"The Divine Life in the Soul Considered": Theology and Spirituality in the Works of Samuel Davies
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SubjectDavies, Samuel, 1723-1761
Spiritual life--Christianity--History of doctrines--18th century
Evangelicalism--United States--History--18th century
This dissertation argues that Samuel Davies' theology of and vision for the Christian life were inseparable. Although his contribution to American Evangelicalism was not as original nor as widely remembered as that of his contemporaries, Samuel Davies' insistence on vital Christian piety was far more central to his ministry than was religious toleration or patriotic duty, which are more commonly remembered emphases of his legacy. Chapter 2 recounts the contours of Davies' life and world. Chapter 3 argues that Samuel Davies' vision of the Christian life was grounded in the divine revelation of Scripture. The Bible was essential to a life of godliness. Samuel Davies believed that Jesus Christ communicated and sustained divine life in people and that this life marked the beginning of genuine piety. Chapter 4 shows that Davies' emphasis on conversion is grounded in the Puritan tradition yet evinces an emerging Evangelical theology. Chapter 5 argues that Davies saw gospel holiness as the animating principle of spiritual life, that which separated it from worldly, even religious counterfeits. Chapter 6 demonstrates that Davies believed that spiritual life was maintained through the conscientious practice of various religious duties, especially through private prayer and public communion.