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Here young men were taken through a classic and scientific course; and those who wished, through a course of theological reading. His students were fitted to enter upon professional studies of law or medicine, or public life, or the ministerial office. This school soon became the most approved place of education, south of Yale College, and North of William and Mary; and, with this last mentioned venerable institution, gave the youth of the middle and southern provinces, their only chance for an extensive and thorough training; and was the only one in all the south, where Presbyterian discipline prevailed. This private enterprise was entirely successful in its efforts to supply, on a limited scale, a well trained and pious ministry, and eminent professional men for posts of honour and profit in civil society, in what are now called the Middle States.
That great revival which commenced about the year 1740, in New Jersey, and spread north and south to the extent of the provinces, was commenced and cherished by the labours of men reared in the LogCollege on the Neshaminy. For a time, the influence of the Tennents, the father and sons, was paramount in the religious world. The father was wearing away, and John had just gone from the dawning revival to the world on high,— but William and Gilbert were in their prime. Gilbert traversed New England with long hair, and flowing robe girded about his loins with a leathern girdle, and by his commanding figure and powerful voice arrested the attention of the multitude, while he preached with great plainness and wonderful power, the doctrines of the Reformation. Fruits of his ministry were found in all parts of New England, New Jersey and the settled parts of Pennsylvania.
The Log College gave rise to what may be termed a school, or peculiar kind of preachers, whose attainments were remarkably acceptable to the people generally. Their traits are still discernible, and meet with favour wherever recognized. Didactic,— exhortatory,— plain,— impassioned,— often vehement,— they used the strong doctrines of Scripture as facts for illustration, or weapons to subdue the heart,—and fearless of man in the cause of God, they pressed on to run with speed their race. Accustomed to debate, they were at home with the pen, and ready for their message, armed at all points, whether to preach from the plain desk, the well-arranged pulpit, or in the barn, the school-house, or the shade of the forest. The man that first preached the gospel with the Presbyterian forms of worship, in Hanover county, Virginia, was licensed at Neshaminy,—William Robinson, of whom Davies says—" that man of God, who did much in a little time/' Warm from the revival in Jersey, he entered the Valley of Virginia, and passing along the frontiers to Charlotte, he proclaimed, in burning words, the everlasting gospel of Christ to the Presbyterian emigrants in the wilderness. They hung upon his lips. And the citizens of Hanover sent for the man—" fearfully and wonderfully made,"—and trembled and wept, and bowed down in agony, as he delivered his message. The impress of his footsteps remain to this day.
When William Tennent began to wear away with age, Samuel Blair, a pupil and disciple and a leading man in the great revival, a burning and shining light through life, opened a school at New Londonderry in Pennsylvania, on the same plan as the Log College-—a school for classics, for the sciences, and for theology. This was conducted on the responsibility and principally by the labours of one eminent minister—but that one, among the most eminent of his day. He visited Virginia and preached with great acceptance. From his school came out the man that has been truly styled the Apostle of Virginia—Samuel Davies, a man with whom, in Virginia is associated what is pure in politics and excellent in religion. It is now (1848) just one hundred years,—in the spring of the year—that the two young preachers stood before the general court in Williamsburg, to ask of the Governor and Council that Rodgers might stay and preach with Davies in the congregations gathered by Robinson,—the Blairs—Roan—the Tennents —and by Davies himself—a constellation of great men, that laid the foundation of a Presbytery—the mother of Presbyteries. The Governor said—" take the credentials"—the Attorney General said—"not till I have had an argument;"—an argument on what! Whether a young man claiming the protection of a law made for his protection, provided his creed rendered that law necessary for his protection in the quiet performance of his duty. The rights of conscience were unheeded that day. How changed the scene in a year or two, when young Davies came again to that ceurt and answered the Attorney's argument, and gained some advantage for the rights of individuals in matters of conscience. The simple question was—have the citizens of Virginia a right to build a house for the worship of God in any fitting place. The General Court in 1748 said no; Davies said yes—by the laws of nature and by the Act of Toleration as understood in England. And long ago the whole Virginia public has said—all men are free to worship God. Under the exhortations of the same young man, in that alarming period immediately succeeding Braddock's defeat, the first volunteer company was enrolled for the defence of the frontiers. "In the name of the Lord"— said he—" lift up your banners: be of good courage and play the man for the people and the cities of your God, and the Lord do what seemeth him good."
Rev. Samuel Finley opened a log college at Nottingham, Pennsylvania, about the time the school at New Londonderry was closed by the death of Mr. Blair. This gentleman visited Virginia during the troubles attending the gathering the churches in Hanover; and ultimately died President of Princeton College. From this school proceeded many eminent men, among others, Waddell, commonly known as the Blind Preacher of Mr. Wirt, whose influence in Virginia is still widely felt.
While these log colleges were pouring out streams to make glad the city of God, Alison was cherishing a school which was matured into the University of Pennsylvania; and Dickerson and Burr fostered the incipient college now known as Nassau Hall, or the College of New Jersey. From the school of Samuel Blair, at New Londonderry, went Rev. Robert Smith, who opened a school at Pequa, and reared two sons, Samuel Stanhope, and John Blair Smith, the two stars of Prince Edward. These finished their education at Nassau Hall, which had, by the united help of England and America reared her head above the private schools, and invited youths from every quarter to her classic bowers. From Nassau Hall the Smiths came to Virginia to commence log colleges in the "Ancient Dominion.,'
By the year 1771, the Presbyterian congregations in Virginia, the emigrants and those gathered from the old Virginia stock, the people in the Valley of the Shenandoah, and those along the base of the Blue Ridge eastward to the tide water, began to feel the necessity of classic schools of a high order for the education of their youth. When Samuel Stanhope Smith passed through the country as a missionary, he saw the necessity of some man like Tennent, or Blair, or Finley, or Dickerson, or Burr, or like his father, to commence a log college. West of the Blue Ridge was a classic school in the bounds of New Providence, carried on under the care of the Rev. John Brown, which had been in existence for many years. East of the Ridge had been a school conducted by Rev. John Todd, with the patronage of Samuel Davies, in which James Waddell had been teacher on his first residence in Virginia. These were undertaken by individuals with the concurrence of their congregations and the approbation of the community. Other institutions had a temporary existence.
But the schools of learning most interesting to the Presbyterian Church, and to a large portion of the State, as most convenient and efficient, and for a long time the only ones above tide water, were Liberty Hall, now Washington College, in Rockbridge, and Hampden Sidney College in Prince Edward. The origin and progress of these two institutions form an important chapter both in the history of the church, and in the annals of the State. They were the consequence of the principles of freedom of conscience, and an accelerating cause of that entire freedom.of conscience in matters of religion which is the glory of the State.
HAMPDEN SIDNEY COLLEGE.
The Rev. Samuel Stanhope Smith, a licentiate of New Castle Presbytery, may be looked upon as the projector of Hampden Sidney College. Visiting Virginia as a missionary he both saw the necessity of literary institutions in Virginia, and sympathized with the Presbytery of Hanover in her efforts to call them into being. By his recommendation, the Presbytery having, in 1771, taken up the subject of education, and in 1772, having deferred action, and, in 1773, having located it in Staunton, and in 1774 having determined to locate the school in another place, appointed Rev. William Graham the tutor under supervision of Mr. John Brown of New Providence, and directed the Seminary to be carried on near Fairfield, where Mr. Brown had been conducting a classical school.
In the meantime he had been preaching in the counties of Prince Edward, Cumberland and Charlotte, and stimulating them to do something for the youth in that portion of State. If the measure of his popularity is to be determined by the amount of influence exercised in the self-denying efforts to build up an institution for the welfare of the community, he was the most popular young minister in Virginia, at that day.
At Cub-creek, October 14, 1774, the Presbytery having appointed Mr. Graham tutor of the Academy in Augusta, and also appointed committees to raise funds for its immediate endowment,—and having agreed to meet at the house of Colonel William Cabel, on the second Wednesday of November—" to remonstrate against a bill entitled—a Bill for extending the benefit of the Act of Toleration to his Majesty's subjects dissenting from the Church of England in the colony of Virginia,"— The Presbytery taking into consideration "the great extent ot the colony, judge that a public school for the liberal education of youth would be of great importance on the south side of the Blue Ridge, notwithstanding of the appointment of one already made in the county of Augusta, and having been favoured with the company of Mr. Samuel Smith, a probationer of New Castle Presbytery, in Pennsylvania, a gentleman who has taught the languages for a considerable time in the New Jersey College, with good approbation, and with pleasure, finding that if properly encouraged he may be induced to take the charge of such a Seminary, we therefore judge it expedient to recommend it to the congregations of Cumberland, Prince Edward and Briery, in particular, and to all others in general, to set a subscription on foot to purchase a library and a philosophical apparatus, and such other things as may be necessary for the said purpose, and on the supposition that proper encouragement shall be given, and Mr. Smith, or any gentleman properly qualified may be induced to take the superintendency, we shall gladly concur to establish and patronize a publick Seminary in Prince Edward, or in the upper end of Cumberland; but if not we reserve to ourselves the power at any time hereafter to fix on any place at or below the mountains, that we shall judge best, and the subscriptions taken in consequence of this order, shall be void as to those who desire to withdraw them.,, The business was pressed with great spirit and excitement, and the efforts to raise subscriptions were successful beyond all anticipation. "February 1, 1775.—The Moderator (Mr. Leake) being informed that the congregations of Cumberland and Prince Edward had succeeded, beyond expectation, in taking subscriptions for the establishment of a Seminary for the education of youth—thought it expedient to send a circular to the several members appointing a Presbytery pro re nata, at Captain Nathaniel Venable's, in the county of Prince Edward, on Wednesday this first day of February, 1775. Being met according to appointment, Mr. Rice opened the Presbytery by a discourse from Heb. xi. 6,—'But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is arewarcler of them that diligently seek him.' TJhi post preces present the Bev. Messrs. Sankey, Rice, Leake, Irwin and Wallace. Mr. Sankey was chosen moderator, and Mr. Wallace clerk.
"The Presbytery, upon inquiry find that there is above <£1300 already subscribed for the purposes above mentioned, and considerable additions are expected. The Presbytery proceed to consider how it would be most expedient to layout these monies, and when to establish an Academy.
"Ordered that .£400 be applied to purchase such books and mathematical and philosophical apparatus, as are most immediately necessary ; and considering that the present non importation agreement may continue a considerable time, we intrust Mr. Samuel Stanhope Smith, to purchase said books and apparatus, in our northern provinces, by and with the advice and