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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter V. - New Providence


The Rev. Samuel Houston, in answer to some inquiries made by the Rev. James Morrison, the third pastor of New Providence, gave in writing the origin of the congregation. He begins with the grants to Beverly and Burden. “The dividing line between their grants crossed the valley near where New Providence church now stands.”

“Those families that came first were nearly connected, or large families. For comfort and for safety they generally settled near each other, and with the understanding that as soon as practicable they might have schools for their children; and form religious societies, and have places of public worship. Those first settlers in the valley were mostly Presbyterians ; but those in New Providence, I believe wholly so, at least in name. Near the South Mountain, there were several families of the name of Moore,—others of Steel,—near them M’ Clung,—and Fulton,—Beard ; and then a little further on, my grand-father, John Houston, and his brother-in-law, John Montgomery, and some by the name of Eaken. Near the middle (of the valley), on Kennedy’s Creek and its branches were, the Kennedys, Wardlaws, Logans; and another line of Steels, Edmundsons, Buchanans, Pattons, Millars, Stephensons. Towards the North Mountain, on Hays’ and Walker’s Creek, were two families of Hays, three or four Walkers of the same stock, and their brother-in-law, James Moore; two families of Robinsons, one of Kelly, Hudson, Thompson, Smiley, and two of Rheas. In the midst were three of the Berry family, one of Tedford, one M’Campbell, two or three M’Croskys, and a Coalter family. In the course of a few years, other families came and settled amongst them; their names were, M’Nutt, Weir, Campbell, Wilson, Anderson, Culton, Henry, Lowry, and another stock of Edmundsons, and one family named Todd, my grand-father on my mother’s side; two of the name of Stuart, one of Alexander, Cowder, Gray, Jamieson, and two Pattons. Of all these families, by intermarriages other families were soon formed; also others coming in.

“The above settlers commenced, at least man) of them, in the woods, and in much fear from the savages and wild beasts. Hence at my grand-father’s house, some distance from the South Mountain, but nearer it than the western side of the settlement, and a house most convenient for the whole settlement to collect their families together in case of an invasion, the settlers erected a stockade fort, the remainders of which, I saw around the yard when I was a boy. Near to the fort, at a place called then, and now, Old Providence, they erected a log meeting-house, and had worship occasionally by supplies from Pennsylvania. In those early days, the population of Timber Ridge united with Providence to get supplies, intending as soon as they could to have a settled pastor between them. The lower settlement on Hays’ Creek and Walker’s Creek, felt themselves too distant from Old Providence, and urged a more central place between the mountains, and proposed the place, now near Witherow’s Mansion. My grand-father prevailed upon his neighbors to meet them at the new site; accordingly a log meeting-house wTas erected on the southern side of the creek. The united congregations of Timber Ridge and New Providence, called Mr. John Brown, and he was installed their pastor. The first elders were,—a Mr. Millar, Andrew Hays, John Logan, Samuel Buchannan, Alexander Walker, my grand-father John Houston, and Andrew Steel.” After the congregation had agreed upon a site for a new church, having had much difficulty in becoming united in the choice, it was proposed to adopt a name—My aged ancestor said, Neighbors we have hitherto had unpleasant and fruitless meetings, to-day we have had an agreeable and successful one, and we are indebted to a kind providence: let us call it New Providence,* to which all agreed. Then, or soon afterwards they united in efforts; some contributing, others laboring until they finished the stone walls, roof, doors, windows, and floor, and set in benches and a temporary pulpit, and then rested for some years until I was a boy capable of observation. For well do I remember sitting in my father’s seat to see the swallows flying in and out during public worship, to feed their young ones, in nests upon the collar beams and wall-plates, or cavities in the stone work.”. When the people after some years finished the work by making a pulpit with a canopy, a gallery, and by glazing the windows, he says—“ the elders were—Andrew Hays, John Logan, Alexander Walker, John Houston, my father, Saunders Walker, and soon after James Henry, Charles Campbell, and James M’Campbell.

“About the year 1763 an unhappy difference took place between the pastor, Mr. Brown, and some leading men in Timber Ridge congregation, on account of which Mr. Brown talked of removing. This deeply affected many of the New Providence congregation. But at last they agreed to retain his labors entirely, and on his accepting ,Ł80 salary from them alone, his connexion and theirs with Timber Ridge was dissolved. Mr. Brown’s labors were continued harmoniously in New Providence, until his powers of body failed, especially his voice. Therefore mutually he and the congregation agreed for him to be relieved by the congregation becoming vacant, and another called, ajl which was in due order effected; and in a short time his successor, Mr. Samuel Brown, was called and installed their pastor, which brings me down to the year 1796. '

“A few remarks and I have done. After Mr. J. B. left Timber Ridge, many of said congregation retained much affection for him, and through much inconvenience attended almost steadily N. P. meetings and communions as formerly. Another remark is, that before the struggle for independence took place, N. P. kept the Sabbath with great" strictness, and family worship was almost universal. Another remark is, that shortly before the war, some men, whose sons were growing up, felt a desire for having them, or part of them, educated liberally, chiefly with a view to the ministry of the gospel. Accordingly a small grammar school was formed in the neighborhood of Old Providence, composed of Samuel Doak, John Montgomery, Archibald Alexander, James Houston, William Tate, Samuel Greenlee, William Wilson, and others, which greatly increased and drew youths from distant neighborhoods. This grammar school was moved to the place near Fairfield, called Mount Pleasant; it was, in 1776, established at Timber Ridge meetinghouse, and named Liberty Hall.

"Sincerely yours,

“S. Houston.”

Tradition says the first work after building log-cabins for themselves, was to erect a capacious meeting-house. For permanency and dignity they determined it should be of stone. Limestone for mortar could be found in any abundance, but sand was brought on pack-horses six or seven miles from the stream called South Fork. Nails and glass were brought in the same way from Philadelphia. A sycamore, for a long time the only one in the neighborhood, sprung from the bank of refuse sand brought from a stream where the tree abounds. The succeeding generations knew the old sycamore, enjoying its shade on Sabbath noon. So intent were many of the people of New Providence that their house of worship should be properly finished, that they forbore not only luxuries, but what are now esteemed the necessaries of housewifery. One old lady apologized to some company that came to eat with her, for not accommodating more at a time at the table, and requiring them to eat by turns, that all might have the benefit of her few knives and forks, by saying, “We intended to have got a set of knives this year, but the meeting-house was to be finished, and we could not give our share and get the knives, so we put them off for another year.” The only pair of wheels in the congregation for many years was made to draw timbers for the church. In their private concerns the drag and sled sufficed.

Of those persons named by Mr. Houston, students of the first grammar school — Doak, Montgomery, Houston, and Wilson became ministers of the gospel. Dr. Doak, -well known in Tennesseo as the laborious patron of literature, and minister of the gospel; Houston preached in Kentucky, and in the time of the great excitement, left the Presbyterian Church; Montgomery preached in Virginia, and died on Cowpasture; Wilson lies buried near Augusta Church, of which he was long a pastor. Houston and Wilson used to tell of Doak, that as his parents lived in the bounds of Bethel, too far from the school to live at home, he erected a cabin near the school house for his convenience; and that the boys in their fun would frequently, while Doak was engaged with his teacher, break into his cabin, and derange his apparatus for cooking, and make sad work with his housekeeping; all which he bore with great good humor, and went on cheerfully with his studies, in preparation for that life of trial and usefulness as a pioneer of the gospel and sound education in Tennessee. The name of the first teacher has been preserved, but not those of his successors, till William Graham, and John Montgomery; these are preserved in the records of Presbytery. It does not appear that Mr. J. Brown ever himself engaged in teaching the school which for years was in operation about a mile from his dwelling, in which his elder children received their education, preparatory for those posts of honor conferred upon them by the community.

The people of New Providence were visited by the missionaries sent out by the Presbyteries of the Synod of New York. And May 18th, 1748, the Records of Synod say, “A call was brought into Synod from Falling Spring and New Providence, to be presented to Mr. Byram, the acceptance of which he declined.” The congregation being pleased with the labors of Mr. John Brown, a licentiate of New Castle Presbytery, who remained in the Valley for some time as a missionary, united, in 1753, with the people of Timber Ridge in making the call for his services. After Mr. Brown withdrew from Timber Ridge, he continued, many years, to preach to New Providence alone. His sketch is given under the head of Timber Ridge. That the congregation of New Providence did not overvalue his usefulness, is seen in their prosperity. It went united into the hands of his successors, with a cheering prospect of usefulness, the standard of piety, an able eldership, a large number of professors of religion, having sent into the ministry some of her sons, and been the nursery of the Academy and the germ of the College.

The second pastor was Mr. Samuel Brown, settled in 1796. We know nothing of the life of John Brown till he left college ; we know but comparatively little of his successor before he entered on his ministry. And that little we know is from the memoranda of a son, now a minister of the gospel. Samuel Brown, of English origin, was born in the year 1766, of a family of moderate circumstances, in Bedford County, Virginia, in the bounds of the congregation of Peaks and Pisgah, the fruitful mother of many ministers of the gospel prominent in the Virginia Church.

Crab Bottom, October 25th, 1853.

Dear Brother—In 1836 I was at the house of Jesse Wit, the brother-in-law of my venerated father, and took down, as directed by him, the following reminiscences. Mr. Wit was intimately acquainted with him from childhood, went to school with him, and subsequently my father boarded at his house, and went to school in his neighborhood. Mr. Wit lived and died near Liberty, Bedford County, Virginia.

Mr. Wit says :—The first advantages he (my father) enjoyed in the way of mental culture were at schools where the first branches only of an English education were taught. He indulged in such sports as were common at schools, but was entirely free from profanity, and of exemplary morals. He was the fondest boy of his books, and the best scholar of his age I ever knew. He often expressed a desire to obtain a liberal education, but the circumstances of his father were not such as to enable him to give his children a better education than would barely fit them to transact their own business in the more ordinary walks of life. About the year 1785 there was a school taught near the Peaks of Otter, by a Mr. Bromhead, in which the higher branches of an English education, such as English grammar, geography, surveying, &c., might be obtained. This was not the case in schools generally at that day. To this school he earnestly requested his father to send him ; but his father did not think his circumstances would justify the expense of boarding his son from home, and declined granting the request. The son being very urgent, the father thought to end the matter by telling him that to enable him to do so, it would be necessary to sell his yoke of oxen. But such was the desire of the son to learn, that, to this measure he strongly urged his father. By some means, now unknown, he got to the school. Being possessed of more than the ordinary talents and fondness for the science of mathematics, and having obtained a magnetic needle, he fitted it to a compass of his own construction, and with this, for want of a better, he practised surveying, for his own improvement.

After leaving the school of Mr. Bromhead, he went to Kentucky, and taught school himself, but at the end of twelve months he returned to the house of his father in Bedford County. This was in 1788. Shortly after his return he commenced going to school to the Rev. James Mitchel, who resided in the neighborhood of his father. About this time the congregations of Peaks and Pisgah were blessed with an extensive revival of religion, principally under the instrumentality of the Rev. Drury Lacy. Mr. Brown became one of the subjects of renewing grace. At that time he was very fond of playing on the violin, and was considered a good player. The amusement of dancing also possessed in his estimation peculiar claims. He abandoned both, and returned to them no more. Indeed, such were his subsequent views of the great tendency of dancing to banish serious reflections, and promote licentiousness, that even the sound of the violin was ever afterwards unpleasant. Of the peculiar exercises of his mind nnder his awakening, I know but little. I remember to have heard, however, that like many others, he was for a time greatly perplexed about the distinctive doctrines of Calvinism ; and being unable to get the difficulties solved that were suggested to his mind, he undertook to read the Scriptures regularly through in reference to that singl6 point, noting down as he proceeded, what he found to favor the Arminian or Calvinistic view. Having found so many passages which would admit of no other than a Calvinistic interpretation, and not one on the side of Arminian-ism but might be interpreted otherwise, he bowed to the doctrines of divine grace, and gave his heart to God before he had gone half through the Bible. Not long after he made his first public address. Being at a prayer meeting in Liberty, where there was considerable religious excitement, he arose, and with great earnestness repeated Heb. 12:14: “ Holiness—without which no man shall see the Lordand sat down.

In 1790, he boarded in my family, in Liberty, and commenced the study of the Latin language, under a Mr. Andrew Lyle, from Rockbridge County. Mr. L. subsequently removed to Kentucky, and entered the ministry. He was succeeded by a Mr. Houston, from the same county, who subsequently became.a minister of the gospel, and removed to Ohio, where he became a Shaking Quaker. In this school, Mr. Brown continued about two years. Thus far Mr. Wit. I am, Dear Sir, yours in the gospel,

Henry Brown.

"While preparing for the ministry as a candidate, he was a member of Liberty Hall Academy, under William Graham. At the meeting of Hanover Presbytery, at Concord, July 30th, 1791, Messrs. Turner and Calhoun read parts of their trial in preparation for licensure; the call from Philadelphia for the removal of J. B. Smith, from Hampden Sidney College, was put in his hands with the non-concurrence of the Presbytery; and three young men were taken as candidates; “John Lyle, recommended to this Presbytery as a young man of good moral character, prosecuting his studies, and desirous of putting himself under their care, not as a candidate at present, but for their patronage and direction, was introduced. And the Presbytery having heard an account of his religious exercises, thought proper to encourage him in his studies. Mr. Samuel Brown was also recommended as a young man in nearly the same circumstances, and wishing to be taken under the direction of Presbytery in the same manner. But the Presbytery having heard a detail of God’s dealings with his soul, and of his motives to engage in the ministry of the gospel, and considering the progress that he has already made in acquiring an education, thought proper to admit him as a candidate upon trials. They therefore agreed to assign him some subjects as a specimen of his abilities, under this limitation, that he be at liberty to produce them to Presbytery at any of their sessions, when it shall be convenient to himself; and appointed him an essay upon the Extent of Christ’s Satisfaction.” Mr. Moses Waddel, a student at Hampden Sidney College, was also received as candidate, and parts of trial were assigned.

At Bethel, July 27th, 1792, Mr. Brown read his essay upon the Extent of Christ’s Satisfaction. This essay was on the 80th considered and sustained, and an essay was appointed him upon the question—“How do men become depraved, and wherein does that depravity consist;” and also a Presbyterial exercise upon Romans 1st, 18th. At Providence, in Louisa, Oct. 5th, 1792, “ Mr. Brown was appointed a popular discourse on Rom. 5th, 1st, in addition to his other parts of trial to be produced at the next meeting.” Briery, April 5th, 1793—“The Presbytery was opened with a sermon by Samuel Brown, on the subject assigned him.” At this meeting the Rev. Devereux Jarret took his seat as a corresponding member. On the next evening the Presbytery met at 7 o’clock, at the house “of old Mrs. Morton” — and after consideration, sustained Mr. Brown’s popular sermon. The notice of his reading his Essay and Presbyterial Exercise is omitted in the records. “ The Presbytery then proceeded to examine Mr. Brown with respect to his knowledge in the doctrines of Divinity, and his answers being satisfactory, it was agreed to license him to preach the gospel. And Mr. Brown having adopted the Confession of Faith as received in the Presbyterian Church in America, and promised subjection to his brethren in ^he Lord, was accordingly licensed to preach the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, and recommended to all the churches where God in his Providence may call him.” At a meeting in July, at the Cove, on the 25th instant, Presbytery recommended Mr. Brown to the commission of Synod. Under the direction of this commission, he performed missionary service until April 21st, 1796, when at Hampden Sidney—u Mr. Samuel Brown, formerly a probationer under the care of this Presbytery, but for some time past a missionary under the direction of the commission of Synod, produced a dismission from that body, certifying his good character and conduct while he acted as a missionary, whereupon he was again received as a probationer under the care of this Presbytery.” On the next day—u A supplication was laid before Presbytery from the congregations of Providence, (Louisa), North Fork, and the Bird, to obtain Mr. Samuel Brown to supply them for six months, in order to prepare the way for his final settlement among them. Mr. Brown being asked whether such an appointment would be agreeable to him, answered in the negative, as he had already determined to remove out of the bounds of Presbytery.” He then requested and obtained a dismission to join the Presbytery of Lexington. The journals of Mr. Brown kept during his missionary travelling and preaching have not, with the exception of a few fragments, been preserved. The range was large; the bounds of the commission extended over Virginia, West Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. With the general extent of their bounds, and a large proportion of the particulars, Mr. Brown became fully acquainted. And the selection of a place of living, which he was enabled to make by the good will and choice of the people, was characteristic of the man. For quietness, usefulness, comfort, present success in the ministry, and prospective in-gathering of harvests, New Providence was unsurpassed by any of the numerous vacancies, and was equalled by few that had pastors. Honesty of purpose, simplicity of manners, diligence in business, and a liberal economy characterized the people of this retired but fertile region of country. The congregation had been famous for its attachment to its minister; and the condition in which the first minister left it, in his feeble age bore testimony to his fidelity. The activity of a young man was becoming visibly necessary, and Brown the first gave place cheerfully to Brown the second; and the successor as cheerfully honored his predecessor while reaping the fruit of his labors.

For years he pursued the round, monotonous, were it not of eternal consequence, of a country pastor, preaching twice on the Sabbath to a large congregation of hearers in the old Stone Church, having an hour’s interval between the sermons; visiting the sick and burying the dead as required, during the week; preaching occasionally in retired neighborhoods; catechising the children by neighborhoods annually, giving account to Presbytery of his diligence, and the success of the parents and children therein ; and holding communion, or sacramental meeting at stated periods during the year. Add to these recurring duties, the responsibilities of a select classical school, bringing a number of the pupils to be members of his family, which he taught a greater part of the time he was pastor of New Providence. The excellence of his teaching and discipline drew pupils from the counties east of the Ridge, and kept his number complete. In teaching — he was, “mild with the mild — and with the froward fierce as fire.” Rebellion against the laws of propriety, was in his eyes like the sin of witchcraft, and woe to the unhappy boy that ventured to find out by experience, the manner Samuel Brown could subdue a disobedient boy. One experiment was sufficient for his whole school life, and generally for a whole generation of boys. But with the cheerful and the studious and the law-abiding boy, he was like a spring morning, or the autumn evening. Tall, spare, broad-shouldered, and not particularly careful at all times whether he stood precisely straight, a thin visage with small deep-set eyes, of a grey color tinged with blue, not particularly expressive till the deep passions of the heart were aroused, “then,” said Governor James M’Dowell, “they began to sparkle and glow, and apparently sink deeper in his head, and grow brighter and brighter till the sparkling black was lost in a vivid flame of fire,” then the volcano, giving no other sign in muscle or in limb, of its subterraneous workings, was ready to burst. Then, if the explosion was a volume of wrath, it was terrible ; if the kindling of a great subject, the burst of eloquence was resistless; the bolt shot forth and shivered like the lightning.

Mr. S. Brown read and thought closely, but wrote little. Like his neighbor Baxter, he could arrange his thoughts into the purest English and most classic sentence without the help of the pen. Some few manuscripts — one printed sermon — and a few pieces in the Virginia Magazine, are all we have from his pen. His style was simple and concise, with no approach to the florid or verbose, or highly figurative. It was, in his most deeply interesting sermons, that, which the hearers could never describe—because they never observed — they were simply noticing the ideas as they came rushing forth like a band of warriors from the opened gates. They could not tell the plumes nor ensigns — but they could hear the heavy tread, and see the fiery eye, and feel the fierce expression of every limb. Many of his hearers could repeat in order the great truths of his sermons that most interested him. But only now and then would they venture to say — “he used these very words.” In his less interesting discourses, they could venture to be more exact about his words. His people considered him a great reasoner. In their estimation he always reasoned well; often better ; and sometimes the best they could imagine. And that he could reason well is certain from the fact, that his congregation learned to reason admirably on the great truths of religion and morals; and that his brethren in the ministry came to listen to his sermons with the same emotions as his own people. The greatest men in the Synod, said he was the greatest reasoner in the Synod, under the pressure of a great subject. Dr. Speece, who always listened to him with pleasure, on one occasion appeared to be entirely absorbed in his discourse; and as Mr. Brown said — “but we. must come to a conclusion”— he unconsciously raised his hand and said aloud, “go on, go on.”

The facts given by his son respecting the manner in which he became satisfied on the subject of predestination, are illustrative of his manner of reasoning from the pulpit on common occasions. He would^ produce a great array of undoubted facts, and so marshal them as a host prepared for battle, that no one would like to make an onset. Or he would begin to lay the foundation of his building on some corner-stone of the gospel, and go on tier by tier, and story by story, till when the top stone was laid, the hearer charmed with its beauty and symmetry, was ready to shout “grace, grace unto it.” His hearers saw it all plain, just right; but it required Samuel Brown to do it. His model was Paul’s Epistle to the Homans, fact after fact, consecutive and connected, with illustrations; till some certain fact as a conclusion seemed inevitable. Sometimes he entered into the field of metaphysical discussion much in fashion in his day; and among the many that failed making any impression, he was of the few that was resistless. He could weave a wTeb his adversaries could not disentangle. He could produce a train the common people could understand, and follow closely and feel at the close a deep conviction of its truth; and the wiser heads could retrace the various steps after they had reached their homes. They could admire, but it seemed to them it took a Samuel Brown to make it. Of his habits in the judicatories of the Church, there is neither a memorandum nor a tradition of importance. One of his Elders describes him thus: —

Jan. 4th, 1851.

Reverend and Dear Sir,—I received your favor of Dec. 4th, only a few days ago, making some inquiries respecting the Reverend Samuel Brown. In compliance with your request, I will with pleasure, send you such notices of him as my information on the subject will allow.

He preached his first sermon in New Providence, after taking their call into his hands, June 5th, 1796. His text was in 4th of 2d Corinthians, 1st and 2d verses. His second sermon on the same day was from 1st Peter, 2d and 3d verses. He was married 9th of October, 1798, to Polly Moore, whose story is known to you. He soon afterwards purchased a small farm near Brownsburg, and commenced teaching a classical school. He continued the school several years. Amongst those who were his pupils, I may name Gov. James McDowell, Gov. McNutt, of Mississippi, Samuel McD. Moore, and Dr. Wilson, now of Union Seminary. He attended to the business of his farm himself, employing no overseer. His salary was only §400 per annum, until a year or two before his death, when it was raised to $500. He was judicious and economical in the management of his affairs. At the time of his installation his means were nothing, his family became large, yet at his death his estate was quite considerable. He died suddenly, 13th October, 1818, having preached the day before. His text on that occasion was in the 40tn chapter of Isaiah, 30 and 31.

His talents, according to the common opinion, and that is my own, were of a very high order. His judgment in all matters was sound and practical. In cases where it seemed difficult to arrive at a correct decision, he seemed to seize with facility the true view; and the clearness of his statements hardly failed to bring others to concur with him. His preaching was impressive and interesting. In his personal appearance he was tall and lean, his eyes sunk deeply in his head. His voice, though not sweet, was distinct; his manner earnest, seeming to be inspired by a deep conviction of the truth and importance of his subject. His gestures, according to my recollections, were few, but apppropriate. In his addresses from the pulpit, he was eminent for strength, conciseness, and perspicuity. Argumentative more than declamatory, he convinced the judgment of his hearers. Plain, instructive, and practical in his discourses, he brought the principles of the Bible to bear upon the conduct of his people in all their relations. He also held forth very strongly the great Calvinistic doctrines of the Scriptures. He preached repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He dwelt prominently on the total depravity of human nature, and on the necessity of regeneration. He frequently became very much animated when preaching, and sometimes the tears were seen to trickle down his cheeks. His sermons were short generally. I have heard people complain sometimes that they were too short, but never that they were too long. When he preached two sermons on the Sabbath, as he did in the summer, his last sermon was generally considered the ablest. I never saw but one sermon of his in print; that one was preached at the installation or ordination of A. B. Davidson, in Harrisonburg., Mr. Brown told me that he had preached it without much preparation, that he had however felt liberty in the delivery of it. When the Presbytery applied for a copy, he had none, and wrote it out as nearly as he could; but I think he was not satisfied with it, and people generally did not consider it as a fair specimen of his sermons.

The longer he lived amongst his people, the more they became attached to him. He mingled amongst them on easy and familiar terms ; took an interest in their welfare both temporal and spiritual. His conversation was interesting, and to use a current phrase, he was the soul of the company in which he was. He took an active interest in the Brownsburg Circulating Library, and was desirous to promote the taste, and the habit of reading amongst his people. He uniformly attended to catechising once a year, at the different places in his congregation, and made pastoral visits to some extent. In his day it was not customary to preach at funerals. In admitting persons to the communion of the church, he generally conversed with them privately, and then reported to the Session. He was a man that never shrunk from any responsibility, that properly belonged to him, in any circumstances in which he was placed; and his opinions probably carried more weight with them than those of any other man in this end of Rockbridge County. He was a very kind husband, and was always heard to speak of his wife in the most affectionate manner, and he reposed in her judgment and opinion great confidence. His piety was undoubted. He died universally lamented; in the prime of life, in full intellectual vigor; in the midst of his usefulness; and when the love of his people towards him, so far from abating, was becoming deeper and stronger.

I am yours, respectfully,

Thomas H. Walker.

As Mr. Samuel Brown “never shrunk from any responsibilities,” so he never sought for notoriety. He held the post of his highest desires, the pastor of a flock of the Lord Jesus. This he sought when he entered upon the course of studies for the ministry; and for this he longed whether at the grammar school, or at Liberty Hall; and this he preferred to a missionary life. And whether he directed the concerns of a small farm, or taught a select classical school, it was to aid him in the work of a gospel minister. And this honor and this desire he left as the inheritance of his children. As a teacher he stimulated youth to seek excellence; and through life he encouraged the young' to strive for mental as well as moral culture. Dr. Speece attributes to him his excitement for an education.

“In 1792, Mr. Samuel Brown, one of my former teachers, wrote to my father, to persuade him to send me to the grammar school, near New London. I was anxious to go and through life he spoke of Samuel Brown as conferring a great favor on him in his early life, by encouraging him to seek a liberal education.

When the bodily exercises referred to in the sketch of Baxter, and so fully described by Davidson in his History of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky, made their appearance in Virginia, Mr. Brown made a decided and open opposition. He said they were a profane mixture with the work of God. He had meditated upon the subject as a peculiarity of Kentucky and Tennessee; and when they became matters of daily fact in the neighboring congregations, he spoke out clearly and convincingly. His decision and his reasons for it, quickened the action of Baxter’s mind, who was travelling more slowly, yet surely to the correct decision. These two men differed in some particulars, and by that very difference mutually affected the operations of each other’s mind. Baxter was always ready to hear what Brown would say, and Brown was always glad to have Baxter fully agree with him. Baxter would listen to new things in argument, or report, or read them as history with entire simplicity. Like a child in a botanic garden, with the carelessness of innocence he would walk around wounding his hands with the thorns here, and offending his smell there, with the odor of the flowers, seeming to admire the pernicious and the deadly, and stopping to look a moment at the pure and good; and going into the museum to look at machinery, they should lead him to the apartments of the garrotte, the maiden and the guillotine, at all of which he would look with awakened curiosity as something recommended for their peculiar excellence :—by and by his face would begin to assume a sober cast, the lines would deepen, and the tones of voice would tremble perhaps with emotion—Gentlemen, these are all deadly, every one— and disgraceful as deadly;—those flowers are all poisonous, every one, except that little group that stands in the unobserved corner. Brown would come in, his reasoning powers as sensitive to error as the eye to the floating mote, or the smell to the fumes of sulphur ; on he would go, shaking his head at this, passing by that, and pausing nowhere till he met the little group of innocent sweet flowers; and in the museum he would have felt a cold shuddering as he looked to see what these evil things were. And in recounting the whole affair, Baxter would have laughed outright as he described this poisonous thing with so pretty a covering of beauteous colors, and the queerness of those death-machines praised for their ingenuity : and Brown would have laughed at Baxter as about to put on the garrotte as a necklace, and hug the maiden and bite the nightshade to find out what they were. In the final conclusion they would entirely agree. It would have distressed them for either to have found the other coming to an opposite conclusion. Both would have paused and re-considered his course, and weighed his arguments, and balanced them with his brother’s reasons. Each looked upon the other as the greater man.

The people of New Providence considered their pastor as completely suited to them ; they desired no other ; they could not well conceive a better. And Mr. Brown rejoiced in an eldership of men of simplicity of manners and purposes ; of sterling integrity and unfeigned piety; and a congregation of sensible people, numerous enough for all his capabilities as a pastor, and worthy of the best exercise of those endowments of body and mind that might be fitted for any service the Lord might call. Both were contented. Under his ministry, the Old Stone Meeting House, endeared by a thousand recollections, gave place to a new brick building. And as his own log dwelling was about to be exchanged for a convenient brick residence, nearly completed, he came suddenly to the end of life. He had performed the services of a sacramental occasion at New Providence on Saturday, Sabbath and Monday, the 10th, 11th and 12th of October, as his people thought with more than usual ability. On Tuesday, the 13th, making preparations to attend the Synod in Staunton, and giving directions to finish some parts of his house, he ate heartily at dinner, and in less than two hours was lifeless. Rev. John H. Rice, in the Evangelical and Literary Magazine for December, 1818, thus writes “ The record of the incidents of this day (14th of October) presents something like a map of human life. In the morning we were gay and cheerful, amusing ourselves with remarks on the country, on the comparative genius and habits of our countrymen, and a thousand things, just as the thoughts of them occurred, anticipating a joyful meeting in the evening with some well-tried, faithful and beloved friends ; when suddenly, as the flash of lightning breaks from the cloud, we were informed of the almost instantaneous death of one of the choicest of these friends, and one of the most valuable of men—the Rev. Samuel Brown. The road which we should travel led by the house in which he was accustomed to preach; and on inquiring for it, we were asked if we were going to the funeral! Thus, as in a moment, was hope turned into deep despondency, and gladness of heart exchanged for the bitterness of sorrow.

“We journeyed on in mournful silence interrupted by occasional remarks, which showed our unwillingness to believe the truth of what had been announced, and how reluctantly hope takes her departure from the human bosom. It might have been a fainting fit, an apoplectic stroke mistaken for the invasion of death; and still he might be alive. The roads trampled by multitudes of horses, all directed to the dwelling of our friend, dissipated these illusions of the deceiver, and convinced us of the sad reality. Still, however, when we arrived at the church, and saw the people assembling, and the pile of red clay, the sure indication of a newly opened grave, thrown up in the church yard,' it seemed as though we were thus, for the first time, assured that Samuel Brown was dead. Only a few of the people had come together on our arrival. Some, in small groups, were conversing in a low tone of voice interrupted by frequent and bitter sighs, and showing in strong terms, how deeply they felt their loss. Others, whose emotions 'were too powerful for conversation, stood apart, and leaning on the tombstones, looked like pictures of woe. Presently the sound of the multitude was heard. They came on in great crowds. The elders of the church assisted in committing the body to the grave. After which, solemn silence interrupted only by smothered sobs, ensued for several minutes. The widow stood at the head of the grave, surrounded by her children, exhibiting signs of unutterable anguish, yet seeming to say, ‘ It is the Lord, let him do with us what seemeth unto him good.’ After a little time, on a signal being given, some young men began to fill the grave. The first clods that fell on the coffin, gave forth the most mournful sound I ever heard. At that moment of agony the chorister of the congregation was asked to sing a specified hymn, to a tune known to be a favorite one of the deceased minister. The voice of the chorister faltered so that it required several efforts to raise the tune; the whole congregation attempted to join him, but at first the sound was rather a scream of anguish than music. As they advanced, however, the precious truths expressed in the words of the hymn seemed to enter into their souls. Their voices became more firm, and while their eyes streamed with tears, their countenances were radiant with Christian hope, and the singing of the last stanza was like a shout of triumph. The words of the hymn are well known. —

"When I can read my title clear."

By the time that these words were finished, the grave was closed, and the congregation in solemn silence retired to their homes. We lodged all night with one of the members of the church. The family seemed bereaved, as though the head of the household had just been buried. Every allusion to the event too, brought forth a flood of tears. I could not help exclaiming, ‘behold how they loved him.’ And I thought the^ lamentation of fathers and mothers, of young men and maidens, over their departed pastor, a more eloquent and affecting eulogium, than oratory with all its pomp and pretensions could pronounce. After this I shall not attempt panegyric. Let those who wish to know the character of Samuel Brown go and see the sod that covers his body, wet with the tears of his congregation.”

Mr. Brown left a widow and ten children, seven sons and three daughters. A sketch of his widow has appeared in the preceding volume. In about six years she followed her husband to the tomb, and lies by his side.

The successor of Samuel Brown, and third preacher of New Providence is James Morrison, now filling the pulpit. He became the son-in-law of the widow, and a true brother of the children.


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