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Lemuel Covell - the ninth subject in A Noble Company, volume 6

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The ninth subject - Lemuel Covell (1764-1806) - in A Noble Company, volume 6, was one of a band of intrepid pioneer preachers who literally blazed western trails to reach the lost with the gospel of Christ. Newly acquired territory by the United States in the early nineteenth century meant new settlements, which opened opportunities for church planting. Spurred by reports from Carey’s ministry in India and the Judsons’ in Burma, associations of Baptist churches took seriously the Great Commission to evangelize settlers and Native Americans in western New York and Canada. One such association, the Shaftsbury, comprised of churches in Vermont, Upper New York, and Western Massachusetts, sponsored missions trips by local Baptist pastors willing to sacrifice their time and energy to get the gospel to outlying communities destitute of spiritual help. In one association meeting, Covell declared, “Oh! let it never be said that those who have been made heirs of the infinite benevolence of the dear Redeemer, to have so little regard for him, as to grudge to part with a little of their property in the support of his cause. Oh, criminal covetousness!!! May the Lord deliver us from it!” Taking his own admonition to heart, Covell made three mission trips from his pastorate in Pittstown, New York: a four month journey in 1803, resulting in the baptism of twenty-one converts, another six month tour in 1805, and finally a brief tour in 1806, that claimed his life. Each of these expeditions led Covell to the Niagara Lake region of New York and Long Point, Ontario. He willingly aided in establishing churches in Canada, and faithfully preached the gospel to the Seneca and Tuscarora Indians, establishing a close bond with the Baptist missionaries, and the churches who sent them. Only two months into his third tour he died suddenly of a fever at age forty-two. He was sorely missed but his testimony for Christ was remembered long after. One historical account states that “it would appear that Lemuel Covell was an utterly selfless man, who gave his all to the cause in which he so earnestly believed, and in his self-giving he inspired to a remarkable degree the love and respect of his acquaintances.”