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
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.
"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.'
||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 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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