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he became more deeply impressed with the duty of engaging in the ministry. But he was still deterred by his want of suitable qualifications. To supply his lack of education, he endeavored to make attainments in learning, by every means in his power ; but for want of time and books, he never attained to that degrec which he so much desired. The revolutionary war taking place, he was called into camp. Surrounded by loose, carnal company, he had but little opportunity, and less suitableness of spirit, for preaching. Still he could not be at rest.
When far advanced in age, he wrote to a friend, that from the first dawn of his Christian hope, his mind was impressed with the duty of publicly exhorting, though he had no expectation of entering upon the ministry—nay, the very thought was too much for him—but he could not suppress the desire to do good to his fellow men. He was much disposed to solitude, and sought occasions to ride alone to meeting. One Sabbath morning, when thus riding alone on a private road, he was impressed to turn aside for prayer. He did so, and while at prayer, the words, “ I have chosen you to preach the Gospel," seemed like thunder to burst from heaven into his heart. But instantly he felt a violent opposition to what seemed to him the will of God. He went to meeting in extreme anguish. At the close of the prayer, the minister said, “Send thy Gospel far and wide ; and for this end take thy Gospel ministers near thee.” At hearing these words, he seemed to himself to be taken near, even into the arms of the Saviour, and the words, “I have chosen you to preach the Gospel,” rushed with double force on his mind, and he trembled, so that he could scarcely regain his seat. This left an abiding impression on liis mind that God had called him to preach the Gospel to a dying world. But still he hesitated, under an appalling sense of his want of qualifications.
In the mean time he had married a Mrs Jenkins, a member of the church, by whom he had one son. But it pleased God soon to remove her from him by death. This trying bereavement was the occasion of his becoming excited to a more active discharge of his duty, to which he was also encouraged by having received the approbation of the church to preach the Gospel.
In 1782, he moved into the State of Georgia, with his little motherless boy; and united with the Red's creek church, under the care of Elder L. Savage, in Columbia County. He preached among them, and travelled as he had opportunity for two or three years. Having gained their approbation and esteem he was called to ordination, and came under the imposition of hands by a Presbytery, namely, Elders, L. Savage, D. Tinsly, S. Walker, and A. Marshall in 1785. With these excellent men he lived in high esteem, both as a Christian and as a minister, during their lives. He now went forth as a missionary of the cross, filled with a fervid zeal for the Lord, and an ardent love for the souls of men. He soon acquired general esteem; and his career promised, as it has by the grace of God accomplished, much usefulness. He married his second wife in 1786, Miss Rebecca Carlton, who is
now his mourning relict. She proved to be a help meet for him indeed, and " helped him much in the Gospel.” Of their twelve children, three of the sons and an infant daughter, as also his first born son, are gone to their long home. One of the sons has, since the death of his father, been ordained to the gospel ministry. The latter is a hopeful exhorter; and the other three are moral and respectable citizens. The three daughters all profess hope in Christ.
It was not long before our brother attracted the attention of the churches, and was called into their service. The first church he was engaged with was situated on Briar Creek, in Burke County,
AT BOTSFORD'S OLD MEETING-HOUSE. This church was constituted before the revolutionary war, under the ministry of that venerable man of God, Rev. Edmund Botsford, after whom it is called to this day. During the war it had dwin: dled almost to extinction ; but after his connexion with it, the work of the Lord prospered under his labors. Aná in one year he had the unspeakable joy to lead seventy hopefully redeemed sinners into the yielding stream, and bury them in baptism with Christ, in hope of a glorious resurrection with him into eternal life. The work spread, and two other churches were constituted, and the foundation of another was laid, which afterwards was built up. The two constituted were at Buckhead and Mobley's Pond. In the former he baptized about fifty; and many others in the latter, as well as at Rocky Creek, a branch of one of the churches. But falling sick, and remaining with his family in a declined state of health, he deemed it expedient to leave the low country. He moved to Wilkes County, and settled a farm on Clark's Creek, which was his unchanged residence till death. Here he soon became a member, and the pastor of the church,
AT CLARKE'S STATION. He undertook the pastoral care of this church about the year 1789, and continued it about fifteen years. During this period he enjoyed much satisfaction. He had the esteem and confidence of church and people ; and labored much night and day for their good. His zeal and fervent mind for the prosperity of the church and for the salvation of his congregation, are embalmed with his devout prayers and many tears, in the tenderest recollections of his numerous and affectionate surviving friends. But the season was barren—a wide spreading religious dearth afflicted the State in many sections, and few churches suffered more than that at Clarke's Station. From the records of the association it appears, very few were added to this church by baptism during his connexion with it. At length a contention took place in the church, which disposed him to resign his office, and to unite himself with the sister church
AT FISHING CREEK.
Of this church also, he became the pastor a few years before his death. In this relation he continued as the pastor in much affec
tion, till age and disease made it necessary to retire from the office. But he continued a member in much Christian love and esteem with all the brethren till his death. The church was in a very declined state when he joined it, and received but few additions, (chiefly of blacks.) of late, however, a happy revival has taken place, and within two years nearly a hundred members have been added. It is now in a good state of resuscitation and joyful in
He was called to the pastoral supply of several other churches, according to the custom in this part of the country, of having only one church-meeting in a month. In this relation he was engaged with the church in Elbert county,
AT HEBRON. He had been instrumental in gathering and constituting this church in the early part of his evangelical ministry; but when he moved down the country, Jeremiah Walker from Virginia became their pastor. He had been the subject of a most shameful apostacy; and professing restoration, he also professed a change of sentiment, and adopted certain unscriptural opinions. He was instrumental of drawing off a part of the members to his sentiments, and soon, (for his powers of argumentation were great), spread the defection into other churches, and succeeded, by the help of some other preachers, in effecting a division in the association. This division among the Baptists, (for at this time, there was only one Baptist association in Georgia), filled the state with controversy; In these severe conflicts, which tried men's souls, our beloved brother was much shaken. He was affectionately connected with several of the seceding party, and very much so with Mr Walker, which circumstance contributed not a little to his indecision and want of firmness. But it pleased the Lord, as he believed, to save him from this unsoundness of mind and more than ever to confirm his sentiments respecting the sovereign and free grace of God. In reference to this fact, only a little before his death, he wrote to a friend thus :—“My life is just gone—but had I a thousand lives and ten thousand tongues, I would willingly spend them all in the delightful work; in preaching the same doctrine, and in the same denomination—I say the same doctrinc—for once, the great Jeremiah Walker had well nigh led me to embrace the Arminian sentiments. Had it not been for my experience, the works of Providence and grace, more especially the character and goodness of God, I should have embraced those delusive errors." However, after his engagement with the regular part of this church, the death of Mr Walker occurred, and his influence died with him ; several of the disaffected members returned and sought union again with their deserted brethren; and better times-ensued. He had the happiness of receiving sixty or seventy to baptism, and the fellowship of the church in the term of his service with them, which was about twenty-five years. But the Meetings house being situated between Broad and Savannah rivers, and other churches being constituted in more commodious places con
tiguous, and the number of members diminishing by deaths and removals, the church was regularly dissolved, and the members united with the adjoining churches.
Our brother was early in his ministry engaged with the church
AT ROCKY SPRING. This church was situated in Wilkes (now Lincoln) county, near the Savannah river. Here he labored with good effect and much harmony and Christian affection for thirty years. He enjoyed two precious revivals, and baptized many happy believers. His own account is, “ That in one of these gracious seasons I baptized near by one hundred ;” and it is a fair calculation that in the other, and at all other times, he did not receive less than one hundred. But we have no data at hand, which will precisely show how many. The veneration and Christian estimation in which he was held, both by church and people, fully appears in a letter and resolution he received from them on the occasion of his leaving.
He served the church, also, as a pastoral supply for twenty years or more,
AT NEWFORD. This church lies in the north-east of Wilkes county, and here the labors of our brother were blessed with two precious revivals, in which he baptized more than a hundred, and saw the work of the Lord prosper in his hands. Here he labored, till afflictions, a few years before his death, made it necessary to retire from all his pastoral services.
In the same capacity, he also attended a church in S. Carolina,
In this church he had not the happiness to enjoy much success. He continued his labors for five years, baptized a few only, and declined his attendance. He then gave his services to the church
Here he enjoyed a good degree of success.
In the short time he was engaged with this church, he baptized about fifty. But some young ministers being raised up, after two years he left the church to their care and retired.
In the course of his ministry, which continued upwards of forty years, he aided in the constitution of five churches and in the ordination of twenty-one ministers, and was the instrument of much usefulness. He died in a good old age of seventy-three years, highly esteemed for his work's sake. In his civil and social life he was innocent, honorable and generous. As a Christian he was devoted and persevering. As a minister, in prayer, fer. vent-in exhortation, warm -in doctrine, clear-in all, ardent, zealous and indefatigable. He lived as he died, in the Lord. His views of himself were very humble; he walked much in the vale of fears, and conversed much with his own heart. He often complained of his want of spiritual comforts, to his confidential
religious friends. Yet he was often on the mount enjoying the light of heaven and of God.
He was particularly anxious for the salvation of his children. He was zealous to bring them
up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” He poured out his prayers and strong cries to God for them; yet he saw no lasting symptoms of permanent hope, till they were all grown, and chiefly settled in families. This gave him “great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart.” He made several unsuccessful efforts to have them all assembled together once before he died, that he might detail to them his own Christian experience and ground of hope ; and address to them, as it were his dying admonitions. This he effected, in connexion with a meeting to be continued several days, held at the church near him, some time before his death. One evening, they all repaired to his house, together with several of his brethren in the ministry; and having called the attention of all, he stated his earnest desire for their salvation, and his reasons for wishing them all together, and the design of his address. He then rehearsed at length, his religious experience and hope of salvation; and with much affection and earnestness exhorted them to flee from the wrath to come-to Jesus Christ the only Saviour. All was solemn, impressive and interesting.
It pleased God, a little before his decease, to bring his son, nained after himself, to the hope of the Gospel, and to incline his mind to the ministry. His daughters soon after became hopeful believers; and just before his death, another son made a declaration of his faith in Christ, and transmitted an account of his experience to his father, but it was not received by the family till it was too late.
Our beloved brother was the subject of severe and protracted afflictions, which he bore with patience and fortitude. In addition to many other infirmities he lost his hearing. This was truly an affliction to him, as it broke off, almost altogether, his social enjoyments and intercourse. But it was observed, that though he could not hear himself speak, he preached with more ardor and clearness than before. About two years before his decease he was sick, in the view of all his friends and of himself, unto death.
He was happily sustained in his religious feelings. His beloved pastor, Rev. James Armstrong, visited him, to whom he said, departure, I wish you, or my brother, Jesse Mercer—if he returns home in time, (for he was at New York, attending the General Convention), to deliver a discourse to my friends and brethren from 2 Cor. v. 8.” But it was the will of God to raise him up, and he afterwards enjoyed pretty good health ; and travelled and preached considerably. His last tour was to attend the General Association of Georgia ; where he preached the closing sermon, under sensible indications, as was reported by them that heard him, that it was to be his last.
In his final sickness, he languished for many days. His faith was fixed and his soul serene. When prayer was about to be made,
“ After my