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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter XXXVII. - Dr. Hill - From 1818 to leaving Winchester


In 1818, in the midst of his highest usefulness and success, a cloud came over Mr. Hill. From its chilling influence he never recovered. The frost nipped his sweet flower; it drooped; and his verdure gradually withered away. Like an old oak, he fell at last by the weight of years, after buffeting many a blast, and never recovering from the ruins of one terrible storm.

He returned in the evening of a long summer day from Richmond, where he had been on some legal business, and met at the door the intelligence, that his child on a visit among his old friends in Jefferson County, was sick of a fever. Without resting after a continuous ride on horseback of fifty miles, he passed on, with a fresh horse, to visit his daughter, a distance of some twenty miles. His worst anticipations were realized. "I know my child,—I dread the event” —was the good-bye to his house as he rode away. When he saw her in the burning fever, a father’s hope could not delude a father’s penetration. “God is merciful”—was all the encouragement he could give his wife. “I have been thinking, mother,”—said the daughter before the father came, when sinking evidently under the disease—“that it is best for me to die.” "Best!”—what a word in that emergency!

A member of Mr. Hill’s family, that attended the funeral of Miss Hill, after the lapse of a quarter of a century, stood by her grave, and rambled over the adjoining hills, and wrote for the Weekly Republican, his Recollections of Winchester, and of that sad funeral.

“Watchman, Sept. 7th, 1843.

“How like a blue wall that Ridge bounds our view on the East! and this broken barrier, like clouds on the west! Those pointed eminences down south are the ‘forts’ of Shenandoah. This village, in the basin surrounded by these hills so beautiful for residences, in the midst of this great valley, is Winchester. This cool stream, passing through the village, flows from a single spring, at the base of those north-western hills, in abundance for a city, and decided the location about a century ago, winning two German families to build-their cabins on its banks. On that hill, that seems to end this crowded street, on the north, are the remains of a fort, that once crowned the summit, the defence of the village, and of the surrounding valley, previous to Braddock’s war. Washington was encamped here in those troublesome times of savage inroad. Tradition tells of a siege by the savages in hopes of compelling a surrender by want of water. And it tells how the soldiers blasted rocks night and day, till the water bubbled up through the ledges. In triumph, they poured it, in buckets full, over the walls, and thus raised the siege. •This extended street, and the buildings on the hill, have swept away the fort, except the western and part of the eastern wall, and the old well.

“On that hill, out at the south end of this street, were the barracks for prisoners taken with Burgoyne.

“Now let us go across to the old stone churches on the hills that skirt the town on the east. That building farthest to the north is the Catholic Church, with its consecrated ground and few monuments. This next, without a steeple, is the Presbyterian, built after the Revolutionary war; that old wooden building next, with monuments near, is the German Presbyterian; that stone building, with a steeple, is the Lutheran, and holds within its walls, the ashes of the amiable and revered minister, Christian Streit.

“It is to this second house we are to go;—a place hallowed by many associations of a spiritual and sacred nature :—The place of the first meeting of the Presbytery, at Winchester, in 1794, when Dr. Hoge preached from the text, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field,’— and Hoge, and Hill, and Lyle, and Legrand formed the Presbytery, to which Williamson was speedily attached; — two of whom still remain, lingering on the horizon of life, having had in connexion with them some ninety ministers and candidates, a part of whom still remain, and part have gone to meet the Lord Christ;—the place of licensure of our much loved, venerated Virginia Professor of Theology, at Princeton, Oct. 1st, 1791;—the place of the meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, in 1799;—the scene of the ministrations of eminent men, and of revivals of religion, in which Zion may say, ‘this and that man was born here;—the place of assembling of audiences before whom a man might well weigh his words. What scenes of interest have these walls witnessed when the Presbyteries and Synod of Virginia have met, and, with superhuman energy have acted for all time ! What varied talents have here given utterance to the solemn and weighty conceptions embodied in the gospel of Jesus Christ!

“’Tis a quarter of a century since I visited this place of solemn worship for the living, and gathering for the dead. And as I look around on Winchester, what a change has passed ! Then this whizzing and puffing down at the depot was never dreamed of,—the stage came lazily in, three times a week, bringing the mail, and whatever passengers necessity compelled to take the bruising over the rough roads of the valley which then had no turnpike.—How the whole town is changed! A spirit of emigration seized the old houses, —the congregation of the dead,—the very bones of Fairfax,—and the" old stone church, on Loudon street, and all passed away. A man of business, a quarter of a century ago, coming back from the grave, or from his exile, would not know the scenes of his traffic and his gains. Market street, with its railway, and depot, seems a more beautiful creation of yesterday from the ruins of the past. And the paved walks and streets everywhere, leave you to look in vain for the deep soil that once greeted you at every step. The lights of the law that sat along on those western hills—Powell, and Carr, and Holmes, and White,—that galaxy of the bench when Winchester was the seat of the Chancery Court, — all have gone to sleep with their fathers,—and all but one sleep here.

Come, let us enter the yard at this low place at the south-east corner, let us go on to the old locust tree,—now read the lowly slab,

“Major General DANIEL MORGAN, departed his life
On July 6th, 1802,
In the 67th year of his Age.
Patriotism and valor were the prominent
Features of his character ;

And the honorable services he rendered to his country during the Revolutionary war, crowned him with Glory, and will remain in the Hearts of his Countrymen a Perpetual Monument to his Memory.

Here, then, beneath this slab, the man whose voice could make soldiers tremble with his hoarse shoutings, lies as quiet as that infant there!—What a man!—a day laborer in this valley some eighty years ago,—a volunteer against the Indians, and marked by his commander as an officer, for his enterprise and courage,—a wagoner, and an abused colonial militia man in the service of his king,—an officer of the riflemen at the storming of Quebec with Montgomery, and at the battle of Saratoga,—a major general in the Continental army,—and always a kind-hearted, honest man,—rough among rough men,—sensitive of honor,—generous with the brave,—and almost civil to cowards,—here he sleeps with honorable men. Around him here are the ashes of talent, learning, and refinement,—a congregation of youth and age,—such as a citizen soldier and a Christian man might choose for his companions in the grave.

Step a little northward, and read again :—

“SACRED to the memory of
General DANIEL ROBERDEAU,
who departed this life January 5th, 1795,
Aged 68 years.

“The name declares the origin and the ‘father land.’ A soldier m the Revolution, —a follower of Whitefield, —his descendants scattered over Virginia, inherit the blessings secured by the covenant of God to the persecuted, yet faithful Huguenots, ‘remembering mercy to thousands, (of generations) of them that love me and keep my commandments.’ Every soldier of the Revolution has his name enobled. The simple private, enrolled as a soldier of Washington, claims, and history will yield it to him, to be an integral part of an army such as the world had not seen, and may not see again. But its officers, — the planners of its campaigns, — the leaders of its battles,— why — our hearts swell as we pronounce their names, — our blood pauses as we stand here at their graves. The envious opposition of the Cincinnati made one right judgment, in their folly. They said truly when they said, a place on the roll of that board of officers was a patent of nobility. The Cincinnati fell; but history preserves the record of its true nobility; and all posterity will admit its claim.

“How much it is to be desired that the last hours of the soldiers of the Revolution were better known; that their conversation on religious experience were as carefully preserved as their principles and maxims of politics and war ! Many, very many lived, and many more of them died, firm believers in Revelation, believers in Jesus. All the sins and destructive follies of the camp, with their grievous inroads upon morals and religion, could neither find, nor make these brave men infidels. This ‘thunderbolt of war,’ — this brave Morgan, who never knew fear,’ was, in camp, often wicked, and very profane, but never a disbeliever in religion. He testified that himself. On leaving the Southern army, somewhat grieved at a supposed slight of Greene, he returned to this beautiful valley, from which Gates had allured him. Look eastward, where those blue mountains embank the horizon, and the Shenandoah, seeking its way to the Potomac, skirts their base. There stands Saratoga ; one scene of his glory was the name of his home. As the infirmities of age came on, and the last struggle drew near, the old soldier displayed the skill of former days. When chased by Rawdon, he turned at the Cow-pens, made his preparations for death or victory, and gained the victory; so now as he felt the approach of disease, and saw the advance of death, he entrenched himself in the impregnable truths of the gospel, and gained victory over death by the grace of Christ. We mourn he lived so much and so long a sinner — we rejoice that he died a Christian.

“In his latter years General Morgan professed religion, and united himself with the Presbyterian Church in this place under the pastoral care of the Rev. (now Dr.) Hill, who preached in this house some forty years, and may now be occasionally heard on Loudon street. His last days were passed in this town; and while sinking to the grave he related to his minister the experience of his soul. ‘ People thought,’ said he, 4 that Daniel Morgan never prayed ; people said old Morgan never was afraid; people did not know.’ He then proceeded to relate in his blunt manner, among many other things, that the night they stormed Quebec, while waiting in the darkness and storm with his men paraded, for the word to advance, he felt unhappy ; the enterprise appeared more than perilous; it seemed to him that nothing less than a miracle could bring them off safe from an encounter at such an amazing disadvantage. He stepped aside and kneeled by the side of a munition of war — and there most fervently prayed that the Lord God Almighty would be his shield and defence, for nothing less than an Almighty arm could protect him. He continued on his knees till the word passed along the line. He fully believed that his safety during that night of peril was from the interposition of God. Again he said about the battle of the Cow-pens, which covered him with so much glory as a leader and a soldier, he had felt afraid to fight Rawdon, with his numerous army flushed with success, and that-he retreated as long as he could, till his men complained, and he could go no further. Drawing up his army in three lines on the hill-side; contemplating the scene, in the distance the glitter of the advancing enemy; he trembled for the fate of the day. Going to the woods in the rear, he kneeled in an old tree top, and poured out a prayer to God for his army and for himself and for his country. With relieved spirits he returned to the lines, and in his rough manner cheered them for the fight; as lie passed along, they answered him bravely. The terrible carnage that followed their deadly aim decided the victory. In a few moments Rawdon fled. ‘Ah,’ said he, ‘people said old Morgan never feared, they thought old Morgan never prayed, they did not know; old Morgan was often miserably afraid.’ And if he had not been, in the circumstances of amazing responsibility in which he was placed, how could he have been brave? Now, who shall say that his preservation in these cases, and in many others, was not indissolubly connected with his prayers and fervent cries to God ? He called on (Jod, and the Lord heard him. And when he came in his old age, penitently to the throne, confessing his sins like Manasseh, who will not hope that God heard him, and covered him with the mantle of everlasting righteousness?

“The last of his riflemen are gone; the brave and hardy gallants of this valley that waded to Canada and stormed Quebec, are all gone; gone too are Morgan’s sharp-shooters of Saratoga. For a long time, two, that shared his captivity in Canada, were seen in this village, wasting away to shadows of their youth, celebrating with enthusiasm the night of the battle, as the year rolled round — Peter Lauck and John Schultz. But they have answered the roll-call of death, and have joined their leader — the hardy Lauck wondering that Schultz, the feeblest of the band, whom he had so often carried through the snows of Canada, should outlive him. There is interest around the last of such a corps.

“Come step across to that old wooden church over south; pass by that curiously wrought slab from England; go on by the marble that says

“DEATH”

Inscribes A beloved Mother’s name upon The Tablet.

And a little to the westward, on a white marble upright slab, is the short memorial of one of the six of Morgan’s company known during the campaign as the Dutch mess, all of whom lived to a great age: and five sleep here: Kurtz and Sperry a few feet from this grave.

“IN”
memory
of
JOHN SCHULTZ.
Who departed this life 5th day of November, 1840, in the 87th year of his age.

A little to the east lies the other comrade Grim, who some years since joined the corps in the grave, without a monument. There is no inscription for Peter Lauck, he lies a little farther on — in the rear of this stone church with the steeple, in sight of his residence on that beautiful hill out South, near that tablet, that says the man that sleeps beneath was from Manheim in Germany, more than a century ago — the man that disdained to set a private table for Louis Philippe, in the little village of Winchester, because as he said — none but gentlemen ever stopped at his house, or eat at his table; and turned him from his door for making the request. The sixth one, Heiskill, sleeps in Romney.

“When the improvements in the new burying-ground, now in contemplation are completed, a visit to these mansions of the dead will become as familiar as instructive. Men will say, cthe last of the soldiers of Quebeck lie here; and there, their old commander who bowed the knee only to God.’ Look around here upon the old inhabitants of this village, the Hoffs, the Bakers, and the Millers, and Smiths; stop a moment at the grave of the kind-hearted Singleton, and then enter this old church to pay a tribute to the reverend dead. Bead the epitaph of the meek, the irreproachable Streit; and then go out and stand a moment at a grave, where widows may take comfort; the grave of his wife Susan Streit.

“ Come let us go back to the first yard. Look for a few moments and see how death has gathered the inhabitants of these beautiful hills, and this lovely valley, into his treasury. Powell, the gentlemanly lawyer, from that Northern Hill, rising to plead at the bar, and gone in a moment, lies there. Look at the pleasant white residence down westward close upon us; and now at these two tablets by the east wall here, two sisters in one grave, and a manly brother by their side, gathered in in fourteen months, in the very budding of their youth, lovely in their lives, and in their death not divided; read their names; and you recognize Virginia’s Professor of law. And this erect monument bears the name of a talented young physician from the village, Dunbar, cut down in his prime; and that slab, the name of another, M’Gill, who sleeps with his kindred, and in the faith of the gospel. And these amiable ladies all around closely wrapped in the solitude of this crowded place.

“Look over west to that far distant brick dwelling on that sightly eminence; and here now by this south wall, in this decaying wooden enclosure; in the southern corner of it. There lived, and here lies Robert White, who limped with his honorable scars from the field of Monmouth to this grave; the patriot, the Judge, who knew no peer upon the Virginia bench, but Marshall, and Pendleton, and Washington, and Roane; and what is more, in his last days the humble, devout Christian. Here under this slab lies Chapman, a minister of God; this week receiving a long-expected princely fortune, and next week called to his heavenly crown, while in this village a wayfarer to his distant family. And this next slab covers the {Senator and Governor Holmes, amiable in his life, and in his death cheered by that gospel he heard in his youth at Old Opecan. On this side, in this smooth place, sleeps his brother the Judge, from that north-western hill; and on that side, also without a mark, his brother-in-law, the Rev. Nash Legrand, one of the first missionaries- of the Commission of the Virginia Synod. Legrand, a name, dear to the Virginia Church, as now borne by one venerable representative of the last generations of Christians, a hearer of John B. Smith. One wonders why Legrand does not sleep among his attached people of Opecan. But he, and his brother-in-law by his side, came here to Winchester to find a grave beside the benevolent Surgeon of the Revolution, the skilful Baldwin, the poor man’s friend, long a beloved physician in Winchester.

“And this next slab ! who that attended the burial here a quarter of a century ago, can forget! The company assembled that day were not people to forget, or be hastily forgotten. Alas! as I run over their forms in the imagination of memory, and look around, they are themselves, many of the prominent characters, gone, passed away, gathered to this very yard. It was a funeral to call together the minister and his people. And here came the pastor with the session, and the church, and the congregation, that worshipped with him in this house. Here they stood, feeling as one man with the waves of sorrow breaking over him. It seems to me but yesterday I stood, just where that grave now covers a young lady, that was standing here then, Miss Slater. And ah ! just by, lies in her girlhood, the lovely scholar, Theda Bent. Oh! how many of that company are gone !

“Why, think over the session — there was the upright and gentlemanly Bell, of whom nobody dared harbor an ill thought, with his face covered; the meek, thinking, successful, silent Grey, with his white locks, and sorrowful face; the devout Little, whom the heathen will bless through his child and the sympathy of American mothers; the patriotic amiable Beattie, with his bald crown and mild face: the fervent, simple-hearted Sperry, the personification of former days, with his bent shoulders and meek countenance; the generous-hearted Smith, then fresh in his manhood, sleeping, now fresh in that new-made grave by the north wall beyond M’Gill’s: the dignified, deep, impassioned, Gamble, with his thin gray hairs, the image, with Grey, of north of Ireland elders, the very things themselves; these, with two elders now living, stood here then; and all sleep on these hills now.

“The hearse, though looked for, yet coming somewhat unexpectedly, drove directly to the gate; — for she had died away from home: death found her on a visit. We gathered in haste, and in silence. People did not speak, as they met at the gate: they scarce nodded. They stood around in amazement, they scarce wept, it was not a time for tears, the frost that nipped the flower chilled our blood. ‘Careful,’ said one voice that ail knew, as the bearers jostled the bier against the half-opened gate, every hand raised involuntarily with the father’s. As the coffin of the amiable girl reached its bed, she that bore her, stood motionless, silent, once, only, bending as if to go down to her child. Our hearts bowed with her. One groan broke from him, that stood by her side like a muffled statue. Its accents all knew. One shrill cry from her young companions answered, and died away in sobs and tears : then all wept; — then all was silent. Death reigned in silence that day. We felt his triumph;—but we felt the victory Christ Jesus gives a dying virgin, Read this slab,

IN MEMORY of
ELIZABETH M. HILL
who departed this life Sept. 7th 1818 just entering
the 23d year of her age.
Death loves a shining mark, a signal blow;
Not simple conquest, triumphed in his aim ;
Early though welcome was her happy fate '
Soon not surprising death his visit paid.
Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

“In how many hearts the sorrow of that day wrought purification, by the Holy Spirit, can be known only when the books are opened at the last day. But at this grave some youthful hearts were touched with a sorrow that only the balm of Gilead healed. Death loves a shining mark!—how many shining ones has he gathered to these hills! Gems on earth — gems in heaven. Soon, the actors of that day will all be where spirits meet not human voices or human eyes; where Christ in glory will fill all hearts.

“These monuments are the Records of Winchester, the history of her past. Should one feel pride and ambition rising in his soul; tell him to walk through these yards. If you feel worldliness coming over you, come here and count these sinking mounds. Does the heart fail, from the troubles of life, come visit these regions of the dead. Does the youth need energy, show him the grave of Tid-ball, the elder M’Gills, the Conrads, the elder Dunbar, the Hoffs, the elder Bakers, and Millers, and Holliday, and Riley who never forgot what he once knew; and tell him, what was done by these may be done again. Does the heart fear about religion ? The records here point to Jesus Christ, who brought life and immortality to light; here lie persons that trusted him, from the old Revolutionary General down to the child; believe and thou shalt live for ever. Would that all the dead of Winchester lay together on these hills, and all had monuments. That those who sleep out in the western suburbs, with Fairfax and M’Guire, and Balmain, had been gathered in these yards, along these eminences. Here, then, would be the pilgrimage of their sons, to find their fathers’ graves, to get lessons how to live and how to die. Viator.

“Winchester, August 26th, 1843.”

From this time the current of events did not run smoothly with Dr. Hill. Whether in his bewildering afflictions, under which the father and mother grew old in a day, he had lost his wonderful tact in conducting affairs, or whether the affairs had assumed a form and current he could no longer guide, perhaps can never be decided by man. There were some naturally fiery elements in his Church and in his session; and on some questions of Christian conduct, there was a division commencing among his members. With a cheerful unclouded mind he probably could have directed the elements of strife into a peaceful channel; unhappily he steered upon the quicksands.

In attendance on the General Assembly in the spring of 1819, Dr. Hill,—for while his domestic affliction was newly on him, the authorities of Dartmouth College conferred upon him the academic honor,— heard his brethren relate the advantages their churches had received from publicly renewing their covenant to be the Lord’s. After some reflection and correspondence, he prepared a paper to be presented to his session and Church. Having assembled them he read and explained the paper ; and proposed a general and public renewal of their covenant by individual signature. Some were ready to sign; others thought the whole procedure, an uncalled-for innovation on settled habits. The majority of session being opposed to action, time was demanded for consideration. The matter was laid over, and finally abandoned. The tendency to division was thereby increased, and mutual recriminations encouraged. The best means of promoting the life of godliness in the congregation, could not be agreed upon, partly from the difficulty of the subjects, and partly from .the uncongeniality of disposition and habits of the persons concerned. They were united in their preacher and not in themselves.

*Ill health came upon Dr. Hill, and with it sufferings calculated to give prominence to some characteristics of his temperament. In his family, and his social intercourse, he maintained the dignity of a suffering man. In some discussions involving character before the Presbytery and before the Synod, he may have lost his balance, and pressed on with vehemence ending in a severity he himself had not anticipated. Fond of discussion, he loved to drive his opponent to the wall. If in the discussion, religion or morals appeared to him to be implicated with dishonor, his vehemence was relentless; confessions and submission, or subjugation and disgrace, were the only alternatives. Collision with him, was greatly dreaded in cases where there were exasperating circumstances. He feared no enemy; and dreaded no conflict. His industry in hunting up facts, and circumstances, and items of proof, was untiring; his perseverance in a cause indomitable; his resources*were inexhaustible. He would with seeming carelessness expose himself to heavy blows; but his tact in recovering himself was surpassing. He would spy an adversary’s weak points, catch the least mismove, and give him no time to recover, if his opponent lost his temper he lost his cause; and he had the power to try a man’s temper, and excite a man’s fear. Coolness, clearness, precision of words and thoughts, and a stout heart, were the weapons to meet his onsets. An unwary or timid adversary was swept away. In his cheerful hours, his discussions like his conversations were deeply interesting, abounding with amusing anecdote, and full of instruction ; he poured out his stores in public and private with a lavish hand, and never seemed to hold any thing in reserve for some future time. When the debate assumed a saturnine cast, then the earnestness became severity; the sentences were arrows dipped in bitterness, or even in fire, that burned in the bones of the assailed. The sufferer never forgot' the speech; and hardly knew how to love, or even forgive, the man.' As a public prosecutor, he would have been unrivalled, the terror of all evil doers; and the defenders of crime would have earned their heavy fees, when they cleared the accused from his charge. For these reasons many declined any resistance to the schemes and opinions of the Doctor that should bring themselves into notice; and trembled when they found him in opposition to themselves, or their actions. When any did resolve to meet him and oppose his opinions, they did it with a calculation and determination that insured a conflict, in which a stranger would see more vehemence than the cause apparently required. It is more than probable the Doctor was unconscious of the depth of the wounds he gave; as he was very sensitive of any inflicted on himself.

In the years 1820 and ’21 he suffered greatly in his feelings, in the arena opened for him, in Presbytery, by a brother minister with whom he unhappily came in collision. The beginning of the contention was small, and like the letting out of water it became uncontrollable. The point of honor, involved in the first heart-burning became inextricable ; more points were involved; offences multiplied, and the contention was severe. The parties became deeply committed. On both sides was an unconquerable will; with the one more fire, and with the other a desperate coolness. There was no layman to lay his hand upon them both. The venerable Hoge might have prevailed; but he had passed away; his amiable son John Blair swayed the will of one, and in common circumstances would have persuaded each, but could not now prevail with both, though his heart desired it. It is not necessary here to say where lay the wrong. To justify any opinion that might be given, pages of statements must be made. But while the case was pending before Synod in Lexington, in October 1821, Joseph Glass suddenly died, at his own residence in Frederick County. When the sad news reached Dr. Hill, he wept. The progress of the trial was in Dr. Hill’s favor at this sad moment. Yet he would not thus part with his opponent, who felt aggrieved at him to his heart’s core. Such a conclusion after he had made a vehement assault, by some thought resistless and by others severe, and his adversary had not answered him, but was reposing in the shroud of death, lay with a heavy weight upon his heart. He had not so parted with Legrand. He mourned to part so with Glass. A sharp conflict ending in compromise, and concession and perhaps warmer friendship, was a different thing, with all its exasperations, from an unsettled collision at the grave’s mouth. It made him mourn, for his spirit aimed high and he gloried in victories hardly bought, fairly won, the adversary subdued or pacified.

Another discussion took place about this time, worthy of remembrance only as increasing the alienation which had begun in the congregation, and ultimately embittering the pastor’s relation to his flock. The subject of dancing in private houses, and of sending children to a dancing school, became themes of public discourse. There were many in Winchester who advocated both, and, as occasion offered, practised both. No member of the Presbyterian Church was known to practise cither. An elder declared it as his opinion, that in given cases, children might he sent to the dancing school; and also that dancing in private circles might be blameless. This opinion was strongly controverted. Communications, written and oral, passed between Dr. Hill and Col. Augustine Smith, on the subject. The Doctor preached upon these subjects, and fashionable amusements generally, and took strong ground against them. Col. Smith declared he would give no trouble on the subject in his own family, nor encourage in others what was offensive to the Church generally. As no family practised on the offensive principles, the whole matter might have rested here; and probably would, but for another circumstance, till some overt act occurred, requiring, in the opinion of Dr. Hill, or the session, the discipline of the Church. Part of the session fully agreed with Dr. Hill; and those who differed somewhat from him in this matter, declared, in 1825, their “willingness to support the discipline of the congregation so far as required by the word of God, or the directory of our church.” The only questions for discussion were the kind and extent of discipline to be exercised in given cases, by the Session, in the exercise of their prudence and discretion, and love of God.

*At a meeting of the Session, December 29th, 1824, four propositions were submitted for consideration, viz:—“ 1st. In consequence of my ill health and frequent infirmities, by which I am rendered incapable of fully discharging the duties of pastor, it is proposed that steps be taken to procure an assistant for me. 4th. In case it should be thought advisable to get an assistant, that the sense of the congregation be taken whether Mr.-, who has been laboring for some time among them, shall be that assistant.” The second and third propositions were on the subject of salary, past and future. The salary matters were immediately attended to, and without discussion. The views of Dr. Hill on the two other propositions are thus expressed by himself in a letter of the 25th January, 1825 — “ I have been, ever since the decline of my health, looking out for a minister to assist and succeed me. My reason for this was, to save the church from division, if not from annihilation, which I was certain, from the discordant materials of which it is composed, would ensue, if the choice were not made while I could exert a personal influence among the members. Last fall twelve months, at Synod in Petersburg, I for the first time saw Mr.-. I had heard very favorable accounts of his character, and as soon as I heard him speak in Synod, I determined to try to prevail upon him to come and spend some time with us in Winchester, and that evening made a conditional arrangement with him, if other propositions which he had before him failed, then to spend some time with us, that he might become acquainted with the people, and they with him. He was then no more to me than any other young man of promise; nor is he at this time.” The session and congregation were generally agreed to have an assistant, if their pastor wished. They all professed high regard for the young man proposed by Dr. Hill. A part, perhaps the majority, were ready to receive at once the assistant proposed by Dr. Hill, a young man of great worth and ardent piety, with good pulpit talents. Part of the session, with a Iarge minority of the church, proposed that the assistant should be chosen by the free vote of the church, after hearing different persons. Some expressed a preference for another person whom they had heard. The discussion of this subject seemed to involve all the preceding ones. As the minority determined to oppose their pastor in the particular person of his choice, so he declared — “ As I never entertained a thought of introducing any who did not unite the voice of the congregation, so they will remember that they can force no one upon me without my consent.” Agreeing in the general principles, they differed greatly in the particular case in hand. Unhappily, all the old subjects of uneasiness were revived in conversation, and the integrity of the congregation was in danger. Dr. Hill proposed to withdraw entirely from any connexion with the pastoral charge. The session and church entirely opposed such a procedure, while his health should be sufficient for his labors. He then proposed that four of the elders, who had been most opposed to his wishes, should withdraw from the exercise of their official duties, till such time as they mutually should agree, “their standing in the church not to be affected by it.” The elders declined the proposed course of action. The Doctor declared — “There is not one of your number for whom I do not feel the warmest friendship, and whom I do not look upon as my personal friend.” They declared — “That you may remain with us in holy communion and works of love, and enjoy unsullied happiness through time and eternity, is our earnest prayer.” They also declared that the facts of their difference, as they understood them, were — “You plainly intimated your intention to select a minister for the congregation, and then retire from your pastoral charge. We were of the opinion that if you were determined to leave us, your resignation should precede the appointment of a successor.”

The whole affair was laid before the Presbytery in April, 1825; and was referred to a Committee. This Committee met, and heard at length the parties, and adjudicated, and failed to restore peace. The matter, in various forms, was before Presbytery, and at last referred to Synod, on the request of a number to be constituted a separate church. The Synod in the fall of 1826, against the most decided opposition of Dr. Hill, granted the request, so far as to constitute a new church in Winchester, the elders of which were to be, Joseph Gamble, John Bell, Robert Grey, A. C. Smith, and James Little. The Synod refused the request, “ that the newly constituted congregation be annexed to the Lexington Presbytery.” Dr. Hill suffered greatly in his feelings during the whole process, from the lirst moving in Presbytery till the conclusion in Synod. An event occurred which afflicted him greatly. While the subject of forming the new church was in agitation, and shortly before its formation, Mr. Robert Grey, the elder, died. He had been the firm friend of Dr. Hill for about twenty years, and would at last have preferred him as his minister. Dr. Hill was, on his return from the Presbytery, held in Gerardstown, chatting with his brethren. When near Winchester, General Smith meeting him, said, “Doctor, one of your flock died last night.” “Ah, who?” “Old Mr. Grey.” One long groan broke from the Doctor’s heart; and he rode silent home. Everything about the collision with his people, or any portion of them, afflicted him. Death was not welcome thus to any of his flock.

Another circumstance distressed the Doctor. His old friend Williamson, on many occasions, voted against him; and he was equally distressed by finding Dr. Matthews, of Shepherdstown, on the main questions, opposed to him.

Rev. John Matthews, D. D., born in North Carolina^ performed the duties devolving on him, till the meridian of life, in his native State. He grew up in the Hawfields, under the ministry of Henry Pattillo. His first choice for an occupation for life, was the joiner and carpenter trade. The last work he performed at this vocation, was in connection with the church building at the Hawfields. The pulpit, as a work of his hands, for a long time was commended as a specimen of that kind of architecture. Becoming a convert to Christ, the things pertaining to the salvation of his fellow-men, were so impressed upon his heart, that he devoted himself to the work of the ministry. His preparatory studies were under the direction of Dr. Caldwell, of Alamance. He was licensed in March, 1801, at Barbecue church, in company with Ezekiel Currie, Duncan Brown, Murdock M’Millan, Malcolm M’Nair, Hugh Shaw, and Murdock Murphy. All these had been influenced, more or less, by James M’Gready, to seek the ministry. After performing missionary service in the South-west, Mr. Matthews was settled over Nutbush and Grassy Creek churches, in 1803. In 1806, he removed to Berkeley County, Virginia; and after some five or six years, to Shepherdstown, and took charge of the church in that place, together with that of Charlestown, and the intermediate country.

A man, fiery in his temper till grace had moulded him, he became so cool and composed in his intercourse with men, that, except physiognomically, his natural disposition would never have been suspected. Of great resolution, and firmness of purpose, he lay in the way of opposition like an enormous granite rock upon a railroad track. His resistance calm, quiet, and unflinching, was hard to overcome. A most persevering student, he made himself master of the great subjects of Theology; and entered deeply into the Hermenentics of the Bible. He was a proficient in logical reasoning, based not so much on metaphysical and abstract truths, and propositions, as in the skilful arrangement of consecutive facts, that should lead irresistibly to the conclusion. In the process there might, or might not be, intermingled abstract propositions, and metaphysical reasoning. If he gained the attention of the hearer, and an admission of his postulates, he led him on to the conclusion almost irresistibly, and commonly unresisted. Believing in the absolute necessity of the influence of the Holy Spirit in conviction and conversion of sinners, he attributed a great, an almost inconceivable power to the truth when made to bear upon the mind and heart. And the weapons of truth he used relying on God’s blessing for success.

He used his pen freely for the Evangelical and Literary Magazine. One of his series of numbers was published in book form, under the title, "The Divine Purpose,” and widely circulated, passing through a number of editions. Another, on “Fashionable Amusements,” enlarged, was repeatedly republished, and widely circulated. Advancing in years, he accepted the invitation to become the leading Professor in founding and building up the Theological Seminary begun at New Hanover, and completed at New Albany, la.; and, in 1831, entered on his laborious work with the spirit and activity of youth. The church has been looking to his sons for a biography of his life, and a selection from his numerous printed and unprinted writings. Whatever may be the future success of the New Albany-Semenary, the memory of John Matthews should not be forgotten.

The Rev. David H. Riddle, a licentiate of Winchester Presbytery, was ordained and installed in Kent Street church, the new church in Winchester, December 4th, 1828. In the fall of 1830, the peace, which had been promoted between the two churches, was confirmed by the meeting of the Synod. An extensive revival commenced before the close of its sessions. The first decided evidences of awakening were seen in the house of Judge Henry St. George Tucker, on Sabbath morning. On Monday, the cry “What shall we do to be saved,” was very general. In the progress of the awakening, both churches shared largely. By an act of Presbytery, in April, 1832, the two churches were united under Dr. Hill and Mr. Riddle, as co-pastors. This cheerful position of things was disturbed by a call to Mr. Riddle, from Pittsburg, which he accepted; the Presbytery, with great reluctance, dissolving the pastoral relation. Dr. Hill immediately asked for the dissolution of his relationship. The Presbytery held an adjourned meeting to consider the request, and refused to grant it. Want of congeniality in the session ; uneasiness about a house of worship, neither of the church buildings giving satisfaction to all parties ; all propositions for building a third, proving inadmissible; some of the old difficulties reviving, at least in discussion; the situation of Dr. Hill becoming exceedingly unpleasant; all these considerations induced the Presbytery, at its meeting in Washington, Rappahannock County, April, 1834, to dissolve the pastoral relation. An earnest invitation from Briery congregation being laid before the Presbytery, at his own request, Dr. Hill was regularly dismissed from Winchester Presbytery to be in connection with the Presbytery of West Hanover.

That a pastoral connexion of some thirty-four years’ continuance, formed by the earnest desire of the people, continued by their decided wish, expressed in various ways, at different times, should finally be severed, in circumstances of weight to convince both pastor and people that it ought to be severed, and yet the severance be a most lamentable fact, cannot be accounted for on any of the common principles influencing ministers and their congregations. After attributing all that can be, with propriety, to the constitutional temperament of Dr. Hill, subjecting him to the suspicion, and sometimes the charge, of determining and acting too much by the volitions of his own will, and too little in accordance to the judgment of others, and allowing for the jarring counsels and purposes likely to be found in a session composed of members widely different in disposition and habits, and views of Christian duty and godly living, taking into consideration the excitable elements that may sometimes be found in the male and female members of the church, adding to this mass of excitability and commotion, any extraneous influence of surrounding parties, that might not be desirous of the peace and harmony of a Christian congregation, still there does not appear sufficient cause for the event. Sincere propositions were made from time to time; undoubted declarations of respect were uttered by the lips, and sent forth by the pen; Presbytery repeatedly exerted itself to restore harmony, and sometimes fondly hoped it had done so; all division of sentiment in Presbytery, respecting the proper course of proceeding, being overbalanced by the desire of restoring harmony in Winchester.

Every one was amazed at the constantly repeated failures of all and every sincere effort at reconciliation. The great and overwhelming charge brought by Dr. Hill, often was, that he had reliable information, on which he based his actions; that there was in the various propositions made to his consideration, a lurking deception, a hidden intention to entrap and bewilder. On this persuasion, some of the fairest proposals were rejected; and his opponents, feeling themselves misinterpreted, were induced to charge their minister with unreasonable suspicions. At the last meeting of Presbytery, in which the Doctor held his seat, an honest effort was made in his favor; it failed ; and, after its failure, his dismission was granted unanimously. In this event, the brethren, for the first time, had a glimpse of the cause of the repeated and strange failures in previous times. Put years rolled away, before the truth of the case became apparent to the minds of those most amazed at the events. A member of Presbytery had acted the part of a private informer. Silent in Presbytery, never committing himself by an opinion or speech of any kind, he heard the undisguised opinions, and expressions and plans of the persons concerned, and, unfortunately, he chose to put a construction adverse to peace upon all that was done. Professing friendship to all, and to his venerable friend, in particular, for reasons too mysterious to be yet unfolded, he chose to state to his confiding friend, upon his own knowledge and authority, that the propositions made had hidden, peculiar meanings, and implicated members of Presbytery, and the entire opposition in the congregation as being unfair in their proceedings, and. uncundid in their propositions. To the very last, he continued, with too much success, to prevent all efforts for peace, and made entirely unavoidable, the vote which rendered Dr. Hill’s removal from Winchester necessary, although, from his intimacy in the family, he well knew the heart-suffering it inflicted. The total want of principle involved in this procedure, was, in the course of some years, made manifest in other matters, and the instrument of much evil became the loathing of his deceived and injured friend. The day of judgment only can reveal the sorrow of heart endured by the pastor and sessions, and members of the church in Winchester., previous to the final separation in 1834. Who made the first false step, or what that step was, cannot be known till God reveals it. The beginning of the evil was unobserved, like the hidden spring of water. After the stream had begun its course, it is not difficult to map out the augmenting currents. The whole history illustrates the fact, that a few fiery and ungoverned spirits may destroy the peace of a community, and a false messenger separateth very friends.

The exposure necessary to meet the duties of a minister of Briery, proving too severe for Dr. Hill, after a service of two years, he removed to Alexandria, and became pastor of the Second Church, between the members of which and himself there existed a warm friendship. In about two years he returned to Winchester, and, till his death, made his home with his son-in-law.

In Alexandria, he employed his leisure moments in filling up some sketches of religious matters in his early days, commenced at the request of Winchester Presbytery. Writing out these recollections employed him after his return to Winchester. The author of these sketches had free access to the Doctor’s papers, and availed himself of the unrestrained permission to profit by them in his labors.

P. S.—The suggestions of Viator, in 1843, respecting a new burying-ground in Winchester, have been more than fulfilled. An enterprising committee have accomplished a work, to remain a monument of their taste, and an ornament of the borough, in cherishing the tender sympathies between the living and the dead. The first public interment in the grave-yard was of the body of Mrs. Atkinson, wife of Rev. William M. Atkinson, D. D., Pastor of the Old School Presbyterian Church in Winchester. Many of the graves in the old yard, referred to by Viator, have given up their ashes, to be transferred to the new ground, which must be the common assemblage of the inhabitants of Winchester, when they go down to the dead.


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