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Friday, February 7.—Our dangers and our deliverances have again been renewed. After a very calm morning last Wednesday, when the sea was as smooth as ever I saw it, it blew up a violent storm from the south which lasted till this morning, about forty-eight hours. Its terrors exceeded all the appearances in nature that I had ever seen; and those that had been long accustomed to the sea, agreed they had hardly ever seen a more dangerous storm. We were obliged to lie-to, as the seaphrase is, near two nights and two days, and drove at the mercy of the winds and waves. I was in a careless, guilty frame when the storm came on: and I never felt so deeply the terrors of being seized by danger or death in such a frame. The sight of death frowning upon me on every side, threw my mind into a ferment like that of the ocean round me. Sometimes indeed I had some intervals of serenity and resignation: but generally my views were gloomy, my fears outrageous, and my heart faint. I endeavoured to commend myself to God, and to resign my dear family to his care: but alas! I could not do it with cheerfulness. I never appeared to myself so helpless in all my life: confined to a little vessel, in the midst of mountainous seas, at a dreadful distance from land, and no possible prospect of escaping death, if any accident should befall the ship. I could do nothing but lie in bed, hearing the howl of winds and roar of waves without, and tossed from side to side by the motion of the vessel, which sometimes rolled so violently that she lay almost on her beam-ends, and I was afraid she would not recover. The waves broke over her so as to wash the men from one side of the deck to the other, and dashed in through the dead-lights into the cabin. I often fell upon my face praying in a kind of agony, sometimes for myself, sometimes for the unhappy ship's company, and sometimes for my dear destitute family, whom the nearest prospect of death could not cross from my heart. To increase our calamity, we knew not where we were. By our log-book we should have been on shore two days ago, but we saw little signs of land. It had been cloudy for four or five days, so that we had no observations to discover our latitude. However, we perceived we had gone too far to the southward upon the coast of Carolina, and were much afraid lest we should run ashore on the dangerous sands near Cape Hatteras. But hitherto God has preserved us; and if my life can be endeared to me or my friends by remarkable deliverances, it will be of more importance than ever. To-day has been cloudy and squally, and in the evening a dead calm, a sure presage of a Btorm; and now it begins to blow again. May God pity us, and deliver us from this dangerous element, the territory of Death.
Wednesday, February 12.—Blessed be God, we had the welcome sight of land this morning; and suppose we are on the coast of North Carolina, about twenty leagues south of Cape Henry. The.wind is contrary, and if a storm should rise, we might be driven out to sea again.
Since my last remarks, we have had strong gales, and violent storms of snow, with very intense cold. It has been so cloudy, that we have had no good observation for nine days ; and our reckoning of longitude being out, we knew not where we were. We have been expecting land, and sounding for ground, these fourteen days ; but were still disappointed till this morning. If the longtitude, which has been so long sought for in vain could be certainly discovered, it would be vastly to the advantage of navigation. Though my mind has been in such a confusion, during the passage, that I have not been able to make any useful remarks to any advantage; yet the various phenomena of the ocean have suggested to me such hints as might be well improved by a spiritual meditant. And I shall take short memorandums of them, that if I should happen to be disposed for it hereafter I may improve upon them. The majestic appearance of this vast collection of waters, may suggest to us—the majesty—and power of God, the author—and his uncontroulable government who rules so outrageous an element as he pleases, and stills it with one almighty mandate "Peace, be still," and the terror of the conflagration which shall dry it up. The alternate storms and calms are a picture of the. mutability of human life in this world—of the various frames of a Christian. As storms and hurricanes purify the sea and keep it from corrupting; so afflictions are necessary to purge and sanctify the people of God, and shall work together for their good—and so God brings good out of evil. It is calm in some parts of the ocean while it is tempestuous in others—so particular persons—and countries, are alternately happy and miserable. The sea in the ferment of a storm gives us an image—of a mind agitated with furious lusts and passions—and a riotous mob. The ship is our only safety—so is Christ to the soul, amid the ruins of sin. After a storm and a gloomy night, how welcome and cheering is the return of a calm, and the morning light! So is the return of peace, and the light of God's countenance to a soul in darkness and distress. The want of an observation to discover the latitude, in cloudy weather, leaves the mariner perplexed about his course. Thus perplexed is the Christian, when God withdraws the light of his countenance, or when the meaning of the Scripture is uncertain. It is a great disadvantage to navigation, and occasions the loss of many ships, that the longitude is not discovered. Thus would it have been with the moral world, if it had not been favoured with the light of revelation; and thus is the heathen part of mankind at a loss about the way to heaven.
After a long and dangerous voyage, how eager are the seamen looking out for land, and how rejoiced at the sight of it. Thus eager are some Christians, and thus eager should they all be, to see Immanuel's land, and arrive there.
It is a striking evidence of the degeneracy of human nature, that those who traverse this region of wonders, who see so many dangers and deliverances, are generally thoughtless, vicious, and impenitent.
Arrived in York, February 13, 1755. The next day called in Williamsburg, waited on the Governor, and rode to Mr. Holt's that night. Came home next morning, February 15, and found all well.—What shall I render to the Lord for all His goodness?
Corne, more expressive silence, muse His praise?
REV. SAMUEL DAVIES—FROM HIS MISSION TO EUROPE TO HIS
During the absence of Mr. Davies from Virginia, hostilities had commenced on the frontiers. In May 1754, blood had been shed by forces under the command of Colonel Washington, who unawares fell upon a party of French and Indians, near the Great Meadows, as they were advancing to surprise Fort Necessity. England and France, both desiring the control of North America, were entering the fierce contest that decided the fate of that great continent. Hostilities commenced at the confluence of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers. Some Virginians were fortifying the place, now Pittsburgh. A large French force drove them from the position. Washington met the force advancing upon him near the Great Meadows; and in July was compelled, by a superior force of French and Indians, to capitulate on honourable terms. Preparations were made to carry on with great vigour, the war thus begun. English and French forces were collected; and efforts were made to enlist the numerous warlike tribes of Indians, in the contest. The French were the more successful in arraying these barbarous allies under their flag; and without pity turned the fury of Indian warfare upon the English frontiers.
According to ancient charters, Virginia extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific shores, and covered some of the posts the French were most anxious to maintain, both for the safety of their colonies and the ultimate possession of the great Valley of the Mississippi, if not the whole continent. The Virginia frontiers were east of the grand Alleghany, scattered along the Valley of the Shenandoah, and the head streams of the Potomac, the James and Roanoke. On these, the Indians, from Ohio, claiming the beautiful valleys and streams as the residence of their fathers abandoned at the approach of the English, but not given up, began their incursions with midnight attacks, the tomahawk and scalping knife, merciless slaughter, and dreary captivity. The whole country was filled with alarm. Consternation seized the frontiers. The more remote, and the more timid families, retired and formed neighbourhoods with blockhouses of sufficient capacity to afford shelter to all, and strength to resist an attack, from a savage enemy. Some of the more brave fortified their log houses and maintained their post.
Mr. Davies, on his return to his family, partook of the alarm, though his dwelling was far east of the Blue Ridge. He felt the necessity of vigorous action by the colonists, and of the special protection of Divine Providence. The Provincial Legislature had appointed the 5th of March as a day for fasting and prayer to Almighty God. Mr. Davies preached on that day, in Hanover, from the words, "The Most High ruleth the kingdom of men and giveth it to whomsoever he will," (Dan. iv. 25,) a truly Christian, patriotic sermon, calculated to excite among his hearers proper sentiments of devotion, and love of country. On the 10th of July, 1755, the army under General Braddock suffered a signal defeat. The savages in the interest of France broke in, like a torrent of fire, upon the terror stricken frontiers. The soldiers escaping from the massacre, that followed the battle, carried the news of the disaster; deserting their companions, many of them never rallied, but sought their homes and a shelter east of the mountains, and were arrested at the head of tide water as deserters spreading terror by their flight, and their frightful narrations of savage barbarities. On the 20th of the month Mr. Davies preached in Hanover, on the words of Isaiah chap. xxii. verses 12, 13 and 14: "And in that day did the Lord God of Hosts call to weeping and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth; and behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine: let us eat and drink for to-morrow we die." This text had been chosen, and a few pages of manuscript had been written in view of the distress of the country, under an uncommon drought, and the calamity of a French and Indian war. When the appalling news of Braddock's defeat reached Hanover, Mr. Davies completed, and delivered to his people, a sermon worthy the occasion and of himself. On the first report of the defeat and the approach of the cruel enemy not only the more exposed families forsook their dwellings, but apprehending, an immediate assault from the advancing foe, many proposed to abandon all the frontiers and return to the thickly settled portions of the province or to other provinces. After lamenting the sins that had brought these accumulated sufferings upon the country, Mr. Davies proceeds:—"Let me earnestly recommend it to you to furnish yourselves with arms, and put yourselves into a posture of defence. What is that religion good for that leaves men cowards on the appearance of danger. And permit me to say, that I am particularly solicitous that you, my brethren of the dissenters, should act with honour and spirit in this juncture, as it becomes loyal subjects, lovers of your country, and courageous Christians. That is a mean, sordid, cowardly soul, that would abandon his country, and shift for his own little self, when there is any probability of defending it. To give the greater weight to what I say, I may take the liberty to tell you I have as little personal interest, as little to lose, in this colony as most of you. If I consulted either my safety, or my temporal interest, I should soon remove my family to Great Britain or the northern colonies, where I have received very inviting offers. Nature has not formed me for a military life, nor furnished me with any degree of fortitude and courage; and yet I must declare, that after the most calm and impartial deliberation, I am determined not to leave my country while there is any prospect of defending it. Certainly he does not deserve a place in any country, who is ready to run from it upon, every appearance of danger. The event of the war is yet uncertain; but let us determine that if the cause should require it, we will courageously leave house and home and take the field." After much pathetic address on personal religion, he thus closed: —" It is certain many will be great sufferers by the drought, and many lives will be lost, in our various expeditions. Our poor brethren in Augusta, and other frontier counties, are slaughtered and scalped. In short it is certain, be the final issue what it will, that our country will suffer a great deal; therefore be humble. Be diligent in prayer for our army, and for the unhappy families on our frontiers. And may the Lord of Hosts be with us, and the God of Jacob be our refuge."
This spirit of Davies was, in general, the spirit of the dissenters, who formed the line of frontiers in Virginia. The more isolated and exposed Tetreated; the stronger neighbourhoods girded themselves for the war. The congregations on the Cowpasture river, in Augusta, were broken up by savage inroads, part of the families retreated to the Valley of the Shenandoah, and part with their pastor, Mr. Craighead, ultimately took their abode in Mecklenburg county, North Carolina.
On the 17th of August, Mr. Davies delivered a thrilling sermon to the first volunteer company raised in Virginia after Braddock's defeat—"to march over trackless mountains, the haunts of wild beasts or fierce savages, into a hideous wilderness, to succour their helpless fellow-subjects, and guard their country." It was commanded by Captain Overton. The text chosen for the occasion was 2d Samuel, x. 12: "Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God; and the Lord do that which seemeth him good.,, Fervent piety and ardent patriotism are commingled throughout the discourse. Connected with this sermon is this remarkable sentence—"I may point out to the public that heroic youth, Col. Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner, for some important service."
In the midst of these agitating scenes, the activity of Mr. Davies, in his ministerial duties, was not at all abated. He seemed never to forget that he was a minister of the gospel. On the 4th of June, 1755, Mr. Robert Henry, of whom mention has been made, was installed pastor of Cub-creek, in Charlotte, and Briery, in Prince Edward. Cub-creek was settled by a colony led by Mr. Caldwell, and Briery was the fruit of Mr. Davies' visit, improved by Mr. Henry. On the last Sabbath of July, Mr. John Wright was installed pastor of the church in Cumberland county. He had been a pupil and protege of Mr. Davies. The church in Cumberland was gathered from the labours of Mr. Robinson, followed up by the missionaries that followed him, and also from the visits Mr. Davies was able to make from time to time. In December of the same year the Presbytery of Hanover was formed; Mr. Davies presided as Moderator, but, on account of indisposition, was excused from preaching. The Presbytery consisted of six ministers, three of whom, Messrs. Todd, Henry and Wright, had been introduced into their charges by the influence of Mr. Davies, and occupied part of the ground over which he used to ride. By this increase of ministers the specious objections to licensing more houses for dissenters—viz. the number of houses for a minister—was removed, though all difficulty was not removed.
Under date of March 1755, Mr. Davies writes to a member of the Society in London for Promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor.
"Dear Sir:—Divine Providence has safely conducted me through the numerous dangers of sea and land, and replaced me in my former sphere of usefulness and happiness. The confluence of so many mercies at one time, the tender guardianship of heaven over my dear family and friends, the review of my remarkable success in the important business of my mission, and promising situation of religion amongst my people, threw me into a ferment of grateful passions, which are not yet sub