September 2014

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He Seemed But a Little Boy

AlexanderArchibaldIt was only a year before that Archibald Alexander had been taken under care of the Presbytery of Lexington, Virginia.  He was young and extremely small in stature.  In our day, such a move of spiritual oversight is usually granted by a Presbytery after it has heard your personal testimony, what God has done for you in Christ in your spiritual life, and an expression of your call to the ministry. In the eighteenth century however, it included all  that, no doubt, and also a sermon preached before the presbytery.

On that occasion in October of 1790, Archibald Alexander stood before the esteemed members of this presbytery. The fact that the candidate before him had utterly failed to utter anything approaching a sermon, much less give any orderly address, didn’t seem to faze him.  He stood up, without any idea of what he was going to say, and delivered an exhortation which astonished everyone present.  In fact, after that occasion, he delivered “exhortation” after “exhortation” several times a week.

In the spring of 1791, Alexander was examined by the Presbytery of Lexington in his Latin and Greek knowledge.  He had prepared an exegesis upon an assigned topic, and read it to the brethren.  He delivered a speech to the Presbytery as well.  It was then moved that he be assigned a text to preach at the next meeting of the Lexington Presbytery.

alexanderArchibald01At that time, on September 20, 1791, the time had arrived for his proclamation before his elders, both in age and office, on the assigned theme, which was Jeremiah 1:7, “Say not, I am a child.”  And indeed, he seemed but a little boy, but the effect of his trial sermon, quickly put that to rest. There was authority in the proclamation of the Word of God.  It was no wonder then that at the next presbytery meeting in Winchester, he was licensed to preach the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Words to live by:  If you have an opportunity, attend a Presbytery meeting as a visitor soon, especially one in which a candidate is brought under care, or licensed for the gospel ministry, or ordained by one of our conservative presbyteries.  You will see the care which the church gives to its candidates, that they be sound in doctrine, proficient in the Westminster Standards, and practical in their understanding of their calling.  It will be a day well spent.

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He Went About Doing Good

Thomas Gouge is not a household name to countless American Presbyterians today, but maybe he should be, considering his ministering of good to all. Born September 19, 1605 (and some say September 29, 1609) in England, he was the oldest son of celebrated William Gouge, member of the Westminster Assembly which produced our Confession and Catechisms.

Educated in the finest institutions of his day (Cambridge), Thomas graduated in 1626. After a time of three years, and marrying the daughter of a prominent family of that day, Thomas was called to the St. Sepulchre’s Church in London, England, where for the next twenty-four years he preached and pastored the membership and surrounding area. Not only did he minister to their spiritual needs, but also to their material needs.

Catechizing the people every morning of the week, Thomas Gouge would distribute gifts among the aged poor on varying days of the week so as to encourage regular attendance upon his catechism studies. These monies came out of his own pocket. To those abled-bodied among the poverty-stricken members, he distributed flax and hemp for them to spin, paying them for their yarn to be worked into cloth. Often in selling them later, he took the financial loss himself.

All of these benevolent work, including his proclamation of the Word of God, came to an end when the Great Ejection of 1662 took place. Hundreds of Presbyterian clergy were ejected from their Anglican pulpits, including Thomas Gouge. Unlike many others, he simply entered another ministry instead of continuing on to minister in secret to  his pastor-less flock. With two or three other ministers, he raised a considerable annual sum of money, to make provision for the ejected ministers then in desperate need. Even when the Great Fire of 1666 devastated London and brought a considerable loss to his income, he still continued to live on less and distribute to those in real need. He believed full the promise of the Psalmist when the latter wrote in Psalm 37:26, “He is ever merciful and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.” (KJV)

Looking to minister in ever widening circles, he had a heart for Wales.  Traveling there, he went from town to town to find out whether there would be interest in teaching willing children to read and write in the English language, and—oh yes—be catechized, no doubt using the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly.  Great droves of children came under the influence of the Scriptures, along with their families. Rev. Gouge began to preach regularly to the families, until the prelates of the Anglican church forbid him to preach the Word.  So in addition to the catechism classes, he arranged for the Word of God to be translated and printed into Welsh to be given freely to  Welsh families.  Added to the Scriptures were Christian books in Welsh which he freely handed out.

He entered heaven on October 29, 1681, remembered widely for his character and conduct in times of persecution.

Words to Live By:
And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season, we shall reap if we faint not.  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially unto those who are of the household of faith.”  Galatians 6;9, 10 (KJV)

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Even His Name Spoke of Recognition

Born on  this 18th day of September of 1879,Clarence Edward Noble Macartney had one of those names that made you stop and think.  He grew up in  a Covenanter household, with his father, the Rev. John L. Macartney, being a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Northwood, Ohio.  As this town was the home of Geneva College, it was no surprise that his father taught at the new college as a professor of Natural Science.  When the college moved to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, the family moved with it.

But the father was not a well man. Plagued with a respiratory problem, he and the family moved to California for the warmer weather. In fact, twice there was a move in that state, and finally on to Colorado in 1896. There were teaching professions along the way for the father.

All this moving brought a series of schools, which did not stop for the young man Clarence during his collegiate years. They included: the University of Denver, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harvard, and Yale Divinity School. There was even a stint overseas in several countries. Finally, Clarence McCartney settled down at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied under B.B. Warfield, Robert Dick Wilson, and Frederick Loetscher.

The Old School Presbyterian theology called him away from the Covenanter denomination of his father and into the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  Ordained soon after seminary, he held pastorates first in Paterson, New Jersey, and then in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Macartney was no doubt a conservative in theology.  His Old School Presbyterian training at Princeton Seminary  had guaranteed that, along with his Covenanter background.  And he was to preach that famous sermon, “Shall Unbelief Win?” to counter the Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick’s sermon earlier, “Shall Fundamentalism Win?”

In its early years, he was a member of the board of Westminster Theological Seminary.  One of his favorite professors at Princeton was Robert Dick Wilson, who was at Westminster for one year before death took him. But McCartney was opposed to the starting of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Mission as well as the Constitutional Union’s calls for a new church, if they couldn’t reform the church from the inside. Eventually, he would resign from the board of Westminster Seminary and remain inside the Presbyterian U.S.A. church, even while Machen and others were censured out of the church.  He would go to be with the Lord in 1957.

Words to live by:  It comes down to a simply question.  What is the definition of an apostate church?  J. Gresham Machen and others certainly believed that when nothing is done in the way of church discipline when essential doctrines of the faith have been denied, as was the case with the Auburn Affirmation, then that speaks of a visible church being apostate. Not one single signer of this affirmation was ever brought up on a charge of heresy. Who were brought up for violation of their ordination vows were conservatives like Machen, Woodbridge, Woolley, McIntire, and yes even a David K Myers, among others.  Pray for the purity of the church and  your church in particular. Don’t ever be silent when the truths of God’s Word, the Bible, are being attacked.  And stand for the faith once delivered unto the saints.


A Post You Can Tell Your Children

Her name was Grisell. Yes, I know that is a strange sounding name, but it was a Scottish name. She was born on December 25, 1665. That’s Christmas, you say.

But Scottish Christians then did not celebrate this day as the birth of Jesus. Grisell Hume was the oldest child of Patrick and Grisell Hume. You can see that she was named after her mother. She had 16 brothers and sisters! Talk about a large family. Her parents were from a royal line of ancestors in Scotland, and they lived in the main city of that nation, Edinburgh.

Both of her parents were Christians. Being a Christian in that time period meant that you were considered an enemy of the government. Despite that, her father continued to witness for Christ. For example,  you couldn’t even hold a Bible study in your home or field without the government soldiers coming in to arrest every one attending that meeting. Hearing of a government plan to place soldiers in every home of Scotland to better keep a watch over Christians in the land, Patrick Hume planned to protest that plan. Because of that, he was thrown into jail when his daughter Grisell was only twelve years of age.

It was at this time that Grisell began to visit her father in prison.The mother couldn’t go because she had the care of the family, and even if she could  have traveled, she would not have been given permission to see her imprisoned husband. But a twelve year old girl could get into the prison cell. In those visits, she carried under her garments a letter from her mother to her father, and carried back any messages the father had for her mother. Most of all, she was able to provide  him some comfort for  her father. After a year of being in jail, the father was let go, but he knew that it would not be for long.

When government orders came for his arrest again, Patrick  Hume wanted to flee to Holland, which was a safe location for religious people in Europe. But he wasn’t able to get there due to the many soldiers who were looking for him.  So he hid himself in the family burying place, a vault under ground near their church about a mile away from  his home. (Kids, ask your dad or mom to explain this place further) Placing a bed and bed-clothes there, he began to live there. His only visitor was again his daughter Grisell. At midnight, she would walk to the vault, with food which she had saved from supper, seeking to comfort  him with her presence, telling him the events from the family, including humorous incidents, and walk home around daylight, so no one would see her. Soon, this hidden place was not a good place to continue in for the health of the father.  (How would you like to live in a tomb?)  Finally he was able to escape to Holland, with his family joining him there after three years.  When King William and Queen Mary came to the throne in February of 1689, the reign of evil against Christianity was ended, and the whole family was able to return to Scotland.

Grisell, with her adventurous years behind her, married George Baillie on this day, September 17, 1692, to rear a family where Christ was honored. She continued to take care of her parents until they died and went to  heaven. She was the darling and comfort to her parents all of their lives.

Words to Live By: 
The fifth commandment in Exodus 2012 tells us “to honor your father and mother,” and Paul adds in Colossians 3:20 to “be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.” It is clear that Grisell Hume was a child who honored and obeyed her parents in the Lord. For this, she had a long life in return,  and served Christ all of her life.

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Stepping outside of American Presbyterian history for a moment, here is an interesting interpretation as to how persecution worked to the advance of the Church in at least one chapter of church history. This particular passage is also a masterful summary of early Presbyterian history, drawn from the late 19th-century volume, Presbyterians, by George P. Hays (1892), pp. 42-44 :

Through the sixteenth century a few adventurers were settling in America, and stable institutions came with the seventeenth to attract the attention of European Protestants as they searched for some refuge from the persecuting power which they could not resist in France, could not fight in Spain, played see-saw with in England, overthrew in Germany, and displaced in Holland and Scotland.

Theodore BezaIf there had been no persecution in Europe, and the Protestant Church could have had freedom from state interference to fight its own battle before the general reason and conscience, the emigrants to America would perhaps have been more like the first settlers in California, or the first inhabitants in a new oil town. As it was, the intellectual conflict and the physical struggle came on together and intensified each other. Huguenot Synods were held in France, and then suppressed, and then re-allowed. The first regularly organized [Protestant] church [in France] was that of Paris, whose people elected John le Macon pastor, and had a board of elders and deacons, in 1555. In 1559 the first National Synod was held, and according to Calvin’s advice a regular system of Appellate Courts was organized. In September, 1561, Theodore Beza at the head of twelve Protestant ministers made their plea before royalty. It was claimed that there were then more than two thousand churches and stations. The origin of the name “Huguenot” is not known, but it is believed to have been at first a nickname which grew to honor by the character and conduct of its wearers. They had a stormy history. Francis I. was their enemy. Charles IX. (an effeminate boy in the hands of the Medicis) massacred them at St. Bartholomew. Henry IV., at heart a Huguenot, was a brave soldier and a brilliant man, but he turned Catholic for policy’s sake, and yet protected the Huguenots by issuing the Edict of Nantes. then followed Louis XIII. and Richelieu and Louis XIV. and the revocation of the edict of toleration in 1685. These last events came in the seventeenth century. The sixteenth century had demonstrated the advantage of Protestant emigration, and the seventeenth made it compulsory.

In Holland the struggle was between Protestantism and Phillip II. of Spain. These were the days of the Duke of Alva and William the Silent. To save their religion and their homes and drive out the Spaniards, the Dutch cut the dykes and submerged their farms beneath the sea. But through all this suffering they were organizing a people and defending a country that should, in time, give to the world the Protestant and Presbyterian results of the Synod of Dort. That Synod was the nearest to an interdenominational and ecumenical Synod of any held for the forming of Reformation creeds. It was called to decide the controversy between Arminianism and Calvinism; but the selection of the members made it a foregone conclusion that it would condemn Arminius and support the doctrine of Calvin. As a result the “Canons of Dort” are accepted everywhere as good Augustinian theology, and the Reformed Dutch Church of America, both in the earliest time and in the modern, is thoroughly and soundly Presbyterian. The early Dutch immigrants to this country brought with them their names of Consistory, Classis and Synod, with both ministerial and lay delegates, and between them and the Presbyterians there have never been any controversies in either theology or church government.

But the main center of American interest in European Presbyterians is found in England. Henry VIII. had married his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon. She was a kinswoman of Philip II. of Spain, and Philip and his nation were close friends of the Pope. When, then, the fickle, handsome, headstrong, and licentious Henry wanted to divorce Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn, he easily found his English bishops and universities ready to declare his marriage to his brother’s widow unlawful, but he found it very difficult, for political reasons, to get the Pope so to declare against that marriage that he might thereafter have a non-Catholic wife, and that Mary, his daughter by Catherine, should be an illegitimate child.

Henry cut the knot by declaring himself the head of the Church of England, and the English Church in no possible way subject to Rome. During all this time Protestant doctrines were spreading among the people, and this seemed to open an easy solution. But pure religion in England was not what Henry wanted. He and all the Tudors wanted to have their own way, without interference from parliament or the Church or the people. After the birth of Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn was beheaded to make way for the third of Henry’s six wives. The king now had two female children, one a Romanist and the other a Protestant. When he died, in 1547, he left Edward VI. by Jane Seymour, only nine years old, but an astonishingly precocious Protestant king.

knox_card03Under Edward the effort to reform the Church went on vigorously, but everybody was debating, as the chief point of controversy, “What is the scriptural form of government?” John Knox had been a private tutor for Hugh Douglas of Longniddry. The excitement occasioned by the martyrdom of Hamilton and Wishart turned his attention to Protestantism. St. Andrews is a picturesque city, rich in traditions from the Culdee period. At the call of the congregation of that city, Knox began preaching. With the capture of the castle of St. Andrews, Knox was sent a prisoner to the French galleys. After his release he, at one time, became Court preacher for Edward VI.

Romanism, Episcopacy, Presbyterianism, and Independency were now up for discussion. The controversy between Protestantism and Catholicism, under Bloody Mary, made all England a charnel house. Mary [Henry VIII.’s first daughter] was a Tudor and a Spaniard and a Roman Catholic; and the task of bringing back the British Islands under the control of the Pope of Rome was the one religious ambition of her life. How far her relentless persecutions [thus her nickname] were made more relentless by the sadness of her natural disposition, the want of an heir to the throne by her Spanish husband, her residence in England while her alienated husband lived in Spain, and her final loss of Calais, that last remnant of English territory on the Continent, may be hard to decide; but her persecutions filled Geneva, and all European Protestant cities, with English refugees and raised everywhere the question of some land where Protestants could have freedom. Just as she was moving, apparently, toward the destruction of her Protestant sister Elizabeth, Mary died.

[more from Dr. Hays next week!]

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A Life of Sacrifice for the Gospel of Jesus Christ

The Rev. Robert Waldo Chesnut was a pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, General Synod (RPC,GS). This was the body which later merged with the larger side of the Bible Presbyterian Synod split in 1965 to create the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. Dr. Chesnut served in the lean years of the denomination when, at its low point, there were just nine churches left on the roster. Eventually the Lord brought renewed vigor and growth, such that by the time of the merger in 1965, there were some 25 churches in the RPC,GS. No doubt the Lord used Chesnut’s sacrificial love for the Church as a great instrument in bringing about some of that later growth.

Reprinted here is a brief biography which originally appeared in The Reformed
 Presbyterian Advocate, 87.4 (April, 1953): 40-42.

chesnutrwOn March 23, 1953 at 8:35 P.M. our Church was deprived of its Pastor Emeritus by the death of Rev. Robert W. Chesnut, Ph.D. He was 94 years, 6 months, 8 days old when he passed on to be with his Lord. Dr. Chesnut had been Pastor Emeritus since his retirement from the active ministry in 1942 after 55 years as a minister. In 1950 he attended his last meeting of General Synod, at the Houston Mission [in Tennessee]. In November of 1952 he reported to work on the new church [in Duanesburg, NY], bringing his hammer and lunch pail. He worked from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. He later said: “I guess I pounded two or three pounds of nails and it helped some.” He was constantly interested in the new church and did all he could to advance its construction. 

Robert Chesnut was born on a farm near Morning Sun, Iowa, on September 15, 1858. His parents had emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland. His father was a boilermaker.”

“He had very little formal education in elementary or high schools. He never attended school during his early years for more than three months at a time. Until his entrance into college he had attended school only a total of twenty months.

In 1869 his family emigrated, by covered wagon, to Kansas and settled in Clay Center. There Dr. Chesnut, his father, and his brothers engaged in farming.

chesnut45yrsHe did not want to enter college or the ministry and, he has reported, fought the call of God to the ministry for some time. Finally one day, plowing in the fields (and he had not enjoyed good health for many months) he stopped his horses, sat down on a plowbeam and settled the matter with God. He said: “Lord, if you will give me health and see me through my education I will serve you in the ministry.” He finished the day’s plowing without being fatigued and God has kept His part of the covenant by blessing His servant with good health and length of days. Anyone who knew Dr. Chesnut knows that he kept his part of the covenant too, serving his God and his beloved Reformed Presbyterian church for sixty or more years.

He entered the Agricultural College of Kansas, at Manhattan, with a trunk containing a few clothes, his Psalm book, his Bible, and his Catechism, and $45 cash to see him through. He paid his way through school by raising a crop of wheat each Summer and selling it in the Fall. He also earned a little extra by tutoring his fellow students in Greek.

His college training was continued and completed at the University of Kansas, at Lawrence.

For theological training he spent a summer studying under his pastor, Rev. James S. Scott and entered the Reformed Presbyterian Seminary in Philadelphia the following term as a second year student.

He completed the course and was licensed to preach on March 22, 1887 in the First Reformed Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

He was ordained on May 10, 1888 and installed the same day as pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church at Marissa, Illinois. The church is no longer in existence. Dr. Chestnut had been called to a church in New York City, but declined the call because he thought that he, a farm boy from Iowa and Kansas, would not be suited to a city pastorate. After sixteen years in Marissa he went to the church in Cutler, Illinois. In 1910 he accepted a call to the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Duanesburg. Here he served as pastor and worked the parsonage farm until 1917. He then moved to the Seventh Reformed Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and remained two and one-half years. He then returned to Duanesburg, to save the congregation from disbanding. It was, at that time, a small and discouraged flock in need of a shepherd. From 1919 until his retirement in 1942 Dr. Chesnut served here as Stated Supply, worked the parsonage farm (and another larger farm which he purchased from his meager earnings) and ran a printing plant.

Robert Waldo Chesnut was pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Duanesburg (NY) from 1910-1917, and for forty years he served as Editor and Publisher of the Reformed Presbyterian Advocate (although it was not always known by that name). He also served as Moderator of the Philadelphia Presbytery and he served the General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, as Assistant Clerk, as Clerk, and as Moderator in both 1903 and 1943.

Dr. Chesnut was survived by his widow, Mrs. Anna Heim Chesnut, who is his third wife. In 1885 he was married to Jennie Hulick, who died in 1896. Their daughter and son died while in their youth. His second wife and an infant also died–the wife just five weeks after they moved to Duanesburg in 1910. Dr. Chesnut was survived by three children, thirteen grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

The Duanesburg congregation, and the whole of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, has suffered a loss by the passing of our friend. But we can have no regrets, for he lived a long and full life and we are assured that he has gone to glory to be forever with his Lord, where there is no more pain, no sorrow, no struggle with sin, no more death, where death is swallowed up in victory.

“Truly a Prince has fallen in Israel. How he did love to come to General Synod and we have missed him these last few years. He really loved to preach the Gospel. Many lives have been touched by his long years of service.” [Rev. Robert W. Stewart]

Words to Live By:
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,”—
Philippians 3:8, KJV.

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If You Cannot Find a Suitable One, Write it Yourself

Catherine Vos was the wife of the famous Princeton Seminary professor of Biblical theology, Geerhardus Vos, and an author in her own right. Her daughter once said that the sentiment reflected in our title above summed up what her mother experienced as she sought to train up her children in the truths of the Bible.  She had gone though bookstore after bookstore looking for a book which would present the excitement and warmth of the stories found in the Bible. When she came up empty, she made it a life-long project to write one herself. And did she ever? The Child’s Bible Study originally was published in three volumes but has more recently been released as a one volume edition, as revised by her daughter.  No matter which one you purchase, this study has stood the test of time, in that it has been close to seventy years plus since it was first written.

Catherine Francis Smith married Geerhardus Vos in 1894 at Grand Rapids, Michigan, just two years after he had become the first professor of Biblical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary.  They were married for 43 years and produced a family of three sons and one daughter.  One of the sons was J.G. Vos who studied at his father’s alma mater, Princeton Seminary, and became a Reformed Presbyterian minister.

The Child’s Study Bible is different from many children study Bibles in that it goes far beyond just treating a few of the major characters in the Bible. Catherine Vos’s book treats 110 stories from the Old Testament and 92 stories from the New Testament.  In every way, children are pointed to the gospel and the Redeemer of the gospel.

Catherine Vos would pass into glory on September 14, 1937, and was buried near the Vos summer home in Roaring Branch, Pennsylvania.  Her husband Geerhardus would join her in that small cemetery near the summer home twelve years later.

Words to live by:  If the readers of this devotional guide are parents of young children, there is no better means to “train up your children in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6) than by a daily reading of the Bible.  And for young children around the age of four and five years of age, and upward, the Child’s Bible Study an invaluable tool for that purpose.  The book employs the King James Version, and there are some pictures of Jesus which some readers might find objectionable.   But overall, this writer recommends it highly.

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The Most Perfect School of Christ Since the Days of the Apostles

There is no doubt that Geneva Switzerland in the time of John Calvin was the perfect asylum for persecuted Presbyterians from all over the world. They would arrive there whenever times in their own country were harsh and forbidding in the practice of the Reformed faith and life. In the mid-sixteenth century, that state was certainly true of Scotland and England with the crowning of Mary Tudor to the throne.  Immediately, approximately 300 believers were sent to the fiery stake. Countless fled to other countries, including John Knox and his family. And Geneva was his destination, arriving there on this day, September 13, 1556, with his wife Marjorie. On the following month, the church of English exiles called John Knox to be a co-pastor of that church.

During this period Knox enjoyed, as M’Crie writes, one of the quietest times in his life and ministry. He would preach three sermons a week to his church family of 100 English exiles. often about two hours plus in length. He found time to work on the Reformed footnotes of the famous Geneva Bible, which were then being introduced to the Reformed world by the son-in-law of John Calvin. Knox wrote a lengthy work on predestination, as well as a political one on the female but wicked rulers of his home country.

Family happiness was expanded to include two sons from his wife, named Nathaniel and Eleazar. Both died without issue however in later years.

But his time there was blessed by simply being present in the town and enjoying the fellowship of countless Reformed brethren, including John Calvin. Writing to a friend once, he said “In my heart, I could have wished,  yea, and cannot cease to wish, that it might please God to guide and conduct yourself to this place, where, I neither fear nor shame to say, is the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the apostles. In other places I confess Christ to be truly preached; but manners and religions to be so sincerely reformed, I have not yet seen in any other place besides.”  What a statement!

And while all the above was true, that is, “the enjoyment of personal accommodations, the pleasures of literary society, and the endearments of domestic happiness,” as Thomas M’Crie puts it in his book, The Life of John Knox, still Knox couldn’t forget his  own dear congregation languishing in Scotland.  And at the earliest opportunity, and upon receiving advice from the brethren there in Geneva, including that of John Calvin, Knox responded to the clarion call to return to the Scottish fray in May 1559.  It was but a year when the First Reformation, as it has been called, came to Scotland.

Words to Live By:
Every pastor needs a change of pace from the demands of an active ministry. We call it a vacation, yet often it is filled with work.  Sometimes intrusions can come by way of unthinking church members who somehow find out the when and where of the vacationing pastor’s family. It would seem the duties of ministry are never laid down. Yet the importance of a family vacation, a time when the pastor can re-connect with family members, is so very important. So whatever your status, whether a church officer or simply a member of the church, do what you can to press upon your pastor the importance of a family vacation. Don’t let your pastor be a workaholic! Better yet, consider giving him a Sabbatical when he can thoroughly recharge his spiritual batteries from the pressing work of the ministry. He will come back refreshed beyond words to take up again the challenges of ministering to the souls of men, women, and children.


Mr. Polity.

Polity is a fancy word for government, and in the nineteenth-century, when it came to church government, the Rev. S. J. Baird was one of the most knowledgeable men around.

Samuel John Baird was born at Newark, Ohio, on September 12, 1817. His parents were the Rev. Thomas Dickson Baird and Esther Thompson Baird. Samuel began his education at Jefferson College, but poor health interrupted his studies. In 1839 he took charge of a school near Abbeville, South Carolina and subsequently opened a Female Seminary [essentially a college for women] at Jeffersonville, Louisiana. Returning to college, he graduated from Central College, Danville, Kentucky, in 1843. Somehow he managed to concurrently graduate from the New Albany Theological Seminary, in Indiana, that same year.

After being licensed to preach in August of 1843 by the Presbytery of Transylvania, he devoted three years to the missionary work in the Presbytery of Baltimore, in Kentucky, and in the southwest. Then in 1846, he was ordained by Potomac Presbytery, and installed as pastor, first at Bladensburg, Maryland, and later at Georgetown, Kentucky. He also served churches in Clarksville, Tennessee and Batesville, Arkansas. During his time in that latter charge, Rev. Baird was also instrumental in laying the foundation for Arkansas College. From there, he served as pastor in Muscatine, Iowa, 1854-57 and Woodbury, New Jersey, 1857-65.

After resigning this last charge, Baird began work under a joint commission from the American Bible Society and the Virginia Bible Society, laboring as their agent in Virginia. His name first appeared on the rolls of the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1869, and he answered a call to serve as pastor of the church in Waynesboro, Virginia in 1870. For four years he served the Third Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, 1874-78, and his final pastorates were in West Virginia. The Rev. Samuel J. Baird died in Clifton Forge, Virginia on April 10, 1893.

Baird is perhaps best remembered as the author of The Assembly’s Digest, or Baird’s Digest as it most commonly known. This work is a compilation of the acts and deliverances of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., covering the years 1789-1855. It is a particularly valuable work for anyone wanting a resource on the actions and history of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The full title is A Collection of the Acts,Deliverances and Testimonies of the Supreme Judicatory of the Presbyterian Church from its origin in America to the present time : with notes and documents explanatory and historical: constituting a complete illustration of her polity, faith, and history (1856). Copies of this work are rare today in print form, but thankfully it is available on the Internet, here.

Words to Live By:
Another work by Dr. Baird was a catechism, titled The Church of Christ. A sampling of questions and answers from that book follow:

Q. 261. What are the rights of individuals with reference to personal religion?
A. It is the right and duty of every individual for himself, to read and study the Word of God, and ascertain the way of salvation therein set forth [1],—by faith, to lay hold of and appropriate to himself that salvation and all the promises [2],—and to come before the throne of God with boldness, in the name of Christ, and independent of all human instrumentalities and mediators, and there make his confessions and offer his prayers and praises, with assurance of acceptance and salvation. [3]
[1] John 5:39; Acts 17:11; 2 Peter 1:19-21;
[2] Rev. 22:17.
[3] Rom. 10:12-13; Eph. 3:12; Heb. 10:19-22; Ps. 50:23; John 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5.

Q. 264. What are the duties of private Christians toward others?
A. It is the duty of private Christians to be ready always to give to every one that asketh them, a reason of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear; to watch for and use all suitable occasions to press upon the impenitent the free grace of Christ; to employ their means in relieving the temporal wants of the destitute; and, as they have opportunity, to do good to all men.
1 Peter 3:15; Rev. 22:17; Heb. 13:16; Gal. 6:10.

Q. 270. What are the principal religious duties of parents toward their children?
A. It is the duty of parents to dedicate their children to God [1],—to bring them early to baptism, to teach them to know God, to pray to him, to read His Word, and to attend upon the public ordinances of the sanctuary [2], to exercise government and discipline upon them in love; and to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; maintaining the stated worship of God in the house [3].
[1] Gen. 17:18; Mark 10:13-14.
[2] Gen. 18:19; 2 Tim. 3:14-15.
[3] Prov. 13:24; 22:15; Eph. 6:4; Gen. 12:7; 13:4, 18; 21:33; 35:1-4, 7; Deut. 6:7; Job 1:5.

Biographical sketch—

Son of the Rev. Thomas Dickson Baird, and was born at Newark, Ohio, in September 1817.  In 1839 he took charge of a school near Abbeville, SC, and subsequently opened a Female Seminary at Jeffersonville, LA.  He studied theology in the seminary at New Albany, Indiana, and finished his literary training, which had been interrupted by feeble health at Jefferson College some years before, at Centre College, in 1843.  After being licensed to preach, he devoted three years to the missionary work in the Presbytery of Baltimore, in Kentucky, and in the southwest.  For three years he was pastor at Muscatine, Iowa, then pastor at Woodbury, New Jersey, until 1865.  After resigning this charge, under a joint commission from the American Bible Society and the Virginia Bible Society, he labored as their agent in Virginia.  He resided without charge at Covington, Kentucky in 1884 and presumably was there until his death in 1893.  “Dr. Baird is a gentleman of decided ability.”  In addition to the works shown below in the bibliography, Dr. Baird also authored works appearing in the Danville and the Princeton Reviews.

Papers of Samuel J. Baird [1817-1893], 650 items, 5 containers, 1.0 linear feet,
Abstract:  Correspondence and miscellaneous material relating to Presbyterian Church affairs and doctrinal questions, the work of the American Bible Society in Virginia (1865-1875), and the Baird family. Includes letters concerning Baird’s efforts to minister to soldiers and to assist wounded soldiers and prisoners during the Civil War. Correspondents include James W. Alexander, E. Thompson Baird, Thomas Dickson Baird, William Logan Baird, Henry A. Boardman, John Breckinridge, Robert J. Breckinridge, William C. Cattell, Jeremiah Chamberlain, John T. Duffield, Robert Smith Finley, P. D. Gurley, Mark Hopkins, George Howe, Edward P. Humphrey, Richard McIlwaine, John Miller, John W. Nevins, Theodore Sutton Parvin, William S. Plummer, Stacy G. Potts, Hugh Reid, Stuart Robinson, William Greenough Thayer Shedd, Henry B. Smith, William B. Sprague, William J. R. Taylor, T. D. Witherspoon, and James Wood.  Standard No:  LCCN: mm 78-1155

Chronological bibliography—

A collection of the acts, deliverances and testimonies of the Supreme Judicatory of the Presbyterian Church, from its origin in America to the present time: with notes and documents explanatory and historical: constituting a complete… (Phila., Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1855 Rev. ed.), 2 v.  [IXA]  Reprinted, A collection of the acts, deliverances, and testimonies : of the supreme judicatory of the Presbyterian Church, from its origin in America to the present time, with notes and documents explanatory and historical constituting a complete illustration of her polity, faith, and history (Philadelphia : Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1858, ©1855 [2nd ed.].), 880 p. ; 24 cm.

“Constitution of the Presbyterian Church,” in The Southern Presbyterian Review, 10.1 (April 1857) 1-16.

The Socinian Apostasy of the English Presbyterian Churches : A Discourse, delivered on behalf of the Presbyterian Historical Society, before the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, in the First Presbyterian Church, New York, May 16th, 1856 (Philadelphia : Presbyterian Historical Society, 1857), 34 p. ; 24 cm.

Edwards and the Theology of New England,” in The Southern Presbyterian Review, 10.4 (January 1858) 574-592.

“The Symmetry and Beauty of God’s Witnessing Church,” in The Southern Presbyterian Review, 11.3 (October 1858) 357-385.

The first Adam and the second. The Elohim revealed in the creation and redemption of man … (Philadelphia : Perry & McMilan, 1860), 688 p. 24 cm. Reprinted, (Philadelphia : Lindsay & Blakiston, 1860), 688pp.; 24 cm.

A rejoinder to the Princeton Review, upon The Elohim Revealed, touching the doctrine of imputation and kindred topics (Philadelphia, J.M. Wilson, 1860), 40 p.; 24 cm.  [NTU; YUS]

Baird, Samuel J. and William Pennington, Southern Rights and Northern Duties in the Present Crisis : A Letter to Hon. William Pennington (Philadelphia : For sale by Lindsay & Blakiston ; Smith, English & Co. and other Booksellers, 1861), 32 p.; 22 cm.  [PIT; ZYU]

The church of Christ : its constitution and order; a manual for the instruction of families, Sabbath-schools, and Bible classes (Philadelphia : Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1864), 144 p. ; 16 cm.  [NJR; PRE; PRP; PTS; PUL; VUT; VYN]

A History of the Early Policy of the Presbyterian Church in the Training of Her Ministry and of the First Fifty Years of the Board of Education (Philadelphia : Published by the Board, 1865), 36 p. ; 22 cm.  [DLC; GTX; KSU; NHL; PRE; RBN; YUS]

A history of the new school, and of the questions involved in the disruption of the Presbyterian church in 1838. (Philadelphia, Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, 1868), xii, 564 p. 20 cm.

“The History of Baptism,” in The Southern Presbyterian Review, 21.3 (July 1870) 303-338.

“The Gratuitous Imputation of Sin,” in The Southern Presbyterian Review, 27.2 (April 1876) 318-353.

A Bible History of Baptism (Philadelphia : James H. Baird, 1882), Microform 489 p.; ill.; 20 cm.; ISBN: 0790507862 (microfiche) 9780790507866 (microfiche). Note(s):  At head of title: The great Baptizer./ Includes bibliographical references and index./ Reproduction: Microfiche./ Chicago :/ American Theological Library Association,/ 1989./ 2 microfiche ; 11 x 15 cm. High reduction. Silver based film./ (ATLA monograph preservation program ; ATLA fiche 1987-0786).

The Discussion on Reunion : A Review  (Richmond, Va. : Whittet & Shepperson, 1888 2nd ed., enl.), Microform 50 p. ; 22 cm.; ISBN: 0524086672 (microfiche); ATLA fiche 1993-3192).  [ATL; GTX; ICU; KPS; NDD; VYN; YUS]

The Fatherhood of God [Atlanta, Ga.? : Constitution Pub. Co.?, 1891), p. [350]-362 ; 22 cm.  [Note:  Offprint from The Presbyterian Quarterly, 5.3 (July 1891) 350-362.  [PKT]

“The Origin of the Visible Church,” in The Presbyterian Quarterly, 6.2 (April 1892) 264-270.

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What Began as Fifteen Is Now Eighty-Two

The old Delmarva Presbytery, now dissolved, was originally organized as a Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES) on October 11, 1969. The name Delmarva is a “portmanteau”, a conflation of two or more words or sounds to create a new word. In this case, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia are conflated to become Delmarva. The earliest use of that term appears to date back to 1913, and by the 1920s it was widely used, particularly in commerical or business applications.

At its formation, the RPCES Delmarva Presbytery consisted of fourteen churches and one mission work. Upon checking, it appears that all of these churches either came into the RPCES from the Bible Presbyterian Church, Columbus Synod (aka, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 1961-65), when it merged with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod in April of 1965, or were added to the RPCES in the short span of years 1965-1968 prior to the creation of Delmarva. By the time that the RPCES was received into the PCA in 1982—in little more than another dozen years—Delmarva Presbytery had more than doubled to a total of thirty-seven churches!

With the Joining & Receiving, a few of the RPCES Delmarva churches went into the PCA’s James River Presbytery, but most continued on into the new PCA Delmarva Presbytery. Gathering at its first Stated Meeting, the new Delmarva Presbytery convened at 9:45 A.M. on September 11, 1982 at the Abbott Memorial Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland, with a service of worship conducted by the Rev. Stephen Smallman, then pastor of the McLean Presbyterian Church. The service included hymns and a sermon preached from I Timothy 3. The Rev. Franklyn Miller, pastor of the host church, along with Rev. Smallman, led in the administration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

At its formation, Delmarva Presbytery was made up of the following churches, with the six oldest and one other (Munson Hill) originally having come out of the old Southern Presbyterian denomination (the churches are listed by their date of organization):

1844―Aisquith Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD
1877―Valley Presbyterian Church, Lutherville, MD [org. 1877]
1882―Abbott Memorial Reformed Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD (Armistead Gardens, Baltimore, MD [org. ?]; merged with Abbott, 8/2/1987)
1896―Chapelgate Presbyterian Church, Marriottsville, MD
1907―Forest Park Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD
1910―Wallace Memorial Presbyterian Church, Hyattsville, MD
1936―Faith Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE [previously First Independent & Faith Bible Church]
1942―Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD
1942―Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Elkton, MD
1942―Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Newark, DE
1943―Inverness Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD
1944―McLean Presbyterian Church, McLean, VA
1951―Munson Hill Presbyterian Church, Falls Church, VA [joined the RPCES in 1972; dissolved in 1992]
1954―Manor Presbyterian Church, New Castle, DE
1956―Berea Presbyterian Church, Hockessin, DE
1962―Bethany Presbyterian Church, New Castle, DE [now Heritage Presbyterian Church]
1964―Covenant Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE
1964―Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Annapolis, MD
1969―Liberty Reformed Presbyterian Church, Owings Mills, MD
1970―Timonium Presbyterian Church, Timonium, MD
1975―Pilgrim Presbyterian Church, Martinsburg, WV
1976―Reston Presbyterian Church, Reston, VA [transferred to EPC in 2000]
1977―McLean Korean Presbyterian Church, McLean, VA
1977―Severna Park Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Severna Park, MD
1977―Tollgate Presbyterian Church, Owings Mills, MD [became Living Hope PC, now dissolved]
1979―Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church, Frederick, MD
1980―Chinese Christian Presbyterian Church, Falls Church, VA [now owns the former Munson Hill property]
1980―Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church, Relay, MD
1980―Grace Church PCA, Dover, DE
1981―New Covenant Presbyterian Church, Bel Air, MD
1982―Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church, Woodbridge, VA [now dissolved]
1982―Loch Raven Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD

In the short space of another seven years, the Presbytery voted its own dissolution by division into the two presbyteries of Potomac and Heritage. Delmarva Presbytery met in its final meeting at the 30th Stated Meeting on November 14, 1989, taking the action to redraw the lines of Presbytery and delegate its churches to new presbyteries. Since Heritage was the primary beneficiary of the churches of the the old Delmarva Presbytery, she was accorded status as the official successor to Delmarva, and so retains the ranking of the PCA’s 26th presbytery, while Potomac is listed as the 48th.

Chesapeake Presbytery, the PCA’s 63d presbytery, was later formed by division of Potomac Presbytery on January 1, 2002. The churches of Potomac Presbytery number 33 in all; Heritage has 18, and Chesapeake has 31. What began as fifteen now totals eighty-two churches, all descending from the legacy that is the old Delmarva Presbytery.

A Pray for Continued Growth:
The PCA has seen good growth among its churches in the Delmarva region, but there are literally millions of souls in that region who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Taking today’s history as our motivation, pray not just for this region, but for our nation and for the world. Pray for the advance of the Gospel, that pastors would be faithful to the Scriptures and bold in the proclamation of the Good News. Pray that the Word of God would make a real difference in the congregations, that each of our lives would stand out in attractive testimony to the reality that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. And may God grant a great harvest of souls to be brought into His kingdom. 

Note: The records of Delmarva Presbytery, both RPCES and PCA, from 1969 to 1989, are preserved at the PCA Historical Center, and comprise a total of three cubic feet of documents.

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