Henry Ernst Muhlenberg, D. D.
Muhlenberg, Henry Ernst, D. D.,1 was the youngest son of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, D. D., and was born at the Trappe, Montgomery County, Pa., in the year 1753. The rudiments of his education he received in his native place, and, after the removal of his father to Philadelphia, he attended the public schools in that city. In the Spring of 1763, when in the tenth year of his age, with his brothers Peter and Frederick, he was sent to Europe, to finish his Academic studies, and to lay the foundation of his theological course. After a voyage of seven weeks, they reached England, and soon after they sailed for Holland. The brothers proceeded directly to Halle, and young Henry, having been placed under the care of an attendant, went by way of Oldenburg, Bremen and Hanover, with the intention of visiting Einbeck, his father's native place, and in which many of his relatives still resided. On the journey an incident occurred, which showed the resolute purpose, which even at that early period of his life he possessed. Having been basely deserted by the man to whose protection he had been confided, in a land in which he was an entire stranger, he commenced the long journey on foot, without money or friends, in no way depressed or disposed to despond. As he approached the end of his dark and dreary journey, when almost exhausted by the fatigue, he was met by a stranger, whose benevolent heart was touched, when he heard the sad tale of the inexperienced youth, and pitying his helpless condition, he generously carried him on his back to Einbeck, and cheered him by the way with the recital of please It stories. He never ascertained the name of this kind friend who relieved him in his lonely situation, but at the time he confidently believed that it was some good angel, commissioned by Providence to afford aid to him in this hour of need. He was soon after sent by his friends at Einbeck to Hallo, where he at once commenced his studies, to use his own language, "among the orphan children at the Orphan House." In this school he continued for some years, spending a larger time in the highest classes than was necessary, as he had not yet reached the age required for admission into the University. This he entered in the year 1769, and remained a member about one year. After an absence from his home of seven years, it was natural that he should wish to return. He thought it desirable, also, to take advantage of Dr. Kunze's company, who was about to sail for the United States, a trip across the ocean, in those days, being a much more formidable undertaking than at the present. During his residence abroad, he had made good use of his time and opportunities, storing his mind with useful knowledge, and disciplining it for future effort. He also secured the acquaintance of some of the most learned theologians of Germany, with whom he, in after life, maintained a correspondence, and whose friendship he found of great value to him.
Here, no doubt, was awakened that ardent and enthusiastic love for this
favorite pursuit, which afterwards so strongly manifested itself. On the
departure of the British troops he resumed his clerical duties in
Philadelphia, and continued to labor there, till the year 1770, when he
resigned, in order to take charge of congregations in Montgomery County,
Pa. In the following year, however, having been invited to Lancaster, and
believing that it would afford a sphere of wider influence, and more
extended usefulness, he consented to accept the appointment. In the Spring
of 1780, he removed to the scene of his new home, and at once entered upon
his work here, to which he assiduously and faithfully devoted himself,
during a period of thirty-five years, till the end of his life. In the
midst of his usefulness, the shaft of death was sped, and his earthly
career terminated. On the 28d of May 1815, he died of apoplexy, in the
sixty-second year of his ago. Conscious of his approaching dissolution, he
committed his congregation and the interests of the church at large to the
Great Bishop and Shepherd of souls; clasping to his heart the Bible, as
his dearest treasure, and firmly clinging to the Rock of Ages, he calmly
and peacefully fell asleep in Jesus, and entered upon his eternal rest.
His remains were followed to the grave by an immense concourse of weeping
friends, and an appropriate discourse was delivered by Rev. Dr. Helmuth,
of Philadelphia, from the text-Remember them which have the rule over you,
who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering
the end of their conversation.
In this department, at that time, he was probably unsurpassed by any
one in the United States. Dr. Baldwin2
pronounces him the American Linnaeus, and says, to this appellation he
is justly entitled. He was often quoted in Europe as authority. He
carried on a large transatlantic correspondence with the most
distinguished naturalists then living, and by his communications to
learned societies, contributed much to the advancement of natural
science. He was connected with numerous scientific associations, and was
visited at his home in Lancaster by Humboldt, Schoepf, and other savans
of Europe, on their tour through this country.
Source: An authentic history of Lancaster County, in the state of Pennsylvania; Lancaster, Pa.: J.E. Barr, 1869, 813 pgs.
The above biography is held at Access Genealogy. Permission has been granted to republish here.
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