He Being Dead, Yet Speaks
by Rev. David T. Myers

You may have noted that several of those featured in this historical devotional guide have been mentioned for more than just one date out of the year. Their birth dates, their death dates, and significant dates during their lives may have been featured. The reason why that is that they, while members now of the triumphant church, were well-known members of the militant church on earth, and so there is much to note about their lives and how the Lord worked through them. Such a one was Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, whose inaugural address we featured this past Saturday, and who we feature again today.

Born in 1851 in Kentucky from good solid Presbyterian heritage, especially on his mother’s side, Warfield was known and still is known as a great defender of the faith. The books he wrote are still readily available in both hard copy as well as on the web.  Yet he had limited experience in the pulpit and pastorate, serving only a few years in that capacity.  Further, he was not interested in  church politics,  either in the presbytery, synod, or general assembly.  His place of ministry was always in the classroom in a seminary setting.

In that sense, he was, as Paul puts it in Ephesians 4:12, an individual who “equipped the saints.”  That word “equip” is used in the gospels accounts to describe the necessary work of the fishermen who later became the apostles of our Lord.  It was said that when that divine call came, they were “mending the nets.”  In other words, they were getting the nets ready for service.  This is what the word “equip” speaks about in Ephesians 4.  And that is exactly what Warfield did as a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary with his students.  They were equipped as student saints.   They were prepared for service in the kingdom of God.

No one did a better job in his time there than Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield.  He took over the Chair of Charles Hodge from the son of Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge.  He was therefore a link to the marvelous Hodge dynasty at old Princeton.  When he died in 1921, it was said that Old Princeton had passed away. In God’s providence, a mere nine years later Westminster Theological Seminary  began,  as an effort to preserve and continue something of that tradition of Old Princeton.

And to think all this story was begun officially on April 26, 1879 when Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield was ordained to the ministry, being ordained by the Presbytery of Ebenezer (PCUSA).   It was a recognition of the spiritual gifts which he possessed in knowledge and wisdom, in teaching, and in discernment. His ordination was a recognition by the Church of the hope and anticipation of how those gifts might be used in coming years, for the glory of God.

Words to Live By: Warfield is in heaven now, but his words live on in the church on earth.  It will do you, the reader, much good to spend time in reading his books either in book form or on the web.  Those books are not always easy to read, but they are worth the effort, for they still stand ready to equip you for service in Christ’s kingdom. A number of Dr. Warfield’s works can be easily located online, here.

Note: Consulting Robinson’s Ministerial Directory (1898), page 526, we find that Warfield was ordained by the Presbytery of Ebenezer, on 26 April 1879. From the time-line provided in Robinson, it looks like Warfield’s ordination was performed with a view to his installation as professor of Didactic & Polemic Theology at the Princeton Theological Seminary. He had first served in the summer of 1875 as stated supply in Concord, KY, then in Dayton, OH in the summer of 1876, and from 1877-78 as stated supply for First Presbyterian in Baltimore, MD. He was an instructor in New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Western Seminary, 1878-79. Thus the ordination would have taken place at the end of the academic year at Western, but probably after Warfield had his call to Princeton in hand.

There was a good deal of serious scholarship which arose from among the early leaders of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Bible Presbyterian Synod. And of the many who accomplished so much in their study and defense of the Scriptures, the Rev. Dr. R. Laird Harris was easily among the most notable of these scholars.

harris02Robert Laird Harris was born on 10 March 1911 in Brownsburg, Pennsylvania. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Delaware in 1931, a Th.B. from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1935 and a Th.M. from Westminster in 1937. He was licensed in 1935 by the New Castle Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PCUSA), and ordained in June 1936 in the Presbyterian Church of America [the original name of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)] at that denomination’s first General Assembly.

He left the OPC late in 1937 to join the newly formed Bible Presbyterian Church. Harris then received an A.M. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1941, and was later part-time instructor in Hebrew there from 1946 to 1947. He obtained his Ph.D. from Dropsie in 1947. Biblical exegesis was Dr. Harris’s field and he taught this for twenty years at Faith Theological Seminary, first as instructor (1937 – 1943), then as assistant professor (1943 – 1947) and finally as professor (1947 – 1956).

Dr. Harris served as moderator of the Bible Presbyterian Synod in 1956, the year in which the denomination divided. Harris defended the validity of church-controlled agencies against those who insisted on independent agencies, and he was one of many faculty members to resign from Faith Seminary that year. He became at that time one of the founding faculty members of Covenant Theological Seminary. He was professor there and chairman of the Old Testament department from 1956 until he retired from full-time teaching in 1981. He remained an occasional lecturer at Covenant, and was also a lecturer in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan and a visiting professor in India, Hong Kong and Germany following his retirement, while also working on further revisions to the New International Version translation of the Bible.

He remained active in church leadership, serving as chairman of the fraternal relations committee of the Bible Presbyterian Church, Columbus Synod during the late 1950s, when discussion began concerning union between the BPC, Columbus Synod and the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, General Synod. He remained on that committee through 1965, seeing the effort through to the culmination of ecclesiastical union with the creation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES). In 1982, the RPCES joined the Presbyterian Church in America and Dr. Harris was elected moderator that year for the 10th General Assembly of the PCA.

Harris was not only a teacher and church leader, but a prolific author as well. He published an Introductory Hebrew Grammar, the prize-winningInspiration and Canonicity of the Bible, and additional works such as Your Bible and Man–God’s Eternal Creation. He was editor of The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament and a contributing editor to the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, and wrote articles for the Wycliffe Bible Commentary and Expositor’s Bible. Also, as noted above, Dr. Harris served as chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation that produced the New International Version of the Bible .

Dr. Harris’ first wife, Elizabeth K. Nelson, died in 1980. He later married Anne P. Krauss and they resided for some time in Wilmington, Delaware before declining health prompted a move to the Quarryville Retirement Home in Quarryville, PA. Dr. Robert Laird Harris entered glory on 25 April 2008. The funeral service for Dr. Harris was conducted on 1 May 2008 at the Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church, Quarryville, PA, and internment was on 2 May 2008 in the historic cemetery adjacent to the Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church, New Hope, Pennsylvania.

Words to Live By:
For those who enter upon the study of the Scriptures, especially at the academic level, there is a hidden pitfall. It is a deadly danger which ultimately springs from pride and the imposition of human intellect upon the very Word of God. By God’s grace, Dr. Harris avoided this pitfall and to his dying day, his heart remained humble before the Lord his God. The Puritan theologian John Owen, in his Biblical Theology, gives an excellent summary of both the problem and the proper, necessary approach that any scholar must maintain in the study of the Scriptures:

“Wherever fear and caution have not infused the student’s heart, God is despised. His pleasure is only to dwell in hearts which tremble at His Word. Light or frivolous perusal of the Scriptures is a sickness of soul which leads on to the death of atheism. He who would properly undertake the study of the Bible must keep fixed in his memory, fastened as it were with nails, that stern warning of the Apostle inHebrews 12:28-29, ‘Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and Godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire.’ Truly, ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ If this fear is not experienced in the study of the Word, it will not display itself in any other facet of life.’
— 
Biblical Theology, by John Owen (Soli Deo Gloria, 1996), pp. 699-700.

Pages from the funeral bulletin for Dr. R. Laird Harris:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Addison Alexander was the third son of the Rev. Archibald Alexander and his wife Janetta (Waddel) Alexander and he was born on this day, April 24, in 1809. In modern terms, Joseph was home schooled, and he developed an insatiable thirst for knowledge, pursuing one subject after another as it caught his attention. Eventually he grew to become another of that esteemed early faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary.

His biographer says of J.A. Alexander that

“…in the midst of all his laborious and diversified pursuits he saved time for the most heart-searching exercises in his closet. He gave himself up to daily communion with his God. He might neglect everything else, but he could not neglect his private devotions. In point of fact he neglected nothing. He moved as by clockwork. The cultivation of personal piety, in the light of the inspired word, was now with him the main object that he had in life. The next most prominent goal that he set before himself was the interpretation of the original scriptures; for their own sake, and for the benefit of a rising ministry, as well as for the gratification he took in the work. The Bible was to him the most profoundly interesting book in the world. It was in his eyes not merely the only source of true and undefiled religion, but also the very paragon among all remains of human genius. He knew great portions of it by heart….But more than this, the Bible was the chief object of his personal enthusiasm; he was fond of it; he was proud of it; he exulted in it. It occupied his best thoughts by day and by night. It was his meat and drink. It was his delectable reward. There were times when he might say with the Psalmist, “Mine eyes prevent the night watches that I might meditate in thy word, I have rejoiced in the way of thy precepts more than in great riches.” He succeeded perfectly in communicating this delightful zeal to others. His pupils all concur in saying that “he made the Bible glorious” to them. 

Words to Live By: The Bible is the very Word of God—His self-revelation to His people. J.A. Alexander seems to have made Psalm 1 the model and guide for his life. If you have never memorized a portion of Scripture, this Psalm is short and is a great place to start. Setting it to memory, such that you can think on it at various times, will bring real profit.

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Additional Notes for this day:
Also on this day, April 24, in 1922, Professor J.G. Machen, lecturer, author and Bible scholar, delivered two addresses on Christianity at the dedication of the new home of the New York Bible Society in East Forty-eighth Street. [The Continent 53.17 (27 April 1922): 529.]

The Earliest  Protestant Missionary to Korea
by Rev. David T. Myers

It wasn’t luck.  It wasn’t chance.  It wasn’t good fortune.  It was plainly providential.

Sent to Korea as a physician, Horace Newton Allen was in Seoul in 1884 when a royal relative of the governing family was stabbed and left badly injured.  A German diplomat called for Dr. Allen to treat the young man with Western style medicine practices with the result that the young member of  the royal family recovered in three months.  Obviously pleased with the results, the royal family was grateful beyond words and ready to do any thing and everything the physician desired.  He promptly went about to establish a hospital which sought to train native Koreans in Western style medicine practices.  But Allen also sought to open up the vast land to American evangelists and missionaries, for that was what Dr. Allen was himself.

Born April 23, 1858 in Delaware, Ohio, Horace Newton Allen studied at Ohio Wesleyan University.  Graduating from there, he went on to get his medical credentials from Miami Medical School in Ohio.  Sent out first by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions to China, he stayed but a year as a result of less than welcome from the Chinese people.  So he went to Korea and had the above experience.

This wide and effective door occurred when Korea was still anti-Christian in its attitude and actions toward Christians.  A little before this, over 10,000 Koreans who had converted to Christianity had been beheaded.  But his example as a Christian doctor enabled the opening of the door to Christians evangelists and missionaries from other lands, including the United States,  to enter the land and minister there in complete freedom.

In fact, so much did he identify with the Korean people, that the United States in 1897 appointed him as a diplomatic minister and consul general to that land.  He stayed there in this government position until 1905 when President Teddy Roosevelt recalled  him.   He returned to the United States and died in 1932.

The medical facility which he began was called in Korean, “The House of Extended Grace.”  And that is what Dr. Horace Allen brought to  Korea as he evangelized the souls of people in that Asian nation and healed the bodies of Korean people.

Words to Live By:   When God opens up a wide and effective door, God’s people need to be ready to enter through it for the work of Christ’s kingdom.

A Man Fit for the Times
by Rev. David T. Myers

Jonathan Dickinson shares a lot of credit in the shaping of the early Presbyterian Church in the American colonies.  Born on April 22, 1688 in Hatfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Yale in 1706.  Two years later, he was installed as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, where he remained for the next forty years.

In 1722, with respect to the issue of creedal subscription, a schism began to develop in the infant Presbyterian church.  The question was simple.  Should a church officer — elder or deacon — be required to subscribe to everything in the Westminster Standards, or would it be sufficient for that officer to simply subscribe to the more basic truths of historic Christianity, as expressed, for instance, in the Nicene Creed?  Dickinson took the latter position and became the chief proponent of it in the infant church.  The fact that the same issue was raging in the mother countries among the immigrants from England, Scotland, and Ireland only heightened the controversy in the colonies.  Eventually, the approaching storm of schism was stopped by the Adopting Act of 1729.  Written by Jonathan Dickinson, it solidly placed the church as believing in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the only infallible rule of faith and life, while receiving and adopting the Confessional standards of the Westminster Assembly as subordinate standards of the church.  Each court of the latter, whether Session, Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly would decide what exceptions to the latter would be allowed, and which exceptions would not be tolerated to the Westminster Standards.

In addition to his pastoral leadership in the church courts, the fourth college to be established in the colonies was the College of New Jersey in 1746.  It began in the manse of the first president, namely, Jonathan Dickinson.  The handful of students in what later on become Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University studied books which were a part of Dickinson’s pastoral library, and ate their meals with his family.  He would pass on to glory four months after the beginning of this school.

His last words were symbolic of his place in the history of the Presbyterian church.  He said, “Many years passed between God and my soul, in which I have solemnly dedicated myself to Him, and I trust what I have committed unto Him, He is able to keep until that day.”

Words to Live By:  Is this your testimony?  Paul writes in his last letter to the first century church, “. . . for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (KJV – 2 Timothy 1:12)

THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 17-18.

Q. 17. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?

A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery

EXPLICATION.

The fall.—Adam’s first sin is so called, because by it he lost his innocence, and thus fell from God’s favor.

Estate of misery.—A state of fear, misfortune, pain, sickness, distress, and death, without anything like perfect happiness.

ANALYSIS.

Here we are taught two things:

That the state into which man has fallen, (or our present state,) is one of sin.—Eccles. vii. 20. For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

That it is also a state of misery.—Gal. iii. 10. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.

Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?

A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin, together with all actual transgression which proceed from it.

EXPLICATION.

Guilt of Adam’s first sin.—By this we are to understand, that all mankind are justly exposed to punishment, that is, to sorrow, and to suffering, on account of Adam’s first sin, because he was then answerable, by his agreement with God, not only for himself, but for all his descendants.

Original righteousness.—That holiness and purity of nature, or those good inclinations and desires, which Adam had when God made him.

Corruption.—Wickedness.

Original sin.—Those evil inclinations and desires which every one, since the fall, brings with him into the world.

Actual transgressions.—The sins which we every day commit, either in our thoughts, or in our words, or in our works.

Proceed from it.—Which arise, or spring, from original sin.

ANALYSIS.

The doctrines contained in this answer, are five in number.—We are here taught, that the sinfulness of our present state consists,

  1. In the guilt of Adam’s first sin.—Rom. v. 19. By one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners.
  2. In the want of original righteousness.—Rom. iii. 10. There is none righteous, no, not one.
  3. In the corruption of our whole nature.—Psal. liii. 3. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
  4. That this general corruption of our nature is commonly called Original Sin.—Psal. li. 5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
  5. That our actual transgressions, which also greatly contribute to the sinfulness of our present state, proceed from our original sin.—Matt. xv. 19, 20. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, furnications, [sic] thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

It was on this day, April 20th, in 1880 that the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, at the age of twenty-nine, was inaugurated as Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Literature at the Western Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We take as the text of our post today the introductory part of Warfield’s inaugural lecture. A link follows at the close of this section for those who would like to read the whole of the lecture. Not every modern day seminary retains this tradition of the inaugural sermon or address, though it is a fine tradition and one which we find profit in and hope will continue.

First, Barry Waugh provides us with a fitting introduction, setting the stage for our post today:

“In September of 1878, Benjamin began his career as a theological educator when he became an instructor in New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. Western Seminary had been formed by the merger of existing seminaries including Danville Seminary, which R. J. Breckinridge, Benjamin’s grandfather, had been involved in founding. The following year he was made professor of the same subject and he continued in that position until 1887. In his inaugural address for Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Literature, April 20, 1880, he set the theme for many of his writing efforts in the succeeding years by defending historic Christianity. The purpose of his lecture was to answer the question, “Is the Church Doctrine of the Plenary Inspiration of the New Testament Endangered by the Assured Results of Modern Biblical Criticism.” Professor Warfield affirmed the inspiration, authority and reliability of God’s Word in opposition to the critics of his era. He quickly established his academic reputation for thoroughness and defense of the Bible. Many heard of his academic acumen and his scholarship was awarded by eastern academia when his alma mater, the College of New Jersey, awarded him an honorary D. D. in 1880.”

INAUGURAL ADDRESS
by
PROF. BENJAMIN B. WARFIELD.

Fathers and Brothers:

It is without doubt a very wise provision by which, in institutions such as this, an inaugural address is made a part of the ceremony of induction into the professorship. Only by the adoption of some such method could it be possible for you as the guardians of this institution, responsible for the principles here inculcated, to give to each newly-called teacher an opportunity to publicly declare the sense in which he accepts your faith and signs your standards. Eminently desirable at all times, this seems particularly so now, when a certain looseness of belief (inevitable parent of looseness of practice) seems to have invaded portions of the Church of Christ,—not leaving even its ministry unaffected;—when there may be some reason to fear that “enlightened clerical gentlemen may sometimes fail to look upon subscription to creeds as our covenanting forefathers looked upon the act of putting their names to theological documents, and as mercantile gentlemen still look upon the endorsement of bills.”* [*Peter Bayne in The Puritan Revolution.] And how much more forcibly can all this be pled when he who appears before you at your call, is young, untried, and unknown. I wish, therefore, to declare that I sign these standards not as a necessary form which must be submitted to, but gladly and willingly as the expression of a personal and cherished conviction; and, further, that the system taught in these symbols is the system which will be drawn out of the Scriptures in the prosecution of the teaching to which you have called me,—not, indeed, because commencing with that system the Scriptures can be made to teach it, but because commencing with the Scriptures I cannot make them teach anything else.

This much of personal statement I have felt it due both to you and myself to make at the outset; but having done with it, I feel free to turn from all personal concerns.

In casting about for a subject on which I might address you, I have thought I could not do better than to take up one of our precious old doctrines, much attacked of late, and ask the simple question : What seems the result of the attack? The doctrine I have chosen, is that of “Verbal Inspiration.” But for obvious reasons I have been forced to narrow the discussion to a consideration of the inspiration of the New Testament only; and that solely as assaulted in the name of criticism. I wish to ask your attention, then, to a brief attempt to aupply an answer to the question :

IS THE CHURCH DOCTRINE OF THE PLENARY INSPIRAITON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT ENDANGERED BY THE ASSURED RESULTS OF MODERN BIBLICAL CRITICISM?

At the very out-set, that our inquiry may not be a mere beating of the air, we must briefly, indeed, but clearly, state what we mean by the Church Doctrine. For, unhappily, there are almost as many theories of inspiration held by individuals as there are possible states imaginable between the slightest and the greatests influence God could exercise on man. It is with the traditional doctrine of the Reformed Churches, however, that we are concerned; and that we understand to be simply this :—Inspiration is that extraordinary supernatural influence (or, passively, the result of it,) exerted by the Holy Ghost on the writers of the Sacred Books, by which their words were rendered also the words of God, and, therefore, perfectly infallible. In this definition, it is to be noted: 1st, That this influence is a supernatural one—something different from the inspiration of the poet or man of genius. Luke’s accuracy is not left by it with only the safeguards which “the diligent and accurate Suetonius” had. 2d. That it is an extraordinary influence—something different from the ordinary action of the Spirit in the conversion and sanctifying guidance of believers. Paul had some more prevalent safeguard against false-teaching than Luther or even the saintly Rutherford. 3d. That it is such an influence as makes the words written under its guidance, the words of God; by which is meant to be affirmed an absolute infallibility (as alone fitted to divine words), admitting no degrees whatever—extending to the very word, and to all the words. So that every part of Holy Writ is thus held alike infallibly true in all its statements, of whatever kind.

Fencing around and explaining this definition, it is to be remarked further:

1st. That it purposely declares nothing as to the mode of inspiration. The Reformed Churches admit that this is inscrutable. They content themselves with defining carefully and holding fast the effects of the divine influence, leaving the mode of divine action by which it is brought about draped in mystery.

2d. It is purposely so framed as to distinguish it from revelation;—seeing that it has to do with the communication of truth not its acquirement.

3d. It is by no means to be imagined that it is meant to proclaim a mechanical theory of inspiration. The Reformed Churches have never held such a theory* [*See Dr. C. Hodge’s Systematic Theology, pFW `57, volume I]; though dishonest, careless, ignorant or over-eager controverters of its doctrine have often brought the charge. Even those special theologians in whose teeth such an accusation has been oftenest thrown (e.g., Gaussen) are explicit in teaching that the human element is never absent. The Reformed Churches hold, indeed, that every word of the Scriptures, without exception, is the word of God; but, alongside of that, they hold equally explicitly that every word is the word of man. And, therefore, though strong and uncompromising in resisting the attribution to the Scriptures of any failure in absolute truth and infallibility, they are before all others in seeking, and finding, and gazing on in loving rapture, the marks of the fervid impetuosity of a Paul—the tender saintliness of a John—the practical genius of a James, in the writings which through them the Holy Ghost has given for our guidance. Though strong and uncompromising in resisting all efforts to separate the human and divine, they distance all competitors in giving honor alike to both by proclaiming in one breath that all is divine and all is human. As Gaussen so well expresses it, “We all hold that every verse, without exception, is from men, and every verse, without exception, is from God;” “every word of the Bible is as really from man as it is from God.”

4th. Nor is this a mysterious doctrine—except, indeed, in the sense in which everything supernatural is mysterious. We are not dealing in puzzles, but in the plainest factcs of spiritual experience. How close, indeed, is the analogy here with all that we know of the Spirit’s action in other spheres! Just as the first act of loving faith by which the regenerated soul flows out of itself to its Saviour, is at once the consciously-chosen act of that soul and the direct work of the Holy Ghost; so, every word indited under the analogous influence of inspiration was at one and the same time the consciously self-chosen word of the writer and the divinely-inspired word of the Spirit. I cannot help thinking that it is through failure to note and assimilate this fact, that the doctrine of verbal inspiration is so summarily set aside and so unthinkingly inveighed against by divines otherwise cautious and reverent. Once grasp this idea, and how impossible is it to separate in any measure the human and divine. It is all human—every word, and all divine. The human characteristics are to be noted and exhibited; the divine perfection and infallibility, no less.

This, then, is what we understand by the church doctrine:—a doctrine which claims that by a special, supernatural, extraordinary influence of the Holy Ghost, the sacred writers have been guided in their writing in such a way, as while their humanity was not superseded, it was yet so dominated that their words became at the same time the words of God, and thus, in every case and all alike, absolutely infallible.

— We will close there before Professor Warfield begins to get into the heart of his discourse. If you would like to read the whole of his inaugural discourse, click here.

Tuition Is Bit Higher Now

I know him for his book, A Historical Vindication of the Abrogation of the Plan of UnionHistory remembers him for his founding of a school now known as the Lawrenceville School.

Isaac Van Arsdale Brown was born in Pluckamin, Somerset county, New York, on November 14, 1784. Little seems to be known of his parents or his early years. He graduated at Nassau Hall, as Princeton University was known in those days, and then studied theology privately under the tutelage of Dr. John Woodhull, of Freehold, New Jersey. He was licensed and then later ordained by the Presbytery of New Brunswick in 1807, being installed as the pastor of the church at Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Three years later, in 1810, Rev. Brown established the Lawrenceville Classical and Commercial Boarding School, located near Princeton, and up until 1833 Rev. Brown remained the head of this school. The school has continued to this day and is one of the oldest private boarding schools in the nation. Then in 1833, both his wife and his son died, and it seems likely that their deaths led to his decision to leave Lawrenceville. In 1834, he sold the school and relocated to Mount Holly, New Jersey to plant a church there, while also preaching at Plattsburg, NJ and working to establish another church there. The last two decades of his life were spent preaching in the areas around Trenton and New Brunswick.

Dr. Brown was one of the founders of the American Colonization Society and also an original member of the American Bible Society. He died on April 19, 1861. (for historical reference, Fort Sumter had been fired upon, and the Civil War thus began, a week prior, on April 12, 1861)

Dr. Isaac V. Brown is noted as the author of several works, but most importantly, that of A Historical Vindication of the Abrogation of the Plan of Union by the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. (1855). This is a careful treatment in defense of the Old School position on the 1837-1869 Old School/New School split in the PCUSA. It can be read online, here.

To read about the efforts of the Lawrenceville School in relocating Rev. Brown’s grave to a more appropriate location, click here.

Words to Live By:
In all likelihood, Rev. Brown started the school in Lawrenceville simply as a way to make ends meet. Pastors were not well paid in those days, and it was quite common for a pastor to turn to teaching in order to augment his salary. Nonetheless, the works that you do may live well beyond your own life-time. God will use what He will use. It is our part to be faithful in doing what He calls us to, and to do all things as unto the Lord.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, ASV)

“But honey!, these books are an investment!”

Today we will look briefly at the life and ministry of the Rev. John Dorrance. Recently I’ve come to the realization that if you dig deep enough, there is always an interesting story or two to be found in every life. That proved to be the case with Rev. Dorrance. To begin our account of Rev. Dorrance, we turn first to E.H. Gillett’s history of missions in Louisiana:—

“One of the first—if not the first—to labor as pastor at Baton Rouge, was Dr. John Dorrance, a native of Pennsylvania, and a graduate of Nassau Hall and of Princeton Seminary. On the completion of his studies, in 1826, he was sent to the South under a commission from the Board of Missions, and his field of labor was Baton Rouge and vicinity. This had been, and still was, a place of great immorality. Its population, numbering about twelve hundred, had been collected from every State of the Union and every part of Europe. It is not strange that infidelity should have been common and openly avowed. Yet, in view of the temporal benefits of Christian institutions, the people invited the missionary to remain, and contributed to his support. He was ordained and installed, by the Mississippi Presbytery, pastor of the church at Baton Rouge in 1827; and during a pastorate of four years his labors were eminently successful.”

“Although the future scene of his ministry was in a Northern State (Wilkes Barre, PA), he left behind him a testimony that he had not labored in vain. Possessed of rare intellectual endowments, his mind was not brilliant, but admirably balanced, and capable of a prodigious grasp. If he did not shine as a student, he was wise and prudent as a man. He died in the triumph of a Christian faith, April 18, 1861.”

The first known Presbyterian services in Baton Rouge were conducted by the Rev. William McCalla, while he was a chaplain stationed there with the U.S. Army. Then in 1822, the Presbytery of Mississippi sent a Rev. Savage, who preached for a short while at several locations in the area. Then in 1827, Rev. Dorrance was installed over the work. During his ministry the church was organized and left its mission status behind. At its organization, the church had only fifteen members, but just five years later it was strong enough to plant a daughter church in Zachary, Louisiana. The Zachary church, now known as Plains Presbyterian Church, was founded in 1832, and it became one of the strongest in the South. It later became one of the founding congregations of the Presbyterian Church in America, in 1973.

So there’s that interesting aspect to our story. The other interesting note comes from an unexpected angle. A little searching on the Internet turns up a bookseller who has a rare volume for sale, once owned by Rev. Dorrance. The work is titled Liber Psalmorum Hebraice, or The Book of Psalms, in Hebrew. It was published in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1809 as part of the first American printing of any part of the Hebrew Bible. It is a small book, about the size of a common paperback, and has almost 500 pages. Part of the leather cover is now detached and there are other signs of wear that you might expect for a book this old. The first book published on American soil was an edition of the Psalter, published in 1640 by Harvard College. This became known as the Bay Psalm Book. You may have seen in the news recently that an old historic church plans to sell one of their two copies of this rare book, which may bring as much as $30 million dollars at auction. By contrast, the asking price for this copy of the Hebrew Book of Psalms is a steal at a mere $20,000. To read the bookseller’s full description, click here.  So yes, those books you are buying could be an investment. The problem is waiting around 200 years to cash in.

Words to Live By:
Books are among a pastor’s best tools. Much thought goes into picking the best available. Many are used frequently. Some are constant companions. The best books are those worth reading more than once. That’s true for all of us, whether pastors or not. And with the best book of all, I urge you to turn to the Bible at the start of each day, before the press of life interrupts. And learn to read the Scriptures meditatively—slowly, thoughtfully, and with application.

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books, there is no end; and much study is a wearness of the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12, KJV)

For Further Study:
A small collection of Rev. Dorrance’s papers, consisting of ten sermon manuscripts, was preserved and is housed at the Special Collections Department of the Princeton Theological Seminary.  To see more about this collection, click here.

Sources: Gillett, Ezra Hall, History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, volume 2, 1864, pp. 379-380. (available on the Internet, here.

The Rev. Archibald Alexander, D.D., LL.D. (April 17, 1772 – October 22, 1851)

The Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander was born near Lexington, Va., on April 17, 1772. His classical and theological studies were pursued under the direction of the Rev. William Graham, of Liberty Hall, afterward Washington College. He was licensed to preach the gospel at the early age of nineteen. After spending a year or more in missionary labor according to the rules of the Synod, he was ordained and installed pastor of Briery Church, November 7, 1794. In 1796 he was chosen President of Hampden-Sydney College at the age of twenty-four. On May 20, 1807, he was installed pastor of the Pine Street Church, Philadelphia. In the same year, being thirty-five, he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly, and in his sermon made the suggestion of a Theological Seminary. In 1812 he was appointed Professor in the Theological Seminary just established at Princeton. Here he remained for the rest of his life.

Dr. Alexander was seized with his final illness in the summer of 1851. He died on October 22, 1851. Dr. Alexander’s published writings are too numerous to recite here. We may only mention “History of the Colonization Society,” “Evidences of the Christian Religion,” “Thoughts on Religion,” “Counsels to the Aged,” “Practical Sermons.” He also published numerous tracts and was a frequent contributor to the Princeton Review.

Words to Live By: Our Lord calls us to bear the fruit of the Spirit in this life, giving evidence of the reality of our saving faith in Christ. We are not saved by our faithfulness, nor by our works, but if our trust in Christ as Savior is real, there will be evidence of that reality in our lives. We will die more and more to sin, and live more and more to righteousness.

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: