This Day in Presbyterian History:
The Second U.S. House Chaplain was a Presbyterian
As a matter of fact, the first three chaplains to the United States House of Representatives were all Presbyterian, with the Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr. being number two.
Samuel was born at Faggs Manor, Cochranville, Pennsylvania. Immediately our readers should recognize the name of Samuel Blair as being related to the New Side pastor and evangelist of that famous church in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Now called Manor Presbyterians, its history goes back to 1730. It is now a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America. But Samuel Blair Sr. was one of the leaders of the First Great Awakening in the colonies. This is his son.
Attending the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), Samuel Blair Jr. graduated with honor at age nineteen. Staying in the town of Princeton, he tutored for several years. licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Castle in 1764, he was called to Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts in 1766.
In one of those “hard providences” of history, on his way up to Boston, he suffered a shipwreck, being actually cast into the Atlantic Ocean. His lost all of his clothes in that tragedy and all of his sermon manuscripts. This incident greatly depressed him and brought some major health problems to him.
He stayed on as one of the two pastors of Old South until 1769, when due to ill-health, he resigned and moved to Germantown, Pennsylvania, where he planned to devote his remaining years to study. But God wasn’t through with him yet in active service. On December 10, 1770, he was appointed as the second Presbyterian chaplain to the United States House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. He would stay in that post for two years.
What a fitting close of ministry for a theologian, preacher of the Word, evangelist, and pastor.
Words to live by: God always gives sufficient grace to those who need it in His work. We may have great weakness, but He is ever strong. We may feel utterly inadequate, but He is all-sufficient. Believer, trust in His strength always and then push out into His kingdom. He will provide what you need for your effective ministry to the saints of God, and to say nothing for those who are in need of saving grace.
Through the Scriptures: Colossians 1 – 4
Through the Standards: Proof texts for church censures
1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13
“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them that labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” (KJV)
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (KJV)
1 Corinthians 5:1, 3, 5, 7
“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you . . . For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already . . . concerning him that has so done this deed . . . To deliver such as one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus . . . Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.” (KJV)