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out ever having had, or any prospect of having the ordinances of the gospel ? Their faith must have been strong if they did so, but not so strong as his, who gives credit to the supposition. If Mr. Makemie did not organize those churches and preach to them, who did ? He had been the only minister of that religious persuasion on the continent, and you saw in my eighth letter, that from some time in the summer of 1704 until the autumn of 1705, he had been in Europe.
I conclude this letter with remarking, that the churches in Somerset were planted and watered by ministers from the Presbyterian church of Ireland, although the church of Scotland has always been considered the mother of us all; and, that the Presbyterian church in America, owes a debt to the memory of Francis Makemie, which has never been discharged. Were I to endow a scholarship in one of our theological seminaries, it would certainly be called “The Francis Makemie scholarship.”.
Reflections.- Presbyterian churches organized in Somerset connty before the be
ginning of the eighteenth century.-The claims of Philadelphia to the first Presbyterian church organized in the United States, not well founded.
After the interval of more than a month, a part of which has been occupied in the discharge of known duties, another part in drinking those salutary bitternesses, which medicate the cup of human life, and much of it, I fear, in sinning against God, I resume my pen. Whilst we continue in the church below, we must fight or die; and even in a spiritual sense, a man's worst foes are those which belong to his own house. We have a horrible notion of those countries whose caverns, and the fastnesses of whose mountains, and the clefts of whose rocks, are infested by blood-spilling robbers, but our own hearts resemble them, and in their relations to the perfect will of God, are even worse than those very countries. When we first saw the light, or felt the sun, we were cherishing in embryo the seeds of moral
diseases, of massacre, and poison, Famine and war,"
“plague and pestilence." Who made thee to differ from another? In the heart of an assassin the noxious seed not only germinates,
but buds, blossoms, and bears (in its kind) perfect fruit. The hot beds in our own busoms are equally prolific, and are supplied with seeds of precisely the same class: why the difference between us and them?
“'Twas all of thy grace we were brought to obey,
While others were suffer'd to go
Which leads to the regions of wo.” We must endure hardness as good soldiers of Jcsus Christ, but the citadel of a christian is the house of God. His people in all ages have preferred the church above their chief joy, and I am fully persuaded that the more carefully we attend upon her ordinances, the more decisive will be our victories over sin, and the larger the communications to us of divine love. The church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth! What a glory encircles every
s little spot enclosed by grace Out of the world's wide wilderness." I am prone to wander in another sense, besides that intended by the hymn from which the expression is borrowed, but to misuse, perhaps to pervert, a fragment of a kindred line, am
“now made willing to return," to the subject of these letters.
From the considerations suggested by my last letter, I assume in this, that there were Presbyterian churches organized in Somerset county, before the
commencement of the eighteenth century. Can you doubt it? I can not. I further assume, that Francis Makemie organized those churches, and preached to them. Upon any other terms we must do injustice to his memory, for he was unquestionably a zealous minister of the gospel, and a man of missionary spirit. To believe that the cruel laws of colonial Virginia made him a “dumb dog” for ten or twenty or thirty years of his life, within a few miles of the comparatively tolerant Maryland, where there were persons who entertained his own faith, both as to doctrine and discipline, would be absurd. Who can suppose, that in Somerset county, then newly settled, abounding in neither population or wealth, five Presbyterian churches were erected in as many years? Or who can believe, that so situated without having ever enjoyed in America the ordinances of the gospel, and where there was no preacher of their own persuasion on the continent to administer them, the people would have erected so many houses for worship? No one, certainly. At the time when records prove the existence of those five congregations in Somerset, there was but one brick church in Maryland, and that was in the city of Annapolis. This proves, that there was difficulty in procuring the erection of church edifices in the province, and it is to be remembered, that most of the other parts of Maryland were settled before Somerset, and there is no body of land of the same size in the State, the soil of which was, and is, so poor. An intelligent friend, in a letter to me upon this subject, uses the
following language :-"Forasmuch as the license given by the governor to Messrs. Hampton and McNish,* to preach in four distinct meeting-houses, bears date March, 1705, is not the conclusion strong and irresistible, that the gospel had been preached by ministers of our denomination for several years before that date? It is well known, that anterior to that time, this part of the country was but thinly settled, that the people were poor, and the times peculiarly oppressive on Presbyterians: as they were compelled to support the established church as well as their own, and money being scarce, it is not probable they could have had the means of building four churches, three of which are within fifteen miles of each other, in two, three, four or five years, immediately anterior to 1705, and early too in that year." I take precisely my friend's view of the matter, and so, I think, would any unprejudiced mind acquainted with the facts. · Remember, that the church at Rehobeth, is not referred to in the foregoing extract.
I know that “ Philadelphia claims the honour of having received into her bosom the first regularly constituted Presbyterian church in the United States." But is that claim well founded ? I think it has no foundation whatever. The first regularly constituted Presbyterian church which Philadelphia “received into her bosom” in the year 1698, was an association of Congregationalists, Baptists and Presbyterians, and their minister was a preacher of the Bap
* See Appendix D., extract 5.