Morris, Samuel

Morris, Samuel a Presbyterian lay worker in colonial days, flourished near the middle of last century in Hanover, Va. He was a man of singularly earnest and devoted spirit, and did much to advance the interests of Presbyterianism in Virginia. His house was a resort for those "who were dissatisfied with the preaching of the parish incumbents, and anxious to enjoy the privilege of listening on the Sabbath to the reading of instructive and devotional works on religion." He was himself reared in the Anglican establishment, but by accident becoming acquainted with Presbyterian works — among them Boston's Fourfold State — he embraced that Calvinistic confession, and soon gathered about him others who, like him, chose rather to subject themselves to the payment of the fines imposed by law than to attend church where they felt that they could not be profited. The little band of lay workers, as yet never under the instruction of a Presbyterian pastor, but nevertheless greatly interested in Presbyterian doctrine, and unconsciously its adherents even, first met every Sabbath alternately at each other's houses to read and pray. But as their number increased they regularly gathered at Mr. Morris's house, until at length that dwelling-house was too small to contain the people. and it was determined "to build a meeting- house," "merely for reading," as Mr. Morris himself adds. This house of worship was afterwards designated "Morris's Reading-room," and was the starting-point of Presbyterianism in Virginia. From Hanover Mr. Morris was frequently called to different places in the state to instruct the inquiring, and, complying with their invitations, went out and spread the interest in distant parts. As they increased in numbers the Established Church made complaint against them to the governor, and they were called up for trial, but they were promptly discharged when it was found that their creed was that of the Kirk. SEE PRESBYTERIANISM. See also Gillett, Hist. of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 1:111- 120; Anderson, Hist. of the Colonial Church, 3:229 sq. (J.H.W.)

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