Weatherford, John

Weatherford, John a Baptist minister, was born in Charlotte County, Va., about 1740. His parents were members of the Presbyterian Church, his father being an elder in the church of which the distinguished Dr, Rice was the minister. Soon after his conversion, his mind began to be troubled on the subject of baptism. Having conversed on the matter with his pastor, and his doubts not having been removed, Dr. Rice had the magnanimity to say to him, "I perceive, John, that you will be a Baptist. Go, and the Lord be with you." He became a member of the Baptist Church when he was about twenty years of age. He commenced to preach about the year 1761, and his ministry was so popular that crowds were drawn to hear him. Persecution now began to follow him. After preaching on a certain occasion in Chesterfield, Va.; he was arrested and thrown into prison, where he was held in confinement five months. It is said of him that "his courage forsook him not. The love of Christ constrained him. He preached at the door of the prison as long as allowed that privilege. When refused that, he preached through the gratings of the window; but such determined opposition did he meet that an effort was made by his enemies to put a stop to that also. For this purpose they built an outer wall above the grating, but Weatherford devised means to overcome the obstacle. A handkerchief by the congregation was to be raised on a pole above the wall, as a signal that the people were ready to hear. His voice being very strong, he could throw it beyond these impediments, and convey the words of life and salvation to the listening crowds." At last, through the kind interference of Patrick Henry, he was liberated from his bondage, and again, with greater zeal than ever, entered anew on the work of preaching the Gospel. Most of his life- work was that of an evangelist. Towards the close of the century, however, he sustained the relation of pastor to two churches, which are said to have flourished under his ministry. He took up his residence in Halifax County, Va., in 1813, where he lived about ten years, and then removed to Pittsylvania, where he died, Jan. 23, 1833, having been a preacher of the Gospel over seventy years. He belonged to an order of ministers who accomplished a vast amount of good in a state the people of which had too generally settled down into a condition of formalism, and needed to be roused to thoughtfulness by such instrumentalities as were represented by the subject of this sketch. However despised they may have been by some, they certainly reaped the honor which comes from God only. See Lives of Virginia Baptist Ministers, p. 55-61. (J.C.S.)

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