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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter XXXII. - Dr. Rice - His Agencies


Dr. Rice yielded with reluctance to the necessity which imposed upon him the duties of an agent. In a letter to Dr. Woods, of Andover, he states the circumstances.

“New York, June 5th, 1827.

**** "During the last year the pressure on me was so heavy that for five months I had a continual headache, and my nerves become so irritable, that the click of a penknife, or the scratching of a stiff pen on paper, after an hour’s confinement, was just like a strong shock of electricity through my brain. I may say that half of my time was spent in torture. I felt that I must either give up this great enterprise in which I am engaged for the South, or sink under the load which was pressing on me. The Lord just at that very time put it into the hearts of a few of my beloved friends in New York to raise a fund to support a young man who should assist me. But his support is only for two years. In the mean time, we must-endeavor to get a permanent establishment for him, or for some one else, or I shall again be left alone. The house which we have built has cost $8000; the library about $8000. Our invested fund does not amount to $15,000; and the situation of about $2000 of that is. such, by the will of the donor, that we receive nothing from it. So that I have to depend for my support now on the interest of twelve thousand dollars. I have sacrificed my little estate, in order to establish and support a religious printing press in the South. So that I have found it very difficult to live through the year. We have a subscription at the South of twenty-five thousand dollars ; but that was purposely conditional, so that none of it is binding unless we can raise two professorships. In a word, the state of things is such, that if the brethren abroad will help us, we can get along, and a seminary will be built up to bless the southern country. But if they cannot stretch out a hand for our aid, we shall have to struggle along for years, doing but little; and the result must be, that I shall sink prematurely to the grave through the excess of my labor. If some one could be prevailed on, by a donation of ten or twelve thousand dollars, to fill up the partially endowed professorship, which is now affording me half a living, it would be a relief from permanent embarrassment, of the most important character.”

The trials and success of Dr. Rice, on this agency, can be best understood from extracts from his letters written while absent from home. These supply the place of a journal, and are more life-like, as conversations with one as deeply interested as himself in building the seminary. He first attended the General Assembly in Philadelphia in May. The Theological Seminary, west of the Alleghanies, was located at Alleghenytown, and Dr. Janeway chosen Professor. The Assembly resolved—“to approve and ratify the arrangements which have been made for placing the Theological Seminary, heretofore confided to the care of the Presbytery of Hanover, under the immediate care and joint direction of the Synods of Virginia and North Carolina. 2d. That the Assembly will sustain the same relation to the seminary, and exercise the same species of control over it, under the recent arrangements, as they proposed to do by thier act of the last year, in its state as then existing. 3d. That hereafter the seminary shall be denominated — The Union Seminary of the General Assembly, under the care of the Synods of Virginia and North Carolina.” The Assembly commended the interests of the seminary to the active patronage and support of the churches at large, and especially of the churches within the bounds of the Synods which have it under their care.

As chairman of the committee to adopt a pastoral letter, he produced one worthy of circulation in a tract form. The two leading sentiments are — “ They who agree in the great truths of the gospel and of church government as expressed in our Confession of Faith, ought not only to love as brethren, but heartly co-operate for the glory of God and the salvation of souls: and The importance, yea, the^ necessity of exhibiting plainly and distinctly the truths contained in the Bible, and depending on their instrumentality alone to effect the conviction and conversion of sinners; there is no value in religious feelings unless they are excited by distinct views of divine truth. It is only the plain, simple doctrines of the Bible, carried to the understanding and conscience by the Holy Spirit, which can sanctify the heart of man and make him fit for heaven.”

In a letter to Mrs. Rice from New York, June 1st, 1827, he says: “I was persuaded we could do little or nothing at this time in Philadelphia ; and I would not have the name of that city to a trifling subscription for our seminary. My plan then is to fix on a time when we can operate without the impediments of the General Assembly, or any interfering scheme of any magnitude. To this end it. ill be necessary to write beforehand to the leading men of the city, that they may keep themselves in reserve for our object. This would have succeeded well this spring, had not my letters to Mr. Ralston, Mr. Ilenry and others, been received just after they had pledged the whole of their charitable fund for the year to the American Sunday School Union. Indeed some of them had gone beyond their annual sum at least a thousand dollars. And these were the men, too, who are looked to -in Philadelphia as examples, and whose lead is followed by all others. I presume there will be but two classes at the seminary this summer. The first class will pursue the study of Greek and Hebrew, as they did last winter. The second will go on with their study of the Bible; writing essays on the various topics, or heads of Divinity, in order pretty much as before. Besides I wish them to read Dr. Alexander’s book on the Canon of the Scripture. I wish the students to* form a society, the object of which shall be to give them exercise in the exposition of the Bible. The general plan I have thought of is, for a portion of Scripture to be selected, on which a member of the society appointed for the purpose, shall prepare an expository lecture, to be read at the succeeding meeting. The other members of the‘ society shall read in the original, and study as carefully as possible the same passage, and so be prepared to discuss any difficulties that may be found in the passage, and refute or sustain the exposition, and remarks contained in the lecture. This is the best plan of an association for a Theological Seminary that I have heard or thought of. But a theological debating society, of the character of a college debating society, I cannot think of without utter repugnance, and even a feeling of horror.”

“New York, June 5th, 1827.

“Alas, these trials are severe on our feelings. But they ought to be borne patiently, for they are endured in a good cause, and for an all-important object; and of all people in the world you and I ought to be most ready to do any thing for the cause of our Lord. He has so blessed us, and made our lives so happy, that all we have and are is the least we can think of offering to him in return. I now have a little apprehension that we shall not. make out very well, because we have no party spirit. I, see clearly that while all the brethren appear to regard me with great personal affection, neither of the parties are entirely cordial to me. The Princeton people apprehend that I am approximating to Auburn notions; and the Zealous partizans of New England Divinity think me a thoroughgoing Princetonian. So it is ! And while there is much less of that unseemly bitterness and asperity which brought reproach on the church in past times, I can see that the spirit of party has struck deeper than I had ever supposed. And I do fully expect that there will be either a strong effort to bring Princeton under different management, or to build up a new seminary in the vicinity of New York to counteract the influence of Princeton. One or the other of these things will assuredly be done before long unless the Lord interpose, and turn the hearts of the ministers. This evening is appointed to hold a meeting of the ministers and the friends of the seminary, and as soon as possible I will let you know the result. If it turns out trifling, I will soon come home; if the prospect is encouraging I shall feel it to be my duty to stay and reap the harvest; for what is to be done must be done soon. Perhaps in another year no man who is not a determined partizan will be able to do any thing.’’

“New York, June 12th, 1827.

“My health is still improving, I think, but the business I am on is extremely wearisome to the flesh, and still more to the spirits. After all this, being a beggar goes strongly against my Virginia feelings. After a good deal of talking and labor, we have obtained a hearty, unanimous recommendation of our object from the body of the New York clergy. It is said to be the only thing in which they have been unanimous for more than a dozen years. I am not able to tell you how much we have obtained, or may consider as pledged, because several who were about to subscribe have delayed, at our request, in hope of getting others to join them, so as to raise their subscriptions to $500. Let the seminary continue in prayer that the Lord may bless our efforts, and make them sufficient. I have proceeded more slowly in making applications, because it is indispensably necessary that we should proceed successfully. If we do not get our professorship filled up during this season, I apprehend from the course of events that we shall stick fast. I have yet got no money. All is subscription for the permanent fund.”

“New York, June 15th, 1827.

“The work I am in is painful. It is extremely laborious ; it excites the feelings, and exhausts them of course more than preaching or study. 1 often have to call on one man three or four times before I ean find him in ; and then after hearing my story he says, "I will think of it, and you can call again in a day or two, when I will let you know what I can do for you.’ In this way I have to work from week to week. Nothing but the good cause, and the necessity of the case, could induce me to continue here another hour. But the thing must be done, and done now. Next year we shall have no chance at all. The people here are only waiting for me to get out of the way to bring forward other enterprizes-. We have obtained subscriptions to the amount of $6000. We hope in the next ten days to get about $14,000; and I cannot think of leaving New York till then. I shall receive the proceeds of Mr. Little’s scholarship, and an appropriation for four young men besides — I hope for six.”

“New York, June 19th, 1827.

“Yesterday I walked about ten miles, and among all the calls which I made found only one man at home; and he insisted that I should give him time to make up his mind on the subject. I went home with feet swelled and corns aching, thinking I could not stir this morning. But Providence is gracious, and I feel that I can do more by one half in a day than when I first began.”

“New York, June 22d, 1827.

“Mrs. Caldwell has set to work to raise one thousand dollars for the seminary, which I think she will give her name for, the next time I see her. Mr. and Mrs. Tappan have agreed for the present to give $1000. Eleven men have each engaged to give $500 — making $5500. About ten have promised $250. This may be considered as the amount of what has been positively promised. A number of gentlemen have the subject under consideration; but they are slow in coming to a determination.”

“New York, June 26th, 1827.

“Wet weather, and other causes have impeded my progress. But the most troublesome thing of all is the slowness of the people to decide on the case before them. Every man requires me to make two visits. And to find him twice I have to go on an average six times to a place. And then I have to talk so much; and it is mostly the same story. You know how this exhausts me. You cannot think how much jealousy and party spirit are in the church here. The feeling respecting atonement, and subjects connected with it, is stronger than I ever saw; and the dispute is all about things not directly treated in the Bible. I am more and more convinced that our plan is the right one, and that it is necessary for the peace of the church that we should succeed and do well.”

“New York, July 2d, 1827.

“For a week past I have found a very serious difficulty in getting on. Indeed I spent several days and scarcely received subscriptions to the amount of $100. On enquiry I found that some who did not want to bestow their money, had raised an objection, that our Professorship was placed too high. The machine which seemed to stick fast is moving again. This morning I turned out, and found a hatter, who, with the spirit of a prince, put down $500. I shortly after met another person (a poor man, who lives by his daily labors) in the street, who stopped me, and put down $100. This encouraged my spirits. I am just now resting in Mr. Taylor’s, after walking many a weary step, and finding no person in I went for, except one old man, who said, he could not help us.”

“New York, July 6th, 1827.

“Our Seminary cannot get along, unless I should succeed in my present mission. Other projects are also on foot, and another year will see them breached, and urged on with great zeal. This is the day of collision in our Church. We must before the next General Assembly have three professorships endowed, and our Seminary established. And I must establish a personal influence, or a Seminary influence, which will keep its hold on the hearts of many people amidst all the changes that take place. I feel the sore necessities of the case, and am making sacrifices of feeling, of which no one in this world, but my beloved, has any idea.”

“New York, July 11th, 1827.

“We have now over $13,000 on our list. A brother minister has pledged himself to raise $1000 more. So we advance at a snail’s gait. It is now time for me to move. My feet are sore,—and my limbs stiff with walking. The weather is hot and damp,—and I fear I shall not be able to accomplish much to-day. But still, in the name of the Lord I will go forward.”

“New York, July 16, 1827.

“We have now on our paper a little more than $14,000. I consider $2000 more fully pledged. The next letter which I write will be dated Albany. I am going up there to-day by the advice of friends, in the expectation that some large subscriptions may be obtained, which will swell our sum so as to enable us to call a meeting in New York, and get the whole that remains subscribed at once. I expect to be in Albany about a week.”

Instead of going home, or leaving Albany in a week, he thus writes from Albany, on the 27th of July.—“But you have no idea of the impediments in the way of our work. It takes mighty and long-continued efforts to get up among a people, where we go, a state of feeling necessary to success. It is not worth while at all to go about, and make applications, until we have made an impression which turns public sentiment in our favor. And when we have accomplished this, our work is just begun. We have then to go to individuals, and call again and again, and talk over and over the matter, and get people to talking one with another. And thus, on an average, we see a man six times before we get his subscription. I went on Monday to Lebanon to see Dr. Beecher and Mr. Edwards, to ascertain whether they would not get to work in Boston, and raise $10,000 for us there. In the trip I met Dr. Woods, and got them all to promise that they would make an effort for us. I returned from Lebanon on Tuesday morning, and went to Schenectady, to see Dr. Nott and the students there, and see if we could not get young men to suit the South. There is now sitting at Lebanon a council, the object of which is to agree on some principles, which shall be used to regulate the conduct of ministers in revivals of religion. What it will all come to I know not. I have learned much by coming here, which will, I hope, be useful to me, and to our Seminary, and to the Southern country. I am collecting facts as I can. All show the unspeakable importance of thorough education among ministers in a new point of view. The old ministers and leading friends of revivals are in very great fear. They are convinced that it is to be brought to a decision, whether revivals should be utterly disgraced and turned into a curse to the Church, or restored to their former estimation and made a blessing.

It is said that the whole evil has grown out of the pushing forward into the ministry young men not sufficiently trained.”

“Albany, August 5th, 1827.

“But I have been so perplexed here that I have not known what to do. Mr. Weed was occupied with the council at Lebanon for seven or eight days : Dr. Chester was absent, travelling. The people in Albany were all in utter agitation about the trial of Strang and Mrs. Whipple. And we found it a matter of extreme difficulty to get our affairs agoing. We have now got about $1200. As soon as we can increase our subscriptions now to the amount of $8000, I intend to leave. I shall leave the filling up the balance to Mr. Boy; everybody said we ought to get $4000.”

“Lansingburg, August 9th, 1827.

“Instead of being at home, as I fondly hoped at this time, I am at Dr. Blatchford’s. I have come here in hopes of getting a $1000. We did not obtain as much in Albany as we expected. I spent last Thursday night with Mr. Wisner, (B. B.) He has now gone home, and will write to me as soon as he returns. Beecher, Edwards, and Dr. Woods, together with Wisner, are to hold a council on this subject with some gentlemen in Boston, and immediately Wisner is to let me know what is to be done. I cannot think of going there for less than $10,000.”

“Lansingburg, August 18th.

“Our hope at present is to get $6000 in this region and in some of the towns below. We shall certainly get $3000 in Albany. We hope for something in Lansingburg and Waterford. And Troy, Newburg, Goshen, Catskill will beyond a doubt give us two or three thousand more. I am glad Mr. Cushing’s marriage is over. I hope we shall have a good neighbor, and that he will be under a fine religious influence. I trust, too, an increase of pious persons about College will be of great advantage. Dr. Blatchford is still very poorly; nay, he is very sick.

“Wherever I go, and get access to the people, it is seen that greater efforts are necessary to promote religion in our own beloved country than have yet been made, and new views are taken of the real condition and responsibility of the Presbyterian Church. It is amazing how few, either ministers or people, take enlarged views of things, or think of operating on a great scale. It is so everywhere. And I am at this moment better pleased with Southern Christians than I ever was. For little as they do, asleep as most of them are, they are equal to any that I find, (except here and there an individual,) and ahead of most. Let it be considered that there are more Presbyterians in the State of New York than in 13 Southern and Southwestern States. The first and second Presbyteries in the City of New York have more communicants, and more wealth twice over than the whole Synod of Virginia. The Presbytery of Philadelphia has more members than the Synod of North Carolina. Yet consider what these Southern people have done for Princeton, and for our Seminary.” ,

From Catskill he writes on the 31st, and gives an account of Mr. Hoy’s sickness, and of his preparations to return home by the middle of September.

“Philadelphia, Sept. 13th, 1827.

“I am here at our good friend Latimer’s. I am authorized to say that the subscription, though not filled up, shall not fall short, and to announce that the New York 'professorship is sure”

After an absence of about four months, Dr. Rice returned to the seminary about the middle of September. On the first week of October he met the Synod of North Carolina in Salisbury, and made a statement of his labors and success as agent; and also of the condition of the seminary. The Synod passed resolutions expressive of thankfulness for the favorable circumstances, and required the directors from that Synod to name an early day to meet with the directors from the Virginia Synod, at the seminary, to take measures to enlarge the seminary buildings for the accommodation of the students; and to take immediate measures for filling, as soon as possible, the various departments of instruction in the seminary. On the 25th of the month he met the Synod of Virginia in Lynchburg. This body concurred with the Synod of North Carolina in resolutions for enlarging the seminary, and increasing the number of professors.

The meeting of the Board, on the 13th of November, was “lovely; everything as kind and fraternal as could be wished.” After recommending to Dr. Rice to visit the Southern cities to raise funds and promote union of effort, “they went home praying for us, and feeling more than ever.” But soon after the meeting of the Board he received letters from New York, urging his immediate return to assist the gentlemen who were pledged for the New York professorship, in making up the required amount. Dr. Rice wished to go South; it was the time to promote the union, if ever, of the Southern Synods, in one seminary. There were difficulties in the way, likely to increase every year, till they should be insurmountable, if they Were not already so. What Dr. Caldwell was scheming for North Carolina, Dr. Barr and others were already carrying into effect in the mountains of South Carolina, a State of an onward spirit. The members of the Board with whom he could advise urged him to go North. He reluctantly gave up his visit to the South. Early in December he proceeded to New York; and on the 22d he thus writes home — “It is a great deal harder work now than I have ever seen it here. It was easier when we began this enterprise to get $6000, than^it is now to get one. Indeed, we have worked on all the best materials, and what remains now is all knotty and gnarled oak. But the thing will be done.” The friends in Boston did not encourage a visit in the fall or at this time.

“It was very tough work getting the balance made up in New York. I confess that I felt it to be the very hardest job that I ever undertook and got through with. But it is done. The New York professorship is established, and God shall have the praise. About Philadelphia, I am truly sorry Philadelphia was not scoured last spring. It is a vain thing to wait for a favorable time. Now is God’s time, and when we are about God’s work this is the time for us to work. The Church has lost much in waiting.” Having secured between six and seven thousand dollars in Philadelphia, he thus writes —

“January 2d, 1828.

“The Latimers are as kind as they can be, and send many messages of love. I find that it requires nice steering to get along in this place. There is jealousy here, as eagle-eyed as party spirit can make it. But there is a good spirit among the people, at least-a few, and none of them can refuse to express their favor towards our plans. It is more and more apparent to me God favors our cause. I am surprised at the success which has attended our efforts, and the interest which is awakened for the seminary. The friends of Auburn think that it is next to their institution; and even the most jealous-spirited and exclusive friends of Princeton say that the hopes of the Church must certainly be directed to us in the second place. By the favor of the Almighty, we must make the Union Seminary a great blessing.” In Baltimore he accomplished something by the help of his friends, John Breckenridge and Nevins. He says, January 21st — “This is the toughest place I have ever been at yet. I have done my best to make an impression, but yet I cannot see clearly how far I have got an advantage. Yesterday I preached two sermons on my subject. As Dr. Glendy said— 4 And upon my word, madam, I think the morning sermon was one of my happiest performances.’ I shall know by to-morrow evening what the general prospect is.”

In a letter to Knowles Taylor, of New York, who was very active in co-operating with Dr. Rice and Mr. Roy, in raising the professorship, he says — “I staid in Philadelphia until I obtained about $6500. I thought, as matters were situated, Roy could finish the rest. Some men were very liberal. Mr. R. gave $1000; J. H. $1000; T. E. $1000; A. H. $500; S. W. & A. W. each $500; J. M. $300. But after that we had hard pulling. The Seminary at Pittsburg works against us. Many hold back because' Dr. Heron is coming in the spring. I look back to our co-operation in obtaining the New York professorship, with peculiar pleasure. First, there is most manifest evidence of the presence and blessing of God in this thing. When I consider the strength of local prejudices which unhappily prevail in our country, and the mighty current of feeling which had long been running in favor of other objects, and, of course, the difficulty of exciting an interest for a new enterprise of magnitude, I do not see how any one can help exclaiming —4 See what hath God wrought.’ But in the next place, this has offered a fine opportunity for the exercise of Christian friendship. We, who have engaged in it, shall love one another the better, as long as we live, because we have labored together in this work. When once the heart is right, how delightfully do Christians co-operate ! Their aim and object being one, and that, too, of the highest benevolence, they cannot make an effort without a kindling up of love. When you become an old gray-headed elder, and meet in the General Assembly the men who received their education at our Seminary, and hear them magnify the word of God, and see that they are sound, faithful Bible preachers, you will rejoice and bless God for what you see and hear. Our Seminary shall be based on the Bible, and we will know no isms there but Bibleism. I am sure that the Bible will afford good support to sound Presbyterianism; and if it will not, why let Presbyterianism go. The Lord bless you, my brother.”

Dr. Rice reached home on the 1st day of February, 1828. Of the ten months succeeding the 1st of May, 1827, he had been absent six and one-half on his agency to raise funds for the Theological Seminary. The report of the Board of Directors, at their second meeting, April 30th, 1828, made to the General Assembly, says: “At our present meeting, many subjects are presented, of such magnitude and importance to the interests of religion, that we are unwilling to make any decision, until we have taken time for prayerful consideration and counsel with our brethren, and the friends of the institution. It is for this reason, that we have the constitution of the seminary yet in an unfinished state. The funds of the institution, amounting to about seventy-five thousand dollars, are for the most part secured to us only by subscription; but, that subscriptions to this amount have been obtained in so short a period, is a subject of unspeakable gratitude. During the past year, there have been twenty-one students in the seminary, who passed a satisfactory examination in the various branches of Biblical and Theological learning, to which they have been attending. Three of them have been recently licensed by the Hanover Presbytery.” These three were John Barksdale, Roswell Tenny, and Francis Bartlett.

During this last visit to New York, Dr. Rice made arrangements with Rev. Asahel Nettleton, to spend some time at the seminary. In a letter, dated Baltimore, January 21st, 1827, he says: “ The more I see of Mr. Nettleton, the more I am pleased with him. He is a wise and holy man; but his health is wretched, and it will be a difficult matter to get him along, in anything of a comfortable way, after we get to Fredericksburg. I have seriously apprehended that he would not be able to ride in the stage all the way, as he is very easily fatigued; but it is of immense importance that he should come to our seminary. His residence with us will greatly strengthen our hold on the affections of the New England brethren. But there is another and a higher view. Mr. Nettleton is most earnestly a Bible preacher; and he is the strongest advocate that I know, for high attainments of holiness and knowledge, in candidates for the ministry. His whole experience has convinced him of the miserable consequences which grow out of the rashness and inexperience of confident young men, and the danger of running down revivals of religion by over-excitement. He sees the great danger to which this country is exposed, from infidelity on the one side., and from enthusiasm and fanaticism on the other. I have met with no man whose views agree so fully with my own, in relation to all these things; and. if the Lord shall permit me to conduct him to the seminary, I shall believe I have accomplished a great good. But he feels the feebleness of his health, and wishes it to be fully understood, that no expectations are to be formed of his laboring in the ministry. Everything must be foreclosed here; and you may tell every one not to expect that Mr. Nettleton will preach at all. Should he recover his strength, it will not be possible to keep him still. But, what he needs now, and must have, is freedom from excitement, and perfect mental repose. All I expect from him, for a long time, is to talk in the presence of the students. Talk he will, and we cannot keep him from it; and I cannot help rejoicing to think how you, my beloved one, will enjoy his society, as he will lie on the sofa in our quiet parlor, and speak of revivals, and tell you his views of the Bible. If our good Lord should permit me to bring him, it will be a delightful treat to you, my dearest, and this is no small reason why I wish to get him with you.”

All the anticipations respecting Mr. Nettleton’s recovery and usefulness were fully realized; and his visit to Virginia resulted in lasting benefit to the souls of many. His society was sought by the students and friends of the seminary, while he was refreshing himself under the roof of Dr Rice. As the summer came on with its genial heat, and the congregations around began to exhibit evidence of unusual seriousness, Mr. Nettleton’s health recruited, and he took an active part in a most interesting revival, that spread over a large section of the State in a short time, and in the course of a year was felt in almost all the Presbyterian congregations, in some degree of excitement. In writing about it, some two or three years afterwards, Mr. Nettleton says to a friend, (Rev. Mr. Cobb,) “The scene of the deepest interest was in the county of Prince Edward, Virginia, in the vicinity of the Union Theological Seminary and Hampden Sidney College. Our first meeting of inquiry was at the house of Dr. Rice, the very mansion containing the theological students. More than a hundred were present, inquiring, “What must we do to be saved?” Among the subjects of divine grace were a number of lawyers, six or seven, and some of them among the leading advocates at the bar. Some were men of finished education, who are soon to become heralds of salvation.”

While this awakening was extending its happy influence over a large section of country, Dr. Rice, early in June, went to Boston. The Boston Recorder, of June 13th, 1828, tells us, that on Saturday, the sixth of the month, a respectable number of gentlemen met by invitation, at the Cowper committee-room, to receive some important statements from Dr. Rice, concerning the situation of the Southern country, the great dearth of well educated ministers, and the importance of the Union Theological Seminary to supply this want, so palpable to all, together with the necessity for the friends of Union Theological Seminary to make further provision for theological students, beyond their means, and consequently the necessity of aid from Boston. Dr. Codman, of Dorchester, was chairman of the meeting, and Rev. Asa Rand, clerk; Dr. Griffin, of Park Street Church, opened the meeting with prayer. After hearing from Dr. Rice a full statement of facts connected with the object of his visit,

“Resolved, unanimously, That we cordially approve of the exertions made and proposed for the thorough education of pious young men in the Southern States, with a view of their laboring as ministers of the gospel in that portion of our country; that we shall be happy to extend all the patronage in our power to the Union Theological Seminary in Prince Edward County, Virginia; and that we now give Dr. Rice, as the agent of that seminary, a special pledge, that in the spring of the ensuing year, we will, so far as we can ' consistently with our other duties, contribute pecuniary aid towards sustaining an institution from which we hope and believe our country is to receive great and permanent benefit. The reasons for postponing our subscriptions are, the numerous applications for charitable objects a few months past, and the present embarrassments of commercial affairs.” With this pledge, Dr. Rice hastened home, and, under date of the 11th of July, 1828, thus writes to Dr. Alexander:

“I have so much to say to you, that I am afraid to begin on the subject of my passing through Princeton without calling, on my return to Virginia. It was a very painful affair to me. But the case was this: I wanted to attend the meeting of the General Assembly’s Board of Missions, which was held in June. I arrived in New York, about ten o’clock, on Wednesday. The meeting was to be held in Philadelphia, at three o’clock, on Thursday. 1 had several hours’ business to detain me, and could not leave New York until the three o’clock boat. This enabled me to get to Trenton about one o’clock at night. It was eleven when we passed by your house. I could only, as I went, offer a silent prayer that God might bless you and all yours; and this I did with all the sincerity of old, unchanged friendship.

"I have no doubt you have heard of the excitement, I think I may say revival of religion, in Prince Edward. It was prepared for by previous labors. Much that our valued old friend, Mr. Lyle did in the way of sowing seed, is now springing up, and producing a glorious harvest. Douglass has the grace to acknowledge this. Other things paved the way. When Mr. Nettleton had strength to labor, he soon was made instrumental in producing a considerable excitement. This has extended; and now the state of things is deeply interesting. Five lawyers, all men of very considerable standing, have embraced religion. Henry E. Watkins, Samuel C. Anderson, Nelson Page, Morton Payne and Peyton Harrison. This has produced a mighty sensation in Charlotte, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Cumberland, Powhatan, Buckingham and Albemarle. The minds of men seem to stand a tiptoe, and they seem to be looking for some great things. I do fear that, under the influence of men of other denominations, there will be a wild-fire kindled in this region, and every thing will be seared, and withered by the fierceness of the blast. This, then, would put every thing back for another generation. I saw in Troy and Utica, how the raging flame had passed through the garden of the Lord, and every thing looked black and desolate. But what can we do to prevent this evil? We have no men. And in this case of necessity, as usual, I turn to you for aid and counsel. Is there no possibility of getting three or four sterling young men to come on to this middle region at the present time? It is remarkable that the work here is as much among men as women; and as far as it has yet gone it is among that class of society which has hitherto been almost entirely free from religious influence, lawyers and educated men. At last Nottoway Court, there were in the bar at once, seven lawyers, professors of religion! This is unexampled in Virginia. We cannot get on half fast enough, in raising a supply of religious instructors; and what this country will do I know not. You need not be told how it has suffered in its spiritual interests, from ignorant teachers. But experience of the evil is not sufficient for its cure. It is necessary that the people should have just ideas of something better, and they can acquire these only by experience too. But the difficulty is to find men to send among them, and thus let them see and feel what is meant by good preaching. Mr. Nettleton is a remarkable man, and chiefly, I think, remarkable for his power of producing a great excitement without much appearance of feeling. The people do not either weep, or talk away their impressions. The preacher chiefly addresses Bible truth to their consciences. I have not heard him as yet utter a single sentiment opposed to what you and I call orthodoxy. He preaches the Bible. He derives his illustrations from the Bible.”

Mr. Nettleton visited the Valley of the Shenandoah, and the mountains beyond, during the summer, securing every where personal attachment, and awakening a desire to be witness of a genuine revival of religion, as had blessed the counties east of the Ridge. At Staunton, he met the Synod of Virginia, in October, and fenewed acquaintance with some who had profited by his instruction in previous years ; one in particular, had attended on his ministry thirteen years before in the city of New Haven. Writing to a friend, Mr. Nettleton says — about his summer excursion, “I spent a week at a place called Staunton, where I left a pleasant little band of young converts.” After the meeting of Synod he remained some time to cherish the impressions made during the exercises of Synod. The writer of a’ communication to the Visitor and Telegraph, says, under date of January 12th, 1829 — “The spirit of godliness and pious zeal, awakened here at the meeting of Synod in October, has increased and grown under the efforts of our excellent friend Rev. Mr. Smith, aided by the untiring and efficient efforts of the Rev. Mr. Nettleton, into a goodly corps of new recruits for our blessed Redeemer’s cause. Seventeen communicants went forward for the first time, to the Lord’s table, and openly sealed their pledge of fidelity to his government.”

Mr. Nettleton considered the afflictive providence of God, which sent him to Virginia, as the agent of Infinite wisdom, to lead him to scenes of usefulness embracing events and circumstances the most interesting in his life. Others blessed God for his wise providence, for in the awakenings, in connection with his visit, in the different parts of the Presbyterian Church, the caution and mildness, and sound Bible instruction which characterized Mr. Nettleton, were exhibited in a pre-eminent manner by the ministers of the Presbyterian Church.

The Synod of Virginia at this same meeting in Staunton, by an unanimous vote, directed the Board of the Union Theological Seminary to elect the Rev. Hiram P. Goodrich, to the professorship of Oriental Literature. The Synod of North Carolina having made a similar order, the Board of Directors, in December, confirmed the nomination. This young gentleman, on the recommendation of Dr. Alexander, as a good student and well versed in the languages of the Bible, had been employed in the Seminary, as a teacher of the classes in the languages and literature of the Bible, about two years, having commenced his labors soon after Mr. Marsh returned to Vermont. While Dr. Rice was absent on his agency in 1827 and 1828, Mr. Goodrich kept the students employed in oriental studies, to the entire satisfaction of the Board and Dr. Rice. Mr. Goodrich delivered his inaugural address on the 6th of May, 1829, in the College Church. The Rev. Francis M’Farland received the obligation and delivered the charge. Dr. Rice wished Mr. Goodrich to be put on the New York foundation, saying— “ being a New Yorker himself and yet suiting the southern country exactly — he will with great propriety suit the New York professorship.” The Board agreed that if the fund should yield less than $800 the arrears should be made up from the contingent fund. Of the New York professorship, part of the funds were sent to Virginia, by Mr. Knowles Taylor, and invested by Mr. J. Caskie in Richmond; and part remained in New York city on which the interest was paid. Unhappily in the pressure which came on the cities in 1837 and onward, a large portion of the funds left in New York were lost to the Seminary after having rendered important service about ten years.


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