Abbildungen der Seite

seventeenth year of his age, was awakened, converted, and brought into the Methodist Episcopal Church. His mother was strenuously opposed to the step he had taken, but the opposition was soon overcome by his zeal for religion and the sanctity of his life.

Impressed with the conviction that he ought to devote himself to the work of the ministry, difficulties of an embarrassing character seemed to hedge up his way. The care of the family had

. been left to him as a sacred legacy by his father, previous to his death; his mother strenuously opposed his entering the itinerancy; and the interest and the cares of home demanded his attention. Amid these obstacles he earnestly sought the path of duty. “The love of Christ constrained him.” The victory was gained; and, not disregarding his filial obligations, but making ample provision for his mother and the remainder of the family, he entered upon the “hazardous enterprise of Methodist itinerancy.

In 1789, he was licensed to preach; shortly after which he was called out by the Rev. Richard Whatcoat, then Presiding Elder, to fill a vacancy on Dover Circuit, Delaware.”' f It was not, however, until 1792, that his name appears on the Conference roll.

From the very hour of his entrance into the Conference until his death-covering a period of

[ocr errors]

* Letter from his son, the Rev. Joseph G. Ward, of the Little Rock Conference.

+ General Minutes M. E. Church, Vol. VI., p. 13.

sixty-three years—his devotion to the Church was characterized by untiring zeal; while, in the various charges he filled, the most extraordinary revivals of religion were, under God, the result of his labors.

During the early years of his ministry, while connected with the Baltimore Conference, “he labored chiefly in the valley and mountain sections of Virginia. Many pleasing reminiscences of his great success in winning souls to Christ still remain among the inhabitants of those regions. The men and women who were young two generations ago speak with raptures of his untiring zeal, his almost exhaustless energy, his overwhelming ministrations. They ranked him among the ablest and most successful men of his times."*

In 1807, he was regularly transferred to the Western Conference, and stationed on the Lexington Circuit, while his family resided on a farm in Jefferson county, which he had purchased.

At the General Conference of 1808, the Rev. William McKendree, the Presiding Elder on the Cumberland District, was elected to the Episcopal office. On the District Mr. Ward was his successor.

At this time the Cumberland District comprised twelve separate pastoral charges, embracing within its territorial limits the whole of Southern Kentucky, a portion of Middle Tennessee, the territories of Illinois and Missouri, and the inhabited settlements of Indiana. To accomplish his work,

*General Minutes M. E. Church, Vol, VI., p. 13.

"he had, in some places, to carry his provisions with him, and lie out in the woods or prairies at night." * He remained on this District but one year, during which he astonished the people by his zeal; while great displays of Divine power were, everywhere within its bounds, seen and felt under his ministrations.

In the years 1809 and 1810, we find him on the Kentucky District, the successor of the illustrious William Burke. This District-embracing the country around Maysville and Flemingsburg-extended into the central portion of the State, including the settlements along the Licking River; the blue-grass lands of Fayette and Mercer counties-embracing Frankfort, Shelbyville, and Louisville, and throwing its lengthening lines across Green River, and to the banks of the Cumberlandwas the field to be occupied by James Ward.

During the two years of his supervision of the Kentucky District, the same success that had everywhere previously crowned his labors was still to be

The following year he was appointed to the Shelby Circuit; and then for two years he presided over the Salt River District; when, with impaired health, and a growing family to support and to educate, he asked for and obtained a location; in which relation he continued until 1828.

In this sphere, however, he had no ease. His zeal for the cause of Christ found no abatement whatever. “Working diligently with his hands,


* Letter from the Rev. J. G. Ward.

he embraced every opportunity of preaching. He spent no idle Sabbaths when it was possible for him to get to church. He kept up regular appointments, and was always willing to assist the traveling preachers at camp-meetings and two-days' meetings, and spent much of his time from home."* Wherever he attended meetings, he bore an active part in the exercises—whether in the pulpit, making his appeals to sinners, or in the altar, impressing upon the penitent the “exceeding great and precious promises ” of the word of God.

In 1828, he was reädmitted into the Kentucky Conference; but, after traveling three years, he became superannuated, which relation he sustained until 1833; and from that period until 1840, he traveled circuits, yet was unable to do more than meet his regular appointments, from which he was seldom absent.

In 1840, his name disappears from the effective list, to be placed on it no more. From that time until his death he sustained a superannuated relation.

In the controversy which arose between the two divisions of the Methodist Church, in the General Conference of 1844, he took his position with the Northern branch; and in 1848, he asked admittance into the Baltimore Conference, and “the Conference, without controversy, by a unanimous vote, directed that his name should be recorded upon the list of superannuated members."

* Letter froin the Rev. J. G. Ward.

“On the 13th of April, 1855, in the eighty-fourth year of his age, and the sixty-third of his itinerant ministry, he departed this life, near Floydsburg, Kentucky. His death seems to have been less the result of any particular disease than the gradual wearing away of life’s weary wheels. The heavenly inheritance was bright before him to the last moment. His sun went down without a cloud. His spirit, without a struggle, returned to his God." *

As a preacher, Mr. Ward was not what the world would call eloquent. There was nothing rhetorical in his gestures, nor did he appeal to the sympathetic passions of the people. His preaching was scriptural; and this, with the fact that he was a man of prayer, always trusting in God, was the basis of his great success.

He was a member of the General Conferences of 1804 and 1808. He was also elected to the General Conference of 1812, but through modesty declined.f

This year introduces the name of William Burke into the history of Methodism in Kentucky. Among the early Methodist preachers of the West, William Burke stood preëminently high. With the fortunes of the struggling cause he became identified the previous year, when he joined the Conference, and was appointed to Green Circuit, in East Tennes

In 1793, in charge of the Danville Circuit, with Page and Sewell for his colleagues, he entered the ranks in Kentucky, and from that period until 1812 he spent the most of his time in this extensive

* General Minutes M. E. Church, Vol. VI., pp. 13, 14. Judge Scott.


« ZurückWeiter »