Rev. Samuel Davies

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This Day in Presbyterian History: 

War Sermons of Samuel Davies

Samuel Davies was known as the apostle to Virginia, so effective was he in being the instrument to call a people out of darkness into light.  Beyond the evangelistic emphasis of his ministry there, he also often  had to challenge  his people to stand up and defend themselves against the Indians of that area.  This was especially needful as countless settlers were withdrawing to safer areas of the colonies, thus reducing the number of parishioners of the Presbyterian churches in the area.

On the Sabbath day of  July 25, 1755, in his home parish of Hanover, Virginia, the Rev. Samuel Davies spoke on this theme of standing up and fighting for your family, your church, and your country.  Listen to his words:

“Let me earnestly recommend to you to furnish yourselves with arms and put yourselves in a position of defense.  What is that religion good for that leaves men cowards on the appearance of danger?

“I am particularly solicitous of you that you should act with honor and spirit in this, as it becomes loyal subjects, lovers of your country, and courageous Christians.  I am determined to not leave my country while there is any prospect of defending it.  Certainly he does not deserve a place in any country who is ready to run from it upon every appearance of danger.

“Let us determine that if the cause should require it, we will courageously leave house and home and take the field.”

A voluntary company of riflemen was immediately formed as a result of this sermon by Samuel Davies.  In fact, during the progress of what later on became known as the French and Indian War, the war sermons of Samuel Davies persuaded more men to enter the field of battle as soldiers than any other means used.

Words to Live By: Samuel Davies was resolute about this issue.  His point was that the church of the Lord was being devastated by this danger, as more and more colonists returned closer to the safety of larger towns in the east.  Stand up and defend your home, your church, and your country, was his watchword.  There is a sacred right to defend oneself and the country to which you belong.  Let there be careful study that the cause is just, according to the Scripture.  Then with that basis, stand strong in the Lord.

Through the Scriptures: Isaiah 55 – 57

Through the Standards: The duties of equals

WLC 131 — “What are the duties of equals?
A.  The duties of equals are, to regard the dignity and worth of each other, in giving honor to go one before another; and to rejoice in each others’ gifts and advancement, as their own.”

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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.

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