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CHAPTER VI. .
FROM THE CONFERENCE OF 1793 TO THE CONFERENCE
Conference held this year in Kentucky at Masterson's Station
Dangers encountered by Bishop Asbury to reach Kentucky - His immense labors-Jacob Lurton-James Ward-William BurkeJohn Ball—Gabriel Woodfield-Death of Henry Birchett.
The Conference for the West, for the year 1793, was held in Kentucky, at Masterson's Station—the same place at which it convened three years previous. The session commenced on Tuesday, the 30th of April, and embraced the first and second days of May.*
To reach the seat of the Conference, Bishop Asbury again encountered the dangers of the wilderness. His route from Tennessee to Kentucky led him by “Doe River, at the fork, and through the Gap,' presenting a most gloomy scene, not unlike the Shades of Death in the Alleghany Mountains."
On his way he held “a Conference at Nelson's, near Jonesboro," where they had “sweet peace.'
Anticipating trouble from the Indians, he expresses trust in God, and feels sure that, “if God suffer Satan to drive the Indians
* The Rev. William Burke says: “On the 15th of April, 1793, the Conference met at Masterson's Station." (Western Methodism, p. 36.) We, however, prefer to follow Asbury's Journal, Vol. II., P. 194,
on his company, “he will teach their hands to war, and their fingers to fight and conquer.”
The session of the Conference was a delightful one. The deliberations were marked with candor“openly speaking their minds to each other”-and it closed “under the melting, praying, praising
power of God."
There was but little business transacted of which we have any record. The only entry made is, that “trustees were appointed for the school, and sundry regulations made relative thereto." They also “read the Form of Discipline through, section by section, in Conference.”
The day after Conference he preached from Habakkuk iii. 2, and some of the “people were moved in an extraordinary manner;" and the next day he arrives at Bethel, and holds a meeting with the newly elected trustees."
Bishop Asbury deeply laments the decay of moral power, and makes a touching allusion to “the want of religion in most houses."
During his brief stay in Kentucky-entering the State on the 10th of April, and leaving it on the 10th of May-he attended two quarterly meetings; one of which was held at Humphries’s Chapel, and the other at Clark's Station. Almost every day he preached to listening hundreds, urging the Church to awake from its lethargy, and sinners to turn to God. He traverses nearly the entire of Central and South-eastern Kentucky-exposing himself to danger, preaching the gospel, and administering
the sacraments—until, utterly exhausted by his immense labors, he says: “I cannot stand quarterly meetings every day: none need desire to be an American Bishop on our plan, for the ease, honor, or interest that attends the office." But amid all this exertion and labor, worn out with traveling and preaching, he exclaims: “Yet, blessed be God, I live continually in his presence, and Christ is all in all to my soul!”
During his stay in Kentucky, he had the pleasure of visiting the Rev. Francis Clark, the pioneer preacher of the Methodist Church, who, in a local relation, had formed the first class, previous to the arrival of Messrs. Haw and Ogden in the District.
Jacob Lurton, James Ward, William Burke, John Ball, and Gabriel Woodfield this year receive appointments in Kentucky. Messrs. Lurton, Ward, Burke, and Ball were present at the Conference.
There were five circuits in the State, and the Appointments were:
Francis Poythress, Presiding Elder. Salt RiverJacob Lurton, James Ward; Danville-William Burke, John Page, John Sewell; Lexington-John Ball, Gabriel Woodfield ; Hinkstone-Richard Bird ; Limestone-Benjamin Northcutt.
Jacob Lurton had entered the connection in 1786, and traveled that year on the West Jersey Circuit. In 1787, he labored on the Berkeley Circuit, in the State of Virginia; the following year he was appointed to the Redstone Circuit, in Pennsylvania. In 1789, he returns to Virginia, and travels the Clarksburg Circuit; the subsequent year the Kanawha. He spends the years 1791 and 1792 in Maryland, on the Baltimore and Harford Circuits; and in 1793, he was transferred to Kentucky, and appointed to the Salt River Circuit—the most difficult to travel and the most laborious of any in the State.
In the various appointments on which Mr. Lurton had labored and suffered, he had been the instrument of good. Whether in West Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, or in the wilderness of the West, he was zealous in the promotion of the kingdom of the Redeemer. His last year in the itinerant ministry was 1794. His circuit was the Cumberland, but the latter six months of the year were spent on the Salt River Circuit. On both of these circuits he was useful and beloved.
In the Cumberland Circuit, under his labors, there was an interesting revival of religion, which extended into Kentucky. He carried the tidings of salvation into Logan county—at that time remarkable for its vice—and was the first to proclaim the story of the cross to the people there. In the humble cabin of Mr. Cartwright—the father of the Rev. Peter Cartwright—in that county, he “preached with great power,” while the “congregation were melted to tears.”
Soon, however, his health failed him, and in the retirement of a local sphere he spent the remainder of his days.
He married a Miss Tooley, on Beargrass Creek, in Jefferson county, and for many years resided on Floyd's Fork of Salt River--where, still faithful to the dispensation of the gospel committed to him, he continued to preach, as his health would permit.
He is said to have been "an original genius," as well as "a useful preacher.” He at length removed to the State of Illinois, and settled near Alton, where he died in great peace.
James Ward, who this year was the colleague of Mr. Lurton, was admitted on trial in 1792, in the Baltimore Conference, and appointed to the Holston Circuit-at that time on the Western frontier.
With the exception of 1793, when his appointment was to the Salt River Circuit, in Kentucky, he spent the first fifteen years of his itinerant life in connection with the Baltimore Conference-preaching chiefly, during this period, in the rugged settlements of Western Virginia.
The four years previous to his transfer to Kentucky_which occurred in 1807—he presided over the Greenbrier District, where his labors were greatly blessed. During the entire period of his early ministry, he was one of the most useful, as well as one of the most laborious, of the pioneer preachers. Persons who knew him in the evening of his life, could scarcely form any adequate idea of his pulpit abilities when in the flower of manhood. He was born and brought up in Princess Anne county, Maryland. In early childhood he was left an orphan. His mother inclined to the Church of England, and endeavored to train him in obedience to the stiff forms of that Communion. He, however, was brought in contact with the Methodist preachers, and through their instrumentality, in the