“the Great, the Incomparable”
Abel Morgan, was born at Welsh Tract, April 18, 1713, and educated near by, at Pencader Academy, kept by Rev. Thomas Evans. He was ordained at Welsh Tract in 1734, and was called to the Middletown Church, New Jersey, which he served as Pastor till’ his death in the seventy-third year of his age. In 1772 he was Moderator of the Philadelphia Association, the celebrated Dr. James Manning being Clerk at the same time. Previously, Mr. Morgan served as Clerk. It was in 1774, upon his suggestion, that the Circular Letter was adopted by the Philadelphia Association for the first time. He was among the most noted Baptist ministers of his day. Dr. Samuel Jones calls him “the great, the incomparable Abel Morgan” (Benedict, p. 582). The same writer (p. 209) says: He “is the oldest writer I can find among the American Baptists in defense of their sentiments. Between this learned writer and Rev. Samuel Finley, a Presbyterian minister, then of Nottingham, Pennsylvania, a dispute appears to have arisen, which was carried on with much spirit on both sides for a number of years.” The Reverend Samuel Finley, who became president of Princeton College, challenged Pastor Morgan to a discussion relating to baptism. Finley wrote a pro-pedobaptist treatise, A Charitable Plea for the Speechless, and Abel Morgan replied with his Anit-Paedo Rantism; or, Refuted, the Baptism of Believers Maintained and the Mode of It by Immersion Vindicated. This treatise was printed in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin in 1747.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: William Catchcart, editor, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881; rpt. 1988, pp. 814-815.
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Second-Generation Preacher Makes Good
Horatio Gates Jones
We have already considered the Reverend David Jones, America’s first Baptist chaplain to the military. Jones had served under General Horatio Gates in 1776 and apparently was so impressed with the General that he named his youngest son “Horatio Gates Jones” at the baby’s birth on February 11, 1777, in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The young Horatio Jones grew to maturity in Chester and Bucks Counties and availed himself of the education that the local school provided. At age nineteen, he was sent to an academy at Bordentown, New Jersey, and studied there under the celebrated Dr. William Staughton. On June 24, 1798, the young man professed his faith in Jesus Christ and was baptized and welcomed into the membership of the Valley Church. Horatio returned to farming, but being a gifted speaker, he soon acquired a prominent position politically. Conviction that he had been called to preach, however, overcame all political aspirations. The Valley Church recognized his divine call and licensed him to preach in September of 1801. He ministered throughout the region until he was asked to accept the pastorate in Salem, New Jersey. He was ordained there on February 13, 1802. On that occasion, his aging father gave him the charge, saying “My son, in your preaching, don’t put the rack too high. Some ministers put the rack so high that the little lambs can’t get a bite. Put the rack low, and then the old sheep can get the fodder, and the lambs too.” In 1812 Brown University conferred on him the degree of Master of Arts, and in 1852 the University of Lewisburg made him their first chancellor and bestowed on him their first Doctor of Divinity degree. The Reverend Horatio Jones passed into the presence of the Lord on December 12, 1853.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 258 – 259.
HIS START WEST
That brother, Z.C. Graves, with the enterprise which marked the family, had gone West and was teaching a little school on the shore of Lake Erie near Ashtabula, Ohio. Nearby was a town named Kingsville with an academy in it. Through the influence and upon the recommendation of his brother and some friends at home, J.R. Graves was elected principal of this academy, and with his mother and sister he left his Vermont home for the distant West. This was when he was nineteen years old.
His nightly studies after his day’s teaching, in order to keep ahead of his classes, impaired his health. He abandoned the school, after two years and went to Kentucky seeking a milder climate. He located near Nicholasville in Jessamine County and took charge of a country school called Clear Creek Academy. The school was begun in a small house, but the attendance grew so rapidly and so large that they had to fut up a tobacco barn in order to accommodate the throngs of pupils who waited upon his teaching.
Here took place a new era in his life which changed its character and current. When he went there he was a shy, reticent youth with little religious knowledge and scarcely any acquaintance with Baptists or their distinguishing principles. His mother was a member of the Congregational Church. He was not aware of the latent abilities within him He had never taken a prominent part in social meetings and never had a religious periodical to read. There was a small but active Baptist Church near by called Mt. Freedom. Dr. Tyland D. Dillard was pastor. There were honest, earnest men in it. He joined the little church and came by and by to take part in its prayer meetings and in the Sunday School activities.