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Sketches of North Carolina
Chapter XXVI - Thyatira and her Ministers


THE settlements which composed the congregation of Thyatira in Rowan county, were made about the time those on the Catawba began to cluster together. But of the various missionaries that visited the Presbyterian families between the Yadkin and Catawba, sent from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the memoranda or journal of but one has yet been found, that of Hugh McAden.

He crossed the Yadkin on Tuesday, Sept. 12th, 1755, after having spent some days in the congregation at the Ford, making his home part of the time at the house of a Mr. Henry Sloan; and passing on about ten miles, tarried with a Mr. James Aleson; and the next day, passing on three or four miles, he tarried with a Mr. Brandon, a countryman of his. On Sabbath, the 14th, he says he rode to the meeting-House and preached, but does not tell the name of the house or its location. On Monday, he went to John Luckey's, five or six miles. Wednesday was a day appointed for a fast, on account of the great drought, and the Indian War. After visiting and praying with a man, who had been dangerously injured by a fall from his horse, he went home with a Mr. John Andrew, of whose engagedness in religion he speaks warmly. On Thursday, he rode with Mr. Andrew to Justice Carruth's, about eight miles. On the Sabbath (the 21st), he preached in a meeting-}rouse about a mile off, and returned to Mr. Carruth's. The next day, went to David Templeton's, about five miles, and on his way carne up with a company of people that had left the Cow Pasture in Virginia on account of the depredations of the Indians, supposed to be a part of Mr. Craighead's congregation, while he preached in that State. He rode hone, four miles further, with William Denney, who have him a pair of shoes made of his own manufactured leather, by William Woodsides. On Tuesday, he rode to Mr. Templeton's again, and remained with him, and preached on Wednesday in the meeting-house. He went to Captain Osborn's, about six miles, With whom he tarried till Sabbath, and then preached in the new meeting-house, about three miles off. After preaching again on Wednesday, he rode home with William Reese, about seven miles. On Sabbath, he preached at Captain Lewis's, going from Mr. Reese's; and on the '\Wednesday following, preached there again on a fast day, accord-big to the appointment of the governor. From this neighborhood, he proceeded to Rocky River.

On his return, in November, he called again at Capt. Lewis's, and says, it was iii the Welsh settlement; thence he returned to William Reese's, made a visit to Coddle Creek, and passing, called on David Templeton, Justice Carrutli, and John Andrew. With the last he tarried some days, and event with him to "Cathey's meeting-house," the last Sabbath of December. "Here," he says, "a number of the people were exceeding urgent upon me, and very desirous to join with Rocky River in a call for me to come and settle among them."

This matter finally fell through, on account of the division of sentiment in the congregation respecting the kind of minister they should have, whether of what was called the Old Side, or the New Side, in the division of the Synod of Philadelphia.

From these memoranda, from the short journal of Mr. M'Aden, it appears that he went through neighborhoods that were accustomed to hear preaching from missionaries, which have since been parts of Thyatira and Centre, and more lately of Prospect, Back Creek, and Unity, and perhaps Franklin. Some of these had meeting-houses, and some were dependent on private dwellings for their worship of Almighty God. Each settlement Was very properly, anxious to have preaching convenient; and being on different sides in the division of the Synod, there was at the time of M'Aden's visit some difficulty from the numbers and clashing interests of these smaller societies.

The visit of Messrs. Spencer and M'Whorter in 1764 and 1765, was successful in composing these differences in a great measure, and Cathey's meeting-house, under the name of Thyatira, and a new place called from its position, Centre, superseded all other places in a strip of country extending front the Catawba to the Yadkin, in which are now some ten regular organized churches.

Whether Thyatira had a settled pastor before the Rev. Samuel E. M'Corkle, cannot probably be now ascertained to a certainty, though the probability is he was the first pastor. This eminent man became the minister of that church in early life, and continued with it till his death, a space of more than thirty years.

Samuel Eusebius McCorkle was born August 23rd, 1716, near Harris's Ferry, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. His mother was sister of the Rev. Joseph Montgomery. At the age of four years, Samuel was put to an English school, and continued at it, making rapid progress, till he was ten years of age. At that time, his parents removed to North Carolina, and settled in the western part of Rowan county, in the bounds of the congregation now known as Back Creek, which was set off from '1'hyatira in the year 1803. His parents were pious people, and constant attendants at Cathey's meeting-house, and Thyatira, when there was preaching. After their son became the minister, a gentleman, now living in Salisbury, says he often saw the old gentleman, who was a ruling elder in the church, sitting on the pulpit stairs, on account of his deafness, that he might get as near as possible to his son while preaching. The remains of Mr. McCorkle's parents were laid side by side, in Thyatira yard. having enjoyed the rare pleasure of sitting under the sound of the gospel from the lips of their own son, in whom they had unbounded confidence, these worthy people closed their earthly career at an advanced age.

Young McCorkle's proficiency was such, that for some time after his removal to Carolina, he was the instructor of the younger children of the family; and in a few years was employed in a public English school. his tastes and desires being for literature and science about his 20th year he commenced a classical course, which was completed by his receiving his degree, Sept. 20th, 1772. A part, if not all, of his previous preparation, was under the tuition of the Rev. David Caldwell, in Guilford county.

From a fragment of a diary, commenced in Princeton, the spring before his taking the degree of A.B., it appears that the revival of religion in that College, in the year 1772, was blessed to his soul in some measure, as it was to Lewis Feuilletaau Wilson, and also to James Hall, the means of conversion to one, and of growth in grace to the other, both of whom were afterwards his brethren iii the ministry and co-presbyters in adjoining congregations.

The diary commences thus:—

"Saturday, April 11th, '72, Nassau.

"1st. Resolved, This day to begin a religious diary, having been a long time convinced of its necessity and importance, and having oftentimes made faint resolutions to begin it.

"Resolved, To begin with a short record of my whole life, offering up a prayer to Almighty God for his assistance and direction, intending to devote the whole day to religious purposes.

Very early in life I was impressed with a sense of divine things, and Iived convinced of the necessity of religion, and convinced that I was without it, sometimes careless, sometimes awakened, till about the age of 20, when, at the approach of a sacrament, I was more than usually concerned, and resolved to defer it no longer. Here I fell into a self-righteous scheme, and mistook a certain flow of natural affection for real delight in religion, while I never saw the enmity of my own heart, the odiousness of sin in its own nature, nor the glory and excellence of God in his own nature; only hated sin because it exposed me to misery, and loved God because I hoped he would make me happy. Upon this I fear thousands are apt to rest, as in all probability I should have done, had it not pleased God to send me to college, where, the last year of my residence, was a considerable revival, in which it pleased God to open my eyes to see my awful deception."

In the beginning of this work, I found my heart not properly engaged, but indifferent and unaffected. I read the following remark in Borton's Fourfold State. When winter has stripped the trees of their verdure, it is hard to distinguish those that have life from those that have not; but when the spring approaches, then they are easily known by their spreading leaves, while those that are dead still continue the same; thus when religion is in decay, the saint can scarcely be distinguished from the sinner; but when a time of refreshing comes, then will they blossom and bring forth fruit abundantly;' partly condemned by this remark, I cast back my thoughts upon past life, and began to examine my religion and the motives of my actions. I found they were all selfish, and that since the time when I thought I had got religion, I had fallen away even to the neglect of secret prayer, which is quite inconsistent with the Christian character."

"Here I was further condemned, but still appeared very unwilling to give up all my religion, till I came to read Hopkins's State of the Unregenerate, which presented such a picture of wickedness and enmity of the human heart, and of the misery they are in by nature, as fully convinced me that I had never seen my own heart, never had had any proper views of God; and, in short, that I had never known anything about religion. Here I felt myself in great distress, and had very violent exercises, till my passions subsided, and seemed to end in a calm rational conviction. Here my views were all confirmed on searching the enmity of my own heart, which seemed to increase and almost amaze me, that I had never seen it before, having read Mr. Edwards's sermons on that subject. Also in viewing the dreadfulness and misery of man's estate, and the horrid nature of sin, which Mr. Hopkins's sermon pn the law seemed to present in an aggravated light, I could never raise my thoughts to contemplate the feelings and glory of God in Christ, though I sometimes attempted it; my sins seemed to he so aggravated, that they made me sometimes almost despond of God's mercy; and what seemed most of all terrible to me, was, that I had in that state been admitted to the table of the Lord."

"Here I ran into frequent cavils against the dispositions of Providence in the creation of man, and His justice in condemning him. I found a secret disposition to clear myself by the doctrine of man's inability, till I read Mr. Smalley's Sermons on that subject, which seemed to give me considerable light in vindicating the justice of God. Another cavil seemed to be against the mercy of God. I thought I desired salvation, and found fault that it was not given me; upon this neglect I received considerable light by Mr. Green's Sermon, which showed me that sinners only desire a partial Saviour—a Saviour from misery, but not a Saviour from sin. Here I thought I have up all my cavils, thought I discovered the justice of God, time mercy of a Saviour, and the expediency of the Gospel; and thought I was willing to renounce all other Saviours, and accept Him in all His offices and relations. Hereupon I felt considerable comfort."

Afterwards, in speaking about that comfortable feeling, the origin of which he could not determine, he says: "Being sensible that I did not then, nor have I yet, undergone that change which is from death unto life." When he did experience that change is not on any record that can be obtained. The short diary that is extant goes over but a short space of time. That he did come to experience a change which he thought was unto life, is evident from his commencing the course of theological reading for the ministry soon after he was graduated.

In his later life he drew up for his children a memoir of his life; this manuscript was mislaid or lost by a gentleman, a hearer of Mr. McCorkle in his younger days, and a friend of the family, who was conveying it from Tennessee to North Carolina, for the purpose of affording materials for a printed memoir. Probably in this MS. there is a fuller account of his religious exercises in accepting the Lord Christ as his portion.

A part, at least, of his theological reading was under the direction of his maternal uncle, the Rev. Joseph Montgomery, of New Castle Presbytery. His license to preach was received from the Presbytery of New York, in the spring of 1774, as appears by report of Presbytery to Synod.

After his licensure he was employed about two years in Virginia; then spending some time in the congregation of Thyatira, and accepting their call to become their pastor, he was ordained by Hanover Presbytery, August 2d, 1777; and never left his charge till he was removed by death.

Some time previous to his ordination, July 2d, 1776, he was united in marriage to Miss Steele, of Salisbury, sister of the Hon. John Steele, conspicuous in the councils of the State and nation. She bore him ten children, six of whom survived him; and fifteen years after his death, closed her pious and useful life.

Of the mother of his wife Dr. McCorkle entertained the highest estimation; and in this he was joined by the public at large. A very pretty anecdote is told of her, the event occurring in the Revolutionary War. She was then landlady of the principal hotel in Salisbury, and lived between the post-office and the corner now occupied by Shaffer's tavern, a few steps north of the court-house.

While the American army, under General Greene, was retreating 'before Cornwallis, in the memorable and successful effort to convey to Virginia the prisoners taken by Morgan in the battle of the Cowpens, the line of march embraced Salisbury. While Cornwallis was crossing the Catawba, Greene was approaching this village. Dr. Heed, who had charge of the sick and wounded prisoners, was sitting in an apartment of Mrs. Steele's tavern, overlooking the main street, writing paroles for such British officers as were unable from sickness and debility to proceed farther, when he saw the general, unaccompanied by his aides or a single individual, ride up to the door. "How do you find yourself, my good general?" eagerly inquired the doctor. "Wretched beyond measure," replied Greene, as, exhausted, he slowly dismounted from his jaded horse without a friend—without money—and destitute even of a companion,"—his aides having been dispatched to different parts of the retreating army. "That I deny," said Mrs. Steele, stepping forward with great alacrity—" that I most particularly deny. In me, general, you have a devoted friend. Money you shall have; and this young gentleman will not, I am certain, suffer you to be without a companion, as soon as the humane business about which he is employed, is finished." When she had prepared refreshments for the exhausted general, she proceeded to fulfil her promise about the money; taking him to an adjoining apartment, she laid before him her store of gold and silver pieces, and generously filled his pockets, giving him at the same time many kind and encouraging words.

Greene's stay was short; but before leaving the house he took from the walls of one of the apartments a picture of George III., which had come from England as a present from one of the members of the court to a member of an embassy, a connexion of Mrs. Steele,—and with a piece of chalk wrote upon the back—"O George, hide thy face and mourn," and replaced it with the face to the wall. The picture, with the writing, both unharmed, is still preserved by a grand-daughter of Mrs. Steele, a daughter of Dr. McCorkle, and may be found in the town of Charlotte, at the post-office.

The following obituary notice of this excellent woman appeared in the Fayetteville Gazette of January 3d, 1791 "Died, on Monday, the 22d of November, in Salisbury, of a lingering and painful illness, Mrs. ELIZABETH STEELE, relict of Mr. William Steele, and mother of Margaret McCorkle, wife of Rev. Samuel McCorkle.

"Her name and character are well known, but best by her most intimate friends. She was a devout worshipper of God; she was distinguished during the war as a friend to her country; she twice supported with dignity the characters of wife and widow; she was a most tender and affectionate parent; kind, obliging neighbor; frugal, industrious, and charitable to the poor.

"Her character will be better understood by the following letter, found among her choice papers, since her death, than by anything that can be said of her. The letter is believed to be, and appears to be, her own diction; and is published exactly as it was found. It may be a useful lesson to all parents, and to all children as well as her own. It bears date February 5th, 1783, when her other son Robert Gillespie was living, and begins thus:

`My dear children—If I die before any of you, I wish that this letter may fall into your hands after I am dead and gone, that you may see how much affection I have for you, and that what I have often said while alive may be remembered by you when I am in eternity.

"`If the Almighty would suffer me to return to talk with you, I think now I should tale a pleasure to do it every day: if this cannot be allowed me, I think it would be some satisfaction to see you, especially when you are reading this letter, which I leave you as a legacy, to see what effect it will have on you, and whether it will make you think of what I have often told you.

`I have many a time told you to remember your Maker, and ask him to guide you; it is a good old saying—they are well guarded whom He guides, and he leaves them that don't ask him, in their own ways. I want you to keep out of bad company,—it has ruined many young people. I want you to keep company with sober, good people, and learn their ways,—to keep the Sabbath, to be charitable to the poor, to be industrious and frugal, just to all men, and above all, to love one another.

Believe me, my children, if anything could disturb me in the grave, it would be to know that you did not live as brother and sister ought to live: nothing could be worse, except to know that you would not follow me to heaven. Oh, my dear children, I have had a great deal of trouble and sorrow in raising you! If I should feel as I do now, I could never endure to see any of you without an interest in Jesus, at the great day, and forced away, never to meet again. Parting here with your parents you know had almost taken my life, when I had hope to see them again; but I am now sure I could not live to see any of you cursed by your Maker, and driven away to dwell with the Devil and his angels."

While I lived, you know that it was my great desire to have you all around me and near me here; but my great desire has been to have you with me in the world to come. Believe me, nothing could make me so happy as to have my three poor dear children there; yes, and your children, and all your connexions. I would wish to take you all to heaven. Then, think of the vanity of this world,—think of Jesus the Saviour,—death, judgment, and eternity; and don't forget the living and dying desire of your most affectionate mother till death, and after death.

"'ELIZABETH STEELE.'

"Folded in the foregoing letter was also found, in her own handwriting, the following prayer, which must please every pious mind:

"'Oh Lord, my God, thou great Three-One! I give myself to thee this day, to be thine, to be guided by thee, and not by another: and I desire to take God for my God,—Jesus Christ to be my Saviour,—the Holy Ghost to be my sanctifier and leader. Lord, thou hast promised that all that will come unto thee thou wilt in nowise cast out. All I beg, is in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, my Lord.

"I To this I set my hand, "

`ELIZABETH STEELE.'

"The date of the above was either not affixed, or was torn from the paper. It cannot be disagreeable to the serious mind to add, that she was remarkably fond of the following hymn, and left it in her Bible, where it was found since her death, in the handwriting of her grand-daughter, who had transcribed it for her.

"'The hour of my departure's come,
I hear a voice that calls me home;
At last, O Lord, let trouble cease,
And let thy servant die in peace,
The race appointed I have run,
The combat o'er, the prize is won,
And now my witness is on high,
And now my record 's in the sky.
Not in mine innocence I trust,
I bow before thee in the dust,
And through my Saviour's blood alone
I hope for mercy at thy throne.
I come! I come! at thy command,
I yield my spirit to thy hand;
Stretch forth thy everlasting arms,
And shield me in these last alarms.'

"it would be a severe and ill-natured reflection on the religious taste of the present age to be making apologies for publishing the above memoirs; and, therefore, no apology shall be made. It is a debt due to an amiable character, and may not be without its use to the public.

["The above is published at the request of the Rev. Samuel E. M'Corkle."]

About the year 1785, Dr. M'Corkle commenced a classical school at his house, which stood on the great road from Salisbury to Statesville, in an eligible situation, with the avenue leading to it, so common in the western part of North Carolina, at a moderate distance from the meeting-house, which is about nine miles west of Salisbury. In connection with his classical school was a department for preparing school teachers. Poor and pious young men were taught free of expense for tuition, and were also assisted by him to books necessary for their instruction. If young men of good talents were wild or not studious, his rule was to talk with them in private, and if the desired reformation did not take place, to avoid any exposure, he would write to their parents or guardians to withdraw them. And if he, upon mature deliberation, judged the children committed to his charge, to be below mediocrity, in point of talents, he invariably discouraged their being trained to a classical course. On account of these principles which he carried into action, he sent out a less number of classical students, but a greater amount of piety and talents.

The first class, that was graduated at the State University at Chapel Hill, consisted of seven scholars; six of these had been pupils of Mr. McCorkle. His students were, in after life, found on the Bench, in the chair of State, and forty-five of them in the pulpit. The number of ministers is given on the authority of Mrs. McCorkle, who survived her husband about fifteen years.

It appears from the North Carolina Journal that at a meeting of the board of trustees of the North Carolina University, Dec. 8th, 1795, the board, after resolving that the state of the funds did not permit the choice of a president, and that his duties must be fulfilled by the first professor, made choice of the Rev. Samuel E. McCorkle, Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy, and History, and the Rev. David Kerr, Professor of Languages, and Charles \V. Harris, Professor of Mathematics; Mr. Delvaux, and Mr. Holmes, tutors in the preparatory school. On account of some objections made by General Davie, one of the board, which led to a correspondence between him and the Hon. John Steele, brother-in-law of Mr. McCorkle, and which were followed by an apology, the appointment was not accepted. Mr. McCorkle's desire for the advancement of the University, in opposition to every selfish feeling, led him to desire harmony in the board, in preference to the honor of being the first and presiding Professor. His attachment to the University was undoubted and unwavering; he made excursions to raise funds for its use; he attended the laving the corner stone of the first building erected on the University grounds, and delivered an address; his pupils composed the first class of graduates, almost entire, and he was on the list of the first named board of trustees. His declining the office of first Professor made way for the exercise of talent by that successful man, under whom, by the blessing of God, the university arose to its influence and respectability, of late so widely spread by his successor.

The bounds of Thyatira were, like all the other congregations whose limits were settled by Messrs. Spencer and McWhorter, very extensive, embracing many settlements that had desired preaching, and had engaged the labors of missionaries. This congregation bordering on the Yadkin northward, and southwestward on Centre, which reached the Catawba, westwardly on Fourth Creek and Bethany, in Iredell, and southwardly on Poplar Tent, and eastwardly without limits, presented an abundance of labor for a pastor. Third Creek was soon formed from the middle ground between the churches in. Iredell and Thyatira, and has been from the first a flourishing congregation. Under the pastoral labors of Rev. Joseph D. Kilpatrick, whose name appears on the roll of Synod as ordained by Orange Presbytery, 1793, it enjoyed numerous times of refreshing from on high. While McCorkle stood in doubt about the great excitement which began in 1801 in Orange, Killpatrick's heart grew warm, and with many of his people went to take part in the great meeting in Randolph, the effect of which was great upon the churches "beyond the Yadkin." He found no difficulty in welcoming the revival on account of the irregularities accompanying. In fact, it is not now easy to determine whether in his later life he considered "the exercises" a necessary part, or only an accidental appendage of the work. But it is evident they never gave him any trouble. If he could but see his people cultivating what he esteemed a proper religious feeling, it mattered little to him what external motions came with it. Some little time before his death, at a communion service in his congregation, a great excitement prevailed; and as cries for mercy and prayers arose on all sides of the house during an interval of preaching, the old gentleman witnessing the excitement for a time, turned to a young gentleman from Virginia, "it does my heart good to hear these young people pray so."

Two of his sons entered the ministry. One, Josiah, a preacher of acceptable talent, carne to an early grave in Fayetteville, being cut off after about one year's service. The other, Abner W., died in Tennessee in the year 1844.

Back Creek was set off in 1805 as a separate congregation. The revival of 1802 had great effect upon the neighborhoods forming this congregation, and made them desire a separate church capacity; and times of refreshing have been granted them since in time kind providence of God. Activity in religion has been one of the characteristics of this church, which at its organization possessed an eldership of peculiar excellence. It has sent out some ministers of the gospel who have been blessed from on high. One of M'Aden's resting-places was with a family in this congregation.

Mr. McCorkle preached frequently in Salisbury, but had no separate congregation there. About the years 1803 and 1804 Dr. McRee preached in that place statedly once a month. From the year 1807 to 1809 the Rev. John Brown preached here statedly, and was principal of the Academy. He removed first to South Carolina and then to Georgia, and there closed his useful life. A memorial of him belongs properly to the South Carolina and Georgia synod. 'fill the year 1821 the people of Salisbury had no stated Presbyterian preacher, having only the occasional services of missionaries; in that year a church was gathered under the labors of Rev. Jonathan Freeman, D.D., consisting of thirteen members, three of whom were appointed elders. In the year 1826 the Rev. Dr. Freeman laid the corner stone of the present Presbyterian house of worship. In 1831 the Rev. 'Thomas Espy became stated supply of this church; his health failing, he gave up the charge, and soon rested from all his labors.

The memory of such a man as Thomas Espy demands a more extended notice than the limits of the present article will admit; a brief notice, however, will bring it to a close. Being engaged but a comparatively short time in the ministry, he was blessed of God both to do good, and to stir up others to do good, in an unusual degree.

Mr. McCorkle was indefatigable in his efforts to improve his flock in the knowledge of divine things. Besides his usual services of preaching, he conducted a Bible class on a somewhat peculiar plan. In a note to a sermon printed in 1792, he says "Here I beg leave briefly to suggest to my brethren, the plan of catechising from the Scriptures, as the platform or ground of a Catechism. I have proceeded from Genesis to Job, and through part of the four Evangelists; and I design, if God permit, to proceed on to the end, asking questions that lead to reading and reflection. I have found it profitable to myself and my people, and can venture to say that as far as I have proceeded, there is not a congregation on the continent better acquainted with the Scriptures."

"The congregation I have divided into a number of divisions of fifteen or sixteen families each, assigning to each division a set of written questions, from one part of one or two books, as they may be long or short, in each Testament; catechising in the morning from the Old, in the afternoon from the New Testament, and closing by calling on the youth to repeat the shorter Catechism."

This set of Scriptural questions, thus examined, we pass to the next division of the congregation, who often attend as spectators, knowing that they are next to be examined on the same questions. Thus in rotation every individual will be examined on every part of the Bible."

His daughter says, the divisions were eight in number; and that an elder was attached to each division; to this elder, he gave the copy of questions, and the elder supplied the division. In the examination he never publicly questioned the elders, they met him at his own house. 'Tie children were early brought to say their catechism; and the parents were reproved or commended according to the proficiency manifested in the examination.

In his preparation for the pulpit, he made free use of his pen but did not confine himself to his manuscript, or notes; and sometimes did not even use notes. In a note to a printed sermon, he says, "He would never be seen in the pulpit without full notes, when he was to treat on a disputed or argumentative subject; on other occasions, he would use his discretion, whether to preach from notes or without." In this, he is to be imitated.

He published a number of sermons; four on the subject of Infidelity, as it was brought out in the United States, during the French Revolution; feeling with his brethren, that all that was dear to man was at stake;—one on the principle and practice of giving to charitable and benevolent objects;—one on the terms of Christian communion;—and one on the death of General Washington. The latter is one of peculiar excellence, abounding with sound morality, pure philosophy, and true religion.

In person, he was tall, about six feet one inch; finely formed light hair and pale blue eyes; mild, grave, and dignified in his appearance; cheerful in his disposition; and of fine conversational powers. Firm in his opinions, and devotedly attached to the doctrines of the Presbyterian church, he never attacked, unnecessarily, the opinions or forms of others. In appearance and gait, he is said to have very much resembled Mr. Jefferson. During a visit to Philadelphia, while Mr. Jefferson was there, this resemblance, noticed by many, led to an introduction; and both parties retired from the interview, with expressions of satisfaction.

The pulpit instructions of Mr. McCorkle abounded with argument and observation founded upon common sense, and were enriched by his historical and literary reading; and the people that grew up under his care, were well instructed in religion and morals. T us care iii attending the judicatories of the church, is worthy of imitation; and his respect for the decisions of his brethren, when pronounced judicially, was such as to make him especially careful in selecting delegates to the Assembly. If but one delegate were to be sent, he preferred a brother of age and experience; if two were to be sent, he desired that there should be one of the older and one of the younger members of Presbytery, that experience might be gained by the one, and might grow under the influence of the other.

At the commencement of the great revival in 1802, in Orange, Mr. McCorkle was disinclined to believe in its purity, on account of the "exercises" that accompanied. Being persuaded to attend the meeting in Randolph, his mind underwent a change, as appears from the letter published in the pamphlet prepared by Dr. Hall, which makes a part of the twenty-seventh chapter of this volume.

Although brought to believe in the revival, as a work of God, he ever looked upon these "exercises," and some accompanying extravagances, as profane mixtures, against which he bore open testimony. He rather tolerated than approved camp-meetings and sometimes was opposed to their, especially as standing, regular means of instruction or excitement. It is probable that the ministers of the Presbyterian church, in Carolina generally, now look upon them, much in the light that he did, as being matters of prudence and discretion, and possessing no peculiar sanctity in themselves, or special efficiency for growth in grace and divine knowledge; that their use or disadvantage must be judged of by circumstances.

The pastor of Thyatira received his death-warrant in the pulpit, being struck with palsy while conducting the services of the sanctuary. His labors as a minister ceased, but his services as a suffering man were continued for some years. For a time, his disorder affected his mental powers; and though his mind became clear, his body never regained its tone and vigor. In 1807, the Presbytery required the congregations of Thyatira and Back Creek to pay a proper attention to the circumstances and condition of the man, who had given time strength of his manhood to their service. Whether this was altogether as a mark of respect, and for a good example, is not now easily ascertained, nor of any practical importance. The example of Presbytery, in the case of aged and infirm ministers, is truly commendable; should the aged servant die unhonored by his brethren or his people?

On the 21st June, 1811, he ceased from his trials. His funeral was conducted according to directions left by himself in writing. The text for the funeral sermon was Job xix., 23, 26: "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." The nineteenth Psalm—"Through every age Eternal God "—and the sixty-first Hymn of Watts's second book—"My soul, come meditate the day," were sung in the church. The elders, attired in black, sat together by the corpse before the pulpit, which, out of respect, was also attired in mourning. As the body was borne to the grave, the congregation sang, "Hark ! from the tombs a doleful sound."

Thomas Espy was born August 1st, 1800, in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Ere he saw the light, his pious parents had besought the blessing of God for the child; and it was especially the wish and prayer of the mother that the child might be a son, and he a minister of the gospel of Christ. Sprightliness of mind and activity of body characterized him from his early infancy till his death. But with it, also, from his very early years, a thoughtfulness and a disposition to inquire and ponder on religious things, which was ripened into deep seriousness in his 10th year, during a revival of religion in the congregation in Beaver County, to which his parents belonged, under the care of the Rev. Thomas E. Hughes. His convictions at this time were deep and sorely distressing, and accompanied with some strong temptations, but were not followed by those exercises of faith and hope that satisfied his mind in more mature years, though the sense of religious things did not leave him, nor was he guilty of outbreaking sins.

When about ten years of age, he commenced the study of the languages with Mr. Hughes, his pastor, and, after pursuing these to some length with him, he was sent to the academy in the neighborhood, and then went through the usual academical classic course, together with some branches of the mathematics. Here his education was, for a time, suspended by adverse circumstances in his father's situation; and for some two or three years he labored on the farm, and ultimately engaged in teaching a small school, at the same time reading medical books under the direction of a physician in time neighborhood.

While thus engaged, he was led by the grace of God to a good hope in Christ; and as soon as he obtained a comfortable assurance of acceptance in Christ, he longed to preach the gospel to others. He united with the church by a public profession, about the year 1820, desiring to preach the gospel. but not seeing any way by which he might come into that desirable labor.

After pursuing the study of medicine about two years, he received from an uncle whom he had gone to visit, a proposition of assistance to complete his college course. Delighted with the prospect, he immediately entered Washington College, then having for its president the Rev. Matthew Brown, D.D., and pursued his studies with vigor, looking forward to the ministry.

He was graduated in the year 1824, taking the second honor from a competitor who had been taught in the Westminster school. In the month of February, 1825, he went to Romney, Hampshire County, Virginia, and taught school, and commenced reading theology in preparation for the ministry. In the fall of that year, he removed to Jefferson County, in the same State, and lived in the family of Mrs. Dandridge as tutor: with this lady he continued about two years, teaching her children and pursuing his theological studies. On the 11th of April, 1821, he received license to preach the gospel, from the Presbytery of Winchester, which held its sessions in Middleburg, Fauquier County. In the November following, he became a member of the 'Theological Seminary, Princeton.

During his residence in Romney and at Mrs. Dandridge's, his conscientious walk and Christian conversation made a deep impression in favor of his simple-hearted piety. Without ostentation, without knowing the fact himself, he produced a deep conviction on the young people of his acquaintance of two things, viz.: that there is a reality in experimental piety, and that he possessed the reality. He exhibited a happy mixture of modesty and independence, that won the favor of the community, never thrusting himself forward as for praise or ostentation, and never shrinking from duty through alarm, or withholding a frank avowal of the truth and his opinion what was truth, through any sinister motive.

While at Princeton, his letters to his friends in Virginia breathed a spirit of exalted piety and unaffected devotion to the cause of his Lord and Master, which endeared him still more to their hearts. Like as his prayers had been in the prayer meetings, his letters touched the heart and drew it out in earnest desires for more grace, and knowledge of God. Were there space for the admission of a few of his letters, his friends in Carolina would recognize the future preacher, in the sentiments which fell from his pen, unstudied and in rich abundance; no scintillations of genius, but sparks of true celestial fire; no aspirations of a lofty mind, but the feelings of a lively faith.

In the spring of 1828, he received a commission from the "Young Men's Missionary Society of Concord Presbytery," and served as their missionary in Burke county for about a year. His labors are not yet forgotten. After his term of engagement expired, he was invited to preach in different congregations, and commenced his labors in Centre, in Iredell, and Bethel, formerly a part of Centre, in Mecklenburg county. On the 10th of May, 1830, he was ordained evangelist at Centre, having declined being set apart, for the services of a particular congregation. For a time his services here were much blessed; but unhappily a collision of opinions and practice on the subject of baptism broke up his prospects of usefulness to that degree, his friends judged a removal prudent. The congregation had been accustomed, under their former pastor, to see the ordinance of baptism administered to children of parents who had been baptized, whether they had made public profession or not. To this custom Mr. Espy felt strongly opposed, and expressed his opposition with his usual frankness and decision, believing that the ordinance ought to be administered to children of professors only. There were some unhappy circumstances attending this collision which distressed him greatly both in body and mind, which need not be repeated; their interest was local.

In the spring of 1831 he removed to Salisbury, and about the same time was united in marriage to hiss Sarah Louisa Tate, of Burke county, a lady altogether worthy of him. In Salisbury his labors were greatly blessed, to the building tip of the church in faith and in numbers. He excelled in the pastoral office; his counsels were so plain, his reproofs so kind and direct, his exhortations so earnest, and his example so impressive, he gained his people's love, as he built them up in the most holy faith.

In February, 1832, he was seized with a hemorrhage of the lungs, which put an end, in a great measure, to all his pulpit exercises. Of middling stature, a slender frame, and somewhat delicate constitution, he had permitted his ardent desire to build up the cause of Christ to lead him to efforts in public speaking beyond his strength. In many places the cause of religion was exciting unusual attention about this time. His ardent heart made him forgetful of Himself,—and, in consequence of a cold caught during a series of appointments in the fall of 1831, his lungs gave way, and he was able to preach no more.

His sickness and death preached eloquently. Blessed of God to win souls to Christ in his ministry, his success was continued to his last breath, some being hopefully converted by witnessing his Christian spirit in his last hours. A brother in the ministry, who knew him well, in whose house Mr. Espy endured a part of his last illness, said of him, in a letter some time after his decease, —"I knew him well, perhaps no one on earth knew him better, and I feel no hesitation in saying that, in many important respects, I have never known his equal. Mr. Espy was an eminently holy man. T was intimate with him when in health, and a great deal in his company during his protracted illness, and my impression is, that I have never known any one who lived so near Christ. His religion was not enthusiasm, but a tender and unwavering confidence in the Saviour. He repeatedly told me, that, during all his sickness, he never entertained a doubt in regard to his situation. Once, when we thought him dying, and were all weeping around his bed, he said to me, ' these friends are all mistaken—this is the happiest hour I ever saw."'

The last few weeks of his life were passed at the house of It. H. Burton, Esq., near Beattie's Ford, in the bounds of Unity congregation, by whom he was held in the highest esteem. On the 16th of April, 1833, he breathed his last, in full hope of a joyful resurrection. His body was carried to Salisbury, and interred near the ~rest corner of the frame church, on the skirts of the town, a spot occupied for a long time by the Presbyterians and Lutherans for public worship, and still as the place for the burial of their dead. His wife survived him a few years, and passed away, leaving an orphan daughter. " Blessed arc the dead that die in the Lord."

"Mr. Espy," says a brother in the ministry who knew him well, "possessed a quickness of apprehension and a patience of investigation rarely found in combination. He was not what is generally called a popular preacher; but he was something a great deal better. His voice was too effeminate to permit him to have great and immediate power over a large promiscuous congregation, such as we southern preachers have often to grapple with. I do not mean to leave the impression that he was not an interesting preacher. To those who wished to listen to the truth he was eminently interesting.

"The most distinguishing features of his preaching were great point, and a prominent exhibition of the Saviour. Emphatically he preached Christ to the people. You will be prepared to be told that he was a successful minister. He was useful wherever he preached any length of time, but more so in Salisbury than anywhere else. There is a people here that will never forget him.

"It is the impression of others, as well as myself, that Mr. Espy did much to raise the tone of ministerial piety in this Presbytery."


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