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Preachers of the Past Tribute To
"The First Methodist Circuit Rider of Henry County"
1799 - 1880
The Minutes of The Annual Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South
North Georgia Conference, 1880. Page 1.
Morgan Bellah was born in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, November 24, 1799. He was married to his wife, Elvah Price, in Morgan County, Georgia June 6, 1819. He was converted in early manhood, and soon after joining the Church was licensed to exhort. He was admitted on trial as a traveling preacher in 1833, at a Conference held in La Grange, GA. From that time he continued to labor earnestly and constantly.
He was one of the pioneer preachers of Methodism in Georgia, doing circuit and mission work in relatively hard and uncultivated fields, sowing the seeds of the gospel in the desert-places that now blossom as the rose.
North Georgia Conference, 1880. Page 2.
With some intervals in his history which we cannot fill from the imperfectly-preserved records of the Conference, his fields of labor were as follows: Newnan, 1835; Forsyth, 1837; Monroe, 1838; Kingston Mission, 1839-40; Zebulon, 1851; Lawrenceville, 1852; Fayetteville, 1863-54; Upson Colored Mission, 1855; Jackson, 1856; Forsyth and Colored Mission, 1857; Upson and Colored Mission, 1858; Barnesville, 1859; Culloden and Knoxville Mission, 1860-61; Jackson, 1862-63; Culloden and Knoxville Mission, 1864-65; Pike Mission, 1866; Pike Circuit and Mission, 1867; Pike and Colored Charge, 1868-69.
North Georgia Conference, 1880. Page 3.
In December, 1869, at a Conference held in Rome, GA., he was superannuated. Almost his entire itinerant career was one of laborious service, hardness, and privations, often receiving less than $200 as the sum-total of his annual allowance; yet when receiving this amount, to use his own words, he felt that he was well off. He was a faithful, uncomplaining soldier of the cross. Giving himself first in entire consecration to the Master, and afterward to the Conference, by the will of God he resolved, when he entered the Conference, to make preaching his life-work.
North Georgia Conference, 1880. Page 4.
He began his work with the spirit of Paul, saying, "This one thing I do," or, in his own phrase, "With a mind made up to take the rough and smooth together as it came in the providence of God." Brother Bellah, as a man and a minister, was in many respects peculiarly adapted to the work of the Church in his day.
In person he was physically strong and compact. Possessing a vigorous native intellect, but with only moderate advantages of early culture, yet by study, observation servation, and experience, he made himself "a workman that needeth not to be ashamed."
North Georgia Conference, 1880. Page 5.
He was a man of sound practical knowledge and a deep religious experience. Humble and meek in spirit, he was firm and steadfast in character and principle. Pure in life, and dignified and serious in manner, he was yet gentle and loving in social life.
He was altogether a fine type of old Methodism. Methodical in life and business, he was attentive to every duty, both great and small. His many virtues all conspired to give him solid worth, and to secure acceptability and usefulness. His text-book was the Bible, which he studied prayerfully, and from which be brought forth treasures new and old.
North Georgia Conference, 1880. Page 6.
He was practical and earnest in his style, safe in his expositions, warm and spiritual in his exhortations. He loved to preach, and magnified his office everywhere. He was wise from above, strong in grace, rich in experience, and his great aim was the glory of God and the salvation of souls. He loved the Church, her doctrines and discipline. He was strongly conservative, having no relish for mere novelties, but was wisely appreciative of zeal and true progress. He preferred substance to shadow, and sense to sound, and had a nice discernment between them. He was an earnest, zealous preacher, full of faith and the Holy Ghost - wise in winning souls and his spiritual children are found from the mountains to the sea.
North Georgia Conference, 1880. Page 7.
Even after his superannuation he labored efficiently with the brethren in Barnesville and the neighboring circuits and camp-meetings, working with his own hands in the week behind the plow and at the hoe, in the field or garden, and then going perhaps miles in the country to meet his Sabbath appointments; and up to a few months before his death was still planning work for another year. Brother Bellah's life was a success, and for that success under God he was largely indebted to his devoted and excellent wife, who, through the long course of sixty years of married life, was his spiritual help-mate and companion.
North Georgia Conference, 1880. Page 8.
Patient and cheerful, even down to old age, when suffering many infirmities and the solitude of almost total blindness, she greatly aided her husband in all his arduous duties, and was the light of his eyes and the solace of his most trying hours.
Brother Bellah, in his last illness of about three months' duration, believed from the first that his sickness was "unto death" and said that his work was done, and but for leaving his wife in her helpless blindness and loneliness, he would welcome the summons; but this sad reflection lost its sting in the conviction that his wife would not long survive him, and would soon follow him.
North Georgia Conference, 1880. Page 9.
His expectation and prediction were remarkably fulfilled. He died in peace, on Good Friday, March 26, 1880, in Barnesville, GA., the place of his residence, where an appreciative community contributed much to the comfort of his last year and days. He was perfectly rational to the end, and his death was apparently a painless translation and a peaceful victory.
He was sitting up in bed, supported by a friend, when suddenly appeared to be dying. Kind hands laid him gently back on the pillow, when he murmured, "My Saviour! My Saviour!" and was gone.
North Georgia Conference, 1880. Page 10.
The aged and saintly wife and mother in Israel followed the patriarch on the Easter-day afterward. So easy and peaceful was her end that the watchers at her bedside knew not when her change came. "Lovely and pleasant in their lives, in death they were not divided;" and we may add, "Whom God hath joined together" we may not, separate in the in the honors of this memorial service. Side by side heirs of grace together they pursued their long pilgrimage of itinerant life in the Maser's service; side by side they sleep together at the foot of the cross, and doubtless their sanctified spirits rejoice together as heirs of glory with all the saints who have come through great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Revised April 26, 2005
Created by Scott Rowan Copyright (c) June 01, 2000. All Rights Reserved.