Samuel Davies, Letter to Reverend Doctor Doddridge, 2 October 1750

Samuel Davies, Letter to Reverend Doctor Doddridge, 2 October 1750

  • The Church of England was established in the colony of Virginia from the beginning & there weren’t more than 4 or 5 dissenters within 100 miles until a few years ago.
    • Religion was loose & not very strict in Virginia.
    • The clergy were degenerated from the Calvinist ideas of their own church & overzealous in strengthening the ideas in the church that were dying off.
    • I’m sorry to address you in this manner but I’m only doing it to exalt the Grace of God that blessed us in our lowliness. I don’t do it to attempt a schism in the Church.
  • About 6 years ago a man named Sam Morice read books by Luther, Flavel & Bunyan. He decided to speak to his neighbors suggesting they read these books.
    • They had previously believed that no minister would speak to them in a way that pleased them.
    • They invited Mr. Robinson, a member of the synod, to preach to them for a while. His followers increased with every speech. Some were just curious & some were really impassioned by him.
    • There was a general concern running through the community about the nature of these speeches. People were asking how they would be saved.
      • Many of them thought that if they resigned themselves to God through Jesus that would do the trick.
      • It was to the point where there weren’t enough preachers to go around to all the people interested in being preached to.
      • The preachers could only go around to each community a couple of times a year to give sermons & teach about the Gospels.
      • Some of us are better off than others as far as being able to minister to the congregations.
      • Even the Negro slaves have been proselytized to. I myself have baptized 40 of them & many are receiving communion.
  • Our church is growing but it has practical constraints put on it. I wish to receive a blessing from you. We don’t rejoice in taking members from the Established Church but I wish you would recognize & even relish that there is a tremendous & genuine religious fervor in our colony.
    • It’s been awfully stressful to think of government & official religious restrictions placed on the spread of our Church.
    • We’ve been willing to comply with the Act of Toleration but the government has been hampering our efforts.
    • The government has determined that dissenters have no right to preach in this colony or to move from meeting house to meeting house. This movement is absolutely necessary given the distances people live from one another & the relatively small number of ministers we have in the area to preach to them.
  • I request something be done to help our church continue. It is mostly due to the fact that government legislation & procedures are prohibiting the ministering of preachers to their congregations.

Author: knowit68

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