Rev. Samuel Davies

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A repeat today, as I’m rather under the weather. Prayers appreciated.

An Ambassador for King Jesus

Samuel Davies was born in Delaware in 1723.  His Welsh mother had named him after the prophet Samuel. Ever afterwards, he considered himself to be a son of prayer, as the biblical name Samuel inferred. His early dedication to God induced him to devote himself to God personally.  Joining the church at age 15, he entered Samuel Blair’s classical and theological school at Faggs Manor Presbyterian Church, in Pennsylvania.  He was ordained as a Presbyterian  evangelist in February 1747 by the New Castle Presbytery.

On April 14, 1747, Samuel Davies stood before Governor Gooch and his council at Williamsburg, to ask permission to preach at four meeting houses in Hanover Country in Virginia.  Readers need to know that Virginia in the pre-revolutionary days was officially Anglican in religion.  Anyone outside of that denomination needed permission to minister. Later this law would be changed with a separation between church and state.  But at this time, permission had to be sought.  Receiving it, Davies preached faithfully and sacrificially at these four preaching points, some twelve miles north of Richmond, Virginia.

Suddenly, he wife was taken from him by illness which resulted in death.  It was said of him at the time that, despite his sorrow, he was determined to spend what little remained of his exhausted lifestyle to advance his Master’s glory to the good of countless souls in need of the gospel.  This dedication brought people from a wide circumference to hear the preaching of the Word of God, including a mother and her young son Patrick Henry.

On November 1, 1748, he returned to the Governor to ask that seven more places of preaching be granted to him.  While there was some opposition to the increased number, he presented his case with such clarity and forcefulness of argument, his request was granted.

For eleven more years, he preached the Word of God in the county of Hanover, as well as four other counties of Virginia. He was, as one put it, the ambassador of a mighty king.  All, upon hearing his weekly sermons, knew that king to be no one except King Jesus.

Words to Live By:  All believers are to be ambassadors of King Jesus, declaring the message by their lives and lips,  for  all to be reconciled to God.

Image source : Photograph found facing page 33 of Virginia Presbyterianism and Religious Liberty in Colonial and Revolutionary Times, by Thomas Cary Johnson. Richmond, VA: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1907. Scan prepared by the staff of the PCA Historical Center.

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This postscript on the Covenanter Sailing Ship “Eagle Wing” comes as an aftermath post to September 9, 1636. This author treated on that day the sad story of the 140 plus passengers who attempted the very first crossing of Irish-Scottish members of the Presbyterian church to the American colonies. It was a valiant but vain effort however, as terrible storms forced the ship to turn back to Ireland, where they arrived on This Day in Presbyterian History, November 3, 1636. Further information on that effort comes from an American author named William Henry Foote, who wrote Sketches of North Carolina, a history covering the period between 1794 and 1869. The whole book is on-line for your reading pleasure.

In it, Foote shares how the ship’s inhabitants anchored in Lockfergus, Northern Ireland, the place of their departure after an absence of eight weeks. The passengers were cast down under this providence of God, and anticipating hostility, ridicule, and suffering. They were to receive all three reactions from those who greeted them upon arrival. Indeed, having sold their effects in preparation for the voyage, and invested their monies in provision and stock of merchandize for their eventual landing in the American colonies, they experienced great financial loss in disposing of their cargo. Further, they had hired some to assist them in fishing industries and building of structures. These people now demanded their wages, even though the end result was not reached. They now had to pick up and as the song puts it, “start all over again.”

It would seem to be on the surface “a big bust,” but God had other plans for these hardy pioneers. The influence which they exhibited first on Ireland, then in Scotland, and finally in America, cannot be estimated for the power of their principled and godly lives. The Lord had brought them back to do His work in His timing, not theirs. When circumstances became too “hot” in Uster for the four Presbyterian ministers on the Eagle Wing, they simply sailed to Scotland and settled into Presbyterian churches there. They kept up their continued fellowship with members of their parishes back in Ulster, even as many of their Ulster members continued to enjoy their ministries, by making trips to Scotland for participation in the Lord’s Supper or for baptism of their covenant children.

Their presence back in Scotland brought renewed strength to the covenants of that land. In time, after the lapse of fifty plus years, boatloads after boatloads of Scot-Irish began to seek the American shores. Countless descendants of these hardy Presbyterians settled in Pennsylvania, Virginia, the Carolinas and elsewhere.

Words to Live By:
Our timing may not be God’s timing. That has been evidenced in this example as well as countless other instances. It would be a worthy discussion of God’s people to prayerfully discuss among themselves or within the church itself how to discern God’s timing for some action. But what is more important than that is how best to submit to God’s timing for their lives. That will bring the most satisfaction in the long run of seeking to live by God’s will for His glory.

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An Ambassador for King Jesus

Rev. Samuel Davies [3 November 1723 - 4 February 1761]Samuel Davies was born in Delaware in 1723. His Welsh mother had named him after the prophet Samuel. Ever afterwards, he considered himself to be a son of prayer, as the biblical name Samuel inferred. His early dedication to God induced him to devote himself to God personally.  Joining the church at age 15, he entered Samuel Blair’s classical and theological school at Faggs Manor Presbyterian Church, in Pennsylvania. He was ordained as a Presbyterian  evangelist in February 1747 by the New Castle Presbytery.

On April 14, 1747, Samuel Davies stood before Governor Gooch and his council at Williamsburg, to ask permission to preach at four meeting houses in Hanover Country in Virginia. Readers need to know that Virginia in the pre-revolutionary days was officially Anglican in religion. Anyone outside of that denomination needed permission to minister. Later this law would be changed with a separation between church and state. But at this time, permission had to be sought. Receiving it, Davies preached faithfully and sacrificially at these four preaching points, some twelve miles north of Richmond, Virginia.

Suddenly, he wife was taken from him by illness which resulted in death. It was said of him at the time that, despite his sorrow, he was determined to spend what little remained of his exhausted lifestyle to advance his Master’s glory to the good of countless souls in need of the gospel. This dedication brought people from a wide circumference to hear the preaching of the Word of God, including a mother and her young son Patrick Henry.

On November 1, 1748, he returned to the Governor to ask that seven more places of preaching be granted to him. While there was some opposition to the increased number, he presented his case with such clarity and forcefulness of argument, his request was granted.

For eleven more years, he preached the Word of God in the county of Hanover, as well as four other counties of Virginia. He was, as one put it, the ambassador of a mighty king.  All, upon hearing his weekly sermons, knew that king to be no one except King Jesus.

Words to Live By: All believers are to be ambassadors of King Jesus, declaring the message by their lives and lips, freely proclaiming the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ alone, calling for all to be reconciled to God.

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

The Prayers of a Pious Mother

If this devotional began with a simple question, namely, to identify the greatest preacher ever produced in this land of America,   this writer is sure that he would receive a bevy of names, both from colonial days as well as modern times. The reader might be quick to offer the name of  your particular pastor, the one you hear every Lord’s Day. Or maybe it would be some preacher from your past, whom you consider the greatest expositor of the Word to your heart.

As famous as the great English pastor, Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones, was, he was convinced that we Americans did not even know that the most eloquent preacher the American continent ever produced was Samuel Davies.  Some of you might respond with a “Who is Samuel Davies” question. But for the regular readers of this historical devotional, having made reference to Samuel Davies on April 14, July 6, July 25, and October 3,  he was the Apostle of Virginia. And it was on this day of November 3, 1723 that he was born near New Castle, Delaware.

His parents were deeply religious, both of Welsh descent. They were members of the Pancader Presbyterian Church in Delaware. Especially his mother was to make a deep spiritual impression on young Samuel.  Afterward he commented that he was a son of prayer, just as the biblical Samuel was a son of prayer. Further, he acknowledged that everything he accomplished for the Savior in his life and ministry, he looked upon as immediate answers to the prayers of a pious mother.

It was in his early teens that Samuel had a clear assurance of justification by faith.  He then joined the Presbyterian Church.  Educated at the famous Faggs Manor Presbyterian classical and theological school in Cochrinville, Pennsylvania, he received his spiritual marching orders to become the Apostle of Virginia in bringing the gospel to this part of the new world.

Words to live by: There is a general  promise in Proverbs 22:6 for parents to “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (NIV)  Dads, Moms, are you praying for a son or a daughter who is now in the process of turning away from the faith of his or her parents?  Many are the sorrows of such an experience.  Our hearts grieve with you. We encourage you to continue to pray and by your example and exhortation (when the Lord presents an open door) to continue  to claim Proverbs 22:6.  Many have come back to Christ at a time of trouble or temptation. Be there when they do and give thanks to the God of providence at that time.

Through the Scriptures:   Luke 22 – 24

Through the Standards:  The number  of Christ-ordained sacraments

WCF 27:4
“There be only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any, but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained.”

WLC 164 — “How many sacraments has Christ instituted in his church under the New Testament?
A. Under the New Testament Christ has instituted in his church only two sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper.”

WSC 93 “Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?
A. The sacraments of the New Testament are, Baptism, and the Lord’s supper.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

An Apostle Becomes a President

We cannot say enough about Samuel Davies, the apostle to Virginia in the colony of Virginia since 1747.   Establishing preaching points with permission from the Anglican governor, Davies had preached with boldness God’s salvation through Christ alone to the people around each of these points.  Often, he had to take journeys of five hundred miles on horseback to minister to his many parishioners.  By 1755, churches had been established for a Hanover Presbytery to be organized.  This was the first Presbytery outside the northeast part of the colonies.  It was under the oversight of the New Side Presbyterians of New York!

In 1758, the third president of the College of New Jersey, Jonathan Edwards, died from smallpox.  The trustees asked Samuel Davies to assume his office.  The minister was not unknown by the college, since he had raised funds for it earlier in England.   But Davies refused the offer, citing his open door for effective service in Virginia.  They offered him the position a second, and third, and fourth time.  Finally, he yielded to the request, and in July 26, 1759, Samuel Davies was inaugurated as President of the College of New Jersey.  He was described by one trustee as a man, upon whom the Spirit of God had given uncommon gifts.

At the College, which later on became both Princeton Seminary and Princeton University, Samuel Davies worked with the same zeal which had characterized him in Virginia.  At age 38 however, he died of pneumonia in 1761.  His aged mother said of  him at his burial, citing the sovereign providence of God, “There is the will of God, and I am satisfied.”

Words to Live By: 
God makes no mistakes.  The Spirit of God led him to Virginia, to enter the open door of evangelism and church planting which was necessary for that future state.  (The site of his congregation, north of Richmond, Virginia,  burned during one of the battles of the War Between the States, and is now marked as a historical spot.)  Then God led him to the College of New Jersey.  Historic Biblical Presbyterianism was established in the hearts and minds of many Virginia’s spiritual sons and daughters, as well in the students of the College.  Pray for your faith, that it may be established in hearts and minds today, starting with yourself, your family, your neighbors, your work associates, and your church.

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 58 – 60

Through the Standards:    The sins of equals

WLC 132  — “What are the sins of equals?
A.  The sins of equals are, besides the neglect of the duties required, the undervaluing of the worth, envying the gifts, grieving at the advancement or prosperity one of another; and usurping pre-eminence one over another.”

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