January 14: Rev. Henry Brown

Apparently Something of a Controversialist

A child of the manse, Henry Brown was the son of the Rev. Samuel and MaryMoore Brown, born on November 28, 1804 in Rockbridge county, Virginia. Henry graduated from Washington College in Virginia in 1827 and prepared for the ministry at both Princeton and at Union Seminary in Virginia. He was licensed to preach in April of 1829. His first service was as a home missionary and evangelist in Kanawha county, Virginia and later in Randolph county, where the Lord blessed his preaching with great success. In 1832 he removed to Woodstock, Virginia for two years and again there saw the Lord’s blessing on his ministry.

Rev. Brown planted the Shemariah Church in Augusta county, Virginia in 1833 and served there until 1836. Always seemingly on the move, he next served as stated supply for the Brierly Church, from 1836-1838, after which he preached for two years in the churches of the Wilmington, North Carolina area, again with demonstrable blessing from the Lord. From there he went on to minister in the Virginia churches of Harrisburg, Goshen, and Pisgah before removing to Lake City, Florida for a year. Then Rev. Brown served as a missionary in Cherokee Presbytery for three years, 1859-1862, as stated supply in one Presbytery in Alabama, 1866-1867, then in another Alabama Presbytery from 1867-1872.

It would probably have been during his years with those churches in Virginia when Rev. Brown wrote a series of articles which appeared in a newspaper known as The Watchman and Observer. These articles took issue with the teachings of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Rev. Brown entered this debate in a most interesting way. His title pretty much tells the story:

Arminian Inconsistencies and Errors: In which it is shown that all the distinctive doctrines of the Presbyterian Confession of Faith are taught by standard writers of the Methodist Episcopal Church. (1856).

Or, as he himself states in a brief preface to this work:

The title of this book explains the design of the author. Arminians suppose their system of theology, in a great measure, free from difficulties, and especially from such difficulties as they attach to Calvinism. The writer undertakes to show, on the contrary, that their standard authors maintain not only all the distinctive doctrines of Calvinism, as decidedly as Calvinists themselves, but that sometimes they go far beyond them . . . ” 

And, continuing, Rev. Brown argues that he is only right to enter into this debate:

“The right and propriety even, of free discussion, is admitted. The cause that will not bear it, ought to be abandoned. The works to which we shall have occasion to refer, are before the public, and therefore, are public property. Added to this, Calvinists complain that these works do them great injustice. They may therefore be considered standing enemies, and every new edition, a new assault. Moreover, large anti-Calvinistic  extracts are freely circulated in the form of Tracts. Surely then, a return fire can be properly considered nothing more than fighting in a war begun.”

But, if you want to explore that subject further, you’ll have to click the link embedded in the title above. It does look like an interesting work, and from my search, it appears this was Rev. Brown’s one literary claim to fame.

His final years were again in Florida, preaching in Pilatka, Enterprise, Cedar Keys and numerous other locations about the state. At last, this weary servant of the Lord entered his eternal rest on this day, January 14, in 1881. It was said of him that “he was a man of earnest piety, of deep humility, of sound mind, of great energy, of tender emotion, and of strong affections. He was intensely devoted to the work of the ministry and to the cause of Christ.”

Words to Live By: A tireless servant of Christ, and yet one whom history barely remembers. But he did not serve history, he served the Lord, and the Lord remembers and does not forget. History may forget most of us, but the Lord forgets none of His dear children. (Isa. 49:1544:21Jer. 31:20)

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