Elder Robert Bagby

(Member and pastor of the Baptist Church at Lincoln's New Salem)

Copied from the Western Predestinarian Baptist, Charleston, Illinois, Elder Richard M. Newport, editor, dated April 1, 1845.

"By a letter received from our esteemed brother, Elder Cyrus Wright, we are informed of the death of Elder Robert Bagby, of the Sangamon Association. When we were at Springfield, we understood he was dangerously sick, and we now learn that he died shortly after we left. With Brother Bagby we had but a very limited acquaintance. We heard him preach once only, and we felt satisfied that he was a workman approved of God, that need not be ashamed. Among his brethren, and those who were intimately acquainted with him, he sustained the character of a sound and able minister of the gospel, and highly exemplary professor of the Christian religion; and we feel to sympathize deeply with his bereaved wife and children, and also with the churches and brethren generally of the Sangamon Association, who will long mourn the great loss they have sustained. Brother Wright writes to us as follows:

"It now becomes my painful duty to announce to you the death of our beloved and highly esteemed brother in the Lord, Elder R. Bagby. He is no more with us here on earth; he has, as we humbly trust, fallen asleep in Christ. He departed this life on the 4th of February 1845. His moral and religious character stands high in the bounds of his acquaintance. He has left a most tenderly, affectionate and now greatly afflicted wife and family; as well as churches and friends to lament their great loss."


"It becomes my painful duty to request you to record the obituary of our highly esteemed and beloved brother, Elder Robert Bagby, who departed this life on the 25th day of February last, after an illness of about 18 days, with the winter fever. He left a wife and six children, a great many relatives with a large circle of friends and acquaintances, to mourn the loss. He was a sound old school Baptist. He had been preaching about 12 years, during which time he very successfully defended the doctrine of sovereign grace and the predestinating purpose of God, against the sophistry of the arminian, new-fangled systems of the day. His character was unimpeachable, even by his opponents in theology. He had the fullest confidence and warmest affection of his brethren and sisters, wherever he was known, and the loss of him will be very much felt throughout the Sangamon Association, and by its corresponding associations. He gave the strongest evidence of an unshaken confidence in the truth of the doctrine that he preached and contended for, to the last. He remarked, just before he expired, that he had finished his work and was willing to go, and that no other doctrine would do to die upon, but that of the free and sovereign grace of God alone in the salvation of sinners." - Your brother in affliction, Elder Thomas H. Owen, Hancock Co., Ill., copied from the Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor published by Elder Daniel Jewett, 1845, p. 238-239.


For the Western Predestinarian Baptist,

May 4, 1842.

Dear Brother Newport:

I have for the last three months intended to write to you, but through a multitude of business, I have so far been disappointed; but this evening I have determined to devote to that purpose. But, perhaps, as I have very materially the advantage of you, you would like to know who I am, and what I am, before you trouble yourself much about either me or my letters. But before I proceed to give you this information, I will tell you wherein I have the advantage of you. It consists, first, in hearing you preach twice; secondly, in reading some of your communications through the "Signs;" and thirdly, through your much esteemed (to me) paper.

As it respects myself, I could soon tell you my name and indeed my whole natural history, (or at least so much as I know,) and still I would be an utter stranger to you. Yes, I could tell you that I am a Baptist, and yet you would not know me. But to the point, I was born on the 20th day of March, 1811, into this natural or material world, in a state of death in trespasses and sins, with a carnal mind that was enmity against God, and not subject to his law, neither indeed could it be. I possessed no federal holiness as some boast of, although my parents, I conclude were as good by nature as any others. When I arrived at an age to begin to think a little about man, I drew a very favorable him, with respect to his moral and religious abilities. Suffice it to say, that from the Scriptures, (which, however, I read but little) with the general drift of preaching I heard, I concluded that man in his present, or natural state, was not fit for heaven; but that heaven was desirable, not for its own intrinsic excellencies, but in order to escape the punishment due to sin; and in order to escape the one and enjoy the other, it was my unshaken notion that man possessed in himself every necessary qualification. It is true, I thought a change was necessary; but in order to effect this, it was only needful for man to be sorry, pray a good deal, and attend to other external duties, and all was perfectly safe. How forcibly does this demonstrate the truth of that saying of Solomon, "there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." In this way I lived until seventeen years and a half old. And truly I can say, that no youth delighted more in the pleasures and vanities of time and sense than I did, and although I had no desire for holiness, yet I did esteem persons who I believed to be christians, but had I have been judge there would have been few. These, my dear brother, were then my views, and it is hardly needful for me to tell you, that with these views I intended to get religion before I died and consequently to be happy to all eternity.

But how unsearchable are the riches of divine grace; and how far past finding out are the ways of him who searches and tries the hearts of men; for I think, my brother, that of all the beings that have ever realized the mercies of God, I have the greatest reasons to be thankful; for truly can I say, that in the midst of deserved wrath, mercy is remembered unto me; for to the mercy of God, made manifest in a display of his covenant love, in the gift of his son, and through him, the gift of his Holy Spirit, do I ascribe my deliverance from that state of darkness in which I once lived. The circumstances attending that deliverance, if you will bear with me a little, I will briefly relate. I have already remarked that I was born in sins, and that I did not always intend to live so. At the age I have before mentioned, I, in company with my father and family, went to a night meeting, to hear a strange preacher of the Regular Baptist order, (it was William Watkins) and I assure you, as a religious body, I hated them above all others. But I went just like the giddy crowd of mankind go to meetings; but, my brother, I sometimes think I shall have reason to thank God in all eternity that thoughtless as I went to that place, on that night, that I did go. The text was, "I am a wall and my breast like towers, then was I in his eyes, as one that found favor." Brother Watkins, after reading the text, observed that he would "preach Jesus and him crucified," but to do this from a text in the Old Testament, was so foreign from my views, that I paid no attention to the preaching. There was much interest prevailed in the congregation, especially among the professing part of them. It all had no effect on me whatever, until the congregation was dismissed. But all seemed loath to leave, and while I was sitting on my seat surveying the scene around me, as it had been the voice of seven fold thunder, there was something said to my understanding, (not my external ear,) that all of God's creatures were giving him the praise due him except myself; and I, the greatest sharer of his mercies of all, was disregarding his authority in every way. And believe me, my brother, that I knew not then, and I am still at a loss to employ language to describe my feelings at that time. I was miserable; and why? because I had sinned against the best of all beings - I had every moment of my life been a sharer of his mercy, and every day they were renewed. I had always thought religion a good thing in death, and as I before observed, that I, in common with all others, had the ability to obtain it at pleasure. Well, to work I went, and that too, with the intention to make myself better. But I had only a view of my outward transactions, but it was, please God, in his own time to reveal in me the sinfulness of my nature; and O! how vile it was. It was now that instead of getting a little better every time I tried to pray, (and that was in fact all the time,) I really believed that it had become sinful for me to even attempt it; and still, Oh! Lord have mercy, was the very breathings of my soul. In this way I traveled many days, during which time many things transpired which I cannot, for the want of crying, tell you now, but which will be recollected by me while I keep my senses. But when I had wasted all my living, and was starving to death - yes, when I had no other sacrifice - my plans failed, it pleased God, who caused the light to shine out of darkness to reveal in me his son; and O! how joyful that eight, that God could be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. My burden was gone; my soul rejoiced, and I really thought my troubles all over; but this was a mistake, Brother Newport, this is the way I thus far learned Christ, if I know him at all. But I must close for the present, fearing I have already wearied your patience. These lines, my brother, are at your disposal, do with them as you think best to the glory of God.

I am, I hope,

Yours, in the best of bonds,


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