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The Life of Elder James Montgomery PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Montgomery   


Dear Brethren in Christ Jesus:—I now attempt to write a short biographical sketch of my beloved father, Elder James Hawthorne Montgomery, who was born in South Carolina, April 5th, 1790, and died in Jasper county, Ga., October 26th; 1868; aged 78 years, 6 months, and 21 days. He married my devoted, Christian mother, Mary Sharp, in his 22nd year; obtained a hope and was baptized by father, Elder David Montgomery into the fellowship of Little River Church, in Morgan County, Ga., the same year. I have learned from his sister, Elizabeth Hurst, who is still living, though 89 years old, and a firm Old School Baptist, that father, from a boy, was moral and upright.

From his published experience, which I have, but which is too lengthy to copy, it appears that his first serious impressions were ca by seeing a sister of his, Jane, baptized in her 9th year. His own condition as a sinner after that time was ever present before him; he was deeply impressed with his lost and condemned condition, and found no permanent rest until peace was given him through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. His conviction for sin, his release from its condemnation, and his great joy in hope of the glory of God, were plain and marked events in his life as long as he lived. His walk was so orderly—so correct in all his business transactions, punctual to all his promises, true to all the trusts committed to him, but above all, so devoted to the cause of Christ—that none could, with consistency, dispute the reality of his profession.

Father’s parents moved to this State when he was quite young, and they settled in the then wild wilderness country, where there were but few advantages for education. So he grew up with but little knowledge of books; yet, after he was married and had several children, he went to school a short time. Deprived of an early education, he always felt the want of it; and during life read, studied, and observed men and government so that he appeared well among his fellows, and used good language for one of his opportunities. He never decried education, or boasted in what he did not know, but was a firm friend of enlightenment in its broad and natural sense.

Soon after he united with the church, his mind was impressed with some duty to perform, but he supposed it was to take up the cross of family prayer (most of our brethren then kept up that in their families—how few now do!), and as my beloved mother was a child of God before their marriage, he engaged in that duty. Still the relief he sought came not. The church, in his 31st year, called him to the office of deacon. He continued to fill that place, much to the satisfaction of the brethren for some years. But, seeing that he had a more public gift, the brethren gave him license to exercise that gift. I can remember father’s history from this time on till his death. He had the usual troubles and exercises of mind of one whom the Lord impresses to speak in his name. Sometimes fully determined to speak no more, live or die—cannot speak; not called to speak; will never attempt it again—then anxious to speak. His father died in 1831.

About this time Fuller’s doctrines began to get a foothold amongst the Baptists—some for and some against. My father was firmly and decidedly against Missionary societies and conventions were being formed, encouraged and sanctioned in the churches. Father opposed each and all those innovations from first to last, and though his pastor, Elder John Alman, a good and talented man, went with the new order of things, and carried the wealth and talent of the church with him, still father would not follow, but he and seven more withdrew from the church, Liberty, in Newton county, Ga., and he and those with him were constituted into a church in the same county, named Shoal Creek, where his membership was when he died. He continued to serve the little church, which was added to, as deacon until he was 50 years old. The church then called for his ordination to the full work of the ministry, which was carried into effect by Elders George W. Malcomb, James W. Walker, and Joel Collie. That same year, 1840, my own precious mother died in the triumphs of faith, one of the purest and beat of earth, leaving four married and four single children. The next year father married again to Mrs. Agatha Pace, a good and most excellent woman, a splendid stepmother, and every way worthy of him. Father was soon called to the care of churches, having all his time filled. Nothing but providential hindrances kept him away from his appointments. He was a good pastor, a good disciplinarian, and was far removed from envy and prejudice towards his preaching brethren; felt he was inferior to them. His labors were greatly blessed. He was a meek and quiet man, though firm and decided in his convictions. When not engaged in ministerial service, he was at home looking after his temporal affairs; and while I do not know how much his churches did for him, as he seldom mentioned that subject, he was prosperous until the close of the late war.

A few years before his death his mind and body, to a great extent, gave way; he was a child again, but a good child— easy to please, easy to control. He resigned the care of all his churches, even his home church, because he knew he was too feeble to preach. He had for many years been the Moderator of .the Ocmulgee Association. He also resigned that, and seemed not disposed to assume positions he could not fill.

In his last sickness, of only a few days, he was like a child—giving up his case into the hands of others, and committing his all into the hands of that God whom he tried to serve from youth to age, fully rational, resigned to the last. I can say, conscientiously, that I never knew a better man—one more true and noble in all the walks of life. He, my mother, and stepmother all lie side by side near where I was raised, near where they died, their graves neatly enclosed with marble slabs to perpetuate their memories.

It, would have been a great pleasure to me to let father use hi sown words, but only a short sketch is all that space would allow. I have tried to do justice to his memory. I am the oldest son, growing old and feeble. I could ask for no higher eulogium, in life or death, than that I was like my father. But while I know that I am far below him in many things, I feel that I am what I am by the grace of God.

In tender love, W S. MONTGOMERY

Social Circle, Ga.

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.