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ber 20th, 1794, it appears Mr. James Welch had been appointed missionary on recommendation of Transylvania Presbytery;— and the following minute respecting him, shows the principles of the Commission. "The Commission have been informed that Mr. Welch, shortly after he received a commission, married a wife, and thereby r Jfcered it impracticable to answer the designs of the Commission; therefore, unanimously agreed that said Mr. Welch be struck off from the list of missionaries." Information was sent to his Presbytery, with a request—" to consider him in the same standing as when he left them; the Commission having nothing against him, saving only that he did not answer the purposes of the Commission." He was settled pastor of the churches in Lexington and Georgetown; and for several years Professor of Languages in Transylvania University.
In 1795, the Commission appointed Robert Stewart and Samuel Ramsey, on recommendation of Lexington Presbytery.
There were no new appointments in 1796.
In June, 1797, Mr. James Robinson, of Winchester Presbytery, was chosen missionary. He settled at the Cove, in Albemarle, and there closed his life and labours. On 29th of September, Mr. John Lyle "presented a dismission and recommendation from the Presbytery of Lexington, to ride as a missionary," and was received. The next summer Mr. Lyle settled in Kentucky. The prominent part he acted in the affairs of the church in Kentucky, requires a separate notice of his life.
During the years 1798, 1799, 1800, and 1801, the Commission could not obtain new missionaries. Those who had been in their employ, were all settled as pastors. The Commission therefore proposed to Synod, in 1801, a dissolution of the body. Here the file of records stops. The remaining records are probably irrevocably lost. The Commission was continued for some years under the names of the Commission East of the Alleghany, and the Commission West. The records of Assembly show that the Commission was active, and paid attention to the Indian tribes on the frontiers.
Nash Legrand was a descendant of the French refugees, or Huguenots, who settled upon the James River, at Manakin town, a few miles above Richmond, the latter part of the seventeenth century. His grandfather was one of these settlers. "His father, Peter Legrand"—says Dr. Hill in his manuscript, which will be freely used in this sketch, sometimes verbatim and sometimes condensed—u removed to Prince Edward, and became possessed of a farm within two miles of Hampden Sidney College, where he lived and died. His mother was sister to Colonel John Nash of Templeton, in Prince Edward, who had been raised in ease and affluence, and was one of the most accomplished ladies of her day, moved and associated with the first circles of society, and became one of the most pious and exemplary Christians to be found/' Her husband unhappily fell into intemperate habits; consequently he made poor provision for his increasing family, and became stern, uncourteous, and sometimes rough. This trial she bore as a Christian. Col. Nash had taken under his care the eldest son of his sister, the subject of this sketch, and given him a classical education at Hampden Sidney, then under the Presidency of Rev. John B. Smith.
Young Legrand, at the time the revival commenced in College, under Dr. Smith, in the year 1787, was prosecuting his studies preparatory to the practice of medicine. In his personal appearance he was remarkably handsome; his frame tall, spare, and well proportioned, graceful, easy in its movements; his manners prepossessing; his countenance open; his hair dark brown, and his forehead high; his eye soft and expressive; his voice melodious. In company that pleased him his conversational powers were extraordinary, seldom surpassed for sallies of wit or amusing anecdote. At the same time he had a degree of hauteur and sternness which made him unpopular with the students, excepting those he selected as associates. His capacity for close reasoning and deep research was not of the first order; but subjects he did grasp he could exhibit in a most forcible and prepossessing point of view. But unhappily he was not free from profanity in his language, nor the taint of vice in his habits, and a mischievous indulgence in frolicsome pranks. The good steward of College was heard to say when Legrand professed conversion—" I am in hopes now, I may have hogs which can walk upon four legs."
When the revival began to be seen in prayer-meetings in College and the neighbourhood, Legrand withdrew from company and kept himself at Templeton, devoted to the study of medicine. Reports, however, of what was doing reached him; and the conversion of his college mates rendered him uneasy. The Rev. Drury Lacy, spending a night at Templeton, was put to sleep in the same room with Legrand, of whose uneasy state of mind he was entirely ignorant. The young man could not sleep, but lay tossing from side to side all night. Discovering in the night that Mr. Lacy was not asleep, he inquired if he might put a question. Lacy readily granted leave. "I wish," said Legrand—" to know what would become of a man, who had led a vicious life, and had determined to reform, and had broken off from wicked practices, and commenced to seek religion, but had not yet attained it; if he should die in that state, what would become of him?" Mr. Lacy replied—" if that be all, he must go to hell and be damned with the rest of the wicked world. Many go that far with the stony ground hearers, and never produce the true fruits of faith and repentance. It is not he that seeks religion, but he that gets it that shall be saved; for many in the great day shall seek to enter in and shall not be able." "If that be so"—said Legrand—" there is no time for me to be loitering in my bed." He instantly rose, retired to the garden, and spent the remainder of the night in groans, and lamentations, and prayers to God for pardoning mercy.
This took place about the beginning of the spring vacation of 1788. In that vacation Carey Allen and William Hill had gone to the Guinea neighbourhood, in Cumberland county, and were diligently employed in holding prayer-meetings among their relations and friends in the evening, and conversing by day with the serious inquirers. The morning after the conversation with Mr. Lacy, Legrand took his horse and rode to the house of Mr. Daniel Allen, the father of Carey Allen, and stepfather of William Hill, an entire stranger in the neighbourhood, and known to these young men only as one opposed to the revival, and by his unexpected appearance excited no little surprise. According to the etiquette of the country, the stranger was courteously received and kindly treated, and not questioned as to the cause of his visit. As evening approached the young men informed him that an appointment had been made for a prayer-meeting at the house of Mr. Nathan Womack, distant about two miles; and with hesitation, as he had said nothing of his state of mind, they invited him to accompany them. His prompt acceptance of the invitation surprised them, and excited some suspicion that he was in trouble of mind. They ventured to propose the subject of personal religion; he frankly told all his experience, and declared that religion was the sole object of his coming to visit them. Somewhat incredulous, they treated him as one in earnest. At the appointed place and hour, a large room was filled with serious worshippers. Religious worship commenced; and it was soon visible from his deep drawn sighs, and many tears, that no one present was more in earnest than young Legrand.
As the exercises progressed his distress increased; the meeting being prolonged on account of his condition and that of some others, he gave vent to his feelings in groans and cries of—"what shall I do?"—"what shall I do?" At length he fell prostrate on the floor, silent and apparently insensible. Laid upon a bed he remained without muscular motion till morning light; his respiration feeble, barely perceptible; his pulse very weak, and a little tremulous; his flesh approaching to cold. The young men continued conversing and singing in the room, and also occasionally praying. About the dawn of day he began to move,—set up$—arose,—and began praising God for the great things he had done for him; and seemed full of joy, and overflowing with love to God his Saviour, to his friends, and to all creatures. Looking at the rising sun, he declared it possessed beauties hitherto unseen by him; and all creation was clothed with new charms. He said he never lost his consciousness all the time he lay upon the floor and bed in that apparently insensible state; that his mind was deeply exercised, all the time with terror or with joy.
Sudden conversions were then rather matters of suspicion than desire. Dr. Smith and others placed little confidence in sudden conversions, especially if connected with bodily prostration, and great mental agitation. The young people around him had received a religious education; and there was no fear of proselyting efforts in his charge. He therefore did not hasten his young people to profess religion; but gave them time to ponder the subject well and consider their situation, weigh their hopes, and examine their principles and views, and not hastily to cry "peace, peace," to themselves. He would often try their hopes and joys, by throwing a doubt upon the reality of their experience of the things that were true and great. He tried Allen; and it distressed him exceedingly. He tried Legrand, but could not shake him off from the position—--"I know in whom I have believed"—and—"whereas I was blind, now I see."
The change professed by Legrand was a consistent one; it was a change of principle and of feeling and conduct, all consentaneous, and visible. His temper and deportment were that of a Christian; and his professed views of "the plan of a sinner's salvation by the renewing of the Spirit of God, and the atoning blood- and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, were as correct as any could give, and were the ground of his joy and rejoicing." The effect of his sudden conversion and great joy, was peculiar, as in the case of Carey Allen, a few months previous. Others desired the same rapturous exercises; and sought the same preceding distressing views of themselves as sinners. "They wished to feel such a load of conviction for sin as would crush them to the earth; and then such a sudden deliverance as would fill them with ecstatic joy and rejoicing. Many were the attempts to throw away all they had experienced before, begin anew, and get religion in the way Allen and Legrand had obtained theirs. But it is foolish and dangerous to set up the experience of any man as a standard for all others; though the work is substantially the same in all, there is in nothing a greater diversity than in the circumstances attending the conversion of different persons. On the other hand it is equally weak and presumptuous to limit the Almighty as to the time required to convert the soul and regenerate the heart of the sinner. In fact, we scarcely find in the New Testament any other conversions than sudden ones, as in the day of Pentecost, the succeeding preaching, in the case of the Eunuch and of Lydia and the jailor. This appears to have been the common mode of conversion in apostolic days. Conversion was precisely the same thing in those days that it is now, and effected by the same agency of the Divine Spirit, and not by miraculous operations. Miracles never yet converted a sinner."
As soon as Mr. Legrand returned from Guinea in Cumberland, to Prince Edward, he threw aside his medical books, and commenced the study of Theology under the direction of Dr. Smith, and pursued it with vigour. At Cumberland meetinghouse, October 10th, 1788, "the Presbytery being informed that Mr. Nash Legrand was desirous of offering himself as a candidate for the ministry, he was introduced; and having been examined as to the dealings of God with his soul, his acquaintance with experimental religion, and his motives for desiring to enter upon the ministry, to the satisfaction of Presbytery, he was admitted to further trials." Mr. Clement Head was admitted to trials the same day. William Mahon and Drury Lacy were ordained, the next day, as Evangelists. "The Presbytery having continued Mr. Legrand and Mr. Read on trials, and the necessities of the church apparently requiring despatch, an intermediate Presbytery was appointed to be holden at Buffalo meeting-house in January, for the purpose of furthering them in their trials. Mr. Legrand was appointed to produce at the same time an essay on regeneration, and a Presbyterial exercise on John xiv. 23." At the appointed time "Mr. Legrand read an essay on regeneration, which was sustained." On the next day, January 15th, 1789, Cary Allen was received on trials. Mr. Legrand's Presbyterial exercise was read; and he was appointed a lecture on the 23d Psalm; and a popular discourse on Romans v. 1 and 2, to be exhibited at the next stated meeting of Presbytery.
At a meeting of the Presbytery at Buffalo, April 24th, 1789, there were present, Rev. Messrs. Richard Sankey, John Todd, Archibald McRobert, John B. Smith, William Mahon, and Drury Lacy; Elders, Charles Allen, Bernard Todd, Samuel Graham, and Stephen Petties. Mr. Legrand opened the Presbytery with a popular discourse, on Romans v. 1 and 2 — "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access