Four Presbyterian Chaplains Who Stayed Behind With the Wounded
by Rev. David T Myers

The army was moving, actually fleeing from the blood-soaked fields of Gettysburg on July 4, 1963. Three terrible days of battle had been fought there in this battle of the War Between the States. The Union forces had been victorious. The Rebel forces were in defeat, fleeing south as the vanquished army. Staying behind were countless Confederate soldiers too wounded to move with their regiments. Also staying behind were over one hundred surgeons and doctors to help with their physical needs, and sixteen Confederate Army chaplains to minister to their spiritual needs. Of those immortal sixteen chaplains were four Presbyterian chaplains, all captured on this day, July 5, 1863 by the Union forces.

The most familiar Rebel chaplain to our readers is Chaplain Thomas D. Witherspoon, of the Forty-second Mississippi Regiment, of whom we have written before in This Day. In the Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 8, number 2, (and on line) Chaplain Witherspoon writes “I was captured in the afternoon of a beautiful Sabbath day, the 5th of July, 1863 in a hospital tent in the midst of a religious service surrounded by the wounded on every hand to whom I was ministering and at whose urgent solicitation I had voluntarily remained within the enemy’s lines.”

Considered a non-combatant, as were all chaplains, Chaplain Witherspoon traveled to Baltimore, Maryland on a special mission. He planned to take the body of Col. Hugh Miller, commander of the 42nd Mississippi, his son Edwin Miller, under a flag of truce, back home to Richmond, Virginia, hoping to make the Confederate capitol in a couple of days. A very determined Union General in Baltimore wouldn’t let the small party proceed, even though they had a Union officer with their little party, and imprisoned Chaplain Witherspoon in Fort McHenry, Baltimore.

The other three Presbyterian chaplains who stayed with their wounded at Gettysburg, included Chaplain James H. Colton, of the Fifty Third North Carolina, Chaplain Paul Morton, of the Twenty Third Virginia, and Chaplain James H Gilmore of the Twenty-first Virginia Regiment. Along with seven Methodist chaplains, three Baptist Chaplains and two Episcopalian Chaplains, these faithful Presbyterian chaplains were allowed by the victorious Union Army to continue to minister to their wounded at Camp Letterman in Gettysburg, until August 7 of 1863, when they left for Baltimore.

Arriving in Baltimore, Maryland by train, the chaplains and the medical doctors stayed there until August 9th when they were moved to Fort Monroe, Virginia, then on to Fort Norfolk, Virginia, and finally back to Fort McHenry, outside of Baltimore. Maryland. They all were exchanged on this day, November 21, 1863 and sent on the steamer “Swan,” to City Point, Virginia.

After the Civil War, our four Presbyterian chaplains continued their ministries in civilian Presbyterian missions and churches, being faithful to the Captain of their salvation until their deaths.

Words to Live By:
Like civilian ministries, the biblical chaplain in our Armed Services, in peacetime and war, seeks to be faithful to the God of the Bible, earnestly proclaim the Lord Jesus and Him crucified, buried, and risen again, and proclaim the principles and practices of true Christianity. Here’s the question? Are you, our readers, earnestly praying for our Presbyterian and Reformed chaplains? Do you belong to a congregation which has chosen a chaplain and his work as your church chaplain. If not, contact the Presbyterian and Reformed Commission on Chaplains and Military Personal, Chaplain (Lt Col) Jim Carter, Director, to be a part of this Chaplain Sponsorship Program.

Waves of Presbyterians Arrive in America
by Rev. David T. Myers

An early American journal called the Pennsylvania Gazette put it succinctly for wave after wave of Scot-Irish from Ulster, Ireland to our shores. Published on this day, November 20, 1729, it stated, “Poverty, Wretchedness, Misery, and Want are become almost universal among them, . . . . so that there is not Corn enough rais’d for their Subsistence one Year with another; and at the same Time the Trade and Manufactures of the Nation being cramp’d and discourag’d, the laboring People have little to do, and consequently are not able to purchase Bread at its present Rate; That the Taxes are nevertheless exceeding heavy, and Money very scarce; and add to all this, that their griping, avaricious Landlords exercise over them the most merciless Racking Tyranny and Oppression. Hence it is that such Swarms of them are driven over into America.” To this listing of woes is the oppressive treatment of Irish Roman Catholics and the Anglican Church upon Ulster Presbyterians.

The first wave took place in the years of 1717 – 1718. Under the leadership of their pastor, the Rev. James McGregor, Presbyterian Covenanters from Aghadowey, Ulster shipped out for Boston, Massachusetts, expecting a warm welcome from the Puritans in that seaport town. However, this warm welcome was not forthcoming. In fact, those who followed this initial entrance were brought into the realization that they were unwelcome, period! But they persevered and ultimately settled throughout the New England colonies.

The second wave took place in the years from 1725 to 1729. The fact that the Pennsylvania Gazette recorded in our first paragraph of this post proves that this immigration was from Ulster to and through Pennsylvania. Indeed, the presence of many early Presbyterian churches in Pennsylvania from this time period proves the point. It was so large in its day that the English Parliament searched for causes for the massive fleeing of Presbyterians to America.

The third wave of immigration was in 1740 – 1741. Famine was its main cause, as nearly half a million Irishmen died at this time. Beginning this year and in the next decade, there was a large percentage of Scot-Irish Presbyterians making their exodus. And as important as Pennsylvania was as an entry point, countless Irish families cast a vote by their feet as they followed the Great Wagon Road into the rich Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, and later on into the Carolina’s, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Fifteen years later, in 1754 – 1755, invitations came from governors of North Carolina to Ulstermen which, added to a devastating droughts in the province, brought a fourth wave of immigrants to America. It wasn’t easy to come over during these years either. The French and Indian War was raging in the colonies, and would for seven years. But they still came.

The last wave was 1771 – 1775, just prior to the Revolutionary War, in which a hundred ships brought to our shores, close to 25, 000 to 30, 000 immigrants, mostly Presbyterian.

Words to Live By:
The great majority of transfers were Presbyterian Scot-Irish immigrants. We can be thankful for their courage and convictions. They were to have a tremendous influence in the Revolutionary War as our Presbyterian forefathers had no problem fighting the British. But more than fighting for liberty was their desire to lay the spiritual foundations for historic Presbyterianism in the new land. We stand in their shadows as we seek to build Presbyterian churches to remain true to the Scriptures, the Reformed Faith, and the good news of Jesus Christ. Are you, the reader, in one of those congregations, supporting it by your membership, spiritual gifts, and tithes?

Our otherwise nearly complete collection of these bulletin insert studies by Dr. Leonard Van Horn is, sadly, lacking the entry for Question 36 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
So we move on to the next question today. Should any of our readers have access to Van Horn’s work on Q. 36, we would appreciate receiving a copy.

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

Q. 37 — What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?

A. — The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.

Scripture References: Luke 23:43; Luke 16:23; Phil. 1:23; II Cor. 5:6-8; I Thess. 4:14; Rom. 8:23.

Questions:

1. When believers die what benefits are received?

The believer receives a benefit in regard to his soul and in regard to his body.

2. What benefit is received of the believer in regard to his soul?

Heb. 12:23 teaches that the soul is made perfect in holiness and immediately passes into glory.

3. How is the believer benefited with respect to his body?

The body of the believer in the grave will still be united to Christ in a mystical union (l Cor. 6:15). At the resurrection the body of the believer will be united with his soul.

4. What is this “resurrection” spoken of in the prior question?

This resurrection is the last and general resurrection of all the dead in the last day (l Thess. 4:16).

5. What is the lot of the souls and bodies of the unbelievers?

The bodies of the unbelievers are shut up in the prison of the grave (Dan. 12:2) and their souls suffer the anguish and torment of hell.

6. Will the believer be raised with the same body at the last day?

Yes, the dead in Christ shall be raised with the same body (Job 19:26), There will be a difference in quality, not in substance and essence. (Phil. 3 :20-21).

7. How can a believer be assured of these blessings when death is nigh?

A believer can be assured of them because the promises of God are sure and true, promises made even before the world began (2 Tim. 1 :9), There need be no doubt on the part of the believer for “What the Bible says, God says, and that ends the matter!”

DEATH AND THE BELIEVER

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4). In this wonderful verse from God’s Word we have a comfort for the Christian that includes all man needs to face death itself. There is the Presence—”for Thou art with me.” There is the Defender—”Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me.” The rod was a most formidable weapon of defense. Our Lord defends us from all. There is the One who guides—”Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me.” The staff is a guidance in the sense of pointing out the way. All of this in one verse of Scripture, all this and Heaven too!

The poet, E. H. Hamilton, put it well when he said:

“Afraid? Of What?
To feel the spirit’s glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace?
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid?— of that?

Afraid? Of What?
Afraid to see the Saviour’s face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace
The glory gleam from wounds of grace?
Afraid?— of that?

Afraid? Of What?
A flash — a crash — a pierced heart;
Darkness — light — O heaven’s art!
A wound, of His counterpart!
Afraid? — of that?

Afraid? Of What?
To do by death what life could not
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
Afraid? — of that?

The believer should note that this particular Question begins with “What benefits”. So many times it seems that the believer does not realize that there are benefits to receive at death. When a believer dies there will be those who will miss him. It is true that it is hard to think of what life would be like without those closest to us. It is equally true though that the Bible says, “To be with Christ is far better.” Many years ago I opened a letter from the mother of one of my former Professors, a godly man who meant so much to me as a young Christian. She told of his sudden death. I reached back and took a book from the shelf, a book I had received from him just a few months before. In the midst of my sadness and grief this question suddenly came to my mind and burned itself into my soul. I went again to the Scripture references and looked them up. I was able, by God’s grace, to praise Him for taking my brother in Christ to Himself.

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 37 (January, 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

The Rev. John Mitchell Mason [1770-1829] was an Associate Reformed pastor who served for many years in New York City. The following anecdote was published in The Evangelical Guardian, vol. IV, no. 6 (November 1846): 285. The story is related on those pages by the editor of the magazine, as part of his account of travels in New York City that year.

On Sabbath evening before leaving the city, I paid a visit, in company with Mr. McLaren, to old Katherine Ferguson, a colored woman who became a member of Dr. Mason’s Church about 40 years ago. She is a remarkable woman. The most of what she made by keeping a confectioner’s shop (enough to have placed her now in independent circumstances) she spent in feeding, clothing, and educating destitute colored children. She is warmly attached to the Associate Reformed Church, and remembers Dr. Mason, and the ‘days of old.’ with peculiar delight. Two young persons, members of Mr. McLaren’s congregation, were in her house, being there, as I understood, to read the Bible, and converse with her. This would not fail to make on a mind at all accustomed to sober reflection, a favorable impression as to their piety.—One object of my visit, was to obtain from her lips an account of an occurrence which I had sometimes heard related. Her statement was as follows:

“After Dr. Mason commenced preaching in Murray Street, some ‘gay ladies’ from Pearl Street, said to him: ‘Doctor it will not do for those colored people (Katherine and a male relative of her’s who had made a profession of religion) to sit at the same table with the white communicants.—They should be at a Table by themselves at the last.’ The Dr. simply replied, that he would think of it. When the day for the communion came round, and the people were about to take their seats at the Lord’s table, the Doctor came down from the pulpit, and taking the two colored persons by the hands, he said,’This is my brother, this is my sister. He that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister and mother. In Christ Jesus, there is neither Greek, nor Jew,—Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free,’ and then led them forward to the table and set them down ‘first of all.’ “

This was the result of the Doctor’s reflection on the subject, and it settled the question forever.

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 wait to talk with your children about spiritual things. Lead them early to the throne of grace. Point them daily to Christ as their Savior. Faithfully train them up in the Scriptures.

and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”—2 Timothy 3:15, NASB.

In 1926, J. Gresham Machen received nomination to the chair of apologetics and ethics from the Board of Directors at the Princeton Theological Seminary.  In the normal course of things, this nomination would have been routinely approved by the General Assembly as it met later that same year.  Machen, however, had previously opposed in 1920 the Philadelphia Plan for merging nineteen Presbyterian denominations into a single federated body.  He had published two books, The Origin of Paul’s Religion (1920) and Christianity and Liberalism (1923), both of which presented strong arguments against modernism and unbelief.  Machen had become a very public voice raised against modernism, and so he had enemies.  A campaign of opposition was raised against his nomination and the matter remained unresolved up until the reorganization of Princeton Seminary and the departure of Dr. Machen and other faithful professors.
In this brief series, we are presenting a few of the articles which appeared in defense of Dr. Machen during this troubling time. 

Princeton Students and Dr. Machen

[excerpted from THE PRESBYTERIAN 96.48 (2 December 1926): 13]

What the student body of Princeton Seminary thinks of Dr. Machen is indicated by the fact that on November 16, it adopted, without a dissenting vote, the following resolution:

The Students’ Association of Princeton Theological Seminary feels that some notice should be given to the attacks appearing in the current press against one of our most distinguished members.  Therefore be it resolved, that the members of the Students’ Association hereby express their unbounded confidence in Dr. J. Gresham Machen, as a scholar, as a teacher, as a gentleman, and as a Christian.
“Be it further resolved, that the secretary be instructed to give a copy of this resolution to Dr. Machen, and that it be spread upon the minutes of this Association.”

To this resolution, Dr. Machen made the following reply:

November 20, 1926

“Mr. Edwin H. Rian,
“Secretary of the Students’ Association
“Princeton Theological Seminary
“Princeton, New Jersey.

“My dear Mr. Rian :  Will you please convey to the Students’ Association an expression of my heartfelt gratitude for the resolution passed at the meeting on Tuesday evening, November 16, of which you have been good enough to hand me a copy.
“I do not indeed feel worthy of the high terms in which the resolution speaks of me ; on the contrary, this generous action of the Students’ Association had led me only to pray with renewed earnestness that God may make me less unworthy.  But you have given me profound encouragement in the trying days through which I am passing, and have strengthened yet more the ties of affection with which already I felt myself united to the students of the Seminary.  I trust that God may bless us ever more richly in our association with one another and may lead us into an ever better and true service of Him.

Cordially yours,
“J. Gresham Machen.”

The Great Wagon Road for Scotch-Irish Presbyterians
by Rev. David T Myers

When this author’s mother moved from Scotland to America with her new husband in 1932, she came through Ellis Island, New York. When Scot-Irish Presbyterians came in the 1700’s to America, they landed at several Eastern sea ports. with the majority of them arriving in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Filling up available land with their industrious farms and building Presbyterian churches, countless of these early Presbyterians eventually moved south, when more and more immigrants from other lands came to the American colonies. That southern trip traveled down what was known to the native Americans as the Great Warrior Path, but eventually came to be called the Great Wagon Road. It was the eighteenth century super highway for our spiritual Presbyterian forefathers.

It started in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It ended 785 miles later in Augusta, Georgia and many points in between, like Opequon, Virginia. In the one of that church’s burying yards, there is a faded slab with crude, homemade letters, still readable, “Robert Allen, Jr. Born County Armagh, Ireland. Died November 15, 1791. Was a Revolutionary War Private. The Opequon Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), was the mother Presbyterian church of the Shenandoah Valley, was and is to this day located just off of Route 11, the Valley Pike, or the Great Wagon Road of Virginia. There would be many other burials associated with this Wagon Road down through the years.

Why did they travel this long road? The answer is that colonial America was crowded with many immigrants, like the Amish, Mennonites, Quakers, Lutherans, and Ana-baptists. The available land in Pennsylvania was being snapped up. Who started the movement south may not be known, but literally tens of thousands of Presbyterians moved south down the Indian warrior path now known as the Great Wagon Road.

They came in family strength, in larger than life Conestoga wagons, pulled by teams of horses, making five miles a day, driving their flocks of animals with them, stopping to ford rivers, crawl along wheel deep muddy lanes, amid flocks of wild game, and threatened native American attacks by day or by night. But they persevered in their journeys.

On the web, there is an extended survey of the road with modern highways which override the ancient pathway, which enables modern day Presbyterians to take road trips today which match the old Great Wagon Road of our Presbyterian forefathers. Our readers back east are urged to make it a day’s travel some day with their families, all to understand their courage and steadfastness in their quest for their present and our future. Your author has done so with his wife for their knowledge of American Presbyterianism.

Words to Live By:
In the inspired early church history book of the New Testament Church, which is Luke’s “The Acts of the Apostles,” there is a reference in Acts 28:15 to “the market of Appius” which was part of the Roman road known as the Appian Way. The early Christians traveled on this road, as did the Apostle Paul, on his missionary journeys and to the city of Rome in his appeal to Caesar. Like this Roman highway, the Great Wagon Road became the Corridor for the gospel carried by early Presbyterians to eastern regions, perhaps even to our readers who find their ancestry in the eastern states. We can rejoice in their faithfulness to their biblical convictions to travel on dangerous roads, all for the purpose of spreading the gospel and building Presbyterian congregations for their families.

With a recent request for information from the Minutes of the Synod of South Carolina, (in the old Presbyterian Church, U.S.), I have come across this Memorial to the Rev. John L. Girardeau:

REV. JOHN L. GIRARDEAU, D.D., LL.D.

girardeau (2)James Island near Charleston, S.C., has the distinction of being the birth place of John Lafayette Girardeau.

He was born on this day, November the 14th, in 1825, and was, as his name indicates, of Huguenot extraction.

In 1844 he graduated from Charleston College, and completed his studies at the Columbia Theological Seminary in 1848.

For a short time after he left the Seminary he served the Wappetaw Church. In 1850 he was ordained and installed pastor of the Wilton Church near Adams Run. In 1854 he was invited to take charge of a colored mission work, which grew into Zion, the great negro church in Charleston, whose house of worship was built by wealthy Presbyterians for the religious instruction of the slave population. The immense place of worship was thronged at every service, many whites attending regularly, and hundreds were hopefully converted. No congregation in the State enjoyed the ministrations of a more gifted preacher.

This happy and most fruitful pastorate was interrupted by the war between the States. Doctor Girardeau was elected Chaplain of the 23d South Carolina regiment, and served in this capacity until the conclusion of hostilities in 1865. He was as brave as the bravest, and discharged with tender and efficient fidelity the part of friend and spiritual teacher of the men of his command.

Upon his return to Charleston he became pastor of Zion Glebe Street Church which had under its care for several years his former colored congregation.

zionPC_CharlestonSCUnder his able leadership and labors this rapidly grew into one of the strongest churches in the Southern Assembly, in point of members, charitable work and pecuniary offerings.

In 1875 the St. Louis General Assembly unanimously elected him Professor of Systematic Theology in the Columbia Seminary and in 1876 he assumed the duties of that chair.

For eighteen years in this Institution, with an untiring devotion and zeal, he assisted in preparing young men for the Christian Ministry. Because of an age limit in the constitution of the Seminary, he resigned in 1895, and resisted the most earnest appeals to permit his re-election. To him there must have been a premonition of his approaching end, for during the winter following his powers began to fail, and after lingering for more than two years, the Master called him, and he passed to his reward upon the 23d of June 1898.

Of Dr. Girardeau’s intellectual gifts there can be but one opinion. He was an incessant and thorough student. He hungered for knowledge. There was nothing superficial in his search for truth. His mind was acutely analytical and logical, and once having assured himself of his premises he pushed them remorselessly to their conclusion. His convictions, therefore were strong and he held to them tenaciously without fear or favor.

In his reading he ranged the fields of history, and poetry, and philosophy and metaphysics, and his memory held for ready service  the treasures they had been made to yield.

As a Professor he was unusually attractive and efficient, painstaking and thorough he invested with peculiar charm the lesson of every day. No recitation dragged with him. He knew how to excite enthusiasm, to stimulate thought, to encourage investigation, to get at the measure of a student’s acquaintance with the subject, and at the end of the hour each one left the class room intellectually richer than when he entered it.

As a Presbyter he was an example of regular attendance upon our church courts. No one ever saw him unattentive to the proceedings. He was ready for any work that might be assigned to him. He held closely to the regular methods of conducting business, was prepared to participate in the discussion of every important question, and was always an alert, vigorous formidable, but courteous antagonist in debate.

As an Author, he has left numerous magazine articles upon a variety of topics, “Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church,” “Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism,” “The Will in its Theological Relations,” and the Manuscripts of “Philosophical Discussions,” “Theological Discussions” and “Life Letters, Poems and Sermons.” It is to be hoped that these last, in printed form, will soon enrich the literature of our day.

Oglethorpe College conferred upon him the degree of D.D. in 1868, and the South Western Presbyterian University that of LL.D., in the year [1874?].

girardeauGrave01As a Preacher, though probably his greatest fame was won, and it is as a preacher more than likely that he will be lovingly remembered.

Of him it can be truly said he “magnified his office.” The Bible was his Book of books. Its teachings lived in his life. His knowledge of it was profound. He loved his Savior, the Divine Christ, with all of the intense ardor of his being. He believed in his very soul, that men are lost sinners and that their only hope is in the royal gospel of God’s free grace. He shunned not to declare therefore, the whole counsel of God, but with the tender pathos of “the beloved disciple,” and the logical power of a Paul.

His presence was commanding, his voice clear, musical, far reaching; his imagination chaste and brilliant, his diction oppulent and superb, and his delivery, as a rule unhampered by manuscript, was always graceful, often thrillingly impassioned.

With a master’s hand he swept, at will, the entire key board of human feeling.

As a Teacher, Presbyter, Debater, Author, Preacher, John L. Girardeau easily takes an enduring place among the most distinguished men of the Southern Presbyterian Church.

—W. T. Thompson, Chairman.

Image sources:
1. Rev. Dr. John L. Girardeau. Photograph courtesy of Rev. Dr. Nick Willborn. Used by permission.
2. Zion Presbyterian Church, Charleston, South Carolina. Photograph by Dr. Barry Waugh. Used by permission.
3. Grave of Rev. Dr. John L. Girardeau, in the Elmwood Cemetery, Columbia, South Carolina. Photograph by Dr. Barry Waugh. Used by permission.

OOME GEERT—A PROFILE OF GREAT UNCLE GERRIT VERKUYL

 

Grandma Den Ouden , Mrs. Nys Den Ouden (6-9-1881/2-14 -1952) came from a large and distinguished family.  There were eleven children born to Matthys Verkuyl (born 10-1-1833) and Jannetje Streefkerk (born 1840) : Meitje, Hendrick, Arie, Gerrit, Anna, Anneke, Naatje, Jannetje,  Johannes, Pieternella, and Mathila.

Only three of the family emigrated to the United States: Gerrit in 1894, Jannetje (Grandma) in 1912 and Naatje(Nellie—Mrs. Peter Cole—date unknown) who settled in Sacramento, CA.

Tante Anna came for a visit to Grandpa and Grandma in the 30s.  I remember vividly a large trunk and she wore a beautiful black satin dress with black velvet and netting insets.  She was the most regal person I had ever met and now I wonder what she thought of the very modest farmhouse where her sister and family lived.

In 1972 on our first sabbatical, we invited my parents to join us in visiting relatives in Holland.  We made an appointment to see Tante Pie (pronounced pea) (Pieternella) in Leyden at one o’clock.  We had great difficulty in finding the address, De Witte Singel

(The White Canal) and finally parked our VW so close to the canal that my mother feared we would all fall in the water.  The neighborhood was extremely affluent and the house we entered was like a museum with many art objects and vases and statues all over.  I had never been in such a house.  The home had been furnished from their many travels, especially while her husband was in the Dutch consulate in Indonesia. There she sat royally among the rich décor as she “received” us with considerable warmth.  Our children, Christine, 11, Alicia, 8, and David, 4, were angelic and even graciously accepted and ate some overly sweet candy they were offered.  It still is an hour deep in my memory.

But it was Oome Geert, one of Grandma’s older brothers, who with my uncle Bernard, provided and still provide models for me of the Christian scholar.

On my second Christmas (1933), I received a little book, Children’s Devotions, published by Westminster Press in Philadelphia in 1917 with a subtitle: Containing private and united prayers for children, and suggestions for Bible reading, memory work, and clean books.

The inscription reads in flowing European-style writing: To my grand nephew, Nelvin Leroy Vos.  Gerrit Verkuyl.  Christmas 1933.  The dedication states: To the memory of a Christian home in Holland and to the service of every home in America this little book is dedicated.

The book has simple prayers for children divided into various sections such as For Children under Eight and Suggestions for Young People.  In the middle of the book are several pages, God’s Special Messages to Children with passages from the Bible.  And the book concludes with a section, Splendid Reading for Boys and Girls, a remarkably diverse listing of five pages with titles such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Robinson Crusoe(for and Iboys eight years old! ), Hans Brinker, Little Women, and Song of Hiawatha.

My next most prized possession of Oome Gerrit is an undated hand written letter. but within the letter, he indicates he is age 93 so it must have been  about 1966.   I had sent him my resume and a copy of my first book, The Drama of Comedy: Victim and Victor.

He begins by congratulating me: “I am glad you completed your schooling and are happy in the thick of your interesting engagement for which you have been so well prepared.”  He continues by describing his career:” When to me the choice had to be made between teaching and preaching, I decided that teaching was my hobby with preaching occasionally and almost from the first I wrote occasionally for publication.”,,

(An understatement since Amazon lists nine books!).  He then writes of “the joy of seeing your thoughts presented to the public.  This requires intense application, the best that is in you.  It is also a service to your fellow man, also to women, and affords both satisfaction and stimulus for worthwhile production.”  All of this, he writes “has made my life experience interesting to others and to myself.  Now at 93, I am through with the zest and the ability no longer suffice.  But I am still somewhat better for those efforts.”  Then comes a benediction: ”May grace, wisdom and power  be granted you to share with others the Christian experience and ideas you are finding helpful, enriching to others and fostering growth as you move on.” He ends with:” it means to me a happy, useful, life for which I thank God, Nelvin, and those who have inspired me and of whom you are one.  I am glad to have enjoyed partnership with you.  May God continue to bless you and keep you humble.  Yours for Him, Gerrit Verkuyl.

The third item is a small hardbound book, Berkeley Version of the New Testament with Footnotes, published by Zondervan  in 1945. This translation, and later of the Old Testament (he called them Berkeley since his residence was there for many

years) were clearly his most important work.  He had begun the New Testament already in 1936 and began the Old Testament with twenty other scholars in the 50s and published this volume in 1959.

It was some time in the mid-50s when I was teaching at Calvin that the committee preparing the Old Testament met on the Calvin campus.  (I have a Banner photo of the group from my mother’s scrapbook.) Oome Gerrit invited me to sit among the scholars for a session.  All I recall is that it was a passage from Proverbs that was under discussion and that I felt very honored to be among them and to know that it was my great uncle who was the leader of this momentous task.

The website, www.Bible collectors.org reprints an article in which Dr. Verkuyl explains his work with the New Testament.  The first sentence is representative of his direct style:” The conviction that God wants His truth conveyed to His offspring in the language in which they think and live led me to produce the Berkeley Version of the New Testament.”  He says that his work with children and youth made him aware that the King James Version, beautiful as it is, is not easy to comprehend.  So in the light of his concern for such an audience, he began translating the story of the baby Moses in Exodus 2 . Then when he was later employed by the Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, he said:” This work allowed me to make use of the New Testament in the original language in hope that someday I might do my own translating of it.”

All did not go easily with the translations. There is an exchange of many letters from 1950 to 1953 located in the archives of the Presbyterian Church in America between Doctor Verkuyl and Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, president of the National Bible Institute and also a professor at a conservative institution, Faith Theolological Seminary, in which several difficulties surface.  Dr. Verkuyl had considerable trouble recruiting scholars for his Old Testament translation.  He had done the New Testament by himself, but did not feel adequate in Hebrew to do The Old Testament although he writes: “Have been digging down into my Hebrew now for a year and am gaining on it.”  The people are busy; they are getting older.  The scholar who translated Isaiah and Job was 89, and Uncle Gerrit was now in his 80s.

And he knew what he was looking for:” But we are now searching for the right men.  We know we want Conservatives…” Later he writes: “And no trend or bias in the footnotes except adherents to the evangelical truth.”  Dr. Martin Wyngaarden of Calvin Seminary did become one of the scholars in the work and Uncle Gerrit comments: “Those Dutchman can work when they have a mind to.”

The correspondence includes a discussion of a Lutheran biblical scholar, Dr. Charles M. Cooper of the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia, in which a professor from the National Bible Institute calls Cooper “a very pronounced liberal higher critic.”  Buswell adds: “When I showed your letter to the head of our Semitics department, he recognized the name [Cooper]as that of a rather radical liberal.  Now, granted that translation work must be an entirely our objective, nevertheless, there will be an important points.  Radical differences of opinion between those who believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and those who believe it is a collection of Oriental myths.  Would it not seem wise to make this stipulation for members of the committee?”  My comment would be that although Dr. Cooper was not a conservative such as those who were invited to participate in the translations, he was not by any means a radical liberal who believed the Bible was a collection of Oriental myths.

Three larger issues lurk between the lines of this correspondence.  The first is tension between Uncle Gerrit and Buswell.  He wants Buswell to be involved in the next edition of the New Testament: “… I am inclined to believe we might join forces.”  But Buswell appears to want to do his own translation.  Later, Dr. Verkuyl writes: “my work is not perfect and neither would his be, but by laboring together, it will be much better.  I would be perfectly willing to have Buswell-Verkuyl or Verkuyl-Buswell  as the translators of the N. T. and I wish you might seriously consider it.”  But as far as I know, Buswell did not get involved in the work.

The second is Uncle Gerrit’s difficulty with Zondervan Publishing, the company which did his New Testament and will now be working with the entire Bible.  The company appears to want Uncle Gerrit to do the entire work of revising the New Testament and translating the Old Testament obviously because to involve Buswell and a large committee would increase the royalties.  Zondervan did compromise since later; a committee of twenty was formed to work with the Old Testament.

The third issue is the competition.  The Revised Standard Version of the Bible published by National Council of Churches of Christ was to come out in 1952.  The conservative scholars wanted to give an alternative to what they saw as too liberal a translation and from Uncle Gerrit’s point of view did not do the job well: “The R.S.V., by retaining so much of the K. J. V. [King James Version] vocabulary has succeeded in presenting the Word in the most Elizabethan language of all 20th century translations at the expense of clarity for today’s readers.  To me in modern translation is next to useless that fails to bring God’s thoughts to the Bible-readers in the best words of current use.”  That statement catches the vision and intent of Uncle Gerrit’s momentous almost lifelong undertaking of translating the Bible.

Later, in one of the letters in the Calvin College archives dated September 1956, he writes:  “The work on the Old Testament started six years ago is not yet finished.  Right now it is especially difficult, since four books were turned down by members of the staff when we met in Grand Rapids in June.  I have turned over the book of Isaiah to a new translator to start all over.  But I am correcting the books of Deuteronomy, Job and Ezekiel myself.  Two of those are finished, but I am still wrestling with Ezekiel.  In one more month this too should be ready.  After that, of course it has to be read through once more.  The fault was using more or less than the original text allows.”

Nevertheless, the Berkeley Version is frequently cited on websites by conservative scholars and institutions.  One commentator writes:” A European moved to the United States, so mastered Greek and English languages that in his translating the original, he produced highly readable Scripture.”

The original Berkeley Version is out of print, but Amazon has used copies for sale.  The Modern Language Bible which is called a revision of the Berkeley Version is available at www.Christian book.com for $14.99(hardbound) and $9.99(paperbound).

Dr. Verkuyl’s other publications mostly center on his work in Christian education

(also all out of print  with some used available from Amazon):

— Scripture Memory Work: A Handbook containing selections with helps for the

reader(1918)

— Devotional Leadership: Private Preparation for Public Worship(1925)

— Things Most Surely Believed: A Study in Christian Essentials for Growing Workers

(1926)

— Qualifying Men for Church Work(1927)

— Adolescent Worship: With Emphasis on Senior Age(1929)

— Christ in the Home: Studies in Christian Nurture(1932)

— Christ in American Education(1934)

— Reclaim Those Unitarian Wastes(1935)

— Teen -Age Worship(1950)

 

In contrast to his scholarly achievements, particularly his translations of the Bible, it  has been quite difficult to uncover personal details about Oome Gerrit. He was born on September 14, 1872, in Niewe Vennep, Holland, the same home presumably where Grandma Den Ouden was raised.  He married Tante Minnie in 1912.  They had two children, Janet and Dorothy(one letter speaks of her being on the mission field).  Aunt Gerdena told me that they too lived in California and our family continued to have some correspondence with them in later years.  She also told me that Uncle Gerrit was disappointed and angry that the Woodstock Presbyterian Church did not allow him to preach there when he was visiting our family in the 30s.

According to Ellis Island records, he emigrated to the United States in 1894 at age 21 on the ship Werkendam sailing out of Rotterdam. In 1901, he graduated from Park College in Parksville, Missouri, whose website says that it was founded “as a Christian college” in 1875.  This college awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1921.  He earned a Master of Divinity in 1904 at Princeton Theological Seminary, a very distinguished Presbyterian school, and at the same time, he earned an M.A. (in what?) at Princeton University in 1903.  Then to a New Testament Fellowship to Germany at the University of Leipzig where he received his Ph.D. in 1906.  He also studied at the University of Berlin in 1906.The German universities were and still are noted for their prominence in Biblical studies.   A scholar, indeed!

He was ordained by the Presbytery of North Philadelphia on November 13, 1906, and began serving a Presbyterian church in northeast Philadelphia, Wissinoming, from 1906 to 1908.

He found his true calling when he was appointed to serve as National Field Representative for Leadership Training of the Presbyterian Board of Christian Education which he did from 1908 to 1939 until his retirement at age 67.  According to the archives at Princeton Theological Seminary from which I derived much of the above personal information, he did occasional supply in various churches in the Bay area here and there from 1939 to 1952.  In 1952 to 1953, he served as interim pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Richmond, California.  There is no more information about his later years other than that which we know about his translation of the Bible. Thus I could not discover the date of his death.

His position with the Presbyterian Board of Christian education must have included a lot of teaching.  Calvin College and Seminary archives (why?) has three of his letters in his Dutch handwriting, re-typed in Dutch, and then translated into English, one from which I already quoted.  The first was written on the day I was born (July 11, 1932).  The letterhead gives his title and the address of College Avenue, Wheaton, Illinois.  It is written to his sister, Pie, (Pieternella) and her family.  He speaks of working “a lot in Wisconsin.”  He continues:” Now I will leave for New York state to teach there for four weeks; after that two weeks in Indiana.  I will be preaching somewhere not so far from Jannetje in Iowa.  I will take the train to visit her for a day or so.”  So that must have been one of his visits soon after I was born.

In the letter he also speaks of translating his new book, Christ In the Family, and sending a copy to H. Colijn, a very prominent Dutch political figure who was in the Verkuyl family.  Later he asks:” Would you ask Chris [her husband] what conditions Dutch publishers have when they publish a book?  Here in the USA, the publisher takes all the financial risks.  I am contemplating sending Colijn a copy so that it may be placed in “de Heraut”[I could find no Dutch translation for this word] later on.  But the ideas in it may be too radical for Holland.”

And that last comment may well sum up Uncle Gerrit’s dilemma and perhaps his strength.  Although a conservative in his background and in his Biblical translations, he was a progressive in challenging the tradition by doing his very own version of the Scriptures.  Clearly, many of his ideas about leadership and Christian education were ahead of his time.

I was so privileged to know him: his very tall and stately bearing, his warm smile, and his gentlemanly but kindly manner to me — all this is a memory I deeply cherish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Q 35. — What is sanctification?

A. — Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

Scripture References: II Thess. 2:13; Eph. 4:23, 24; Rom. 6:4, 6, 14; Rom. 8:4.

Questions:

1. How does sanctification differ from justification?

Justification is complete at once; sanctification is a process carried on by degrees to perfection in glory. Justification alters a man’s position or standing before God; sanctification is a real change as it changes a man’s heart and life. Justification is an act of God without us; sanctification is the work of God, renewing us within as we use the means of grace.

2. What does the word “sanctify” mean in Scripture?

The word is used in two ways in Scripture. (1) To set apart from a common to a sacred use (John 10:36). (2) To render morally pure or holy (I Cor. 6:11).

3. Where’ does sanctification do its work in the believer?

Sanctification does its work in the heart of the believer, in the new man. God does a work of renovation in us after his image in knowledge, righteousness and holiness.

4. When we speak of the “new man” what do we mean?

We mean the new nature personified as the believer’s regenerate self, a nature “created in righteousness and holiness of truth.” (Eph. 4:24).

5. What are the two parts to sanctification?

The two parts are
(1) Mortification—in which we are enabled to die more and more unto sin (Rom. 6:11).
(2) Vivification [i.e., being made alive]—in which our natures are quickened by the power of grace so that we live unto righteousness (Rom. 6:13).

6. Of what use is sanctification in the believer?

Sanctification is the evidence of our justification and faith and it is necessary if we are to live to the glory of God. It is a necessary aspect of our preparation to meet God, for without holiness no man shall see God.

SANCTIFICATION – A GRACE AND A DUTY

A very important aspect of sanctification was stated by A. A. Hodge when he wrote, “The Holy Ghost gives the grace, and prompts and directs in its exercise, and the soul exercises it. Thus, while sanctification is a grace, it is also a duty; and the soul is both bound and encouraged
to use with diligence, in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, all the means for its spiritual renovation, and to form those habits of resisting evil and of right action in which sanctification so largely consists.” (Confession of Faith, Pg. 196).

The Bible deals many times with the responsibility of the believer regarding his part in the process of sanctification taking place within himself. In Galatians 5:24 we find, ” … crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts”. Indeed a verb of action in the word “crucify” is used. In Colossians 3:5 we find, “Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth.” Again a verb of action is used, action on the part of the believer. Lightfoot has a note on this passage in which he says, “Carry cut this principle of death (mortify), and kill everything that is mundane and carnal in your being.”

This teaching regarding sanctification has been neglected many times by the church. The Belgic Confession in Article 24 makes it very plain when it states, “Therefore it is impossible that this holy faith can be unfruitful in man; for we do not speak of a vain faith. The teaching according to Scripture is very plain: We are justified by faith even before we do good works; we then believe that this true faith will enable us to live a new life, a life of good works that proceed from the good root of faith.

The question has been asked many times, “How can this be done by the believer?” Four good suggestions, all of which must be applied by the Holy Spirit, are:
(1) Keep things out of mind that are contrary to Scripture.
(2) Watchfulness – in Eph. 6: 18 the word “watching” comes from two words: “to chase” and “sleep”.
(3) Avoid occasion for sin.
(4) Keep the body “under”, don’t pamper it, discipline it!
It is to be noted that all these are verbs of action on the part of the believer, action put into operation by the Holy Spirit as the believer is “perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 7: 1).

These four will never be done unless the Christian is faithful in Bible study, Prayer and Regular Attendance in worship.

Published by: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 35 (November 1963)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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