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We give the plan of this Society at large, in this Memoir, because, so far as we know, it was the first of the kind proposed in our country ; and because it is an exbibition of sound sense and judgment, is a good model for imitation, and happily express the pious and benevolent feelings of its author, at this early period of his ministry. We know not whether Ibis plan ever went into operation.
Until the fall of 1788, Mr. Keith continued the affec. tionate and faithful pastor of the church in Alexandria; when, having received and accepted a call to settle as colleague pastor with the Rev. William HollingsHEAD, over the Independent or Congregational church in Charleston, S. Carolina, he removed to that city, and was inaugurated at the close of November, in the year above mentioned. *
With what acceptance he fulfilled his eight years ministry to the Congregation in Alexandria, we learn by the following extract from their remonstrance to the Presbytery, against his dismission, dated Sept. 10, 1788. They say, “In the summer of 1780, the Rev. Mr. Keith became pastor of this church, by the acceptance of our call; and ever since that period has stood high in the estimation of all denominations, and particularly so with his own, whose exertions for bis accommodation are perbaps unequalled, and sufficiently evidence their regard and attachment. There have subsisted no feuds nor animosițies to disturb the peace of our church, to render his residence here uncomfortable to himself, or bis labours unprofitable to the people.” To this we subjoin the certificate of bis “ dismission from the
* See his Inaugural Sermon, p. 49, of this Work
Presbytery to which he belonged, as a further testimonial of the high estimation in which he was held.
“IN PRESBYTERY, BALTIMORE, SEPT. 16, 1788.
A CALL was handed to the Rev. Isaac S. Keith, from the Independent or Congregational Church in Charleston, S. Carolina, inviting him to take the pastoral charge thereof, in conjunction with the Rev. William Hollingshead, of which, after some pause, with due solemnity, he signified his acceptance.
The Presbytery, therefore, do hereby declare the pastoral relation between the Rev. Isaac S. Keith, and the Presbyterian church in Alexandria dissolved, dismiss him from their body, to undertake the charge of the church in Charleston aforesaid, in conjunction with the Rev. William Hollingshead, recommending him very affectionately to both, as a valuable evangelical minister of the fairest character, and fervently pray, that they may remain long together, in perfect harmony, for mutual edification, and the promotion of true religion.
Signed, PATRICK ALLISON, Mod'r." By the removal of this worthy minister of Christ, he was placed in a more elevated and conspicuous station in the church, and a wider field of usefulness was opened to him. How faithfully, piously, and acceptably, he filled this station, and occupied this field, is witnessed by very many witnesses ; particularly by the highly respectable testimonial, inserted at the close of the preface to this work, and by the tears of deep felt sorrow shed at his sudden decease, not only by his affectionate and beloved flock; but by thousands of others in
different parts of our country, who had either shared in the pleasure and benefit of bis acquaintance and correspondence, been partakers of his liberal and affectionale hospitality, or enjoyed the fruits of bis hearty and widely extended benevolence. The heart of no one, it is believed, was ever more uniformly and ardently set on doing good, than that of Dr. Keith. He was willing to spend and be spent in the service of God, and of his fellow.men. In afflictions, by repeated bereavement of friends whom he loved as his own soul, and under trials of a very different nature, and still more wounding and perplexing to his pious heart, he exhibited a spirit of meekness, patience, and forbearance, highly becoming the christian character, and which plainly indicated that he had taken Him for his pattern, “ who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when be suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.”
In the establishment and subsequent measures of sereral benevolent, pious, and charitable Institutions, particularly a “Society for promoting the interests of religion,” ip 1802, and the “ Charleston Bible Society," in 1810, Dr. Keith contributed liberally, both of his property and influence. He was ready to every good work; and seemed never weary in well doing.
Dr. Keith's Epistolary talents will be apparent to the readers of this volume. Letters to friends, written as were those in this volume, utter, more than any other writings, the feelings of the heart. These letters exhibit the writer, in the various characters of husband, brother, friend, comforter, and patriot, to peculiar advantage. Dr. Keith maintained, during his public life, the latter part of it especially, an extensive and voluminous correspondence. His frequent visits to the Northern States for the benefit of his health, made him acquainted with a large portion of his ministerial brethren, besides many of the most respectable of the laity; and in consequence, the invalids of the North, when visiting the South, in quest of health, were, in great numbers, intro. duced to him, and received from him ever those kind attentions and christian consolations, which secured their affectionate esteem and grateful reinembrance. Many of the most respectable people in the Uniied States, and the most distinguished christians, were numbered among his friends.
Dr. Keith was the affectionate and provident husband, in succession, of tbree wives. The first, to whom he was married shortly after bis removal to Charleston, was Miss Hannab Sproat, daughter of the pious and venerable Dr. Sproat, then senior pastor of Arch-Street church, in Philadelphia. She was, by her fervent piety and prayers, truly a helper and comforter of her husband, in his ministerial work and trials. This blesse ing, which he highly appreciated, he was permitted to enjoy but a few years. On the 13th of Sept. 1796, she departed this life in a triumphant faith, and in that christian hope, tbat is full of immortality.
His second wife, to whom he was married on the third of April, 1798, was Miss Catharine Legare, daughter of Thomas Legare, Esq. of Charleston, a lady held in high estimation for her various accomplishments, ber piety and worth of character. In a letter to his brother,of May 1798, speaking of the event of his marriage, and of his wife, he says, “ She is a very worthy branch, of a very worthy and respectable family, that has been eminently distinguished by the grace of God. Her great grandfather was driven by the violent hand of persecution, from France, during the reign of Louis the fourteenth. Her father, for a long course of years, has been ranked among the first here in christian knowledge and experience." With this beloved companion, he lived little more than five years. After suffering under a lingering and a slowly wasting disease, on the 15th of May, 1803, she finished her earthly course, enjoying in ber last moments, “ a solid, settled peace in believing; and in the morning of the Lord's day, entered upon her eternal sabbath, among the spirits of the just made perfect in the kingdom of their Redeeiner." His last wife, was Miss Jane Husbam, a native of Exeter in England, who survives bim as his widow; of whom, of course, delicacy forbids that we should say more, than that she deserved and shared largely in the affections of her husband, while he lived, and also, and still, in the esteem and cordial affections of his numerous and respectable friends.
Though Dr. Keith died without issue, he fulfilled the duties of a kind and liberal parent to several adopted children. On this subject, in a letter to a friend, of June 20th, 1808, in which he gives a particular account of his father's family, he says, “ My brother John, like myself, has no children. May we tare an interest in the new, sure, well ordered, and everlasting covenant of grace, and a naine in the church and family of God, which will be better than any number, even of the most worthy and amiable of sons and daughters.”
The excellent funeral discourse of the Rev. Dr. Flinn, whicb follows this sketch, in which the charac