Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 151 - 152)

News has just reached me of the death of the venerable brother and minister, Isaac Ellege. If he had lived to the 16th of this month (April, '97) he would have been 86 years old, having been born in Knox County, Tenn., April 16, 1811.

Brother Elledge [sic]  had been a minister of the gospel sixty-four years, continuing to preach right on almost to the very time of his death. He was licensed to preach by Pawpaw Hollow Church, Sevier County, and was ordained in Alabama, at the age of 27. His ministry was in East and Middle Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. He was the faithful pastor of Nails Creek, Crooked Creek, Sulphur Springs and Laurel Bank churches.

He is a valuable witness to the stirring events of the "anti­mission war" from its beginning, in his section of the country, about the year 1834. He knew personally the leaders on either side of the question. He knew Joshua Frost as a tower of strength to the cause of "the missionaries," and Dr. Thomas Hill, with his "iron-jacket" views of predestination, proclaiming the "decrees" and making war on missions. He knew "Sam Love," and heard him preach with such unction and melting tenderness and Holy Ghost power that a good deal of ice had melted from about the hearts of Baptists and their "hard doctrine" had largely disappeared.

April 20, 1897, I overtook Brother Ellege on the roadside near his home, one mile from Ball Camp. I took him up in the buggy with me, told him who I was and what I wanted, asked him some leading questions, and "took notes." I knew his mind had failed some of late, but his recollection was good. His view of the atonement was that Christ "died for all alike," that the gospel was for "all the world," and that "whosoever will" might come to 'the feast and, be filled." He challenged "discussion" on those points. He told me he had just preached the day before on his favorite theme - the doctrine of election; its two sides - at New Salem Church, near Clinch River, in Anderson County, where, more than sixty years before, the Tennessee Association had split on the rock of missions. With remarkable memory' he recalled the controversies, divisions, methods, misconceptions, and reconstructions of those early times, and of the wonderful revivals that attended the labors of the missionaries everywhere.

Brother Ellege realized he could not remain in the harness long, and was anxious to do what he could. One part of his mission was, as he told me, to "get his anti-mission brother back into the fold." He had just recently preached at Cave Creek, and called on a hardshell brother, to pray, and he "prayed all right."


Burnett, J .J.  Sketches of  Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers.  Nashville, Tenn.:  Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.


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