Note that some of the sermons and writings were written in historical and sociological context and are not wholly part of the present day church's mission statement.

Page 1.
1. The Study of Natural Science Considered as a Means of Intellectual Culture
by Prof. George D. Armstrong
2. Evolution
by Prof. George D. Armstrong.
3. Reminiscences of the War
by Rev. George D. Armstrong

Page 2.

4. Politics and the Pulpit, by Rev. George D. Armstrong
5. Our Presbyterian Heritage in Eastern Virginia
by Rev. Edward Mack

* * * * * *

Preached in the Presbyterian Church, Norfolk, VA,
on Thursday, November 27, 1856.
By Geo. D. Armstrong, D. D., Pastor.
Published by request of the congregation.
Norfolk: J. D. Ghiselin, Jr., 1856.

Note that some of the sermons and writings were written in historical and sociological context and are not wholly part of the present day church's mission statement.


"I will wash my hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord:
that I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell thy
wondrous works." Psalm
xxvi. 6, 7.

We are gathered in God's house to-day, that we may render thanks to him for the mercies of the
passing year.

How widely different the circumstances in which we assembled here, a year ago; at the close of the "summer of the Pestilence." The Chief Magistrate of this good old Commonwealth had then recommended the observance of a day of thanksgiving throughout our borders. In every other part of the State, the heart of man—the Christian man—was attuned for the service. No enemy at home, or abroad, threatened our peace. The seasonable alternation of shower and sunshine had caused the earth to yield abundantly, an increase of the seed sown. The harvest had been gathered in, and the barns were [4] full. Shielded by the good providence of God, and blessed of him, the patriarch father might gather around him, in the old homestead, his children and his children's children:—only now and then, would one return, with sad step and slow, to tell of bereavement.

Such was not our lot. We had occasion to thank God that we were not consumed. In honesty, we were constrained to confess, that even in our sore chastisement, "God had not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities." Yet the language of thanksgiving, in view of God's dealings with us during the year, was not the language of our hearts. Judah will not fail to praise God, even in a strange land. As she sits down, in her captivity, by the rivers of Babylon, she will sing,—but not the glad songs of Zion. "How can she sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" She will sing,—but not the jubilant psalm her lips were wont to utter as she entered the Temple, at Jerusalem,—'tis a plaintive melody which falls upon the ear. "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem," is the burden of her song. In the strong and simple faith in God, his goodness and his grace, which angels feel; which the spirits of just men made perfect feel, we may and doubtless will, "rejoice always." But here, on [5] earth, the song of thanksgiving grates upon the ear of him who sits beside his desolate hearth-stone:— Tears will fill even the eye of faith, as it rests upon the new-made graves of the household. Abraham, that mighty man of faith, "mourned for Sarah and wept for her," as he stood at the cave of Machpelah.

In what contrast with all this, the circumstances in which we assemble to-day. Not, that we have forgotten, or would forget, those whose loss we mourned a year ago. But, blessed be God! it is a law of our nature, that time shall assuage the poignancy of mortal grief. It is a law of God's spiritual kingdom too, that as tears wash out the natural eye, and cleanse its vision, so shall they also cleanse the vision of "the eye of faith."

The present, is a period of unexampled health in this our city. In the three months last passed, I have been called to bury no member of this church:—And in all the families connected with the congregation, there has been but one death, that of a child seven years old. Never, before, since I have been pastor of this church, have I been able to tell of such mercy as this.

Our city, too, in its commercial interests, seems to have recovered from the shock it received a year ago. Our harbor, has been sought by as many [6] sail,—our wharves have been as crowded,—and, our streets as thronged, as in former years. The eye, sees but little if any difference between the Norfolk of to-day, and the Norfolk of two years ago. Whilst some foreboded rain for us, as the inevitable consequence of the ravages of the pestilence,—many of us, more hopeful, had confidence in the recuperative powers of our city:—But did any of us, as we beheld the desolations made in our midst, anticipate so rapid a recovery as that we see? The tornado sweeps o'er a forest-land; and a scene of wreck and ruin marks its track. The tall oak, of a hundred summers, lies, shattered, beside the shoot of a single season, crushed in its fall. But the dews of heaven descend, and God's showers are poured upon this ruin. The riven trunk clothes itself in verdure anew; the undergrowth, bent and bruised, springs back to its natural position again,—and in the period of one short "circle of the seasons," so changed is the scene, that the eye of the stranger detects no trace of the tornado. In the memory of the past, alone, does it live as a reality. The scarred heart, alone, now, bears marks of the pestilence.

In view of all these mercies—this good providence of the Lord our God—should not we, his people, "compass his altars " this day, and " publish with [7] the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all his wondrous works?"

The blessings bestowed upon us, as a city, are not the only blessings, for which we have occasion to
render thanksgiving to God, to-day. During the past summer, our country has passed safely through a political struggle—perhaps the most threatening—certainly, the most bitter, any of us have ever seen.

A threatening struggle,—threatening the Confederacy of these our States. It is not my purpose, standing in the pulpit, to discuss the nature or the value of that Confederacy. Such themes as these befit not the place. Granting, as every reflecting man must grant, that circumstances may arise, in which the patriot, and the Christian, as a choice between evils, will rather give up our Union, than encounter the yet greater evils at the cost of which it may be possible, alone, to preserve it,—yet, I speak, I know, the thought of every one of you, when I say, that the severance of this Union, in itself considered, is an evil which he must be infatuated who would make light of. The ties which bind us, North and South, together, God forbid that we should ever learn their strength in the breaking! Our Confederation, the deep foundations of which were laid "in days of old,"—the convulsions which [8] will be mighty enough to overturn it, will shake this land to its very centre.

The summer is passed—and the glorious old banner of the Stars and Stripes, given to the breeze amid the prayers and sacrifices of men who loved their country well and wisely—blessed be God! yet floats before the eyes of the nations. No star has been blotted from its azure field. No hostile shot has torn a stripe of the old bunting. No foeman's hand has trailed its glories in the dust. We were born under its shadow; and under that shadow would we die, and there would we be buried. It sheltered our childhood's helplessness; and we would have our children, and our children's children sheltered there too.

Through this threatening struggle we have safely passed:—perhaps, I ought rather to say, having an eye to the possibilities of the future—through this one act of a threatening struggle, we have safely passed. This one battle—it may be in a "thirty years' war"—has been won. And when I speak thus, I mean, won, not for this or that political party, —but won for our country; our whole country. And we would gladly take it as an omen and earnest of what is yet in store for us, in God's providence, in the future.

A bitter struggle.—The bitterest political struggle [9] we have ever known. No little of this bitterness has arisen, from the mingling of religious elements with the political issues involved. Religious elements—using that term religions in its widest sense—when mingling with other elements in civil and political strife, as all history testifies, have ever given rise to the deadliest conflicts earth has witnessed. Saul of Tarsus, takes the lead in the first Christian persecution; and whilst other Scribes remain, reviling the name of Jesus, in Jerusalem, he follows his victims unto strange cities.—And he does so, as he himself tells us, because, with conscience misinformed, "he verily thinks that he ought to do many things against the name of Jesus." The Inquisition, is the bloodiest and most merciless of human tribunals, because, in its court, a fanatic priest sits "at the top of judgment."

So, in our own land, and during the summer just past, we have had one of the bitterest political struggles ever known, in large part, because the religious feelings of men have been evoked,—men have been made to feel that in promoting the interest of a party, they were, verily, doing God's service:—because, not the Statesman or the Politician alone, but the Preacher also, has become an active partisan,—in some instances, "mounting the stump,"—in others, doing what is far worse, prostituting the pulpit and [10] profaning the Sabbath, by preaching politics instead of the Gospel of Christ.

That all this is wrong, radically wrong, will be, I believe, the conclusion of every ingenuous Christian man, under the guidance of his religious instincts alone; even though he may not he able to give a reason distinctly for this his conclusion. As already intimated, that which we have witnessed, maybe but one act in a protracted strife, stretching far into the future. Would it not be well for us then, as Christian men, to examine the ground on which we stand, in repudiating and condemning all interference of the Church and the Preacher in political strife; not only, that we may be able to give a reason for our faith to him that asketh it; but also, that in time to come, we may "wash our hands in innocency; and so compass the altars of our God."

THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH, AND THE PROMISE OF THE PREACHER, AS SET FORTH IN THE WORD OF GOD, is the subject to which I ask your attention to-day.

The church of God is not—as seems to be taken for granted by many—an institution intended to do all the good which needs to be done in the world, and to wage war upon every form of human ill. There are other institutions, intended to do good and alleviate the ills of life, to enable men to "live in all [11] godliness and honesty,"that are as truly institutions of God as the Church itself. For each of these, severally, God, their common author, has assigned its proper sphere of operation, and beyond its limits, no one of them may safely or rightfully go.

Civil government is one of these institutions. "The powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.—He (i. e. the civil ruler) is the minister of God to thee for good."—(Rom. xiii. 1-4) "I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks he made for all men; For kings and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour." —(1 Tim. ii. 1-4.)

According to the plain representation of Scripture, the State is as truly an institution of God as the Church:—And a great deal of the good which needs to be done in the world, is, by God's appointment, to be done through its agency; and a great many of the ills of life are to be alleviated in the same way. Is "a quiet and peaceable life" to be secured for man, it is the immediate business of the State to secure it. Is the evil-doer to be terrified, the civil ruler "beareth not the sword in vain." In his own proper [12] sphere, the civil ruler is as truly "the minister of God to thee for good," as is the minister of the Gospel. In securing to the Christian man, "a life in all godliness and honesty," the civil ruler has a part assigned him of God, as truly as has the minister of the Church;—And he who would "keep a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man"— "would wash his hands in innocency, and so compass God's altar," is bound to regard these appointments of God. The Church may no more rightfully intrude itself into the province of the State, than the State may itself into the province of the Church. The forum and the court, and all that properly appertain to them, have been given of God to the civil ruler,—the Church and the pulpit, to the minister of the Gospel.

The fact, if fact it be, that the State may not be accomplishing all the good it ought,—that civil or political evils are suffered under its administration,—that it needs reforming, does not authorize the Church to step in and supply these deficiencies, or reform these abuses, any more than a similar state of things in the Church, would authorize the State to interfere. All human institutions—human, in that they are administered by men, though ordained of God—are imperfect in their operation:—and this, not because the ordinance of God is imperfect; but, because sin has introduced disorder into the working [13] of all earthly things; has put man's nature out of joint. The harp of David gives forth many a wailing note, because sin, with rough hand, has swept the strings. The rose of Sharon, will open with blasted petals, if the hot winds of the desert breathe upon it in the bud. The Church, the State, the Family, we discover evils in the practical working of them all. And such, we believe, will be the case, so long as man, but partially sanctified at best, is "God's minister" in their administration.

"We freely grant, and sincerely rejoice in the truth, that the healthful operations of the Church, in its own appropriate sphere, react upon all the interests of man, and contribute to the progress and prosperity of society. But we are far from admitting, either, that it is the purpose of God, that under this present dispensation of religion, all evil shall be banished from this sublunary state, and earth be converted into a paradise; or, that the proper end of the Church is the direct promotion of universal good." —(Synod of South Carolina, 1848.)

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in so far as his conduct was ministerial, appeared on earth, as a minister of the Church. As the universal sovereign of all, he might, had he seen fit so to do, have lightfully exercised civil rule, as well as ecclesiastical authority,—have appeared as a temporal king, as well as a spiritual ruler. But such was not his choice; such was not the [14] purpose of his life among men. Hence, when on a certain occasion, he perceived that the multitude "would come, and take him by force to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone."—(John. vi. 15.) Hence also, when asked of Pilate—"Art thou the King of the Jews?—Jesus "answered him, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now, is my kingdom not from hence."— (John, xviii. 33, 36.) As a minister of the Church the example of Christ is a perfect example, and of binding authority upon the minister of the Church in every age.

Notice now—and I shall quote but two, from among the instances which the gospel record presents—how carefully Christ observed the distinction between Church and State,—and as a minister of the Church, avoided all interference with the civil government, within its own proper sphere.

"And they (the chief priests and scribes) sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor. And they asked him, saying, master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: Is it lawful for us [15] to give tribute unto Caesar or no? But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's."—(Luke xx. 20-25).

To say, that our Lord, in this instance, avoided a direct decision of the question proposed, through fear of the Roman governor, is to do him greater injustice than did these Jews who sought to entangle him in his speech. He who hurled at the hypocritical scribes and pharisees—rulers in the Church —his terrible anathemas—"Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.—For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.—Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"—He who, at Jerusalem, when "he found in the temple, those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting; made a scourge of small cords, and drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep and the [16] oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise,"—if we do him common justice, judging of him as we would of any man, cannot be supposed to have avoided a decision of this question, through any fear of the consequences. The course he pursued, was chosen from higher motives than such as these.

The Jews, in our Lord's day, were a conquered people. The government under which they lived was in many respects an oppressive one. Their rulers were often tyrannical, wicked men. In these circumstances, they come to Jesus with the question —"Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?" By "lawful," they did not mean—in accordance with the existing law of the land:—but, is it right in itself? Ought we to submit to such a government? Instead of directly answering this question, Christ calls their attention to the fact, that in using money bearing the image and superscription of Caesar, they admitted that Caesar was the supreme civil ruler, to whom God in his providence has subjected them. And then, as a minister of the Church, carefully avoiding all interference with the State, and on the principle that the powers that be are ordained of God," he says—"Render therefore unto [17] Caesar the things which be Caesar's"—he refuses to take any notice of the question of civil right which had been proposed to him—and adds—"and unto God, the things which be God's." This our Lord does, not upon the principles of "passive obedience," as that doctrine has been taught in by-gone days; but as observing carefully the distinction which God has established between the Church and the State.

On another occasion—"One of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him—Man, who made me a judge or divider over you."—(Luke xii. 13, 14.)

Here was a case of alleged injustice, of wrong done; and probably a very clear case, or the appeal would not have been made to Jesus in the manner it was. A case too, in which the civil magistrate had failed—at least, up to the time it was brought to Jesus—to administer justice. How easy would it have been for our Lord, knowing all things, as he did, to have rendered an infallible decision in the case. How easy would it have been for him, armed with the power of a God, to have executed his righteous decree. Does he do this? Not at all. He who never sent away the ignorant—ignorant of God's truth—without instruction; the sick, the maimed, the blind, without healing; the possessed of the [18] devil, without deliverance,—refuses to entertain this case even for a moment. His prompt reply is—"Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?" Your case is one which falls within the province of the State.—To the civil court must you carry your cause. "My kingdom is not of this world."

The conduct of Christ's inspired Apostles, was always in conformity with the example he set them, in this matter. They lived, and preached, and labored; they planted the church and nurtured it, in countries, where the civil government was oppressive, and greatly needed reforming,—when the State failed in the accomplishment of much of the good which God designed the State to do,—when many of the ills of life, which civil government is intended to correct, were suffered to prevail unchecked,—where person and property were insecure,—where the administration of the finances was a very thriftless and often an iniquitous one,—where the judges took bribes, and the rulers oppressed the people; and the Apostles suffered, in their own persons, in all these various ways. Yet never do we find these heaven-guided ministers of the Church, any more than Christ himself, intermeddling with the affairs of State. Never do we see them taking the lead in political agitation. Never did they, on the Sabbath, lay aside the Gospel, that they might preach civil, or [19] even, legal reform. True to their character of "ambassadors for Christ," they know nothing among those to whom they go "save Jesus Christ and him crucified."—"They teach men publicly and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."—(1 Cor. ii. 2; Acts xx. 20, 21.) Having received a specific commission from the Lord Jesus, their Lord and ours,—"Go ye therefore and disciple all nations,—teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you," (Matt, xxviii.) they abide by their commission, to the letter; never transgressing it, by adding anything to, or taking anything from what Christ hath commanded.

In the life of the inspired Apostles, the Church appears, if possible, more clearly than in the general declarations of God's word, a peculiar institution,— and her ministers, a peculiar order of men.

As thus set forth, the Church appears as "a society, voluntary, in the sense that all its members become so, not by constraint, but willingly, but not in the sense that its doctrines, discipline, and order, are the creatures of human will, deriving their authority and obligation from the consent of the members. On the contrary; it has a fixed and unalterable constitution; and that constitution is the word of God. The Church is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is enthroned in it as sovereign. It can hear no voice but His, obey no command but His, pursue no end but His. Its officers are His servants, bound to execute only His will. Its doctrines are His teachings, which He, as a prophet, has given from God; its discipline, His law, which He as a king has ordained. The power of the Church, accordingly, is only ministerial and declarative. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is her rule of faith and practice. She can announce what it teaches; enjoin what it commands; prohibit what it condemns; and enforce her testimonies by spiritual sanctions. Beyond the Bible, she can never go; and apart from the Bible, she can never speak. 'To the law and to the testimony,' and to them alone, she must always appeal; and when they are silent, it is her duty to put her hand upon her lips."—(Synod of South Carolina, 1848.)

Let us apply these principles,—Or, rather, Let us see how Christ and his Apostles applied them—in the matter which has involved the Church so largely, in the bitter political contest we have been called upon to witness during the summer just passed. It has been through the agency of the "slavery question," the preacher, in some instances, has quitted the pulpit and "mounted the stump;" in others, has [21] desecrated the pulpit and profaned the Sabbath, by preaching politics instead of the Gospel of Christ— and in one instance, within God's house, a contribution has been taken up in "Sharp's rifles "—a Reverend Marker standing up to keep the tally.

The institution of slavery is not something new and peculiar to our day. We know not just when it began to exist among men. As far back as the days of Abraham, when "the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things," we have an inventory of his possessions, given by "the eldest servant in his house," in the words—"And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly, and he is become great; and, he hath given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and men-servants and maid-servants, and camels and asses."—(Gen. xxiv. 35.) And we know that when God first gave his visible Church a distinct and formal existence among men, He recognized the relation as existing in Abraham's family, and enforced the discharge of the duties growing out of it, by church sanctions. "And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man-child in your generations, he that is born in thy house, or he that is bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised; and my covenant shall [22] be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant."— (Gen. xvii. 12, 13.) And we know further, that when on the top of Sinai, God, with his own finger, wrote the moral law upon tables of stone, instead of writing a prohibition of slavery, as he did of things sinful in themselves, he treats the relation of master and servant as a lawful relation, and in one particular, regulates it accordingly. " Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it, thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates."—(Ex. xx. 8-10.)

In the days of Christ and his Apostles, slavery existed, not in Judea only, but in every country in which they either preached the Gospel or founded a Christian Church. In Judea, under the operation of Moses' law, many of the incidental evils of slavery were carefully provided against, and the condition of the slaves was far better than among other nations. Yet even among the Jews, almost every one of the incidental evils of slavery existed, on the ground of which so much objection is made to slavery, at the present day, as it exists in, our southern States. Amongst the Greeks and Romans, [23] even the most prejudiced judges cannot but admit that the condition of the slave was greatly worse, than it now is, anywhere in the civilized world. (1)

1 Among the Jews.—"Both the food and the clothing of those, who, for any cause, whatever it might be, had lost their freedom, were of the poorest description. All their earnings went to their masters. They commonly had the consent of their masters to marry, or rather to connect themselves with a woman, in the way which is denominated by a Latin law-term contubernium. ("The contubernium was the matrimony of slaves, a permitted cohabitation; not partaking of lawful marriage, which they could not contract."—Cooper's Justinian, p. 420.) The children that proceeded from this sort of marriage, were the property, not of the parents, but of their owners. Slaves were expected to perform any labor which their master deemed it expedient to require of them. The maid-servants were generally employed in domestic concerns, though not unfrequently, they were compelled to engage in those duties, which, from their nature, were more befitting the other sex."—(Jahn's Biblical Archeology. Andover Ed. 1832, pp. 180, 181.)

Among the Romans.—"Slaves were held pro nullis: pro mortuis: pro quadrupedibus: nay, were in a much worse state than any cattle whatsoever. They had no head in the state, no name, title, or register: they were not capable of being injured: nor could they take by purchase or descent: they had no heirs, and therefore could make no will: exclusive of what was called their peculium, whatever they acquired was their master's: they could not plead nor be pleaded for, but were excluded from all civil concerns whatever; they could not claim the indulgence of absence reipublicae causa: they were not entitled to the rights and considerations of matrimony, and therefore had no relief in case of adultery: nor were they proper objects of cognation or affinity, but of quasi-cognation only: they could be sold, transferred or pawned, as goods or personal estate; for goods they were, and as such they were esteemed: they might be tortured for evidence: punished at the discretion of their lord, or even put to death by his authority: together with many other civil incapacities which I have not room to enumerate."—[Taylor's Elem. of Civil Law, as quoted in the Notes to Cooper's Justinian, p. 411.) In addition to this—"As the seller was bound to promise for the soundness of his slaves, and not to conceal their faults, they were commonly exposed to sale naked: and they carried a scroll hanging at their necks, on which their good and bad qualities were specified.—The lash was the common punishment; but for certain crimes they used to be burned in the forehead, and sometimes were forced to carry a piece of wood around their necks, wherever they went.—When slaves were beaten, they used to be suspended with a weight tied to their feet, and when punished capitally, were commonly crucified."—(Adam's Roman Antiquities. New York Ed. 1819. pp. 49, 51.)

[24] With slavery, in one or other of these forms, the Apostles met at every turn. How do they deal with it? Do they denounce slave-holding as a sin, and require the master to free his slave, before they admit him to the Church, as a worthy member?—Never—There is not the most distant allusion to slavery, in all the preaching of Christ and his Apostles, as recorded in the Gospels and the Book of Acts. There is not one word that looks to the freeing of the slave, on the part of the master, as a condition of that master's admission to the Church, in the whole New Testament.

[25] But what do they?—when God has blessed their preaching of his Gospel, and men are hopefully converted, they receive them, master and servant, into the same Church, baptizing them with the same water,—just as we are accustomed to do, at the South, at the present day. And when the Church is gathered at the Lord's table, masters and servants, they eat of the same bread and drink of the same cup,—just as you and I, Christian hearer, have done, many a time, feeling that "in Christ Jesus, there is neither bond nor free."

The scriptural proof of these statements is abundant—"Let as many servants (2) as are under the yoke, "count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are "faithful" (pistoi, believers,) and "beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud."—(1 Tim. vi. 1-3.) (3) Here Paul not only directs the course to be pursued,—but also, distinctly and explicitly affirms, that such are "the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is according to "godliness." For further proof, see Eph. vi. 5-9; Col. iii. 22, 25; iv. 1; and the Epistle to Philemon.

(2) The Greek word here translated servant—and the same is true of most other instances in which that word occurs in our English New Testament—is doulos. Of this word Robinson in his N. T. Lexicon gives this definition—"In a family, the doulos was one bound to serve, a slave, and was the property of his master, 'a living possession,' as Aristotle calls him; and never a hired servant, the latter being called misthios or misthotos."

(3) McKnight's paraphrase of vrs. 3, 4, is,—and I quote McKnight, in part, because of his acknowledged ability as a critical expositor of Scripture; but mainly, because, himself a Scotchman, and writing before any angry controversy on the subject of slavery had arisen in the Church, (his work on the Epistles was published in 1795,) he cannot be suspected of pro-slavery prejudices—"And those Christian slaves who have believing masters, let them not despise them, fancying that they are their equals, because they are their brethren in Christ; for though all Christians are equal as to religious privileges, slaves are inferior to their masters in station. Wherefore let them serve their masters the more diligently, because they who enjoy the benefit of their services, are believers and beloved of God. These things teach, and exhort the brethren to practice them. If any teach differently, by affirming that, under the Gospel, slaves are not bound to serve their masters, but ought to be made free, and do not consent to the wholesome commandments which are our Lord Jesus Christ's, and to the doctrine of the Gospel, which in all points is conformable to true morality, he is " (McKnight on the Epistles.)

In the Apostolic Epistle, we have, in several in stances, extended catalogues of the sins of heathen
dom given us, (see Rom. i. 29-31, and 1 Cor. vi. [27] 9,10,) and also catalogues of disciplinable offences, (see 1 Cor. v. 11, and 1 Tim. i. 9, 10), and never, in one single instance, extended as the catalogue may be, does slaveholding appear among the sins which they condemn.

The only statement "which can be tortured into anything of the kind, is the specification of "men-stealers" in 1 Tim. i. 10. A moment's reflection must satisfy every ingenuous person, that slave-holding, as practiced among us now, is as different from "men-stealing," as is land-holding, under the peaceable tenure of law, from the land-getting by fraud and violence, often practiced in the early settlement of all parts of the United States, New England included. (4)

(4) On 1 Tim, i. 10, McKnight has this note. "They who make war for the inhuman purpose of selling the vanquished as slaves, as is the practice of the African princes, are really men-stealers. And they, who, like the African traders, encourage that unchristian traffic, by purchasing the slaves which they know to be unjustly acquired."
The nearest that any statement in the New Testament comes to modern abolition doctrine, is—"Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant (doulos), care not for it; but if thou mayest be free use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman."—(1 Cor. vii. [28] 20-22. (5)) The doctrine of this text is held everywhere, by Christian men at the South, and on all proper occasions preached from our pulpits. Would that it were so in all parts of the country!

This conduct of Christ, and the Apostles, invested by him with authority, and endued with wisdom to complete the organization of the Church, is irreconcilable with the idea that slave-holding is a sin, and the relation of a master, one which a Christian man may not hold with a good conscience before God. Any other view than that we take, involves the idea, that Christ and his Apostles, in their uniform avoidance of this subject, were guilty of an unholy truckling to the prejudices of men, of a jesuitical accommodation of the Church of God to the passions and interests of wicked men. The State, by passing a law, prohibiting slave-holding, may make it a civil offence. The political economist may prove it to be a political evil. But a sin no man, nor body of men, can ever make it, so long as God's Word is the ultimate authority in questions of right and wrong.

(5) McKnight paraphrases this passage,— "Since the Gospel makes no alteration in men's political state, let every Christian remain in the same political state in which he was called. Agreeably to this rule, Wast thou called, being a bondman? Be not thou solicitous to be made free, fancying that a bondman is less the object of God's favor than a freeman. Yet, if thou canst even be made free by any lawful method, rather obtain thy freedom. But if disappointed, grieve not: For a bondman who is called by the Lord, possesses the greatest of all dignities ; he is the Lord's free-man."

[29] I may be asked—Does slavery so alter the relations between a man and his fellow-man, that the one, because he is a master, may, without sin, oppress, or cruelly lash, or even take the life of the other, because that other is a slave? Certainly not. The fact that civil government is an ordinance of God, does not make it right for the civil Ruler, having the power, to harass the subject, or to take bribes in the administration of the law. These are abuses, incidental evils, and not part and parcel of the institution itself, either in the one case or the other:—And in both alike, in so far as they are violations of the moral law, they are sins in God's account, and in the account of his Church:—and so the Apostles always treated them.

No book defines more clearly, than the Bible, the relative duties of master and servant; or enforces the faithful discharge of those duties by more solemn sanctions—"Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh: not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men, knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth [30] wrong, shall receive for the wrong which he had done: and there is no respect of persons. Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in Heaven."—(Col. iii. 22-25 ; iv. 1.)

"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in Heaven, neither is there respect of persons with him."—(Eph. vi. 5-9.)

According to God's word, the Christian Minister is bound to teach the relative duties of masters and servants, just as he teaches the duties of Rulers and Subjects, Husbands and Wives, Parents and Children, for this is a part of what Christ hath commanded:—And if, in any instance, these obligations are violated by members of the Church, he is bound to enforce the discipline of the Church against the offender. This is just what the Apostles did. More than this [31] the Preacher has no commission to teach. Beyond this, the Minister has no authority to go.

What was the practical result of such a course, in the days of the Apostles? And what, have we good reason to believe, will be the practical result of such a course now? Not to destroy the relation of master and servant,—but to remedy the incidental evils which attach to it, existing, as it does, among sinful men. Supposing that the Church could succeed, universally, in enforcing what Christ hath commanded in this case,—so that all servants become "obedient to their masters—with good-will doing service as to the Lord and not to men," and all masters "give unto their servants that which is just and equal,"—All the incidental evils of slavery disappear. The institution itself remains. But the servant, placed in God's providence in the condition of a servant, can as completely fulfill all the conditions of his being on earth; can as well, and thoroughly prepare himself for heaven, as he could if he sustained no such relation to another, as is implied in his being a servant. Christianity, has never yet had full control of the hearts of all men, in any country: and hence, we see less or more of incidental evil attaching to all the relations of life. But that the conclusion just stated is not a mere speculation, is proven, by the fact, that the Church has, at this time, a [32] larger proportion of the laboring population among its members, in the slave-holding, than it has in the non-slaveholding States of our Union.

Wherever the religion of Jesus has gone, it has always corrected, just as far as it has had power, the incidental evils attaching to all the relations of life. It has ameliorated the condition of the Wife—in heathen lands, the condition of the Wife is that of a menial; the condition of the Child—in Old Rome, the father might take the life of his child as well as his slave; and the condition of the slave also. By teaching the true nature of the relation in which the parties, severally, stand one to another, and enforcing the discharge of their relative duties one to another, it has done all, of substantial benefit, that ever has been done, towards raising the down-trodden, or relieving the oppressed.

But will not Christianity, eventually, put an end to the existence of Slavery among men? I may be asked. On this point, I have an opinion; as I suppose every reflecting man must have:—and that opinion, on a proper occasion, and in a proper place, I hold myself ready to express; and if need be, give my reasons, therefore. In the pulpit, the only answer I can give, is—On this point I can teach nothing, for here, Christ hath given me no command:—"My hand is upon my lips."

[33] Notice, now, the position in which the conduct and teaching of Christ and his Apostles, places this subject of Slavery. They decide, positively, that slave-holding is not a sin. They decide further; that this, like all other civil institutions, is liable to abuse, on the part both of the slave and of the master; that in their day, there were incidental evils attaching to it, in its practical working among men, and that it is the province of the Preacher, in so far as his teaching will go; and of the Church, in so far as her authority over her members will go, to reform these abuses and correct these incidental evils. And there the duty of the Preacher and the authority of the Church, ends.

Slavery itself, they treat as a civil institution; and they never meddle with it. The question of the continuance of slavery, as a political question; and they never discuss it—they never utter one word on the subject. The moment you decide that slave-holding is not a sin, all pretext for the Preacher or the Church intermeddling with such questions as those which have agitated our country during the summer past, is taken away. The Kansas question, the question respecting the extension of slavery, is a purely political question; and the discussion of it, in the pulpit and on the Sabbath, is as much a desecration of holy place and holy time, as would be a discussion of the [34] "tariff question," or "the distribution of the public land."

I may be told—slavery is a civil evil, and a political curse. Very well—supposing this be so? What then ? Let the State remedy the evil; Let the Civil Ruler remove the curse: And as in this our land —the freest under heaven—the ultimate authority is with the people—Let the people see to it that their Civil Rulers do their duty:—And let all this be done in the same way, and by means of the same lawful agencies, used in other cases of like nature.

But, the Preacher in our country is a Citizen in the State, as well as a Minister in the Church. May he not, in his character of a citizen, discuss civil and political question, like other men? The answer to be given to this question, will be determined by the views we take of the nature and extent of a minister's ordination vows. All, I presume, will admit that the better course for the minister, having been set apart for holy things, is, to follow Paul's advice, and "give himself wholly to them."—(1. Tim. iv. 15.) But if any minister, decide for himself, that it is right for him in his character of a Citizen, to enter the arena of political strife—let him remember, that it is as a Citizen he enters that arena, and let him act accordingly. Does he feel called to fight Caesar's battles, let him put Caesar's livery on,—and not wear the [35] livery of the Court of Heaven, to do Caesar service in.

For the Minister of the Church, to lay aside, for the time, his character of a Minister, and, acting simply as a Citizen, to engage in political discussion, is one thing. For him, retaining the position of a Minister of Christ, to occupy the pulpit, on the Lord's day, preaching politics, is a very different thing. The one, may be right in certain circumstances. The other, never can be right in any circumstances:—It is a desecration of the pulpit, a profanation of the holy Sabbath.

The anti-slavery Preacher, is not a peculiarity of this our age, a "new thing under the sun," as some seem to imagine. As far back as the days of Paul, such preachers existed, and they troubled the Church then as now:—And with the authority of an Apostle of Jesus, and under inspiration of God, Paul gives Timothy instruction as to the course he ought to pursue with them. "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man [36] "teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: From such withdraw thyself:'—(1. Tim. vi. 1-5.)

Notice, the character of this preacher, as Paul gives it—"He is proud"—literally puffed up with pride—wiser in his own conceit than seven men who can render a reason—"knowing nothing"—although he dogmatizes as if he knew everything—"but doting" —i. e., like an old man when second childhood has come upon him, repeating again and again, the stale sophisms which have been exposed a hundred times—"doting about questions and strifes of words"— such, I suppose, as "taking service without compensation," (6) "property in human flesh," &c.—

(6) "The slave does all the work, the master takes all the pay!" Does he, indeed? "Whence, then, another plea? viz.: that free labor is more profitable than slave labor—because, forsooth, the slave gets a greater share of the pay than the freeman—more pay for less labor: his own maintenance, with that of his children and parents, and security for the future to boot. In truth, if the needs of the slave are duly cared for, the master does not 'withhold the earnings of the slave.' "—(Samuel Nott.) In every Southern State, the law compels the master to provide for his slave, not in health only, but in sickness and old age.

[37] "Whereof cometh envy, strife, railings—basphamiai, i. e., malicious railings—'evil surmisings'—uponoiai ponarai, i. e., wicked suspicions—perverse disputings (gallings one of another, marginal), of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth.'' Can we not find, now, those who, had they been living then, might have sat for this portrait, painted 1800 years ago?

Do Paul's words—"railings, wicked suspicions, gallings one of another—destitute of the truth," seem sharp and harsh? Let me read you a part of an article, published a few weeks ago, in the "N. Y. Independent," a paper—religious, they call it—edited by three Rev'd D. D.'s. "The mass of the population of the Atlantic coast of the slave-region of the South, are descended from the transported convicts and outcasts of Great Britain. For a century previous to the Revolution, thousands of those offscourings of the jails and hulks of England, were poured out on the shores of Maryland and Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia—and nowhere else. THOSE WERE THE PENAL COLONIES OF GREAT BRITAIN. O glorious chivalry and hereditary aristocracy of the South! Peerless first families of Virginia and Carolina! 'Look unto the rock whence ye were [38] hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye were 'digged.' Progeny of the highwayman, and horse-thieves, and sheep-stealers, and pick-pockets of old England! 'Go, vilest of the vile,' out of all union with communities of decent origin, and following your true natural and moral affinities, seek your real kindred and political fraternities with those whose ancestors were turned from the ocean-path which yours took, and founded their 'chivalrous' colonies in New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land."

In copying this, for the purposes of exhibiting "the spirit of the press," the Editors of the "N. Y. Observer " remark: "The annals of scurrility may be searched in vain, to find language more unbecoming a decent press, not to say, a religious newspaper, conducted by ministers of Him who when he was reviled, reviled not again." "Scurrilous, unbecoming a decent press"—true—but not half so discriminating—not half so true to the life as Paul's words— "railings, wicked suspicions, gallings one of another—destitute of the truth."

What shall we do in such a case as this?—Indignantly hurl back the denunciations uttered against us?—"fight the Devil with fire?"—God forbid! "Michael the archangel contended with the Devil" once; but he fought not with fire,—his lips uttered no [39] railing accusation."—(Jude 9.) 'Twill be an evil day for the Church when the tongue of David learns to rival that of cursing Shimei. Far wiser, the direction of Paul: "From such withdraw thyself.'' Art thou a minister of Christ?—"From such withdraw thyself." Stand not thou in the company of the "railing" Priest, lest the judgment of God come upon thee, and "thou pierce thyself with many sorrows."—(1 Tim. vi. 10.) Art thou a member of the Church of Christ—"From such withdraw thyself." Be not thou a partaker in their sins.

"From such withdraw thyself. Let them alone. It is God's command they are disobeying. And God's Priest may not long disobey God's command, without being known by all as "a raging wave of the sea, foaming out his own shame." The "railing" priest of fifteen years ago, "who would not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness," is the ranting, open-mouthed Infidel and Atheist of to-day. The Bible, and the popular isms of the day—the progeny of a pseudo-science and pseudo-religion—are so irreconcilably at variance, that the latter can no more tolerate the former, than the former the latter. Though they may be hatched and brooded within the walls of the Church, they can- [40] not long stand the blaze of truth which the Word of God sheds around it.

The strife and political agitation of the day—with these the Church, by God's appointment, has nothing to do:—And if she will but follow Heaven's direction, they can never injure her. Her range of operation is higher; far above the storms which gather and rage on earth surface, "of the earth, earthy." They cannot cast even a shadow upon the sun-lit field which God has assigned her as her portion. 'Tis one of the marks of the divine parentage of the Church, that the inheritance assigned her, is so near Heaven.

Man of God—"From all such withdraw thyself," —"Wash thine hands in innocency and so compass God's altar," and it shall ever be thy blessed privilege"to publish" God's good providence "with the voice of thanksgiving, and to tell of all his wondrous works."


Note that some of the sermons and writings were written in historical and sociological context and are not wholly part of the present day church's mission statement.

* * * * * *

Our Presbyterian Heritage in Eastern Virginia
(A sermon delivered in Schauffler Hall on February 3, 1924.)
By Rev. Edward Mack, D. D., LL.D.
Professor of Old Testament Interpretation
Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA
Reprinted from Union Seminary Review, July, 1924.
Courtesy of Virginia Historical Society

"Freely ye have received, freely give."

Tomorrow, February 4th, is the anniversary of the death of Samuel Davies. One hundred and sixty-three years ago he died at Princeton at the age of thirty-six. His dust rests in the old Princeton Cemetery, by the side of his predecessor, Jonathan Edwards. The elaborate and merited inscription on his tomb tells the passerby of the grasp and range of his great intellect, his power as a preacher of the gospel, and his distinguished success as the head of Princeton College.

About ten mile[s] northeast of Richmond, at Pole Green, in the depths of the country, there stood at one time an old meeting-house which was the heart and center of Samuel Davies' greatest work. This old meeting-house was called "Morris' Reading House." On or near its site, in Hanover County, was built the first church for the ministry of Samuel Davies; and after its destruction the church was rebuilt on its present site, now known as Salem Church, one of the three in the group known as the Samuel Davies Group of Churches.

But why was it that Samuel Davies and his immediate predecessor, William Robinson, came to Hanover County? Those early Presbyterians were not Scotch-Irish from the North, or from over the Blue Ridge. Whence came they? This is one of the stirring stories of early Virginia, which must now be told in a few hurried chapters.

The first chapter carries us back to 1611, when Sir Thomas Dale came to the Virginia Colony to set that house in order.

[4] In the early years loose government, ill health, fearful death rate and bad morals had demoralized the colony. That staunch Puritan, Dale, came to save the experiment on these western shores from apparent doom. It was his firm hand and sound principles that saved early Virginia to the Virginia Company and to us.

Wtih Dale came "the Apostle of Virginia," Alexander Whitaker, a Puritan minister. Whitaker left a comfortable and lucrative parish in Northern England to evangelize the Indians in Virginia, and to shepherd the scattered and straying colonists. His parish included Bermuda Hundred, on the south bank of the James River, about fifteen miles below Richmond, and Henrico, on the north bank, within nine or ten miles of Richmond. He was a man of deep piety and great learning. He organized his church on the Presbyterian plan, with minister and four elders. He held prayer meetings, and had theological exercises in the Governor's house. He discarded the surplice, and emphasized not the sacramentarian element in the ministry, but preaching and teaching. He sent an appeal back to England for non-conformist ministers to come to Virginia, where conformity to the ritual of the Church of England was not required. In those early days perhaps half of the ministers in Virginia were Puritans or non-conformists.

One of Whitaker's holy ambitions was the founding of a college in Virginia, where the children of colonists might be educated, and Indian boys also trained to evangelize America. Whitaker met a heroic and sacrificial death by drowning in 1617, and so failed to realize his dream. But by 1620 thousands of dollars had been collected for the college, a president appointed, and mechanics and farmers enlisted to build and till on these college lands. However, the Indian massacre of 1622 blasted these well-matured plans, and the college in Virginia was not realized until seventy years later at Williamsburg.

It is of greatest interest to us to know that this first American college was destined for our Henrico County, to be located about ten miles from Richmond, near Curl's Neck, a [5] Puritan College with Whitaker as its prophet and Patrick Copeland, a dissenting minister, as its first president. So was Henrico County anointed and consecrated with Presbyterian oil more than three hundred years ago.

The second chapter in our Presbyterian heritage in Virginia brings us down to 1641.

The southern bank of the James River was the special territory assigned to Puritans and non-conformists. Isle of Wight and Nansemond Counties were full of them. In 1641 Nansemond County was divided into three parishes, and a messenger was sent to New England, not old England, mark you, to secure three ministers. These three Puritan ministers, without orders from the Church of England, arrived in Nansemond in 1643. But meanwhile Sir William Berkeley had become the Royalist Governor of Virginia, and non-conformity was under the ban. Nevertheless, the three ministers taught and preached in private homes, and a great revival resulted, in which a multitude of Virginians were converted, and united with the Puritan, or Presbyterian body, among them such prominent men as Richard Bennett, first Commonwealth Governor of Virginia, under Cromwell, and General Daniel Gookin, to whose memory a tablet has been erected in the restored church at Jamestown. But the most remarkable of these converts was Thomas Harrison, the chaplain of Berkeley. And after the expulsion of the three New England ministers, Harrison became the pastor of their persecuted flock, afterwards going with them into exile. Harrison, fleeing from Berkeley into New England, said there were a thousand Puritan members in Virginia.

During the government of Cromwell these Puritans in Isle of Wight, Nansemond and Norfolk Counties must have enjoyed freedom of worship. For in the Norfolk court records there is found a call issued in 1656 by a dissenting church to a New England minister, Mr. Moore by name, in very much the same terms as the formula for the call of a minister in our Book of Church Order. But after the restoration of Charles II in 1662 and the return of Berkeley, our Puritan Presbyterians were harried and driven out of Virginia. Only [6] a goodly seed survived in Norfolk County. For this Puritan flock there were four licensed preaching stations in and around what is now the city of Norfolk. When Francis Makemie arrived in Virginia in 1684 he found that the non-conformist minister of this flock had died in the preceding year.

With Francis Makemie we come to our third chapter in early Presbyterianism in Virginia. He gathered the scattered Puritans of Norfolk County into a parish, which he served for a year, afterwards putting them into the hands of another Scotch-Irishman, Josias Mackie, who shepherded them until his death in 1716.

But Makemie's work was larger and wider than this. He organized Presbyterian churches in Accomac County and in the lower counties of Maryland, gathering into these churches the surviving and heroic Puritans of early Virginia days. He evangelized Delaware, and organized in Philadelphia in 1705 the first Presbytery in America. His name shines as an equal in that group of first magnitude stars: Whitaker, Bennett, Harrison.

We must pass hurriedly on to our fourth chapter in early Virginia Presbytery: the coming of Samuel Davies to Hanover County.

The Presbyterian revival in Hanover County in 1741 is a strange story. It did not come through Scotch settlers, nor through the Scotch-Irish who had begun to filter into the Valley of Virginia; but from within the communion of the Church of England. Since the days of tyrannical Governor Berkeley true piety had declined in the Virginia churches. Ministers were a sorry lot, often in contempt for ignorance and bad living. They were the tools of officials and rich land owners. In 1671 Governor Berkeley wrote; "We have forty-eight parishes and our ministers are well paid, and by my count would be better if they would pray oftener and preach less. But, as of all commodities, so, of this, the worst are sent to us, and we had few that we would boast of, since the persecution of Cromwell's tyranny drove divers worthy "men hither. But I thank God that there are no free schools nor [7] printing, and I hope we shall not have these hundred years; for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them and libels against the government."

The dissatisfied and hungry souls of all Virginia, particularly of Hanover County, absented themselves from such services. In Hanover they began to gather at the home of Joshua Morris to read among themselves what gospel literature they could procure, sermons for instance, such as Whitefield's, and writings of Martin Luther. They willingly paid the fines assessed against them for absence from church services, if only they might together read and learn of Christ. Soon the home of Morris was too small for these seeking Hanoverians. Then he built at Pole Green "Morris' Reading House," where the great and growing company could meet for religious reading.

This growing outburst of dissent stirred the opposition of churchmen; Morris and other leaders were summoned to appear before the Governor and his council in Williamsburg. On the way to the capital the providence of God put a copy of the Westminster Confession of Faith into the hands of one member of the party. When they read it they found that it expressed with accuracy the views of God's Word at which they in their meetings had already arrived. When the Governor asked them the name of the sect to which they belonged, their leader replied they did not know, but handing him the Confession of Faith, he said, "This book contains our faith." Governor Gooch, a Scotchman, recognized the book as a Scotch edition of the Confession. "Why," said he, "you men are Presbyterians. Now return to your homes and conduct yourselves properly, and no man shall molest you."

The first Presbyterian preacher who came to this Hanover flock was William Robinson, whose four days of preaching in 1743 bore fruit in earnest throngs and many converts. Being a man of means, Robinson refused money for these days of preaching. But discovering a large roll of bills slipped into his saddle-bags without his knowledge, he dedicated it to the education of a young man for the ministry, in the hope that [8] he might come to Virginia. So it was that a poor, struggling young man, Samuel Davies, became the beneficiary of Virginia's first gift for Ministerial Education, and after a few years, in 1747, this same Samuel Davies, at the age of twenty-three, came to these Presbyterians of Hanover as their first regular minister.

He was of poor and humble family. His educational opportunities were meager. Erom early life the grip of deadly tuberculosis was upon him. But his eleven years in Virginia mark the brightest period of equal extent of years in Virginia Presbyterianism. He was a lawyer, and won in the courts tolerance for his churches. He was a man of consuming missionary spirit, and preached regularly in six or seven counties. Byrd Church in Goochland and Olivet in New Kent grew up from his ministry. He was a great student of the Word and fed his flock from its pages. He was a wise organizer, and his work remains to this day. He was orator and poet and master of beautiful English, so that his sermons are read to this day as masterpieces of sublime thought and noble expression.

On the death in 1758 of Jonathan Edwards, that mastermind of all American thinkers, Samuel Davies was elected to succeed him as President of Princeton College. In his two brief years as President he gave to that institution such literary and scholastic prestige as neither Edwards nor Burr had won for it. In 1761 this brief but wonderful life ceased on earth, and Samuel Davies entered into service on high.

This great Virginia Presbyterian challenges us, who live so near to the scene of his mighty labors, to follow in his train. Here is the model of a great preacher. Nothing less should satisfy us. Let me speak now to our rising ministry, here in such force within earshot almost of Samuel Davies' majestic and surpassing sermons. How can we dare to be dull, drab, mediocre! How can we lift our faces to God and fellowmen if craven indolence consume our days! I have called to mind that the founders and leaders of our Virginia Presbyterianism were great scholars and great minds as well as noble souls. [9] You dare be nothing less. There is a lazy notion abroad that any kind of an uneducated man may be a preacher, that mere fervor of spirit has abrogated the might of moral intelligence. But it is a sad mistake. Once indeed God used the jawbone of an ass to overwhelm a thousand men. But it is too much to require of Him a repetition of this miracle every day. When Samuel Davies was asked why, with all his wide learning and power of ready extemporaneous speech, he never entered the pulpit without a carefully prepared and written sermon, he replied that he could not ask God to bless a sermon which had not cost him the utmost labor of which he was capable. If a man has ventured to enter the ministry of souls without mental preparation, he must, like Samuel Davies, recoup his loss with the gain that is earned only by a life of unremitting mental toil.

Our last chapter tells of the after fruits of Samuel Davies' life in Virginia. He was a patriot. While he was living in Hanover County, Braddock's defeat in 1755 at Pittsburgh spread terror through Virginia. It was proposed to abandon all territory beyond the mountains to the Erench and the Indians. In this panic of souls it was Samuel Davies who counseled calm and courage. His sermon to them cheered the volunteers who went to the front from Hanover. Patrick Henry was under his ministry for eleven years, his family being members of the church. The younger statesman revered the preacher as the noblest orator of that time. When the great statesman found his country halting between two opinions, and stood like a Joshua in St. John's Church calling for decision, as he said, "Choose ye chains and easy slavery if you will, but as for me, give me liberty or death," while the lips of Henry moved, was it not the voice and soul of Davies that thrilled the ears of men and moved their hearts?

James Waddell, the missionary of the foothills of Virginia, lighted his torch from the fires that burned in the soul of Samuel Davies. I suppose the most notable instance in the life of this disciple of Samuel Davies is that which William Wirt records of Waddell. Wirt was passing the church near Gordonsville in which Waddell was preaching. Out of curi- [10] osity he stopped, entered and listened. It was a communion service. The aged blind preacher stood by the Lord's table, melting to tears the hearts of his hearers with his eloquence, in his appeal uttering these immortal words: "Socrates died like a man; Jesus Christ died like a God."

The son-in-law of Waddell, Archibald Alexander, went from Virginia to found and build Princeton Seminary. Winstons, Henrys, Lacys, Rices in Hanover County became Presbyterians under the preaching of Samuel Davies. But what need I say more of our heritage and right as Presbyterians in Eastern Virginia! The question is not what Whitaker, Makemie and Davies did, but what shall we do about it?

Today a turning of Virginians to our faith has begun such as has never been known before at any one period. We do not watch a receding wave; the tide of opportunity is waxing to its flood. Six churches organised within eight months, and as many more in view, if we only have consecrated men to serve and consecrated means to equip! Some of these churches have risen where not a Presbyterian was supposed to be. Every county in Eastern Virginia is ready and waiting for us, if only we are ready to go and give to them. New highways are making new centers which have no churches. We have the men, we have the automobiles, the highways are building slowly. Let us fulfil and rewrite Isaiah's words, "How beautiful upon the highways are the cars of those who preach good tidings, who publish peace, who say to our Zion in Virginia: 'Behold your God.' " The heroic past challenges us, the needy present pleads with us, the awful future warns us that we deny not our faith nor fail in our trust.

Freely ye have received, freely give!