This Day in Presbyterian History: No Greater Service
The godly mother believed in taking advantage of all kinds of spiritual opportunities to instruct her second son in the things of the Lord, even if it meant a long journey home from church by their horse-drawn buggy. So she would quiz young Henry on the text and have the twelve-year-old summarize the long sermon by the Rev. Samuel Davies. And remember, the latter “Apostle to Virginia” usually preached an hour or two sermon at the Presbyterian meeting-house known as The Fork. Later, when grown up and active in the affairs of the Colony and later state of Virginia, Patrick Henry would remember those dozen early years under the ministry of Presbyterian pastor Samuel Davies. He stated his appreciation for sitting under the greatest orator he had ever heard.
Now by no means are we inferring that Patrick Henry was a Presbyterian. His mother Sarah was a Presbyterian and a member of the church of which Pastor Davies was a pastor. Patrick’s father, an Anglican, had baptized young Patrick in the Anglican church, and to that early tradition, Patrick stayed faithful all of his life. But he was especially friendly to the Presbyterians, who helped immensely the cause of liberty in those early days.
At the second political convention of delegates in Virginia, which began this day of March 20, 1775, in Richmond, Virginia, the issue was anything but clear what to do about the declaration of war by the patriots up in Massachusetts. The question was, should the citizens of Virginia proceed on a similar war footing, or settle it in a more peaceful way. The convention was divided. At a key point in the week-long discussion, Patrick Henry made his famous “Give me liberty or death” speech. With the Presbyterian delegates from the churches of the Valley backing him up, by a mere six vote majority, the convention voted to advance to a war footing, with arms and companies established.
After the final victory in the American Revolution, Patrick Henry would serve as governor of Virginia for five terms. It can be said that throughout his long life, the emphasis of the Presbyterian faith taught in earlier times and enforced by his mother, had a great effect upon his life and actions.
Words to Live By: There can be no greater spiritual service than that which takes place from godly parents, or a godly parent, in the things of the Lord. Pray and labor much for spiritual instruction to be accomplished at that time. Claim the general promise of Proverbs 22:6 upon your sons and daughters.
Through the Scriptures: Judges 5 – 8
Through the Standards: Christ’s Humiliation in his Life
WLC 48 — “How did Christ humble himself in his life?
A. Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law, which he perfectly fulfilled; and by conflicting with the indignities of the world, the temptations of Satan, and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.”
Remembering Our Fathers and Brothers: The following PCA teaching elders entered their eternal reward on this day, March 20, in
1998 – Rev. William McKay Alling. Born in 1907 and educated at the University of Rochester (B.S., 1929) and MIT (MS, 1930), Alling prepared for the ministry at Faith Theological Seminary, graduating there in 1950 and was ordained in 1953 by the Great Lakes Presbytery of the BPC to serve as pulpit supply for a circuit of churches in North Dakota and then pastored the BPC church in Canon City, Colorado, 1951-57 before taking a post as teacher at the Cono Christian School in Walker, Iowa, 1957-69. From 1970 until his honorable retirement in 1986, he was a teacher at the Westminster Christian Academy in Huntsville, Alabama and associate pastor at the Westminster Presbyterian Church of that same city.
2005 – Rev. Dr. Edmund Prosper Clowney. Born in Philadelphia in 1917, Edmund graduated from Wheaton College in 1939 and Westminster Theological Seminary in 1942. Rev. Clowney was ordained in the OPC upon graduation and installed as pastor of the OPC church in Hamden, Connecticut. After several other pastoral posts, he began his long association with Westminster Seminary in 1952, first as professor and then in 1966 as President of that institution. From 1984-1990, he was associate pastor of the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, and visiting professor at Westminster Seminary California, 1990-2000. After a few years teaching in Texas, Dr. Clowney returned at last to the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville as theologian in residence, where he served until his death.
For more on the legacy of Dr. Clowney’s ministry, click here.