Barnet Grimsley was born in Culpeper County, Virginia on this day (Dec. 17) in 1807. This was after some degree of religious peace had been won through the sacrifice of earlier Baptist brethren.
Barnet had a prodigious intellect and memory. When he was but twelve-years-of-age, and before his conversion, he preached his first sermon entitled “The Being and Perfections of God.” Until he was eighteen he worked with his father on the family farm, but in his spare time he read everything he could find. At the age of twenty he started a milling business which he operated for five years. During that time two life-changing events took place in his life – he married Ruth Updek and they both were saved by the grace of God. Soon after this he sold his business and surrendered to the ministry of Christ.
On November 25, 1833 he was ordained and became pastor of the Cedar Creek Baptist Church, in the Blue Ridge Mountains – a congregation which he had gathered. The man was a missionary at heart in the midst of “hard-shell,” anti-missionary Baptists. Throughout his service, he often pastored four churches at a time, becoming well-known for his knowledge of the scripture and his practical application of the Word of God. As he rode from church to church, thinking about his upcoming sermon theme, the message was automatically committed to memory. On several occasions, people would ask Brother Grimsley to visit their church or home and to preach the message they had just heard. When opportunity permitted he would make the trip and almost perfectly preach the requested message – without notes.
John Broadus testified of Grimsley, “Into his exhortation he poured all the tremendous earnestness of strong convictions, great-hearted love, and a deep sense of ministerial responsibility…. Many a time the building seemed to shake with the passion of his appeals.”
Toward the end of his life, Pastor Grimsley estimated he had traveled 125,000 miles on horseback throughout the mountains which he called his temporary home.