Off to School with Ye!

It was on this day, August 18th, in 1841, that an Address was delivered by the Rev. Dr. John W. Yeomans, on the occasion of the his Inauguration as President of Lafayette College, in Easton, Pennsylvania.

John William Yeomans, D. D., was born in Hinsdale, Massachusetts, on the 7th of January, 1800.  When quite young he served some time as an apprentice, but soon turned his attention to study and commenced his preparation for college under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Cummings, of Albany, N. Y.  After the short space of a year and a half spent in preparatory study, he entered the junior class of Williams College, Mass. He graduated in 1824 with the second honor in his class, Mark Hopkins (who later served as President of that school), taking the first honors. For two years Yeomans was Tutor in the college, after which he studied theology in the Seminary at Andover, Mass.

His first pastoral charge was at North Adams, Massachusetts, where he remained from November, 1828, till the spring of 1832, when he became pastor of the First Congregational Church of Pittsfield, Mass.  In the spring of 1834 he was called to the First Presbyterian Church of Trenton, N. J., as successor to the Rev Dr. James W. Alexander.  In the spring of 1841 he accepted the Presidency of Lafayette College, remaining there until the early part of 1845, when he became pastor of the Mahoning Church, in Danville, PA, where he continued in the discharge of his ministerial duties until his death, June 22, 1862.  Dr. Yeomans was a deep thinker and a vigorous and able writer.  He was regarded as one of the leading theologians in the Presbyterian Church, and as a metaphysician, he had probably but few equals among his brethren.  The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by three different colleges at the same time—the College of New Jersey, Williams College and Miami University.  In 1860 he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly.

Talk about a guy you never heard of! Accorded such accolades, and yet today few if any know of him.

Words to Live By: 
Do the work the Lord has given you. Do it faithfully, to the best of your ability and as unto the Lord. And if you have yet to find your place in life, be faithful in seeking the Lord and His will. History will most likely not remember many of us, but that is not is what is important in this life. What is important is to first take Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Be sure to be found in Him. And then be faithful in doing all His holy will, wherever you are in this life. All else is secondary.

Image source : Engraved portrait as found facing page 36 of the 1861 edition of The Presbyterian Historical Almanac and Annual Remembrancer of the Church, edited by Joseph M. Wilson.

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Dangerous Times Demand Vigorous Faith
by Rev. David T. Myers

The Protestant Reformation had been a long time in coming to Scotland. But finally, that reformation which had begun in Germany and Switzerland under Martin Luther and John Calvin hit the shores of Scotland under the spiritual leadership of John Knox. His presence was not without its suffering. which we have seen thus far in these pages to Knox and other Protestants before him. But in 1560, members of the Protestant faith took control of the Scottish Parliament. Then, Knox and others wanted a Protestant nation from the top down. And this Reformation parliament agreed, instructing Knox and six other ministers to prepare a creed summarizing of the faith and life of the Scottish church.

This group of ministers led by John Knox had met before to hammer out a book of discipline for the Kirk. Their names were: John Winram, John Spottiswoode, John Willock, John Douglas, and John Roe. Along with John Knox, they were famously known as “the six John’s.” They returned back to the Parliament with the doctrinal statement after just  four days, on August 17, 1560. Obviously, they were at home with the Scriptural truths and texts within this document.

It consisted of twenty-five chapters, supports with Scriptural texts, strengthened by words such as “cleave, serve, worship, and trust.” They had to be some knowledge of church history by its readers in the distant past, as it condemned the heresies of Arius, Marcion, Eutyches, and Nestorius by name. Obviously, Roman Catholicism was thoroughly denied in the confession. It was read twice, first to the Lords of the Articles, and second to the whole Parliament, with members of the “Six John’s” standing up to answer any and all protestations. Very few were enunciated. The votes of every member of the Parliament were then recorded. While there were a few negatives, the majority in the affirmative was clear and strong. Scotland has a Reformation Creedal standard.

Two acts, as John Knox wrote in his History of the Reformation, were passed in additions to the Scots Confession. The one was against “the Mass and the abuse of the Sacrament, and the other against the Supremacy of the Pope.” (pg. 233) All laws at variance to the Reformed faith were set aside.

The entire Scot Confession of 1560 can be read online here.

This Reformation Confession would provide the spiritual foundation of the Scottish Reformation until the Westminster Confession and Catechisms would replace it in 1648.

Words to Live By:
This author in his forty years of ministry within Presbyterian churches has often heard visitors, upon hearing of our Confessional Standards, reply that they hold to “no creed but Christ.” Now that succinct statement sounds good, but in truth even the apostate would affirm it.The only difference would be that his “Christ” is very much different from the Christ of the Bible. And that is the reason why a Confessional standard is needed by the true church today. To be sure, it is never held above the Bible. It is always a subordinate standard. We receive and adopt it as elders of the church. We look upon it as a summary of the teachings of the Old and New Testaments.  Reader, if you haven’t cracked open its pages for a long time, spend some time this week in reading again its chapters. You will be thankful again of this historic standard of our Presbyterian and Reformed churches.

Jesus Christ is Lord over All of LIfe

William Brenton Greene, Jr., was born this day, August 16th, in 1854 in Providence, Rhode Island.

WBGreeneJrEducated at the College of New Jersey (Princeton University), and graduating there in 1876. he then worked as a teacher while preparing for the ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, 1877-1880. Rev. Greene was ordained by the Presbytery of Boston (PCUSA) on 3 June 1880 and installed as pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Boston, where he served from 1880-1883. He next answered a call to serve as senior pastor of  the Tenth Presbyterian church, in Philadelphia, succeeding Dr. John DeWitt in that post and serving there from 1883-1892. Finally, he was then appointed to serve as the Stuart Professor of the Relations of Philosophy and Science to the Christian Religion, at the Princeton Theological Seminary, a post he held until 1903, after which he held the Chair of Apologetics and Christian Ethics, from 1903 until his death in 1928.  Among his many honors, he was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree by the College of New Jersey in 1891.

[Note: The College of New Jersey was founded in 1746. The school’s name was then changed to Princeton University during its Sesquicentennial Celebration. in 1896. Particularly in earlier years, the school was commonly referred to as “Nassau,” “Nassau Hall,” “Princeton College,” or “Old North.”]

Upon Greene’s death in 1928, J. Gresham Machen wrote of him, “I loved Dr. Greene. He was absolutely true, when so many were not. He was always at Faculty and Presbytery, no matter how feeble he was. He was one of the best Christians I have ever known.”
[Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir, p. 439.]

Dr. Greene is buried at the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.

Words to live by: Quoting from the inaugural address of Dr. William Breton Greene, he opened that address with these thoughtful words:

“A professorship in one of our theological seminaries is no ordinary trust. Its chief function is to teach and to train preachers of the Gospel. Because, therefore, it has “pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” the position of a theological professor must be as much more serious than that of the preacher as the work of the medical professor is than that of the physician. The theological teacher cannot fail largely to determine the spiritual health of all the congregations of his pupils.”

Perhaps you’ve never thought of it before now, but doesn’t Dr. Greene’s analysis prompt you to pray for those very seminary professors who train our candidates for the ministry?

Click here to read Dr. Greene’s inaugural address. “The Function of the Reason in Christianity.”

Our post today is from Chapter VII of PRESBYTERIANISM FOR THE PEOPLE, by the Rev. Robert P. Kerr (1883). Please keep in mind that the author here is speaking of the organization of his own Church at that time. There are many differences today for most of the Presbyterian Churches in this country. For one, only the PC(USA) has the Synod level court; the PCA, OPC, EPC and other conservative Presbyterian denominations do not employ the Synod structure.

II. THE PRESBYTERY.

This is the most important assembly of the Church, because it has the most work to do. It has charge of all the congregations in a certain district, and is composed of all the ministers and one elder from every church in that district. [Ed.: This limit of one ruling elder per church was for the PCUS; it may or may not be the case with our modern Presbyterian denominations]. Quotation is made from the same excellent authority as before for a description of the functions of this body, and also the Synod and the General Assembly :

“The Presbytery has power to receive and issue appeals, complaints and references brought before it in an orderly manner; to examine and license candidates for the holy ministry; to receive, dismiss, ordain, install, remove and judge ministers; to review the record of the church Sessions, redress whatever they may have done contrary to order and take effectual care that they observe the constitution of the Church; to establish the pastoral relation, and to dissolve it at the request of one or both of the parties or where the interests of religion imperatively demand it; to set apart evangelists to their proper work; to require ministers to devote themselves diligently to their sacred calling and to censure the delinquent; to see that the lawful injunctions of the higher courts are obeyed; to condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of the church; to visit churches for the purpose of inquiring into and redressing the evils that may have arisen in them; to unite or divide churches at the request of the members thereof; to form and receive new churches; to take special oversight of vacant churches; to concert measures for the enlargement of the Church within its bounds; in general, to order whatever pertains to the spiritual welfare of the churches under its care; to appoint commissioners to the General Assembly; and, finally, to propose to the Synod or to the Assembly such measures as may be of common advantage to the Church at large.” [compare the PCA’s Book of Church Order, chapter 13, paragraph 9, which is closely similar]

III. THE SYNOD.

This assembly has under its care all the Presbyteries in a large district, corresponding, usually, in America, with the area of a State—for example, the Synod of New York or the Synod of North Carolina. The Synod is usually composed of all the ministers and one elder from every congregation in its bounds; but, in some branches of the Church, Synods are allowed to choose between this plan and that of having its members appointed by the Presbyteries under its care.

“The Synod has power to receive and issue all appeals, complaints, and references regularly brought up from the Presbyteries; to review the records of the Presbyteries and redress whatever they may have done contrary to order; to take effectual care that they observe the constitution of the Church, and that they obey the lawful injunctions of the higher courts; to erect new Presbyteries and unite or divide those which were before erected; to appoint ministers to such work, proper to their office, as may fall under its own particular jurisdiction; in general, to take such order with respect to the Presbyteries, Sessions and churches under its care as may be in conformity with the Word of God and the established rules, and may tend to promote the edification of the Church; to concert measures for promoting the prosperity and enlargement of the Church within its bounds; and, finally, to propose to the General Assembly such measures as may be of common advantage to the whole Church. It shall be the duty of the Synod to keep full and fair records of its proceedings, to submit them annually to the inspection of the General Assembly and to report to it the number of its Presbyteries and of the members thereof, and, in general, all important changes which may have occurred within its bounds during the year.”

IV. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.

This is the highest authoritative assembly of the Church. It meets annually, and has charge of all the Synods in its division of the great Presbyterian sisterhood. It is composed of an equal number of ministers and elders, appointed by the Presbyteries. If a Presbytery has more than twenty-four ministers on its roll, it may send two ministers and two elders, and in some branches of the Church may go on increasing the number of its delegates by two for every twenty-four ministers in its membership. There are many General Assemblies, representing many bodies of Presbyterians, and all independent of one another.

“The General Assembly shall have power to receive and issue all appeals, references and complaints regularly brought before it from the inferior courts* [*In some branches of the Presbyterian Church cases of minor importance are not allowed to come before the General Assembly, but the Synod’s settlement of them is final.]; to bear testimony against error in doctrine and immorality in practice injuriously affecting the Church; to decide in all controversies respecting doctrine and discipline; to give its advice and instruction, in conformity with the constitution, in all cases submitted to it; to review the records of the Synods; to take care that the inferior courts observe the constitution; to redress whatever they may have done contrary to order; to concert measures for promoting the prosperity and enlargement of the Church; to erect new Synods; to institute and superintend the agencies necessary in the general work of evangelization; to appoint ministers to such labors as fall under its jurisdiction; to suppress schismatical contentions and disputations according to the rules provided therefor; to receive under its jurisdiction, with the consent of the majority of the Presbyteries, other ecclesiastical bodies whose organization is conformed to the doctrine and order of this Church; to authorize Synods and Presbyteries to exercise similar power in receiving bodies suited to become constituents of those courts and lying within their geographical bounds respectively; to superintend the affairs of the whole Church; to correspond with other Churches; and, in general, to recommend measures for the promotion of charity, truth and holiness through all the churches under its care.” [compare the PCA’s BCO chapter 14, paragraph 6, which is similar.]

Words to Live By:

Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”And when Paul and Barnabas had [a]great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them.—Acts 15:1-4 (NASB). This section of Scripture and the verses that follow establish the groundwork for the higher courts in the Presbyterian system of church government. 

Too many years have gone by, and many of you probably never knew of this early feature on the Internet. A few years ago, at my request, Dr. David W. Hall very kindly provided a brief history of PREMISE, an exceptionally early web-based magazine which ran from 1994-1999.  Some remarkable content was posted under the PREMISE banner, and the PCA Historical Center has providentially been able to preserve that content. And now to Dr. Hall’s telling of the history of that effort.:—

Remembering Premise Magazine Online

The Short History of CAPO and Premise

by Dr. David W. Hall

In what seems like a land far away and in a time long ago, there once was publishing without the internet. Moreover, few reformed organizations seized that day. Thanks to a providential location for ministry and being surrounded by some very talented people, this pastor of a small church was able to participate in some of the unfolding of a new medium.

I was called to pastor the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in the spring of 1984. Possessing only low-tech skills and a humanities orientation, ironically I went to this historically high-tech community, filled with scientists and world-class technical researchers. I was steeped in liberal arts courses but a technical illiterate. My elders dragged me onto the information highway in its infant days, and with their support, we were able to form the first Reformed online journal, Premise, in 1994 (and continued through 1999). The Kuyper Institute started publishing its online briefings and analysis in the late summer of 1994, just prior to a sweeping congressional sea change.

Premise, however, was but one feature of the work of the larger domain: The Center for the Advancement of Paleo Orthodoxy (then www.capo.org). We chose the name to make two statements: first, we were not headed toward “neo”-anything. The content of our publishing was decidedly old school and traditionalist. In fact, anticipating our critics’ parries, our first banner logo featured a dinosaur. Our intent (and confession) was this: “Okay, yes, we’re old school. Got it. Now, what’s the rational argument after we’ve been pegged?” Second, CAPO was an online think tank, with seven different divisions. Each of those seven departments, aptly named after a great theologian or practitioner from our tradition, needed, we thought, a revival of reformed theology to renew its core. The seven different Institutes (see more below) were:

  1. The Calvin Institute for Theology
  2. The Kuyper Institute for Politics
  3. The Augustine Institute for Ethics
  4. The Van Til Institute for Apologetics
  5. The Newton Institute for Science
  6. The Groen Van Prinsterer Institute for History
  7. The Burke Institute for Economics

Yes, it was an ambitious vision that was never fully realized, although the fine articles which populated our e-pages were not only cutting edge for that day but also composed by a rising generation of evangelical scholars and organizational leaders. Ruling elder and friend (now Dr.) Mark Buckner was the primary poster, the brains, and the entire technical department; without him, there would have been no CAPO.

Still, Premise may have been the most widely read of our organs. That monthly magazine, first published in December 1994, featured editorials, essays, book reviews, substantive theological articles, political briefings, sermons, chapters from forthcoming works, and other writings. At the time, although we were unsuccessful, we sought to drag other fine reformed ministries and educational institutions onto the internet. However, after a few years, many ministries came to realize that the internet was neither a fad among college students nor reserved for the military.

Little could most elders predict how wide ranging and developed internet publishing would become. Those of us who ventured onto the internet a decade before the explosion of blogs were on new technical turf, despite our protestation to the contrary that in the realms of ideas there was nothing new under the sun.

This was in the day before Amazon was launched. And very few newspapers were online. I remember when Mosaic software was the first truly graphical interface and how much that advanced our online publishing. I recall a time before Microsoft had web publishing software and the time before either Mozilla or Internet Explorer. Yet, we did think the day would come when personalized news services were available and information would be interlinked. Moreover, the international access led to stunning missiological possibilities.

With gratitude to God for all his gifts, thus, I am happy to dedicate the digital version of Premise to the PCA Historical Center, both with my thanks to that organization and to its director, Mr. Wayne Sparkman.

************************

The explanations from our home page were:

CAPO is the umbrella organization, which provides funding, direction, and facilities for:

THE INSTITUTES

The Kuyper Institute for Politics is named for Dutch pastor and politician Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). It focuses on applying biblical standards to politics, particularly House and Senate races. Regular briefings by email are available. To subscribe send an email message to:
majordomo@use.usit.net
with SUBSCRIBE CAPO-L in the body of the message.

Back issues and other studies remain posted, providing a unique timely biblical analysis of American politics. Among all the other political think tanks, The Kuyper Institute is unique in this: It alone has been created and developed to promote a distinctively Christian critique of modern politics.

The Calvin Institute for Theology, is named after John Calvin (1509-1564). It contains essays on various historical periods of theology and offers in-depth analysis and critique. Included are essays on current themes, historical essays, bibliographies, and numerous other studies, providing a unique online theological repository.

The Van Til Institute for Apologetics is our center for the reasoned defense of the historic Christian faith. Named for a ground-breaking 20th century apologist, Cornelius Van Til, this center provides some of the finest cutting edge scholarship in the world. This center serves an international community with the highest caliber of thoughtful apologetic studies and resources.

The Augustine Institute for Ethics specializes in, medical, legal, and philosophical ethical issues. Named after Augustine of Hippo (354-430), this center concentrates on applying the most solid of ethical criteria to modern issues, frequently contrasting the two philosophical oppositions observed by Augustine: The City of God or the City of Man. Current, analytic, and systematic studies are contained.

The Burke Institute for Economics seeks to apply historic Christian norms to economics. This center honors the work of Edmund Burke (1729-1797). Long under-appreciated in terms of its impact, economic theory and practice is as value-laden as anything else. This center seeks to champion a biblical approach to economics in theory and practice.

The Groen Van Prinsterer Institute for History follows the method of Dutch thinker Guillaume Groen Van Prinsterer (1801-1876). Recognizing the two major philosophical explanations in modern times as either an Enlightenment humanism or a Reformation base, this center collects numerous essays on a widerange of historical subjects.

The Newton Institute for Science. Few areas need more attention than science. Isaac Newton (1642-1717) applied scripture to science; this center encourages the same by its thoughtful studies on the interface of science and Christianity.

CAPO Fellows included:

Stanley Bamberg, Ph.D., Fellow
Doug Bandow, J.D., Sr. Fellow
* Michael Bauman, Ph. D., Research Fellow
* E. Calvin Beisner, M.A., Fellow
* Joel Belz, M.A., Distinguished Fellow
Mark Buckner, M.S., Ph.D., Research Fellow
* J. Ligon Duncan, III, Ph. D., Fellow
Nick Eicher, Fellow
Darwin Glassford, Ph.D., Fellow
T. David Gordon, Ph.D., Fellow
* George Grant, Ph. D., Distinguished Fellow
David Hall, M. Div., Sr. Fellow
Michael S. Horton, Ph. D., Fellow
* Frank James, Ph.D., Fellow
Doug Jones, M.A., Fellow
Reggie Kidd, Ph.D., Fellow
Peter Leithart, M.A., Fellow
* Peter Lillback, Ph.D., Research Fellow
R. Russell Miller, M.S., Research Fellow
* Marvin Olasky, Ph.D., Sr. Fellow
F. Edward Payne, M.D., Fellow
M. Dale Peacock, J.D., Fellow
Patrick S. Poole, Fellow
Tim Rake, M.Div., Fellow
W. Duncan Rankin, Ph. D., Fellow
R. C. Sproul, Jr., M. A. Fellow
Hilton Terrell, M. D., Ph. D., Fellow
Timothy Terrell, M. A., Fellow

2011 Note: those marked by an asterism (*) went on to lead major reformed or evangelical organizations.

Our motto was: Looking for Wisdom as Ancient as the Scriptures.”Since June of 1994.

And our front page introduced our work as follows:

The Center for the Advancement of Paleo Orthodoxy

An Innovative
. . . high-tech
. . . Electronic
. . . Analytic
. . . On-line Archive and
. . . Publishing Forum
. . . With Serious and
. . . Distinctively biblical perspectives.

Our Story:
In early 1994 an insightful Board conceived, funded, prepared, and launched the first evangelical think tank on the World Wide Web, a service that is . . .

  • as large as the world;
  • comprehensive enough to provide a worldview;
  • unsurpassed in terms of evangelical online scholarship and analysis;
  • consistently reflective of the ancient (paleo) biblical faith.

In terms of human thought, we agree with Solomon: Nihil novum sub sole (“There is nothing new under the sun.”)

With a consortium of 7 distinct think tanks, a monthly award-winning journal, numerous electronic publishings, and a publishing arm, and an online bookstore [2011 Note: This was pre-Amazon.com but we did not have the business savvy to develop this], this center combines the best of modern technology with proven truth.

The Center for the Advancement of Paleo Orthodoxy is a distinctively biblical and historic consortium of networked think tanks, publications, and scholars. The purpose of the Center, located in Oak Ridge TN, is to shed ancient biblical light on modern issues. Admidst the demise of modernity and postmodernism, CAPO is unconvinced that all earlier thinkers should automatically be excluded from modern discussions, as if moderns are inherently and categorically superior. CAPO reaches thousands of international readers per month and has won the following awards . . .

STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 22. — How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?

A. — Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and born of her, yet without sin.

Scripture References: John 1:14; Luke 1:31,35,41,42; Heb. 2:14; Matt. 26:38; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 4:15; Heb. 7:26.

Questions:

1. Was Christ’s birth a voluntary act of Christ?

Yes, it was a voluntary act. He took upon himself the human nature so that he might be fitted to be our Redeemer.

2. Did he assume the nature of a real man?

Yes, he assumed the nature of a real man. He had the two essential parts of a man, possessing a real body of flesh and blood and bones and that of possessing a soul.

3. How can we prove that he had a real body?

The Bible tells us that he is called “Man”. He was subject to hunger, weariness and thirst like other men. He was also crucified, dead and buried and rose again in his body. Luke 24:39 teaches that his was a body, not just mere spirit.

4. How can we prove that he had a soul, a reasonable soul?

The Bible tells that he had such and that his divine nature did not take the place of, or supply the place of, a soul. Matt. 26:38 teaches that his “soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.”

5. Was the birth of Christ like the birth of other men?

No, his birth came about by the miraculous power of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

6. Why was Christ born of a virgin?

Christ was born of a virgin in order that he might be conceived and born without sin, that he might be free of the original sin which was passed on to all Adam’s posterity by natural generation.

7. Is it really important that we believe Christ was born of a virgin?

Yes, this is very important. (This is treated in the article below):

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST

In many church courts today the question is asked, “Is it really necessary for a person to believe in the virgin birth of Christ?” The statement, or sentiment, behind the question is the thought that it is not necessary to believe in this doctrine to become a Christian, or, it is not necessary to believe in this doctrine to be ordained to the Gospel ministry. Actually, the answer to the question is very simple if the one answering regarding his belief in the virgin birth is a member of a church subscribing to the Westminster Standards. Our Bible-founded Standards teach the virgin birth and if a minister does not believe in it he is not qualified to be in the Presbyterian church.

Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield answers these important questions regarding the virgin birth when he says, “It is only in its relation to the New Testament doctrine of redemption that the necessity of the virgin birth of Jesus comes to its full manifestation. For in this Christianity the redemption that is provided is distinctly redemption from sin; and that He might redeem men from sin it certainly was imperative that the Redeemer Himself should not be involved in sin.” Could it be stated in a clearer fashion that the redemptive work of Christ depends upon His virgin birth?

It is very difficult for a person to end up with much at all when he starts to doubt essential doctrines of the Christian system. There are strong connecting links between the different doctrines of Christianity and the doctrine of the Virgin Birth is an integral link. Certainly it is true that a person need not have a perfect understanding or conviction regarding the virgin birth to be saved but anyone that ignores it or denies it is a person that is denying the divinity of Christ and is therefore a person without hope in this world. Such a person has no business in the pulpit, pretending to preach the whole, redeeming Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is interesting to note that the fourth General Council, convened in Chalcedon in 451 A.D. stated: ” … our Lord Jesus Christ … begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, according to the manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only begotten … ” Our Confession of Faith affirms the same in Section II. This we believe! And for it we praise God!

Published By:
THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 2 No. 22 (October 1962)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

What Made Princeton Strong?

alexanderArchibald01Archibald Alexander served as moderator of the nineteenth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. With his departing sermon at the following year’s Assembly, Alexander made the case for the creation of a seminary, in keeping with a growing sentiment in the Presbyterian Church. Princeton Theological Seminary was founded in 1812 and the General Assembly almost unanimously voted Alexander its first teacher. He accepted and was inaugurated on August 12, 1812. Samuel Miller began teaching in 1813, and together the two men served as the anchors of education for the Presbyterian ministry until Miller’s death in 1849 and Alexander’s in 1851. Charles Hodge was the third professor at Princeton, and Alexander’s son, James Waddel Alexander, also served as professor at Princeton Theological Seminary.

In The Life of Archibald Alexander, pages 332-333, we read:

“The inauguration . . took place on the twelfth day of August, 1812. It was an occasion of great solemnity and feeling. The older ministers, especially those to whom the direction was entrusted, looked with parental yearnings on the infant seminary, and none were more ready to hail with thankfulness and hope the approach of new means for training the ministry, than those excellent men who lamented the scantiness of their own early opportunities. But to none did the service of the day bring greater solicitude than to him who was about to put on armour for which he unaffectedly felt too weak. The first discourse was a sermon by Dr. [Samuel] Miller, of New-York, on the Duty of the Church to take measures for providing an Able and Faithful Ministry; from the words, “And the things which thou hast heard of men, among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also;” 2 Timothy, ii. 2. It was an able investigation of the question, what is to be understood by an able and faithful ministry, which was made to include piety, talents, learning and diligence; and of the means which the Church is bound to employ for providing such a ministry.

. . .The Inaugural Discourse of the Professor was founded on the words, “Search the Scriptures,” John v. 39; and was a learned argument in behalf of biblical study. In one respect the whole performance was true to the habit and character of the speaker; for it did not contain, from beginning to end, the faintest allusion to his own personality. All depreciation of censure, and all promise of fidelity, were equally absent. It was followed by a charge to the Professor and Students of Divinity, by the Rev. Philip Milledoler, D.D. . . . It is for the public to determine how far the work in which these good men then engaged, with such earnestness and many prayers, has conduced to the progress of religion and learning in the United States.

Alexander’s Library

It was with an unfeigned reluctance that Dr. Alexander accepted the appointment. No man could entertain a higher estimate of the functions which awaited him; no man of eminence could think more humbly of himself. All his life long, he was free to acknowledge, that his training, however laborious, had lacked much of the rigor and method of the schools; and while he had pursued knowledge with enthusiasm, and in many fields, he knew that it had been with the neglect of certain forms which are supposed to give fitness for the academical chair. Theology had indeed been the study of his life. Its difficult questions had been the constant occupation of his profoundest meditations; and he had during his residence in Philadelphia gathered about him the great masters of Latin theology, whose works appeared in Holland, Switzerland, Germany, and France, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

A rare occasion for adding to his stock of Dutch theology was afforded by the sale [in 1813] of a library belonging to a learned minister from Holland, the Rev. Mr. Van Harlingen, of Somerset. . . These Reformed divines he regarded as having pushed theological investigation to its greatest length, and compacted its conclusions into the most symmetrical method. He was accustomed to say that in his judgment Reformed theology reached its culminating point about the epoch of the Synod of Dordrecht. To these great authors he turns with unabated zest during the whole of a long and studious life. He once said to the writer, that on a perplexed subject he preferred Latin to English reading; not only because of the complete and ingenious nomenclature which had grown up in the dialectic schools of the church, but because the little effort required for getting the sense kept his attention concentrated. It was indeed almost amusing to observe how he would hang over the massive quarto or folio, with all the awakened interest of a novel-reader. In consequence of the fiery controversy which characterized those times, and the scholastic acumen and philosophic adventure and logical exactness which belonged to the age, he considered these scholars as having anticipated most of the minor questions which have vexed the church in later times.”

Words to Live By:
In his Introduction to Athanasius: On the Incarnation, C.S Lewis wrote these words on the value and place of reading older books.

“There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about “isms” and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.

This mistaken preference for the modern books and this shyness of the old ones is nowhere more rampant than in theology. Wherever you find a little study circle of Christian laity you can be almost certain that they are studying not St. Luke or St. Paul or St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas or Hooker or Butler, but M. Berdyaev or M. Maritain or M. Niebuhr or Miss Sayers or even myself.

Now this seems to me topsy-turvy. Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old. And I would give him this advice precisely because he is an amateur and therefore much less protected than the expert against the dangers of an exclusive contemporary diet. A new book is still on its trial and the amateur is not in a position to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light. Often it cannot be fully understood without the knowledge of a good many other modern books. If you join at eleven o’clock a conversation which began at eight you will often not see the real bearing of what is said. Remarks which seem to you very ordinary will produce laughter or irritation and you will not see why—the reason, of course, being that the earlier stages of the conversation have given them a special point. In the same way sentences in a modern book which look quite ordinary may be directed at some other book; in this way you may be led to accept what you would have indignantly rejected if you knew its real significance. The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity (“mere Christianity” as Baxter called it) which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can be acquired only from the old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.

Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.”

Consecrated to God and Country
by David T. Myers

Readers of this Presbyterian series certainly should be aware of the first William Tennent who emigrated from Ireland to the colonies. He was the celebrated pastor and founder of the Log College. His son, the Rev. William Tennent was the Presbyterian pastor of Freehold, New Jersey congregation. And his son, also the Rev. William Tennent, known in church history as William Tennent the Third, is the topic of this day’s post. Certainly all three William Tennents devoted themselves to the cause of their Master, as one author put it. It was the third William Tennent who also devoted himself, as our title puts it, to God and Country.

When the American Revolution broke out in the colonies, many a pastor, and made the cause of the colonies their cause, along with their congregations. This was certainly the case with the Presbyterians of the colonies. England saw the stand of these Presbyterian pastors and congregation with alarm as they stood side by side with the patriot cause. Presbyterian minister after minister either marched from the parishes and homes as common soldiers or as chaplains in the ranks. Cousin America was spoken in England as having run away with a Presbyterian minister.

Our subject today is William Tennent the Third. His dates were 1705 to 1777. Born in Freehold New Jersey, he was the son of the second William Tennent, who was a Presbyterian minister. Obviously, with the spiritual history of his grandfather and father, he would be destined for the pulpit as well. At age 18, he graduated from the College of New Jersey when it was under the tutelage of Rev. Aaron Burr. A further degree of the Master of Arts was earned from Harvard in 1763. Ordained by the Presbytery of New Brunswick, he preached for six months in the churches of Hanover Virginia area. After that he became an assistant minister to Rev/ Moses Dickinson in Connecticut. Married in 1764, he moved with his family to Charleston, South Carolina to minister to a Congregational Church.

It was in this capacity as the Revolution approached, he began to minister to both church and “state.” Elected to the Assembly of South Carolina, he took on the cause of freedom with full heart. It was said that he would preach in the pulpit to his congregation biblical messages, and then in the afternoon “preach” on political matters to citizens gathered as the court house. He took a celebrated journey with two others, with the direction of the Assembly, to the back counties to seek to rally up the citizens to support the coming revolution which was seen on the horizon. He failed to convince the Tories or Loyalist families in that area, while convincing others to rally by the organization of military regiments for freedom’s cause.

In 1777, upon the death of his minister father, he sought to bring his surviving mother to South Carolina. In that trip, he was seized with fever and died on the way. It was said that his mind was calm at the sudden turn of events and that he was willing to die. Thus, on this Day in August 11, 1777, he went into the presence of his heavenly Father.

Words to Live By: Early Presbyterian pastors and members. took the teaching of Deuteronomy 20:1 – 4 (read) as justification of the presence of Presbyterian ministers going into battle with them during these times. Certainly, our character today would justify his presence in the struggle for freedom in those terms. This author’s father, as a Presbyterian chaplain in the military, would in both World War Two and the Korean War, serve his God and country in that spirit. Pray today for faithful Bible believing chaplains as they minister to soldiers and sailors in dangerous parts of this world.

Personal Revival of Daniel Baker
by Rev. David T. Myers

The key note to this wonderful man’s life was given on his death bed. When dying he said: “William, my son, if I should die I want this epitaph carved on my tomb. ‘Here lies Daniel Baker–preacher of the Gospel–a sinner saved by grace.’ Remember,” he added, “a sinner saved by grace.”

He was a man of one book—the Bible; one idea—the salvation of souls, and one occupation—the proclamation of the Gospel.

Dr. Baker was a child of Christian parents, born August 17, 1791, in Midway, Georgia, the fourth son and seventh child, and left early an orphan.He distinctly remembered the pious instruction of his parents. He felt that he was a sinner, and would certainly be lost. “I did wish,” he said, “that I was a bird, or insect, or anything that had not to meet God in the judgment day.”

But Daniel grew to become a pastor and a tireless evangelist. To catch a glimpse of the spiritual power that undergirded his ministry, we have only to turn to his diary, preserved for us by his son as part of The Life and Labours of the Rev. Daniel Baker. On page 141, we read:

“Amid lights and shadows, joys and sorrows, hope and fear, I laboured on, without much apparent success, until the 10th of August, 1830, when, not satisfied either with myself or the state of things in the church, I took Payson’s Memoirs in my hand, and going out early that morning, I spent nearly the whole day in a distant graveyard, engaged in reading, and fasting, and prayer. That day marks a memorable era in the history of my life. Returning to my dwelling that evening, about the setting of the sun, I resolved, by the grace of God, to turn over a new leaf, and in preaching and pastoral visitations to be more faithful and diligent than I had ever been.”

Baker’s journal continued:

Savannah, Tuesday, August 10th, 1830.
Have been reading the memoirs of Dr. Payson, late of Portland, Maine; found the account given of his piety and zeal, through grace, quickening to my soul. O, what a dead state have I been in for a length of time, and how unblessed my labours! I known not that a single individual has been awakened under my preaching for six months past. It will not do to live on at this poor dying rate. Lord, revive me, all my help must come from thee! As we are to have a communicant’s meeting this evening, I determined to set apart this day as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer—a day of special devotion. Had my heart somewhat drawn out in my morning devotions; afterwards took with me the Life of Payson, and thought that I would retire into the woods that I might enjoy more perfect retirement; thought the burial ground for the coloured people would be a good place; went in and found a brick tomb under a shade; every thing very favourable for religious reading and meditation. After prayer, commenced reading; whilst I read and mused the fire burned; my heart was greatly enlarged; the placed proved a Bethel, indeed; I know not when I ever had my feelings more wrought upon; compared myself with Payson, and was deeply humbled in the comparison; longed to follow him even as he followed Christ. Finding in his life an account of a prayer-meeting for the special purpose of praying for those for whom prayer might be specially desired, was much pleased with the idea, and immediately concluded to have one of the same kind. In the evening the communicants’ meeting was well attended, and very solemn; many tears were shed; proposed that we should have a day of fasting some time before our next communion.”

Words to live by: Labor to see that your whole life is surrendered to Christ. In all that you think, in all that you say, in all that you do, He is your Lord and Savior. He is King and Sovereign reigning over your life. Humble yourself before Him, always be quick to confess your sin, seek His presence daily, and then watch to see how He will work in your life, how He will use you in His kingdom work.

A substantial blessing last year at the PCA Historical Center was the donation of a complete set of a small periodical issued by Dr. William Stanford Reid. The little periodical titled REFORMATION TODAY only ran for about three years, but it contains a wealth of articles, and I would hope to post some of them here in the months to come.  This article is permanently available at http://www.pcahistory.org/findingaids/reidws/historicalperspective.html

“Needed: Historical Perspective”
by William Stanford Reid
[excerpted from Reformation Today —Volume 2, Number 4 (February, 1953), pp. 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 his 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.

William Stanford Reid,
Reformation Today —Volume 2, Number 4 (February, 1953), pp. 11, 17.

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