As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am again reading Iain Murray’s book Revival and Revivalism. Murray notes how Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that Samuel Davies was “the greatest preacher” that America ever produced (p. 3). Davies was a pastor in Virginia who had a tremendous impact in Colonial America though suffering much ill health throughout his ministry. During a bout of sickness in 1757, Murray cites a letter that Davies wrote to a friend in London.
Formerly I have wished to live longer, that I might be better prepared for heaven; but this consideration had very little weight with me, and that for a very unusual reason, which was this: – after long trial I found this world a place so unfriendly to the growth of every thing divine and heavenly, that I was afraid if I should live any longer, I should be no better fitted for heaven than I am. Indeed I have hardly any hopes of ever making any great attainment in holiness while in this world, though I should be doomed to stay in it as long as Methuselah. I see other Christians indeed around me make some progress, though they go on with but snail-like motion. But when I consider that I set out about twelve years old, and what sanguine hopes I then had of my future progress, and yet that I have been almost at a stand ever since, I am quite discouraged. O, my good Master, if I may dare call thee so, I am afraid I shall never serve thee much better on this side the regions of perfection. The thought grieves me; it breaks my heart, but I can hardly hope better. But if I have the least spark of true piety in my breast, I shall not always labour under this complaint. No, my Lord, I shall yet serve thee; serve thee through an immortal duration; with the activity, the fervour, the perfection of ‘the rapt seraph that adores and burns’ (p. 18).
Davies was 34 when he penned these words and died 3 years later as the president of the College of New Jersey, which was later named Princeton University.
Categories: Christian living
What a great quote. Most Christians who have ever truly endeavored to live godly could echo these words in one form or another.
I’m not sure that I would completely despair of ever making any more progress in holiness that I currently have, not because I am becoming better, but because of my faith that God the Holy Spirit who indwells me, is capable of accomplishing what he desires. His arm is not shortened nor can anyone say to him, “What have you done?”
But I do agree that my progress in the Lord seems to be at a snail’s pace. It’s also true that this world is a place os unfriendly to the growth of all that is holy that one could be tempted to despair. I’ve particularly noticed this lately.
I think the reason for my heightened sensitivity to this is that my wife and I made the decision to cancel the satellite TV and we don’t get much with rabbit ears. Without that flood of images washing into our household, I’ve become much more aware for the world around me. What a terrible place this world is.
Thanks for the great quote Dan. I’m going to link to it on my blog and maybe post it on the door of my study.
Thanks for the comment. Is your book ready for publication? Let me know and I ‘ll give a blurb on my blog. When are you finishing your dissertation??
Book will be released late April. You can get a prepublication discount of 20% right now. Available in both paperback and hardcover.
You keep bringing up my dissertation. Stop that.