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become too fair a mark, he heard the balls whistle, and tap upon the fence, just by his right hand, in quick succession; but escaped unhurt.
When about twenty-three years of age, he commenced preparation for the ministry, having been led, by the instrumentality of Dr. McMillan, to profess his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. His preparatory course was completed under the direction of Rev. William Graham, of Liberty Hall, and Rev. Dr. McMillan, the father of the College at Cannonsburg. He had been well instructed in early life, in the principles of religion; had been most deeply exercised under the preaching of Dr. McMillan; had maintained a godly walk, in Liberty Hall
, among careless students, whose neglect of religion oppressed Graham's heart. During his college course he solemnly reviewed his religious experience and his hope. He was licensed about the time of the revival in the Valley, by Redstone Presbytery, in whose bounds he belonged, and in the year 1790, September 20th, was appointed by the Commission of Missions of the Synod of Virginia a missionary. After labouring with success in Virginia for some six months, he was sent with Carey Allen to Kentucky. These young men laboured with great acceptance, and soon received invitations to become settled pastors.
In the summer of the year 1792, Mr. Marshall asked to be dismissed from the direction of the Commission, and to be recommended to the Presbytery of Redstone, which had licensed him; and requested of that Presbytery to be transferred to the Presbytery of Transylvania. By that Presbytery he was ordained, on the 13th June, 1793, pastor of Bethel and Blue Spring churches. Mr. Marshall was remarkable for his faithfulness as a missionary, and no less so as a pastor. The example of Graham, and McMillan, and Smith were before him, and multitudes of people ready to perish were around him; and his heart was stirred and his faith called into exercise. He rejoiced in his ministry.
The revival of 1800 was hailed, in its commencement and early progress, as the light of God's countenance shining on guilty man. After a time tares in abundance were sown among the wheat; and in some places it seemed as if the tares entirely choked the wheat. Nevertheless, in the mercy of God, a glorious harvest was gathered to eternal life. The moral influences of that revival were felt all over the southern and western country; are still felt; and will be felt for generations; will not be lost in all coming time. God's word was vindicated, and the riches of his grace magnified in the eyes of man, and a savour of godliness cast into the waves of the thickening population in the great Valley of the Mississippi. The subject of religion became all absorbing, the public mind was highly excited, and things apparently small, of a religious nature, would arrest attention. The wildness of speculation and adventure, for a time, yielded to religion, and men congregated in the wilderness worshipped God with the friendship of brothers. A course of reasoning, a relation of Christian experience, a statement of facts, a prayer, an exhortation, religious conversation, and even private meditations, were followed by great effects of a religious nature. In the progress of the work, it began to appear, from tracing effects to their more ostensible and immediate causes, that the presentation of truth in a pungent manner was all that was necessary to arrest attention, awaken the conscience, and bring men home to God, under the present dispensation of grace. In an unhappy moment Marshall gave in his adhesion to that error, and joined with five other ministers, of previous good standing and of credit for talents and acquirements, in forming a new sect which they fondly supposed would be speedily acknowledged as the true Church of God. By others the sect was called by different names, Stoneites, Marshallites, or more commonly, New-lights.
“As a preacher,"-says Dr. Davidson—"Marshall was clear, logical, systematic, and adhered closely to his text. His popularity as a leader of the New-lights, was for a time unbounded, thousands on thousands hanging on his lips at their camp-meetings." His morals were irreproachable in the camp of the Revolution, and in the defection of the New-lights. His fondness for metaphysical discussion was visible, but not a passion. He was a sincere man, believing heartily what he professed, and rejoicing in his faith. Enthusiastic in his feelings, he was sometimes rash, and sometimes, in his sermons, severe. But seeing clearly the end he had in view, he strove, by passion and by truth, to stir up men to believe and to act. He could thunder like McMillan, and could persuade like Smith of Hampden Sidney. He seemed always aiming at a purer way of living; in a former age he might have been an ascetic.
The history of the revival of 1800 and onward, in Kentucky, in its excellencies and defects, its melancholy and its glorious consequences, forms an interesting chapter in Dr. Davidson's History of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky. It must ever form part of the fundamental history of the State. NO man knows Kentucky to-day that does not know her in the first ten years of the nineteenth century.
After the public mind had become weary with the disputations and excitement on the subject of religion, and Marshall sated with the novelty and success of his new course, the subject was presented to this erring, but much loved brother, for revision. The brethren that loved the warm-hearted man, had made many efforts to recover him from his delusion, and had never entirely given him up, as a subject of hope and prayer. The instrument he acknowledged as having been, under God, the most effectual with him, was the Rev. Joseph Glass, of Virginia, who corresponded with him, and finally visited him at his dwelling, near Bethel. Marshall had a strong affection for his brother-in-law, Glass, and a high respect for his metaphysical and reasoning powers, together with an unwavering confidence in his piety and honesty. Glass induced him to go over calmly and prayerfully, the whole ground of difference between his former and his later creed. When the truth flashed on Marshall's mind, from behind the clouds of excitement and false philosophy, like Paul, he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. With the honesty and frankness of his whole life, he confessed his error, and proclaimed his renunciation with bitter tears. When Marshall was reconciled to the Presbytery, Blythe wept for joy. Thompson, who had been Blythe's pupil, erred with Marshall
, and came back with him. Over him Blythe rejoiced and wept. The other four ministers either had no one in whom they could confide, or were too closely bound in error ever to be set free; they went from worse to worse in their departure from truth. In 1811, Marshall was reconciled to the Presbytery. In 1812 he received an appointment under the Standing Committee of Missions of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church: and soon after was reinstated in his old charge, Bethel. The orthodox congregation, not satisfied with their old log building, and unwilling to leave the ground consecrated to the church, erected a brick building near the old site, and Bethel, divided, worships in two houses, each built for the same pastor, as a new-light and as orthodox.
Marshall was an active man, possessed of a vigorous constitution, of a well formed vigorous frame, of middling stature, of lively spirits. He was never idle. His farm, which was necessary for his family, was his exercise; his ministry was his labour and joy, and the acquisition of knowledge his recreation. The education of a numerous family necessarily occupied a portion of his time; but as other families shared in the instruction, his teaching was a public blessing. Whoever lived with him loved him as a teacher, and preacher, and invaluable friend. His sermons were usually prepared with much care, full of instruction, often argumentative, always clear and abounding with Christian experience. Warm and passionate in his delivery, he often besought with tears. 6 Here”-he would sometimes say, when he had come to the boundary of human strength, when sensible things must be lost in the spiritual, or spiritual things will be lost in the sensible_here I made my grand mistake:”—and would weep. As he enlarged on the grace of God as overtopping man's unworthiness,
and the influences of the Holy Spirit in recalling man to God through Christ—"here!”—he would exclaim,-“here, was my recovery.” So strong was the conviction upon the public mind that Marshall was an upright man, that when, some little time before his death, an innovator in Christian theology, taunted him with being—"an old apostate," the cry of “shame! shame!" burst from a thousand mouths. The able defence made by his sons was esteemed an act of filial respect, rather than of personal necessity. He was a beautiful example how honesty may outlive mistake; and that a bewailed error of judgment, which brought no moral obliquity with it, shall not be brought in judgment against a guileless man.
Beneath the pulpit window at the west end of the church, is a marble slab with the following :
by filial affection,
REV. ROBERT MARSHALL
Hear at last, o hear me from the grave. Around him lie his friends and connexions, members of his congregation, some of whom, like himself, had left the "
green isle” of their nativity, and laid the foundation of a flourishing State in the great Valley of the Mississippi.
The last, though not least, missionary sent, by the Commission of the Virginia Synod, to Kentucky, was John Lyle. As à faithful preacher, a successful teacher of females and a valiant defender of the faith, Davidson's History of Kentucky shows he had few peers, and no superiors in the extent of his labours, and their abiding usefulness. His want of gracefulness, connected with an early deficiency in hearing, his want of polished literary taste, and his limited acquaintance with the knowledge of books, were counterbalanced by the excellencies with which they were interwoven, good sense, honesty of purpose, fervent piety, an earnest desire for the welfare of his fellow men in their conversion to God, his patience of hope and his endurance in labour. Possessed of few books, and called to incessant preaching in the new settle
ments of his adopted State, he was indefatigable in his study the fragments of time he could command. During his ministerial life, he was, says Dr. Davidson-“in the constant practice of reading the New Testament in the original.'
John Lyle was born in Timber Ridge congregation, Rockbridge county, Virginia, October 20th, 1769. He bore the sirname of his father and grandfather, who were both elders in the Presbyterian church. His grandfather, from the north of Ireland, was among the early emigrants to Timber Ridge. The name of John Lyle is upon the subscription paper for the support of Rev. John Brown, for half his ministerial labours, drawn up in 1754, and opposite is the sum £1. 58. Two subscribers only gave a larger sum, and two others, only, gave an equal
This sum, considering the state of the country, and the value of money, was a liberal contribution for the possessor of a farm of moderate size.
The father of Rev. John Lyle,-says Dr. Alexander“Elder John Lyle, as he was commonly called to distinguish him from others of the same name, was in my opinion a man of eminent piety. In the period succeeding the war of the Revolution, vital piety had sunk very low in the Valley of Virginia; most professors seemed to have little of the genuine spirit of religion; and fell into undue conformity to the world, and its fashions and amusements. But during this time of general declension, John Lyle and his wife stood forth as shining examples of vital godliness, and holy living. When the revival occurred in the year 1789, it was like life from the dead, to this pious couple. They greatly rejoiced in the progress of this gracious visitation of God; and had the pleasure of seeing two of their own sons brought under the converting influence of the Holy Spirit.
John was a delicate child, and in his youth became defective in his hearing. The disabilities that followed the apparent reserve, and the stiffness of manner connected with his deafness, made a deep impression on a spirit too tender to be unobservant, and too honest not to feel indignant. The suppressed laugh and sly joke mortified a spirit that would not indulge malevolence and had not been trained in the school of Christ to bear all things. Andrew, the elder brother, who was a subject of the revival, possessed fine natural endowments of body and .mind; and was encouraged by his father, and his pastor, Mr. Graham, to pursue a course of classical study. "When his course of study in preparation for the ministry was nearly completed, he was suddenly called to the eternal world to the grief of all, especially his father, who desired greatly to see his son a minister of the gospel. John, from the time of his conversion, expressed a strong desire for an education, believing that