At peace with himself, and with his God, and engaged in a good cause.
Our entry today is drawn from William Henry Foote’s great work, Sketches of North Carolina, Historical and Biographical (1846).
Rev. James Hall and the Churches in Iredell, NC.
Melchizedek was a king, and a priest of the Most High God. Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, led, for once at least, a military expedition, and on his return from a complete victory received the blessing of the king of Salem, whom the Apostle set forth as a type of Christ the Lord, the author and finisher of Faith. In the war of the American Revolution there were many young men to be found in the ranks of our armies, and in the prisons of the enemy, who, after hazarding their lives for their country, entered the ministry and spent their days in preaching the everlasting gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christs—such as Hunter of Carolina, and Marshall, and Houston, and Lyle of Virginia. There were also many clergymen that went with the armies to act as chaplains, and displayed in the various dangers and exposures of the camp and a soldier’s life, the cool collected bravery of men at peace with themselves and with their God, and engaged in a good cause,—such as McCaule of Centre, afterwards of South Carolina, who was beside General Davidson when he fell at Cowan’s Ford; some of whom were made a sacrifice to their country’s safety—as Rosborough of New Jersey. But there is not perhaps another instance of a man, a licensed preacher of the gospel, that took part in military expeditions, and commanded companies, and still retained the character and maintained the dignity and office of a minister of the gospel, beside that of James Hall of Iredell, the preacher and the soldier. There were some ministers that laid aside their office for a military command, and never resumed it, as Muhlenburg of Pennsylvania, and Thruston of Virginia.
But James Hall performed both offices, a military commander and a preacher of righteousness; was acceptable in both as a young man, and died at an advanced age a minister of the gospel. Said Dr. Robinson of Poplar Tent, “when a boy at school at Charlotte, I saw James Hall pass through the town, with his three-cornered hat and long sword, the captain at the head of a company, and chaplain of the regiment.” An amalgamation of characters and officers justified only by special emergencies, and to be successfully attempted only by few. Born of Scotch-Irish parentage, at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, August 22d, 1744, and removed by them to North Carolina, when about eight years old, he grew up in the upper part of Rowan, now Iredell, in the bounds of the congregation to which he afterwards was pastor during his whole ministerial life of thirty-eight years. Secluded in the forests of Rowan, alike ignorant of the knowledge and the follies of the great world, James Hall grew up under the watchful care of pious parents, and the instructions he would receive from faithful and laborious missionaries whose visits to the congregation were less often than desired, about once a quarter. He was made familiar with the Bible and the Westminster catechism in his early days, and his mind stored with the best of truth before he could appreciate the excellence of the truth itself, or the motives of the pious parents who so assiduously taught him.
During the exciting scenes of the Revolution, during which time he had been licensed and ordained, Mr. Hall held the office of pastor of three congregations, which territory extended from South Yadkin to the Catawba, with some congregation members coming from beyond these rivers; and after the Revolution he served them till the year 1790, when wishing to devote more time to the cause of domestic missions than could be consistent with so large a charge, he was released from his connection with the Fourth Creek and Concord churches. His connection with the Bethany church continued till his death on July 25th, 1826, a period of twenty-six years.
A full account of his actions during the Revolution would fill a volume; his active, enterprising spirit would not let him be neutral; his principles drawn from the Word of God and the doctrines of his church, and cultivated by Dr. Witherspoon, carried him with all his heart to defend the ground taken by the convention in Mecklenberg, May, 1775, and by the Continental Congress in 1776. He gave his powers of mind, body and estate to the cause of his country. As the citizens would assemble to hear news and discuss the politics of those trying times, and were making choice of the side they would espouse, Mr. Hall was accustomed to meet with them, and addressing them, infused his own spirit and inflamed their love of liberty, and strengthened their purpose of maintaining their rights at all hazards. The tradition about him, in these cases, is that he was eminently successful; and the fact that there was great unanimity in that section of country, in a measure the effect of his exertions, would of itself show that he was both influential and eloquent.
Words to Live By:
God often gives a powerful voice to the Christian who faithfully kneels before His throne; for truly, as has been said, those who fear the Lord can properly live without any earthly fear.
The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.—Proverbs 29:25, KJV
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have:for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.—Hebrews 13:5-6, KJV.