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Sketches of North Carolina
Chapter XXX - Poplar Tent and Her Ministers


IT has ever been an acknowledged rule of propriety, that in political discussions and excitements which relate to persons and affairs rather than principles of constitutional right and natural justice, the ministers of the gospel should keep themselves uncommitted, and, in the exercise of unalienable rights as citizens, maintain the character of ministers of the King of kings, who bring the offers of mercy alike to all. There are, however, times when the excitements in society involve the greatest interests and the most valuable and dear privileges; when truth and justice, liberty and morality, are struggling against power and oppression when the spirits that are thirsting for a better state of things, require all the support that can be brought to their aid from the seen and the unseen world, from the succors of things temporal, and the powerful influence of things eternal. Then the ministers of the gospel must mingle in the strife, bringing from the treasury of the Lord the all-sustaining truths of revelation; drinking deep of the fountains of life to keep their own spirits pure, and putting to the lips of the brave and the weak-hearted, in the fierce struggle, the pure water of the living stream. No strength is so abiding and resistless, no courage so daring and yet so cool, as that. Which rests for its help on the unchanged truth and government of the eternal God. Such a time and such a conjuncture was the American Revolution. And many ministers of the gospel went down into the struggle. Some sat in the councils of deliberation and resolve, and others bore the fatigues of the camp, partaking of the trials of their fellow-citizens in their bloody contests. In Carolina, Hall and McCaule encouraged their fellow-citizens, their flocks particularly, as soldiers; Balch, and Pattillo, and Caldwell, aided in the councils and high resolves of Convention and Provincial Congress, and others endured the miseries of an invaded people, plundered but not subdued.

In the convention that met in Charlotte, May 19th, 1775, there was one minister of the gospel, Hezekiah James Balch, of Poplar Tent. That he was active in the preparatory steps for that convention is evident from the fact that he was one of the members that prepared resolutions to be submitted to the convention, which resolutions, after consultation, were amended and adopted by the committee, and by the convention, and published to the world. This gentleman was reported by the Presbytery of Donegall as a licentiate in the spring of 1768. In the year 1769 the minutes of the Synod of New York and Philadelphia have this record : " The Rev. Messrs. John Harris, John Clark, Jeremiah Halsey, James Latta, Jonathan Elmore, Thomas Lewis, and Josiah Lewis a licensed candidate, are appointed to supply the vacancies in Virginia, North Carolina, and those parts of South Carolina under our care, to set off as soon, and spend as much time among there, as they conveniently can on this important mission."

"Mr. Hezekiah James Balch, a licensed candidate, under the care of Doncgall Presbytery, is appointed on the same mission, and the Presbytery to which he belongs are authorized to ordain him, if upon trial he acquits himself according to their satisfaction, and accepts a call from Carolina."

Ordered, that our stated clerk give these missionaries proper testimonials."

What time Mr. Balch first visited Carolina is not precisely known. But from the records of Synod it appears that he had been ordained by the Presbytery of Donegall previous to the meeting of the Synod in 1770. At the meeting of the Synod in that year the Presbytery of Orange was set-off, by taking from the Presbytery of Hanover Rev. Messrs. Hugh McAden, Henry Pattillo, James Criswell, Joseph Alexander, and Hezekiah Balch,—and from the Presbytery of Donegall, Hezekiah James Balch. His Presbytery embraced the ministers in the entire State of North Carolina; and until the year 1784, those ministers in connection with the Synod residing in the state of South Carolina. At that period the State lines became the boundary.

Mr. Balch served the two congregation, Rocky River and Poplar 'Tent, during his life, which was brought to a close some time in the year 1776. He saw the commencement of that wear which ended with all the honor and independence to his country he ever desired; but before the strife of blood and plunder that followed the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776, reached Carolina, He slept with those whose sleep shall not be awakened till the resurrection. His time of service was about six years.

Rocky River congregation is prior in point of time to sugar Creek, and the first of all the churches of Concord Presbytery. Poplar Tent was organized about the year 1764 or 1765, when the resolution of Synod was carried into effect by Messrs. Spencer and McWhorter, and the boundaries of the congregations ascertained and agreed upon.

Poplar Tent Meeting-House may be found about seven miles from Concord town, in Cabarrus, on the road leading to Beattie's Ford, and about fourteen miles eastwardly of Davidson's College. From the papers of a venerable old lady, who was born, lived all her days in the bounds of the congregation, and died at the age of 90, in the year 1S43, the following is an extract: "I had a brother morn April 25th, 1764, and I was ten years old the March , before he was born; and I do not remember of hearing, at that time, of any other place of public worship but at Rocky River." (Rocky River Church is about 9 or 10 miles east from P. T.) " But I had another brother, born October 25th, 1766, and I remember very well of being at a meeting at Poplar Tent the summer before he was born; and at that time there was a more elegant Tent than I ever saw on that ground since, but no meetinghouse. But between '66 and '70, there was a good meeting-house built and tolerably well seated. And the Rev. Hezekiah (J). Balch was a placed minister between Rocky River and Poplar Tent."

Another tradition related by Dr. Robinson, adds to this account without contradicting it—and says a Tent was erected and an occasional service was obtained from the missionaries and other ministers, for some years before regular preaching was obtained.

By tent, was meant a place for the preacher to occupy during public worship, very similar to the stands that are erected for the convenience of congregations in summer, in places where there are no church-buildings, or where the conveniences for seating a congregation in summer are not sufficient. All traditions agree, that this tent was the most showy in the country, and soon became a place for a large assemblage on the Sabbath. The Scotch and Scotch-Irish emigrants to the Carolinas used these tents in all seasons of the year, till they could build a house; and afterwards, during the warns season; and when the congregations were large, irrespective of the season; sometimes, as Dr. Hall tells us, standing in the rain and snow, in crowds, to hear the gospel preached. The first sermons by the famous Robinson, in Charlotte county, Virginia, 1742, were delivered from a stand near the site of Cub Creek church, and to a Scotch-Irish colony, led there by the maternal grandfather of John Caldwell Calhoun, of South Carolina.

The name of the Ridge, the meeting-house, and the congregation, originated in the following manner, according to the manuscript of Mr. Alexander:—"That hill, on which the meeting-house now stands, was called Poplar Ridge, long before there was any tent there, from some very extraordinary large trees, that grew a small distance west from inhere the meeting-Mouse now stands. But after the tent was built some time, there were some men collected, for some purpose, at that place, and, as I understood, there was some proposition made, 'what are we to call this place?' One said, call it Poplar Springs; another standing by, having a cup of water in his ]land, threw the water against the tent, and cried out, 'Poplar Tent!' And I do not remember that I heard of any one slaking objection at that time, against the name; and it has been called Poplar Tent ever since, and was taken by that name on the missionary papers into the northern States. Now Poplar Tent went on regularly, friendly, and religiously; no dispute nor discontent between them and their minister, he taught them carefully, both in his preaching and examinations, and they appeared to hearken with attention."

There is nowhere a monument or tradition to direct to the grave of Hezekiah James Balch; or anywhere a living mortal to claim him as ancestor. But his deeds live after him, and claim for him a name and place amongst those who have well done for their country and the church.

Previous to the time of Mr. Balch there were three elders of Rocky River Church living in the bounds of Poplar Tent, who were continued as elders after the separate organization of Poplar Tent, of which they formed part, viz: Aaron Alexander, Nathaniel Alexander, and David Reese. The latter gentleman was a member of the Mecklenburg Convention.

To these were added in the year 1771, by the choice of the church, James Barr, Robert Harris, James Alexander, George Alexander, and James Reese.

After the death of Mr. Balch, Poplar 'rent was for a time vacant, and received such supplies from missionaries as could be obtained until Mr. Robert Archibald became the regular preacher. Of the early life of Mr. Archibald little is known. he received his Degree of Bachelor of Arts at Princeton, in 1772; and after studying medicine was licensed by the Presbytery of Orange in time fall of the year 1775. In the year 1778, on the 7th of October, he was ordained and installed pastor of Rocky River, and continued to hold this office till he was brought into difficulties for preaching erroneous doctrines, about the year 1792, for which, in 1794, he was suspended from the work of the ministry by the consent and with the advice of Synod, and in 1797 solemnly deposed.

Mr. Caruthers states that he was ordained pastor of Poplar Tent at the same time that the connection was formed with Rocky River. Mrs. Alexander dates his connection somewhat later. All she says of him by way of dates, is comprised in these few words: "Until Mr. Archibald came and took the charge of Rocky River and Poplar Tent, which was somewhere about '87 or '88, and in a few years he left Poplar Tent."

From two certificates given Mr. Humphrey Hunter in the year 1785, and signed by Mr. Archibald, it appears that Mr. Archibald was connected with the church of Poplar Tent at that time; and had been teaching school for some time previous within its bounds. It is probable that Mrs. Alexander mistook the date, not being anxious to recall the errors of one whose sins had been visited heavily upon him personally, and whose fall had grieved the congregation that loved the truth more than the minister.

During the ministry of Mr. Archibald, the discussion respecting the Psalmody of the Church was carried on with vehemence in Poplar 'Tent. Mr. Archibald favored the introduction of Watts's Psalms and hymns; with him many of the congregation concurred; but many were violently opposed, preferring the Psalms in which their ancestors had worshipped God, with all their deficiencies of rhyme, to the smoother versification of Watts. The majority of the congregation, after some acquaintance with the productions of Watts, preferred them for private worship and favored their use in the public service of the house of God, and proposed that they should be introduced into the worship of the congregation and used part of the day. This compromise was rejected, says Mrs. Alexander, and when Mr. Archibald saw there was no hope of getting Watts's Psalms introduced into public worship peaceably, he went up into the pulpit and told them he was determined to have them made use of for time to come; and he did so. And at times when these psalms were sung, some would go out of hearing; and some others left the Tent and went and joined other churches that despised Watts's Psalms. Another time, at the Tent we met for public worship, the minister had just begun, and when he began to read the psalm one man was so presuming as to act up and say to him—`give us none o f your new lilts—give us the Psalm the Saviour sung at the Supper.' The minister stopped and commanded him to sit down and not disturb the worship of God, and then went on. The man turned about and went out of the house, and never was in that house again at public worship." This person lived near the church in a house still standing. This may be considered as a specimen of the excited feeling that was manifested in some places about the introduction of Watts's Hymns to the displacing of the Psalms of David in Metre, which had been devoutly used by all the Presbyterian congregations in Carolina.

Previous to this time the different classes of Presbyterians in their clustering settlements had united in congregations, and the various names known in the mother land were losing their distinctive influence, and the minority were inclined to fall in with the majority, and in their American feeling lose the difference they had once cherished. The discussion about psalmody brought about a new state of feeling, which after some heated discussions resulted in a separation, that remains unsettled to this day. Those that preferred Watts's Psalms held their connection with the Philadelphia Synod, from which has since been formed the General Assembly; and those that preferred the Psalms of David in Metre, separated in their church connection from their brethren, still retaining the same creed and Presbyterial forms, constituted a Presbytery, and are called Associates, and sometimes Seceders. The congregations are intermingled, and, with characteristic perseverance, maintain their peculiarities to this day. The asperity of the division having subsided, the congregations live in peace and mutual respect, and cherish in their bounds much devoted piety.

The Revolutionary war was commenced in the lifetime of Mr. Balch, and had his life been spared we should iii all probability have found him in the camp, like Hall and McCaule. Of his successor, Archibald, there are no traditions of a military cast. His congregations, particularly that of Poplar Tent, were comparatively free from the depredations and inroads of the enemy, and not disturbed by the collisions of divided neighborhoods, from which sonic of the greatest sufferings of the war had their origin. Says Mrs. Alexander, "They had peace in their neighborhood; there was Rio contention among than relative to the war; they were all of one mind as a band of brothers, and were faithful one to another, and could sleep peaceably in their houses, while other settlements not far oil were greatly distressed by their cruel treatment of one another, killing some, banishing others, and even shooting some little boys, while they were pleading for mercy, because their fathers were of a different opinion from them in respect to the war."

Mr. Archibald was a man of talent, of an amiable disposition, and considered a good classical scholar; but was careless in his manners, and extremely negligent in his dress and general appearance. Some domestic afflictions, fancied or real, preyed upon his spirits, and were the occasion of indulgence to an unwarrantable degree in intoxicating drinks. About the year 1792 he openly taught the doctrine of Universal Salvation; having first changed from Calvinism to Arminianism, and from thence wandered on to the universal restoration of all men. His connection with the congregations was at once dissolved, and his authority to preach soon taken from him by the advice and consent of Synod; deposition followed; and the remainder of his life was a tissue of unhappy events. He never returned to the communion of the church, or retracted the errors for which he suffered its discipline. Mr. Caruthers tells us, on the authority of Mr. McIver, that continuing to preach wherever he could obtain hearers, in one of his rambles through South Carolina he encountered a shrewd old lady who in her younger days had lived in the north of Ireland, and the following dialogue ensued: Lady.—"I'm tould, Sir, you preach that a' men will be saved. Is that your opinion?" Mr. A.—"Yes; I think that after enduring some punishment, all will at last be saved." Lady.—"D'ye think that some will gae to hell, and stay there a while, and then come out again?" Mr. A.—"Yes, that is my opinion." Lady.—"And do you expect to go there yourself?" Mr. A.—"Yes; I expect to go there for a time." Lady.—"Ah, man ! ye talk strangely; ye're a guid man, and a minister. I wad think ye could na gae there. But what will ye ae there for?" Mr. A.—"I expect to go there for preaching against the truth." Lady,—"Ah, man ! that's an unto' bad cause. And hoo long d'ye expect to stay there?" Mr. A.—"Just as long as I preached against the truth." Lady.—"And hoo long was that?" Mr. A.—"About fifteen gears." Lady.—"Ye'd be a pretty singed deevil to come oot, after being in sae lang!"

The successor of Mr. Archibald was Alexander Caldwell, the son of the venerable David Caldwell, who was ordained in 1773. The cause of his leaving the ministry of these churches is given in the sketch of Rocky River.

Mr. McCorkle, of Thyatira, supplied Poplar Tent for a year after Mr. Caldwell's disease rendered him unable to preach, appropriating one Sabbath in four to the instructions of the sanctuary in this congregation.

After a short period Poplar Tent secured the services of Mr. John Robinson, and, notwithstanding some intervals of absence, enjoyed his services for thirty-six years—which were ended by his death, December 15th, 1843.

The parents of Mr. John Robinson lived in Sugar Creek congregation, and their graves are found near the centre of the old ,graveyard. They were reputed eminently pious by their neighbors, and were devoted members of the Church. Their careful training of their son in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and their concern for his salvation, were often spoken of by him with gratitude and reverence; and the recollection made him more earnest for the salvation of his own household.

Born January 8th, 1768, and reared in the neighborhood of Charlotte, Mecklenburg county, Mr. Robinson was old enough to be a witness of the scenes and a partaker in the troubles and alarms of the Revolutionary war. Too young to engage in the battles, his youthful memory received a vivid impression of the events of those trying clays : and in his age he recounted with spirit the things he had seen and heard when a child. The correctness of his memory and the facility of his recollection, especially where dates were concerned, was remarkable. He trusted memory, and she was faithful to him to the last, bringing out her stores at his call with unabated celerity and precision.

This, his remarkable quality, was of immense importance to him in his active, laborious, and varied avocations: but it well-nigh prevented posterity from being the wiser for his knowledge, as he committed little to paper in any period of his life, and left nothing behind of importance in the manuscript form. Having been requested, a little before his final departure,—when, in fact, the symptoms began to appear,—to commit his experience and recollections to paper, for the use of those that might live after him, he declined the attempt, on account of his infirmity, but cheerfully agreed to dictate to a ministerial friend on any subject concerning which he possessed information. To some extent this was done and his dates and information were put to the trial of close examination. Not an important fact was changed, upon an extended inquiry; and very few minor statements required any modification or explanation. Preparations had been made to pursue the copying from his lips on some important subjects, and the time fixed. The amanuensis arrived at the appointed time,—but it was to sit-by his corpse, and attend his funeral. It is but proper to state, that the traditions gathered from him led to the compilation of the facts given to the public in the present volume. And in no case have his statements been discredited by any official documents that have come to the possession or inspection of the writer.

His academic education was received partly in Charlotte, under the tuition of Dr. Henderson, who taught in the College-buildings, and partly in an academy taught by Mr. Archibald, of Poplar Tent.

In recounting the scenes of his youth, he renewed his age; and with vivacity and delight, described the times and circumstances when the boys gathered with enthusiasm around the soldiers, rendezvousing at Charlotte, where he saw that remarkable man, James Hall, march through the town with his three-cornered hat, and long sword, captain of a company, and chaplain to the regiment.

His classical course was completed, and his degree of A.B. conferred at Winnsboro', South Carolina, the seat of Mount Zion College, the flourishing institution that succeeded the College, whose operations were suspended during the invasion of Charlotte. In the various institutions which he attended, he must have been well taught, as throughout his life his correct knowledge of the classics was remarked and appreciated.

His title of D.D. was conferred by the University of his native State, as a just tribute of respect to one who had done much for the moral and religious education of the rising generation.

The time of his making a profession of religion is not known neither are the peculiar exercises of mind, which preceded that event. But his good hope in Christ never deserted him; and his determination to devote his life to the ministry of the gospel was unshaken; and he was licensed by the Presbytery of Orange, April 4th, 1793, to preach the everlasting gospel.

Firm in his purpose, dignified in his deportment, courteous in his manners, commanding in his appearance, above the common stature, and perfectly erect, of a spare, muscular frame, of great activity and personal courage, he went to preach the gospel of our Lord, at the time when the flood of infidelity, that swept over our land, tried men's souls. In Carolina and in Virginia, God in mercy poured out his spirit on his church in precious revivals, just before that deluge of sin and wrath came, and raised up a goodly number of young men of undaunted spirit, who counted not their life dear unto them might they win Christ's approbation, and be found to praise and glory in the great day. Of that noble company, few now remain; few in Carolina, and but few in Virginia,—yet still some are moving on the horizon of Iife, waiting in feebleness of body, and the humility of faith, for their Lord's summons.

The field assigned hint by his Presbytery, for his first essay in the ministry, was the ground occupied first by McAden. Under his ministry, the churches, which had been without a settled pastor for a long time, receiving only the occasional services of missionaries, were greatly revived and much enlarged. The children of pious parents were confirmed in the faith they had been taught, and "the word of God grew." The climate proving unfavorable to his family, he determined upon removing higher up the country, and in the year 1800, accepted an invitation froze the church in Fayetteville, to become their resident minister.

The smallness of the salary, and the necessities of the youth, induced him to open a classical school. He continued with the congregation a little more than a year; when finding that the labors of the two offices were more than his constitution could bear, he left the congregation in Dec., 1801, and removed to Poplar Tent, the scene of part of the instructions of his early life under Mr. Archibald.

After remaining with the congregation of Poplar Tent about four years, preaching and conducting it classical school, which was corn-mended by the Presbytery in 1803, as appears by their records, he was induced by the earnest solicitation of the citizens of Fayetteville, to return to that place, then vacant by the removal of his successor, Rev. Andrew Flinn, to Charleston, South Carolina; and about the commencement of the year 1806, he removed to that place and re-commenced his pastoral labors and his classical school. In these two offices he continued about three years; and in the latter part of December, 1818, returned to Poplar Tent, and passed the remainder of his days. During the two periods of his sojourn in Fayetteville, he was eminently successful both as a teacher and as a preacher. The first administration of the sacrament of the Lord's supper, in Fayetteville, was performed by him on the 6th of September, 1801. At that time there were but seventeen members of the church iii that place. He held four communion seasons during his first residence there, and at each time admitted persons to membership in the church. During his second residence, he was extensively useful and greatly beloved. During this period, his preaching is described as "instructive, edifying, and truly evangelical his eloquence was of a gentle and persuasive cast; and in his public discourses, and in his private intercourse with his people, he was remarkable for the mildness of his address." Some even thought his mildness carried to excess in the matter of discipline; as his benevolent heart was finding excuses for mild dealing with offenders. Says the author of a sermon preached on occasion of his death, "the fruits of his labors are yet visible there, and acknowledged with gratitude, by many witnesses. We have never seen any man move through society, receiving more striking tokens of veneration and affection; than we have witnessed shown to Dr. Robinson in that town." The news of his death having reached that place, a public meeting was held in the town-house on the 23rd of December, 1843, and the following preamble and resolutions passed. 11 Whereas, it is announced in some of the public prints, that it has pleased the Allwise Disposer of all events, to call away from this sinful and suffering world, our venerable friend, the Rev. John Robinson, D.D., the present meeting, consisting of persons to whom he has been long endeared by ties of a most interesting character, desire, with the utmost sincerity, to give expression to the sentiments which they entertain in the following resolutions, viz.

1st. Resolved, That in our estimation, the death of such a man as the late Rev. John Robinson, D.D., is an event justly to be deplored, as a serious loss to a community, who have, for many years, been permitted to enjoy the rich benefits of his wholesome instruction, and godly and edifying example.

2d. Resolved, That his public services in this place, many years ago, as a minister of the gospel, and an instructor of the rising generation, shall long be remembered with emotions of gratitude and affection.

3d. Resolved, That David Anderson, Dr. B. Robinson, J. W. Wright, C. P. Mallett, and E. L. Winslow, be a committee to devise suitable means for the erection of such memorial of his character and labors as may perpetuate the memory of his worth, and of his labors for the good of immortal souls.

4th. Resolved, That these resolutions be published, and a copy of them forwarded to the family of the deceased.

"DAVID ANDERSON, Chairman,
"JOHN McRAE, Secretary."

These resolutions, called out by his death some thirty-five years after his services in Fayetteville, show conclusively the stability of the population in that congregation, and the deep impression his labors made upon the public mind (luring the years he was pastor and teacher in that community.

His labors in Poplar Tent were much blessed. The congregation enjoyed repeated refreshings from on high, under his ministry, beside that great and general awakening which pervaded the country at large from the years 1802 onward for five or six years, a part of which time he resided at Fayetteville, and part at Poplar Tent. A Revival, or refreshing from the Lord, was cause of joyfulness to him, wherever, and whenever it came; he would labor with his favored brethren, and receive most kindly their assistance when his part of the vineyard was blessed.

Desirous of excellence himself, panting after it, he scorned the arts of detraction, and held sacred the reputation of good men, most particularly his brethren in the ministry, rejoicing in their prosperity and good name, and extended usefulness and popularity. he never seemed to feel that the advancement of others was any hindrance to his own progression in excellence or usefulness.

A clear and faithful exhibition of the doctrines of grace characterized his pulpit ministrations. Generally persuasive, but when aroused by the importance of the subject, he became commanding and overpowering. His dignified person became majestic, and his warm heart kindled to a flame, that warmed and kindled the congregation. The character, love, sufferings and death of Jesus Christ were favorite subjects, and lost none of their exhaustless interest with him or his congregation.

As he advanced in years, his manners, always courteous, became more dignified and bland; a stranger would have thought he had adorned the drawing-rooms of our cities in the beginning of the. 19th century, a. gentleman of the old school of Nathaniel Macon. His kind manners expressed a kinder heart, that grew more tender as he advanced in years. It was impossible that a young minister should be introduced to him without loving him; or love him long without reverencing him and catching from him a spirit to desire excellence for its own sake anal for Christ.

A guileless affectionate simplicity attracted all to him in his advancing infirmities; and his departure seemed less and less welcome to his people the nearer and more certain its approach. his habits of neatness in his person and dress continued through life. He had so fixed the habit of dressing himself becomingly that very seldom was he found unprepared to welcome a visitor; and yet the greatest simplicity always appeared in his garments and the manner in which he was attired. It is said of him in his more active days, as a pleasant example of his attention to his family, that returning from a judicatory of the church, he lodged about seventeen miles from home. Rising at the dawn of day to reach home for his breakfast, he was observed to be particular in adjusting his dress, and under some disadvantage to be shaving himself with care; one of his fellow-lodgers observed, "you need not delay to be so particular, as you are only going home;" with a polite bow the Dr. replied, "for that very reason I am particular."

For many years Dr. Robinson carried on a classical school in Poplar Tent, at which were trained many of the leading men of the present generation in and around Poplar Tent. It may be said to have been in its glory after Dr. Wilson, of Rocky River, found it necessary to decline teaching, and Dr. Robinson found it necessary to provide a place of instruction for the youth of the surrounding country. The dignity, precision and kindness with which he presided over his school are referred to with much affection by his pupils. A teacher himself, he favored every attempt to promote sacred learning; and when about the year 1820 an effort was made to establish a college in Western Carolina, he took an active part in the enterprise, and mourned over its failure. When Davidson College was instituted he took a prominent part; and was President of the Board for many years.

A pleasant anecdote of the Dr.'s personal courage is told by Dr. Morrison, of his early life. While residing in Duplin he had occasion to travel to Presbytery alone. Stopping in a little village for refreshment, at what appeared the most respectable tavern, it was promised him. While waiting for it a company assembled around the bar, and began using profane language. Mr. Robinson remarked very politely that such language was very painful to him, as he thought it wrong. After a short pause the drinking and profanity were renewed with more indecency than before, the landlord taking a conspicuous part. Mr. Robinson appealed to him, as the keeper of the house at which he had called, expecting civil treatment, and to the honor of his house as the stranger's safeguard from insult. With increased profanity, and in a violent rage, the landlord rushed towards him with his clenched fist, swearing that "the house was his own, and his tongue was his own, and he would do as he pleased." Mr. Robinson arose and stretched himself to his full height, and fastening a stern look upon him, replied, "your house maybe your own;—and your tongue is your own;—but take care how you use your fist." The landlord cowered and asked pardon for his insult; the crowd shrunk away; and after obtaining his refreshment the Dr. went on his way, earnestly entreated by the landlord not to expose his impropriety to the disgrace and injury of his tavern.

Another, illustrating the Dr.'s manner in his intercourse with his fellow men. While residing in Duplin, a gentleman who had been educated in Scotland, but had his residence in that county, invited him to go home with him. The evening passed pleasantly; the gentleman was fluent in discussing the discipline of the church, the confession of doctrines, the Solemn League and Covenant. At supper, the gentleman politely requested Mr. Robinson to ask a blessing; and before retiring to rest assembled his family for worship. The next morning the family again met for worship; as they were standing around the breakfast table Mr. Robinson in his graceful manner referred to the gentleman to ask the blessing. He commenced, and after pronouncing a few words became discomposed, and turning to Mr. Robinson said, "Will you please finish, sir." After breakfast, he, deeply affected, addressed Mr. Robinson, 'l You now see what I have come to. I was born of pious parents; taught religion in my youth, and observed its forms in my native country; but here, sir, I have neglected its duties; and now cannot even ask God to bless the food of my own table." After suitable discourse Mr. Robinson left him; the impression remained upon his mind, giving him no rest till, as he hoped, he was led to Christ in true conversion. He became a member of the church, and as far as known, lived consistently with its obligations.

His infirmities rendering it impossible for him to perform the duties of his office in his extensive charge, his congregation reluctantly received his resignation, in order to look out for a pastor, the Dr. declining any official connection with the church, or any management of its affairs. He continued to preach occasionally for his brethren, with whom his visits were always delightful, till his asthmatic cough confined him to his house.

He never possessed any great fondness for the pen, and had no manuscripts to review in his old age. His infirmities prevented him from reading to any extent; and he was deprived of his excellent wife, Mary Baldwin, the mother of his children, in 1836, having lived in affection with her for more than forty years, having been united in marriage to her April 9th, 1795; and yet he never appeared lonesome or repining while he was waiting upon God for his departure.

Having desired, for some years before his death, to enjoy a meeting of the North Carolina Synod at Poplar Tent, the brethren held their sessions in October, 1842, at that church, and near his dwelling. Under the influence of a more than usually severe attack of his cough, he was unable to attend a single session of the Synod, being confined to his room, and mostly to his bed. The Synod sent a committee with resolutions of condolence and respect, to express their sympathy with their venerable brother, who, through a long period of years, was never known to be absent from a judicatory of the church of which he was a member, in this respect rivalling the venerable Dr. Hall of Iredell, who attended all the sessions of the Synod of the Carolinas but one. The compliment was unexpected by the Dr., and deeply affected him. With unpretended humility and kindness he wept when the committee read to him the resolutions of Synod; overcome with varied emotions, his readiness at reply forsook him. The sighs that for a few moments shook his frame, touched the hearts of the committee as they stood around his bed; and they wept with him; and sighed as they beheld the wreck of human strength and excellence. A leader was departing, not in a chariot of fire, but in the exercise of an humble faith.

His life was protracted in great feebleness till the fourteenth of December, 1813, when he fell asleep in Christ. His body was laid beside the remains of his wife, in the burying ground near Poplar Tent church, and amidst his hearers, with whom he will rise at the coming of Christ.

In looking over the inscriptions upon the graves around their pastor, you find the names of many of the first settlers, such as Harris, Alexander, Black, Parks, Young, Weddington, Flinn, Ross, Means, Crawford, and. Gilmer. One can but feel regret that the graves of the Rev. Hezekiah James Balch, and his spirited elder, David Reese, cannot be pointed out; men that represented this congregation in the convention. Their names will never pass from the records of history; but a visit to their tombs might be useful to coming generations, and the future worshippers in Poplar Tent might be excited to deeds worthy of their ancestors, by a visit to this yard. They ought to dwell upon the past to be prepared to act worthy of the present and the future.

When Mr. Robinson taught in Fayetteville, he had an assistant, William B. Maroney. This man had been very thoughtless and wild, and opposed to religious things. His own excesses were made the cause of his alarm and awakening. After indulging a hope in Christ, he wished to preach the gospel. In his forty-third year, 1803, his case was laid before Synod. He ultimately was adwitted to the ministry, and labored faithfully and successfully in Bethesda. His monument has this short epitaph:—

Rev. William B. Maroney,
late minister of the gospel
at this place,
was born A.D., 1760,
Died August 1st, 1816.

He is reported as ordained in 1811; the time of his licensure is not known, the records of Orange having been lost by fire.


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