December 2012

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A Priority Response of God’s People

With no conservative Presbyterian dates found on December 21, we turn to the treatment by the Confessional Fathers on the doing of God’s will.  It is found in Shorter Catechism answer 103, which says, “In the third petition, which is, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” we pray, that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.”

There are two statements in this petition of that which is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer. First, there is a statement of faith. God, being the Sovereign God of all things, does  His will at all times. The fact that it was acknowledged by a pagan king, namely Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:35, after that earthly sovereign was thoroughly humbled, makes the truth all the more powerful.  He said, “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to  Him ‘What have You done?”  We who are of the faith, of saving faith, of the Christian faith, says “Amen” to that declaration so long ago.

Second, there is a statement of life.  It is one thing to say that we believe it.  It is quite another to state that we live our lives in the light of this.  But this petition, when earnestly prayed, states our desire that God by His grace, and we could add, as the Larger Catechism does, “by His Spirit,” would enable us to know, obey, and submit to God’s will in all things, just like the angelic beings do in heaven.

First, it is important to “know” the will of God. We generally “know” the will of God because it is revealed to us in Scripture.  This is the revealed will of God, or called His preceptive will.  All His commands, whether we speak of the Ten commandments, or the commands found in all of Scripture, is able to be known by us.  We “know” them when we read the Scriptures daily,  or hear the Word preached to us by those called of God.  Sometimes we “know” the will of God due to God’s providence  of the affairs of life.   Solomon in Proverbs 16:9 stated, “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”

But we are to go further than merely knowing God’s will.  We are to “obey” God’s will in all things.  We are to do God’s will actively in what He commands.  Whether it be the moral law, as is found in Exodus 20:1 – 17, or that of loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and our neighbors as ourself, as is found in Matthew 22:36 – 40, or any of the other commands revealed as God’s will in His word, this is the revealed will of God  for us.

Part and parcel of this is submitting to God’s will patiently in what He allows in our life.  This is the secret will of God.  It may be disappointments in our plans, sorrows over the sickness or death of loved ones, or sufferings in this life for unexplained reasons not revealed to us.  Submission to God’s sovereign allowance of these events in our lives falls into doing the will of God.

The standard of knowing, obeying, and submitting is the activity of the angelic beings.  The Larger Catechism explains this as “humility, cheerfulness, faithfulness, diligence, zeal, sincerity, and constancy.”” (WLC 192)

Words to Live By: The next time you utter this petition of the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” remember that you are asking God the Father, by His grace, to make you able and willing to know, obey, and submit to His will in all things. That last phrase “in all things” may be the challenge to us. We must be able to say like our Savior said in the garden, “not my will, but Your will be done.”  Try it this day, the next few days, the next week, month, etc., and you will find God’s will to be best for you.

Through the Scriptures:  2 Timothy 1 – 4

Through the Standards: Destiny of the righteous and wicked

WCF 32:3
“The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor; the bodies of the just, by His Spirit, unto honor; and be made conformable to His own glorious body.”


The  Apostle of Kentucky

There were several pseudonyms given David Rice. The apostle of Kentucky was one. Or the pioneer minister of the Presbyterian Church of Kentucky was another.  Perhaps the best title was that of “Father” Rice. The Rev. David Rice was all these titles to the state of Kentucky, and especially to the Scots-Irish saints of Kentucky.

Born December 20 in 1733 in Hanover County, Virginia, he was one of twelve children of a farmer in that county. Reared Episcopalian originally, he early associated with the Presbyterian cause.  Educated at the College of New Jersey at Princeton, New Jersey, he afterwards was trained in theology under one of the assistants of Samuel Davies, a man by the name of John Todd. Ordained by Hanover Presbytery in December of 1763, he became the pastor of Hanover Presbyterian Church. When the period of the Revolution came in the colonies, he took a decided stand in favor of the Revolution, serving as a chaplain to the Hanover militia. He was married by this time, having  married Mary Blair, the daughter of Samuel Blair, of Faggs Manor. Together, they would rear twelve children.

The Hanover Virginia congregation, where Samuel Davies had been the pastor before his move to the College of New Jersey, was weakened in number due to many of the Scot-Irish Presbyterians moving west for better opportunities. In fact, it was a number of those immigrants who invited David Rice to move to Kentucky in 1783. He was the first Presbyterian pastor to move into the state.

His ministry here included both church and state. As far as the church part, he would eventually pastor four Presbyterian congregations in the state. During this important pastoral work, he founded the first presbytery, the first synod, and the first seminary, called Transylvania Seminary, which is now a university. It was also here that he became convicted over the slavery issue, and sought to have it abolished by both the church and the state.  His organ for doing so was the Kentucky Abolition Society, for which David Rice was a life-time member.  He felt that Christians should lead the way for a gradual abolition of the slave trade as a result of their religion and conscience. Though he worked hard to this end, he was never able to accomplish it.

As far as the state was concerned, he was a member of the Constitutional convention of Kentucky to write the state constitution. He took up his call for abolition of slavery there as well, but was rebuffed again by the other citizens in the convention. Despite this failure, he stayed true to his convictions on the evils of slavery and was forever urging its demise.

They described him as tall and slender, quiet in his movements, with a remarkable degree of alertness even in his seventies. “Father Rice” is buried in the cemetery of the Presbyterian Church of Danville, Kentucky.

Words to live by:  David Rice was one of those Christian men who took his stand for righteousness even as he faithfully ministered the Word of God to the masses in Virginia and Kentucky.  He was used of the Lord in both church and state.  What a challenge to be at the starting points of so many works of the Lord.  God has especially called some of His church to engage in similar ministries.  In whatever Presbyterian denomination you are in, pray for the missions agencies, as well as individual church planters, who start with a few and then by God’s Spirit, build up a congregation for His glory.

Photos of the grave site of the Rev. David Rice can be viewed here.

Through the Scriptures:  Titus 1 – 3

Through the Standards:  General resurrection of the dead

WCF 32:2
“At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed: and all the dead shall be raised up, with the self-same bodies, and none other (although with different qualities), which shall be united again to their souls for ever.”

WLC 87 — “What are we to believe concerning the resurrection?
A.  We are to believe that at the last day there shall be a general resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust: when they that are then found alive shall in a moment be changed; and the self-same bodies of the dead which were laid in the grave, being then again united to their souls for every, shall be raised up by the power of Christ.  The bodies of the just, by the Spirit of Christ, and by virtue of his resurrection as their head, shall be raised in power, spiritual, incorruptible, and made like his glorious body; and the bodies of the wicked shall be raised up in dishonor to him, as an offended judge.”


A Political Message in a Presbyterian Church

It was evidently a message which the well-known Presbyterian pastor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had to deliver, given the times.  To wait for some better time would be wrong, he must have thought.  So the Rev. Dr. Henry  A. Broadman on two successive weekdays delivered the same sermon entitled “The American Union: A Discourse” to two different audiences. The first occasion was on Thursday, December 12, 1850 on the day of Annual Thanksgiving in the state. The second was on Thursday December 19, 1850 in the sanctuary of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Here are some quotations from the message:

“No man who believes that there is a Providence can take even a brief retrospect of our history, like that which has now engaged our attention, without discovering in numerable evidences of his benignant agency.  He who does not see a Divine hand directing and controlling the whole course of our affairs, from the landing of the colonists at Jamestown and Plymouth until the present would hardly have seen the pillar of cloud and of fire had he been with the Hebrews in the wilderness.

“The Union is not the work of man. It is the work of GOD. Among the achievements of his wisdom and beneficence in conducting the secular concern of the world, it must be ranked as one of his greatest and best works.  And he who would destroy it is  chargeable with the impiety of attempting to subvert a structure which is eminently adapted to illustrate the perfections of the Deity, and to bless the whole family of man.” (p. 30)

Dr. Boardman then goes on to speak of one issue which was actually at work in the 1850’s which, in his estimation, would destroy the American Union. The identification of this is put in all capital letters, and it is, SLAVERY.  The rest of the long address is on this issue, and the divisiveness which it is causing to the American Union.  Readers can find it on the world-wide web and read it in its entirety.

This patriotic message in a Presbyterian Church (which is now aligned with the Presbyterian Church in America) was proclaimed by the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian, not on Sunday, either the Sabbath morning or Sabbath evening, but on a Thursday at a special service.  And because he saw it as an important message, he had it printed into a booklet for the masses to read, especially the Christian people of the land.  It was one attempt to heal the union of the land rather than see it splintered into two nations, as was the case eleven years later in 1861.

Words to live by: There is a place, as our Confession speaks in W.C.F. 31:4 of  speaking to our citizens “by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary, or by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.”  This writer does not know if the discourse was a humble petition or a requirement by the civil magistrate, but it was delivered by this Presbyterian clergyman to his congregation and others in that eastern city of Pennsylvania. Certainly God’s Word does bear on the affairs of our nation.  We must speak to it in extraordinary times. Who can deny that the potential schism caused by the Civil War was an extraordinary time.  Christian reader: pray for our nation today, for our president and all his advisers, for the cabinet, the members of Congress, and especially our military forces all over the world, including those in harm’s way.

Through the Scriptures:  1 Timothy 4 – 6

Through the Standards:  Intermediate state, according to the catechisms

WLC 86 — “What is the communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death?
A.  The communion in glory with Christ, which the members of the invisible church enjoy immediately after death is, in that their souls are then made perfect in holiness, and received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies, which even in death continue united to Christ, and rest in their graves as in their beds, till at the last day they be again united to their souls.  Whereas the souls of the wicked are at their death cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, and their bodies kept in their graves, as in their prisons, till the resurrection and judgment of the great day.”

WSC 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.”


The Most Profoundly Christian Politician of the Twentieth Century

How would you react if you discovered that an ancestor of yours had been James Stewart the First, the king of Scotland? That is what Woodrow Wilson found out in growing up in the home of Joseph Ruggles Wilson in the late nineteenth century.  And the famous ancestors did not stop there. On his mother’s side, she had descended from Pocahontas of Jamestown fame.  What a family ancestry!

His father was a Presbyterian minister who moved to Staunton, Virginia to take a church there. That was where Woodrow Wilson was born on December 28, 1856, the third of four children. Even though Ohio had been their first place of ministry, a Southward trip to Augusta, Georgia, where Woodrow Wilson would spend much of his growing up years,  landed them square in the Confederacy in thought, fervor, and commitment.  They owned slaves and defended their action on that social issue. For a while, the father was a chaplain in the Confederate army. After the War Between the States, he became a founder of the Southern Presbyterians Church, U.S., becoming its stated clerk and eventual moderator in 1879.

Meanwhile, young Woodrow was being trained privately by his father, attending Presbyterian schools, and eventually Princeton University, from which he graduated. In 1885, he married Ellen Axson, from which marriage three daughters were born.  Serving initially as a lawyer in the south, Woodrow eventually became the president of Princeton University between 1902 – 1910.  From the university to the governorship of New Jersey, the rise in politics was rapid. Campaigning on the Democratic ticket, Woodrow Wilson would serve for two terms, the latter of which was enveloped by World War I.

It was during the first term that his wife Ellen died. He became one of three presidents who were widowed while in the White House. Soon afterwards, he was married a second time, to Edith Galt on December 18, 1915.

You can read in any history book the accomplishments of his presidency. We are interested in the fact that not only did he have an upbringing in  Presbyterian convictions, he remained deeply religious all of his presidency and for that matter, his life. The Bible was the guide of his life, as he read and studied it daily. God’s guidance was frequently sought and received. He considered the United States a Christian nation.  His Calvinistic convictions we’re particularly needed when he suffered a paralysis during the latter part of his presidency.  His wife Edith became the de facto president as she guided him in his duties as the chief executive. Three years after he left the office, he died.  His wife survived him, living all the way into the presidency of John Kennedy.

Words to live by:  Too many believers separate their spiritual beliefs from their lives. Woodrow Wilson was different from that common practice. With a solid Calvinistic upbringing, he lived his faith and walked by faith. To him, everything he did was colored by the Christian conviction gleaned from the Word of God which he read and studied every day.  You and I are to be no different in this one aspect of his life.  Read the Word, and then, live the Word. No sphere of life is to be divorced from the application of the Bible.

Through the Scriptures:  1 Timothy 1 – 3

Through the Standards:  The immediate state between death and resurrection

WFC 32:1
“The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption: but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them: the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest  heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory, waiting for  the full redemption of their bodies. And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torment and  utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day. Beside these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledges none.”



“The henry”

Consider how he was described by his contemporaries and historians in general. He was a reserved quiet man, with great gentleness, courtesy of manner, reserved, and an  unselfish genius. We could add that he was a Christian. And we could add a Presbyterian.

Joseph Henry was the foremost scientist of the nineteenth century. Born on December 17, 1799 in Albany, New York, he came from a poor family background. He was able through generous friends to attend an academy, but essentially most of his education was self-taught. But what a personal education. Through reading of text books in the scientific field, he was able to make contributions in the fields of electricity, electromagnetism, meteorology, acoustics, as well as in several branches in physics. Soon, he knew more than his instructors did, and he wound up teaching their classes in the academy in New York.

Princeton University asked him to come there and teach, though he had no educational degrees to speak of, which would add to the lustre of the academic status of the school.  But his scientific mind and his accomplishments were a considerable substitute for that intellectual learning.

Consider that Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, states that he never would have made any progress on that invention were it not for Joseph Henry. A short section of the telegraph had been invented by Joseph Henry, really on a dare when some scientist said it was impossible. Samuel Morse received the credit for it, when he was able to commercialize the product, but Henry had done it first. Then the electric motor was invented by him, while others received the historical credit of it. He also invented what was called the standard electronic unit of indirective resistance, and his name was attached to it.  It is called “the henry.”

Joseph Henry went to meet his Lord on May 13, 1878, with  his funeral three days later at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, of Washington, D.C., where he had been a member.  On this solemn occasion, the President of the nation, Rutherford Hayes, was in attendance, as were the Vice President, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, members of the cabinet, with leading officials of every branch of the government, with representatives in science, literature, diplomacy, professional, and business life in America.

His pastor said at that time, “while human learning and science are pressing forward to do honor to him who was known and loved as a leader, I come, in the name of the Christian church, and in the name of my Savior, to place upon this casket a simple wreath, forming the words ‘JOSEPH HENRY, THE CHRISTIAN.'”

Words to live by: People can be recognized by the world, and that has its place. But better than that is to be recognized by the Savior of mankind, as a spiritual child, a brother in Christ, and an adoptee into God’s forever family. The former may be remembered by the world for a time. The latter is remembered for time and eternity. For which one will you, dear reader, be remembered?

Through the Scriptures:  2 Peter 1 – 3

Through the Standards:  The reason for the death of forgiven saints

WLC 85 — “Death, being the wages of sin, why are not the righteous delivered from death, seeing all their sins are forgiven in Christ?
A.  The righteous shall be delivered from death itself at the last day, and even in death are delivered from the sting and curse of it; so that, although they die, yet it is out of God’s love, to free them perfectly from sin and misery, and to make them capable of further communion with Christ in glory, which they then enter upon.”


Kingdom Praying — Are You Praying it With Understanding?

With few themes of the past to hold us in attention, we turn to the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer on this day December 16.  It reads, “In the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed, and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it, and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.” You can immediately see that there are three phases or forms of the kingdom of Christ mentioned for us in this answer.

First, we see Christ’s kingdom of authority seen in the fact that He reigns over all, including those elements of the dominion of Satan. Our prayer in this form is that the great enemies kingdom will be destroyed.

The second phase of this kingdom is the kingdom of grace, which is Christ’s dominion in the hearts of His people. We desire by this petition that this reign of grace be advanced.  It is advanced with the conversion of every elect individual as well as the progressive work of sanctification in every believer. This is where this petition has a missionary emphasis within it, as we pray at home and abroad for “ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it.”

Then the last phrase of this petition speaks of “the kingdom of glory,” being hastened.  This part of this petition deals with those who “look for the blessed hope and the  appearing of glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (NASB – Titus 2:13) We must not make a specific date, as some have done in recent history.  But, like John of old, we can pray, and must pray, that  with a “holy impatience,” as one divine put it, Christ will come quickly.  This is His reign of glory in eternity future.

Words to live by:  Every individual falls either under the kingdom of Christ’s grace and certain glory or in the kingdom of Satan.  You yourself, dear reader, are at this very day, in one kingdom or the other. There is not a third kingdom, such as the morally good kingdom, just as there is not a third place to go to once you die.  It is either heaven or hell. You are either a child of God or a child of Satan. If you do not know which kingdom you are in or if you are not assured which family you are presently a member of, seek out a Bible-believing pastor and discuss it with him today. It is that important, indeed, eternity and where you spend it is at stake.

Through the Scriptures:  1 Peter 3 – 5

Through the Standards:  Our deaths are ordained by God

WLC 84 — “Shall all  men die?
A.  Death being threatened as the wages of sin, it is appointed unto all men once to die; for that all have sinned.”


Understanding the Social Gospel 

It was in the old Southern Presbyterian Journal of December 15, 1947 that its editor, the Rev L. Nelson Bell, answered a letter from a reader on this matter of the social gospel.  That reader had written a letter to the magazine which sought to chastise Christians for not engaging in the social gospel.  Dr. Bell answered this letter with clarity and insight.  Listen to his words:

“(The reader) is confusing the ‘social gospel’ (which is ‘another’ gospel) with the application of the social principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by Christians. . . . The “social gospel” is a gospel of good works. It is making social reform an end in itself . . . It denies sin as the underlying cause of social injustice. It completely ignores the redeeming work of Jesus Christ as the only ultimate solution of world needs.

“On the other hand, Christian participation in and the application of the social implications of the Gospel puts the redemption of the individual soul from sin through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as of first importance and all social efforts as but a means to that end.

“We are convinced that many evangelicals need to more properly evaluate the social implications of the Gospel and to act on them; and, we feel we should co-operate with all who put such work in its rightful relationship to the Gospel.

“. . . our concern and our opposition is directed towards those who no longer look on a man out of Christ as a lost sinner. It is against those who look on sin, not as sin but as a maladjustment which can be eliminated by individual and co-operative effort, through education, improved environment and social uplift.

“The Bible promises economic and social advantages, but they come only by the way of the Cross of Jesus Christ.”

The entire comment by the former Presbyterian missionary to China, Dr. Bell, can be read on the PCA History Center’s other blog, The Continuing Story, but for this writer, this article sets forth in unmistakable terms the difference between the social gospel and the application of the social principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Words to live by:  Let us by all means place an emphasis upon loving our neighbor on a horizontal plane, but first and foremost the question is, do you love God as a result of having trusted alone in God’s only Son, for your salvation. That is the primary question.  It is as we are born again, that we can show forth God’s love to others in their physical needs, not only to meet them, but also show them how they can be forgiven of their sins, and be given eternal life forever, all as a result of Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death on Calvary’s cross for us.

Through the Scriptures:  Philemon, 1 Peter 1 – 2

Through the Standards:  Proof texts of synods and councils

Proverbs 15:22
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”  (NIV)

Acts 16:4, 5
“As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders for the people to obey.  So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.” (NIV)

1 Timothy 4:14
“Do not neglect (Timothy) your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.” (NIV)



Making God’s Name Holy

Either it was too cold in December to do anything meaningful in Presbyterian history or December being the last month of the year was filled with advent activities — we are not sure — but there is more than one or two dates where we return to the Shorter Catechism once again.  And we begin on this day of December 14, by considering our Confessional Fathers  explanation of the familiar petitions of that which is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer. Question? Do you really understand Christian, what you are saying when you utter the Lord’s Prayer during your worship service or during a private moment?

Shorter Catechism answer 101 teaches us that “in the first petition, which is, Hallowed by thy name, we pray that God would enable us, and others, to glorify Him in all that whereby he makes himself known, and that he would dispose all  things to his own glory.”

After drawing near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, indeed as the children of God to our heavenly Father, believing that He is able and ready to help us, we begin with this upward direction of adoration. Hallowed be Your name, we pray.

The word “hallowed” is the same root as “holy,” or “sanctify.”  Set your Name apart in our hearts, heavenly Father. Enable us to glorify You in creation, in providence, in redemption, in other words, in everything whereby You make Himself known. “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (KJV), the Psalmist commands in Psalm 96:8, 9. Remember, from that magnificence  very first catechism, this is our chief and main duty in life, to “glorify God.”

Then since He is in control of all things, and nothing occurs outside His powerful sovereignty, we pray that He will by His upholding, directing, and governing all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least,   dispose everything to His own glory.

Words to live by:  Make it a challenging spiritual exercise to cause  the Name of God to be  set apart in all that you do in life. Indeed, make it a challenging discovery  to find  how God has set apart His own name in His divine actions on this earth.  Either spiritual exercise will add to your spiritual growth, magnify the name of God in a world which doesn’t care to even acknowledge His existence, and cause opportunities for witness to your unsaved family and friends. Let us set the Lord always before us.  Hallowed be Thy Name.

Through the Scriptures:  Hebrews 11 – 13

Through the Standards:  The jurisdiction of church assemblies

WCF 31:4
“Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.”

For further study: The above paragraph from the Westminster Confession of Faith is an excellent summary of that doctrine known as the spirituality of the Church. It teaches that the Church is not to be involved as a participant in political affairs. That is not to say that individual Christians shouldn’t be good citizens and participate in government, but the Church, as the Church, should never be aligned with a political faction. Such alignment invariably hinders and even damages our biblical work of proclaiming the Gospel of salvation in Christ alone. Nor does this doctrine teach that the Church cannot speak to the moral issues of the day. It should, and it must.


A Family Heritage of Presbyterian Ministers

Back on January 6 when we began this day in Presbyterian history, our focus was on a Presbyterian minister by the name of Moses Drury Hoge. Today, our focus is on a Presbyterian minister by the name of Moses Hoge. He was the grand father of that earlier Hoge.  And what was more remarkable is that there was a virtual family of Presbyterian ministers by the name of Hoge. How is it that one family can produce three sons, all of whom were Presbyterian ministers?

The easy answer is that the God of the Bible is sovereign and, as a result, He calls whom He will, not only to salvation, but also to service in His kingdom.  And so in this case, we simply have that God-ordained call to one family to produce sons who would in turn answer the call to gospel ministry.  And yet, there is more to it than that.  God ordinarily works through means, although he is not restricted to means.  And the means toward the God-glorifying end here was a family who was committed to gospel truths in the home, to say nothing of their Presbyterian church.

Moses Hoge, who was born on February 15, 1752 in Middletown Virginia, was a student in Culpeper County under an Associated Reformed Church minister. After a time, he entered the major conflict which was taking place in the colonies by joining the Continental Army to fight for freedom from England. Shortly after that enlistment, he left to enter Liberty Hall Academy (now Washington and Lee University) under the venerable William Graham, in 1778, graduating two years later from the Academy. In the same year, Moses Hoge became a candidate for the gospel ministry under care of the Presbytery of Hanover. Further preparation in theology took place under the tutelage  of James Waddel. Finally he was licensed in November of 1781 and ordained on December 13, 1782 at Brown’s Meeting House, in Augusta County, Virginia, near Hebron, Virginia.

Upon the resignation of Archibald Alexander, Moses Hoges was next appointed president of Hampden-Sydney College in 1807. In fact, so much was his God-given intellect appreciated that when the Synod of Virginia voted in 1812 to begin a seminary, Dr. Hoge was appointed to be its first professor. But the press of business was such that his health began to suffer. On a trip back to from the General Assembly, he died on July 5, 1820.

He and his wife Elizabeth had four sons, three of whom became pastors: the Rev. James Hoge, the Rev. John Blair Hoge, the Rev. Samuel Davies Hoge. [The fourth son, Dr. Thomas P. Hoge, became a physician]. The two sons of Rev. Samuel Davies Hoge also became ministers: the Rev. William Hoge and the Rev. Moses Drury Hoge, that latter of whom we wrote about on January 6. What a legacy! What a remarkable praise to God for His work among men!

To be sure, God’s sovereignty is such that He thrusts out laborers into His harvest field. But also true is that God uses godly parents to both teach and live Biblical principles and practices before their family. When that is done faithfully, then great expectations can be realized in their upbringing and eventual choice of life.

Words to live by:  This writer comes from a Christian home in which both sons were converted and called into the Presbyterian ministry, thus joining their father who was also a Presbyterian minister. God can wonderfully use the Christian home to call spiritual laborers into the fields white unto harvest. Concentrate on that, Christian reader. Make your home a solidly Christian home, with examples of true worship, solid education, and zealous service for Christ, taught and lived before your children. Then watch God work in the lives of your family.

For further study: The Hoge Family Papers are preserved at the Presbyterian Historical Center, in Philadelphia.

Through the Scriptures:  Hebrews 8 – 10

Through the Standards:  An affirmation and denial of church assemblies

WCF 31:3
“All synods or councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred.  Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.”

The PCA Historical Center is grateful to have preserved a copy of Rev. Hoge’s sermons, Sermons Selected from the Manuscripts of the late Moses Hoge, D.D., which was published in Richmond, VA by N. Pollard Publisher, 1821. Conveniently, that work is also available on the Internet, here or here. (“you young kids don’t know how easy you have it. In my day. . . “)

The first page of the first sermon in the above mentioned book by Rev. Moses Hoge:


Mass Evangelism Crusades of an Astonishing Type

We have already considered the life and pastoral ministry of J. Wilbur Chapman on April 13, 1881 (see there).  Leaving the pastorate in some five churches, two of them being Presbyterian, we look at his appointment by the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America to the position of General Secretary of Evangelism on December 12, 1902.  immediately he was placed as an overseer of 51 evangelists in 470 cities of the nation.  But as important as that post was, it was the mass evangelism techniques that he authored that became astonishing instruments of the Holy Spirit to win the lost to Christ.

Chapman would go into a city like Pittsburgh or Philadelphia in Pennsylvania for a three to four-week evangelistic campaign.  He would then break down the cities into zones, with evangelists and song teams over each one of the zones. Then there would be simultaneous meetings every night with those teams in the zones of the cities.  Pittsburgh in 1904 was divided into nine zones. Philadelphia had forty-two sections divided into it. The conversions numbered in the thousands. At one of them in North Carolina, the Rev. David Otis Fuller was converted.

Chapman, in seeing the approaching liberalism of his own denomination, set the bar high with respect to belief in the Bible. He let go any of his evangelists who did not believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

The Presbyterian evangelist took this technique “on the road” as he ministered to eight cities in Australia, six cities in China, Korea, and Japan. By 1910, the evangelistic technique began to lose favor with the masses, and it was laid aside.

J. Wilbur Chapman became the moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1918. He died in that same year, but we remember him by his great hymn of “One Day” and “Jesus, What a Friend For Sinners” today in our churches.

Words to live by:  In the early days of our twentieth century, there was much spiritual fruit from the evangelistic efforts of J. Wilbur Chapman. It is a shame that we have forgotten his name and efforts for souls so much in our churches. We need evangelists today who will reach out with the gospel of Jesus Christ to lost men and women everywhere in our cities. Who will join me in praying that God will send a great revival of our church members in Presbyterian churches across this land? Who will join with me that God’s Spirit will bring another great spiritual awakening of the lost, driving them to embrace Jesus Christ as He is offered in the gospel?

Through the Scriptures:  Hebrews 5 – 7

Through the Standards:  The functions of assemblies

WCF 31:2
“It belongs to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of His Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word.”


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