the older clergy were probably orthodox on the sacraments, but they gave themselves no trouble about bringing their views prominently forward, either in their sermons or in writing. I know that Dr. J. G. Schmucker, of York, was a genuine Lutheran, for it was his explanation of the Lutheran doctrine of the real presence in the sacrament that first led me to reflection upon that subject, and which has more or less influenced my theological Richtung [tendency] ever since. Sometimes, owing to adverse associations, my faith was shaken, for at first it was not very firm; but when I got beyond the influence of living teachers, and began independent examination, the old Scripture doctrine would come back with double force.

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  1. “Morris, John G.” Retrieved 2017-12-01 from scdb.swem.wm.edu/?p=creators/creator&id=1286 


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