Christopher Emanuel Schultze: A Biographical Sketch

Moved with a feeling of compassion, and imbued with the missionary spirit, they were willing to forsake the comforts of home, the endearments of society, to make any sacrifice, and to submit to any toil, that they might subserve the cause of Christ, and be instrumental in the salvation of souls. Their energetic devotion to the principles they professed, their faithful and self-denying efforts for the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom, beautifully illustrate their Christian character, and furnish unequivocal proof of their qualifications for the work in which they longed to engage.

Christopher Emanuel Schultze.

Just twenty years after the arrival of Mr. Schaum, the subject of the present narrative reached our shores. During this period the character of our church had greatly improved. Many excellent men, educated at Halle, had been added to the ranks of the ministry, our scattered members had been gathered together, houses of worship, in different places erected, and our prospects seemed most encouraging. The position of the Lutheran church had been greatly strengthened, its influence was felt; our clergymen had secured the confidence and regard of their contemporaries, their services in the community were universally appreciated. But the great impediment, at this time, to our progress, was the paucity of ministers. The supply was not yet adequate to the demand. The number of laborers did not increase with the growth of the population, from the fact that we were almost entirely dependent for accessions upon foreign aid. We had no facilities for educating young men in our own land, for the sacred office. Those who desired to prepare for the work, were compelled to go to Europe to obtain the necessary preparation. Dr. Muhlenberg, from the very beginning, saw the disadvantage under which we were laboring, and warmly advocated the necessity of establishing a literary and theological institution, that the church might be supplied with an educated ministry. Dr. Freylinhausen says:

“Mr. M. has often expressed his earnest desire that the vast and increasing multitude of German Lutherans in North America might be better provided for in regard to religious instruction. He is convinced that the present arrangements are inadequate, and that a Seminary ought to be established, to train up laborers to publish the doctrines of the Gospel. But the greater part of our congregations are burdened with debt, are unable to contribute to such an enterprise.”

Under the circumstances, our people necessarily turned to their transatlantic brethren for help in their destitution. Their application was generally forwarded to the brethren at Halle, who had from the beginning shown an earnest interest in their countrymen who, far away from their native land, were inadequately furnished with the means of grace. The imploring cry was not always uttered in vain. Often were young men, in a course of preparation for the gospel ministry, directed to look at this field of labor, white for the harvest, and to inquire whether it was not their duty to occupy it. One and another, we have seen, did take the subject into serious and prayerful consideration. Moved with a feeling of compassion, and imbued with the missionary spirit, they were willing to forsake the comforts of home, the endearments of society, to make any sacrifice, and to submit to any toil, that they might subserve the cause of Christ, and be instrumental in the salvation of souls. Their energetic devotion to the principles they professed, their faithful and self-denying efforts for the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom, beautifully illustrate their Christian character, and furnish unequivocal proof of their qualifications for the work in which they longed to engage. Mr. Schultze was a student at Halle, when these pathetic appeals for help were again and again made. The reports of the spiritual destitution which existed, produced a strong impression upon his mind. He immediately inquired “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” The result was, that he determined in the name of his Master, to relinquish all the advantages and prospects which offered at home, and to consecrate himself to the important and responsible work of declaring the truths of the Gospel in this western world. As soon as his studies were completed, he made his preparations to join his brethren, who had preceded him to this country.

Mr. Schultze was born January 25th, 1740, at Probstrell, in Saxony. His parents were John Andrew and Amelia Schultze, who had brought up their son in the fear of God, and instructed him in the principles of the Christian religion. Having received the necessary elementary instruction, he entered the celebrated Frederick College at Halle. With this institution he remained connected for five years, when he became a member of the Orphan House, for the purpose of qualifying himself more fully for the ministry of reconciliation. The influences exerted over him here were most salutary. He caught the spirit that prevailed. His faith was strengthened, his heart animated with a love for souls, and a desire to be useful. During the summer of 1765 he was ordained by the Consistorium at Wernigerode, and immediately commenced his journey to this country. He arrived in Philadelphia the following October, and was at once chosen second minister of St. Michael’s church, of which Dr. Muhlenberg was at the time senior pastor. His opportune arrival obviated the necessity of a division of the congregation, the propriety of which had been, for some time, in agitation, as the duties were considered too onerous for one man. There were no less than seven hundred families connected with the church, requiring pastoral care and attention. Mr. Schultze continued to labor with his colleague for several years, most harmoniously, in building up our church in Philadelphia, and in advancing the interests of Christ’s kingdom. The following year was laid the cornerstone of Zion’s church, which was dedicated to the Triune God, June 26th, 1769. This was considered, at the time, the largest and most elegant church in the United Slates. This same edifice, during our Revolutionary war, when Philadelphia was in possession of the British, was converted into a hospital for the sick. To this church, also, Congress, in a body, repaired to express their grateful acknowledgments to Almighty God, for the victory achieved, and the peace secured, on the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.

In the spring of 1769, Mr. Schultze was chosen Vice-Rector of the Philadelphia congregations, with the promise, that after Dr. Muhlenberg’s death, he should be the Senior. His appointment to this office, which was created in consequence of the frequent absence of the senior pastor from the city, on business connected with the general interests of the church, may be regarded as an evidence of the high esteem in which he was held, as well by his venerable colleague, as by the members of the congregation. After a residence of five years in Philadelphia, he received and accepted a call to Tulpehocken. Here he lived and labored for thirty-eight years, enjoying the affection of his congregation, and with the blessing of God resting upon his labors. Frequently he was solicited to take charge of other churches, but he declined every invitation, believing that it was his duty to remain in the position he was occupying. On Dr. Muhlenberg’s removal to the Trappe, in 1784, an effort was made to get him to return to Philadelphia; he was elected pastor, by a large majority of votes, over the other candidates; but after a careful consideration of the subject, he concluded that he could not accept the call. On the occasion of his visit to the city in advance of his decision, Dr. Helmuth writes:

“Mr. Schultze, to the extreme joy of all, made us a visit. I spent (he forenoon of today in his company, and tried to convince him that he should accept the call of the Philadelphia congregation. His only objection seems to be the humble feeling of his incompetency, which is certainly an indication of a true disciple of Christ. In the afternoon, the vestry of the church met for the purpose of welcoming him to their midst.”

That the congregation did not submit to his refusal with the best grace, we infer from the following communication, dated June 5th, 1785, in the Hallische Nachrichten:

“Our Synod held its annual meeting lately in Philadelphia, when Rev. Mr. Schultze honored us with a visit, which was not, however, so very acceptable, as he declined the call given him by our congregation.”

Mr. Schulze’s labors at Tulpehocken are said to have been “indefatigable and successful.” His duties were discharged with the most conscientious fidelity and unwearied application. A letter to Halle, written in 17S2, refers to him in the following language:

“Mr. Schultze is now, for the second lime, President of the Ministerium. Resides his principal congregation at Tulpehocken, he attends to several other smaller ones. It is almost impossible, on account of the multiplicity of his official duties, to be a single day at home with his large family, but notwithstanding, he is yet active and vigorous, and is able to endure labor and fatigue. Every year he instructs a large number of young persons in the principles of the Christian religion, and receives them into the church.”

Mr. Schultze’s health began gradually to decline, and his physical infirmities to increase. He continued, however, to perform divine service, although he was often so feeble as to require assistance in ascending the pulpit steps. On the Lord’s day preceding his death, being too much prostrated to walk to the church, near which he lived, he preached in the parsonage. This was the last time he was permitted to break to his people the word of eternal life. From this period he became more debilitated, and anticipated his speedy dissolution. On Saturday, March 9th, 1809, he put off his armor, and finished his course, in the sixty-ninth year of his age. He gently passed away, humbly resting his head upon the bosom of Him, who was crucified for his sins. Jesus was his hope; washed in his blood, justified by his righteousness, sanctified by his grace, he had peace with God. In the presence of an immense concourse of sorrowing friends, he was, on the following Wednesday, interred in the cemetery attached to the church in which he had so often dispensed the symbols of the Savior’s love among the people of God, and urged them forward in the discharge of their Christian duties, by the hopes and consolations of the Gospel. An appropriate discourse, on the occasion of the funeral, was delivered by Rev. Dr. Lochman, from the words, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be; if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.”

Mr. Schultze was married the year after his arrival in this country, to Eve Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. Muhlenberg, a woman calculated to make him happy and increase his usefulness, to whom he was most tenderly attached; her death occurring a few months before, is supposed to have hastened his own end. From this marriage there were nine children, four of whom survived their father. His son John Andrew, for several years, filled the gubernatorial chair of Pennsylvania. A portion of the library which belonged to the subject of our sketch, was recently, through the kindness of the heirs, presented to Pennsylvania College. The collection contains some rare and excellent volumes, principally in the German language, which are regarded as a valuable contribution to the library of the institution.

It is the concurrent testimony, that Mr. Schultze was a man of devoted, fervent and practical piety; he was earnest, zealous, and faithful in the work to which he had devoted himself. None ever doubted the sincerity of his intentions, or the integrity of his character. His blameless life gave a lustre and a value to his teachings from the sacred desk. He possessed a kind heart and warm affections. His benevolence was active and unfailing. It was his constant aim to do good. From this purpose he could not be diverted by any other pursuit.

“He watch’d and wept, he prayed and felt for all.
 And as a bird each fond endearment tries
 To tempt its new fledged offspring to the skies,
 He tried each art, reproved each dull delay,
 Allured to brighter worlds and led the way.”

His life was devoted to Christ and to the service of the church. The industry, self-denial, and unabated interest with which he devoted himself to his duties as a Christian minister, were seen and known by all. He was amply compensated for his sacrifices and toils, in the unfeigned regard and increasing confidence of the community, and an extended career of usefulness, the results of which it is impossible to estimate. He enjoyed in a high degree the love of his brethren in the ministry. He exerted a considerable influence in the ecclesiastical body with which he was connected. He was frequently elected to offices of honor and trust in the church, and died the Senior of the Synod of Pennsylvania. Long years must pass away before his beloved memory and blessed labors will be forgotten. We cannot, perhaps, more appropriately conclude our brief sketch of this servant of God, than by giving a few extracts from the obituary discourse delivered on the occasion of his death. In referring to the important and responsible office with which he was invested, and the satisfactory discharge of his duties, says Dr. Lochman:

“He was commissioned to call sinners to repentance and faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and earnestly and faithfully did he fulfill the commission. He was commissioned to commend to sinners the wonderful love of God in Christ Jesus, and fervently did he do it. He was commissioned to comfort the sorrowing, to strengthen the weak, to build up the faithful, and this also he joyfully executed. You must all testify that during the thirty-eight years he lived with you, as your minister, he labored faithfully and conscientiously for your good. You never summoned him in vain to the performance of any difficult duty, when it was at all possible for him to serve you. By day and by night, in cold and in heat, in sunshine and rain, he ministered to you without any complaint. He frequently appeared in your churches when many of you, in consequence of the inclemency of the weather, were afraid to venture away from your own firesides. Even when old age came upon him, he desired to devote his feeble powers to the service of God. When his flesh was weak, his spirit was still willing. In fidelity, industry and zeal, few have surpassed him. He might truly, with the apostle of the Gentiles, have said,

‘In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things, that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.’

To many did he make known the way of salvation; many he instructed in the doctrines of Christianity; many he warned of sin and of the wrath to come; many he directed to the path of virtue, and to the Savior of the world. In the joy which is found with Christ, he meets these, who thank him for his services. O how insignificant do all the toils and sufferings of this life now appear to him! How he rejoices in his God, whose face be now sees, whose society he enjoys! How he rejoices as his Father honors him openly,in the presence of redeemed spirits, and what pleasure he experiences, as he beholds and embraces those who preceded him to this world of bliss! Finally, I would impress upon your hearts the words of Paul in his letter to the Hebrews:

‘Remember those which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.’

It seems that several teachers of the Gospel among the Hebrews had died, and that Paul desired those who used to listen to them, to remember both the teachers and the word which they taught. This, dear brethren, should you also do! Your teacher who served you so long, has been called away. You will hear him preach no more, but you can remember him and the sermons which he preached to you. O yes! hold him in affectionate remembrance, and often consider the instructions, the admonitions, the warnings and the consolations, which he gave you. Remember the good and profitable teachings you received from him, both before and at your confirmation. Frequently recall to your mind the services of the sanctuary, the discourses you heard him preach. Remember the words of comfort he spake to you in your hour of need, and in the time of sickness. As often as you revisit his tomb, bring to mind his instructions and admonitions. Renew your resolutions, and strive to keep them! Then the God of peace will be with you, and you will enjoy the blessedness of again being united with your pastor in the realms of peace.”

Reminiscences of Lutheran Ministers Series

"Among our earlier ministers, the fathers of the American Lutheran Church… we can point to many bright names, which Christians of any denomination might be proud to recognize as their own…

“Men distinguished for high talent, great learning, devoted piety, ardent zeal and noble spirit, who were appreciated by their contemporaries, and labored assiduously for the elevation of the race, and the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom.” – Charles Krauth

Lutheran Biographical Sketch

Publication Information

  • Author: “Krauth, Charles P.”, Editor.
  • Journal: “The Evangelical Review.”
  • Originally Published: 1856.
  • Lutheran Library Edition: 2019
  • Copyright: CC BY 4.0