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may deceive the very elect, if it were possible? I tell ye, sirs, he's a dangerous mon, and the less we ha'e to do wi' him the better for us a'.' Soon after this, young Roberts left the place, and returned to his father's, greatly delighted with the result of the discussion.
“It is well known to those who are acquainted with the early history of Methodism in Western Pennsylvania, that this controversy was the means of opening to her ministry a 'great and effectual door' of usefulness. From that day forward the Methodist Church, in all that mountain range of country, has been rapidly advancing in numbers and influence.”
The result of this discussion was not only a triumph for Methodism in the vindication of its great gospel truths, but it also conferred on Mr. Cook a reputation that placed him by the side of the ablest ministers of the Church.
The following year we find him among the mountains of Western Virginia, on the Clarksburg Cir. cuit. In 1794, his appointment is to the District embracing Bristol, Chester, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Northumberland, and Wyoming Circuits, lying almost entirely in Pennsylvania; and in 1795, his District comprises the Northumberland, Wyoming, Tioga, and Seneca Circuits. In 1796 and 1797, he leads the band of itinerants, who, amid privations and sacrifices, traverse the mountains over which the Clarksburg, Ohio, Redstone, Pittsburgh, and Greenfield Circuits spread. A faithful messenger of truth, he passed through his District, scattering
the rays of Divine light, proclaiming the everlasting gospel, encouraging the preachers by his untiring zeal, and everywhere calling the people to repentance. In 1798, he came to Kentucky, and, as the successor to John Kobler, was placed in charge of the District, as Presiding Elder. His immense labors had broken down his health, and at the Conference of 1800, he located. “Such, however, were his extraordinary endowments, mental, moral, and evangelical-such the strength of his faith, the fervency of his zeal, and the efficiency of his ministry—that no seclusion of place or obscurity of position could prevent the Church or the world from recognizing him as a great and good man, as well as an able, laborious, and eminently successful minister of the cross of Christ." *
The Bethel Academy, to which we alluded in a former chapter, was still in an unfinished state. It was the second institution of learning established by the Methodist Church in America.
The educational advantages of Valentine Cookhis great popularity in the pulpit, as well as adaptedness to such a position-pointed him out as well qualified to take charge of this academy. He, however, remained at Bethel but a few years. He subsequently took charge of an academy at Harrodsburg, and finally removed to Logan county, three miles north of Russellville, where he resided until his death.
* Sketch of Valentine Cook, by Dr. Stevenson, p. 10. † Cokesbury College was the first.
In 1798, “ he was married to Miss Tabitha Slaughter, the niece of the ex-Governor of that name. In his local sphere, he made “good proof of his ministry.” Regarding Methodism as perfectly daguerreotyped in the Holy Bible, to defend its doctrines, to enforce its precepts, and proclaim its truths, was the most fondly cherished wish of his heart. As an able champion placed for the defense “of the faith,” Kentucky will always hold him in admiration and reverence. The controversies in which he engaged, and their successful termination in behalf of the Church of which he was so able a minister, would, by tradition, transmit his name to future generations, though no sketch of him had ever been written. But while his controversial powers were of the highest order, the great theme on which he loved to dwell was experimental religion. Not only in the pulpit, but in the social circlewhere the urbanity of his manners, and his bright Christian example, made him a welcome guest_he always turned the conversation on the subject of religion. He was truly a man of deep piety.
During the winter of 1811-12, Kentucky was visited by a succession of earthquakes, that produced great alarm among the people. The most violent concussion was felt on a certain dark night, at an untimely hour, when men were wrapped in slumber. It was enough to make the stoutest heart tremble.
Brother Cook, suddenly roused from sleep, made for the door, exclaiming, “I believe Jesus is coming."
His wife was alarmed, and said, “Will you wait for me?" Said he, “If my Jesus is coming, I will wait for nobody!”*
The same writer says:
“My personal acquaintance with Brother Cook commenced in his own house, near Russellville, Kentucky, in the summer of 1815, and was renewed when I became a member of the Kentucky Conference, by transfer, in 1821. From that time till his death, my fields of labor being somewhat contiguous to his residence, I saw something of his movements, and heard much more. He was then an old man, and honored as a father in the Church, but still possessed of strong physical and mental powers. His aid was anxiously sought after on all important occasions in the west part of the State; and wherever he appeared in a religious assembly, he was hailed as a harbinger of mercy. Whole multitudes of people, on popular occasions, were moved by the Spirit of grace, under his preaching, as the trees of the forest were moved by the winds of heaven. His last public effort, as I was informed by those who were present, made at Yellow Creek camp-meeting, in Dixon county, Tennessee, was a signal triumph. While preaching on the Sabbath, such a power came down on the people, and produced such an excitement, that he was obliged to desist till order was partially restored. Shortly after he resumed speaking, he was stopped from the same cause. A third attempt produced the same result.
He then sat down amidst a glorious shower of grace, and wept, saying, "If the Lord sends rain, we will stop the plow, and let it rain.'"*
* Morris's Miscellany, pp. 175, 176.
Impressed with the belief that his work was wellnigh done, in the autumn of 1819, he consummated a fondly cherished desire of his heart, in visiting his old friends in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. He “felt a wish to kneel by the graves of his departed parents, and to take a last look, as well as a last leave, of the memorable spot where first the light of Heaven broke upon his soul.” In his route, he passed through Lexington, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he preached “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” He then proceeded to Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore, where “vast crowds of people flocked to hear him,” and “scores and hundreds were awakened and converted to God through his instrumentality.” Returning home, he passed through the Greenbrier country, seeing “many of his relatives and early friends;" looking upon “ the scenes of his childhood," and kneeling “at the spot" where slept the dust of his parents. Then, bidding adieu to his friends, he wended his way to his own home, from which he had been absent for several weeks. Passing around his little farm, the well-known sound of his sweetly toned voice was heard, as he sang:
“Salvation, O the joyful sound !
'Tis pleasure to our ears : A soy'reign balm for wound,
A cordial for our fears."
* Morris's Miscellany, p. 177.