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Biographical Sketches of Tennessee Baptist Ministers

Joseph H. Borum

      . . . On the 20th of September. 1836, Elder Borum made a public profession of religion at a Methodist camp-meeting, held near by, called the Covington camp ground. There being no Baptist church nearer than some fifteen miles he was overpersuaded by his Methodist friends to unite with them, having the promise of the Methodist preacher in charge to immerse him, with which however he never complied. The next conference sent another preacher, to whom he communicated the fact that he had joined the Methodists with the express understanding that he was to be immersed. The preacher now in charge put off from time to time, until the presiding elder was called in to preach a sermon on baptism. He introduced the subject by stating that he believed there were three modes of baptism: pouring, sprinking and immersion, all equally valid and acceptable to God. But before he closed his sermon, he said he believed that immersion was indecent, vulgar and dangerous to health, and that no decent person would submit to it. Elder Borum concluded that putting the two statements together, the presiding elder made the Almlghtv accept an indecency, which was but little short of blasphemy, and determined at once to seek a people more congenial with the teachings of God's word and gospel truth. So in a few days he presented, himself to Beaver Creek Baptist church, Fayette county, Tenn., for
membership, where he was most cordially received, but at the time had no pastor. He was referred to Elder Peter S. Gayle, then living near Brownsville, Tenn., to baptize him; who on the 17th day of August, 1837, near Covington, buried him with Christ in baptism.
The Beaver Creek church being without a pastor and having no regular meetings, he could not be regularly licensed to preach. Feeling impressed with the duty of calling sinners to repentance, he conferred with several brothers upon the subject, who urged him to go forward and preach the gospel. So on the third Lord's day in September, one month after his baptism, he preached his first sermon at Liberty school and meeting house, Tipton county, Tenn., forty years ago.

     On the 9th day of February, 1841, he united in marriage with Ann Christy Brooks, a most amiable and Christian woman, to whom he ascribes most of his usefulness as a Christian minister - she always aiding and encouraging him in his work, by whom he has had nine children born unto him. . . .

     Sister Borum was a Methodist before her marriage, but having promised her husband before marriage that she would investigate the subject of baptism in the light of the Scriptures, she was true to her promise, which resulted in making her a sound Baptist - a real "Landmarker." [pp. 49-50.]


John Bateman

      . . . John Bateman continued his studies under Prof. Humphries one year and then commenced studying under Dr. Wm. L. Slack, an old Presbyterian elder who succeeded Humphries as principal of the academy. An incident occurred during his pupilage under Dr. Slack worthy of record.

      One morning during a recitation in Greek, the lesson was the third chapter of Matthew. When they came to the verse, "He, Christ, was baptized of John in Jordan;" Elder Bateman stopped and remarked to Dr. Slack that he wished to ask him a question, as he was the teacher and himself his pupil; he wished the Doctor to tell him the true rendering of the Greek verb baptidzo, and to his surprise, and the astonishment of the whole class (knowing him to be a Pedo-Baptist), the Doctor very promptly replied that it signified to dip, immerse, to plunge. He then turned to several passages in the Greek Testament, where baptism was mentioned, showing most conclusively that the word means to immerse, and never to sprinkle or pour upon. When the recitation was through, Elder Bateman went to his desk, and in a short time the Doctor came and remarked to him privately, "I reckon you are very much surprised at what I have just said about baptism." Elder Bateman certainly was, but not more surprised than gratified at his honesty. The Doctor then told him that he had been some considerable time examining the Greek Testament upon the subject of baptism, and who were alone entitled to the ordinance. He assured him that his education, early training and predilections had all been against the Baptists, his father being an Old School Presbyterian

minister: therefore, from his very infancy, his life and moral chaiacter had been developed under Pedo-Baptist influences. "Nevertheless," the Doctor remarked, "I am determined to sever all prejudices, and follow where the Bible, leads me." Accordingly, in September, during the session of the West Tennessee Baptist convention, Dr. Slack was received upon a Christian experience by the Big Black Baptist church, and was immersed in the name of the Holy Trinity. Thus the teacher was baptized by his pupil, Elder John Bateman, in the presence of a vast concourse of people. Dr. Slack became an eminent Baptist preacher, and is still living and preaching in Pontotoc, Miss. At the close of the year 1847, Elder Bateman felt it his duty to enter college, having made such proficiency in the classics, mathematics and other branches as necessary for some of the classes in college. [pp. 69-70.]

Jacob Browning
By Elder M. S. Corbitt, Camden, Tenn.

      Elder Jacob Browning was born February 11, 1779 in the state of North Carolina. He emigrated at an early day to Tennessee; married Elizabeth Surratt, May 2, 1805. He was brought up in the Presbyterian church. In frequent conversations with him, he has told me his reason for becoming a Baptist was by searching God's word for truth: "That they had a Presbyterian missionary preaching for the Indians; that on making his report, after circulating the New Testament and making some converts, as he approached them with a pitcher of water, an Indian asked him what he was going to do. He told him he was going to baptize them. The Indian took the New Testament from his bosom, and told him he had given them the wrong book. The Indian pointing to the river, said it was to dip." By searching the Bible Jacob Browning became a Baptist. He was a member of Bethesda church. The writer is not informed by whom he was baptized, as the family records were destroyed. He seems from 1805 to 1824 to have been a living epistle in the Concord association. When he emigrated with his beloved family to West Tennessee, Benton county, 1824, it was then this great man commenced his labors of love in the wilds of the West, and planted many flourishing churches. Rushings' Creek and Ramble Creek are still lively churches, and many more. He received a commission from the Philadelphia association to ride as their missionary, his membership being in the Western District association. He was one of the organized members of the first convention of West Tenneseee Baptists. He was pastor of the Parish church, Henry county, and his last sermon was preached there. . . . [p. 78]


William H. Bruton

     Elder W. H. Bruton was born in Madison county, Tenn., December 29, 1840. He is the youngest son of Thomas P. Bruton, who was a most zealous member of the M. E. Society; in which he held the position of class leader for many years prior to his death. His family all grew up in the Methodist faith, and so tenaciously did they cling to the traditions of the fathers that the subject of this sketch never heard a sermon from a Baptist until he was about grown, and then when he did hear them it was under circumstances that called forth severe criticism upon the doctrine proclaimed.

     His father died when he was quite small, but his teachings clung; to him; for he had learned in youth to love the church

he had espoused, and to despise "the dippers." He was frequently found contending with Baptists that the doctrines held and taught by Methodist were those "once delivered to the saints," and all other sects or creeds were only "branches" of the true church, and such as claimed to walk in the old paths and "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints," and to keep the ordinances as delivered, were arrogant bigots. After growing to mature years, having passed four years in the war, a desperately wicked man, he returned home penniless and without a change of clothes. He went to work on the farm at twentv dollars per month to enable him to appear decently in society. Having received a liberal English education, he after this commenced teaching school in Pleasant Plains Baptist church. In the midst of his school Elders R. Day, M. H. Neal, M. E. Senter and R. A. Coleman, held a protracted meeting in the house August, 1865. He attended the meeting, regarding them (with his Methodist predilections) as bigots, who claimed higher ground than they possessed, determined to withstand all their appeals and exhortations. At last, however, he was overcome, and despite his prejudices he was inclined to pray for mercy and obtained hope at that meeting. He then conceived it to be his duty to unite with the people of God. He took the New Testament, laying aside all prejudices and predilections, to look for a gospel church, never thinking of finding it in possession of those "bigots." He was well posted on the creeds of the different sects, and as he investigated, ofttimes to his discomfort, he would find apostolic teaching corresponding with Baptist teaching. Finally he gave it up, and became a Baptist - a thorough Baptist - by reading God's word, and in September, 1865, to the chagrin of all his relatives, he joined Pleasant Plains Baptist church; some of them said they never wanted him to visit their house and family again. At the time of his conversion he determined to lay aside all prejudice and read faithfully and prayerfully the New Testament for his instructor, and be guided by its teachings; honestly seeking for truth with the love of God in his heart,
he went to the sourse of all truth and wisdom with the praver, "Lord what wilt thou have me do?" No longer what will father, mother, preacher or friend, but whatsoever the Lord saith; believing at the same time that his Methodism would be confirmed in the investigation; his chagrin cannot be easily imagined in finding passages recurring at every step of his search teeming with doctrines and principles held and practiced by Baptists from the days of John the Baptist until now. He did not wish to find it thus; but recognizing the doctrine of individual accountability and the importance of honesty, he was bound to accept the divine teachings which led him to the Baptists, knowing at the same time the strong opposition he would meet at the hands of kindred, for none had ever been immersed. Every conceivable argument (aside from Scripture) was brought to bear to avert his purpose, but all were unavailing, and on the 19th of September, 1865, as stated above, he was baptized by Elder Moses E. Senter into the fellowship of the Pleasant Plains church. [pp. 87-89.]

Richard A. Coleman

      Elder R. A Coleman. was born in Cumberland county, Va., January 27, 1826. His parents came west when he was quite young, and settled in Rutherford county, Tenn., where they remained until he was about ten years old, when they

removed to Gibson county, Tenn., where he has remained up to this time. He was educated in the "Old Field" schools of the country, up to the two last years of his education. which were spent in Bethel College, McLemooresville, Carroll County, under the control of the Cumberland Presbyterians. He spent the earlier part of his life teaching. He was married to Miss Martha F. Trice, August 4, 1853. He was raised by Methodist parents, which church he joined when he became religious, and remained in full fellowship thirteen years. In 1858 he listened to a presiding elder for three hours, on the subject of baptism: anxious to hear the practice of the M. E. church fully sustained. He went to church, feeling joyful in confidence that the Baptists would be greatly exposed, and the community set right upon that vexed question. But to his utter astonishment, he found that the elder based every argument on supposition. For instance, he supposed John took a bunch of hysup, and sprinkled the people. Why not a bunch of dock? he thought as well. He was made to wonder if God had left all his ordinances to the suppositions of poor, vain, frail men. Presuming he had equal rights with the presiding elder, he was excited to read the Bible more than ever. He disliked the Baptists very much, and simply because he knew them not. After two years close study of God's word, and "Theodosia Ernest" - the reply by Mason, (Theophilus Walton) and many other instructive books, he was induced in September, 1866, to apply to the Baptist church, at Eldad, Gibson county. Tenn., for membership; being received, he, together with his wife, was led into the water by Elder M. H. Neal, and buried with Christ in baptism, and raised to walk with Him in newness of life. He felt a consciousness of having done his duty, and hence felt a calmness and peace of mind, seldom felt, or enjoyed in this life. At night of the same date, the Eldad church having learned that he was impressed to preach. but had been held in check, because he could not endorse infant christening and other principles held by the Methodists, met in conference and authorized him to exercise as he thought best.
      . . . In the winter of 1870, he removed ro Rutherford, Gibson county, Tenn,. where he still resides in the bounds of Beulah association. Directed by the West Tennessee Baptist convention, he entered the mission work again, in 1871, in the bounds of Beulah association. Here again he had many refreshing seasons from the presence of the Lord.

     He baptized during the year, one hundred and fifty-six converts, the majority being from the ranks of the Pedos. . . .

Anecdotes. - In the fall of 1866, a young lady was converted under his ministry; her parents being of the Methodist persuasion. She came forward to join the church, and was received for baptism. On going home, her parents tried to reason her out of it. She being highly educated and very intellectual, outreasoned them. They then tried to compel her to decline; but she was true to her Master's truth, and was not driven from it. They (her parents) then ordered her to gather up her clothes and leave their house. She then asked, if she had not always been dutiful to them? They told her yes. Well, said she, my duty to my God does not conflict with my duty to you, and so sought shelter under a neighboring roof. The next day, true to her profession, was at the place appointed for baptism, and was baptized. Brother Coleman says: "When I led her down into the water, I thought she was the ugliest girl I ever saw, but as I raised her up out of the water, a heavenly smile, bright and glorious, played upon her features, so that I thought she was the prettiest, I ever saw." She commenced shouting at the top of her voice, proclaiming. "I've done right! I've done right!" and went into perfect ecstacy, so that he had to lead her to shore, leaving others in to be baptized.
When they reached the bank, her parents were there, to join in praise with her, and invite her back home. A shout went up from that water, that seemed to make inanimate nature join in praise to God.

     On another occasion, in the summer of 1877, a lady about twenty-five years of age, was converted at a meeting Bro. Coleman was holding. It rained during the day - in the morning after church was adjourned, she mounted the same horse with her husband. They had gone but a short distance before he said to her: "You must take back what you have said and done." She told him she knew she had experienced all she said, and to deny it, would be to lie, and that she could not lie. After riding some distance, he stopped his horse in one of those old red clay lanes, muddy and sleek, and told her, "right here you must deny what you have done, or I will push you off in this mud. I will take from you this child, and you can never be my wife again." "You can push me off, take from me my child, however much I love it; you can discard me from your bosom, but I cannot lie!" He shoved her off. She sought protection in a neighbor's house for the night. About midnight, she besought her friend to see after her child. He found it fretting, and had vexed its pa very much. He sent it to it's mother. The next morning, he sent her word "if she would go no further, she could come home and be as ever: but if she went any further, and was baptized, he would shoot the administrator in the act. She informed Elder Coleman of his threat, saying "my husband is a determined man." He returned her word, if she desired to be baptized, and to become a member of the church, to come along, he would risk the consequences. When the opportunity was offered, she came in company with others. He heard all their experiences, holding her back for the last. He then asked her, if she pleased, to rise to her feet and state the reason of her hope; to which she responded as though she was anxious. She talked like she had been with Jesus. At the close of her remarks, the congregation was bathed in tears. Elder Coleman taking advantage of the occasion, invited the anxious

forward for prayer and instruction. Many came forward, but the first was the man who had driven the companion of his youth, and the sharer of his joys and sorrows from his bosom. He cried aloud for mercy; asked his wife to pray for him. He attended her to the water's edge, and saw her buried in the likeness of Christ's death, and raised to walk, emblematically, with Christ, in newness of life. [pp. 115-120.]

Samuel J. Crider

      . . . Elder Crider, was a Methodist preacher for several years. The sketch furnished me, gives no account of his change of views, and by whom he was baptized, nor the church he first united with. He was a very indefatigable and laborious preacher, and accomplished a great deal; being a considerable revivalist, he had many accessions to his churches from time to time. For several years he rode and preached as missionary for the "West Tennessee Baptist Convention," and numbers professed religion and were baptized under his ministry. He was full of life and humor. He gave the Campbellites considerable trouble, in the region of his diocese.

     They would try to throw off his batteries, by saying it was "nobody but Sam. Crider, and he is very ignorant, you know." So things moved on for a time; finally, a Campbellite preacher, was imputed to reply to him, from Nashville. The announcement was made for weeks previous to his coming. The day arrived, with the preacher and a large congregation. Crider, was one of his auditors - went out to hear himself demolished, as the Campbellites affirmed he would be. At the conclusion of the sermon, the preacher remarked, not knowing that Elder Crider was present, that if there was any person present, who wished to say anything, they had the privilege of so doing. Elder Crider, arose and thanked the gentleman for the opportunity, remarking, that he would simply tell a "Dutch Anecdote," being of that extraction himself, prefacing it by saying, that his Campbellite friend, had tried to make the impression in the community, that he was a very ignorant and illiterate man. How comes it to pass, that a preacher, all the way from Nashville, has been brought down here to reply to me? Now all this reminds me of the anecdote I am about to tell: There was an old Dutchman, who wished to gentle and break a pony, he had; so he said to his son John, using the Dutch brogue, "Shon, you go up de lane younder, and get down in de cornder ob de fence - ven I dous cum long pye, you shoust shump up, and say boo!" He went and placed himself in position. Along comes the old Dutchman and his pony - Shon shumped up and said poo! the pony whirled quickly around, and threw the old man to the ground; he arose in a very angry mood, and said, "Shon, dat ish too big a poo, for zich a leetle bony." And thus the scene closed, Crider coming off the winner. The application was a stunner, overwhelming. There could be no reply. He was very happy at retort. His blade would sometimes cut both ways. [pp.145-146.]

George W. Day

      . . . INCIDENTS. - When he was a boy, going to school, there was, in the section of country where he lived, some excitement on the subject of Baptism, and although so young, he participated. One Sunday, with pen, ink and paper, he wrote some stanzas and an essay upon the subject, and posted it upon the gate-post of an old Methodist gentleman, for him to read on his return from church. On the day following, George being at school, the old gentleman visited his father with the anonymous document, somewhat out of humor and showed it to the family, telling them that he thought one of their boys did it. His father thought so too, and promised the old man that he would correct or chastise the one that did it. But fortunately for him a good Baptist preacher (Elder David Jesse), happened at his father's on that day, before he returned from school, to whom the document was shown. He frankly told the father that he must not whip George; that he would take the whipping himself, if any whipping had to be done; that George had done no harm; had committed no crime; had only given his views on the Scriptures and the subject, which he had a right to do. The essay and the stanzas were a comment on the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch. It has been so long ago the essay is forgotten, but the writing closed with the following stanza:

"Philip into the water went,
Pray, reader, with what good intent?
To sprinkle the good eunuch's face?
This could have never been the case.
Or why go down into the stream?
To us convincing it doth seem;
He went down into it, 'tis plain,
And came up out of it again.
Then truly, it was after conversion;
He did baptize him by immersion."

      Pretty good for a boy! The result was, George got no whipping, and the old preacher uttered a prediction: "Hundley, I tell you that boy will preach the gospel some day!" Which was true as prophecy. [pp. 194-195.]


George Washington Lane

      Elder G. W. Lane, eldest son of John and Elizabeth Lane,was born April 27, 1829. . . . He professed religion at fifteen years of age, and joined the Cumberland Presbyterians; was not satisfied with pouring but thought it would do; was impressed to preach immediately after conversion. His parents were poor and could not aid him in procuring an education. He made money enough in three and a half years to school himself in part, and by teaching singing schools and preaching to congregations, finished his education, with some assistance from individuals and the college at McLemoresville, in the way of tuition. He entered an academy in LaFayette county, Miss., in the beginning of January, 1847; was three years under the tutorship of Dr. T. G. Burney. He was licensed to preach in the spring of 1848, and ordained in the fall of the same year. He entered the university of Mississippi at Oxford, in 1849; was there three years; entered Bethel college, Tenn., September, 1852, and graduated July, 1858. He was married to Miss Mary Priscilla Herron, of Yallabusha county, Miss., in September, 1854. He was called to and accepted the tutorship of Oakland academy in January, 1855; was principal in Central academy in Panola county, Miss., in 1859. when his wife, then the mother of three children - two living - died; she was truly a godly woman. On March 6. 1860, he married Miss Elizabeth Ann Nickles, of Panola county, Miss., daughter of Wm. Nickles, another Presbyterian family. In January. 1864, he took charge of churches in West Tennessee, northeast of Memphis. There he was fully made a Baptist. His conversion to Baptist principles, or rather Bible views, were in the university of Mississippi. He was challenged by Elder J. J. Sledge, Baptist, to debate with him the subjects of Baptism and Communion. After the birth of his first child in 1855, he agreed to have him christened; he was unwilling to practice what he did not teach

from the pulpit; to teach the people the duty, Pedo-baptism, he must opine reasons for it. This would lead him in contact with Elder J. J. Sledge and other Baptists. He must, therefore, make no mean preparation. He resolved to get out all of his works on Infant Baptism, noting all the Scriptures that would sustain the doctrine. He read them through carefully twice, and noted nothing, for he found nothing upon which he could rely to prove the doctrine. He lost all confidence in the wisdom and ability of his authors - not to his doctrine - for he firmly believed it was in the Bible. Accordingly, he sent to Nashville, Memphis, Jackson. Miss., and got the works of Robert Donels and others, and searched them with precisely the same results. He then determined to find the proper text himself; he read the Bible through, and found not a word to sustain the dogma. He, therefore, had but one alternative, viz: Ignore it altogether, or teach and practice what he knew was not even referred to in all of the Bible. He persued the former; he regarded it as wholly unauthorized by the Word of God. The rejection of this dogma greatly incensed and enraged some of his brethren. Quite an effort was made by some of them to silence him altogether, but nothing was done openly. He became a Baptist in this wise: He boarded with his brother-in-law in Shelby county; he and his wife were Baptists in sentiment, but they were still in the Cumberland Presbyterian church; both had been members of this church many years. His sister, from the age of eleven; she had been immersed by the Reverend Dr. Bell, of Tennessee, after avowing his disbelief in immersion. His sister and brother-in-law had read Romans 14: 23: "What is not of faith is sin;" both were well read in the Scriptures, had several Baptist works, and were familiar with them; they asked Elder Lane a great many questions about baptism and why he feared water, that he resolved for the first time in life to examine the subject of Baptism, as in regard to its action in the light of the Greek New Testament and his lexicons. He did so, and to his chagrin, found that baptize meant to immerse, and nothing else. He resolved, let consequences be as they may, to
abandon it. But he was no Baptist; he disliked their close communion, restricted pulpit; besides he had contracted, by association, a dislike for the Baptists. He thought of getting immersion by stealth, but remembered he had no better ordination than baptism, and no baptism at all, and, therefore, no ordination. He very nearly ran into skepticism; he resolved to see where all the denominations sprung from. He had never thought upon this, and could not believe that Christ's church had been prevailed against by the gates of hell, had been destroyed if the gates of hell had prevailed against it. It was natural that he should turn to the mother of his own denomination - the Old School Presbyterian - he saw their line directly into the bosom of the Roman Catholic communion, as consummated in the sixteenth century, under Hamilton, Knox and Calvin. The very things so objectionable in the Cumberland Presbyterian church were in the old School Presbyterian church, and some features more objectionable. This church was too young by over fifteen hundred years, and had the wrong origin and many wrong doctrines and practices. They could not be the church militant on earth. He then turned to the Protestant Episcopal Methodist. Her lines ran indirectly into the same great apostacy through the Episcopal church in the same century. No denomination in existence has a more disgraceful and inhuman origin than the Protestant Episcopal church. Its great Henry VIII has the most diabolical and murderous history of any of the very wicked kings of England. Episcopacy and its origin forbade its being the bride, the Lamb's wife. His sister urged him to search into the history of the Baptists; he did so, and to his great surprise, he did not run their lines into the great apostacy of the fourth century, or any other people who sprang from them, but back through the reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Down, down, down to Christ himself under various names, but holding rigidly for over eighteen hundred years the precious doctrines of the Bible. A living, pure and upright line, and holding the ordinances as they were given to the apostles of Christ bv himself. Having seen these facts, he resolved that
he would join the church of Christ, called Baptists. Accordingly, he met with the Big Hatchie association on Saturday, the 24th of September, 1864, with the Covington Baptist church; at night he presented himself for baptism, and was received; he was baptized the next morning by Elder Joseph H. Borum, who was then pastor of this church, in presence of a large audience.
His conviction and conversion to God and to the gospel ministry were listened to by the church and association. He was received unanimously. He was ordained by a presbytery appointed by the church on the previous night, consisting of Joseph H. Borum, pastor, Elders Wm. Shelton, D. D., Champ C. Conner, D. D., and N. H. McFadden. He immediately engaged in work. At the meeting of the West Tennessee Baptist convention, at Brownsville, he was employed as a missionary at a salary of eight hundred dollars. Served Macon, Fisherville and Oakland the remainder of his stay in Tennessee. Migrated to Kentucky in 1867, and settled with the Mayfield Baptist church, pastorated for them but one year, when called by the Kentucky General association to ride as an evangelist and Finance agent, at a salary of twelve hundred dollars. Pastorated for the Baptist church at Columbus until he left for Texas in the fall of 1872.

      In 1875 he accepted a call to Bastrop, at a salary of one thousand dollars. He was elected moderator frequently in Kentucky, and preached many introductory sermons. He has baptized many Pedo-Baptists and other converted people. He has had four debates, two with Elder Faucett, of Kentucky, Methodist, and two with Dr. Kindrick, of Texas, Campbellite.

      His conversion to Bible views was thorough. He is a Landmark Baptist. Close pulpit, close baptism and close communion; his family religion is after the Bible; he has tried to be uniform in family prayer and religion generally. [pp. 430-433.]


E. A. NcNeil
By Elder W. H. Wallace, of Columbia,
and Miss Sue McNeil, Jordan's Valley, Tenn.

      . . . Previous to his conversion, Elder E. A. McNeil, advocated Campbellism, but when he was converted his Campbellism vanished, and ever since has taken great pains to show its falsity. Having discarded Campbellism, he had some difficulty in determining which denomination to unite with, but thought he could never be a Baptist for any consideration. At that time the Cumberland Presbyterians were building up strong and powerfully at Winchester, Tenn. Some of his special friends were members there; they took special pains to induce him to unite with them, and he was finally invited into their session room. Here, in this session room, a very singular incident occurred. The session was composed of some eminently great and wise men; for instance, the pastor, William Capps, Nathan Green, a noted lawyer, and one of the supreme judges of Tennessee, Deckard and Warren and others whose names are forgotten. When they were ready to hear him, he arose to his feet and gave a running history of his religious life, exposing Campbellism and showing how dead it was in him since his conversion. This had such an effect on the presbytery, there were no questions asked, and the vote was taken and he unanimously received. Mr. Deckard quietly asked: "Have you been baptized?" With amazement, he answered: "No. You know I have just now professed religion and am now preparing to take the first step of a Christian." Mr. Deckard then said: "Which mode do you choose?" He answered: "Immersion." Deckard said: "Make your arrangements and we will immerse you; we bind no man's conscience. If you wish to be poured, we will pour you; if you wish to be sprinkled, we will sprinkle you; we allow every man to take his choice." Elder McNeil arose with warmth and energy and replied: "I want no choice; I think I have my full consent to obey God's commandments, be they what they may. Now. if you have a command to baptize a man, show me what it is and I am ready; if you have no command, you cannot touch me anyway." Deckard took his seat and asked the pastor to do the talking. After some whispering among themselves, the pastor declined saying a word, thinking it imprudent to discuss modes with one who evidently was determined to obey God's commands. Finally the matter was ended by an agreement that he should take their creed-book and study it, and when he was satisfied, to come back and they would baptize him. He was familiar with the Methodists, and knew he was not of them. He remained in this way the following year; but not being satisfied, he finally determined to cast his lot with the Baptists. He joined the Separate Baptist church at Bethpage, and was baptized by the pastor, James Taloe. [pp. 483-484]


James Whitsitt
By Doctor R. B. C. Howell
From the Annals of the American Baptisit Pulpit

      Elder James Whitsitt. a son of William and Ellen (Maneese) Whitsitt, was born in Amherst county, Va., on the 3ist of January, 1771. When he was ten years old, his parents removed to Henry county in the same State, where they remained until their removal to the Great West. His early advantages for education, though limited, were as good as the part of the country in which he lived afforded. At his father's suggestion, he engaged very early in business, and before he had reached his twentieth year, had accumulated considerable property.

      Elder Whitsitt was born and educated in the Episcopal church of Virginia. In the course of the year 1789, an extensive revival of religion took place in the neighborhood in which the family lived, under the administration of the Reverend Joseph Anthony, an evangelical and earnest Baptist minister. Elder Whitsitt became converted to the faith and the ordinance of baptism was administered to him by Elder Anthony. On the occasion, both of his examination and of his baptism, he made an address, characterized by great fluency, appropriateness and fervor. Though he was then only beginning his nineteenth year, he entered at once with great zeal into the revival, not only praying and exhorting, but appointing and conducting meetings; and so acceptable were his services in this way, that within a few weeks the church with which he was connected gave him a formal license to preach the gospel. [pp. 615-616]

[From Joseph H. Borum, Biographical Sketches of Tennessee Baptist Ministers , 1880; reprint 1976. These documents were provided by Ron Crisp.]

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