Kurtz, Benjamin, Dd, Lld

Kurtz, Benjamin, D.D., LL.D, a prominent minister of the Lutheran Church, was born at Harrisburg, Penn., Feb. 28, 1795. He was a lineal descendant of one of the Halle patriarchs, the grandson of Rev. John Nicholas Kurtz, who came to this country in 1745 as an associate of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. When quite young Benjamin exhibited remarkable fitness for study, and great quickness in the acquisition of knowledge. At the age of fifteen he was employed as an assistant in the Harrisburg Academy, and subsequently gave private instruction in Latin, Greek, and German. Early trained to industry and self-reliance, he formed those habits of mental discipline which gave so much strength to his future character. He studied theology under the direction of Rev. Dr. Geo. Lochman, and was licensed to preach in 1815 by the Synod of Pennsylvania. He immediately received a call to Baltimore as assistant minister to his uncle, Rev. Dr. J.D. Kurtz. He remained in this position for a brief period, and then accepted the invitation to become pastor of the Hagerstown charge. During this period of his ministry his labors were crowned with the most abundant success. On a single occasion he added to the Church .one hundred and fifteen members. Very reluctantly he resigned the position, and in 1831 took charge of the Lutheran Church in Chambersburg. But in the midst of his usefulness, with the brightest prospects of success, his labors here were abruptly terminated by the failure of his health. He removed to Baltimore Aug. 24,1833, and commenced his career as editor of the Lutheran Observer. The paper became an engine of great influence in the Church, and, although physically disqualified to perform regular pulpit labor, in his editorial capacity he was permitted every week to preach the Gospel and to advance the interests of the Church. He died Dec. 29, 1865. Dr. Kurtz possessed an intellect of no common order, a resolute will, and remarkable personal power. He was an active, vigorous thinker. He had acquired habits of close application, of careful and keen observation, a fondness for analytical research, and the investigation of intricate questions. His mind was clear and logical, and in controversy he had scarcely a superior. He readily comprehended a subject, and knew how to grapple with any truth that claimed his attention. Had he entered the legal profession, for which he was originally intended, or political life, to which he was so well adapted, he would, no doubt, have risen to the highest position, to a rank equal to his most distinguished contemporaries. As a preacher he was very much gifted. In his earlier years, and in the maturity of his strength, he was regarded by many as the most eloquent speaker in the State of Maryland. He was plain, thoughtful, argumentative, and forcible. He gave utterance to the great truths of the Gospel with an energy and an unction that carried conviction home to the hearer. He was a clear, prolific writer, skilful in repartee, pungent in rebuke; a man of independent spirit, fond of excitement, and worked best when under its influence. He was, in the full sense of the term, a public man, and few men in the Lutheran Church of this country have wielded a greater power than he. His name was a tower of strength in connection with any enterprise that engaged his attention. His public career, extending over half a century, was identified with the most important events in the history of the Lutheran Church during that period. The recognised leader of a central school in the Church, the public representative of a party whose views he adopted, his sentiments on all subjects were regarded with favor. His words were received as oracular. His life was one of ceaseless activity. Laborious, self-sacrificing, a man of great industry and unwearied perseverance, he never yielded to any obstacle that was not absolutely insuperable. Notwithstanding his daily routine of duty, and the multiplicity of his engagements, he found some time for authorship. His books were generally well received by the public; some of them passed through several editions. The following embraces a list of his publications: First Principles of Religion for Children (1821): -Sermons on Sabbath-schools (1822): — Faith, Hope, and Charity (1823):-Address on Temperance (1824): —

Pastoral Address during his absence in Europe (1827):Ministerial Appeal, Valedictory Sermon, Hagerstown (1831): — A Door opened of the Lord, Introductory Sermon, Chambersburg (1831):-Infant Baptism and Affusion, with Essays on Related Subjects (Baltimore, 1840): -Theological Sketch- book, or Skeletons of Sermons, carefully arranged in systematic order, so as to constitute a complete Body of Divinity, partly original, partly selected (1844, 2 vols.): — Why are you a Lutheran ? (1847): — Prayer in all its Forms, and Training of Children (1856) : — Lutheran Prayer-book, for the use of Families and Individuals (1856): — The Serial Catechism, or Progressive Instruction for Children (1848): — Design, Necessity, and Adaptation of the Missionary Institute at Selinsgrove, Pa. (Inaugural Address) (1859): — The Choice of a Wife-Lecture to the Graduating Class of Theological Students in the Missionary Institute (1863):The Condemned Sermon-Experimental, not Ritual Religion, the one thing needful; preached before the West Pennsylvania Synod (1863): — Believers belong to Christ: Sacramental Discourse delivered before the Maryland Synod (1865). He was also co-editor of the Year-book of the Reformation (1844). See Evang. Rev. 1866, p. 25 sq.; Lutheran Observer, Jan. 5 and 12, 1866. (M. L. S.)

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