September 2012

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

There is None to Replace Him

It was so thought by John Wesley, co-founder of  Methodism.  The person Wesley referred to in the quotation of our title was George Whitefield.  And it was strange that John Wesley thought this, considering that he as an Arminian Methodist differed greatly from George Whitefield, who was a Calvinist Methodist.  The occasion of the above quote was the death of George Whitefield on September 30, 1770 in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

You say, wait a moment, isn’t this devotional website given over to Presbyterian persons, places, and things?  Yes it is, and George Whitefield was an Anglican, not a Presbyterian.  But he died at the parsonage of a Presbyterian minister by the name of Jonathan Parsons, who was the pastor of Old South Presbyterian Church, which church had been founded by George Whitefield after one of his revivals.  Confused?  Don’t be!  Whitefield worked with all the denominations in the American Colonies, especially with those who were involved in the First Great Awakening.  And the Rev. George Parsons was a Presbyterian evangelist in that Great Awakening which shook the colonies in the 1740’s.

George Whitfield was “The Apostle of the British Empire.”  He made for the gospel sake some 13 Atlantic Ocean crossings to many of the countries of the empire, including seven trips to the American colonies.  It is estimated that he preached some 18,000 sermons, or 500 per year, which translated out to ten per week.  The crowds at these meetings could top thirty thousand, all of which could hear the preacher.

On his way to Massachusetts in 1770, preaching as he traveled, George Whitefield on the day before he died, prayed a prayer which said, “Lord Jesus, I am weary in Thy work, but not of Thy work.  If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for Thee once more in the fields, seal Thy truth, and come home and die.”  That last sermon was on the steps of George Parson’s home, to thousands who clamored for him to preach the Word to them the evening before he died. He did so for two hours until the candle burned down in its socket to nothing, and he stopped.  The next morning at 6:00 a.m., he went to be with his Savior.

On October 2nd, Anglican George Whitefield was buried in the crypt beneath the pulpit in the Old South Presbyterian Church, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where it can be seen today.  There is a steady stream of visitors to the memorial site two centuries later.

Words to live by:  Being weary in the work, but not being weary of the work of Christ’s church.  That is the testimony of every faithful minister of the gospel in our evangelical and Reformed churches.  So, church member, you must be mindful that your pastor has a day off each week, a four-week vacation away from the ministry  (and no calling up at his vacation cabin to ask him where the communion cups are found, which happened to this retired pastor once!), and a Sabbatical every number of years for a longer time of rest and relaxation.  We who have been called for the sacred task of ministry will never weary of the work, but will frequently be weary in the work.

Through the Scriptures:  Esther 1 – 3

Through the Standards: Proof Texts of Lawful Oaths and Vows

Deuteronomy 6:13  “It is the LORD your God you shall fear.  Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.” (ESV)

Matthew 5:34 – 37 “But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.  Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (ESV)

James 5:12 “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” (ESV)

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

If You are Number Two, Do You Try Harder?

Samuel Miller was definitely number two among that faculty of Princeton Seminary that year of September 29, 1813.  Started only one year before, Archibald Alexander was the first professor of the Presbyterian Seminary with only a handful of students.  As another war with Britain was raging (the War of 1812), it was a trying time for a smooth start. On top of that, the students of Princeton College were anything but spiritual. College pranks had brought the college close to shutting down. Samuel Miller, fresh from a pastoral experience in a city church, would arrive on the campus and quickly became a force for spiritual good at both the seminary and the college, even in his position as Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government.

Helping this whole process were a number of personal resolutions which Miller wrote down for himself, as a way of guiding his relationship with other people at both the college and the seminary. Those resolutions are too long to print here, but two of them speak to Christian people being in a supporting role, whether in the church, your called profession, or in any organization.

Number 3 reads, “I will endeavor, by the grace of God, so to conduct myself toward my colleague in the seminary, as never to give the least reasonable ground of offence.  It shall be my aim, by divine help, ever to treat him with the most scrupulous respect and delicacy, and never to wound his feelings, if I know how to avoid it.”

Number 4 reads, “. . . Resolved, therefore, that, by the grace of God, while I will carefully avoid giving offence to my college, I will, in no case, take offence at his treatment of me.  I have come hither resolving, that whatever may be the sacrifice of my personal feelings—whatever may be the consequence—I will not take offence, unless I am called upon to relinquish truth or duty.  I not only will never, the Lord helping me, indulge a jealous, envious, or suspicious temper toward him; but I will, in no case, allow myself to be wounded by any slight, or appearance of disrespect. I will give up all my own claims, rather than let the cause of Christ suffer by animosity or context.  What am I, that I should prefer my own honor or exaltation to the cause of my blessed Master.”

These were only two of the seven resolutions.  But even considering these two alone, what would be the result in our churches if both officers and members would more fully reflect in their character and conduct these two resolutions.  Truth and duty indeed were the only two exceptions to the rule.  Otherwise, the guiding principle was to always esteem others more highly than yourself.

Words to live by:  Samuel Miller wrote above, “I will give up all my own claims, rather than let the cause of Christ suffer by animosity or conflict.”  What a magnanimous spirit!  What a change this would cause in many local churches, to say nothing of our evangelical and Reformed denominations, if all the officers and members possessed Samuel Miller’s spirit.  Examine yourself, dear reader, or examine your small group, or examine your local fellowship. How do you measure up?  What can be done if you find your character and conduct lacking?  Is it not time for a revival of religion in your circles?

Through the Scriptures : Daniel 10 – 12

Through the Standards: Limitations of Vows

WCF 22:7
“No man may vow to do anything forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance whereof he has not promise of ability from God. In which respects, popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.”

This Day in Presbyterian History:

The Purpose of the Bible for Unbelievers and Believers

Finding little of significance in Presbyterian history, we return to the magnificent answers of the Shorter Catechism, and specifically No. 80.  It asks and answers, “How is the Word made effectual to salvation?  A.  The Spirit of God makes the reading, but especially the preaching, of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.”

We now arrive at the first outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption, namely and especially “the Word,” or the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

Focus in with me  on the first five words of this answer,  “The Spirit of God makes.”   We must never limit the work of the Holy Spirit, for He is God.  Yet the means which the Triune God has appointed is the Holy Spirit working through and by the Word of God to make it effective for salvation.  Thus, it behooves us to always pray that the Holy Spirit apply the reading and preaching of the Word to ourselves and others.

Our Confessional fathers then reminds us of the two methods associated with the Bible, namely, that of reading and preaching.   Every time we read and hear the Bible, we need to ask and answer three questions, namely, what does it say, what does it mean, and what does it mean to me?.

The way of the Word being an effectual means is two-fold.  First, the Word “convinces and converts sinners.”  It convinces us that we are sinners.  It humbles our proud thoughts with respect to ourselves.  It convinces us that we cannot save ourselves.  It convinces us that Christ alone is the way, the truth, and the life. In short, it drives sinners out of themselves and draw us and others irresistibly to the Redeemer.

The Word through the Holy Spirit then converts us.  We are changed from a child of the devil to a child of God.   We go from death to life, from a hater of the holy God to a lover of God.  We have a change of mind which leads to a change of action.

What this convincing and converting should produce in us at the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word of God, is a prayer for the effectiveness of the Bible in the lives and souls of the elect.  Let us not simply sit at “zombies” in the chairs of our homes, or the pews of the church, when the Word of God is read in family devotions, or Sunday worship.  Let us constantly be in prayer when the Bible is read, that it might bring forth spiritual fruit unto salvation, and holiness of life, and preparation for service.

The Word also is an “effective means” of “building us up in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.”  There is a construction process going on around the Word of God.  The Spirit of God is building spiritual stones in the temple of our hearts.  Holiness of God is aimed at by the reading and hearing of the Word of God.  Comfort from the troubles of life is the direction by the reading and hearing of God’s Word.  What sins are we to be putting to death? What encouragement are we to receive, not only for ourselves, but to others who need the comfort of God.

In summary, the reading and listening to God’s Word, the Bible, should never be a rote experience in our lives.  It is to be a living, changing progression in conversion and conduct.

Words to live by:  As a retired Presbyterian and Reformed  pastor, I once challenged the people of an evangelical and Reformed congregation by giving them a paper bag, so that they could smuggle their personal Bibles out of their homes on the Lord’s Day, use them in the church service, and then smuggle them back into their homes at the end of the Lord’s Day!  It was an extreme suggestion (which no one did actually), and a humorous suggestion to get them to bring their Bibles to church.  I then followed it up with a Through the Bible reading plan in a year (the one I am using in this devotional guide) to make their Bibles a constant in their hearts and lives.  It had its effect on the congregation, as some of them were saved, and others began to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.  Keep the Word of God before God’s people, by believing and living it yourselves, and encouraging others to be much in God’s Word, the Bible.

Through the Scriptures Daniel 7 – 9

Through the Standards: Guidelines in taking vows

WCF 22:6
“It is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone: and, that if may be accepted, it is to be made voluntarily, out of faith, and conscience of duty, in way of thankfulness for mercy received, or for the obtaining of what we want, whereby we more strictly bind ourselves to necessary duties: or, to other things, so far and so long as they may fitly conduce thereunto.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

He was a wanted man

The Presbyterian pastor teacher was a wanted man, that is, wanted by theological seminaries to teach at their school.  Princeton Seminary wanted George T.  Purves to teach church history on their faculty.  Western Seminary wanted the scholar to teach theology.  McCormick Seminary in Chicago want the veteran pastor to teach theology on their faculty.  But the heart of this Princeton Seminary alumni was in New Testament, so when a vacancy opened up with the death of Caspar Wistar Hodge, he came to Princeton Seminary.

George Tybout Purves was born on September 27, 1852 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  His undergraduate studies were at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1872.  Immediately, he went to Princeton Seminary for the years of 1873 to 1877.  Becoming ordained by the Chester Presbytery, he served three Presbyterian churches in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and back in Pennsylvania at the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh.  With pastoral experience behind him then, he went back to Princeton where for the next eight years (1892 – 1900), he taught New Testament Literature and Exegesis.

Not known for his authorship of volumes (though he wrote about twenty books), his spiritual legacy was found in the men who sat under him in classes and graduated to change the world for Christ.  That legacy continued in the pastoral field as during his teaching duties at the seminary, he also supplied the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church of Princeton.

Leaving the seminary halls for the pulpit once again, he accepted the call to become the pastor of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City.  After serving one year, he answered his Savior’s summons and died in 1901.

Words to live by:  What spiritual gifts this man of God possessed!  When he was in the pastorate, the theological schools wanted him. When he was in the sacred halls of seminaries, the churches wanted him. The point is this! Everyone, every Christian, has been given at least one, and no doubt many more Spirit-given abilities for service, or spiritual gifts.  In one sense, it doesn’t matter where you use them.  The important thing is that you use them somewhere. Do you know what your spiritual gift is?  Ask your spouse, or a close Christian friend, or your elder, or your pastor. Then finding it, use it for God’s glory and the good of His church.

For further study : Dr. Purves’s inaugural lecture at Princeton, “St. Paul and Inspiration,” can be read on the web here.
The George Tybout Purves Manuscript Collection is preserved at the Department of Special Collections at the Princeton Theological Seminary, and described in a finding aid, here. [I note that this finding aid was written by PCA pastor Ray Cannata, back when he was a student at PTS.]

Through the Scriptures:  Daniel 4 – 6

Through the Standards: Definition of the duty of vows

WCF 22:5
“A vow is of the like nature with a promissory oath, and ought to be made with the like religious care, and to be performed with the like faithfulness.”

Image source : Frontispiece portrait from Joy in Service, from a copy preserved in the PCA Historical Center. Scan prepared by the Center’s staff. This was Dr. Purves’s final work, published posthumously by the American Tract Society (New York, 1901).

This Day in Presbyterian History:

A Soldier Remembers a Sermon

To countless secular Civil War authors, they  seem to take delight in ridiculing the spiritual side of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, better known as “Stonewall” Jackson on the battlefield.  Not knowing or caring that this Presbyterian church deacon was not a mere Christian in name only, but a genuine born-again Christian, some of these authors are embarrassed by his Christian conversation and conduct. Especially do they take delight to record the number of times in which General Jackson fell asleep in a worship service!  And while that happened, there are of course many occasions when he was not only awake, but also took notes in his heart and mind of the sermon preached on that Lord’s Day.  One such occasion was a sermon preached by the Rev. Robert L. Dabney, a Presbyterian chaplain,  on September 26, 1861.   Listen to Jackson’s words, written to his wife Anna Jackson:

“I did not have room enough in my last letter, to write as much as I desired about Dr. Dabney’s sermon yesterday.  His text was from Acts, seventh chapter, and fifty-ninth verse.  [Note: And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” — Acts 7:59, King James version; compare the ESV translation: “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”]

He stated that the word “God” being in italics indicated that it was not in the original, and he thought it would have been better not to have been in the translation.  It would then have read, ‘calling upon and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’  He spoke of Stephen, the first martyr  under the new dispensation, and  like Abel, the first under the old, dying by the hand of violence, and then drew a graphic picture of his probably broken limbs, mangled flesh and features, conspiring to heighten his agonizing sufferings.

“But in the midst of this intense pain, God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, permitted him to see the heavens opened, so that he might behold the glory of God, and of Jesus, of whom he was speaking, standing on the right hand of God.  Was not such a heavenly vision enough to make him forgetful of his sufferings?  He beautifully and forcibly described the death of the righteous, and as forcibly that of the wicked.”

That was on this occasion an understanding of both the sermon and the sermon’s application.  For believers who may possibly suffer the loss of their lives, or various limbs of their bodies, as Jackson did later in 1863 regarding both of these cases, that heavenly vision was sufficient to make him forget his earthly sufferings.

Further, another application was that of the blessed gospel, preaching the death of the righteous in contrast to the death of the wicked.  Civil War chaplains always included sincere invitations to believe the gospel and return in commitment to the Lord.  That is why there was such a mighty spiritual awakening of sinners and revival of believers during this years of the War Between the States.

Despite all secular commentators to the contrary, it is obvious on this occasion that we had a close listening to the preached Word with an understanding of the two-fold application of that sermon.  Divine worship was alive and well in Jackson’s heart and life.

Words to live by: It was said of our Lord Jesus, that his custom or habit was always to be found in the Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath.  And the writer to the Book of the Hebrews enjoined believers to not forsake their assembling together as some were already doing in his day and age.   We must be in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, worshiping in His house the Triune God

Through the Scriptures:  Daniel 1 – 3

Through the Standards: Interpretation and Obligation of Oaths

WCF 22:4
“An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation, or mental reservation.  It cannot oblige to sin; but in anything not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man’s hurt.  Nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics, or infidels.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

Near to the Heart of God

What a remarkable gift Cleland Boyd McAfee had as a pastor.  Every quarter when the people of God in the congregation in Chicago, Illinois celebrated the Lord’s Supper, Pastor McAffee would write a new hymn.  First, he would teach it to the church choir.  Then they and the congregation would sing it to the glory of God.

Cleland McAfee was born September 25, 1866 in Ashley, Missouri.  After seminary, he held pastorates in two Presbyterian churches in  Chicago, Illinois and Brooklyn, New York.  Along the way, he was the pastor at and choir director at Park College, in Parkville,  Missouri.

The tragedy struck at the turn of the new century in 1903.  Two daughters of his brother, Harold, were sickened with diphtheria and died.  The whole church and even the entire town grieved the loss of both of these precious children.

Cleland McAfee sat alone and wondered how he could minister to his own brother’s family, to say nothing of the people in the Presbyterian church in Chicago, and for that matter in the city of Chicago.  Thinking of James 4:8, which says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw night to you.” (KJV), Pastor McAfee put together the words and stanzas of the hymn, “Near to the Heart of God.”

With your knowledge of this tragedy then, listen to the familiar words:

“There is a place of quiet rest, Near to the heart of God, A place where sin cannot molest, Near to the heart of God.

“There is a place of comfort sweet, Near to the heart of God, A place where we our Savior meet.  Near to the heart of God.

“There is a place of full release, Near to the heart of God, A place where all is joy and peace, Near to the heart of God.”

Then the refrain, “O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God, Hold us, who wait before Thee, Near to the heart of God.”

God’s heart is a place of quiet rest, a place where sin cannot molest, a place of sweet comfort, a place to meet our Savior, a place of full release, and a place where all is joy and peace.  The line “near to the heart of God” is repeated seven times in the hymn.  It is a hymn of comfort for all of God’s people when “hard providences” are their lot.

Words to live by: Dear reader, you may not be suffering hard times on this day, or you may in the midst of difficult days and hours.  Or you may know of some other saint who is under the weather in difficult days.  This hymn can be the comfort which you need or they need.  Sing it softly.  Meditate upon its words.  Take comfort from it.  Reflect on James 4:8. Let the heart of God be your solace this day, and always.

Through the Scriptures:  Ezekiel 46 – 48

Through the Standards:  Limitations of Oaths

WCF 22:3 
“Whosoever takes an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuades is the truth: neither may any man bind himself by oath to any things but what is good and just, and what he believes so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform.”

This Day in Presbyterian History:

A New Scientific Procedure Takes a Spiritual Giant Away

Our focus is not on a Presbyterian per se, but rather a theological giant who accepted an invitation to become the third president of the College of New Jersey, later Princeton University, which was a Presbyterian institution.

His name was Jonathan Edwards.  And at this time, this Congregational minister was easily the greatest Biblical theolgian and philosopher which the American colonies had produced.

He had been a pastor.  He had experienced the challenge of missionary work among the native Indian tribes.  He had an exemplary family life, from which would come,such following generations, many  great men of God who served in both church and state.  His theological works were famous even then. But best of all, he was the chief architect of the First Great Awakening in the American colonies.   In short, there was nothing to dislike in Jonathan Edwards, and everything to rejoice in with this choice by the College trustees.

Now the College of New Jersey had  its share of presidents and professors.  Jonathan Dickinson and Aaron Burr, Sr., both Presbyterian pastors in colonial America, had taken on the extra burden of being educators of the  handful of students who enrolled at the College of New Jersey.  Rev. Dickinson lasted all of four plus months in that dual role.  And Rev. Burr lasted longer but not more than four years in teaching the small student body.  He was the one used of the Lord to make the strategic move to Princeton, New Jersey.  Now the invitation went out to Jonathan Edwards, in the fall of 1757, just five days after the death of the school’s second president, Aaron Burr, Sr.

John Brainerd, the brother of missionary David Brainerd, was one of two commissioners who was appointed to press the invitation to Edwards.  The latter was most reluctant to receive it.  Edwards felt that the book which needed to be written next by his pen was that of one on Arminianism.  So it took several days of approaching Edwards until finally, the New England minister, upon consultation with valued friends, replied in the affirmative on September 24, 1757.

He would take several months to prepare himself for the new ministry, so it wasn’t  until February 16, 1758 that he was installed as President of the College of New Jersey.  He began to speak in chapel and meet with the student body, to the delight of those privileged to sit at his feet.

With small pox prevalent in the area, it was decided to follow a new scientific method and inoculate President Edwards with a small portion of small pox, with the idea that he could then fight off the advances of the disease.  However a fever came upon him, and after serving just thirty-four days, Jonathan Edwards died from small pox on March 22, 1758.  It was a loss to the College, a loss to the American colonies, and a loss to the kingdom of Christ on earth.

Words to live by: With a firm dependence on God’s sovereignty, one might be tempted to affirm that God had made a mistake in providence.  But there are no mistakes with the holy and wise God.  There is only the will of God, exercised sometimes in permissive providence before His people.  And this was certainly one example of it.  We may not know the reason why our God acts this or that way.   But we know the God of the past, present, and future, and so can say, “Thy will be done.”

For further reading : There are those who contend the President Edwards was, at least in principle and heart-affection, a Presbyterian. See, for instance, the account here : President Edwards a Presbyterian.

Through the Scriptures: Ezekiel 43 – 45

Through the Standards: Propriety and duty of oath-taking

WCF 22:2
“The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear, and therein it is to be used with all holy fear and reverence.  Therefore, to swear vainly, or rashly, by that glorious and dreadful Name; or, to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred.  Yet, as in matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the Word of God, under the new testament as well as under the old; so a lawful oath, being imposed by lawful authority, in  such matters, ought to be taken.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

Home School Education in the Nineteenth Century

They are still being used today!  McGuffey Readers, that is.  But what an important force they have had from the early days of our land up to the present.  In a day when modern textbooks are known to tear down what is right about America and Christian values, the McGuffey Readers would instead reflect the values of hard work, industry, honesty, loyalty, Sabbatarianism, and temperance, or in other words, exactly what is needed today in our modern society.

Their name comes from William Holmes McGuffey, who was born on September 23, 1800.  From an early age, he demonstrated a prodigious command of both languages and literature.  Educated by his mother in their home and schooled in Latin, as was the practice then, by a Presbyterian minister, William committed large passages of the Bible to memory.  Eventually he studied at Washington College in Lexington, Virginia (now Washington and Lee University) which was an early Presbyterian college.  He graduated with honors from the college in 1826.

William McGuffey was licensed to preach by the Presbyterian Church, and although we cannot find his name associated with any local church, he preached regularly, delivering some 3000 messages by his own account.  His ministry was in education, serving as president and professor at five different colleges and universities.

He would be remembered primarily for his Eclectic Readers, though afterwards those readers were more commonly called by his name, and they had a profound influence on American public education for over two centuries.  He died in 1873, but like the prophets of old, being dead, he yet speaks through these remarkable readers for young ages.

Words to live by:  The proverbs of old told us to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (KJV – Proverbs 22:6)   That is as true today as it was when it was first written down in holy Scripture.  The Hebrew word for “train up” speaks of “across the roof of.”  It referred to the practice of birthing when the midwife would spread the olive juice across the roof of the mouth of the just born infant, teaching that infant how to draw milk from the mother’s breast.  It therefore came to mean
“create a desire for.”  Christian dads and moms, you are to be the instrument of the Holy Spirit to create a desire for spiritual things in the hearts and minds of your children.  By being faithful to do this, you can then claim the general promise of this favorite text.

Through the Scriptures:  Ezekiel 40 – 42

Through the Standards:  Various kinds of oaths

WCF 22:1
“A lawful oath is part of religious worship, wherein, upon just occasion, the person swearing solemnly calls to God to witness what he asserts, or promises, and to judge him according to the truth of falsehood of what he swears.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

The Last of An Amazing Family

Has there every been an equal to one family name serving the same educational institution in the history of American Christianity?  We would be hard pressed to find a similar example to the Hodge family at Princeton Theological Seminary.

First, there was Charles Hodge, serving the Lord as a professor from 1820–1878.  There is fifty-eight years of continuous service, preparing ministers for the gospel ministry.  His “Systematic Theology” has stood the test of time as being the greatest exposition of Reformed theology in America.

Charles Hodge had eight children, including two sons who also taught at Princeton Seminary. Caspar Wistar Hodge taught from 1860 to 1891, while Archibald Alexander Hodge taught from 1877–1886.  Both carried on the line of the family name, but more importantly, carried on the same committed to the infallible Word of God as summarized up in the Westminster Standards.

The grandson of Charles Hodge, and son of Caspar Wistar Hodge, was Caspar Wistar Hodge, Jr.  He was born this day, September 22, 1870, in Princeton, New Jersey.  Studies at Princeton College, the Seminary, and oversees school at the Universities of Heidelberg and Berlin, this grandson of Charles Hodge taught on the collegiate level at Princeton and Lafayette.  It was noted that he had a deep Christian spirit and a breadth of learning and scholarship in those assignments.

It was no wonder that he was asked then by the Board of Directors to take over the Chair of Systematic Theology to which his immediate family had made so much a blessing to students down the ages.  His inauguration to that post took place on October 11, 1921.  It seemed fitting that the grandson of Archibald Alexander, Maitland Alexander, who was the president of the Board of Directors of Princeton, be the one who gave the charge.

This second decade of the twentieth century was a challenging one, in that, at the end of the decade, Princeton Seminary would suffer the loss of both J. Gresham Machen and Robert Dick Wilson.  The former would grieve over the fact that Caspar Hodge would stay on at the faculty of Princeton, after the board was reorganized to allow two signers of the infamous Auburn Affirmation to sit on it. Yet, while Caspar Hodge did stay on, his heart was at Westminster Seminary, in that time and time again, he would send financial contributions to the new seminary. Further, he spoke of the fact that he would openly defend the name of Dr. Machen in conversations, sometimes with heated exchanges.  He would go to be the Lord in 1937, having spend thirty-six years at Princeton Seminary, and the last of the famous Hodge family to be associated with this school.

Words to live by: Doctrinally, this last of the Hodge line at Princeton Seminary was in complete agreement with every other Hodge family of professors, that is, adherence to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as well as adopting the Reformed faith of the Westminster Standards.  It is to be both a prayer request as well as a praise item that the message of the gospel goes on through generations.  Let us commit ourselves to the family and its spiritual growth in the things of the Lord.

Through the Scriptures: Ezekiel 37 – 39

Through the Standards: Proof texts of the pattern of prayer

Matthew 6:9 – 13  “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

This Day in Presbyterian History: 

A New Help for Conservative Presbyterian Chaplains in our Armed Forces

Being a military chaplain in any of our Armed Forces was always viewed with favor by this contributor.  That was probably because my father served his God and country as an Army chaplain from World War Two through the Korean Conflict. There were divine appointments in the context of a military which are not found in any civilian context.  And when the chaplain is a Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching minister to men and women in the military, there is an extraordinary opportunity to see God’s kingdom and church grow in the faith and knowledge of the Triune God.

Prior to 1976, the National Association of Evangelicals were endorsing chaplains on behalf of young Presbyterian Church in America.  As good as that was, there was a conviction on the part of some, which was communicated by the Pacific Presbytery of the P.C.A., to request a study to consider whether sister Presbyterian churches could join together to endorse their own chaplains to the Chief of Chaplains. Committees were formed in the respective Presbyterian churches, such as the Presbyterian Church in America, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.  Ministers in all three churches who had been or were then military chaplains formed these committees.  A working group was organized and a name was suggested, which was, “Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel.”

On September 21, 1978, the initial meeting was held at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis to form such a commission.  The combined churches had over 100,000 members and could therefore endorse chaplains on its own.  Some of the added benefits of having our own endorsing agency included the ability to hold our own spiritual retreats, an increased awareness of our chaplains and their ministries at national denominational meetings, better representation before the Chief of Chaplains in Washington, D.C., and a national newspaper, called the Guardian.

Other Presbyterian and Reformed bodies joined in the commission, such as the Korean American Presbyterian Church, Korean Presbyterian Church in America, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, and the United Reformed Churches in North America.  Col. (ret.) David Peterson, after a thirty year career in the United States Army as a chaplain, became the Executive Director in 1995.  He served until just recently when Brig. General (ret.) Douglas Lee took over the helm of that position.

Chaplain David Peterson

Words to live by: There are opportunities and challenges for our military chaplains which pastors in their civilian churches do not have normally.  Young men and women in uniform are facing war tours away from families.  How great is it to have a Bible-believing chaplain to be there with the Word of God to meet them in public and private.  Temptations are always present in a military situation.  How good is it to have a gospel-preaching chaplain present who can provide an escape from that temptation with other Christian soldiers for a Bible-study, or meaningful worship time.  Family life without a father or a mother, a husband or a wife, is stressful.  A Reformed chaplain can be there to counsel in difficult times.  Pray for our military chaplains.  Write them letters or emails of encouragement.  Provide them and their soldiers with care boxes from home.  Support them in their important callings.

For further reading : “The Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel,” by Robert B. Needham — Chapter 24 in Confident of Better Things, edited by John Muether and Danny Olinger (pp. 471–484). Needham provides a succinct history of the PRJCMP, undergirding that history with a very useful Scriptural defense of military chaplaincy.

Through the Scriptures:  Ezekiel 34 – 36

Through the Standards: The postlude of the Lord’s Prayer, according to the Shorter Catechism

WSC Q. 107 – “What does the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
A.  The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, (which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.) teaches us, to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him.  And, in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.”

The Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission is the endorsing agency for chaplains from the following NAPARC denominations:

The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC)
The Korean American Presbyterian Church (KAPC)|
The Korean Presbyterian Church in America – Koshin (KPCA)
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC)
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)
The Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA)
United Reformed Churches in North America
(URCNA)

For more specific information on chaplaincy in the following denominations, see the links provided:
PCA Information on Chaplaincy
OPC Information on Chaplaincy

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