ALEXANDER CHAPMAN was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, January 2, 1776. His parents were James and Martha Chapman. His mother's family name was Kirkpatrick. The Chapman family were of English origin. Alexander Chapman's grandfather, Philip Chapman, was born in London, or its neighborhood, and his great-grandfather, the father of Philip Chapman, was in his time a merchant of considerable wealth in that city.
The family, as far back as their lineage can be traced, were Protestants and Presbyterians. James Chapman was an officer of some prominence in the Revolutionary War, and, at its close, moved to Prince Edward county, in Virginia. Here he remained until 1797, when he removed again to Tennessee, and settled in what is now Sumner county. In December of that year he arrived at King's Station, about two miles from where Gallatin now stands. He lived a year or two near the head of Desha's Fork of Bedsoe's Creek, but, in 1800, bought land near King's Station, and settled there. He died the same year. He seems to have been a member and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church. While he lived on Desha's Creek an afflicting providence was experienced in his family-the youngest daughter, when but a child, came to her death by falling into a vessel of boiling water.
Alexander Chapman was a farmer's son, and, of course, he was trained to such pursuits as are common on a farm. The country, too, was new, and the labor of opening a farm and of its early culture was very severe. His education was limited, as we would suppose from the circumstances of the country. He was but seven years old when his father settled in Virginia, and about twenty when the family came to Tennessee. There were but few educational advantages at that time in Virginia, and such a thing as a school was hardly known in the portion of Tennessee in which the family settled. Mr. Chapman was, in the strictest sense of the expression, a self-made man.
When the great revival began to develop itself in Tennessee, in 1800, he became deeply interested on the subject of religion. The Shiloh Congregation, within the bounds of which he lived, was one of the first congregations in the Cumberland country that shared in the blessings of that great work. He was, it seems, for some time troubled with doctrinal difficulties. To those indoctrinated as he had been, a common difficulty almost inevitably comes up in their first serious hours. There is a fear, at least, of the possibility of their having been proscribed by the decree of predestination. Mr. Chapman had his share of trouble from that source. Still he was an earnest seeker of salvation. His convictions were deep, and his conflict was terrible. The writer has heard him say more than once in the pulpit, in describing the struggles of his mind in his approaching the crisis of his spiritual experience, that, on a certain occasion, he became so intensely interested on the subject that he lifted up his hand before God, and bound himself under what he felt to be the solemnity of an oath, that he never would relax his efforts until he secured the pardon of his sins, or became satisfied that there was no pardon for him. Such earnestness of purpose was characteristic of the man. Says his biographer in describing his experience at that time:
"Late in the year 1800, he was riding along the road in great distress. Anguish, sorrow, and brokenness of heart had seized him. His soul was quaking between hope and despair. His grief became so great that he could not refrain from tears and prayers. When passing over a tract of land he had purchased, within half a mile of where his father had settled, such was the poignancy and burden of his grief he could no longer endure it without one honest effort to secure salvation through the blood of the cross. As he rode along he paused-he determined that he would make a full test of the matter whether there was any salvation for him. He dismounted and knelt beside a large stump, and commenced praying with the intention, as he afterward said to a friend, of seeking a final settlement of the great question then and there. He continued long in prayer. He was brought to see the worst of his condition before God. He saw and felt his utter helplessness. He had a fearful view of the magnitude of his sins before a just and holy God. He felt that there was no hope for him, but through the merits of Jesus Christ. With confidence his heart embraced him as the only Saviour, and just such a one as he needed."
This was a common Christian experience. With him, however, it was terribly intensified. Such was the habit of the times. God was working a strange work among the people. Furthermore, he was doubtless, in this case, preparing, by leading him through a dark valley, a chosen vessel for the fulfillment of a great mission among men.
He joined the Shiloh Congregation. Rev. William Hodge was, at that time, pastor of the congregation. He retained his membership here until he removed to Kentucky, which occurred in 1805. Soon after joining the Church, he was put forward in religious services: he conducted prayer-meetings, and exercised his gifts in exhortation. "He soon evinced such gifts, piety, and zeal, as gave the friends of the revival hopes of his being useful." In such labors he employed himself, with much agitation of mind and many misgivings in relation to the work of the ministry, until the fall meeting of the old Cumberland Presbytery in 1805. At this meeting he was received as a candidate for the ministry. The meeting was held at Red River Meeting-house in the month of October.
It will be recollected that the Commission of the Synod of Kentucky met in the following December, and from that time to the reorganization of the Cumberland Presbytery as an independent body, in 1810, the old Cumberland Presbytery intermitted the exercise of its Presbyterial functions. Mr. Chapman identified himself with the revival party in that unhappy conflict, and, of course, was really amongst those proscribed by the Commission. His name does not appear, however, for the reason, it is supposed, that he had not advanced so far in his trials as to be officially recognized.
At the meeting of the new Cumberland Presbytery, at the Big Spring, in Wilson county, Tennessee, in March, 1811, Mr. Chapman, after the customary trials and examination, was licensed as a probationer for the holy ministry. William Harris and Robert Donnell were licensed at the same time.
At an intermediate meeting of the Presbytery in February, 1813, at Mount Moriah Meeting-house, in Logan county, Kentucky, Alexander Chapman and William Barnett were set apart to the whole work of the ministry. Rev. Thomas Calhoon preached the ordination-sermon, and Rev. Finis Ewing presided and gave the customary charge.
The 22d of October, 1805, Mr. Chapman was married to Miss Ann Dixon Carson, daughter of Thomas Carson, of what was then Logan, but afterward became Butler county, Kentucky. Mr. Carson was an emigrant from Virginia to Kentucky. The marriage proved to be a happy one. The wife was one of the women for the times. Whilst her husband was almost incessantly, and with great self-denial, from home, employed in promoting the interests of the Church, she labored as incessantly, and with equal self-denial, in keeping up the interests of his home. She made that home always a pleasant retreat from a varied and, in some respects, stormy life.
In 1805, he settled in Butler county, in the neighborhood of his father-in-law. His settlement here placed him in connection with Little Muddy Congregation. This continued to be his home as long as he lived.
In the division of the Cumberland Presbytery into three Presbyteries, with a view to the formation of the Cumberland Synod, Mr. Chapman became a member of the Logan Presbytery. Within the limits of that Presbytery the chief work of his life was performed. The territory of the Presbytery, however, extended into the great and almost limitless North-west, and into that country he made frequent missionary tours. We have the following report of one of his excursions into the State of Illinois in 1820. The mission was undertaken under the direction of the "Missionary Board for Western Missions of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church:"
"DEAR BRETHREN:--According to your instructions I commenced my tour to the State of Illinois, crossing the Ohio River at Shawneetown on the 17th day of December, passing through a part of Gallatin, White, Wayne, and Edwards counties, visiting, as far as possible, the most populous neighborhoods, and preaching to the people the word of eternal life, by day and by night, as often as my strength would permit. I administered baptism to one adult, and, to the praise of God be it said, two professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I found in all that boundary only about one hundred and fifty-seven professors of religion who considered themselves attached to us, and but a few belonging to any denomination of Christians, except a few settlements which were almost entirely swept away by the schismatics. [The schismatics were the followers of Barton W. Stone, who made a figure in the early part of the revival of 1800. They were Unitarians.]
"According to your instructions I endeavored to ascertain whether the people were anxious for preaching from our body. This I ascertained sometimes by private inquiry of the most prominent characters, and sometimes in a more public way. Still their universal coming together to hear the gospel, the great attention to preaching, and the tears which bathed their cheeks were not only proof on this subject, but were sufficient to break the rocky heart into softness and to arouse every power of the Christian's soul into anxiety that they might have the word of eternal life declared unto them. Among those distressed settlements I spent one month. I crossed the Ohio River again at Shawneetown on the 17th of January, 1821. There were nine days in which I had no appointments. I preached thirty-two times.
This was, I suppose, about the commencement of the operations of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Illinois. The one hundred and fifty-seven have grown into a large body of Christian men and women. The little fire has kindled a great matter. Illinois now contains three Synods and a corresponding number of Presbyteries.
In answer to a call from some ministers and congregations in Western Pennsylvania, the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church sent, in the summer of 1831, several missionaries into that country. Mr. Chapman was one of these missionaries. He set off for Pennsylvania on the 28th of June, passed through upper Kentucky, Ohio, Western Virginia, on horseback, and reached Washington, Pennsylvania, on Friday, 22d of July. It will be observed that Mr. Chapman was now fifty-five years of age. He had reached a period of life when men usually begin to feel old. Still, in the heat of summer he performs this long journey of a month in the manner already mentioned. At Washington he met Messrs. Morgan and Bryan, who had preceded him a few days. He labored in Pennsylvania in connection with the other missionaries about two months, when he returned to Kentucky.
In October of 1831, the Green River Synod constituted the Pennsylvania Presbytery. As a matter of convenience Mr. Chapman was temporarily attached to the new Presbytery. This arrangement took him again to Pennsylvania in the spring of 1832. He attended the first meeting of the Pennsylvania Presbytery, and remained and labored in the country several weeks. His connection with this Presbytery continued about two years. Notwithstanding the distance, he attended the most of its meetings.
Mr. Chapman preached the opening-sermon of the Cumberland Synod at its last meeting, I suppose by request, as the Moderator of the preceding meeting was not present. The Synod that year met at Franklin, Tennessee. The Moderator of the preceding meeting was Rev. James S. Guthrie. Mr. Chapman was also Moderator of the General Assembly in 1831.
No man in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church lived a more active and useful life than Alexander Chapman. Owing to the difficulties growing out of the revival, and the transition state of what became at last the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, he was not licensed until 1811, nor ordained until 1813. Yet his real ministerial life commenced in 1805, when he became a candidate for the ministry. It has been stated that he was received as a candidate for the ministry in October of this year, and that the meeting of the Commission of the Synod of Kentucky met in December of the same year. Although Mr. Chapman was not named in the proscribing act of the Commission, he was evidently included in it. And as it was supposed that his usefulness might be impaired by it, we have the following informal indorsement:
"We, the majority of Cumberland Presbytery, do conceive from the book of discipline that the power of licensing and ordaining belongs to Presbyteries; and that the Presbytery did legally license Alexander Chapman to exhort; and, although the Commission of Synod did forbid, we do believe that, upon the principle of discipline, they had no power to prohibit him where no charges of immoral conduct were brought against him; and as we conceive that it is the right of Presbytery to license or forbid, we, therefore, believe that said Alexander Chapman has a lawful and constitutional right to exercise his gifts in the bounds of the Cumberland Presbytery, or whereever God in his providence may call him. Given under our hand this eleventh day of December, 1805.
The prohibition of the Commission of the Synod was promulgated on the 6th day of December, and this paper was given to Mr. Chapman, as it appears, on the 11th. A similar one was given to others at the same time. The object was, as far as possible, to break the force of the action of the Commission, and to keep open the way to the continued usefulness of the young men in the congregations, a great many of which, without their labors, would have been wholly unsupplied with the word and the ordinances of the gospel. This places the commencement of Mr. Chapman's active and real ministerial life in 1805.
For nearly thirty years, therefore, was he connected with the struggles of the early history of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. His name is a household word in what was once called the Green River and Cumberland countries, and with the old people no name connected with the operations of the Church militant brings up more pleasant and hallowed recollections. He was the compeer, and on almost all extraordinary occasions the fellow-laborer, of Rev. William Harris. They were finely adapted to cooperation-in a striking sense, complements of one another.
On the 15th day of September, 1834, the useful life of this good man came to a close. He was far advanced in his fifty-ninth year. The funeral-sermon was preached by his old companion in the service, Rev. William Harris, from the very appropriate words: "For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith; and much people was added to the Lord."
I quote the following sketch of Mr. Chapman from the Appendix to Smith's "History of the Cumberland Presbyterians:"
"This eminently useful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ was born in the State of Pennsylvania, on the 2d day of January, 1776. His father emigrated to this country at an early period, and settled in Sumner county, Tennessee. About the commencement of the revival in the Cumberland country, he became deeply interested on the subject of the salvation of his soul. After remaining in this condition for a considerable time he obtained a clear and satisfactory evidence that his sins were pardoned, and his iniquities covered. Immediately after his conversion he felt it his duty to devote himself to the work of the ministry. By the first Cumberland Presbytery he was licensed to exhort and catechise, and, having given satisfactory evidence that he possessed an aptness to teach, he was received as a candidate for the ministry, and was one of the number who went through all the troubles, trials, and persecutions of the Cumberland body, when it was struggling for existence. He was licensed as a probationer, and ordained to the whole work of the ministry shortly after the constitution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and, until the time of his death, he sustained the character of an eminently useful minister of Jesus Christ. He married and settled in Logan [Now Butler] county, Kentucky, when he was very young, and had the happiness of seeing a large and flourishing society spring up around him as the first-fruits of his labors of love. But Mr. Chapman did not confine his labors to his own vicinity: he traveled extensively, and operated with great success in upper Kentucky, in Indiana, and Western Pennsylvania, and few men of any denomination have been more useful in promoting the cause of Christ in the West than Mr. Chapman. He died in the triumphs of faith, at his own residence, on the 15th of September, 1834, and left not only his family, but a whole denomination of Christians, in tears at his loss.
"Mr. Chapman's temper was of the most meek and placid nature, which recommended him to the favor and friendship of all who became acquainted with him. From what we have learned of him when he was a young man, he treated the opinions and counsel of those who were more experienced in the ministry than himself with deference and respect, and many ministers now living can bear witness to his kind and affectionate conduct toward those who were his juniors. Indeed, to all the young man under the care of the Presbytery of which he was a member, he was a prudent counselor, an affectionate father; he took a deep interest in their temporal and spiritual welfare. He never lorded it over young men under his guidance, but by his winning affability he secured the affections of all, who loved him as a brother and revered him as a father.
"He was not what the world would call a great man-but he was far better, he was emphatically a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost. His human learning was limited, but he was deeply versed in the Scriptures. His address was peculiarly pleasing, and, as his communion with God was almost constant, he rarely failed to reach the hearts of his hearers. The character of his discourses, especially when he addressed the followers of Christ, was generally of the most encouraging and consoling nature, but tot he self-deceiver he showed no quarters. He dwelt much upon the necessity of knowing where and when we are converted to God; 'upon the new views, new joys,' and new course of conduct of the true believer. His labors were blessed to the souls of thousands, who, through his instrumentality, were led to Jesus Christ; and we believe we are not mistaken when we say that scores are now in the gospel ministry who claim him as the honored instrument in bringing them from a state of sin to a knowledge of God and of his Son Jesus Christ. The last time we had the pleasure of seeing him was at the General Assembly of 1834, when he presided at the sacramental-service. He then appeared to have some forebodings that he would no more do this in remembrance of Christ with his brethren in the ministry. He dwelt much on the happiness of heaven. He alluded to his gray hairs, and mentioned the probability that in a short time he should leave the walls of Zion; his words fell upon the hearts of his brethren like rain upon the parched and thirsty ground. Little did we then think that he was addressing us for the last time, and that we should hear his voice no more until we heard it among the redeemed, crying with a loud voice: 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive riches, and power, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.'"
I quote also selections from a sketch of "Mr. Chapman's Life and Labors," written by Rev. David Lowry, and published in the Theological Medium of 1846.
Says Mr. Lowry: "The Rev. Alexander Chapman was the first preacher of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church the writer ever saw, and he delivered the first sermon he ever heard after he became old enough to distinguish the text from the discourse. During the first five years of my ministry his house was my home, where I often retreated from the toils of the circuit, sometimes sick, and found all that kindness and hospitality which my situation required.
"Personal recollection enables me to say that he was blessed with early religious training, but made no profession of religion till grown up to manhood. The precise date is not in the possession of the writer. It was, however, in the great revival which commenced about the beginning of the present century. He entered the ministry about the time the late Rev. William Harris did, and labored with him in much harmony and love till the day of his death. They generally attended camp-meetings together, and no preachers in the Church were more successful in winning souls to Christ."
In this sketch we have some specimens of Mr. Chapman's letters to his brethren, especially to Mr. Harris.
To Mr. Harris: "October 23, 1811. Dear Brother:--I desire to keep up a correspondence with you. I have not heard from you since we parted, but hope the Lord will permit us to meet soon, and that we shall have good news to impart, not only of his dealings with our own souls, but the conversion of our neighbors."
In the same year he writes:
"I am now on my way from a sacramental-meeting at Salem, Livingston county, Kentucky, where the Lord was present in great power. There was little opposition. Christians were happy, and eight sinners professed religion.
"But O, brother, the harvest is great, and laborers few! There were persons at the meeting from Hendersonville, and above the mouth of Green River. They are anxious for preaching, and, after hearing their pressing solicitations, I gave them an appointment for a two-days' meeting, and hope it will be in your power to accompany me."
Now it is to be observed that Salem in Livingston county was more than a hundred miles from Mr. Chapman's home, yet he went all that distance to a sacramental-meeting.
I make another observation: there were people at that sacramental-meeting from Hendersonville and from above the mouth of Green River. Hendersonville and the mouth of Green River are near a hundred miles in another direction from the Salem in Livingston county where the meeting was held. We would think that these people were hungering for the word of life, and we should think correctly. They were hungering and thirsting. I was a feature of the times. The Spirit of God was abroad in the land.
We have another letter of 1811:
"I attended the camp-meeting in Christian county. Never have I seen a more glorious communion. Twenty-five professed religion. O that the Lord would revive his work all over the world! I hope to see you at my camp-meeting, commencing on next Friday. Influence as many as you can to come with you. May the Lord make it a happy season of his grace!"
The Christian county meeting must have been seventy miles from Mr. Chapman's home, yet he went. His own camp-meeting was to commence, too, on the following Friday. It will be observed, however, that this was but the second year of the existence of the Church. It was a struggle for life. Says my authority very appositely: "Those were days that tried men's souls."
We have the following letter of May 5, 1819:
"It is by no means certain that I shall be able to attend the annual meeting of our Bible Society at Hopkinsville. I have to-day, from a fall, received an injury in my back, which threatens to be serious. If I think it safe, however, to attempt such a journey, I shall go. I wish, however, that you and the rest of the society would consent to erase my name from the Board of Directors, and permit me to remain as a private member."
Hopkinsville was near seventy miles from the residence of Mr. Chapman, and yet he made it a matter of conscience to travel that distance to sustain and promote the Bible cause.
In the same letter we have the following:
"I returned yesterday from a Methodist camp-meeting. We had a good meeting, About thirty professed religion, and many left the ground with broken hearts. Christians enjoyed much of the power of religion, and the utmost harmony prevailed. I enjoyed the meeting myself as well as any I have attended in a long time. O that the spirit of party were destroyed, and all the lovers of Christ bound together in the spirit of the gospel!"
My informant responds a "most cordial amen to this prayer." Most Christians would doubtless render a similar response. Still the weakness of Christendom, and especially of Protestant Christendom, is that we pray for union one day, and quarrel the next. But a better day will come. We agree upon the character and value of the wheat now, but quarrel over the chaff. After awhile there will be such a thorough purging that the chaff will not be left, and we shall have no subject of quarrel.
I am indebted to Mr. Lowry for these extracts of letters. I call in his aid, furthermore, for a general summation of the characteristics of Mr. Chapman. No one could form a more correct estimate of the man.
"The subject of this memoir," says he, "was uniform and constant in attending the judicatures of the Church, and but few men exerted a stronger influence in counsel. He was distinguished for the purity of his motives. Nothing like double-dealing ever appeared in his conduct to gain a point. His apparent object was always his real one-his course always open and honorable.
"He was social in feeling, and a sweet companion, and his company was desired by all his brethren. No one could be with him long without feeling that he was 'the disciple whom Jesus loved.'
"His manner in the pulpit was universally admired, imperfect imitations of which are now seen in the actions of many of our young preachers. He was truly a natural orator. The dry rules of rhetoric had little to do with his gestures. They were natural and graceful, emanating from the feelings of his heart. His voice was full, melodious, and subduing. The Spirit of Christ was in him-it beamed from his eyes, and breathed from his lips. There was nothing far-fetched in his discourses-one universal air of seriousness pervaded them, and he seldom closed without leaving his congregation in tears.
"He dwelt much, and with great discrimination, upon the evidences of personal piety. This indeed was one of his peculiarities as a preacher, and a department in which he excelled.
"His private life fully corresponded with what he taught in the pulpit. No preacher ever enjoyed in a higher degree the confidence of his neighbors. In his intercourse the gentleman, in the true sense of the word, was blended with the Christian; he was always ready to act on subject of general interest, and to advise and feel where religious sympathy was needed, yet sufficiently reserved to avoid the imputation of being a 'busybody in other men's matters.'
"In his family much of the beauty and heavenly simplicity of religion appeared. Evening and morning the family, including servants, were convened for devotion, when a portion of Scripture was read, a hymn was sung, and prayer offered. The father was not a man of smiles and kindness abroad, and churlish, abrupt in speech, and cruel at home, but maintained a perfect correspondence between his public and domestic character.
"He settled in the neighborhood in which he died previous to his being licensed to preach. He found that country a complete moral waste, but left it a beautiful garden of God.
"Among the ministers remaining in the Church there may be those who surpass him in literary attainments, but in the varied knowledge necessary to the discharge of the ordinary duties of a preacher, so as to win souls to Christ, he has left but few equals behind him."
A few personal recollections will be added in concluding this sketch.
There was a relationship by marriage between Mr. Chapman and my father's family, and it might be supposed that I knew him intimately. I knew him, however, as preacher only, and as a member of the highest judicature of the Church. Still my impressions of him have been very distinct and abiding. He was not a man to be forgotten. My first recollection of him goes back to 1812. I mentioned in the sketch of Mr. Harris the camp-meetings of that year at the Ridge, and my father's living with his small family in a house, or cabin, in immediate connection with the camp-ground. Mr. Chapman attended the meeting with his wife. As she was a relation, they almost as a matter of course stopped at our house. I recollect a remark he made to my step-mother. "Do you," said he, "take care of Anna; I can take care of myself." His manner struck me as that of a cheerful and agreeable man. Strange as it may seem, my recollections of that meeting are very vivid. It was the first time I ever saw William Barnett. His lion-like appearance and trumpet-liek voice awakened my attention. It was the first time, too, in my life in which a direct, personal appeal was ever made to me on the subject of religion. The good man [Rev. David Foster] who made it has long since gone to his account. Should I ever get to a better world I have no doubt of finding him there. But I wander.
My next distinct recollection of Mr. Chapman is connected with the first camp-meeting which was ever held at the Dry Fork, in Sumner county, Tennessee. My father lived at that time on the Dry Fork. In the fall of 1817, myself and some other young persons of the neighborhood professed religion. From some families of old material, and the young converts, a congregation was organized in the following winter. In the spring we built a very common log meeting-house, and our zeal was so great that, although few in number and by no means strong otherwise, we determined upon a camp-meeting in August. The time arrived, and a number of preachers came to our help. Among the rest, Mr. Chapman reached the ground on Friday. He had ridden fifty miles to attend the meeting. It is to be observed that the Dry Fork Congregation was an outgrowth of old Shiloh, which had been so greatly favored in the revival. The old members of the new organization had been members of the congregation at Shiloh, but they had adhered to the revival party. Mr. Chapman himself had been a member of the Shiloh Congregation. He was, therefore, in the neighborhood of his old home. Two or three families of Shiloh that sympathized with use were camped at the camp-meeting. I do not recollect how Saturday of the meeting passed; but Sunday, David McLin, Mr. Chapman, and Thomas Calhoon preached to a great and well-ordered congregation. Mr. Chapman's text was from Job: "I know that my Redeemer liveth." It was a pleasant, precious sermon, and evidently left a fine impression. On Monday he preached again from a text in Proverbs, the call of wisdom: "Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man." The very appearance of the preacher indicated that he was burdened with the wight of his message. The congregation was large. The people of Shiloh were there. Among them were many of his old acquaintances and friends. The sermon was one of the most powerful appeals that I ever heard. There were numerous allusions to Shiloh, to its past privileges, to its great distinction in the revival, and to its fall from its former high spiritual estate. Several times in the course of the sermon he apostrophized: "O Shiloh, Shiloh, exalted to heaven in point of privilege-thrust down to hell for disobedience!" It was a fearful philippic, and would have been intolerable under other circumstances; but the man, the obvious spirit which moved him, and, in addition to all, the experience of the people themselves, bearing testimony too faithfully to the truth of a great deal of what was uttered, subdued the spirit of opposition. They sat and stood at the roots of the trees and bore it all. I did not understand then so fully the relations of the sermon to the people, but after an experience of more than fifty years, I can very readily imagine that, rather than otherwise, it left an impression of increased respect for the earnestness and fidelity of the preacher.
In two or three years, Mr. Chapman attended a camp-meeting at the same place. He preached again on Monday from the words of Felix to Paul: "God thy way for this time; at a more convenient season I will call for thee." The sermon was, of course, an account of the experience of the unconverted in finding excuses for delay. It was an earnest, solemn, but tender sermon. At its close he called for mourners. There was a considerable number. Among them was a little girl, daughter of one of the leading men of Shiloh. Her case attracted unusual attention. Mr. Chapman himself seemed to take a special interest in her. She professed religion there before she left the congregation. Of course it was a cause of rejoicing. That little girl became a woman, and is now the esteemed wife of a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher. God has made her a needed helper of an honored, but partially disabled, husband.
In the fall of the same year of the first camp-meeting at the Dry Fork, I spent a night and part of two days at a camp-meeting in Robertson county, Tennessee. Messrs. Harris, Lewis, [Rev. Isaac Orrey Lewis was born June 7, 1777, in North Carolina. His father, Isaac Lewis, was a Welshman, and for many years a member of the Presbyterian Church. His mother was of Irish descent. Mr. Lewis, the son, married Miss Fannie Stone in North Carolina, and emigrated to Kentucky about the year 1800, and settled in Warren county. He was for years a man of the world, had a passion for horse-racing, and, at one time, came very near losing his life while training one of his horses. His experience on that occasion alarmed him, and he summarily renounced the practice. He afterward became terribly convicted under the preaching of Mr. McGready. In process of time he professed religion, and, although the father of a considerable family, turned his attention to the ministry. He was licensed and ordained by the Logan Presbytery. His education was of course imperfect. He was, however, a useful man, and highly esteemed "for his works' sake." He died July 20, 1850, having acquired the unusual weight of four hundred and fifty pounds.] and Chapman were the preachers. Mr. Lewis preached on Monday, and was followed by Mr. Chapman. His text that day was from Romans: "But to Israel he saith, All day long have I stretched out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people." At this meeting I saw for the first time William C. Long [Rev. William C. Long was brought into the ministry by the Logan Presbytery. He was a preacher of medium ability, but of great zeal and spiritual worth. He labored a number of years acceptably and usefully in Kentucky, then in Missouri, and then again in Kentucky. He died some years ago.] and David Lowry. [Rev. David Lowry was likewise brought into the ministry by the Logan Presbytery. He has labored with great ability and success in Kentucky, Tennessee, among the North-western Indians, and now lives and labors in Missouri, still bringing forth fruit in old age.] I believe they were then candidates for the ministry.
Mr. Chapman was present at the first meeting of the Synod which I ever attended. In the appointment of the committees it turned out that he and Rev. John L. Dillard and myself were appointed a committee upon the Minutes of some one of the Presbyteries. I was added to the committee, of course, merely to make up the customary number. Mr. Chapman and Mr. Dillard both sometimes relished a quiet joke. The Minutes of the Presbytery had been badly kept, and in making the report the committee descended to some rather ludicrous particularities which excited a little amusement in the Synod at the expense of the Presbytery. Mr. King was the patriarch of the meeting, and took occasion to administer a severe rebuke to the committee for taxing the patience of the Synod with so small matters. I have always in such cases remembered that rebuke. Such reports result in a waste of time, and sometimes in an exposure of the weakness of Zion.
I was once in Mr. Chapman's neighborhood, and at his house, in the course of his life. It was a lovely community. It seemed to bear the impress of his own excellent spirit. The seed sown there is still developing itself. His generation has passed away. A second has followed, and the third is now taking up the burdens of their predecessors. Thus the work goes on, and thus it is that the influence of good men never dies. Alexander Chapman was one of the good men, and from south-western Kentucky, in the great day, hundreds and thousands will rise up with thanksgiving upon their lips that God ever sent such a messenger of mercy among them.
Two of Mr. Chapman's sons entered the ministry. Rev. A. H. Chapman was born September 13, 1813. He professed religion October 8, 1832; joined the Little Muddy Congregation on the twenty-first of the same month. He was then about nineteen years old. In process of time he joined the Logan Presbytery as a candidate for the ministry, was licensed and ordained in due course. After his ordination he devoted himself mainly to itinerant preaching in the upper portion of Logan Presbytery. He is said to have been a good English scholar, and to have read Latin well. His views of truth were clear and distinct, and he sometimes presented them with great power. He died August 22, 1849. Nothing is said of his death, but that it was calm and triumphant. He died at the house of Thomas Barnett, Esq., in Greene county of his native State.
Rev. B. C. Chapman was educated at Cumberland College, and at Cumberland University, or rather at what afterward became Cumberland University. He has spent most of his ministerial life in Middle Tennessee, but is now pastor of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Selma, Alabama.
Two of Mr. Chapman's grandsons are also engaged in the work of the ministry: one in Ohio, and the other in Pennsylvania. The most of his descendants are honored and useful members of the Church.
[Source: Beard, Richard. Brief Biographical Sketches of Some of the Early Ministers of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Second Series. Nashville, Tenn.: Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1874, pages 148-173]
FATHER CHAPMAN was a native Tennessean, a man of most amiable disposition, a clear intellect, a melodious voice. He presented truth in all its loveliness. His speech was plain, his language chaste, his style pleasing and often eloquent beyond description, insomuch that he not unfrequently carried his audience with him, and appeared to sway them at his pleasure. His success in the ministry was surpassed by few, for he lived at the Throne of Grace, and God was with him. He, too, was the means of saving many precious souls, and among those whom, under God, he plucked from the burning, I count my unworthy self.
An example of his preaching I heard at Old Liberty Church, near Russellville, Kentucky. His text was Matt. vii: 13, 14: The way to destruction and the way to life. He introduced his sermon with a few thoughts presenting the contrast between the righteous and the wicked, in character, conduct and destiny; and entering on the discussion of the text, he asked the Christians present to pray for him that God would help him to preach. Addressing the sinners he said: "This sermon is intended for you. Will you hear it? If you will, and God will help me, you shall feel the guilt of sin before I am done, and find that if you continue in sin you will as certainly lose your soul as that you have one." He gave a brief notice of Christ's injunction, "Enter ye in at the straight gate," and defined the reason for this injunction. Thus, the way of the wicked was through, 1st, "a wide gate;' 2d, "a broad way;" 3d, it is "crowded;" and, 4th, it is "destructive." The reverse of this is the only safe way: 1st, it is "a straight gate;" 2d, "a narrow way;" 3d, "few pass it;" 4th, but "it leads to life." This sermon was heard with attention, which proved the depth of feeling it produced. At its close a crowd of anxious penitents distinguished themselves as candidates for mercy, and many, very many, rejoiced in the forgiveness of sin and in the hope of heaven.
[Source: Cumberland Presbyterianism in Southern Indiana: Being a History of Indiana Presbytery and an Account of the Proceedings of its Fiftieth Anniversary Held at Princeton, Ind., April 13-18, 1876, Together with Various Addresses and Communications, and a Sermon on the Doctrines of the Church. Compiled and Arranged by Rev. W. J. Darby and Rev. J. E. Jenkins. Published by the Presbytery, 1876, pages 71-72]
Whereas the Rev. Alexander Chapman, having recently been removed
by death, from the field of ministerial labours: Resolved therefore
that this Presbytery deeply deplore the loss she has sustained
in the death of brother Chapman, as one of her oldest, most esperineced
and useful ministers, and abelist counsellors. And on motion of
Rev. William Harris, Resolved that the members of this Presbytery
wear mourning sixty days upon their right arm, in memory of our
beloved and departed brother.
[Source: Minutes of Logan Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, October 3, 1834, page 157 of typescript]