Sketch of Early Ministers
Of the preachers whose names are found in the preceding history, WM. BRUNDIGE, I think, was senior. He removed, with his son-in-law, Nathaniel Wyatt, from the state of New York into Ohio about the year 1805 or 1806. After a short time, they located themselves in a part of Franklin, now Delaware county. Elder Brundige was a large portly looking man, which added to his hoary hair, gave him a very venerable appearance. Naturally loquacious, he was full of anecdote and story-telling, which rendered him a very pleasing companion to the young. This propensity was often carried to an extent that some of his friends thought unbecoming in a minister. He enjoyed no advantages over his brethren except what age and experience furnished. He had a peculiar aversion to reading anything except his Bible and hymn-book; yet, with a good mind and strong memory, he was sound in the faith, and, what was then termed, quite an acceptable preacher. Eld. B. was what would now be called a Gillite of the first water.
ELDER WYATT comes next in age. First taught in the school of his father-in-law, but doubting, after laboring a few years in the ministry, the correctness of some of the positions assumed by the old gentleman, in trying to find a middle passage between Gillism and Armenianism [sic], he stumbled more or less on both. Still the Baptists in the Association have good cause to respect his memory, for his labors in trying to build up the denomination in this, then a wilderness. Br. Wyatt labored but a few years in the Lord's vineyard, when he left it to others, and entered exclusively into the business of the world, where he accumulated a good fortune, and died.
ELDER THRIFT was a native of Virginia. He was a student of the Philadelphia Confession of Faith; quite an eccentric character, but withal calculated to do good in a new settlement, destitute of any other. He died, like Father Brudige, in a good old age, respected wherever known.
HENRY GEORGE was a native of Wales. He came to this country in the beginning of the present century. His family resided awhile in Beulah, on the Alleghany Mountains. He came to this State as a missionary, in the service of the Philadelphia Missionary Society. Being pleased with the country, and the prospect of usefulness as a preacher, and of providing for a young and growing family, he removed and settled in Knox county, sometime in 1809-10. Brother George was probably the best educated, in his mother tongue, of any preacher belonging to the Association.
It will be seen by the minutes, that he soon collected a few Baptists in the settlement, and formed them into a church, of which he became the pastor. This church grew rapidly. In 1815 it contained twenty members; in 1816, ninety-eight; in 1817, one hundred and two. These facts are better than volumes of eulogium in favor of his piety and talents. He labored and traveled considerably in this State, in the service of the Massachusetts Missionary Society. He died in Radnor, Delaware county, in 1822, to which place he had removed a short time before.
AMOS MIX. -- Of this brother very little is known, or whether he is yet alive. He fell in with and adopted the views of Elder Thrift, and like him, was little known beyond the bounds of his own neighborhood.
JOHN W. PATTERSON came to this State a short time before the formation of the Columbus Association, and settled in Licking county. He was for several years considered the most popular preacher in this connection. His labors were blessed in the regions he occupied, and converts were added to the churches to which he ministered. But his days of prosperity and usefulness were soon numbered. The churches which he gathered , and to whom he had broken the bread of life, were called to put on sack-cloth, and to weep between the porch and the altar; to say in bitterness of spirit, "Spare thy people, O Lord! And give not thy heritage to reproach."
THOMAS RIGDON was the first and only preacher in those days, connected with this Association, who claimed to have any advantages over his less favored brethren, in point of education. His qualifications, both natural and acquired, placed him in the front rank in the denomination. But the churches in the western part of the Association knew but little of him as a preacher. Popularity, or at least an effort to obtain it -- for he sought the honor of men, and not of God only -- destroyed his usefulness. By striving to serve God and mammon, he lost the favor of both. His first departure from the regular Baptist faith was in embracing the errors of Alexander Campbell. From this he became an active leader in the Mormon delusion. ___________________
That the Baptists of Ohio are indebted to the labors, travels, privations, difficulties and dangers which these men, and others with them, have undergone and suffered, will be admitted without gainsaying. These pioneers of the wilderness were true-hearted, faithful soldiers -- men who were not afraid of the briars and thorns of the wilderness -- men willing to spend and be spent, in the service of their Divine Maker, and for the salvation of souls. They labored for those deprived, in a great measure, of the means of grace; for the few sheep scattered, separated, divided by the wilderness and streams, cut off alike both from Christain intercourse and religious privileges.
Such were the men who hazarded their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus, and under whose labors, by the blessing of God, the Baptists of Ohio are now a host more than twenty thousand strong. Such were the men who, laboring night and day, in the blasts and storms of winter and the heat and drought of summer; in perils in the wilderness, and perils in the waters; in watchings, in fastings, in cold and nakedness -- these men laid the foundation of that goodly temple, that spiritual house, which now embraces its thousands. Among these men,
the writer -- the most unworthy and the least qualified -- claims to have had a shaare. Apart from egotism, he can in truth say, that he has traveled more miles, and spent more time and money for the sake of the cause -- exclusively, and without any hope of remuneration than the testimony of a good conscience -- than any three; yea, in fact, more than all the rest northeast of the Miami Valley, previous to the year 1820. When, therefore, it becomes necessary, he may be permitted to boast himself a little, yet he would also say, "That not I, but the grace of God, which was with me;" for "by the grace of God I am what I am."
On the foundation thus laid, the Ohio Baptist Convention, by the labors of those more highly-favored brethren, possessing a more liberal education, are raising and enlarging a glorious building, one compact body of associated churches, predicated on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. There is much land yet vacant, both literally and spiritually, in the cultivation of which all the gifts in the church may be usefully employed. Let not him that hath literary advantages judge him that hath not; and let not him that is less highly favored in worldly learning, envy him that is learned. Let our educated men take possession and occupy the high places - the cities, towns, villages -- the more dense and better informed portions of society; and those possessiong a moderate share of gifts and advantages, retire to the more obscure settlements -- the "back-woods" if necessay -- and there proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ.
The Baptists were never the enemies of learning, as such. The jealousy with which many of them have looked on preachrs possessing collegiate education, has arisen, not from their literary attainments, but from the fact that so many of this class of preachers were destitute of piety -- a truth which even their best friends would not attempt to deny. Many such have thrust themselves into the ministerial office for filthy lucre -- to gain a living on the same principle, and for the same end, that others have entered the medical or legal professions. No wonder that the Baptists should set themselves against such traffic -- this merchandise of the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Whenever our brethren become satisfied they have nothing to fear from a like imposition -- a substitution of mere natural talent and human learning -- for the spirit of piety, and the call of God, they will easily and readily fall into the ranks of the friends of education, and will give to literary and theological improvement their united support.
Let the churches know, that piety is the basis of all ministerial qualification -- that where this is wanting the most splendid talents, the most commanding literature, cannot introduce a man into the sacreed office -- then will the Baptist churches arise, as one man, in favor of giving to their sons all the advantages a thorough education can impart. That this object is both easy and practical, appears to me quite obvious. That the teachers and advocates of our theological seminaries are acting on this principle is evident, and is a guaranted sufficient to secure the confidence and support of the whole denomination.
The fundamental principle of piety, as the basis of character and office in all our preachers, is now sought to be secured by the united concurrence and decision of two independent and competent tribunals First, the church with whom the candidate holds his membership, resolve that, in their judgment, he possesses gifts which should be publicly improved, and they give him a license accordingly. Second, with this testimony in his favor, he appears before the faculty of the college, whom we expect to be men of sound judgment and ardent piety -- men who have no partialities to indulge or gratify -- and thus are able to investigate his claims, and decide on his qualifications impartially, and so as to secure fully the confidence of the churches.
That the Baptists of Ohio have suffered, both in reputation and prosperity, by the premature introduction of ignorant men into the ministry -- men incompetent to the performance of the duties of the office thus inadvertently assigned them, is a fact to which they now look back with regret. But the reasons that led them to the adoption of such means no longer exist, and we may hope soon to see our denomination standing on an equality with any other in talent, piety, and learning -- sustaining, and turning to a good account, that commanding influence with which the truth of their peculiar sentiments is calculated to endow them.
Let the sacramental host of God's elect -- the 20,000 associated Baptists of Ohio -- faithfully redeem the pledge made in the day of their consecration -- their baptismal vows -- and we shall soon see the water of life breaking out in the wilderness, and the streams of salvation watering the desert. This wilderness, and these solitary places shall be made glad; they shall bud and blossom as the rose. ==================
[From Columbus Baptist Association Minutes, 1859. These original records are in a bound volume at the Denison University Library, Special Collections and Archives, Granville, OH. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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