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Young Preachers on Fire for God

Jeremiah Jeter (1802-1880), a prominent Baptist pastor in nineteenth century Virginia, told of the young Baptist preachers he saw in the revival times of his youth: “In almost every neighborhood where it prevailed young men were called into the ministry. They were very imperfectly equipped for their work, but they labored among a plain people, whose spirit was not critical. If these young evangelists could not present a logical argument for the truth of the gospel, they believed it with all their hearts, and preached because they did believe. They were unacquainted with many scriptural doctrines, and especially with the proofs of their divinity, but they understood the way of salvation. If they could not contend with astute skeptics, they could guide the honest, earnest inquirer to life eternal. Their sermons were impressive, rather instructive, and were noted not for the variety, but for the importance of the truths they conveyed. They had learned the corruption of their own hearts and the fearfulness of their own guilt, and could testify from sweet experience the power and freeness of redeeming grace.

“They went forth to their work plainly clad, without conveyances [means of transportation], and some of them without a pocket Bible of a hymn-book, but with glowing zeal for the salvation of souls. Whether they had been called to the ministry, or were in the apostolic succession, were questions which did not occupy their minds. The people desired to hear something about Christ, and what these young brethren knew concerning him they were willing to tell in such language as their hearers could understand. The desire to listen to their ministrations was general and intense, and due, doubtless, in part to the prevalence of the revival, and in part to their juvenility and the freshness of their preaching. Everywhere their visits were received with pleasure, their congregations were large, and their labors were crowned with success."