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"That Bishop M'Kendree be, and hereby is, respect-
fully requested to continue to aiford what aid he can to
the episcopacy, consistently with his age and infirmities,
when and where it may best suit his own convenience;
and that the provisions of the last General Conference for
meeting his contingent expenses be continued."

After the session of Conference, Bishops M'Kendree and
Soule set out together, and made a tour of the western
work ; and paying a special visit to the Wyandott Mission,
entering into a thorough examination of its whole tem-
poral and spiritual arrangements. Contrary to the expec-
tations of all, Bishop M'Kendree's health began to im-
prove, and he was able to enter more fully on that labour
in which he desired to spend and be spent.

Although the health of the bishop was greatly improved,
it would not allow him to perform the service of an effect-


ive officer. He was too far advanced in years ever to
recover tlie strength and activity which had marked the
years of his vigorous manhood, and the Church could only
look for a gradual decline, at least in his physical powers,
till he was freed from the sufferings of the body. It was
of great benefit to any Conference to have him present at
its seat, even if he was absent a great part of the time from
the Conference room ; for the most unbounded confidence
was placed in his judgment and impartiality.

Bishop M'Kendree was present at the General Confer-
ence of 1828, at Pittsburgh, and opened the services, as
had been his custom to do since the death of Asbury ; and
it was gratifying to see that his prospect for length of days
was better than it had been for some years. The bishops
set forth in their address, that " during the last four years
it has pleased the great Head of the Church to continue
his heavenly benediction on our Zion. The work has been
greatly extended ; many new circuits and districts have
been formed in different parts of our vast field of labour ;
but yet there is room, and pressing calls for much greater
enlargement are constantly made.

"The great and extensive revivals of religion which we
have experienced the last three years, through almost
every part of the work, furnish additional proof 'that
God's design in raising up the preachers called Methodists,
in America, was to reform the continent, and spread Scrip-
ture holiness over these lands.'"

The labour in the episcopacy was becoming so burden-
some that it seemed proper to increase the number of
bishops, or refrain from adding to their labours. Bishops
M'Kendree, Roberts, and Soule presented the following
paper to the Conference :


" Such is the debility of several of the bishops, and such
the extent and weight of the episcopal charge, that we
think it would be incompatible with the present state of
things, and highly improper, to increase the labours of the
general superintendents, by constituting any new Confer-
ence under the existing circumstances, and that it ought
not to be done without the concurrence of a majority of
the bishops." This failed, however, to effect the end
desired, for, at the instance of the Committee on the Bound-
aries of Conferences, the Oneida Conference was formed,
making in all nineteen Conferences to be visited by the
five bishops.

Bishop M'Kendree, in bidding farewell to the members
of the General Conference of 1828, said to more than one
that his days were so rapidly drawing to a close that they
must not be surprised if they saw his face no more. He
had presided but little during the Conference, but his
presence was felt, and his counsel did much to prepare,
them for the storm then breaking about their heads. After
the adjournment of Conference he proceeded slowly to his
labour, for itinerancy had become as it were a necessity of
his being, and his health appeared much better when he
was travelling than when remaining still.

The commencement of the year 1830 found him at New-
Orleans, from which place, in February, he wrote to the
Book Agents at New- York, in part as follows :

" I intend to stay here some ten or twelve days, then
take steamboat to Bayou Sara, then land and visit the
Churches as extensively as I can to Natchez. Thence by
steamboat to Nashville, by the last of March. From Nash-
ville, I intend to resume my course of visiting the Churches
through the lower part of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.


Thence return with the Conferences from the West, across
the mountains, and visit the Atlantic States and Conferences.

" From Philadelphia, where brother Emory left me last
spring, I set out to visit the Churches as extensively as ^
could, through Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky,
and Tennessee, where I expected to take up my abode
during the winter. I have attended three Annual Confer-
ences, several camp, and ten or twelve quarterly meetings.
I have seen great and very good times, and rejoiced in the
prosperity of Zion. For want of a steamboat I failed to
attend the Mississippi Conference as I intended."

How plainly a soul full of undying energy, and an . un-
conquerable zeal, is manifested in this plan of labour. He
was able to accomplish only a part of it. During the
spring and summer after his return from the South, he
was not able to visit very extensively, but he attended as
many popular meetings, and preached as often as his
strength would allow. He attended the Kentucky Confer-
ence, at Russellville, about the middle of October ; and he
appears to have now laid out a plan of visitation which
would include the South Carolina and all the Atlantic and
northern Conferences. His design was to proceed by slow
stages from one to the other, and complete the design by
the sitting of the General Conference of 1832, which was
to meet at Philadelphia.

Those of his friends who were acquainted with the pre-
carious state of his health, readily perceived that his
physical powers would not admit of such an attempt ; but
as his whole soul was seemingly absorbed in its accomplish-
ment, they were willing to test his strength. They there-
fore advised him to pay a visit to the approaching session
of the Holston Conference, which would test his ability for


the more arduous tour. To this plan he yielded with the
greatest pleasure.

The distance from Russellville, Ky., to Ebenezer, Green
County, Tenn., the seat of Conference, was between three
and four hundred miles, the greater part of it a rough road,
over the Cumberland Mountains. The tour was com-
menced with many hopes of a happy completion ; but
before they arrived at Knoxville, it was easily perceived
that he was sinking, and fears were expressed that it was
probably his last journey. But he urged them on, in the
midst of great suiferings, not a murmur escaping from his
lips. They pushed on, and he was so weak that his travel-
ling companion was compelled to lift him into and out of
his carriage. Often, while engaged in these kind tasks, his
eyes would fill with tears at the sight of the beloved bishop ;
but only a smile of holy resignation sat on the face of the
quiet sufferer.

The bishop reached the seat of Conference on the second
day of the session, but was unable to attend to any portion
of the business ; indeed he visited the Conference room only
once, and then remained only a few moments. The greater
part of the session he was closely confined to his bed, and
it was only at the close of the Conference that he was able
to sit up.

Calling upon some of his old and long-tried friends, he
laid before them his situation, and asked their advice upon
his future course. They assured him, that, as far as they
were capable of judging, it was impossible for him to
accomplish his contemplated tour, and, therefore, it was
advisable for him to return by slow stages to the vicinity
of Nashville, and spend the winter among his friends there.
This advice commended itself to his own judgment ; for he


replied with promptness, "I approve your judgment, and
submit." Yet they saw the tears flow from his eyes, when
he thus had to relinquish his design so fully was his heart
enlisted in the great work of salvation.

The day following the adjournment of the Conference
the fearful return journey was commenced; for it was to
be one unmingled scene of suffering to the body, although
the soul within that frail tenement was full of patience and
joy in the Holy Ghost. The slightest motion of the car-
riage out of its usual course gave him acute pain. Yet
their way lay over rough and rocky roads, and the season
was advanced, when the roads w r ere in their worst condition.
On the way they were compelled to travel through heavy
and protracted falls of rain, sleet, and snow. Nothing but
the most imperious necessity would have suggested such a
journey, and nothing but unparalleled patience and energy
could have performed it ; but they pressed onward until he
was safely lodged with his brother, Dr. M'Kendree, near
Gallatin, in Sumner County, Tennessee.

The kind attention and quiet of his brother's home re-
stored his health to a considerable extent ; and as soon as
the roads began to improve, in the spring of 1831, he made
preparation for an extended tour, which should bring him
to the General Conference of the following year. Leaving
his winter home, he travelled by slow stages through a
portion of the States of Kentucky and Ohio, attending
quite a number of quarterly and camp-meetings, visiting
as many societies as possible, and preaching as often as his
strength would admit. The power of endurance continued,
and he was able to cross the Alleghany Mountains in the
fall. He passed the winter in Baltimore and its immediate



In the latter part of March he passed on, in much weak-
ness, to Philadelphia, the seat of the General Conference.
There he lodged in the family of his old and well-tried
friend, Dr. Sargent ; and all that kindness and unremitting
attention could do for his case was cheerfully done. He
was, however, very feeble, and was not able to be present
and open the first session, which duty devolved on Bishop
Soule. He visited the Conference room as often as his
strength would allow.

The Conference continued him in his supernumerary
relation with an expression of their high regard. Indeed,
all the members seemed to vie with each other in manifest-
ing their affection for him. When the General Conference
was about to close, he took leave of the preachers, expect-
ing to meet them no more until they should sit down
together in his Father's kingdom. Dr. Bangs says : " Like
a patriarch in the midst of his family, with his head silvered
over with the frosts of seventy-five winters, and a counte-
nance beaming with intelligence and good-will, he delivered
his valedictory remarks, which are remembered with lively
emotions. Rising from his seat to take his departure the
day before the Conference adjourned, he halted for a mo-
ment, leaning on his staff; with faltering lips, his eyes
swimming with tears, he said : ' My brethren and children,
love one another. Let all things be done without strife or
vain-glory, and strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the
bonds of peace.' He then spread forth his trembling hands,
and lifting his eyes to ward the heavens, pronounced, with fal-
tering and affectionate accents, the apostolic benediction."

They all gazed upon his bowed and feeble form as he
passed from their midst, and felt but too fearful forebodings
that he was present hi this situation for the last time.


Prayers and tears marked his exit, but there was joy in his
heart the joy of a weary labourer who feels that the sun
lias well-nigh approached the horizon, and that its setting
will bring him the sweetest repose.

Immediately after the General Conference Bishop
M'Kendree returned to Baltimore and rested a few weeks,
enjoying the conversation and society of his old friends,
with whom, in years before, he had spent many pleasant
hours of religious communion. He bade them farewell
at last, and set his face westward. He pushed on as fast
as his bodily strength would permit, crossing the moun-
tains for the last time. His route was much like those
which he had taken in the days of his strength and man-
hood. He passed through the western part of Pennsylva-
nia, along the northern part of Virginia, through Ohio and
Kentucky, into Tennessee, where he spent the remainder
of the year. During the latter part of his journey he be-
came very feeble, and it was found necessary to fix a bed
in his carriage on which he might lie down, for he was
unable to sit upon the seat.

The following year he was not quite as strong as usual,
and therefore he was not found far from home ; but he was
quite efficient in labours in "West Tennessee. He would
visit many societies, full of the old itinerant spirit, and
preach with an ability which astonished all his hearers;
for his sermons were rich in thought and illustration, and
in the power and demonstration of the Spirit.

In January, 1834, with an improved state of health, he
made a southern tour, visiting Natchez, New-Orleans, and
Woodville, passing from these various points on a steam-
boat. He preached on board the boat, and in the several
places he visited, with an energy and efficiency that re-


minded his hearers of his former years. In the spring of
this year he returned to Nashville, and spent the whole
summer in travelling through Tennessee, visiting and
preaching in different places. He attended the session of
the Tennessee Conference, in Lebanon, in the early part of
November. This was the last time that he was present at
the session of an Annual Conference, and he closed his
labours with an affecting address.

Returning to Nashville, he preached his last sermon
there, in the new church, on Sabbath, November 23d :
this sermon was reported from his lips, and formed the
first number of the Western Methodist Preacher. Bishop
Soule, speaking of this, his last public service, says,
feelingly :

" Here that penetrating, yet pleasant voice, which had
been heard with delight by listening thousands, in almost
all the populous cities of the United States, and which had
sounded forth the glad tidings of salvation in the cabins of
the poor on the remote frontier, or to numerous multitudes
gathered together in the forests of the western territories,
and which savage tribes had heard proclaiming to them
the unsearchable riches of Christ, died away to be heard
no more. Here he finished the ministration of the words
of eternal life, and closed his public testimony for the truth
of the revelation of God."

Immediately after this effort his health declined much
below its usually feeble state ; and showing no signs of
recovery, he concluded, in the latter part of December,
to visit his brother, Dr. James M'Kendree, in Sumner
County. He reached the place of his destination about

Although the feebleness of age seemed to be his chief


affliction, he was not without bodily pain. The forefinger
of his right hand became affected singularly by a swelling
where he held his pen while writing. This became ex-
ceedingly painful, affecting especially the back part of his
head, and when submitted to medical treatment it mocked
all the skill of the physician. In moments of acute pain
he would pray to God, and call upon those present to assist
him in praying that the pain might cease ; and often at the
close of the prayer the bishop would sink into slumber, the
pain having ceased. Such was his faith in God, that when
medical skill failed he made prayer his continual remedy.

One who was present with him during his last days, says :
" In one instance he told a friend and neighbour that he
wished him to pray with him on account of his pain. ' Not,'
said he, 'as you pray in your family, but in faith, with
direct reference to my case.' After prayer the bishop
smiled, raised his hand, and said, ' It is easy now.' This
was about two weeks before his death."

It soon became evident to all that his pilgrimage was
rapidly drawing to a close ; his strength was completely
prostrated, and his voice was so feeble that he could only
whisper, and that with the greatest difficulty at times. He
had for a long time been subject to asthmatic complaints,
which now increased, and he was often seized with severe
fits of coughing, when he seemed to hold life by a frail
tenure. Had it not been for the faithful attendance of his
relatives, his situation would have been very painful ; but
he had every attention.

" His interesting sister was ever at his bedside, where
her ' post of observation ' had oftentimes been before for
many times before this had the bishop gone home to die.
His kind, affectionate, and engaging niece seemed for weeks


to have risen above the want of sleep, as she watched nights
and days away at his pillow. The bishop was so affected
by her kind attention, that he would say to her, ' Frances,
you are like a lamp ; you wake when I sleep, to shine on
me when I wake.' "

Bishop M'Kendree often had fears that he should be
called to die away from his dearest friends and relatives.
He greatly desired to die at his brother's ; and as the pre-
ceding paragraph intimates, he had more than once gone
to his brother's expecting not to return again to the busy
scenes of duty. And now, when it seemed certain that
the hour of his departure was near at hand, he ordered
that the bedstead on which his father had died some years
before should be brought in, as he wished to die where he
had died ; and here he awaited the coming of death.

On Sabbath, the first of March, it became so evident
that mortality would soon be swallowed up in immortality,
that his brother made known to him the opinion of phy-
sicians respecting his situation, and questioned him in
regard to his last desires. Their conference was at first
broken off by a severe fit of coughing, but he presently
recovered and made a signal with his hand that he was
ready to speak. His voice was so faint that it was neces-
sary that his nephew, Dudley M'Kendree, should lean
over him to receive the communications.

The bishop spoke first with regard to the state of his soul,
and said, "All is well for time or for eternity. I live by
faith in the Son of God. For me to live is Christ to die is
gain." This in the most emphatic manner he repeated, " I
wish that point perfectly understood that all is well with
me whether I live or die. For two months I have not had
a cloud to darken my hope; I have had uninterrupted


confidence in my Saviour's love." He now commenced,
as an exposition of his feelings, to repeat the stanza :

" Not a cloud doth arise to darken my skies,
Or hide for a moment my Lord from my eyes."

His voice failed him, and the remaining lines were repeated
for him by one standing near the bedside.

Concerning the manner of his interment, he spoke briefly,
but pointedly. " I wish to be buried in the ancient Meth-
odist style, like an old Christian minister."

The interval from the Sabbath to the Thursday follow-
ing, when he died, he was calm and composed, with little
pain. To his nephew, Dudley M'Kendree, he said fer-
vently, " Follow me as I have followed Christ, only closer
to Christ." His favourite phrase wa's, ''All is well" which
has become identified with his dying hours.

" Death was in the room. The question had been asked
of the venerable sentinel, who shall no more stand on the
towers of our Zion, 'Is all well?' He had answered, 'Yes.'
Just then, by a sudden spasmodic contraction, he seemed
to have a darting pain in his right side. The muscles on
his left cheek appeared to suffer a corresponding spasm.
They knotted up with a wrinkle, which remained after the
pain in the side had passed away. Sensible of this mus-
cular distortion, the bishop was observed to make two
energetic efforts to smooth down his countenance. The
second effort succeeded, and a dying smile came over the
brow of the veteran, and descended upon the lower fea-
tures of his face. The struggle was over. The chariot
had gone over the everlasting hills."

The day and hour of his death were March 5th, 1835,
at five o'clock in the afternoon; he was seventy-seven
years and eight months old, lacking one day.


On Saturday morning, March 7th, his remains were laid
in the earth beside the dust of his honoured father, whom
he had loved with the most intense devotion, and from
whom he desired not to be separated in death.

In person, Bishop M'Kendree was a little above the
medium height, and very finely proportioned, his form in
his younger days giving notice of great physical strength
and activity. The first glance at his countenance con-
vinced one that he stood before a man of great intellectual
vigour, but whose predominant trait of character was
mildness. There were both height and breadth to his
forehead; and under heavy eyebrows, his eyes, black,
impressive, and somewhat protruded, gave a continual
evidence of the fires glowing within. His mouth had a
more than usually intellectual expression; his chin was
square, but not clumsy; and, on the whole, it may be
truly said, that a finer countenance, or one more expres-
sive of piety, firmness, and intelligence, could scarcely be



JOHN EMORY was born on the llth day of April, 1789, in
Spaniard's Keck, Queen Anne's County, Eastern Shore of
Maryland. His parents were Robert and Frances Emory,
both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which
his father was a leader. As the family mansion was the
home of the circuit preachers, he was accustomed from
infancy to their company and conversation ; and, in fact,
from that time onward, he was nurtured in the bosom of

His elementary education was received in the country
schools in the vicinity of his birth-place. His academic
training was conducted by two excellent classical teachers
of the old school, and completed at Washington College,
Maryland. Before he was ten years of age his father had
decided to educate him for the bar, and all his studies for
several years were directed with set purpose to this end.
Nothing, however, but natural strength of mind and remark-
able advancement in study could have justified his enter-
ing a law-office at seventeen years of age. He worked in
that office most thoroughly : reading hard, writing digests
and essays, and grounding himself thoroughly in the funda-
mental principles of law. This training was afterward of
great value to him in a very different sphere of life.


His moral character was of high order from his boyhood.
"If ever," says his biographer,* "amiableness of disposition
and unimpeachable morality of conduct could assure one
of the favour of God, it is believed that this would have
been Mr. Emory's case. But he had learned that ' whoso
keepeth the whole law, and yet offendeth in one point, is
guilty of all;' and that 'by the deeds of the law shall no
flesh be justified ;' that ' without faith it is impossible to
please God ;' and that ' he that believeth hath the witness
in himself.' And having no such immaculate purity by
nature, and no such evidence of justification, his awakened
conscience could not rest. His interest in the subject of
experimental religion was further increased by the recent
conversion of his elder brother and sister. For months
he had been labouring under strong convictions ; but his
naturally retiring and silent disposition made it the more
easy for him to conceal the fact from the rest of the
family, until the day when he made an open profession
of his determination to be on the Lord's side. The follow-
ing account of the circumstances attending his conversion
has been communicated by his surviving sister, who was
present on the occasion: 'The evening before the quar-
terly or two days' meeting, (already named,) several mem-
bers of our family, among whom were an elder sister and
myself, had assembled at our brother Robert's, where my
brother John was then living. The hours having been
spent in singing hymns and conversing about experimental
religion, when family prayer was concluded John betook
himself, as he afterward told us, to a retired part of the
garden, and there gave vent to the feelings of his burdened

Online LibraryJohn McClintockSketches of eminent Methodist ministers → online text (page 7 of 26)