Rev. Abel Morgan was of Welsh descent, and was born at Welsh Tract, Del., April 18, 1713. He was baptized when about twenty years of age, and was soon afterwards ordained. He had laid the foundation of the learning which he subsequently evinced at the academy in Pencador. In 1739 he took charge of the church in Middletown, N. J., and continued there until his death, in 1785. The period of his life was an important one, and he was equal to the work demanded from him. His influence and the history of the denomination in New Jersey and America are inseparably connected. He had a good judgment, unusual literary attainments, a logical mind, and a very valuable library. He was powerful in debate; he was also unsparing in labor by night and by day. In his old springless cart he rode long distances to preach Jesus. Dr. Jones, in his century sermon, called him "the incomparable Morgan." [Morgan] Edwards says of him, "He was not a custom divine, nor a leading-string divine, but a BIBLE DIVINE." He was on different occasions challenged to debate on doctrine, and always maintained his position. In 1742 there was a great revival at Cape May, in which Baptist and Presbyterian ministers preached. Too many of the converts "took to the water" to suit the Presbyterians. Mr. Morgan accepted a challenge from Rev. Samuel Finley, afterwards president of Princeton College, to discuss the baptismal question. He gained a signal triumph. Mr. Finley tried his pen, and wrote "A Charitable Plea for the Speechless." Mr. Morgan had a reply printed, under the title "Anti-Paedo Rantisin, or Mr. Samuel Finley's Charitable Plea for the Speechless examined and
refuted, the Baptism of Believers maintained, and the Mode of it by Immersion vindicated, by Abel Morgan, of Middletown, in East Jersey. Philadelphia, printed by B. Franklin, in Market Street. MDCCXLVII." This little work is so valuable and scarce that it sells for $12 or more.
As a patriot, his trumpet gave no uncertain sound. Even while the royal troops were moving through his neighborhood, after the battle of Monmouth, he was outspoken. The next Sunday he had for his text, "Who gave Jacob for a spoil and Israel to the robbers?" He says in his diary, that the Sunday after that, "Preached in mine own barn, because the enemy had taken out all the seats in the meeting-house." He baptized many persons, and was the means of converting and edifying many more. He wrote some of the most important documents issued by the Philadelphia Association, and was frequently called by it to preach and preside. His many manuscripts, neatly written, show careful preparation, sound doctrine, and practical application. The inscription upon his plain tombstone at Middletown is, "In memory of Abel Morgan, pastor of the Baptist church at Middletown, who departed this life Nov. 24, 1785, in the 73d year of his age. His life was blameless, his ministry was powerful; he was a burning and shining light, and his memory is dear to the saints."
[From William Catchcart, editor, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881; rpt. 1988, pp. 814-815. — jrd]
Baptist History Homepage