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More grievous oppression, or more unrighteous ex. tortion, never disgraced the government of any tyrant.
The deep injuries inflicted on Mr. Makemie, had a powerful effect upon the people. They saw for the first time, their chief magistrate in his true character; they saw that invaluable rights, the rights of conscience, were in danger; and a legislative assembly, convened on the 8th November, 1708, spoke to the offender in language not to be misunderstood. In one of a series of resolutions, they denounced the extortion practised upon Mr. Makemie in the following words: “Resolved, that the compelling any man upon trial by a jury or otherwise, to pay any fees for his prosecution, or any thing whatsoever, unless the fees of the officers whom he employs for his necessary defence, is a great grievance and contrary to justice.”
That a second indictment was not found against Mr. Hampton, is to me entirely unaccountable : from the evidence before the grand jurors, he and Mr. Makemie must have been in pari delicto.
That he was deeply injured, indeed greatly oppressed, by the prosecution and its consequences, Mr. Makemie was entirely aware; and I presume his object in publishing the pamphlet about which some questions were asked in a former letter, was to attract public attention to the facts in the case, and to advertise the inhabitants of the provinces, that ty. ranny might exist in a provincial governor; and that the rights of conscience even on the western side of
the Atlantic, might be trampled upon by one whose power was but “ the accident of an accident.” The effect of that publication upon public opinion we cannot ascertain, or whether it provoked the energetic but dignified expression of displeasure from the popular assembly of New York, already quoted, we must remain uncertain. It came too late, however, to sooth the wounded feelings of the sufferer, or to satisfy him that the citizens of his adopted country would be free: he had already gone “where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest."
LETTER I X.
Remarks concerning Mr. Makemie continued.--His zeal for the church.-Receiv.
ed no compensation for his labours, but on the contrary supplied the wants of his infant congregations out of his own funds. The situation of the Rehobeth church shown.-Bnilt on Mr. Makemie's own land.-Provided for by his will.His zeal for the church, as well as his desire for the religious education of his children proved by his will
I have not yet done with Francis Makemie, and am more unwilling to quit his name, because so few of the members of the Presbyterian church in the United States, know any thing about him; and because my knowledge of the man, his character, his conduct, his labours of love, will soon be consigned to a house, in which there is neither available knowledge nor wisdom.
Instead of living upon the church, or receiving a revenue from the contribution of its members, he supplied the temporal wants of the church from his own resources: indeed the whole church was dear to him. For the first church in Philadelphia, and for its pastor, he discovered a deep interest, as appears from my seventh letter, but at that time, just before his death, the church at Rehobeth must have been his darling. As I shall be obliged to speak frequently of Rehobeth in what follows, to save trouble
hereafter, let me say now, that the place is on the west side of the Pocomoke river, about twenty-five miles from Snowhill. On the 22d August, 1666, Somerset county was erected on paper, by order of the provincial governor, and embraced the whole eastern shore of Maryland lying between the Nanticoke river and the line which divides Maryland from Virginia. By an act of assembly, passed in 1742, Worcester county was carved out of it, and includes the southern portion of its territory as represented on our maps. For a similar reason, it is necessary to say something of the location of Somerset county, within the bounds of which Rehobeth is situated; for Worcester county did not exist by that name, until after the occurrence of most of the events noticed in these letters. You will understand by Somerset county, the territory now included in both, unless additional terms of description be annexed. Be pleased to take some pains to understand this paragraph, as I shall insist hereafter, that Somerset county thus defined, is the “ faderland” of American Presbyterianism.
I have already referred to Mr. Makemie's disinterested labours, his benevolence, his strong Presbyterian predilections, and that instead of deriving temporal advantage from the church, he was in temporal things, as well as spiritual, the church's benefactor. The meeting-house at Rehobeth, in which worshipped the congregation that appears to have been the Benjamin of his latter days, was erected upon his own land, and provision is made by his will for the
conveyance of the lot of ground in perpetuity to be used in the same way.
To any one who is not hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, the preparation of a last will and testament, is as solemn a business transaction as can be undertaken. The ruling passion is generally strong in death, as I have frequently professionally witnessed. A will, in many instances, shows with certainty, the habit of the testator's mind, and the tone of his feelings. The only inducement to make a will, is a solicitude about some person or thing that will probably survive the testator; and a christian can never make a testamentary disposition of his estate, without reflecting, that the moment the instrument prepared for the purpose becomes operative, he will have passed into the eternal world, and that his condition will be unalterably fixed.
From Mr. Makemie's will, it appears that he was anxious about nothing but his wife and his children, and the church. I have said enough already to exhibit his attachment to the church to which he belonged, and in which he ministered; but the solemn manner in which he provides for the religious education of his daughters, deserves some notice. They are intrusted with perfect confidence to the guardianship of his wife, but in case of her death, during their minority, the Honourable Colonel Francis Jenkins and Mary his wife, of Somerset county, in Maryland, are constituted their guardians until maturity or marriage, and all persons are charged in the presence of “ Almighty and Omniscient God” to give