Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/136

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


130 Southern Historical Society Papers.

30x70 feet in dimensions instead of repairing the old one. A just inference is that the old structure was so ruinous through age that it had to be replaced with a new one.

It may be of interest to note that the ancestors of the lamented Henry K. Ellyson, the late honored president of the Board of Trus- tees of this college, were members of the Henrico Meeting of Friends. If there was not an earlier house of worship of the Quakers in Nor- folk, Nansemond, or Isle of Wight counties, with some it might be held that in this early licensed meeting-house in Henrico county rests the honor of the germ of Religious Liberty in Virginia.

Sweet charity ! how waywardly thy behests are sometimes misin- terpreted.

It is to be deplored that the zeal of some itinerants betrayed them into unseemly utterances. It would be a rare Christian, indeed, who would be pleased with a characterization such as this : " At church ye pray to the devil your good works damn you and carry you to hell. All your preachers preach false doctrines, and they and all who follow them are going to hell. " Is it to be wondered that a religious people thus abused felt aggrieved? Were these ancestors of ours besotted bigots?

We have still, it is said, "Unrest of Christendom. " The Pres- byterian Synod, in session in Philadelphia May 27, 1745, deemed it proper in an address to Governor Gooch, of Virginia, to disclaim countenance of such provocations, and ascribed them to schismatics who had been excluded the Synod in I74i. 16

Happily there have been modifications in Christian exemplifica- tion throughout our land since our colonial era. I have no sectarian interest in this discussion. New Englanders are among my kindest and most cherished friends. In their regard for literature we might profitably emulate them.

The loving and gentle Bishop Meade of blessed memory, in the mortification of pious humility, perchance, thought proper in that precious garner of the past, " The Old Churches and Families of Virginia" to record the frailties of some of the colonial clergy. I doubt if there were a half score of such weak and erring spirits cer- tainly not so many are cited, and a single black sheep has given a bad name to an entire flock yet a "Virginian and an Episcopalian" has recently taken license to assert sweepingly that "a more disrepu-

16 Foote, pages 137-139-