Memoir of John Padgett, 1811

Supplement to the Diary of Salem for the month of June 1811, including the memoir of our Widowed Brother John Padget, who fell asleep peacefull June 2, 1811.

I was born--he writes of himself-- Sept 9 1723 in Charles County in Maryland.  My father died when I was a little more than 3 years old.  My mother, who was brought up in the English Church, in which I also was baptized, took good care of me, but since she herself did not know the Saviour, I grew up without being turned to Him. 

I lived with my mother until I was about 20 years old; then I married my first wife Elisab. Canwood and moved with her to Manakosy in Carroll Manor, and there I remained for awhile in the English Church, without knowing the Saviour, although I knew good from evil, until I was turned away from the preacher, not because of his preaching, but on account of his bad conduct, and I gave up church fellowship.  In the time following there preached occasionally some of the Brethren in the house of a certain George Gumpf, who was in connection with the Brethren.  I went along with many neighbors to hear them and learned to like them, and obtained a better insight into the Gospel and learned how needful it is for the sinner to have a Saviour.  At this time a neighbor Joseph Johnson, who loved the Brethren, twice each Sunday, that is, morning and afternoon, had meetings at this home, at which he usually read a sermon and these I also attended.  At one of these meetings I was so greatly affected by the reading of a sermon of the late George Whitefield that I afterwards went into a barn, fell on my knees, and wept for grace, gave myself to the Saviour and asked Him to let me keep this feeling always.  The Lord comforted me through manifestations of His grace and held his hand over me, since I did not yet understand His ways, amid all the ensuing changes.  My friends and neighbors did not like it because I left the church and attended the preaching of the Brethren, and spoke out strongly against me without giving me personal offense. 

About this time I lost my wife, who had loved the Saviour, Whom she had come to know through the preaching of the Brethren.  Hers was a blessed departure. She left me several children not yet grown.  On 25 Aug 1759 I married my second wife, Mary Thretcher.  We both continued attending meetings in Joseph Johnson's house, where the Brethren preached from time to time. Once the late Br. Spangenberg, on his journey to North Carolina, preached in Br. George Gumpf's house.  In his sermon I was for the first time mightily stirred and convinced of my lost condition as well as of the love of the Saviour, and this deep impression remained with me.  I wished to speak with this Brother, but I was afraid that the people would see me, so I went to see him secretly at night and had an edifying conversation with him.  I went then with other likeminded people to the meetings every Sunday.  They were held by the Brethren in the place where Graceham now stands, and since many neighboring families desired to hear the Word of God from the Brethren, asked them to send us a Brother who might serve us with the Gospel, whereupon Br. and Sr. Joseph Powell were sent to us, who lived with us for about 6 years.  Mr. Carroll leased us a piece of land of 21 acres.  On that was built a meeting house in which Br. and Sr. Powell lived for 4 years, and we were served regularly with the Gospel, although we had not yet been received as a Society. 

After they returned to Bethlehem, from time to time a Brother preached in the house. Some of our neighbors who were in connection with the Brethren, moved gradually to North Carolina in the neighborhood of the Brethren, and although at first I did not have the least desire to move to North Carolina, I finally decided to move thither, since I saw how godless it was in the world and I feared for my children, some of whom were pretty well grown, that they might be led astray, and also since some of those who had been connected with the Brethren had dropped out.  I went in no way with the expectation of winning anything from the world, but merely to hear the Gospel and to receive the blessing from it, and to bring my children to safety.

I arrived here (NC) in the year 1775 with my family and built in the Muddy Creek settlement, where it appeared that an English church of the Brethren would be built.   When the Society organized here, I decided to join it and when Br. Reichel on this visitation from the Unity Elders Conference on 26 August 1780 organized the congregation of the Brethren of Hope. 

Now the way was light and easy for me, we loved and were loved, and my wife helped in the work as much as she was able.  But on 24 Jan 1787 it pleased the Lord to take her unto Himself in a blessed departure from my side.  Some time after that a misunderstanding arose and I thought that I was not especially regarded, and so I left the congregation and went no more to meetings at Hope, but attended on Sundays in turn the meetings of the Baptists, Methodists, and other without finding what I sought or gaining any advantage, and this resulted in complete confusion.  One day, when I was away from home, I found myself in great perplexity; the Saviour offered to lead me in the right way and to show me the truth, since I was very ignorant.  So it seemed to me as if I heard a voice which called quite friendly to me, "Turn back again to where you came from."  I felt that was a command to bring me back to the Brethren's Church.   On the following Sunday I went to the meeting at Hope and afterwards opened my heart to Br. Wohlfahrt (Welfare) the minister there.  He encouraged me very heartily to turn again in humility and trust to the throne of grace. 

I was soon undeservedly readmitted to the congregation, whereupon I experienced the great desire for enjoyment of the body and blood of Jesus in the Holy Communion, and so strong was my longing for it that, since I knew that the Conference was meeting in Salem, I could not wait until news was brought, but hurried there in order to have the report quickly, and to my great shame and joy the Lord chose me for this inexpressibly great grace.  At the next Communion, to which I was readmitted, there was more joy in my heart than there had ever been before, and from that time the sacramental enjoyment of the body and blood of Jesus meant more refreshing to my hungering and thirsting soul than had been the case before my separation from the congregation.

I am now restored in relation to Him and await the time when it will please Him to call me away to His eternal safety.  I know that in myself I can do nothing good, but also that I can trust the Saviour confidently, that He will not leave me, because He loves me, whereby I am assured by the abundantly experienced evidence of His grace, and that He has given His life for me.

(Added by another writer)  -- We can add that since his readmission to the congregation he has pursued a steady course in the enjoyment of the peach of God.  His adherence to the congregation and to its discipline remained unshakeable.  Although he was often troubled when he noticed in fellow church members things that were not according to the mind of Jesus, he was accustomed to look more to himself then to others, and his declarations, especially at the speaking before the Holy Communion, were often about his own unworthiness and at times about the grace shown him by his best Friend, with Whom he spent his lonely hours in close, unspeakably happy relation, for which, and also for the grace that had made his advanced age so light and easily borne, often tears of gratitude and joy moistened his cheeks.

For several years he served the congregation in Hope in various ways with faithfulness, and he enjoyed the esteem of all those who knew him.  In this last years he enjoyed a Sabbath rest with his children, Elias Lasmets (Lashmit) who faithfully stood by him in his old age, for which he often expressed his gratitude.  He often declared that he would be gradually drawn away from all earthly joys, desires, and relations, and this his sole possession here below would be in his relation to the Saviour, to the children of God, and the church meetings, which he attended regularly in spite of his advanced age.  His bodily constitution was sound and strong and he seldom complained about anything other than the effects of old age, which gradually came upon him, for he was now the oldest Brother in the Wachovia congregations, and he was the first Brother who, after the establishment of a Brethren's congregation at Hope, was received into the congregation on the day of its consecration.

Thus far written in the year 1808.

In the five years that have since been added to his life there is not much of particular notice to add, and we can with truth assert that what has previously been said.  As weak as he was, without anything being the matter with him except the noticeable diminution of physical powers (although his hearing and sight remained unusually good until the end), he nevertheless continued to attend meetings until last December, and it pained him very much that he could not since that time.  But his invisible Friend, with Whom he continued in continual, confidential relationship, compensated him richly through the blessed enjoyment of the peach of God, as he often declared to visitors.

  Eight days ago he became weaker and the end seemed to be near, for which he longed, and in the night of 31 May there was imparted to him, after the singing of some verses and a prayer, the blessing of the Lord and of the congregation for his blessed home-going. On the 2nd of this month, about 3 o'clock in the morning, his dearly bought soul went home to the congregation of the completely justified, who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.

His first marriage was blessed with 4 sons and 2 daughters, and his second with 1 son and 5 daughters.  Of these 12 children, seven survive; 2 sons and 5 daughters living.  From his children he lived to see 67 grand children, of whom 7 have died, and 71 great-grandchildren of whom 9 have died.

His age was 87 years, 8 months and 24 days.

Padgett Family Page