Monday, December 26, 2016

Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Introduction of the Gospel into Virginia

Continued from the Memoirs of Rev. David Rice (Chapter III): Relief Obtained

This is from Chapter IV of the memoirs of Rev. David Rice, which were included in An Outline of the History of the Church in the State of Kentucky, During a Period of Forty Years by Robert Hamilton Bishop and published in 1824.

"My aunt, Mary Rice, was married to a John Symms. John Symms in some part of his life, by what means I know no, probably by little more than reading the Scriptures, got deeply impressed with the necessity and importance of a better religion than that which he possessed. Under a deep conviction of his being a guilty depraved sinner, he continued for ten or twelve years, earnestly seeking the bread of life, while he found none to break it to him. At length, by the same means of reading the Bible, he found that God had made provision for such sinners, and that it was revealed to them in the Gospel. He believed in Christ as a Savior, and embraced the plan of salvation, and the deep gloom of a long night of darkness was dispelled by the beams of the son of righteousness. From that time to the close of his life he appeared to be a tender, sober, and exemplary Christian.

About the same time, or perhaps a little later, my uncle, James Rice, got under similar impressions, and probably by similar means, only his convictions appeared to be more pungent and terrifying. He told me himself that for three months he did not remember to have slept so sound as not to hear a cock crow or a dog bark at any time of the night. On receiving deliverances by the Gospel of God's grace, his joy appeared to be proportionally ecstatic. I do not remember ever to have heard him mention the love of God manifested in the suffering of Christ in the room of guilty men, but with tears of affection and gratitude in his eyes.

My grandmother, Rice, was esteemed truly a religious woman; but when or by what means she obtained religion I do not remember to have heard.

There was in the same neighborhood with them a James Hooper, who was also esteemed a pious man. These four seldom attended their parish church, but used to meet together at one or other of their houses, and spend the Sabbath in religious conversations. 'Then they that feared the Lord spoke often to one another, and a book of remembrance was written before him,' etc. For fifteen or twenty years my uncle James never walked but with crutches, or when at best with a staff in each hand; yet when he had been helped on a horse he rode tolerably well. He had in the country round a number of old acquaintance, whom he used occasionally to visit. In some of these houses he found a few old books, which had been imported by the first settlers, written by the Puritans, or the great divines who lived in England when the Westminster confession of faith was composed. He found also Luther on the Galatians, or on justification by grace without the works of the law. From these old books he made large extracts, and by frequently reading them over, his memory being good, he could give a pretty good account of the whole of them. When his neighbors came to see him, he would commonly introduce religious conversation, and often repeat whole pages from these extracts. His conversation at length began to make some serious impression on his neighbors. One in particular became deeply sensible of his being in a ruined condition, and condemned by the law of God. To give him relief my uncle lent him Luther on the Galatians. While my uncle was one day looking out of his door, he saw this man running with all his might, and this book in his arms. As soon as he was within call, he cried out as in a transport, James! I have found it! James! I have found it! meaning that he had found out the way made known in the gospel for the justification of the sinner without the works of the law. This man, being a pretty good reader, and of a more forward disposition than my uncle, invited his neighbors to come to his house on Sabbath days to hear him read this book. This at length gained the attention of people, and produced some religious stir among them, and caused a few earnestly to inquire what they should do to be saved. He soon had a small congregation who regularly attended him on the Sabbath -- though they had no prayer or singing. The omission of the former was probably owing to strong prejudices which they had imbibed against the prayer of the church of England, from having often heard it canted over with an air of levity, without even the appearance of serious devotion. By which means they and thousands besides lost the benefit of the many appropriate petitions contained in that book. Their omission of singing was probably owing to their total ignorance of church music.

About this time a dark cloud of persecution almost threatened the destruction of the little church. Several of its members were present for not attending their parish church as often as was required by a penal statute, and were consequently under the necessity of answering for their conduct before the governor and council. They had, however, by this time, learned that there was an English act of toleration for protestant dissenters. Being interrogated by the governor on the reason of their not attending their parish churches, they pled they were protestant dissenters. His excellency asked them, of what denomination? Here they were at a loss, for they had as yet assumed no name. At length one of them, more ready witted than the rest, replied that they were Lutherans. Thus, by the name of Luther, and the affinity between the church of Luther and the church of England, the cloud was dissipated, and they allowed to return home in peace.

During this period the inhabitants of the upper part of Virginia, that lies west of the South mountain, who were emigrants from Pennsylvania, used to go down to what they called Old Virginia to purchase iron, salt, etc. One of these Augusta men, in one of his trips, fell in with some of these new Lutherans, and having some religious conversations with them, he found their sentiments very different from what was common in that part of the country. Upon which he asked them what place of worship they attended? They replied, none. He asked them if they did not believe it to be a duty to worship God publicly? They replied they did -- but did not think it worth while to go and hear men preach who did not preach the gospel of the grace of God, and that their ministers did not preach this gospel.

The Augusta man informed them that there had lately been a minister preaching in their country, whom; should they hear, they would think preached the true gospel. They eagerly asked his name -- whence he came -- and whither he had gone/ They were answered, his name is Robinson -- he is from Pennsylvania -- and is gone to Colwell's settlement. Upon this a messenger was dispatched in quest of the unknown preacher. He was found, but just on the eve of starting homeward. However, on receiving their earnest request, he resolved to comply with it. He tarried with them only a few days, preached to them two or three sermons, advised them to continue their meetings, and taught them to add singing and prayer to their former exercises. He left them also one or two volumes of Erskine's sermons, which was a very considerable addition to their former stock. With these improvements their meetings were greatly enlarged, and excited considerable attention. Erskine's sermons were particularly esteemed. Some of their best readers were invited to go fifteen, twenty, and even thirty miles to read these sermons. The effects produced were considerable. In fact, one of these readers read his discourses much more oratorically than one half of the preachers of this country deliver their sermons. The pronunciation of a number of these is spoiled by the rules of art illy understand and illy applied, or by a servile imitation of some particular person. The reader in the new Lutheran church followed nature. After Mr. Robinson returned to Pennsylvania, there came in succession a number of ministers and preachers, who preached in Hanover and some adjacent places -- Their labors were crowned with considerable success. These supplies continued till the arrival of Rev. Samuel Davies, a man of great talents and eminent piety, who after the previous steps were taken, settled in Hanover county, and took charge of two or three congregations.

Rev. Samuel Davies; image courtesy of Wikipedia

Thus the Presbyterian doctrine and the discipline were introduced into Old Virginia. This doctrine was in substance the doctrine of the established church of England, and of all Reformed churches. Their government and discipline were in the main that which was adopted by John Calvin, one of the first reformers.'

(Thus far father Rice, from memory alone, in the last year of his life, as the patriarchs of old did, rehearsed to his children and grandchildren the wonderful works of God. The following extract from the Memoirs of Rev. Dr. Rodgers, of New York, by Rev. Dr. Miller, gives a more particular account of this interesting subject.)

The rise and progress of the body of Presbyterians in Virginia, to whom the labors of Mr. Davies and Mr. Rodgers were now directed, deserve some notice, before we proceed. They deserve this notice not only as being remarkably interesting in themselves, but also as throwing light on the treatment received by the subject of these Memoirs, in the course of the southern mission of which we are speaking.

The first settlers in Virginia were greatly connected with the Episcopal church. Episcopacy was early established in the dominion by law, and remained so until the revolution which terminated in American independence.* A very small number of Presbyterians from Scotland, and a still smaller number of dissenters from south Britain were thinly scattered through the Colony; but they were so few and so destitute of religious zeal, that no ecclesiastical organization, different from that of the establishment, seems to have been thought of, (excepting on a small scale on the eastern shore, as will hereafter appear,) until between the years 1730 and 1743. During that period, a few Presbyterian churches were formed under circumstances to remarkable and interesting to pass unnoticed.

About the year 1730, there resided in the great northern neck, between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers, a certain John Organ, a pious schoolmaster, from Scotland. Soon after his establishment in that country, finding there was no place of public worship in his immediate neighborhood, and that a large portion of the people wholly disregarded the ordinances of religion, and were sunk in carelessness and profligacy, his spirit was stirred within him to attempt something for the spiritual advantage of his neighbors. Accordingly, he collected, in private houses, such of them as were tolerably decent and sober, and had any sense of religion, and read to them the Scriptures and other pious writings, accompanied with prayer and singing. These exercises were much blessed, to the awakening and conversion of a number of souls. For several years nothing more was attempted; especially as the frowns of the government were soon towards this little flock, and the laws against dissenters rigorously enforced against them. In a short time, however, after the formation of the Synod of Philadelphia, the people of Organ's neighborhood made an application to that body for supplies. This request was granted; and the Rev. Mr. Anderson, who had before resided in New York, but was then settled in Pennsylvania, was sent by the Synod to preach among them, to organize a church, and to interceded with the government on their behalf. Mr. Anderson succeeded in attaining all these objects. He preached with great acceptance and with much impression; and formed a church which has continued to the present day.

While these things were going one in one neighborhood, events of a similar kind, but still more extraordinary, were taking place in another.

In Hanover, and the adjacent counties, the aspect of religion and morals had long been extremely low and discouraging. The established clergy were many of them notoriously profligate in their lives, and very few of them preached, or appeared to understand, the Gospel of Christ. It was under these circumstances that some pious books, or fragments of books, which fell into the hands of a few individuals, were made the means of awakening them to a concern for their eternal interest, and of commencing a work of grace, which was afterwards most powerfully and happily extended.

Boston's Fourfold State was one of these books. A few leaves of this inestimable work, which ad belonged to a pious Scot woman, fell into the hands of a wealthy planter. Being pleased and surprised at what he read, and finding the title page among the leaves, he sent a commission, with his next cargo of tobacco, to procure for him a copy of the book. He obtained it; and the more he read, the more he found himself interested in its contents; until he was brought, as there was every reason to believe, to a saving acquaintance with the truth as it is in Jesus. Another wealthy planter, Mr. Samuel Morris, of Hanover, having providentially fallen in with an old copy of Luther on the Galatians, perused it with eagerness and astonishment. He there found representations of Gospel truth, such as he had never met with before, and widely different from what he had received from the pulpit.** Deeply affected with the view of human nature, and of the way of salvation, which this work exhibits, he never ceased to read, to inquire, and to pray, until he found consolation in Christ, as the Lord his righteousness and strength. Nor was this all. It is one of the glorious distinctions of the genuine Gospel of the grace of God, that wherever its power is felt in the heart, and in proportion to the degree in which that power is felt, there will always be manifested a tender love to the souls of men, and an ardent zeal for spreading the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Not the warmth of mere party zeal; not the strange fire of bigotry and contention for modes and forms; but an affectionate desire that men may be saved, and that Christ in all things may be glorified. Such was the spirit excited in this remarkable convert. He no sooner had obtained a comfortable hope for himself, than he was filled with concern for the spiritual welfare of his neighbors. He invited them to come to his house, and to hear him read passages from the book which had been so much blessed to his own sol. They attended, particularly on the Sabbath, for this purpose. At first, and indeed for a considerable time afterwards, no other exercise than that of reading was attempted. Extemporary prayer was a thing so unknown among them, that none durst attempt it. Their whole time, when together, was employed in reading; and Mr. Morris, being an excellent reader, was enabled, to a very unusual degree, to keep up their attention. And the spirit of God visibly attended the exercise. A number of persons were seriously impressed, and some hopefully converted. In 1743, a young Scottish gentleman, having received from his friends at home a volume of Whitefield's Sermons, published a short time before, put them into the hands of Mr. Morris, who perused them himself with much profit, and soon began to read them to his assembled neighbors. The plainness and fervor of these discourses were blessed to the awakening and hopeful conversion of several persons. The curiosity of some, and the serious impressions of others, increasing, people began to meet on weekdays for this exercise, as well as on the Sabbath. In a short time Mr. Morris' house became too small to accommodate those who attended; on which he and his neighbors determined to erect a building expressly for their accommodation at these religious meetings. This building was commonly called "Morris' reading-house," and was generally crowded with hearers. The knowledge of these circumstances spreading, Mr. Morris was invited to attend, at several distant places, for the purpose of reading the books, and especially Whitefield's Sermons, which had been so acceptable and useful in his immediate neighborhood. He complied with these invitations; and thus the religious awakening and anxiety became considerably extended.

About this time Mr. Morris and his friends attracted the notice of the government. Their absenting themselves from their parish churches, contrary, as was alleged, to the laws of the land, was considered and treated as an offense. They were called upon by the court to assign their reasons for this absence, and to declare to what denomination they belonged. The latter question embarrassed them not a little. Having known scarcely any other denomination of dissenters besides Quakers; and not being aware that any body of people then on earth embraced the same opinions on the subject of religion with themselves, they were at a loss what name to assume. In this embarrassment they begged of the court a little time to retire, and determine by what name they chose to be known. After a short consultation, recollecting that Luther was a noted reformer, and that some of his works had been of peculiar service among them, they resolved to take their denomination from him; they accordingly returned into court, and declared themselves Lutherans. By this answer the members of the court were embarrassed in their turn, not finding any law or precedent which directed them how to proceed against Lutherans; and, after a little consideration, dismissed Mr. Morris and his friends without perusing their design further at the time.

Things were in this situation, when, in the year 1743, the Rev. William Robinson, a member of the Presbytery of New Brunswick,# who had been ordained sine titulo, with a view of his being sent as an Evangelist to preach the Gospel on the frontier settlements, in the course of his mission, entered Virginia, and preached with considerable success in some of the more remote counties of the Colony. While he was thus employed, some young people from the neighborhood of Mr. Morris, and the children of his friends, being on a visit to that part of the country, heard him preach, and recognizing in his sermons the same doctrines which they had been accustomed to hear at the reading house, they communicated the intelligence to their parents in Hanover, who immediately dispatched two men to Cub Creek where he had been heard by their children, in search of Mr. Robinson. He had left the place, however, before the arrival of the messengers, and they were obliged to follow him a hundred miles on his journey. They at length found him, and prevailed on him to appoint a time for visiting Hanover.

At the appointed time Mr. Robinson came. He had been obliged to ride the whole of the preceding night in order to avoid disappointing the people. When he arrived at the reading-house, they were assembled in crowds, waiting for the preacher. On his appearance a scene ensued which marked at once the conscientiousness and the simplicity of the parties on both sides. Mr. Morris and his friends, though they had heard a high character of Mr. Robinson from their children and others, thought proper to be more certain as to his testimonials and his creed, before they suffered him to address the congregation which had assembled. They, therefore, took him aside, while the people waited, and not only requested to see his testimonials, which were ample; but also proceeded to examine him as to his views of the leading doctrines of the Gospel. To this Mr. Robinson submitted, not only with meekness, but with affection, and having entirely satisfied his examiners, he went into the house and began to address the people. Mr. Morris himself, to a letter to President Davies, thus describes the scene which ensued.

'On the 6th of July, 1743, Mr. Robinson preached his first sermon to us from Luke xiii. 3, and continued with us preaching four days successively. The congregation was large the first day, and vastly increased the three following. It is hard for the liveliest imagination to form an image of the condition of the assembly on these glorious days of the Son of man. Such of us as had been hungering for the word before, were lost in an agreeable surprise and astonishment, and some could not refrain from publicly declaring their transport. We were overwhelmed with the thoughts of the unexpected goodness of God in allowing us to hear the Gospel preached in a manner that surpassed our hopes. Many that came through curiosity, were pricked to the heart; and not a few in the numerous assemblies on these four days appeared unaffected. They returned alarmed with apprehensions of their dangerous condition, convinced of their former entire ignorance of religion, and anxiously inquiring what they should do to be saved. And there is reason to believe that there was as much good done by these four sermons as by all the sermons preached in these parts before or since.'

These pious people, after formally taken the names to themselves in the presence of the court, steadily called themselves Lutherans. When Mr. Robinson visited them, they inquired of him to what denomination he belonged. On his informing them that he was a Presbyterian, and laying before them the import and reasons of this denomination, the agreed to adopt it. They accordingly took the earliest opportunity of connecting themselves with the Presbytery of New Castle, which was the nearest body of that kind to the place of their residence; and ever afterwards they called themselves Presbyterians.

What too place subsequent to the short visit of Mr. Robinson at Hanover, will appear from the following continued account by Mr. Morris, in the same letter from which the former quotation was made. 'Before Mr. Robinson left us he successfully endeavored to correct some of our mistakes, and to bring us to carry on the worship of God more regularly at our meetings. After this we met to read good sermons, and began and concluded with prayer and singing of psalms, which till then we had omitted. The blessing of God remarkably attended these more private means, and it was really astonishing to observe the solemn impressions begun, or continued in many, by hearing good discourses read. I had repeated invitations to come to many places round, some of them thirty or forty miles distant, to read. Considerable numbers attended with eager attention and awful solemnity, and several were, in a judgment of charity, turned to God, and thereupon erected meeting-homes, and chose readers among themselves, by which the work was more extensively carried on. Soon after Mr. Robinson left us, the Re. Mr. John Blair paid us a visit; and truly he came to us in the fullness of the Gospel of Christ. Former impressions were ripened, and new ones made on many hearts. one night in particular a whole house full of people was quite overcome with the power of the word, particularly one pungent sentence, and they could hardly sit or stand, or keep their passions under any proper restraint. So general was the concern, during his stay with us, and so ignorant were we of the danger of apostasy, that we pleased ourselves with the thoughts of more being brought to Christ at that time, than now appear to have been, though there is still the greatest reason to hope that several bound themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant, never to be forgotten. Some time after this, the Rev. Mr. Roan was sent to us, by the Presbytery of New Castle. He continued with us longer than any of the former, and the happy effects of his ministrations are still apparent. He was instrumental in beginning and promoting a religious concern in several places where there was little appearance of it before. This, together with his speaking pretty freely about the degeneracy of the clergy in this colony, gave a general alarm, and some measures were concerted to suppress us. To incense the indignation of the government the more, a perfidious wretch deposed he heard Mr. Roan utter blasphemous expressions in his sermon. An indictment was thereupon drawn up against Mr. Roan, (though by that time he had departed the colony,) and some who had invited him to preach at their houses were cited to appear before the general court, and two of them were fined. While my cause was upon trial, I had reason to rejoice that the throne of grace is accessible in all places, and that helpless creatures can send up their desires unseen in the midst of a crowd. Six witnesses were cited to prove the indictment against Mr. Roan, but their depositions were in his favor; and the witness who accused him of blasphemy, when he heard of the arrival of Messrs. Tennent and Finley, he fled, and has not returned since; so that the indictment was dropped. But I had reason to fear being banished the colony, and all circumstances seemed to threaten the extirpation of religion among the dissenters in these parts. In these difficulties, having no person of a public charter to appear in our favor, we were determined to acquaint the synod of New York with our case. Accordingly, four of us went to the synod, May, 1745, when the Lord favored us with success. The synod drew up an address to our governor, the honorable Sir William Gooch, and sent it with Messrs. Tennent and Finley, who were received by the governor with respect, and  had liberty granted to preach amongst us. By this means the dreadful cloud was scattered for a while, and our languid hopes revived. They continued with us about a week, and though the deluge of passion in which we were at first overwhelmed, was by this time somewhat abated, yet much good was done by their ministry. The people of God were refreshed and several careless sinners were awakened. Some that had trusted before in their moral conduct, and religious duties, were convinced of the depravity of their nature, and the necessity of regeneration, though indeed there were but few unregenerate persons among us at that time, that could claim so regular a character; the most part indulging themselves in criminal liberties, and being remiss in the duties of religion, which alas! is too commonly the case still, in such parts of the colony as the late revival did not extend to. After they left us, we continued vacant for a considerable time, and kept up our meetings for reading and prayer, in several places, and the Lord favored us with his presence. I was again repeatedly presented and fined in court, for absenting myself from church, and keeping up unlawful meetings, as they were called; as they were called; but the bush flourished in the flames. The next that were appointed to supply us, were the Rev. Messrs. William Tennet and Samuel Blair. They administered the Lord's supper among us; and we have reason ever to remember it as a most glorious day of the Son of man. The assembly was large, and the novelty of the manner of the administration did peculiarly engage their attention. It appeared as one of the days of heaven to some of us; and we could hardly help wishing we could, with Joshua, have delayed the revolutions of the heavens to prolong it. After Messrs. Tennent and Blair were gone, Mr. Whitefield came and preached four or five days, which was the happy means of giving us further encouragement, and engaging others to the Lord, especially among the church people, who received the Gospel more readily from him than from ministers of the Presbyterian denomination. After his departure, we were destitute of a minister, and followed our usual method of reading and prayer at our meetings, till the Rev. Mr. Davies, our present pastor, was sent us by the Presbytery, to supply us a few weeks in the spring of 1747, when our discouragements from the government were renewed and multiplied; for, upon a Lord's day, a proclamation was set up at our meeting-house, strictly requiring all magistrates to suppress and prohibit, as far as they lawfully could, all itinerant preachers, etc. which occasioned us to forbear reading that day, till we had time to deliberate and consult what was expedient to do; but how joyfully were we surprised, before the next Sabbath, when we unexpectedly heard that Mr. Davies was come to preach so long among us, and especially that he had qualified himself according to law, and obtained the licensing of four meeting-houses among us, which had never been done before. Thus man's extremity is the Lord's opportunity. For this seasonable interposition of divine providence, we desire to offer our grateful praises, and we importune the friends of Zion to concur with us.'

*In 1618 a law was passed in Virginia which enacted, that "every person should go to church on Sundays and holy days, or lie neck and heels that night, and be a slave to the Colony the following week." For the second offense he was to be a slave for a month; and for the third, a year and a day." Stith's History, p. 148, in 1642 a law passed, which enacted that "no minister shall be permitted to officiate in the country but such as shall produce to the governor a testimonial that he hath received his ordination from some Bishop in England; and shall then subscribe to be conformable to the orders and constitutions of the Church of England; and if any other person, pretending himself to be a minister, shall, contrary to this act, presume to teach or preach, publicly or privately, the governor and council are hereby desired and empowered to suspend and silence the person so offending; and upon his obstinate persistence, to compel him to depart the country with the first convenience." Laws of Virginia, Edit. 1769, p. 3.

Several of these laws were afterwards repealed, or their penalties mitigated; but they remained severe until the revolution. We are accustomed to smile at what are called the blue laws of Connecticut; but it would be difficult to find anything in them equal to the first act above mentioned.

**It will be considered, by many, not a little remarkable, that those who loved and admired Boston's Fourfold State, (a strongly Calvinistic work,) should equally relish Luther on the Galatians; and should consider themselves as finding the same precious system of truth in both. An impression seems to have been received by multitudes, that Luther and Calvin differed materially on important points, particularly on the subject of the divine Decree, or the doctrine of sovereign Election. Nothing can be more erroneous than this impression. Excepting in the single article of Christ's presence in the Eucharist, there was the most entire harmony of opinion between these two great reformers. Those who wish to see what Luther believed on the doctrines of Predestination and Grace, would do well to consult his book De Servo Arbitrio,  in which they will find as high-toned Calvinism as was ever penned. Indeed, all the eminent reformers, were agreed on these points. The leading men among them were all doctrinal Calvinists. It is notorious, that, for a number of years, during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and James I, Calvin's Institutes was the great standard book put by authority into the hands of the students of divinity in the British universities, and considered as the foundation of their studies. This is acknowledged by Heylin and others in terms of bitterest regret. Nay, by a convocation held at Oxford, that book was recommended to the general study of the nation. Let those who deny the Calvinism of the early reformers and standards of the Church of England, impartially consult Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, the Lambeth Articles, (drawn and signed by Archbishop Whitgift, and declared by him to be true, and corresponding with the doctrines professed in the Church of England,) the writings of Hall, Davenant, and Horsely, and they will perceive and be ashamed of their mistake. But to return; it is certain that Luther was not only a strong doctrinal Calvinist, but also a Presbyterian; that is to say, he early and uniformly maintained the parity of ministers by divine right, and the scriptural authority of Presbyters to ordain. He himself, though only a Presbyter, freely ordained, at an early period of his Protestant ministry, and he did the same only a few days before his death.

#Mr. Robinson was the son of a wealthy Quaker in England. Being permitted to pay a visit of a few weeks to an aunt in the city of London, from whom he had considerable expectations he greatly overstayed the time which had been allowed him; and becoming deeply involved in the dissipations of the town, he incurred large debts, which he knew his father would never pay, and which his aunt refused to discharge. In this situation, fearing to return home, and unable to remain longer in London, he determined to quit his native country, and seek his fortune in America. In this determination his aunt reluctantly acquiesced, and furnished him with a small sum of money for the purpose. Soon after his arrival in America, he had recourse, for the subsistence, to teaching a school, in New Jersey, within the bounds of the Presbytery of New Brunswick. He had been, for some time, engaged in this business, without any practical sense of religion, when it pleased God to bring him to a knowledge of himself, and of the way of salvation, in a remarkable manner. He was riding at a late hour, one evening, when the moon and stars sone with unusual brightness, and when every thing around him was calculated to excite reflection. While he was meditating on the beauty and the grandeur of the scene which the firmament presented, and was saying to himself, 'How transcendently glorious must he the author of all this beauty, and grandeur!' the thought struck him with the suddenness and the force of lightning, 'But what do I know of this God? Have I ever sought his favor or made him my friend?' This happy impression, which proved, by its permanency and its effects, to have come from the best of all sources, never left him until he took refuge in Christ as the hope and life of his soul. He soon resolved to devote himself to the work of the Gospel ministry; completed his academical education, and studied theology, while he went on with his school; and was, in due time, licensed and ordained by the Presbytery of New Brunswick, as above stated. Mr. Robinson was remarkable for the native vigor of his mind, and still more for the fervor of his piety. Wherever he went, it pleased God to grant him some precious fruits of his ministry. Few names in the American church rank higher than his on the scale of usefulness. He died at St. George's in Delaware, in the month of April, 1746.

***
I am publishing a chapter of Rev. David Rice's memoirs every Monday.

To be continued...

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Rev. David Rice (1733-1816) was my fifth great grandfather.

Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Relief Obtained
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Further Convictions
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Birth, Parentage, and First Convictions 
Pray Together, Stay Together
Apostle of Kentucky

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