April 2013

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Some Pastors Are Born Teachers.

SandersonJWBorn in Baltimore, Maryland on March 19, 1916, John W. Sanderson later attended Wheaton College, graduating with the BA degree in 1937. He then attended Faith Theological Seminary, earning the Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1940 and the Master of Sacred Theology degree in 1945. In 1949 he earned an MA degree from the University of Pennsylvania. A final degree, the Doctor of Divinity degree, was awarded by Geneva College in 1966.

Rev. Sanderson was licensed and ordained in 1940 by Chicago Presbytery of the Bible Presbyterian Church. His first pastorate was at the First Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, Missouri, serving there from 1940 until 1943. He was the first pastor of this church, and upon his departure, the congregation next called the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer. From 1945 to 1952 and again from 1955 to 1956, Rev. Sanderson served as Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Faith Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Between those two terms as professor, he served as the pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church of Newark, DE from 1952 to 1955.

sandersonIn the academic year of 1956-1957, Sanderson served as a professor at Covenant College, which was then located in St. Louis, Missouri. Leaving that position briefly, he served as a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary from 1957 to 1963. Returning to St. Louis, he taught at Covenant Seminary, 1963-1964, and then moved with the 1964 Covenant College relocation to Lookout Mountain, TN, working at the College variously as professor, dean and vice president between the years 1964–1976. Dr. Sanderson finally returned to teach at Covenant Seminary from 1976 to 1984.

Rev. Sanderson’s honors include serving as the Moderator of Synod for the Bible Presbyterian Church in 1951. Other fields of service included teaching in India (1973), Chile (1978) and Peru (1978). For a brief time, 1956-1957, Rev. Sanderson had also served as editor of The Bible Presbyterian Reporter.

He was honorably retired from the ministry in 1986, and died on April 30, 1998. He had transferred his ministerial credentials into the PCA in 1982 when the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod was received into the PCA, and at the time of his death, though residing at the Quarryville (PA) Retirement Community, was a member of the PCA’s Missouri Presbytery.

We close our post today with a brief but useful article by Rev. Sanderson which was published in Salt, a student publication at Covenant Seminary. A bibliography of his major published works follows the article:—

Great Biblical Ideas: God’s Omniscience.

God’s omniscience has meant much to me. Scripture teaches that the Lord knows all things about me (Psalm 139), about the world (Proverbs 15:3), and about Himself (1 Corinthians 2:10).

In its practical outworking, this concept gives comfort because it teaches us that there can never be any surprises for God, any unforeseen obstacles, nor any changes in His working because of developments of which He knows nothing. In one of his moments of assurance Job said, “But he knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10). Job uttered these words against a background of his own bitter ignorance of his situation, and he found some help in this truth.

God’s omniscience also helps us during times of temptation. The assurance that nothing can be hid from Him is a deterrent to sin. Clarence E. Macartney, in his volume The Way of a Man with a Maid, tells of a scene from a drama on the life of Joseph. Potiphar’s wife is puzzled because Joseph will not succumb to her temptation. Then she spies over in the corner an idol “looking” at them. Thinking the idol’s “presence” is what is deterring Joseph, she takes the cover from the bed and covers the idol’s face. Then she turns again to Joseph, fully expecting him to do now as she wishes. In the play Joseph still refuses because his God never hides His face.

Although this is only a fictionalized account, it illustrates vividly how God’s omniscience, when we are persuaded of it in practical living, is a positive incentive to holiness. God’s full knowledge is a sobering thought for the Christian (Hebrews 4:13) as well as for the disobedient (Jeremiah 23:23); Ezekiel 11:5).

God’s omniscience is one of the reasons for our believing in the full truthfulness of Scripture. We are assured of the integrity of the Word because the Word is an expression of the Spirit’s knowledge. Notice the way Paul develops this in 1 Corinthians 2. No man knows the future which God has planned for us (vs. 9), but God has revealed the future by His Spirit. The Spirit is qualified to do this revealing because He has searched all things, “yea, the deep things of God” (v. 10). Now these things have been given to the apostles by the Spirit (v. 12). The apostles preach these things and so they communicate to “spiritual” men what Paul calls “the mind of Christ” (v. 16). What a comfort in times of doubt and criticism — God knows more than the critics and this knowledge stands behind the words of Scripture!

God’s omniscience should drive us to worship. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, and his fame was so great that the queen traveled “from the uttermost parts of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon” (Luke 11:31). Read her reaction in 1 Kings 10 — “there was no more spirit in her.” Perhaps we should say that she was breathless! Yet Jesus says that she will condemn His generation because “a greater than Solomon is here.”

Today we revere scholars and are overwhelmed by their scholarship. How much more should we be overwhelmed by the “fountain of all wisdom” and tremble when we handle His Word!

“Great Biblical Ideas,” excerpted from Salt: Official Student Publication of Covenant Theological Seminary, 1.2 (18 December 1968): 10.

Bibliography—
1951

Rudolph, Robert K., John W. Sanderson, Jr., George S. Christian, and Cornelius Van Til, First Annual Institute of the Reformed Faith (s.l. : s.n., 1951), 69pp.

1970
Encounter in the non-Christian Era (Grand Rapids, Mich., Zondervan Pub. House, 1970), 95pp.

1972
The Fruit of the Spirit: A Study Guide (Grand Rapids, Zondervan Pub. House, 1972), 128pp. This work was reprinted in 1976 and 1985, and has also been translated into Korean, in 1984.

1991
Mirrors of His Glory : Images of God from Scripture (Phillipsburg, N.J. : Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1991), x, 235 p.

Festschrift, 1997—
Where is the Salt? : Essays and Studies in Honor of John W. Sanderson, Jr. (Lookout Mountain, Ga. : Covenant College, 1997), ii, 133pp.
Contents: Philosophy and the prophet: some thoughts on a Christian philosophical method, by Reginald F. McLelland — Creation, fall, redemption: a mandate for redemptive activity, by Charles W. Anderson — Training the next generation: can we help Johnny tell right from wrong?, by Stephen R. Kaufmann — Understanding our contemporary world, by Louis J. Voskuil — Life and its origin, God’s second causes, by John E. Lothers, Jr. — Cur homo?: reflections on human creativity, by Nicholas P. Barker — Multicultural Christianity, by Patricia Ralston — Computers, comics, and careers: a paradigm shift to secular drift, by Russell H. Heddendorf — Computer science technology: a perspective for Christian higher education, by Douglas R. Sizemore.

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A Casualty of D-Day

The following account comes from THE INDEPENDENT BOARD BULLETIN, Vol. 10, no. 10 (October 1944): 4-7. This was (and is) the newsletter of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions.

FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH

dieffenbacherAJIn the falling of the Reverend Arthur Johnston Dieffenbacher on the battlefields of Normandy, July 5, 1944, the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions has lost its first and one of its best missionaries by death. Few details are known even at this writing but in Arthur Dieffenbacher’s passing his family, the Board, China and a host of friends have sustained a very great loss; yet we know that God’s people should view all things from the standpoint of eternity and therefore we can rest assured that God Who knows all things “doeth all things well.”

Arthur Dieffenbacher was born in Titusville, Pa., April 29, 1909; and thus was but a little over thirty-five years of age when the Lord called him home. His early years were spent at Erie, Pa. where he was graduated from high school at the early age of fifteen. Two years of college work at Erie followed, and two years later in 1927 he was graduated from Grove City College. In 1931 he finished his theological education at Dallas Theological Seminary, with a Master’s degree in his possession and also credit toward a post-graduate Doctor’s degree. He had proved himself precocious during his school days, but he was also in advance of his years in the things of the Lord, his deep interest in these things showing itself, for instance, in his spending the first night of his college life away from home in a prayer meeting with a group which was destined to aid him greatly to the clear insight into God’s word which his later years so fully exhibited.

In September, 1932, Mr. Dieffenbacher was appointed a missionary of the China Inland Mission and in company with his intimate friend John Stam, who himself was destined to become a martyr, soon left for China. There, after language study and a brief period of work in Changteh, Hunan Province, he met in 1934 Miss Junia White, daughter of Dr. Hugh W. White, editor of The China Fundamentalist. Miss White and he were soon engaged, but because of illness and other causes they were not married until June 1938, joining at about the same time also and with the good wishes of the China Inland Mission, the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions with the principles and purposes of which both were in full sympathy.

dieffenbacherMrMrs_1940All the years spent in China were filled with adventure which included a flight from Chinese communists in 1935; and the summer of 1938 saw battles raging all around Kuling where Miss White and Mr. Dieffenbacher had been married. Indeed China had been engaged for a whole year then in the war which was to engulf eventually so many lands and was, for Arthur Dieffenbacher, to end so tragically upon the battlefields of Nor­mandy. On their way from Kuling this young bride and groom had to pass through the battle zone, just behind the fighting lines, but God gave them protection and enabled Arthur even then to point a sore-wounded and dying Chinese lad, a soldier, to Christ as the Lamb of God who was slain for our sins.

This trip led to Harbin, Manchuria, the “Manchukuo” of the Japa­nese, where two years of happy, fruitful work ensued, years which saw the beginning of what despite the hardness of the soil of that great cos­mopolitan city might have developed into a much greater work had it not been for the tyranny of Japan and the war which was so soon to bring to an end so much Christian work both in the Japanese empire and in China. In the testings of those years in regard to Shinto and the Japanese demands upon Christians Arthur and his wife remained faithful.

In the summer of 1940, after eight years in China, Mr. Dieffenbacher returned to America with his wife on furlough. There on June 19, 1941, a little daughter, Sara Junia, was born. As war conditions were gradually spreading it was thought that Mr. Dieffenbacher ought to return alone to Manchuria and so passport and passage were obtained but ere he could sail the events of December 7, 1941, compelled all such plans to be abandoned for the time being, and as it proved in Arthur’s case, forever.

In America Mr. Dieffenbacher proved to be a good and effective mis­sionary speaker. He also rendered efficient aid at his Board’s headquarters in Philadelphia. Later he held a brief pastorate in the Bible Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati, Ohio. But when the American Council of Christian Churches obtained for its member Churches a quota of Army chaplaincies, Mr. Dieffenbacher applied for a chaplaincy and was appointed and joined the Army on July 18, 1943.

In the Army Arthur Dieffenbacher won recognition for two things. For one, he took with his men, for example, the whole system of training including the dangerous and difficult “infiltration” course and other things which were not required of chaplains, but which he did that by all means he might win some. This ambition to win men to Christ was the second notable trait of which we speak. Indeed it showed itself not alone while he was in the Army but also throughout all his life. He always preached to convince, convert and win. On his way to England with his unit he with two other God-fearing chaplains, won eighty-four men to Christ. A brief letter home, mentioning this asked, “Isn’t that great?” Truly it was great and not merely in the opinion of his friends, we believe, but also in the sight of the Lord. Some of his friends are praying that from among those eighty-four after the war some may volunteer to take Arthur Dieffenbacher’s place in China. God is able to bring such things to pass.

The time from April to June 24, 1944, was spent in England. There, too, Arthur Dieffenbacher was constantly on the search for souls and also for that which would bring inspiration to his men and to his family and friends at home. Some of the poems he found and sent home testify at once to his love for good poetry and for the things of the spirit, especially for the things of the Lord. He believed thoroughly that he was in God’s will. He longed to see his wife and child and mother again but assured them that “no good thing would the Lord withhold from them that walk uprightly.” He rejoiced in full houses of soldiers to whom to preach the Gospel of salvation. He was often tired after a long day of duties done, but preached and lived that we are “More than Conquerors” through Christ. With it all he learned to sew on buttons and patches and to wash his own clothes and his good humor bubbled over into his letters when he said, “Oh, boy, you should see the result!” Up at the front large at­tendances at services were the rule, men searching for help, for strength, for God, as they faced the foe. Perhaps a premonition was felt of what was to come. He wrote, “There are so many chances of getting hurt in war or in peace that which one affects you is by God’s permission. Hence I don’t worry, but take all reasonable precautions and trust the rest to God. His will is best and His protection sufficient.” On July 3, he wondered how they would celebrate the Fourth, and knew not that on the morrow of that day he would celebrate humbly but joyfully in the Presence of God. When killed by German artillery fire his body was recovered by his senior chaplain, Chaplain Blitch, and later an impressive funeral service was held.

“Faithful unto death” are words which characterized the whole life of Arthur Dieffenbacher. The realization of that fact brings an added meas­ure of consolation to his mother, Mrs. Mildred J. Dieffenbacher, to his wife and will, in time, to his little three-year-old daughter as she comes to understand what her father was and what he did. It brings consolation also to The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions and to all his friends. But as Arthur Dieffenbacher himself would have been the first to say, all he was and did he owed to Christ in whom he was called, chosen and empowered and made faithful till that day when surely he heard the welcome “well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

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Yesterday we briefly reviewed the life of the Rev. Dr. John Niel McLeod, taken from the second half of Dr. Steele’s funeral sermon. This Lord’s Day, we have before us the first half of the sermon delivered at the funeral of Rev. McLeod, by the Rev. David Steele, pastor of the Fourth Reformed Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. The sermon is entitled, “Endless Life the Inheritance of the Righteous. 

DISCOURSE.
Thy dead men shall live,” — Isaiah 26:20 (first clause).

Among the writings of Old Testament Scrip­ture, the prophecy of Isaiah occupies a prominent place. For sublimity and fervor it is unsurpassed, while its animated strains of poetry well accord with the golden age of Hebrew literature. Perhaps the most marked characteristic of this inspired oracle is its evangelism. Rapt in profound and holy thought, and ravished with visions of coming glory for the church of Christ, with seraphic ardor the prophet utters his messages of comfort and instruction in the ears of his country­men. With prophetic eye he penetrates the future. In the horoscope of coming events he beholds the aurora of the world’s redemption, by the rising of the Sun of righteousness with healing in his wings. Under the afflatus of the Spirit he perceives event succeeding event, providence linked to providence, until, in the fulness of time, the mystery of godliness is manifested, the rod comes forth from the stem of Jesse, a branch grows out of his root, and to the ever-blessed Shiloh is the gathering of the people. To the son of Amos ages are condensed into moments, centuries revolve with the rapidity of thought, and unborn generations are rolled up into one glorious present. In pursuance of the Divine purpose, the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, is led to the top of Calvary; and as the sword of Divine justice descends upon the head of the victim, personally innocent, but by imputation chargeable with the sins of millions born and unborn, the prophet declares, “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” The results are glorious. The mediator sees his seed, prolongs his days, and the pleasure of the Lord prospers in his hand. In this twenty- sixth chapter the prophet personating the church sings, — “Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks,” and redeemed saints exult in God. He warms as he proceeds with his theme. Under the figure of a resurrection he describes the church’s ultimate triumphs over her enemies. The dry bones live, Death is robbed of its sting, dissolution is succeeded by regeneration, and life and immortality are brought to light. In the application of our text, the transition from the figurative to the literal resurrection is easy. Personating Christ, who has destroyed death, the prophet announces the cheering fact, “Thy dead men shall live,” and then, with energy adds, together “with my dead body shall they arise.” The sententious declaration of the text is not of difficult analysis. It includes two thoughts: —

I. The solemn fact that men are dead.
II. The comforting promise that the dead shall live.

We proceed to remark : —
I. That death is an event which happens to all mankind. No labored argument is necessary to confirm this statement. Scripture abounds with declarations to this effect. The afflicted man of Uz declares, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Paul with emphasis asserts, “By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men; for that all have sinned.” Death is not the debt of nature, as some have frequently and vainly asserted; for to nature no such debt is due. Upon man at his creation the principle of immortality was enstamped, and the threatening of death for disobedience could have had no significance if the dissolution of the body must take place as the original and normal condition of human being. Nor is death annihilation. To the sentient being no idea is more revolting than reduction to non-existence. A little reflection, however, serves to show that death is not the destruction of anything. The physical system is dissolved, it is true, but not a particle of the dying body ceases to be. The noble bark which once rode proudly on the ocean, the glory of her builder as well as the hope of her owner, may be wrecked and scattered in broken fragments over the waters, and some of its parts may sink in the mighty deep. We say that it is lost; but it is not annihilated, nor has a single particle passed out of existence. Likewise in death the soul is separated from the body. The latter decays and mingles with its kindred earth, but not an atom of it ceases to exist. The former is borne into the presence of its Judge; but, like its eternal Author, it is indestructible, and from its very essence is incapable of being destroyed by dissolution.

Whence, then, it may be asked, comes death, and why the extensive character of its commission? Why must man, with his stately bearing, his vast affections, his far-reaching thought, the masterpiece of Jehovah’s works, fearfully and wonderfully made, die? The answer is at hand : “The wages of sin is death.” God is angry with the children of men. He has armed Death with fatal strength, and sent him forth the executioner of a just sentence, the avenger of a broken law. In virtue of a Divine constitution, all men descending from the first pair by ordinary generation are involved in guilt. As a consequence, death is as widespread as the human race; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. To the young creation death was unknown, but with sin this cruel monster entered our world, thenceforth destined to subject everything that lives and moves to his sceptre. Sin has armed Death, as it were, with omnipotence, and what power can resist him? The kings of the earth lie in the desolate places which they built for themselves. The marble in its sculptured pomp acknowledges the struggle with death to have been in vain. Neither talent, nor youth, nor beauty, nor strength has been able to effect a discharge in this war. The generations of the past have crumbled into dust. All the living are following in one vast funeral. All posterity shall follow us. The silence of those who have gone down to the grave, the sorrow of surviving friends, and the mortality of all that shall be born of mortals, proclaim the power as well as the universality of death.

mcleod_gravesPictured above, grave stones of the Rev. Alexander McLeod, in the foreground, and his son, John Niel McLeod, in the distance. Photograph courtesy of Mr. Anthony Elia.

2. The certainty of death, and the broken rela­tionships which it entails, enhance the solemnity of this event.
Many things are uncertain, but death is inevitable. “It is appointed unto men once to die.” “Man dieth and wasteth away.” The Holy Spirit, speaking by the mouth of prophets and Apostles, appears to multiply figures, in order that he may set the uncertainty of life before the human race. The flower that flourisheth in the morning, and in the evening is cut down; the shadow that flings itself for the moment in the pathway of the traveler, and then fleeth and continueth not; and the morning cloud or vapor skirting the mountain side, until the first rays of the sun fall upon it, and it is dissipated in the surrounding atmos­phere, are all employed to image forth the fleeting character of man’s stay upon earth. Although the days of every man are determined, and He who knows the end from the beginning has appointed his bounds that he cannot pass, nevertheless, God in his wisdom has hidden from the children of men the precise period in the cycle of time when the earthly career of each shall terminate. Under such circumstances it is a solemn thing to live, as well as to die.

Death puts an end to all schemes for the future. All the relations of time, the speculations of business, and the enjoyments of this world, it hides in the darkness of the tomb. Upon the husbandman, absorbed with concern for an approaching harvest, it lays its icy hand, and thus makes havoc of his earthly hopes. To the merchant, intensely earnest in solving the mystery of trade, it comes, and summons him to render up his account to God. It knocks at the door of the philosopher, and snatches him from his books and his meditations, that his immortal spirit may wake up to a clearer apprehension of eternal certitudes. Nor does it pass the faithful minister of Christ, striking him down in the midst of usefulness, and severing the tender tie that binds him to a loving people, that he may rest from his labors, give an account of his stewardship, and receive his reward.

Death is a solemn and affecting event, as it breaks asunder all the tender and endearing ties existing between parent and child, husband and wife, benefactor and friend. Pensively, but with pious submission, the Psalmist sings,—

Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.”

The experience of every earth-born child of Adam is similar to that of the Son of Jesse. To the death of friends, many considerations add poignancy. By the removal of connections we are deprived of their society. The eye that beamed with kindness is sealed up in darkness, and the tongue which charmed us is dumb forever. Their example, reproofs, counsels, and prayers, which shed light upon our pathway and stimulated to duty, are no more; no longer can they rectify our mistakes or warn us of our danger. Convinced that his usefulness to his successor was restricted to this life, Elijah, in his last walk with Elisha, says, “Ask now what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee.” Moreover, death terminates our relation to the Church and her divinely appointed ordinances. Our eyes are closed upon the scenes of earth, and we bid farewell to all terrestrial objects. The sound of the Gospel no longer falls upon the ear. The last meeting for prayer has been attended and the Eucharistic feast never returns again. Solemn reflections! They teach us the necessity of improving everything we know or possess, for the good of men and the glory of God.

3. An interest in the great salvation through personal and indissoluble union with Christ secures victory in death.
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” Union to Christ is for the most part expressed in Scripture by the phrases, “in Christ,” and “in Christ Jesus.” “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature.” From eternity a federal union was established between Christ and his people, yet unborn, when he was appointed or set up as their covenant head. Upon the ground of this union, Christ became answerable for them to the justice of God. Neither could their sins have been imputed to Christ, nor could his righteousness have been imputed to them, if both parties had not been identified, or one in the eye of law. Nor was this all that was necessary to the actual enjoyment of the benefits of Christ’s representation. Jehovah, on whose sovereign will the whole economy of grace is founded, had determined, not only that his Son should be one with those whom he represented, as their surety, but also as their living head; that a real and vital, as well as a federal and representative union should be established, as the foundation of communion with Christ in the blessings oi his purchase. Union to Christ is that mutual relation and reciprocal inbeing which secure to believers a participation in al) the blessings of which Christ is the depositary. This union is spiritual in its nature, ennobling in its effects, and indissoluble in its duration. What the vine is to the branches, what the City of Refuge was to the man-slayer, what the foundation is to the superstructure, and what the head is to the members of the body, Christ is to his people. Upon the ground of connection with him, pardon, heir-ship, sanctification, and perseverance in the divine life, proceed. Death cannot disannul the covenant of redemption; for, says God, “The mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my loving kindness shall not depart, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed.” Nor can this conquer or sever the connection between Christ and his people. It may sunder the closest bonds, desolate hearts, fill houses with mourning, marshal the funeral procession, and consign to the grave the sainted dust; but it cannot rend the union which subsists between the Mediator and his redeemed inheritance. Upon the cross, Christ spoiled principalities and powers, and through death destroyed him that had the power of death. And although the Lord of Glory fell beneath this destroyer, yet in the very hour and article of death he conquered. All his people triumph in him. To them death is unstinged, all its properties are altered, and all its terrors taken away. Feeling that the munitions of rocks are his defence; that the eternal God is his refuge, and that beneath him are the everlasting arms, in the hour and embrace of death the Christian sings with the Apostle, “O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?” Or with another saint of God, he declares in confidence, “Christ in his person, Christ in the love of his heart, and Christ in the power of his arm, is the rock on which I rest; and now, Death, strike! ” Or with yet another conqueror, raised up with Christ and made to sit with him in the heavenlies, he ex­claims : —

“Open thine arms, O Death, thou fine of woe And warranty of bliss ! I feel the last,
Red mountainous remnant of the earth give way.
The stars are rushing upward to the light;
My limbs are light, and liberty is mine.
The spirit’s infinite purity consumes The sullied soul. Eternal destiny Opens its bright abyss. I am God’s.”

Let us consider,
II. The comforting promise, that the righteous dead shall live. Nothing is more mysterious than the principle of life, whether viewed in its animal or vegetable form. Science may analyze and classify the accidents and qualities of the living creature. It may compute the elements which enter into the organic being, gauging with precision the proportion and relation of each to other; but there are no means known to it by which to calculate or solve the enigma of life. Upon this subject nothing is more unsatisfactory than the theory of “spontaneous generation,” propounded by the ancients and adopted by Huxley. Equally absurd is the theory of “development,” to which Darwin has lent his name and authority; and the mind turns away astonished and disappointed at the materialistic utterances of Professor Tyndall in the year 1874, viz., that in matter itself we may find the “potency and promise of every form of life.” The truth announced in the text, therefore, is as surprising as it is agreeable, and furnishes us with an illustration that life and death are in the hands of Him in whom we live and move and have our being. And here we remark, —

1. That the pious dead live in the influences and fragrant recollections resulting from their life and labors when they were upon the earth.
It is a momentous and melancholy fact that men do not continue by reason of death. And the history of our race is a comment upon the Scripture declaration — “One generation passeth away, and another cometh.” But the beneficent influence which a good man, and especially a Christian minister, exerts while he is on the earth does not die with the dissolution of his body. No, it is as immortal as the Divine Being in whose grace it originated. It may be silent in its operations and unseen in its course, but it is, as an agency, as effective as it is deathless.

It seldom happens that histories and biographies make such account as they should of the influence which men exert over their fellow-men. Their pages glow with descriptions of how men have led armies, established empires, gained causes, sung, learned, and taught. But the streams of influence which, unbidden, flow from the persons and lives of men, no author can trace or compute. These, however, are not insignificant because they are noiseless. They are not lost because they have operated silently. An earthquake comes thundering through the solid foundations of the earth; it rocks a continent; the noblest works of man — cities, monuments, and temples — are in a moment levelled to the ground or swallowed down by the opening gulfs of fire. Such a phenomenon awes men into a recognition of its power; and yet the soft, genial, and silent light of every morning is an agent many times more powerful. For let the sun cease to rise, and let the light of day return no more, and soon, the chill of death would settle down on everything that lives and moves upon the surface of the globe. The Christian is a light, and his influence is felt when his sun has gone down and he has ceased to shine among his fellow-men.

Niagara is an object of wonder to the contemplative mind. In the presence of its magnificence and power we stand amazed. But the bubbling spring, far up on the mountainside, where the print of human foot is seldom found, and which forms the beautiful rivulet, flowing gently through farm and village, may be far more valuable and useful than the rushing flood or roaring cataract. The influence of the Christian is like the beautiful fountain which sends forth its waters to gladden, benefit, and bless thousands yet unborn.

Abel, the protomartyr, is dead, but he still speaks, by the Divine approval of his sacrifice, and lives by the influence of his example. David, the son of Jesse, is gone the way of all the earth, but in his immortal and inspired lyrics the prophet-bard is still alive. Paul is no more the Apostle of the Gentiles, but in his speeches and letters, his tongue and pen seem to be as eloquent as when he stood on Mars Hill, or dictated his commendations of love in the prison at Rome. Down the corridors of time Luther’s immortal declaration, Justificatio fide est articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiæ, reverberates, and is as potent today as it was, when it shook the Papal empire to its foundations. Calvin lives in his famous Institutes, and John Knox has enstamped upon Scotland its religious greatness. Travellers gaze upon the house where he lived. Posterity marks with a simple slab the spot where it is supposed rest his remains, and the Heart of Mid-Lothian, marked by a variegated setting of stone, and adjacent to each of these places, wakes the memories of Scotsmen; but by the influence of his prayers, and in his giant efforts to free the souls of men, the great reformer lives ten thousand times ten thousand lives at once, as time rolls on. We may attempt to gauge the influence of the sun and of the rain, we may take the dimensions of the planets and tell the parallaxes of the stars; but no scientist or philosopher can compute the influence of one Christian man, much less of one laborious and faithful minister of Christ. No wonder, then, that such men live in the memory and hearts of those who survive them from generation to generation.

2. The sanctified dead shall live in the resurrection. “Thy dead men shall live.”
Among the most comforting doctrines of Holy Scripture is the doctrine of the resurrection. It is taught, in no ambiguous terms, in both Testaments. It cheered the afflicted man of Uz, in prospect of death, as he declares, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” The prophet Daniel was familiar with it, when, in finishing his prophecy and sketching the future, he writes, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” This doctrine the Saviour taught in the days of his flesh. Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, writes, “The dead in Christ shall rise first.” That the resurrection of the dead is possible, we have only to turn to nature and providence for illustration. What is morning but a resurrection from the shades of darkness? What is spring, with its buds, blossoms, and fragrance, but a resurrection from the chill and death of winter? What is the emergence of the insect, with all the beautiful colors of the rainbow, from its chrysalis, but a quickening from death?

By actual example, the Scriptures of both Testaments furnish us with proof that the body is capable of residence in heaven. Enoch and Elijah were translated that they should not see death. The body of neither of these men was in the grave; but both of them, in the possession of the earthly house, changed and glorified, ascended to the right of God. Upon the doctrine of the resurrection there oracles are no less explicit. When the prophet Elijah stretched himself upon the dead child, we are told that the child breathed, and sneezed seven times, and his soul came to him.

At the memorable words of the Saviour, “Lazarus, come forth,” death relinquished its grasp upon him who had been in the grave three days. By the same almighty power, at the gates of Nain the widow’s son rose from the bier. These instances of bodies translated from earth to heaven, and of quickening brought to the dead, are pledges of the resurrection, — a few specimens of how the dry bones shall live, and the temple of the Holy Ghost shall be built up again.

But the crowning argument of all is the resurrection of Christ. He has arisen, the first fruits of them that slept. “Even them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” In their resurrection, as well as in their death, the saints shall be conformed to their living Head. Death is not an eternal sleep, as the French philosophers of the last century aimed to persuade themselves and others. No doubt, to the impenitent it is a curse, but to the child of God it is a blessing; and as one has well said “The blow which inflicts it is the last stroke of the rod of paternal disci­pline which the Father holds in his hand, and by which he corrects for eternity.” At death the soul is released from the clay tabernacle, and hies [goes quickly or hastens] its way to regions of everlasting light. Ordinarily, the body borne by the hands of love is laid in the grave, and mingles with its kindred dust. At the last day the trumpet of God shall wake the sleeping dust. No indignity done to the body on earth, whether in life or in death, can serve to detain it in the tomb when God says to the prisoners, “Go forth, and to them that are in darkness, shew yourselves.” Body and spirit shall be reunited, and both shall dwell in the house of the Lord for evermore.

“But some one will say, with what body do they come?” Let an apostle answer. “It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” In the hands of man matter is capable of astonishing sublimation : to what ethereal beauty may it not be raised in the hands of Jesus Christ? Is it not matter that sparkles in the dewdrop, dances in the sunbeam, corruscates in the electric flash, dissolves in the colors of the rainbow, and regales the sense in the delightful fragrance of the rose? To what exalted perfection and beauty, then, may not the bodies of the saints be carried? They shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Mortality shall be swallowed up of life. And from all that is unsightly and inglorious in death, they shall be changed to all that is imperishable and fadeless in the presence of God.

3. The saints shall live forever in heaven. Death shall have no more dominion over them. How this thought quickens the pulse, warms the heart, and stirs the soul to its depths! Heaven is the home of the righteous. Their estate lies there. And “eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” The reunions of heaven shall be joyous. Parents and children, pastors and people, shall meet to part no more. The recognitions of heaven shall be inspiriting. The loved and honored of earth shall be the objects of renewed and reciprocal regard. The fellowships of the better country shall be enchanting. The saints of every land and clime shall dwell together in everlasting concord. The employments of the upper sanctuary shall be transporting. Praise shall fill the heart and oc­cupy the lips forever. But above and beyond all, the glories of the celestial abode shall be enrapturing. Not a tear shall trickle down the cheek of poverty or distress. Not a sigh shall pass across the breast of anguish or disappointment. Not a shadow shall fall upon the brightness of heaven’s unspoken glory; for the glory of God does lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And upon the whole inheritance of light, life, and glory eternity shall be enstamped.

Like their living Head, those who become one with Christ are invested with the power of an endless life. If the saints of God are streams from the fountain head of life in glory, then before they can die Christ the fountain must be dried up. If they are branches in the vine of heaven, then before they could become extinct Christ, the parent stock, must perish. If the people of God are sparks from the central sun of heaven, then before they can die the Sun of righteousness must be quenched forever. But because he lives they shall live also. Christ gives to his people eternal life, and they shall never perish.

The theme which has been under consideration is comprehensive. It embraces the past, the pres­ent, and the future. Turning from its discussion, we proceed to unfold, in a few particulars, the salient points in the life and death of the venerated father, brother, and pastor whose departure from earth we mourn, whose virtues and worth we desire to hand down to posterity, and to whose memory we would pay the tribute of the hour.

[pp. 3-22 of “Endless Life the Inheritance of the Righteous: A Discourse delivered in the First Reformed Presbyterian Church, New York, on Sabbath, October 11, 1874, in Memory of Rev. John N. McLeod, D.D., the Pastor, by Rev. David Steele, D.D. [1826-1906], pastor of the Fourth Reformed Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia.]

Note: There are two ordained men by the name of David Steele in Reformed Presbyterian history. The author of the above funeral sermon was the Rev. David Steele [1826-1906], who was the pastor of the Fourth Reformed Presbyterian Church, a member church of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod (New Light). Rev. Steele was also the nephew to the Rev. David Steele, Sr.[1803-1887],  who initially remained with the Old Light RP’s after the 1833 split, but later separated from the RPCNA or Old Light Covenanters. The small separatist group which gathered around David Steele, Sr. came to be nicknamed “Steelites.”

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What follows is admittedly lengthy. It is the second half of a funeral sermon delivered by the Rev. David Steele, pastor of the Fourth Reformed Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia. This is the biographical section of the sermon, and given that today is Saturday, we trust you will find time to read and profit from this. There is a great deal of history bound up with this account, plus it is a fine example of this aspect of a funeral sermon. Both McLeod and Steele were members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod, which tradition eventually comes into the PCA in 1982 by way of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.

The Reverend John Niel McLeod, Doctor in Divinity, Pastor of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church, New York, and Professor of Doc­trinal Theology in the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, in North America, was born in the City of New York, on the eleventh day of October, 1806. He died on the twenty-seventh day of April, 1874, in the sixty-eighth year of his age and the forty-sixth year of his ministry. On the first day of May, 1874, by the hands of loving and Christian friends, his remains were consigned to the grave in Hill Girt Lawn, one of the most beautiful spots in Greenwood Cemetery, Long Island, New York.

Here reposes the dust of his distinguished father, the late Dr. Alexander McLeod, whose shining talents and masterly eloquence adorned the Reformed Presbyterian Church during the first quarter of the present century.

Early in the morning a number of ministerial and other friends assembled in the house of the deceased, when the solemn occasion was improved by fervent and appropriate prayer. The House of God, into which the honored dead was subse­quently brought, previous to interment, was filled to its utmost capacity by a congregation composed of persons of diversified professions and of different Christian denominations. All were bowed with sincere and reverent feelings, as solemn words were spoken and the throne of grace was addressed. A large part of the assembled multi­tude accompanied the funeral procession, and bedewed with tears of affection and grief the spot where the mortal remains were laid.

It was the season of spring. Through the rifted cloud and retiring winter the king of day was making himself felt by his warming rays. Here and there a flower was seen opening its petals, and giving promise of the coming summer. The blades of grass were shooting forth from amid the decay and debris of former life. The tuneful bird at intervals uttered a stray note, re­minding the attentive listeners that the death and muteness of winter were gone, and that in a short time, the bloom and beauty of nature would ensue. As we retired from the last resting-place of our dear friend, sad, lonely, and filled with unutter­able emotions, everything around seemed to whisper “ Thy brother shall live again,” and the words of the prophet, “ Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust,” fell like music on the grief- stricken heart.

Dr. McLeod, together with Drs. Wilson and Clarke, may be said to have formed a connecting link between that “ honorable triumvirate,” as they have been called, — Alexander McLeod, John Black, Samuel Brown Wylie,— and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of the present day. At the feet of these distinguished masters in Israel he had sat. From their lips he had caught the animating sen­timents which imbued his soul with love for the system of faith so dear to his heart. Around “the Church which they loved, for which they labored, from which no honors elsewhere offered could en­tice them, and which they literally” “set above their chiefest joy,” his affections clustered, and the triumph of her principles one day on the earth, he confidently anticipated.

These illustrious fathers have all been removed from earth to their home in heaven. They have exchanged labor for rest, conflict for triumph, re­proach for glory, and the Church visible and militant for the Church invisible and triumphant.

And oh, how the soul yearns to feel their rap­ture, to bathe in their bliss, to enjoy their com­munion, and to participate in their celestial fellow­ship !

But we come to speak more particularly of our departed friend and brother; and here may be noticed,—

I. His characteristics as a man.

For Dr. McLeod, nature had done much. He was about medium height, symmetrically formed, and in person and in mien fitted to secure influ­ence and command respect. His face was lighted up with intelligence, while every feature indicated thought and was suggestive of something excel­lent.

In manner he was dignified, courteous, concili­atory, and eminently social, when in company with those in whom he could confide. His mental characteristics were strongly marked. Earnest in his convictions, deeply conscious of his own integrity of purpose, he was ever fearless in his defence of what he esteemed to be the truth, and constantly ready to discharge whatever service he felt himself called upon in the providence of God to perform.

In conversation he was particularly happy, in­teresting, and instructive. His large stores of knowledge, intimate acquaintance with men and books, correct diction, and love to communicate information, supplied him with resources, which, on suitable occasions, he could turn to advantage, to the gratification and profit of those who were so fortunate as to be in his society. His house was the abode of cheerfulness, hospitality, and genuine friendship, and in his domestic economy he was regular and unostentatious.

Called upon frequently to leave his home in the service of the church, he was nevertheless fondly attached to it, and to every one of its members, from the infant orphanage to the part­ner of his life. For the spiritual as well as tem­poral prosperity of his family he labored, and frequent references to the health of its members in his correspondence showed how near it was to his heart, and how his affections clustered around it whether at home or abroad. At the close of a week of severe labor in the seminary, often has he journeyed homeward in order that he might spend the Sabbath in his own congregation and among the members of his own family, and then return to Philadelphia on Monday to resume instruction in the class-room. The death of such a husband and father is enough to prostrate any family. His sympathy with suffering was lively, and his benevolent acting took a wide range, from the bereaved relative to the immigrant stranger landing upon the shores of our country. In times of stagnation in trade, when numbers were suffer­ing from poverty, he took delight in becoming the projector and almoner of charities which have gladdened the hearts of thousands and evoked thanksgivings unseen and unrecognized by any but God. The poor have lost one of their best friends, and benevolence one of its most active and self-denying agents.

Dr. McLeod was a patriot; he loved the coun­try of his birth. Thoroughly American in all his feelings, he labored in his individual and ecclesi­astical capacity to elevate and ennoble Columbia in the scale of nationality. He raised his voice against oppression, and when the “irrepressible conflict” was precipitated, his whole soul was stirred to its depths in desire to suppress rebel­lion and uphold constitutional authority.

He was one of the organizers of the 84th regi­ment N. G. S. N. Y., commanded by Colonel Fred. A. Conkling. For a period of seven years he acted as chaplain, serving two campaigns with the regiment in the field.

Although intensely American in all his instincts, yet, being of immediate Scotch descent, his father, Dr. Alexander McLeod, having emigrated to this country from Mull, Argyleshire, Scotland, he was warmly attached to Scotland and to Scotsmen. This attachment, as well as other circumstances, no doubt induced him to make no less than four visits to the land of martyrs, and of his father’s sepulchres. In 1869 his tour through the High­lands was very extended; and being versed in the traditions and literature of the Gaelic language, his last journey afforded him great delight. Often have we heard him become enthusiastic in his descriptions of the noble men with whom he met in Scotland, and in its neighboring province, the North of Ireland.

But we proceed to consider him, —

II. In his public relations.

These were numerous and exceedingly varied. From his youth he had been devoted to the pur­suit of literature. His preparatory studies, previ­ous to entering college, were pursued under the direction of the late Rev. S. B. Wylie, D.D., to whom so many in the learned professions, espe­cially in and around Philadelphia, are indebted for their acquaintance with ancient classic literature. In 1826 he graduated from Columbia College, New York, with distinction. Having had the ministry in view from an early age, after leaving college he entered the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, then located in the City of Philadelphia. But from his boy­hood he had been a student of theology. Like his esteemed father, he had received much of his divinity in the nursery, and in the social prayer-meetings of the Reformed Presbyterian Church.

With philosophy and science in all their ramifi­cations and subtleties, the subject of our memoir was remarkably familiar. His reading was exten­sive, and he never allowed himself to fall behind in an acquaintance with the latest discoveries and most advanced opinions in relation to every sub­ject of interest. He was well acquainted with the stores of knowledge embodied in the Greek and Roman tongues. He was an excellent Orien­talist, and until the last devoted himself to the study of the Celtic and modern languages. His acquisitions in every department of literature were made subsidiary to the knowledge of Divine truth. His conceptions of inspiration were lofty and de­vout. And while he viewed the Hebrew as the parent stock of all the spoken and unspoken dia­lects, he felt that the Bible was for man, and that its inspiration could not be lost in a faithful translation into any of the languages of human kind. Hence, the deep and absorbing interest which he took in everything pertaining to the circulation of the Holy Scriptures. In the pos­session of such furniture, it is not surprising that he should be successful as a minister of the Gospel.

After a short period of probation, subsequent to licensure, he was called to the Reformed Presby­terian Church of Galway, Saratoga County, State of New York. In this congregation he was ordained and installed in the year 1829. On the fifteenth of April, 1830, he was united in marriage to Miss Margaret T. Wylie, eldest daughter of the Rev. S. B. Wylie, D.D., of Philadelphia. The health of his father becoming somewhat impaired, he was called from his field of labor in Galway by the First Reformed Presbyterian congregation of New York City. This call he accepted, and on the fourteenth of January, 1833, he was installed as assistant pastor and successor to his father. The relation established between him and the con­gregation of New York continued until his death, a period of more than forty years. To sum up all the good that has been done to the souls of men by this servant of Christ during these years is be­yond the power of human computation. The aged who have ripened for heaven, those in the prime of life who have been strengthened to over­come the world, the youth who have been encour­aged to lay hold on Christ, and the careless who have been warned of their danger under this ministry, can testify to the fidelity of him whose memory we aim to honor, and whose voice we can hear no more on earth.

As an appreciation of his scholarship and Bib­lical research the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by Dickinson College in the year 1846. This honor is seldom conferred on one so worthy of distinction.

The material of Dr. McLeod’s discourses was the marrow of the Gospel, announced with the accuracy of the scholar, the grace and ease of the accomplished orator, and the unction and applica­tion of one deeply imbued with the love of God and earnestly concerned for the welfare of the souls of men. His preaching was didactic and expository, and he was peculiarly happy in avail­ing himself of occasions and events to arrest atten­tion and press home truth upon the conscience. His views of the two covenants, the mediatorial throne, the Church, and the ultimate triumph of religion on the earth through her instrumentality, were singularly clear, comprehensive, and satisfy­ing. And at times, in speaking upon these themes, he would become so deeply moved and absorbed with their grandeur, in relation to the two eternities, that the most inattentive listener could not fail to perceive that the Holy Ghost had come down upon his servant with more than ordinary fulness and power. Nor did he ever fail to assert and illustrate the paramount obligation of the law of God revealed in the Scriptures, over man in all his relations, pursuits, and circumstances.

On communion occasions he was particularly happy. These have always been seasons of great interest in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the observance of established order, as well as the provision of material for discourse, makes large draughts upon the mental resources of the min­ister. With all the “forms” and “ordinances” of Zion on such occasions he was familiar, and he well knew how to adapt and use the Scriptural form, so as to secure the largest attention for the substance. It was in such connection that he would dwell upon the unity and catholicity of the church, and with a spirit of good-will towards others aim to infuse into the hearts of his hear­ers an intelligent regard for that department of Zion with which, by solemn transacting with God, they entered into covenant. These seasons he loved, and in them he rejoiced. To him, there­fore, we believe, it was no ordinary privilege, that in his departure from among us, there was only the interval of a few days between the moment of communion on earth and the table of everlasting fellowship in heaven. His Father’s house here, he has left, that he might enter with gladness and rejoicing the palace of the King of Glory. And in his experience the hallowed intercourse of the church visible is swallowed up in the uninter­rupted fellowship of the celestial paradise. Not for effect, but in faith, each survivor may say, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!”

As a Theological Professor, our esteemed broth­er excelled. It was, we believe, in the Theologi­cal Seminary that Dr. McLeod’s gifts shone with peculiar lustre. Here he brought forth the results of the study of more than half a century. Here he gathered his pupils around him, as a family, and addressed them as a father. Here, while charitable to others, he labored to communicate to the students under his care some of his own glow of ecclesiastical patriotism, as he expounded and illustrated the system of faith solemnly adopted by the department of the church of God with which he was associated. His sympathies stretch­ing out as widely as humanity, and his researches embracing the whole range of useful and instruct­ive literature, were all brought, as it were, to a focus in the school of the prophets. With an accuracy rarely equalled, and a diction pure and classic as the rarest literary gems of ancient or of modern times, he laid before those waiting upon his prelections the sum of theology, invariably and ever making all his teaching centre in, and radiate from, glory to the mediatorial throne. He loved the school of the prophets, and was willing to make any and every sacrifice for its success.

Called to the Chair of Theology in the year 1851 he had received a charge from Rev. S. B. Wylie, D.D., its first Professor of Theology, to the following effect: “ Take care of the seminary. It is the hope of the church,” and this dying request of his honored predecessor he never forgot. At great personal inconvenience, he journeyed to and from New York and Philadelphia in the depth of winter, in order that he might dis­charge the duties devolved upon him in the School of Theology. And there can be no doubt that his abundant labors in connection with the seminary, together with his tribulations and pa­tience in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, hastened the breaking down of a constitution which, with ordinary labor, humanly speaking, might have been good for years longer. In his death, litera­ture has lost an ornament, and theology a sound and safe instructor. Let those who have received his instructions feel their responsibility, and never forget that their preceptor died in the same faith that he taught, and in which he lived, as will be seen by the following extract from his last will and testament:—

“I declare my belief in the Christian religion as revealed in Holy Scripture of both Testa­ments, and in the Reformed Presbyterian system, in all its parts, as the best exposition of that re­ligion which is known to me; and I embrace the Divine Author of that religion, the Lord Jesus Christ, as my own Saviour, for wisdom, righteous­ness, sanctification, and redemption. To Him I commit my body, soul, family, church, country — all, while once more I act faith on His blessed person, and complete and glorious sacrifice.”

In the councils of the church Dr. McLeod was an able and judicious adviser, and upon the floor of a church judicatory few men were his superiors. For twenty-five years he acted as Stated Clerk of General Synod, and with every detail in the order of judicial proceeding he had become perfectly familiar. His recollection of precedents was re­markably accurate ; and when the business of the court of which he was member would some­times become entangled, he could always indicate the way to consistent deliverance from difficulty.

In his affections the union of the Church of Christ had a large place. He deplored the divi­sions of Zion, prayed for her peace, and labored and longed for the day when the watchman shall see eye to eye.

In the year 1858 the subject of this memoir was appointed on the Standing Committee on Versions of the American Bible Society, of which, after the resignation of Rev. Dr. Gardner Spring, in 1864, he was elected chairman. In this position he was highly valued by his associates for his good judgment, kind spirit, sound scholarship, and great promptness and fidelity. And at a meeting of the Board of Managers of the American Bible Society, held May 6, 1874, a minute was adopted expressive of regard for their esteemed associate.

At an early period of its history he was con­nected with the Evangelical Alliance, and attended as a delegate its meeting in Paris in the year 1855. At the monthly meeting of the Executive Committee of the Evangelical Alliance of the United States, held- April 27, 1874, a resolution of respect was passed. For thirty-eight years he acted as chaplain of the St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York.

He was one of a committee of fifteen of the American Tract Society, N. Y., to report as to the duty of the society in regard to issuing publica­tions on the subject of slavery. This committee reported that tracts against slavery should be issued, as well as against intemperance and other evils. He was one of the four clerical directors of the Presbyterian Hospital, New York, to whom are committed all matters relating to the spiritual and religious ministrations of the hospital. In all these public relations, so numerous and so varied, he possessed the esteem of every one who knew how to appreciate his love for truth and his regard for the glory of the Church’s Head. Nor should it be overlooked that while he was thus active in helping forward schemes which were designed to benefit and bless mankind at home, he was also busily engaged in concerting meas­ures for the advancement of the Redeemer’s kingdom abroad. And the success of the Re­formed Presbyterian Mission at Saharanpur, India, is largely due, to his earnest efforts on behalf of its establishment at first, and his continued sympathy and fostering hand during its subsequent progress. The memories of the past should still keep alive the missionary spirit in the Church, which is the spirit of the Gospel. But,

We pass on to notice briefly the religious life of our departed brother, particularly in its close.

And here it may be noted that his religious ex­periences were singularly unobtrusive. They took the form of the deep and quiet river, moving majesti­cally onward to the ocean, rather than that of the noisy cataract, which, notwithstanding its tem­porary din, is frequently lost in a short distance from the spot where it was first caught by the eye of the observer. Their reality and value must be judged more from their untiring and beneficent activity than from personal expression by words.

In his infancy he was dedicated to God. He grew up under the fostering care of a godly and distinguished parentage. He enjoyed the privilege of hearing the Gospel regularly from the lips of his illustrious father, while at the same time in the family and in the fellowship meeting, he was brought constantly into contact with doc­trinal and practical truth by catechising and other forms of instruction, still common in Reformed Presbyterian families. Head and heart received their appropriate culture. Under such influences, accompanied by the blessing of the Spirit, he was early led to make a profession of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to devote himself to the ministry of the Gospel. Our personal recollec­tions of him extend over a period of nearly twenty years. When we first saw him he was in the vigor of manhood, and his appearance as a man and a minister of Christ made an impression on us which no lapse of time can efface. But it was more particularly within the last fifteen years that we were brought into contact with his ripe schol­arship, profound acquaintance with the mysteries of the kingdom of God, rich Christian experi­ence, and unwavering trust in God. In his youth he had been mercifully delivered from the temp­tations which are so prevalent in a large city like New York. As he approached the close of his earthly sojourn, the bloom of youthful piety devel­oped into the clusters of religious manhood, and his heavenward thought and conversation more and more conspicuously lighted up the entire background of a life devoted exclusively to the service of the Master.

In the August of 1873, when in the act of moving from his own church door, he met with an accident, by which he sustained the fracture of an arm. Nothing could surpass the patience with which he bore up under this dispensation; and when it was feared that he would be unable to be in his place at the opening of the services of the Theological Seminary, to the surprise and pleas­ure of all interested, he was forward at the ap­pointed time. Although suffering from the pain of his arm, all his duties in the seminary were regularly and punctually performed. The prayer with which he concluded his last meeting with the class was noticeably fervent and affecting. His pleadings with God deepened and intensified, as his soul, burdened with concern for the Church and her students of theology, labored to bring down the Divine blessing upon the work of the session. He never met with the class again.

For several weeks before his death he was con­siderably indisposed, although it would appear that no alarming symptoms were manifest. That he was arranging for his removal from earth, nu­merous evidences have been disclosed since his decease. Upon his table, placed by himself in a conspicuous place, was found a little piece of newspaper, with the words, “ Meet me in heaven.” Stepping Heavenward, with other devotional books, lay upon his table at his hand. The
pic­ture of Dr. Andrew Black he always kept before him in his study. A short time previous to his death he had cut out a small picture of himself, and placed it beside that of his dear friend. In a corner of his study hung a picture of the church. In connection with this he had arranged a small vignette of himself also, while in another part of the room was a piece of rock bracket with a small copy of the Bible resting upon it.

These were symbolical acts, very like those of the prophets of old. They speak of heaven, of the communion of saints, of attachment to the Church, of the Bible as enduring as the rock, and of the grand meeting of the people of God in the house not made with hands.

In his diary he seems to delight in the expres­sion’s he closes his writing for the day, “Keeper of Israel, keep me.” The mediatorial headship was frequently uppermost in his thoughts, and the expression, “Let Messiah reign,” was with him a favorite. And then, as he meditates on death, he employs the language, “When mortality itself shall be swallowed up of life.”

He continued at his post until his death. On the nineteenth of April the Lord’s Supper was dispensed to the people under his pastoral care, and he was in his place. On the day of humilia­tion he preached, and he conducted the whole oi the preparatory services on the Sabbath, explain­ing the Psalm and preaching the action sermon from the words, “Thanks be unto God for His un­speakable gift.” With remarkable animation he addressed the communicants at the first and last tables. On this occasion his descriptions of heaven, and the meeting of its redeemed inhabi­tants to part no more, were peculiarly sublime and impressive. These duties were exhausting, and on Monday he was unable to attend to the closing exercises of the solemnity. In the even­ing, while ascending the stairs of his own house, he became exhausted, and sinking down he ex­claimed, “ My work is done.” On the following Sabbath a consultation of physicians was held, but no alarming symptoms were detected. During the night he rested comparatively well; but in the morning, as he arose, he was seized with pain in the region of the heart. While Mrs. McLeod was engaged in preparing breakfast for him, and his youngest son was in the act of applying friction to his back, his head dropped upon his bosom, and as he lay back upon his pillow, the long expira­tion was the only indication that the spirit had taken its flight to the world above. The imme­diate cause of his death was paralysis of the heart. It was just such a release as he desired. This would appear from a scrap of paper, which was subsequently found containing words in his hand­writing to the following effect: “ Erasmus declared sudden death one of the greatest blessings a human creature could receive.” The departure of our beloved friend from earth was more like a translation than death.

He died in the Lord, and his works follow him. But oh, how much the Church has lost, and how much we all miss him ! Well, indeed, may his family mourn; they have lost a father and head, whose affection for them was deep and constant. Well may the Church mourn; she has been de­prived of one whose whole life was offered up on her behalf. Well may society mourn ; they have been bereaved of a benefactor, and of one who, as a prince in Israel, had power with God.

But we do not mourn as those who have no hope. Our beloved brother sleeps in Jesus. His spirit is before the throne of God. To use his own language in reference to another servant of God, who had been removed by death, “He is gone to better company, to higher employments, to the sinless, painless, deathless state of immor­tality. His work was done, his crown prepared. Another mansion in the Father’s house is filled; another seat beside the throne is occupied; another harp is seized and struck in harmony with those of David, Paul, and all the other older sons of glory.” His body is on earth, but the Church’s dead shall live, and in body and in soul they shall be introduced into the bliss of the celestial city.

Such honor is to all His saints.” Praise ye the Lord.

Words to Live By:
During the past year an unusual number of distinguished men, both in church and in state, have fallen. Let us hear the voice of God in these providences. “Be ye therefore also ready, for at such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh”; and when pillars in the church visible are being removed, let us remember that the bride, the Lamb’s wife, is safe. Her origin is divine; her charter is the everlasting covenant; her foundation is the Rock of Ages. The eternal God is her refuge, and beneath her are the ever­lasting arms. To continue her in being, and to supply her with a succession of sanctified mem­bers and divinely qualified ministers, the Holy Ghost is poured out, and the earth is preserved as a theatre, upon which her missionary operations are to be conducted and her triumphs secured. As a consequence, however death may thin her ranks, she is immortal until her work is done.

[pp. 23-45 of “Endless Life the Inheritance of the Righteous: A Discourse delivered in the First Reformed Presbyterian Church, New York, on Sabbath, October 11, 1874, in Memory of Rev. John N. McLeod, D.D., the Pastor, by Rev. David Steele, D.D. [1826-1906], pastor of the Fourth Reformed Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia.]

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Farewell! Farewell!

Thomas Craighead was born in Scotland about 1660, and later educated as a physician. He took the daughter of a Scotch laird as his wife, and after practicing medicine for a time, became quite depressed. When his wife inquired as to the cause, he informed her that his conscience troubled him deeply for not preaching the Gospel. She at once assured him that she would not stand in the way of what he considered his duty. Whereupon he abandoned the practice of medicine for the study of divinity, and upon ordination, served as pastor for several years in Ireland, primarily at Donegal. Due, however, to persecution of Presbyterians by both the government and the Established Church, large numbers of people decided to emigrate to America from Ireland in those years.

Among them was Thomas Craighead and his wife, as they came to New England in 1715, accompanied by Rev. William Homes, who was married to Mr. Craighead’s sister Catherine. Rev. Craighead settled first at Freetown which is about forty miles south of Boston but his efforts there were unsuccessful. This despite encouragement from Cotton Mather and the latter’s exhortation of Craighead’s congregation. Mather described Craighead as “a man of singular piety, meekness, humility, and industry in the work of God.” Finally leaving Freetown, Rev. Craighead next appears in Jersey in 1723 and on January 28, 1724 he became a member of New Castle Presbytery, which at that time included large sections of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

In 1733, Rev. Craighead relocated first to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and in September of that year he received and accepted a call to serve the Presbyterian church in Pequea, Pennsylvania. As a member now of Donegal Presbytery, history records that the people there always had a particular veneration for him, and called him “Father Craighead.” He played a key role in planting and building up a number of churches in that region.

Then on November 17, 1737, he accepted a call from the people of Hopewell, Pennsylvania, a congregation which met at “the Big Spring” (now Newville). But Craighead’s pastorate there was brief. He was now an elderly man, though still focused and intent upon the ministry of the Gospel. Preaching with great fire, those in his congregation were often brought to tears, and often, when dismissed, were unwilling to leave. Finally, on April 26, 1739, after preaching until quite exhaused, and unable to pronounce the benediction from the pulpit, Rev. Craighead waived his hand and exclaimed, “Farewell! farewell!” and sank down and died. His mortal remains, it is said, were laid to rest under the cornerstone of the church building in Newville.

Words to Live By:
It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. (Heb. 9:27)

We will, all of us, die one day, though not everyone will have time to say, “Farewell.” Keep your accounts short. Most importantly, keep your accounts short with the Lord. Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation. Don’t wait to lay hold of Christ and His righteousness. Recognizing your own desparate sin and utter inability before a holy God, look to Jesus Christ as your only Hope, for He is God’s only appointed and sufficient sacrifice. Only those who, by grace through faith, have Christ’s righteousness accounted as their own, will stand on the day of judgment.

Sources:
“The Craighead Family”, by Rev. James Geddes Craighead, D.D. (1876).
Nevin’s Presbyterian Encyclopedia (1884), p. 163.

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Edward Chaffin Davidson was born in Maury County, Tennessee, on February 17th, 1832, and died at Oxford, Mississippi, on April 25th, 1883, at the age of 51.

When he was only five or six years old, his father moved to LaFayette County, in Mississippi, and settled a few miles from Oxford. There he grew up, becoming a communicant of the College Hill church at an early age.

He was graduated at the University of Mississippi in 1854, entered Columbia Theological Seminary in 1857, and completed his course of study there in May, 1860, having taken the full three-year curriculum. He was received from the Chickasaw Presbytery as a licentiate in October of 1860 and ordained on April 19, 1861 by the Presbytery of North Mississippi. Rev. Davidson was the first pastor of the Sands Springs church, which had been organized by the Rev. Angus Johnson in the Fall of 1850 with 22 members. As was common in those days, Rev. Davidson served in what was termed a “yoked pastorate,” serving simultaneously as pastor of the larger Water Valley Presbyterian Church, 1861-1878. During this latter pastorate, he earned his Master of Arts degree from the University of Mississippi, in 1866. As an aside, in the sermon log book maintained by the Rev. Thomas D. Witherspoon, there is a notation of his having exchanged pulpits with Rev. Davidson on July 15th, 1860.

For several years before his death he resided near Oxford, where he taught in the preparatory department of the University of Mississippi, and was the superintendent of the public schools of the county. During this time he supplied the neighboring churches, including the Byhalia and Wall Hill Presbyterian churches; in 1882 he supplied the College Hill and Hopewell churches.

“He was one of the best of men and a most excellent preacher. He was much loved in a wide circle. He twice represented his Presbytery in the General Assembly, in 1867 and 1873, and was Moderator of the Synod of Memphis in 1880. From 1871-1882, Rev. Davidson served as the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of North Mississippi. He does not appear to have authored any published works. He had been ill for over two months prior to his death, and at last fell asleep in Jesus. His end was peaceful.”

Rev. Davidson left a widow, one daughter recently married, and four young children (two sons and two daughters)” to mourn his departure.

Sources:
Graves, Fred R., North Mississippi Presbytery. Sardis, [MS]: Southern Reporter, 1942, pp. 21, 41, 45, 47.
Memorial Volume of the Semi-Centennial of the Theological Seminary at Columbia, South Carolina. Columbia, SC: Presbyterian Publishing House, 1884, pp. 252-253.
Winter, Robert Milton, Shadow of a Mighty Rock. Franklin, TN: Providence House Publishers, 1997, pp. 237, 244-245.

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Joseph Addison Alexander was the third son of the Rev. Archibald Alexander and his wife Janetta (Waddel) Alexander. In modern terms, Joseph was home schooled, and he developed an insatiable thirst for knowledge, pursuing one subject after another as it caught his attention. Eventually he grew to become another of that esteemed early faculty of the Princeton Theological Seminary.

His biographer says of J.A. Alexander that

“…in the midst of all his laborious and diversified pursuits he saved time for the most heart-searching exercises in his closet. He gave himself up to daily communion with his God. He might neglect everything else, but he could not neglect his private devotions. In point of fact he neglected nothing. He moved as by clockwork. The cultivation of personal piety, in the light of the inspired word, was now with him the main object that he had in life. The next most prominent goal that he set before himself was the interpretation of the original scriptures; for their own sake, and for the benefit of a rising ministry, as well as for the gratification he took in the work. The Bible was to him the most profoundly interesting book in the world. It was in his eyes not merely the only source of true and un-defiled religion, but also the very paragon among all remains of human genius. He knew great portions of it by heart….But more than this, the Bible was the chief object of his personal enthusiasm; he was fond of it; he was proud of it; he exulted in it. It occupied his best thoughts by day and by night. It was his meat and drink. It was his delectable reward. There were times when he might say with the Psalmist, “Mine eyes prevent the night watches that I might meditate in thy word, I have rejoiced in the way of thy precepts more than in great riches.” He succeeded perfectly in communicating this delightful zeal to others. His pupils all concur in saying that “he made the Bible glorious” to them. 

Words to Live By: The Bible is the very Word of God—His self-revelation to His people. J.A. Alexander seems to have made Psalm 1 the model and guide for his life. If you have never memorized a portion of Scripture, this Psalm is short and is a great place to start. Setting it to memory, such that you can think on it at various times, will bring real profit.

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

(Psalm 1, KJV)

 

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Regrettably a day late, but as we haven’t shared any Machen news lately, we’ll squeeze this one in. The following news item appeared in THE PHILADELPHIA BULLETIN on April 22, 1936. This news clipping is from the scrapbook collection gathered by the Rev. Henry G. Welbon. When the General Assembly did meet, Machen and the others were suspended, as was expected, and so the split did occur, less than two months later, though admittedly the numbers that left the old denomination were surprisingly few by comparison. 

Machen_threatens_splitTHREATENS SPLIT
OF PRESBYTERIANS.

Dr. Machen Says It Will Come
If General Assembly Confirms
Suspension of Pastors.

5 Fundamentalists Out.

“If the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., at its meeting next month, confirms the suspension of five Philadelphia militant Fundamentalist clergymen from the ministry then there will be a split in the Church.

This assertion is made today by the Rev. Dr. J. Gresham Machen, of Westminster Theological Seminary, 1528 Pine St., leader of the militant faction and one of those under suspension.

“If that action is taken by the General Assembly,” says Dr. Machen, “some earnest people, at very great sacrifice of worldly goods and with bleeding hearts, will leave church buildings, hallowed for them by many precious memories, and will sever their connections with a great church organization.

“The time for separation comes when the existing church organization ceases to heed the Word of God and follows some other authority instead. It is schism to leave a church if that church is true to the Bible, but it is not schism if that church is not true to the Bible.”

Further warning of a separation from the Presbyterian church is given in an editorial in the Presbyterian Guardian, official organ of the militant Fundamentalists, which, in the current issue, says:

“If the Church should say ‘No’ to reform, in such fashion as to demonstrate that reasonable hope of purification is impossible, true Christian men and women would, we believe, be obliged to separate themselves from an apostate organization.

“Who is there that can look forward with untroubled mind to an indefinite continuation of the unnatural union between belief and unbelief and unbelief that prevails in the church, and to all that accompanies such a union?”

The five local clergymen who have been ordered suspended from the ministry because of their refusal to obey the General Assembly Mandate and resign from the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, in addition to Dr. Machen, are: the Rev. H. McAllister Griffiths, editor of the Presbyterian Guardian; the Rev. Merril T. MacPherson, minister of Central North Broad Street Church; the Rev. Edwin H. Rian, of Westminster Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Paul Woolley, of the Independent Board and also of Westminster Seminary.

At Columbus, O., yesterday the Rev. Carl McIntire, youthful pastor of the Collingswood, N.J. Presbyterian Church, lodged three complaints against the Presbytery of West Jersey with the permanent judicial commission of the church.

The complaints resulted from McIntire’s conviction by the New Jersey Synod on charges similar to those against the Philadelphia minister.

The first complaint charged that the Presbytery erred in starting McIntire’s trial after a constitutional stay signed by more than one third of the members had been obtained.

The second charged that the Presbytery rescinded illegally an overture to the general assembly to “clean up” the regular board of foreign missions of the church, after it had been passed with only one dissenting vote, and the third charged the Presbytery with violation of the constitutional right of ministers to protest actions, and have their protests made a matter of record.

Words to Live By:
Some of the best treatments on the subject of schism were written by the old Scottish theologians, in particular, James Durham and James Wood. In short, they taught that it is only right to separate from a church when staying would mean having to sin. One quote from Rev. Wood will have to suffice here today:

“How often was it so with the ancient Church, that we may say, more than three parts of four were profane and naught? And yet did not the godly and the Prophets of the Lord continue in the exercise of the Ordinances and Worship of God in that Church? Was it not so in the Church of the Jews, in the time of Christ’s being amongst them upon earth? Did ever Christ for that require his disciples to depart and separate from that Church? Or did he not himself, never a whit the less, continue in the Church communion thereof? Yea when in glory writing a letter to the Church of Sardis, of whom he testifies, that they had a name that they were living, but yet were dead, and that there were but a few names there which had not defiled their garments: Yet his wise and meek zeal is not for pulling down and rooting up and separating from the Church Communion in his Ordinances and Worship. But that is his direction (vs 2, 3), Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain and are ready to die. — Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent.

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Rev. Jonathan Dickinson, First President of Princeton CollegeA Man Fit for the Times

Jonathan Dickinson shares a lot of credit in the shaping of the early Presbyterian Church in the American colonies.  Born on April 22, 1688 in Hatfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Yale in 1706.  Two years later, he was installed as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, where he remained for the next forty years.

In 1722, with respect to the issue of creedal subscription, a schism began to develop in the infant Presbyterian church.  The question was simple.  Should a church officer — elder or deacon — be required to subscribe to everything in the Westminster Standards, or would it be sufficient for that officer to simply subscribe to the more basic truths of historic Christianity, as expressed, for instance, in the Nicene Creed?  Dickinson took the latter position and became the chief proponent of it in the infant church.  The fact that the same issue was raging in the mother countries among the immigrants from England, Scotland, and Ireland only heightened the controversy in the colonies.  Eventually, the approaching storm of schism was stopped by the Adopting Act of 1729.  Written by Jonathan Dickinson, it solidly placed the church as believing in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the only infallible rule of faith and life, while receiving an adoption the Confessional standards of the Westminster Assembly as subordinate standards of the church.  Each court of the latter, whether Session, Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly would decide what exceptions to the latter would be allowed, and which exceptions would not be tolerated to the Westminster Standards.

In addition to his pastoral leadership in the church courts, the fourth college to be established in the colonies was the College of New Jersey in October of 1742.  It began in the manse of the first president, namely, Jonathan Dickinson.  The handful of students in what later on become Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University studied books which were a part of Dickinson’s pastoral library, and ate their meals with his family.  He would pass on to glory four months after the beginning of this school.

President Dickinson died on October 7th, 1747, of a pleuratic attack, at the age of 60. The Rev. Mr. Pierson, of Woodbridge, preached at his funeral. Dr. Johnes, of Morristown, New Jersey, who was with him in his last sickness, asked him just before his death concerning his prospects. He replied, “Many days have passed between God and my soul, in which I have solemnly dedicated myself to Him, and I trust, what I have committed unto him, he is able to keep until that day.” These were his last words. It is said that when tidings of Mr. Dickinson’s disease came to Mr. Vaughn, the Episcopal minister of Elizabethtown, who was then lying upon his own death-bed, that he exclaimed, “Oh, that I had hold of the skirts of brother Jonathan!” They entered upon their ministry in the town about the same time, and in their death they were not divided.

Words to Live By:  What is your testimony? Paul writes in his last letter to the first century church, “. . . for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (KJV – 2 Timothy 1:12)

For Further Study:
Le Beau, Bryan F., Jonathan Dickinson and the Formative Years of American Presbyterianism. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 1997.

Sloat, Leslie W., “Jonathan Dickinson and the Problem of Synodical Authority,” The Westminster Theological Journal, 8.2 (1946): 149-165.

To better draw your attention to Mr. Sloat’s excellent article, written while he was attending the University of Chicago, the conclusion to his article is as follows:—

“It should be noticed that the form of the original act of subscription differs from that in current use among Presbyterians. Originally ministers declared that they adopted the “said Confession and Catechisms as the confession” of their faith. The present form is that candidates “receive and adopt” the Confession “as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.” Hodge appears to argue that these two are substantially the same, and that what is involved is subscription to a system of doctrine, which system is Calvinism. The subscription, in other words, is not to the ipsissima verba [i.e, the very words] of the Confession, nor merely to the Confession “for substance of doctrine,” but to the system of Calvinism. While we are prepared to agree that that is the significance of the current formula of subscription, we are inclined to feel that the original form, in which the Westminster Standards were made “the confession of our faith,” suggests a much closer adherence to the words of those documents. Today a congregation which in public worship “makes confession of its faith” by repeating together the Apostles’ Creed, does not understand that it is asserting merely a system of doctrine, but rather adopts as its own the language of a document whereby it expresses its faith. So it seems to us that the Synod was originally not only adopting a system of doctrine, but was also adopting a form of language, for which reason it was necessary at the beginning to eliminate or interpret language concerning which some scrupled.

“But however that may be, the action of 1729 was intended to maintain the Church in the faith and yet keep the Church as a self-controlling institution, separate from the state. This is the position which has been accepted in American Presbyterianism. And to Jonathan Dickinson there certainly is to be attributed a large part of the credit for this becoming the policy of the Presbyterian Church in this hemisphere.”

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creighThomasA Pastor’s Covenant

One venerable Christian practice, now largely forgotten, is that of personal covenanting. You might think of this practice as akin to New Year’s resolutions, but that would slight the practice, for it is of course so much more. A personal covenant is a solemn vow before the Lord, and so it is nothing to lightly enter into. Personal covenanting typically addresses sins in one’s life, recognizes duties before the Lord, and aspires to greater service, to the glory of God. Today’s post is in effect a form of a personal covenant.

Thomas Creigh was born in Landisburg, PA, on September 9, 1808, the seventh child in a family of ten. He was later educated at Dickinson College, and came to faith in Christ at about the time he graduated, in 1828. Providentially hindered from attending seminary, he studied theology privately under the tutelage of Dr. George Duffield. It is noted in Rev. Creigh’s autobiography that the theological text-book used by Dr. Duffield was the Scriptures in the original tongues. “The recitations were always begun with prayer to God for the guidance of His Holy Spirit. Creigh was at last able to attend Princeton Seminary in the 1829-30 academic year, after which he returned to study yet another year with Dr. Duffield. He was ordained and installed as pastor of the Presbyterian church of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, on November 16, 1831. Rev. Creigh served this church nearly fifty years,until his death on April 21, 1880.

Too often, in our own times, the responsibilities of a Christian pastor are lightly assumed and as lightly cast aside. The spirit with which Thomas Creigh entered upon his ministry may be best seen in a paper which he wrote on the day preceding his ordination and installation. It is headed “Desires”

DESIRES:—

As a creature, I would desire to feel my entire dependence on God continually for life, health, food, raiment, friends, reason, and every other blessing. ‘In God we live and move and have our being.’

As a sinner, I would desire to feel that my salvation is freely of grace; that I have no righteousness of my own; that I have no other friend than Christ. And in view of these things, I desire ever to feel those sacred obligations pressing upon me that ‘being bought with a price, even the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ I am in duty bound to present myself, ‘body, soul, and spirit, a living sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable.’

As a minister of Jesus Christ, I would desire to feel how unworthy I am to be allowed to be put in trust with the Gospel; I would desire ever to look unto Thee for grace and strength to discharge its sacred functions; I would ever feel my entire dependence on the Spirit to own and apply my messages and my labors; I would desire to be faithful and to feel intensely for the souls of my fellow-beings, who are perishing around me and through the world; I would desire to have an eye single to Thy glory in their conversion; and I would desire to consecrate my time, my talents, and my abilities to the service of my Master; that His Kingdom may come with power among the children of men, and Thy Church, which Thou hast bought with Thy blood, may be universally established. And especially would I desire to be made instrumental in this congregation over which Thou hast called me to watch, in turning many sinners from death to life, and in building up Thy children in holiness.

“All these, O Lord, if my heart deceive me not, do I desire. All these do I seek for, and for all these things, through Thy grace, will I labor. Crown them with success, and ‘not unto me, not unto me, but unto Thy name,’ shall rebound all the honor and the glory. And now, Thou Great Head of the Church, I would pray, that on the coming day, Thou wouldst sustain and support me. O make ‘perfect Thy strength in my weakness.’ Give clear discoveries of the truth, and correct and proper views of the duties devolving upon me as a member of Christ. The Lord be with me according to His promise, ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even to the ends of the earth.’ And may these, my desires, be granted for Thy Son’s sake. And to Thy name, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God, my God in covenant, be ascribed eternal praise. Amen.

“November 16, 1831.”

Words to Live By:
Happy the people to whom God sends such a consecrated servant of His to be their minister. He is no heartless hireling bargaining for wages, for a comfortable living, for accumulating wealth, or for human applause. He is an ambassador of Christ, coming to deliver His message to do His work. It was with a true consecration of heart that Thomas Creigh entered upon the duties of his holy office. The sacredness and solemnity of the step most deeply impressed him. One desire filled his soul: To make Christ known, and promote Christ’s glory.

Sources:
Today’s post is drawn from In Memoriam: Thomas Creigh, 1808-1880. (Harrisburg, PA: Lane S. Hart, Printer and Binder, 1880.), pp. 31-33.

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