July 12: Rev. Henry Pattillo [1726-1801]

Testify.

It was in 1751 that the Rev. Samuel Davies, then a resident of Hanover, Virginia, decided to journey to Roanoke for the purpose of preaching. Somewhere along his journey, he became acquainted with a young man by the name of Henry Pattillo. It was a providential meeting.

Henry had been born in Scotland, of Christian parents who arranged for him to apprentice with a local merchant. In time, seeking a better situation, Henry immigrated to America and settled in the Province of Virginia. Working first for a merchant, and later as a teacher, Henry was increasingly under conviction of his sins and sought the Lord.

He began to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Prayer became “his very breath” and mediation on the Scriptures brought great joy. “I used, when along, to speak out in mediation, and do esteem it an excellent medium to fix the heart on the work.” Further, “Thus I went on my way rejoicing and serving God for the space of a year and half; I was generally full of warmth, nor could I take the Bible or any religious book into my hand but I would find something suited to the present state of my soul…”

So this was the young man whom Rev. Davies met on his journey. Impressed with his character and gifts, he invited him to return and study for the ministry under his tutelage. Finally on July12th in 1758, Mr. Pattillo was ordained in Cumberland, and the following September was installed as pastor of the churches of Willis Creek, Byrd, and Buck Island. So began a ministry of some forty years.

And while we could write further of his long career, what I find notable of Rev. Pattillo is the will that he drew up when he realized, in 1800, that death was near:

“I adore the blessed Providence that more especially watched over me and wonderfully governed my steps; that at the commencement of my manhood rescued me from the ways of sin and the paths of the destroyer; that made it good for me to bear the yoke in my youth; that after many discouraging disappointments which I afterwards found were merciful interpositions of divine goodness, my way was opened to an education, and I was carried through it, though poverty and a melancholy constitution darkened my prospects, and threatened to stop me at every turn. The same divine goodness and free mercy that had thus far indulged my ardent wish and daily prayer, that I might be qualified both by heaven’s grace and human learning to preach the everlasting gospel, was graciously pleased to call me thereto, and set me apart by the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. Having, therefore, obtained help of God, I continue to this day, having nothing to complain of my adorable Master, for goodness and mercy have followed me all my life long; but have to accuse myself that in ten thousand instances I have come short of the glory of God, and have been a very unprofitable servant, in not promoting to the utmost my own salvation and that of others. And a great aggravation of this guilt is, that wherever I have preached the gospel God has honored me with such a share of popularity and the favor of mankind, as have opened a door for much more usefulness than I have had a zeal and diligence to improve. Look, gracious God, on a creature all over guilt and imperfection, through the all-perfect righteousness, wonderous sufferings and glorious resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ, on whom I cast myself for time and eternity.

“As to my mortal part, let it return, when He that built it pleaseth, to the dust from whence it was taken, and in the next burying-place to which I may die. I commit it to him who perfumed the grave for his people’s calm repose; who acknowledges his relation to them even in the dust, and I am sure will new create it by his power divine.”

Words to Live By:
Have you ever thought that your will could and should itself be a witness, a testimony to the grace of God in your life? Perhaps it is time to re-draft that essential document. Everything in your life should serve to give glory to the Lord. So too, let everything in your final days give praise to God.

This God is our God, for ever and ever; He will be our guide, even unto death.”—Psalm 48:14, KJV.

Two publications under the name of Henry Patillo have been located online and may be viewed over at the Log College Press web site. Click here to read or download these works:

 

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