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men. It is delightful to see in this first preacher, that frankness and candour about doctrines and practice and designs in religion, that has so long characterized the ministry that have followed him in succession. May it ever be their glory, that no man that hears them often need ask,--and no stranger may inquire but once-what are their doctrinal views.
On Sabbath, July 6th, 1743, the first sermon from a Presbyterian minister, was heard in Hanover county, Virginia. The text was Luke xiii. 3,-"I tell you, nay: but except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.”. What a subject for a warmhearted preacher to pour into the ears and hearts of an excited people, assembled, for the first time, to hear an evangelical minister proclaim the solemn truths of the gospel. “He continued”-says Mr. Morris—“with us preaching, four days successively. The congregation was large the first day, and vastly increased the three ensuing. 'Tis hard for the liveliest imagination to form an image of the condition of the assembly on these glorious days of the Son of Man. Such of us as had been hungering for the word before, were lost in agreeable surprise and astonishment, and some could not refrain from publicly declaring their transports. We were overwhelmed with the thoughts of the unexpected goodness of God in allowing us to hear the gospel preached in a manner that surpassed our hopes. Many, that came through curiosity, were pricked to their heart; and but few of the numerous assembly on these four days appeared unaffected. They returned alarmed with apprehensions of their dangerous condition, convinced of their former entire ignorance of religion, and anxiously inquiring what they should do to be saved. And there is reason to believe, there was as much good done by these four sermons, as by all the sermons preached in these parts before or since." This statement was made in the year 1750; by "as much good," the writer probably means, as many souls hopefully converted. “Before Mr. Robinson left us,"—continues Mr. Morris—“he successfully endeavoured to correct some of our mistakes; and to bring us to carry on the worship of God more regularly at our meetings. After this we met to read good sermons, and began and concluded with prayer and signing of psalms, which till then we had omitted.” What these mistakes were, has been stated, and they were such as experienced men would expect to find in a community where religious knowledge and experience were novelties; mistakes, of which the proud are tenacious, and from which the humble are speedily delivered by faithful teaching.
After spending four days in preaching publicly, and instructing and counselling privately, Mr. Robinson was constrained to depart; his previous appointments called him on, and it was rumoured that the officers of the law were preparing to arrest
him as an itinerant. The people, in part to remunerate him for fatiguing rides and incessant labours, but mostly, as an expression of gratitude, raised a considerable sum of money, and presented it to him. This, for various reasons, he refused. They pressed the matter: he, believing it to be injudicious to take any thing from them in the present condition of things, perseveringly refused.
“In this dilemma"-says Mr. Hunt—“the committee entrusted with it put it into the hands of the gentleman, with whom he was to lodge the last night of his stay in the county, with directions to convey it privately into his saddle bags, not doubting, but when, after his departure, he should find himself in possession of the money, he would appropriate it to his own use. This was accordingly done. And in the morning, Mr. Robinson having taken an affectionate leave of his kind friends, his saddle bags were handed to him, but he found them much more ponderous than when he came there. Searching for the cause, like Joseph's brethren of old, he found the money in the sack's mouth. Pleased with the benevolent artifice, he smiling said'I see you are resolved I shall have your money; I will take it; but as I have told you before, I do not need it; I have enough, nor will I appropriate it to my own use; but there is a young man of my acquaintance of promising talents and piety, who is now studying with a view to the ministry, but his circumstances are embarrassing, he has not funds to support and carry him on without much difficulty; this money will relieve him from his pecuniary difficulties: I will take charge of it and appropriate it to his use; and as soon as he is licensed we will send him to visit you; it may be, that you may now, by your liberality, be educating a minister for yourselves. This money was appropriated by Mr. Robinson to the education of Samuel Davies. His promise was kept; he did not live to see the reality of his anticipation; he died in 1746, and Davies came to Virginia in 1747.
“This is the reason”-said a pious old lady to Dr. Rice“that Mr. Davies came to Hanover; for he often used to say that he was inclined to settle in another place; but that he felt under obligations to the people of Hanover." On these facts the Editor
of the Literary and Evangelical Magazine, the Rev. John H. Rice, D.D., remarked—“As far as we can learn this is the first money that ever was contributed, in Virginia, for the education of poor and pious youth for the ministry of the gospel. And really it turned out so well we wonder the people have not done much more in the same way.”
Thus ends Mr. Robinson's personal labours in Virginia. One short visit to a number of congregations; to a few, two visits, in the same excursion; and be passes from the sight of these people forever. But his footsteps were impressed upon a rock. In Prince Edward, Charlotte, Campbell, and Hanover, the fruits of his labours have been visible for more than a century. He planted, others watered, God gave the increase. In Carolina, Mr. Davies says Mr. Robinson—“underwent great hardship without much success. But the case is now happily altered. A new congregation, I think upon the Pedee river, sent a petition lately to our Presbytery for a minister. Besides this I hear of several other places in North Carolina that are ripening fast for the gospel. O that God would send forth faithful labourers into his harvest." There is no tradition or record, in Carolina, of the visit of this man, yet we can scarcely believe that his fervent preaching, so effective elsewhere, was lost there. In the great day it will be seen where the seed was sown. Some one sowed seed there that has been as fruitful in its harvest, as the seed sown in Virginia by this favoured man.”
Mr. Robinson's health declined, after this southern visit; but his bow abode in strength, and many arrows from the quiver of the Almighty were shot from his withering hands, into the hearts of the King's enemies. The accounts we have of him, from this visit, until his death, given by Mr. Davies, and Mr. Blair, who preached his funeral sermon, and Dr. Miller, in his Life of Rodgers, represent him as hasting with Apostolic speed, lighting up the horizon with his torch of fire, and expiring in midheaven. Mr. Davies says-"In Maryland also there has been a considerable revival (shall I call it ?)—or first plantation of religion-in Baltimore county, where I am informed Mr. Whittlesey is likely to settle. In Kent county, and in Queen Anne's, a number of careless sinners have been awakened and hopefully brought to Christ. The work was begun and mostly carried on by the instrumentality of that favoured man Mr. Robinson, whose success, whenever I reflect upon it, astonishes me.
Oh! he did much in a little time; and who would not choose such an cxpeditious pilgrimage through this world. There are in these places a considerable congregation, and they have made repeated efforts to obtain a settled minister. But the most glorious display of Divine grace, in Maryland, has been in and about Somerset county. It began, I think in 1745, by the ministry of Mr. Robinson, and was afterwards carried on by several ministers that preached transiently there. I was there about two months, when the work was at its height, and I never saw such a deep and spreading concern. The assemblies were numerous, though in the extremity of a cold winter, and unwearied in attending the word. And frequently there were very few among them that did not give some indications of distress or joy. Oh! these were the happiest days that ever my eyes saw. Since that, the harvest seems over there, though considerable gleanings, I hear, are still gathered. They have, of late, got Mr. Henry for their minister, a young man who I trust will be an “extensive blessing to that part of the colony. There was also a great stir about religion in Buckingham, a place on the sea shore, which has since spread and issued in a hopeful conversion in several instances. They also want a minister.” These latter named places were the scenes of the labours of that Apostolic missionary, Francis Makemie. Buckingham, now called Berlin, the county seat of Worcester county, had for a time the labours of one of the Tennents.
Dr. Hill relates an interesting anecdote of Mr. Robinson while in Virginia. On the night before he was to preach in Hanover for
the first time, Mr. Robinson rode late to reach a tavern within some eight or ten miles of the place of preaching.-“ The tavern keeper was a shrewd, boisterous, profane man. When uttering some horrid oaths, Mr. Robinson ventured to reprove him for his profanity; and although it was done in a mild way, the innkeeper gave him a sarcastic look, and said— Pray, Sir, who are you, to take such authority upon yourself? I am a minister of the gospel,' says Mr. Robinson. Then you belie your looks very much,' was the reply, It is said Mr. Robinson had had the small pox very seriously, which had given him a very rough visage, and deprived of the sight of one of his eyes. It was with reference to his forbidding appearance, that the innkeeper seemed to question his ministerial character. But'-says Mr. Robinson— if you wish certainly to know whether I am a minister or not, if you will accompany me, you may be convinced by hearing me preach. I will,' says the innkeeper, “if you will preach from a text which I shall give you. Let me hear it,' says Mr. Robinson, and if there is nothing unsuitable in it, I will. The waggish innkeeper gave him the passage from the Psalms* For I am fearfully and wonderfully made.' Mr. Robinson agreed that it should be one of his texts. The man was at Mr. Robinson's meeting, and that text was the theme of one of his sermons. Before it was finished, the wicked man was made to feel that he was the monster, and that he was fearfully and wonderfully made. It is said he became a very pious and useful member of the church; and it is thought Mr. Davies alludes to this instance when he says, “I have been the joyful witness of the happy effects of those four sermons upon sundry thoughtless impenitents and sundry abandoned profligates, who have ever since given good evidence of a thorough conversion from sin to holiness. Thus this good man cast the gospel net and caught of every sort, gathering whom his Lord called.”
On the 19th of March 1746, he was dismissed from the Presbytery of New Brunswick to the Presbytery of New Castle, to become the pastor of the congregation of St. George's in Delaware. This church and congregation had been gathered in a revival under the preaching of Mr. Whitefield and Mr. Robinson; the latter was its first minister and about to be their permanent pastor. But in April following his course on earth was finished. His funeral sermon was preached on the 3d of August of the same year, by Mr. Samuel Blair. He was a martyr to the labours he voluntarily endured for the cause of Christ; having never had his health after his tour through Virginia and North Carolina. In pecuniary matters he was charitable almost to a fault. Feeling deeply for the misery of his race, he was unsparing of his property, or strength, or life, in the deliverance of men from the wrath to come.
He bequeathed his library to the Rev. Samuel Davies, his protege and fellow labourer.
MINISTERS VISITING HANOVER AFTER MR. ROBINSON, AND
PREVIOUS TO MR, SAMUEL DAVIES.
The desire of the people of Hanover to hear the Gospel, as preached by Mr. Robinson, did not depart with that able Evangelist. His words continued to ring in their ears, and agitate their hearts. The efforts to compel a conformity to the established church, while its ministers preached in a manner so little accomodated to their necessities, only made these people long for freedom of conscience—and for a living ministry, whose doctrines, enforced by their godly lives, might be for their purification and life. The voice of all mankind demands that the priesthood shall be an example of the moral nature of their God.
The first minister that visited these people after Mr. Robinson, was Mr. John Blair, educated in the famous school of his brother Samuel Blair, at New Londonderry, in Faggs Manor, he was for a time a settled pastor in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He then succeeded his brother in Faggs Manor; and afterwards was Vice President of Nassau Hall, and Professor of Theology in that institution. He ended his days December 8th, 1771, at Wallkill, New York. An amiable man, he was well qualified for his various stations in life. Going from that extensive revival, that agitated, and refreshed, parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and New England, to visit &