Samuel Pearce: A Biographical Sketch
Living in the latter half of the 18th century, Samuel Pearce (1766-1799) was a Baptist minister in England known for his spirituality and concern for the lost, which was evident in his preaching ministry.
Samuel Pearce was born into a devout Baptist family on July 20th, 1766 in Plymouth to William and Lydia Pearce. Pearce unfortunately did not know his mother, she having died while he was an infant. However, he was raised by his father and later his grandfather; both of whom where known as godly men.
As a teen, Pearce labeled himself in wicked terms noting he had left his godly upbringing. He followed after friends who he described as “vicious school-fellows”. He considered his heart as “evil” in the frame of mind as Jeremiah 17:9 depicts. However, this changed in his sixteenth year while under the preaching of Isaiah Brit (1758-1837). It was through Brit’s gospel message of Christ that Pearce attributed his conversion.
The Beginning of His Ministry
Not long after this event in his life, Pearce’s church realized he had been given a gift by God and nurtured this by sending him to Bristol Baptist Academy. After completing his studies he entered the preaching ministry at Cannon Street Baptist Church. The opening lines of his acceptance letter for the appointment typify his life.
“Be for God’s Glory, for the good of precious souls, for your prosperity as a Church, and for my prosperity as your minister.”
Piety and Missions
Pearce lived a life devoted to God. Even the selection of his wife Sarah was grounded in this as it was her Christian piety that he found attractive. Godliness was highly valued in his life and the thrust of his advice to his congregation. In a circular letter written in 1794, “on doing good” Pearce advised Christians to examine themselves to see if they have been, “irregular in secret duties”; a reference to the practice of spiritual disciplines.
Aside from personal piety, Pearce exhibited a desire to see the lost come to know Christ. There is a recorded instance of his preaching schedule being shifted to a 5am start so that the town’s working class could attend. It was during this sermon some of the other preachers in attendance notice when he seemed to have finished his message he began again. When questioned, Pearce remarked that he had seen a poor man enter in when he was finishing and thought, “Here may be a man who never heard the gospel”.
This love for the lost extended into missions. This lead to his involvement in the formation of what became known as the Baptist Missionary Society that fueled such missionaries as William Carey, who became a long time friend of Peace. This love for missions led Pearce to a desire to serve in India; a desire that was not shared by the society who saw his need at home. Disappointed in their decision, he nonetheless resolved himself to submit to God’s will and stay in England.
A Short Life for Christ
At the end of his sort life, (33 years) Pearce contracted a fatal cold during his preaching circuits. While struggling for life he was still crafting ways to bring the gospel to foreign lands as detailed in his letters to William Carey. Samuel Pearce went to be home with his savior on October 10, 1799. Though he had a short ministry, it was full of fruit; demonstrating the love of Christ.
Cited Carey, Samuel Pearce, 95.