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some difficulty, as we have already had occasion to notice, obtained the requisite license for preaching at four meeting.houses in and about Hanover,
Notwithstanding the violent opposition which he had to encounter from the prejudice, bigotry, and almost entire ignorance of evangelical truth that prevailed throughout the whole region in which he was settled, yet his noble and generous spirit, combined with the rarest intellectual powers and the most fascinating oratory-all controlled and directed by a consistent and fervent piety, caused the opposition gradually to yield, and at no distant period—dissenting though he was-not only were his ministrations crowned with a rich spiritual blessing, but he became intellectually the pride and admiration of the surrounding country.
In 1753, Mr. Davies, in company with the Rev. Gilbert Tennant, of Philadelphia, were commissioned by the Synod of New York to go to England, to solicit contributions for the college of New Jersey—an institution which the Synod had always regarded with peculiar interest and affection. This mission he underlook with great cheerfulness, and left home on the 3d September, with a view to make his preparatory arrangements. Having attended the commencement at Newark, and been honored by the degree of master of arts, and subsequently visited Mr. Brainard, the Indian missionary, whose field of labor was in that region, he went to Philadelphia to attend the meeting of the Synod, where he succeeded in having a satisfactory arrangement made for the supply of his pulpit during his absence. On the 18th of November he embarked with his friend Mr. Tennant in a vessel for London, and after suffering greatly from sea sickness during his passage, he reached his destined port on the 25th of the succeeding month.
On his arrival in England, he was received with great cordiality, and the object of his visit was duly appreciated, and his appeal in its behalf most liberally responded to. His intercourse was, as might be expected, chiefly among the dissenters; but the most distinguished of their ministers, whether Presbyterian, Independent or Baptist, were quickly found among his friends and admirers. He preached in many of their churches and was everywhere followed by crowded and delighted auditories. There are traditions in London of the wonderful effects produced by his eloquence, to this day; and he was even urged to accept a permanent settlement there under most eligible
circumstances; but he could not be prevailed on to entertain the idea for a moment. After spending considerable time in England, he visited Scotland, where he was also received with marked attention, and was favored with a good measure of success in respect to the object of his mission. The exact period of his return to this country is unknown; but it was probably towards the close of the year 1754; as we find that early in the succeeding year he was actively engaged at Hanover in the duties of the ministerial office.
At this period the political horizon became obscured, and the country was thrown into the greatest agitation by a French and Indian war. Braddock's celebrated defeat, which occurred on the 10th July, 1755, drew forth from Mr. Davies a highly patriotic and eloquent discourse, in which he exhorted his hearers with most impassioned earnestness to submit to any sacrifice, rather than yield up the blessings which they enjoyed. And at a later period in the same year, he delivered his celebrated sermon to a company of independent volunteers in Hanover, which was afterwards published with a prophetic note in respect to the character of Washington. Having expressed the hope that “ God had been pleased to diffuse some sparks of martial fire through the country,” he adds—" as a remarkable instance of this, I may point out to the public that heroic youth, Col. Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved in so great a manner for some important service to his country.” On some other occasions he manifested his patriotism in a similar way, and the effect of these addresses is said to have been well nigh electric. Patrick Henry, who during his early life resided in the neighborhood in which Mr. Davies preached, and very frequently listened to him, is said to have spoken of his eloquence in terms of unmeasured admiration, and it is not iinprobable that the great statesman was himself the more eloquent for having enjoyed these extraordinary early advantages.
Shortly after Mr. Davies' return from Eng. land, the Synod of New York passed an act erecting the Presbytery of Hanover, within whose limits were comprehended the whole of Virginia, and a considerable portion of North Carolina. As there were dissenters scattered throughout this whole territory, there was a constant demand at various points for ministerial labor, and Mr. Davies, being the presiding spirit of the new organization, felt himself called upon, in compliance with the direction
by Presbytery, to give much of his time to a sort of missionary service; insomuch that his own stated charge remonstrated with the Synod against his frequent and protracted absences. What the issue of this remonstrance was we are not informed; though it does not appear that Mr. Davies himself was regarded by any party as in fault. His influence in the colo. ny at this time was equally benign and extensive ; and those who had no sympathy with his Presbyterianism or his piety, were still glad to listen to his enrapturing, matchless eloquence.
In 1759, the Presidentship of Princeton Col. lege having been vacated by the death of Jonathan Edwards, almost immediately after he had entered on its duties, Mr. Davies was called to that office; but so strong was his attachment to his people, and so wide his sphere of usefulness in the region in which he resided, that he was by no means prepared at once to accede to the proposal; and it was not till the call was a second time presented to him, under the explicit sanction of the synod to which he belonged, that he determined to accept it. This determination cost him a most severe struggle, not only on account of the strength of his altachments in Virginia, and the remarkable bless. ing by which lis labors there seemed to be attended, but also on account of an imagined deficiency of intellectual attainment, growing out of his limited opportunities for literary and scientific pursuits. His congregation, it is hardly necessary to say, felt it a very severe deprivation, and would never have consented to his removal, but that he, after a mature consideration of all the circumstances of the case, was brought to believe that it was the course which Providence marked out.
President Davies brought with him to Princeton the highest reputation for talents and eloquence—a reputation which all his subsequent efforts in the pulpit fully sustained. Besides these high intellectual qualifications, he possessed uncommonly bland and attractive manners, which secured to him a great advantage in the management of young men; and, accordingly, the President quickly became the idol of the college. He introduced various improvements, and among others, the practice, continued we believe to this day, of delivering monthly orations by members of the senior class. He paid great attention to the cultivation of rhetoric and oratory in the college, not only because these were the branches which imself eminently excelled, but from his deep convic
tion of the important places which they hold in a liberal education.
During his residence in Virginia, he had generally enjoyed very comfortable health, which was attributable, no doubt, in a great degree, to the almost constant bodily exercise which had been incident to his professional labors. But on entering his new sphere of life, for which he considered himself very inadequately qualified, he devoted himself to study with an intensity of application which no con. stitution could very long endure. About the close of January, 1761, he was seized with a violent cold for which he was bled, and the next day preached twice in the college chapel. On the Monday following, a violent fever came on, which very quickly deprived him of his reason, and in spite of all that medical aid could do, within ten days deprived him of his life. It was deeply to be regretted, as we in our short-sightedness should say, that his reason could not have been spared to him to the last, that he might have left his dying testimony to the all-sustaining power of that gospel which he had preached; but it was the ordinance of Heaven that his generation and posterity should be instructed from his life, rather than his death, and that that noble mind whose vigorous and splendid actings had entranced such multitudes, should pass from the wild dreams of delirium into the glories of an eternal day.
The death of President Davies produced a deep sensation, not only throughout this country, but in Great Britain also. Dr. Finley, his successor in the Presidential chair, preached his funeral sermon, which was published. Two sermons also on the same occasion, were preached and published by his friend and correspondent, the Rey. Dr. Gibbons, of London, who afterwards superintended the publishing of his works. These several discourses, as well as various other tributes to his memory which are still extant, convey the highest idea of his character, and especially of his talents as a pulpit orator. His printed sermons form an imperishable monument of his greatness. It must be admitted that his style is less concise than the most rigid rhetorical exactness might require, but for vigor and comprehension of thought, aptness and beauty of illustration, and strength and fervor of appeal, we believe the English language may be challenged for anything of superior excellence. We have re. marked that even when some of our friends on the other side of the water, have quoted American preachers with a sort of compassionate
sneer, their sense of justice has constrained them to make an exception in favor of Davies; and if anything is to be inferred from the circulation of his works in Great Britain, we must suppose that they regard him as one of the greatest lights that any country has produced. It may reasonably be doubted whether any clergyman can be named, who died eighty-four years ago, at so early an age as thirty-six, who has at this moment so fresh, and splendid, and universal a reputation as President Davies.
We subjoin the following original letter of this great and excellent man, as the most interesting of his letters of which we have any knowledge. The friend from whom we received it, informed us that he permitted a copy of it to be taken some twenty-five years ago by a gentleman in Virginia ; and whether he ever made any public use of it or not, we are not informed. Even if he did, it is presumed that it was so long ago, and was within so limited a circle, that it will be new to all our readers. The letter is a perfectly beautiful specimen of penmanship.
"HANOVER, Feb. 23, 1757. My ever dear and Rev. Br.
“Since my return from my late voyage, I rec'd a letter from you; and had the sight of one to my worthy friend Mr. Finley, which I receiv. ed as directed to myself, and you should have had larger and more frequent returns from me, had not my incessant Hurries, and ye want of opportunities of conveyance laid me under a disagreeable Restraint.
Tho' my Friendship for you is not upon the decline, but will, I hope, blaze out into Immortality; yet, I must own, it is not Friendship that now prompts me to write ; it is something still more divine and apostolical; as you will perceive by mine to Mr. Hawley, which I leave open for your Perusal, and by the few additional Hints I shall give you in this.
"Upon some accounts I received of the willing. ness of the Catawba nation of Indians to receive a Missionary and a Schoolmaster, I wrote to Mr. Manduit, Treasurer of the Society in London, that support the Stockbridge Mission &c, with whom I contracted a particular acquaintance while in England ; soliciting the Charity of the Society for that Purpose. The answer I received was favorable ; and I was ordered to transmit all the Intelligence I could get concerning the Affair. Upon Enquiry, I found the Cherokees were a nation of much more Importance, both in a political and religious View; and that there was some Encouragement that they would embrace the same proposal with the Catawbas. I therefore wrote to the Society that if their
Fund would not enable thern to support a Mission and a School among both Nations, they would drop the Catawbas, and make the Cherokees the Object of their Charity; because they are much more numerous (about 6 or 7000) and consequently their Alliance is of more Importance to us; and if Christianity were introduced among them, it would have a more extensive sphere of Circulation ; and because their Situaation exposes them much more to the Intrigues of the French, and consequently there is much more Danger of their deserting our Interest than the Catawbas, who are almost surrounded with English Inhabitants. I suppose one Missionary and one Master might be tolerably sufficient for ye Catawbas; as they are but 800 or 1000 souls; and the Persons employed in this apostolic Work, would not be cut off from ye society of their Countrymen. But considering the number of ye Cherokees, their great Distance from our Settlements, and the Difficulty, if not Impossibility, of a solitary Missionary keeping up his Spirits, and performing his Work with Cheerfulness in the Society of Savages, I proposed, that, if possible two Missionaries and two Masters, might be sent to this Nation.
" To this Proposal, I rec'd an Answer a few Days ago, that the English Society had agreed to support one of each, upon Condition that the Society in Scotland would do the same; and that the Society ir. London, corresponding with that in Scotland, had unanimously agreed to the Proposal, as far as it depended upon their Concurrence, and had written to their constituents in Edinburg in its Favour. But as their Answer was not returned, my Informer could not give me a final Account; but it seems highly probable the Scheme would be carrried into Execution.
"I think Virginia, in some little Time, will fur. nish us with one Missionary and Schoolmaster, qualified for ye Business. But I have no Prospect of any more. And as the Matter requires Expedition, and I would have every Thing ready against I receive my final Answer, which I now begin to expect every Week, I write to you, My Dear Sir, for all the Intelligence you can give me, and all the Assistance you can afford in procuring a Missionary and a Schoolmaster. I have heard Mr. Hawley's good character from Sundry, I think from yourself; and that he has resigned his former Mission. I therefore apply to him thro' your hands ; and all that I now desire is, to be informed, whether, upon proper En. couragement, he would be willing to Engage in this apostolic Work, among those Southwestern Indians ?-I hope for a speedy answer, by Post, or some other Conveyance, that I may know, whether to look out for another or not. Mr. Holt, who is in Partnership with Mr. Parker at the Printing Office in New Haven, is my Broth
er in Law; and I doubt not but he will be a faithful Medium of Correspondence betwixt us.
As to the State of Religion in Virginia, I can only say,--that my Brethren have of late been much more success!ul than myself; particularly honest Mr. Henry, and our common Friend, Mr. Wright-and that what little success I have lately had, has been chielly among the Extremes of Gentlemen and Negroes. Indeed, God has been remarkably working among the latter. I have baptized about 150 adults; and at the last sacramental Solemnity, I had the Pleasure of seeing the Table of the Lord graced with about 60 black faces. They generally behave well, as far as I can hear, tho' there are some Instances of Apostacy among them.
“ These are gloomy and threatening Tiines; and my Heart cannot but forehode some terrible Events impending. Virginia in general, sins on still, impenitent and unreformed; tho'
bleeding in a thousand Veins. The few Patriot Souls among us cannot but tremble for the Events of the ensuing Summer. However, tho' we know not Futurities, yet this we know, that it shall be well with them that fear God, come what will, and in their Number I hope you and I shall be sheltered.
“ Blessed be God, I am happy in my Dear Family, and as yet, enjoy Peace and Liberty in the midst of a ravaged bleeding country. May we be prepared for our turn in Affliction. I have a thousand Things, I would gladly communicate, but I can only add a house full of affectionate Compliments to your whole self, in all its Branches; and the strongest Assurance, that I am, Dear Sir, your most sincere friend and humble Servant,
** SAM L, Davies. “ Mr. Bellamy."
A BRIGHT LEAFLET
LEAFLET FROM HISTORY.
Among the names which adorn the page of English story, there is one which, from the rare combination of virtues and graces, of romance and reality in the person and character of its possessor, seems to youthful minds invested with a species of fascination. Indeed, if there be any such emotion as affection for the dead of other days, it is that which we experience when we reflect upon the character of the illustrious Sir Philip Sidney. And, since the detail of virtuous and lofty deeds may generate in some bosom a kindred spirit of honorable ambition--while even the sage cannot be familiar with so pure a mind, so brilliant an imagination, without partaking of its nobility-we have been induced to sketch a few glimpses of the brief but eventful career of this true noble. man.
Although the name of Sidney carries with it associations closely interwoven with all our notions of honor, courage, and invincible attachment to liberty ; and although it is a race which has abounded with men and women whose characters were studded with the jewels of chivalry and genius, of virtue and grace, yet with one accord is the loftiest place assigned to Sir Philip. In fact, so varied were his virtues, so numerous his accomplishments, so brilliant his attainments, that one can scarcely enumerate the most prominent of them, without being bable to the charge of enthusiasm, or its twin sister, exaggeration. The truth may however be reconciled to our understandings in the fact, that while he lived there were none to dispute his consummate abilities, but all men gladly accorded to him the meed of superiority. The most distinguished men of his day (and it was an age wonderfully prolific of talent), did homage to his genius: poets were amazed at the fertility, and in ecstacies at the beauty of his Muse: statesmen eagerly sought the advice, and gladly availed themselves of the services of the youthful sage: scholars vied in emulation of his varied learning, and heroes pointed their sons to his knightly courtesy and chivalrous exploits for their distant imitation: there was no wit so daring as to asperse the dignity of his fame, no critic so captious as to undervalue his lofty talents. His real genius, the gentleness of his manners, and the perfect beauty of his disposition, seem to have disarmed all animosity; and hence in his case appears the singular anomaly that no man envied him.
Sir Philip Sidney is another of that august
cluster, who trace, with grateful emotions, the development of their virtues and genius to the qniet but irresistible influence of maternal love. His mother, Mary Dudley, was a sister of the accomplished but ill fated Lord Guilford Dudley, the husband of Lady Jane Grey. The melancholy death of her brother caused Lady Sidney to retire from the world and devote herself entirely to the education of her children. It was her careful teaching which, in early youth, directed to proper objects the young Sidney's eager thirst for knowledge: It was her anxious love which infused such principles as, in after times, preserved the son of her bosom from the corruption which is usually engendered of wealth and youth by flattery and luxury. She it was, who implanted the germ of those virtues, which, rapidly expanding under her kindly culture, embellished and beautified his whole career: she nurtured in his mind a love for the beantiful, and awakened those harmonious symphonies, which shall never die away, so long as men's hearts beat with human feeling. Take courage then, mothers of our land! Remember that the “fate of a child is always the work of its mother;" faithfully plant the seeds of virtue and knowledge-diligently tend the young nurslings, and God will amply reward you, in an offspring which shall be the pride and glory of your country.
At a very early period, Sir Philip manisested an eager thirst for the acquisition of knowledge; and when at the age of seventeen he left the university to begin his travels, such had been his diligent and painful application to study (for even the brightest genius can arrive at excellence, only by the most diligent and labori. ous study), that his tutors pronounced his proficiency in all species of learning to be incredible. Meanwhile the fame of his accomplish. ment in arts and arms had preceded him to court, whither he went by invitation of Elizabeth's magnificent favorite, the Earl of Leicester; and where, in the words of good Sir Robert Naunton, “ he soon attracted the good opinion of all men, and was so highly prized in the esteem of the Queen, that she thought the court deficient without him.” Four years after this--at an age when men have not usually laid aside their boyish mantles—he was selected by Elizabeth and her worthy councillor Burleigh, to enact a most difficult part as ambassador at the court of Rodolph, Emperor of