Rev. Jesse Mercer
The Rev. Jesse Mercer departed this life on the 6th of September last, in the 72d year of his age. He was the eldest son of the Rev. Silas Mercer, who was also a Baptist minister of considerable eminence, and of great integrity of character. Silas Mercer was a native of North Carolina, and was educated in the forms of the Episcopal Church, to which he was conscientiously attached until he had become considerably advanced in life. Hence, perceiving that the formularies of the church required immersion, he caused his two oldest children to be immersed in infancy, according to the letter of the Rubric. He removed in 1775 to Wilkes Co. in the State of Georgia, and soon after became a Baptist and united with the Rioka church, by which he was soon licensed to preach. On the breaking out of the revolutionary war, he returned to his native State, and was employed during the war as an itinerant preacher. After peace was restored, he resumed his residence in Georgia, and became an eminently useful man. He was instrumental in raising up a large number of churches. He also established a school in his own house, one object of which was to educate young men for the ministry; and he employed a teacher at his own expense. Some of the most eminent men in Georgia, among whom was his own son, are said to have received the first rudiments of their education at this school.
We have mentioned these incidents in the life of the father, to illustrate the character of the son. The Rev. Jesse Mercer received ordination at the age of about twenty, and spent the first years of his ministry as an evangelist. On the death of his father he became the pastor of four churches, all of which had been gathered by the instrumentality of his father, and at the moment of his death were under his pastoral charge. From this time the Rev. Jesse Mercer was enabled, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to fill a sphere of usefulness in which he has been surpassed by but few men of his time. His eminence was based upon his goodness. He was devoted to the ministry, but readily entered into all schemes that promised usefulness in improving the social or moral condition of his fellow men. He was an unwearied friend of education. He is known to have been one of the principal actors in the establishment of the Mercer University; a well endowed and flourishing seminary under the patronage of the Baptists of Georgia. His benefactions to this institution must have exceeded fifty thousand dollars. In his ministry and in his labors in the cause of education, he was doubtless inspired by the example of his venerable father. On hearing of the death of their esteemed fellow laborer, the Board caused to be entered upon their records the following notice."Resolved, That this Board cherish a pleasant and grateful recollection of the character and services of their friend and brother, the Rev. Jesse Mercer, D. D., of Georgia, lately deceased. He was among the earliest advocates and patrons of the Board, and for many years its President. When in health, he gave the liberal sum of five thousand dollars towards a fund for the support of its officers, and in his last will and testament, by large legacies to this and kindred institutions, has given repeated attestation of his approval and deep sympathy in efforts to evangelize the heathen.
His private intercourse was characterized by gravity, intelligence, frankness, suavity and piety. Esteemed for his probity and discretion, his aid was often sought in cases of difficulty between brethren; and he was acknowledged to be able in counsel, prompt in deciding, and successful in effecting reconciliation.
In the pulpit he used 'sound speech that could not be condemned.' Although more distinguished for strength of thought than for refinement of expression, yet there were seasons, and not a few, when from the fulness of a heart glowing with love to Christ and for the salvation of souls, he preached in a style truly pathetic and sublime."
[From The Baptist Missionary Magazine, January, 1842 p. 19. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
More on Jesse Mercer
Baptist History Homepage