Samuel Harriss was born on January 12, 1724, to respected parents in Hanover County, Virginia. He was appointed a church warden, sheriff, justice of the peace, burgess for the county, colonel of the militia, captain of Fort Mayo, and commissary for the fort and army.
On one occasion in 1758, he was 34 and on a route to visit some of the forts in full military dress. He stopped in to hear Joseph and William Murphy preach the gospel. He tried to hide behind a loom, but he fell under deep conviction. He left his sword and other parts of his uniform scattered in various parts of the building, until finally in prayer, he received Christ as His Savior from sin.He immediately began ministerial duty, and soon was known as the "Virginia Apostle."
Baptists were spoken against everywhere in Virginia, because the Colony sponsored a church that was against Baptists. Baptist preachers did not see any reason to have the Government approve them for preaching the Word of God, and in fact found great reason they should not seek government approval. The State Episcopal church was also very concerned over the popularity of Baptist preachers when they could barely force a few people to attend their churches. Episcopal officials seemed more concerned about their salaries than the truth of God's Word.
Samuel Harris forsook all of his prestige, fortune, and honor to become a pastor, causing his family to live quite frugally so he could preach. When he was saved, he was in the process of building a new huge house. As soon as it was covered, it became a church building and he continued living in their small house. Some say George Whitefield was not as good as Samuel in preaching.
In Culpeper county in 1765, he was driven away during his first sermon there by a mob armed with sticks, whips and clubs. On his first meeting in Orange County, he was knocked down and dragged by his hair and then his leg, till a friend rescued him. He spent quite a bit of time in jail for preaching without a license. In his own home county, Pittsylvania, Samuel Harriss was well respected and people would come from miles away to attend his meeting.
One man owed Samuel some money but would not pay him unless they went to court. Samuel took it to the Lord and asked for help. He felt the Lord would take care of the matter and wrote out a statement canceling the debt. The man was so amazed, he paid the debt in full!
George Grant & Gregory Wilbur. The Christian Almanac. Nashville, Cumberland House, 2000. page 35.
William Warren Sweet. Religion in Colonial America. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1942. page 303.
E. Wayne Thompson & David L. Cummins. This Day in Baptist History. Greenville, South Carolina: Bob Jones University Press, 1993. Page 16-17.
Robert G. Torbet. A History of the Baptists. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1963. page 239.
Jeffery Faggart. The Baptist History Preservation Society "Baptist History Tour 2000" Baptist History Preservation Society Tour 2000.htm
21 TNT: an Independent Baptist Magazine. Biographies of the Baptized Believers-- 21tnt http://www.21tnt.com/biographies.htm
Steve Flinchum History of the Baptists. Chapter 13