ATHENS, GA., March 3, 1884.
Dear Brethren Respess and Mitchel: – I feel it my duty to send you a sketch of the late Elder D. W Patmam, written by himself, as you will see by the hand-writing. Although not signed by him, and apparently notfinished, and. Must have been written several years, as he remarked to me several years before his death that he had certain papers which he intended to leave to me, saying, at the seine time, he did not think I would do him any harm, living or dead: But I thought but little about the matter, as he never said anything more to me on the subject; but after his death there were two packages of papers found among. his other papers, carefully wrapped up and backed to me, and which were promptly sent to me by his daughter, Sister Ellen Patman, among Which the enclosed sketch was found. Elder Patman was an extraordinary man in many respects. Few men ever possessed more, good sense or ready wit, naturally, and as a minister of the gospel very few have ever surpassed him inability; in fact, very few have been his equal. As regarded his general character fen truth and honesty, I doubt whether his superior ever lived; and whileI knew he was not perfect, yet I have remarked that he was the best man I ever knew. I mean by this that he was the most even-tempered and the least excitable, and had the best control of himself of any man I ever knew; yet he could not remain here longer than the time appointed, and preparatory to his departure on April 27th, 1879, he preached his last sermon at Big Creek Church, and in a. few minutes became paralyzed, and suffered greatly until March 26th, 1882, When he fell asleep in Jesus. During this term of suffering of nearly 'three years he was remarkably patient, standing ﬁrm in the faith he had so long contended for, often encouraging the writer and other younger brethren in the ministry to persevere, saying, ”he wanted the doctrine to continue to be preached.” He often expressed a desire during his, illness to depart and be. with Christ, and I have no doubt he is now resting from his labors, while his works do follow him.
Yours in hope, love and fellowship, F. M. McLEROY.
He was born April 29th, 1810, in Oglethorpe county, Ga, Where he was raised up at the business of farming, except what time he went to school.His mother, (Weaver) Patman, was a Baptist before she was married, David being her eldest child. From his earliest recollection he had serious and fearful impressions about the Great Creator of all things and his accountability to him, of which things his devoted mother often spake to him, which gave him great uneasiness of mind. On a certain occasion, when she was speaking to him on the subject of death and eternity, he begged her to let him alone, and never name the subject to him any more, promising her that if she would, he would get religion when he became twelve or fourteen years old, when she said, with, apparent sorrow, ”poor child,” and went off. Before the time arrived that he had promised her to get religion she died, and soon after, he attended a Methodist meeting, and while standing and seeing others going into the altar the promise made to his mother rushed into his mind, and with it a determination to go into the altar and get religion. This he attended to diligently, and in a short time came out of the altar rejoicing, a christian indeed, as he verily thought, which he greatly desired everybody to notice. In this condition he continued for about three years, ﬁnding great fault of must, and some fault of all professors except himself, punctually, attending to formal prayer three times a day, and singing aloud on every public occasion and exhorting schoolmates and others to forsake their sins and get religion; all of which he did without any cross, but greatly myths gratification of his prideand selfish piety. But eventually falling into vicious company; he gradually left off his prayers and partook with his wicked companions in their vicious practices of joking, swearing, etc., until be entirely neglected his prayers and religious conversation, and really had more pleasure in his wickedness than he ever had in his religion. All this time, however, he had united with no professed church, and. occasionally had serious impressions that all was not right, but had no fears of being deceived, or. of being hypocritical, till in the Spring of the year 1828 at a Baptist meeting at Millstone, in Oglethorpe county: Eld. Enoch Galloway, of Wilkes county, was preaching, and he was as; carelessly looking on, when a strange and awful sensation of mind was realized from a sense of guilt and condemnation before God, which he endeavored, with all his powers, to hide, while every word the preacher said seemed for and to him. As soon as preaching was over he made his way for home, in deep meditation about his condition as a sinner, and made every effort to get up, and revive his former religion, but it seemed to be gone, and could not be found. In this awful condition he, in great secresy, tried to pray, but all to no purpose; sin only revived; for though he had left off his outbreaking sins, the fountain of his sinful heart was broken up to his view, and appeared to be full of abominations. In this condition he continued secretly to try to pray, and when he could, without being noticed, slipped off and read the Bible, and on every suitable occasion went to hear preaching. Butthe Bible, with all the preaching he heard, seemed to be directly against him, while he grew no better, but rather, worse, until the 22nd of July of the same year, just at night when the family were going to supper, feeling deeply impressed that he was going to die, he went off to try to pray, as he: thought, for the last time. In the act of kneeling down by an old chestnut stump, as quick as thought all his burden and troubles were gone, when he rose up in tears of joy and praise to God for his unspeakable goodness to such a hell-deserving sinner. There he remained sometime, wondering and looking at the ground, the trees, the stars, while all nature appeared entirely different, speaking forth the high praises of God. Though ﬁlled with praise to God for his goodness, he never at that time thought of Jesus Christ, the channel through and by which these noble blessings were bestowed. When he returned to the house his step-mother scolded him for not coming to the table with the family, when he replied calmly, ”Mother, I don’t want to eat,” and passed on, keeping all that had taken place a profound secret. A few days after this, his father asked him if he had not obtained a hope, when he replied, ”Father, I am afraid not.” His father replied, ”Son, something has taken place with you, and now don’t do like your poor old father has (who obtained a hope many years before that, but had never joined the church), but go to the church as soon as possible;” to which he replied, ”O, father, I am not ﬁt for the church.” On Friday before thefirst Sunday in August, same year, he Went to meeting at Bethlehem, or Brown meeting house, not to join the church, but to hear preaching; but when the opportunity was given, whether in or out of the body he could not tell, but went up and related his exercises, and was received; and as soon as the hand of Fellowship was given, and he became seated, awful fears arose that he was no christian, but had deceived the church. He lost that night’s sleep, and had no pleasure next day in the meeting, and all night had no rest, and determined to beg off and not be baptized, and for this purpose went, with great shame and depression, to the preacher (Eld. Daniel Carrington) with about these words: ”Mr. Carrington, if you please, let me off this morning a Week or two, till I can look the whole matter over, for I am no christian, and have deceived the church;” when he replied, smilingly, ”O, if you knew you were a christian I would not baptize you; make ready, you must be baptized.” He continued to beg, but there was no getting off, and with great fear and trembling he was baptized, and coming up out of the water the cloud partially gave way and his hope brightened, that after all, probably, he had not done wrong. That day, under preaching by Eld. Miller Bledsoe, every mist of darkness seemed to be gone, while he had a View of Jesus and his all-sufficient righteousness, Then he thought he never should doubt any more, and did feel some blessed assurance that he had done right in joining the church and being baptized. And sure enough, he never has doubted the plan of salvation by grace, nor the all-sufficiency of the atonement and righteousness of Jesus Christ; but many, many have been his doubts and fears that he was not interested therein, as may be seen by an account of his after life. In a short time after this, while he regularly attended meetings, he became impressed to speak in the church, but with all his might suppressed and kept secret his impressions; but they increased, until eventually he attempted to pray in public, and was ashamed of his effort. The impression continued, not only to pray, but to speak of the salvation of God through Jesus Christ, and with his impressions the brethren urged him to speak. These impressions continued for more than three years, when the poor wretch determined that he could not, and would not. About this time he was prostrated on a bed of affliction, where he was confined for eight weeks, in awful distress of mind as well as affliction of body, greatly desiring to know, without any mistake, What the Lord would have him to do, and whenable to walk a little went to a secret place in a grove close by to try to pray, and while there in prayer and meditation made a full surrender, promising God that he would suppress his impressions no longer, but would try to speak in his holy name. Thefirst opportunity he had after this was in the church, after preaching (by Eld. James Matthews), when he rose up with timidity, fear and trembling, exclaiming aloud, ”O, my friends, if you only did, know how good God is,” when down he came, concluding he had exposed himself and disgraced the cause, and now had sufficient proof that God never had required any such thing. of him, and, therefore, would never attempt it again; but when an opportunity offered, the impressions to speak seemed as strong as before, and he spoke again, and continued speaking in the church, and sister churches, until the church determined to give ,him license to preach; this alarmed him greatly, fearing the church was in too great haste. About the year 1836 or 1887 the church at Lystra, Madison county, Ga, petitioned Bethlehem Church to call him to ordination. This gave him much uneasiness and anxiety, but he submitted, and was soon examined and ordained by Elds. Miller Bledsoe, George Lumpkin, and John Lacy. The seeds of contention and division had been long before this sown in the Baptist churches, and their baleful effects were now realized; some were favorable to the modern Missionary institutions, and others sternly opposed them; he took a decided stand against them, and he wasfirst offered strong worldly inducements of honor and profit to go with them, but when these failed to proselyte him, he was secondly threatened with ruin and poverty, and lastly, slandered and misrepresented by many of the advocates of the popular institutions, but he continued steadfast in the form of doctrine once delivered unto the Saints. The pastor of the church with who he had exercised before his ordination (James Matthews) went with the popular current, and led off with him a small majority of the church. Those who remained made efforts to call John Lacy to serve them, but he had fallen into disorder, and was excluded by Big Creek Church. This gave the church considerable trouble; many of the members of Bethlehem Church being his relatives, according to theflesh, endeavored to sustain him, and had to be excluded, but soon returned, and D. W. Batman was called to the care of the church, his membership being there. A short time before Lacy’s exclusion Eld. George Lumpkin and him were at' variance, and Lumpkin took up the idea that Patman had taken sides with Lacy; therefore, wrote ‘Patman quite an abusive and threatening letter, so much so that he went to see Lumpkin, and when he got to his house was scarcely invited into his house, and in the same cold manner invited to the supper table; and at bedtime Lumpkin got his books and went to prayer, and, starting out of the room, observed to P. that Frank (his son) would: show him where to sleep. He did go to bed but slept none, till just at day he arose, and going down, just at the bottom of the stairs met Lumpkin, and invited him to walk out with him, which he reluctantly agreed to. When off to themselves, P. soon convinced him that he was under false impressions, and he (Lumpkin) confessed his faults and begged forgiveness, which was heartily granted, and they returned in brotherly friendship to the house. Soon after breakfast P. set out to Lacy’s, about six or seven miles, telling Lumpkin he was going to try to get Lacy to come back with him. to his house to make an effort to restore fellowship with all, and Lumpkin encouraged him, saying he hoped the Lord would go with him. But when he got to Lacy’s he was stubborn, and atfirst refused to go, but by long persuasion he consented, late in the evening, to go; and when they got to, Lumpkin’s he showed great coldness to Lacy, but was entirely friendly to P. They continued all night, and early next morning all three went off to a private place and strove hard for reconciliation, but Lacy remained stubborn, and never would confess his faults, but went off apparently mad, and soon after was excluded, and went with the Missionaries. P. then published Lacy’s conduct and exclusion in the Primitive Baptist paper, which gave a Mr. Harris (one of Lacy’s friends) such offence that he swore he would whip P. onfirst sight. One evening P. had called at the post office, in Lexington, and was sitting reading a paper, when in came Harris, somewhat intoxicated, and stormed out telling what he had sworn; to do, and, running up near to P., who sat with his eyes on the paper, Harris went through the same maneuvering three times, slapping hisfist in his hand, and being still unnoticed, turned to the postmaster, saying, ”Ain't he the damndest fool you ever saw? I will go off and leave him.” The next time P. met him he seemed entirely friendly.
During the year 1837 the Oconee Association was constituted, declaring non-fellowship for all the modern Missionary institutions, where P..has been a member and constant attendant, acting as clerk a while, and was made Moderator in 1851., Eld. G. Lumpkin having been excluded and gone with the Missionaries. In 1850 Bid. G. Beebe preached at the Oconee, and denied the use of all means in the quickening and saving of sinners except Jesus Christ and the quickening Spirit, and Lumpkin stopped him in the midst of his sermon, contradicting him in quite an angry manner. . Beebe gave way till Lumpkin got through, and then rose up and pursued his subject, showing no sign of anger or excitement. This seemed to aggravate Lumpkin more, andfinding that two leading members of his church (Beaverdam) were fully agreed with Beebe and against him, forthwith preferred charges against them, threatening that as soon as he got them excluded he intended to prefer charges against Patman, at Bethlehem; being notified of this, P. let the accused brethren of Beaverdam know that he would be with them at every conference at Beaverdam till the case could be settled. At their next conference, when the case of the accused brethren was taken up, Patman rose up to speak, when Lunpkin, with a loud and angry voice, ordered him to take his seat, saying that he never should speak while he was Moderator of that church; when P. appealed to the church, and was ordered again to his seat in the same manner; this he bore with becoming fortitude, till conference was over, and nothing decided. Then, privately, Patman conversed with and advised the male, members how to proceed at their next conference; and when it came, Patman present again, rose up to speak, and was again ordered to his seat by Lumpkin in a very. rough manner, when up rose one of the deacons and moved that he should have full liberty to speak, which was seconded quickly, and. it was with difficulty that they got Lumpkin to take the vote, but when done, a large majority voted in favor, Then the subject was discussed and argued openly and fairly, and Lumpkin found he must fall, and began to bag for a letter of dismission, which they reluctantly agreed to give to him, and four orfive Others fellowing him; but upon reflection the church reconsidered and recalled them, with their letters, at the next conference, but they refused to hear, and were excluded, and most of them went to the Missionaries, but one returned and was restored. While the division was progressing in Moriah Church, Madison county, one party sent for Batman and the other sent for two Missionary preachers – Butler and Bolton. Great excitement prevailed, and a tremendous congregation was in attendance. When in debate, after Batman had spoken, Butler rose up in a proud, contemptuous manner and said, ”I am astonished that this large and intelligent congregation will pay any attention, to what, such a man says; why, he is not considered a man of truth in his own neighborhood or county, and you need not put any confidence in anything he tells you.” After Butler got through, Patman deliberately replied ”that all he required of Butler was to prove what he had said, and he would tell them what Butler did say, and if he denied it he would bind himself to bring twenty witnesses to the next conference to prove it,” namely, that if the ”Baptist State Convention was incorporated by law he would never support it another day, but use his influence against it.” Immediately Butler rose up and denied it in positive terms, when up rose a brother by the name of Lines, saying, ”Great God, Butler, I hope you don’t deny that, for I heard you say it, in the yard at Big Creek meeting house, and there were more thanfifty that heard you say its”, Patman inquired, if they were satisfied with the testimony of Bro. Lines; if not let him know, and other testimony should be forthcoming; and if Butler did not bring the testimony required, he should hold him alone responsible.” The same day an old deacon shook his cane over Patman’s head, telling him to- go home and get another coat (religiously) before he came there again. The meeting broke up in Confusion, and not long after thefinal division took place; and the Primitive party lived in peace and brotherly love; Patman serving them regularly, for many years in succession. .He also was soon called to the care of Beaverdam Church, and. ever since his ordination, or soon after, has served four churches regularly, and sometimesfive, besides abundance of other traveling to meetings and Associations in different States.
When he had been serving churches several years his wife, being no professor, yet never opposing more than at some times when it seemed absolutely necessary he should stay at home and attend to business, to make a living for the family, she would persuade him not to go, which he sometimes adhered to, greatly to the destruction of his peace, which, when she discovered it, made her miserable. Most of the time, however, he went, leaving her sometimes crying, and at other times apparently mad, which made his burdens heavy and gave him much trouble. On a certain occasion, according to appointment, he was to be at Eld. Joel Colley’s, in Newton county, aboutfifty miles from his house, on Wednesday night before the Yellow River Association met on Saturday; and to make the trip should have started Tuesday at noon, but the stock was breaking in and ruining his crop, and no body at home to attend to business, and many other things, with the persuasion of his devoted Wife all seemed reasonable to forbid his going that time. So on Tuesday morning he told his wife to make no preparation, for he should not go. This pleased her well, but he went off in distress, notfit for any business. After dinner time, when he should have started, distress of mind increased so that he had no peace, wandering from place to place till night, and then lay down early, thinking he would sleep it off, but in vain; for all sleep had departed from himhis wife, at her usual bedtime, laid down, and she could not. sleep. Both lay in silence, till between midnight and day. She asked him what was the matter, when he replied ”nothing, only he could not sleep, somehow.” She replied that she "knew all about it, and that he must get up and start, that it would never do, for we should all go distracted. together,” and she continued to urge him to go, and he argued that it was then too late, but she said it was not, for he could then go and feed his horse, and in one hour she could have everything ready and he could start before day and travel thefifty miles to old man Colley’s by night. And sure enough he did, through her persuation, and though he was miserable all day traveling alone, thinking of his wife and children at home, the situation of his crop, and worse than all very much alarmed, fearing he was no christian, much less a preacher of the gospel, and he had much better have remained at home according to what he had determined; but, though much troubled every way, he was much better off than when at home trying to stay there Bro. Colley gladly accompanied him (knowing nothing of his difficulties) to an appointment published for him the next day, where there was a large congregation and he tried to beg off from preaching, but could not; feeling greatly in the dark and much distressed he went forward trembling, and to his astonishment preached with considerable liberty. They had a good meeting, and went on to the next appointment and then to the Association, and before it closed he was entirely relieved in mind. He returned home in safety and found all well and doing well, even the crop had lost nothing, and his poor wife never more persuaded him to stay from his appointments without it was absolutely necessary. Another time, while serving the church at Black’s Creek Church, where he served monthly for twenty years in regular succession, they had a three days’ meeting, where he preached with great ease and pleasure; had quite a time of revival, received and he baptized several, all of which he enjoyedfinely. And traveling towards home on Monday he had great pleasure in thinking of the meeting, and contemplating preaching more than he ever had, and enjoying a great revival of religion, for he verily thought the Lord was going to revive his work generally. That night he lay down quietly, family well, and things all moved on right at home, and he sleptfinely. Next morning when he awoke there was. great uneasiness of mind which he could not account for but in his reflections it Occurred to him forcibly that he was no christian, much less a preacher of the gospel. He became so troubled that he went off in secresy to try to pray, but he could not pray. In reflecting about the meeting he had just enjoyed so much it now all appeared bitterness, and he really abhorred himself as a poor deceived impostor. In this state of mind he wandered from place to place trying again and again to pray, till late Friday evening it Was presented to his mind that there was no God, and the business of pretending to pray, preach or anything else called religious devotion was mere humhuggery. This alarmed him much indeed, for he thought no one could be a christian who doubted the existence of God; and all night he lay in trouble and deep reflection about whether he should go to his meeting (at Lystra, thefirst church that ever called him) the next day or not. Eventually he determined to go and act the part of an honorable man, and tell them he had imposed himself upon them. He went, and going up into the pulpit, and without singing or prayer, commenced telling them he was no christian, and of course no. preacher, and never intended to try any more, and he had also determined at the next meeting of Bethlehem Church to have his name erased from the church book. But soon after he commenced talking the text 1 Tim. i. 15 rushed into his mind: ”This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief,” and. in a continued strain he preached the unsearchable riches of Christ for one hour and a half, and would not have been separated from his brethren for any consideration.
THE GOSPEL MESSENGER
Butler, GA., August, 1884
No. 8., Vol. 6.