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His whole tour through the East resembled the triumph of a conqueror.
Wherever he went, he says, “the power of the Spirit of the Lord was
, with me." Thousands hung in breathless silence around him, and caught the words of mercy as they warmly fell from his burning lips. Contemplating death, he says: “My labors in the ministry are drawing to a close. I shall soon have performed my last day's work on earth. Thank God, I am ready, all ready, through his abundant mercy and grace, to depart and be with Christ!"*
In less than a year after he returned from this tour, he was dead.
“A short time previous to his death, he attended a camp-meeting, some eight or ten miles from home. As usual, he labored with great zeal and success. He preached on the Sabbath to a vast crowd, from these words: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.'—2 Corinthians iv. 17. After a solemn and very impressive pause, he lifted his eyes to heaven, and said: “What! our afflictions work for us a weight of glory!-a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!' and added, “I believe it with all my heart, because thou, O God, hast revealed it in this blessed volume.' The effect upon the congregation is said to have been very remarkable, and the discourse throughout has been represented as among the most able and effective that he ever delivered. This was
* Dr. Stevenson.
the last sermon he preached, as I was informed by his weeping widow, a few months after his death.
“On his return home from this meeting, he was violently attacked with bilious fever. His case, from the first, was considered doubtful, and finally hopeless. Conscious of his approaching dissolution, he called his wife and children to his bedside, and, after taking a last earthly leave of his family, he committed them, with many expressions of confidence, to the guidance and protection of Almighty Goodness. When asked by one of his neighbors, a few moments before his death, how he felt, he answered, 'I scarcely know,' and then added, • When I think of Jesus, and of living with him for ever, I am so filled with the love of God, that I scarcely know whether I am in the body or out of the body.' These were the last words that ever fell from his lips. He died as he had lived, strong in faith, giving glory to God.'” *
The year 1798 was distinguished for the introduction of Methodism into that portion of the Northwestern Territory now known as the State of Ohio. Kentucky was already the great center of Methodism in the West. The rapid tide of emigration to the vast fields beyond the Ohio, not only from Kentucky, but also from other States, very properly invited the attention of Bishop Asbury to the importance of sending a missionary to them, and John Kobler was selected for that enterprising yet arduous field.
* Sketch of Cook, by Dr. Stevenson, pp. 75, 76.
Francis McCormack, a local preacher of piety and zeal, who immigrated to Kentucky in 1795, and settled in Bourbon county, not pleased with the State, had preceded Mr. Kobler to the North-western Territory, and settled “on the Little Miami, near where Milford now stands." Up to the time of the entrance of Mr. Kobler on this missionary field, “no sound of the everlasting gospel had as yet broken upon their ears; no house of worship was erected wherein Jehovah's name was recorded; no joining the assembly of the saints, or those who keep the holy-day; but the whole might with strict propriety be called a land of darkness and the shadow of death." *
Mr. Kobler “spread the first table for the sacrament of the Lord's Supper that was spread northwest of the Ohio," when only “twenty-five or thirty-the sum total of all that were in the country"-communed.
At the following Conference, he reported the Miami Circuit with ninety-eight white members and one colored-and to which Henry Smith was appointed the succeeding year.
At the close of this year, we have the pleasure to report an increase of thirty-seven members, which, though small, indicates that the downward tendency is checked.
* Finley's Sketches of Western Methodism, p. 170.
FROM THE CONFERENCE OF 1799 TO THE CONFERENCE
HELD IN APRIL, 1800.
The Conference held at Bethel Academy-Daniel Gossage-Farther
increase in membership—The decline in membership between the years 1792 and 1800, and the causes- -Emigration from the State The O'Kelly schism-Legislation on the subject of slavery—Prevalent infidelity-Erroneous Doctrines—John and William McGeeThe great revival-Red River Church-Muddy River— The Ridge meeting-Desha's Creek—Letter from the Rev. John McGee.
The Conference of 1799 was held on the 1st day of May, at Bethel Academy. In reference to the session we have but little information, except such as we find in the General Minutes.
The name of Daniel Gossage is the only one in the list of Appointments in Kentucky, of whom previous mention had not been made. He, however, only entered the Conference this year, and was appointed, with Thomas Allen, to the Salt River and Shelby Circuit. At the next Conference his name disappears from the roll, and all trace of him is lost.
At the close of this year, we have the pleasure of reporting again an increase of members, amounting to one hundred and three-an improvement on the report of the previous year.
It is a pleasant task to trace the history of the Church amid scenes of revival, when the achievements of Christianity, “like the rushing of a mighty wind," arrest the attention of entire communities; or when, in its more gentle influence, it gradually adds to the number of its conquests from the ranks of sin. But when, in the midst of tireless efforts on the part of chosen instruments, we discover any decay of its power, or any diminution of its sway, it is proper that we pause to inquire into the causes by which its prosperity has been impaired.
Between the years 1792 and 1800, the men who occupied the field in the West, if equaled, have not been surpassed, for their zeal, their abundant labors, and their self-sacrificing spirit, in any age of the Church; yet, during this period, while the State of Kentucky increased in population from less than one hundred thousand to two hundred and sixtyfour thousand three hundred and three, including whites and colored, the Methodist Episcopal Church decreased in membership from one thousand eight hundred and eight to one thousand seven hundred and forty-one.
Why this result? It certainly cannot be ascribed to any want of fidelity to the Church on the part of the preachers of that period; nor can it be traced to any defect in the doctrines they preached—for these, if not found in the Confessions of Faith of other evangelical Churches, have met with almost universal adoption by the orthodox pulpit.
The Rev. D. R. McAnally, in his “Life and Times of the Rev. Samuel Patton,” in referring to