Charles Dutton Mallary was born of worthy and respectable parents, in West Poultney, Rutland county, Vermont, on the 23d of January, 1801. One of his brothers, Rollin C. Mallary, became an eminent lawyer, and represented his native State for many years in the United States Congress, where he occupied a commanding position as a debater, and exerted, as chairman of the committee on manufactures, a powerful influence in directing the legislation of the country. After completing the usual preparatory studies, the subject of this sketch entered Middlebury College, in August, 1817. He was a college-mate, if not class-mate, of that distinguished Methodist divine, Rev. Stephen Olin, and also of Rev. Dr. Howe, of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Columbia, South Carolina. He graduated in August, 1821, with the first honor — a
fact sufficiently indicative of his superior talents and his diligent application as a student.
From his earliest years he had been the subject of deep religious impressions, which he was accustomed to ascribe in large measure to the instructions and prayers of his pious parents, especially of his devout and honored mother. In the sixteenth year of his age, during the prevalence of a revival, he experienced that great moral change which renewed his heart and gave him a trembling hope of salvation. Shortly after this occurrence he entered college, and then, owing to various circumstances, a long season of doubt and declension ensued in his spiritual history, which gradually darkened into dejection and despair. The distress of his mind was similar to that of Bunyan, and the poet, Cowper, in their awful days of desertion. Indeed, his companions trembled for the stability of his reason, and he himself was conscious of treading on the brink of insanity. At length, through infinite mercy, the cloud broke and rolled away; his feet were taken out of the horrible pit, and he stood on the rock of ages, with a new song in his mouth. After canvassing the comparative claims of the various denominations, (his inclinations rather leaning to the Congregationalists,) the path of duty became plain, and he was baptized into the fellowship of the Baptist church in his native town, in June, 1822, by the pastor, Rev. Clark Kendrick.
After his graduation Mr. Mallary spent a year as a teacher of youth in his native State. In October, 1822, he bent his steps southward, and, passing through Charleston, settled for a while at Cambridge, Abbeville district, South Carolina. Before leaving Vermont, his mind had been exercised with reference to the ministry, and he had resolved, so soon as providence should show an open door, that he would engage in preaching the gospel. Circumstances now being favorable, he commenced this work, and was soon licensed as a minister. Early in the year 1824, in obedience to a call from the Baptist church in that place, he removed to Columbia, the capital of the State, where he was ordained in April of the same year. Here, too, on the 11th of July, 1825, he married Miss Susan Mary Evans, daughter of John and Sarah Evans, of Georgetown, South Carolina, and grand-daughter, on the maternal side, of that eminent man
of God, Rev. Edmund Botsford. In this union, according to his own testimony, he found "more unalloyed enjoyment than generally falls to the lot of man." The excellent companion of his youth, and the mother of the only two children who survive him, Charles and Rollin, died of consumption, at Milledgeville, Georgia, in 1834.
At the expiration of two years, Mr. Mallary left Columbia and settled below that city, in what is known as the Fork, taking charge of the Beulah and Congaree churches. In 1830, he accepted a call from the Baptist church at Augusta, Georgia, where he remained four years. In 1834, he removed to Milledgeville. Here, however, his pastorate was brief, embracing not quite two years. A constitution, feeble at best, and often assailed with attacks of illness, disqualified him to a considerable extent for the steady, wearing round of pastoral duties, and necessitated frequent changes in his place of abode. The years 1837, 1838 and 1839 he devoted as an agent to the interests of Mercer University. The year 1840 he was employed as a missionary in the service of the Central Association. Perhaps this was the period of his highest usefulness. His powers were fully matured. He moved in congenial and appreciative circles. The peculiar exigencies of the denomination roused all his sacred energies, and thus these few years in Central Georgia witnessed the best results of his public career. In company with Dawson, Campbell and others, he engaged in extensive preaching tours, and in protracted meetings, which were attended with memorable revivals, and which operated powerfully in giving tone and character to the Baptists of Georgia. He seemed to live daily in the very atmosphere of heaven. Every effort, whether of preaching or exhortation, was attended by the unction from above, and christians improved in knowledge and holiness, while sinners, in great numbers, were added to the churches as seals of his ministry.
In December, 1840, he was married to his second wife, Mrs. Mary E. Welch, of Twiggs county, Georgia, a woman of very superior talents and worth, and most happily adapted to cheer his own disposition, which was rather prone to dejection and melancholy. She preceded him but a little to the skies, having died suddenly on the 28th of August, 1862. After this second
marriage, he took up his abode in Twiggs county, near Jeffersonville, on his wife's plantation, where he resided for several years. Though now in a somewhat sequestered situation, where most ministers would have considered themselves entitled to retirement and repose after so many labors, he indulged in no relaxation. Like his Master, he sanctified even his hours of rest with benevolent deeds. His recreations were other men's toils. During the period of his residence in Twiggs county he served, more or less, the following churches: New Providence, Macon, Forsyth, Evergreen, Jeffersonville, Irwinton and Wood's meeting-house. It was through his efforts, and mainly at his expense, that a comfortable house of worship was built at Jeffersonville, and the churches at that place and at Evergreen were started through his instrumentality. But in 1848 the LaGrange church summoned him from his laborious retreat. He responded to the summons, and, though constantly failing in strength, continued in this connection for four years. In 1852, finding it impossible to prosecute his pastoral labors, he retired to the neighborhood of Albany, where he passed the remainder of his days in such services as his physical infirmities permitted. He loved to preach, and he never ceased preaching until the end. His finished his useful career at Magnolia Springs, Sumter county, on Sunday noon, the 31st of July, 1864, aged sixty-three years.
In turning from this meagre outline of the more marked events and incidents in his career, it is exceedingly difficult to present in any moderate limits a just review and estimate of his character and services. As we attempt to recall him to our attention and survey, what, we naturally ask, most distinguished him as a man? What, in particular, constituted his individuality, gave him his definite "form and pressure," and raised him above the dull uniformity of the great human mass? One reply springs to the lips of all who knew him well — his piety. He was singularly and greatly good, a distinction "above all Greek or Roman fame;" and this was his general reputation. He was marked by more christian virtues and by fewer faults than any man the author has ever known. He was by nature an amiable man, formed to love and be loved, peaceful in spirit, and wholly free from a temper violent and petulant
in its manifestations. He was also a man of stern integrity, of incorruptible honesty, and withal of unflinching fidelity to his convictions of right and truth. Without being aggressively bold, he did not in the least lack decision and firmness, and his characteristic gentleness never sank into tame compliance with the demands of error and injustice. Probably no ill natured or carping man of the world, nor splenetic church member, ever seriously questioned his essential uprightness. On such a basis as this the fabric of his piety was reared. Over such amiabilities as these it cast its heavenly charm, while it woke in his own heart a variety of new and sacred passions.
His piety was ardent and intense, manifesting itself, not in occasional raptures and excited emotions, but in a habitual frame of devotion. Religion was the atmosphere in which he lived, moved and had his being. He did not separate his life into sacred and secular, saying, this is for God, and that is for the world — it was all for God. His religion sanctified his recreations, and gave a heavenly flavor to his worldly enjoyments. He loved much. The name of Jesus was fragrant and precious to him, always in his heart, and often on his lips. He loved the brethren. He was a lover of all good men. Though a devoted Baptist, holding our distinctive principles as firmly and conscientiously as one could well do, he still consorted joyfully and fraternally with all who honored the Saviour and bore his image. He was emphatically a man of prayer. "The spirit of grace and supplications" was possessed by him in a measure which, it is believed, has seldom been equaled, and never surpassed, in modern times. Early in his ministry, he laid out for himself a regular plan of prayer, assigning certain general subjects to each day in the week, to which he faithfully adhered.
Dr. Mallary was singularly kind and charitable in his judgments of others. He was never heard to utter a biting sarcasm, a stinging jest, a cruel innuendo, nor even a word that savored of slander against a fellow-creature. He literally almost seemed to "think no evil." He always put the best possible construction upon conduct, and when compelled to condemn, he did it with pain and sorrow, and, very likely, with the final suggestion of some extenuating or hopeful view of the delinquent. He was no severe critic or censor of his brethren.
He appeared absolutely a stranger to that mean spirit which, I am afraid, has been the too just reproach of the ministry: a spirit of envy, jealousy and rivalship. It gave him no pain that a brother should outshine or outstrip him, and it did not seem to occur to him that a minister, by superior gifts and graces, could ever be in his way. He was a model church member, which is not always the case with retired preachers. He was the pastor's friend and counselor. He did not plead or employ his ministerial prerogative as a ground of exemption from ordinary duties in the church, but bore his own burden, and often more than his own, with cordial patience.
The blessing of the peacemaker was on him. His own spirit was tranquil and pacific, and, so far from widening breaches and exasperating dissensions by a fierce temper of partisanship, he labored to compose strifes and reconcile alienated brethren.
He was a willing and generous contributor of his worldly substance to every good cause. In his ministrations, he insisted much on the duty of giving, a duty he never undertook to discharge by proxy.
His caution in speaking of the faults of others has already been referred to. It is proper to add that he rigidly ruled out of his speech all foolish jesting, and more especially all that approached impurity. While occasionally indulging the quiet humor of delicate wit, of which he had a rich vein, his conversation was never stained by malice or pollution. He seemed to accept, as a rule for himself, that maxim of the ancient Persians, which pronounced "unlawful to speak of what it was not lawful to do."
His politeness may be said, in part at least, to have been a development of his piety. If politeness may be defined as kindness, expressing itself in kind and self-denying acts, he was a model of this cheap yet potent virtue, immeasurably superior to Chesterfield, or any of his school. While he never affected the airs and artificial graces of a polished man of society, and would have scorned them, if he could scorn anything, he was still a pattern of courtesy, and was guided by the nice instinct of christian feeling to the performance of those various acts which marked him for a true gentleman.
If there was any defect in his christian character, perhaps it
was a lack of that sort of cheerfulness which gives to piety a pleasant and winning aspect, and which, in particular, recommends it to the young. Though removed as far as possible from a morose and prim severity, he displayed a little too much, probably, the sad and sombre side of religion. It is thought his usefulness would have been enhanced if the bright and joyous elements of piety had been more conspicuous in his life. The mention of this defect as the most serious which criticism can suggest in the review of his christian character, only serves to demonstrate how extraordinary that character was, and how far elevated in holy grandeur above the vast majority of latter day examples of saintship. And yet Charles D. Mallary entertained the most painful conceptions of his own utter unworthiness, and worthlessness even, in the sight of God. Indeed, his unaffected humility was one of the most striking traits of his piety. His views of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and of the holiness of God, were such as to bow him in the very dust. A delicate spiritual modesty softened and refined every manifestation of his inner life. A volume that would do justice to his piety would be a book of devotion not inferior to the biographies of Henry Martyn, Samuel Pearce and Edward Payson.
While Dr. Mallary will be remembered for his goodness, that goodness would not have been so conspicuous and noteworthy, if it had not been associated with a mind of uncommon capacity and vigor. His intellect and heart operated in delightful harmony, imparting to each other light and strength, and, in their blended movements, their almost perfect synthesis, presenting us with a complete and effective character. His mental endowments were of a very high order. It would, doubtless, be extravagant to assert for him the possession of that sort of ability which originates new thoughts, strikes out new paths of investigation, and makes memorable contributions to the stock of human knowledge. It is only a very few, in the long succession of ages, who can justly be assigned to this intellectual rank, and be classed with those sceptered kings in the realms of thought, "who rule us from their urns." But, while not claiming for him this style of greatness, we insist that his talents were such as to make him a man of special mark. To the more solid qualities of the understanding, such as a quick and
clear perception, a calm, sound judgment, a tenacious memory, a capacity for bold and vigorous thinking, he added a fertile fancy and a soaring, creative imagination, which enabled him to illustrate and adorn whatever he touched. His grasp of subjects was broad and firm, indicating intellectual strength and comprehensiveness. His mental operations were distinguished, not so much by formal logical processes — by regular advances, in which each minute step was ostentatiously displayed — as by rapid intuitions, and by a series of steadily progressive leaps and bounds towards his goal. Without any technical elaboration and parade of argument, he was still a solid and able reasoner. There was great symmetry and admirable balance in his intellectual constitution, no one faculty being developed out of proportion to, and at the expense of another faculty. Had his will been a little more positive and imperative, and his taste a little more exacting, his mental conformation would have gained somewhat in imposing and attractive force.
This richly endowed intellect had been well disciplined and furnished with ample stores of knowledge. He was fortunate, as we have seen, in his early opportunities of education, and these he zealously improved. Subsequently, he had been, as circumstances allowed, a diligent student. His range of acquaintance with books was extensive. There were few subjects, even outside of his profession, with which he was most surprisingly familiar. In theology, and the history of religious opinions, he was well read. The degree of Doctor of Divinity, conferred by Columbian College, District of Columbia, though little prized by him, was richly merited. He retained, beyond what is common among our working ministers, his knowledge of the ancient classics, and a marked fondness for their beauties. Indeed, his tastes were quite scholarly, and had his mode of life been more settled and regular, and his health more favorable to the pursuit, he would doubtless have acquired distinction as a man of profound and varied learning. Under proper influences, he would have made a Biblical critic and commentator of rare excellence. His thorough common sense and solid judgment, along with the spiritual insight and intuition of his deep piety, would have constituted him a theological teacher of the
style of the "judicious Hooker," and the yet more judicious Andrew Fuller.
Of the gifts and graces of Dr. Mallary, we have pleasing memorials in his various printed works. He figured in his day more than most of our leading ministers as a writer and author. He entertained an exalted appreciation of the power of the press, and from no mere scribbling propensity, no weak ambition to see himself in print, but from a solemn conviction of duty he wrote much. He was master of a facile pen, and of a style characterized by numerous excellencies. It was always correct, smooth and animated, often ornate and eloquent. His leading productions are the "Life of Botsford," "Memoir of Mercer," "Soul-Prosperity," "Sanctification," "Sabbath-School Instruction," "Simple Rhymes for Children," "The Alphabetical Dinner." "Prince Alcohol," an allegory in the style of Bunyan, and almost worthy of the immortal dreamer himself, was published many years since by the American Tract Society and obtained an immense circulation. The poetical talent of Dr. Mallary was remarkable, and, if thoroughly cultivated, might have achieved for him distinction in this department of literature. A little before his death he completed a didactic poem which had occupied his leisure hours for many years. It is entitled "Lord's Day Musings," written in blank verse, and extending through seven books. His contributions to the "Christian Index," on a great variety of subjects, always arrested attention and repaid perusal. His chief fault as a writer consisted, probably, in a certain diffuseness of style and a lack of that sententious brevity or terseness which keeps the mind alert and expectant. In the too limited authorship which characterizes the Baptist ministry of Georgia and of the South, he occupies a foremost place. All that he ever published was like himself, pure, and good, and kind.
"He never wrote
A line which, dying, he could wish to blot."
But, after all, it was probably in the pulpit that Charles D. Mallary gave the highest exhibition of the rare and various gifts with which he was endowed. First for his goodness, his holiness, and next for his power as a preacher, is he likely to be longest
and most widely remembered. In his generation, among the Baptist ministers of Georgia he had few equals and no superior. The pulpit was the throne where he seemed most at home, in the fullest command of all his powers, and the most perfect display of all his sacred passions. He was emphatically an able preacher, replete with rich thought, mighty in the scriptures, lucid and happy in the method of his discussions, and powerful in the arguments with which he defended and enforced his positions. He loved what are called the "doctrines of grace," and often presented them as pulpit themes with masterly strength and consummate skill. He was a truly eloquent preacher, gifted with a rare command of appropriate, energetic and beautiful language in which to clothe his sublime conceptions. His occasional hesitation for a word, perhaps, rather heightened than impaired the effect of his preaching, since that hesitation was almost sure to terminate, not in a lame and impotent escape from the difficulty, but in a new and bolder outburst of impassioned thought. His imagination was one of the most striking of his intellectual endowments, and, when fired in the discussion of divine truth, it often bore him to the highest heaven of invention, sweeping his hearers along with him "beyond the flaming bounds of space and time," up to
"The throne of God, the sapphire blaze,
Where angels tremble as they gaze."
" He was an exceedingly ingenious preacher, not in the sense of being able to excite attention by the petty conceits, smart surprises and startling paradoxes of sensation sermonizers, but as conveying truth, like the great Teacher, by similes, parables and happy illustrations. It was this peculiarity which gave him in large measure his enviable distinction as a preacher for negroes and children. His preaching was strongly marked by that indescribable excellence denominated unction, the blending of sincerity, earnestness and tenderness. He impressed all hearers with the conviction that he believed what he spoke and felt what he believed. In the pulpit he betrayed little self-consciousness and no vanity. He seemed conscious only of his Master's presence and claims. He kept himself behind the cross and lost himself in the theme. He showed his greatness
as a preacher by being nearly always equal to great occasions, although in his esteem there were no small occasions. At associational meetings, with an audience of thousands gathered in the grand temple of nature, his powers acquired their freest play, his feeble form dilated and became instinct with strange vigor, his long arms swung about him with Titanic energy, and his voice, in tones of organ-thunder, poured out the sublime thoughts and emotions with which he almost seemed inspired. Many of his sermons were very memorable and produced impressions which will long live in tradition. He never affected the arts of the orator, though he naturally adopted many of the best rules of the rhetorician and elocutionist. He spoke right on as his heart prompted, careless of gesture, intonations and all the niceties of style and manner. Indeed, it was unfortunate that he did not pay more attention to these minor matters. Had he cultivated and disciplined his naturally fine voice, and pruned away certain little infelicities of manner, and kept his pulpit forces more compactly together and more thoroughly in hand, his preaching would have gained considerably in its uniform impression. In his sermons, as in his writings, a certain diffuseness of style and a negligence of minute graces, together with a prolix tendency and a disposition to multiply divisions where differences were not sufficiently broad, constituted his most serious faults. But on the whole, while not a perfect pulpit model for imitation -- as no minister is or should be regarded -- he was a preacher of such compass and force, such fidelity and affection, such stately eloquence and childlike simplicity as is rarely vouchsafed to the church of Christ.
It is natural to think of Mallary as a preacher in connection with the ministerial associates of his life. Of course it would be improper to compare him with any of those brethren still living with whom he delighted to labor, and it is a delicate task to institute a comparison between him and any of those companions who are now sharing with him the heavenly rest. There is one name, however, which involuntarily starts up at the mention of Mallary, as if united with it. We mean, of course, Dawson. This noble pair of brethren lived out their days in mutual esteem and love. They preached much together,
they were singularly as one in their views of most subjects, and they co-operated heartily in promoting the same great objects. In the pulpit they were somewhat alike, and yet they were different. Dawson was more graceful, Mallary was more profound; Dawson was more impassioned, Mallary was more thoughtful. Perhaps Dawson had more genius; Mallary had more discipline and culture; Dawson was more moving; Mallary was more convincing; Dawson understood the nice cords of human nature something better, and how to strike them; Mallary was more thoroughly acquainted with great truths in their relations and harmony; Dawson's preaching was more popular and immediately effective; Mallary's was better adapted to be put in print and read at the fireside. It is instructive to reflect how little the settlement of the question, "Who was the greater preacher?" concerns them as they mingle in those associations where all the disputes and ambitions and rivalries of earth seem so mean.
Few men of his generation have been equally active and useful with Dr. Mallary in promoting those great enterprises of benevolence which form so marked a characteristic of our age. He was an early, zealous and persevering advocate of the temperance cause. The claims of ministerial and general education found in him a devoted and self-sacrificing friend and champion. Sabbath-school instruction enlisted his warmest sympathy, and evoked some of the best productions of his tongue and pen. The missionary work, whether foreign or domestic, had not, perhaps, in the State of Georgia, another such toiling, believing, praying friend. His was eminently a missionary spirit. He was emphatically a working christian, combining, in an extraordinary degree, the active and contemplative elements of religious character. No danger that he would rust out. As a useful man, who faithfully served his generation, he had in his day few equals. Even should his name be forgotten, his influence will live in the endless succession of gracious causes and effects, striking on ward and downward "to the last syllable of recorded time."
It has been said of some eminent man, that nothing in his life so little became him as his manner of leaving it. It was not so with Mallary. His death was perfectly congruous with
his life -- just such as could have been desired, and would have been expected. Without extraordinary pangs of physical suffering, in full possession of all his mental faculties, soothed by the affectionate ministries of his children, he sank to his rest as gently as a wave dies along the shore when the storm has ceased. In the language of the finest epitaph of pagan antiquity, "his death was the close of a beautiful day." At the earnest solicitation of his friends, he had repaired to Magnolia springs, Sumter county, Georgia, several weeks previous to his death. As his end drew near, he lay completely passive in the divine hands. He said, "I am afraid to live, but not afraid to die;" and yet he was resigned to remain or depart. All day long, and most of the night, he discoursed concerning the Saviour and that heaven which was so near. At times he became so intensely interested in these glorious themes, that he would raise himself and sit erect in bed -- a thing which ordinarily he was unable to do without assistance -- and deliver exhortations so solemn and touching as to melt the most callous of his attendants to tears. When admonished that such exertions would injure him, he replied, "It does not harm me to talk of Jesus." He spoke much of his old friends, living and dead, alluding particularly to Mercer, Sanders, Dawson and others who had gone before and with whom he expected soon to renew his intercourse. He thanked God for his sufferings, as well as for his ease; and when asked, "Are you suffering much?' replied, "Yes, some, but Jesus is in the room; the room is full of ministering spirits!" His last words were, " Sweet" (clapping his hands,) " Home!"
His end was not so much a death as a transition and transfiguration -- not so much an unclothing, as a being clothed upon with the shining vestments of immortality. In contemplating such a termination of life as this, such a perfect euthanasy, we may well exclaim:
"Is there a deathbed, where a christian lies?
Yes, but not his: 'tis death himself that dies."
This brief review of the life and labors of this great and good man would be incomplete and unsatisfactory to his friends, and unjust to his character and memory, if no notice were
taken of the position he occupied in regard to the great struggle for Southern independence, which was going on during the last four years of his life, and was still undecided at the time of his death. "The lost cause" was, of all earthly concerns, the nearest and dearest to his heart. Though he never took any part in politics — having rarely voted during a period of forty years — yet few men better understood the structure and history of the government, and no man was more devotedly attached to the Constitution and the Union. He watched with intense interest the great political movements which, from time to time, agitated the country, and mourned over the folly and fanaticism of the people and rulers. For some years previous to the war, he indulged the hope that our sectional difficulties might be settled, and that a terrible struggle might be averted. But soon after the "John Brown Raid" in Virginia, he went on a visit to his friends and relatives in his native State, (Vermont,) and was convinced from what he saw and heard, that war was inevitable. In a letter to his oldest son he says: "I have no hope of the country. Nothing but the power of a merciful God can save us from war and ruin. I fear that in his wrath he will punish the wickedness of the people. The North seems blind to its own interests, and determined to destroy us. The Constitution is no longer respected, and the higher law doctrine is embraced by all classes. Infidelity is on the increase, and religion in all the churches is sadly declining." His views of the condition of affairs remained unchanged, and after his return to his home he expressed the opinion that the union of the States would be severed, and separate governments established, or that a great military government would succeed, in which the South would be powerless.
When the secession of the Southern States took place and they declared their independence, he approved most heartily of their action and sanctioned it by his vote. Though doubtful of our success, he never doubted the justice of our cause. After the conflict of arms began, his heart and soul was in it. In addition to the morning and evening family devotions, he spent half an hour of every afternoon in prayer for the Confederacy. Not only did he pray for the cause, but he contributed liberally of his means towards its support, believing that the principles
of both civil and religious liberty were involved in the issue. Of African slavery, as it existed in the South, he was a zealous advocate, firmly believing it was sanctioned by divine authority. He looked upon it as the means appointed by providence for the civilization and evangelization of the African race. The violation of the provisions of the Constitution he considered a great sin; but the violation of God's providence by the abolition of slavery, he considered a greater sin. He expressed the opinion that abolition would result in the extermination of the negro race in America. In the last days of his life, his interest in the great cause seemed to increase. He heard that Atlanta had fallen: "Who knows, said he, but what I may be captured before I am called away?" And when asked how he would feel about it, answered, "Well, I will say to them, I am a poor old rebel — do with me as you like."
[J. H. Campbell, Georgia Baptists: Historical and Biographical , 1874, pp. 453-466. — Scanned by Jim Duvall.]
Baptist History Homepage