Monday, February 27, 2017

Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Resigns His Pastoral Charge and Retires

Continued from the Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: A Little Revival in the Midst of Bondage.

This is from Chapter XIII 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.

Having labored for fifteen years in a widely extended congregation, Mr. Rice's constitution was considerably weakened. He particularly felt a disorder in his head, which he supposed in a great measure unfitted him for the exercise of discipline. When anything closely engaged his attention, or raised anything like anxiety, he supposed that he became measurably incapable of forming a judgment about it. Hence he concluded that it was proper to resign his pastoral charge, and take no more share in the government of the church. Whether it was really a fact that he was by any bodily infirmity rendered in some degree incapable of sitting in judgment, is of no importance now to determine. All must, however, allow, that it was a very amiable and a very singular trait in his character, that he should, of his own accord, propose to withdraw from the exercise of government and discipline, and give his incapacity as his reason. That the congregations might be more free and more united in procuring another minister, be resolved also to move out of their bounds.

His situation wile connected with the congregation, was a mixture of comfort and sorrow. It was comfortable to behold one the most delightful countries under able to behold one of the most delightful countries under heaven rapidly filling up with inhabitants. Though the general character of these inhabitants was not of the most religious or moral cast, yet supported by the promise made to Messiah, the mind looked forward to a period when Kentucky, the wilderness, one of the ends of the earth, was to be wholly under his control. And to be used by him to scatter the first seed of his truths in this wilderness, and to draw the first sketches of this his extensive and glorious empire, was to enjoy no mean honor. The head of the church had also sent him from time to time fellow laborers, with whose he enjoyed many comfortable days. He saw the slender vine extending over the land and becoming a tree, not so much needing as affording protection to those who put themselves and their families under its shadow.

To balance these and other comforts, he had his share of sorrow. He had to lament the want of personal and family religion, is a considerable degree, even among those who were in good standing in the church. A vast portion of the youth grew up quite careless, and some of them became avowed infidels. A number of useless, and some of them very sinful disputes, rent the new congregations, and eat up almost everything like genuine piety. The Sabbath was not respected, even by the generality of the members of the church, as God's commandment, God's promises, and the practice of all who are under the influence of living religion, demand. Church discipline was executed in many cases with a great deal of difficulty, in many cases altogether omitted, and in others, the offenders set the authority of the church at defiance, and were received as good men, nay, in some cases, as sufferers for the truth, by other denominations. Impressions made on the by the preaching of the word and other ordinances, in many cases, were not lasting. Numbers who had been received into the church as converts soon lost their first love, and in some cases soon assumed their former character of carelessness and profanity. In fine, the spirit of avarice, cherished and strengthened by the opportunity for speculation, and amassing a fortune in land, was extremely inimical to the spirit of the gospel. A sense of moral obligation, unless it was sanctioned by some legal form, which could not be evaded, was almost destroyed. When a congregation had helped a minister and his family to a few acres of land, or in other words had directed him to devote himself wholly to the world, as they were doing, they practically, and many of them avowedly, considered themselves as under no more obligation to contribute to his support. Minister considered it also as a point of delicacy to preach the doctrine of the apostle, -- "that God had ordained that those who preach the gospel should live of the gospel" -- and some, from mistaken notions, if not from worse motives, openly preached the opposite doctrine -- "that ministers ought to labor with their hands, and support their families by following secular employments, as other people do." Taking all these discouraging circumstances into consideration. Mr. Rice had frequent occasion to adopt the language of the apostle. See Cor. xii, 20, 21.

To be continued...

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

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

Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: A Little Reviving in the Midst of Bondage
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Secret Exercises
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Character of Some of the First Preachers in Kentucky
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: State of Religion in Kentucky
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: He Moves to Kentucky
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: His Comfort and Success among the Peaks of Otter
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Scene of His First Labors
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Devotes of Himself to the Ministry
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Introduction of the Gospel into Virginia
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Relief Obtained
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Further Convictions
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Birth, Parentage, and First Convictions 
Preparing for the Revolutionary War
Pray Together, Stay Together
Apostle of Kentucky

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