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ELDER THOMAS BARTON.

Since we published the obituary of our dear departed brother as written by Mr. Baldwin; we have received a letter from sister Susan Alexander, the daughter of the deceased, requesting us to prepare a suitable notice for publication. We presume this letter was written, and request made before the family were aware that Mr. Baldwin had already prepared one which was published. Sister Alexander has furnished some interesting incidents which were not stated in the obituary, as published in our last number. Without any intention to depreciate or disparage the notice already published, we will, from our personal and intimate acquaintance with the deceased, and from materials furnished by his daughter, say.

Elder Thomas Barton, was born September 10th 1787, and died March 23rd 1870, being 83 years, six months, and thirteen days old when he finished his course. He received a hope in Christ, at an early period of life, and was baptized on profession of his faith, in the year 1810, and united with the Old School Baptists, with whom he continued in full communion to the end of his pilgrimage. Soon after his baptism, his brethren discovered in him a gift for the gospel ministry, and although he manifested much fear and trembling, he yielded to the authority of the church and was publicly set apart by solemn Ordination, about March, 1812. From that time he was actively engaged in the work of the ministry. If we mistake not he was pastor of the Navy Yard Baptist church in the city of Washington D.C. at about 1820, and probably until he received and accepted a call to the pastoral care of the London Tract Old School Baptist church in Pa., in the fall of 1824, which charge he retained until he was called to lay his armor off. At about the same time he accepted the pastorate of the Rock Spring Church, in Lancaster Co. Pa., and in 1838, or 1839, assumed the pastoral care of the Welsh Tract church, in New Castle County Delaware, which is one of the oldest Baptist churches in the United States. From that time his ministerial labors were principally divided among the three churches, and he was enabled to serve them faithfully until very near the close of his life. He labored in the ministry fifty eight years, always to the satisfaction of the churches, and if during all that time, any stain or shadow of a blemish has ever rested on his character, as a humble christian, a faithful and able minister, or as a man, we have never heard of it; though intimately acquainted with him for about fifty years. We have always regarded him as an able, bold, and uncompromising defender of the truth and equally so in exposing and opposing error. In preaching, his address was mild, engaging and very pleasant, commanding the respectful attention of his hearers. His arguments were strong, clear and conclusive; the advocates of error were frequently made to quail and dread the keen edge of his Jerusalem blade so skillfully wielded in his public ministry. At the meeting of the Baltimore Association about forty years ago, and a short time before the division of that association, he was the first who publicly opposed the heresies of Andrew Fuller, which at that time were very popular with those who were inclining to arminianism, and his faithful exposure of the plausible fallacies of that system was probably the first effective movement which led to and resulted in the final separation of the children of the bond woman from the children of the free woman. In 1832, Brother Barton attended the convention which was held at Black Rock, Maryland, at which time and place an address was prepared and published protesting against all the innovations which were being introduced among the Baptists, by the Fullerite and Missionary party which had crept into some of our churches. Of all the ministers who attended that meeting and signed the protest, brother Burton was, until his death, the only survivor, except the writer of this biographical sketch.

Strong efforts where made by the new school party to induce him to unite with them. They appealed to his vanity. Made him a “Director” of one of their pet institutions, and sent him his commission, but they were greatly mistaken in their man. He was not to be captivated by flattering titles. He replied, that if he had any directions to give in the matter, it would be expressed in the words of Jehu, in reference to Jezebel, to “take the cursed woman and bury her; for she was a king’s daughter.” II Kings 9:34.

Brother Barton’s pastoral qualifications were excellent, his exemplary walk, unblemished character, wise counsels, faithful admonitions, together with his social and agreeable manners were such as to relieve the most timid from embarrassment in approaching him. He always had words of comfort for the tried and afflicted, of instruction for those who were enquiring after the truth, and as a disciplinarian, he was perhaps not surpassed by any.

His last days, as we are informed by his daughter and also by a letter from brother J.R. Rees, which we received since the foregoing was written, were marked by a spirit of childlike submission to his heavenly Father’s will. He had suffered much for many years from Erysipelas, especially in the hot seasons of the year. On the 5th day of June last, he was attacked with Typhoid Pneumonia, and for three weeks his life was despaired of, but he was so far restored as to be able to be about the house, and hopes where cherished that he might again be able to resume his appointments; but it was otherwise ordered. He was at the Meeting house {Welsh Tract} several times, and once took a text and preached a short sermon, although he was then suffering from physical weakness. His text on that occasion was, “So he giveth his beloved sleep.” Psa. 127:2. At the last yearly meeting in October last, when we were present, he was in attendance a part of the time, but very feeble; that was the last time he was out of the house; from that time he failed fast, and suffered more than any one can tell. The seat of his disease was in his stomach, and in the latter part of January, the dropsy set in, after which he suffered less with his stomach. He continued, with but little change until about ten days before his death. During the last ten days, it was only at intervals that he could talk rationally. In all his sickness the care of the churches, and welfare of Zion was his absorbing theme, and in all the wanderings of his mind he would express something of the kind. He frequently asked his family to read for him; but his nervous system was so much deranged that he could seldom bear it. On one evening his daughter read to him the 23rd Psalm, when he rose up and said, “O how full of preciousness to me.”

On Monday before he died, he asked for the bible, and read a chapter, which he had not done before for months. A short time before he died he said, “I want to say, Thy will be done.” Yes, he added, “I want to say it, and experience it too.” His sufferings were so great he could not converse for some time; but a few minutes before his spirit departed he repeated, as he sat in his chair, a part of the last verse of the 1225 hymn,

“Jesus can make a dying bed,
Feel soft as downy pillows are.”

His strength failed before he could finish the verse; and he asked to be laid on the settee, but did not lie there more than a minute, before he asked to be laid on the bed; to which he walked with the assistance of brother Alexander, his son-in-law, and in about five minutes, and at about fifteen minutes before 5 o’clock a.m., his spirit departed for the bright world above, where pain and sorrow, sickness and death are felt and feared no more.

On Sunday after he had fallen asleep, his funeral was attended at the London Tract Meeting house; Elders Hartwell, Rittenhouse and Grafton were present, and all took part in the solemn exercises. Elder Hartwell preached a very comforting sermon from Job 19:25, “For I know that my Redeemer liveth,” &c. This text had been selected for the occasion by our deceased brother, and the 68th hymn was also selected by him, and was sung, and hymn #1252, was also read. Elder Grafton led in the opening, and Elder Rittenhouse in the closing prayer.

“Fearless he entered death’s cold flood,
In peace of conscience closed his eyes;
His only trust was Jesus’ blood,
In sure and certain hope to rise.”

Middletown, N.Y.
May 1, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe