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The Life of Elder Alfred King PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alfred King   

    I was born in Guilford County, N. C., 10th June, 1804. My father, Wm. King, lived and died a member of Rockingham Bridge Church, as also did my mother, whose maiden name was Abigail Lee. [We add without Bro. King’s know edge, that his mother was a sister of Henry Lee, and aunt of the late Gen. R E. Lee.—Editor] At the age of nineteen, I moved to McMinn County, Tenn., where I married Susan Mathews. When about 16 years old, I was sent in company with a Baptist preacher, who went preached the funeral of an aunt ; and at appointment on the way, whilst lie was preaching, I became much affected and in a way I was never before so that—I tried to refrain—the people all strangers—I could not repress my tears; and I left the house, and getting out the sound of the preacher’s voice, I sat down and quit weeping—thinking what a strange occurrence it was, though I became easy in my feelings. I went on to my uncle’s that night and the next day, whilst the funeral was being preached, I was affected again the same way. Returning home, I resolved to quit my sinful practices, and did so for a while, trying to pray; but my prayers seemed so empty and vain, I quit, and turned to worse wickedness than ever.

 After I moved to Tennessee and married, I went to meeting but seldom. One Sunday we went to meeting near by, and the sermon seemed to make no impression; but at the close of it, my wife, unexpectedly to me, asked the minister to pray for her, and the same impression I had when about sixteen years old returned upon me, and I went to the woods, and became so miserable that I fell to my knees and tried to pray, but could not; and the meeting closing, I wiped my tears and went as cheerfully as I could to meet my wife. My impression continued; and I would try to pray. I used to think when I was very wicked, that I would turn from my wicked ways, do good, and pray so good, that the Lord would bless me for doing so good and praying so good. But, alas! when I desired to pray, feeling the need of prayer, I could not then pray—all being empty and vain.

 I was in this condition about a year, and often thought I would quit, and would have done if I could have. I went one morning just at daylight to try to pray, and whilst there I became so concerned that I went off and left my hat, not thinking of it until after breakfast, when I stole back, unobserved, and got it. I went often to a lime-sink, a retired place at the roots of a long hickory tree, and late one evening I took a little Bible with me, thinking I would die soon and was lost forever; but I felt that my dam nation would be just, and that I would go crying for mercy. Sitting down at the foot of the hickory, I opened my Bible, and reading the account of the Crucifixion, I became deeply affected, and in great despair, feeling that I would die in a little while, so that I could not resist trying to pray one more time; and whilst in this condition I saw Christ hanging on the cross, the blood running down, and I was asked, “What is it for?” to which it was answered, “It is for sinners.” “And I am a poor, lost sinner!” I cried out; “lost! lost!” when, in an instant, my distress and load of guilt that had so long worried me, left me. The first thing I knew of myself, I was standing on my feet, musing in my mind of what had taken place, and what had gone with my distress and guilt, when this thought rolled into my mind, “Your sins are-all forgiven for Jesus’ sake!” and love flowed into my soul such as I had never felt before—love to the Lord and to his people. My troubles were gone, and everything seemed to have a lovely appearance. The notes of the birds were sweet to my ears, and all was joy. I thought I saw the way of life for sinners, and wanted to tell it, and intended to tell them when I met with them. If I was ever called to declare God’s counsel, it was then. But before I met them, or returned to the house, this suggestion rushed into my mind, “The devil has got you just where he wants you; you have believed a lie,” and if there ever was a miserable being on earth, I was then. My first desire was to be at the root of that hickory tree again, and pressed down with my sin, so that I could better tell how it went off. I have often prayed for it to return, and it now has been fifty-seven years, but has never returned.

 Some time after, I went to a prayer meeting of the brethren near me, and an exhorter talked, and it seemed to me that I understood some things he had said, and was to some extent comforted. Several of the brethren prayed, and in the close they all seemed to get happy, and shook hands with each other, and I thought they were the loveliest people I ever saw, and soon I was amongst them, shaking hands with them, feeling much like I did at the root of the hickory tree. On returning home these suggestions were made to me: “Now you have as good as confessed a hope which had better been kept to yourself; and you’ll go back to your wickedness, and make a mock of religion, and become a laughing-stock to the world.” I hesitated some length of time, praying if deceived to be undeceived, and waiting for a better hope; but at length with nothing better, I went to the church, and taking my seat, soon found my wife at my side also to join. I did not know she had a hope, we never having said anything to each other about it. I thought I would tell my feelings to the church, and if I was wrong, that they would tell me so; and whilst talking to them, many of them were in tears; and we were both received, and baptized next day by Elder Wm. Jones into the fellowship of Big Spring Church.

 The impression to declare the counsel of God continued with me, but it seemed impossible that God would send such an illiterate one to speak in His name; but when I could no longer put it off, one night at a prayer meeting I in a flood of tears and spoke for about ten minutes, and felt empty and easy, and that I had done all that would be required of me; but the impression returned, and Bro. Jones, at the next meeting, invited me into the pulpit, and soon I was licensed to preach in the bounds of the church, and then wherever my lot should be cast. In a few years I was ordained by Elders Wm. Jones, Wm. Wood and Daniel Buckner, at Mount Pleasant Church, McMinn County, Tenn., in 1832, and served that church, Big Spring, Mouse Creek and Christianburgh Church for twelve years, in which time the division amongst the Baptists occurred. The two principal causes were doctrine and money; not a great deal said about doctrine, though the Arminian doctrine and protracted meetings brought in the elements of the division. As a young minister, I was at first opposed to a division, and got on the fence to try to hold them together; but after three years’ contention, they set the fence on fire, and I had to get down—and got down on the side I was at first, and was glad when we separated. The churches I served all stood fast except a few members. I continued to serve them until a new purchase of territory was made from the Indians, when I gave them up to move to the new purchase. The churches were unwilling to give me up, and I was loth to leave them, but promised to visit them as often as I could, and served two of them two years longer, riding forty miles horseback to do so. My children grew up, and the country new, we went to work, and prospered—gathered property very rapidly, and became very worldly, minded, and quit preaching to all but one church, and sometimes failed to go there, though I had horses and mules in plenty, and drivers, and worked eight hundred acres of land in one body, and everything in plenty—but then could go to meeting but once a month, when I went to four churches a month, before I had a carriage and horses, and enjoyed myself with the brethren better than I did when I had all this wealth around me. But the war came on, and I lost my negroes and lands, and I am left in my old age without any thing but my children, brethren and friends but have not vet suffered for anything to eat or wear; and have tried to learn—and hope I have—to be content with food and raiment, and to be reconciled to his providence. And feel thankful that the good Lord has caused me to see the error of my way; and I bless his holy name that I have kissed the rod and blessed the hand that has sent his love and presence to me in all my losses and troubles, so that with the apostle I can say, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ; as filth under my feet, that I may win Christ and be found in him.”

 In addition to my poverty, I lost my wife in a storm; but she fell asleep in Jesus and I was consoled with the words, “Be still and know that I am God.” I feel now that I could give up my children and the enjoyment of my brethren to depart and be with Christ. They are all that I have to invite my stay here but to be with him would be far better. The will of God be done. Amen


 NOTE: Elder King departed this life at his home, near Byron, Houston county, Ga., on 20th October, 1884. He had been in the ministry about fifty-three years, and fell asleep in Jesus with a name untarnished with a spot during all these years. The last sermon we ever heard him preach was at the Marietta Association, on Sunday morning, 5th October, 1884, from the text, Psa. xc. 1: “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.” He preached an excellent sermon.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 October 2008 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.