Rev. Andrew Bryan and His Pastorate.
This faithful servant of God was born at a place called Goose Creek, about sixteen miles from Charleston, South Carolina, somewhere about 1716, and was baptized by Rev. George Leile about 1781. He was ordained to the office of the gospel ministry January 20th, 1788, by Rev. Abraham Marshall (white) and Rev. Jesse Peter, and was consequently 72 years old when he became pastor of the church. He learned to read about 1785. He was persecuted for preaching the gospel. He was whipped until he bled most profusely. But while bleeding, and the cruel lash yet falling upon his naked back, he held up his hand and said to his vile persecutors: "You may kill me, but I will preach the gospel. If you would stop me from preaching, cut off my head. I rejoice that I am worthy to suffer for Jesus." This was said with such Christian courage and humble boldness, and with a wonderfully powerful and sweet voice, that his inhuman and ungodly persecutors were dumbfounded. This touched the hearts of the white people and excited their sympathy for the persecuted saints, who declared that such treatment would have been condemned even among barbarians. Then Mr. Jonathan Bryan, the master of Rev. Andrew Bryan, interceded for him. His intercession was late, but better late than never. We are disposed to believe that the sympathy of the community excited in favor of the persecuted disciples moved him rather than the magnanimity of his own heart. Where was he when all this persecution was going on? Could his negroes, who were doubtless living on his premises, have been taken and almost martyred without his knowledge? Would white men in those days have treated each others' negroes with such extreme cruelties without their permission or knowledge? Verily, we think, no. Benedict says: "Jonathan Bryan, Esq., the kind master of Andrew and Samson, interceded for his own servants and the rest of the sufferers, and was much grieved at their punishment." While we thank God that help did come, we feel that this statement is highly colored. We lived in the days of slavery and saw and felt some of its ungodly hardships. We know that this was a remarkable case if Mr. Jonathan Bryan could not have prevented this diabolical treatment of these humble, defenseless Christians, his slaves, but God's freemen. If this was done without his knowledge he could have sued for damage, we think. Benedict does not tell us that he did. If he did, doubtless Benedict would have been delighted to have informed us at length about it. We thank God, however, for what Mr. Jonathan Bryan did. He might have done much worse.
After this terrible whipping, Rev. Andrew Bryan was given the use of his master's barns at Brampton, three miles southwest of Savannah, for the purpose of preaching Jesus to the negroes. Here for several years he preached the glorious gospel of Him who was born in a manger to anxious hearers in a manger. The blessing of Almighty God rested upon his efforts, and He honored his humble preaching in this humble place with the power of the Holy Spirit. Their number wonderfully and rapidly increased. They soon silenced and shamed their bitterest enemies, unarmed them and made ardent admirers of them. Rev. Andrew Bryan was a faithful, earnest and simple preacher of the New Testament. His simple, earnest preaching at Brampton's barn attracted attention and he was visited by distinguished men of that day. In course of time he procured a site in Yamacraw and there erected a church and preached very successfully the gospel.
He was given a place upon which to erect a house of worship by Edward Davis, Esq., in Yamacraw. This was soon taken from them. The corporation of the city gave them a lot in Yamacraw upon which they erected a house 42x49 in 1792. It seems that they lost this too.
About this time Rev. Andrew Bryan bought himself and family and very rapidly accumulated property. He was worth before his death upward of five thousand dollars. The site the First Bryan Church sits on to-day was owned by him, and in 1797 he sold it to the First African Baptist Church. He wielded an immense influence. He was beloved and honored by white and black. He was pastor of the First African Baptist Church from 1788 to 1812--a period of twenty-four years. On October 6th, 1812, he breathed his last, full of faith, hope, honor, years and good work. He went to live with that Jesus for whom he suffered. Distinguished white men delivered eulogies at his funeral. Thus ended the wonderful career of this grand, good man, the father of the Baptists in Savannah, on the coast, and in Georgia. As a man he was humble and fearless. As a preacher he was faithful and true. Whatever was duty was supreme with him. As a pastor he was loving, tender and sympathetic. He loved his members as children, and they reverenced him as a father. When he died it was considered as a calamity by the whole community. One of the best men that ever lived had passed from labor to reward. In life he was beloved by all; in death bemoaned by all. He was an ornament to society and a blessing to mankind. He was followed to his last resting place by not less than five thousand persons, and addresses were made at his grave by three distinguished white men. He was a great man.
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