Page images
PDF
EPUB

them, nor had the message itself been often proclaimed in that region. Thither Mr. Rice removed and settled, and took the charge of tbiee congregations- one of which was five, another eleven, and another twenty-five miles from the place of his residence.

Here he laboured for thirteen years and a half, with some considerable appearance of success, Times of refreshing came at least occasionally from the Lord,when old professors were revived and animated with the vigour of youth, and instances of fresh awakening among the people occurred.

The Peaks of Otter, which was the congregation twenty-five miles from his residence, appeared to be more especially visited. In that place a seriousness and attention to religious exercises commenced, which lasted, with very little abatement, for ten years. The divine influences felt were not like a plentiful shower, but they were as a continual dropping in a rainy day. Here he spent a considerable portion of his time very agreeably. Perhaps, all circumstances considered, he enjoyed more comfort during this period in this place, than ever be enjoyed any where else. The evenings, in places where he lodged, were peculiarly delightful. The house at which he put up was carefully marked, and without any previous appointment for that purpose, the most of those in the neighbourhood, who were under serious impressions, would collect there. Religious conversation, interspersed with songs of praise, was as naturally introduced and continued as the ordinary chitchat of ordinary meetings of Christians commonly so called, is introduced and continued. The subjects of conversation were usually such as the following. What is the difference between conviction of sin and mere terror of conscience? What is the evidence of true evangelical repentance, and how is it to be distinguished from false repentance? What is the difference between true love to God and the Redeemer, and that sell-congratulation of which hypocrites may be the subjects? What is the difference between true love of the breth ren and that which arises from self-love and party spirit? &c. &c. &c. These questions Mr. Rice endeav. oured to explain and solve, and in doing so patiently beard whatever remarks or inquiries any persons thought fit to make. At a convenient hour, the small and attentive, and every way interesting assemblies, , were dismissed by prayer and the pastoral blessing.

Their public assemblies during this period commonly consisted of Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Baptists, who were pretty numerous, and Methodists, who then were few. All these denominations attended Mr. Rice's public ministrations with peace and friendship, with very little appearance of party spirit. Considerable reason was given to hope that God was glorified, and the souls of the people edified. There were commonly added at each communion, which was twice a year,

from six to fifteen new members, some of whom had been old hardened sinners, but who had been made to bow to the sceptre of the Prince of peace. Others, and the greater number, were young people rising up or settling in the world. The doctrines of the cross, which have always been the wisdom and the power of God to the salvation of many, appear to have been the great instrument by

which men were added to the church under Mr. Rice's administration. "I do not recollect,” says he, “that I ever attempted to make a proselyte, and seldom heard of any attempt of that kind being made by any denomination in these parts.”

By the blessing of heaven on the faithful labours of his servant, the three congregations so increased, that the sphere of labour was too extensive for one man, even could they all have met in one place of worship. He, therefore, first gave up one of the congregations below, and then the other, and contined his attention to the Peaks of Otter,

It is to be added, that these people were faithful and punctual in fulfilling their pecuniary engagements with their pastor—that the gospel continues among them and is supported by them still—and that sometime after Mr. Rice's removal from them they were blest with a considerable revival, a number of the subjects of wbich attributed their first serious impressions to his preaching.

It is also to be remarked, that the period of Mr. Rice's residence among those people was during the war of the revolution, and that while many of the servants of God in the cities and on the sea coast were driv.

from their flocks by the unnatural invasion of the British troops, Mr. Rice was in the full, and successful, and uninterrupted discharge of the duties of the pastoral office. The mountains brought forth peace to the people, and the little hills by righteousness.

en

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER VIII.

HE MOVES TO KENTUCKY.

The duty which a christian minister owes to his fam jy is of a varied kind. With every other christian pil rent he is indeed to be deeply concerned for their eternal welfare, but he is also to have a due regard to their temporal comfort; and to their temporal comfort not only when they are under his roof, in a great measure incapable of providing for their daily wants—but his views and arrangements ought also to extend as far as possible to the mode in which they may provide for themselves and others when they shall have arrived at maturity, and have other families depending upon them Now, in what particular way, and to what particular extent a provision of this kind is to be made, is often, with a conscientious servant of the cross, a question of plifficult solution.

It is doubtful whether any christian parent ought to form and attempt to execute plans having for their chiei' object an independent fortune either for himself or for his children. All agree that such a spirit cherished in a christian minister is utterly incompatible with his character. Yet a preacher of the gospel, who has a rising family, must look a little a-head and contemplate a period when perhaps he himself may depend entirely for his support upon his own children. It is of importance, then, that as soon as possible these his children

be placed in some such situation in which, with the blessing of providence, they may discharge at once parental and filial duties,

It was under circumstances of this nature that Mr. Rice first turned his attention towards Kentucky. It was spoken of and recommended to him as a country where the best of land might be procured with little more expense and trouble than that connected with having it entered and surveyed as the law directed. He accordingly was induced at a convenient time to ride out and see the country, not principally with the view of preaching the gospel, nor even with the view of moving there soon, if ever; but merely to become acquainted with the country, and if all circumstances were encouraging, to procure settlements for some of his pumerous family.

A land office for Kentucky had just been opened, and swarms of land speculators were pouring into it.Though he was charmed with the country, neither the mode appointed by the Legislature of Virginia for taking up land, por the character of the settlers generally, pleased bim. "I saw," says he, "what the spirit of speculation was flowing in such a torrent that it would bear down every weak obstacle that stood in its way. I looked forward to fifty or sixty years, and saw the inbabitants engaged in very expensive and demoralizing litigations about their landed property. I knew the make of my own mind, that I could not enjoy the happiness of life if engaged in disputes and law-suits. I therefore resolved to return home without securing a single foot of land."

« PreviousContinue »