Monday, January 2, 2017

Memoirs of David Rice: Devotes Himself to the Ministry

Continued from the Memoirs of Rev. David Rice (Chapter IV): Introduction of the Gospel into Virginia.

This is from Chapter V of the memoirs of Rev. David Rice, which were included in An Outline of the History of the Church in the State of Kentucky, During a Period of Forty Years by Robert Hamilton Bishop and published in 1824.

A heart which is really changed from sin to holiness will be anxious to be employed in promoting holiness. What shall I render to the Lord for all his mercies? will be its language. Having obtained an answer to the question, what shall I do to be saved? the happy person will next inquire, by what means shall I best promote the salvation of others? How shall I most effectually recommend to others the exceeding riches of that grace of which I am made an unworthy partaker? while revolving in his mind these and similar inquires, Mr. Rice's attention was turned towards the gospel ministry. He was far, however, from considering his anxiety for the welfare of souls, or his anxiety for the advancement of God's glory, a warrant from him to assume the character of a preacher; much less was he disposed to consider his experience of God's goodness in delivery him from the bondage of sin, a sufficient qualification to enable him to act as a preacher. His experience had a quite different effect. It had convinced him of his ignorance and weakness, and of the many qualifications which were necessary to enable a man to expound scripture, and deal with the souls of his fellow men. These qualifications he did not expect to receive by any extraordinary revelation, but by a diligent use of ordinary means. He believed also that the church, through the organs of those courts which the head himself hath instituted, is the only competent authority to decide what particular individual hath the necessary qualifications for the office of the holy ministry. These were his sentiment from the very first, and they were strengthened rather than weakened by the experience of upwards of fifty years. 'I yet believe,' says he, 'that the modern notion to lead men into many errors which have greatly corrupted the christian system.'

Having devoted himself to the work of the ministry, should God in his providence give him a regular call, he determined to sacrifice every inclination and every interest which would impede him in his pursuit of the necessary qualifications. He particularly resolved to avoid every degree of intimacy with the other sex, knowing that entering into the marriage state would impede if not entirely prevent the accomplishment of his object.

The great body of the people in the land of his nativity were of the Episcopal or English church, and the temptation to attach himself to the service of that church was considerable. It was the Established church -- under the special protection of the government -- every minister having secured to him the annual salary of 18,000 weight of tobacco, with other perquisites of considerable amount. But to a spiritual mind these external advantages presented no allurement. Though there were here and there a worthy respectable clergyman of that church, the great majority of the officiating clergy were vicious characters, and some of them so grossly immoral as to render them unfit company for any gentleman. This being the general character of the officiating priests, no discipline or government of a spiritual nature was exercised. The most profane atheists, and deists, and drunkards, and debauchees of every kind, were admitted, whenever they made application, to all the privileges of Christ's children. In this state of things, though, Mr. Rice's heart was attached to the doctrines, and by no means averse to the worship of the Episcopal church, he could not in conscience think of asking any steps to procure orders in that church. With Moses, in a case by no means dissimilar, he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. The very reproach of Christ was of more value in his estimation than all the honors and all the wealth of the dignified order.

He began the study of the Latin language at a Grammar school kept by Rev. John Todd, and finished his Grammar course at another school kept by Rev. James Waddle, who was some years after minister of the gospel and doctor of divinity in Albemarle county. After Mr. Davies was appointed President of New Surrey College, he went there, and at the end of two years commenced Bachelor of Arts. He then returned to Virginia, and studied Divinity under the aforesaid Mr. Todd.

Having struggled under a variety of discouraging circumstances, he was at last licensed as a probationer for the gospel ministry by the Presbytery of Hanover in Nov. 1762.

Site of Pole Green Church, where the Hanover Presbytery
was formed; photo courtesy of Wikipedia

I am publishing a chapter of Rev. David Rice's memoirs every Monday.

To be continued...

Rev. David Rice (1733-1816) was my fifth great grandfather.

Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Introduction of the Gospel into Virginia
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Relief Obtained
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Further Convictions
Memoirs of Rev. David Rice: Birth, Parentage, and First Convictions 
Preparing for the Revolutionary War
Pray Together, Stay Together
Apostle of Kentucky

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