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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Colonel Samuel Harris, Preaching Amidst Oppostion

"Glory! Glory! Glory!" 
Colonel Samuel Harris, 1758.

Samuel Harris shouted these words when roused from his prayer, having just been converted to a deep conviction that true salvation came from faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for payment for his sins, and of the need of a new birth for all men.

A prominent member of society and the militia, Colonel Samuel had discovered he was a hopless sinner. On route to perform official visits at forts in Virginia, he stopped by a small house where Baptists Joseph and William Murphy were preaching. Not wanting to draw attention to himself (being in military dress), he sat behind a loom. But God found him.  Convicted of his need for Christ to be his Saviour, Colonel Harris fell before the Lord in prayer. 

Soon this man began to preach the gospel to the soldiers and officers of Fort Mayo. He continued to preach, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person who would listen. He devoted his wealth and property to preaching, giving his new residence over to use of public worship and chosing to live in his old home.

The Dunking of David Barrow and Edward Mintz
As his ministry grew, so did the persecution he experienced. In Culpeper he was driven from the pulipt by a mob with sticks, whips and clubs. In Orange County he was pulled down and dragged by hair and leg. He was arrested and ordered not to preach, but this didn't stop him. He and his companion, James Reed, started as many as two hundred churches.

This man mirrored the life of the Apostle Paul.

"Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." II Corinthians 11:23-27

I wonder how many of today's evangelists would be willing to endure the persecutions these men endured. The doctrine of appealing publicity and marketing is pounded into the hearts and minds of writers and speakers alike, but is that pleasing to God? These men had one message: God's plan of salvation through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as payment for our sins. They adamantly preached that there is no other way to come to God.

Why were these men willing to endure such sufferings? For the love of Christ and of man, and for the glory of God.

In Paul's words:
"For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. 

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

"But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not....

"And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for the furtherance and joy of faith;" Philippians 1:19-25
I know that my own forthrightness in speaking the Gospel has caused others to scorn me, to tell me I shouldn't be so bold. However, what persecution I have experienced is the kiss of flowers compared to what preachers, such as Colonel Samuel Harris, endured. I must follow their example and continue in what God has called me to do. 

How about you? Are you listening to the Holy Spirit's prompting you to serve Him with the same fervor as these great men of God?

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