[Very rarely have any of our churches been visited with such oft-repeated and afflictive bereavements, as the St. Anthony-street church, Mobile. We cheerfully give place in our pages to the brief record of departed worth. Such men as Rev. William R. Hinton, Elder Jacob H. Schroebel , and Daniel Holbrook Gillette, lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their deaths not long divided, should not fail to be chronicled among the loved and early lost. - Editor, The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Record.]
Rev. William R. Hinton was born in Raleigh, N. C, September, 1796. When nearly thirty years of age he made a public profession of religion, and united with the Baptist church at Raleigh. About five years afterwards he commenced preaching the gospel, and in the following year was ordained. He was instrumental in gathering a church in this vicinity, to which he acceptably ministered. Two years after this, he removed to Green county, Alabama, and for five or six years took upon himself the pastoral charge of two churches, to whom he was justly endeared. In December, 1838, he removed with his family to the city of Mobile. At this time there was no Baptist church in the city; the colored brethren, however, soon put up a comfortable house of worship, and a church was organized. Bro. Hinton, in connexion with one or two other brethren, seemed to take pleasure in supplying them with gospel food. But not satisfied with this, Brother Hinton soon took vigorous and active measures for the reorganization of a church among the white brethren, which had formerly existed, but failed to be sustained. The result was that a commodious brick house was soon erected, but not completed till after his death. This is at present occupied by the St. Anthony-street Baptist church. For several years Brother Hinton had performed the duties of a faithful and efficient minister of the gospel, but it was not until the summer of 1839, that the writer of this article became fully acquainted with his true christian worth, and the unaffected benevolence of his heart. God in his mysterious providence had called him to this, his last field of labor, and afforded him an opportunity of exhibiting the practical effect of religion, as developed in his sympathetic attentions to the suffering and needy. It will be remembered that this year was noted for the great ravages made by fire in the city of Mobile, and this, too, at a time when a mortal contagion had driven most of the citizens away, and was daily thinning the ranks of those who remained. Possessing some considerable knowledge of medicine, he supplied himself, at his own expense, with his prescriptions, and devoted his entire time and attention to visiting the sick, especially those who were unable to incur
the expense of medical advice, and conferring gratuitously upon them his benefactions. Nor was this enough. Food and dainties were prepared, under the direction of his equally kind hearted wife, and sent out by the hand of a servant to those who needed. His object seemed to be to do good, in whatever way it might be effected. He was a Vice President of the Samaritan Society, and by his assiduous endeavors to relieve the distressed, he endeared himself to many, who, otherwise, would doubtless have preceded him in their descent to the grave. But he was arrested in the midst of his usefulness. Why he was selected as a victim for the fell destroyer we were unable to comprehend, but we were more than ever disposed to acknowledge the truth of the declaration,
"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform."
Being in perfect health, and of a very robust constitution, he had not feared an attack of the epidemic; but, like others, he was taken unexpectedly ill on Saturday, which prevented him from fulfilling an appointment to preach on the Sabbath, and after fourteen days of intense suffering, he fell asleep in Jesus, and rested from his labors, Oct. 11, 1839. No one could have witnessed his death bed, without being fully sensible that there is a sustaining power in religion - a source of comfort which none can enjoy, but the tried disciples of Christ, and that while according to God's word, "the wicked is driven away in his wickedness, the righteous hath hope in his death."
As a man, he was honest and upright in his dealings with the world, choosing rather to suffer wrong than do wrong, as a reference to his private life and pecuniary matters would most fully show. His benevolence was unostentatious, but almost unparalleled. His benefactions to iho cause of education and other laudable objects, were ample and unceasing. As a parent and husband, he was affectionate and indulgent, cheerful and happy. He never indulged in passion or unkindness. and none have so keenly felt his loss, as his surviving wife and children. Never shall we forget with what tenderness he took his farewell leave of his family group, and with wljat earnestness he entreated them to meet him in heaven.
Elder Jacob H. Schroebel was born of German parents, in the city of Charleston. S. C, on the 17th of March, 1801. His father was a respectable minister of the Methodist church, his mother a worthy member of the Lutheran church, to which his predilection inclined him, and of which at the proper age he was confirmed a member.
In early life he exhibited evidences of that strength of intellect, high sense of honor, and decision of character, which stood out so prominent when his whole character was fully developed. When quite young, he was indented an apprentice to the tanning and currying business, of which he acquired a thorough knowledge. On the 10th day of July, 1823, he married Miss Louisa Colzy, of an ancient and respectable French family, whom he leaves widowed with seven children; of whose bereavement and feeling of desolation it were vain to attempt a description. May the Lord God of the widow and the fatherless, soothe their sorrows, bind up, and pour into their wounded spirits the consolations of his grace, and be to them a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
Early in 1825 he removed from Charleston to Claiborne, in Alabama, where he successfully pursued his avocation until the spring of 1841, when he removed to Mobile.
In all the business and relations of life, he maintained an unblemished reputation, while his bland manners and social disposition made him a general favorite.
Although his moral habits were good, it does not appear that he had any special concern about the state of his soul, until
early in 1828, when the eyes of his understanding were opened, and he beheld himself a poor, condemned, helpless sinner; his repentance was deep and abiding, until by faith he was enabled to trust in Jesus Christ as the Saviour of sinners, in whom he saw such fulness and fitness as met every desire of his burdened heart, and made him rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. On the 18th day of May, 1828, he, and his companion, who was then a member of the Methodist church, were baptized, and became members of the Claiborne Baptist church.
His love to his Saviour, and concern for the salvation of sinners, now constrained him to activity in the cause of his master; he soon began to pray and exhort in public. His mind being exercised on the subject of preaching, and the church believing he possessed useful gifts, and that the Lord had called him to the gospel ministry, on the 18th day of September, 1830, licensed him to preach, in which he engaged with all the energies of his ardent soul. His gifts and usefulness were so apparent, that on the third Lord's day in December following, he was by the request of the church, solemnly ordained and fully invested with the office of a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Immediately after this event, Elder Alexander Travis, under whose ministry he was awakened, and by whom he was immersed, resigned the pastoral care of the church, and Elder Schroebel was unanimously elected his successor.
The field of his labors now opened extensively, and he, yielding to the calls from the neighboring churches and destitute settlements, preached the word with great success; the Mount Gilead church soon called him as pastor, as did the churches of Limestone and Flat Creek, which four churches he continued to serve faithfully, acceptably, and profitably, until his removal to Mobile. In the fall of 1840 he organized a church of a few members at Montgomery Hill, where for some time he had been preaching, which has increased in numbers, until it has become a strong, prosperous, and happy one.
While thus laboring in the ministry, he was under the necessity of employing his time diligently throughout the week in the support of his family.
Early in March, 1841, the St. Anthony-street church in Mobile, unanimously elected him pastor, which, upon the advice of a few friends, and mature deliberation, he concluded it was his duty to accept; dissolving his connexion with the four first named churches, he settled in Mobile.
It is proper here to state, that at this time the church was a small, feeble body, divided, and struggling with difficulties that threatened her very existence.
Under these untoward circumstances, with an oppressive diffidence in view of his qualifications, he entered upon the duties and responsibilities of his new charge the latter end of April. In all the delicate and often perplexing circumstances in which his position placed him, his course was marked by such evident singleness of purpose, and christian prudence, as tended materially to restore harmony in the body, while his affectionate disposition and conciliatory manner won the affection and confidence of the members. He gave himself to the work of the Lord, in which he was indefatigable both in public and private. The chief shepherd smiled upon his efforts, and made him the honored instrument by which he has poured out his mercy upon the church and community, iu sweet, refreshing showers; the fruits of his labors in part are to be seen in the fact, that the church has increased to upwards of seven hundred members, of whom he immersed near three hundred.
It was however in the pulpit, that the stronger features of his moral and intellectual nature, and the power of his masculine mind were most clearly developed.* Notwithstanding it was his misfortune
* The Hon. Judge Porter, of Tuscaloosa, his intimate acquaintance for years, thus speaks of him.
to have received but a very limited English education in early life, and the circumstances by which he was surrounded, (until his removal to Mobile) were unfavorable; he had gathered a rich fund of useful knowledge, in despite of all disadvantages under which he labored. His sermons were remarkable for clearness uf perception, distinctness, and accuracy of arrangement, power, and compass of thought, expressed in rich and strong language, accompanied by an artless, graceful manner, delivered with great energy, but the points of chief excellence in them were seen and felt, in his extensive and critical knowledge of the scriptures, the number and aptness of his quotations and illustrations. He preached the word; it was indeed the Alpha and the Omega of all his sermons, in which there was a vein of evangelical thought and pathos, on which his own soul feasted, as he poured forth from his overflowing heart the sublime and glorious truths of the gospel, which fell upon the hearts of his auditors like the dew of Hermon.*
As a sound doctrinal preacher, Elder Schroebel occupied high ground. His views of the atonement and plan of redemption through Christ, and those doctrinal truths held dear by the Baptists, were clear; in the defence of them he was bold and powerful. It may be said he possessed in an eminent degree, the prerequisites of "a good minister of Jesus Christ."
In him were happily blended in a high degree the amiable qualities of the gentleman and the christian; it seldom occurs that one is so universally esteemed, and so dearly beloved; and it may be said with equal truth, that it is rare to meet with one in whom in all the relations of life there is so much to command respect.
During the last six or eight months his labors were much increased - he preached to the church two or three times every Lord's day, and frequently during the week in the city, the neighborhoods adjacent, and in Baldwin county, and attended the church at Montgomery Hill two days in the month, while he could not disregard the claims presented for spiritual instruction and consolation by the penitent sinner, the young believer, the tempted disciple, the weary pilgrim, the wayward professor, the sick room, the death bed, and the house of mourning - by these incessant watchings and labors, his physical nature became enervated and predisposed to disease. In the midst of a course of hisgreatest usefulness, he was stricken down by the yellow fever, on Friday morning before his departure: his last end was like that of the righteous. During the whole period of his illness, he was impressed with the belief, which he frequently mentioned, that his departure was at hand, that his course was finished; he was calm, and resigned to the will of God, either for life or death, which presented no terrors to him. So firm was his faith, and so buoyant his hope, that he scarce had a cloud to veil his spiritual horizon; in his last hours he spoke with firmness and confidence of the joys of his Lord, upon which he should soon enter, and taking leave of his dear family individually, fell asleep in Jesus, on Thursday, the 21st of September, 1843.
Daniel Holbrook Gillette was born near the village of Cambride, N. Y., in the year 1813. His father, a highly esteemed physician, died when his youngest son was five years old. Reared by the fraternal care of a married sister, at the age of eighteen he became decidedly pious, and two years later commenced a
* "Elder Schroebel possessed an intellect exceedingly vigorous and clear. He was one of those bold, firm, ardent men in the cause of truth and virtue, whom to see and know, inspires one with the highest opinion of the dignity and nobleness of human nature. He was of German descent, and the writer never saw him, or heard him preach without being reminded of the finer traits and the unshaken independence of Martin Luther"
course of studies for the christian ministry. He completed his course with honor and success at the Hamilton Theological Institution in 1840, and the same year was ordained pastor of the Baptist church in Rahway, N. J., where he ministered acceptably and usefully for the next eighteen months. At this period he euffered a violent haemorrhage of the lungs, which laid him by from preaching for one year. Having partially recovered, he accepted a call from the Baptist church in Charlottsville, Va., and commenced his labors with them in October, 1842. So successful was his ministry there, that during the first six months of his labors, one hundred were added to the church. Having suffered some interruptions from the recurrence of ill health, he was constrained, late in the autumn of 1843, to visit Mobile, and was soon invited to occupy the pulpit of the St. Anthony-street church, then vacant by the recent death of the lamented Schroebel. After full and mutually satisfactory acquaintance, he was invited, by unanimous vote of this church, to become its pastor. In accepting this important post, it was distinctly understood between him and the people of his charge, that every practicable indulgence should be extended to him on account of his infirm health. Accordingly, he spent the last summer at the north, and returned to his post in December last. Though evidently and rapidly sinking under his pulmonary disease, he continued to officiate till within two weeks of his death, and finally fell asleep in peace on Sabbath evening, the 9th of February, 1845.
His brief sojourn in Mobile had endeared him uncommonly to all who enjoyed his acquaintance. His bland, engaging manners, his guileless and affectionate heart won for him the love all who knew him. These traits of character shone conspicuously in his pastoral relations. He loved its tender, solemn and assiduous toils, and as far as his strength allowed, he discharged them in the most acceptable and useful manner.
His native endowments, both of the mind and heart, were of a superior order. Few men so young, and who have grappled with so much infirmity and interruption, have risen so high or accomplished so much. Unable from feeble health to devote himself to laborious and extensively studious research, his preaching was rather the exhibition of what his own genius and eloquence could accomplish, than an exemplification of the garnered stores of theological wisdom. It may have proved less didactic and variously instructive to some portions of his hearers than he would otherwise have rendered it; but in the power to interest the attention, to chain the thoughts, and warm the affections of his hearers, he had few superiors. The angelic sweetness and pathos of his oratory never failed to make a favorable impression, and take him all in all, not soon shall we look upon his like again.
The simple but affecting rites of sepulture were attended at the church where he was wont to officiate, the evening after his decease. The thronged attendance of a deeply sympathising audience, and the touching and truthful testimonies in his behalf, furnished by nearly all the clergymen in the city, were an appropriate sequel to the good man's life. The tears of gratitude and sympathy of the sorrowing whom he has comforted, the ignorant whom his lips and life have taught, of the wayward and careless whom he has faithfully warned, and the pious whose faith and hope he has strengthened, shall be his sweet memorial.
[From The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Record, 1845, pp. 97-101. Document from Google Books On-line. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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