REVEREND JAMES WALLACE
Submitted by James West
The history of Riverview would be incomplete indeed, if we did not include one of the earliest and deeply religious residents; the Rev. James Wallace. His home during most of his life and a the time of his death was located in Coverdale next to or perhaps precisely where the Wesleyan cemetery now is. The following "sketch" of rev. James Wallace was written by his son, the Rev. Isaiah Wallace, in 1871.
"My father was born in Hopewell, N.B. January 17, 1797 and was, consequently, at his death on March 7, 1871, in the 75th year of his age. He was the eldest son of the late James and Catherine Wallace of Hillsboro. Three brothers - John Wallace, Esq., M.P., William Wallace, Esq., Collector of the Port of Hillsboro, and Deacon David Wallace - and four sisters still survive him.
In January 1822, he was united in marriage to Susan Peck, of Hopewell with whom he lived happily for nearly half a century.
In early life he found peace believing in the Lord Jesus, and professed his faith before the world. He was baptised by the late Rev. Joseph Crandall. Having been moved by the Spirit of God to preach the glorious Gospel, he commenced soon after his conversion, to exercise his gifts in public as opportunity offered.
In the year 1826 he was publicly set apart by the imposition of hands to the glorious work of preaching Christ. For a considerable time he devoted himself with commendable zeal and encouraging success of the work to which he believed God had called him. These early labors were chiefly of a missionary character. He extended his labours into various destitute portions of the Province of New Brunswick. He was returning from a missionary tour to some part of the St. John River, where his efforts had been followed by a gracious revival and the conversion of precious souls. On this way home he spend a night at his uncle's in Upper Sussex. In the morning he was so overwhelmed with doubts and discouragements, and so oppressed with a sense of unworthiness, that in order to evade the duty of family worship he left before breakfast. He was passing through the Portage; the snow was deep; the shades of the night were gathering around him; the next settlement was several miles in the distance. As he was about yielding to the power of hunger, fatigue and depression, he turned up out of the light snow with his foot a small loaf of bread, which some preceding traveller had accidentally, or rather providentially dropped. In this loaf he recognized the divine care and love, and refreshed in body and in soul, he pursued his homeward journey.
It is with emotions of sadness and regret that I record the fact that for a number of years, say from the fourteenth to the twentieth year after his ordination, my father retired from public ministry. During these years he employed his time chiefly in the cultivation of his farm in Coverdale. At indicative of the high estimation in which he was held by the public as a man of ability and character, he was appointed by the government of the county Justice of the Peace, and also Supervisor of the Great Roads for the County of Westmorland. The duties of these important offices were performed by him during these years of retirement from the ministry in such a way as to retain and deepen public esteem and confidence. About the year 1846, he was crossing at low water the Petitcodiac River, he became so embedded in the treacherous quicksands peculiar to that river, as greatly to imperil his life. The swift rolling tide was fast approaching, threatening to engulf him. Death seemed inevitable. He called upon God for deliverance.
His prayer was graciously heard. The rising tide, instead of overwhelming him as he feared, loosened the grasp of quicksands, and he was enabled with much difficulty to reach the shore in safety. While in this painful and perilous position, he heard the voice of God reproving him from turning aside from the blessed work of publishing salvation to perishing man, and with a heart subdued with love and gratitude to God for his marvelous deliverance, he resolved to re-consecrated himself to his appropriate work. Some advised him to still retain his honours and emoluments of the magistracy and supervisorship of Great Road and at the same time engage in the ministry but he had no disposition to "mix up God's work with secular engagements and reward," and so promptly resigned these offices and returned with new ardor and devotion to the Christian ministry.
From time to time onward to the period when he was laid aside by enfeebled health, some four or five years previous to his death, he toiled on steadily and devotedly in the blessed work to which he had consecrated his early youth. The churches of Hillsboro, Hopewell, Harvey, Butternut Ridge, New Canaan, Caledonia, Baltimore and Coverdale in turn enjoyed either in whole or in part his faithful labors. Various were the successes that accompanied his pastoral engagements. So far as the results appear to human view, his ministry may be regarded as a successful one. In all these churches, his labours were decidedly useful, but perhaps, his pastorate of the churches at Butternut Ridge and New Canaan were crowned with the greatest blessing.
In his business relations he was strictly conscientious; to the poor he was generous and kind; as a friend he was confiding and faithful; as a husband he was tender, affectionate and devoted. His memory is embalmed in the hearts of his kindred and the multitudes benefited by his ministry. May his removal to a higher sphere be sanctified to them all! As the old watchman was called from the walls of Zion, may the young men respond to the pressing call for more laborers and exclaim "Here am I, send me!" They that he be wise shall shine as he brightness of the firmament and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."