Samuel Davies and the School of Affliction

One of the greatest contributors to the Great Awakening was a pastor and evangelist by the name of Samuel Davies. His life on earth was brief, spanning a mere 37 years, but his influence on American Evangelicalism is immeasurable.  Known, among other things, for his powerful preaching skills, one of his contemporaries noted, “he spoke with a glowing zeal … and an eloquence more impressive and effective than had ever graced the American pulpit.”  Though deeply committed to higher education, Davies’ most important training was obtained in Christ’s school of affliction.   Below is brief excerpt from Iain H. Murray’s, “Revival & Revivalism:  The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858″: 

Oppressed by a sense of his ‘rawness and inexperience’, Davies’ health broke down under the load of preaching and there were fever-ridden nights when people would sit with him until the morning.  By August 1747 his first visit to Hanover was over and he was fit enough to ride the 100 miles back to Delaware, in time to witness the sudden death of his wife and the infant she was carrying on 15 September.  Grief and depression were added to his own bodily weakness:  ‘After I returned from Virginia I spent near a year under melancholy and consumptive languishments, expecting death.’ All this was undoubtedly part of God’s preparation for his future usefulness.  As Archibald Alexander wrote in another context, ‘Too much applause is a dangerous thing to a young minister.’  Davies was soon to see much success, but before it came he had been deeply chastened by a sense of his own infirmity and the consciousness of the brevity of all earthly things.

One of the biggest cancers in the modern day church is the prosperity gospel. It has opened wide the door to the vicious wolves Paul warned of in Acts 20:29 and who, in their total depravity, teach that godliness is a way to financial gain (1 Timothy 6:5).  The truth is, the people most used by God are often the most afflicted by Him.  As George Whitfield, the most notable preacher of the Great Awakening observed, “Christian experience is only learned in the school of affliction.”

Iain H. Murray, Revival & Revivalism: The Making of and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858 (Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994) 8.

Words, Words, Words! I’m so Sick of Words!

We humans love to talk.  For most of us, that’s a problem. Apart from the sanctifying work of Christ, we’re all like the hypocrites of whom Jesus said,  “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6).

This morning I started Isaiah.  As I made my way through the first Chapter, I was struck by God’s sheer distaste for empty professors of the faith. He says things like: 

  • What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
  • I have had enough 
  • Bring no more vain offerings … I cannot endure 
  • My soul hates
  • I am weary 
  • I will not listen

It’s so much nicer to imagine that God is love. But a God who tells His people, “Your trying my patience, and I’ve about had enough” — now that is something we need to pay attention to.

The lyrics to Eliza Doolittle’s, “Show Me” from the musical, “My Fair Lady” come to mind.

_______________________________

Words, words, words!
I’m so sick of words
I get words all day through
First from him, now from you
Is that all you blighters can do?

Don’t talk of stars, burning above
If you’re in love, show me!
Tell me no dreams, filled with desire
If you’re on fire, show me!

Sing me no song, read me no rhyme
Don’t waste my time, show me!
Don’t talk of June, don’t talk of fall
Don’t talk at all!
Show me!

Never do I ever want to hear another word
There isn’t one, I haven’t heard
Here we are together in what ought to be a dream
Say one more word and I’ll scream

Haven’t your arms, hungered for mine?
Please don’t “expline”, show me, show me!
Don’t wait until wrinkles and lines
Pop out all over my brow, show me now!

Eliza is not interested in words.  And neither is God. What are empty words and platitudes if our hearts are not moved by affection to act?  In our profession of Christ, do we forget that God is a personal, living being who engages with His creation?  Isn’t that what Jesus did?  He reconciled us to God by his death so that we may have unbroken fellowship with God Almighty? God is not a robot! He has a mind, emotions, and a will.  How then must He feel when daily we rebuff His invitations to “come away” with Him? Or when we chose to preoccupy our minds with worldly trifles rather than take the time to seek Him in His Word?  We Christians, if not checked, can presume quite a bit upon the living God.  But if we truly love Him, we will stop talking, and start showing!

  “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be eaten by the sword;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
(Isaiah 1:18-20 ESV)

Should We Celebrate Independence Day? Viva La Resistance!

Take a moment to read JD Hall’s outstanding Independence Day article.

“The social compact upon which our Republic Democracy fascist regime has been framed has clearly been violated over and over again. So should we celebrate Independence Day when the nation in which we live is far more similar to Orwell’s 1984 than Jefferson’s 1776?

Yes. Yes, I think so.

We should celebrate our Independence because we are truly Independent. Our liberty has not been taken from us. In fact, the liberty of those Christian bakers was not taken from them. A fine was imposed, but their liberty of conscience remains as steadfast and sure as when God ordained it.

Christians truly need to grasp the mindset of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. They recognized that liberty is not granted by government, but by God. The government could impose restrictions, taxes, fines and imprisonment for the exercise of our liberty, but they could not take our liberty away. Liberty cannot be legislated and neither can it be removed by an act of Congress or by executive fiat.”

Continue reading here.

“Anything That Drives Me To My Knees is Good”

“Often does it happen that the enmity of the world drives the Christian nearer to his God. How many prayers have been offered up as the result of persecution that would never have been offered else, heaven alone can tell! How many a groan, and sigh, and tear, acceptable to God, have been forced from true hearts by their sufferings, God alone knows! Ah! in the soft days, the summer days of peace and prosperity, we are apt to gad abroad after vain delights; but when the winter comes, with its keen and cutting blast, we haste to our own abode, we cleave to our own hearth, we love to dwell with our own kindred. Even so right frequently, with hearts all chill and cheerless, we have sought the house of our Father and our God, drawn near to his altar, and found a refreshment we fain could wish that we might never leave. Why, oh! why, are we so fickle? If we could find succor and solace apart from the Rock, away from the Sun, absent from our Lord, our wayward hearts would do so; but when the waters of affliction have covered all the earth, then we fly back to our Noah, our ark, and find rest for the sole of our foot. The friendship of this world is enmity to God. It rivals God’s friendship, it deceives and deludes many hearts; but when the world frowns, it is a blessed frown that makes me seek my Savior’s smile. Anything that drives me to my knees is good. Anything that makes me trust in the promise, and wait only upon God because my expectation is from him, is healthful to my soul, infuses courage, and inspires confidence, and invests her with fresh strength. O brethren, the very glory of the church is to live nearer to God. The more she thinks of her great and glorious Head, and the more she leans upon the invisible arm of the Eternal, the more invincible she is persecution in driving her to her stronghold is overruled to her help.”

Charles Spurgeon

You can read the entire sermon here.