Maffit, John Newland

Maffit, John Newland a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, was born of Episcopal parentage at Dublin, Ireland, Dec. 28, 1794; was destined for the mercantile profession by his parents, but, joining the Wesleyans in 1813, he determined upon the ministry. Opposed by his friends and family at home, he emigrated to this country in 1819, and not long after his arrival became a member of the New England Conference. For twelve succeeding years he was stationed in the different cities of New England, then removed to New York, acting thereafter only as a local preacher, moving at his own discretion, and preaching and lecturing at such points as offered. In 1835, conjointly with Rev. Lewis Garrett, he issued in Nashville, Tenn., the first number of The Western Methodist (now The Christian Advocate, the central organ of the Methodist Episcopal Church South). In 1836-1837 he was agent for La Grange College, in Alabama, and subsequently was elected to the chair of elocution and belles-lettres in that institution; but he gave little attention to its duties, and the chair was soon discontinued. In 1841 he was chaplain of the lower house of Congress. His advent West and South-west was marked by a quickened religious interest in the popular mind. Vast assemblies gathered to hear him, and thousands, directly through his instrumentality, were added to the Church. Returning to New York, he became somewhat lax in his Church relations, and consequently lost his membership. In 1847 he removed to Arkansas, and there joined the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and was licensed to preach de novo. After laboring for a year or two with a success small in comparison with his previous history, he left Arkansas for the Gulf cities. His last days were spent in carrying on a religious meeting, in a small chapel of a suburban villa of Mobile, Ala. Public interest could no more be evoked by him who had been its master in the wilderness and in the city, as well as the street- preacher, the lecturer, or the camp-meeting leader. The spell was broken, or the spirit of the man. He died suddenly, of heart rupture, near Mobile, May 28, 1850. "Though amiable, he had the appearance of vanity, which provoked criticisms; and, though forgiving and gentle, his zeal in the prosecution of his Master's cause and his boldness in the rebuke of sin often waked up enemies. His social relaxations were thought by many to run into indiscretions and follies that marred his character and his influence in private life. See Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, vol. 7.

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