July 2015

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The Apostle of Persia (Iran)

The great adversary of the church, Satan himself, did not want the Rev. Justin Perkins to go and minister in ancient Persia, which is modern Iran.  Yet that was where he had been called to work as the first American to live and minister in this Moslem country. And that was where this Presbyterian missionary was sent in 1837 by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

Justin Perkins had been born in Massachusetts in 1805.  He spent his early years on his father’s farm. Having a religious experience when he was 18 years of age, he attended Amherst College, graduating with honors. His theological studies were at Andover Theological Seminary, and  ordained  a Presbyterian minister in 1833.

It was on July 21, 1833 that he married Charlotte Bass, of Middlebury, Vermont. Their life together would be spent in Persia with incredible hardship and sorrow, as they lost to disease six of their seven children.

Justin Perkins was so ill on the scheduled day of their departure that he  had to be carried on board ship on a litter. Then departing from the port, they encountered terrible storms, which lengthened the ocean trip. Arriving  on the coast of the region of Persia, they ran into opposition from local tribes and national governments. Only an appeal to the diplomatic corps brought them relief from their hardships.

When they arrived finally in their chosen place of labor, Justin Perkins began to preach to the people of the Assyrian Church of the East in Northwest Persia. Despite being poor and ignorant people, Perkins set up boys and girls schools, translated their Syriac language into Scripture, and printed in their language, books by John Bunyan and Richard Baxter. Even the Moslem rulers were impressed by his ministry, and schools were set up for them.

But with the hardships and death of their family, Charlotte Perkins was emotionally and physically weakened, and went back to America in 1841. To everyone’s surprise, she improved and lived until she was ninety years of age. Her husband died in 1869 in Massachusetts. He was the first American, and American missionary to live and work in Iran.

Words to Live By: 
It was the great apostle Paul to acknowledge that in the midst of his great and effective door opened to him in first century Ephesus, a great many adversaries to the gospel were also present. (1 Corinthians 16:9)  Justin Perkins would understand that all too well.  We must all remember that Satan is alive and though the defeated one, is still active on Planet Earth.  Our life and ministry as Christians will not be easy.  Let us put on the armor of God and go forth to battle.

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An Anonymous Author Identified

Henry Rowland Weed was born in Ballston, New York on July 20, 1789. He received his college education at Union College in Schenectady, NY, graduating in 1812, and prepared for the ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating there in 1815. He was ordained by the Presbytery of New York on January 4th, 1816 and installed as pastor of the Presbyterian church in Jamaica, Long Island, NY, where he served from 1816 until 1822.

His next charge was as pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Albany, NY, 1822-1829. Leaving the pulpit ministry for a time, he was employed as an Agent of the Board of Education, 1830-1832, after which he returned to the pulpit, first serving as stated supply for the First Presbyterian church of Wheeling, Virginia (later West Virginia). That arrangement led to his being called by that church and he continued there in Wheeling until 1870, his longest pastorate, though in his final years he was infirm and his associate often took over the duties of the pulpit.

Alfred Nevin notes that “Dr. Weed was an able, earnest, faithful and successful preacher. He contributed occasionally anonymous articles to the religious periodicals of the Church, including the Biblical Repertory, but avoided regular authorship. [Between 1829-1868, there were 39 articles that appeared anonymously in The Biblical Repertory; there was also one article by Rev. Weed which appeared under his own name]. For the use of his own Bible class, he published a series of questions on the Confession of Faith, which was afterwards published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication. Rev. Weed died at Philadelphia, on December 14, 1870.

We may never know which of the otherwise anonymous articles in Princeton’s Biblical Repertory were authored by Rev. Weed, but from another source, we do at least have some interesting insights into the man’s character in his early ministry :

From the Long Island Daily Press, Tuesday, January 29, 1929, Section A.

1815: Rev. Henry R. Weed, fresh from Princeton Seminary was called to the Presbyterian church. Weed discouraged the practice of giving wines and liquors at funerals. Time out of mind, in humbler families rum was handed from one to another as they stood out of doors about the house, each man drinking out of the mouth of the upturned flask. Wine was passed to the women within the house. Captain Codwise who lived at Beaver Pone had a cask of choice wine in his cellar for years, reserved for his funeral. The last and most distinguished occasion in Jamaica for thus regaling the attendants was the funeral of Rufus King, our minister to England, who died April 29, 1827, at the age of 73. It was a warm day and the waiters were kept going about indoors and out with silver saivers before them loaded with decantors, glasses and cigars.

1818: Mr. Weed and Mr. Sayres were chosen inspectors of common schools for Jamaica. They did their duty so strictly and exposed so many shortcomings in the teachers that they were not re-elected.

Those instances strike us as the errors of a young pastor, too often zealous about things that matter, yet without a balancing wisdom and measure of discretion. I think we can assume that he gained that wisdom over time, particularly given his long tenure as pastor in Wheeling.

As a sample of Rev. Weed’s Questions on the Confession of Faith, here are the questions attached to Chapter 1 – Of the Holy Scriptures:—

Question 1. – Do the works of creation and providence, teach us that there is a God? Psalm 19:1Romans 1:20.
Question 2. – Which of His perfections do they manifest?
Question 3. – Do they teach enough of God, to leave man inexcusable? Romans 1:20.
Question 4. – Do they afford all the knowledge that is necessary to salvation? Proverbs 29:181 Corinthians 1:21.
Question 5. – Has it pleased God to reveal Himself and the way of salvation to mankind in any other way? Hebrews 1:1-22 Peter 1:19.
Question 6. – In “what divers manners” did God reveal Himself to His people before the Sacred Scriptures were written?
Answer: By angels, dreams, visions, and voices, by Urim and Thummim and by immediate suggestion to the mind. See Numbers 12:68Exodus 3:1-4.
Question 7. – Why was revealed truth committed to writing? Romans 15:42 Timothy 3:16.
Question 8. – Do the Holy Scriptures now supersede the necessity of all those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people? 2 Timothy 3:15.

The full text of Rev. Weed’s Questions on the Confession of Faith and Form of Government of the Presbyterian Church (1842) is available in digital format.

Words to Live By:
Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
(1 Timothy 4:12).

How can a young pastor earn the respect due to his office as pastor? By being an example of the Christian faith, in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Occasionally you may see young pastors who have a tendency to be overbearing, perhaps thinking that a show of strength or adamant will is necessary to accomplish their goals for the church. But as Francis Schaeffer was good to remind us, “the Lord’s work must be done in the Lord’s way.”

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

Q. 28. Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?

A. Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.

Scripture References: I Cor. 15:3,4. Acts 1:9. Eph. 1:19,20. Acts 1:11; Acts. 17:31.

Questions:

1. How many parts are there to Christ’s exaltation?

There are four parts to his exaltation. The first part is his resurrection from the dead; the second, his ascension into heaven; the third, his sitting down at the right hand of the father; the fourth, his coming to judge the world.

2. Is it possible to prove that he rose from the dead?

It can be proven by the many witnesses who saw him and talked with him after his resurrection. Another proof is that if it were not so our faith would be in vain as is taught in I Cor. 15:17.

3. Who was responsible for this miracle of rising from the dead?

Christ did this by his own power and Spirit as is taught by such verses as John 10:17,18, Rom. 1:4.

4. What does the resurrection of Christ teach us?

It teaches us to walk in newness of life. Rem. 6:4.

5. Why did Christ ascend into heaven?

He ascended into heaven that he might be returned to the glory he had before the world was formed (John 17:5). By his ascension he also took over, as Head of the church, the destination of all believers.

6. What does Christ do at the right hand of God?

Christ makes intercession for all believers at this place and is also preparing a place for them.

7. When and how will Christ come to judge the world?

He will come to judge the world at the last day. He will judge the world in righteousness, giving to everyone w hat is deserved. (2 Cor. 5:10)

JUDGMENT

The fourth part of Christ’s exaltation is to judge the world at the last day. As believers, we can thank God that at the judgment we will be declared righteous on the ground of our participation in the righteousness of Christ. The “book of life” will be opened, the book of God’s eternal electing love. It is indeed a day to which the believer can look forward, by faith.

There is a thought concerning the judgment that should cause us to sincerely examine our hearts before the Lord. The secrets of all hearts, the inward states and hidden springs of action will be brought in as the subject matter of judgment, as well as the actions themselves. As professing Christians, this thought needs to be considered.

It is a truth that “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8,9), And yet it is an equal truth that the person who is sincerely saved through faith will show forth the fruits of good works as it is brought out very clearly in the next verse: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” If we claim Christ as our Saviour, the question is pertinent: Are we showing forth good works, are the fruits of the Spirit habitual with us or are the works of the flesh?

A. A. Hodge, in treating the judgment, states of the believers:
“Their holy characters and good deeds … wlll be publicly declared as the evidences of their election, of their relation to Christ, and of the glorious work of Christ in them.” (Matt. 13:43; 25:34-40).

It is important for us to ask of ourselves today, right now, Are we showing evidence of our election, of our relation to Christ, of the glorious work of Christ in us? Jim Elliot once wrote in his diary, ” ‘He makes His ministers a flame of fire.’ Am I ignitible? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of ‘other things.’ Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame.” Is such our prayer? Will the day of judgment declare it and show forth the evidences of our election?

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 28 (April 1963)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor
April, 1963

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PRESBYTERIANISM FOR THE PEOPLE.
by Rev. Robert P. Kerr
(1883)

CHAPTER IV.
APOSTOLIC PRESBYTERIANISM.

Such being the government under which the Church was living when the apostles were sent out to Christianize the world, it was natural that they should follow the time-honored customs of God’s people in every land whither they went; so we find that as they journeyed among the nations, preaching the gospel and organizing congregations of converts, they “ordained them elders in every church” (Acts xiv. 23)—that is to say, they carried out the old synagogue system of government by elders, with which the Jews dwelling among the nations were familiar. They were not organizing a new Church, but only extending the old Church of God and proclaiming that the Christ had come. The Jews who rejected Christ cast themselves out and virtually made themselves a new body.

We discover, on the one hand, no traces of Congregationalism, for “every church” was ruled, not by the people directly, but by their representatives; nor, on the other hand, of Episcopacy, for the congregation was committed to the care, not of one man, but of several elders. In Acts xx. 28, where Paul was instructing the elders of the church at Ephesus, whom he had requested to come to Miletus, he said, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops” (επισκοποι). This word was translated “overseers” in the Old Version, but in the new one—prepared principally by Episcopalians—it is correctly rendered “bishops.” This passage alone shows conclusively that “bishop” was simply another name for elder, for these were elders to whom the apostle was speaking. In the seventeenth verse we read: “And from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church.

A grand feature of the Presbyterian system is the perfect equality in rank of all the elders. It is entirely opposed to the Episcopal distinctions of bishops, priests and deacons. Paul shows the equality of all elders in 1 Tim. v. 17: “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.” This shows that the elders had the office of ruling in common, but that some, in addition to ruling, “labored in the word and doctrine.” In 1 Tim. iv. 14 ordination is shown to be, not by one bishop, but by “the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery,” which was composed of several elders, or bishops, as they were indifferently styled. In Jerusalem a General Assembly (Acts xv.), composed of “apostles and elders,” was held to decide a question concerning the observance of the ceremonial law, and the decision of this body was sent out to the churches as authoritative. This is conclusive against both Congregationalism and Episcopacy.

We have found that the governmental principle of Presbyterianism runs throughout the whole Bible history; and now, in the book of Revelation, we can catch a glimpse of the same principle operating in the government of the redeemed in heaven. In chap. iv. 4 we read that “round about the throne were four and twenty seats, and upon the seats were four and twenty elders sitting” (not standing), “clothed in white raiment, and they had upon their heads crowns of gold.” The facts that they were “sitting” and that they wore “crowns” indicate authority. Christ on the throne, and the elders sitting around Him, constituted the governing body of the saints. This is the final endorsement of the grand principle of Church government by elders in “that Holy City, the New Jerusalem,” which shall at last descend out of heaven, when “the tabernacle of God shall be with men.”

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Injurious to Your Health

It was downright unhealthy to be the president of the College of New Jersey (today’s Princeton University) in the opening years of that educational institution.  In the first nine years of its existence, five presidents were installed and five presidents were on the short list to heaven!  That fifth president was Samuel Finley.

Born in Scotland in 1715, Samuel Finley came over to the colonies at age nineteen. He studied theology at the celebrated Log College under the Tennents, was ordained into the New Brunswick Presbytery as a revivalist preacher.  He was clearly a New Side Presbyterian.

Assigned first to a brand new Presbyterian church in Mitford, Connecticut, he discovered that the governor of Connecticut really did not want him, or for that matter, the Presbyterian Church.  He was escorted, or should I say, expelled from the colony.  It is clear from his later ministry that this was all due to the providence of God.

For the next seventeen years, he was the pastor of Nottingham, Maryland.  Receiving  accolades as the best training academy in the middle colonies, West Nottingham Academy soon became the school to attend.  With a standard of great scholarship, two signers of the Declaration of Independence — Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton — studied under Samuel Finley there.

Finally, in 1761, as a member of the original board of trustees, Samuel Finley was chosen to be president of the College of New Jersey.  It was a time for numerical growth and spiritual growth for the college.  In fact, a revival broke out during the second year of Finley’s presidency.  It was said of Samuel Finley that he was a very accurate scholar and a very great and good man.  His preaching was “calculated to inform the ignorant, alarm the careless and secure, and edify and comfort the faithful.”  The students loved him and respected his scholarship.

A favorite expression before he died on July 17, 1766, is just as true now as it was then. Samuel Finley said constantly, “the Lord Jesus will take care of His cause in the world.”

Words to Live By: 
By no means are we to be lazy because the Lord will take care of his cause in the world.  We are told in Scripture to take advantage of every opportunity, because we live in evil days.  But there is comfort to know that the Lord is in control of His church, and His cause.  Let that be our thought as we go through this week.

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A Christian of Exceptional Personality and Evangelistic Appeal

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Charles Woodbridge, born January 24, 1902, was described by his fellow Reformed Christians as being no ordinary General Secretary. From his heritage as the fifteenth generation minister of his family line, dating back to 1493, from his own father who had been a missionary in China, from the fact that he married the daughter of a missionary, Charles Woodbridge would be known as “a man of exceptional personality and evangelistic appeal.” His spiritual gifts made him the perfect architect of a new mission strategy in reaching the world for Christ.

Yet the main line denomination of which he was a part, did not take kindly to this new mission upstart. Within a year, steps were taken to force him to abandon this new missions work, and when he chose not to follow their directives, Charles Woodbridge was censured by the church. He left in 1937 to become a pastor of the Presbyterian Church in North Carolina for several years.

Eventually, he served as a theological seminary professor and author, always seeking to warn Christians of the danger of compromising the Word of God. He died not all that many years ago, on 16 July 1995, at the age of 93.

woodbridge-ibpfmAs the General Secretary of the Independent Board, Rev. Woodbridge composed, on behalf of the Independent Board, a “Statement as to Its Organization and Program.” The text that follows is a portion of that Statement:—

The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions

The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions is an agency established for the quickening of missionary zeal and the promotion of truly Biblical and truly Presbyterian foreign missions throughout the world.

It is independent in that it is not responsible, as an organiza­tion, to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., or to any other ecclesiastical body.

*      *     *     *

Why Was the Independent Board Established?

Because a great many loyal Presbyterians have lost faith in the official Board of the largest of the Presbyterian churches, which is the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. They cannot in good conscience support an organization which they regard as disloyal to the Word of God; but they are more eager than ever, in view of the growing apostasy throughout the world, to further the cause of Biblical foreign missions to the uttermost ends of the earth.

Why have so many persons lost confidence in the official Board? Because in the last few years the Board, in its official actions, has been compromising with error in a most dis­tressing way.

rethinkingWhen the Laymen’s Appraisal Commission’s Report was issued last year, an attack against the very heart of the Chris­tian message, the Board, instead of swiftly, directly, and uncom­promisingly repudiating the Report, answered it in terms which were most vague and unsatisfactory.

When Pearl Buck offered her resignation to the PCUSA Board of Missions, it was accepted by the Board “with regret,” commending her work in China.

[At right, if you can’t make out the dust-jacket blurb by Pearl Buck, it says, in part, “… I think this is the only book I have ever read that seems literally true in its every observation and right in its every conclusion…” — The effrontery of Mrs. Buck’s statement is impossible to miss. By itself it is proof that the concerns of orthodox Christians were not misplaced.]

Some of the Modernist institutions in China which the Board helps to support are: the “Church of Christ in China”, con­trolled by Modernists, in opposition to which a large group of conservative Christians organized the Bible Union of China; the National Christian Council of China, in whose Bulletin one may read extracts which make the true Christian shudder — for example, in one of its articles, Sun Yat Sen, Lenin and Jesus Christ are treated as figures of comparable grandeur; the Chris­tian Literature Society of China, where Modernist books are often printed; Yencheng University, a hotbed of “liberal” thought; these institutions, all destructive of Biblical Christian­ity, the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. helps to maintain.

At the meeting of the General Assembly in May, 1933, an attempt was made to remedy the situation through ecclesiastical action.

An Overture was presented to the Assembly which, if passed, would have been a real step toward the purification of the Board of Foreign Missions. A document of 110 pages was written in support of the Overture. This document is entitled “Modernism and the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A.” by Dr. J. Gresham Machen, and may be had upon request to the office of the General Secretary. In a clear, logical way the author of this pamphlet marshalled his facts. He proved that the Board of Foreign Missions had been tempor­ising in its attitude toward Modernism.

Instead of attempting to answer this document—and there was no satisfactory answer other than the entire reformation of the Board—the Board evaded the issue.

Instead of replying to the specific accusations which were levelled in black and white against its policies—accusations which to this day have never been disproved—The Board took refuge behind the career, character and personality of one of its leading secretaries, rallied the Assembly to the defense of a man, and, in the popular enthusiasm which was evoked, the Overture was lost.

—∞—

Thus some of the events which led up to the formation of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. Dr. Woodbridge served as General Secretary of the IBPFM and also as the editor of the Independent Board Bulletin, from March 1935-June 1937. Some of his more important publications through the remainder of his life included the following:
1935 – “The Social Gospel: A Review of the Current Mission Study Text Books Recommended for Adults by the Board of Foreign Missions, Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.,” Christianity Today 5.9 (February 1935): 209-211.
1937 – “Why I Have Resigned as General Secretary of the Independent Board,” The Presbyterian Guardian 4.5 (12 June 1937): 69-71. Available here.
1945
 – The Chronicle of Salimbene of Parma: A Thirteenth Century Christian Synthesis. Durham, NC: Duke University, Ph.D. dissertation, 305 p.
1947 – Standing on the Promises: Rich Truths from the Book of Acts.
1953 – A Handbook of Christian Truth, co-authored with Harold Lindsell.
1953 – Romans: The Epistle of Grace.
1962 – Bible Prophecy.
1969 – The New Evangelicalism.

Image sources:
• News clipping [publisher not known] from the Henry G. Welbon Manuscript Collection, Scrapbook no. 1, page 34.
 Cover of The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions: A Statement As to its Organization and Program, by Charles J. Woodbridge. (1934)
• Dust-jacket of Re-Thinking Missions: A Laymen’s Inquiry After One Hundred Years. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1932.

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This paper was read before a group of ministers in Philadelphia on November 27, 1933. It was subsequently published in Christianity Today (August 1934) and in a collection of Machen’s essays edited by Ned B. Stonehouse, published under the title What Is Christianity? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951). The address was again separately reprinted in 2002 by the Committee for the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and can also be found online at the OPC website : http://www.opc.org/machen/mountains.html.

Mountains and Why We Love Them
by J. Gresham Machen

machen_climbingWhat right have I to speak about mountain-climbing? The answer is very simple. I have none whatever. I have, indeed, been in the Alps four times. The first time I got up Monte Rosa, the second highest of the Alps, and one or two others of the easier Zermatt peaks. On my second visit I had some glorious days in the Grossglockner group and on a few summits in the Zillerthal Alps and also made my first visit to that beautiful liberty-loving land of South Tirol, where, as a result of a war fought to “make the world safe for democracy,” Mussolini is now engaged in the systematic destruction of a language and civilization that has set its mark upon the very face of the landscape for many centuries. On my third visit, in 1913, I did my most ambitious climbing, all in the Eastern Alps, getting up the Kleine Zinne by the north face, certain of the sporty Cortina courses, and also the Campanile di Val Montanaia, which is not considered altogether easy. In 1932 I was on three of the first-class Zermatt peaks.

Why, then, have I no right to talk about mountain-climbing? For the simple reason that I did all of these climbs with good guides, safeguarded by perfectly good Alpine ropes. An Alpine guide is said to be able to get a sack of meal up the Matterhorn about as well as he can get some tourists up, and then those tourists go home and boast what great mountaineers they are. Well, I differed from the proverbial sack of meal in two particulars: (1) I am a little superior to the sack of meal in climbing ability; (2) the sack of meal is unaware of the fact that it is not a mountaineer, and I am fully aware of the fact that I am not. The man who leads on the rope is the man who has to be a real mountaineer, and I never did that. I am less than the least of the thousands of real climbers who go to the Alps every summer and climb without guides.

But although I am not a mountaineer, I do love the mountains and I have loved them ever since I can remember anything at all. It is about the love of the mountains, rather than about the mountains, that I am venturing to read this little paper today.

Can the love of the mountains be conveyed to those who have it not? I am not sure. Perhaps if a man is not born with that love it is almost as hopeless to try to bring it to him as it would be to explain what color is to a blind man or to try to make President Roosevelt understand the Constitution of the United States. But on the whole I do believe that the love of the mountains can at least be cultivated, and if I can do anything whatever toward getting you to cultivate it, the purpose of this little paper will be amply attained.

One thing is clear—if you are to learn to love the mountains you must go up them by your own power. There is more thrill in the smallest hill in Fairmount Park if you walk up it than there is in the grandest mountain on earth if you go up it in an automobile. There is one curious thing about means of locomotion—the slower and simpler and the closer to nature they are, the more real thrill they give. I have got far more enjoyment out of my two feet than I did out of my bicycle; and I got more enjoyment out of my bicycle than I ever have got out of my motor car; and as for airplanes—well, all I can say is that I wouldn’t lower myself by going up in one of the stupid, noisy things! The only way to have the slightest inkling of what a mountain is is to walk or climb up it.

Photo 1 of 3 from correspondence of J. Gresham Machen to Allan A. MacRae, dated 4 August 1935.

The Mettelhorn in the foreground, 4192 m., & in the background, the Weisshorn, 4512 m.

 

Now I want you to feel something of what I feel when I am with the mountains that I love. To that end I am not going to ask you to go with me to any out-of-the-way place, but I am just going to take you to one of the most familiar tourist’s objectives, one of the places to which one goes on every ordinary European tour—namely, to Zermatt—and in Zermatt I am not going to take you on any really difficult climbs but merely up one or two of the peaks by the ordinary routes which modern mountaineers despise. I want you to look at Zermatt for a few minutes not with the eyes of a tourist, and not with the eyes of a devotee of mountaineering in its ultra-modern aspects, but with the eyes of a man who, whatever his limitations, does truly love the mountains.

In Zermatt, after I arrived on July 15, 1932, I secured Alois Graven as my guide; and on a number of the more ambitious expeditions I had also Gottfried Perren, who also is a guide of the first class. What Ty Cobb was on a baseball diamond and Bill Tilden is on the courts, that such men are on a steep snow or ice slope, or negotiating a difficult rock, Ueberhang. It is a joy as I have done in Switzerland and in the Eastern Alps, to see really good climbers at work.

At this point I just want to say a word for Swiss and Austrian guides. Justice is not done to them, in my judgment, in many of the books on climbing. You see, it is not they who write the books. They rank as professionals, and the tourists who hire them as “gentleman”; but in many cases I am inclined to think that the truer gentleman is the guide. I am quite sure that that was the case when I went with Alois Graven.

In addition to climbing practice on the wrong side of the cocky little Riffelhorn and on the ridge of the Untergabelhorn—which climbing practice prevented me from buttoning my back collar button without agony for a week—and in addition to an interesting glacier expedition around the back side of the Breithorn and up Pollux (13,430 feet) and Caster (13,850) and down by the Fellikjoch through the ice fall of the Zwillingsgletscher, on which expedition I made my first acquaintance with really bad weather in the high Alps and the curious optical illusions which it causes—it was perfectly amazing to see the way in which near the summit of Caster the leading guide would feel with his ice-axe for the edge of the ridge in what I could have sworn to be a perfectly innocent expanse of easy snowfield right there in plain view before our feet, and it was also perfectly amazing to see the way in which little pieces of ice on the glacier were rolled by way of experimentation down what looked like perfectly innocent slopes, to see whether they would simply disappear in crevasses which I could have sworn not to be there (if they disappeared we didn’t because we took the hint and chose some other way through the labyrinth)—after these various preliminary expeditions and despite the agony of a deep sore on my right foot in view of which the Swiss doctor whom I consulted told me that as a physician he would tell me to quit but that as a man he knew I would not do so and that therefore he would patch me up as well as possible, and despite the even greater agony of a strained stomach muscle which I got when I extricated myself and was extricated one day from a miniature crevasse and which made me, the following night in the Theodul hut, feel as helpless as a turtle laid on its back, so that getting out of my bunk became a difficult mountaineering feat—after these preliminary expeditions and despite these and other agonies due to a man’s giving a fifty-year-old body twenty-year-old treatment, I got up three first-class Zermatt peaks; the Zinalrothorn, the Matterhorn, and the Dent Blanche. Of these three, I have not time—or rather you have not time (for I for my part should just love to go on talking about the mountains for hours and Niagara would have nothing on me for running on)—I say, of these you have not time for me to tell about more than one. It is very hard for me to choose among the three. The Zinalrothorn, I think, is the most varied and interesting as a climb; the Dent Blanche has always had the reputation of being the most difficult of all the Zermatt peaks, and it is a glorious mountain indeed, a mountain that does not intrude its splendors upon the mob but keeps them for those who will penetrate into the vastnesses or will mount to the heights whence true nobility appears in its real proportions. I should love to tell you of that crowning day of my month at Zermatt, when after leaving the Schönbühl Hut at about 2.30 A.M. (after a disappointment the previous night when my guides had assisted in a rescue expedition that took one injured climber and the body of one who was killed in an accident on the Zmutt Ridge of the Matterhorn, opposite the hut where we were staying, down to Zermatt so that we all arrived there about 2 A.M., about the time when it had been planned that we should leave the hut for our climb) we made our way by lantern light up into the strange upper recesses of the Schönbühl Glacier, then by the dawning light of the day across the glacier, across the bottom of a couloir safe in the morning but not a place where one lingers when the warmth of afternoon has affected the hanging glacier two thousand feet above, then to the top of the Wandfluh, the great south ridge, at first broad and easy but contracting above to its serrated knife-edge form, then around the “great gendarme” and around or over the others of the rock towers on the ridge, until at last that glorious and unbelievable moment came when the last few feet of the sharp snow ridge could be seen with nothing above but a vacancy of blue, and when I became conscious of the fact that I was actually standing on the summit of the Dent Blanche.

Photo 1 of 3 from correspondence of J. Gresham Machen to Allan A. MacRae, dated 4 August 1935.

The Matterhorn, 4505 m. and Dent d’Herens, 4180.

But the Matterhorn is a symbol as well as a mountain, and so I am going to spend the few minutes that remain in telling you about that.

There is a curious thing when you first see the Matterhorn on a fresh arrival at Zermatt. You think your memory has preserved for you an adequate picture of what it is like. But you see that you were wrong. The reality is far more unbelievable than any memory of it can be. A man who sees the Matterhorn standing at that amazing angle above the Zermatt street can believe that such a thing exists only when he keeps his eyes actually fastened upon it.

When I arrived on July 15, 1932, the great mountain had not yet been ascended that summer. The masses of fresh snow were too great; the weather had not been right. That is one way in which this mountain retains its dignity even in the evil days upon which it has fallen when duffers such as I can stand upon its summit. In storm, it can be almost as perilous as ever even to those who follow the despised easiest route.

It was that despised easiest route, of course, which I followed—though my guide led me to have hopes of doing the Zmutt Ridge before I got through. On Monday, August 1st, we went up to the “Belvedere,” the tiny little hotel (if you can call it such) that stands right next to the old Matterhorn Hut at 10,700 feet. We went up there intending to ascend the Matterhorn the next day. But alas for human hopes. Nobody ascended the Matterhorn the next day, nor the day after that, nor that whole week. On Wednesday we with several other parties went a little way, but high wind and cold and snow soon drove us back. The Matterhorn may be sadly tamed, but you cannot play with it when the weather is not right. That applies to experts as well as to novices like me. I waited at the Belvedere all that week until Friday. It is not the most comfortable of summer resorts, and I really think that the stay that I made in it was one of the longest that any guest had ever made. Its little cubby-holes of rooms are admirable as Frigidaires, but as living quarters they are “not so hot.” People came and people went; very polyglot was the conversation: but I remained. I told them that I was the hermit or the Einsiedler of the Belvedere. At last, however, even I gave it up. On Friday I returned to Zermatt, in plenty of time for the Saturday night bath!

The next Monday we toiled again up that five thousand feet to the Belvedere, and this time all went well. On Tuesday, August 9th, I stood on what I suppose is, next to Mt. Everest, the most famous mountain in the world.

From the Belvedere to the summit is about four thousand feet. The Matterhorn differs from every other great Alpine peak that I know anything about in that when you ascend it by the usual route you do not once set foot on a glacier. You climb near the northeast ridge—for the most part not on the actual ridge itself but on the east face near the ridge. In some places in the lower part there is some danger from falling stones, especially if other parties are climbing above. There is scarcely anything that the blasé modern mountaineer calls rock climbing of even respectable difficulty; but it is practically all rock climbing or clambering of a sort, and it seems quite interesting enough to the novice. The most precipitous part is above what is called “the shoulder,” and it was from near this part that the four members of Whymper’s party fell 4,000 feet to their death when they were descending after the first ascent in 1865. There are now fixed ropes at places in this part. You grasp the hanging rope with one hand and find the holds in the rock with the other. It took me five hours and forty minutes to make the ascent from the Belvedere. It would certainly have been no great achievement for an athlete; but I am not an athlete and never was one, and I was then fifty-one years of age and have an elevator in the building where I live. The rarefied air affected me more than it used to do in my earlier years, and the mountain is about 14,700 feet high. I shall never forget those last few breathless steps when I realized that only a few feet of easy snow separated me from the summit of the Matterhorn. When I stood there at last—the place where more than any other place on earth I had hoped all my life that I might stand—I was afraid I was going to break down and weep for joy.

Photo 1 of 3 from correspondence of J. Gresham Machen to Allan A. MacRae, dated 4 August 1935.

The summit of the Matterhorn (Mont Cervin)

The summit looks the part. It is not indeed a peak, as you would think it was from looking at the pictures which are taken from Zermatt, but a ridge—a ridge with the so-called Italian summit at one end and the so-called Swiss summit three feet higher at the other. Yes, it is a ridge. But what a ridge! On the south you look directly over the stupendous precipice of the south face to the green fields of Valtournanche. On the north you look down an immensely steep snow slope—with a vacancy beyond that is even more impressive than an actual view over the great north precipice would be. As for the distant prospect, I shall not try to describe it, for the simple reason that it is indescribable. Southward you look out over the mysterious infinity of the Italian plain with the snows of Monte Viso one hundred miles away. To the west, the great snow dome of Mont Blanc stands over a jumble of snow peaks; and it looks the monarch that it is. To the north the near peaks of the Weisshorn and the Dent Blanche, and on the horizon beyond the Rhone Valley a marvelous glittering galaxy of the Jungfrau and the Finsteraarhorn and the other mountains of the Benese Oberland. To the east, between the Strahlhorn and Monte Rosa, the snows of the Weissthorn are like a great sheet let down from heaven, exceeding white and glistering, so as no fuller on earth can white them; and beyond, fold on fold, soft in the dim distance, the ranges of the Eastern Alps.

Then there is something else about that view from the Matterhorn. I felt it partly at least as I stood there, and I wonder whether you can feel it with me. It is this. You are standing there not in any ordinary country, but in the very midst of Europe, looking out from its very centre. Germany just beyond where you can see to the northeast, Italy to the south, France beyond those snows of Mont Blanc. There, in that glorious round spread out before you, that land of Europe, humanity has put forth its best. There it has struggled; there it has fallen; there it has looked upward to God. The history of the race seems to pass before you in an instant of time, concentrated in that fairest of all the lands of the earth. You think of the great men whose memories you love, the men who have struggled there in those countries below you, who have struggled for light and freedom, struggled for beauty, struggled above all for God’s Word. And then you think of the present and its decadence and its slavery, and you desire to weep. It is a pathetic thing to contemplate the history of mankind.

I know that there are people who tell us contemptuously that always there are croakers who look always to the past, croakers who think that the good old times are the best. But I for my part refuse to acquiesce in this relativism which refuses to take stock of the times in which we are living. It does seem to me that there can never be any true advance, and above all there can never be any true prayer, unless a man does pause occasionally, as on some mountain vantage ground, to try, at least, to evaluate the age in which he is living. And when I do that, I cannot for the life of me see how any man with even the slightest knowledge of history can help recognizing the fact that we are living in a time of sad decadence—a decadence only thinly disguised by the material achievements of our age, which already are beginning to pall on us like a new toy. When Mussolini makes war deliberately and openly upon democracy and freedom, and is much admired for doing so even in countries like ours; when an ignorant ruffian is dictator of Germany, until recently the most highly educated country in the world—when we contemplate these things I do not see how we can possibly help seeing that something is radically wrong. Just read the latest utterances of our own General Johnson, his cheap and vulgar abuse of a recent appointee of our President, the cheap tirades in which he develops his view that economics are bunk—and then compare that kind of thing with the state papers of a Jefferson or a Washington—and you will inevitably come to the conclusion that we are living in a time when decadence has set in on a gigantic scale.

What will be the end of that European civilization, of which I had a survey from my mountain vantage ground—of that European civilization and its daughter in America? What does the future hold in store? Will Luther prove to have lived in vain? Will all the dreams of liberty issue into some vast industrial machine? Will even nature be reduced to standard, as in our country the sweetness of the woods and hills is being destroyed, as I have seen them destroyed in Maine, by the uniformities and artificialities and officialdom of our national parks? Will the so-called “Child Labor Amendment” and other similar measures be adopted, to the destruction of all the decencies and privacies of the home? Will some dreadful second law of thermodynamics apply in the spiritual as in the material realm? Will all things in church and state be reduced to one dead level, coming at last to an equilibrium in which all liberty and all high aspirations will be gone? Will that be the end of all humanity’s hopes? I can see no escape from that conclusion in the signs of the times; too inexorable seems to me to be the march of events. No, I can see only one alternative. The alternative is that there is a God—a God who in His own good time will bring forward great men again to do His will, great men to resist the tyranny of experts and lead humanity out again into the realms of light and freedom, great men, above all, who will be messengers of His grace. There is, far above any earthly mountain peak of vision, a God high and lifted up who, though He is infinitely exalted, yet cares for His children among men.

What have I from my visits to the mountains, not only from those in the Alps, but also, for example, from that delightful twenty-four-mile walk which I took one day last summer in the White Mountains over the whole Twin Mountain range? The answer is that I have memories. Memory, in some respects, is a very terrible thing. Who has not experienced how, after we have forgotten some recent hurt in the hours of sleep, the memory of it comes back to us on our awaking as though it were some dreadful physical blow. Happy is the man who can in such moments repeat the words of the Psalmist and who in doing so regards them not merely as the words of the Psalmist but as the Word of God. But memory is also given us for our comfort; and so in hours of darkness and discouragement I love to think of that sharp summit ridge of the Matterhorn piercing the blue or the majesty and the beauty of that world spread out at my feet when I stood on the summit of the Dent Blanche.

Words to Live By:
God will, in His own good time, bring forward great men again to do His will, great men who will resist the tyranny of experts and lead humanity out again into the realms of light and freedom, great men, above all, who will be messengers of His grace. There is, far above any earthly mountain peak of vision, a God high and lifted up who, though He is infinitely exalted, yet cares for His children among men.

Image sources: The images from the Alps are scanned from postcards sent back by Dr. Machen in a letter to Dr. Allan A. MacRae. To read more about this address by Dr. Machen, click here.

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The Apostle to the Coal Fields of Pennsylvania
Written by davidtmyers

Have you ever had the experience of believing firmly that your Christian calling in life was to some place, and then at the last moment, you were denied that expectation of service? If this resonates with you, then you will appreciate the post today, for that was the experience of our subject.

websterRichard02His name was Richard Webster. Born on this day July 14, 1811, he was the youngest child of Charles and Cynthia Webster, of Albany, New York. His father was a book seller in that town, and the publisher of an influential newspaper in Albany. But of far greater importance, both parents were committed Christians and members of the First Presbyterian Church. Reared then as a child of promise, Richard early professed his faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Joining the church of his parents, he began to develop his Christian faith, so that it was begun to be said that “no one could mistake the purposes of his life.”

After graduating from college, he entered Princeton Theological Seminary in 1832 where he sat under the teaching of such spiritual giants as Charles Hodge, Samuel Miller, and Archibald Alexander.

Having a great intelligence, he excelled in his understanding of theology, even continuing long after seminary to study the Scriptures in their original languages, rather than letting those disciplines fall away. He possessed more than a “warm social feeling” in finding humor in himself and other places, bring laughter to many a good friend.

Some serious physical ailments came to plague him in seminary, which were that of deafness and near sightedness. As his life went on, both became more pronounced in severity, but he did not let these deficiencies block his desire to serve the Lord. Believing that he possessed a call to the foreign mission field, he applied to the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church. But literally, at the last moment, he received strong signs that this was not God’s will for his life. He was saddened, to say the least.

Despite that change of calling, after ordination, he began to minister in the destitute coal towns of Pennsylvania. Traveling to what is now called Jim Thorpe, then called Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, he began to evangelize sinners and edify the saints of God. Believing that Calvinism and Presbyterianism were Scriptural, and part of apostolic Christianity, he organized the Presbyterian Church in that town with 24 members. But he didn’t just stay there, he went to all the rough camps of coal miners in the region, where there was a low state of religion. The gospel went with him, with eventually twelve churches established in six counties. In fact, an entire presbytery was established by the General Assembly to represent all of those churches which he was instrumental in beginning.

In 1838, he married Elizabeth Cross, who gave him a home, and a full one at that, with six children (and some say seven children) born to the union. His deafness increased in time, making life and ministry more difficult. But he continued on, even writing a book of the History of the Presbyterian Church in America from its beginnings to 1760. That book is available both in print and on the Web now. Rev. Webster would go to be with his Lord and Savior on June 19, 1857, just shy of 45 years of age.

Words to Live By:
It was said by one parishioner that his conversations with the sinful inhabitants of that area of Pennsylvania were always conducted in “a strain of extreme tenderness, beseeching them, by the mercies of God, to turn from their evil ways” and trust in Christ. Oh to have more soul-winners among professing Christians today, with a firm confidence in the Scriptural promise that “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48c NASB).

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HENRY PATTILLO

A NATIVE of Scotland, was in a counting-house, in Virginia, and, probably through the influence of Thomson, was on his way  to Pennsylvania, with a view to study for the ministry, when he met Davies at Roanoke.  This was in 1751.  He went with him to his house, and pursued a course of instruction under his care, and was licensed, by Hanover Presbytery, September 29, 1757, “agreeably to the practice of the Church of Scotland.”  He had spent some time in teaching, and was married to Miss Anderson.  He “desired to do good,” and was sent to Hico, (Dismal Swamp,) Albemarle, Orange, and Cumberland.  He was called to the churches of Willis Creek, Byrd, and Buck Island, and was ordained July 13, 1758.  He was dismissed from his charge, October, 1762, and spent two years in Cumberland, Harris Creek, and Deep Creek.  He then removed to North Carolina, and was installed, October 2, 1765, at Hawfields, Eno, and Little River.

He was a delegate, in 1775, to the Provincial Congress.  In 1780, he became the minister of Grassy Creek and Nutbush congregations, largely made up of converts under the ministry of Davies.  They gave him three hundred acres in fee, on condition of his staying with them for life.

He was one of the first members of Orange Presbytery, and presided at the organization of the Synod of the Carolinas.

He published a small volume,[1] containing, among other things, his letter, “On Predestination,” to Francis Asbury, dated Granville, June 14, 1787, and a defence of his conduct in admitting to the Lord’s table persons holding Arminian sentiments:  on one occasion, six or eight Methodist preachers, and a number of their people, after due notice, received the sacrament at his hands.

At the close of a long life,[2] he was stripped of his property, and reduced to want, on account of the failure of his son in business, for whom he had been an endorser.  He and his aged wife are said to have adorned the doctrine of God their Saviour by their submission and patience under this trial.

He died in Dinwiddie county, Virginia, in 1801, aged seventy-five.

To originality of genius and superior powers he added piety, public spirit, and faithfulness in his ministry.  Like his teacher and model, Samuel Davies, he paid much attention to the coloured people, and was successful in doing much good among them.  “Of the religious negroes in my congregation, some are entrusted with a kind of eldership, so as to keep a watch over the others; any thing wrong seldom happens.”  After the Revolution, he lamented that the supply of good books from abroad ceased, and that he had none to give away to the servants.

Several instances of unworthy men from abroad coming to the South, and occasioning trouble, with disgrace to the ministry, led him to write to the Synod of the Carolinas not to admit any foreign ministers to labour in their bounds, counting it better to have laymen discharge the sacred function, or even leave the churches entirely vacant.  He rejoiced greatly in the revival under John B. Smith, in Virginia, and welcomed the young men who, under his influence, entered the ministry.

Pattillo had “often thought that the popular Congregational form,  joined to the Presbyterian judicatures as a last resort, would form the most perfect model of church government that the state of things on earth admits of.”  The errors which afterwards carried away Barton W. Stone and the New Lights in one direction, and Thomas B. Creaghead in another, received countenance, in some measure, from Pattillo.  He was inclined to assume the pre-existence of the human soul of Christ, and the peccability
of his human nature.

[1] In the possession of Rev. A.B. Cross.

[2] Connecticut Evangelical Magazine.

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

Q. 27. — Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?

A. — Christ’s humiliation consisted in his being born, and that in a low condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross, in being buried and continuing under the power of death for a time.

Scripture References: Luke 2:7; Phil. 2:6-8; Gal. 4:4; Isa. 53:6; Matt. 27:46; Gal. 3:13; I Cor. 15:3,4.

Questions:

1. In what things did Christ humble himself?

Christ humbled himself in His birth, in his life and in His death.

2. How did Christ humble Himself in His birth?

Christ humbled himself in His birth in that he was born of a virgin in a manger, becoming man who was the eternal Son of God.

3. How did Christ humble Himself In His life?

Christ humbled himself in His life in subjecting Himself to the law; because he entered into conflict with the devil; because He endured the slander of men who were wicked; because He endured the infirmities of the flesh even those endured by all men.

4. How did Christ humble Himself in His death?

Christ humbled himself in His death by submitting himself to the cursed death of the cross (Gal. 3:13) and undergoing the agony described in the Scripture as happening to Him.

5. What does Christ’s humiliation mean to us as Christians?

Christ’s humiliation assured us of our redemption, through the merits of His sufferings (Eph.1 :7).

6. Was the soul or body of Christ separated from Him during His death?

No, his soul or body could not be separated from him since he was divine and the Scripture teaches us that he i. “the same yesterday, and today, and forever”. (He)). 13:8)

GOLGOTHA!

Abraham Kuyper, in his helpful book, “His Decease At Jerusalem”, states, “Even among the most devout only a few are willing to plumb the depths of Golgotha’s real significance. We are mostly occupied with the outward evidences of His dying. That does not disturb us nearly so much. But to endure the heart-breaking, soul-lacerating examination of His conflict with Sin, Satan, and the Sentence of Death, none seem to be willing to do.”

Golgotha! Here our Lord came to the climax of those things done in order that others might live. Nothing was left Him but a cross whereon He could die. And this amid the mocking laughter of His slanderers. Look to the Cross of Christ, where the Christ heard those words of mockery, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” How very true they were, little did those who said them realize what a profound truth they were uttering. For therein was the truth of His dying, in order to save others He could not save Himself! He paid the final price on the Cross and then He knew that the debt for man’s redemption was paid up in full. He was free then to utter the words, “It is finished!” It was a thunderous cry of victory over the prince of the world and his cohorts.

We sing about the Cross and we speak of it—but do we think deeply in considering the humiliation He suffered there? How little are our thoughts directed towards developing heartfelt understanding of His sacrifice on the Cross. What He suffered there for our sakes, what He did there made the precious gift of eternal life for you and for me!

We need to think more of the scene of Golgotha and let it be a continual remembrance to us of the precious blood He shed, we need to see that Cross in which we find our glory.

We need to examine our hearts before Him and ask Him, with the Psalmist of old, “Search me 0 God and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We need to remember what He did for us and ask ourselves the question: “What are we doing for Him?” Are we willing to renounce all for His sake? Are we willing to be humiliated by the world as we testify for Him? Are we willing to give up whatever is necessary in order to walk to His glory? Blessed Redeemer, Precious Redeemer is our cry—what do our lives testify?

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 27 (March 1963)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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