Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site
Graham, Rev. John. Autobiography and Reminscences of Rev John Graham,
Late Pastor of the Associate, Now the United Presbyterian Congregation of Bovina, Delaware County, NY.
Philadelphia: Wm. S. Rentoul, 1870
Submitted by Ray LaFever, January 8, 2002
Introductory note: I discovered this book at the New York State Library and decided to scan the text. It provides a good picture of Bovina in the early to mid 19th century. Rev John Graham, a native of Scotland, wrote his Reminiscences, as he said, "at leisure times principally for my own edification, and were designed to be left for the benefit of surviving relatives..." Several people suggested that he publish the work, which he did in 1870. The book was probably finished sometime in 1869, since Graham died in April 1870. I cannot tell if he lived to see the book published.
The book includes sermons and letters, as well as his autobiography. I have not attempted to include the entire biography in the interest of space. I have focused on his time in Bovina (1832-1856). I've also created some summary notes to cover other sections of the book that have not been included verbatim. I've also included information that I received from Judy Wight Branson, a look-up volunteer for the Madison County, Iowa GenWeb page. She sent me information about Reverend Graham from "The History of Madison County, Iowa," 1984, page 162.
Keep in mind that during his time as minister in Bovina he also worked with congregations in West Delhi and New Kingston.
Note that I tried to review the text to catch in errors in the scanning. If you do find a misspelling, most likely it is from the original text. Graham used the British spelling for words like labor, spelling it as labour. There were some other 'quirks' in the spelling that I have left alone.
Chapters I-IV (summarized)
John Graham was born in 1794 in Montrose, Scotland, the son of John Graham and Mary Tate (or May Tate). He was interested in becoming a sailor,
but his parents felt otherwise. After some sea adventures, he was sent to work on a farm. He had a fall while running after some cattle and dislocated his hip joint. He was lame the rest of his life. After about a year spent trying to recover from the injury, he apprenticed to his uncle as a tailor for a
year, then went to Arbroath to find employment. In 1815, he traveled to Edinburgh, where he worked for a businessman for 5 years at Princes Street.
The work was not conducive to his health, so he became a student and, at the same time, opened a school to help finance his education.
He became more involved in the church while in Edinburgh. During his college times, he witnessed the merger of the Burgher and Anti-Burgher
churches, branches of the Scottish Presbyterian church. Rev Graham joined the 'Protestors' who were against this union. They became known as
Seceders. [Note: I won't attempt to go into this in any more detail. WORKING through the various schisms and unions in the Scottish Church takes much
more time and space than allowed here]
In 1825, John Graham left Edinburgh to teach at Mr. Cathcart's school at Crosshill, Ayrshire. Graham taught at the school for 3 years. In 1828, the
newly constituted "Original Seceders" was in need for more preachers. They agreed to take three students on trial for license and Graham was one of
those students. He explained that since he had another year committed to the school, he could not comply with their request. Arrangements were made
with Mr. Cathcart to get another student to take Graham's place at the Crosshill school. Graham reluctantly left the school to study for his license to preach.
Graham preached his first sermon after being licensed at his old school in Crosshill. He traveled extensively over the next year, preaching "as far north
as John o' Groat's House, in Thurso, Wick, and the Orkney Isles; also a month in the north of Ireland." He preached extensively in Edinburgh, Glasgow,
Perth, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose and Aberdeen.
Graham had a desire to go to America, but while his father still lived, he "did not feel disposed to act contrary to his wishes." Once his father died,
however, he decided he "could no more hurt his feelings" by following his inclinations. He notified the Synod in May 1831 of his intention to go to
His last Sabbath in which he preached in Scotland was in Glasgow. He traveled to Liverpool, where he waited a week until "a vessel was ready for sea."
He departed Liverpool on September 1, 1831. The voyage lasted over 9 weeks. There were a couple of major storms, including one in which a sailor
was washed overboard, then almost immediately was washed back aboard the ship. Graham was impressed with the scenery on his arrival in New York.
CHAPTER V (excerpted)
FROM MY ARRIVAL IN NEW YORK TILL MY ORDINATION AND SETTLEMENT AS PASTOR OF BOVINA CONGREGATION, N. Y.
After a brief time in the city, Graham traveled to Albany to be admitted by the Presbytery of Albany. He was appointed to first preach in Bovina.
My first appointment was to Bovina, Delaware Co., N.Y.; to which place I went by steamboat up the Hudson river as far as Katskill, then by stage across
the Katskill mountains to within five miles of my destination; this latter distance I went in a sleigh, the ground being then. covered with snow. The first
Sabbath I preached, although the weather was stormy the people turned out well; were very attentive; and expressed their thankfulness that one had been
sent once more to preach the gospel among them, of which they had been so long deprived: and during the other Sabbaths I remained, the house was full.
I went among them, visited them in their houses, prayed with them, and catechized them and their children; with which they seemed well pleased. I found
them generally well acquainted with their Bibles, the Psalms, and the Shorter Catechism; and much attached to the Presbyterian form of church
government, in which they were brought up. They were mostly all from Roxburghshire, Scotland, except two or three families from the North of Ireland.
On the Sabbaths we had an attentive, deeply interested, plain-dressed, orderly audience; among whom I could not help noticing more than the usual
number of young, healthy, intelligent looking boys and girls, with a great many infants in their mothers' arms. The practice of the Scotch, to bring their
children to the House of God from their infancy, taught them how to behave, and listen to His word when young; and they derived the benefit of it when
they grew up to manhood. This practice was followed when I first went among them, and is continued to the present day; and I trust it shall never be
given up:-- "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." In those days you would have looked in vain in the
church for a broad-cloth coat, a silk dress, a pair of morocco slippers, or a display of gaudy ribbons. Old and young were almost all clothed from head to
foot with what was made with their own 'hands, with the exception of a "Maud" or plaid, which in former times was found useful when facing the blast
on "Ettricks Banks" or "Yarrows Braes." I found there what others have found in all new countries whose settlers are bf a mixed character and not under
the restraints of religion; rather too free use made of intoxicating liquor; which had a bad influence, not only on the old, but on the rising generation.
Among these mountains, it was the common practice to use it freely at births, marriages, and funerals, at logging bees, husking bees, chopping bees,
raisings, vendues, and in the harvest field; the bad effects of which were too frequently seen 'then, and for years after. I am happy in having to say, that
such has been the effect which the gospel has had on those now living in that section of country, that the use of liquor on any of the above mentioned
occasions, or indeed on any other occasion, is never to be seen; and it is not even permitted to be sold in the Township. A happy change for the better.
May it long continue!
In my visitations among these good people, I had often to climb up the steep sides of the mountains, through the dense woods, guided by what they called
"blazed trees," that is, by marks made on the trees, until I found the places I wanted; for many of them were then living in the timber and clearing, around
them. the huge trees of maple, birch, beech, basswood, elm, and hemlock; but wherever I went I saw evidences of thrift and 'hard labour, in their
log-houses, in their cleared fields, and in their stone and log fences; and heard the bleating of sheep, the lowing of oxen, and the cackling of geese and
chickens. Though frame houses were few and far between, yet the well-daubed loghouses, with the blazing fire and clean hearth-stone, and every thing
plain, neat, and comfortable, gave unmistakable proof--though "far in a wild, unknown to public view"--that they and their children lived in far better
circumstances, and enjoyed far more of the substantial comforts of life, than any one ever could have imagined who never had visited them. "The Big ha
Bible," the Psalm book, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Assemblys Shorter and Browns Catechisms, the Pilgrims Progress, Bostons Fourfold
State and his Crook in the Lot, Guthries Trial of a saving interest in Christ, together with the Poems of Robert Burns and James Hogg the Ettrick
Shepherd, were frequently met with. These two last mentioned authors were rend and mused on in the long winter evenings by the light of the large logs
that blazed in the fire-place; at which I was not much surprised, for such genuine descriptions in verse in our mother tongue, of the habits, customs, and
manners in which we were brought up, take strong hold of ns, especially in a foreign 'land. The wheel and the reel, the loom, the churn, the cradle, and the
axe, were all kept in constant motion; and with the wholesome and nourishing oatmeal porridge and milk, and oat-meal cakes fired on the hearth, together
with well-baked rye-loaves, beef, mutton, beans and barley for the broth~pot, along with lumps of yellow butter, and cheese of the best quality, they made
out to live very comfortably and independently. I saw and -tasted, on special occasions, the Scotch Haggis; of which Burns says:
"Fair fa your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin race!
Aboon them a ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm;
Weel are ye worthy of a grace
As lang 's my airm."
In the fall of the year, or in the beginning of winter, it was quite a common thing to meet men carrying a roll of cloth from the Fulling mill under one
arm, 'and a roll of upper and sole-leather from the Tannery under the other, to be made, mostly by themselves, into garments and boots and shoes for the
winter; which in that mountainous region is very severe. These were the days when health, happiness, and contentment abounded; when fewer diseases,
fewer store bills, and fewer doctors bills were met with, than in after years when more luxury, wealth, fashion, and finery abounded. These were the times
when a foundation was laid for a homestead; when the young had a Sabbath School at their own fire-side, with able, earnest teachers, in which they were
"brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ;" when they formed habits of endurance, perseverance, and economy, the happy effects of which
are now felt in their childrens children. May these latter never be found guilty of doing any thing to dishonour the memory of their sires! and may they
endeavour to train up their children likewise, to know and love these precious truths and godly practices which their fathers and mothers taught them, and
thus be "following in the footsteps of the flock" and handing down to posterity "the faith once delivered to the saints!"
Perhaps it may not be found out of place hero to give a brief sketch of the rise and progress of that congregation up to the time of which I am now
writing. Its subsequent history will be given afterwards as we go along. About the beginning of the present century, when the country was a wilderness
densely covered with timber all over those mountains, emigrants began to come in, and to choose their locations; among whom were two or three families
from Scotland, who belonged to the Associate Presbyterian Church. These people clung to each other, as was natural, coming from the same country, and
being brought up in the same church. They met regularly in each others cabins on the Sabbath, gathered their little ones around them, and spent the day in
religious exercises: they also met at a prayer-meeting during the week. This they continued to do while struggling with untold hardships for many years.
But "the Lord hearkened, and heard," and answered, "the prayer of them that feared Him and thought upon His name." Others came from the same
country, the society in due time increased, and they became more encouraged. They longed to have the gospel preached and divine ordinances dispensed
among them and their children in connection with a church of whose doctrines and practices they could conscientiously approve; and these they found
exhibited in the "Narrative and Testimony of the Associate Synod of North America." Accordingly, after much deliberation and prayer, they agreed to
petition the Associate Presbytery of Cambridge to send them supply of sermon for a few Sabbaths; this was in 1806. The petition lay on the table for
consideration, and in October of the following year the Rev. Alexander Bullions, who had newly come from Scotland, was sent out to them, and preached
to them with great acceptance for a few weeks. All the names that were at the above mentioned petition were, Walter Doig, William Macgibbon, and
Issac Aitkins. Mr. Bullions was just the man to rouse and gather his countrymen scattered among these mountains, stir them up to what was right, and
warn them against what was wrong; being young, vigorous, energetic, of a prepossessing appearance, having a strong musical voice, a great command of
language, and a ready utterance. After he left them, they were two long years without hearing a sermon, or seeing the face of a minister of their own way
of thinking. If some when they go to a new country, would imitate their example, and pray, wait, and use the means they have within their power, to edify
and instruct each other, and keep their children from hearing the instruction which causeth to err, in place of giving way to lukewarmness and indifference
in respect to what belongs to the glory of God and the good of their own and the souls of others. they would no doubt, ultimately succeed as well as those
faithful few of whom we are now speaking. Sincerity, faithfulness, patience, perseverance, and diligence; never fail in meeting with countenance from
God while those that pursue an opposite course He leaves to be filled with the fruits of their own devices. When Mr. Bullions returned after the time
above mentioned, he found them still keeping up their prayer-meetings and increasing in numbers; many strangers being associated with them who,
though - not belonging to the same church, gave them to understand that if they would become organized and get preaching they would turn in and help
them. After preaching to them for some time Mr. Bullions, at their earnest request, and with permission of Presbytery, organized them into a congregation
under the name of "The Associate Presbyterian Congregation of the Little Delaware;" with the following persons as members, viz., James Stoddard, Isaac
Aitkens, Walter Doig, William McGibbon, David Henderson, John Elliott, James Russel, Mrs. John Elliott, and Mrs. W. McGibbon.
They had very little preaching for seven years after Mr. Bullions organized them, until Rev. Robert Laing, who was loosed from his charge in Argyle,
came among them and preached with great acceptance. They made out a call for him, offering him $250 annually aw salary, which he accepted; and he
commenced his labours as their Pastor in June 1814. On the 10th day of May, 1815, they raised the frame of their meeting-house, thirty feet by thirty six;
in which many psalms were afterwards sung in worshipping the Lord God of their fathers, many earnest prayers presented, and able sermons preached,
and souls converted and edified; where many sat down under, their Redeemers shadow with great delight and found His fruit sweet to their taste; and
behind which their earthly remains now sleep in union to the person of the Son of God, and shall not awake until they hear His voice and see His blessed
face in the morning of the resurrection. Many of these I was instrumental in leading by the green pastures and still waters of the sanctuary below, and with
whom I expect soon to meet in the sanctuary above. Mr. Laing was one of those. burning and shining lights in his day, especially in the pulpit; for as a
popular preacher it was admitted by all that knew him he had not his equal; at least not in the Associate Church. For a few years, every thing went on
smoothly and prosperously; several families came and settled among them who had been accustomed to hear Mr. Laing preach at the time. that he was
ordained in Dunse in the South of Scotland (which was in August 1785); others followed him from. Argyle who were. brought up under his ministry: so
that their numbers increased beyond all expectation. But congregation when at the height of their prosperity are often punished for becoming heady and
high-minded, or for thinking "their mountain stands strong" as to numbers and wealth, and that they "shall never be moved;" or, for what too frequently
takes place, looking more to their minister than to his Master, and trusting more in an arm of flesh, than in the arm of the living God. Whether each, or-
all, or any of these were the cause of Gods frowning on them and causing them and theirs for long after to drink the wine of astonishment, I shall not
presume to say. But eight years 'from the time Mr. L was ordained among. them had scarcely expired, when the Presbytery found it necessary to loose him
from his charge and declare the pulpit vacant. More about this unpleasant affair I do not 'feel- 'at liberty to speak, as I do not deem it would be for general
edification to rake up the ashes of those fires which once burned so hot, but which are now happily put out, I trust forever . Congregations should "take
heed while they 'think they stand, lest they fall," and 'should pray earnestly "that Satan may not be permitted to have them that he may sift them as 'wheat."
Nine long years passed over their heads before they were permitted to see another pastor placed over them, during which time they had occasionally
preaching and the ordinances of Baptism and the Lords Supper dispensed- among them. They made out several times a call for one to labour among them,
but none of these were accepted. It was said the young men were- afraid of preaching before such a critic as Mr. L.; and that he did all that lay in his
power to terrify and drive them away. -lit was reported that whenever he heard of a minister having come whom they liked and were about to call, he was
sure to go, as he was wont say, and "examine the laddies quilts ;" and their went to certain quarters, where, as he said, he "tore them a to tatters." However
these things may have been, he and I were on the best of terms, and I never heard that he found fault with my "quilts," or "tore them to tatters ;" though I
believe they were no better put together than others. - Before his death, which took place in 1839, matters gradually settled down, lie and his opponents
became reconciled to each other; so much so that he assisted me in the dispensation of the Supper, much to the satisfaction of all parties. His remains lie
in the old grave-yard, which is long ago filled with inhabitants, within a few feet where once stood the pulpit in which he used to preach his remarkable
sermons, of an hour and a half and sometimes two hours long, without scarcely any of his audience either becoming wearied or going away. A plain
substantial monument, erected by the congregation, marks the spot where his body sleeps.
This short sketch of the rise and progress of the congregation I deem sufficient; and it brings it down to the time when I was first preaching to them.
Word came that I. was appointed to go to Hebron, Washington county, N. Y., in Cambridge Presbytery, and to continue there during the winter. This
caused no small sensation, and many of the people called oft me, and urged me to give my consent to accept a call from them to be their
minister--providing they would make out one. To this I never, would consent; neither did I give them any encouragement, but rather, in very plain terms,
told them not to proceed in that matter; for if they did, it would fail. True it is, I saw that they stood much in need of one to labour among them, and that a
wide field of usefulness was opened up; that the old needed much to be strengthened and encouraged in their declining years with the consolations of the
gospel, and that the vast number of young persons who were growing up without the means of grace stood much in need of instruction in things
belonging to the glory of God and the good of their own souls: notwithstanding all these and many other things which could be mentioned, I had no
clearness to remain among them. I had but newly come to this country, and wished to look about me, become accustomed to the climate, and to the
manners and customs of the people. Besides, I was not in love with the steep, narrow, rocky roads we had to travel, nor with the cold climate and the high
mountains, and above all the habits which some had contracted inconsistent with their profession, owing principally to their being so long in an unsettled
state, like sheep without a shepherd. In a word, I thought I could never undertake such a charge, for which I had neither strength of body nor mind. I
accordingly parted with them, never expecting any more to place my foot there. But alas! how short a distance do we see into the future! And how
ignorant are we of the way the Most High is to lead us in this world. Nothing was farther removed from my anticipations, when I left Bovina with the full
purpose never to return, than that it was the very place which God in His wisdom and love had marked out for me, and in which I was to remain for
upwards of twenty years to preach the blessed gospel; and that I who a few months before had with my staff crossed the Atlantic, was to continue among
these mountains until I became two bands; and then that I should cross the Mississippi with a wife, seven sons, and three daughters, along with a number
of trunks and boxes filled with books, bed clothes, and Wearing appearel, and in possession of as much money as to pay for a good farm. Yet all these
things actually took place. "With man many things are impossible, but with God all things are possible."
So Graham went to Hebron in Washington County, New York, where he spent the winter. He was then appointed to go to Guinston, Pennsylvania. He
left in March, traveling via Albany and New York City to Philadelphia. He spent a few weeks in Guinston, then went to a Synod meeting in Philadelphia,
where he received a surprise:
When we reached Philadelphia, among the first persons I met and whom I knew, was my countryman Rev. Peter Campbell of Florida, N. Y.; who told
me he had in his possession a unanimous Call from the congregation of Bovina for me to be their minister, in which he had moderated on his way to the
Synod; and he added that I must accept ofit. Seldom or ever that I remember, did I meet with anything more unexpected, or that stunned and staggered me
more. I had left those good people with the full intention never to return, and had given them expressly to understand that if they moved in making out a
call for me I would not accept it: and from the time I left them I had never learned from any of them, nor from any member of Presbytery, respecting their
intentions, otherwise I would have tried my best to have stopped it. "Gods ways are not as our ways, neither are His thoughts as our thoughts."--" Man
proposes but God disposes." The Presbytery Qf Albany (under whose jurisdiction I was) called a meeting, principally to examine the Call, sustain, and
present it; and I was notified to attend. When it was presented I requested a few days to make up my mind what I should do, which was accordingly
granted. I had none in the Synod with whom I was acquainted from whom I could obtain counsel what was best for me to do, except Mr. Wilson, who
hung on and urged me to return with him to Guinston; and the members of Presbytery, on the other hand, were anxious to have Bovina settled, as they
had been perplexed in having calls to it refused in former times, and in finding supply for it. Here I was "in a strait betwixt two," and "which to choose I
wot not." I would have willingly returned with the modest and godly Mr. Wilson and laboured among the people of Guinston, who "were at peace among
themselves; who were well-trained in the ways of the Lord; and were such consistent and enlightened and stanch Seceders; and where a wide field of
usefulness seemed to be opened: but I thought, again, on the destitute situation of my countrymen among the Delaware mountains; how often they had
been disappointed, discouraged, and divided; and how much need the old and the young among them had of one to warn and instruct them, and keep them
from falling in with the erroneous doctrines abounding, and the evil practices prevailing around them. I was afraid, if I refused the clear call that was now
given me to "come over and help them," and should choose a field more smooth, cultivated, and pleasant, the Lord might punish me in a time and in a
manner which I never would have thought of. We are ignorant of the dangers we escape, and the troubles and trials we are kept from, by not being
permitted to follow ways of our own choosing. I accordingly, after giving the whole matter a prayerful and careful consideration, accepted the call; not
without many fears as to the consequences, and deep convictions of my inability for such important duties devolving on me. Though I subsequently
continued upwards of twenty years among them, during which time I had no small share of troubles among my countrymen--fears within and fightings
without when endeavouring to warn and instruct, and put in execution the rules and discipline of the church, for the glory of God and the good of
never-dying souls--yet I feel thankful to God for casting my lot among that people, and for the success with which He was pleased to crown my feeble
efforts for their spiritual welfare. I have now to say, to the glory of God, and for the encouragement of young preachers, that during that memorable part
of my voyage down the tide of time, those rocks and breakers which I had thought I saw lying in my course and of which I was so much afraid I have
since steered safely past or through without much trouble; while, on the other hand, those under-currents and ground-swells that lay concealed, and of
which I had never dreamed, frequently threatened to dash my frail canoe to pieces. Thus we will often find that the very troubles we are most afraid of
will, perhaps, never come; and that those we are least looking for and not prepared to meet will overtake us. Such are the ways of Providence. "Trust in
the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding: in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy path." Before leaving
Philadelphia I preached three Sabbaths for Mr. Beveridge in the Meeting-house once occupied by faithful Rev. Mr. Marshall, (and before which rested his
ashes, along with those of Rev. Joseph Banks D.Th, and Rev. Joseph Shaw, LL. P.
I proceeded to Albany, where I prepared my discourses for ordination, and where I delivered them. The Presbytery appointed the ordination to take place
in October; and I went out to preach to my future flock in the meantime. This was in June 1832, when the fearful disease, cholera, prevailed in the land. I
remember well, when passing through Albany, of seeing the stares almost all shut, and numbers of men and boys burning tar barrels on the principal
streets to purify the air and, as they thought, to keep away the cholera. Mr. Martin, of the Associate Church, was the only minister who did not leave the
city during the calamity, While hundreds were daily carried to their graves. lilt was an alarming time, both in city and country. Even among the
mountains, where the air was pure, and living springs abounded, many were carried away by it, and by other diseases which very much resembled it. Gods
judgments were then abroad in the land, and we trust that many in it thereby learned righteousness.
When I returned to Bovina, the people were all glad to see me, and received me with much kindness. Being convinced I was in the path of duty, and that
God in wisdom bad designed that I should remain there as long as He had any use for me, I soon became accustomed to the rocks, stumps, rough and
narrow roads, and other inconveniences incident to a new country. I may mention that they promised in their Call to give me by way of salary three
hundred dollars, along with the use of a dwelling-house and barn and Sixty acres of land. I went into lodgings that winter, and in the course of the next
summer they erected, in a beautiful situation on the side of the "Little Delaware river," a very convenient commodious house, on their own land, known
afterwards as "the Manse."
When the day of ordination arrived, the Meeting-house was crowded with an attentive and deeply interested audience, glad once more to see one placed
over them as their teacher. Rev. John Smart, of Johnstown, preached from 1 Cor. ii. 2,--" F or I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus
Christ and him crucified." Rev. James Martin, of Albany, and Rev. Peter Campbell, of Florida, delivered addresses to the minister and people. lit was a
memorable, pleasant, and encouraging time both to ministers and hearers, during which much of the divine presence was experienced. At the close of the
services the following appropriate and beautiful lines were sung "with the spirit and with the understanding also," to the praise of God who bad done such
great things for them:--
"According as the days have been
Wherein we grief have had,
And years wherein we ill have seen,
So do Thou make us glad !"--&c.
CHAPTER VI. (Entire chapter)
FROM MY SETTLEMENT AT BOVINA IN 1832, TO MY MARRIAGE IN 1834.
Felt solitary after the ordination--Deeply impressed with the solemn obligations I had come under as a Minister--Encouragements--Counsel to young
Ministers--Names of my fiveElders--Arrangements made for Prayer-meetings, Visitations, and Catechizings throughout the congregation--The good
effects of such exercises.--Started a new Preaching station at Delhi--which was afterwards organized into a congregation; now called West Delhi--Names
of the first Elders there--A close-fisted old Scotchman--Mr. Cleland their first Pastor now in a flourishing condition.--Origin of Lansingville
congregation--Names of its first Elders--now also a prosperous congregation.--Origin of the congregation at New Kingston (formerly called
Platakill).--My early labours in these places as preaching stations--Our old Meeting-house at Bovina described--Amusing anecdote of the tumbling down
of the stovepipe during the lecture--Names of six additional Elders chosen in 1833--Dr. Alexander Bullions assisted at the communion in that year--Had
45 accessions--It was a good time--Measures for reformation adopted by the Session--which were successful--Reflections--The Manse finished and
prepared for me--This stirred me up to seek a help-meet---whom the Lord graciously provided for me in answer to my prayer--My marriage.
WHEN the ministers and elders went away I was somewhat sad and solitary; as it was two long days ride over high hills and rough roads to either Mr.
Campbell in Florida or Mr. Martin in Albany, who were then the nearest brethren with whom I could consult in difficult matters.
I had now become solemnly bound before God, angels, and men, to declare the whole counsel of God and keep nothing back; to give every one his
portion in due season; to exhort and rebuke with all authority; and to be faithful in the maintenance of the doctrines and usages of the Associate Church as
witnessed for in her Testimony, however much I might be reproached for so doing, as I should have to give an account to Christ "when He should appear
in his glory with all his holy angels." In respect to the manner in which these vows were performed, I have to say, "to me belong shame and confusion of
face ;" and if Thou, 0 Lord! wert to bring me to an account I could not stand, neither could I answer for one of the many thousand sins and short-comings
which Thou mightst bring up against me! I took courage from finding that every thing in the Call and in the Ordination went on orderly and
encouragingly; and that although my labours and difficulties were many, I had been placed among that people by Gods wise ordering, and had therefore
good reason to trust in Him for support, as in former times: besides, I had the good-will of those who were members of the congregation, as well as of the
community at large, who were endeavouring to do every thing in their power to make me comfortable and happy. It would be well for ministers newly
settled to feel thankful for having the countenance of their people, and they should do all that is just and lawful to retain it; while at the same time they
should keep humble and watchful, and guard against trusting too much in man, for the popular wind that may fill their sails to-day at the commencement
of their voyage, may change by to-morrow before they scarcely get out of sight of land, and cause them to take in reefs, and earnestly wish they had never
left the harbour. They should have their intire dependence on Him who permits the winds and storms to arise to try their faith, their patience, and their
courage,--for if it had been a continued calm, these graces never would have been put to the test; and should have their eyes fixed on Him as their high
tower, shield, and deliverer, who can come in the darkest night and in the greatest danger, and say,--" Peace, be still !--Fear not !--It is I, e not afraid !" As
it manifests wisdom in the seaman, during the calm to prepare for the storm; and in the soldier, to prepare for the battle before he gets orders to leave
camp and face the enemy: so also it is the best of wisdom in young ministers to be diligent, and to prepare to meet with reverses. These things are worthy
of the consideration of young ministers; for the testimony of the Scriptures, the history of the church, and the corn mon experience of those who have
been long in the ministry, prove that they are melancholy facts.
I was highly favoured by having five pious, steady, and intelligent men for Elders, all of whom were brought up in the Secession Church in their native
hind. Their names were, John Elliot, Walter Doig, James Russel, Hugh Clark, and Thomas Wight. XV lien we met as a Session, no records of any former
meeting could be found, except the Communicants Roll; on which were found about eighty names. It was agreed at that meeting that we should meet
regularly every month for prayer and conference; and that I should have my catechizings in the winter season in the different districts of the congregation,
into which it was divided; and in the summer should visit from house to house, and in doing so that an Elder should accompany me, to show me where
the people lived; for in those days many of them were living in the timber and on steep places of the mountains, difficult to reach. These catechizings and
visitations I kept up for twenty years; as long as I was able to attend to them: and I have every reason to believe that they were blessed for the benefit of
both old and young. For many years I had eight different districts where I met with them. Those meetings were always well attended: on those occasions
Psalms, portions of Scripture, and Questions out of the Shorter Catechism were repeated and explained; these were our Text-books, in which old and
young became deeply grounded. I am disposed to think that those meetings, beyond any other during my ministry, were, by the blessing of God,
instrumental in raising up a generation who have shown themselves so much attached to the church of their fathers, and have manifested such a
willingness to support it. When ever the snow fell so as to make sleighing practicable, I started with my cutter, and I always felt much pleasure in
attending those religious gatherings.
The year before I went to Bovina, Andrew Hamilton and his wife Lydia, who were members, bad moved down into the woods seventeen miles from that
place, into a solitary location in the Town of Delhi. I became acquainted with them, and found them to be good, religious, and peaceable persons. They
made me promise to go down and pay them a visit: this I did in January 1833, when the snow was deep, the weather stormy, and when the horses had to
plunge and fight their way through the snow-drifts. They were glad to see us, and entertained us very kindly. The house was built of logs, near a strong
spring of water, (with which they afterwards sawed their wood and made their butter,) and consisted of only one apartment, which contained two beds,
and had a wide fireplace, into which they threw large logs of wood, which kept burning the whole night, giving both light and heat. I preached in the
evening to a very small audience, and baptised Mr. Hamiltons child. This was the first Sermon ever preached in that then out of the way, desolate place.
They made me promise to return and preach to them, which I accordingly did next summer. Word was circulated of the time when I was going down; and
in consequence I had a large, attentive, and deeply interested audience, all Scotch; some of whom came a number of miles, brought their children along
with them, and expressed the satisfaction it gave them to hear the same psalms sung, and the worship of God conducted in the same manner, as they had
been accustomed to in the land of their fathers. Matthew Russel and his wife, who were brought up under Mr. Laing, and were much and deservedly
esteemed, also moved down to the same neighbourhood, and were great comfort and company to Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton. Others got married and went
down thither, where land was cheap, and new families came from Scotland and other places; so it soon became apparent that at no distant day we should
have a congregation there. This was often talked about, though they were few in numbers, and comparatively poor in purse. To encourage them, I went
frequently and preached and baptised when I could conveniently get away; for the people of Bovina were as anxious as I was to have a congregation near
us, in order that we might more easily and frequently obtain ministerial assistance: for sometimes I bad been a whole year without seeing the countenance
of a minister belonging to the same church; and I often bad to dispense the Lords Supper and do the preaching all the days connected with it, alone.
After a few years Mr. Hamilton, who was an excellent framer and carpenter, built a large frame house, one end of which we occupied for our place of
worship, and which he filled up with moveable benches. I am prepared to say, that if ever I experienced divine assistance in preaching and praying, more
at one time than at another, it was in Andrew Hamiltons house, when the people sat and stood closely together, both in the large room and kitchen, with
their Bibles and Psalm-books, listening attentively to what was said. There are certain periods in a ministers history in which he experiences more life in
his own soul, and more freedom and heartfelt satisfaction in making known the unsearchable riches of Christ, than he does at other times: and these times
are not when he is surrounded with the mighty and the noble who are "dressed in scarlet and fine linen and fare sumptuously every day;" but when
addressing the pious poor of Gods children, whom He esteems as "the excellent of the earth," and on whom He looks with a pleasant countenance."
Suffice it to say, that I got these people formed into a Praying-society, which met during the week and on the Sabbath in different houses; which had a
good effect in keeping them together and bringing in others, (I never went without Psalm-books, Bibles, and Catechisms); that I carried a petition to
Presbytery for an organization, which was granted; and when I attended to effect it, Andrew Hamilton and Matthew Russel were chosen as Elders, who
were subsequently ordained. The number of persons in full communion with the Associate Church was not then above five or six, although the adherents
were about fourteen. They got an acre of timber land in a suitable place as a gift from Mr. Fisher, and wept to work and cleared away some of the large
beech and maple trees, leaving as many as afforded an excellent shelter for themselves and horses, and then erected a very commodious house; Andrew
Hamilton, Matthew Russel, Peter McEwen, and James Graham doing the most of the carpenter work themselves without even receiving any
renumeration, except the approbation of their own consciences that they did what they could to have a place of worship erected, in which they and their
children could meet on the Lords Day and hear the words of eternal life spoken to them. We in Bovina raised $100 to assist them. I remember of starting
one morning in the snow with my horse and cutter with the intention of going to certain places where I thought I could obtain some assistance for them,
when I met an aged, wealthy Scotch-man to whom I applied for some aid, and who had always appeared to be favorable to them; but when asked to
"show his faith by his works," he was as dead as a stone, and as deaf as a door nail. I listened to his objections, which were, that they were poor and few
in numbers; and that they would sink themselves and their children in debt; and that they would never succeed, &c. &c. I confess I felt displeased at
hearing such discouraging and groundless assertions; and when gathering up my lines, and preparing to lay on my whip on my good horse Charlie, I said
with some emphasis,--" Now, Mr. ---, it is my firm belief that there will be a Meeting-house erected down in that destitute place; and that the seals of the
covenant will be dispensed, the blessed gospel of the Son of God preached, and sinners prepared for heaven, when your bones shall be rotting in the dust,
and your money, of which you think so much, shall be scattered to the four winds." Without laying any claim to have been a prophet, I lived to see some
of these predictions fulfilled.
In 1847, fourteen years from the time I first went to them, when they had up the frame of their Meeting-house and it was partly inclosed, Mr. Cleland was
appointed their supply for a year; whom they afterwards called to be their Pastor. While presiding in the Call, when I asked if they had any other
candidate to nominate, a man stood up and said,--" Indeed, Sir, ye never hae gien us a chance to hear ony other ane to call, unless it be yersel. Is na that
the honest truth now, Sir." This took me rather by surprise; but after recovering myself I said in substance,-- "Mr. D , as to your not hearing any other
ministers for a year past, you must blame Presbytery: and as to your calling me, I would just say you had better let me alone." I then proceeded without
Mr. Cleland was the means of doing much good among them, proving himself to be "a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of
truth, and giving to each his portion of meat in due season." I spent many happy days in his company; he always, as long as I was able to preach, assisted
me, and I him in return. I left him in 1856 getting along very well, but in three years afterwards he gave up his charge, principally on account of his
health, and is now in Minnesota.
That congregation, in which I took such a deep interest, and whose beginnings were so small, is now self-sustaining, and increased in numbers and
wealth; and better farms, with more valuable stock and improvements, and more sober, industrious, and religious inhabitants, are not to be found in
Delaware county. If this short sketch shall be the means of encouraging those who have small beginnings and dark prospects as to a congregation, not to
despair of success, but to pray and work, work and pray, in the cause of truth, my object in writing it shall have been gained. And if it shall ever meet the
eye of some of those to whom the writer was accustomed to preach in the house of Andrew Hamilton, they will perhaps remember something about him,
and what he said. May Christ have a seed there who shall do him service while sun and moon endure! They have now 165 members, and a settled
Minister, to whom they give $600, and are in prosperous circumstances. The congregation goes under the name of West Delhi.
A few years after the West Delhi congregation got started, another preaching Station was commenced in the house of John Bryce of Hamden, 18 miles
from Bovina, with very small beginnings, and considerable opposition. Mr. Cleland and I went frequently down and preached, and encouraged them; and
I remember, when they had no place of worship, of assisting in the dispensation of the Supper in the Socinian Meeting-house in Lansingville; where the
great majority present denied the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ I preached the action Sermon from John x. 11,-- "I am the good Shepherd." The Elders
then were, John Bryce, George Wight, and J. McFadden. In order to accommodate many that lived on the Scotch mountain, and in the Cloves, they agreed
to erect a Meeting-house on the east side of the Delaware river, near the village of Lansingville; and, to assist them, the congregation of Bovina gave them
$100 and the frame of their old Meeting-house, which was taken all the way on the, snow, principally by John Bryce. They have a minister settled among
them, to whom they give $700. They have 65 members, and are now doing well.
I cannot avoid noticing another place which I visited as early as 1833, viz.; the Platakill; now known by the name of New Kingston. I remember of Mr.
Thomas Elliot, who was a shrewd, active, intelligent Scotch-man, taking me to visit the few families then scattered in different places among the woods,
and WORKING hard to clear their farms and to make a living. Their situation was something similar to that of Mr. Hamiltons at Delhi in early times, as
above narrated, with the exception of their having to contend with a number of careless Dutch families who had squatted near the stream, to which they
gave the name Platakill or Flat Creek. Mr. Elliots house being the largest and most convenient in which to hold meetings for Sermon and Catechizing, we
always met there, and were always welcomed and well entertained. It was one of my districts (although some of the members were twelve miles distant,
having steep mountains to cross, with bad roads), in which I took a deep interest, and to which I was much attached, because I found they were a pious,
poor, peaceable people, and struggling hard with numerous families, and anxious to have them brought up in the way they should go. For nineteen winters
I travelled through the woods and high snow-drifts across the mountains, guided in many places only by blazed trees, (besides visiting them in their
houses in the summer-time,) during which we always had numbers of men, women, and children in attendance; some of them coming a great distance
through the snow on foot, all healthy and happy, and glad to meet each other. We began at eleven oclock, and before we got through with hearing and
explaining Questions and Answers in the Shorter Catechism, and hearing the younger ones recite their chapters and psalms, it was generally one and
sometimes two oclock: after which the greater part remained and partook of a good dinner prepared for the occasion by Mr. E., and enjoyed the company
of each other. Those were memorable occasions for stirring up each other to love and good works; for honest, unreserved interchange of sentiments; and
for promoting mutual esteem and confidence. When we are poor and oppressed, our graces are often more operative and apparent; but when we become
rich, too frequently we become heady and high-minded, and kick against the pricks. To those meetings in the Platakill, under Gods direction, and to the
liberality, zeal, and unwearied perseverance of Mr. William Elliot, do I ascribe the commencement and progress of the now flourishing congregation of
New Kingston, of which he is a useful and much esteemed Elder. They now number 66 members; but are at present without a minister. Knowing from
experience how difficult it was for them to come to meeting, especially in the winter time when the roads were drifted up, I had frequently urged them to
ask for a disjunction and to get organized as a separate congregation, which I knew would be much in their favour, but they would never break off as long
as I remained among them. Those aged and good fathers and mothers, with whom I took sweet counsel both in their own humble open log-houses in our
Catechizings, and in the house of God, have almost all entered into their rest, and their works have followed them; and their childrens children have risen
up, and I trust are following in the good old way and finding rest to their souls.
Our old Meeting-house was built on the top of a bank, along whose bottom murmurred, over its smooth pebble bed, the pure, sparkling, and never-failing
waters of the Little Delaware. (Glide along, thou pleasant stream! on whose banks I spent many happy days, and where rests the dust of those with whom,
in former years, I walked in company by the green pastures and still waters of the sanctuary below, and with whom I hope soon to meet in the sanctuary
above, ax$ be led by the Lamb in the midst of the throne to fountains of living waters, and to have all tears wiped away from our eyes!) It had two doors
in front, to enter which we had to go up four log steps. The house was seated in a plain, substantial manner, with old-fashioned narrow pews; some of
which were square, with doors, and calculated to hold from eight to ten persons, with a table in the centre on which to lay their books. The pulpit was
round, something in the shape of a barrel, with ro&m for only two persons of ordinary size to sit or stand, with a door which fastened in the inside, and to
enter which we had to ascend six high steps; which placed the speaker so high that he could see round into every corner of the gallery. Thoughts, even at
this distant time and place, often arise in my mind to this effect: what shall be the result on the great day of final accounts, of those Psalms that were sung,
those Prayers that were offered up, those Lectures and Sermons that were delivered, and those Sacraments that were dispensed, by so many of Christs
ambassadors, to such numbers of the called and chosen and faithful followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, in that humble habitation among the mountains of Delaware?
The house, being almost always crowded, was in the summer by far too hot; so much so that I had often to take off my neck-cloth and my coat when
preaching; and some days in the winter, I had to keep on my over-coat and woolen mittens. We had two stoves that were kept agoing, with pipes that
entered a drum in the centre, but which at times threw out more smoke than heat, and which often came apart and caused no small confusion. I remember
that on a cold blustering day, during the discourse, when many were gathered round the stoves to keep from freezing, all at once down came the
stove-pipe with a crash, and out poured the smoke and filled the house. Then commenced the confusion, coughing, and moving about. No one was hurt
except good old Mr. --, who had his hat driven over his eyes! which, after prayer was over, in cold days he put on during Sermon. Had it, not been for this
defense, no one could tell what might have been the consequence. I stopped, sat down, and waited until order was restored, the pipe fastened, and the
smoke gone; after which I rose and said,--"I make no doubt most of you are expecting I am going to say something about the conduct of the trustees, in
not attending to their duty so as to prevent such unpleasant occurrences during the time of public worship. But I am determined not to say one word about
it;,,-- and then, resumed my lecture. The Meeting-house was afterwards repaired and made more comfortable, by having new doors put on, and the
windows having glass put in them.
In the summer of 1833, the following persons were elected and ordained as Elders; William Forrest, William Murray, John Dunn, Andrew Doig, John
Armstrong, and Alexander McCeachran; all of whom were men of intelligence and influence, and much esteemed by the community. While I write this
account, so far as known to me, only two of these persons are now living. "Our fathers, where are they?" In June, the sacrament of the Supper was
dispensed, at which Dr. Alexander Bullions, at the special request of the people, assisted. He was the first who had ever preached to them, thirty years
before; when the inhabitants were poor, the country a wilderness, and the friends of Christ and his cause were few and far between. Mr. B. was not very
friendly to me, because I came from the Original Seceders, who testified against the union in Scotland between the Burghers and Anti-burghers; which he
believed to be the dawning of the later-day glory in the church. He was an able preacher, and was instrumental in doing much good in his day. Yet many
believed that there was considerable truth in what an old woman was reported to have said of him,--" Oh, but he is dreadfully lax, and awfully fond of
population!" (popularity). This was a very reviving and refreshing time. We had 45 accessions, some of whom had their certificates from Scotland, others
from neighbouring congregations, and a few young persons were admitted on examination. For years they had been divided, distracted, and discouraged
by being so long without a stated dispensation of Word and Sacraments; hence some had fallen away, and others who were ready to unite with them kept
back until they saw how they should succeed; and as peace and unity were in a great measure restored, and matters generally were become prosperous and
encouraging, these now came forward cheerfully. On this memorable occasion many wounds were mollified and bound up which the cause of Christ had
received in the house of its friends in former years when discord and division prevailed among them; and an impetus was given to efforts the good effects
of which were felt for years afterwards.
The Session, who were always ready to unite with me in maintaining or in restoring peace, purity, and unity in the congregation, began early to try to
have some of those religious duties revived which were in many instances neglected in families, viz.; family worship and secret prayer; and to have some
reprehensible habits which had become unhappily but too common among all classes removed or checked. This was like taking a bear by the beard, yet
they set themselves to the good work of reformation; and, through divine assistance, we persevered; and ultimately, after a few years labour, succeeded. It
is a hard matter to mitigate or entirely remove practices among a people which are of long standing, and to which they have become much attached. "It is
ill taking out of the flesh what has been bred in the bone." It is from the old that the young learn habits, either good or bad, and the latter more readily
than the former. Hence we found the young often referring to what the old people said or did--" as the old cock crows the young cock learns." When the
Session had agreed that certain persons should be spoken to who followed the practice of dancings which was making us a reproach among other
denominations, and therefore called for prompt measures to have them stopped, I remember of conversing with a young woman who, wished to join the
church, and endeavouring to show her how inconsistent it was with her Christian character and the principles of the church to which we belonged; when
she said she had been at many of those dancings, and did not think there was any harm in it, as she saw so many there far older than she was and who
were oftenest at the jug, loudest in the laugh, the first to take the floor, and the last to leave it. "But, Sir," said she, "you should remember that the old
folks are far more fond of dancing than we young folks are; they are so much on the floor that we can scarcely get a reel at all." While the most part
yielded, and gave up the practice, some ten heads of families along with their children left us, and united with another denomination. Others came in their
place, and matters went on far more pleasantly and consistently, so that those inside and outside of the church who were at first opposed to the Session for
interfering, began to see that it was the best thing they could have done. There is nothing like being, faithful in the discharge of our duty when the glory of
God and the salvation of souls are in danger of suffering; although we should be reproached for so doing, we shall have the approbation from above,--"
Well done, thou good and faithful servant!" and we will also receive thanks from the sinners who have been turned from the error of their ways, for
having spoken to and dealt with them so seasonably and so successfully.
The Manse having been finished and ready for me to take possession of it, was the means of stirring me to consider where I could find a suitable help-meet.
I had never seen my way clear to encourage any one to accompany me across the water, as I did not know how it would turn out with me, whether my
health would continue, or whether I should have a settled place of abode: but when I obtained a comfortable settlement and had a reasonable prospect of
getting along, I began to turn my attention to a change of life. It gave me no small concern to know what was the will of God in this important matter,
which might be fraught with much good or evil to myself and to the people among whom I laboured; for I had learned by observation that much depended
on a ministers wife, either for maintaining or breaking up his peace amongst his people. If ever any man needs a prudent wife, a minister does. God was
pleased, I trust in answer to my prayer, to provide me one who, in every respect, was suitable for me, in the person of Miss Mary Small. She was born in
the parish of Ancrum, Roxburghshire, Scotland; brought up in the Secession church, to which her father and mother and all their relations belonged; and
who crossed the Atlantic two years before I did, along with her parents, a brother, and a sister. We were married on June 25th, 1834, by Rev. Duncan
Stalker, Pastor of the Associate congregation, North Argyle, Washington county, N. Y.; of whose congregation she and all her relations were members. I
shall only say, that I had much reason to bless God for the relation which was then formed, and which He has been pleased still to continue to the present
time (June 1869); and for preserving alive our children. May they all follow her example, remember her instructions, and never do any thing to vex her
while she is with them, or dishonour her memory when she shall have been taken away from them! for to them she has, from their infancy, been an
affectionate mother, unceasing in her prayers and unwearied in her efforts to promote their temporal and spiritual interests. Had it not been for her prudent
management, and economy, and perseverance, neither they nor I would have been in such favourable circumstances as we now are.
CHAPTER VII. (Entire chapter)
FROM MY MARRIAGE, in 1834, TILL THE CLOSE OF MY MINISTRY At BOVINA IN 1853.
Every thing encouraging in the Congregation--Great benefits of Prayer-meetings--They are a spiritual Index of a congregation--Importance of praying for
the Minister--A Picturesque description of the people flocking to church--The Services--Intermission--Of public and private reproof--A remarkable
instance of the former--Whereby a Dancing-school project was signally defeated--A Pulpit notice, and how I handled it--Bought a farm and removed from
the Manse--Reflections about Manses and glebes--Their advantages and disadvantages--Ministers families require a home of their own as well as
others--Advice to young Ministers-- For a time, in 1846, I was the sole Minister with a Pastoral charge in the Presbytery--Dr. Coopers, of Philadelphia,
visit to Bovina--He assisted me at the Sacrament--His visit and Sermons long remembered--It was a refreshing time--Proceeded with Dr. Cooper to
Albany to ordain Mr. Morrow there--Anecdote of Mr. Campbell interrupting me while preaching--Anecdotes of Mr. Laing in the pulpit, and how he
silenced the Universalist preacher--Of the schism in the Associate Synod--I endeavoured to act the part of a peace-maker--Of crises that occur in
congregations, and how the minister should meet them--Our old Meeting-house had become dilapidated-- A handsome new one built in the
village---Feelings on leaving the old house--The last Sabbath that I preached in it--The Texts of the Sermons on that occasion--Reflections--The new
church opened--My feelings--The Texts of the Sermons-- The new church described--Feelings of the aged members on the
occasion--Accessions--Baptisms: the vows imposed on parents--Of Sacramental occasions: The Thursdays fast strictly kept; also the Saturdays and
Mondays services--Interruptions in public worship; how checked--Breach in my health-- Laid aside from preaching--Satisfactory pecuniary arrangement
made with the congregation with a view to my resignation--Resigned my charge--Review of my ministry at Bovina-- The number of Baptisms and
Marriages--The full results will be known only in the day of final accounts.
EVERY thing went on encouragingly in the congregation. About that time Prayer-meeting were established in different quarters, and Catechizings
generally well attended: one of these was held in the Manse every Thursday evening, when as many came as could he accommodated. There is not a
better or a more convincing evidence of the spiritual prosperity of a people, than when you find Prayer-meetings existing among them and well attended.
"They that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them
that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name." These Prayer meetings have a tendency, when well conducted, to stir religious exercises in the
souls of some, and to recommend them to others. "A praying people make a preaching minister," saith the proverb. People would be great gainers if they
would attend to the instruction given by the Holy Spirit through the medium of Paul,--"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and
watching there unto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth
boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel" (Eph. vi. 18, 19). It is not surprising that some are heard saying, they are not profited under their
Minister, when they seldom or never make mention of him in their prayers to God, nor pray that he may be directed to suitable messages, and "that grace
may be given him to divide the word of truth aright," and thus "give every one his portion of meat in duo season." If some who complain of the want of
edification were to examine narrowly into the cause of it, they would discover that it lay often more in themselves than in their Pastor. "The word
preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
As the mountains were steep and covered with timber, this caused the people to go far round to get down to the Meeting-house, which made many to
take a near cut on foot rather than go round on horseback or with a wagon. Indeed, in those early times most came to church on foot, almost all having
oxen, and few having either horses or wagons. A spring carriage of any description was a rare thing in the Township for many years after I when there. In
the summer time you would have seen them coming down the- sides of the mountain in groups of men, women, and children; the men carrying their coats
over their arms, (some having left them behind,) and the women their shoes and stockings in their hands, tramping along and conversing together, then
wading the Little Delaware, and sitting down on the other side putting on their stockings and shoes ana otherwise fixing themselves lip, and afterwards
climbing the bank, and appearing in the house of God, clean, healthy, and happy, with their Bibles and Psalm-books, ready to "hear what God the Lord
would speak." During the intermission; which in the summer was half-an-hour, (in the winter we had in the forenoon a Lecture, and in the afternoon a
Sermon, without any intermission,) you would have seen the men collected together among the hemlocks attending to their horses, talking, smoking, and
eating their bread and cheese, and then going to the spring to get a drink; while the females were sitting in groups on the grass with their little ones around
them, eating out of the basket of provisions brought along with them, and once-in-a-while you would have seen puffs of smoke rising from among them,
indicating that they were taking a whiff of the pipe. Others would have been seen walking in the grave-yard, and musing over the green sod under which
lay the earthly remains of some near and dear relatives, wondering, perhaps, how they were now employed in serving God in the church above, and
whether they should ever meet and know each other in that place where sin is never felt, nor danger feared. I very often told them to be careful of their
company and conversation during the intermission, for the devil was never more active to steal away the Word out of their hearts which they had gladly
heard, than when they had newly withdrawn from the house of God, thus preventing it from taking root and bringing forth fruit. Some attended to this
advice, and some did not. In the summer I would take a walk along the side of the fence, look over my notes, eat my piece, and then return to the church;
and I kept them together generally an hour and a half longer: in the forenoon we were in two hours. In the winter time, when the Lecture was over,
followed by prayer, I gave out a psalm; and when that was sung I rose, prayed, and gave out my text. This I found pretty hard work; and had it not been
that I was blessed with good health and strong lungs I could not have stood it so long as I did.
I began early to reprove in public or in private when I thought that any were acting inconsistently with their Christian character and profession; as by
sleeping in church, coming without their Bibles, and permitting their dogs to follow them into the Meeting-house; which last was often a great annoyance.
When I gave out my text I would have said,--" Those amongst you who have condescended to bring your Bibles along with you will find the text in" such
aa place; and I noticed that any who had them not that time were sure to have them on the next day. In a promiscuous audience there are always some who
come to "offer the sacrifice of fools," who ought to be at certain times reproved sharply. Many of such characters met with us; whom I sometimes took
occasion to address in "all plainness of speech." I remember of being informed of a young man, a merchant in the village, who on Sabbath during
intermission went round among the people urging them to subscribe in order to get up a dancing-school. I was much displeased with such arrogant
conduct at the house of God, and I resolved that if I should see him next Sabbath I would "reprove such conduct before all, that others might fear," and
avoid it for the time to come. Accordingly, after the forenoon services were over, seeing him sitting in his seat in the front gallery, I said,--" There is a
certain spruce young man who worships with us pretty regularly, whose motives, I am disposed to think, are none of the best, as I am in-formed on good
authority he was busily engaged last Sabbath during intermission soliciting subscriptions with a view to start a dancing-school in the village. I hope he
will see his sin and turn from it, and no more be found acting as one of the devils recruiting sergeants."This completely demolished their plans, and no
dancing- school was ever attempted. I began thus to reprove at the beginning of my ministry, and they soon became accustomed to it; whereas if I bad
delayed for fear of giving offense until the honey-moon was on the wane, and then commenced, the consequences would have been different.
I remember of receiving a Notice to be read from the Pulpit, which, in substance, was like the following: "The Pastor of the Associate Presbyterian
Church is requested to intimate, that the Methodist Episcopal church will be opened for public worship on Wednesday first, and consecrated; and he is
invited to come himself and to invite his people to come along with him." I read it after public worship in the forenoon; and after endeavouring to show
that the consecrating of churches, grave-yards, and other things was heathenish and popish in its origin, and had no foundation under the Christian
dispensation, and that our Church testified against such practices, I said,--" As for the invitation for me to go, and request you to follow, and -give
countenance to such popish mummeries, rather than comply with it, (stretching out my right hand and suiting the word to the action,) let this right hand
forget its cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth." I then dismissed the congregation. This bold and unexpected blow against
Arminianism, which was beginning to gain ground amongst us, struck my people with a sort of surprise and fear, so much so that none attended on that
occasion, except a few aged women who lived near by. Some diseases require strong medicine at the beginning, to prevent them spreading and injuring
the whole system; and which if used in time prevents much trouble and perplexity afterwards.
We had resided about seven years on the church lot, and during that time we had discovered that it would be far more conducive to our peace and
prosperity to be on a place of our own. We had to lay out every year considerable money to fence the lot and otherwise improve it, without any prospect
of remuneration: besides, we had to pay more for hired help in-doors and out, than we could raise from it. We found we would have been gainers to have
paid for our own firewood and what grain and hay we raised. Manses and Glebes have their advantages and disadvantages; but I must say from all I
experienced myself, and saw in others connected with the late Associate Church in the State of New York for twenty-five years, and in the West for
thirteen years, that the best Manse and Glebe a minister and his family can have are, a home which he can call his own, however poor it may be. If disease
or death should overtake him, then his family has a home-stead out of which none can turn them. The very thought of having a place of our own in case of
any change (and changes are often sudden and unlooked for), tends to strengthen our hands and encourage our hearts. The approbation of a people is often
like the wind, which may blow favourably to-day, but by tomorrow may blow the very opposite. The history of the church affords many examples of this.
They act a wise part who look out and prepare for these things. It is a sad thought for a minister to leave his widow and his fatherless children on the
tender mercies of a cold, heartless world. It is true we have Gods promise respecting them, that if we cast them on Him "he will preserve them alive;" but
we should remember that He works by means, and if these are neglected, we have no reason to look for the promise being fulfilled, since the times of
miracles are at an end.
These things and others which could be mentioned caused us to long for a place of our own, in which we should be more independent and happy, and on
which if we made any improvements we should derive the benefits from them. But how this could be accomplished we were unable for some time to
discover, for it took every cent of my salary to pay our way. I never could see it to be my duty to insure my life or property for the benefit of the family
while I was with them, or when I should be taken away from them; as I always was afraid that if I did so it would manifest either a weakness if not a want
of faith in Gods promise; who had proved himself all-sufficient to protect and provide both for me and mine in times that were past. I know that many
good and exemplary Christians see no harm in these Insurances, but I must confess that I differ from them. it is a fast age this in which we live, and many
new things in the church and out of it are followed, which in former times were unknown. It does seem strange and heathenish for those professing
godliness, when about to leave home for a short time and take a journey either by land or water, to run and "get their lives insured ;" as if they believed
God was less able to protect them abroad than at home! When will such heaven-daring practices have an end?
While we were musing about making a change, (we did not let others know our intentions for fear of consequences,) God, in his love and mercy opened
a door for us to make our escape which no man was able to shut, though several attempts were made. We learnt that there was a farm for sale which was
within less than a quarter of a mile from the Meeting-house, consisting of 120 acres, for which they asked $800; but it had on it a poor house and barn,
and was greatly out of repair as to the fences and other things. We disclosed our intentions to a good friend of ours, a member of the congregation; who
cheerfully advanced the money, and took the Deed for security; which in the course of a few years we lifted, and paid him interest on his money. We
moved up to it in 1841, with no other stock than two cows and a horse; to the no small satisfaction and joy of some, and surprise and displeasure of
others; and rented the church lot and house for $50 a year to a man who worked for it on our farm. It gave great relief to our minds, although we moved
into a smaller and less convenient house, to, think it was our own, and to see the boys as they in-. creased in number and grew up, planting fruit trees,
building fences, and otherwise making improvements, the benefits of which we all afterwards felt. We continued there for fifteen years; and in process of
time had 12 cows, 20 sheep, a span of horses, &c.; put up two large frame barns, with stone cellars under them; also two years before we left it, we
erected an excellent, well finished, modernized house, and had the farm in first-rate order, and some additional land bought into it; and when we sold it in
November 1855 it brought us $3000, and the sale of horses, cows, sheep, agricultural implements, and household furniture came to $1100 This was
another instance of the Lords kindness to us, and caused us to "set up our Ebenezer "--hitherto hath the Lord helped! The boys and girls got into habits of
industry and carefulness then, which have been for their advantage ever since. I have always advised young ministers to study moderation and economy,
and avoid extravagance at all times, and more especially at the beginning of their ministry; for then many favorable opportunities to better their condition
and that of their families may otherwise be let slip which may never return again during their lifetime. While ministers ought to avoid every thing that is
mean or mercenary, and unbecoming their office, on the one hand; they should, on the other, study not to be extravagant in dress, in the management of
their household affairs, living above their income, or bringing up their children in idleness and show. Much depends on the way in which a minister
conducts himself and his household, to effect the result of attaching his people to him, and benefitting his family.
Things went on much in the same way that they commonly do in country congregations, one year after another, without any thing worthy of notice which
could be for general edification. We had the Lords Supper dispensed twice in the year, commonly in June and in October; when I was frequently assisted
by Dr. Martin of Albany, Mr. Campbell of Florida, and Mr. James P. Miller of South Argyle. Sometimes a probationer would be sent to assist; and
several times I was left alone. The congregation in regard to numbers kept much about the same; and harmony and peace, with some exceptions at times,
prevailed; and many evidences were given that the presence of the Lord was amongst us. I remember in 1846 of being placed in rather peculiar
circumstances from May until the end of October, during which the charge of all the Presbytery of Albany came on me daily! I was acting as clerk,
Moderator, and general correspondent, being the only ordained minister in the Presbytery of Albany during that time who had the charge of a
congregation. Florida, Johnstown, and New York were vacant. Mr. Morrow had accepted a call from Albany, and in order to have our Presbytery
constituted and him ordained, I had to send all the way to Philadelphia for my worthy friend Dr. Cooper to assist me. He cheerfully came, along with his
amiable and accomplished lady; and assisted me in dispensing the Lords Supper. His visit to our mountains was long remembered, and spoken of with the
deepest feeling and interest. It was a time of refreshing to us all. The Sermon he preached on Monday was spoken of by old and young as having greatly
impressed them. The text was, Psalm xlviii, 14; "This God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death."
We then went to Albany and ordained Mr. Morrow. The services were held in the evening. I remember, when I was addressing the congregation, Brother
Campbell, who was sitting behind me, becoming impatient at the manner I was lengthening out my remarks, touched me once or twice, and then telling
me to stop; to which I paid no attention. When he discovered that I was determined to take my own way, he rose under considerable excitement,
disentangled his chain from his neck, and laid a gold watch right before me on the Bible; as much as to say,--" See, you positive fool! what time of the
night it is; have done at once, and let us all home to our beds." I took it up, looked at it for a moment, and then deliberately slipped it into my vest pocket,
and continued speaking for some time after. I was not much put about with such an interruption, having met with similar treatment before from the same quarter.
The late Dr. Martin (with whom I was very intimate,) told me of a surprize he also met with in the same pulpit. When he was sitting behind Mr. Laing
while he was preaching one Sabbath evening after the Communion to a crowded house, Mr. L., after coming down from one of those flights of eloquence
which he was accustomed to take in order to breathe for a little, pulled his watch out of his pocket with some difficulty, looked at it, put it to his ear,
looked at it again, and then turned round and, holding it out towards Mr. M. said, loud enough to be heard by many,-- "Is that thing gawin,' Jamie?" Mr.
M. held down his head and made him no answer; and the old man resumed his discourse.
I will here introduce another anecdote, out of the many I could produce, about that wonderful man. When he was settled in Bovina, Dr. Stark of New
York used to have him down frequently to assist him on Sacramental occasions; when great numbers of his countrymen would turn out to hear him.
While sailing down the Hudson on board of a sloop with a number of farmers, who were taking their butter and other produce to market, there was a
Universalist preacher on board, who held forth on Sabbath when they were becalmed, in a thundering manner; astonishing and captivating every one by
his eloquence. Mr. Laing, who always wore a dress like a WORKING mans when lie went from home, and who was unknown to any present, sat and listened
until the speaker was done; he then began and said a few things about the original meaning of the words of his text in the Greek; on which the preacher
looked at him with contempt and said,--" What do you know about Greek, old fellow?" This raised Mr. Ls Scotch spunk, and, in his accustomed blunt
and fearless manner, he said,--" You selfconceited, ignorant puppy; I could read Greek before you were able to button your breeks." He then preached
from the same text, and, as he said himself-- "I cut the poor, insignificant creatures arguments and positions all to pieces." And well he could do it.
The Presbyteries of Albany and Cambridge were long convulsed with what was then known as "the Stark and Bullions party;" and afterwards, when they
separated from the Synod, by the name of "the Protestors." These troubles were in existence before I came to this country, and therefore I had no hand in
originating them; neither did I do any thing to continue them, but I kept as far as possible neutral when both parties were quarrelling: yet I claim some
credit in having had a hand in making peace, and in restoring those Protestors again to the Associate Synod; and in this I was greatly assisted and
encouraged by my conscientious, peaceable, and amiable Brother, Mr. Morrow. While we were as a Presbytery endeavouring to quench the fires that had
so long burned in our bounds, by passing some resolutions to hold conferences with them for mutual explanations, we met with no small opposition from
different quarters: one of these was from a young, zealous Brother who had newly come into the bounds of Cambridge Presbytery, who thought himself
qualified to put us all right. I had written an article in the Evangelical Repositorystating our views of the matter and what we intended to do, with which
that Brother found fault. I replied to him at some length in vindication of our proceedings and intentions, from which reply I give the following extract: "I
am vexed to think that these fourteen ministers, who solemnly declare that they are attached to and have never swerved from the principles of the
Associate Church, together with their twenty-two congregations, consisting of 3070 communicants and 1051 families, should be spoken of in the manner
M. has done. I do not envy the head nor the heart of one who can feed and fatten upon such things; yet I fear some will devour them as wholesome,
seasonable nourishment. I know that some of those men of whom M. speaks so uncharitably and unguardedly have borne the burden and heat of the day
in the service of their Master, in promoting his kingdom, in proclaiming his unsearchable riches to perishing sinners, twenty years before the eyes of some
that are now in the field had seen the light of day, and who are wishing to push with head and shoulder. We who are their juniors in years, in knowledge,
in experience, and in attainments, should be humble, dependent, and cautious. 'Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old
man; and fear thou God: I am the Lord! That these men were entirely innocent, and had no hand in kindling or adding fuel to those fires which burned for
upwards of twenty years I will not venture to affirm, for I know that they, along with one who is now no more on this side of time, had an active and
sinful hand in fanning the flame; not from a love of seeing the smoke and enjoying the heat but from a necessity under which they were laid, in
self-defence, at certain times to make use of materials, however combustible; and use means, however unpleasant. But to say that all the blame from
beginning to end, as M. insinuates, was chargeable upon them, and next to none chargeable upon the majority either in Cambridge Presbytery, Albany
Presbytery, or Synod, I cannot, my conscience bearing me witness. I have seen two much striving for the mastery, too much nationality, too much
jealousy, wrath, and bitterness, and too much of a desire to take up and circulate evil reports to support sides when taken, to say either side was without
guile. I got involved in these troubles when I was raw and rash, and not ill to advise, and often nearer the heat than I found for my comfort or safety; and
from what I have seen, and from what I have suffered, I would 'remonstrate with Brother M. to 'leave off contention before it be meddled with, and to
keep as much from desiring to occupy a place in the front ranks as possible; lest he may have to cry,-- My kingdom for a horse! or else to take to his
helmet or his heels: the former, if I am not mistaken, will suit him as well as myself best." (Evangelical Repository Vol. Ix. p. 538.)
There is a crisis which every congregation has to go through, and when once that is over, a better, state of things commonly succeeds. As the storm tends
to purity the atmosphere, so that we breathe more freely and think more of the calm; so is it sometimes with the commotions that take place among a
people: they expel the noxious vapours that were hovering over them and produce more spiritual health, peace, and purity. It is therefore, better for a
minister, on those trying occasions, in place of being discouraged and throwing up his situation, to hold on to his station, trust in God, and discharge his
duty faithfully; and he will ultimately see light arising out of darkness, and order out of confusion. Let him be found "steadfast and unmoveable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord," and he will find that "his labour has not been in vain in the Lord."
Our meeting-house, which had withstood so many storms, and had been so frequently repaired, began to give way, so much so, that on some windy days
it would shake and crack, to the no small alarm of many of the worshippers. This led them to think of having a more safe and commodious house, as they
were now in circumstances which could afford it, and the change of the times demanded it. The Methodists had erected in the village a suitable
Meeting-house; and our people concluded to have one there also. They accordingly in 1849 built a new Meeting-house in Bovina Centre at their own
expense; which was allowed to have been as well finished and as convenient as any in the county, in a beautiful location, and having a gallery, a lobby,
window blinds, and a steeple; and every thing, inside and outside, done up in modern style; calculated to accommodate upwards of 400 persons. Behind
were shades belonging to certain families calculated to hold from 15 to 17 span of horses. The house cost upwards of $4000. When the time arrived that
we bad to leave our old venerable place of worship and move down to the new one, it was found not to be such an easy matter as we imagined, either for
minister or people. There are associations connected with old friends and old places, which in parting from them are found to be strong and irrepressible.
There I had been permitted for nearly twenty years, through good and through bad report, amidst encouragements and discouragements, to lead in the
worship of God, expound his Word, address his Throne of Grace, and dispense the seals of his Covenant, to hundreds, many of whom had given in their
account--and the Great "Day will alone declare" to whom the Word preached was "the savour of life unto life, or of death unto death." There, we have
every reason to believe, many "were made to sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, and were sealed unto the day of" complete "redemption." However
cold and uncomfortable in winter, and suffocating in summer, there was something in the very place which words cannot explain, where we had held
sweet fellowship and communion with God; where parents had devoted themselves and their offspring to His service; and where we had met with those
with whom we took sweet counsel, got strength when weak, light when in darkness, and encouragement when cast down,--which caused us to leave it
with reluctance and to "cast many a longing, lingering look behind." The grave-yard, which when I first came there, had only a few committed to its
keeping until Christ shall bring them with Him when He shall come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, was now so full of inhabitants,
that another had to be opened. Another generation had arisen around me, many of whom I had baptised and had joined in marriage, and whose children I
had also baptised; and whom I had the pleasure of seeing offering fair for being useful in the church, and an honour to society. "The promise is to you,
and to your children." The last Sabbath we were in our old place of worship, I preached with more than ordinary freedom, in the forenoon, from Exodus
xxxiii. 15,--"If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence ;" and in the afternoon from verse 14th,--" My presence shall go with thee, and I will
give thee rest." Both these passages afforded an abundance of thoughts suitable for the occasion; but how I disposed of them I shall not venture to say. I
distinctly remember I had some strange indescribable feelings when for the last time I came down from that high old-fashioned pulpit, which when I first
entered in December 1831 I was vigorous and in the prime of life, and newly come from my native land; but now my hair was becoming silver-gray, arid
my strength was beginning to fail me, both in body and mind. Such are some of the changes to which we are subjected in this transitory world.
Next Sabbath, when our new place of worship was opened, it was filled in every corner. I gave out the One hundredth Psalm, long measure; which was
sung with more voices and with more earnestness and deep feeling than we had been accustomed to in former times; every thing around us tending to
produce those emotions. Such was the effect of the great change on the minds of many, that tears were seen gathering in their eyes. I have to confess that
my own feelings were like to get the better of me when I heard such a swell of voices sounding along the high root and when for the first time I rose in
that place, in such a vast assembly, to address the throne of Grace. In the forenoon I preached with great freedom from Zechariah iv. 7. (last clause),--"
And he shall bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it;" and in the afternoon from verse 6th,--" Not by might, nor by
power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." In place of a high, small tub of a Pulpit calculated only to hold two, and a door to fasten them in, we
now had one only two feet from the floor, without any doors at all, calculated to hold five or six persons sitting, ranging in front something like a
carpenters bench; the book-board covered with crimson silk-velvet; and the floor with a carpet.
When I had to baptise children in the old house, I had to go down the pulpit stairs, and carry my tumbler of water in my hand; but in the New house we
had a silver font fixed on the pulpit, and the parents brought right in front. In place of a low root and the gallery not far from the pulpit, we had a high root
and a gallery a long way back ranged round like an amphitheatre, closely packed with attentive listeners. I found it was, nevertheless, more easy to speak
and of course for the audience to hear, than in the old house. There were a few aged members who bad seen many changes in the congregation, around
whom a new generation had arisen, with new fashions and manners, who were not so much at home in the new sanctuary as in the old one. They were
like the aged worshippers who returned from Babylon, and who, when they saw the second temple wept, and said it was far inferior in their eyes to the
old in which they and their fathers worshipped. I have often thought there was much in the following promise, (which was once preached from in the
hearing of many) that was fulfilled respecting that portion of Gods vineyard in which my lot was cast, and in which I still take a deep interest: "The glory
of this latter house shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord of Hosts; and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts."
When the Lords Supper was dispensed we had a great many accessions, and a very encouraging and reviving time. On the Monday 13 children were
baptized; and when the fathers and mothers were arranged in front of the pulpit with their infants in their arms, taking on themselves the vows,--"To keep
up the worship of God in their family evening and morning as God in his providence gave them opportunity, by singing his praise, reading a portion of his
Word, and calling on his name; also to be engaged in secret prayer for them and the other members of their families; and that if God should spare their
children with them, they would bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; not withholding the rod when it was necessary," &c.--it was, I
say, a very imposing and interesting sight.
In those days, the Thursday before the Sacrament was observed by all as if it had been a Sabbath Day; and on Saturday and Monday they attended
regularly and listened to the Word preached. Good Mr. Leiper said, he had been in many congregations during Sacramental occasions, but he had never
seen a people turn so well out as they did on preaching days, or who were so well supplied with Bibles and made such use of them in church; for, said
he,--" When I gave out my text, nothing could be heard but a rustling among the leaves of their Bibles in order to find out the passage."
It was in this way they were brought up in the old Meeting-house; and they were resolved not to give it up in the new one. The Methodists had Sermon
every afternoon at 3 oclock, just at the time we commonly came out, and a number of young persons, male and female, made it a regular practice to attend
with us and then go to them afterwards; and to accomplish this. they would often go out before public worship was over, and in so doing disturb others by
their tramping along the gallery and down the stairs. Although complaints were made to me about such conduct I bore with it for some time, until I saw
that in place of this practice being given up, matters became worse; when one afternoon, the commotion having commenced, I stopped preaching and
said,--" As there are certain individuals who make a regular practice of leaving the house before the close of public worship, causing considerable
inattention and confusion, I shall stop for a few minutes for the time to come, in order that such persons may have an opportunity to withdraw." I then
said nothing for a few minutes, when many eyes were turned to see who would rise and go out, but not one moved from his or her seat. This put an end to
Matters went on encouragingly, and unity and peace prevailed amongst us, and we were not without evidences that the Lord was in the midst of us.
Perhaps neither Pastor nor people were duly thankful for the great things the Lord had wrought for us; nor humbled enough for our sins as families and
individuals, in in the neglect of family duties, or for the formal and careless performance of others; or perhaps we looked more to the hand of man and
ascribed more to our own wisdom in what we had done, than to His hand, and His wisdom, power, and goodness who had ordered all things for our good.
Whether all or any of these were the cause of Gods displeasure with us, and of putting into our hands the cup of affliction, and making us to drink the
wine of astonishment, I shall not venture to affirm; but I know there was a need be for what came over us, otherwise it never would have taken place. We
had scarcely been two years in our place of worship, when it pleased God to lay me aside from public work in his vineyard by a stroke of paralysis in my
left side. The natural cause of this physicians, and others who knew my habits and temperament, said was too much confinement to the house; close study
in writing for the press, and preparing my discourses; and not taking exercise enough in the open air: in this I am now disposed to think there was too
much truth; and I saw it when it was too late.
As soon as I found that there was little prospect that I should soon be able to resume preaching, I sent to Presbytery a request to supply my pulpit; which
they accordingly did, as far as lay in their power, though at times for many Sabbath my people were without Sermon. This they were not accustomed to,
for I seldom or never went from home, except once a year to Presbytery, and once in two years to Synod when it met in Philadelphia, and occasionally
away on a mission tour to some preaching Stations, such as Delhi and Lansingville. It is not a little singular, that during twenty years I preached twice
every Sabbath, except three Sabbaths on which I was prevented by sickness from preaching: although often I appeared in public when very unfit for duty.
Many think a minister should never be sick; nor be absent, however much they are so themselves without sufficient cause. I recovered, and by the good
hand of God upon me was able to go about; and when a minister came, I was able to attend meeting and take part in public worship. It came to be a
question with me and others, whether it would be better to retain my pastoral relation for some time, till it should be seen whether I should become more
able to preach again; or whether, for the advantage of the people and my own comfort, it would be better on certain conditions to resign my charge into
the hands of Presbytery, let the people pay their own supply, and call another minister.
These two questions occupied our attention, and to decide on them a meeting of the congregation was called, at which it was decided by a large majority
that if I would resign my charge, they would pay up all arrearages, and give a Mortgage of $700 which they held on the Manse and glebe, which they had
but lately sold, provided I would give them a receipt in full. To this proposal I finally agreed, because though I could have held on for an indefinite time to
my charge, as some of the members of Presbytery and others advised me, yet I saw it would be more conducive to the peace and prosperity of the
congregation, for them to look out for another Pastor, than for me to hang on among them, which perhaps might have been the means of scattering and
dividing them. Besides, as I had to pay all the supply that came on from the time of my sickness until I was relieved from my charge out of my $350 of
salary, I found that was more than I could long continue to do. I have been the more particular in stating these things here, to show that the $700 was not
given as a gift, as has been generally believed, but as the payment of a debt which they voluntarily bound themselves to pay me on the express condition
that I "should resign my charge and give a receipt in full." They having handed to me the mortgage and thus cleared matters in as satisfactory and friendly
a manner as could have been expected, I wrote to the Presbytery to that effect; offered the resignation of my charge; and expressed a hope that they would
see their way clear to accept it. The following document will show what took place:-- "At a meeting of the Associate Presbytery of Albany on September
28th, 1853, the following resolution; offered by Mr. Hall, was unanimously adopted; and the clerk was directed to transmit a copy to Mr.
Graham,--Resolved, that in accepting the resignation of Father Graham, we deplore the dispensation by which he is compelled to resign his charge; that
we truly sympathize with him in his affliction; and earnestly pray that his last days may be his best days. 'Help, Lord! for the godly man ceaseth; for the
faithful fail from among the children of men.--A true copy.
Attested by SAMUEL F. MORROW, clerk." Mr. Morrow, by appointment of Presbytery, preached and declared the pulpit vacant; and in doing so, our
young, kind Brother was very much overcome.
During the time I was the Minister of the congregation of Bovina, I explained the verses of the Psalm we were to sing in the morning, which exercise
generally occupied twenty minutes; and in this manner I went regularly through the whole of the Psalms and had begun to go through them the second
time. I also in the forenoon lectured through the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the Epistles to the Ephesians, Hebrews,
Philippians, Colossians; four chapters of the Revelation of John; five chapters of Genesis; and had gone as far in the Epistle to the Romans as the xiii.
chapter and the 11th verse,--" And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we
believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand," &c,--when God, in His wisdom and love, said, It is enough! These verses were the last I was ever
permitted to explain, in my ordinary course of lecturing. I had good reason to believe that the explanation of the Psalm, and the Lecture in the forenoon,
were blessed for the edification and instruction of the people. These were a part of the public exercises for which I made all necessary preparation, and in
the performance of which I commonly had great liberty, and found much good to my own soul. To the last, I wrote out my sermons and committed them
to memory as well as I could; and I never ventured to enter the pulpit without in secret supplicating Gods assistance, and having my manuscript in my
pocket. Some of my sermons I transcribed and condensed, and occasionally published in the Evangelical Repository; which can be see it in Volumes 6, 7,
8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, and 20 of that valuable Periodical; under the signature of ''Delaware."
During the period of my ministry in Bovina congregation, I baptized some four hundred children, and joined in marriage about two hundred couples.
What shall be the results of all that was said and done during those upwards of twenty years of my ministry, the day of final accounts only will disclose.
CHAPTER VIII [This transcription includes only up to his departure from Bovina]
FROM THE CLOSE OF MY MINISTRY AT BOVINA IN 1853, TILL THE PRESENT TIME, 1869.
History of Bovina congregation continued--Call to Mr. J. A. Leiper--His early death--Mach regretted--Call to Rev. James B. Lee the present
Pastor----Accepted--His ordination--Great prosperity of the congregation under his ministry-- The congregations around, which swarmed from that of
Bovina-All now flourishing congregations--Bovina "a prolific congregation"--Being now released from its Pastoral charge, considered what I should
do--Felt then the Benefit of having a farm and home of our own--Resolved to sell our farm and remove to the Far West--My reluctance to do
so--Emigrated to Iowa--Left Bovina in March 1856--Kindness of our friends at parting--
THE congregation gave a unanimous call to Mr. J.A.Leiper to become their Pastor; which, after taking some time to consider, he accepted. He was
deeply seated in their affections and they were so in his; both longing for the time for the ordination to take place. But we little know how soon our
prosperous state may be turned into vanity. During the summer, the disease Consumption gained on him, so that he had to give up preaching. He went
home to his fathers house in Pennsylvania; and seeing that he was getting worse, he returned the call which he had received from the people he loved, and
cheerfully and resignedly accepted the call from God whom he served so faithfully, "Arise and depart; for this is not your rest!" When the news of his
death came, it filled every heart with sorrow, and every habitation with mourning. Such was the way God was pleased to deal with his young servant, who
offered, so far, for being useful in that portion of his vineyard; "causing his sun to go down at noonday ;" thus teaching those who were longing for him to
be their Pastor, to look for another from the Minister of the upper sanctuary. Mr. Leiper was of a mild, pleasant disposition; retired and unassuming; in
company, more given to listen and learn from others than to hear himself speak. His pulpit exhibitions at once impressed any one who heard him, with the
conviction that his heart was in his work. There was a plainness and earnestness in his manner which commanded attention, and which were expressed in
his look and in the tones of his voice. In gesticulations he was very sparing. No one could listen to him without being impressed with the conviction, that
he was habitually living under the influence of those truths which he preached. Though I heard him deliver many excellent discourses with great pleasure,
yet there was one which he delivered to a large assembly who seemed to hang on every word that dropped from his lips, which was long remembered; the
text was, 1 Chron. xxviii. 9; "And thou Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind:
for the Lord searcheth all hearts and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek Him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake
Hun, lie will cast thee off for ever." About a year after the death of Mr. Leiper, they gave a call to Rev. Samuel McArthur; which he declined because it
was not harmonious.
In the winter of 1856 they gave a unanimous call to Mr. James B. Lee; which he accepted. I presided on the occasion, and preached from Acts x. 29;
"Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?" Mr. Lee having delivered
his trial discourses to the intire satisfaction of the Presbytery of Albany, was ordained on the 1st day of August, in the presence of a large assembly
collected from different places, all of whom were deeply interested, and felt thankful that, in the good providence of God, "their eyes were once more
permitted to see their teacher." Rev. James Thompson, of New York, preached the Ordination sermon, from 2 Cor. v. 20; "Now then we are ambassadors
for Christ; as though God did beseech you by ns, we pray you in Christs stead, be ye reconciled to God." Rev. Samuel F. Morrow, of Albany, addressed
the Pastor; Rev. George M. Hall, of Florida, the people; and Rev. W. J. Cleland, of Delhi, offered up the Ordination prayer, and presided on the occasion.
It was a day much to be remembered, during which the power of the Lord was present to heal, comfort, and encourage his people; and which commenced
a new era in their history; for which they blessed God and took courage.
About two months after the ordination, the Sacrament of the Supper was dispensed, when 37 persons united with the church. The congregation has
prospered remarkably well under Mr. Lees ministry. They have Prayer-meetings, Bible class, and Sabbath-school, all of which are well attended; and they
pay their Pastor punctually $1200 annually. They have reported last .year 316 members; and the amount collected during the year was $2655. These, and
many other things which might be mentioned, give convincing evidence that the Lord has answered prayers formerly presented in their behalf; and that
He has blessed the labours of their present able and highly esteemed Pastor. May love and peace long remain among them; and may they maintain and
hand down to their childrens children the same precious truths which were taught to them by their fathers!
West Delhi, Lansingville, the majority of Andes, New Kingston, and Walton congregations, all of which are self-sustaining, swarmed from the old hive
in Bovina; and still it continues to prosper, and could part with more without missing them. As Rev. James Douglas, a Covenanter, said, after he saw me
on a Monday after the Sacrament baptizing 13 children in the new Meeting-house,--" Well sir, I must declare that you have a prolific congregation !"
My pastoral connection with the congregation having been dissolved in a regular and satisfactory manner, we were at a loss for some time to know what
was the design of Providence respecting our future movements. We now felt the benefit of having a home of our own, after I was unable to do any thing;
and of the family being brought up to work and to help themselves and their parents; in place of being in the Manse out of which we should have had to
move, to make room for another. This produced peace of mind, both to parents and children. lit is true our beginning was small, and our labours and
privations for many years were great, to raise such a large family on such a small salary, in such a genteel manner; yet, by the blessing of God
accompanying our efforts, we succeeded far beyond our expectations and those of others. This proves, what I have said already, that ministers, when first
ordained, should catch time and opportunities by the forelock, to better-themselves; and not let them slip, lest they should have to repent it afterwards.
On consideration, we found that, though our farm was in good repair, well fenced, with two excellent frame barns with stone cellars under them, and an
excellent, well-finished, commodious new house on it,-- it was too small to employ all the boys WORKING on it., so as to remunerate them for their labour.
Some said, let them hire out and work, as others do. To this we never would give our consent, however much some might have liked to see a ministers
sons WORKING to them and kept under. Neither were they willing to leave home. We at length made up our minds that, all things taken into consideration,
it would be better to sell, and move to the West, where land was cheap, and where the family might have more advantages. I stood out against this a long
time, principally on the pound that I was too old and too weak a tree to be pulled up and to be transplanted in a new soil; for I was afraid I would wither
and die among their hands before I got that length. In this opinion I was strengthened by others. In that place in those days it was thought to be a
remarkable undertaking to gd as far as Illinois or Iowa; where, as some said, they had to encounter bears, wolves, rattlesnakes, and Indians. I at last
consented, if the family were all agreed to sell and move West, to seek a home beyond the Mississippi, that, Providence permitting, I would not oppose it
any longer; although I had my doubts and fears for the consequences as to my health.
After corresponding with several parties in Iowa respecting the prices of land and other things, we sold our homestead. When winding up our affairs and
preparing to leave, many of our true and steady friends called to bid us farewell, and gave us unmistakable evidences of their attachment to us. We felt
sorry to leave the place where we had been so long; where all our children were born; and where it had pleased God in his providence to deal so
mercifully with us all. We left Bovina the last week of March 1856, in sleighs, when the snow-banks were beginning to break through; two kind
neighbours, viz. Mr. James Graham Ormiston, and Mr. Joseph Shaw Raitt, taking us down to Delhi, where we took the stage to Hancock; thence the
Express train to Woodstock, Canada West, by wayof Niagara Falls. Having remained with our relations a week and got rested, we took the cars for Iowa
by way of Detroit and Chicago; and crossed the Father of Waters at Burlington on the 18th day of April.
Graham settled in Winterset, Iowa, after some wandering in Iowa to find a farm. At times, he felt very lonely - "[as] we thought of the new commodious
house, barns, and orchard we had left, and our many kind Christian friends whose faces we should see no more, the blues began to gain among us, and
the home-sick fever prevailed to a considerable extent; for which there seemed to be no immediate relief. What tended to produce this state of mind was,
our being far removed from religious society, silent Sabbaths, no preaching, nor prayer-meeting, and surrounded with those who made the Lords Day a
day of feasting, idleness, horse-racing, and hunting. It grieved and vexed us to hear the sound of the axe and the crack of the rifle on that blessed day
which God had commanded to be remembered and kept holy." But the family persevered, breaking ground for their farm. Graham's health, "which many
said would certainly fail...gradually improved far beyond our expectations, occasioned by the change of climate and mode of living, together with peace
of mind and exercise among the wild prairie flowers, and the pleasant smell arising from the virgin soil being broke up around us."
Though he no longer had a pastorate, he was often called upon to preach to tide the congregation over between pastors. When the United Presbyterian
Church came into being, there was some dissension. The recently called pastor for the Winterset church was one of the dissenters. He left, taking many
of the church's members with him. Graham worked hard to keep the original church together until a new pastor was called. This was not easy. Health
problems at one point left the church with no minister for seven months at a stretch. In 1865, the church finally succeeded in getting a new pastor.
Graham was active in the Underground railroad during the Civil War. Three of his sons and a son-in-law enlisted in the war. It was an uncomfortable
time for the Graham family remaining in Iowa, since they were surrounded by, in Graham's words, 'northern rebels.' Graham was much relieved that his
sons and son-in-law all came back from the war unharmed. He also rejoiced in the emancipation of the slaves.
Graham died April 22, 1870 and is buried in the Winterset Cemetery in Winterset, Madison County. His wife, Mary, survived him over 30 years, dying
September 28, 1903.
Their children were all born in Bovina, New York and are as follows:
John W., born in 1835, died in 1909 and married to Mary Ann Gould in 1868. William was born in 1834 and married Jennie Wood. Mary Scott was
born in 1838 and died in 1900, married Butler Bird in 1859. Adam married Mary J. Hoisington. Abel died at Marshalltown, Iowa and was unmarried.
Margaret was born in 1845 and married to John Weir. Marjorie was born in 1845 and died in 1898. Rev. James Douglas was born in 1848 and died in
1910, married Carrie Lee in 1876. Joseph married Mary Blout. Samuel died in Wintersetand never married.
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