Few people in the 21st century have heard of a Colonial American pastor named Samuel Davies. Yet in his short 37 years of life, his impact on the colonies for the gospel was significant. In fact, so great was his gift for preaching that on a trip to London he was invited to preach at the royal chapel for King George II. His passion for the gospel led him to establish and give pastoral oversight to as many as seven congregations at a time in Hanover County, Virginia (just above Richmond).
Although tragedy struck early in his life when his first wife and newborn son died just a little over a year after he married, he married again and had a fervent conviction that Christian homes needed to be partnered with the local church in leading families to vibrant faith. In a letter to the heads of households in those churches, Davies wrote the following:
“Were your families made for this world or the next? If for the next, then religion must be maintained in them, for that alone can prepare you for eternity…must not religion be maintained in your families? They should be nurseries for heaven, and that they cannot be if you banish devotion from them…
How can you expect that your children [and your servants] will become worshipers of the God of heaven if they have been educated in the neglect of family religion? Can prayerless parents expect to have praying children? If you neglect to instruct them, can you expect they will grow up in the knowledge of God and of themselves?…
Their souls, sirs, their immortal souls, are entrusted to your care, and you must give a solemn account of your trust…I beseech, I entreat, I charge you to begin and continue the worship of God in your families from this day to the close of your lives.” (The Godly Family, pp. 13-15)
Such a word could not be more appropriate for Christian families in the United States today! As I preached yesterday, I shared that quote as a way of encouraging our family of faith to step up to their calling and embrace the challenge that has been preserved and passed on over 250 years after the words were first written! God’s truth endures and His words still challenge us as they have since the days of Moses:
Deut. 6:6-7 “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; 7 and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
God give us families that will commit themselves to be “nurseries for heaven!”