Sermons of the Rev. Samuel Davies

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Vol. 1; Soli Deo Gloria publisher, 1993
Report by Devin Bell

Reason for publication: First printed in 1770 the sermons of Samuel Davies were received well, and rightfully deserved a widespread reading. As Thomas Gibbons the original publisher wrote; “I most sincerely wish that young ministers more especially would peruse these volumes with the deepest attention and seriousness, … in which if I mistake not, are the following excellences, most worthy of imitation.”

Reprinted in 1854 by the Presbyterian Board of Publication, this excellent collection was not reprinted until 1993. Perhaps a statement made by Dr. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones that “You Americans do not know one of your greatest preachers,” then offered the name of Samuel Davies as “The most eloquent preacher the American continent has produced,” was the spark that caused the interest in Samuel Davies to burn again.

Theme: The preaching is real evangelistic preaching. Further noted it is Calvinistic evangelism at its best. Davies preached for a definite conversion of his listeners. While doing that he preached the sovereignty of God, and the freeness of grace. Samuel Davies pressed the lost with their duty to come to Christ without delay. His preaching is a highly studied and skilled delivery that spoke to both the head and the heart. His messages are delivered with logic and organization, yet he also brings an appeal to the affections that cannot be ignored.

Brief Biography: Davies was born in Newcastle County, Delaware, 1723. His parents were Welsh by heritage, and his mother was noted for her piety. Davies was educated under Samuel Blair {who was a Log College student and contemporary of Gilbert Tennent.}, at Faggs Manor, just outside Philadelphia. Licensed in 1746, ordained in 1747 as an evangelist for the purpose of preaching to congregations in Virginia. Davies went to Williamsburg, where he was the first to receive a license as a “dissenting” minister. Davies journeyed to Hanover County were he was well received, and began his effective and fruitful ministry.

Davies preached to all, and also preached to many of the slaves. As many as 300 slaves were regular listeners, with a report of 150 being gathered a the Lord’s Table in one particular communion service. Davies preached as often as he could and traveled the backwoods area extensively.

In 1753, Davies traveled with Gilbert Tennent to England to solicit support for the founding of the College of New Jersey{ now known as Princeton University.} There he met George Whitefield, and his preaching was received graciously, especially by then King George II, who requested a special hearing.

Samuel Davies followed Jonathan Edwards as the fourth president of the College of New Jersey. His ministry there was short, and he passed away in 1761 at the age of 37. His public ministry had lasted but 14 years, but the impact of his preaching lives on in the lives and heritage he established. Davies is also sometimes called the “Father of Southern Presbyterianism” and he has also been referred to as “The Apostle to Virginia.”

Quotes: Answering a self proposed question of why he exhort them to believe in Jesus Christ, when faith is the gift of God, and they could not believe of themselves Davies answers: “In answer to this I grant the premises are true; and God forbid I should intimate that faith is the spontaneous growth of corrupt nature, or that you can come to Christ without the Father’s drawing you: but the very conclusions you draw from these premises are very erroneous. I exhort and persuade you to believe in Jesus Christ, because it is while such means are used with sinners, and by the use of them, that it pleases God to enable them to comply, or to work faith in them. I would therefore use those means which God is pleased to bless for this end. I exhort you to believe in order to set you upon the trial; for it is putting it to trial, and that only, which can fully convince you of your own inability to believe; and till you are convinced of this, you can never expect strength from God.” The Method of Salvation Through Jesus Christ, page 132-133.

Requiring continued agreement as he preached: “I would have you consent to every article of the overture as I go along; and therefore here again I make you pause to ask you, what do you think of this article? Are you willing to comply with it, willing to come into favour with God, as convicted self-condemned rebels, upon an act of grace procured by the righteousness of Christ alone?” Sinners Entreated To Be Reconciled To God, page 153.
Continuing the same sermon: “Do you love your sins so well, and are you so obliged to them, that you will lay down your life, your eternal life, for their sakes.” page 155

“Yes, sinners, this is the melancholy reason why you are so thoughtless, so unconcerned, so senseless about the God that made you: you are dead.” The Nature and Universality of Spiritual Death, page 173. Same sermon, “I have materials sufficient for a discourse of some hours; but at present I must abruptly drop the subject: however, I cannot dismiss you without making a few reflections.” page 184 {Davies sermons would have averaged one hour or more in length.}

“A Christian! A Christian! Let that be your highest distinction; let that be the name which you labour to deserve.” The Sacred Import of The Christian Name, page 342
Proceeding further, “ Therefore, if you will not renounce iniquity, renounce the Christian name: for you cannot consistently retain both.” page 345

Davies preached with emotion, in this quote you can almost feel the intensity and the heartfelt plea to the unconverted, “My business is with you, who are as yet alive to hear me. To you I call, as with the voice of your deceased friend and neighbor, ___Prepare! Prepare for eternity! Oh! If the spirits that you once knew, while clothed in flesh, should take my place, would not this be their united voice, “Prepare, prepare for eternity! Ye frail short-lived mortals! Ye neighbors of the world of spirits! Ye borderers upon heaven or hell, make ready, loosen your hearts from earth, and all it contains: weigh anchor, and prepare to launch away into the boundless ocean of eternity, which methinks is now within your ken, and roars within hearing!” Indifference to Life Urged From Its Shortness and Vanity, page 619

Hymns by Samuel Davies

Great God of Wonders!
Great God of wonders! All Thy ways
Are matchless, Godlike and divine;
But the fair glories of Thy grace
More Godlike and unrivaled shine,
More Godlike and unrivaled shine.
Crimes of such horror to forgive,
Such guilty, daring worms to spare; This is Thy grand prerogative, And none shall in the honor share, And none shall in the honor share
Angels and men, resign your claim
To pity, mercy, love and grace:
These glories crown Jehovah’s Name
With an incomparable glaze
With an incomparable glaze.
In wonder lost, with trembling joy,
We take the pardon of our God: Pardon for crimes of deepest dye, A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood, A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood.
O may this strange, this matchless grace,
This Godlike miracle of love,
Fill the whole earth with grateful praise,
And all th’angelic choirs above,
And all th’angelic choirs above.
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free? Or who has grace so rich and free?

Lord I Am Entirely Thine
Lord, I am Thine, entirely Thine,
Purchased and saved by blood divine;
With full consent Thine I would be,
And own Thy sovereign right in me.
Grant one poor sinner more a place
Among the children of Thy grace— A wretched sinner, lost to God, But ransomed by Immanuel’s blood.
Thine would I live, Thine would I die,
Be Thine through all eternity;
The vow is past beyond repeal,
And now I set the solemn seal.
Here, at that cross where flows the blood
That bought my guilty soul for God, Thee my new Master now I call, And consecrate to Thee my all.