All Good Things Must End

The last numbered meeting of the Westminster Assembly, marked as “Session 1163”, met on this day, February 22d, 1649. The Assembly was never officially dissolved. Finally the last pretense of a meeting occurred on March 25, 1652.

In his History of the Westminster Assembly, (1856), William Hetherington writes of those final days:—

“The business of the Assembly was now virtually at an end. The subjects brought before them by Parliament had been all fully discussed, and the result of their long and well-matured deliberations presented to both Houses, to be approved or rejected by the supreme civil power on its own responsibility. But the Parliament neither fully approved nor rejected the Assembly’s productions, nor yet issued an ordinance for a formal dissolution of that venerable body. Negotiations were still going on with the king; and in one of the papers which passed between his majesty and the Parliament, he signified his willingness to sanction the continuation of Presbyterian Church government for three years; and also, that the Assembly should continue to sit and deliberate, his majesty being allowed to nominate twenty Episcopalian divines to be added to it, for the purpose of having the whole subject of religion again formally debated. To this proposal the Parliament refused to consent; but it probably tended to prevent them from formally dissolving the Assembly, so long as there remained any shadow of hope that a pacific arrangement might be effected with his majesty.

In the meantime many members of the Assembly, especially those from the country, returned to their own homes and ordinary duties; and those who remained in London were chiefly engaged in the examination of such ministers as presented themselves for ordination, or induction into vacant charges. They continued to maintain their formal existence till the 22d of February 1649, about three weeks after the king’s decapitation, having sat five years, six months, and twenty-two days; in which time they had held one thousand one hundred and sixty-three sessions. They were then changed into a committee for conducting the trial and examination of ministers, and continued to hold meetings for this purpose every Thursday morning till the 25th of March 1652, when Oliver Cromwell having forcible dissolved the Long Parliament, by whose authority the Assembly had been at first called together, that committee also broke up, and separated without any formal dissolution, and as a matter of necessity.

Words to Live By:
Having served its purpose, the Westminster Assembly at last closed its sessions. All good things must eventually come to an end. Ministries wax and wane. Lives come to an end. It is part of the human condition, given our fallen, sinful nature. It is part of the curse of sin. But it will not be so in heaven, when we are changed from corruptible to incorruptible. Then not just our existence, but our very reason for existence and our purpose in life will be eternal, for we will, without sin, perfectly worship and serve the one eternal Lord God.

But as it is written:  “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV)

From the Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly, 1643-1652, Vol. 4, pp. 799-800, the recorded content of that last numbered session of the Westminster Assembly:—

Sess. 1163. Feb. 22, 1649. Thursday morning.

Mr Johnson to pray.

Mr Craddock be approved.

R.: Mr Savory respited till this day forthnight.

Ord[ered]: Mr Dawson be approved upon his ordination.

Ord[ered]: Mr <Horson> be approved upon his former <approbation.>

Ord[ered]: Mr Ackworth be examined.

Ord[ered]: Mr Mason be approved.

R.: The hundred pounds now to be distributed shall be distributed according to the rule observed in the last distribution.

It was done accordingly, and approved off.

“From this point forward, there are no more numbered sessions, and many different hands appear, rather than noting hands other than those of the assembly scribes, the presence of the scribal hands is noted, This session is another hand.”

The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly, 1643-1652, Chad Van Dixhoorn, editor. Oxford University Press, 2012. Volume IV, pp. 799-800.

Another of the many tracts found as a collection among the papers of PCA pastor “Bud” Moginot was one titled “The Crime of the ‘Auburn Affirmation’ (A Sermon)”. This tract was authored by the Rev. Ira Miller, and is dated 4 February 1942. Miller had been a minister in the Presbyterian Church,U.S.A., from around 1906 until 1942, at which point he was entered on their rolls as honorably retired. He attended the Fifth General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church in 1942 and in November of that year, transferred his credentials to the BPC. He was active in the BPC Presbytery of the Midwest, and served as the moderator of Session when the First Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis was without a pastor, up until that church called the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer. Rev. Miller even participated in Schaeffer’s installation as pastor, with Miller giving the Charge to the Congregation. By 1948 he was no longer on the roll of Presbytery and we think he may have moved to California.


But if any provideth not for his own, and
specially for his own household, he hath
denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.”
(I Tim. 5:8, R.V.)


Let no one suppose that I am ignorant, or seeking to take advantage of your ignorance, in denying that Paul is here speaking of provision for the PHYSICAL and TEMPORAL needs, especially of a man’s parents, widow and children. He is exposing to well-deserved contempt the conduct of a man who would be indifferent to these while at the same time pretending to be devoted to the service of God. His faith, says Paul, is worse than NO faith ; his service worse than NO service ; his state worse than an unbeliever’s state. The condemnation is severe.


But let us suppose this same man, or the men of an entire Christian congregation, or the minister of that congregation, or the entire denomination to which that congregation belongs, is equally indifferent to proper provision for SOULS under their care? Is that not a greater fault? Consider that the soul, unlike the body, is not for a fleeting day, and then dissolves into dust. No, it is for ETERNITY, and must live eternally, or die eternally. Then consider that God has constituted each father a shepherd and provider for the souls of his household, each congregation for its people, each pastor for his flock. If they neglect this duty, would not the guilt be greater, seeing that eternal, and NOT temporal loss, would be the certain consequence? Then should not the condemnation be more severe even than this of Paul here? 


Should any doubt concerning this remain in your minds, consider again the words of Jesus when tempted by the devil to satisfy the needs of the body in an act which might imperil the welfare of the soul. He said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Two facts are plainly evident in this utterance. First: The needs of the soul are paramount, and take precedence over the needs of the body. Second: Those needs meet their provision in “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” This “Word of God,” we now know, is contained in a volume which has long been known and revered under the honored name of “THE BIBLE.”


Now concerning this Book, Presbyterians have said, ever since their name, and the idea contained in their name, have been known upon earth, “IT IS THE WORD OF GOD.” But, about nineteen years ago, nearly thirteen hundred ministers of the “Presbyterian Church in the United States of America,” resenting the action of a General Assembly in witnessing to the Bible’s INERRANCY, signed a document which was known as an “AFFIRMATION,” but more properly should have been called a “DENIAL,” because it denied the traditional faith, not of Presbyterians only, but of the entire Church of all ages as well. This document actually taught, “It is not necessary for members, Elders or even Ministers of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America to affirm their belief that the Bible is INERRANT.”


Now, these assailers of the Word of God numbered less than one-seventh of the ministers of the “Presbyterian Church in the United States of America” at that time. Being heretical, they should have been tried, disciplined, rebuked, or even expelled from the Church. And being only one-seventh in number, they should NOT have been permitted to take control of the doctrine, discipline, and donations of the Church. But they were NOT tried, disciplined, rebuked, and expelled. And they DID take control of the doctrine, discipline, and donations of the Church. As a result, any effective testimony within the Church has been almost completely hushed, lo, these nineteen years.


For what were the teachings of the Bible in respect to which these men demanded liberty to teach that “THE BIBLE IS NOT INERRANT?” Were they troubled, as is common among blasphemers of the ignorant sort, because the Bible does not explain where Cain got his wife? Were they shocked, as Bob Ingersoll claimed to be, at being asked to believe that good men go to hell for not believing “that rib story” of the creation of woman? Did they wish to be permitted to smile at the ludicrousness while, as intelligent men, they, of course, deny the historicity, of Balaam’s ass speaking? Did their astronomy contradict the fantastic tale in Joshua of the sun and moon standing still? Were they unwilling to be sponsors of the world’s greatest “fish story” of a whale swallowing Jonah without Jonah dying? Or did they think, as I once heard a certain minister explain, that, although the Book of Daniel is unhistoric, and its miracles fabricated, yet in the days of Antiochus,—and no doubt often since—true religion, and many souls, were saved through believing them? Not these speaks on the marble, but THE ETERNAL FOUNDATIONS UNDER THE WHOLE STRUCTURE OF GOD’S SAVING TRUTH were the matters concerning which they wished to be permitted to believe that “THE BIBLE IS NOT INERRANT.” This the remaining five points of their infamous “AFFIRMATION” prove.


That God actually became incarnate, taking upon Himself human nature through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary ; that Jesus actually performed many miracles, which were signs of His Deity and proofs of His saving power ; that God actually laid my sins on Jesus, who bore the penalty for them on the Cross, thus satisfying completely the righteous demands of a just and holy God ; that the same body in which He suffered actually lived again on the third day, a proof that the sacrifice has been accepted, and both my body and my soul redeemed ; that He will actually and personally return to earth some day, to raise, glorify, and reward His saints, to judge the world, and to usher in His Kingdom which men have failed to build ; there are the teachings of the Bible concerning which these men demand the rights to differ, and to assert, if they wish, “THE BIBLE IS NOT INERRANT.” To these teachings the official testimony of the Church has been completely silenced. Those who still insist upon proclaiming them are forced to do so on the outside.


Now consider the enormity of the CRIME of these men, and especially against the two-millions of souls who comprise the present membership of a great historic Church. Consider that they have taken away, not the SHELL of the NUT of God’s grace, but it’s KERNEL ; not the CRUMBS which fall from the table, but the children’s very BREAD. For they have thrown doubt upon EVERY ONE of the mighty acts of God for man’s redemption. And the testimony of this entire Holy Book, of every truly Christian sermon and hymn, of every saint of God who has gone shouting home to glory, has been that we are saved, not by what WE have done, but BY BELIEVING IN what GOD has done for my poor soul. But now come these BLIND LEADERS OF THE BLIND, these wolves in sheep’s clothing, and they say, “Forget all that.” It is not at all certain that Christ was born of a virgin, that His blood cleanses from sin, that His body lived again the third day, or that He is coming back to earth again. Besides, to believe all this is not necessary. It is better to say, ‘I am against war,’ ‘I am for social justice,’ ‘I believe in the brotherhood of man,’ ‘I choose the Jesus way of life.’—than to say, ‘I BELIEVE THAT JESUS DIED FOR ME.’ ” Do these men know that the Cross on which Jesus died for sinners is all that stands between your soul and Hell? It seems not. But I know it ; and I now solemnly declare to such of you as have been repeating their vain shibboleths exalting human works, that unless YOU REPENT and look to the Cross and believe in it as your only hope, YOU WILL GO TO HELL! I hope you understand me.


Now, I said, “Repent.” But these men too say, “Repent.” Yes, now that they have led us into the world’s greatest horror, now that our feet are sunken deep into the mire in the horrible pit of hopelessness, they cry, “You men had better pull yourselves out of the mire—by your bootstraps!” For they have taken away the motive for repentance—the wonderful love of God in Christ. They have robbed us of the power for repentance—the blessed renewing of the Holy Spirit in the new birth. They have denied us the only hope of deliverance in repentance—the coming of the Lord. So they have failed to provide for the deep and dire needs of the souls of those in their own households. They are like a householder who, having starved slaves and children all winter, at the coming of spring thrusts them forth into his fields, saying, “Now go work! Repent!” “The bread of God,” Jesus said, “is he who cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” This bread they have failed to provide. They did not provide for their own. They have denied the faith. They are “Unbelievers—and worse!”


But I too, shall say, “Repent.” I shall do more, I shall tell you where to begin. Repent first of all of listening to a hireling who is not the shepherd. Repent of following the deceiver and follow the true. “The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America” is now in control of unbelievers. I know this, and therefore have no choice but to leave it and to seek other fellowship. I advise all truly Bible-believing ministers and congregations to do the same. I reason thus : “Should the darkness control the light? Should unbelievers govern believers? Should the people of God be taught by the ministers of unrighteousness? And what repentance, what penitence, what remorse, can avail those who insist upon following blind guides? Shall they not surely fall into the ditch?

I believe that God is now punishing our Church for the manner in which we have mistreated His true servants in the past. But God has promised to send His people a true shepherd if they ask Him. So repent—I do not know that it is too late,—although it may be. But I do know this : The Church of God must shake herself free from Modernism and Modernists—or perish. And may God save our souls from the infidelity and tyranny of shepherds who are UNBELIEVERS AND WORSE.

Rev. Ira Miller, B.D.
Feb. 4, 1942.

Today’s uncovered jewel, something I came across while working on an unrelated project. This short article reminds me that the works of the Rev. John Witherspoon really do need to be dusted off and brought to greater public attention. Sprinkle Publications did recently reprint Witherspoon’s Works, but I think those volumes haven’t gathered too much attention. We’re the poorer for that neglect.


1. Men enter and initiate themselves in a vicious practice by smaller sins. Heinous sins are too alarming for the conscience of a young sinner; and therefore he only ventures upon such as are smaller, at first. Every particular kind of vice creeps in this gradual manner.

2. Having once begun in the ways of sin, he ventures upon something greater and more daring. His courage grows with his experience. Now, sins of a deeper die do not look so frightful as before. Custom makes everything familiar. No person who once breaks over the limits of a clear conscience knows where he shall stop.

3. Open sins soon throw a man into the hands of ungodly companions. Open sins determine his character, and give him a place with the ungodly. He shuns the society of good men, because their presence is a restraint, and their example a reproof to him. There are none with whom he can associate but the ungodly.

4. In the next stage, the sinner begins to feel the force of habit and inveterate custom; he becomes rooted and settled in an evil way.—Those who have been long habituated to any sin, how hopeless is their reform! One single act of sin seems nothing; but one after another imperceptibly strengthens the disposition, and enslaves the unhappy criminal beyond the hope of recovery.

5. The next stage in a sinner’s course is to lose the sense of shame, and sin boldly and openly. So long as shame remains, it is a great drawback. But it is an evidence of an uncommon height of impiety, when natural shame is gone.

6. Another stage in the sinner’s progress is to harden himself so far as to sin without remorse of conscience. The frequent repetition of sins stupefies the conscience. They, as it were, weary it out, and drive it to despair. It ceases all its reproofs, and, like a frequently discouraged friend, suffers the infatuated sinner to take his course. And hence,

7. Hardened sinners often come to boast and glory in their wickedness. It is something to be beyond shame; but it is still more to glory in wickedness, and esteem it honorable. Glorious ambition indeed!

8. Not content with being wicked themselves, they use all their arts and influence to make others wicked also. They are zealous in sinning, and industrious in the promotion of the infernal cause.—They extinguish the fear of God in others, and laugh down their own conscientious scruples. And now,

9. To close the scene, those who have thus far hardened themselves, are given up by God to judicial blindness of mind and hardness of heart. They are marked out as vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. This is the consequence of their obstinacy. They are devoted the judgment they deserve.

Reader! view it with terror. — Dr. Witherspoon.

[excerpted from The Evangelical Guardian, 4.10 (February 1847): 461-462.]

“To God’s Glory” : A Practical Study of a Doctrine of the Westminster Standards.
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

THE SUBJECT : Our Intercessor

THE BIBLE VERSES TO READ : Isa. 53:12; John 17:9; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25.

REFERENCE TO THE STANDARDS : Confession : Chap. VIII.1 and 4; Larger Catechism : Q. 39; 42; and 44; Shorter Catechism : Q. 25.

The Word of God tells us, “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.” (I John 5:14). A wonderful secret of our confidence, our peace, is our ability to be heard by our Heavenly Father. That we have access to the Father in prayer is a promise from Holy Writ.

This informs us that all prayer made in the will of God, prayer dictated by the Holy Spirit—in that it is consistent with the Word of God—reaches the ear of our Sovereign God. What a glorious promise! It is almost too much to imagine that our Lord Jesus Christ is pleading on our behalf.

Our Intercessor, Jesus Christ, sits on the right hand of God the Father, ever making intercession for us. This is an important source of our confidence as we live the Christian life day by day. We need never worry about whether or not He hears us. We need never think we are alone. We need never be concerned that because of our inability to put things into words He will not hear us. We can put the finger of faith on I John 5:14 and KNOW that He hears us. What a wonderful privilege!

When our Lord uttered the words, “It is finished” on the Cross of Calvary, He was speaking of His atoning sacrifice. His work was not finished. His work of reconciliation continued for His children. His work on our behalf in heaven is summarized by the use of the word “intercession.”

We are told that our Lord is well suited for this work. “We have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15). He has experienced everything we experience. He knows of all the temptations that come upon us.

If we are faced with the temptations of pride, He has been there. If we are faced with the temptation of rebelling against God’s Law, He has been there. If we are faced with the temptations of feeling sorry for ourselves in the midst of loneliness, or sorrow, or trouble, He has been there. He has a perfect understanding of every human experience for He became truly man and now is our intercessor before God.

We need to be reminded that His intercessory work also includes our sanctification. He sanctifies our prayers and is ever present to separate us from evil unto holiness. He represents us before the Throne of God against Satan, and intercedes for our prayers.

However, we should remember that our access to God, through this Intercessor, puts upon us an awesome responsibility. This responsibility is to behave ourselves as the children of God. Too many times we seem to rely upon our theological position rather than on our attitude, our relationship to our Father through Jesus Christ. If we are indeed saved by God, and expect to enjoy the privileges that salvation gives to us, we must remember that responsibility always comes with privilege.

The next time we go to our God in prayer it would be good for us to ask ourselves a question. With what kind of spirit are we praying? Our approach to our Lord should always be that of recognizing certain Biblical truths about ourselves. Let us list a few to help us examine ourselves :

Many times we should have a chastened spirit because of our sin as we approach Him;

Our approach to Him should always be encompassed with obedience, for it is the obedient heart He desires to hear;

We must be willing to approach Him with an attitude of submission to His Word.

Our prayers must always be accompanied with the spirit of praise to our God who is so precious to us.

We need to remember our prayers should be constant, not just when we are in need of help.

One further word could be helpful as we think of the intercession of Christ for His saved ones. Thomas Watson says it clearly : “. . . a Christian when he prays must chiefly fix his eye on Christ’s intercession. We read in Lev. 16 that Aaron made atonement by the incense as well as by the blood. So we must look to the cloud of incense, viz., the intercession of Christ.” (A Body of Divinity, p. 183).

Let us praise God for our Intercessor, even our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us remember His intercession is not based on our worthiness, it is of His free grace. Let us make use of His intercession more and more!

Attempts to found democracies, or rather, true lawful liberty, are doomed to failure unless they are built on a proper foundation.

What follows is another article discovered today during my foray into an old dusty volume :


Some time since an interesting Sabbath School celebration was held in a town in the interior of this State. On one of the banners borne in the procession, there was a beautiful tree, spreading its tall and stately branches in every direction, and beneath it was a volume, in which its roots were deeply fixed, and from which it derived all its nourishment and strength.—The tree was Liberty, that volume the Bible. The idea was not only beautiful, but true. The Bible is the great protector and guardian of the liberties of man. There never has been on earth true liberty, apart from the Scriptures and the principles of the Bible. This remark is fully sustained by the history of the world. Go to the plains of Babylon, and the entire history of that Empire, until its destruction by Cyrus, is a history of the most absolute despotism. Egypt and Persia were equally strangers to civil liberty. The same was true, with some slight modifications, of Greece and Rome. Facts spread on every page of the world’s history, point to the Bible as the only basis of the temple of freedom.

Where the Bible forms public opinion, a nation must be free. “Christianity,” says Montesquieu, “is a stranger to despotic power.” De Tocqueville, “it is the companion of liberty in all its battles and all its conflicts—the cradle of its infancy, the divine source of its claims.” The Abbe de la Mennais, whom the late writer distinguishes as one of the most powerful minds in Europe, speaks eloquently of the Divine author of Christianity, “the great republican of his age.” Everywhere the men whose minds have been imbued with the light and spirit of the Bible, have been the devoted friends of civil liberty. Such were the Lollards in England, the adherents of Luther in Germany, and of Knox in Scotland. Such were the Huguenots of France, who fled their country, or sealed their testimony with their blood on the fatal revocation of the edict of Nantes. Such were the Puritans, who, with the courage of heroes and the zeal of martyrs, struggled for and obtained the charter of liberty which England now enjoys. Hume, with all his hostility to the Bible, says, “the precious spark of liberty had been kindled and was preserved by the Puritans alone, and it was to this sect the English owe the whole freedom of their Constitution.

Pass we to the period of the American revolution! Who were the signers of the Declaration of Independence? Who were the men, whose wisdom in council, and whose daring in the field, delivered us from foreign oppression, and made us a free and independent nation? Who was Washington? His character is settled beyond all dispute—his sentiments are known and recorded. The infidel can never refer to him for authority. The Atheist can never enroll him among those who believe the universe is without a Father and a God. His examples and his opinions are to travel down with the richest influence to future ages, and his purity of life in the cabinet and the camp, his reverence for the Bible and the institutions of religion, are to be spoken of with the profoundest regard by millions yet unborn.

Who was Patrick Henry, the man who struck the notes of freedom to which this nation responded, and were changed from subjects of a British king to independent freemen? He has not left his religious sentiments in doubt. In his will is found the following passage : “I have now disposed of all my property to my family—there is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the religion of the Bible. If they had that, and I had not given them one shilling, they would be rich; and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor.”

Who was Samuel Adams, on of the brightest stars in the constellation of great names, that adorned that era? “Adams,” says his biographer, “was a Christian. That last production of his pen was in defence of Christian truth, and he died in the faith of the gospel.”

And who was Roger Sherman? His biographer says, “few men had a higher reverence for the Bible; few men studied it with deeper attention, and a few were more intimately acquainted with its doctrines?” And who does not know that Livingston, and Stockton, and Witherspoon, and Benjamin Rush, bowed with profound reverence to the teaching of the Bible, and drew from its precepts their strongest incentives in their self-sacrificing labors? The Bible, then we say it without the fear of successful contradiction—the Bible, in its influence more than any thing else, has made us what we are—a free and independent nation. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupt public conscience, is incompatible with freedom.

[excerpted from The Evangelical Guardian, 4.10 (February 1847): 442-443.]


Among the Papers of the Rev. Albert F. (“Bud”) Moginot, Jr., there is a modest collection of tracts, including some by the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer. Each of these began as sermons delivered in the St. Louis church where he was pastor, and they were later published in tract form. Two of the tracts are Baptism and The Holy Catholic Church.  A third, Peter Versus the Papacy is the subject of our post today.I had not previously seen a copy of this tract. The PCA Historical Center has multiple copies of the first two tracts, whereas this third one appears to be scarce.

As with the other two tracts, this tract bears a date inside the front cover indicating when the message was originally delivered—in this case, February 17, 1946.

Rev. Schaeffer’s message in this case is shorter than that of the previous tracts. The tract prints out to just fourteen pages in length. And there are no printed subdivisions of the text, as there were with the others. Rev. Schaeffer opens the message in this way:

Tomorrow is February 18. This is a great date in the religious life of the world. It is a great date: (1) for the Roman Catholic Church, because the largest number of men ever to be named as Cardinals at one time will receive their official notification from the Pope; (2) for Protestants, although most Protestants do not seem to realize the significance of the day, because tomorrow marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther.

. . .The falling of these two events on a single day could not be by coincidence. Rather, Rome has chosen this time to name her Cardinals to join the issue once more between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. Since Rome has so seen fit, our theme for this morning will be “Peter Versus the Papacy.”

The keystone of the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is the primacy of Peter. Therefore, today let us see what the Word of God has to say concerning Peter and his teaching. . .

Physical aspects: The construction of the tract is similar to that of the other two. Four sheets of tan 30-35 lbs. paper, measuring 6″ h. x 7″ w. and duplex printed with dark brown ink, folded and assembled to form the signature, with a single saddle-stitch staple for binding. And as I mentioned before, the Moginot collection has copies of the “Holy Catholic Church” tract with this same tan colored paper, as well as with a salmon colored paper. That message was first printed in 1944 and the one on “Peter versus the Papacy” in 1946. Given the related topics, it is easy to see how there might have been a need to reprint the first title.

riceTrain up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.—Proverbs 22:6.

John Holt Rice, the second son of Benjamin and Catherine Rice, was born near the small town of New London, in the county of Bedford, on the 28th of November, A.D. 1777. From the first dawn of intellect, he discovered an uncommon capacity for learning, and a still more uncommon disposition to piety. We have seen some reason to believe that like Samuel, he was called in the very morning of his life; at so early an hour indeed that he could not distinguish the voice of God from that of his own mother—so soft and so tender was its tone. It was, in truth, the first care of this excellent woman to train up her infant child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and you might have seen the weak and sickly boy always at her knee, reading his Bible or Watt’s Psalms, to her listening ear, and catching the first lessons of religion from her gentle tongue. No wonder that he ever retained a most grateful sense of her special service in this respect, and warmly cherished her sacred memory in his filial heart.

As a further evidence of his early piety, we are told that whilst he was yet a boy, and hardly more than seven or eight years old, he established a little private prayer-meeting with his brothers and sisters, and led the exercises of it himself with great apparent devotion. We are not informed however, at what time exactly he made a public profession of religion; but we understand that it was probably when he was about fifteen or sixteen years of age.

[excerpted from The Charleston Observer, VII.7 (16 February 1833): 27, column 2.]

Words to Live By:
Parents, do not think that you have to wait until your children are older before you can discuss spiritual matters with them. Lead them to Christ while they are still young. Teach them the basics of the Christian faith. Lead them in memorizing key Scripture verses, and so equip them for life. Catechize them, using the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Daily come together with them before the throne of grace and teach them to pray and how to watch for the Lord’s answers to those prayers.

For more on this important subject, see the fifth chapter (pp. 175ff.) in the little volume, Children of the Covenant, by Rev. T.D. Witherspoon.

So frequently throughout Scripture that we tend to overlook it by its very frequency, our Lord God does time and time again instruct us–charge us–command us–to remember His works. It is one of His appointed means by which we can keep our hearts tender and fresh in the love of our Lord and Savior. John Flavel’s excellent treatise, THE MYSTERY OF PROVIDENCE is a wonderful exposition of this same truth. Here in the article below, William Stanford Reid adds his own insight on the importance of history for the Christian.


by William Stanford Reid
Excerpted from the journal he edited, Reformation Today (Montreal, Canada), 2.4 (February 1953): 11, 17.]

History is God’s possession. This is the repeated assertion of the Scriptures. Whether dealing with individuals such as Pharaoh, Cyrus and Judas, or with nations such as the Jews or with kingdoms such as Babylon, Egypt or Rome, this is always the point of view. Every item, every event of history is worked out according to the purpose and plan of God, “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Moreover, this plan and purpose finds its culmination in redemption, accomplished by Christ and to be made complete at history’s final day.

The implications of this point of view for the history of the Church since apostolic days are numerous. The most important is, however, that Christ, who is “head over all things to the Church” is guiding and ruling His people. He is bringing His elect into the Church and punishing those professing Christians who prove unfaithful. In this way the history of the Church has for the Church a twofold objective. It is a warning of what befalls those who are not obedient. This is mentioned repeatedly in the New Testament. (2 Tim. 3:8; Heb. 3:17-19; Rev. 2,3). At the same time the history of the Church is a means of instruction, whereby it is warned, encouraged and strengthened. (Rom. 4, 9-11; Heb. 11; 1 Cor. 10:11).

For this reason the Christian has a very real obligation to the Church’s history. He, and the Church as a whole, must take it seriously, regarding it as part of God’s means of guiding and directing the Church by the Spirit into all truth. (John 14:26; 16:13). For this reason history is not to be discarded, nor disregarded. It is the revelation of how God deals with His people, which is also the fundamental message of the Bible. The only difference is that the Church does not have since Apostolic days, an inspired record, nor an inspired interpretation. Therefore, it is the Church’s obligation, not only to understand its own history, but also to evaluate and interpret it in the light of God’s Word.

There are, however, dangers at this point. If one adopts a proper point of view, they may not be great, but there is always a tendency towards traditionalism and conservativism. Because this, that or the other doctrine has been believed, or because this, that or the other practice has been followed, such must still be the case. This can only lead to aridity and pharasaism which will bring the Church to the grave.

The greatest danger, however, amongst present day Christians, is in the other direction. They tend to disregard the Church’s history. They adopt the attitude that it is unimportant “Let’s not have Calvin or Wesley or Machen,” they say, “But let us get back to the Scriptures. Only then shall we know the truth.” In this way they are adopting the position, that before this age no one has ever really wrestled with problems of the faith, and what is even more important, no one has ever found a solution. They imply that their problems, their needs and their ideas are absolutely new. Therefore history cannot help.

To an historian such a point of view is utterly ridiculous, for in history “there is nothing new under the sun.” The new problems are the old. What Augustine, Calvin, Kuyper and others had to face, we also have to deal with today. We cannot escape from the world in which we live, a world made up of past history.

This anti-historical attitude, however, is very dangerous. Its proponents feel that in a year or two they can achieve the results which the Church has achieved only over 2,000 years. Consequently they often fall into old errors and heresies which could have been easily avoided if they had known some history. Moreover, they would be much humbler than they usually are, for they would see how utterly fallible are all Christians.

Today the Church suffers from a rejection of history. This is one of the evangelical’s greatest weaknesses. Therefore, let us study the Church’s history, the history of God’s people, in order that we may the better know Him who is the Church’s only Lord and King.


As the Schaeffers were preparing to move to Europe, the following article was published in BIBLICAL MISSIONS, the newsletter of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, under whose auspices the Schaeffers initially moved onto the European field, with the intent of planting theologically sound churches. The picture shown here is from the January 1949 issue of that same newsletter.
Some will remember that this same title “Revolutionary Christianity” appears as the title of the last chapter of Schaeffer’s book, 
THE CHURCH AT THE END OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. The content of the 1948 article is entirely different, though it would be an interesting exercise to compare the two messages. Great minds are always building on prior accomplishments and advances, and I have to think that Schaeffer hadn’t forgotten this 1948 article when he so titled that last chapter of his book in 1970. For instance, does the latter contain an outworking of ideas first formulated in the earlier article.

Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer
[Biblical Missions 14.2 (February 1948): 27-31.]

The International Missionary Council met at Whitby, Ontario, in the summer of 1947. In reporting on that meeting, Reinhold Niebuhr’s paper, “Christianity and Crisis,” in its issue of November 10, 1947, gave an account of one of the speeches in which account it stated: “Bishop Neill, successful Oxford missioner, warned lest the church cease to be revolutionary and identify itself with the status quo, the powers that be. ‘Then,’ he said, ‘the revolution goes forward under demonic powers, which God uses to discipline the Church.’ The church losing its mission becomes irrelevant.”

This is a highly significant statement, for it is an illustration of the type of thinking that dominates the modernistic missionary movements, including those that are Barthian and neo-Barthian. Insofar as this statement was presented at this un-Biblical, but influential missionary conference, it is well to analyze carefully this problem in a Bible-believing missionary magazine.

What is meant by “revolutionary Christianity” is that we now need a socialized gospel. To these men the revolutionary concept of Christianity is a part of world betterment through a revolution in the economic field; to them, socialization is the next upward step for Christianity to take. When therefore these men speak of “irrelevant Christianity” they mean Bible-believing Christianity. To them, our historic emphasis that the church’s task is to preach Christ crucified and raised from the dead that men might accept Christ as their personal Saviour and be justified by faith alone, is irrelevant and little more than magic.

The sad thing is that there are some Bible-believing Christians who five excuse for such charges. Orthodoxy is in a constant danger of allowing hat orthodoxy to ossify so that it has no impact on life. Historic, Bible-believing Christianity believes that the task of the church is to preach Christ and Him crucified and that men are justified by faith alone; but his does not mean that after a man has accepted Christ as his Saviour his Christianity should not show, or need not show, in every aspect of his life. In spite of the minority of Bible-believing Christians who are irrelevant, historic Bible-believing Christianity has been and is the true revolutionary Christianity. We have the revolutionary Christianity, not the Modernists and neo-Barthians.


Historic Christianity is revolutionary Spiritually. By revolutionary, I mean that it is totally contrary to all the other religions of the world. Consider the prophets. They were the revolutionists, and they stood alone against their day. Christ, God the Son, when He was on earth, was revolutionary in that He stood alone against His day. Paul was revolutionary, and wherever he went, both Jews and pagans felt the clash of his message against the established religious order. In church history, the outstanding leaders have always been considered revolutionary. Who could be more I revolutionary than Luther standing against the established order of the I Catholic Church? The Reformation Monument in Geneva has carved in stone, “After the darkness came forth light.” Let us never forget that Calvin and those who were with him were revolutionists of the first order in spiritual things. Whitefield and Wesley preached in the fields because the churches were shut to them. The churches were shut to them because these men were spiritual revolutionists against the whole trend of the dead orthodoxy of their day. In our day, has the matter changed? Not a bit. We are the spiritual revolutionists of our hour. All else are agreed against us. The message of the cross is always against the whole world concept around about us. It is against the prince of this world. In spiritual matters, we have the revolutionary message, because the Biblical message in our age, as in every age, is totally contrary to all the religions of the world.

The Christian Century in reporting our attempt, by the grace of God, to form an International Council of Bible-believing Christians, said this attempt was of the Devil. Why have these men resurrected the Devil for us? It has been years since we have heard them mention the Devil. They do not say that the Roman Catholics are motivated by the Devil. At times, it is true, because of growing Roman Catholic political power, we hear them say that Rome is wrong politically, but in religious matters they hold out the hand of fellowship to Rome. They do not say that the Unitarians are of the Devil. In the leadership of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America and in the World Council there are men who individually hold the Unitarian position. They do not even say that the Hindu and the Mohammedan, or the Shintoist is of the Devil. In the Religious Congress that is being called in Boston for the United Nations, the modernistic leaders are calling to these primitive paganisms that they should labor together for world fellowship and brotherhood. However, when it comes to the Bible-believing Christian, then it is a different matter. Why is it that we are the only group they will fight religiously? Because we are the revolutionary group. The simple fact is, that religiously Modernism (including Barthianism and neo-Barthianism). Romanism, Greek Orthodoxy, and the rest, while having differences among themselves, are one in their basic errors.

There are too many who call themselves Bible-believing Christians who are only so because this has been the established position in their youth, not because they are convinced that it is right. They find it rather comfortable to say the old phrases without doing anything about them. Thus, Christianity loses its dynamic power, and dead orthodoxy comes in like a flood. Study what period of church history you will, the first step to heterodoxy has always been a dead orthodoxy.

Such an attitude is not Christian. It is old, but all old things are not good. Christianity is the snatching of brands from the burning. It is the shouting aloud from the pulpit or the stake: “You cannot call Jesus Christ your Lord until you call Him first God and then your personal Saviour.” The Christianity that has moved ahead through the centuries is the Bible-believing Christianity that stands completely against all the other religions of the world. This is true whether they are primitive paganisms, Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy, old-fashioned Modernism, or neo-Barthianism. True Bible-believing Christianity is never comfortable and it is never fossilized. Christians should know these facts and act upon them. We know that the world will never be normal until Christ comes back and supernaturally makes it so.


Bible-believing Christianity is also revolutionary in its relationships to the external world. This is what I mean by materially. As the religions of the world are not in line with Christianity, so also the civilizations that are built upon them are not in line with Christianity.

The Bible’s position is that you can only understand a civilization if you see the religion or religions upon which it is built or which are dominantly behind it. This is a part of the complete world-view of Christianity. The true Bible-believing Christian in faith knows that he can in general tell what the civilization of the next generation will be because its basis is found in the religion of this generation.

Now let us ask ourselves. Who are the liberals and who are the reactionaries in our own day? I want to say it very carefully, the Bible-believing Christians arc the true liberals. The modernists, including the Barthians and neo-Barthians, are the reactionaries. What do I mean by this? Bible-believing Christianity, wherever it has gone preaching Christ and Him crucified and raised from the dead and keeping as its primary message justification by faith, has always been followed by certain peripheral and secondary blessings. These blessings have not followed in a day, but they have always come. What are these peripheral blessings—the emancipation of women, the freeing of slaves, the increase of education, and, in general,

a rise in the level of civilization, including the material benefits of a high standard of living. There are many others, but the greatest of the peripheral blessings that have followed historic Bible-believing Christianity has always been an increase in individual liberties. Remember, this is not the primary message of Christianity. It is a purely secondary result of the preaching of the cross.

In the light of this, who is the liberal today and who is the reactionary? Who is continuing the message of individual freedom, and who is leading us back to slavery? It is the Bible-believing Christian who is continuing to insist upon individual freedom all over the world, and equally all over the world it is the modernists and the Barthians and neo-Barthians who are casting away our freedom and leading us back to slavery. In whatever country you read the writings of these men, you find that they believe it is now the Christian’s duty to give up his individual freedom to the state, so that their socialistically-planned economy can come into effect.

In a press release at the Oslo Young People’s Conference, Reinhold Niebuhr said that all laws are under the judgment of Christ, and that this includes those from Scripture and those that were enacted by states and communities. He says that among the laws that we must refashion is the law of property rights, and also the law of individual liberties. What does this mean? It means, these men tell us, that it is our Christian duty to give up our individual liberties to the Socialistic State. They couch their teaching in religious language, but that does not change it.

Who then is the reactionary? The so-called “liberal” is the reactionary, for he would squander all those individual freedoms which our Bible-believing forefathers have won. He decks this road to the slaughter-house of our freedoms with Christian signs and symbols, but it is the road to the death of our freedoms, nevertheless.

Should individual Christians and Bible-believing mission boards be interested in this? I believe they should, for the loss of our freedoms will eventually lead to the loss of the freedom of the preaching of the Gospel.

This totalitarian trend among the modernists is clearly demonstrated in the churches themselves. In the recent church unions in India and Ceylon, the church governments have been led back to the more totalitarian forms.

Thus, it is our message that is truly revolutionary spiritually and in the external world, because our primary message and its secondary results are totally contrary to all the religions of the world and to the civilizations built upon them.


However, it would be wrong to finish this article without saying that if we intend to stand in the historic stream of Christianity, we must never close our eyes to the wrongs that do exist in our own external world. The reason the secondary blessings of Christianity have followed the preaching of the Cross is that the true preachers of the Cross have always been willing to point out the evils of their own day. Thus, we should raise our voices against not only the theological “liberal” and the totalitarian trends of our day, but we must be especially careful to point out the weaknesses of our own churches and of our civilization. When we find a Bible-believing Christian who, for example, would turn his back on the cry of the world in its present need for food, we should be the ones to tell him that his Christianity is irrelevant. When our nation would break its solemn promises, we should be the ones to speak most loudly for national integrity. If the church in its time of power prior to 1900 had been faithful in pointing out the abuses of our economic system, I seriously doubt if Communism and near-Communism could have gotten such a hold upon us. It is imperative that we should be the ones to take the lead, especially when it is uncomfortable, in pointing out the evils round about us. Being in the “old paths” does not mean keeping on in things that are wrong. Worldliness is more than smoking, drinking and card playing. A far worse worldliness is keeping quiet when our nation breaks its promises; or sharing, through silence, in murder through mob violence; or by driving men to communism by squeezing them in any of the economic processes.

If the church had not lost its revolutionary message through dead orthodoxy and laziness, modernism could never have come in as it has.

Christianity will always be revolutionary until Christ comes back. We should teach our young people carefully that not only all the false religions are against us, but the civilizations built upon them as well. We should present this to them as a challenge. We have the greatest marching orders that men have ever been given, and when we allow our young people to go on the defensive rather than to march straight forward, it means that we have failed to get across the perennial challenge of our calling.

Here in the PCA Historical Center I often come across the most interesting and useful things while searching out a patron’s request for some article or other material. For context, this article was written in the midst of those years leading up to the formation of the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. Strong’s audience would have been those men who were considering leaving the old Southern Presbyterian denomination in order to form a new, faithful Church.

A History Lesson
by ROBERT STRONG [1908-1980, and pastor of the Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, AL, 1959-1973]

[The Presbyterian Journal, 27.42 (12 February 1969): 9-11.]

The struggle for the faith in the Presbyterian Church USA has been protracted. I grew up in that church and was ordained in it years ago when it was called the “Northern Presbyterian Church.” Thus I knew at first hand the issues as well as some of the people involved in the conflict.

Beginning in the nineteenth century, the strife deepened in intensity in the twentieth century and came to a climax in the 1920’s. Awareness of the rising tide of unbelief, and resistance to it, occurred in a spectacular way:

In 1923 the General Assembly endorsed adherence to five cardinal points of doctrine: the verbal inspiration of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, His mighty miracles, His substitutionary atonement and His bodily resurrection.

In reaction came the Auburn Affirmation, so-called because men of Auburn Seminary were its authors and from Auburn, New York it was distributed to gain additional signatures. In time, these amounted to 1100 names.

Cause and Effect

The Auburn Affirmation was in two parts: The first was an attack upon the right of the General Assembly to single out certain doctrines when the Northern Presbyterian Church was already committed to a system of doctrine as set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith. This was specious logic. This was illogic! This was evasive action.

In the second part of the Auburn Affirmation, an attack was made specifically upon the doctrine of verbal inspiration. It was alleged that this doctrine was harmful!

The other doctrines were treated in a way to suggest that a man in good standing might follow a different interpretation of the virgin birth, of the miracles, the Cross, the empty tomb, from the position set forth in the General Assembly’s deliverance of 1923.

The effect was to say that the General Assembly’s statement which was, of course, in the historic Christian and Presbyterian tradition, was only one of several possible interpretations. The effect was really to call into question these doctrines as historically stated and received. The issue was out in the open.

The center of traditional Presbyterianism had been Princeton Theological Seminary, but some of those connected with Princeton were sympathetic with the liberalizing trend in the Northern denomination. They agitated for and secured General Assembly reorganization of Princeton’s administrative set-up.

In the Northern Church, the Assembly has full control of the seminaries and must approve even the bestowing of the professorial dignity upon a man. So the General Assembly could and did reorganize Princeton.

Instead of two boards, one to deal with temporal matters and one to deal with theological training, the seminary was reorganized to have but one board. And on that board two Auburn Affirmationists were named.

This was the signal to Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, the famous Old Testament scholar, Dr. J. Gresham Machen, the famous New Testament scholar, Dr. Oswald T. Allis, assistant to Dr. Wilson, Dr. Cornelius Van Til, beginning on his career of instruction in theology and apologetics, and John Murray, an instructor in the seminary, to take alarm. They resigned from the faculty.

Others, like Parks Armstrong, a great defender of the faith in the New Testament field, and Casper Wistar Hodge, a solid theologian in the Hodge tradition, remained with Princeton Seminary.

The five men who resigned became the nucleus of the faculty of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. A number of prominent Presbyterian ministers and laymen associated themselves with these leaders as the board of trustees of the new seminary. According to its charter, the seminary would be forever free of ecclesiastical control.

Westminster Seminary opened its doors in 1929. The seminary drew increasing numbers of students and my own enrollment occurred in the fall of 1933.

Incidentally, I had the inestimable privilege of being a student of }. Gresham Machen, a magic name and a most interesting personality. I digress to note that Prof. Machen was a character! Sometimes he would lecture his classes at a furious pace, with his head against the blackboard, writing the Greek alphabet in small letters. Once in a while he would go up the stairs on hands and knees.

On occasion he would stand on a chair, continuing his lecture with no change of expression. He was such a skilled lecturer he didn’t need to resort to tricks and devices. 1 guess it was just an expression of a facet of his character — it bespoke the non-conformist. He was a great stunter at student events and was ever being called on to give recitations.

Machen was a great scholar. His books are classics. I will continue to be personal by saying that when I was attending theological school in California, I found in an atmosphere of modernism there a true friend, Machen’s book, The Origin of Paul’s Religion. I think it is his very greatest; I rate it higher than bis Virgin Birth of Christ.

Machen’s Influence

Machen was also an ecclesiastical activist. Many criticize him for that. They think he should have been content to dominate the theological scene by his writings, lectures and classroom instruction. It’s an open question.

As things moved along in the Northern Presbyterian Church, Machen took a still more active part. It wasn’t enough that he had led in the organization of this new seminary which was having increasing influence and would, through the years, send a perfect stream of conservative men into the Northern Presbyterian ministry as well as into other churches.

Machen was compelled to be active also in the ecclesiastical issues in other departments of the life of the Church. He took a great interest in world missions and offered an overture to the General Assembly asking that it study the Board of World Missions and institute corrective procedures. The modernist Pearl Buck was a case in point. Everyone knew how far removed from evangelical Christianity she stood, but she served in China as a missionary of the denomination.

Machen’s overture was turned down overwhelmingly. General Assemblies have a habit of not criticizing their own agencies — that’s one of the problems in our own Church. You just can’t get the Assembly to pass actions critical of their own boards. That has long been characteristic of Presbyterian ecclesiastical practice.

Machen and others then took the step, which to this day is debated as to its necessity or wisdom, of organizing the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. Some Southern Presbyterians were put on the board. This was window-dressing, for it was a Northern Presbyterian effort.

Charles Woodbridge was brought home from the Cameroons to be the executive secretary of the board. Several missionaries resigned from the official Board of the Presbyterian Church to accept membership under the Independent Board. The Northern Presbyterian leaders began to realize that here was a threat.

In 1934 at the instigation of Lewis Mudge, then Stated Clerk, the General Assembly passed a mandate whose language included such astounding declarations as this: a member of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America is as obligated to support the official programs of the church as he is to take the Lord’s Supper. That’s assuming a very extreme position!

Conform, Or Else!

The mandate’s thrust was against the Independent Board and called upon those who were members of the Board and missionaries under the Board to resign or face ecclesiastical penalties. Now such a mandate is distinctly in opposition to Presbyterian polity, for our system is to work from the bottom up. You go from the session to the presbytery, to the synod, to the General Assembly.

But here was the General Assembly arrogating to itself the right to tell individual ministers and lay members of the denomination to disassociate themselves from an independent agency working in the field of world missions. The argument of course was that this was competitive with the official Board.

Now what did the presbyteries do? They fell into line in almost all cases. Charges were filed against J. Gresham Machen, J. Oliver Buswell of Wheaton College, Carl McIntire, and Charles Woodbridge. On and on and on went these cases of process. The focus of interest was, of course, the case against Dr. Machen. He was a member of the Presbytery of New Brunswick.

A Footnote

Here is an interesting ecclesiastical footnote. Because he lived in Philadelphia, Machen had sought to be transferred from New Brunswick presbytery in the Synod of New Jersey. He had asked for a letter of transfer to Philadelphia presbytery and it had been acted upon.

The Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Philadelphia had not sent back to New Brunswick that little coupon on the bottom of letters of transfer reporting a minister has been received into the membership of the new presbytery.

On the strength of that clerical failure, New Brunswick claimed and exercised supervision of Machen and entered into the exercise of jurisdiction by formal process of trial. I went from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, where I was serving, to all three of the sessions of the Machen trial.

It was a travesty. He was forbidden to raise any question of jurisdiction. He was forbidden to raise any question of constitutionality. The trial proceeded on the narrow question: Will you obey the General Assembly’s order? I can still hear Machen saying,

“I cannot do that, it is against conscience; it is in effect to put the command of the General Assembly above my conscience and to make an ecclesiastical order superior to the Word of God. I cannot obey the order.”

The outcome was foregone. He was found guilty of disobedience, of violation of his ordination vow to be subject to his brethren. Now let this sink in. Machen was the greatest Biblical scholar of the century, a noble figure, an eminent figure. He was suspended from the ministry of the Gospel, forbidden to preach, forbidden even to go to the Lord’s table.

Similar condemnations were handed down upon other members of the Independent Board. These things were appealed to synod. Synod upheld the presbyteries. At last the appeals came to the 1936 General Assembly at Syracuse. I went to that meeting to be in at the death and sat in the balcony and watched the proceedings unfold.

Asserting that the General Assembly had the right to order the affairs of the whole Church, the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly found in behalf of the Synod of New Jersey, which had found in behalf of the Presbytery of New Brunswick. The sentence of suspension from the ministry was affirmed.

This became the signal for action. Machen resigned from the ministry of the Northern Presbyterian Church. Other pastors resigned also, standing with Machen’s position that the Church had become officially apostate by subordinating the Word of God to the commandments of men.

These men laid plans for the formation of a new denomination and in June, 1936, in downtown Philadelphia, the first General Assembly of the then-named Presbyterian Church of America was constituted. Dr. Gordon H. Clark, a name familiar to all who have done any reading, nominated Dr. Machen to be the first Moderator of the new denomination.

For men like me, just out of seminary, it was a terrible issue to confront. What should we do? After a summer of agony, I decided that I would stand with Machen. I didn’t do this blindly; I sought to reason it through, suffer and pray it through. Many young men whose ecclesiastical careers were thought promising laid their heads on the ecclesiastical chopping block and, believe me, our heads were cut off!

Most of us called congregational meetings, announced our intention to resign and asked what the congregation wanted to do. The Willow Grove congregation, which had tripled in those two or three years I had been there, decided, two to one, to stand with its young minister. We left the property and met on the third floor of the Legion Hall for three years until we could buy ground and build a meeting house.

That was happening here and there over the country. Instead of calling it a split, call it a splinter. We were meeting in store fronts, rented halls or wherever temporary lodging could be found.

The Northern Presbyterian Church sued us at law over our name. The judge ruled the name must be changed. An awkward name was selected, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. As just a young pastor I was selected Moderator of the 8th General Assembly — we were a bunch of amateurs trying to build a denomination but making many, many mistakes.

One reason for the mistakes was that in 1937 the great, illustrious, the almost indispensable Dr. Machen was taken by death. Troubles compounded after that. There was a split between the majority in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the McIntire group. Then Charles Woodbridge was wooed away from his place of significant leadership in the OPC.

We had a heavy setback in what is called the Clark case. Unable to endure the pettiness shown toward Dr. Clark, man after man went into the old U.P. Church or the Southern Church. A great pool of ministerial talent was lost from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

These sorts of things are not matters that happened in a corner. No man is an island, and no church should be considered an island. What happens anywhere will affect us everywhere.

The things that went on in the North were a tocsin heard in the South. Maybe they served, in God’s providence, a purpose in our region. Perhaps the events just recalled helped to alert Nelson Bell and Henry Dendy and their colleagues so that they organized the Presbyterian Journal. It is certainly to the Journal that we owe the great victory of 1954-55 when we turned down union with the UPUSA Church.

Perhaps those influences that led not only to the Journal but also, at last, to other institutions, like the Reformed Seminary, account for the faith in our Southern Church. Many of these things which show the conservatives alert and determined and willing to act have resulted from the stand taken earlier in the North by men of conviction.

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: