Emory, John, Dd
Emory, John, D.D
a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was born in Queen Anne County, Maryland, April 11, 1789. After completing his academical education at Washington College, he studied law, and was admitted to the bar at nineteen years of age. His great ability was soon manifest; he came rapidly into practice, and had every prospect of early success. But he had passed through a decided religious experience before his admission to the bar, and soon after decided, in opposition to the will of his father, to enter the ministry. In 1810 he was received on trial in the Philadelphia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He soon established a reputation for pre-eminence in all the qualities of a true Christian minister. From 1813 to 1824 he filled the most important pastoral stations in the Methodist Connection in America, his appointments being as follows: 1811, Cambridge Circuit; 1812, Talbot Circuit; 1813-14, Philadelphia; 1815, Wilmington; 1816-17, Union Church, Philadelphia; 1818-19, Washington; 182021, Annapolis; 1822, Hagerstown; 1823, Baltimore. In 1816 he was elected to the General Conference, and he was a member of every subsequent General Conference until his death, except that of 1824. In 1820 he was sent as a delegate from the American to the British Conference, and discharged the delicate duties of his mission to the entire satisfaction of the churches. From 1824 to 1832 he was book-agent and editor for the Methodist Episcopal Church at New York. In this post his rare combination of intellectual power and culture with business habits was pre-eminently displayed. To none of the eminent men who have held this office is the Methodist Book Concern more indebted for its present greatness than to Dr. Emory. In the language of Bishop Waugh, "The two great objects which Dr. Emory aimed to accomplish were, first, the extinguishment of the debts due from the concern, and, second, the actual sale of the stock on hand, and especially that pait of it which was daily depreciating, because of the injuries which were constantly being sustained by it, in the scattered and exposed state in which most of it was found. The ability, skill, diligence, and perseverance which he displayed in the measures devised by him for the accomplishment of these objects have seldom been equaled, and perhaps never surpassed by the most practiced business man. His success was complete. Before the meeting of the General Conference he had canceled all the obligations of the institution which had been so opportunely intrusted to his supervision. He had greatly enlarged the annual dividends to an increased number of conferences. He had purchased several lots of ground for a more enlarged and eligible location of the establishment, and had erected a large four story brick building as a part of the improvements intended to be put on them, for the whole of which he had paid. It was his high honor, and also his enviable satisfaction, to report to the General Conference, for the first time, that its Book Concern was no longer in debt." He originated the "Publishing Fund" and "The Methodist Quarterly Review," and abolished entirely the sale of books on commission. In 1832 he was elected a bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and entered upon his duties at once, not only by attending the annual Conferences, but also by general attention to the interests of the Church. He was especially active with regard to education, and had a large share in the organization of Dickinson College. In addition to this, he drew up the outline of a plan for an education society in the Methodist Episcopal Church, which he designed to aid ministers and others in educating their sons. Soon after his election to the episcopacy Dr. Emory devised a course of study for candidates for deacons' and elders' orders, in which, with his usual discretion, he did not hazard everything by attempting too much. The Troy Conference of 1835 was the last which he attended. On the 16th of December in that year he was thrown from his carriage, about two miles from his own house (Reisterstown, Maryland.), at seven o'clock A.M., and at half past seven in the evening he died.
Bishop Emory was a man of great talent and large cultivation. As a scholar, he was accurate and profound; as a preacher, he was clear and convincing: as an administrative officer, he hardly had a superior in any church. As a controversial writer, he was distinguished for logical directness and for fairness to his adversaries. In 1817 he published two pamphlets in reply to bishop White's Objections against Personal Assurance by the Holy Spirit; and in 1818, another, entitled The Divinity of Christ vindicated against the Cavils of Mr. John Wright. The period from 1818 to 1830 was one of great excitement in the Methodist Episcopal Church on various points of Church polity, and in all the controversy Dr. Emory bore a distinguished part. A large party wished to have the office of presiding elder made elective; he fell into the ranks of that party, and, at the General Conference of 1820, he opposed vigorously a theory which gave the bishops a right to veto the acts of the General Conference. In the later conferences as to lay representation he was the principal writer, publishing, in 1824, The Defence of our Fathers, in reply to A. M'Caine, a very vigorous and powerfully written work. After his death there appeared from his pen The Episcopal Controversy Reviewed (New York, 1838, 8vo), edited by his son, Robert Emory, from an unpublished manuscript; it is a luminous sketch, in reply to bishop Onderdonk's Episcopacy tested by Scripture. Most of the original articles in the first two volumes of the Methodist Quarterly Review were written by him. — Life of Bishop Emory, by his eldest son (N.Y. 1840, 8vo); M'Clintock, in Methodist Quarterly Review, 1842, page 62 sq.; Sprague, Annals, 7:486; Stevens, History of the Methodist Episcopal Church, volume 4.