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By A. H. Dunlevy

ELDER JACOB GRIGG appears as a visiting minister in the records of 1804, and, with Elders J. Sutton, John Mason, J. Sackett, W. Herbert, and _____ Russ, was invited to a seat and to aid in counsel. Of the three last I know nothing more. Elder Grigg, about the beginning of this year came to Lebanon and opened a classical school where he continued, preaching generally on Sabbaths, until the fall of 1807. He had a brother who preceded him at Lebanon, the late John Grigg, and no doubt this fact directed his course here from Kentucky, where he had for some years before lived.

Elder Grigg was born in Cornwall, England, June 19,1769; was educated at the Baptist Academy at Bristol, then under the charge of Dr. John Ryland, for whom he bore a most affectionate memory, and after whom he named his eldest son. On the completion of the course of his study he was ordained, and soon sent as a missionary to Sierra Leone, in Africa. There he remained some eighteen months, laboring to promote the interests of the benighted inhabitants. In attempting to ascertain, more satisfactorily, the true condition, customs and language of the natives, that be might more efficiently adapt his labors to their necessities, he made frequent journeys through the country, sometimes on foot, and on some occasions to the distance of two hundred miles. But his health soon failed under the intense heat of the climate and his over-exertion, and compelled him to desist. He sailed for America after eighteen months' labor, and landed at Norfolk, Virginia, in 1797. Here he preached with success for some time, but how long I cannot learn, and was, while here, married. His wife was a Miss Littledike, who accompanied him in his migrations afterwards as long as he lived, and survived him several years.

Having contracted the habit of wandering, as his family thought, in his missionary life, he moved from Norfolk to Wilmington, North Carolina, from thence to Kentucky, and then to Lebanon, Ohio, as above noticed. At each place he taught as well as preached. He had a great love for teaching, and possessed, in no ordinary degree, the peculiar talent, as well as qualification for that business. In his school, in Lebanon, some of our most distinguished citizens were first brought out and evinced the talents which they afterwards displayed. From Lebanon, about 1807, he removed to Richmond, Virginia, at the earnest solicitation of his wife's widowed mother, then Mrs. Anna Goodwin, having been twice left a widow. After staying here, and, as I have understood, teaching a large school for some years, he moved to Pennsylvania, settling at Holmesburg, ten miles north of Philadelphia. Here he preached and taught two years more; when he was invited to take charge of a church in the city, soon after its organization, called the New Market Street Baptist Church. After he was called to this church, they built a new house, on the corner-stone of which his name, as pastor, was inscribed. Here he labored with uncommon energy: and probably by overwork laid the foundation of a distressing nervous disease which soon followed. His eldest daughter, Mrs. Anna G. Burr, now of Missouri, was then required to keep a record of his daily labors, and furnishes me with one day, as follows: "Baptized fourteen persons; preached morning and afternoon, then married three couples. Administered the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; on returning home, found three other couples waiting. Married them, and thus closed the labors of that one day." This, however, was an unusual and extreme case; but the record shows great energy and activity in the discharge of daily duties at this time, 1819. For a short time after the death of Dr. Samuel Jones, as noticed in the sketch of Elder David Jones, Elder Grigg officiated in his pulpit at South Dublin in the suburbs of Philadelphia, but the precise time, or how long, I can not state.

But here, as I must give a faithful sketch of those whom I notice, as deceased ministers of the Miami Association, I mention with regret a time of Elder Grigg’s apparent contradiction of his whole former life. Depressing disease, as his family supposed the result of over-exertion, added to other domestic afflictions, led to the use of stimulating liquors, which had been prescribed by his physician, and affording temporary relief. As the custom was then universal, in all circles, whether professors of religion or not, to make use of these, in the family as well as in social visits, it is not strange that Elder Grigg should make use of them, especially in his sickness and troubles; but the practice begat the habit, which increased until, to the great mortification of his friends, his character was lost, and all his usefulness apparently forever destroyed. I am assured, however, that in these times a perceptible aberration of mind usually preceded, sometimes for days, his yielding to the destructive indu1gence. From this fact, we may charitably hope, that the habit of indulgence in ardent spirits was rather the result of aberration of the mind, than the cause of it. But even during this dark night of Elder Grigg's life, I have the assurance of one who waited upon him in this terrible sickness, that he then often mourned over it in the depths of sorrow and self-abasement of spirit. But, I rejoice that Elder Griggs life did not end — that his sun did not set, in this dark cloud. By the blessing of God he was enabled to burst the fetters which had for a time bound him, and to arise from this abyss of humiliation and devote himself anew to the service of his Redeemer. To him that precious promise was most manifestly fulfilled: "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down." Rescued from the arm of the destroyer, Elder Grigg became an ardent advocate and an active and efficient supporter of the cause of temperance. For some time he traveled much and lectured on this subject.

For a short period before his death, Elder Grigg acted as agent for Columbia College, Washington City, and, while thus employed, he took sick and died at the house of a friend in Virginia, September 27, 1835, in the sixty-seventh year of his age, and the forty-seventh of his ministry. His last hours were spent from home, and the circumstances of his death are unknown, but one who had the best opportunity of knowing him during the last few years of his life, says to me: "Though I am ignorant of his frame of mind at the time of his decease, from my knowledge of his integrity of purpose and steadfast faith in Christ, I think I have good grounds for believing that 'all was well with him.'"

Thus ended the checkered life of Elder Grigg — a life varied with great changes of place and circumstances. There were some periods of flattering prosperity in the course of his eventful journey, but most of his path was darkened by adversity in various forms of poverty, sickness, and frequent domestic afflictions. None but a man of indomitable energy and activity could have endured what he did, and accomplished what he achieved, under the pressure of so many and varied trials.

[From A History of the Miami Baptist Association, 1869. — Jim Duvall]

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