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and perversions; the church sessions and higher judicatories may have sins of omission and of commission; some portions of the membership may be heretical in doctrine, or scandalous in practice, negligent in discipline or oppressive in measures; the Church may be thus greatly annoyed, hindered, weakened, and religion greatly dishonored; but to the very wrong-doers, we say most earnestly—“be sure your sin will find you out.” That which you originated, or which you adopt and practice, is yours inalienably, and however widely it may have gone abroad, scattering its curses, it must at last come home to its own, bringing its merited condemnation. The hand of retribution will take hold on the very point of dereliction.
3. The most disastrous point of failure is in that of our spiritual dependence.
It is a very dangerous, and a very common perversion of the doctrine of divine dependence to so hold it as to excuse and encourage inaction. But the danger is not all on that side. Indeed, I believe the most imminent danger to the Church and to the world, now is, on the side of forgetting or discarding our dependence on God. We too much overlook the spiritual and boast ourselves in the sensual. It is a day of action and outside observation; planning measures, inventing instrumentalities, organizing associations, putting the church in training through various boards and committees; all needed; all indispensable, it may be; and yet, all tending to absorb our attention and interest, and divert our minds from God. The ardor of marshaling the host, and arranging the army on the battlefield, and admiring the courage and promptness and intrepidity of Joshua, or some other Captain, are altogether most congenial to the present spirit of the Church. We look too much to our means, and carnal preparations, and comparative competitions with other organizations, and are not interested and attentive enough to what should be going on upon the top of the hill. We are too little earnest that the Rod of God be steadily pointed toward heaven, and that Aaron and Hur should be never out of place.
And yet, brethren, here is all our strength. A failure here is fatal. No matter what our army or its leaders, if God do not go forth before us, most surely Amalek will triumph over us. Our greatest danger is about this uplifted rod.
4. The Grand Cause shall finally triumph. Sometimes all without and all within the Church, may seem forbidding and discouraging. “Iniquity may abound, and the love of many become cold.” Wickedness may be in high places and the enemies of truth may be many, and strong, and proud. Zion herself may have her internal jealousies and jarring interests, and party strife, and threatened disunion and disruption; but the divine injunction is ever important, and never more loud than now : “ Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils.” God is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; and in him only is it safe to trust. He has his own steadfast purpose to accomplish, and he knoweth the end from the beginning. He has established his Church as his ordained means for accomplishing it, and put the symbols of supernatural power within it. It is other and higher than any human organization. He will not permit that his rod shall want a hand to hold it. If that hand grows weary, he will not permit that patient and persevering men shall be wanting to sustain it. He has not prepared all his instrumentalities, that they shall be taken by the enemy and become at last only the boasted spoils of the devil. Church erection and church extension will progress, redress of crying enormities will be prosecuted, until Zion shall become a joy and praise throughout all the earth.
The years will rapidly roll by, and in them shall the sacramental host grow more numerous, and more united, and more holy. Every enemy shall ultimately be subdued. Raging infidelity shall one day have utterly fallen ; caviling skepticism shall at some time be convinced, and thoroughly conquered ; the licentious, and the ambitious, and the cruel oppressors, shall one day have had their last; and all irreligion and all false religion shall have no more place. “All shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest.” The Church shall one day fill and enclose all the earth. The days of conflict and struggle shall be over, and universal possession, and universal peace and joy shall come. Let us, brethren, go to our work, as appointed for us in the successive days of this session of Assembly, in faith, and hope, and prayer; assured that the blessing of Jesus Christ upon us, will make it to hasten on this day of promised deliverance and final triumph. Amen.
SKETCH OF THE LIFE AND CHARACTER OF REV. ISAAC
One hundred years ago, the region of country now embraced within the limits of East Tennessee, was an unbroken wilderness. The earliest traders and hunters who explored the country found neither wigwam, nor village, nor any sign that ever human foot had pressed the virgin soil, save indeed, that here and there were the occasional camping-places of the Indian hunter, and through the midst of it, running north and south, was the Great War Trace, or Path, along which the tribes passed on their expeditions. Ten years later, and the tide of emigration from Virginia and North Carolina, setting in strongly, continued to flow on westwardly till the Indians were forced to retreat before it and seek an asylum and a home, in the dark forests along the beautiful streams, in the lovely valleys of the land which they had before claimed and used as their own hunting grounds. A few years later still, and the hardy pioneers built their houses, forted and stockaded, on the banks of the Watauga. Forced again to retreat before the encroachments of the whites, the Red Man could not yield without a struggle. The curling smoke from the white man's cabin, as he looked from some eminence down into the valley below, only stirred within him the dark, sullen, relentless spirit of revenge. And revenge he had, cruel, merciless, devilish. But still onward advanced the march of civilization, and before it the Indian retreated still, until at length the germ was safely planted of a great and glorious State. By and by, came the man of God, seeking the sheep in the wilderness, preaching the Gospel of peace, building the school-house and the church, and taking an active part in the establishment of a new Commonwealth. Tidence Lane, Charles Cummings, and Samuel Doak, were the pioneer preachers of Tennessee—the first named, a Baptist; the last two, Presbyterians.
In 1788, sixty-nine years ago, when Gideon Blackburn came to East Tennessee, there were but three Presbyterian ministers in the State-Samuel Doak, Hezekiah Balch, and Samuel Houston. There were then no houses of worship except the rude buildings of logs, which were used for school-houses through the week, and served the purpose of a sanctuary on the Sabbath. At sacramental meetings, when large numbers assembled from different parts of the country for miles around, they worshipped in the groves. For days, and sometimes weeks together, the grand old woods resounded with the voice of prayer and the songs of praise. The Red Man, still prowling through the land, had no regard for the Sabbath, nor the worship of God. Neither the solemnity and reverence of the one, nor the sacredness of the other, could quell within him the fell spirit of revenge. “I have worshipped there,” said Dr. Blackburn, “ when I had to carry my gun, with the rest of the men, and placing it at the root of a tree, have stood by it and preached.”
In 1792, the number of Presbyterian ministers had increased to six-Doak, Balch, Blackburn, Carrick, Ramsey, and Henderson. These men preached the Gospel, for the most part, at their own charges, and like Paul could say, “ These hands have ministered to my necessities.” Not confining their labors to the particular congregations to which they regularly ministered, they “went everywhere, preaching the Word”-in season and out of season—in the school-house, in the private dwelling, and in the shady grove. God blessed their labors. There were wonderful displays of divine grace under the preaching of these truly apostolic men. “I preached in one place,” said one of these pioneers, “where there was not a single professor of religion; and in one year, though they had only occasional preaching, there was a church of one hundred and fifteen members.”
On a pleasant day, in the month of October 1801, a family of emigrants, consisting of the parents and seven children five sons and two daughters, slowly wended their way into the Grassy Valley, Knox County, Tennessee. Many days before, they had loaded their wagons, with whatever of household goods they could conveniently take or ill spare, and gathering a few of their best cattle, turned their backs on the old home in Rockbridge County, Virginia. They had come to seek a new home in the West, where the land was cheaper and fresher. One of the sons—the first-born-had consecrated himself to the Lord for the ministry and had commenced his theological studies. But he chose to accompany the 'family to Tennessee and there complete his preparation for the ministry. And in this we see the hand of God, guiding and controlling his movements in subserviency to His purpose. Had he entered the ministry before his father removed to Tennessee, it is possible, and by no means improbable, that he would have located in Virginia. But the same wisdom and providence which directed the father to seek a home in the West, in Tennessee, in Knox County, and at the time, too, which he did, brought thither the son also, for he was a chosen vessel, and God had a great work for him to do. That work he successfully accomplished; for to him, more than to any other man, living or dead, is the Constitutional Presbyterian Church indebted for the growth, extension and stability which it now enjoys in East Tennessee, and in many portions of the South West. That young man was Isaac Anderson. He was born, March 26, 1780, in Rockbridge County, Virginia, ten or twelve miles from Lexington. He was of Scotch-Irish descent. His ancestors emigrated from Ireland, County Down, at an early period; his paternal grandfather in 1726; his maternal grandfather twenty or more years later. His great grandfather and great grandmother were both in the siege of Derry. As far back as his ancestry can be traced they are found to have been true Protestants; and this may explain in some measure, his uncompromising hostility to Popery in all its forms.
His father, William Anderson, was an industrious, pious man, cultivating his farm with diligence and affording his children all the facilities in his power for acquiring a sound, useful education. His parents always kept a strict watch over the morals and conduct of their children, praying for and with them, and from their early childhood instructing them carefully in the doctrines of religion.
At an early age, it was his great delight to go to the district school house, situated about a mile from his father's dwelling. The larger boys were very fond of him, attracted by his kind and gentle behaviour, no less than by the sparkling intellect