May 22 : Hugh Williamson, Writer of the U.S. Constitution

This Day in Presbyterian History: 

A Man of Many Gifts and Talents

Eldest son . . . trained for the ministry . . . licentiate of the gospel . . . member of the Presbytery of Philadelphia . . . math teacher . . . physician . . . Revolutionary soldier . . . essayist . . . businessman . . . politician . . .what more can we say of Hugh Williamson?  He was a man of many gifts and talents.

Born in Nottingham, Pennsylvania in 1735, he had the heritage of Scotch – Irish parents who had immigrated from Ireland to the shores of the colonies.  His parents desired that he go into the Presbyterian ministry, and so he was trained under the finest teachers of the Word of God in Samuel Finley.  He was even licensed by the Presbytery of Philadelphia to preach the gospel, but poor health intervened and hindered that holy desire.

Entering what later on became the University of Pennsylvania, he graduated in the first class of that school.  Completing his studies overseas, he began to practice medicine in Philadelphia.  Upon the start of the Revolutionary War, he moved to North Carolina because he was active in the move to bring medical supplies from the West Indies through the British blockade to the needy use of them for wounded Revolutionary soldiers.

After the war was over, he served in the Federal congress for two terms, declining to serve a third term.  But it was as a delegate from North Carolina to the Constitutional Convention which framed the Constitution of the United States that he is especially remembered.

Some sources claim that he became a deist in his later years.  If this is so, and it is by no means certain, then he fell away from the faith of his early years.  But this contributor doesn’t believe that was permanent, in that just eight years before his death at 83 years old on May 22, 1819,  he wrote a book which defended Scriptural accounts of the Exodus of God’s people from Egypt against those critics of the Bible.

Words to Live By: It was CH Spurgeon who compared the Christian life to a ship in the midst of a storm. As a result of the wind and waves, we may fall down on the deck often, but spiritually, we will never fall overboard.  Whether Williamson was a deist in the latter part of his life, no one can definitively state.  But if he was, he was restored back into fellowship with theistic faith and life, as all of us who stray spiritually can do the same, if we but repent of our sins and trust Christ again.

Through the Scriptures: Psalms 124 – 126

Through the Standards: Proof texts of repentance unto life

Psalm 51:10 – 12

“Created in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from your presence And do not take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.”  (NAS)

James 5:16

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. (NAS)

2 Corinthians 7:11

“For behold what earnestness this very ting, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in this manner.” (NAS)

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