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Andrew Braoddus *
Early Virginia Baptist Minister
1789 - 1848
Annals of the American Baptist Pulpit, 1860
      The family of Broaddus in Virginia is of Welsh origin, and is descended from Edward Broaddus, who first settled on Gwyn's Island in James River, and removed in 1715 to the lower end of Caroline County, Va. John Broaddus, a son of Edward, was the father of Andrew, the subject of this sketch. He was a man of vigorous intellect; was, by occupation, first a teacher, and then a farmer; was a zealous member of the Episcopal Church; and was actively engaged in the struggle for our National Independence. He was married to a Miss Pryor, said to have been a lineal descendant of Pocahontas.

      ANDREW BROADDUS, the youngest son of his parents, was born at the family residence, in Caroline County, November 4, 1770. He was early distinguished for his thirst for knowledge, and for the facility with which he acquired it; and his father fully intended that he should be a minister in the Episcopal Church. His opportunities for early culture were extremely limited, - the whole period in which he had the advantages of a school of any kind being only nine months. He, however, contrived to make up for this deficiency by reading and studying in private; and, as his father was an intelligent man, he probably received some assistance from him.

      In the neighbourhood in which he lived, the Baptists had become quite numerous, and Andrew's elder brother, contrary to the wishes of his father, had become one of them. So much was the father opposed to their denominational peculiarities, that he forbade his son's attending their meetings; though Andrew's predilections in their favour were not at all diminished by this prohibition. Whether the father subsequently yielded, or the son felt constrained to disregard parental authority, does not appear; but, on the 28th of May, 1789, he was baptized by Elder Theodoric Noel, a very devout and earnest Baptist minister, and connected himself with Upper King and Queen Church, then the only Baptist church in that vicinity.

      He was now between eighteen and nineteen years of age. Shortly after his Baptism, he was called upon to exhort at the neighbouring meeting; and he obeyed the call. His first regular sermon was preached on the 24th of December, 1789, at the house of a Mrs. Lowrie, in Caroline County. Though his advantages for education had been so
* Jeter's Memoir. - Obituary notice. - MS. from Rev. Dr. Ryland.

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very limited, and he had no theological instruction whatever, he had a mind of much more than ordinary capacity, and an impressive and graceful elocution; so that his earliest attempts at preaching were received with much more than common favour. His youthful appearance also added not a little to the effect of his public services. He was ordained to the ministry at Upper King and Queen Meeting House, on the 16th of October, 1791, by Elders Theodoric Noel and R. B. Semple.

      The field of Elder Broaddus' ministrations was composed mainly of the Counties of Caroline, King and Queen, and King William, - among the oldest and most respectable counties in the State. He first settled in the upper end of Caroline County, and performed the duties of the Pastorate in Burrus' (now Carmel) Church, and in County Line. Successively, and for different periods, ho ministered to the churches of Bethel, Salem, Upper King and Queen, Beulah. Mangohic, Upper Zion, and some others.

      In 1817, he entertained the design of migrating to the State of Kentucky; and, that he might form an intelligent judgment on the subject, made a tour on horseback, in company witli a young relative, through the central portions of that State. Though he was, in many respects, well pleased with both the country and the people, and was urged by his brethren to settle among them, and withal was offered the Presidency of Hopkinsville Academy, then a flourishing institution, he relinquished the idea of changing his residence.

      In 1821, Mr. Broaddus removed to Richmond, and became Assistant Pastor with the Rev. John Courtney,* in the First Baptist Church. Here his ministry was highly acceptable; but, owing to domestic afflictions and pecuniary embarrassments, it continued for only six months. Except for this brief period, he never lived beyond the limits of his native county, and the adjoining County of King and Queen.

      In 1832, Mr. Broaddus was chosen to supply the place of the lamented Dr. Semple, as Moderator of the Dover Association, then the largest Association of Baptist Churches in the United States. This office he retained, - except in 1839, when he was absent, - until 1841, when, by his own request, he was excused from further service.

      In 1843, the Trustees of the Columbian College, in the District of Columbia, conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity, which, however, he respectfully declined.

      Though not possessed of a vigorous constitution, Mr. Broaddus, owing no doubt very much to his prudent and abstemious habits, lived to a good old age. Early in the autumn of 1848, it became apparent that he was gradually wasting under the influence of a chronic diarrhoea. He continued,
* JOHN COURTNEY was born in the County of King and Queen, Va., about the year 1744. His parents were members of the Church of England, in which, of course, he was himself educated. His father dying when he was young, and the estate, according to law, descending to the eldest son, John was bound, as soon as his age would allow it, to the trade of a carpenter. From this time nothing is known of him until, having reached mature years, he makes his appearance as a Baptist preacher. After the close of the War of the Revolution, during part of which he served as a soldier, he removed to Richmond, where, besides labouring "with his own hands," he served the Baptist Church in that city, either as sole or senior Pastor, for a period of more than forty years. His ministry was characterized by great fidelity, zeal, and affection. During the last four years of his life, such was his bodily infirmity that he rarely attrmpted to preach, though he continued to labour in private, according to his ability, and was a bright example of patience, fortitude, and heavenly-mindedness. He died on the 18th of December, 1824.

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however, to preach, even after he had become considerably enfeebled. His last sermon was delivered a few weeks before his death, in the First African Baptist Church in Richmond, and was regarded as an uncommonly happy effort. In the early part of his last illness, he was somewhat inclined to spiritual despondency, but, as his end drew nigh, no cloud intervened between him and the Sun of Righteousness. When asked, as the death struggle approached, what was the state of his mind, his answer was "Calmly relying on Christ." On another occasion, after having been engaged in silent meditation, he characteristically remarked, - "The angels are instructing me how to conduct myself in glory." The last word he was heard to whisper was "Happy! Happy! Happy!" He died on the 1st of December, 1848, aged seventy-eight years; and was buried in the grave-yard of the Salem meeting-house, where he had for many years faithfully preached the Gospel.

      Few ministers were more frequently solicited to settle over other and more important congregations than Mr. Broaddus. He was either invited to accept the pastoral charge, or was corresponded with on the subject of accepting it, by the following Churches: - The First Church in Boston, in 1811 and 1812, to supply the vacancy occasioned by the death of Dr. Stillman ; the First Church in Philadelphia, in 1811, to supply the place of Dr. Staughton; the First Church in Baltimore, in 1819; the New Market Street Church in Philadelphia, in 1819; the Sansom Street Church in Philadelphia, in 1824; the First Church in Philadelphia, again in 1825; the Norfolk Church, in 1826; the First Church in the City of New York, in 1832; the First Church in Richmond, in 1833; not to mention several other places of minor importance. Mr. Broaddus was married to Fanny, daughter of Col. John Temple, of Caroline, about the year 1793. By this marriage he had several children. Mrs. B. died in 1804 or 1805. He was afterwards married to Lucy, daughter of Dr. Robert Honeyman, a gentleman of high intelligence and respectability. By this marriage he had no children. Some time after the death of his second wife, he was married to her sister, then Mrs. Jane C. Broaddus, the widow of his nephew. This marriage was, on several accounts, an occasion of great trouble to him. By it he had several children, one of whom, bearing his own name, became a minister of the Gospel, and proved a great comfort to his father in his latter days. In 1843, Mr. Broaddus was married to Caroline W. Boulware, of Newtown, King and Queen County. She had only one child, - a son, who was but three or four years old at the time of his father's death.

      Mr. Broaddus wrote somewhat extensively for the press, and many of his productions are in good repute, both in and out of his denomination. He early published an octavo volume, entitled History of the Bible. At a later period, he issued a Catechism intended for children, which has passed through many editions, and been extensively circulated by the American Baptist Publication Society. At the request of the Dover Association, he drew up a Form of Church Discipline, which was printed and circulated among its Churches by that Body. He also prepared the Dover Selection of Hymns, which, after a short time, was followed by the Virginia Selection, - a large volume containing a greater variety of

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Hymns, and better adapted to the necessities of the Churches. Beside these, he published many Circular Letters, Essays, Addresses, Sermons, Controversial articles, &c., most of which were republished in 1852, in connection with a Memoir of his life.

From the Rev. R. Ryland, D. D.
Richmond, Va., December 29, 1854.

      Rev. and dear Sir: At your request, I will give you a brief sketch of the character of the Rev. Andrew Broaddus.

      I had known him for about thirty years previously to his death, as intimately as the disparity of our ages, and the remoteness of our localities, would allow. During the first year of this acquaintance, I was an inmate of his family, and a participant in his instructions. At periods not widely separated, I enjoyed his society in the private circle, and his ministerial teachings, up to the close of his life. My opportunities for judging of his character, therefore, have been ample, while my relations to him have not been so intimate as to obscure my judgment, and tempt me to give too high a colouring to the portrait.

      As a Man, Mr. Broaddus was not above the ordinary stature; slightly inclining in his person, but graceful in his carriage, and self-possessed in his bearing. His face was intellectual rather than commanding in its expression, and from his soft blue eyes shone out a benignity that invited approach and disarmed prejudice. He was very neat in his dress, and by many was regarded as fastidious in his tastes. Without any disposition to satire, he was a critical observer of manners, and though far from exacting respect, - indeed, he was generally annoyed by formal attentions, - was yet keenly alive to the delicate offices of friendship that were cheerfully awarded to him. In the social circle he was generally expected to take the lead in conversation; but seemed so unambitious of the honour as to require to be drawn out before he could be made interesting. Whether it was owing to the state of his nervous system, or to his natural temperament, he was at times impatient of prolonged interviews, became fidgety in his manners, and excited a smile by his little peculiarities.

      But it is as an orator that the public mind is likely to feel the deepest interest in him. After hearing a great number of speakers, both on sacred and secular subjects, I have formed the conclusion that Mr. Broaddus, during the days of his meridian strength, and in his happiest efforts, was the most perfect orator that I have ever known. For the last fifteen years of his life, there was a manifest decline in his intellectual efforts. The maturity of his knowledge, and his nice discrimination of truth, added to his humble piety, always rendered him interesting. But the vivacity, the pathos, the magic power of his eloquence, had measurably departed. Hundreds of persons who have heard him discourse within this period have been disappointed. He has not sustained the reputation which he liad previously established. Even before that period, there was another, and a still more fruitful source qf disappointment to his occasional hearers. When strangers listened to his exhibitions of the Gospel, it was generally on some extraordinary occasion, - some anniversary that called together a large concourse of people. Expectation was raised, curiosity was excited, and that was precisely the time for him to falter. His nervous diffidence frequently gained so complete a mastery over him as to fill him with a real horror of preaching. Often, on such occasions, have the united and urgent entreaties of his most cherished friends failed to get him on the stand. And when, by such solicitations, he was prevailed on to preach, often has his timidity so far neutralized his power, that those who

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knew him well would not juflge him by that effort, and those who did not know him formed an erroneous conception of his mental ability. When, however, he did rise superior to this constitutional infirmity, and shake off all the trammels of despondency and fear, those who hung on his lips soon felt themselves under the influence of a master spirit. There was such aptness of illustration, such delicacy and correctness of taste, such a flow of generous sympathy, and withal so much transparent simplicity, in his eloquence, that it at once riveted the attention, and moved the heart.

      His discourses were rich in instruction. His first aim evidently was to be understood by the feeblest capacity. Even a child could scarcely fail to comprehend his general trains of thought. If he was ever tedious, it was easy to perceive that it proceeded from an amiable desire to be understood by all. Possessed of a sprightly imagination, he employed it to elucidate and enforce Divine truth, rather than to excite the admiration of the vulgar intellect. His sermons were not moral essays, nor were they stately orations, neither were they distinguished by artistic structure and symmetry of parts. They were chiefly expository of the sacred writings. He always possessed sufficient unity of plan to indicate the purpose, or to suggest the title, of a discourse; but his genius hated to be cramped by scholastic rules. He explained his test in a most able manner, and then deduced from it such general doctrines as would naturally present themselves to a cultivated mind. Throughout his discourse, he introduced passages of Scripture in such a manner as to reflect new light on them, while they were made to contribute to his main design. He was a close student of the Bible, and was uncommonly felicitous in commenting upon it. He had a native talent for painting and poetry, and those who heard him could easily detect it. He made them see things so vividly that they often felt as if they were not hearing a description, but beholding the very objects, in living colours, spread out before the eye.

      Another trait in his oratory was that it was natural. He had unquestionably a genius for every work that demands refined taste for its execution; but he cultivated that genius by varied and long continued study, and thus reached the highest of all rhetorical attainments, - the art of concealing art. He seemed to divest himself of the formal air often assumed in the pulpit; discoursed in a conversational tone, as with a party of select friends, awakened the attention even of those who were not especially interested in the subject, and made them feel that they were personally concerned. He looked into the eyes of the assembly with such an individualizing yet meek penetration, that each hearer fancied himself as much addressed as if he were the entire audience. I have frequently heard, from half a dozen persons who sat in different parts of the house, the remark, at the close of a meeting, - "Mr. Broaddus preached his whole sermon to me." And this insulating effect was not owing so much to the substance as to the manner of his address. He was not a close, searching, severe, exclusive sort of preacher, as to his doctrines. His tendency was to encourage, to soothe, to allure. He sought out the sincere but desponding believer, and, by a lucid exhibition of the system of Divine mercy, and a nice analysis of the character of the true Christian, gave him a basis for consolation. But it was his natural manner that brought him into immediate contact with his hearers, annihilating all formality. He was stripped of the veil of an artificial delivery, and that/ forgot the publicity of the occasion by reason of the directness of the appeal. The nearness of the relation that he sustained to his auditory explains in part his bashfulness in early ministerial life. In several of the early years of his public career, he sat in his chair to preach. Having gathered his neighbours around him, he occupied the evening in religious exercises. He read select portions of Scripture, and expounded them in a familiar style. As the congregations increased, and

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his confidence became more firm, he hegan his remarks in that posture, and rose to his feet, when he felt the kindlings of his theme. This early custom probably had some influence on his talent for exposition. It certainly contributed also to the continuation of the speaker in the natural manner. It must not be inferred from this statement that his style was coarse, or that his gestures were inelegant, or that his general appearance was devoid of seriousness. The contrary was emphatically true. His style was always chaste, - sometimes rising to the beautiful. His gesticulation was appropriate, easy and impressive, never violent, over-wrought or pompous. His manner, though remote from sanctimoniousness, was anything but flippant. His voice had nothing of the whine, - nothing of the affected solemnity of tone about it. It was musical, flexible and capacious. His whole carriage in the pulpit was mild and graceful, without his seeming either to aim at it, or to be conscious of it. In a word, it was natural - it was such as good sense, unaffected piety, and cultivated taste would spontaneously produce.

      Another trait of his oratory was his skill in the pathetic. He knew well how to touch the delicate chords of passion in the human heart, but he did not abuse his skill by constant exercise. The main body of his discourse was didactic. He gave the sense of the text, developed the doctrine, enforced the practical duty. But, occasionally, he unsealed the fountains of feeling in the soul. Often have I felt the thrill of his eloquence, and witnessed its melting power on an audience. It came unexpectedly, without any parade, and his hearers resigned themselves up to his control. The most touching parts of his sermons were the episodes. He seemed to have just discovered a new track of thought, and for a moment to luxuriate in its freshness and fertility. His hearers willingly left the main road with him, and sympathized intensely in all his emotions. They knew that he had a right to their hearts, and that he would not abuse his privilege. His sermons were not one uniformly sustained appeal to the passions. He attacked them obliquely. Having first convinced the judgment, he found a ready avenue to the affections, and thus influenced the will. Hence it often happened that a single sentence produced a subduing effect. All that was said before was but a preparation for that one sentence. A moderate charge of gunpowder will more effectually cleave a rock, if, by deep boring, you introduce the explosive agent far into its bosom, than ten times the quantity kindled on its surface. Mr. Broaddus knew exactly when to touch the passions; and, unless he perceived that the mind was prepared, he was careful not to attempt the delicate task. When he did attempt it, he rarely failed.

      An important question may here be propounded - Was his ministry successful in winning souls to Christ? I am happy to answer in the affirmative. He laboured in the cause for more than half a century, probably for sixty years. His congregations were always large, his churches prosperous, and though his ministry was better adapted to edify than to awaken, many persons were converted through his instrumentality. Still I am free to acknowledge that his success was not commensurate with his talents. Men of less piety, of less learning, and of less original acuteness, have often been more effective. And why? Because they possessed more courage and energy. The great interests of the church and of the world require decision and perseverance. To be eminently successful in any noble enterprise, we must throw ourselves into it - body, soul and spirit; - must derive new motives to activity from the very difficulties that oppose us; and, confident of the strength of our faculties when guided by truth and animated with love, we must anticipate and labour for large results. "Attempt great things, expect great things." This venerable brother yielded too much to timidity. He needed some one to push him onward. He was frequently absent from the great Baptist Anniversaries,

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where his counsels would have been valuable, and his labours highly appreciated. This was not occasioned by an unsocial temper, nor by indolence, nor by any hostility or even indifference to the objects that claimed attention, but by a morbid sensibility that shrunk from exposure. Could he have gone to these meetings, and seen and heard every thing, while he himself remained silent and invisible, I think he would have attended them. But his deservedly high standing always put him in requisition, and he was driven to the alternative of either taking a prominent part, or resisting the importunities of beloved friends. To avoid this, I doubt not, he often sought and found some reason for remaining at home. The same disposition discovered itself in his regular pastoral engagements. He seemed to court obscurity, to cherish no desire to be a leader. So depressed in spirit at times as to fancy that any sort of a preacher would be more acceptable and useful than himself, he would put him up as a substitute in his own pulpit. This extreme reluctance to perform the offices of his profession was caused, partly by nervous debility, and partly by the peculiar texture of his mind. Far be it from me to intimate any censure against so excellent a man. Fidelity to truth only requires me to say that he would have been more effective, had he possessed either less exquisiteness of mind, or more strength of body. The union of fine sensibility and of a disordered nervous system rendered him too liable to be disconcerted, and poorly adapted him to elbow his way through the rough world. As a disciplinarian, he was deficient, - not from any imperfection in his own standard of rectitude, nor from any delinquency in his own conduct, but from the want of authority. He had not the heart to inflict a wound on the feelings of a child, or even to retort when his own feelings were unjustly wounded. His intellectual apparatus was thrown out of order by incidents that ordinary men would have scarcely noticed. And when to this temperament was added a prolonged series of domestic afflictions that cannot here be mentioned, -- afflictions that would have appalled the stoutest heart, that quickened into acute and protracted agony his sensitive nature, the wonder is that he was not overwhelmed. Nothing but high moral principle, - a stern conviction of duty, and a noble desire to please God and profit men, could have so long and so honourably sustained him in his pastoral labours.

      As an Author, Mr. Broaddus deserves the grateful remembrance of the Christian public. The works by which he is perhaps best known are his Bibb History and two Hymn Books, the one called the Dover Selection, the other the Virginia Selection. He was a frequent contributor to the religious literature of the day, by writing for the Herald and other periodicals, articles that were always read with eagerness. His principal controversial essays were called out by the opinions of Mr. Alexander Campbell. Over the signature of Paulinus, he wrote several able Letters on the subject of Divine Influence. He afterwards published an examination of Mr. Campbell's Theory of Baptismal Regeneration. As a writer, his style is easy and accurate - as a controvertist, he is mild, argumentative and ingenious. He seems to be free from ambition, - to write for the sake of truth rather than of victory, and to be anxious not to magnify the difference between the sides of the controversy. If he does not convince his opponent, he is so courteous as to conciliate his personal esteem, and to soften the asperity of the contest.

      Mr. Broaddus was a close observer and an ardent admirer of the beautiful in nature and in art. Deriving much of his happiness from such studies, he has left, in the specimens of painting and poetry with which he amused himself in his leisure hours, ample indications of what his genius could have effected, had it been devoted to these pursuits.

Affectionately yours,

      A sermon by Andrew Broaddus: The Remedy for Heart-Troubles from The Baptist Preacher, 1845

[From William B. Sprague, D. D., Annals of the American Baptist Pulpit, Volume VI, 1860, pp. 291-296. Document from Google Books. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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