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performed duty, but that he never tired in performing it; not that he put his hand to the plough, but that he never looked back; not that he knew how to do good, but that he knew not how to do harm; and it was on a foundation composed of these singular materials that he erected the monument of an unspotted life. It is from the top of this monument that his spirit looks down upon the insignificance of conquerors and kings, and proclaims to the world that the love of God is more durable than polished brass."
Dr. Hoge was born in Frederick county, Virginia, February 15th, 1752. His father, James Hoge, was born in Pennsylvania, and emigrated with his parents to Virginia about the year 1735. The grand-parents of Dr. Hoge were William Hoge and Miss-Hume (whose Christian name is lost) both emigrants from Scotland. Their acquaintance commenced on ship-board, where Miss Hume became an orphan. After their marriage they resided first at Amboy, New Jersey; then in Delaware; then on the Swetara in Pennsylvania, and finally on the Opeckon in Virginia, where they both died, bearing through life the character of eminently pious people; and leaving children whose descendants have been eminent in both church and state.
The traveller passing along the graded road from Winchester to Staunton, after leaving Middletown, soon sees the spacious mansion and wide possessions of Major Hite, at some distance on the right. As he approaches he passes a smaller residence in the midst of beautifully undulating fields. That is the birth place of Moses Hoge. There he passed his youth, in cultivating these grounds, in the midst of the beautiful prairie valley of the Shenandoah, bounded by a mountainous horizon on all sides but the north-east.
Dr. Hoge discovered a taste for learning far beyond the opportunities of his neighbourhood; and the feelings and habits of his ancestors were not averse to its cultivation. He was sent to a classical school taught by the Rev. Adam Goodlet, of the Associate church in Culpepper, for a short time; and then recalled to the labour of the farm. His eagerness for improvement was manifested in his using every moment of respite from labour, in the improvement of his mind. His elementary books went with him into the fields, and might sometimes have been seen fastened to his plough. Like Rittenhouse, while turning the furrows in the fields, he was sowing the seeds of knowledge for a glorious harvest. A sentiment that fell from the lips of Samuel Stanhope Smith, in an address to the scholars of Mr. Goodlet's school, made an indellible impression on the mind of young Hoge—" that while sanctified learning is the greatest blessing, unsanctified learning is the greatest curse."
In 1778, he repaired to Liberty Hall, and finished his education, both classical and theological, in preparation for the ministry of the gospel. On the 25th of October, 1780, he was received as a candidate by Hanover Presbytery, at Falling Spring, being introduced by his instructer, William Graham. In the latter part of November, 1781, he received his license to preach the gospel.
He left no written account of the religious experience of his early life. But from his conversation, it is known that in early life he was deeply affected with a sense of religion, had a reverence for God, and preferred the society of godly people. 4' The first book," says his son—" which he found peculiarly instrumental in enlightening his mind, and affecting his heart, was 'Alleine's Alarm/ And a sermon delivered by the Rev. Dr. Waddell was the first religious discourse from which he recollected to have received any unusual impressions." He did not deem it necessary to establish a claim to the Christian character, that a person be able to declare the precise time when he ceased to be irreligious, and when he began to be truly religious. In one of his diaries, kept in after life, he has this short reference to his early days. It was written on the anniversary of his birth, after taking a review of his whole life: "I have found great reason to be thankful for the invaluable blessing of a pious education, and for the co-operating influences of divine grace which rendered the instructions and admonitions of my parents, particularly those of my father, successful, and thus made religious impressions upon my mind very early, which have not yet been effaced."
Mr. James Hoge, the father of Dr. Hoge, after being for a length of time, a member of the Presbyterian Church, and also a ruling elder in the same, attached himself to a branch of the Associate Church in Pennsylvania. Once or twice a year he visited a congregation at some distance from his dwelling, for the purpose of celebrating the sacrament of the Supper. On one occasion his son Moses accompanied him, and was induced to make his first open profession of religion by partaking the sacred emblems, in the church of his father's choice.
Connected with his thoughts of religion, from early life was a desire to be a minister of the gospel; and this desire never forsook him in the midst of all the discouragements in his path. He determined to wait patiently on God; and was twenty-six years of age when he became a student at Liberty Hall. While a member of that institution, his mind underwent a change respecting his church connexion, and he applied to Hanover Presbytery for licensure.
After receiving license he was greatly dissatisfied with his own performances, both mental and physical, spiritual and bodily, and was kept from the conclusion that he had mistaken his calling by a remark of Dr. S. S. Smith, advising him to— "persevere in present duty and leave the event to God." His purpose of going to Kentucky was postponed for a time, to visit the people on the South Branch of the Potomac, in the present bounds of Hardy county; and from his attachment to that people it was finally postponed indefinitely. A call was made for him by the congregation in Hardy, which took the name of Concrete; and on the 13th of December, 1782, he was ordained at Brown's meeting-house, Augusta. The ordination sermon was preached i)j the Rev. Archibald Scott, the father of the present pastor of the churches in Hardy, from Acts xx. 28. Benjamin Erwin presided in the laying on. of hands.
His first residence in Hardy was with Robert Maxwell, in whose excellent library of theological works he passed all his hours not demanded by ministerial duties. His place of preaching was at the forks of the road, a little above the Court House, on the land now owned by Mr. Vanmeter. There is an old burying ground near the site of the church, where sleep many of the members of his congregation.
On the 23d of August, 1783, he-was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Poage, daughter of John Poage, of Augusta county; a match of feeling and reason. She was a woman every way worthy of his love, by her endowments of body and mind and the gifts of grace.
The honourable part taken by Mr. Hoge in the cause of religious liberty, is found in the sketch on that subject. His name is enrolled with the strenuous asserters of religious freedom. In a letter now extant, he declares that the final and decisive opinion of Presbytery against all assessments whatever, was according to his previously expressed opinion, when on a former occasion he proposed a committee to draft a resolution to that import, and was dissuaded from pressing the matter, by the assertion of an individual possessed of information on the subject, that some kind of assessment would be established, and he could only choose what kind he would have.
In consequence of protracted sufferings from sickness, which he believed was confined to the neighbourhood in which he lived, he listened to an invitation from Shepherdstown, and in the autumn of 1787 he removed to that place. The prospect was inviting only to a man of his kind disposition, desirous of doing 'good. In 1775, Dr. McKnight, a member of Donegal Presbytery, organized a congregation on Elk Branch, embracing the country between Shepherdstown and Charlestown. A difficulty arose about the places of preaching. After his removal, it was determined by a part of the congregation, to have preaching regularly in Shepherdstown, and to the invitation from this part Dr. Hoge acceded. The other part of the congregation in a few years united with Bullskin, and had the Eev. William Hill for their minister, and their principal preaching place in Charlestown.
While he was contemplating a removal from the South Branch of Potomac—" The Synod being informed that several disorders and disagreeable circumstances have taken place in some of the churches in the western parts, especially within the bounds of the Presbytery of Abingdon, to the great prejudice to the interest of religion in those parts, did appoint Mr. McCorkle, Mr. Scott, Mr. Moses Hoge, Mr. Francis Cummings, Mr. John Smith and Mr. Vance, or a majority of them, with an elder to accompany each, as a committee in the name of the Synod, to meet at Saline Church, on the waters of Nola Chucky, on the second Wednesday of October next, with power to them to call before them such persons concerned in these disturbances as are members or under the care of Synod,"—and to give judgment, &c. Dr. Hoge attended at the time and place; but no quorum appeared. The difficulty occupied the North Carolina Synod for years; and finally came before the Assembly.
During the time of his continuance in Shepherdstown his diary is replete with sentiments emanating from a pious man, with an humble heart, and devout soul, zealously engaged in ministerial duties. The characteristic features are simplicity and godly sincerity. His son, in his memoir has made copious extracts calculated to edify the humble Christian and encourage the minister of Jesus Christ.
In the year 1793 Mr. Hoge made his first appearance as an author—in a work entitled "Strictures on a pamphlet by the Rev. Jeremiah Walker, entitled the Fourfould Foundation of Calvinism examined and shaken." In the preface the author writes—" That every blessing, that all happiness in this and in a future world, must be ascribed orignally to God, no professed Christian can deny. That the interposition of the Saviour, and what he hath done to open the way for the reception of guilty sinners into the Divine favour is owing to unmerited grace, will be generally admitted. But that a sinner's conversion and perseverance in a Christian life, and all practical religion, ought to be referred entirely to grace is a sentiment which many disclaim and zealously oppose. Persons of this description, who are fond of exalting our present powers in religion are often distinguished by the term Arminian. Whereas they who believe that salvation, when taken in its most extensive sense, in its original purpose, purchase, and application, ought to be referred entirely to grace, are frequently denominated Calvinists, and their peculiar sentiments the doctrines of grace. From this statement of the difference between Arminian and Calvinistic tenets, we may see that that the points in dispute between them are not matters of uninteresting speculation; but of real importance in the Christian life. If it be a fact that our salvation is owing entirely to the grace of God, upon his grace alone ought we to rely; and to him all the honour of our salvation ought to be ascribed. Should we then attribute our salvation in any measure to ourselves, it would be resting our eternal interests in a proportionate degree upon a false foundation, and at the same time an arrogating to ourselves a share of that honour which ought to be forever sacred to the author and finisher of our faith."
This volume was considered as presenting a fair statement of the doctrines of grace, of the errors of Mr. Walker, and a vindication of the true doctrines from all aspersions. The pamphlet and its author have fallen into oblivion,—but the volume of Dr. Hoge is such an exposition as would be read with profit by Christians at the present time. His son says— "Dr. Hoge, with advancing years grew less tenacious of some peculiarities of form and expression, but he never suffered his grasp on the doctrines of grace to be unclenched, and with tears of thankfulness for their consolation and efficacy, he laid them rejoicingly as a pillow under his dying head."
Soon after his settlement in Shepherdstown he was urged to listen to invitations to a place of more temporal importance; but he considered himself called of God to Shepherdstown, and forbid any preparations to be made for his removal. On the death of his second son, which soon followed, he writes, after mentioning the circumstances and keenness of his afflictions,— "I shall not forget 2d Thess., 4th, 13th, to the end. And why should I not be resigned? The great Ruler of the universe doeth all things well. I dare not wish our son restored to life again, were such an event possible. I hope he is in a situation which he would not exchange for ten thousand worlds like ours. I scarcely think it any calamity for a child, at an early period, to be removed from a world of trouble and of sin."
About the first of October, 1793, Mr.. Thomas Poage, a brother-in-law of Mr. Hoge, a young minister of great promise, newly married, and about to settle, in the neighbouring congregation of Gerrardstown, was suddenly removed by death. The affliction to the congregation, the family, and Mr. Hoge, 'was alleviated by his happy spiritual exercises, and the sure hope of heaven he expressed, the last day of his life, in conversation with his sorrowing wife. His aged mother, in feeble health, felt the shock of the death of her youngest son, whom she had fondly hoped might be a useful minister of Christ; and