page 1 BIOGRAPHIC
MINISTERS AND LAYMEN.
LOVICK PIERCE, THE NESTOR OF GEORGIA METHODISM.
When the history of American Methodism shall be fully written, few
names will occupy a more prominent place than that of Lovick Pierce.
This illustrious minister sprung from obscurity, and his educational
advantages were exceedingly limited. In despite of this, however, he
early reached the highest distinction as a preacher. It is true that he
never attained to Episcopal honors. nor did he ever wield a commanding
influence in the General Conference. Not less than Edmund Burke, he was
ill adapted to the leadership of deliberative assemblies.
Indeed, it is but just to say that he was somewhat deficient in the
faculty of organization, and possessed only moderate administrative
ability. As Whitfield, the prince of pulpit orators, founded no sect, so
Lovick Pierce consummated no great reform in the economy of Methodism.
Eminently conservative, as he was, in reference to the fundamental
doctrines of the church, he was evermore
page 2 full of plans
for the improvement of its polity. Nearly all of these proposed reforms
were lost in the committee on revisals.
We come now, however, to speak of Lovick Pierce, simply as a preacher
of the everlasting gospel; and in this respect he had few equals, and no
superiors in the American pulpit. He had neither the thorough
scholarship, nor the analytical power of Stephen Olin; John Summer-field
surpassed him greatly in the mere art of persuasion. Bishop Bascombe
excelled him in the thunderous oratory that reminds us of an ocean
swell. Yet as a preacher, in the Pauline acceptation of the term, he was
not a whit behind the chiefest of his contemporaries.
It would be difficult to say, definitely, wherein lay the secret of
his immense pulpit power. It certainly was not due to the vastness of
his literary resources, for these were circumscribed; nor could it be
attributed to anything that savored of sensationalism, for no man
despised more heartily the tricks of the pulpit mountebank, who is more
intent on winning applause than on winning souls.
Somewhat of his rare excellence as a preacher may be justly ascribed
to his imposing presence. His voice was a natural, not an acquired,
orotund, his articulation was uniformly distinct, and his modulation
perfect. His manner of delivery was sometimes vehement, but never
offensively boisterous. Add to all this what the French term,
page 3 "Onction," and
the old Methodists, "Liberty," and you have our idea of his elocution.
One grand element of his success was his apostolic saintliness of
character. He believed and preached the doctrine of holiness, as handed
down to us by Fletcher and the Wesleys.
With him, however, it was something more than a mere theory, he
illustrated it in his daily life. I have yet to see the man who more
studiously avoided every colloquial impropriety, whether slang or
vulgarity, who was more prayerful in spirit, and more circumspect in all
his deportment. While, at times, he had an air of moroseness, there
underlay this harsh exterior a sympathy as genial as the breath of
spring-time, and as far-spreading as the blue sky above us. His charity
had no bounds. Never was there a more appreciative listener to the
commonplaces of the pulpit or a more enraptured hearer of the platitudes
of commencement orators and essayists.
Next to his personal purity and thorough consecration to his
ministerial work, was his mastery of the Holy Scriptures. The Bible was
the armory whence he drew the weapons, which, on many a hard-fought
field, were mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. We would not
intimate that he was neglectful of polite literature. He was indeed
familiar with the standard English authors, and was always abreast with
the current phases of philosophy.
But, beyond all else, he studied the Bible--not detached portions, as
the manner of some is, but every part and parcel of it. He knew the
Pentateuch as well as the four gospels. He was as fully conversant with
the weird visions of Ezekiel, and the mystic imagery of the Apocalypse,
as with the simpler Messianic prophecies of Isaiah.
He had well nigh committed to memory the Psalms of David, yet he was
hardly less familiar with the Proverbs of Solomon. If any portion of the
Divine Revelation was more highly esteemed and carefully studied than
any other, it was the Epistles of St. Paul. His understanding of the
Pauline system was critically exact and his exegesis of the Epistles to
the Romans and Hebrews was more than masterly, it partook of the
supernatural. With such resources as these, it was no matter of marvel
that he was a master of assemblies.
Only secondary to these two elements was his wonderful gift as an
extemporaneous speaker. He had, as was well understood, an invincible
aversion to written sermons. Now and then he has been known to inveigh
against them with an earnestness that left no room for doubt as to the
strength of his convictions. Let it not be supposed, however, that he at
all countenanced the notion of extemporaneous thinking. On the contrary,
he was diligent in preparation for his pulpit work.
I have personal knowledge on this point, on more than one occasion.
Still he had so trained himself to extemporaneous speaking that his
spoken style was far better than his written style. The former was
terse, at times epigrammatic, always sparkling; the latter was labored,
involved, and, frequently turgid. It is to be deplored that he did not
cultivate writing until advanced life. Richard Baxter, a laborious
pastor, and a life-long invalid, left material for forty folio volumes;
Dr. Pierce scarcely left sufficient material for a single duodecimo.
During his earlier ministry his toil and travel were immense. Like
St. Paul, he was in perils both in the city and the wilderness. His
districts embraced a larger geographical area than the Apostle traversed
in his first missionary tours. These abundant labors left him but little
opportunity for strictly literary work, and furnish ample apology for
his apparent shortcomings. Besides, he fell on evil days, when Methodism
was everywhere spoken against; when the spirit of a confessor and the
courage of a martyr were needed to confront the enemies of Methodism.
Luckily for himself and the church, he was cast in the same heroic mould
as Francis Asbury and William McKendree. He faltered not for a single
moment in the face of opposition, but steered right onward to the goal.
The usual order of Divine Providence is, "That one soweth and another
reapeth," but he survived
page 6 this era of
depression, and lived to see Methodism the dominant religious
organization of this continent and the leading religious denomination of
the Protestant world. It was, indeed, gratifying to witness the
distinguished consideration with which he was treated in his old age, in
all the annual and general conferences of the church. This was no
constrained tribute to rank, or wealth, or power; but the spontaneous
recognition of intellectual and moral worth of the highest order.
Dr. Pierce did not lag superfluous on the stage. He wrote or preached
almost to his dying day. It is true that the last weeks of his life were
marked by great nervous prostration. At times he seemed bowed down with
sorrow, but the reaction was always speedy. It was in one of his
jubilant moods he sent that message to the churches, "Say to the
brethren I am lying just outside the gates of Heaven." An utterance
worthy to be mentioned in the same breath with Paul's exclamation in the
depths of the Mamertine prison, "I am now ready to be offered." Not less
inspiring than the last words of Wesley, "the best of all is, God is
Not a great while before his departure it was my privilege to visit
and talk with him in his death-chamber. In response to my enquiry about
his health, he said: "I am lying here a wreck upon the coast of time,
trying to look into the eternal future." It is somewhat singular that
page 7 Webster used
almost this identical language to a friend during his last illness. That
friend replied: "Say not, Mr. Webster, a wreck, but a pyramid on the
coast of time." My reply was different; I said: "Doctor, for many years
you have been getting ready for this hour." After a little conversation
his eyes brightened, and he said: "I have some well-matured views on the
subject of faith which I desire to submit to you." I said: "I have but a
little while to remain, as I must leave on the next train." He glanced
at the clock and said: "I see you haven't sufficient time to hear me."
He, however, gave me an outline of his views, and I urged him to have
them written and published for the edification of the church. Thereupon
he gave me his blessing, and I withdrew. He lived but a few weeks after
this interview. There is a beautiful fitness, or rather I ought to say a
wise Providence, in the death-scenes of great and good men. Elijah, the
wild-eyed Tishbite, who rebuked kings and smote false prophets and
idolatrous priests with the edge of the sword, must needs have a chariot
of flame and steeds of fire to bear him aloft to the Paradise of God. It
was a fitting close to a most stormy career. But for Lovick Pierce there
was appointed a more quiet hour. Calmly, he lay down to his final rest.
He nestled his weary head on the bosom of Jesus, and with hardly a pang
or a struggle, his ransomed spirit went "sweeping through the gates," to
his exceeding great reward.
How broad the contrast between such a departure and that of Cardinal
Wolsey, who was abandoned in his old age by his sovereign because of his
refusal to sanction his matrimonial infidelities.
Lear, when he trod alone the blasted heath amidst the pelting of a
pitiless midnight storm was not in a more sorrowful plight than this
illustrious ecclesiastic--when after a wearisome day's travel he
approached the postern gate of Leicester Abbey.
Addressing the Abbot, he said:
"Father Abbot, an old man, broken in the Storms of State Comes to lay
his bones among ye; A little earth for pity's sake."
Not many hours after his arrival he died with no attendant but an
obscure monk who ministered to him the sacrament of the dying.
But yesterday he had as the motto of his signet ring "Ego et rex
meus." "Now lies he there and none so poor as to do him reverence."
What think ye of the cardinal and the preacher? How apposite the
language of David: "I have seen the wicked, in great power, spreading
himself like a green bay-tree, yet he passed away and lo! he was not;
yea, I sought for him and he could not be found. Mark the perfect man
and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace."
page 9 JESSE
BORING--THE SALVATOR ROSA OF
The life of Jesse Boring. if fully and graphically written, would
read like a romance. His was an adventurous spirit; hardly less so than
that of Francis Xavier, the apostle of the Indies. Nor was his life less
eventful than the Episcopal career of Francis Asbury, the pioneer bishop
of the United States. It was no foolish boasting but simple matter of
fact, when on one notable occasion he exclaimed on the conference floor:
"Bishop, I am the founder of five annual conferences, and I have the
right to be heard in this or any other ecclesiastical presence."
This remarkable man, with the exception of Bishop Capers--whom I had
heard preach in my childhood--was the first of the great lights of the
Methodist pulpit to whom I had ever listened. It was some time in the
thirties at the old Harris camp-ground, of which Uncle Dick Dozier was
the presiding genius, and of whom the rude boys of that vicinity had a
most wholesome dread. There were present, at the time, such other
notabilities as James Dannelly and Samuel K. Hodges, but Jesse Boring
was the cynosure of all eyes. Even at that early period, he was
physically feeble, seemingly almost a wreck. At the Sunday night
page 10 service he
delivered a characteristic appeal to the impenitent that captured the
congregation, and caused the sturdiest sinner to quake with alarm. Many
years elapsed before I again heard this great preacher, whose matter and
manner were so unlike any man of his generation. Meanwhile his
reputation had become connectional and to him was committed the task of
planting Southern Methodism on the Pacific coast. One of the old
Forty-niners, who had often met him in those years of terrible exposure
and hardship, spoke of him as the bravest and truest man he had ever
known. He assured me that the most desperate gamblers of Sacramento and
San Jose, reverenced, but feared this Boanerges of Methodism. The seeds
planted by Doctor Boring did not instantly spring up, but watered by the
tears of Fitzgerald, Bigham, Aleck Wynn and the Simmons brothers, they
were gradually quickened into life. The intervention, however, of the
civil war, which isolated the California mission from the mother church,
well-nigh destroyed its vitality.
But after these years of slow development, there is now a flattering
prospect that under the gallant leadership of Bishop Fitzgerald our
Southern Methodism will yet possess a large area of territory in both
Californias. If the "saints in light" take knowledge of earthly
happenings, how must the old Doctor have rejoiced when the missionary
rain, some years ago, sped its way, with singing
page 11 and shouting,
across the continent to its destination at Los Angeles.
It will be remembered by the older Methodists, that after his
California adventures, Dr. Boring was transferred to Texas, with his
headquarters alternately at San Antonio and Galveston. At both places he
did much to organize Methodism for the aggressive work which it has
since so well and wisely prosecuted until the church in all that vast
region, has become an immense, spiritual federation of a half dozen
While stationed at Galveston he had one of those remarkable
experiences which have marked several stages of his ministry.
Starting in the Caribbean sea, a typical cyclone swept with its
uttermost fury the entire gulf coast, from Key West to Vera Cruz. At
Galveston it was especially severe, submerging very much of the city and
island. As the pious Æneas bore upon his shoulders the aged Anchises,
from the flames of Troy, so Dr. Boring carried in his arms his frail
wife, through that dreadful midnight flood to a place of safety.
Leaving these "moving accidents by flood and field," we come to speak
more at length of his pulpit power.
Poetry and painting are in no small degree kindred arts. Some one has
said of Jeremy Taylor that he was "the Shakespeare of the English
pulpit." Why may not I be justified in saying Boring,
page 12 at his best,
was the Salvator Rosa of the American pulpit? His intense earnestness,
his startling emphasis of speech and gesture, his sepulchral intonations
of voice, specially fitted him for painting the darker side of human
destiny. Who that once heard his exposition of the parable of Dives and
Lazarus can ever forget his portraiture of that heartless voluptuary,
who was more neglectful of the beggar lying at his gate than were the
dogs that followed him in the chase. It was enough to freeze the marrow
in our bones. What wonder that upon one occasion, in Columbus, when he
was preaching on the general judgment, many of the congregation fled
terror-stricken from the sanctuary? Said one who was present, "The scene
baffled description. The atmosphere seemed stifling, the lights burned
dim and for one, I momentarily expected to hear the 'crack of doom.'" In
all this there was no trick of oratory. It was the simple grandeur of
the theme and the terrific earnestness of the speaker. Not a printed
line of this great sermon has been preserved, but the tradition of it
will linger for another hundred years.
I have heard many great pulpit orators in their best moods--what we
might call their times of plenary inspiration. I was caught up almost to
the third heaven of joyousness while listening to Marvin on "Christ and
the Church." My nerves fairly tingled when I heard Bishop Pierce on "the
page 13 Second Coming
of Christ," years ago at the Macon Annual Conference. Indeed I have
heard notable sermons from men of less renown and later date, but never
heard a more powerful discourse than one by Dr. Boring at the Tabernacle
campground, Sumter county, Georgia, 1858. His topic was the obstacles to
personal salvation, based on the question, "Lord, are there few that be
saved?" He was in his best estate spiritually, intellectually, and we
might add physically. As he proceeded to show the difficulties, the
narrowness of the way, the straightness of the gate, the majesty of the
divine law, and the inexorableness of its demands, the wiles of the
devil, the seductions of the flesh, the glamor of worldliness, it looked
like heaping Ossa on Pelion until the mighty mountain barrier rose
heaven-high, with its frowning crags and steep acclivities.
It occurred to me that Hannibal's passage of the Alps before there
was a St. Cenis tunnel was an easy matter compared with the task set
before the Christian, in his heavenward aspirations. When he reached the
climax of his argument a breathless awe pervaded the congregation. Not a
few of them seemed half paralyzed with these master strokes of oratory.
But suddenly pausing for a single instant, he exclaimed in a jubilant
tone, "Blessed be God--there is still a ray of hope that comes to us
from Calvary." The transition was so abrupt and inspiring that I almost
page 14 cried out,
"Hallelujah"--to which Dr. Tom Stewart vigorously responded, Amen!
Whereupon a wave of exultation passed over the great assembly and the
veil was lifted. Nearly twenty years later I asked him to repeat this
sermon in my pulpit. He did so, but while the sermon was still admirable
in its leading features, he himself realized that it had lost a measure
of its old-time force and fervor.
Some of his best pulpit and platform work was done while he was
representing the Orphans' Home enterprise in various parts of the
The matter lay near his heart, and in the next century it will be
rated as the greatest of his ministerial achievements.
I was present when he introduced the orphanage question in South
Georgia. He met with serious opposition. Some of the conference leaders
seemed reluctant to embark in the enterprise, but he carried the
question by one of those masterful appeals for which he was
It is no longer an open question, and former differences should be
buried. We must needs have, at no distant day, a well prepared biography
of this great man--not ponderous, but concise and spirited. George
Smith, or Sasnett, or Elder Bigham could do good work on this line.
He once urged me to edit a volume of his sermons, which I declined to
undertake because of other pressing engagements. I would have been
page 15 disposed to
decline partly for his own sake. I greatly question the practicability
of reproducing in cold type the distinctive utterances which made his
Robert Hall never but in a single instance had a published sermon
that was worthy of his fame. Preachers like William Jay and Charles
Haddon Spurgeon could stand the test, but few others besides them. It
would be an easier undertaking to imprison a sunbeam or to paint the
perfume of a violet than to give an adequate idea of Whitfield's or
Bossuet's oratory by that curious contrivance, the lineograph. Edison's
phonograph give the
minutest tones of the Marsellaise as rendered by the United States
Marine Band, but the invention comes too late to perpetuate the oratory
of the demigods of the pulpit and platform of
JAMES E. EVANS,
THE MODEL PASTOR.
As an all round preacher I have not known the superior of James E.
Evans. He was not a genius, but pre-eminently a man of affairs.
Considered as a stationed preacher--a presiding elder--as a member of
annual and general conference
boards--organizer of circuits--builder of churches and colleges, he
headed the list of my conference acquaintances. He was not an orator,
and yet he was not lacking in a boisterous eloquence that captured the
multitude. He was not a logician, and yet he routed opponents in debate
by the score. In visiting from house to house and in keeping accounts he
was next to Habersham J. Adams. Here we might leave the matter, and yet
it is proper that I should enter more into details concerning this
wonderfully versatile man.
Alfred Mann, long ago speaking of Brother Evans, said to me, "Evans
is a well-conditioned man." Not a little of his phenomenal success was
due to his superb physique. His step, until he was nearly seventy, was
elastic, his pulse beat was equable, and as a sleeper he was not a whit
behind Webster, who boasted that he slept soundly after Hayne's reply to
him in the Senate chamber. I have been with him at camp-meetings, where
he would sing and shout and exhort until ten o'clock, seldom later, when
he would go to the preachers' tent--quietly undress, saying his
prayers--go to bed, and while the battle at the stand was still raging
would in five minutes be as soundly asleep as a healthy boy after his
evening romp. No insomnia about him--how we envied him his gift. His
appetite never flickered at the most frugal board. He had some relish
for dainties, but if they were not within reach he could fare
page 17 sumptuously
on hog and hominy. As for dyspepsia ailments he knew as little of them
as of summer vacations--neither of them, indeed, was known to his
ministerial vocabulary. Eupepsy was his normal condition--his liver
aplomb, and his stomach in good working order. Let it not be inferred
that he was a gourmand, on the contrary he was rather abstemious and
scrupulous in his observance of the quarterly fast. He was an
anti-tobacconist of the straitest sect, and made no bills with the
I remember once when he was staying with us at the Milledgeville
parsonage, he was somewhat ailing. After much persuasion I got him to
take a single dose of medicine. This treatment relieved him greatly, so
that he preached a morning sermon of remarkable power. A good "pulpit
sweat" completed the cure, so that he was in good plight when the dinner
By every visible token he might have lived a hundred years, but he
died younger than Boring or Lovick Pierce.
Brother Evans was not a scholar in the present acceptation of that
term, yet he was a reader of many books. Especially was he familiar with
the standard literature of early Methodism. Wesley's sermons he had
almost committed to memory--and he had Fletcher's Checks at his tongue's
end. He made it a matter of conscience to study the discipline and our
page 18 In a word, by
reading and absorption as well, he acquired a large fund of
miscellaneous information which he handled to advantage in the pulpit.
As a conference preacher he was most esteemed as a revivalist and pastor
in its old-time signification.
In his younger days he was a flaming evangelist, and the conversions
under his ministry were numbered by the thousand. His singing was one
element of his strength. He was, however, his own Excell and Sankey, for
while he knew but little of music as an art, he had a voice of vast
compass and exceeding sweetness. He knew just when and where to bring in
"Wrestling Jacob" and "Amazing Grace" and the best of the camp-meeting
melodies. The masses of his day preferred such singing to the "fugue
tunes" and other operatic airs so much in vogue with fashionable church
choirs. To this gift of song he added the gifts of prayer and
exhortation in a notable degree. In the former he might be classed with
Sam Anthony and John P. Duncan; in the latter he was almost without a
peer, unless amongst the old-fashioned laity, like Uncle Jimmie Stewart
and Matthew Rylander of Southwestern Georgia. In his happiest mood these
hortatory appeals were punctuated by amens and hallelujahs from the
enraptured congregation. But perhaps his greatest distinction was his
house to house visitation. In Augusta, Savannah, Charleston, Columbus
and Macon the whole population in this way felt his magnetic touch.
page 19 Many a time,
even at the dead of night during seasons of pestilence, did his
ponderous footfall wake the slumbering echoes of Green and Broad and
Bull and other less aristocratic quarters, as he hurried to the bedside
of dying saint or repentant sinner. At this point the Methodism of today
has sensibly weakened. Nor has this lack of apostolic service--witness
Paul at Ephesus--been supplied by more elaborate pulpit preparation. If
usefulness is the end of aim and endeavor it will be best attained by
blending pulpit preparation with pastoral visitation, giving the latter
the preference. At one period of his life Brother Evans was regarded,
not by himself, but others, as good "bishop timber." When many years
ago, he was elected to a connectional office, he was thought to be on
the high road to the distinction. But after a brief experience as a book
agent, he resigned and returned to the pastorate. This we have always
thought was a wise decision. Having been twice in his district, we
cheerfully bear testimony to his rare administrative ability, and what
is better still, we can testify to his sympathetic nature, which greatly
endeared him to the preachers of whom he had a quasi-episcopal
We have before intimated that to us his death seemed premature.
Certainly it was sudden; so that it might be almost literally said that
he ceased at once to work and live.
It was but a single step from the pulpit to his death chamber. All
through the latter years of his ministry he held a conservative view of
the holiness question, which, after all the pros and cons of subtle
disputants, is thoroughly Wesleyan and to the same extent scriptural.
Thousands of old friends hailed the coming of this saintly man to his
rest and reward on the other shore. May Georgia Methodism never lack for
men of his sort, who understand the needs of our Israel.
ALEXANDER M. THIGPEN.
I desire, in this connection, to speak briefly of another dear friend
and most useful minister, Alexander M. Thigpen. He first came
prominently into notice as a chaplain in the army of Northen Virginia.
In all of the campaigns of Lee and Jackson, he was noted for his
devotion to duty and his unflinching courage in every emergency. Such
was the brilliant record he had made during the war, that in 1865 he was
appointed to Wesley Chapel, Atlanta.
I saw a great deal of him during the two years of his Atlanta
pastorate and at his request, assisted him in making a roll of the
membership, the old
page 21 church
register having been destroyed during the Federal occupation of the
city. He exhibited great energy in looking up the scattered flock and in
bringing them back to the fold. His preaching was quite satisfactory to
his charge, and a goodly number were added to the church.
In after years he held several responsible positions, chiefly the
Dalton district and the Rome station. In these, and other important
charges, he fully sustained his reputation as an able preacher and as an
efficient worker in all departments of ministerial duty.
In his social and domestic relations he was a model for the Christian
minister. His tenderness to his invalid wife through years of suffering
was one of the most beautiful traits of his noble character. And so in
the sick room of poor and rich, his presence was like a sunbeam, and his
prayers had help and healing in their utterances.
On the street he had a pleasant greeting for every acquaintance, so
that when the eye saw him, it blessed him, and when the ear heard him,
it honored him.
Strangely enough, such a life of usefulness and unselfishness was
deeply shadowed in its closing days.
Let us not stumble at these mysteries of Providence.
page 22 JOHN W.
Forty years ago there were three men, W. J. Parks, John W. Glenn and
Samuel Anthony, who were the recognized leaders of the old Georgia
Conference. In some sort they formed an ecclesiastical triumvirate whose
influence was preponderant on all important conference issues.
This was not the result of personal ambition or of any striking
intellectual brilliancy. It was due largely to their thorough
consecration to the work of the ministry and only in a less degree to
their judicial mindedness. It was a high compliment that Bishop McTyeire
paid to the memory of John W. Glenn when he regretted that he had not
known him longer and more intimately, for, said McTyeire, "he was
endowed with legal ability on church questions beyond any man of my
These illustrious Georgians, especially Parks and Glenn, had passed
the meridian of their lives when I met them at the Atlanta Conference in
1854. At that time, Walker Glenn, as he was familiarly called, was
rotund in figure, with a head of almost preternatural size, which he
carried on one side, indicating, as the phrenologists would say, a
combative disposition. The proof of this was seen in
page 23 his capacity
and fondness for doctrinal disputation. Let it not be supposed, however,
that because of this leonine look he was wanting either in graciousness
of manner or sweetness of temper. Indeed the lion, couchant, is the most
amiable of beasts. It is only when deeply aroused that he passes into
the rampant stage and fairly shakes the desert with his roar. So with
Walker Glenn. In his better moods, a child could fondle him, but when
confronted by some great error of doctrine, or when in the presence of
some great practical wrong, he was a most formidable antagonist. While
his mastery of invective was thus remarkable, he was uniformly courteous
in debate. He neither scolded nor railed, but yet, spoke with both
deliberation and emphasis. These special gifts fitted him in an eminent
degree for the work of a presiding elder. This seems to have been fully
realized by the Bishop and his cabinet. Strangely enough, he was
assigned to the charge of an important district at the very conference
that admitted him into full connection. Nor is it less noteworthy that
in this office he spent four-fifths of his active itinerant life.
He was one of the General Conference delegates as early as 1844,
having for his colleagues such men as the Pierces, father and son, Judge
Longstreet and W. J. Parks. He retained a lively remembrance of the
autocratic methods of the majority on that memorable occasion, and
page 24 to his dying
day, had the slightest fancy for the organic union of the two
Methodisms. As a conference debater he was never self-assertive, and
stuck closely to the specific matter in hand. He seems to have thought
with a famous parliamentary leader that the one aim of a speaker was to
forward the business of the house. For this reason, chiefly, he was
always listened to with great deference, and, as already suggested,
seldom failed to carry a majority with him. I can now recall but one
sermon which I heard him deliver. It was in Rome, where he was a
universal favorite. It was an able discussion of the character of
Abraham, with special reference to the sacrifice of Isaac. There was no
effort at pulpit pyrotechnics, and yet there were some portions of this
sermon which quickened the religious sensibilities of the congregation
to a most fervent glow, eliciting warm responses from the "Amen corner."
Father Glenn died at his own residence, near Cave Springs, in the
seventy-first year of his age. Bishop Haygood, who was with him much
during his last illness, wrote and published shortly after his death a
charming memoir of this master in Israel. From this we take but a single
excerpt bearing exclusively on his domestic life. Says the Bishop: "He
was unlike those public men who spend all their good humor upon society,
reserving all their moodiness and unsociableness for the fireside. He
was genial and entertaining everywhere, but the
page 25 very life and
center of the home circle. There he offered the richest libation of
cheerfulness, light and love." This tribute, based as it was on frequent
personal observation, is one of the highest he could have paid to the
memory of this venerable minister. It quite naturally recalls to the
student of Christian biography, the scenes at the English fireside of
Matthew Henry. It revives like wise the memory of the moss-grown manse
of Samuel Rutherford where he was wont to catechize the family, not
forgetting the servants or the wayfaring guest, when on one Saturday
night he unwittingly had amongst his catechumens Archbishop Usher, the
Lord Primate of Ireland.
This incident is deserving of reproduction at a time when the
household altar has greatly fallen into decay, even in Methodist
families. While this "Saint of Scotland," as Rutherford was worthily
named, was catechising his wife and children and servants, there was a
sudden and sharp rap at the door. Mr. Rutherford supposing that some
belated wanderer craved his hospitality, at once suspended the services,
opened the door, inviting the stranger in and furnishing him a chair at
the ingleside. Explaining to the visitor that they were in the midst of
their Saturday night devotions, he proceeded with his work. In his turn
he questioned his unlooked-for guest as to the number of the
commandments, who modestly replied, "eleven." Mr. Rutherford answered,
page 26 supposed
there were but ten in number. If you please, which is the eleventh?" In
an instant came the rejoinder: "A new commandment I give unto you, that
ye love one another." Of course in due time the mystery was cleared up.
The next morning the Irish Archbishop occupied Mr. Rutherford's pulpit,
and spoke charmingly on the eleventh commandment.
Mr. Rutherford often referred to this strange occurrence as one of
the gracious providences of his life.
I have hardly space left in this article for a proper etching of
Samuel Anthony, a contem porary and bosom friend of Walker Glenn.
General Toombs, who was not addicted to extravagant laudation, was
heard to say that at times Sam Anthony was the greatest orator he ever
heard in the pulpit. It was my good fortune to be much thrown with
Brother Anthony during the middle period of my active ministry, and with
less than a half dozen exceptions I could indorse the statement of that
great Tribune. In personal courage "Uncle Sam" was as brave as Marshal
page 27 Ney. He was
indeed a stranger to fear, and yet I have seen him shake like an aspen
leaf for the first five minutes of a sermon. On one occasion I ventured
to expostulate with him, because of this nervous trepidation. He replied
that it was a weakness he could not control.
Not unfrequently, however, these physical tremors were followed by
such Holy Ghost preaching as I never heard from any lips but his own.
Talk of "Hallelujah licks," a phrase of questionable propriety, but
when this great man was fully anointed, his face shone like that of St.
Stephen before the great council, and every tone and gesture and
utterance, however ungraceful and unclassical, seemed inspired.
His gift of prayer was one of his transcendant endowments, only
equaled, in my experience, by John W. Knight. In a camp-meeting altar,
or kneeling at a mourners' bench, he prayed and spoke with a power and
pathos that was oftentimes overwhelming. He had an abundance of that
charity which "thinketh no evil." His brethren, indeed, sometimes
thought that his intense sympathetic nature led him astray. But while he
had pity for the wrongdoer, no man was less disposed to compromise with
moral evil or less sparing in his denunciations of the incorrigible
Brother Anthony was often elected to the General Conference, but his
native modesty restrained
page 28 him from
taking a conspicuous part in the actings and doings of that great Senate
In the Church Conference at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1874, he had an
almost fatal illness. In my turn I was called upon to nurse him through
the night which proved to be the crisis of his disease. The next morning
the attending physicians pronounced him decidedly better. He continued
to convalesce until his health was re-established. But it is not
improbable that the Louisville attack of pneumonia was the remote cause
of his death.
ALFRED T. MANN.
Alfred T. Mann was an acknowledged leader in the old Georgia
Conference. His education was thorough, and in general literary culture
he had few equals in the Methodist ministry. His parentage was
distinguished for its old-fashioned zeal and consecration. His father,
Uncle Johnnie Mann, was one of the pillars of the "old St. John's"
church of Augusta, from the early years of the present century, and his
mother was one of the elect ladies of that Gideon's band, composed of
Sisters Waterman, McKean and Glasscock, who
page 29 never
faltered in their church allegiance. With such an ecclesiastical
pedigree, it would be strange indeed if Brother Mann had been otherwise
than "blameless in life and in official administration." My personal
acquaintance with him began at Columbus in 1855. We were, on the
occasion of his visit to that city, often thrown together in a social
way, and I learned both to love and admire him as a genial companion and
a high-toned, Christian gentleman.
It was probably in 1857 that, while stationed in Marietta, I renewed
my intercourse with Dr. Mann. He and his accomplished wife, a daughter
of Dr. Lovick Pierce, spent two or more weeks with Mrs. Mildred
Waterman, who had known Bro. Mann from his childhood. During his stay in
Marietta he twice occupied the Methodist pulpit, preaching to the
delight and edification of packed houses. A few years afterwards I heard
him deliver a sermon of great power during the first Annual Conference
held in Rome. His theme was the Divinity of Christ, which he handled
with consummate ability. Some of his leading observations I was able to
recall until recent years, but they have now dropped out of my memory.
My estimation of Dr. Mann, as a pulpit orator, is based largely on these
discourses heard when he was in his intellectual prime.
His style on these great occasions seemed to me a trifle too ornate
and his elocution a bit too
page 30 dramatic, for
the average audience. But there was no lack of spiritual fervor in his
classical utterances, nor was there in his delivery any semblance that
he was acting a part.
On the contrary, all through the period of his active ministry he was
a favorite, not less with the ruder population of the Rome district than
with the more cultured congregations to whom he ministered at Macon,
Savannah and Augusta.
For a few years he was put in charge of the leading church at Memphis
and won fresh laurels amongst the denizens of the Bluff City.
Returning to Georgia somewhat broken in health and enfeebled by
increasing years, he contented himself with less responsible positions.
I had him but once as a presiding elder, and found him dignified and
discreet in his administration, and both in and out of the pulpit an
ecclesiastical functionary of rare ability and strict personal
integrity. He survived to a green old age and at last, "leaving no blot
on his name," joined the great majority on the other shore.
page 31 EDWARD H.
Edward H. Myers was a contemporary and bosom friend of Dr. Mann. If I
mistake not they were fellow collegians at Randolph-Macon College in the
old days of President Garland. At any rate, they were not unlike in
their personal tastes, nor in their mental make-up.
Dr. Myers was most widely known by his sixteen years editorship of
the Southern Christian Advocate, and his subsequent presidency of the
Wesleyan Female College. He filled both these responsible positions with
credit to himself and with great profit to the church.
As an editorial writer he compared favorably with his distinguished
predecessors, Bishop Wightman and Dr. T. O. Summers. Whilst he was
neither so learned as Summers, nor so brilliant as Wightman, he was
quite the equal of either or both of them in real journalistic ability.
As an educator, Brother Myers was deserving of high praise. Indeed,
no president of the Wesleyan, from Bishop Pierce down ward, did more for
the discipline of that institution and to improve its standard of
As already intimated, his labors in these two great departments of
church work brought him fame, and what is better still, secured him the
page 32 sincere
respect and cordial admiration of his brethren throughout the boundaries
of connectional Methodism. As respects his pulpit work, it was of such
merit as to place him in the front rank of the Georgia ministry. This,
not so much because of his oratory, as on account of his clear cut
conception of Gospel truth, which he was careful to apply and enforce
with great fidelity. This holds good especially of the later years of
his ministry, when, disconnected with the worry of the editorial sanctum
and the wearisome humdrum of the recitation room, he seemed to acquire
fresh inspiration for his ministerial work. Thenceforth his preaching
was emphatic and profoundly impressive. Sinners were often cut to the
heart and believers seemed to get more than a taste of the grapes of
The crowning success of his life was his Savannah pastorate, where he
was in great favor with the McIntyres, the Heidts, the Walkers, the
Millers, and others who had long been leaders in the Methodist circles
of the Forest city.
In 1876, being infirm in health, he went North for a month's
recreation. Hearing, however, that the yellow fever had become epidemic,
and some of his own parishioners were amongst the sufferers, he
abandoned his summer vacation and returned to the city against the
protest of his official members. He entered at once on the work of
visitation amongst the sick and dying, and
page 33 contracting
the disease, became a victim of that terrible epidemic. Such heroism
well deserves to be perpetuated in church history.
It would be inexcusable to omit all reference to the services of Dr.
Myers in connection with the General Conference and the Cape May
commission. In both positions he won no little distinction as a
judicious and safe counsellor and legislator.
W. H. POTTER--THE PRINCELY MISSIONARY.
The life of Dr. Weyman H. Potter was comparatively quiet and
unobtrusive, but it has left a broad and strange influence that will
abide and work its results in the history of the world. He was a master
in many circles, and in them all his presence was felt by a sense of
sanctification and safety, and his words were ever honored as the words
As we usually estimate the powers of thinking, Dr. Potter was often
considered a slow thinker; but when we understand how he thought the
marvel is that he thought so rapidly. His mind was a comprehensive one
in the true sense; grasping
page 34 all, or more
nearly all than is usual, that pertained directly or indirectly to the
question at issue. Many times I have looked into his face as he was
revolving a question, and noted the signs of intense mental action in
the effort to reach the truth in its fullness. To many of his hearers,
too, the first parts of his discourses were often heavy and tedious. But
to those who followed him from the beginning there was always a rich
reward not to be had from the more brilliant but surface discourses of
the day. He had a clear appreciation of the range of questions and the
many elements that entered into the truth in regard to them. Because of
this, time was necessary to bring these elements into their proper
relation and to consider their bearing on each other and on the point
Hence while he may have appeared to be slow, there was compensation
in the end, in that his opinions were generally correct, and his
presentation of themes was rich in the material gathered along the way
and in the triumphant conclusions to which he lead.
Something of the elements of the Iron Duke comes to the mind of one
who was well acquainted with Dr. Potter as he contemplated the trend of
his character and life. He was by no means perfect, but looking at his
life as we mortals have the right to look, the virtues of this man rise through and above his imperfections like a splendid
page 35 temple amid
the rubbish that was left from its structure. His virtues were great in
themselves but taken together, blended and fitted into each other, they
made for him a character of iron integrity and a life of more than
ordinary symmetry and power.
But it was in the career of a missionary that the life of Dr. Potter
shone most conspicuously. He realized more fully than most men that he
and all others had a divine commission to accomplish in this world and
in every department of duty that commission seemed to be before him. The
great command--"Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel"--seemed
to have taken hold on him and possessed him wholly, and to have given
shape and direction to all of his doings. He gave intelligent and
earnest consideration to the business and incidental details of the
church, because he regarded them as a part of the subordinate machinery
that was to work out the divine commission and carry the gospel to all
The great thought that seemed to consume his whole being, as he grew
older, was to present the advantages that we had for spreading the
kingdom of God, and to arouse the church to an appreciation of its high
calling in the royal mission of sending the gospel of salvation to all
nations. When the Master went away and said, "Occupy till I come," he
left to humanity an enterprise, the highest that is known to man, and as
royal in its
page 36 dignity as
the eternal kingdom itself. It is the enterprise to lift every head with
hope and inspire every heart with the desire for the true life. No man
can ever be himself or enter upon his high estate until he hears that
command and turns his life, with some earnestness and energy, to its
elevating and royal ends. No church can ever attain to the dignity and
character of a true church in any degree, unless there is in it some
lively appreciation of the scope of meaning in this command as it
reaches out after the fallen world and impels the heart in that
direction. Dr. Potter manifested his princely nature by entering into
this great truth and trying to appropriate its divine virtue to his own
life and to get all others to do the same.
For many years before his death, he saw the magnitude of the gospel
work; he saw the royal mission of the church and its human and divine
fitness for that mission; he accepted the promise of God for blessings
on the cause, he realized the beauty and glory of the final triumph; and
he made the great commission the theme, the sweet and soul-inspiring
song of his life. No one could doubt that who heard the broad,
comprehensive, fervid discourses which he delivered during his latter
years, and the triumphant tone that ran through them all. Those
discourses were like mighty torrents, sweeping toward the gates of God's
kingdom and carrying every hearer with
page 37 them, while
music from the heavenly city was falling on their ears all the time.
They were the soul-stirring shouts of a great general, with the banner
of victory in his hand, trying to lead a hesitating army to sure and
His life was one of continuous study and training for the royal ends
before him; but when he entered upon the duties of missionary secretary,
he seemed more than ever to be the prince in God's kingdom to which his
great soul had all along been tending. It was then that he entered with
all of his accumulated energies into the spirit of the mission of the
Son of God, the Saviour of the world. It was then that he grasped with
confidence the scepter and ascended the throne of the kingdom to which
he, with all of God's children, was called in carrying on the government
of life and salvation, while Christ, the great King, was gone away. It
was then that more fully than ever he became a prince among men, a
prince in Israel, a princely missionary in the great Church of God.
page 38 G. J. PEARCE.
G. J. Pearce was one of the notable men of the Georgia Conference
when I was received on trial in the class of 1854. From our first
acquaintance we were friends, and our friendship was never interrupted
for a single moment, but deepened as the years rolled by. I shall never
forget his tender sympathy when I lay a physical wreck at Trinity
parsonage nearly twenty years ago. His own health, never vigorous, was
at the time badly shattered, but, from time to time, he visited my
parsonage home and greatly refreshed me with the sunlight of his
presence and conversation. On these occasions his godly counsel and his
fervent prayers were a benediction to my entire household.
In a former number of the series of biographic etchings, we spoke of
Jesse Boring as the Salvator Rosa of the Georgia pulpit, because of his
lurid word painting of the judgment scene and of the endless doom of the
wicked. In some respects Jeff Pearce might be likened to Sidney Smith of
the English pulpit. Without the scholarship of that eminent divine he
had, in no small degree, the caustic wit and the metaphysical brain
which distinguished the gifted author of the Peter Plymley Letters.
We have heard him on more than one occasion when he preached not with
gush, but with a chastened enthusiasm that touched every heart, and yet,
in a twinkling, there were flashes of wit that well-nigh convulsed his
Later on, his metaphysical gifts were brought into exercise in the
analysis of some grave problem of Christian philosophy, so as to command
the admiration of every thoughtful listener. Some of the older preachers
like Cotter, Rush, Adams, Hinton and McGhee, well remember his spirited
controversy with McFerrin during the Atlanta session of 1861. Brother
Pearce resented in a very emphatic way, the great Tennesseean's
arraignment of the Georgia Conference for its alleged disloyalty to the
Southern Publishing House. I have seldom witnessed on the Conference
floor such a lively discussion as followed. The breach threatened to be
serious, but after mutual explanation, was healed by a generous
indorsement of the Nashville House. Brother Pearce struggled for many
years of his adult life with a throat trouble which unfitted him
somewhat for the constant stress of the pastorate. For this reason
mainly he served for a long term as agent of the American Bible Society.
In this capacity he won the cordial approbation of the managers of that
great charity, and was retired from his position at his own urgent
request. Subsequently he was elected to the presidency of
page 40 the LaGrange
Female College, and did much to elevate its standard of scholarship.
While serving these two institutions he traveled widely and preached
with much success from Lookout to Tybee.
These evangelistic labors were followed in some communities by
extensive revivals, which greatly strengthened the church. Such arduous
labors were at times very exhaustive to a man who was a sufferer from
invalidism, nor is there room to doubt that they contributed to the
ultimate collapse. But I must say that his ill-advised transfer to the
South Georgia Conference, with its disappointments, had a most injurious
effect on his nervous system. I urged him not to make the change, but
other counsels prevailed. At any rate, it proved a pivotal period in his
life. From that time forward his health steadily declined, and it was
evident to his most intimate friends that there was but slight hope of
He still worked as best he could in the Master's vineyard, now and
then exhibiting the old-time fervor, with an occasional glimpse of his
former intellectual power. In his last days he was sustained by a
steadfast faith, and soothed by the sweet ministries of a dearly loved
When at last the end came, his ransomed spirit went sweeping through
the gates amidst the harpings and hallelujahs of the glorified.
page 41 WILLIAM
I am quite sure it was in the summer of 1839 that while a boy
attending the popular Harris county camp-meeting, I first heard "Uncle
Billy Arnold" of the old Georgia Conference. As I recall him, he was of
imposing presence, the impersonation of neatness, and distinguished for
a suavity of manner that won the hearts of all who came in contact with
him. He seemed a born versifier; so much so indeed that if he had been
reared in Italy he would have been reckoned an improvisator.
His sermons were interspersed with snatches of Wesleyan hymns and
with other verses which he produced upon the spur of the moment, greatly
to the delight of his congregations. Some of these verses of his own
coinage would have pleased the critical taste of Isaac Watts or Philip
Nor was he less skillful in the use of a rhetoric that roused the
religious sensibilities and made him a favorite amongst all classes of
Added to this was a glow of deep personal piety that constituted him
one of the most effective revivalists amongst his contemporaries. His
son, Rev. Miles W. Arnold, still in the flesh, and his late grandson,
Rev. Willie Arnold, both inherited some of these special gifts of their
illustrious ancestor. While stationed in Milledgeville in 1860,
page 42 I was hoping
to have him with me every third Sunday in the month, but he sickened and
died almost at the beginning of my pastorate, so that I missed his
valuable help. Father Arnold has left few written memorials of his
pulpit work, but all through Middle Georgia there still linger
traditions of his great moral worth, and of his ministerial usefulness.
His wide-spread popularity as a preacher of funeral discourses was a
striking feature of his ministry. A few of the older citizens, who heard
him at sundry times on these sad occasions, testify that in this respect
he was without a peer in his generation.
After a life of spotless integrity, he long ago entered a world where
"the inhabitants shall never say, I am sick." Where "no mourners go
about the streets" of that golden city, whose walls are salvation and
whose gates are praise.
REV. WM. J. PARKS.
My first glimpse of "Uncle Billy Parks" was in 1833, the year of the
great meteoric shower, the like of which will not probably be seen for
another hundred years. He was, at the time, a resident of Franklin
county and came to Salem, Clark
page 43 county, to
place his son, Harwell H., in the village academy, of which my father
was the widely-known rector. Harwell was, as I remember him, a quiet,
studious boy, but tough of muscle, as some of us learned by a practical
test at boxing and wrestling.
Brother Parks was then the oracle of the mountaineers of
North-eastern Georgia, over whom he wielded an influence unequaled by
any of his early contemporaries. He was, neither by taste nor training,
a society man--was ungainly almost to awkwardness in his manner; and yet
he had all the instincts of a gentleman, and a politeness that would
have done no discredit to Chesterfield.
Like most of his ministerial contemporaries, he entered the
conference with little educational outfit beyond a smattering of
grammar, geography and arithmetic. But he had in him a fixed purpose to
improve himself by study, as far as was compatible with large circuits
and hard horse-back travel. He moreover resolved to make himself
familiar with the sacred Scriptures and with the Discipline of the
church. In these respects he was eminently
successful; indeed, far more so than many who have been trained in our
later theological seminaries. In a few years his profiting was apparent
to his brethren of the ministry and the laity, who came to regard him as
"mighty in the Scriptures," but without that other gift of
Apollos--eloquence of speech.
If we were to attempt a strict analysis of his mental make-up, we
should say that his perceptive faculties were largely in excess of his
reflective powers. All through his ministry, he was noted for his
intense practicalness. He loved truth in the concrete better than in the
abstract, and purposely avoided that theological hair-splitting"
That could divide
A hair 'twixt North and North-west side.
Brother Parks was, however, like most of the great Methodist leaders
in that controversial period, a skillful disputant. In proof of this we
have a small volume which he wrote on "Apostasy," which played havoc
with the Calvinistic dogma of "Final Perseverance." It is now probably
out of print, but we enjoyed and profited by the reading of it in our
youthful days. The Scriptural argument, and the style as well, ought to
have perpetuated it until the close of the century.
His personal influence as before intimated in these series, had great
weight with the annual conference.
He had, besides other qualifications for leadership, a faculty of
close observation which made his estimate of men almost infallible. He
was a rough-hewn, stern-featured man, with a brow like a craggy mountain
cliff, which gave him at times the appearance of an austere man. Never
was there a greater misapprehension, for back of this there
page 45 lay a kindly
heart and a large generosity. Several times, especially when he was
representing Emory College, I had him as a welcome guest at my own
fireside. Although my senior by many years, I found him a most
companionable spirit, and quite a favorite with my wife and children.
The last time I saw this venerable servant of God, was at his delightful
home in Oxford. I was on that occasion, a member of the board of
visitors to that excellent institution, and on Sabbath night took tea
with Brother Parks and his family. I saw at a glance that his was a
well-ordered household, and that he had, in a good degree, the Christian
virtue of hospitality. Soon after the evening devotions, which were
never omitted, I was compelled to withdraw to meet a pulpit engagement
at the village church. He walked with me to the door, and expressed his
deep regret that because of his feeble health he would be unable to hear
the sermon. If possible, I was more than ever charmed by the gentleness
of his spirit, and the graciousness of his manner. He was evidently on
the verge of heaven, and I could almost see the aureole resting on his
thin, white locks.
Only a little while and the veteran was "numbered with the saints in
If I wanted to characterize the preaching of this grand man, I would
say in a few words, that while in his pulpit ministrations there was the
absence of the "genius of gesture" and all the
page 46 rodomontade
that phrase implies, there was a well-defined individuality which made
him a most striking figure in any religious assembly.
REV. JAMES B. JACKSON.
I must of necessity greatly condense what I shall have to say of
another dear friend and very able minister. I refer to the Rev. James B.
Jackson, who may be fitly styled a diamond in the rough.
My acquaintance with him began and almost ended with my two years
pastorate in the thriving and delightful little city of Americus.
Brother Jackson was my presiding elder, and never was there the
slightest want of brotherly affection between us. He seemed devoted to
me and I am quite sure I loved him as though he had been my twin
brother. He was as shrinking as a country girl and utterly void of
self-assertion. He was fully persuaded that a majority of his preachers
were his superiors in the pulpit, yet not one of them was his equal as a
theologian or logician. In the graces of true oratory he did not excel,
but in solid sense and powerful reasoning I have rarely in earlier or
later times seen his peer.
He frequently spoke to me of the disadvantages under which he labored
in the outset of his career. He was full seventeen years of age when he
entered a log school-house, I believe in Jackson county, armed with
Webster's spelling book. But from the start his progress was rapid and
continuous. At his first circuit appointment he broke down from sheer
timidity, and would have retired from the work if the older brethren had
not urged him forward. The scene as he described it to me when he stood
in the pulpit at this appointment, and, with tears, entreated some
brother to "take the books" as he could not preach, was exceedingly
pathetic. But such was his rapid advancement that before the close of
the year the best and wisest of his parishioners were clamorous for his re-appointment.
Brother Jackson had no gift of exhortation, and was consequently
lacking greatly in evangelistic force. Very few apparently were brought
into the church by his personal ministry, and yet I doubt not that he
turned many to righteousness in his quiet, unpretentious way. At
Cuthbert and Lumpkin, where he was stationed, he had a host of admirers,
and all through South-western Georgia and Florida he was esteemed as one
of the ablest presiding elders even known in all that vast stretch of
In the Apostolic Church he would have ranked high as a pulpit
teacher, and with a better educational
page 48 equipment he
would have graced the chair of dogmatic theology at Princeton or
Vanderbilt. His death was sudden and in some of its aspects unspeakably
sad. It was caused by a railroad accident as he was returning from a
district appointment where he had preached with great power. It is with
me a pleasant anticipation, that I shall one day meet this dear friend
and honored brother in some quiet nook or on some sunny slope of the
heavenly Canaan. Long ago he has greeted Sam Anthony and Lovick Pierce,
two of his most cherished friends, amidst the fellow-ship of the
REV. JOHN P. DUNCAN.
My impression is that John P. Duncan was a native of Pennsylvania and
that he came South to engage in teaching. He was fairly educated, and
throughout his life was a reader of the lighter English and American
He had great fondness for poetry, Robert Burns being his favorite and
then John Milton, Edward Young, Alexander Pope and others, very much in
the order named. He was not less wedded to vocal music, and some of his
page 49 the hymns of
Burns and Tom Moore would have done honor to a professional. His
knowledge of the Wesleyan hymns was thorough, nor less so his
acquaintance with camp-meeting melodies and revival songs. He had a
sweetness of voice whether in song or sermon which I have seldom known
equalled. He entered the conference when Bishop Pierce was still an
under-graduate, and for long years they loved each other as did David
and Jonathan. In his earlier ministry Brother Duncan was a revivalist of
great distinction. His converts on a circuit or station were numbered
not by scores but by hundreds. His gifts of song, exhortation and prayer
were inimitable. As a sermonizer he was as little successful as he was
when in the presiding eldership, and yet I have met men of average
intelligence who regarded him as the equal if not the superior of the
best preachers amongst his contemporaries. When in the vigor of middle
age he was immensely popular as a pastor. Like Barnabas he was a son of
consolation. In the sick room, on a funeral occasion, and wherever
aching hearts were to be soothed and strengthened he was in his right
This faculty may have been a source of weakness to him as an
expositor of the Holy Scriptures. And yet he knew the Bible, at least
its verbiage, from lid to lid and quoted it with marvelous facility and
accuracy. He only lacked greater power for consecutive thinking and
page 50 to have
attained for himself a foremost place in the Methodist ministry. During
my pastorate at Americus, his wife and children were in my charge and I
occasionally sat at his fireside and sometimes shared his bountiful
In his later years he was the subject of sore affliction, his family
dead or scattered, his property consumed, his eye-sight well-nigh
destroyed, and he an itinerant lecturer, greatly admired, but poorly
These mutations of worldly fortune did not, however, sour his
disposition or shake his steadfast trust in God. Somewhere in Alabama he
suddenly passed away and joined the vast multitude of whom it is so
touchingly said, "These are they that have come out of great
Thousands still live who were brought to Christ through his
exceptionally effective ministry.
As for myself, in looking back upon our twoscore years of delightful
intimacy, I am inclined to inscribe on his grave stone this pious wish,
which other thousands would gladly echo:"
Green be the turf above thee,
Friend of my better days.
page 51 JOHN W.
When a boy I sojourned for a time with an uncle in McDonough,
Georgia. This uncle was a staunch Methodist with a warm side for the
Presbyterians because his excellent wife was a member of that communion.
At the time of my stay in his household, John W. Yarbrough was in charge
of the McDonough circuit, and he had no firmer friend than "Uncle Billy
White." Brother Yarbrough was then, as ever afterwards, an aggressive
preacher, not afraid to denounce in fitting terms the drink habit, the
dance room, the horse races and other evil practices condemned by the
General Rules of the church. In so doing he provoked no little
opposition from the rude boys of the community. For a season he had
rough sailing, but my remembrance is that his plain preaching, as often
happens, was followed by a gracious revival, the results of which are
still felt and seen in that Middle Georgia circuit.
It was quite a number of years before I again met him as my presiding
elder on the Atlanta district in 1861. In the meantime he had grown gray
in the Master's service, and had become a preacher of very considerable
prominence in the conference. He was then at his best in the pulpit, and
was a favorite with all classes, in town and country.
Brother Yarbrough had enough Irish blood in his veins to make him a
commanding orator in any presence.
I recall an illustration of this fact in connection with a visit of
William L. Yancey to Atlanta during this eventful war period. Col. Ben
C. Yancey and his wife had been received into the membership of Wesley
Chapel during the summer of 1861, and were regular attendants on its
ministry. Quite naturally the distinguished Alabamian accompanied them
to church. On one of these occasions the services were conducted by the
presiding elder. Bro. Yarbrough remarked afterwards that he was not
aware of Mr. Yancey's presence, otherwise he would have been greatly
embarassed. He preached, however, one of his ablest sermons, based on
Abraham's intercession for Sodom. The whole congregation was greatly
delighted, and after the benediction Mr. Yancey came forward seeking to
be made acquainted with the preacher, and thanked him most heartily for
his very able discourse. This was no small compliment, coming from one
of the most gifted orators of the South.
Brother Yarbrough was not a scholar in the technical sense of that
term, but his reading had been wide in its range, and this was
especially true of the standard theological writers of Methodism.
There was, in most of his preaching, a blending of humor and pathos
that rarely failed to please his rustic audiences and those he was most
frequently brought in contact with, as his conference appointments were
exclusively on circuits and districts.
The last months of his life were spent in suffering from a malignant
cancer. But he bore his afflictions with true Christian fortitude and
died in peace in the presence of his devoted family.
WM. M. CRUMLEY.
William M. Crumley, from want of early educational training, started
at the bottom round of the ministerial ladder. And yet, by patient
study, he became one of the ablest preachers of the Old Georgia
When I was associated with Dr. Eustace W. Speer as junior preacher at
Columbus in 1835, Brother C. came on a visit to his former parishioners of that Methodist strong-hold. On the
following Sabbath he occupied the pulpit of the present St. Luke's
church, to the delight of a vast congregation. He was slowly rallying
from an attack of yellow fever, from which he
page 54 suffered
during the previous autumn while pastor of Trinity church, Savannah.
His sermon very properly related to his pastoral experiences in the
sick room during the prevalence of that terrible pestilence. Not the
least of Brother Crumley's pulpit gifts was a faculty of delineation
that was strikingly graphic in its style.
His description of the death scene of his colleague, Rev. Joshua
Payne, a promising and consecrated young minister, melted the audience
His own experience when he seemed nearing the spirit world, followed
as it was by a tranced condition, during which the watchers by his
bedside believed him dead, was thrillingly eloquent.
Indeed, his experience was almost identical with that of Mr. Tennant,
of New Jersey, a Presbyterian divine of the last century, except that it
was of much shorter duration.
Brother Crumley, on two or more occasions, described to me the ebb of
the life-current until he was hovering on the very border of the better
land. Meanwhile, his sensations were delightful beyond expression. He
was conscious when the crisis was past and he began to return to life.
At no period of his eminently useful life did Brother Crumley do
better ministerial work than while he was on duty as chaplain of the
Georgia Hospital at Richmond, Virginia, during the late war. His
sympathetic nature, his ripe, religious
page 55 experience,
his gentleness of manner, his persuasive style of preaching, and his
power in prayer all contributed to fit him for the arduous work to which
he was assigned. Probably hundreds of the boys in gray were brought to
Christ through his ministry in the wards of the hospital. He
accomplished a vast amount of good likewise by visiting the battlefields
and in preaching, as he had opportunity, to the soldiers in camp. These
rough experiences in Virginia may have helped greatly to shorten the
term of his effective ministry. It was obvious to his friends that after
the war his old-time vigor had somewhat abated. A few years later he
began to meditate on the propriety of retiring from conference work be
cause of his physical disability. He shared in a measure the life-long
disinclination of Dr. Pierce to go upon the superannuated list. Both of
these venerable men preferred location to superannuation. Dr. Pierce,
although for many years virtually superannuated, was, at his own urgent
request, kept on the effective list. Brother Crumley, however, yielded
gracefully to the inevitable, and for a number of years was a
superannuate; but, according to his own desire, never received an
allowance, as he had an ample estate for his own support. These amiable
idiosyncracies were creditable to both, and are mentioned simply as
matters of history.
For some years before his ascension he was a complete wreck,
resulting from paralysis. All through this sad period of suffering he
bore himself with great humility, much beloved by thousands of his
friends and warmly cherished by his devoted wife and children.
One of the most touching scenes I ever witnessed was a visit he made
to the First Baptist Church in Atlanta that he might see and hear Mr.
Moody, the great evangelist. He was carried into the church by the
assistance of his friends, and was held up in their arms that he might
see the distinguished speaker. It was possibly his last appearance in
the sanctuary, where in the days of his strength, he had so often
preached with overwhelming power. It struck me as a fitting close to a
life of spotless purity and remarkable usefulness.
JOSIAH LEWIS, JR.
Josiah Lewis, Jr., was a youth of mark and likelihood from the day of
Not a few of his wisest friends predicted for him a brilliant career,
which unhappily was cut short by a premature death. Whether occupying
page 57 the
professor's chair or the pulpit he was evidently a man of superior gifts
and of large resources. As chancellor of the Southern University he
proved himself a man of excellent administrative ability, enjoying the
esteem and confidence of the faculty, and of the board of trustees.
Circumstances which he could not control led to his resignation, and to
his entrance on the pastoral work. For three years he had charge of the
church and congregation of LaGrange, where he won golden opinions from
all the Christian denominations. His health, which had been declining
for several years, retired him from the active ministry to his own
discomfort, and to the regret of the whole conference.
I heard him preach but two sermons, both of which were of a high
order indicative of scholarship and of thorough consecration to the
service of the gospel.
He had both intellectual and moral integrity. In some instances these
qualities are disjoined, and in all such cases there is the lack of a
well rounded character. Like his venerable father, Josiah Lewis, Sr., he
had a moral courage that never cowered in the face of criticism or
A few weeks before his death I spent an hour in conversation with him
at the old homestead in the vicinity of Sparta. He had but little
expectation of recovery from the sickness that was slowly
page 58 but steadily
sapping the foundations of his life, but his resignation to the divine
will was perfect.
Before separating we joined in prayer at the home altar, and at the
close of our interview he spoke of the heavenly rest which awaited him,
while tears of gladness sparkled in his eyes.
It is no fulsome praise to say that, take him all in all, the
conference has seldom had his superior on its roll of honored and
ROBERT WARREN DIXON.
Robert Warren Dixon was admitted into the conference in December,
1856. His first appointment was the Hamilton circuit, and his last the
Thomasville district. During the intervening years he served several of
the best circuits and stations, and was very highly esteemed, both in
the pulpit and pastorate.
While he was not eminent for intellectual gifts, he was an all-round
man whose usefulness exceeded a large number who were more widely known
and more liberally applauded. He was studious in his habits, and there
is little doubt but that too much reading by lamplight brought the eye
trouble that ended in his ministerial disqualification.
page 59 My
association with Bro. Dixon was limited, but I saw and heard enough of
him to admire his excellent character.
Col. Herbert Felder, of Cuthbert, has made this record of him which
deserves to be perpetuated. This distinguished jurist characterizes him
in the words following: "A man of study and research in all that
pertains to true, Christian philosophy, of masterly intellect and
commanding eloquence, mature judgment and mild but unyielding decision.
His public and private life without reproach and in harmony with his
W. D. MARTIN.
Rev. W. D. Martin was in charge of the Harris circuit during the
period of my adolescence. I was frequently drawn to the church by his
ministry, and while I was not religiously impressed by his preaching, I
greatly enjoyed his original manner of presenting and enforcing the
doctrines of Methodism.
My recollection is that he was associated in the work of the circuit
with Rev. Ben Clark, who was possibly a reformed inebriate, certainly
one of a class whom Bunyan was wont to call a "Jerusalem
page 60 sinner." They
were good yoke-fellows in the ministry, but their pulpit methods were
quite dissimilar. Brother Martin was educated to an extent not usual
with the Methodist clergy of fifty years ago. Neither in garb nor manner
was he a typical preacher of the old school, but he was not wanting in
evangelistic fervor nor in genuine humility.
On the other hand, "Uncle Ben," as he was affectionately styled, was
decidedly illiterate, but had a boundless zeal, a volume of voice only
equalled by that most excellent man and useful preacher, Wesley P.
"Uncle Ben" had no conception of a syllogism, but he had an
experience that was worth more than logic in moving the masses of a
backwoods congregation. This personal experience, which he knew how to
relate with telling effect, made his congregations both laugh and cry, a
result that I could not then well understand. But, blessed be God, this
spiritual phenomenon is no longer a mystery.
But I find myself drifting away from the matter in hand. Coming back
to Brother Martin, we remember to have met him and to have had much
pleasant intercourse with him when we were both serving on the Board of
Trustees of the LaGrange Female College. He was a man of fine, practical
sense, and at one of the annual meetings of the board, we co-operated in
defeating an effort to
page 61 restrict the
mathematical course of the college to arithmetic, with a smattering of
algebra and geometry.
It may have been at this time that I took tea with him at the
hospitable home of Uncle George Heard, the father of Rev. Peter Heard
and of Mrs. James M. Beall.
Brother Martin was, through much of his life, a great sufferer from
nervous debility. This affliction compelled his retirement from the
itinerant ministry. He died may years ago on his farm near Greenville,
Georgia. His widow still lingers, waiting the call of the Master. Her
son, who has many of his father's traits and accomplishments, is at the
old homestead, and is the stay of his aged mother.
JACKSON P. TURNER.
One of the most gifted and devotedly pious ministers of his day was
Jackson P. Turner. I have no vivid recollection of his preaching, except
possibly, his second year in the ministry. He was reared, like many of
our best preachers, in Northeastern Georgia, and despite his lack of
early educational advantages, he became a man of reputable
page 62 scholarship.
I have been told that while he was an industrious student, yet he
learned seemingly by intuition.
His speaking gifts were of a high order, but more solid than showy.
With these pulpit endowments, he combined an administrative ability
which made him a most efficient and popular presiding elder.
The late Rev. James B. Jackson, who was himself a capable and
conscientious critic, regarded him as one of the great lights of the
conference. He often spoke of him to me as next in rank to Billy Parks
and Walker Glenn as an ecclesiastical jurist. He thought that but for
his early death he might have reached the highest position in the
church. I never heard him preach after his second year in the
conference, but even then he gave promise of great excellence as a
preacher. I have understood that he exhibited a fondness for controversy
that discounted him in some degree, but on what special lines I am not
definitely informed. It was nothing, however, which affected his
ministerial standing or general acceptability.
page 63 W. H. EVANS.
W. H. Evans belonged to a somewhat later period in the conference. He
was less widely known than his more distinguished brother, James E.
Evans, but was himself a man of excellent gifts. I came but little in
contact with him in my early ministry, but was well acquainted with his
reputation as an indefatigable worker in planting and building churches.
Many years ago Atlanta was, for a time, the field of his ministry, where
he won all hearts by his gentleness and goodness. Evans' Chapel, since
called Walker Street church, was named for him. While engaged in
founding that church, he was greatly assisted by Rev. Lewis Lawshe, one
of the most enterprising and esteemed local preachers known in the
history of Atlanta Methodism.
My most intimate acquaintance with Brother Evans was when he was
presiding elder of the LaGrange district. While he was serving on that
district, I was called to preach the commencement sermon at the LaGrange
Female College. Brother Evans held the reins, and against my vigorous
protest, he required me to conduct both preaching services and to fill
an afternoon appointment at which that grand man, Bishop Andrew, was to
have officiated. I was struck with his
page 64 good-humored
persistence, and had finally to succumb. I said to him that he was a
born ruler, with a bit of Napoleonism in his make-up.
During the next two or three days of the commencement exercises I
very much enjoyed his genial fellowship. Strangely enough, I never heard
one of his sermons which, I was informed, were uniformly edifying and
From that time onward our paths seldom crossed, and I only met him at
the sessions of the Annual Conference. He was then in vigorous health
and bade fair to attain a serene old age. I am informed, however, that
not many years thereafter his physical strength commenced to wane, and
that, in Oxford, he died suddenly, but of a lingering disease, and was
buried at Oxford, Georgia.
He was a lovable man in all the relations of life, and his death was
much regretted by thousands of our best people of all denominations.
W. A. FLORENCE.
When I first knew William A. Florence he was the Principal of a
flourishing academy at McDonough, Georgia. He was then in the local
ranks and a preacher of considerable popularity in the village. Some
years afterwards, perhaps in 1844, he entered the conference and for a
long term of years was quite effective as an itinerant.
Few men in the conference were his superiors in Biblical knowledge or
general information. A smaller number still were better qualified to
discuss the distinctive tenets and usages of Methodism or, when occasion
demanded, to deal sledge hammer blowsat the dogmas of Calvinism. This
was all done, however, in good temper and rarely offended those who
differed with him. Indeed, he possessed beyond most men the "ornament of
a meek and quiet spirit," and if he had enemies they were ashamed to
avow it. No member of the conference kept a closer watch on the
proceedings of the annual session, and yet strangely enough he never
seemed to understand the drift of the discussion or the precise status
of the business in hand. His mistakes were sometimes ludicrous. He was
clearly not fitted for the work of a parliamentary leader, and yet, like
some others we have known, he was frequently on the floor. But he had
the grace and good sense to yield when some shrewder parliamentarian
knocked him out of the arena by a good-natured witticism.
In the pulpit, where no reply was allowed, he spoke consecutively,
compactly, and, as we have already intimated, with pith and power.
Brother Florence, in the closing years of his pilgrimage, became more
and more Christlike in his personal bearing in the church and in the
community. In 1876, at the ripe age of seventy-two, he died in great
peace at Social Circle.
page 66 MILLER H.
Miller H. White was a member of the conference for more than a full
half century. From the beginning of his ministry he exhibited a
preaching gift that was unusual and that gave promise of no little
distinction. During this time he occupied several prominent positions.
But disease of a bronchial sort arrested him almost at the threshold of
his maturer life, and he ceased to be effective for quite a number of
years. During this interval he became highly useful and even successful
as a medical practitioner, at the same time serving, as he had strength
enough, the churches where he resided. Several years, however, before
his death, he so far recovered his health that he was made effective.
It was in this last period that I became best acquainted with him,
and on two occasions traveled with him around his circuit, alternating
with him in the work. I learned to love him much because of his
brotherly kindness. I saw in these years the proofs of his ministerial
ability. There was no little in his style to remind one of Bishop Pierce
in his latter days. Indeed, in tone and gesture, and even facial
expression, Dr. White might have almost passed for a twin brother of the
great bishop. I have sometimes thought that
page 67 his intense
admiration for the bishop, and his lifelong intimacy with him, may have
influenced him to imbibe, unconsciously to himself, somewhat of the
Dr. White, when I last saw him, began to show signs of failing
health, and yet he lingered for a while in the borderland, having
reached the advanced age of nearly fourscore years at his death in 1891,
in Grantville, Ga.
JOHN COLLINSWORTH AND LEWIS H.
John Collinsworth and Lewis H. Myers were recognized leaders in the
old South Carolina Conference, but their ministry was almost exclusively
in Georgia. Both of them were sticklers for the old time usages of
Methodism, and they stood squarely and
unflinchingly for the enforcement of its discipline. Myers was
the abler man of the two, and for many years was a delegate to the
General Conference, holding a conspicuous rank in the committee on
Episcopacy. As Collinsworth opposed the brass buttons of George Pierce,
so did Father Myers protest against the premature marriage of James O.
The tribe of these veterans is now extinct. Allen Turner was the last
representative of this class, and made his last conference fight on
Alfred T. Mann for shaving on Sunday--at the conference of 1854.
Uncle Allen was nonplussed when Capers, the presiding bishop, stated
that the English Wesleyans were nearly all in the same condemnation.
Thereupon Uncle Allen groaned audibly, which performance brought a smile
to the face of Sam Anthony, and even Uncle Billy Parks relaxed the
muscles of his usually stern visage.
Let us not cease to revere the memories of these fathers in Israel,
who, after all, were giants in the earlier years of the present century.
A little more of their conservatism in this progressive age might
save the Church from evils that disturb its peace and menace its
JOHN M. BONNELL.
John M. Bonnell was a handsome and a scholarly young Pennsylvanian,
who joined the conference in 1846.
He speedily became quite a favorite with the brethren of the ministry
While his pulpit gifts were much above the average, he soon developed
an educational capacity that made it desirable that the Church should
have his service in that direction.
No man, indeed, of that period, contributed more to organize public
sentiment in favor of the higher education throughout the state.
He had thoroughly mastered the theory of pedagogies before the word
itself had come into popular use, and when as yet its signification, and
still less its full import, was comprehended by professional teachers.
He contributed a paper of great merit to Scott's Monthly Magazine on the
study of English Grammar, which attracted much attention.
He had, in a striking degree, an analytical mind, as shown in all his
published discussions of the methods of teaching.
His best work as a teacher was done in the presidency of the Wesleyan
Female College, and he has left his impress on that noble institution,
whose work for a half century has been a benefaction to Southern
Dr. Bonnell, never in vigorous health, died in 1873, being literally
exhausted by his abundant labors in behalf of education.
He was a high-toned and sweet-spirited Christian gentleman, whose
great worth will be better appreciated as the years go by.
page 70 WESLEY P.
Wesley P. Pledger was my conference classmate, and for that reason,
in part, I watched his ministerial career with deep interest, and toward
its close with painful solicitude. He had the "genius of gesture" and no
mean gift of oratory. If in early life he had enjoyed the advantage of
thorough mental training, he would have impressed his generation hardly
less than some of the most distinguished men of the conference. Like
other gifted men, Brother Pledger inherited a perilous, nervous
temperament which embittered and finally wrecked his useful life. His
occasional restlessness of disposition, which was at times the subject
matter of ungracious comment, was the outcome of disease. For two or
three years before his sad death he needed the rest and regimen of a
first-class sanitarium. I urged him when on the Rome district, where he
was greatly beloved and admired, to desist for at least a twelve month
from pulpit work.
Others of his closest friends approved the suggestion, but he failed
to realize the imminency of his peril.
Brother P. was in the main a charming preacher, and there were
occasions when his declamation had some of the ring and range of Bishop
He struggled heroically against what appeared to be manifest destiny,
but "Stern melancholy had marked him for her own," and he went forward
slowly and yet steadily to the final scene.
Let it not be supposed, however, that his was altogether a blighted
life. In the spirit world he met hundreds who were brought to Christ by
his ministry. Long since has he forgotten the trials of the way in the
raptures of his glorified estate.
GEO. H. PATTILLO.
Geo. H. Pattillo belonged to the fourth generation of Georgia
preachers. In 1860 he rendered me valuable service in a gracious meeting
at Milledgeville, the memory of which is still fresh and fragrant to
many of the citizens of the "old capital."
He was from that time my fast, personal friend, and, although he was
quite young, I recognized in his preaching the promise and potency of
great pulpit usefulness.
Brother Patillo was an Emory student, and the effects of his
collegiate training were visible in his ministry. He indulged in few
oratorical flights, but was practical in a remarkable degree in the
trend of his thought and the manner of its presentation.
page 72 His sermons
were edifying, which is but another word for uplifting, or, better
still, upbuilding. He was careful, however, to lay the right foundation,
and, as a consequence, the structure he reared was neither rocked nor
racked by the fury of the winds or the turbulence of the waves.
Religious character, as he shaped it, was neither the card house of the
nursery nor the air-castle of the visionary.
Unfortunately he embarked at one period of his life in secular
enterprises of a reputable sort, but we doubt if they contributed
anything either to his fame or fortune.
This, however, was but a brief divergence. He returned to his loved
employ with a larger equipment and a fuller consecration. It is probable
that the latter years of his laborious life, especially when serving on
districts, were the most fruitful of his ministry.
Meanwhile, his hard work had made its impress on a constitution not
originally robust, and he began to totter down the hill of life to an
early grave. As he neared the end his personal piety shone with
increasing lustre, when, after a rather protracted illness, the silver
cord was loosed and he passed away with a lively hope of the heavenly
page 73 GEORGE E.
George E. Gardiner was another minister who died early, of whom it
might be soberly said that he was "a gentleman and a scholar." Well
educated at the outset, he was quite studious in his habits, and while
yet young he had mastered a great deal of the best literature native and
He was elaborate in pulpit preparation, and his sermons, while
lacking somewhat in brilliancy were noted for accuracy.
He was not wanting in the social instinct, and was everywhere popular
as a pastor. To these excellent qualifications for ministerial
usefulness he added a personal piety that secured the cordial esteem of
all classes and denominations.
His death, long before he had reached the maturity of his
intellectual powers, seemed a calamity to the church, and was indeed a
crushing blow to a devoted and most intéresting household. His wife, the
daughter of my old and honored friend, Hon. H. P. Bell, was helpful to
him by her spiritual graces and mental accomplishents. Brother G., when
looked at from a human standpoint, had a most inviting prospect before
him; but the Master called, and he was ready for the summons.
page 74 JAMES H.
James H. Baxter, whose recent death was so widely and deeply
regretted, was a preacher much above the general average of the
conference, both as to gifts and graces. He was a growing man to the
last hour of his existence.
Some year ago, I was lying in the peachers' tent during the Dalton
camp-meeting, and Brother Baxter came to me and said: "Bro. Scott, you
are a man of experience in the ministry; I wish you would tell me what
was wrong in the matter and style of my sermon last night." I replied:
"My brother, I am loth to criticise another minister's preaching, but as
you have asked me a direct question I shall make a categorical answer.
The matter of your sermon was better than I looked for from so young a
man; indeed, I might say it would have been creditable to a much older
head. But I must say its effect was marred by your carefulness to dot
every I and cross every T. Give yourself more latitude in regard to
comparative trifles. In public speaking, think more of what you say and
less of how you say it and you will realize better results." He received
the criticism very kindly and assured me he would endeavor to profit by
it. He told me, some
page 75 years
afterwards, that it had been of great service to him.
Brother Baxter was rarely at his best as a stationed preacher. His
proper place was the presiding eldership, in which responsible office he
was painstaking and progressive beyond most of his contemporaries.
At the time of his last sickness he had reached a deservedly
prominent position in this office. If he had been spared through another
decade he would probably have ranked with the foremost of his class. The
last time I met him was on Peachtree street, and I was for an instant
startled by his ghastly appearance. He, however, seemed hopeful. It was
during that visit to Atlanta that he requested Rev. Dr. Anderson to
officiate at his funeral, wherever it should occur. The time was indeed
close at hand when the solemn burial service should be read over his
lifeless and emaciated body.
Rev. Russell Reneau, was, by birth and breeding, an East Tennesseean.
Like very many of his fellow countrymen of that Switzerland of America,
he was of stalwart build both physically and
intellectually. His early school advantages were fair, and these were
made the basis of much reading and reflection in after years. He was in
middle life when he was transferred from the Holston to the Georgia
conference, and entered at once on district work in the mountainous
section of the State. While he was but little known at his coming, it
was not long until he secured recognition as a vigorous thinker,
especially on the line of a doctrinal preacher.
Forty years ago East Tennessee was an excellent training school for
polemical theology. The Baptists and Presbyterians were both eager
disputants, and the Methodist itinerants were not reluctant to accept
the gage of battle. Rusell Reneau exhibited special gifts for
disputation, and was frequently brought forward as a defender of the
faith. Almost invariably he routed his adversary.
Soon after his arrival in Georgia he was engaged in a public
discussion with C. F. Shehane, a Universalist preacher of considerable
celebrity. Not a great while before the controversy, I dined with Bro.
Reneau in Atlanta. I remarked to him that Shehane--whom I had personally
and intimately known when he figured as a Bible Christian--was an adroit
debater, and he would seek to draw him into a criticism of Greek terms
and Hebrew roots. I shall never forget his broad smile, as he replied:
"Never be uneasy, Brother Scott. I promise you to
page 77 make him
thoroughly sick of his Greek and Hebrew before I am through with him."
Reneau's friends claimed that in the debate which followed, Shehanee,
to borrow a slang phrase of the prizering, was "severely punished."
Whether any real good came of the contest is exceedingly questionable,
but it produced almost as big a sensation as the "Great Iron Wheel"
controversy between Graves and Brownlow.
Let it not be inferred that this controversial trend of Bro. Reneau's
mind unfitted him for general pulpit usefulness. As a preacher on the
evidences and cardinal doctrines of Christianity, he was surpassed by
few of his day.
Unluckily for himself, however, and for the church, he drifted into
journalism, and at a later period, into curious speculations about
Second Adventism. Shortly after this new departure he took Greely's
advice and went West, where he died, I believe in the presiding
Under a rough exterior he carried a heart as generous as ever
throbbed in a human breast. His charity was as broad as humanity, but
never, at any time or anywhere, was he willing to compromise with
religious or political error.
One of his strangest fancies was the writing and publication of a
volume which he named "The Reign of Satan." It was certainly a dolorous
picture of the times, and would have satisfied the inmost soul of
Schopenhaur, the high-priest of
page 78 pessimism. It
is long since out of print, nor is its ghost ever likely "to revisit the
pale glimpses of the moon."
This much deserves, in conclusion, to be said of him, that all
through his arduous wayfaring of sixty odd years, he never shrunk from
any peril or hardship that confronted him in the path of duty. He died
as he had lived, a staunch Methodist in his religion and a typical Whig
in his politics.
George Bright was a preacher of like gifts with Russell Reneau. They
were both men of rather coarse intellectual fibre, and were both
admirably fitted for the rough-and-tumble fight of the old time
itineracy. Such men are not yet antiquated, but the demand for them is
less urgent than in the Arcadian days when there was less of what is now
called culture. It would be a fool's bargain, however, to exchange that
heroic virtue for what the sage of Chelsea was wont to style
dilettanteism, limp alike in brain and muscle. Brother Bright
spent the greater portion of his life on big circuits, and mountain
districts. In these localities he was
page 79 greatly
admired for his ability, nor less so for his aggressiveness, which has
left an abiding impress on that whole section of the State. Out of his
labors, and those of his contemporaries has come, in part at least, the
great educational movement which has developed into the Young Harris
Institute, and the Reinhardt Normal School.
Our personal association with him was confined to the Annual
Conference session, and we are poorly qualified to speak of him from
personal observation. The statements, however, of others who had better
opportunities of knowing him, are of a flattering sort.
His preaching was logical, and yet there was no lack of a native
eloquence that sometimes stirred the multitude like a "war-denouncing
trumpet." Toward the close of his life I was brought in closer contact
with him and learned to love him, not only for his sturdy manliness, but
for his gentler traits. As often happens, increase of years had mellowed
his spirit, and I could hardly realize that he was altogether made of
the "sterner stuff" of which I had heard no little in the earlier days
of my own ministry.
On one or more occasions afterward I heard him preach with great
earnestness and power. But while he was virile he was not virulent in
speech or manner.
Brother George Bright was an elder brother of John M. Bright, who, in
the days of his strength,
page 80 was also an
able minister. Barring some eccentricities that marred his usefulness,
his conference record was without blemish.
I wish I had more data in regard to these two brothers, but I have
not. Nor, do I know at this present writing where or how I could procure
the needful information.
J. B. C. QUILLIAN.
J. B. C. Quillian was quite a favorite with all classes of North
Georgia people, whether in the pulpit or at the fireside. Meek in
spirit, he disarmed all opposition, and old and young had always a
pleasant word to say about "Uncle Chap."
At times, brother Q. was a preacher of rare excellence. His style
was, it may be, a trifle too ornate, having a kind of family likeness to
Dr. Latta's "Sacred Wonders." When fully aroused, he had a sing-song
delivery, deeply pathetic we might say, weird as autumn winds as they
wail through a forest at midnight.
These seemed to be his moments of inspiration; and on these occasions
he stirred deeply the religious sensibilities of his hearers.
Brother Q. dearly loved a camp-meeting, and several times in the
years gone have we had pleasant talks at the door of the preachers'
tent, long after the entire encampment was wrapped in silence and sleep.
He had read quite extensively in early English literature, and his
writings and sermons were interspersed with choice quotations from some
of the best of these old masters. He was the author of several small
volumes that were read with much interest both in town and country.
With better health, he might have been immensely useful; but even as
it was, he was a blessing to thousands, having learned "in suffering,
what he taught in song and sermon."
ALEXANDER MEANS, D. D., L.L. D.
Alexander Means held a deservedly high rank in the Methodist ministry
of forty years ago. He was distinguished for scholarship, chiefly,
however, in the line of physical science. In chemistry he was not less
an expert than was the Elder Silliman, of Yale--and in astronomy he
might be fairly likened to Dr. Dick, whose "sidereal heavens" has always
been the delight of the average star-gazer.
Dr. Means was at his best when discussing from the platform some
educational or moral question which allowed him to utilize his vast
scientific acquirements. He was all his life, a zealous advocate of
popular education, and his contributions to the press did much to help
forward a movement which, in these latter days, is crowned with success.
He was moreover, one of the earliest and ablest champions of the
temperance reform, and stood shoulder to shoulder with Chief Justice
Lumpkin and Dabney P. Jones when they were paving the way to the local
option triumphs of recent years, which have well-nigh rid the State of
the licensed whiskey traffic.
Dr. Means was only in a nominal sense a member of the annual
conference, but he was abundant in ministerial labors, and frequently
occupied our best pulpits. In this capacity he was immensely popular,
and by very many was regarded as one of the great lights of Georgia
He was, much of his life, connected with the faculty of Emory
College, of which institution he was a devoted friend until his dying
During many years he was an honored member of the faculty of the
Georgia Medical College of Augusta, and this writer has often heard the
alumni of that institution speak of his inimitable lectures on
chemistry, and his masterly manipulation of the apparatus of the
page 83 his old
friend, Judge Longstreet, he was fond of music, and was quite as gifted
with his violin as Longstreet was with his flute. Dr. Means was an
occasional writer of verses, which were not of the highest order, but by
no means lacking in literary merit. A few of his hymns are still found
in the old collections of sacred songs, and are still sung with delight
around the old camp-fires of Methodism.
If he had been less exuberant in
metaphor, his reputation in literature and oratory would have been wider
and more enduring.
Georgia Methodism will, at least for another century, cherish the
memory of his noble virtues and splendid abilities.
"Uncle Allen Turner" was one of the fathers of the conference long
before I was admitted on trial. At our first interview, he rallied me on
my whiskers, which he regarded as decidedly un-Methodistic. This he did,
however, in a half humorous way, which robbed the criticism of its
sting. Dear old man, he was an "Israelite indeed;" and while there were
peculiarities that bordered
page 84 on
crankiness, he was treated by the older and younger brethren with the
utmost reverence. There was a saintliness in the expression of his face
which I never saw in any other man. It was not long-facedness, still
less was it sour godliness, it rather resembled the expression which is
seen in the pictures of Medieval saints. "Uncle Allen's" early ministry
was prosecuted in the face of privations and hardships that would have
staggered the faith and shaken the constancy of many of us that came
after him. But neither the perils of the wilderness, nor scant salaries,
drove him from the field. When at last physically disabled, he bowed
gracefully to the action of the conference, and retired from the
effective list. He lingered some years, occasionally preaching and
exhorting with great power, and died at a ripe age without a single blot
on his name.
CHARLES R. JEWETT.
Charles R. Jewett had a pious and intelligent ancestry--fair
scholarship--a pleasing address and no mean oratorical gifts.
There was, however, a declamatory drift in his sermonizing which
impaired his efficiency in the
page 85 pulpit. Quite
a number of the educated young men of his day affected--it may be
unconsciously--this style of preaching. Pierce and Milburn and Maffit
achieved distinction on this line and others we must say copied a bad
Bishop Pierce, in speaking to me on this subject, stigmatized this
sort of preaching as a species of "hifalutinism" of which, in his
maturer years, he was heartily ashamed, and which he had deliberately
and prayerfully abandoned, not without some sacrifice of reputation with
But what he lost in one direction he had more than gained in greater
simplicity and increased spiritual power.
I was pleased to note a like improvement in Brother Jewett, as he
attained a riper experience and a fuller consecration.
The last sermon I heard him preach at Montezuma, was a masterly
argument on the "Temptation of Christ."
It exhibited close research and a breadth of thought which I had
seldom heard equaled by our ablest conference preachers.
I met him no more, but Rev. T. T. Christian tells me that his last
preaching was the best. That as he neared the crossing he seemed like
Barnabas, full of faith and the Holy Ghost.
I am quite sure that I never knew a purer and more unselfish spirit.
Nor have I known but few pastors who were more endeared to the
congregations that they served.
page 86 JOHN W.
A somewhat notable man in his generation was John W. Talley. Brother
T. was not distinguished for learning or brilliancy, but for working
qualities of a high order, and a piety that challenged the confidence of
both clergy and laity.
When I had not reached my legal majority, I attended a temperance
jubilee at LaGrange, where Brother Talley was stationed, already
well-advanced in years. He made the address of welcome in behalf of the
community, and I was assigned to the duty of making one of the
responses. This was the beginning of our acquaintance and of a life-long
Brother T. was a man of what was then considered a liberal education.
His preaching was such as to make him acceptable on our average
stations. This, combined with his affability and otherwise pleasant
address and his excellent pastoral qualifications, made him quite a
favorite with all denominations.
Many years ago, perhaps after his superannuation, he removed to Texas
to be with his oldest daughter, and there his faithful life was crowned
with a triumphant death. In his far-off Western home he still cherished
roseate memories of his
page 87 ministry in
old Georgia. At intervals he sent love messages to his brethren of the
conference, amongst whom he had served with signal fidelity.
JOHN W. KNIGHT.
Amongst the twelve apostles there was a striking diversity of
character. How sharply contrasted were Matthew the staid, mater-of-fact
taxgatherer and the impetuous Simon Peter, the Galilean fisherman, who
was ready by turns and in quick succession too, to fight or flee.
Neither are all Methodist preachers fashioned after any given
pattern. Allen Turner and W. J. Parks had few traits in common. John P.
Duncan and Russell Reneau were thoroughly antipodal. This brings us to
remark that John W. Knight had well marked individuality, and was quite
unlike any member of the Old Georgia Conference. Who amongst us, at an
annual session, ever saw him inside the bar of the conference? Who ever
heard him speak on any issue, great or small, that might be the subject
matter of debate? Usually he sat apart, brooding over some problem in
theology, or some question in metaphysics, seemingly oblivious of the
bishop's gavel and of the secretary's
announcements. I was both startled and stumped on two or three
occasions, when, on leaving the conference room, he called to me and
asked me some question about a Hebrew construction on a Greek text. I
had been, when a boy, pretty thoroughly drilled in Greek, but my
knowledge of Hebrew, after only a few months' study under a Baptist
divine, was exceedingly limited. I told Brother Knight that I knew less
about Hebrew than he did, a statement that he found it difficult to
I mention this as illustrative of his peculiarities.
Did you ever hear him preach when the Holy Ghost overshadowed him?
What unction, what sweep of the imagination--and then his hortatory
appeals, how they reminded one of the wind of Ezekiel as it swept over
the valley of Dry Bones. Bishop Pierce was not a bad judge of preaching,
and it is well known that he was enthusiastic in his praise of John W.
Knight. Better than his preaching, however, were his prayers for
penitents. Many years ago, at one of the Griffin Conferences, he was
asked after the sermon, to make the prayer for a number who had gathered
at the altar. At first there was some hesitancy, a not infrequent thing,
but as he warmed to the occasion he seemed almost to shake the heavens
with his supplications for divine mercy. Before he concluded there was
weeping blended with hallelujahs, from the pulpit to the door; then came
the shout of new-born
page 89 souls, and we
had more than a glimpse of Pentecost.
The last time I saw the dear old brother was at the State Lunatic
Asylum. I had gone through some of the wards with one of the assistant
physicians, and as I walked down the long corridor I inquired about Bro.
Knight, and expressed a desire to see him. Just then the physician
remarked, "Yonder he is, now"--but before I caught more than a glance at
him he turned into his room and shut the door.
The physician informed me that for some days he had been unusually
excited, and when in such moods he refused to see all visitors,
especially his old friends. I passed the door, which was slightly ajar,
and heard his delirious mutterings. How deeply pathetic.
Not long after this occurrence he died,
a mental and physical wreck.
J. BLAKELY SMITH.
J. Blakely Smith was a thrifty merchant when divinely called to the
arduous work of an itinerant preacher. He promptly responded to that
call, and to the end of life was a useful and laborious
page 90 member of the
conference. For a long term of years he served with great efficiency as
the conference secretary. Few men have been more universally beloved by
his brethren, nor was there one of their number who was more thoroughly
consecrated in heart and life. On circuits and districts his work was
honored of men and signally blessed of God. As a preacher, he made no
claim to learning or brilliancy, but in point of effectiveness he had
few superiors in his immediate generation.
He was often styled a weeping prophet because his sermons were
characterized by great tenderness, and quite often were baptized with
his tears. We would not intimate that they were lacking in vigorous
thought, but the emotional was largely predominant in his ministry. I
found him on more than one occasion a valuable helper in a revival
meeting, and his services in this capacity were everywhere in demand.
When the conference was divided in 1867, he was greatly grieved. As a
token of brotherly appreciation the members of the old conference
presented him with an elegant gold watch as a souvenir of the days when
they were an unbroken band.
He was deeply touched by their kindness and it contributed somewhat
to soothe his wounded sensibilities.
But he was too good a man to be a "sorehead," or to repine long about
a result that many of us
page 91 had long
known to be alike desirable and inevitable.
I saw but little of him after the division of the conference, but he
continued to be a good man and true until the end of his pilgrimage.
CALEB W. KEY.
Forty years ago, Caleb W. Key was one of the most enterprising
pastors and solid preachers in the Georgia Conference.
He was not a genius, but, better than this, he had an unusual working
capacity which served him in good stead on several of our leading
stations and districts.
He was a man of fine address--of great personal neatness, and wielded
a large influence in the business affairs of the annual conference
He had enjoyed better educational advantages than a majority of the
old panel of our preachers, and he was careful to improve those
advantages by reading and observation.
I heard him preach as far back as the early forties, when he was
pastor at LaGrange, then and now one of strongest stations. Even thus
page 92 early in his
ministry, he was highly esteemed in the pulpit and the social circle. As
the years went by he grew in strength and popularity until he was
disabled by "age and feebleness extreme."
We have already intimated that Brother Key was not noted for
brilliancy, but there were occasions when in revivals and camp-meetings
he had very considerable preaching power.
I remember an instance of the sort in connection with a visit I made
to the old Putnam camp-meeting in 1860. A prominent young merchant, a
member of his charge at Eatonton, had suddenly died on the camp-ground.
The friends of the deceased, who was greatly beloved throughout the
country, desired the funeral service to be held at the campground.
Brother Key officiated. He had a good theme and handled it with marked
ability. His closing appeal to the young men of the congregation was
wonderful, and was thought to have resulted in wakenings and
conversions. Brother Key was greatly blessed in his domestic relations,
and had a good show of financial prosperity, for a man who gave himself
wholly to the work of the ministry. Our present Bishop Key, whom all
Georgia delights to honor, did much by his filial devotion to brighten
the last days of his venerable father.
page 93 JAMES O. A.
CLARK, D.D., L.L. D.
This great and good man passed away at 9:30 a. m., on Tuesday,
September 4th, 1894.
He was stricken with paralysis about three weeks before his death,
after which time his family and friends had no hope of his recovery. He
had not been strong, physically, for some years, but always strong
mentally. His pen was not allowed to rest. His great mind was as busy
and his thoughts were as clear and bright as when in the full vigor of
manhood. Two books, in addition to those already published, were almost
ready for the press when the lamp went out. His energy was boundless. As
presiding elder of the Macon district he continued his work until the
peremptory command from his physician required him to desist. He loved
to work, and especially did he glory in his vocation as a preacher. In
the pulpit he was the peer of any among us. He was, indeed, a great
preacher! As a scholar he was easily in the front rank with the highest.
No one who knew Dr. Clark, who had read his books, or heard his sermons,
will suspect extravagance in anything that has been said.
He was at the time of his death about sixty-seven years of age. He
was admitted with the writer of these lines, into the Georgia
page 94 held in
Atlanta, Georgia, December, 1854, Bishop Capers presiding. Next
December, 1894, will be forty years since this dear brother, in company
with Bishop O. P. Fitzgerald, Wm. J. Scott, D. D., Jno. W. Burke, G. G.
N. MacDonell, James T. Ainsworth, Alvin J. Dean, W. W. Tidwell, John W.
Turner, Thos. T. Christian (and others whose names cannot be recalled at
this writing) were received into the Georgia conference. Dr. Clark is
the third member of that remarkable class who has finished his work.
Dean and Turner have been dead several years.
Dr. Clark has occupied every position of honor in the church except
the bishopric. In every place he showed superiority as a man and a
christian minister. He was both great and good. He was fixed and settled
in his religious views, and knew, experimentally, the love of Christ.
The Methodist church has lost one of her ablest and noblest defenders.
The prayers of the church will go up to God in behalf of his precious
wife and children in this hour of deep bereavement.
The funeral service took place at eleven o'clock a. m., at the First
Presbyterian church. This was on account of the fact that Mulberry
Street Methodist church was undergoing repairs. A large congregation was
present. Dr. Monk, pastor of Mulberry, preached a most touching and
page 95 sermon. Dr.
J. W. Hinton and Rev. Geo. G. N. MacDonell delivered short but beautiful
eulogies of the deceased. At the close the body was carried to Rose Hill
cemetery and laid away until the resurrection morn.
JAMES O. ANDREW,
OUR MARTYR BISHOP.
This eminent divine was a Georgian by birth and culture.
Although not like the Mercenas of Roman history of royal lineage,
yet, he was what was better still of pious parentage, being a descendant
of the Dorchester colonists, who after divers migrations, settled at
Like Obadiah and Samuel of sacred memory, he feared the Lord from his
youth. While his educational opportunities were but fairly good yet he
early exhibited an aptitude for learning which fitted him for the
ministry before he had attained his majority. In a few years his
services were in demand in leading stations of Georgia and South
Carolina. including Augusta, Charleston and Savannah. At all these
points he was greatly beloved for his piety and not less admired for his
page 96 pulpit
ability. It was, however, somewhat of a surprise when, in 1832, he was
elected to the Episcopacy over the heads of a number who were his
seniors in age and his superiors in ministerial rank. On all sides,
however, he was regarded as prudent in life, sound in doctrine and
thoroughly loyal to the polity of Wesleyan Methodism. His reputation in
these respects was in nowise sectional, but extended from Maine to
Texas. And yet so rapid was the spread of anti-slaveryism that in a
dozen years he was immolated on the altar of that fierce fanaticism.
At the time of his accession to the Episcopacy he stood on the border
line of the heroic age of American Methodism. Its romance had wellnigh
ceased with Asbury and McKendree. But fortunately for the enlargement of
its domain there were men like Soule, Roberts and Hedding who stood
ready in fellowship with their junior colleague to push its victories to
the Mississippi and to the vast regions beyond. We had met him at Annual
Conferences and admired him greatly, both as a presiding officer and
preacher. But in 1862, while occupying the Wesley Chapel parsonage in
Atlanta, he was our honored guest for nearly a week. "No man," says the French proverb, "is a hero
to his valet de chambre." The Bishop at least was an exception.
We saw him endishabille. Despite the disparity of age, he unbosomed
himself to us as a brother. Now and
page 97 then, without
undue self-assertion, he volunteered words of fatherly counsel. Yet, in
these graver and more thoughtful moods, there was no Sir Oracle
dogmatism. For our entertainment he occasionally fought over the battles
of his ministerial life, and modestly showed us how fields were won. As
Desdemona was charmed by Othello's recital of his travels, history, and
"the battle sieges, fortunes he had passed," so we were deeply
fascinated by his unpretentious narrative of the experiences and
adventures of a long and eventful itinerant career.
At this time he gave us at our own urgent request a minute account of
his virtual deposition by the General Conference of 1844.
He interspersed the general history with vivid sketches of the
leaders of both sections, with occasional side glimpses that revealed
the true inwardness of the grand conflict. There was, however, neither
in word nor manner, the slightest exhibition of unseemly temper. But it
was evident that the wounds inflicted by some envious Casca, or some
beloved Brutus, were not yet fully cicatrized.
Henceforth we deeply venerated the man and were evermore jealous of
The General Conference of 1844 was the central event in the history
of Bishop Andrew. It was to him what the synod of Dort was to Arminius,
what the Council of Constance was to John Huss
page 98 and Jerome of
Prague. Never did the Bishop exhibit such sublime moral courage as when,
after a momentary weakness, he confronted with the heroism of a martyr
the ruthless majority arrayed against him, and intent on overwhelming
him by sheer dint of numbers. This might well serve as a companion piece
to that of Luther as he stood face to face with Charles V. in the Diet
In that august assemblage of 1844 there were such master spirits as
Winans, of Mississippi, and Smith, of Virginia, whose forceful arguments
and mighty appeals smote upon the ear of a continent like the ponderous
blows of a trip-hammer. There, too, was the younger Pierce, his face
aglow with the light of genius, if not inspiration, as he exclaimed:
"Let New England go." It was but little short of the thrilling eloquence
with which Cicero scourged the guilty Pro-consul of Sicily, or drove
Cataline and his fellow-conspirators from the Senate Chamber. Indeed,
New England had long troubled our Methodist Israel, as she had been from
the beginning a rankling thorn in the national body politic.
There, too, was Capers, the founder of negro missions, and glorious
McFerrin and Henry Bidleman Bascom, and in the back ground a noble
constituency stretching from Maryland to Texas.
That picture has an intrinsic value that can hardly be estimated. The
time may come when Macaulay's New Zealand artist shall sit on the
page 99 broken arches
of London Bridge and sketch the ruins of St. Paul's, and when New York,
like mighty Babylon, shall be "a habitation for dragons and a court for
owls;" for the ruins of empires are amongst the common-places of
history, and the seats of commerce and wealth are unstable and shifting
as desert sands. All this may transpire ere that scene shall fade from
the canvas of history. Indeed, all material grandeur is changeful as the
imagery of cloud-land, but truth outlasts the pyramids, for the eternal
years of God are her inheritance.
DeQuincy, a time-serving essayist, sneered at the action of the Free
Church of Scotland in 1843. A procession of several hundred clergymen,
headed by Thomas Chalmers, going forth from St. Andrew's Church,
Edinburgh, for the sake of Christ and the purity of his church, was
hardly a spectacle for a clownish jest or a fiendish grimace. By this
act they abandoned all hope of political emolument or ecclesiastical
preferment. Very many of them were gray-haired veterans who thereby
surrendered the churches they had founded and the comfortable manses
they had builded. They went forth into a moral wilderness to lay anew
the foundations of a church unpolluted with the stain of Erastinianism,
and unfettered by the chains of lay patronage. Were they right? Let the
records of its marvelous growth during the forty intervening years
answer the inquiry.
This Edinburgh picture in 1843 was duplicated in New York in 1844.
New England must be propitiated even though Andrew's Episcopal head
should fall. The same spirit that pilloried and scourged the Quakers,
and drove Roger Williams to Rhode Island and Providence plantations,
that massacred the Pequods and Narragansets, and sold the miserable
remnant into slavery in Barbadoes; the same Massachusetts and Rhode
Island, who for mercenary purposes, helped to extend the African
slave-trade twenty years over the heads of Delaware and South Carolina.
These men, whose sires had waxed fat on the traffic in human flesh, were
now in hot pursuit of Bishop Andrew for the sin of slave-holding, not by
purchase, but by inheritance. To this deep-mouthed baying of the Boston
kennel there was added the shrill cry of Tray, Blanche and Sweetheart
from the other hostile conferences. Upon this accusation, without the
semblance of a trial, but by a simple resolution of the body, he was
suspended indefinitely from his Episcopal functions. In vain did the
Southern minority protest against this monstrous iniquity. The Moloch of
anti-slavery fanaticism must be appeased at the expense of justice and
every other cardinal virtue of heathen and christian morality. It was
done by the tyrranny of a mob, or else the
ruling of a star-chamber tribunal. The majority may accept either horn
of the dilemma. After no little diplomatic maneuvering, a formal
page 101 was agreed
upon, subject to the ratification of the southern conferences. Even this
measure of pacification was repudiated by the succeeding northern
general conference. The southern church finally secured her chartered
rights, at the end of a tedious and expensive litigation. But even a
supreme court decision could not curb the rapacity of the northern
church. In solemn council, our church, from the bishops downward, were
adjudged guilty of treason for defending against invasion their altars
and their fires.
Some of the northern bishops invoked the aid of military satraps to
eject us from our churches and parsonages. In numerous localities we
were stigmatized from our own pulpits as graceless reprobates and
Christless rebels. The sober second thought of the nation rebuked this
Failing in this scheme of military seizure, they sought by means of
missionary appropriations and intimidation to disintegrate and absorb.
To that policy they owe their limited success in a few of the backwoods
settlements of the South. Another change has come over "the spirit of
their dream." Their only hope now is to compass their object by organic
union. This project, plausible as it may appear to some, is a
predestined failure. It at least, can only be consummated by the utter
disruption of the southern church. For right confident are we that an
overwhelming majority of the
page 102 clergy and
laity of that church will never submit their necks to the yoke of a
But to return to Bishop Andrew. This grand man "did not lag
superfluous on the stage," but labored with indomitable will to the
utmost of his failing strength. His life-work completed and rounded into
beautiful symmetry, he was ready for his translation. As Bacon says,
"the sweetest canticle is nunc dimittis to one who has obtained worthy
ends and expectations." Pelopidas was reckoned by Plutarch the best of
the Greeks. So likewise did Mark Antony characterize the mighty Julius
who fell beneath the daggers of conspiracy in the senate house as "the
noblest Roman of them all."
Not less may it be said that in no dubious sense James O. Andrew was
the last bishop of the Asburyan type. He, too, was the victim of
conspirators like those who slew Cæsar at the base of Pompey's statue.
Now that he sleeps amidst the classic shades of his beloved Oxford he
deserves a monument, to be erected, not by any single conference, but by
the joint contributions of southern Methodism from California to
Florida. Nor could it bear a worthier inscription than this simple but
JAMES O. ANDREW,
BLESSED MARTYR BISHOP."
page 103 DANIEL D.
It was largely through the pious persuasion of Daniel D. Cox that I
was influenced, in 1853, to abandon political journalism and cast my lot
with the Methodist church and ministry. Bro. C. was neither learned nor
eloquent, but he was distinguished for grace and goodness, and wherever
known was greatly beloved by all classes and denominations. At the time
referred to he was pastor of the First church in Rome, where his two
years' ministry was crowned with abundant success. It is due, in no
small degree, to his earnest labors, that this church is now one of the
largest and most influential in the North Georgia Conference.
His earliest years in the ministry were spent in South Carolina, and
several of them in missionary work on the large rice plantations on the
coast. It was interesting to hear his account of these colored missions.
While such abolitionists as William Loyd Garrison were seeking to incite
the slaves to riot and bloodshed, Brother Cox and his fellow-laborers
were engaged in a diligent effort to Christianize them. About 1850 he
was received into the Georgia Conference, and for thirty odd years was
actively engaged on circuits, districts and stations. When I last met
him he was residing with
page 104 Mrs. Judge
Bull, of LaGrange, the mother of his last accomplished wife. He was then
quite feeble in health, but rejoicing in the God of his salvation. He
did not long survive this interview. His death chamber was said to be
quite on the verge of heaven, and some of his unconverted friends were
deeply impressed by the closing scenes of his eminently useful life. His
death occurred somewhat unexpectedly while visiting an old friend at
Gainesville, in which community he was universally honored and beloved.
His remains were brought to LaGrange and deposited by the side of his
beloved wife, the solemn services being conducted by Rev. B. H. Sasnett
in the presence of a large congregation.
WM. S. TURNER.
The class of 1854 was one of the largest ever received into the
I trust I may be pardoned for saying that in some respects it was one
of the best.
Several of them earned no little distinction in the ministry. Amongst
this number we reckon the richly-endowed Fitzgerald, humorous and
sweet-spirited Burke, who, as a man of affairs,
page 105 has left an
indelible imprint on Georgia Methodism, the scholarly Clark, whose
labors with his pen have been abundant and valuable to his own and
future generations, the genial and accomplished McDonnell, the eloquent
Pledger, clear-headed and warm-hearted Christian. Besides, there were
others of less note, but not lacking in usefulness. Of this class was
William S. Turner, who had a good report in all the churches he was
called to serve. He was studious in his habits and industrious in the
pastorate, and his preaching was of that sort that met with general
After all it is the average man who often accomplishes the best
The meteor that for a single instant "splendors the sleepy realms of
night" is not comparable to the "maidenliest star that twinkles in the
firmament." There is more glow but less steady shining, and quite often
these showy pulpiteers move in an eccentric orbit that carries them far
away from the central "sun of righteousness."
That gifted man, Melville, for years the marvel of the London
pulpits, has in his published sermons a suggestive discourse on the man
of "two talents." It may serve to reconcile some of us to the fewness of
our gifts when it is borne in mind that this average man was no whit
behind his fellow-servants who had the five talents, in the percentage
of his gain and his reward.
I have attempted no detailed account of Brother T's pulpit labors
because I have but little personal knowledge in the premises. What I
have stated is based upon information gathered from outside sources, and
is of necessity meagre and not altogether satisfactory.
WESLEY P. ARNOLD.
Wesley P. Arnold had a stentorian voice, which he looked upon as a
serious misfortune. It was not only the subject matter of humorous
criticism, but in some degree marred his usefulness.
But back of this there lay a fund of common sense and a consecrated
life, that made him a general favorite in town and country.
He was a man of humility and self-denial, and was one of the few
pastors of recent years who traveled his circuit on foot. This may have
been at times the result of choice, but oftener than otherwise was the
result of stern necessity.
His was an independent spirit that shrunk from receiving favors
which, Emerson says, always places the receiver at a disadvantage.
Fortunately, he was muscular and active, and a tramp of five
page 107 or ten miles
over a country road did not unfit him for the pulpit. I had a very
limited experience of the same sort on two or three occasions many years
ago, nor was I damaged by it, neither mentally nor physically. Emerson,
to whom we have just referred, says that since horses and vehicles have
become so abundant, men have lost, in a measure, the use of their legs.
Recurring to Brother Arnold's ministry, we would characterize it as
intensely fervid and thoroughly practical. We have heard him when he
waxed eloquent and moved his audience to shouts and tears.
He helped me greatly during a revival meeting, in the sixties, by his
earnestness and amiableness. As was said of Barnabas, so it might be
said of Wesley Arnold, "He was a good man, full of faith and the Holy
LUTHER M. SMITH.
Luther M. Smith was more widely known as an educator than as a
preacher. Perhaps more than two-thirds of his life was spent as
president or professor in some prominent institution of learning. His
work in Emory College was deserving
page 108 of high
praise, nor less so his later labors as chancellor of the Southern
University at Greensboro, Alabama. Few men had a better faculty for the
administration of college discipline. He blended mildness and firmness
in due proportion, and thus secured both the respect and love of his
pupils. Hundreds of them cherish the memory of his manifold virtues.
His gifts on the lecture platform and in the pulpit were of a high
On some special occasions I have heard him preach with very great
At times he was thrillingly eloquent, and seldom have I known him to
be lacking in unction and tenderness.
If his whole life had been consecrated to the ministry, he would have
been as useful as his ablest contemporaries.
His physical infirmities were, however, of a sort and a degree that
incapacitated him for continuous labor in the itinerant work. These
infirmities shadowed his latter years and made him of a sorrowful
spirit. But through it all he had sustaining grace, and when the end
came he had an "abundant entrance" into the everlasting kingdom.
Not many have left to the generations that follow, a better
reputation for saintliness than my dear old friend, Dr. Luther M. Smith.
page 109 ARMINIUS
Arminius Wright had but recently returned to the conference when I
first met him as the stationed preacher at Griffin, in 1858.
I visited that thriving young city in response to an invitation to
deliver the commencement sermon of the Griffin Female College, under the
joint control of Revs. W. Rogers and A. B. Niles.
Brother Wright was then in the prime of life, and had partially
recovered from a severe sickness which had previously induced his
withdrawal from the itinerant ministry. He had the advantage of a
liberal education, and his scholarship was quite respectable.
As a preacher he was in great favor with his congregation at Griffin,
and during the next decade occupied several of our leading pulpits. He
had indeed the gift of oratory in no small degree, and but for a
dyspeptic ailment which clung to him for years, and which finally
shortened his life, he would have risen to great distinction.
He left a most interesting family, and amongst them a son who
inherited some of his father's best intellectual endowments.
page 110 FRANCIS A.
Francis A. Kimball was a transfer from the Tennessee to the North
Georgia Conference during the war period. He had, as I remember it, been
a chaplain in the western army, and had done valiant and faithful
service in that capacity.
Just after the war he was appointed to Wesley Chapel, Atlanta, where
during his pastoral term, he conducted a gracious revival. He filled
other important conference positions with acceptability. He, like Bros.
Pierce and Wright, had a hard struggle with a refractory liver,
complicated, in his case, with a grave bronchial trouble. But Brother K.
had a large share of energy, and never succumbed to disease until his
vital forces were utterly exhausted. His preaching was good to "the use
of edifying," and quite a number were brought to Christ by his pathetic
pleading. His devoted wife, who still survives, is one of our best
Sunday-school workers in the infant department.
Brother Kimball was ardent and unswerving in his friendships, and is
pleasantly remembered by many of his brethren of the old Georgia
page 111 JAMES L.
James L. Pierce was no ordinary man. He was one of the early
graduates of Randolph-Macon College. His record for scholarship and
general ability during his college days was
one of the best.
After completing his collegiate course he applied himself to the
study of law, and was in a fair way to professional eminence when he
decided to enter the ministry of which his father and elder brother were
such distinguished ornaments. Not long afterwards he was called to the
presidency of the Madison Female College. Under his management that
institution became one of the most prosperous and influential in the
conference. I have never forgotten his baccalaureate address in 1858. It
was a literary gem, not unworthy of Bishop Pierce in his palmiest days.
His ministerial life was checkered, owing largely to his delicate,
nervous organism. He was somewhat deficient in the elocutionary
qualifications which contributed so much to the pupil
[pupit] excellence of the other members of
As a theologian the "Old Doctor" always rated him above any of his
sons, not excepting "George." He was not singular in this estimate--many
of our best conference critics were like-minded. I am quite sure that
page 112 preaching
sometimes reminded me of the best performances of his venerable father.
It was often remarked by his most intimate friends that the closing
years of his life were characterized by a humility and gentleness which
clearly evinced that his bodily and mental sufferings had been
sanctified to his spiritual growth and enlargement. This was especially
noticeable at Conyers, one of the last appointments that he served.
Two or three years before his death he removed to Texas where he
spent his last days in the home of his son, who had achieved great
success as a minister of the Gospel.
Thus, far away from his native Georgia, and quite aloof from his old
conference associates, Dr. Jas. L. Pierce entered into rest.
WM. A. SIMMONS.
Wm. A. Simmons was neither a learned divine nor a specially
attractive preacher, and yet he was not wanting in good ministerial
gifts. His piety was deep and fervent, and he drew hundreds to Christ
and the church because his zeal and consecration were known and read of
all men who were
page 113 brought
within the sphere of his personal acquaintance. He, together with such
kindred spirits as his brother John and Wynn and Fitzgerald and Bigham,
were in the first batch of missionaries that went forth to the Pacific
coast under the leadership of Jesse Boring. They were one and all good
men and true, and they planted Southern Methodism where it still
flourishes, but not to the extent that it so well deserves.
After a few years, however, he returned to his old conference, which
received him with open arms.
His wife, although a life-long invalid, was a woman of rare
accomplishments, and to her he exhibited a devotion that was really
sublime. Brother Simmons was inevitably hindered in his pastoral work by
the protracted illness of his gifted wife. Her condition demanded change
of climate, and compelled his removal to South Georgia and Florida,
where he spent a few of the later years of his life.
He occasionally supplied other charges during this period, and did it
As his years increased his growth in grace was striking, and the
power of his ministry was proportionately enlarged and intensified. It
was for this veteran warrior a glad day, when in his sixty-seventh year,
the messenger, with a love missive from the Master, called him to the
fellowship of the just.
page 114 WM. G.
These etchings would be incomplete without a passing reference to
that useful man, William G. Allen.
It so chanced in the order of divine providence that I visited him on
his deathbed in the parsonage at Forsyth. He was extremely ill, but his
trust in God was fixed and he became unspeakably happy as we communed
together in prayer and praise. He had a most interesting household,
which he ruled with the law of kindness.
Brother Allen died when yet in the prime of manhood, but he lived
long enough to do excellent work on some of the best circuits of the
conference. His preaching was of a sort that edified alike the young and
the old, the cultured and the illiterate. He was, as more than one of
the old presiding elders used to say, "a safe case."
He was sound in faith and practice, and like a Spanish-milled dollar
was everywhere current at a hundred cents.
Some day his old companions in distress will greet him on the golden
page 115 JACOB R.
Jacob R. Danforth was a man of rare declamatory power in the pulpit.
Indeed, he was one of the best of the old school orators.
His father and mother were amongst my parishioners at St. John's
church, Augusta. They were both poor and pious in a good degree, and in
their last days were largely dependent on their son, Oliver H. Danforth,
one of the staunchest Methodist laymen of my former acquaintances.
"Brother Jake" as he was familiarly called, was not without a measure
of crankiness--one of the characteristics of genius.
I remember to have read on the door posts of the old Mulberry street
church at Macon, this inscription by some profane scribbler: "On the
second Sunday in May, Brother Danforth prayed thirty-five minutes by the
watch." I am not sure as to the date, but I am confident that the length
of the prayer as stated is exact. Brother Danforth's sermons, as George
Smith avers in his History of Georgia Methodism, were remarkably
eloquent and forcible, but they were exhaustive both to himself and his
audience. He seemed in his best mood to be completely oblivious to the
flight of time, whether he prayed or preached. I was once in attendance
at a camp-meeting with him in Southwestern
page 116 Georgia, and
strongly urged the preacher in charge to put him up at the 11 o'clock
service on Tuesday. "Well," he said in reply, "Brother D. is a wonderful
preacher, and if I knew he would not exceed two hours I would gladly do
so." I left the encampment, but understood afterwards that he preached
with great power and with unprecedented brevity. It is probable some
brother had kindly admonished him of his infirmity.
Brother Danforth had quite a reputation as an educator; but even in
the recitation room he was noted for his occasional absentmindedness. It
was often said of him that he very narrowly missed being a first-class
preacher and college professor.
As respects his piety, it was of a very high order. Such at least was
the universal testimony.
THOMAS H. JORDAN.
Thos. H. Jordan preceded me in the ministry by several years, and yet
I was probably his senior by three or more years.
He was of excellent Methodist lineage, well educated, a ready
speaker, and in all respects a man of striking personality. From the
page 117 our personal
acquaintance we were warm friends, and so continued until the end of his
somewhat checkered career.
During his pastorate in Marietta where he succeeded me as preacher in
charge of that delightful station, I spent two weeks, I think, in the
summer of 1859.
My intercourse with him was exceedingly pleasant, but I feared from
the course of reading that he was pursuing, and from some incidental
remarks that he let fall from time to time, that he was drifting away
from the old theology.
On the second Sabbath of my visit I occupied his pulpit morning and
evening. In the evening I spoke from the text, "Because sentence against
an evil work is not speedily executed," etc. At the close of the service
he urged me to spend the night at the parsonage. I consented to do so,
and during that evening he unbosomed himself to me in regard to his
religious experience and especially in regard to some speculative
difficulties that had worried him no little for the past few months. I
found he had been reading such works as "Comte's Positive Philosophy," |
"Strauss' Life of Jesus," and others of a similar trend. He said to me:
"I would give the world if I had the unquestioning faith which you seem
to have from your preaching to-night." I replied: "Tom, I know how to
sympathize with you. Will you believe me when I tell you that from
sixteen years of
page 118 age to my
twenty-first year, I boxed the entire compass of infidelity? I read all
the books of which you speak and a score besides. Like Asaph 'my feet
were almost gone, my steps had wellnigh slipped.' But," I continued, "by
a singular providence I got hold of a copy of Watson's Institutes. Its
theology was a revelation because I had read but little religious
literature except of a Calvinistic sort. Watson lifted the veil from my
spiritual understanding and my speculative doubts, which had brought me
to the verge of atheism, all disappeared, and from that time forward I
was in theory at least a Christian." I begged him to quit the study of
infidel works and go back to Watson and the Bible. He seemed deeply
moved and we spent a few minutes in prayer before retiring.
My next special interview with him was in Atlanta, in 1862, when I
was in charge of Wesley chapel. I was just ready to begin the sermon one
Sunday morning when a handsome cavalry officer entered the church and
was shown to a front seat. I instantly recognized him as my old
conference friend, and went down and invited him to preach for me, which
he declined, and also my invitation to occupy a seat in the pulpit. He
made, however, an earnest closing prayer. After the service he walked
with me to the parsonage and remained to a pleasant half hour's
page 119 but could
not stay to dinner as he was compelled to leave on the next train.
I never saw him after this conversation.
Brother J. spent his closing years in Southern Georgia, principally
in Savannah, where he had, in his youth, married a daughter of Dr.
Saussy, a leading physician of the Forest City.
His last illness was somewhat protracted, but through it all he bore
his sufferings with meekness and resignation. His last hours were
peaceful and at times triumphant.
He now rests beneath the moss-draped live-oaks of Laurel Hill,
awaiting the resurrection of the just.
SAMUEL J. BELLAH.
Samuel J. Bellah had no genius except for godliness. His education
was limited, but his knowledge of the Scriptures was exact, and he was
well versed in the standards of Methodist theology. When I first made
his acquaintance, many years ago, he was feeble, suffering at wide
intervals with hemorrhages from the throat or lungs, and yet he
continued, as he had strength, to travel poor circuits. Talk of heroes
and martyrs! Here was one little known outside of a small circle of
page 120 friends,
whose zeal and faith went beyond many whose names are printed in the
During my residence in Marietta and my occasional visits to the
Marietta camp-ground, I saw this lowly servant of God. He usually
preached at the eight o'clock service on the Sabbath, and his neighbors,
who knew his manner of life, always gathered at the stand to hear him. I
seldom, if ever, missed his sermons. He was not literary, still less was
he learned, but I was always refreshed and edified by Uncle Bellah's
simple ministry. Like Enoch, he walked with God, and his frail body was
a veritable temple of the Holy Ghost. I could see in the soft radiance
of his eye somewhat of the look of the Master when He broke Peter's
heart. His voice was shattered, but it was deeply sympathetic and
sometimes thrilled my inmost soul. He belonged to a class of preachers
that are not often met with nowadays in the older conferences. The
stipend he drew from the conference when a superannuate kept him, with
other contributions, from actual want, but the dear old man was
doubtless sore pressed at times.
I wish I may have as bright a crown in glory as Uncle Bellah, but I
know I don't deserve it, and it may be sin ul to wish it.
Oh, these old brethren, the Bellahs and Andrew J. Deavors, and John
P. Dickinson and Andrew Neese, who carried me round his circuit when I
was making my first efforts to preach, and Alfred Dorman
page 121 and such
like, how the memory of their heroic virtues makes me ashamed of my
petty ambitions before God had humbled me as in these later years.
There are men, however, in the mountains and in the wiregrass that
are doing the same work today that these old fathers did. The Lord help
us to honor them and sympathize with them and may their tribe increase
as the exigencies of the church may require.
JOHN H. HARRIS.
John H. Harris was a preacher of much more than ordinary gifts. In
1875 he was stationed at Evan's Chapel, Atlanta, and rendered me
valuable assistance in a revival which I was conducting at the time in
the Trinity congregation.
His preaching was not simply emotional, although that was probably
the predominant feature; but it was besides Scriptural and forceful, and
as a consequence, effectual in awakening the impenitent and then leading
him to Christ.
Before coming to Atlanta he had served several important circuits and
stations, and was everywhere greatly beloved.
My remembrance is that he was at this time a sufferer from a chronic
throat disease induced by exposure and overwork in his earlier ministry.
He was of a fervent spirit, and this led him very often into a vehement
delivery and an excess of vociferation that has blighted many a
promising minister's life or shortened his term of active service.
Brother Harris was even then rapidly nearing his end, and died early
in the following year, 1876, of a disease which it is now fashionable to
call heart failure, but another name for a sudden break-down of the
Alexander Speer, the father of my old co-pastor, Dr. E. W. Speer, and
of that distinguished jurist, Alexander M. Speer, was for a few years a
member of the conference. I had some intimacy with him in 1852, and when
I retired from the editorship of the LaGrange Reporter he was my
Brother Speer was a remarkable man. He was, in his early life, a
conspicuous figure in South Carolina politics. At one time he was
Secretary of State in that Commonwealth and was one of
page 123 the ablest
and readiest political debaters known to its history. In the pulpit he
was a man of mark.
He was more argumentative and only a shade less classical than his
son, Dr. Eustace Speer.
He was a great favorite as a preacher with the LaGrange congregation,
and several times I listened to him with delight and profit.
There can be little doubt that but for the overshadowing influence of
Mr. Calhoun he would have risen to great political eminence in his
native State. Both Petigrue and Legare were kept out of the political
fields by this same influence, and they were both men of vast ability.
At that date Federalism, or to call it by a milder term, Whigism, was
reckoned a political felony for which there was no absolution. We dare
say that Brother Speer was in the end all the happier by his withdrawal
from politics. Certain it is that his last days of ministerial
consecration was the period of his greatest usefulness. He deliberately
made the choice of Moses, and long ago he reached the same exceeding
page 124 GEORGE W.
George Smith, in his valuable history of Georgia Methodism, notes the
fact that George W. Lane came to the conference in 1835. He was the son
of a prominent preacher of the Philadelphia Conference who for years was
connected with the Book Concern.
Young Lane was liberally educated and naturally a gifted preacher.
Being in delicate health, he was assigned to St. Augustine, Florida,
where he made full proof of his ministry. Afterwards the church needed
his services in the educational field, and he was elected professor of
languages in Emory College where he contributed much to the upbuilding
of that young institution.
I am not sure that I ever met Bro. Lane, but the traditional accounts
we have of his work in the pulpit and in the college entitle him to a
He died in 1857, before he had reached middle life, and his death was
universally regarded as a calamity to the church. He was the father of
Prof. Charles Lane, of the Georgia Technological school, who inherited a
goodly share of his father's best gifts.
page 125 JOSEPH J.
Joseph J. Singleton was a graduate of the State University and was an
honor to his alma mater.
It was always a perplexity to me that a man of his rare gifts and
graces seldom attained to prominent conference positions.
This may have been partly due to his quiet, unobtrusive disposition,
which at times bordered on shyness and even awkwardness. Perhaps it may
have resulted in no small degree from his thorough unselfishness. He
certainly was free from that prurient ambition, which in the church as
elsewhere, wins its way to preferment, whilst modest merit languishes in
comparative obscurity. It was in keeping with his character that he not
only uttered no word of complaint but accepted his Providential lot with
a cheerfulness befitting a child of God and an heir of glory.
Dear good fellow, as he was, I was never more impressed by the
sweetness of his spirit than when at the last conference we were
domiciled together at the house of an excellent Baptist brother.
As to his preaching, it is needless to say, to those who were
familiar with it that it was both refreshing and edifying. In the main
it was, as Bishop McTyeire was wont to say, "meat and greens." Yet it
was no rehash of threadbare pulpit
page 126 sayings, but
always clear-cut and forcible. His style was such classical English as
adorns the pages of the Spectator, but there was no display of
rhetorical flourishes, such as pass in some quarters for fine preaching.
That was a striking tribute of Sir James Macintosh to "Butler's
Analogy" that it contained "the best philosophy of Christianity" that
was ever published. While I do not accept this extravagant estimate, yet
I have sometimes thought that Brother Singleton's matter and manner of
speech was not unlike that of the bishop of Durham.
His scanty salaries, oftimes painfully
inadequate for the support and education of a large family, constrained
him at some periods of his life to resort to secular employment. He was
in demand as a practical geologist and as an expert in the location of
gold deposits and other valuable ores. While this was to be regretted,
he was conscientious in all he did, and was never neglectful of any
ministerial work which he had in hand.
His success in the work of conversion was not phenomenal, yet down to
his last day he was everywhere beloved and admired by the people of his
various pastoral charges. His children who survive him are usefully
employed and not unworthy of their pious father.
page 127 WALTER R.
Was born in Eatonton, Ga., November 18, 1813, and left this world
from his home at Oxford, Ga., on Sunday afternoon, September 2, 1894.
Another member of our Father's family, part on earth and part in heaven,
has crossed the flood.
There are sad hearts on this side the river,
And tears have been shed at the going of our brother;
But while we mourn the departure of the loved and lost,
The redeemed are greeting the saint that has crossed.
Brother Branham was a son of Dr. Branham, of Eatonton, one of the
most distinguished physicians Georgia has ever produced, and who was
also one of the wisest and purest of her public men. He represented
Putnam county in the house of representatives of the general assembly of
Georgia for a number of years, and was then elected to the state senate.
Brother Branham graduated at the University of Georgia in 1835. Among
his classmates was that brilliant orator and brave soldier, Gen. Francis
S. Bartow, whose life was an early sacrifice to the "lost cause," and
that eminent physician, Dr. Crawford W. Long, "the discoverer of
anæsthesia." An important event in the life of our deceased brother
occurred the year of his graduation. Of that we will let the venerable
Dr. A. H. Mitchell, of
page 128 Alabama, a
witness to the scene, be the chronicler. Writing of Brother Branham in
the Christian Advocate, of January 24, 1891, he said: "The mention of
this name brings up memories, O how precious, how ancient, yea, almost
forgotten. Walter Branham! Why, Mr. Editor, I received him into the
church in 1835. He was then a student in college at Athens, Ga. I was
not stationed at Athens, but was traveling the Gainesville circuit.
Richard Mosley was stationed at Athens, and he proposed to change
appointments with me for a time. While at Athens I opened the door of
the church, and to the astonishment of many--for there was no special
revival going on--Walter Branham came up and gave his hand for
membership in the church. Many, very many precious souls I have had the
pleasure of receiving into the church, and have long since forgotten,
but I have never forgotten young Branham, and with what dignity and
manly bearing he took this first step in a religious life, and how
quietly and gracefully he has moved along through all the changes and
responsibilities of the itinerancy." Brother Branham was licensed to
preach in October, 1836, by Rev. William J. Parks, presiding elder of
Macon district, and in December of the same year, at Columbus, he was
admitted on a trial into the Georgia Conference, and sent to the
Watkinsville circuit with John W. Glenn, then in the second year of his
ministry. The Watkinsville
page 129 circuit was
in the Athens district, and William J. Parks was the presiding elder of
that district for 1837. Bishop James O. Andrew presided over the
conference which admitted Brother Branham and the men who joined with
him. Among his classmates was that courtly gentleman, that finished
scholar, that princely preacher, and that spotless Christian, Dr. Alfred
T. Mann. There was another, the pathetic tones of whose musical voice linger in memory
yet. Who among us could ever sing as John P. Duncan sang?
Where eyes are never dim,
He sings the crowning hymn,
While angels listen to the strain,
And wonder at the sweet refrain.
Then there was that profound theologian, Rev. Josiah Lewis, Jr., who
was as well-equipped for the chair of a quarterly conference as he was
for the pulpit of a camp-meeting. These were some of the men who with
Walter R. Branham entered the old Georgia Conference on December 18th,
and who with him have left to us the undying record of their labors. The
future historian of Georgia Methodism will place these Christian heroes
side by side with the earliest defenders of our faith, and the pioneer
preachers of Wesleyan Arminianism.
Let us take a glimpse at the Georgia Conference of 1836. Among the
prominent members of that body were Lovick Pierce, William Arnold,
page 130 J. Parks,
Isaac Boring, Jesse Boring, John W. Tally, George F. Pierce, Caleb W.
Key, Samuel Anthony, James E. Evans, Whitefoord Smith, John W.
Yarbrough, Alexander Speer and John W. Glenn. On the superannuated list
appear the names of such men as Lewis Myers, Allen Turner, Samuel K.
Hodges and Ignatius A. Few. All of these men have left the earth, and
not a single member of the conference of 1836 is now with us December,
1836! An immense amount of Methodist history has been made since then.
That year the old Southern Christian Advocate was born, and in 1837,
Samuel J. Bryan and Thomas C. Benning were collecting funds to erect
buildings for Emory College. The ministerial life of our sainted brother
stretches across all of the years of the existence of our conference
college. And though he was an alumnus of the State University, yet our
own college had in him a true friend. His venerable form will be missed
by the boys that return to Oxford. The following appointments were
served by Brother Branham: 1837, Watkinsville, with John W. Glenn; 1838,
Augusta, with Isaac Boring; 1839, Clinton and Monticello, with N. H.
Harris; 1840-41, Milledgeville; 1842, Athens and Lexington, with Daniel
Curry; 1843, Lawrenceville; 1844, Madison; 1845, Eatonton, with John P.
Duncan; 1846, Eatonton; 1847-48, Vineville; 1849, Macon; 1850-51,
Savannah; 1852, professor in Wesleyan Female College; 1853-54,
supernumerary; 1855-56, Covington and Oxford; 1857-58-59, Atlanta
district; 1860-61-62-63, Griffin district; 1864-65, Atlanta district;
1866-67-68, Athens district; 1869-70, Griffin district; 1871,
Washington; 1872-73-74, Oxford and Social Circle; 1875; Covington and
Mount Pleasant; 1876, Covington; 1877-78 Social Circle; 1879, Jackson;
1880-81, Oxford; 1882, Atlanta city mission. Here his active itinerant
ministry of forty-six years, save one year as professor in Wesleyan
Female College, and two yea s of rest necessitated by feeble health,
ended. At the conference of 1882 he was placed on the superannuated
list, where he has since remained. After more than forty years in the
ranks of effective preaching, he gracefully retired, carrying with him
the love and respect of all of his brethren. For the past twelve years
he has gone in and out among us, illustrating the power of sanctifying
grace. Having fought a good fight, having kept the faith, he came at
last to the "grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his
Servant of God, well done!
Rest from thy loved employ,
The battle fought, the vict'ry won,
Enter thy Master's joy.
M. S. Williams,
H. H. Parks,
W. D. Shea,
page 132 MILES W.
Rev. Miles W. Arnold was born in Putnam county Ga., October 10, 1829,
and died about the same day and month of the year at his residence in
Walton county, Ga., in 1894. He suffered great pain and discomfort
during his last illness. As I am advised, he was next to the youngest
son of the venerable William Arnold, whose reputation for piety and
pulpit efficiency was commensurate with the limits of the old South
Carolina Conference. Both the late William Arnold, his eminent father,
and himself had a considerable share of the poetic gift and were both
sweet singers in Israel. Brother Miles W. Arnold was in his prime a
revivalist of marked ability. Few preachers of his day, whether on
station or circuit, exceeded him in the number of conversions under his
ministry. In temper he was one of the most affable men whose
acquaintance I ever made. His genial disposition and warm-heartedness
made him a favorite among all classes in town or country. Especially
were the children devoted to this man of God, who had imbibed no little
of the spirit of Christ when he said, "Suffer the little children to
come unto me, and forbid them not." Among children of larger growth,
young men and maidens, he
page 133 wielded an
influence that endeared him to them all through the years of his
Brother Arnold was twice married; once to Miss Martha Baskin, a most
excellent Christian woman of Carroll county, Georgia, by which marriage
he was blessed with a group of interesting children, only two of whom
survive--Lawrence, the business manager of a prominent institution of
learning in the city of Atlanta; and Sallie, the wife of a substantial
citizen of Warren county, Ga.
Brother Arnold in dying left no blur on his name, and his last
moments were sweetened by the tender ministry of his second wife, a Mrs.
Nowell, who heroically shared with him the hardships of his later
itinerant life. If I may be pardoned for a personal remark I will add
that I never had a more constant friend, whether in sickness or health.
Thank God that"
While there is no fellowship on earth
That has not here its end,
yet beyond the stars the blessed associations of this life will be
renewed and perpetuated for evermore.
page 134 W. B. MOSS.
Rev. W. B. Moss was a native of North Carolina and entered the
ministry in 1841.
He had the advantage of a good academic education and was a student
of the standard English and American literature. His pulpit gifts were
excellent, and but for feeble health, he would have reached a high
position in the ministry. Even as it was he occupied several good
positions in Hamilton, Carrollton and subsequently at Augusta where he
died, leaving an excellent wife and two sons, the elder of whom died
during the late civil war, the younger still surviving--the bookkeeper
of The Foote & Davies Co., the well-known Atlanta publishers.
M. D. C. JOHNSON.
Rev. M. D. C. Johnson died at Griffin, Ga., in July, 1849, in the
42nd year of his age. He served a number of churches in the Georgia
Conference, amongst them Washington, Madison, Covington and ultimately
failed from broken
page 135 health at
St. Augustine, Fla. Several years of his life were spent at Culloden,
the headquarters of both local and itinerant Methodist preachers, a half
century ago. While here he was an intimate friend of Bro. Cook, the
excellent father of Dr. W. F. Cook, who is still a leader in the Georgia
Bro. Johnson was likewise a cordial friend of Bishop Pierce when the
latter was in his prime. The bishop esteemed him an able preacher, and
he only lacked health to have made him a minister of great distinction.
The venerable relict of Bro. Johnson still survives at the ripe age
of eighty-four and is a model of consistent piety. Two of her sons, Mark
W. and Joseph, are favorably known in the business and ecclesiastical
circles of Atlanta and its vicinity.
In no small measure the founders of American Methodism set great
store by that quality that our English ancestors denominate "pluck."
From Asbury, the pioneer bishop, to Jesse Lee, the apostle of New
England, and Richmond Nloley, who died in the swamps of the Mississippi
of a malarial
page 136 fever, they
were strangers to "any fear of mortal man." Hope Hull, Lewis Myers, and
John Howard, were in this apostolic succession, and with other early
leaders of Georgia Methodism, esteemed moral courage as the chiefest of
the cardinal virtues. During the first year of my ministry, when
stationed in Columbus, I heard marvelous accounts of the preaching of
John Howard, and hardly less of his wonderful gift of prayer. Added to
these intellectual endowments he was, in shape and voice and gesture,
remarkably well-adapted to sway the vast congregations that flocked to
Nor was his celebrity of a local character, but extended throughout
the conference. His success in bringing penitents to the altar was
surpassed by few, if any, of his contemporaries. His stirring appeals
would often lift an audience to its feet, and were made more impressive
by a voice of vast compass that seemed to sweep the entire gamut of the
Dr. George Smith, who has searched ever nook and corner of Georgia
Methodism as with the lantern of Diogenes, has said so much of his
distinguished kinsman that we may be readily excused from further
details in this biographic etching. We simply add that he was not the
least conspicuous of the American Howards who are remotely descended
from the flower of the English nobility, who figure largely in the
chronicles of Froissart and in the historical plays of Shakespeare.
page 137 WM. HOLMES
Wm. Holmes Ellison first came into notice among Georgia Methodists as
president of Wesleyan Female College, Macon, Ga.
He succeeded Dr. (afterward Bishop) Geo. F. Pierce, and was at the
head of that institution for ten years of its early history. It soon
became evident that no better selection could have been made for that
important position. There were but few men in the entire connection, at
that time, who combined so well as he the qualities required to
popularize that new educational enterprise of the church, and push it
out on a career of permanent usefulness and prosperity.
Born and reared in one of the best Methodist families of Charleston,
S. C., he had what comparatively few of his Methodist contemporaries
enjoyed, the advantage of a regular collegiate education. Soon after
finishing his college course, he was licensed to preach, and joined the
South Carolina Conference.
The second year of his ministry he was stationed in Charleston, his
native city, and subsequently at Wilmington, N. C., and Georgetown, S.
In the meantime he had married the daughter of Bishop Wm. Capers, of
At the close of his term at Georgetown, he was called to the chair of
Mathematics in LaGrange College, Ala., then presided over by Dr. Robert
(afterward Bishop) Paine.
From this point he was called to assist in the organization of the
Wesleyan Female College at Macon, Ga., and after serving as a member of
the faculty for two or three years, was elected president to fill the
place, as we have seen, made vacant by the resignation of Dr. Geo. F.
Dr. Ellison was a charming preacher, a most lovable man, a model
college president. He may be said to have been a pioneer in the higher
education of girls. The institution over which he presided was the first
chartered female college in the world. He devised and signed the first
diploma ever given to a girl graduate. To him, more than to any educator
of his time, was committed the task of formulating the right conception
of educated Christian womanhood and of embodying that conception in
It is not too much to say, that the Wesleyan Female College, under
the presidency of Dr. Wm. H. Ellison, furnished the first instances of
the very high type of Christian womanhood which to-day is the brightest
ornament and richest treasure of our church at large. After ten years of
most arduous and successful service in the college, he found his health
giving way and decided to turn aside a while and rest. Accordingly, he
page 139 presidency
of the college and moved to Alabama, intending to lead, for a time at
least, a retired life on a farm.
But he was not permitted to remain long in retirement. In the course
of a year or two we find him president of a female college that had been
established at Chunneenugge, Ala., under the auspices of the Alabama
Conference, to which conference he had been transferred on his removal
from Georgia. Here he remained four or five years, bringing the new
institution up to a very high standard as a church school.
The next twenty years of his life he gave to the regular work of the
ministry as a member of the Alabama Conference.
He was in demand for the best stations and districts of the
conference, and continued to do effective work until he had passed his
three score years and ten. His old age was rich in the fruits of a wide
range of study and observation, combined with long experience in the
deep things of God.
He was just entering his eightieth year of age, after fifty-seven
years of faithful and efficient service in positions of highest trust
and responsibility, when the Master said, "It is enough, come up
page 140 WILLIAM P.
THE LEARNED SCRIBE.
For more than thirty years I was intimately associated with this
eminent divine, whose recent death has brought profound sorrow to
thousands of friends who admired him for his rare ability, and loved him
for his excellent social qualities. For two years, 1866-67, I was, by
episcopal appointment, his assistant at the First Methodist Church, of
Atlanta. During the first year of his pastorate I supplied his pulpit
for three months, while he went to a number of Northern and Western
cities on a canvassing tour in behalf of a new church which he had
projected, and which, after grave discouragements, he ultimately
completed. From his own lips, during our frequent interviews, I gathered
the story of his boyhood while a merry and ubiquitous sprite in his
father's printing office in Savannah. He had few educational advantages
in his youth except such as were afforded him at the compositor's case,
where he acquired the rudiments of his mother tongue, which in after
years he mastered to a degree scarcely equalled by his foremost pulpit
contemporaries. As opportunity offered he became an insatiate reader of
books, and as he phrased it, he "was not always discriminative" in his
selection of them. He was excessively
page 141 fond of
folklore, and not less so of such writings as "Robinson Crusoe," the
"Arabian Nights" and DeFoe's "History of the Devil." But he soon
developed better tastes and higher literary aspirations, becoming a
voracious student of history and biography.
From the start he exhibited also the qualities of bibliophilist,
commencing the accumulation of a library which in his lifetime resulted
in a library of ten thousand volumes, very many of them rare and costly
books which he purchased in Europe. If he had any weakness it lay in
I have sometimes suggested to him in a playful mood, as we sat and
smoked in his study, that he had as great a craving for books as Jack
Falstaff had for Dame Quickley's cup of sack. "Ah, me," he would reply,
"these, Scott, are my working tools." When I rejoined, "But, Harrison,
you forget what Wesley said of the Homo unius libri," and then,
quick as a lightning flash would come the surrejoinder, "True enough,
but then you seem to have forgotten that Wesley himself wrote a dozen
different grammars of as many languages, and sermons by the hundred. He
was far himself from being a man of one book." And thus we spent hours
in like pleasant interchange of views, uniformly conducted in the best
of temper. Looking back to these ambrosial hours when we were both
young, and then recalling his late interment at
page 142 Linwood
cemetery, we feel almost like saying with Hamlet, in the gravediggers'
scene: "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well!" For although in many
respects unlike the king's favorite jester, he, too, was a man of
infinite jest and marvelous fancy when in companionship with congenial
spirits at the fireside or the dinner table. But I fear I am indulging
more than is seemly in this autobiographic vein.
But his chief literary aim was to become a linguist. Without a master
he acquired Hebrew and its cognate dialects, in which he made great
proficiency. So likewise, with Greek and Latin he was only less
Several of the modern languages, especially German, French and
Spanish, he was fairly acquainted with, reading Goethe and Schiller with
considerable facility and Don Quixote and Racine with equal readiness.
When it is remembered that he had comparatively little scholastic
training, these were remarkable achievements.
This is, we believe, a just critical estimate of his philological
attainments. He was neither a Max Muller nor a Mezzofanti, but with
equal collegiate advantages, he would have been worthy of their
Dr. Harrison was prone to burn the midnight oil and this, in part,
accounts for his chronic invalidism through much of his life
As early as the close of his first pastorate at First Methodist
church he was well-nigh a physical wreck. The conference was in session
at Atlanta, he being bedridden by nervous prostration. He sent for me
two or three nights before the adjournment.
I obeyed his summons, went to the parsonage and found him greatly
dispirited. He told me he was anxious to remain in Atlanta, and he knew
that his congregation desired it. I knew that fact quite as well, for he
was a great favorite with all sorts and conditions of men throughout the
He then asked me, as a personal favor, to continue my present
relation to himself and the church, assisting him in the pulpit until
his health was re-established. I replied that I was not ready to abandon
my connection with the conference, nor to give up the publication of my
magazine. Indeed I could not do the latter, as I was legally obligated
to my partners to continue in the editorship. But that to assist him in
the present emergency I was willing to give him occasional help in the
pulpit without compensation, as I derived a fair income from the
magazine. He thanked me heartily and said: "Scott, I want you to go at
once and see Bishop Pierce and say to him what you have said to me, and
I think the question will be settled." I did immediately as he requested
and had a private interview with the bishop at his hotel on Alabama
street. When I spoke to the
page 144 bishop, he
replied that he thought of sending me to Griffin. I rejoined: "Bishop,
as you well know, I always obey orders, but I trust you will not make
that appointment, as my business interests would greatly suffer."
"Well," said the bishop, "First church cannot support both of you."
"Well, bishop, I promised Harrison that if you would not remove him I
would still assist him without charge as far as circumstances would
possibly allow." "I think," answered the bishop, "that I see light, and
there is no good reason why it should not be done."
I think, however, that it was probably a foregone conclusion to
remove him, not for any dissatisfaction in the church, but for his own
sake to transfer him to the milder climate of the South Georgia
Conference. I believed when the transfer was made it was a mistake, and
so it turned out. As for myself, I was appointed to a half station at
Acworth, where I had a delightful three years' pastorate that yielded me
a half support for preaching two Sundays in the month. No pastoral work
was required of me and I had ample time for pushing the interests of the
magazine. Dr. Harrison, meanwhile, returned to North Georgia, and with
the aid of several warm personal friends, located on a truck farm near
Marietta, Ga., where be struggled for two years with an agricultural
experiment that yielded him very unsatisfactory returns.
But while as a financial venture it was a failure, his health was
greatly benefited, and for the next two years he was appointed to the
Rome district, where he did some of his best work.
The next year he resumed his pulpit work in Atlanta to the evident
gratification of his former charge. It is now in order to speak of him
as a preacher, and yet so well-established was his reputation in that
regard that I shall not enter into details.
His preaching was uniformly of a high order, but there were special
topics upon which it was wonderful alike in force and eloquence.
Amongst these was his sermon on Christ's colloquy with Peter at the
sea of Tiberias. In that sermon he drew the distinction between the
Greek verbs agapo and phileo which was at times
unfavorably criticised. Another was his notable discourse on Paul's
address on Mars Hill, in the course of which he spoke learnedly of the
different schools of Athenian philosophy. Another, which Rev. Peter A.
Heard esteemed his most masterly effort, was when the Saviour said to
the seventy disciples: "Rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto
you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
I have sometimes said to him that his plain gospel sermons were his
best, when he occasionally rose to the high-water mark of Bishop Pierce.
Sermonic literature, as I once said to Bishop Haygood,
page 146 is not much
in demand but a small collection of Harrison's sermons could find ready
As an author he merits no little fame. His first venture of this sort
was the publication of "Theophilus Walton," a reply to "Theodosia
Earnest," a popular rather than learned treatise on the Baptist
controversy which some years ago swept like a prairie fire throughout
the South and West. This was the era of the Graves and Brownlow
controversy. These athletes exhausted the vocabulary of slang and
vituperation and left the question where they found it. His next
publication was "The Living Christ," which added but little to his
former reputation. Indeed, neither of the books referred to form any
considerable part of his literary inheritance. As a writer his enduring
fame will rest on his splendid contributions to the "Editor's Table" of
the Methodist Quarterly Review. This was always a favorite department
with the best readers of that ponderous publication. From it might be
compiled a large volume that would outlive its century and rank its
author with the best historical and theological writers of Methodism
We had purposed to enlarge on his social qualities. These might be
compared to those of Oliver Wendell Holmes, the self-styled "Autocrat of
the Breakfast Table," or Charles Lamb, the "gentle Elia," leaving out
the broad churchism that characterized the latter years of the former
page 147 ribald jests
of the latter when he was saturated with gin or opium. He was best seen,
however, in a circle of intimate friends--for, like Addison, he thought
that conversation was impossible in a promiscuous assemblage.
Less than a year ago I had a brief correspondence with him respecting
my last contribution to his review. Of these there were several during
the period of his editorship, for which he always compensated me
In that last correspondence he spoke meekly of his failing eyesight
and his cancerous affliction.
It was a little singular that he was never elected a delegate to the
General Conference until 1882, when a member of the Baltimore Conference
and stationed at Winchester, Va. It was, however, due to no lack of
appreciation by his ministerial brethren, but chiefly because that he
evinced no liking for parliamentary proceedings. He was seldom even
within the bar during the conference sessions and less frequently did he
take part in the debates of the body. The General Conference, however,
made amends for this seeming neglect by electing him to three terms of
service as book editor and editor of the Quarterly Review, a position
for which he was splendidly endowed. This place he would have retained
for another quadrennium but for the rapid decline of his health,
foreshadowing his death at an early date. Amidst all the mutations of
worldly fortune--the death of several members
page 148 of his
household and his intense bodily suffering, he clung to his trust in
God. The ministry of a faithful wife, and the sympathy of a host of
friends illumined his death chamber so that he passed away"
Gently as to a night's repose,
Like flowers at set of sun.
When the Georgia Conference held its fifth annual session at Columbus
in December, 1836, four young ministers asked to be admitted into the
itinerant ranks. They were duly received and began a long career of
marked usefulness which has deeply impressed the moral and religious
history of the "Empire State of the South." They were alike in their
devotion to the cause they espoused, but as different from each other in
natural temperament as the crystals of the falling snow. Walter R.
Branham was the "beloved disciple," delighting ever in the message,
"little children love one another;" John P. Duncan was the Asaph of his
day, singing his way to the hearts of men that he might bring them into
harmony with God. Alfred T. Mann was the Apollos of his church,
page 149 swaying by
his matchless oratory and winning by his passionate appeals; Josiah
Lewis was nature's masterpiece, stern but tender, grave but cheerful,
humble but courageous, trustful but mighty. He was unique in his
individuality, creating a suspicion of eccentricity, but a simpler
stronger nature has seldom been known among men. A man of clear
convictions, his opinions were well-grounded and boldly held. His mental
cast was logical, arguing from premises, and reaching conclusions which
he was prepared to defend. His intellectual character, like his
religious life, was moulded by familiarity with the Bible. He thought in
the terse utterances of the word of God, and expressed himself with
telling force. Those who frequently heard him in the pulpit have often
been aroused into wonder at his power of statement compacted into
discourse. The preachers of the "rifle, axe and saddle-bags" period were
men of "one book." "They gave attendance to reading, to exhortation, to
doctrine," and qualified themselves by the careful study of the "one
book." Brother Lewis was no exception to the rule, and yet he had
supplemented the limited educational advantages of his youth by adding
to his mental store a liberal knowledge of the classics, both ancient
and modern. Indeed, as opportunity offered, he delighted to make
excursions into the tempting fields of general literature. Nevertheless
the Bible was his chief study. It was a real fascination
page 150 to him--a
charm that was never broken. It engaged him and all his powers. For
hours each day I have seen him digging deep into the mines of truth, and
like the miners of Cornwall, he found the ore richer and brighter, as
with the light of God's spirit, he penetrated farther. Now and then he
seemed to arouse from his absorbing search, and a positive glow would
rest upon his stern features, and mellow light would sparkle in his
dancing eyes. It was as if he had met his Lord in some divine vision of
His will and word. Such preparation gave him the well-merited power of
exegesis. Bishop Pierce was accustomed to consult him as he would a
commentary on difficult passages, and prized his interpretations as
those of a master. A story of the earlier days has come down, that on
one occasion in the presence of Bishop Pierce and other ministers, Bro.
Lewis undertook the elucidation of a much controverted text. Perhaps the
doctrine had just been discussed at the fireside, and deep interest had
been awakened, our hero observing his usual reserve until called on to
speak. The hour for preaching had come and abruptly broke off the
discussion. The exegete was the preacher that day, and to the surprise
and delight of the ministers he announced the passage whose mysteries
they had been trying in vain to solve. Without unnecessary delay he
"launched into the deep." Sentence after sentence in tersest, strongest
words fell like
page 151 flashes of
light through the lowering clouds, collation and comparison of related
doctrines familiar as a song of childhood cleared the opening sky, until
in briefer space than is often used in introductions to what are called
"fine serm ons," the heavens rolled before the astonished company in
azure blue, and the sun of truth was shining in wondrous revelation. His
task done he cast his glance upon the preachers present, and quaintly
said, "Now, if any of you can beat that, you may have a chance to try."
Nobody tried, the controversy was ended.
A commentary on the Bible from his pen would have taken much time
from his preferred field work, but such a book would have been a rare
addition to "Helps in the study of God's word." The Arminian view of
theology was his natural correspondence. His straightforward, manly,
mental movement easily fell into this form of doctrinal truth. He
believed it from his heart, and preached it with unwonted power.
Calvinism had no place in his thoughts except to find arguments to
destroy it. He felt that it was little less than sin, God was dishonored
by it, and men should not believe it if he could help it. Sometimes he
was severe in his denunciation of the "awful heresy." On occasion he
would rise with the might of a conqueror, and upset every foundation on
which it was built. When Calvinists were present in his congregation he
seemed most on fire
page 152 to speak the
truth as he saw it. I remember one bright Sabbath when all the
congregations of a little city crowded into his to enjoy a day with the
Methodists. Baptists and Presbyterians were there in force. It was
communion day, but no matter, Arminius must be supported and Calvin
driven from the field. The argument began quietly with premises well
laid. The building went up stone on stone. The corner columns stood
together in clasped embrace. The great builder saw the completed
structure, perfect and strong. His whole nature swelled and bounded with
the tides of feeling and confidence and rising upon the highest billows
of his impassioned soul, he knew no limitations, but boldly declared in
a very outburst of fervor, "Arminianism is true, and John Calvin has
done more harm than any six infidels that ever lived. If he was saved at
all it was by the skin of his teeth." The Methodists had close communion
Though he reveled in "forensic eloquence" it must not be inferred
that he was confined to this form of pulpit power. In no sense was he a
one-sided messenger of the truth. Devoting himself wholly to the work of
the ministry, never turning aside from its demands upon him, never
resting through the forty years of his itinerant life, he was a preacher
in the completest sense, and nothing but a preacher of the whole gospel,
in every phase of it. I have heard him discourse on Love, and his
page 153 tones were
as tender as a flute, while his words were as choice and pure as crystal
streams. His sermon on "Charity never faileth," was a breaking of the
alabaster box of precious ointment, mellowing the heart and leaving a
long perfume. It was a matchless presentation of the high theme. His
unfaltering courage and uncompromising fidelity were of the quality to
stand any test. No mere circumstances affected him. He could say with
the emphasis of the apostle to the Gentiles, "None of these things move
me, neither count I my life dear unto myself." No form of evil escaped
his denunciation. No fear of men restrained his rebukes. In a certain
county in Georgia while slavery existed, his trusty old horse took
fright at a group of half-clad ragged negro children on the road. He was
going to camp-meeting, and got a message on the way. At the principal
hour, in the presence of thousands, many of whom were large
slave-owners, his the me was the duty of masters to slaves. He told the
incident of the neglected children, and the frightened horse, and cried
aloud, sparing not the inhumanity of masters to their slaves, and
demanding reform. There was no mincing of words, no cringing that
"thrift might follow fawning."
He waxed warmer and grew bolder as he found he was denouncing an evil
alas, too common in that section. The sermon produced a sensation. The
guilty were excited to the highest pitch, and
page 154 they turned
their wrath toward the preacher. Threats of violence were freely made,
and reached his ears. Without a fear he moved among his enemies, and
when the storm had passed, the dauntless prophet lived to see a great
reform. No sketch of Josiah Lewis would be at all lifelike that did not
at least make mention of his love of humor. He had the keenest
appreciation of the ludicrous, often finding it where the ordinary
observer would fail to see it. I have seen him convulsed with laughter,
and "when he laughed he laughed all over." Once, passing down the
principal street of a city, he had a vision of fun. It was too much for
him. He stopped still, and supporting himself on my shoulder, his great
body shook with emotion, until tears poured down his glowing cheeks. His
support soon failed him under the law of contagion. He once enjoyed a
huge joke on the two weather prophets of a Georgia town. It came about
in this way. During a long, dry summer in the seventies, he was helping
the pastor in a protracted meeting, spending a week among the brethren.
One day four or five of the officials joined him and the pastor at a
dining. After dinner, sitting on the veranda, the party naturally
bewailed the heat of the weather, and the poor prospect for rain. One
brother said the dry spell would continue for some time, as Maj. A. had
announced that there would be no rain for six weeks, and Judge P. had
page 155 his
fellow-seer, except that he thought we might be refreshed with a shower
in four weeks. There was no need of a weather bureau in that town when
these oracles spoke. Their prognostications were a law unto many. "Uncle
Joe" heard what was said. He was weather-wise himself. With a curious
twinkle in his black eyes, he looked up into the sky. A little to the
southwest there was a cloud no bigger than a man's hand. He kept watch
on it. At last under an excitement which he could not conceal, he said,
"if the wind does not jump the corner, we will have rain in less than
twelve hours." This was a bold prophecy in that town, but he made it,
and now it was prophet against prophet. The company sat together an hour
or more, now and then recurring to the weather. Meanwhile the cloud
grew, and the wind played true. Uncle Joe's excitement became intense.
The air was changing in temperature, and nature threw out her signal of
the near approach of rain, and then in a few minutes more the great
drops began to fall. With an air of triumph our old Elijah arose, and
warned the company that "if they did not hurry home they would get a
wetting." All bade adieu to the host and hastened down the street. On
the way a heavy fall of rain ran the party into the stores for shelter.
While standing in the door rejoicing in the refreshing from the clouds,
some one pointed out to Uncle Joe, Maj. A. and Judge
page 156 P., both big
and fat, running for dear life to get out of the rain. That was joy
enough for him. The false prophets had fallen.
There was no service that night on account of the rain. Next morning
the sun arose bright and beautiful and every tree beamed with gems in
raindrops on their leaves. The prayer-meeting was rich in songs of
praise, and happy hearts were full of gratitude. Uncle Joe began his
prayer in these words. "Oh Lord, we thank thee for thy goodness,
remembering us when we forget thee. We especially thank thee for the
refreshing showers that have fallen upon the earth, in spite of the
prophecies of ungodly men, who cannot trust thee in thy providence."
In his latter life Bro. Lewis leaned upon a staff with a head of
gold. It was a present to him from his friends who were attending the
commencement exercises of Emory College. Inscribed on the precious metal
were these words:"
Rev. Josiah Lewis,
Our Model Patron."
One after another, seven noble sons have graduated' with the honors
of the institution, and each one took a manly place among men. Two have
joined their father on the other shore. Others of them are honoring his
name on earth, perpetuating the work which he began. He lives in them
and theirs, and "his works do follow him."
page 157 W. C. BASS.
Often have I made eulogies on my deceased brethren; never have I
responded more cheerfully than on this occasion, sad as it is for many
reasons. There is a strange juxtaposition here. The report which I have
just read by request of the committee on memoirs was not from my pen; it
was written by the late Dr. Clark, in expectation of an earlier
departure of Dr. Bass, and it was printed before either of them passed
into the beyond, Dr. Clark going first. The report is fully endorsed by
me except as to two immaterial facts of date and place. Bishop Pierce's
first sermon was delivered in Monticello, Ga., after announcement by
that stentor, Wesley P. Arnold. So the bishop himself told me,
remarking, "and everything that could get on a shoe came out." Let me
say no wonder, for he was the son of Lovick Pierce, the prince of
Again, the South Carolina Conference was divided (setting off
Georgia) in January, 1831--not at the close of the year. George F.
Pierce joined at the first session of the Georgia Conference, January,
1831. These alterations are very small and amount to nothing but to be
Capers Bass, as he was always called, was a South Carolinian, though
born in Augusta, Ga.
page 158 He was
educated at divers places, but chiefly at Cokesbury, S. C., and Emory
College, Georgia. Being six years older than Dr. Bass, I was at
Cokesbury several years in advance of him. I first saw him on the stage
at Emory College. A powerful young man in bodily strength, with a most
commanding voice. It was a Sophomore exercise and he declaimed Webster's
great speech on the Union. His physical and vocal powers made this very
appropriate. But it was strange for a South Carolina boy, feeling as he
did with his State, to speak Webster, the most national man in America.
South Carolina at that very date was attempting secession which was
effected ten years later.
Dr. Bass had many fine traits. Of some I will speak freely. As a
preacher he was highly respectable.
He had a marked fondness for preaching on parables and narratives and
herein he was an adept. His chief distinction, however, was as an
educator. After serving at Greensboro and Madison, he came to the
Wesleyan Female College as a professor of natural science. This chair he
filled fifteen years under divers presidents. When Dr. E. H. Myers
resigned, Dr. Bass was advanced to the presidency. He filled this office
twenty years--in all he was in the Wesleyan College thirty-five years.
The college was run on the leasing plan, and he and Dr. Cosby W. Smith
were the lessees.
page 159 Smith had
less ambition than any man of learning I ever knew. He was the senior of
Bass but did not want the presidency and gladly surrendered his claims
to the junior partner. They were like David and Jonathan, in perfect
accord, until six years ago when Dr. Smith suddenly died.
Dr. Bass must be viewed as a man of affairs having very great
executive talents. During my long residence in Macon--twenty-five
years--I have never heard of a servant or teacher, or merchant or banker
complaining of Dr. Bass for even tardiness, and he carried this vast
load. His corps of professors respected and even admired him. The
internal affairs of the college ran smoothly under his control. When it
became necessary to have a final settlement with him (I speak as a
trustee), it was found that he had advanced money for the trustees
beyond his duty, and a balance of three hundred and fourteen dollars was
due Dr. Bass, which we admitted and paid.
Dr. Bass was a very generous and unselfish man, and very much of an
altruist--he did not live for himself, but to do good. How many poor
young women he has educated free of tuition and by reduced board none
will ever know. These women owe him a debt of gratitude they can
scarcely pay, but they should make an endeavor. Let the hundreds trained
by him now rich unite to honor his memory by erecting a lasting monument
in the form of a science hall, the most imperative
page 160 want of the
college. I am safe in saying no man in Georgia has done so much for
You do not think it strange that Dr. Bass did not grow rich, in view
of what has been stated--he cared little for money.
It was a dismal day in April last when the trustees met at his
request to accept his resignation. Like a day without sunshine, it was a
day of gloom. There was no alternative, for he was nearing the grave.
Dr. Branch, president of the board, myself, chairman of the executive
board, and Col. Isaac Hardeman were appointed to seek a new president.
We went to Virginia for him and Mr. E. H. Rowe was proposed and elected.
May he wear the mantle of Bass well and in honor.
The speaker could be fuller, but this is enough. President Bass was a
man of rare combination. His broad, bright smile, like a sun beaming
through rich windows, we shall see no more; his powerful voice, suited
to the command of martial battalions, will nevermore be heard in pulpit
or on the stage at conference or college. He lived well for God and
mankind, died in honor and peace to live forever.
page 161 LEWIS J.
Few men of his day were better equipped for effective pulpit work
than Lewis J. Davies. His school advantages were excellent, and he was
reared in a community where he naturally acquired a fondness for art and
His reading in after life took a broad range in theology and in
philosophy. What he read he thoroughly digested, and there was in his
preaching no evidence of mental dyspepsia, but a clear and vigorous
statement of divine truth.
He was especially gifted in expository preaching, which he esteemed
the best method of pulpit teaching. I shall always remember a sermon
which he preached in Wesley Chapel in 1861, during a memorable revival,
the gracious results of which still abide in the membership of the First
Church. His theme was the fall of Jericho, and the sermon fairly
electrified the crowded audience. It was often said that the manner of
Davies, in the delivery of a discourse was quite like the manner of
Jesse Boring. But while there was a sort of intellectual affinity
between these able men, neither was a copyist.
As for Davies, he had a most striking individuality. I have even
heard him charged with heresy because some of his theological views were
page 162 harmony with
the prevailing denominational sentiment. As a stationed preacher he was
not very much in demand by the larger churches. His forte was district
work, and his best preaching was probably done under the shadow of
Yonah, or Currahee or within earshot of Tallulah, as it lifts its
thunderous psalm of praise to Him "who girded the mountains with
One of the last and best sermons which I ever heard fall from his
lips was at Little River Campground, in Cobb county, where he had a host
of admirers, to whom for many years he made an annual visitation. It was
an elaborate discussion of the atonement in which he ventured to dissent
from the current belief of the majority of his ministerial brethren. His
doctrinal divergence was not, however, so wide as to constitute a
stumbling block to any sincere believer.
With all his gifts, Brother Davies was modest almost to a fault. This
doubtless, may have circumscribed his influence and hindered his
ecclesiastical preferment. But he enjoyed the esteem and confidence of
his brethren in a high degree, and his death was reckoned a calamity to
the church he so faithfully served. He was happily wedded to a daughter
of Rev. John C. Simmons, himself a man of deserved prominence in the
conference. To her he was indebted greatly during his seasons of bad
health consequent on nervous prostration. This excellent Christian woman
page 163 survives to
serve the church in some of its most important enterprises.
The familiar lines of Halleck on the death of his poet friend, Joseph
Rodman Drake, might be justly applied to Lewis J. Davies:"
None knew him but to love him,
None named him but to praise.
JAMES B. PAYNE.
James B. Payne was like John W. Knight, "a brand plucked from the
burning." They were both combative in their instincts and apart from
converting grace were better suited to the prize ring than to the
pulpit. After their conversion and entrance into the ministry, they were
militant saints, after the fashion of Peter Cartwright and Gideon
They were valiant in defending the truth and made no compromise with
sin, whether in high or low places.
I first heard "Uncle Jimmy" preach at Rome in 1854, just after the
death of his son in Savannah. His sermon was on the sweet uses of
providential affliction. In the conclusion he referred to his late
page 164 bereavement
in a way that brought alternate shouts and sobs from the audience.
This brings us to the remark that despite the occasional prosiness of
his style, there were times when his mastery of a congregation was
When stationed at LaGrange many years ago he conducted one of the
most wonderful revivals known in the history of Western Georgia. From
that period the LaGrange church became one of the wealthiest and most
influential in the Georgia Conference. The Ridleys, the Bulls, the
Heards, the Turners, the Hills, the Morgans, the Bealls, the Greenwoods,
and a dozen other families besides were not less distinguished for
culture and piety than the leading Methodists of Athens and Columbus.
In the years following, Brother Payne occupied prominent positions on
districts and stations, and more than once was chosen as a delegate to
the General Conference.
For several years towards the close of his useful life he was a
resident of Atlanta, greatly honored and beloved by all the
Perhaps his last effective service was in connection with Payne's
Chapel, to the organization and upbuilding of which he contributed
At the time of his death he was a citizen of Upson county. We need
not add that his death was triumphant.
page 165 BISHOP
"Once upon a time," as the old story-tellers were wont to phrase it,
I spent an evening with Bishop Joshua Soule, one of the foremost men of
American Methodism. A native of "the district of Maine" which
Massachusetts for many years treated with true stepmother policy, he was
of a lofty stature and of an imperial bearing that were suggestive of
leadership. He was stopping a few hours at the old Washington Hall of
Atlanta, which occupied during the war the present site of the Markham
House. His destination was Montgomery, Ala., whither he was going on an
episcopal visitation to the Alabama Conference. The bishop was fortunate
in having that rarely gifted man, Dr. T. O. Summers, as a traveling
companion. The bishop was bent with age and not less bowed down with
grief at the distracted condition of affairs in church and state.
While in full sympathy with his adopted section, the South, he was
apprehensive that the secession movement would result disastrously.
In 1844 he had deliberately withdrawn from the northern wing of the
church, because he regarded the Finley resolution which virtually
decapitated Bishop Andrew, as a blow aimed at the episcopacy. Rather
than acquiesce in such palpable
page 166 wrongdoing,
he turned his back on the memories and associations of his childhood and
riper years, and, like Abraham, went forth into an alien land. He never
wavered in his allegiance to the southern church, and, while he was
physically unfitted for heavy work, he never shirked duty or
responsibility. We have always regretted that it was never our good
fortune to listen to a sermon from that master of assemblies who
promulgated that great sermon on "The Perfect Law of Liberty." Near the
witching hour of night, Dr. Summers and myself assisted this venerable
man to his train. There I took leave of him to meet him next, I devoutly
hope, where "there is no night."
BISHOP HOLLAND N. McTYEIRE.
My earliest acquaintance with Bishop Holland N. McTyeire was at an
episcopal reunion held in Atlanta in connection with the annual meeting
of the parent board of missions in 1862. By courtesy, I was invited,
with other Atlanta pastors, to a seat in the body, with the privilege of
discussion, but without the right of voting. Bishops Andrew, Pierce and
Paine, were present, and so were Drs. McTyeire, A. L. P. Green, L. D.
page 167 and
Wadsworth. Several prominent lay brethren were present whose names I
The General Conference set for May of that year was indefinitely
postponed and only such matters as were urgent and did not admit of
delay were disposed of in an informal way.
At that time McTyeire impressed me as a man of superlative ability.
It was not until 1866 that he was episcopally ordained, but by every
token, except "the technical laying on of hands," he was then as much of
an episcopals as though he had been consecrated by His Grace
of York or Canterbury.
My next meeting with the late bishop was in the spring of 1866, at
which time he was the pastor of the Methodist Church in Montgmery,
Alabama. I was invited to a tea at the parsonage, when I first saw that
thoroughly original, if not eccentric divine, Dr. Joseph B. Cottrell. It
is not often that one is brought in contact with such a pleasant host
and fellow-guest. The memory of that scene is still fresh, and has lost
but little of its fragrance. It was enlivened by choice bits of humor,
and spicy discussions of the ecclesiastical situation which just then
was not the most promising. No one of the party, however thought that a
reaction would ensue, and that the southern church would emerge from her
fiery trial purified and animated with loftier aims.
Very many people were wont to esteem Bishop McTyeire as wanting in
sociability. This was a misapprehension. While he usually had an air of
hauteur, it was more the result of his physical make-up than of any real
lack of the amenities of good fellowship. His whole nature was full of
sunshine, and there was about him a keen relish for wit and pleasantry.
His Scotch inheritance of common sense was proverbial. But behind this
there was a play of fancy, and even a sweep of imagination, which at
intervals would thrill his audiences.
I remember well a district conference sermon on "The Minor Ministries
of the Sanctuary," which might well rank with the best efforts of the
British or continental pulpit.
As a writer, he was not voluminous, but his history of Methodism,
lacking somewhat in elaboration, is the best of its class. He has
written some sketches which remind us of Longstreet--this is especially
true of his "Uncle Cy." A more satisfactory and truthful delineation of
the old plantation patriarch that Mrs. Stowe's "Uncle Tom."
While he was not a ritualist in any offensive sense, he had great
respect for the prescribed order of services in the ministration of the
Lord's supper. On one occasion he reminded the pastor, who officiated at
the holy communion, that he had omitted some parts of the service;
adding in an admonitory way, "Take care, lest you fall into
page 169 habit of
abbreviating the services." So in his death chamber at Nashville, he
said to the ministrant from whom he was to receive his last sacrament,
"Be sure and read the whole service."
This regard for what some esteem trifles was characteristic of this
great man. He disliked a perfunctory method in the sanctuary. "Decently
and in order" was his motto, and he was true to it, whether he was
reading a hymn or pulverizing a heresy under the trip-hammer of his
invincible logic. Having referred to his sketch of "Ucle Cy," we subjoin
a few paragraphs, which we are sure will be read with no little zest.
"Uncle Cy owed much to his wife--an honest, truthful and virtuous
woman. She was the best nurse I ever saw, and ministered with
unspeakable fidelity and tenderness to my parents, and brother and
sisters on their deathbeds. 'Aunt Bess' was the first woman I ever heard
pray in public. She was a leaven and a light. Some influence and honest
pennies she gained by practicing that delicate profession which the
Egyptians, in Moses' time, turned over to their women. Only once did she
fail me. When the Federal armies were getting into Alabama we proposed
to put our silver spoons and such things in her keeping. 'Well, master,
in course I'll do it if you says so, but I can't be 'sponsible. Dem
Yankees is a coming, and I hearn tell how dey carries wid 'em somethin'
like a pinter worm, and when it's sot down dey tells it
page 170 to pint wha
any money or silver things is hid, and it pints jest as straight as a
"Uncle Cy's family pride was a trait characteristic of the old
regime. I have seen him take his wife down by reminding her that he had
been in the family longer than she. Once I had arranged with a neighbor,
Squire Fowler, to get a swarm of bees. Uncle Cy was hollowing out a gum,
and with some hesitation said. 'Master, don't you know some people can't
get into bees? Our family is too industrious for bees. Old master tried
to git into bees, and I 'member well how old master before him tried,
and dey never could. It's only lazy, poor white folks has any luck
raising honey. And he made numerous citations in support of his
position. But his flattery was not to balk my experiment. I got into
bees At first, they went in and come out of the little hole at the
bottom of the gum briskly. After awhile, few and fewer; then only a
straggler or two. We knocked off the top and found a triangular-shaped
piece of comb, but no honey. So ended my first and last attempt at
getting into bees.
"Farewell, faithful, loving, dear old Uncle Cy. I'm sure he loved me
and prayed for me. Indeed, they tell me that he has been in the habit of
praying for me, by name, in public meetings. My family have joined me
every year in making up a box for Uncle Cy and Aunt Bess, filled with
half-worn clothes and various things new and old, such
page 171 as they
liked or needed. Christmas is coming, but no box goes that way any more.
Our children, and the generations following, can never know the
sentiment that sprung up between the two races under the system of
domestic slavery. It had its evil and it had its good. Both are gone
WM. D. ANDERSON.
At the request of friends and relatives of the late Dr. Anderson, I
come, with sad heart and hesitating pen, to offer my feeble tribute to
his name and memory. A few days since, as I stood amidst a weeping
throng, met to perform the last sad rites to his dead body, as I saw
that body lowered into its final resting place, memory was busy with
these lines, written upon the death and burial of a wise and good man of
the long ago.
Ne'er to those dwellings where the mighty rest,
Since their foundations, came a nobler guest.
This couplet--as applicable to the present case--will be stripped of
seeming exaggeration when it is remembered that true nobility does not
page 172 out of
circumstances of birth or material surroundings, but from excellencies
of character--virtues of heart and life. By virtue of the fact that our
lamented friend and brother exemplified in life and labors the elements
of a true Godlike manhood, let him stand forth as the peer of the
noblest and the best. Through the ages past many of high repute in
civil, social and professional life--kings, warriors, statesmen, poets
and philosophers--have lived, died and been laid to rest in grand
mausoleums, amid the tears and sobs of a nation, while--"
--their deeds as they deserve
Receive proud recompense.
But true wisdom--wisdom which God honors--looks beyond time and
estimates final results. In the last day many of the so-called great of
earth, whose names, perhaps, have been sounded far and wide by the
"loud-mouthed trump of fame," will dwarf into nothingness while others,
far less known and honored, will stand forth robed and crowned with
royal splendors. God loves and honors those who love and honor him. For
such only are of princely stock--of the royal blood of the Son of Mary.
Yet how many, in their moral blindness, fail to see and appreciate the
fact. Many so-called titles to nobility are without God's "image and
superscription," Beneath many of these claims to fame and fortune may be
found, written with invisible hand "Weighed in the balances
page 173 and found
wanting." And why so written? Because that which constitutes the essence
and incarnation of all true greatness is wanting. Very many formulate
opinions and are governed by the maxims of time and sense. But God does
not so scan the outer bulk and surface. He is looking outside of the
charmed circles of social distinctions and exalted worldly station, and
is inquiring after the great-hearted--those who love God and love their
fellow-men--those who, if need be, are willing to die for the truth and
for conscience sake. While men are formulating opinions and passing
judgments according to externals, God searches the within looking for
triumphs over self in the battle--field of the heart--the realm of the
motives and affections. "He that ruleth his spirit"--through divine
agency obtains the mastery over himself--"is better"--therefore in God's
estimate, greater "than he that taketh a city." Victory over self,
through Christ, is true liberty--exaltation into citizenship in the
kingdom of the Lord Almighty. While on the other hand, a man of
self-seeking--a lover of fame and pleasure more than of God--may ascend
to the dizzy heights of worldly greatness; but does not, cannot reach
the summit of true wisdom and real fame.
These thoughts in the present connection, may appear to some to be
out of place. But when we take into account the high native gifts and
acquired abilities of our deceased friend, together
page 174 with the
possibilities before him of brilliant achievements in professional and
civic life, we can have only a dim conception of the battle he fought
with himself before he obtained the consent of his mind and heart to
forsake all and follow Christ. It takes a hero--a man possessed of
elements which enter into the composition of which martyrs are made--to
turn aside from the pathway to fame and distinction, and become an
itinerant Methodist preacher. At his Master's bidding, he literally
"sold all"--so far as human opinion goes. I desire to stress this point,
for it indexes his great, true character. One long and favorably known
to the deceased--himself long prominent in public life and official
station--said to me a few days since: "I have never known a man who
turned away from prospects so flattering as those almost within the
grasp of William D. Anderson. A seat in congress and the governor's
chair were easy possibilities just ahead of him. If you write of him,
stress this fact."
What a contrast between the subject of this memoir and the "certain
ruler" who came to Christ, saying, "Good Master, what shall I do, that I
may inherit eternal life." The last, learning the conditions, refused to
comply, going away "sorrowful" while the first, after a severe struggle
with himself, and a fierce conflict with Satan, obeyed the call of God,
and, like Abraham of old, "went forth, not knowing whither he went." He
page 175 recognized
the call of God as the highest call to men, and he obeyed. He understood
well what this act of obedience implied and involved. A life of
sacrifice on the one hand and of laborious, often unremunerative toil on
the other. But, with eye of faith, he saw at the end of the race-track
upon which he was entering a crown of final rejoicing. Toward this he
pressed with unfaltering step, and would have pressed although to
receive that crown might subject him to the stroke of Nero's bloody axe.
Decision was a strong point in his character. I stress it because it was
the pivot on which revolved the mental and moral machinery of his
well-rounded, well-poised manhood. With him, to decide was to do. While
he often consulted with friends and had a ready ear for the opinions of
others, yet he took no step forward or backward until "fully persuaded
in his own mind." And hence, as this writer believes, from close,
intimate relations, that, at the call of God--let friends, kindred, the
world say what they might--he would have turned away from earth's most
attractive allurements and gone forth "preaching and shewing the glad
tidings of the kingdom of God."
The subject of this writing was born at Marietta, Ga., June 24, 1839.
He was the son of George D. and Jane Holmes Anderson. His father was a
judge of the superior court at the time of his sudden and unexpected
death. His mother was a
page 176 woman of
high Christian type. So he inherited good blood and fine brain power
from both his parents. He possessed from the start a quick and
inquisitive mind. His educational facilities were good. He graduated,
with distinction, at the Georgia University in 1859. Applying himself at
once to the study and practice of law, he soon won honorable rank at the
bar of his native town. But soon the alarm of war was heard along the
Southern coast. Fearing that the battle might be over before he should
have opportunity to try his "'prentice hand," he, together with four
others, hurried away to Charleston, where he entered, as a private, the
Palmetto Guards, of the Second South Carolina regiment. Soon after his
command was transferred to Virginia, where he acted a gallant part in
many battles now famous in history--Bull Run, first and second Battles
of Manassas, Yorktown, Millersburg, Seven Days Around Richmond, Cold
Harbor, Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, Savage Station, Fair Oaks,
Frazier's Farm, Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville,
Boonesboro, Harper's Ferry, Sharpsburg and Gettysburg. At the battle of
Cold Harbor he received a wound in his right hand which he carried with
him to the grave. At the close of his first year, he was transferred to
Phillips' Legion, and elected as first lieutenant of his company, which
he often commanded as captain.
At the close of the war he returned to the practice of his
profession, at Marietta. He married, in April, 1865, Miss Louise J.
Latimer, of South Carolina. His wife was a most excellent and pious
woman. To her godly life and pious example was he indebted more,
perhaps, than to all other human sources for his conviction, conversion
and subsequent career of usefulness in the church. Her death, which
occurred in 1875, was a crushing blow to him, but was, may be, under
God, the key to all his after history. In 1877, one year after entering
the active ministry, he married Miss Lula H. Latimer, youngest sister of
his first wife. By these marriages he left nine children--two by his
first wife--fine young men and full of promise to church and state. May
the mantle of the lamented father fall upon one or both of them! What a
host of saddened hearts throb in deepest sympathy for the widowed and
He joined the church in 1867 under the ministry of the Rev. W. F.
Cook. As might have been expected of one of his firm, earnest nature, he
served the church wisely and well, filling very acceptably the offices
of trustee, steward and Sunday-school superintendent.
While in private civil life he never sought after office. Yet his
fellow-citizens, noting his integrity and fitness for positions of trust
and responsibility, honored him frequently by electing him to the
legislature of the state. And for four consecutive
page 178 terms he was
elected to preside as speaker pro tem over the deliberations of
that body. The second year of his fourth term in this honorable position
he resigned his seat and knocked at the door of the North Georgia
Conference as a candidate for "admission on trial." His friends and
admirers at home and abroad--he had hosts of them--were astounded at the
step he was taking, which some of them characterized as the "climax of
folly." But "none of these things" moved him. His mind was made up.
He was appointed to and served the following charges: Eatonton, 1876;
Cedartown, 1877-8; Marietta, 1879-80; Elberton district, 1881-2; First
church, Rome, 1883; Marietta district, 1884-6; First church, Athens,
1887-90; First church, Atlanta, 1891; First church, LaGrange, 1892;
Oxford district, 1893-4.
Here his life-work ends. Who shall estimate the value of such a life?
A life full of good deeds done by the "right hand," which the "left hand
never knew." Who shall gather the "bread" he "cast upon the waters?" Who
shall garner the harvest grown from gospel seed which he sowed upon
valleys and hillsides wherever he went? After making his first round for
the new year upon the Oxford district, a district of twenty
appointments, in the space of five weeks--a task to test the toughest
muscle and most robust health--he returned to his home in Marietta to
page 179 hands and
enter into sweet rest. His last illness was severe and brief. But in the
delirium of disease his mind seemed absorbed in his loved employ--the
"ruling passion strong in death." He preached, prayed, sang and
counselled the brethren of his quarterly conferences as though they were
present before him. The day before he died his delirium left him and he
became fully conscious. He said to his brother-in-law, who stood at his
bedside: "Pierce, what do they say is the matter with me?" Pierce
answered, "A very severe cold with pneumonia tendency." "Well," said he,
"I know I am a very sick man; every inch of me from head to feet feels
Soon after he fell into a profound slumber and awoke no more. About 6
o'clock, February 19th, without a struggle or groan, he sank into the
arms of death. He left no dying testimony. None was needed. His pure,
noble, consecrated life was enough. As to how he was loved by the
ministry and laity, the multitudes who attended his obsequies abundantly
Dr. Anderson as a friend was frank and faithful; as a father, firm
yet considerate; as a husband, loving and tender; as a Christian and
minister, zealous and true. In short, as to all the elements of a noble
manhood, he stood out amongst his fellows the peer of the noblest and
the best. Endowed with fine native gifts, polished by the culture of the
schools, broadened and well-drilled
page 180 by reading
and study, he forged steadily for ward till he stood in the front rank
of the ministry of his church. His ability and personal popularity are
attested by the official honors his brethren bestowed upon him.
Secretary and treasurer of the aid society, president of the legal
conference, chairman of the board of managers of the Wesleyan Christian
Advocate; trustee of Emory and of the Wesleyan and LaGrange female
colleges, also of the Young Harris Institute; thrice elected a delegate
to the general conference; honored with the title of D. D. by the
trustees of Emory College. Enough surely to gratify ambition--if
ambition he had. But he had none in the sense of desire for mere honor's
sake. He rather shunned than sought the distinctions men confer. If he
had aspiration it was to know the truth, not for himself alone, but that
through his knowledge of it, he might make the pathway to heaven
luminous and attractive to others. But self-respecting as he was, he was
modest and diffident as to his own worth and ability, and he has died
and passed away without knowing in what high regard he was held by his
brethren and the church at large.
His death leaves a blank hard to fill; but still God knows what is
best. "The workmen die but the work goes on."
page 181 A SPLENDID
Three of the most notable conversions of which we have any record in
the history of Georgia Methodism were those of Ignatius A. Few, Augustus
B. Longstreet, and Augustin S. Clayton, three distinguished jurists. The
first named was a native of Columbia county; a graduate of Princeton, a
lawyer of special prominence at the Augusta bar, and until he reached
the meridian of life, a thorough sceptic, whose conversion was largely
due to the personal ministry of Rev. Joseph Travis.
In his fortieth year he left the bar to enter the pulpit, where he
made a reputation unsurpassed by any man of that period. He was the
first and perhaps the ablest president of Emory College. In honor of him
one of the two literary societies was called the Few and its hall is
embellished by his portrait. In front of that hall is a tasteful
monument erected by his "brethren of the mystic tie."
He was succeeded in the presidency by Dr. Longstreet who was worthy
of his mantle.
The second of this triumvirate, Judge Longstreet, surrendered the
judgeship for the ministry, pursuing the four years course of study in
the conference with marvelous success. Dr. George Smith, however,
page 182 testifies on
the basis of a conference tradition, that "he tripped on English
grammar." This writer has perhaps better authority for saying, as he was
chairman of the examining committee, that years afterwards Dr. John W.
Heidt slipped up on geography--although a graduate of Emory College, we
believe, with honors, and a gifted young barrister. Judge Longstreet was
not only a great preacher, but in four states, Georgia, Louisiana,
Mississippi and South Carolina, was president of several leading
colleges, state and ecclesiastical. Dr. Heidt, who failed on bounding
Africa, had also a brilliant career as an educator in Georgia and Texas.
Judge Clayton was one of Georgia's ablest statesmen and jurists,
having served in the state legislature, in the Federal congress and for
three terms on the circuit bench. These continuous labors brought him to
a sick bed and ultimately to saving faith in Christ. The story of his
conversion as we find it in the funeral discourse of Dr. Whiteford
Smith, at that time the pastor of our church in Athens furnishes an
eloquent account of this remarkable conversion. We copy it from the
printed sermon which cannot fail to interest our readers of all classes:
"For the greater part of his life Judge Clayton had been sceptical of
the truth of Christianity. Though always respectful to those who made a
profession of religion, yet he had never submitted
page 183 himself to
the cross of Christ until within the last twelve months. During the
month of August, 1838, he was attacked with paralysis and for a short
time lost the use of one hand and his articulation became very
indistinct. Upon the day of his attack I visited him. Knowing that the
fears of his family and friends were awakened for his safety and
probably judging from my presence that we were particularly anxious
about his spiritual state; he addressed me as well as he was able in
these words 'I think I may safely say I am prepared for the event.' I
replied that I had perceived in his conversation from time to time some
familiarity with the Bible and hoped he had made it a matter of study.
His answer was: 'No, but in all my dealings with the world and in all my
acts I have always had regard to the existence of a just God; and if
there is a man I have wronged I do not know him.' Having endeavored to
direct his mind to the Lord Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for sin and to
the necessity of the merit of his atonement, I enquired if it was his
wish that we should pray; and, he desiring it, the family assembled and
we prayed. No opportunity offered (from the nature of his affliction)
for some days after for religious conversation. Some short time
subsequently, however, when he had so far recovered as to be able to go
about, understanding that he desired to see me, I called, accompanied by
one of the ministers who was in attendance at a protracted
page 184 meeting then
in progress. The subject of religion was now introduced and never had I
witnessed so great a change. He who but a short time before had been
dwelling complacently upon his own virtuous deeds and even meditating an
entrance into eternity with no other preparation, now sat before me
overwhelmed with grief and tears at the recollection of his ingratitude
to God for all his mercies. He had been employed in reviewing the past,
and though he found that his conduct toward the world had been equitable
and just, he had also been convinced that his duties toward his Maker
had been neglected. Now he had enquired what had kept him from being a
Christian, and having learned the true state of his own heart, this was
his candid confession and at the same time his avowal of his purposes:
'Sir, I am determined that pride of opinion which has so long kept me
from embracing Christianity shall keep me away no longer.' Nor was he
insensible to the difficulties which must be met in turning to God with
repentance and faith. 'In pursuing this course,' said he, 'at every step
I am met by a committal; and every act contrary to religion is a
committal to vice. But shall I permit these things to deter me when I
see the extended arms of my God ready to receive me?'
"Having abandoned that pride of opinion which he felt had so long
prevented his becoming a Christian, he manifested the greatest meekness
page 185 in the
reception of the truth. Sensible that in trusting to the merit of his
own good works he had rested upon a frail and weak foundation, he now
desired to place himself upon another and a surer basis. And upon the
eternal foundation of the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ himself
being the chief corner stone, there was but one way of successfully
building and that was by the exercise of an humble and confiding faith.
How simple and how sincere was his reception of the Gospel may be best
learned from his own words: 'Sir,' said he, 'I view myself as though I
had been a heathen shut up in darkness and superstition; and you as a
missionary of the Cross (for all ministers are or ought to be
missionaries) were presenting me for the first time with the Bible, and
although I do not comprehend all that may be in it, yet I receive it all
by faith. I throw away, as the heathen would his idols, all my old
systems and views and adopt this for my creed. I take it all.'"
The thoroughness of his moral transformation was exemplified when a
few weeks after this interview he went to the sanctuary in great bodily
weakness and was formally received into the
fellowship of the Methodist church. His precious wife who
survived him for a number of years was verily one of the noblest
matriarchs of Methodism whim
it was ever our good fortune to know.
page 186 FRANCIS
Francis Bartow Davies was a native of Savannah, of excellent
parentage, and was early brought into the communion of the Methodist
church. At the beginning of his adult life he engaged in secular
business, but in a few years responded to the Spirit's call, entered the
traveling ministry and was appointed by Bishop Paine to Palatka in the
Florida Conference, in which body he served efficiently for several
years His health then became shattered and by the advice of physicians
and friends he retired from the itinerant work.
During this season of rest he had so far recuperated that, upon the
division of the Georgia Conference in 1866, he returned to the regular
work and was successively stationed on some of the best circuits of the
North Georgia Conference and in all respects did satisfactory work for
the people of his several charges. One who had the best opportunities of
knowing, has said that he was eminently and deservedly popular both in
the pulpit and the pastorate. His missionary work around and in Atlanta
merits special commendation. He laid the foundations of the highly
prosperous Park Street Church at West End. He was at that date in the
meridian of life. His ministry
page 187 was then
characterized by a persuasiveness that foreboded years of great future
But as has often happened in ministerial experience, his disease
assumed a more malignant aspect.
In 1881 his health again failed, and very much to his own regret and
that of his numerous friends, he was compelled to relinquish active
work. His strength continued to decline until in the forty-seventh year
of his age his useful career was closed.
The last days were marked by perfect peace and joyful resignation to
the Master's will. Indeed, there was somewhat in that quiet
death-chamber at Decatur, Ga., that suggests the departure of the
saintly Bishop McKendree from the humble farmhouse in Kentucky, where
the burden and refrain of his dying testimony was "All is well."
Bro. Davies seems also to have had angelic visitants to illumine his
pathway through the valley of the shadow of death. Amongst his latest
words which he whispered to his wife and brother were these touching
sentences: "Oh, how peaceful--It is all Heaven."
No wonder that we are taught to sing--" How blest the righteous when
Or that another veteran hymnologist should rebuke our lack of trust by
the inquiry," Why should we start and fear to die?
Thank God that these good brethren have so often helped our faith by
their testimonies to St.
page 188 Paul's
declaration that "Death is swallowed up in victory." No higher
compliment could be paid this devoted servant of God than when Gen.
Clement A. Evans, in an obituary notice of him shortly after his death,
said: "His voice was musical, his delivery gentle and yet earnest, and
his thoughts were wise and always clearly expressed. As a pastor his
people found in him a wise counselor, a conservative administrator and
in their sufferings a son of consolation." Such a tribute from such a
high source may be well prized by his surviving family and his host of
WM. R. FOOTE.
In December, 1854, while on my way to Columbus, I spent, with my
wife, two or three days at West Point with a family whom we had
intimately known in Alabama, where at one time I had been engaged in
teaching. It was at this time that I made the personal acquaintance of
Bro. Foote, who was the Methodist pastor of that flourishing village.
Our friends were members of his charge and Bro. Foote kindly called
to see us and before leaving invited me to preach for his congregation
page 189 Sabbath
morning. I told him that I was quite a novice in the ministry, having
only attempted to preach a half-dozen times. But he insisted that I
should occupy the pulpit either morning or evening as might best suit
We very soon agreed that he should occupy the morning hour and that I
would do my best at the night service.
I was quite interested in his morning discourse. It was evident that
he was a thinker of great clearness and a speaker of excellent gifts.
Indeed, I found that he was in great favor with his congregation, whom
he was serving for the second year.
In the following years I frequently met Bro. Foote at the Annual
Conference, a few times at camp-meetings, and heard him from time to
time preach admirable sermons.
He was a scholarly man in no ordinary degree, and especially was he
gifted as an expositor of the Scriptures.
His preaching was not marred by commonplace discussions, nor did he
indulge in vapid declamation. But on some occasions he was thrillingly
eloquent in his utterance, while voice and manner both indicated
profound spiritual emotion.
I think he was several times connected with our educational
institutions and for some years he was the agent of our orphans' home,
in which department of church work he did good service. I
page 190 doubt if his
health was ever at any time vigorous, and this was probably a hindrance
to him through the greater portion of his life. Judge John L. Hopkins,
who was his neighbor and close friend while Bro. Foote was a resident of
Edgewood, commended him to me as a wise, sweet-spirited and deeply
He died in great peace and left a most interesting family, among them
Rev. W. R. Foote, one of Atlanta's ablest preachers; and the wife of
Rev. R. J. Bigham, the present distinguished pastor of Trinity church.
ROBERT M. LOCKWOOD.
We have been furnished with few details concerning the life of this
He was a native of Virginia, but for a number of years was engaged in
business both in New York and Baltimore, where he was held in high
esteem. At the close of the civil war, he came South and was received
into the membership of the South Georgia Conference probably in 1866.
He enjoyed a large share of the love and confidence of his conference
brethren, whom he served for a series of years as their general
Sunday-school agent. He besides occupied several important
page 191 positions in
the pastorate. Amongst these were Bainbridge, Brunswick and
Hawkinsville, in all of which places he was greatly beloved. He died
several years ago, having "served his generation by the will of God"
alike acceptably and usefully.
GEORGE FOSTER PIERCE.
THE CHRYSOSTOM OF THE CONFERENCE.
More than half a century ago it was a vexed question in conference
circles whether the "Old Doctor" or his son "George" was the greater
preacher. We question if the good-natured controversy was at any time
definitely settled nor shall we now undertake its final adjudication.
Very much, indeed, depends upon the standpoint from which we consider
it, and hardly less upon the definition of what is meant by pulpit
To illustrate our statement, William Jay is frequently referred to as
the "Prince of Preachers," and yet never at any time did he approximate
the majestic sweep of Robert Hall's imagination in his grand sermon on
"Modern Infidelity Considered." You might as well compare the
nightingale's song from some neighboring hedgerow to the scream of
page 192 an eagle as
he soars right onward to the sun, as to compare the father, when he
talked on Ezekiel's Valley of Vision, to the son, when he described the
Transfiguration as portrayed in Raphael's world-renowned masterpiece.
Not infrequently there were obvious points of resemblance in their
preaching, but quite often there were striking points of divergence and
But we forbear further allusion to this comparative estimate and
speak of the bishop as we heard him in our boyhood during his presidency
of the Wesleyan Female College.
Some business engagement brought him to Hamilton, Ga., where my
father, his old preceptor at Greensboro, was in charge of a flourishing
I went with the family to the night service at the Methodist church.
I recall his text from the Book of Proverbs, "Ponder the paths of thy
feet--let all thy ways be established." The discourse was largely
didactic, but there was a rich vein of eloquence pervading it that
produced no small stir in that village congregation.
The next morning before resuming his journey to Columbus he called to
see my mother, who was his first teacher, and who often said that little
George Pierce was the handsomest and brightest lad she had ever known in
her infant class.
From that time on until he had passed his seventieth year, I heard
him at annual and district conferences, always with singular delight and
never without spiritual profit.
No one was more deserving than he to be styled the "silver-tongued
orator." And yet his sermons were not always of uniform strength and
beauty. In a few instances, indeed, they were in some measure
disappointing to his most ardent admirers. But if Homer was at times
allowed to nod, why might not this great man at wide intervals be
suffered to drawl without the penalty of adverse criticism? In the main
he was "in shape and gesture proudly eminent." His voice had, as a
musical critic would say, a marvelous register. On some occasions it
thrilled an audience like the staccato notes of a trumpet, and in
another instant it was soft as the whisper of an angel in the ear of
In fine, his vocal apparatus was without a flaw in its utterance
until age and disease had made him a physical wreck.
It was said of a great poet that he "lisped in numbers," and even
"thought in rhyme." It might be as justly said of Bishop Pierce that in
his best estate he was the incarnation of oratory.
Richard Malcolm Johnston, himself a man of splendid endowments, has
this to say of Bishop Pierce's "oratorical excellence."
We cull it from a letter addressed to Bishop Haygood which we find in
Dr. George Smith's excellent volume on the
"Life and Times of Bishop Pierce." | "Scores of times," says Mr.
Johnston, "have I heard him preach in the little Methodist church at
Sparta, and at the camp-meeting south of the village during a period of
twenty years, in the which time I have listened to outbursts of oratory
such as I do not believe were surpassed on the Bema of Athens or in the
Forum of Rome." This tribute is in no degree overwrought, as thousands
of hearers in all parts of the Republic will testify. In a railway
conversation with Bishop Peck, his rival in the General Conference of
1844, he spoke of Bishop Pierce in terms of unstinted praise as an
orator. But we are minded to say, not without thoughtful consideration,
that the platform rather than the pulpit was his throne of power.
Notably great as he seemed in the latter, yet in some of his
commencement and missionary addresses he was superlatively great. His
early college-mate and lifelong friend, Senator Toombs, was heard to say
that the grandest effort of his life was his commencement address at the
University of Georgia. Concerning that address it is related that it was
prepared in a single night after a hard day's travel.
But I prefer in this connection to submit an extract from his great
Bible speech in New York which, in one shape or another, has almost made
page 195 the circuit
of the globe. For this I am likewise indebted to Dr. George Smith's
"Life" of the bishop.
It was the anniversary of the American Bible Society. Attendance from
all parts of the country was exceedingly large. In this throng there
were representative men from all the evangelical churches, and the
consensus of opinion was that young Dr. Pierce's oration had never been
surpassed on that platform, if indeed, ever equaled in that august
For lack of space we submit but two extracts as samples of the whole:
"The Bible deals not in subtle analogies and cold abstractions, but
in the healthful virtues of life; it comes home to the heart, and makes
its truths the subject of consciousness whereby we exclaim: 'That which
was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our
eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word
of Life.' It commends itself to every man's conscience in the sight of
God, by the excellence of its law and the conclusiveness of its
testimony, so that even human depravity when it walks amid its precepts,
is compelled, like devils among the tombs, to acknowledge the purity of
its morals and the holiness of its presence. The genealogy of its proof
demonstrates it to be the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. The faith
that justified righteous Abel, and whereby Enoch walked with God, the
page 196 faith by
which Abraham kept the covenant, the importunity by which Moses
prevailed, and the penitential sighs of David, still attract the notice
of heaven, and call down the blessing of God. The baptism of the Spirit
still attends on the ministration of the Word; and though no cloven
tongues of fire flame from the lips of proselytes, the heart still
palpitates beneath the warm breathings of the Holy Ghost, before whose
stately steppings the human reason falls in reverence, and the human
fancy cowers in astonishment.
"It is the sin of the nations and the curse of the church that we
have never properly appreciated the Bible as we ought. It is the book of
books for the priest and for the people, for the old and for the young.
It should be the tenant of the academy as well as of the nursery, and
ought to be incorporated in our course of education, from the mother's
knee to graduation in the highest universities in the land. Everything
is destined to fail unless the Bible be the fulcrum on which these laws
revolve. Can such a book be read without an influence commensurate with
its importance? As well might the flowers sleep when the spring winds
its mellow horn to call them from their bed; as well might the mist
linger upon the bosom of the lake when the sun beckons it to leave its
page 197 home. The
Bible plants our feet amid that angel group which stood with eager wing
expectant when the Spirit of God first hovered over the abyss of chaos
and wraps us in praise for the newborn world when the morning stars sang
together for joy. The Bible builds for us the world when we were not;
stretches our conceptions of the infinite beyond the last orbit of
astronomy; pacifies the moral discord of earth; reorganizes the dust of
the sepulchre, and tells man heaven is his home and eternity his
"What, sir, was the Reformation, but a resurrection of the Bible?
Cloistered in the superstition of mediæval Rome for a thousand years,
its moral rays had been intercepted, and the intellect of man, stricken
at a blow from its pride of place, was shut within the dark walls of
moral despair, and slept the sleep of death beneath its wizard spell.
Opinion fled from the chambers of the heart, and left the mind to
darkness and to change. But Luther evoked the Bible and its precepts
from its prison-house, and the Word of God breathed the warm breath of
life upon the Valley of Vision, and upon the sleeping Lethean sea.
Intellect burst from the trance of ages, dashed aside the portals of her
dark dungeon, felt the warm sunlight relax her stiffened limbs, forged
her fetters into swords, and fought her way to freedom and to fame.
"The Bible, sir, is the guide of the erring, and the reclaimer of the
wandering; it heals the sick, consoles the dying, and purifies the
living. If you would propagate Protestantism, circulate the Bible. Let
the master give it to the pupil, the professor to his class, the father
to his son, the mother to her daughter, place it in every home in the
land; then shall the love of God cover the earth, and the light of
salvation overlay the land, as the sunbeams of morning lie upon the
The enthusiasm aroused by the speech was immense. Dr. Jefferson
Hamilton was sitting by Dr. Lovick Pierce, and, carried away by his
excitement, he said eagerly to the doctor: "Did you ever hear the like?"
"Yes," said the fond father, complacently, "I hear George often."
Speaking, however, not only for myself but for hundreds besides, I am
inclined to think that never on any occasion was he more eloquent than
in his missionary address at Wesley Chapel, Atlanta, during the Annual
Conference of 1861.
Dr. McFerrin, of Nashville, who preceded him, was in his happiest
mood. His account of his preaching long years agone amongst the Cherokee
Indians and of the conversions that often followed was strangely
beautiful. Not a few of his passages were as graphic as if he wielded
for the time the pen of Macaulay or the pencil of Rubens. At intervals
the rafters of the old church fairly vibrated
page 199 with the
hallelujahs of his enraptured audience. This was particularly the case
when he interspersed his address with his Indian songs so wildly
plaintive that they resembled the soft yet weird notes of a wind-harp
when swept by the fingers of an evening zephyr. When McFerrin resumed
his seat and Bishop Pierce arose to speak many feared that he might not
fully meet public expectation. But his first utterances showed that his
foot was on "his native heath" and instantly electrified his eager
hearers. At a single glance of his eagle eye he swept the whole extent
of the missionary field--"
From Greenland's icy mountains
To India's coral strand.
His glowing tribute to Bishop Coke, who gave his large fortune and
sacrificed his noble life to the establishment of Methodist missions in
the far east--his allusions to Judson, who planted Christianity in
Birmah, where it spread until it wellnigh became a state religion--to
Carey, who wrought twenty years for a single convert on the shores of
China--likewise his thrilling references to Henry Martyn, who abandoned
the promise of high ecclesiastical preferment in the Church of England
to die on the wayside of Persia, the ancient home of the Fire
worshippers--nor least of all forgetful of Reginald Heber, whose
page 200 hymn has
become the Marsellaise of the missionary enterprise in all parts of the
heathen world--these, one and all, were delivered in his best style. But
when in conclusion he came to depict the gathering of the scattered
tribes of Israel to Mount Zion, the rebuilding of Solomon's temple on
the site of the Mosque of Omar, the enthusiasm of his listeners knew no
bounds, but broke forth in sobs and shoutings that in no small degree
recalled the scenes of Pentecost with its sound of a rushing wind and
its glow of cloven tongues of fire. The bishop at the close of the
doxology was overwhelmed with congratulations. From that memorable night
onward there were "Episcopal Journeyings" stretching through nearly
thirty years of arduous toil and dangerous travel and then the golden
wedding with its hallowed memories and its social festivities in which
prayer and praise were a conspicuous feature.
But last scene of all that ends this eventful history, the death
chamber where the bishop put on his ascension robes, meanwhile saying to
his two brothers, James and Thomas, "I am so happy." Soon thereafter
followed the funeral dirge in the village church and the eloquent
funeral discourse of Bishop Haygood on the appropriate text, "No man
liveth to himself nor dieth to himself." We are constrained to say that
this statement or sentiment, which ever we may choose to call it, and
indeed it is partly both, applies well to this
page 201 Christian
bishop whom we have likened to the "golden-mouthed orator of Byzantium."
It might not be altogether the proper thing to speak of him as has
been so often said of the First Napoleon, that he was the "man of
destiny." We rather prefer to speak of him as the man of Providence.
Perhaps no man in all Georgia has done so much to carry forward
Methodism to its present pre-eminence. He was well-fitted to enlarge and
perpetuate the work so auspiciously begun under the joint leadership of
Andrew and Hull and Lovick and Reddick Pierce and Capers and others of
the old South Carolina Conference. We verily believe that God called and
endowed him for this special service. Call it fancy if you will, but we
are of that number who accept the philosophy of the great poet:"
For never an age when God has need of him
Shall want its man predestined by that need,
To pour his life in fiery word or deed,
The strong archangel of the Elohim.
Earth's hollow want is prophet of his coming.