May 20, 1849 (Sunday)

Splendid day—How the pretty dresses and still more beautiful young ladies came out today.  Went to St. Philips in the morning and to German Ref. in the evening to hear Mr. Berg.

Nathan first went to St. Philip’s Church on January 21. His first visit to the German Reformed Church was on April 29.

Joseph Frederick Berg, D. D. (1812–1871) was born in Antigua where his father was a Moravian missionary. The younger Berg was educated in England and, after 1825, in the United States. He was ordained by the synod of the German Reformed Church in 1835, obtained his license to preach in 1837, and, shortly thereafter became the pastor of the German Reformed Church on Race Street in Philadelphia.  He held the position until 1852. After some unpleasantness with theological professors at Marshall College in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, Berg transferred to the Reformed Dutch Church in Philadelphia (7th and Brown Streets) where he remained as pastor for nine years.

Dr. Berg was a noted speaker and a voluminous author.  He often lectured without notes and had as many as 200 people apply for membership in his church after one of his sermons.  He famously debated a Philadelphia atheist who had defeated other clergymen on the topic of authenticity of the scripture. Not only did Dr. Berg win the debate, the atheist converted.  Dr. Berg was the editor of The Protestant Quarterly and was the author of many tracts, sermons, and books including Plea for the Divine Law Against Murder (1846) and The Olive Branch, or White-Oak Farm (1857), a novel justifying slavery.

For a complete list of works by Dr. Berg at the AAS, click here.


Dubbs, Joseph H. History of Franklin and Marshall College. Lancaster, PA: Franklin and Marshall Alumni Association, 1903.

Wilson, James Grant and John Fiske. Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton, 1887.

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