The following short article appeared on the pages of The Charleston Observer in 1840, reprinted there from The Presbyterian, a Philadelphia paper.  The article was written in response to actions taken in the Presbyterian Church at that time, correcting the error of disuse into which the diaconal office had fallen

We are pleased to observe that the injunctions of the General Assembly, relative to the appointment of Deacons in our several Churches, has attracted attention, and in many instances, has led inferior judicatories to take immediate measures to supply the glaring defect which is so general, and has been so long continued.  The disuse into which the office has fallen, has arisen from a wrong impression, that it may properly be dispensed with in any Church which has no poor dependent on its charity, or where the Elders without inconvenience, can attend to the poor.  In reply to this, we refer to the requirements of the Church, which are imperative on the subject.  The Deacon is an officer who is spoken of as an indispensable part of a rightly organized Church, and if he may be set aside by such a plea, as the one above alluded to, with the same propriety may the Ruling Elder be dispensed with, on some similar plea.  The Deacon is a spiritual officer in the Church of Christ, and while it is his peculiar duty to be the almoner of the Church to its poor, it is surely not his only duty.  Is he under no obligations to accompany these charities with kindly visits, religious conversation, and prayer?  Is he not to give counsel to the widow in her affliction, and instruction to the orphan?–He may be a co-adjutor to the Elder, and aid the Pastor materially in the well-ordering of the Church.  The office of the Deacon was not designed to be a temporary one ; there is not one intimation in Scripture to this effect ; and although it originated in the peculiar wants of the Church at the time, yet those wants will always exist in a degree sufficient to justify its continuance.–The duty of the Churches, therefore, is clear: they should forthwith choose out suitable men to fill this office.–The Presbyterian.

[The Charleston Observer, 14.40 (21 November 1840): 1, col. 6]

Principles of the Second Reformation of Scotland (1638)
by Rev. David T. Myers

The readers of these posts should be familiar with the first Reformation in Scotland, featuring John Knox and others who raised the bar of God’s truth to the people and basically led the entire nation out of Romanism. The second Reformation, which began at a General Assembly meeting on November 21, 1638 in Glasgow, Scotland, and continued for ten tumultuous years afterward, was in essence a reformation from Prelacy. [Prelacy is defined as the government of the Christian Church by “clerics of high social rank and power.”]

We have an excellent presentation of the Principles of the Second Reformation presented in a lecture by the Rev. Dr. Andrew Symington, a minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Delivered in 1841 in Glasgow under the auspices of the Society for Promoting the Scriptural Principles of the Second Reformation, he gave a long lecture of the six principles of that reformation.  The whole address is much too long for our purposes here, but this writer will give them in succinct form for your reading pleasure. Click here if you wish to read the full lecture.

First, the Second Reformation placed as foremost the universal supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Dr. Symington noted that the Lord Jesus “is given to be the head of all things to the church. The church is Christ’s. He has loved her, redeemed her, chartered her, and given  her a constitution, immunities, and laws, and officers.”

Another leading principle is the spiritual independence of the church of Christ. Symington added that “the church receives the doctrines of her faith, the institutions of her worship, her polity, and her discipline from Jesus Christ, independently of all foreign authority.”

The third principle, the supreme and ultimate authority of the word of God in the church, was in effect a summary of the Second Reformation. Its people and adherents, said Dr. Symington, “brought every matter of faith, worship, discipline, and government, to the test of the divine word.”

Next, another principle of the Second Reformation was “the subjection of nations to God and to Christ.”  Rev. Symington was clear that “civil authority should acknowledge Divine Revelation, bow at the footstool of Jesus’ throne, and erect its constitution, enact its laws, and conduct its administration, in subservience to the interests of the kingdom of Christ.”

Fifth, the duties of covenanting with God, and the obligation of religious covenants were important. Historically, that General Assembly meeting in Glasgow in 1638 began with a repetition of the National Covenant of Scotland and the Solemn League and Covenant.  Such covenanting “united friends . . . in the bonds of truth.”

And last, these Presbyterians of centuries ago, acted upon the principle of holding fast past attainments, advancing in reformation, and extending its blessings to others.”  We Presbyterians in the United States can be thankful that they “cast their eyes abroad, contemplating the enlargement of the Kingdom of the Savior.”

Words to Live By:
Rev. Symington stated the obvious when he said that the church of God, since it was first established in Eden, has never had a very lengthy period of prosperity. Yet it is also true that we can reflect on our Savior’s promise to the church in Matthew 16:18 that “the gates of Hades will not overpower” the church.  Let us be comforted in this promise even as we seek to extend her witness to the nations around us.

The first Presbytery of English Puritans was held at Wandsworth, on November 20, 1572, the same year as the Bartholomew massacre. The organizer of this first Presbytery, and the leader of early Presbyterianism in England, was the Rev. Thomas Cartwright, a professor of Divinity in Cambridge. In the appendix to Charles A. Brigg’s American Presbyterianism, there is provided a “Directory of Church Government” practiced by the first nonconformists [non-Anglicans] in the days of Queen Elizabeth, called “Cartwright’s Book of Discipline.” In due course of time Presbyterianism came to be quite powerfully organized in the vicinity of London, even in Elizabeth’s day, but it was rather as a church inside of the state church.

When Elizabeth died, James VI. of Scotland ascended the throne as James I. of England. His mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, had been thwarted by the Presbyterians of Scotland, and James himself had been in perpetual conflict with them. He came to the throne of England a natural despot, confident of his ability, intellectually and physically, to carry out his own will. He was a scholarly, skillful, profane, drunken fool. On the way from Edinburgh to London he received the Millenary Petition, asking relief for the Puritans, and held a conference, under his own presiding, between the friends of High Church Episcopacy and the representatives of free Protestantism. The High Church pretensions and flattery completely carried the day with his egotism; and the only outcome was his agreement to the suggestion of Edward Reynolds, of Oxford, spokesman in behalf of the Puritans, that there should be a new and better translation of the English Bible. That gave us King Jame’s Version.

In 1816 he published a book of sports “to encourage recreation and sports on the Lord’s day.” His theory was “no bishop, no king.” Throughout his reign, therefore, while resisting popery, he sought only to make himself pope of the Episcopal Church in England, and that Episcopal Church the only Church in the three kingdoms. He said that “presbytery agreeth with a monarchy as well as God with the devil.

Source:
Hay, George P., Presbyterians, pp. 46-48.

He Was the First
by Rev. David T. Myers

It was on this day, November 19, 1800 that John Chavis was licensed as a minister of the gospel by the Lexington, Virginia Presbytery. So what else is new, our readers might add? Many of our readers who are teaching elders have dates like this. But what makes this licensing special  is that John Chavis was an African American, as we would say today, indeed the first African American minister ordained in  the Presbyterian Church. As our title puts it, he was the first!

John Chavis was never a slave, but  from birth, a free black citizen. The dates for his birth are disputed, as is the place where he was born. Indeed, much of his early life is hidden from the researcher. But later on, his dates and events are well documented.

As a teenager, he joined the Fifth Virginia Regiment to fight in the American Revolution. He participated in six battles of that War of Independence –  at Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth – as well as in the Siege of Charlestown. Three years later, he was given an official dismissal stating that he had faithfully fulfilled his military duties and entitled to all recognition for having done so.

He became a tutor after his military service for Robert Greenwood’s orphan children, which gave him a taste for a calling which was to occupy his  life. Marrying Sarah Francis Anderson, who bore him one son in their married life, he moved his family to New Jersey, and particularly to Princeton, New Jersey, where he entered into a tutorial relationship with John Witherspoon, yes, that John Witherspoon, president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton Seminary). At age 29, he was accepted into formal classes of this College. With the death of Witherspoon, he returned to Virginia to enroll at Liberty Hall University as the first black student in that Presbyterian college, as well as becoming the first black student to graduate from any college or university in the land.

This brings us up to his licensure in the Presbyterian Church to preach the gospel, which he entered into with slaves, free black citizens, and whites. Many a soul came to the gospel through his faithful ministry. Along with that ministry, he returned to teaching both white and black children in Raleigh, North Carolina, in a private school with a high reputation.

His vocal support for an abolitionist by the name of Nat Turner brought condemnation from many white people. Indeed, several Southern States passed laws after that failed rebellion of Turner that caused free blacks to lose their standing as citizens, including John Chavis. He couldn’t preach or teach any longer. But the Orange Presbytery, to which he had transferred. continued to support him financially to the tune of $50 per month. Also helping him and his family in financial ways after this time was a book which he published, entitled “An Essay on the Atonement” in 1833. Four years later, he published a paper on “The Doctrine of the Extent of the Atonement of Christ.” A secular writer termed it “a Calvinist pamphlet.” One year later, he would die on June 15, 1838.

Words to Live By:
John Chavis is still remembered in Raleigh North Carolina by two road signs, the first ones to an African American in that southern city. Far greater honor has come to this African American for the work which he accomplished in difficult days for the Savior. Souls are in heaven due to his faithful preaching of the good news of eternal life. Remember dear reader, what we do for the Lord on this old earth may not translate out to temporal remembrance by the public. What we do however for our Savior has eternal rewards in heaven.

Spiritually Partaking of the Lord’s Supper
by Rev. David T. Myers

From time to time, various readers of the fairer sex have inquired after the authors of This Day in Presbyterian History to include more female characters of excellent character and godly conduct in our biographies. To answer this request, this author came across a whole series of “Ladies of the Covenant” from the British Isles of centuries past who have been born into wealth and privilege on the one hand, but were more intent in pursuing spiritual wealth and spiritual privilege on the other hand. Such is our character today, namely Lady Catharine Hamilton, the duchess of Atholl.

Born in 1662 at Hamilton Palace, she enjoyed the benefits of a pious and godly mother, who took careful aim in providing her young daughter’s mind with divine truth. At an early age, Catharine gained an extensive acquaintance with the Bible, accompanied by a knowledge of the distinguishing truths of the gospel. As a result, on this day, November 18, 1681, when she was 19 years of age, Catharine surrendered her soul to God. She wrote in her diary that “she chose Christ as her Savior, God as her portion, the Divine glory as her chief end, and the Divine law as her infallible guide.” The rest of her life she proceeded to live in accords with these convictions.

From her diary, we gain an understanding of her subsequent Christian life, which written record was begun when she was 25 years of age, and continued until her death. Associated with the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, she wrote of her convictions in seeking to please the Lord through the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Listen to these words on Sunday, July 12, 1697.

“O my soul, bless God the Lord, that ever he put it into thy heart to seek him, for he hath promised that those that seek him shall find him. This day I was reading the sixteenth chapter of John, verses 23, 24, ‘verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he will give it you,’ &c. O gracious promises! Then I began to think what it was I would ask of God. The thought immediately occurred to me was, Jesus Christ to dwell in my heart by faith and love. Methought, that if God would put it in my offer to have all the universe, with all the glory, honour, riches, and splendour of it, I would rather have Christ to be my King, Priest, and Prophet, than have it all. O that he would always rule in me, and conquer all his and my enemies—my corruptions, temptations, and sins, that is—and always assist and strengthen me to serve him faithfully and uprightly.”

A little later in the long diary passage, she wrote, “And now Lord, thou knowest I am designing, if thou shalt permit, to partake of thy holy supper. O prepare me for it, and let me not be an unworthy receiver. Do thou there meet with my soul, and renew my covenant and faithfulness unto me, and enlarge my heart and soul, and give me supplies of grace and strength to serve thee.”

The entire quotation proves that her observance of the Lord’s Supper was no dry and mundane experience, but a living and rich spiritual partaking of the elements of the Lord’s Supper.

Words to Live By:
Our Confessional Fathers have given unto us in the Larger Catechism three questions and answers which should prepare each believer to partake aright of the Lord’s Supper, whether you partake weekly, monthly, or quarterly of that Sacrament. This author, when he was in the active pastorate, would always include those answers in the bulletin on the Sunday before the Sacrament, the Sunday of the observance itself, and the Sunday following the Lord’s Supper. I quote them for your meditation and subsequent actions.

Larger Catechism No. 171
“They that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves of their being in Christ, of their sins and wants; of the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance; love to God and the brethren, charity to all men, forgiving those that have done them wrong; of their desires after Christ, and of their new obedience; and by renewing the exercise of these graces, by serious meditation and fervent prayer.”

Larger Catechism No. 174
“It is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, that, during the time of the administration of it, with all holy reverence and attention they wait upon God in that ordinance, diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions, heedfully discern the Lord’s body, and affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings, and thereby stir up themselves to a vigorous exercise of their graces; in judging themselves, and sorrowing for sin; in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ, feeding on him by faith, receiving of his fullness, trusting in his merits, rejoicing in his love, giving thanks for his grace; in renewing of their covenant with God, and love to all the saints.”

Larger Catechism No. 175
“The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfill their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance: but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time; but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.”

THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST
by Rev. William Smith

The Westminster Shorter Catechism – Questions 61 & 62.

Q. 61.
What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.

EXPLICATION.

Omission. –Passing over, neglecting, or not performing.

Careless performance. –Doing the duties of the Sabbath in a heedless and improper manner, as if they were a burden or a weariness to us.

Profaning the day. –Abusing, polluting, or spending the Sabbath in a sinful manner.

ANALYSIS.

The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are of five sorts:

  1. The omission of the duties required. –Ezek. xxii. 26. Her priests have violated my law, –and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
  2. The careless performance of these duties. –Mal. i. 13. Ye said, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame and the sick; thus ye brought and offering: Should I accept this at your hands? saith the Lord.
  3. The profaning of the Sabbath by idleness. –Matt xii. 12. It is lawful to do well on sabbath-days.
  4. The doing of those things that are in themselves sinful. –Ezek. xxiii. 38. They have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my sabbaths.
  5. Unnecessary thoughts, words, or works about our worldly employments or recreations. –Isa. lviii 13. Turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable: and honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.

Q. 62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?

A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the sabbath-day.

EXPLICATION.

Challenging a special propriety in the seventh. –Claiming the day as his own, above all the other days of the week.

His own example. –God’s resting on the seventh day, after he had finished the work of creation.

Blessing the sabbath day. –Appointing it to be a time when God would, in a particular manner, bestow spiritual blessings upon his people, or those who remember this day to keep it holy.

ANALYSIS.

The reasons annexed or added, to the fourth commandment, are four in number:

  1. God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employment. –Exod. xxxi. 15. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest.
  2. His challenging a special propriety in the seventh day. –Lev. xxiii. 3. Ye shall do no work therein: It is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.
  3. God’s own example. Exod. xxxi. 17. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
  4. His blessing the sabbath-day. –Gen. ii. 3. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.

The Danger of Education without Christian Orthodoxy & Piety

Chosen to serve as the eighth president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), Dr. Ashbel Green left the Philadelphia church which he had served for twenty-five years and moved in October of 1812 into the president’s house on Nassau Street in Princeton. His inaugural address in November dealt with “The Union of Piety and Science.”

Green had become firmly convinced that education, in itself, could be dangerous if it were not securely rooted in Christian orthodoxy and piety. Like Samuel S. Smith, his immediate predecessor in the office of president, Ashbel Green was loyal to John Witherspoon’s legacy; but, unlike Smith, he believed that the heart of Witherspoon’s commitment was his doctrinal views and his concern for revivals and Christian conduct. Green gathered the three faculty members for a day of prayer on November 16 and wrote down a list of goals for himself. The first three of his resolutions were:

1st … to endeavour to be a father to the institution. . . .

2d. To pray for the institution as I do for my family . . . and especially that [God] may pour out his Spirit upon it, and make it what its pious founders intended it to be.

3d. To watch against the declension of religion in my own soul . . . to which the pursuits of science themselves may prove a temptation.

The Presidents of Princeton University, 1747-1902

Colonial Era:

Jonathan Dickinson, 1747
Aaron Burr, Sr., 1748–57
Jonathan Edwards, 1758
Samuel Davies, 1759–61
Samuel Finley, 1761–66

Revolutionary War Years:

John Witherspoon, 1768–94

Nineteenth Century:

Samuel S. Smith, 1795–1812
Ashbel Green, 1812–22
James Carnahan, 1823–54
John Maclean, Jr., 1854–68
James McCosh, 1868–88
Francis L. Patton, 1888–1902

Words to Live By:
“Watch against the declension of religion in my own soul…” — Dear reader, is this among your daily goals, to guard your precious, eternal soul, that you would not stray from the Lord your Savior, but draw nearer to Him each and every day? From your rising in the morning till you rest your weary head at night, your desire should be to keep the Lord uppermost in your thoughts, seeking to do His will, praying that if by His blessing your words and deeds might point others to Christ. We have much to do in this life, but these things are most important of all.

The Preacher and Politician Meets His Savior

These days, we don’t meet many preachers or politicians who have accomplished as much in the realms of both church and state as the Rev. John Witherspoon did in his seventy-one years of life—and those accomplishments spanned two nations, as well! He was faithful first of all to his Savior and Lord, secondly, to the Lord’s people, and then as well to the average citizens of this great republic. He would go to his eternal reward on November 15, 1794.

Born in Scotland and raised to an effective ministry for the kingdom of God there in that “mother country,” Witherspoon answered the call to come to the American colonies. John and Elizabeth Witherspoon, along with their five children, traveled here by ship in 1768. Taking the presidency of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), he brought stability to that educational facility in their instruction, library, and financial matters. In the twenty-six years in which he was president, preaching in the nearby Princeton Presbyterian Church known as Nassau Presbyterian, which he founded, and teaching six courses of college level instruction, he taught a president of the United States (James Madison), a Vice-president, nine cabinet members, twenty-one senators, thirty-nine congressmen, three justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, twelve state governors, five members of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and  fifty-two delegates out of one hundred and eighty-eight teaching and ruling elders of the first General Assembly in 1789 of the Presbyterian Church in America.  Talk about a vital presence in both the church and the state!

We have all heard of John Witherspoon being the only clergyman who signed the Declaration of Independence, present on that occasion as one of four delegates from the State of New Jersey. But how many know that he was to serve on one hundred of the committees working to set up the new nation? He helped draft the Acts of Confederation and supported the adoption of the United States Constitution.

Despite the importance of this civil side of John Witherspoon, he never forgot that first and foremost, he was a herald of the gospel. Consider his words in a sermon he preached in 1758:

“I shall now conclude my discourse by preaching this Savior to all who hear me, and entreating you to believe in Jesus Christ, for there is no salvation in any other.  If you are not reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, if you are not clothed with the spotless robe of His righteousness, you must forever perish.”

Witherspoon understood that, as his precious Savior put it in the gospels, you could possess the whole world but lose your own soul outside of Jesus Christ. There was and is no profit in that sad situation.

John Witherspoon would become blind two years before his death at seventy-one years of age. He is buried in the Princeton Cemetery, his tombstone bearing an inscription of 239 words, all in Latin!

Words to live by:  It is rare to find someone in history who accomplished so much for both church and state.  Usually, when we find someone who has been known for his work in government, it is at the impoverishment of his Christian testimony. But in John Witherspoon’s faith and life, he simply believed strongly that his faith should impact every area of life, including that of the national affairs of his new country.  This culture mandate is no different from what is demanded of all believers today.  We must enter into every sphere of life with the changeless message of the gospel, seeking to influence those spheres in which God has placed us for His glory and the good of the people found there.

John Ulverstone Selwyn Toms [26 October 1878 – 14 November 1973]
[excerpted from the Minutes of the Bible Presbyterian Synod, 1974, pp. 38-39.]

A Memorial Resolution, #7. on the death of the Rev. U. Selwyn Toms was presented by the Rev. Morris McDonald. It was on motion adopted and reads:
RESOLUTION NO. 7

IN MEMORIAM – REV. J. U. SELWYN TOMS
The Rev. Mr. Toms went into the Lord’s presence on November 14, 1973, in his sleep, at the age of 95. Mr. Toms was born in 1878 in South Australia. He was graduated in the class of 1908 from Princeton Seminary, a classmate and friend of the late Dr. J. Gordon Holdcroft. Upon graduation he was licensed by the West Jersey Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. On October 27, 1908 he and his wife, Ella Sparks Burt, sailed for Korea to serve at Taegu and Seoul stations. They had three children, Robert, Burton and Elaine. Rev. Burton Toms was born in Seoul, Korea, and is at present serving the Lord under the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions.

Having returned from the mission field in 1923, due to the ill health of his wife, Mr. Toms served as pastor of the Thompson Memorial Church in Pennsylvania and after four years, as pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Woodstown, N.J., on July 31, 1936, Mr. Toms felt it was necessary to withdraw from the Presbytery due to un-Presbyterian actions.

Mr. Toms was elected to the Board of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions on May 31, 1937 and actively served until health prevented his attendance in 1966.

Mr. Toms was very strong in his stand against ecclesiastical apostasy and was active in the continuing succession to the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. He became a member of the Presbyter¬ian Church of America and was elected stated clerk for the New Jersey Presbytery. When it was no longer possible to continue in fellowship with that body, he formed part of the commission for a Bible Presbyterian Synod. The first Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church was held in Collingswood, N.J. September 6-8, 1930, and Mr. Toms was elected its FIRST moderator, because of the all-important missionary issues included in the conflict with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

For many years he served as the faithful statistician of the Bible Presbyterian Church. Mr. and Mrs. Toms made their residence In Chattanooga, Tennessee, with their son Robert. Mrs. Toms had gone to be with the Lord in November, 1971. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” – Revelation 14:13.
Mr. Toms served as a faithful member of the Kentucky-Tennessee Presbytery for many years prior to going to his higher reward.

As per the OPC Ministerial Register (2011):
John Ulverstone Selwyn Toms was born in Waller, New South Wales, Australia, on 26 October 1878.
He married Ella Burt on 10 October 1905.
Children born to their marriage included Robert, Frederick, and Marian.
He was educated at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, graduating there in 1905 with the A.B. degree.
He prepared for ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating in 1908 with the Th.B. degree and later returned to Princeton for the Th.M. degree, in 1924.
Rev. Toms was ordained by the Presbytery of West Jersey (PCUSA), on 2 July 1908.
From 1909-1923, he served as a evangelist in Korea under the auspices of the Board of Foreign Missions (PCUSA).
He was pastor of the Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Brownsburg, Pennsylvania, 1924-1928.
From 1928-1936, he was pastor of the PCUSA church in Woodtown, New Jersey.
Rev. Toms was received by the Presbytery of New Jersey (Presbyterian Church of America/Orthodox Presbyterian Church, on 8 September 1936, but later withdrew to become a founding member of the Bible Presbyterian Church, on 6 September 1938.
His date of death was 14 November 1973.

Admittedly this post should run on the 28th, but that’s Thanksgiving day and this wouldn’t fit so well then. We trust you will bear with us.

 

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, don’t wait to talk to your children about the God and His wonderful work of salvation, made possible by the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Little ears can understand more of Scripture than you might think, so long as you keep your words simple and work to answer their questions. In his book, Children of the Covenant, Thomas Dwight Witherspoon speaks to parents in a chapter that takes up this very theme: A Word to Christian Parents.

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