Family History by Robert Monroe Fleming (Sr.)

Notes on Fanily History by Iva Causey Fleming
(Part 12)

Transcribed by Robert M. Fleming Jr.

The name of Dr James Hall touches very tenderly very many of the traditions in our family. Early in life he consecrated himself to the gospel ministry. His dedication went to the point of denying himself the sweet consolations that spring from the relation of husband and father that he might better serve as a soldier of the Cross. During the period of his preparation for the ministry, the temptation to freight his life with the joys and cares of an earthly home came to him with almost overcoming power. He met her who becamr "the ocean to the river of his thoughts". He filled the measure of her fancy. They exchanged vows. He thought for a time that he would have power to lead about "a wife as well as other apostles and as the brathen of the Lord and Cephas". But the nature of the work to which he felt himself called was to be like Paul's. And with prayer and agony the pious lovers placed their espousels on God's altar and reconsecrated the generous and gifted ambassador the the service of their Sovereign. He did missionary work in large measure at every period of his ministry. But was at the same time a devoted and honored pastor of the United Churches and congregations of Fourth Creek, Concord and Bethany until his growing labors and increasing age required him to surrender a part of his pastorage. In 1780 he was captain of a company and chaplain of the regiment to which it belonged, in the army under General Green. When General Davidson was slain the rank of Brigadier General was tendered Dr Hall, but he declined. Because it would prevent or hinder the exercise of his sacred office. Which the captaincy of a company and the chaplain of a regiment aided. He possessed all the attributes of a military commander. His person was fine. His stature was above six feet. He had great muscular strength and action. His whole appearance was that of one born to command. His courage, both moral and physical was undaunted. He was cool in counsel, intrepid in danger and decided in action. When the war of the Revolution was ended he continued to vote himself wholly to the work of the gospel ministry. He labored abundantly with the people under his pastoral care and on many and widely extended missionary fields in the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and through out the Mississippi Valley. He survived until the 25th day of July 1826.

Is is possible that William Stevenson had been ordained a ruling elder before he left Pennsylvania and that he was installed elder of Fourth Creek Church at it's organization in or prior to 1765. It is certain that heacted and was recognized as leading, if not senior, ruling elder from the beginning of Mr Hall's pastorate in June 17?8. He was a man of low stature. He had a quiet self-centered manner and a soft, clear far carrying voice that filled the house of prayer without any apparent elevation of tone or labor of accent. He was gifted in prayer and was called to much exercise of this gift. In prayer he seemed like Gabriel to stand in the pressure, presence of God. So much so that the younger members of the congregation reverently and with effectionate respect and honor called him,"Little Garbriel". By which title the present generation of his descendents in loving memory fondlydistinguish him.

Dr Hall, who like Paul among the apostles, was in labors more abundant that the others. Sometimes went even beyond Paul in deeming himself unwotrthy to be an ambassador for Christ. During his licentiate this fear fell upong him with such power that for the space of a year he could not enter the sacred desk or officiate as a preacher. And once, when he waspast middle age life and had been pastor of the Fourth Creek, Concord, and Bethany for many years and his labors greatly blessed he fell into the darkness again. And for more thana year he durst not enter the pulpit he had so long and so well filled. Or act as teaching elder to the flocks that had so greatly enjoyed and profited by his teaching. He visited the families of the flock, especially of the elders. He met regularly and punctually at all the appointments for public service conducted by the elders. He would, when requested, lead in prayer, and accasionally, but rarely give a word of exhortation from the place where the elders sat below the pulpit. He thought it would be sacrilege for him to enter that Holy place. And when the eldership souls ask him," Won't you preach for us today"? He would answer, "No, no, no, it is impossible". Mr Hall lived in the Concord congreation, which was near to Bethany meeting house, twelve miles apart. After his period of darkness had continued a long time and gave no sign of coming to it's end, Mr Hall's visiting took him to Elder William Watt's, called "Fuller "Watts. Because he was a fuller by trade. Elder Watts lived West of Concord twelve or more miles from Bethany Meeting House. And Mr Hall arrived Friday evening when the meeting for the following Sunday was to be at Bethany. After passing the night and continuing his visit till after afternoon meal Saturday he proposed that Elder Watts and his wife should accompany him to Elder William Stevenson's Saturday Evening. And all pass the night there and go from there to Bethany Sunday morning. For the double purpose of of visiting the brother elder and his family and getting that much nearer the house of prayer. Elder Fuller Watts and his wife consented and they went as proposed. The next morning after the usual family devotions and an early breakfast, the guests were engaged in conversation. And time passed unconsciously till Mr Hall's attention was drawn to it. And he remarked "It is time we were starting". It was observed that the host was not about the house. And Mr Hall began to be disturbed and to inquire of the members of his family for him. But got no intelligent reply until a maid servant came in who said she had seen her master going off toward his bottom field. After waiting a while Mr Hall by nature and habit , formed to lead and command, ordered that the horses be made ready and brought out. And those who were going be prepared to mount as soon as Mr Stevenson should return. This was quickly done as directed and still Elder Stevenson was absent. And Mr Hall grew impatient and strode back and forth in front of the gate where the horses and their riders ready to mount were gathered. In a few minutes really, but which his impatience made to appear much longer, the waiting company saw Mr Stevenson coming from the direction of his bottom field, walking quite slowly and apparently absorbed in thought. As soonas he came into view Mr Hall went with a special stride to meet him and on meeting him said, "We are all waiting for you and will be late getting to the meeting house". To which Mr Stevenson made no reply that the company could hear. But maintained his absorbed manner and slow measured pace approaching the gate wher the others stood. Then Mr Hall said,"It is a profanation of God's Holy day to be looking after your fields when you should be going with the household to God's house of worship. And an elder should be an example to others". Still the elder was silent and changed not his manner or his movement. Which by this time had brought them to where Mrs Rachel Watts, the elder Fuller Watt's wife stood. When Mr Hall began to chide and reprove more sharply and closed his torrent with the question,"What were you doing anyhow", Then Mr Stevenson said, I was asking the lord to cast the deaf and dumb devil out of the pastor, ours, that he may hear the promises of the Word and preach the gospel to this dying people".

Mr Hall's countenance fell. He spoke not another word. But turned his horse, mounted and rode off ahead of the whole company along the way to Bethany. Hitched his horse there at the accustomed place, passed silently through the groups of earlier arrivals who had not yet entered the House, went straight in himself and directly into the pulpit, and opened and conducted the services. And preached as he had a foretime done.

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©2009 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last revised on 12 September 2009.