Eleazer Clay was born on this day (August 4) in 1744. After the French and Indian War he settled in Chesterfield County, Virginia where he married, settled down and began to prosper. But that changed somewhat when the Baptists arrived. Clay was drawn by the Holy Spirit to the jail where William Webber, Joseph Anthony and John Weatherford were incarcerated. They had been arrested for preaching without the government’s license, but that didn’t silence them. Even while in jail, they stretched their arms through the bars of their cells and preached salvation by grace. Many locals came to hear this strange new message including Eleazer Clay. Clay was converted by God’s grace, in 1771, and he immediately became a member of the Chesterfield Baptist church. Soon after that he preaching Christ himself.
After some months and Brother Clay was not arrested, the sheriff explained that was because “Mr. Clay has a livelihood,” but the others had been taken because they were vagrants. In reality, by this time, Eleazer Clay had become a wealthy man, and in deference to his money, he was not arrested.
But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t without enemies. On one occasion, he was preaching in a private house, when a man rode up into the yard declaring, “I have come to cowhide Eleazer Clay.” When the preacher was told the man’s business, he replied, “I fear no man. If I have to go out there after him, I will give him one of the worst whippings he ever head in this life.” Apparently the horseman didn’t hang around for the end of the service.
Bro. Eleazer served the Lord for over sixty years, dying in his 92nd year. He had a younger brother, who also became a Baptist preacher. John Clay, gave to America two sons – Elder Porter Clay, a prominent preacher in Kentucky, and another whom he named Henry, who unsuccessfully ran for president on three occasions.