For The Baptist newspaper
Reminscences of Elder Moore Stevenson
By James Whitsitt, 1844
Moore Stevenson was a native of North Carolina, born in Northampton county, December, 1760. He married Sarah Perny, September, 1779; was baptised by Elder Lemuel Burket, in 1783; he removed to this State [TN] in 1790. He began to preach in 1800, and departed this life, March the 18th, 1818, in his 58th year.
My first acquaintance with Elder Stevenson, was in 1795. I preached at a meeting house on his land, in Sumner county, his appearance at the meeting struck my attention more than any person there; his fine eyes, and the expression of his face, showed him to be a man of a penetrating mind. His stature was of the common size.
When preaching in that county afterwards, I visited his house, and became intimate with him, and found from conversation that the ministry was on his mind, but his feelings were cold and his taste nice, so that he could not begin.
Shortly before he commenced preaching, I was at his house, and he insisted on my studying grammar; I excused myself, that I had a family to regard, and that, with my preaching, would consume all my time; but he insisted on my attempting it, and told me that it was such a delightful study, that if I could bring my mind once to it, that I would be so pleased with it that I would master it; and said he, I will go down to your house shortly and will see how you come on. He came, and I sat with him in much pain, expecting every minute to be called up; but the spell was broke very agreeably. Said he, "If I have ever felt the power of God in my soul, I have felt it since I saw you." Religion was the topic, and he never said grammar to me once.
Shortly after Elder Stevenson began to preach, there was an Association at Elder Dillahunty's meeting house, and he was there. One of the minister's [sic] at the stand on the first day, took up the subject of baptism, he commenced about one o'clock, and the Association adjourned and came out. The brother continued his discourse about two and a half hours, his mind on it. The day was fruitful, his mind on that day was fruitful, he investigated both baptist and also pedobaptist ground, and this discourse was of some use. Elder Stevenson caught the method, improved on it, and excelled. Ebenezer Rice, then a stranger, from the State of New York, Was an attentive listener, and he retired with the company to Esquire Dillahunty's; Mr. Rice there told them that he was a Presbyterian. One asked him how he stood the preaching that day; he told them that he had been on crutches fourteen years, but he had lost them. Mr. Rice soon after was baptised; commenced preaching; held for some years the care of a church, twelve miles west of Nashville; from thence he removed to the church on Fountain creek, m Maury county, where he died, much lamented.
Elder Stevenson was in easy circumstances. He had a managing, industrious wife, and he generally had faithful overseers, and he gave himself to the ministry. He went forth into Wilson county, where Christ had been but little named by a Baptist preacher; there he labored day and night. Lord's day and work day, and finally removed into that county where he died. His ministry was almost wholly confined to that county. Big and Little Cedar lick, Bradley's creek, Spencer's creek. Barton's creek and Bethesda, were places where he had establishments.
Elder Stevenson was a sure preacher - he seldom failed to rise high - he had the perfect control of himself, in the management of his voice. The doctrinal part of his discourses were well studied, and cool and deliberately delivered, without much fatigue, and by the time he would be through with his doctrine his feelings were generally up, and he would launch into exortations [sic], which were most admirable - he seldom set down when his congregation were not in tears on their seats. Repentance, faith and baptism was his forte; on baptism he excelled - he drew in a number of pedobaptlsts by his skillful management of that point. He did not ascend into the more sublime or strong points of divinity, and yet he was a strong believer; he did not hold with systematic preaching, and yet he had a system - he showed divine sovereignty in the new birth, for he was very experimental. To play the man, "and the Lord do that which seemeth him good," was his motto.
In Associations Elder Stevenson had but little to say, and in the churches he was also very reserved; scarcely ever spoke on any point of discipline, more than state the questions and count the votes; he held that the pulpit was the place where the pastor rules. He was a good writer and yet I do not know that he ever published any thing.
In civil life Elder Stevenson managed his affairs with discretion; he was a nice man; open, free and kind to all. I need not say, that in his sentiments he was Calvinistic, for all were so in that day, as far as it was known.
In the bounds of his labors Elder Stevenson left eight ministers, where I know not, - there was one when he begun [sic], - viz. Jacob Browning Joshua Woolen, John Impson, Edward Willis, James T. Tompkins, Elijah Mattox, Wm. White and Micajah Estes, the three last were baptised in the old States. Among all these there was not a more efficient man than Elder J. T. Tompkins, while he acted on the method of his predecessor.
[From The Baptist newspaper, 1844. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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