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Rev. John Carmichael

Carmichael, John was born in the town of Tarbert, in Argyleshire, Scotland, October 17, 1728. His parents, Donald and Elizabeth (Alexander) Carmichael, were both exemplary members of the Presbyterian Church, and migrated to this country in the year 1737. As they drew near the American coast, after a long voyage, a sudden gust well nigh overturned the vessel; and their son John, then a little boy eight years old, was precipitated overboard; but, happily, the waves more him within reach of the Captain, and his life was saved. After remaining a short time at New York, they removed to Hackensack, a Dutch settlement in New Jersey, where they experienced much kindness from the people; but the irreligion, especially the profanation of the Lord's day, that prevailed there, led the pious father to seek, particularly on account of his children, a more congenial residence. Such a place he found in what was then called Ward Session, a few miles from Newark, N. J. Here the family attended the ministry of the Rev, Aaron Burr, whose preaching made a deep impression on the mind of this son, and whose addresses at the Communion table he always remembered as having been characterized with great pathos and power.

In the year 1745, death deprived him of his father; he entered the College of New Jersey in the year 1755, and was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, in August 1759. In November following, he was summoned to the deathbed of his mother, where he witnessed a scone of remarkable Christian triumph.

After studying Theology at Princeton, under the direction of the Rev. Samuel Davies, who had succeeded to the Presidency of the College the year he graduated, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Brunswick, on the 8th of May 1760.

Some time in the year 1700, he received a call from the church of the Forks of Brandywine, Chester County, Pa., to become their Pastor. This call he accepted; and the Presbytery of Newcastle, then lately constituted from a part of the Donegal Presbytery, met at the Forks of Brandywine, April 21, 1701, and ordained him to the work of the ministry, and installed him Pastor of that Congregation. This connection continued until it was terminated by his death.

When the war of the Revolution came on, Mr. Carmichael showed himself an earnest and uncompromising friend to the liberties of his country. In the summer of 1775, the militia of the town of Lancaster requested him to preach a military sermon.

The Rev. Dr. J. N. C. Grier, in a discourse which he preached in 1849, containing the History of the Church of the Forks of Brandywine, pays the following tribute to Mr. Carmichael:
"The Rev. John Carmichael was an eloquent man, in his day, and 'mighty in the Scriptures.' He was a man of ardent feelings, and what he did, he did with his might. He was the Pastor of this congregation during the whole of the great American Revolution; and, like most of the Presbyterian clergymen of that day, he espoused the cause of his country, like one who would rather perish, battling for freedom, than live a slave, He was long spared to the affections and the prayers of his people, going in and out before them, as a burning and a shining light, breaking to them the bread of life; and being an example to the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made him an overseer, ever calling upon them 'to be followers of him, oven as he also was of Christ.'

"The congregation increased under his ministry, which lasted about twenty-four years. He died greatly respected, and 'deeply lamented by his people-and having in all the churches of his Presbytery the reputation of a man thoroughly furnished for his work-one who needed not to be ashamed, because he rightly divided the word of truth."

Abridged from Sprague's Annals of the American Pulpit.

Source: An authentic history of Lancaster County, in the state of Pennsylvania; Lancaster, Pa.: J.E. Barr, 1869, 813 pgs.

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