swers to this important end. Thus teach me to number
my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom."
" These virtuous resolutions and pious breathings of
soul, were seconiled by becoming exertions, both of a pub-
lick and private nature, in his own congregation ; and
by correspondent labours in churches abroad ; nor were
328 li'ugraphy of Oliver Hart.
they without success. Many owned him as their father
in the gospel ; among these are two distinguished and
useful ministers, who survive him, and shine as diffusive
lights in the church.* These were not only awakened
under his preaching, but introduced also by him into a
course of study, for the ministry.
" The formation of a society in this city, to assist pious
young men in obtaining education for the publick services
of the church, and which has been of use to several,
originated with him ; and he was a prime mover in that
plan for the association of churches, by which so many
of our churches are very happily united at the present
day. To him also, in conjunction with his beloved and
amiable friends, now I trust with God, Rev. Francis Pe-
lot, and Mr. David Williams, is that valuable work of
pubiick utility, the System of Church Discipline, to be as-
cribed. His printed sermons have contributed to the
general interest of religion, and his extensive regular
correspondence, has been the means of conveying ration-
al pleasure and religious improvement to many.
" To all which may be added, his usefulness as a citi-
zen of America. Prompt in his judgment, ardent in his
love of liberty, and rationally jealous for the rights of his
country ; he took an early and decided part in those
measures, which led our patriots to successful opposition
against the encroachments of arbitrary power ; and
brought us to possess all the blessings of our happy inde-
pendence. Yet he did not mix politicks with the gospel,
nor desert the duties of his station to pursue them ; but
attending to each in its proper place, he gave weight to
his political sentiments, by the propriety and uprightness
of his conduct ; and the influence of it was felt by many.
" But this amiable and excellent man has now finish-
ed his course, and is gone to render an account of his
stewardship to his Lord and Master, to whom he knew
he was accountable for his various gifts and graces, and
whom to serve and honour was his delightful employ.
On such an occasion we are ready to exclaim with Eii-
sha, when he beheld the ascending prophet, " My father !
* Rev. Ur. Stillman, ot' Boston, whose praise is in all the churches; and Kev.
Mr. Botsiurd, among; ourselves. To these may be addevl a third, Mr. Iv.v;u.
who succeeds Mr. Ilart, as pastor of the chui-ch at Hope -.veil, April 8th, 179tj.
Biography of Oliver Hart. 329
sny father ! the chariot of Israel and the horsemen there-
of !" Our beloved friend is removed from the world j
and all those among whom he once went preaching
the gospel of Christy shall, in the flesh, see his face
no more. May Heaven support his pious, weeping
widow, so greatly bereaved ; and may indulgent Provi-
dence and grace provide for the youth who is left as the
son of his old age !"
The following account of Mr. Hart's last illness and
death is found in a note in Dr. Rogers's funeral sermon.
"For many months previous to his death, he repeat-
edly said, that he viewed himself as a dying man. A few
days after he was taken with his last illness, and while
he was able to walk about the room, he called for his
Will, gave it to a friend, and desired him to get his re-
mains conveyed to Southampton, the family burying-
place. It was with such difficulty at this time that he
drew his breath, and the agony he was in, was so great,
that he said, he should not think it strange if he should
go into convulsions. The struggle for breath broke a
vessel, and he spat a quantity of blood ; yet not a mur-
mur or undue complaint ! He would frequently lift up
his hands and say, " Poor mortal man !" A friend once
replied, " This mortal shall put on immortality" he an-
swered, " Yes ! yes !" He would often say, " I want, I
want !" Being asked what he wanted ? " I want the will
of the Lord to be done !" The Rev. Mr. Van Hornc
called to see him ; he asked him if he felt comfortable ;
he replied, " God is an all-sufficient Saviour !"
" A person, who at one time was sitting by, and ob-
serving his great bodily distress, said, " How happy for
Mr. Hart, that he has but one work to do !" Dying was
meant. He immediately replied, " Christ is the end of
the lav/ for righteousness to every one that believeth !'*
DJC. '20. He called for all around him, to help him.
praise thz Lord for what he had done for his soul. Being
told he would soon join the company of saints and angels,
he replied, " Enough, enough 1"
Dec. 30. His cough and spitting of blood increased,
and every breath was accompanied with a groan. When,
he dred, he just put his head a little back, closed his eyes
is if he were going into a sleep, and expired !"
VOL. 2. 42
33O' Biography of Samuel Harris.
Mr. Hart was twice married ; his first wife was Miss
Sarah Brecs, by whom he had eight children, all of whom
were dead, except two, in 1790, and the^e members of
the church in Charleston (S. C.) His second wife was
Mrs. Anne Grimball, relict of Mr. Charles Grimball of
South-Carolina, by whom he had two n>ns ; the first died
young; the other, who e name is William Rogers,* is
living in South-Carolina.
Several sermons and other compositions of Mr. Mart's
have appeared in print, viz. Dancing Exploded ; A Fu-
neral Discourse, occasioned by the death of the Rev.
William Termant ; The Christian Temple ; A Circular
Letter on Christ's Mediatorial Character ; America's
Remembrancer ; and A Gospel Church pourtrayed. Be-
sides these, he has left in manuscript many valuable dis-
courses on publick and common occabions, exclusive of
For a time during his ministry in Charleston, Mr.
Hart suffered a ('i-tressing trial, in consequence of an at-
tempt to supplant him in the pastoral ollice, and place
in his room Mr. Bedgegood, who was then his assistant,
and possessed popular talents, though not free from
blemishes of character. His conscientious opposition
was by some attributed to envy ; and on the failure of
the plan, several of the wealthier members withdrew.
Mr. Hart was zealous and active in the cause of
American independence. In 177-3 he was appointed
by the Council of Safety, which then exercised the Ex-
ecutive authority in South-Carolina, to travel in con-
junction with Hon. William H. Drayton and Rev. Wil-
liam Tennant, into the Interior of the State, and concil-
iate the inhabitants to the measures of Congress, by re-
moving '.heir prejudices, and giving them a just view of
thtir political interests. It was believed that the influ-
ence of Ivlr. Hart, exerted on this occasion, was the
means of preventing bloodshed, when the tories first
SAMUEL HARRIS. By reverting to the biography of
Mr. Marshall, the reader via find that in one of his evan-
gelical journies, he had the singular happiness to baptize
* Named after Dr. Rogers, of Philadelphia.
Biography of Samuel Harris. 331
Mr. Sr.muel, commonly called Colonel Harris. Mr. Harris
was born in Hanover county, Virginia, Jan. 1'2, 1724.
Few men could boast of more respectable parentage.
His education, though not the most liberal, was very
considerable for the customs of that day. When young,
he moved to the county of Pittsylvania ; and as he ad-
vanced in age, became a favourite with the people as well
as with the rulers. He was appointed Church Warden,
Sheriff, a Justice of the Peace, Burgess for the .county,
Colonel of the Militia, Captain of Mayo Fort and Com-
missary for the fort and army. All these things, how-
ever, he counted but dross, that he might win Christ
Jesus, and become a minister of his word among the
Baptists ; a sect at that time everywhere spoken against.
His conversion was effected in the following way : lie
first became serious and melancholy without knowing
why. By reading and conversation he discovered that
he was a helpless sinner, and that a sense of his guilt
was the true cause of his gloom of mind. Pressed with
this conviction, he ventured to attend Baptist preaching.
On one of his routes to visit the forts in his ofiicial charac-
ter, he called at a small house, where, he understood,
there was to be Baptist preaching. The preachers were
Joseph and William Murphy, at that time commonly
calle'd Murphy's boys. Being equipped in his military
dress, he was not willing to appear in a conspicuous place.
God, nevertheless, found him out by his Spirit. His
convictions now sunk so deep, that he was no longer able
to conceal them. He left his sword and other parts of
his equipments, some in one place and some in another.
The arrows of the Almighty stuck fast in him, nor
could he shake them off until some time after. At a
meeting, when the congregation rose from prayer, Col.
Harris was observed slid on his knees, with his head and
hands hanging over the bench. Some of the people went
to his relief, and found him senseless. When he came
to himself, he smiled ; and in an ecstasy of joy, exclaimed,
Glory ! glory 1 glory ! &c. Soon after this he was bap-
tized by Rev. Daniel Marshall, as mentioned above.
This probably took place sometime in the year 17.58.
He did not confer with flesh and blood, but immediately
began his ininisierial labours j which afterwards proved
332 Biography of Samuel Harris.
so effectual as to acquire him the name of the Virginia
In 1 759 he was ordained a ruling elder. His labours
were chiefly confined, for the first six or seven years, to
the adjacent counties of Virginia and North-Carolina \
never having pa=t to the north of James River until the
year J765. During the first years of his ministry, he
often travelled with Mr. Marshall ; and must have
caught much of his spirit, for there is obviously a con-
siderable resemblance in their manners. January, 1765,
Allen Wyley travelled out to Pittsylvania, to seek for a
preacher. He had been previously baptized by some
regular Baptist minister in Fauquier ; but not being able
to procure preachers to attend in his own neighbourhood,
and hearing of New-lights, (as they were called in North-
Carolina) he set out by himself, scarcely knowing whither
he was going. God directed his way, and brought him
into the neighbourhood of Mr. Harris, on a meeting day.
He went to the meeting, and was immediately noticed
by Mr. Harris, and asked whence he came ? He replied
that he was seeking a gospel minister ; and God having
directed his course to him, that he was the man, and that
he wished him to go with him to Culpcpper. Mr. Har-
ris agreed to go, like Peter, nothing doubting but it was
a call from God. This visit was abundantly blessed for
the enlargement of the Redeemer's cause. Soon after
he had returned, three messengers came from Spottsyl-
vania to obtain Mr. Harris's services. He departed in-
to Ncrth-Carolina to seek James Read, who was ordain-
ed to the ministry. Their labours were so highly fa-
voured, that from that time Mr. Harris became almost
a constant traveller. Not confining himself to narrow
limits, but led on from place to place, wherever he could
see an opening to do good, there he would hoist the flag
of peace. There was scarcely any place in Virginia, in
which he did not sow the gospel seed. It was not until
J769, that this eminently useful man was ordained to
the administration of ordinances. Why he was not or-
dained at an earlier period, is not certainly known j
some say, that he did not wish it ; others, that his opin-
ions respecting the support of ministers were objected
Biography of Samuel Harris. 333
to by the leading elders. After his ordination, he bap-
tized as well as preached.
In every point of view, Mr. Harris might be consider-
ed as one of the most excellent of men. Being in easy
circumstances when he became religious, he devoted not
only himself but almost all his property to religious ob-
jects. He had begun a large new dwelling-house, suita-
ble to his former dignity, which, as soon as it was en-
closed, he appropriated to the use of publick worship, con-
tinuing to live in the old one.
After maintaining his family in a very frugal manner,
he distributed his surplus income to charitable purposes.
During the war, when it was extremely difficult to pro-
cure salt, he kept two waggons running to Petersburg,
to bring up salt for his neighbours. His manners were
of the most winning sort, having a singular talent at
touching the feelings. He scarcely ever went into a
house, without exhorting and praying for those he met
As a doctrinal preacher, his talents were rather below
mediocrity, unless at those times when he was highly
favoured from above ; then he would sometimes display
considerable ingenuity. His excellency lay chiefly in ad-
dressing the heart, and perhaps even Whitefieid did not
surpass him in this. When animated himself, he seldom
failed to animate his auditory. Some have described
him, when exhorting at great meetings, as pouring forth
streams of celestial lightning from his eyes, which,
whithersoever he turned his face, would strike down
hundreds at once. Hence he is often called Boanergef.
So much was Mr. Harris governed by his feelings, that
if he began to preach and did not feel some liberty of
utterance, he would tell his audience he could not preach
without the Lord, and then sit down. Not long before
the commencement of the great revival in Virginia, Mr.
H. had a paralytick shock, from which he never entirely
recovered. Yet this did not deter him from his diligent
usefulness. If he could not go as far, he was still not
idle within that sphere allowed him by his infirmities*.
At all Associations and general committees, where he was
delegated, he was almost invariably made moderator.
334 Biography of Sjwuel ILirris.
This cilice, like every thing else, he discharged with some
degree of singularity, yet to general satisfaction.
For some short time previous to his death, his senses
were considerably palsied ; so that we are deprived of
such pious remarks, as would probably have fallen from
this extraordinary servant of God in his last hours. He
was somewhat over seventy years of age when he died.
The remarkable anecdotes told of Mr. H. are so nume-
rous, that they would fill a volume of themselves, if they
were collected. A part of them only we shall record.
Mr. H. like Mr. Marshall, possessed a soul incapable of
being dismayed by any difficulties. To obtain his own
consent to undertake a laudable entcrprize, it was suffi-
cient for him to know that it was possible. His faith was
sufficient to throvv mountains into the sea, if they stood
in the way. He seems also never to have been appalled
by the fear or shame of man, but could confront the
stoutest sons of pride, and boldly urge the humble doc-
trines of the cross. Like the brave soldier, if beaten
back at the first onset, he was still ready for a further
assault ; so that he often conquered opposers, that to
others appeared completely hopeless. With this spirit
he commenced his caiecr.
Early after he eir.b; \iced religion, his mind was impress-
ed with a desire to preach to the officers and soldiers of
the fort. An opportunity offered in Fort Mayo, and Mr.
Harris began his harangue, urging most vehemently the
necessity of the new birth. In the course of his harangue,
an officer interrupted him, saying, " Colonel, you have
sucke*.! much eloquence from the rum-cask to-day ; pray
give us a little, that we may declaim as well, when it
comes to our turn." Harris replied, " I am r.:;t drunk j"
and resumed his discourse. He had not gone far, before
he was accosted by another, in a serious manner, who,
looking in his face, said, " Sam, you say you are not
drunk ; pray are you not mad then ? What the d 1 ails
you r" CoL Harris replied in the words of Paul, " I am
not mad, mo ; ;t noble gentleman." He continued speak-
ing publickiy and privately, until one of the gentlemen
received such impressions as were never afterwards bha*
ken ofi , but he afterwards became a pious Christian. .
Biography of Samuel Harris. 335
Soon after this, Mr. Harris found a sad alteration as
to his religious enjoyment. He prayed God to restore
the light of his countenance, and renew communion with
him ; but his petition was deferred. He then went in-
to the woods, and sought for the happiness he had lost ;
thinking that, pcradventure, God would answer his
prayer there, though not in the fort, where so much
wickedness abounded ; but no answer came. Then he
began to inquire into the cause why God dealt so with
him. The first that offered was his lucrative offices ;
i!') m which he determined to lay them down immedi-
ately, and settle his accounts with the publick. Having
now removed the Acban out of the camp, as he thought,
he renewed his suit for a restoration of the joy which he
had lost ; but still " the vision tarried, and the prophe-
cy brought not forth." He began to examine himself a
second time. Then he suspected his money was the
cause, and that he had made gold his trust. Accordingly
he took all his money and threw it away into the busi-
es, where it remains to this day, for aught any one knows
to the contrary. After this, he prayed again, and found
that man's impatience will not shorten the time which
infinite wisdom hath measured out for delays or benef-
icence. However, in due time the \vished-for good
came. " i am aware (says Mr. Morgan Edwards, from
whose MS. history this anecdote is selected) that this
story will render the wisdom of the Colonel suspected.
Be it so. It nevertheless establishes the truth of his pi-
ety, and shows that lie preferred communion with God
before riches and honours.''
Rough was the treatment which Mr. Harris met with
amongst his rude countrymen. In one of his journics in
the county of Culpepper, a Capt. Ball and his gang came
to a place where lie was preaching, and said, Ci You shall
not preach here." A hy-^tander, whose name was Jere-
miah Minor, replied, " But he shall." From this sharp
contention of words, they proceeded to a sharper contest
of blows and scuffles. Friends on both sides inter
themselves; some to makepeace, and others tobick
their foremen. The supp- >rters of Mr. Harris were prob-
ably most of them worldly people, v ho acted from no
other principle, than to defend a minister thus insulted
$36 Biography of Samuc-l Harris.
and abused. But if they were Christians, they were cer-
tainly too impatient and resentful, and manifested too
much of the spirit Peter had when he drew his sword
on the high-priest's servant. Col. Harris's friends took
him into a house, and set Lewis Craig to guard the door,
while he was preaching ; but presently Ball's gang came
up> drove the sentinel from his stand, and battered open
the door ; but they were driven back by the people
within. This involved them in another contest, and
is the day ended in confusion.
On another occasion he was arrested and carried into
'Court, as a disturber of the peace. In Court, a Capt.
Williams vehemently accused him as a vagabond, a her-
etic, and a mover of sedition every where. Mr. Harris
made his defence. But the Court ordered that he should
not preach in the county again for the space of twelve
months, or be committed to prison. The Colonel told
them that he lived two hundred miles from thence,
and that it was not likely he should disturb them again
in the course of one year. Upon this he was dismissed.
From Culpepper he went to Fauquier, and preached at
Carter's Run. From thence he crossed the Blue Ridge,
and preached at Shenandoah. On his return from
thence, he turned in at Capt. Thomas Clanathan's, in
the county of Culpepper, where there was a meeting.
While certain young ministers were preaching, the word
of God began to burn in Col. Harris's heart. When
they finished, he arose and addressed the congregation,
" I partly promised the devil, a few days past, at the
court-house, that I would not preach in this county again
for the term of a year : but the devil is a perfidious
wretch, and covenants with him are not to be kept, and
therefore I will preach." He preached a lively, animat-
ing sermon. The Court never meddled with him more.
In Orange county, one Benjamin Healy p-illed Mr.
Harris down from the place where he was preaching,
and hauled him about, sometimes by the hand, sometimes
by the leg, and sometimes by the hair of the head ; but
the persecuted preacher had friends here also, who es-
poused his part, and rescued him from the rage of his
enemies. This, as in a former case, brought on a con-
tention between his advocates and opposers j during
Biography of Samuel Harris. 337
which, a Capt. Jameson sent Mr. Harris to a house where
was a loft with a step-ladder to ascend it ; into that loft
he hurried him, took away the step-ladder, and left the
good man secure from his enemies.
Near Haw-river, a rude fellow came up to Mr. Harris,
and knocked him dowu while he was preaching.
He went to preach to the prisoners once, in the town
of Hillsborough, where he was locked up in the gaol,
and kept for some time.
Notwithstanding these things, Col. Harris did not suf-
fer as many persecutions as some other Baptist preach-
ers. Tempered in some degree peculiar to himself, per-
haps his bold, noble, yet humble manner, dismayed the
ferocious spirits of the opposers of religion.
A criminal, who had been just pardoned at the gallows,
once met him on the road, and showed him his reprieve.
" Well,'* said he, " and have you shown it to Jesus ?"
" No, Mr. Harris, I want you to do that for me.'* The
old man immediately descended from his horse, in the
ro id, and making the man also alight, they both kneeled,
down ; Mr. H. put one hand on the man's head, and
with the other held open the pardon, and thus, in behalf
of the criminal, returned thanks for his reprieve, and
prayed for him to obtain God's pardon also.
The following very interesting narrative was published
by Mr. Semple, in his History of the Virginia Baptists ;
it has also been published by Mr. John Leland, in his
Budget of Scraps, under the title of " Prayer better than.
Law-suits" As there is some little variation, not as to
matters of fact, but in the mode of expression, in these
two relaters, I have selected from them both this singu-
lar and instructive story. When Mr. Harris began to
preach, his soul was so absorbed in the work, that it
f was difficult for him to attend to the duties of this life.
Finding at length the absolute need of providing more
; grain for his family than his plantation had produced,
he went to a man who owed him a sum of money, and
told him, lie would be very glad if he would discharge
the debt he owed him. The man replied, " 1 have no
money by me, and therefore cannot oblige you." Har-
ris said, " I want the money to purchase wheat for my
family ; and as you have raised a good crop of wheat, I
VOL. 2. 43
338 Biography of Samuel Harris.
\vill take that article of you, instead of money, at a cur-
rent price." The man answered, " I have other uses
for my wheat, and cannot let you have it." " Flow
then," said Harris, " do you intend to pay me ?" " I
never intend to pay you, until you sue me," replied the
debtor, "and therefore you may begin your suit as soon
as you please." IMr. Harris left him, meditating :
Ci Good God," said he to himself, "-what shall I do ?
Must I leave preaching to attend to a vexatious law-suit !
Perhaps a thousand souls will perish in the mean time for
the want of hearing of Jesus ! No, I will not. Wei!,
what will you do for yourself ? Why, this I will do ; I
will sue him at the Court of Heaven." Having resolved
what to do, he turned aside into a wood, and fell upon
liis knees, and thus began his suit : " O blessed Jesus i
thou eternal God ! Thou knowest that I need the money
which the man owes me, to supply the wants of my
family ; but he will not pay me without a law-suit.
Dear Jesus, shall I quit thy cause, and leave the souls of
men to perish ? Or wilt thou, in- mercy, open some
other way of relief?" In this address, the Colonel had
such nearness to God, that (to use his own words) Jesus
said unto him, " Harris, I will enter bonds-man for the
man you keep on preaching, and omit the law-suit I
will take care of you, and see that you have your pay."
Mr. Harris felt well satisfied with his security, but