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The life of Samuel Davies was remarkable in many respects. For one thing, he may be said to have preached his own funeral sermon when he was only thirty-seven. The occasion was a service in the chapel of the College of New Jersey at Princeton on New Year's Day, 1761, and his text, Jeremiah 28.16, 'This year thou shalt die'. The sermon was designed to alarm the careless and unconverted among the students. In that sermon Davies said: 'And it is not only possible, but highly probable, death may meet some of us within the compass of this year. Perhaps I may die this year'. He concluded: 'It is of little importance to me whether I die this year, or not; but the only important point is, that I make a good use of my future time, whether it be longer or shorter'. The preacher died one month later on February 4th.
Despite his relatively short life, Davies accomplished much and lived the creed to which he exhorted the Princeton Class of 1760 in his baccalaureate address and which has been echoed by the presidents of Princeton throughout its history: "Whatever be your place, imbibe and cherish a public spirit. Serve your generation."