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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter XLII. - The Division of the Virginia Synod


The action of the Assembly respecting the four Synods, the Western Reserve, Utica, Genesee, and Geneva, by which they were declared not to be a part of the Presbyterian Church, was an absorbing subject in Virginia. Was this action right, or was it wrong? Was it an executive, or judicial, or tyrannical act? What were the grounds of procedure? Were they in the ordinary course of Presbyterial government, or were they revolutionary? And finally, would the churches in Virginia sustain the act of the Assembly? Every sort of discussion was carried on during the summer — the calm and the fiery, the cool and the passionate, the dignified and the common-place, the argumentative and the declamatory; with every grade of Christian deportment, from the pure, and elevated, and gentlemanly, and kind, down to the coarse and vulgar and hard; and in every form of communication, verbal, and by the press; in assemblies, large and small; and by pamphlets and newspapers, and monthly and quarterly periodicals.

Dr. Baxter, on his return to the Seminary, found the gentlemen, composing with him the faculty of instruction, Messrs. Goodrich and Taylor, professors, and Mr. Ballentine, assistant teacher, not prepared to approve of his course in the Assembly. The President of the College in the immediate vicinity openly declared himself in opposition to the doings of the Assembly in the general, and of Dr. Baxter in particular. The pastor of the church embracing the College and the Seminary, Mr. Staunton, sustained the action of the Assembly, and defended the course of Dr. Baxter. The relations of these brethren had previously been of the most harmonious kind; and the opposition, so far as known, was free from personality, and unmixed with jealousy. The Southern Religious Telegraph, edited by Mr. Converse, took decided ground against the action of the Assembly, and commenced the discussion before the delegates returned to their homes. Its columns, however, were open to the defence of the Assembly and its acts, and the Commissioners and their course. Dr. Baxter was requested by the students of the Seminary to deliver in the hall a lecture explanatory of his course. This lecture appeared in the Telegraph. Comments and replies followed. Dr. Carroll chose to express his opinions in pamphlet form. Professors Goodrich and Taylor became decided in their opposition. Dr. Baxter looked round for his associates in the ministry, whose hearts had beat with him in his youth; and of the few spared by death, Houston, and M’llhenney, and Calhoon, and Mitchel, one after another came to his aid, cheering him with the friendship of age. One only was wanting, Dr. Hill. He tock his pen, early and vigorously, against the acts of Assembly in reference to the four Synods. His convictions of wrong done by the Assembly were deep, and he embarked in the opposition with the energy of his youth. He considered the constitution of the church invaded, and he stood for its defence; and for his construction of it he spoke and wrote unremittingly. From his age, influence, activity with the pen, readiness for popular address, he became, if not absolutely the leader of the opposition to the acts of Assembly, in Virginia, at least the foremost amongst equals, the presiding presbyter. He prepared some historical criticisms and essays for the weekly papers, which were widely circulated. In this kind of writing he early took the lead of those opposed to the action of the Assembly of 1837 ; his memory reached back to the splendid era of the two Smiths and Graham in their prime, and was enriched with traditions respecting Davies and Robinson.

On the last day of summer the Watchman of the South made its appearance, the Rev. William S. Plumer, the proprietor and editor, Richmond. It became, according to its design, the vehicle of the thoughts and purposes of those who sustained the acts of the Assembly, individually and generally. The ability of the articles in attack and defence of the Assembly, that appeared in the Virginia papers, was not surpassed in any section of the church. The Watchman became a leading paper, and in the course of the first year of its existence the only Presbyterian paper published in Virginia. Mr. Converse removed his press to Philadelphia, to become the organ of opposition to the acts of the Assembly of 1837 on a larger scale than could be attempted in Richmond.

At the fall meeting of the Presbyteries the acts of Assembly became the fruitful subject of discussion by the members assembled. In Winchester Presbytery the action of the Assembly was sustained by a small majority. In Lexington the unanimity was almost complete. In the other Presbyteries the minorities were large. The Synod held its annual meeting in October, in Lexington. The attendance was large. The subject was discussed with great ability. The majority to sustain the Assembly was decisive. The minority was numerous and able. Division in sentiment in the Virginia Synod, to any extent producing excitement, and threatening alienation, had never before been known. A division of Synod into two bodies, to be connected with antagonistic bodies, was not yet seriously thought of. By far the greater part, if not the whole, fully believed that the integrity of the Synod would be preserved completely, notwithstanding the commotions that agitated her bosom. Some had fears lest there might be secessions to other denominations. But a division on the principles of elective affinity was never mentioned. The majority expected the minority to coalesce; and the minority expected the majority to relax somewhat, and that the Assembly of 1838 would abate the severity of the decisions of 1837. The winter was passed in discordance. The two parties seemed to be gradually diverging in sentiment and feeling.

At the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Union Theological Seminary in April, 1838, the determined purpose of the two parties in the church became manifest, beyond further dispute. In the ordinary course of business, the report of the Faculty of Instructors, Messrs. Baxter, Goodrich, Taylor and Ballentine, came under consideration. In that report was this sentence: “We think we ought to urge upon the attention of the Board the state of the funds, and the small number of students who are now in the seminary, or who are preparing for the ministry, within the bounds of the Synods.” It was the opinion of the Board, that much of the difficulty alluded to, both in respect of students and of funds, was to be attributed to the fact that neither of the parties, into which the church was now divided, had sufficient confidence in the instructions of the seminary, as conducted by the faculty. It was. understood that the present students were generally prepared to leave the seminary; and it was also the general opinion, that new ones would not come, until the course of instruction on certain subjects was better understood. The reading of the resolutions of the Synod of North Carolina, at her regular meeting at Shiloh, Granville County, September, 1037, was called for.

“Whereas the Synod of North Carolina has, by a large majority, voted to sustain the measures which were adopted by the last General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, believing them to be happily calculated to restore purity and peace to our churches: Resolved, 1st. That in order to secure the confidence of this Synod, and its cordial co-operation in building up and sustaining the Union Theological Seminary, it is very desirable and important, that the sentiments of the professors in the seminary should, in relation to the measures aforesaid, harmonize with those of this Synod and its Presbyteries, in sustaining the action of the Assembly. 2d. But, should any of the professors, on examination of this subject, arrive at the conclusion that they cannot consistently, with their views of truth and duty, concur with the Assembly in the measures of reform which were adopted, Synod will not deem it necessary or expedient for such professors, on that account, to dissolve their connexion with said seminary, provided they can, with a good conscience, refrain from all attempts to exert over our churches, and over the minds of their theological pupils, an influence tending to contravene the decisions of the General Assembly and of this Synod.” The Synod of Virginia, sustaining the Assembly, had passed no resolutions respecting the seminary.

After the reading of the resolutions of the Synod of North Carolina, it was resolved, “ That this Board cordially approve of the above resolutions of the Synod of North Carolina; and hereby adopt them, as expressing their own sentiments.” The professors were present during the deliberations of the Board, and were personally inquired of by the chairman of the meeting, whether they would comply with the expressed will of the Synod of North Carolina, now adopted by the Board. Mr. Goodrich said, “ he could not hold his sentiments in silence, but must disseminate them.” Mr. Taylor said, “the resolutions of the Synod of North Carolina had induced him to express through the press his sentiments, that neither they nor his positions might be doubtful; and that he thought the churches would not sustain the course of the Synods.” After some desultory conversation, the two professors declined acquiescing in, or harmonizing with, the expressed sentiments of the Board and one Synod. After conversation on the propriety of resignation, Mr. Goodrich said, that, in present circumstances, he could not feel at liberty to resign, unless he were requested to do so by the Board. Mr. Taylor united in this determination. After some further conversation, Mr. Goodrich declared that his resignation could not depend upon the departure of the students, in the present circumstances, even if all departed, but only on the request of the Board. Both professors declared, that, in the present state of the church, they were pursuing the course which appeared to them the line of duty. After deliberation, a motion was made and adopted: “That inasmuch as the Rev. Hiram P. Goodrich and Stephen Taylor, professors in the Union Theological Seminary, do hold opinions opposed to the action of the General Assembly, in disowning the four Synods; and that, notwithstanding the expression of the Synod of North Carolina, they consider themselves bound to express said opinions, and extend the influence of said opinions in our churches, and are determined so to do: Therefore, Resolved, That this Board do solemnly declare it as their judgment, that the said professors, holding and propagating said opinions, in opposition to the acts and doings of the General Assembly, ought forthwith to resign.” In consequence of this resolution, the professors tendered each his resignation, which was accepted, and the treasurer was directed to pay each, in addition to the salary due, three months’ salary from the first of May; and the professors were invited to retain, for the accommodation of their families, the houses they then occupied, till they could make suitable arrangements elsewhere. Mr. Ballentine, after full and free conversation, was employed as assistant teacher, at nine hundred dollars per annum, for the succeeding year. It was understood, that, if Mr. Ballentine felt himself, at any time, bound to pursue a course not consistent with the resolutions of North Carolina and of the Board of Directors, and different from the one he had pursued, he would feel it his duty first to retire from the seminary. Neither of the professors were personally obnoxious to the Board; and their course of procedure, in relation to the acts of Assembly, was the cause, and not the occasion of their resignation.

Dr. Hill admitted the thought of final separation from his brethren with great reluctance. He was indulging the hope of modification of the action of the Assembly, or the formation of a Southern organization. A Commissioner to the Assembly of 1838, he was active in procuring a meeting of those Commissioners opposed to the acts of 183T, in the lecture-room of the First Presbyterian church, on the evening previous to the meeting of the Assembly. At the same time a meeting of those favorable to the doings of the last Assembly, was held for consultation. Those that met with Dr. Hill, proposed three resolutions respecting the present crisis, the first expresses “ a hope that there are no insurmountable obstacles in the way of averting the calamities of a violent dismemberment. 2d, That we are ready to co-operate in any efforts for pacification which are constitutional, and which shall recognise the regular standing, and secure the rights of the entire church, including those portions which the acts of the General Assembly were intended to exclude.” The third named a Committee of three, Hon. William Hall, Rev. Dr. Hill, and Dr. Fisher, to convey these resolutions to those Commissioners who were favorable to the action of the Assembly of ’37, then in session in the city, “ for the purpose of ascertaining some terms of agreement.” To these resolutions, the Commissioners addressed, replied by a Committee, Dr. Baxter, Professor M’Lean, and William Maxwell, Esq. — “Resolved, unanimously, that the Convention regard the said overtures of the meeting, however intended, as founded upon a basis which is wholly inadmissible, and as calculated only to disturb that peace of our church which a calm adherence to those constitutional, just and necessary acts of the last General Assembly can, by the blessing of divine Providence, alone establish and secure.” Thus ended all hope of pacification grounded on a repeal of the past obnoxious acts.

Drs. Baxter and Hill discovered their diverging tendencies at the inauguration ; they had fully expressed their difference in the columns of the Telegraph, and at the Synod in Lexington, in the fall of ’37; and now they met in Philadelphia, Dr. Hill denouncing the course of Dr. Baxter, and demanding a retraction; and Dr. Baxter affirming the propriety of his previous course, and rejecting all proposals looking towards retraction. It was not a wordy meeting. They knew each other. They parted never more to meet in council or negotiation on earth. Dr. Hill now lost all hopes that the Assembly about to meet, would retreat from the position taken the previous year, and he prepared himself for a step he had not desired to take. On the next day the assembled delegates, when in the act of constituting the Assembly, separated and formed tw^o Assemblies, which were known for a length of time technically by the names of Old and New School. Dr. Hill went with those who formed the New School Assembly, now called by the chosen name of Constitutional Assembly. Dr. Baxter remained with those that' formed the Assembly called the Old School.

A Southern organization was a subject of conversation and correspondence. Dr. Hill desired one that should embrace all the South. How far he would have been willing to go, in withdrawing from all the North, is inferential rather than documentary. Dr. Baxter thought that, in present circumstances, division would be increased by such a movement, and three Assemblies would be formed instead ot two; and that it was not, by any means, evident that the Southern body formed geographically would be free from the disagreement about doctrines, and the benevolent operations of the church, which had dissevered the Assembly of the whole Church; and that the vexed question of slavery could be more satisfactorily and easily disposed of by and among the Old School north, if they held connection with the Old School south, than if they stood alone. These two brethren never doubted each other’s sincerity of conviction or of purpose ; they distrusted each the other’s soundness of principle, and the correctness of his conclusions. The.. expectation of a Southern organization was not abandoned till the fall of 1838; it then gave way to the fixed purpose, that if there were more than one General Assembly, there should be but two, each embracing the North and the South. Both of these brethren greatly desired that the Synod of Virginia, or at least the majority ot it, should unite on the principles they advocated; and in defending and promulgating their principles and views, each pursued his course with diligence, activity, and ability; Dr. Hill with more enthusiasm, and Dr. Baxter with more caution and coolness; both with intense earnestness m efforts, perfectly characteristic of the men.

The work of division in the churches commenced in the Presbytery of the District of Columbia. The majority being opposed to the action of ’37, their delegates took their seats in 1838, in that Assembly known as the New School. The minority applying to the Synod in Staunton for advice, were requested “to declare distinctly before the next meeting of the General Assembly, whether they do or do not adhere to the said Assembly on the basis of the acts of Assemblies of ’37 and ’38; that is to say, adhere to the Assembly and churches under its care, as they now stand separated from the disowned Synods, and the party who seceded from the last Assembly. The Presbytery at its next meeting, April 2d, 1839, in Alexandria, resolved to disregard the order of Assembly and the Synod, to send delegates to the Assembly of 1839, (known as the Old School); whereupon Rev. Messrs. Laurie, Harrison, and Bosworth, with an elder from the first church of Alexandria, retired from the Presbytery in an orderly manner, and were constituted as the Presbytery of the district, and held their connexion with the Old School.

The Presbytery of Abington held a called meeting at Wythe Court House, on July 7th, 1838. A Committee on the state of the Church brought forward resolutions declaring the Assembly holding its sessions in Mr. Barnes’s church, was the true Assembly; also, disapproving the course of the Commissioner, Mr. Hoge, who took his seat in the Assembly over which Dr. Plumer presided. These resolutions were rejected, and the report of the minority approving the course of the Commissioner adopted. The Moderator and Temporary Clerk, though opposed to the action of the Presbytery, continued in their places till the business of the meeting was closed, signed the records, and delivered them to the Stated Clerk. The minority then respectfully informed the Presbytery, they expected never to meet with them again, and took their leave.

The Presbytery of Lexington held a called meeting on the 28th day of December, 1838, in Harrisonburg, to consider and decide upon the condition of the church of Cook’s Creek and Harrisonburg, and their pastor, James W. Phillips, lately installed. Upon being organized in the Court House, the Presbytery received a communication from Mr. Phillips, renouncing the jurisdiction of Lexington Presbytery and the Synod of Virginia, on account of .their adherence to the Assembly of 1837, and the Old School Assembly of 1838. A communication of a similar nature was received from the session of the church of Cook’s Creek and Harrisonburg. The Presbytery adopted resolutions fitting the emergency. Mr. Phillips’ name was erased from the roll. The elders and members not seceding Were organized as the regular church, and provision was made for their instruction. No other pastor or church seceded from Lexington Presbytery. .

The Presbytery of Winchester held its spring sessions April, 1839, in Charlestown, Jefferson County, about three weeks after the decision of Judge Rodgers, in the suit involving the right to the name, records, and property of the Presbyterian Church, pronounced March 26th, in favor of the New School. Immediately after the organization, the records are as follows, viz. — “The Rev. J. J. Royall offered the following preamble and resolution — Whereas, two bodies were organized on the third Thursday of May, 1838, in the city of Philadelphia, each claiming to be the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United States; and, whereas, the body over which Dr. Fisher presided has been declared by the competent civil authority to be the constitutional Assembly; therefore, Resolved, That the Presbytery of Winchester do recognise and adhere to said body as the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Which resolution being seconded, the Rev. J. J. Royall moved the previous question, which was taken by yeas and nays; ayes 14, nays, 15. Rev. Mr. Hargrave obtained leave of absence from the sessions of Presbytery till to-morrow morning. The Rev. William Henry Foote appeared and took his seat. The preamble and resolution of Mr. Royall were discussed and decided by ayes and nayes — ministers, John Lodor, J. J. Royall, A. W. Kilpatrick, and Silas Billings; elders, William M’Coy, Robert Slemmons, Dr. Voorhees, William G. Glassell, John Gilkerson, James Allen, William Hinning, J. T. Barrett, and Ishmael Vanhorn, 13; nays, ministers, S. B. Wilson, D. D., Wm. H. Foote, S. Tuston, T. B. Balch, P. Harrison, R. B. White, Wm. M. Atkinson, and T. W. Simpson; elders, W. II. White, George Tabb, Thomas Hyatt, A. Cooper, David Gibson, Z. Sheetz, Robert Turner, and Moses Hoge, 16. Whereupon, the Rev. John Lodor arose, and addressing the Moderator, said, that ‘ by the unanimous request of the New School party, he now announced to Presbytery that they could now no longer engage in its deliberations, and that they would now retire in a respectful manner to the Court House, which has been prepared for their use and, therefore, bidding the Presbytery an affectionate farewell, he left the house, attended by the following ministers, Messrs. Royall, Kilpatrick, and Billings; elders, Slemmons, Voorhees, Glassell, Gilkerson, Henning, Barrett, and Vanhorn, 11. Messrs. Allen and M’Coy obtained leave of absence from the further sessions of Presbytery. On Saturday, Rev. Messrs. William Williamson, William N. Scott, and L. F. Wilson, Moderator, and David Vanmeter, elder, obtained leave to record their votes on the resolution of Thursday. The numbers stood thus, for Royall’s resolution 14, against it, 20.” Mr. Hargrave, on his return from visiting his sick child, took his seat with the brethren organized in the Court House. The Presbytery that remained in the church, held the records, and claimed the funds, and the name, as being the majority, whilst the others were seceders. The Presbytery organized in the Court House, took the name of Winchester. The churches represented by the delegates, were enrolled in the Presbytery of which their delegates were a part. Five ordained ministers, Messrs. Royall, Kilpatrick, Hargrave, Lodor, and Billings, with six churches, and parts of two others which were speedily formed into separate churches, formed the New School Presbytery; ten ordained ministers, Messrs. Williamson, Wilson, Balch, Scott, Foote, Tuston, Atkinson, Harrison, Simpson, and White; and 24 churches continued the Presbytery of Winchester, known as Old School.

The Presbytery of East Hanover met in Richmond, April, 1889, 'on the same day the Presbytery of "Winchester met in Charlestown, and with similar purpose and effect as far as the agitating questions were concerned ; the brethren separated. The greatest excitement felt in Virginia, on the subject of the Assembly of ’37, and ’38, was probably in Richmond. Mr. Plumer, pastor of the First Church, successor of Mr. Armstrong< and Dr. Rice, took a decided part in the convention of ’37, and next to Dr. Baxter, was the most influential Southern member in the Assembly of ’37, and was Moderator of the Old School Assembly of ’38. On his return from the Assembly of ’37 he was met with evident marks of strong disapprobation by a portion of his charge that were opposed both to the. acts of Assembly in regard to the four Synods, and the part he took in procuring those acts. The members opposed to him and his cause proposed that he resign his charge. This proposition he declined. The dissatisfation not abating, a portion of his church withdrew and formed a new church. The church on Shockoe hill, under the care of Mr. Pollock, was not harmonious in opinion respecting the action of the Assembly; and the minority withdrew and united with the First Church. In a little time those that withdrew from the First Church united with that on Shockoe hill. In Petersburg the majority held with the Assembly, and the minority formed a new church. In Hanover the greater part were against the Assembly, and the minority sought their connexion elsewhere. A minute narrative of these divisions would exhibit the good and the ill, the strength and the weakness of civil society in a contest for religious things involving conscience. It would, however, be voluminous, and might involve personal feelings, and give undesigned wounds; and therefore-will never be made till the judgment of the great day. The pastor of the First Church in Richmond passed through a fire as vehement as his previous course in the Assembly had been conspicuous.

“Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed.”

At this spring meeting the Presbytery passed resolutions declaring adherence to the Assembly of ’37' and their acts, and to that Assembly of ’38 that was organized with Dr. Plumer, moderator, and condemning the principles of the law-suit. Sundry members put in a paper stating in very respectful terms their opinion respecting the constitutionality of the doings of the Assembly of 1837, and the relation of the Presbytery to the two Assemblies; the Presbytery received the paper, and put it on record as the expression of Presbyters exercising their constitutional right, and thereby in no wise forfeiting their standing or amenability to the Presbytery. The brethren presenting the paper then asked a dismission for themselves and the churches represented by them, to form a separate Presbytery, to adhere to that Assembly they recognized as the true Assembly. Whereupon it was, Resolved, “That while it is matter of regret that the deep and abiding division of opinion renders a separation necessary,' nevertheless the Presbytery agrees to the departure of the brethren, and that their connexion with the Presbytery do cease, their character and standing unimpeached.” Rev. Messrs. A. D. Pollock, Henry Smith and Alexander Mebane, with Elders Samuel Reeve, Carter Braxton and George Hutchinson, withdrew. The churches represented by these brethren were the United Church on Shockoe hill, Third Church, Richmond, and Salem and Pole Green. The Presbytery organized soon after took the name of Hanover. To this new Presbytery some that had been connected with West Hanover attached themselves. With the exception of the churches that were in the bounds of Abington Presbytery, the ministers and churches in Virginia that adhered to the Assembly of ’38, of which Dr. Fisher was moderator, were all connected with the Presbyteries of Winchester and Hanover. '

Of the Presbytery of West Hanover, those opposed to the acts of the Assembly of ’37, and not prepared to continue in connexion with the Presbytery, withdrew as opportunity and convenience prompted, and connected themselves with other Presbyteries, without that formal withdrawal or announcement which took place in the other Presbyteries.

In these separations of Presbyterial connexions, courtesy and kindness prevailed. In the condition in which the ministers and churches found themselves after the heated discussions and painful trial of feelings consequent upon a difference of opinion concerning the action of Assembly in relation to the four Synbds, separation was a peace measure. As soon as it became evident that continued strife or separation were the only alternatives left, the angry feelings yielded, passion began to subside ; and men choosing their own ground, freely yielded to others the right of choice; and the muddy streams of charity flowed more and more pure. The unforgiving spirit in the strife for mastery yielded to Christian courtesy and respect for sister denominations when the separation was completed. There were only three cases in which the courtesy of Presbytery seemed to be withheld ; and in two of these it was unavoidable. The pastor of Cook’s Creek and Harrisonburg lost the sympathy of Lexington Presbytery because he permitted himself to be installed pastor of that church by the Presbytery a very short time before he renounced its authority, and long after the obnoxious act of Assembly took place. The editor of the Southern Religious Telegraph, in asking for his regular papers of dismission from East^Hanover Presbytery, and the President, of Hampden Sidney, in asking his from West Hanover, asked that they should be directed to the Third Presbytery of Philadelphia. The Assembly of ’37 having dissolved that Presbytery, and directed its members to be enrolled elsewhere, the

Virginia Presbyteries were unwilling to recognise it as having any existence. The Presbytery of East Hanover dissolved the connexion of the applicant, and erased his name from their roll. The Presbytery of West Hanover refused to commend Dr. Carroll to the Third Presbytery, whose existence they did not recognise, but declared a willingness “ to certify, and do hereby certify, that Dr. Carroll was a member in good standing in our connexion to the time of his making this application,” which was September, 18-38. In all cases the separation involved personal inconvenience rather than personal dislike. ••

To carry on the Seminary the Electors assembled on the 25th of September, and made choice of S. L. Graham D. D. las professor of Biblical Literature, and N. H. Harding, as professor of Church History and Church Government. Both were members of the North Carolina Synod. Mr. Harding declined the offered chair. Mr. Graham speedily entered upon the duties of his office. Mr. Ballentine gave entire satisfaction to the Board, and the students, in his course of teaching; and the universal desire was for his continuance in office. But as the year for which he was engaged passed, some fears arose in his own mind lest continuance in the Seminary should give cause of suspicion of the motives of his course, and thinking he should be more useful in another situation, he gave notice of his intention to leave his position, and with mutual kind feelings his connection with the Board was dissolved. Mr. F. S. Sampson of Goochland County, was appointed to succeed him as assistant teacher. This gentleman, from being teacher, became professor of Oriental Literature. His success as a teacher, was as splendid as his bearing as a man was modest. A ripe scholar and beloved member of the faculty of instruction in the Seminary, the Church mourned over his sudden departure in the spring of 1854.

Those Presbyteries formed by the New-School brethren were united in a Synod which took the name of Synod of Virginia. To Dr. Hill there was a charm in the name; to him the “ rose by another name would not smell as sweet.” With the name he claimed the true succession. And on that claim he acted when he refused to return to the Stated Clerk of the Synod of Virginia, Old-School, the old records of Hanover Presbytery, which he had borrowed from the Stated Clerk in the library of Dr. Rice in Prince Edward. He argued, and maintained through life, that the minority of Presbyteries separating from the majority on account of acts considered by them unconstitutional, in becoming Presbyteries were the true ' representatives of the Presbyteries before the alleged act; and that the Synod formed by these was the true Synod; and therefore the records belonged of right to the Stated Clerk of the new-school Synod, which he considered as the constitutional one. He acted according to his argument and gave the records to the Stated Clerk of that Synod, after a protracted correspondence with the Stated Clerk of the other Synod claiming to be the true inheritor of the name and records. Dr. Hill had loaned the records to a member of the Old-School Synod to aid in preparing the Sketches of Virginia. They were in his hands while the correspondence was proceeding. On being returned to Dr. Hill, according to special promise, he delivered them to the Stated Clerk of the New-School Synod, as the proper person to receive them. That Synod justified his course, and on the ground he • had professed to act. This proceeding of Dr. Hill was more criticised than any part of his actions respecting the doings of the Assembly of ’37, or in promoting the separation in the Virginia Church. His opponents contended that while the Synod and Presbyteries remained in their adherence to the Confession of Faith and Book of Discipline and Form of Government, as the Virginia Presbyteries and Synod did, no minorities, however large, seceding on account of difference of opinion respecting judicial and executive acts, claimed by the majority to be in accordance with the standards, could claim the possession of papers and property that had been lawfully in possession of the whole body. They might negotiate according to circumstances, and ought to have their proper proportion of common funds. As to names, every religious body might take what name it pleased. These records had been committed to him to assist in preparing the historical work, in the preparation of which his Presbytery and the Synod had encouraged him; and on written condition that he would return them in .due time to the Stated Clerk of Synod. This written obligation was asked and given merely as a memorandum, that in Case of sickness or death, or change of place, or office, the records, might be found; and was attached to the cover of the book of records then in use. This occurred before the acts of ’37, or any division or separation in the Virginia Synod was thought of, or would have been considered practicable. The complaint against • Dr. Hill was, that after the separation of the ministers and churches, and the formation of the separating brethren into a new Synod, when the Stated Clerk of the Synod, from which, numerically, a small minority had separated, demanded the records according to the memorandum, he refused to deliver them to him from whom he had received them, but gave them into the possession of the clerk of that Synod of which he was a member, who never before had had them in possession. The particular value of those volumes consisted in their being the production of successive Stated Clerks. The Presbytery of West Hanover have a copy of the whole records by Mr. Lacy, their Stated Clerk, in beautiful manuscript.

Dr. Hodge, of Princeton, published the first number of his Constitutional History of the Presbyterian Church, in the spring of 1839. He had been, the previous summer, requested by some influential friends, to prepare the “the documentary history—of the formation of the first Presbytery,—of the Adopting Act,—of the Great Schism,—of the Union of the two Synods,—and of the formation of our present Constitution.” It was supposed a large pamphlet would contain all the necessary facts. The materials collected demanded a greater space, and appeared in two successive octavo volumes. In the first number be noticed and controverted some statements and reasonings of Dr. Hill, which had appeared in the Southern Religious Telegraph, in relation to the same subjects. The documents and statements of Dr. Hodge show that the Presbyterian Churches in America were organized on the essential principles of the Scotch Presbyterian Church; and that , the influence exercised by emigrants from Holland and France was not inimical to this form of Presbyterianism— and that in New England there was in its early days both a tendency to Presbyterianism and many Presbyterian;—that the Adopting Act was a receiving of all the principles, and forms, and doctrines essential to the Presbyterian Church as a Presbyterian Church ; that it was so understood by the Synod making it, the members of which are supposed to know the Presbyterianism of the mother countries, and the majority of ministers and churches being of the Scottish origin and model.

Dr. Hill paused in the preparation of his volume of history embracing particularly the origin and progress of Presbyterianism in Virginia, which of necessity embraced the origin and progress of the Presbyterian Church in America; and as speedily as practicable prepared a volume of History, reviewing and controverting the statements and opinions of Dr. Hodge, and sent it forth under the title of A History of the Rise, Progress, Genius and Character of American Presbyterianism, together with a Review of The Constitutional History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, by Charles Hodge, D. D. Professor in the Theological Seminary, at Princeton, New Jersey. The object of the volume was to show that the Presbyterian Church in America was not formed strictly on the Scotch model of Presbyterianism, but on others of less rigidity; and that an important part of the first Presbytery was Congregational in sentiment ;' and that the Adopting Act was, in intention and form, a softening down of the rugged Presbyterianism of Scotland, urged upon the! American Churches.

In their researches both traced the origin of the first Presbytery in America to Francis Makemie, and his coadjutors, and Mr. Andrews. Both argue that Mr. Makemie was the member of that Presbytery earliest on the ground, and that he organized the first churches in the Presbytery. Both found documents to show that he was preaching in Maryland and Virginia as early as the year 1690. The time of his actual coming to America their researches did not discover. His activity, zeal, and success are stated by both—though much the most amply by Dr. Hill. Dr. Hodge supposes him to have been from Ireland, and a Presbyterian after the Scotch model; and that his coadjutors were from the same country, and of the same opinion in religious things. Dr. Hill comes to the conclusion, p. 98 : —1st. “ Rev. Francis Makemie was led to come to America by the United Brethren of the Presbyterians and Congregationalists of London, at or about the time they formed the celebrated Plan of Union in 1689 or 1690. 2d. The negotiation or engagement entered into by Mr. Makemie and these brethren had long been laid aside, but was revived again when Makemie went over to England. 3d. The Rev. Messrs. Makemie, Hampton, and McNish, the first Presbyterian ministers that came to America, being sent out from the United Ministers of London. We may learn what kind of Presbyterianism they brought over with them, and planted in the mother Presbytery which was organised principally through their agency. —These were all Union Presbyterians.”

This union of Presbyterians and Congregationalists he thought pervaded all the American Churches, with few exceptions ; and that the struggle was to make the Presbyterians of America more rigid than the first Presbytery was. The Doctor reserved his views of the Schism for a succeeding number; this on account of his infirmities he never prepared. The work of history from which he was diverted was never completed. Some sketches of ministers received his corrections, and have been used as documents and authority in the Sketches of Virginia, for "the notices taken of Smith, Legrand, Turner, and Allen, and some data respecting himself.

The volumes of Dr. Hodge and Dr. Hill were read with great interest, and were highly esteemed by the respective parties in the Church. Lat.er researches have, however, brought to light some facts respecting Makemie, that modify the conclusions of Dr. Hill. Dr. Reed, in his History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, tells us that Mr. Makemie was licensed by the Presbytery of Logan, in Ireland, in the year 1681. That applications had been made to that body by Col. Johnson, of Barbadoes, and Col. Stevens, from Maryland, for a minister; and that in consequence of these applications, Makemie was ordained an Evangelist, and removed to America. From some printed productions of Makemie, preserved in the Library of Worcester, Massachusetts, he was in this country some six or eight years before the Union was formed, and was acquainted with the ministers in Boston. Erom the volume of records of the Presbyterian Church it appears that the Union in London agreed to assist in paying the expenses of the passage of Messrs. McNish and Hampton, and of their support in this country for two years. That was the only assistance ever derived from the Union, Mr. Makemie having come over some six years before the Union was formed. The Congregational elements in the first Presbytery were from another ) quarter, emigration from New England, and that Makemie and his associates were strict Presbyterians, yet men of charity and kindness.

Dr. Hill and Dr. Baxter naturally desired their old acquaintances of the ministers and in the churches, and in fact the whole Synod of Virginia, to agree with .them in opinion and action. Dr. Hill urged the parallel between the division of 1741 to 1758, and the present division; that the principal matters in contention in the first schism were revivals, and experimental religion, on one side, and formality and dry orthodoxy on the other; and that the same things were in contention now, with the love of power cast into the scale. TV these things Dr. Baxter replied, that in the schism of 1741 the doctrines esteemed fundamental were not in dispute. Mr. Tennent held, as appears from his own writings, in a volume of sermons, firmly to the doctrines avowed hy the old side — the imputation of Adam’s sin for condemnation, and of Christ’s righteousness for salvation. But that fundamental doctrines were in dispute now. The dispute now about revivals, was not whether there were pure revivals, but what were the means to promote pure revivals, what doctrines should be preached, and what agencies used. The old side cherished revivals, and believed that the principal doctrines of Calvinism were the proper doctrines to promote them, as Mr. Tennent believed and preached, as we have in print. And that it was against spurious revivals, and the doctrines that produced them, the Old School were now contending so earnestly. That the churches in the valley, that were so strongly Old School, held to the doctrines and love of revivals their ancestors brought from the ministry of Whitfield, and Blair, and Davies, and the Tennents.

This separation in Virginia, in its progress, and much more in the conclusion, gave pain to the older ministers and members. They had passed their youth and early manhood in cordiality and mutual esteem, characteristic of the Synod; and now in their age, men and women, ministers and elders were becoming estranged without any charge of moral delinquency. Should they divide on the constitutional question respecting the four Synods? Over the younger members, the earnestness of discussion, the vigorous attack and firm defence of positions and opinions, and the warmth of theological dehate, exercised the usual bewildering influence. Those believing that there was a radical difference, extending to the very vitals of religion, justified the separation of the Old School from the New, even if the Virginia Synod was divided from sympathy. Dr. Baxter mourned , that any of his brethren could not agree with him on the important matters agitated in 1837. But with his views of freedom of conscience, he preferred open separation to secret discontent ; and that by division it would perhaps sooner be determined which side held to the Confession of Faith in its appropriate meaning; which held the faith of the Tennents, and Blairs, and Davies; which were most active from the influence of their own principles; which most charitable in the exercise of their faith; and finally, whether the separation of the four Synods was from sectarianism or love of the truth.

William M. Atkinson, D. D.

There were some embittering circumstances attending the division of the Winchester Presbytery. That there were no more was probably owing to the influence of one, now with his Lord, who came into the Presbytery in the midst of the excitement, and used all his great capabilities in making less, to the true Church of God, the distresses of a division which all believed to be, at the time, necessary for the public peace. An intimate friend thus wrote of him, to the Watchman and Observer, while mourning his departure: —

“Brother Utldersleeve :—You have announced in your paper the death of Rev. William Mayo Atkinson, D. D. It is a fact that cannot be contradicted. On Saturday night, March 3d, 1849, one of the kindest hearts that ever beat in the Ancient Dominion ceased its motions. Death stepped noiselessly; he left no track and cast no shadow; and we were not alarmed. We saw him shivering in the deep waters before we could realize that his sickness might be unto death. Some few that loved him according to his worth were with him. Other some, that loved him no less, could not be called to his bedside, so hastily was the work of death performed, when we became convinced that he must die.

“That he contemplated a fatal issue of his disease, long before his friends and family admitted the suspicion, is undoubted. It is now about a year since he paid me a short visit, on his return from a long journey on the business of his agency. He appeared exhausted. It was evident he must have rest. His exposures had been great, and his labors, as he summarily recounted them, excessive. The seeds of his disease, as it now appears, were then sown. I did not then think so. In the course of our conversation, he referred with emotion unutterable to the prospect of a speedy dissolution. From what circumstances that impression arose I did not learn. He was not melancholy; but my heart ached as I heard his impassioned reference to death. It was the first time I had ever heard him speak of his own death.

“Rest at home for the few weeks he had appropriated did not restore him. He prolonged it, and with evident advantage. In the summer he suffered a severe sickness, brought on more immediately by exposure to a light rain, while fulfilling in Hampshire the appointments of brother Jennings, who had gone to fill his for the Board of Education in North Carolina. He had often been exposed to storms of rain without harm; but his reduced strength was not equal to a gentle shower. His disorder seemed to be in his lungs, and for a time w^as violent. He rallied from this attack, and we all were hoping that his vigor would return. The disease had not, however, left the system; it had only changed its form. During the fall and early winter, he suffered repeated attacks, as from a cold. Being providentially detained a Sabbath in Winchester, in December, I heard him preach in Mr. Lacy’s pulpit. He gave utterance to deep feelings on the brevity of human life and the futility of human plans and expectations, and turned the heart to God, the unexhausted fountain of goodness and life.

“From an attack in January he thought himself recovering, with hope of soundness. But the attack in February took from him all hope, and from the physician all expectation of prolonged days. He forthwith set his house in order. It was a solemn thing for him to die. It was affecting. It was afflicting. By nature and by education he was fitted to enjoy, with the greatest zest, the socialities of life. The intercourse of the honorable and the good gave him unmixed pleasure. The world was full of beauty to him — full of enjoyments. He found pleasure everywhere. The path of duty always presented to him flowers. He saw the beauty and glory of God in earth and in the heavens. He had been blessed with a vigorous constitution, and almost uninterrupted health. To him the sweet light of heaven contrasted, strongly and sadly, with the cold, dark, silent, cheerless grave. He loved the members of his family. He delighted in them. They enlarged his heart and purified his affections. It was bitter to leave his wife, and his eight children — six with their education yet to be acquired in part or whole — two quite young — one an infant. He loved the church of God, in which he was laboring, and for which he broke his constitution, and for which he would have labored indefinitely. He loved his fellow-men; he desired their salvation; and was willing to make great sacrifices to ensure future blessedness to any of his race. All these things made it affliction to die. But when he saw it was his Lord’s will that he should now depart, he bowed in submission and addressed himself for the last act of life. He had committed himself to Christ to save him from the guilt of his nature, and the sins of his life. And now, in these solemn hours, when he looked for death, and few dared hope for life,-he rested on him. ‘ Christ, the Cross, and the Covenant,’ fell from his lips as he looked back upon his life, as he contemplated the present, and looked forward to the future. Christ was his refuge, his hope, his trust, and the covenant his consolation. They formed the ground on which he trusted for himself, his wife, his children — his little children — his infant son.

“When a message I could no longer mistake, for I had resisted the belief that he would die, came and told me that he was evidently near his departure, I left my appointments, and rode down on Saturday to visit him. I wished to hear a few words, from his lips. I reached his dwelling about sunset. He was living, sensible, speechless. When told I was in the room he gave me his nod of recognition. At about a quarter after ten his pulse suddenly ceased to move, and the struggle was over.

“ He was born in April, 1796, and had not yet filled up his fifty-third year. By the father, he was of Quaker descent; by the mother, he was connected with some of the ancient families of Virginia. He was the eldest of ten children, who were left orphans while young. He and they were all adopted by an uncle, who had no children, educated by him, and became his heirs. The whole family was reared to usefulness and comfort and respectability, and is a proof that uncles may be kind to orphans. He pursued the study of the law, and entered on its practice in Petersburg and the surrounding counties. His first marriage was with Miss Rebecca Marsden, of Norfolk, July, 1821.

“In the year 1829, during a revival of religion, in the congregation of the Rev. B. H. Rice, pastor of the Presbyterian church, Petersburg, he made profession of religion, and united with the people of God. Soon after he was called by the voice of the church to the office of elder. On the 10th of June, 1833, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Hanover to preach the gospel. The religious destitutions of his native State called him from the Bar, and a prosperous business, to spend time, and money, and health, as a minister of Jesus Christ. Soon after his license, he enlisted in the cause of the Bible Society, and traversed Virginia, and some sections of the Southland was eminently successful in raising funds for the supply of our country with the Bible. His social habits and gentlemanly manners, and earnest pleading in the cause of the Bible, made him welcome wherever he went. ’Twas hard to hate him. ’Twas easy to love him; and to love him much. After accomplishing the object of his agency, he supplied, for a few years, vacancies in Chesterfield County, and in the vicinity of Petersburg. Having received an invitation to Winchester, he commenced his labors as pastor of the Presbyterian congregation, in that place, in January, 1839. In August, 1844, his wife died, and was the first carried, by a sympathising community, to Mount Hebron, on the beautiful eastern hill.

“His second marriage was with a grand-daughter of Judge Robert White, long a resident in Winchester. In the spring of 1846, believing that it would be for his greater usefulness, and for the advantage of the church in Winchester, he resigned his pastoral charge, and accepted an agency for the Board of Education of the Presbyterian Church.

“His labors to rouse attention to the education of ministers, and to call young men into the work of the gospel, were indefatigable. His exertion was beyond his strength. He fell a martyr to his sense of duty, and honorable exertion. He was an agent men loved to have come to their houses and congregations. His influence was always good. His services could not be estimated by money. His laborious usefulness outweighed any earthly recompense. One of the most resolute of men, he was one of the most gentle. Firm in his own opinions, and almost pertinacious in argument ; he knew how to let other people hold their opinions. He seemed to study how far wrong an opponent in religious matters might be, and yet be saved; and his kindness would meet him there. In his resolute defence of truth, he would yield nothing. In his kindness we sometimes thought he would give up every thing. In the blending of these two qualities, he was one of the best of pastors and agents, and an invaluable friend. He would see your wrong doing, would palliate, would forgive it, and you loved him the more for all. Had he lived in Germany, in the time of the reformation, we should expect to have found him, with Melanchthon, softening the vehemence of Luther, and defending the truth. Had he lived in England, we should have looked for him among those firm, amiable, old Protestant martyrs, ‘ of blessed memory.’ Had he lived in Scotland we should have searched for him in that company over whose head floated the banner with his own dying words — "Christ, the Cross and the Covenant."

*With us, we knew what he was. He showed as little of the selfishness and depravity of human nature as any man that ever lived. He was a gentleman and a Christian; and died as he lived. I shall miss him,—and who will not?—everywhere. In the social circle, in the councils of the church, in vain shall we look for his kind, benevolent face, and listen for his friendly voice. In memory and affection he will be with us till we ourselves pass away.”'


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