November 2015

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On this day, Neovember 20: 

janeway_sm021774 — Birth of Jacob Jones Janeway, in the city of New York, the eldest child of George and Effie (Ten Eyck) Janeway. The year 1797 found the young man diligent in the use of the means of grace, and seeking growth in the divine life. “In reviewing my conduct, I felt that my sins were pardoned. In the morning exercise, on Monday, I was somewhat earnest in pleading with God. Towards the end of the week too much absorbed in study.” “This week my soul has been somewhat refreshed. I see that my heart is deceitful and easily ensnared by the world. Though we depart from God in our affections, yet if we strive to return he will accept and help us. Remember, O my soul, the exhortation, Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. To this end I must be circumspect in my conduct, diligent and active.”

alexander_jw_sm1849 — Inauguration of the Rev. James W. Alexander, D.D., as professor of ecclesiastical history and church government in the theological seminary at Princeton. Born near Gordonsville, Virginia, in 1804, the eldest son of Archibald Alexander, James was raised in a household filled with theological giants of the faith. His father was the president of Hampden-Sydney College at that time. But by the time that schooling had begun for James, his father had taken the pulpit of the Third Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1807. Then in 1812, as the new seminary called Princeton began in New Jersey, the Alexander family moved there and Archibald Alexander became the first professor of that new divinity school. Young James graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1820. And while he studied theology at Princeton Seminary from 1822–1824, he would not be ordained by the historic Hanover Presbytery until 1827, having first served about three years as a tutor. He died on July 31, 1859.

league1925 — The First Annual Conference of the League of Evangelical Students was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, November 20-24, 1925. At this conference nineteen schools were represented, eleven theological seminaries and eight Bible schools, and these represented student bodies from Texas to Canada and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Conference, with its keynote on unswerving loyalty to the Bible as the only authoritative rule of faith and practice, was held on the campus of Calvin Theological Seminary and Dr. J. Gresham Machen spoke on the theme, “The Church’s Historic Fight against Modernism from Within.” An early 20th-century campus ministry, the League ran its course in a brief fifteen years, overtaken by the wider appeal of InterVarsity.

Harold Samuel Laird1936 — The Rev. Harold S. Laird, pastor of the First Independent Church, Wilmington, was elected president of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions [IBPFM], succeeding the Rev. Dr. J. Gresham Machen. Dr. Machen had also retired that same year as Moderator of the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America. The IBPFM had been organized in 1933 in response to the failure of the PCUSA to remove modernists from the foreign mission field. In reaction, the PCUSA’s General Assembly had, in 1934, issued a “Mandate” forbidding PCUSA ministers and laity from involvement with the IPBFM. Their refusal to step down from their participation with the IBPFM led to Machen and about a dozen others being defrocked or otherwise kicked out of the denomination.

soltau_addison_sm021952 — Addison Soltau was ordained on this day in 1952 and installed as pastor of the First Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Memphia, Tennessee. Born in Seoul, Korea, the son of missionary parents T. Stanley and Mary Cross (Campbell) Soltau, Addison came from a long and illustrious line of noteworthy Christians. He graduated from Wheaton College in 1949 and prepared for the ministry at Faith Theological Seminary, later earning a Th.M. degree from Calvin Seminary in 1966 and the Th.D. from Concordia Seminary in 1982. Leaving his pulpit in Tennessee, he labored as a missionary in Japan from 1953-1970, served as a professor at Reformed Bible College and at Covenant Theological Seminary, and has, since 1989, served on the pastoral staff of several churches in Florida. He is currently an associate pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Coral Springs, in Margate, Florida.

Words to Live By:
I suppose we could simply have stretched out the events of this twentieth day of November into the next six years with the six posts listed above, but it seemed good to explore some of the notable events and people for this date all at once. In that way, we behold the Lord’s providence of sovereignly governing both good and bad events on this day in Presbyterian history. James reminds us of the significance of one day when he asks and answers, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 1:14, ESVOpen in Logos Bible Software (if available)) To be sure, who among the people and events mentioned above ever wondered what else occurred on their day of November 20? That is why all of us need to take the words of James to heart when he wrote in verse 15, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:15, ESV). Use this last biblical thought as a prayer today as you read this post, and venture out into your world.

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When gathered all together, not much is really known about Annie Pearce Kinkead Warfield, wife of Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield. Our post today is drawn from a longer biographical article written for the PCA Historical Center by Barry Waugh.

Beloved Wife of a Scholar.

Benjamin pursued his theological education in preparation for the ministry by entering Princeton Theological Seminary in September of 1873. He was licensed to preach the gospel by Ebenezer Presbytery on May 8, 1875. Following licensure, he tested his ministerial abilities by supplying the Concord Presbyterian Church in Kentucky from June through August of 1875. After he received his divinity degree in 1876, he supplied the First Presbyterian Church of Dayton, Ohio, and while he was in Dayton, he married Annie Pearce Kinkead, the daughter of a prominent attorney, on August 3, 1876. Soon after he married Annie, the couple set sail on an extended study trip in Europe for the winter of 1876-1877. It was sometime during this voyage that the newly weds went through a great storm and Annie suffered an injury that debilitated her for the rest of her life; the biographers differ as to whether the injury was emotional, physical, or a combination of the two. Sometime during 1877, according to Ethelbert Warfield, Benjamin was offered the opportunity to teach Old Testament at Western Seminary, but he turned the position down because he had turned his study emphasis to the New Testament despite his early aversion to Greek (vii). In November 1877, he began his supply ministry at the First Presbyterian Church of Baltimore, where he continued until the following March. He returned to Kentucky and was ordained as an evangelist by Ebenezer Presbytery on April 26, 1879.

In September of 1878, Benjamin began his career as a theological educator when he became an instructor in New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. Western Seminary had been formed by the merger of existing seminaries including Danville Seminary, which R. J. Breckinridge, Benjamin’s grandfather, had been involved in founding. The following year he was made professor of the same subject and he continued in that position until 1887. In his inaugural address for Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Literature, April 20, 1880, he set the theme for many of his writing efforts in the succeeding years by defending historic Christianity. The purpose of his lecture was to answer the question, “Is the Church Doctrine of the Plenary Inspiration of the New Testament Endangered by the Assured Results of Modern Biblical Criticism.” Professor Warfield affirmed the inspiration, authority and reliability of God’s Word in opposition to the critics of his era. He quickly established his academic reputation for thoroughness and defense of the Bible. Many heard of his academic acumen and his scholarship was awarded by eastern academia when his alma mater, the College of New Jersey, awarded him an honorary D. D. in 1880.

According to Samuel Craig, Dr. Warfield was offered the Chair of Theology at the Theological Seminary of the Northwest in Chicago in 1881, but he did not end his service at Western until he went to teach at Princeton Theological Seminary beginning the fall semester of 1887. He succeeded Archibald Alexander Hodge as the Charles Hodge Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology. His inaugural address, delivered May 8, 1888, was titled “The Idea of Systematic Theology Considered as a Science.” As he taught theology, he did so using Hodge’s Systematic Theology and continued the Hodge tradition. The constant care Annie required and the duties associated with teaching at Princeton, resulted in a limited involvement in presbytery, synod, and general assembly. Annie lived a homebound life limiting herself primarily to the Princeton campus where Benjamin was never-too-far from home. The Warfields lived in the same campus home where Charles and Archibald Alexander Hodge lived during their years at Princeton.

warfieldakgravePictured at right: Commemorative plaque placed in Miller Chapel at Princeton Seminary in honor of B.B. Warfield. Photo by Dr. Barry Waugh.

Benjamin enjoyed a busy schedule at Princeton. One of his duties at Princeton included editing the Presbyterian Review, succeeding Francis L. Patton. When the Presbyterian Review was discontinued, he planned and produced the Presbyterian and Reformed Review until the Faculty of Princeton renamed it the Princeton Theological Review in 1902. During his Princeton years he was awarded several times with honorary degrees in addition to his D.D. including: the LL.D. by the College of New Jersey in 1892, the LL.D. by Davidson College in 1892, the Litt.D. by Lafayette College in 1911, and the S.T.D. by the University of Utrecht in 1913.

After thirty-nine years of marriage, Annie died November 19, 1915. She was buried in the Princeton cemetery of what is now the Nassau Street Presbyterian Church with a bronze, vault sized ground plate marking her location. Benjamin continued to teach at Princeton until he was taken ill suddenly on Christmas Eve of 1920. Until this illness, Dr. Warfield had followed an active and busy teaching schedule into his seventieth year of life. His condition was serious for a time, but he improved enough that he resumed partial teaching responsibilities on February 16, 1921. Despite not feeling ill effects from the class he taught that day, he died of coronary problems later that evening. He was buried next to his beloved Annie with a similar marker for his grave. The Warfields did not have any children.

Words To Live By:

Does the reality of your life live up to the words of your Christian testimony? The life-long love expressed by Dr. Warfield for his wife, no doubt sacrificial at times, stands as a vibrant witness to his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ calls us to live not for our own sake, or for our own comfort or advancement in this world. Rather, He calls us to live for His glory, and living that life in keeping with His Word may well mean great sacrifice of one sort or another. Through it all, God calls us to remain faithful, relying upon Him at every turn, and by His Spirit overcoming every adversity, all to His glory.

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Back When Presbyterians Seemed to Run Everything

Dartmouth College, located in Hanover, New Hampshire, was founded in December of 1769 (We will mention in passing that Samuel Miller was born that same year, less than two months earlier). Eleazar Wheelock served as the first president of the school and when he died in 1779, his son John Wheelock took up the mantle and served as the second president of Dartmouth. From there, the succeeding list of presidents came to be known as the “Wheelock Succession.”

Francis Brown was next called from his church in North Yarmouth, Maine, serving as the third president (1815-1820), during a particularly interesting crisis for the school. It was at this time that a legal challenge to the school arose, eventually coming before the Supreme Court. This was the famous Dartmouth College Case:

“The contest was a pivotal one for Dartmouth and for the newly independent nation. It tested the contract clause of the Constitution and arose from an 1816 controversy involving the legislature of the state of New Hampshire, which amended the 1769 charter granted to Eleazar Wheelock, making Dartmouth a public institution and changing its name to Dartmouth University. Under the leadership of President Brown, the Trustees resisted the effort and the case for Dartmouth was argued by Daniel Webster before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the historic decision in favor of Dartmouth College, thereby paving the way for all American private institutions to conduct their affairs in accordance with their charters and without interference from the state.”

But the whole affair was taxing and Rev. Brown died at the young age of 35. His successor, the Rev. Daniel Dana, lasted just one year before he too was worn out and resigned the post. Bennet Tyler and Nathan Lord, the next two presidents, faired better. While Tyler served just four years, Nathan Lord’s term as president ran from 1828 to 1863. His term might have run longer, but as events unfolded in the 1860’s, the Trustees of Dartmouth were forced to finally deal with the fact that the school’s president was a strong pro-slavery advocate.

smith_asa_dodgeSo it was that in 1863, the Rev. Asa Dodge Smith became the seventh president of Dartmouth College. Inaugurated on this day, November 18, in 1863, he served as president until his death on August 16, 1877, at the age of 73.

Asa Dodge Smith was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on September 21, 1804, the son of Dr. Roger and Sally (Hodge) Smith. He was himself a graduate of Dartmouth College (1830), and in the year or so following graduation he worked as the principal of an academy in Limerick, Maine. Preparing to enter the ministry, he studied at Andover Theological Seminary and graduated there in 1834. He was then ordained and installed as pastor of what was then the Brainerd Presbyterian church (later renamed as the 14th Street Presbyterian church) in New York City. Rev. Smith also served as a professor of pastoral theology at the Union Theological Seminary, NY, 1843-1844.

From here, the history states that,

“After the forced resignation of Nathan Lord in 1863 over his support for slavery, the Trustees wanted a more conservative president to take his place. As a preacher for 29 years at the 14th Street Presbyterian Church in New York City, Asa Dodge had developed a reputation as a religious man with abolitionist beliefs.

“Smith’s presidency was a period of great growth for the College, including the establishment of two new schools within Dartmouth. The New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, later moved to Durham, New Hampshire and renamed the University of New Hampshire, was originally founded in Hanover in 1866. One year later, the Thayer School of Engineering was founded. Over the course of his presidency, enrollment at the College was more than doubled, the number of scholarships increased from 42 to 103, and Dartmouth benefitted from several important bequests.”

Some of the honors conferred on the Rev. Asa Dodge Smith during his lifetime included the Doctor of Divinity degree, awarded by Williams College in 1849, and from the University of New York he received the Doctor of Letters degree in 1854. It was also during his tenure that the school celebrated its centennial anniversary, a momentous time nearly ruined by an unexpected thunderstorm. But ultimately the affair was not ruined for the participants, with attendees including Supreme Court Justice Salmon P. Chase, from the Class of 1826, and U.S. General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Words to Live By:
Perhaps covenant faithfulness is the lesson to take away from this account. A life lived apparently without amazing exploits or heart-rending stories, but lived faithfully before the Lord, using his God-given gifts and talents to the best of his ability, and all for the glory of God. So too most Christians live fairly average lives, undistinguished except for this one vital thing: Because of the finished cross-work of Jesus Christ, each one of His blood-bought children stands in a living, vital relationship with the God of creation, the Lord of all glory. On the surface, our lives may seem quite average, but the reality is far more exciting, far more glorious than even we can imagine.

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Under this date, November 17, 1859 and in preface to the Memorial volume for the Rev. Dr. Jacob Jones Janeway [pictured at right], prepared by Janeway’s son Thomas, there is this brief recollection of the deceased pastor, written by the Rev. W.M. Engles, who was for so long associated with the publishing efforts of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. There is much here that can be gleaned on the conduct of the Christian life, particularly for those in leadership:

PHILADELPHIA, November 17, 1859.



J.J. JanewayI am gratified to learn that you have in preparation a memorial of your late excellent father. One who accomplished a pilgrimage of four-score years with a purity of purpose and conduct which defied censoriousness, and who, through a long ministerial career, exhibited so much steadfastness and singleness of mind, is worthy of being held in everlasting remembrance.

My first introduction to your father was at an interesting period of my life, when I received a license to preach the gospel as a probationer, from the Presbytery of Philadelphia, and from that time to the close of his life, I was honoured by his friendship.  Although much his inferior in age, acquirements, and position, I was irresistibly attached to him by those condescending and genial attentions, which many in his situation would have withheld, but which were nevertheless peculiarly grateful to a young man who needed wise counsel, in just entering upon the duties and dangers of public life. The pleasant intercourse thus initiated was never interrupted. In visiting him as a friend I uniformly found him kind, frank and cordial, and in soliciting his advice I had always reason to admire his great practical wisdom.

It always appeared to me that your father never betrayed the variableness of a merely impulsive man; he acted from fixed principle, and habitually did what he had, in this way, settled to be right; so that under any supposable circumstances it might readily be foreseen how he would act.  This naturally inspired confidence in him as a perfectly conscientious and reliable man.  I have seen him in various positions, many of which were calculated to try his temper and test the stability of his principles, and I cannot now recall a single instance in which his course of procedure was not precisely in accordance with the high Christian character which he had so consistently maintained.  While he was earnest and tenacious in enforcing his own opinions, he could bear to be opposed and even defeated, without undue irritation, a grace, which it has often appeared to me, ministers were particularly slow in acquiring.

In his habits, your father was an example to younger ministers for his system and punctuality. He was systematic in his studies, his pastoral visitations, and even in his exercise for health; and in regard to punctuality he was seldom absent from appointments, perhaps I should say, never without sufficient cause.  This is my conviction from long intimacy with him as a co-presbyter.

As a theologian he was exact in his knowledge, and according to my notions, unmistakably sound in his views of divine truth.  The system which he honestly professed, he tenaciously held and boldly defended at a period of the church’s history, when novelties in doctrine were fashionable and “the good old way” was held up to ridicule as an effete and antiquated theology.  What he wrote and published on theological subjects was clear, and cogent, and well worthy of preservation. In the pulpit, while he displayed little of the rhetorician or poet, he was always in earnest, and had “ well beaten oil” to afford light to those who waited in the sanctuary.

To all these and other traits of personal and ministerial character you have, no doubt, much better and more definite testimony than I can offer.  Towards the close of your father’s life, when his robust frame began to give way to disease, and his well-ordered mind gave some tokens of a failure of its powers, I had several interviews with him, during which he expressed a confident hope in the “ sure covenant,” and manifested the same earnest zeal for the truth which he had ever done.

A character so uniform as was his, and a life so steady, regular and chastened, may furnish few remarkable incidents to impart zest to a biography; but in their whole tenor there was so much beauty and loveliness, that none could have known Dr. Janeway without being persuaded that he was an eminently good and holy man, and in the higher traits of character a model.  A life so well spent, in which so little was squandered, is just such an one as death could only interfere with, in order to perpetuate it in more genial climes,

Yours most truly,




A Warm Hearted Generous Irishman
by David T. Myers

Our famous person today is James McKinney. Besides being described as our title puts it, he was the founder, under God, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States, as Rev. Carlisle puts it in an article, The Life and Times of Rev. James McKinney. Certainly, both Rev. Glasgow and Rev. William Sprague testify that for scholarship and eloquence, he was not only the greatest man in the Covenanter church, but also he was a great man among men of that age. All of these accolades should cause us to want to know more about this servant of God.

Born on this day, November 16, 1759 in County Tyrone, Ireland, the son of Robert McKinney, James studied in the preparatory schools of his upbringing. Entering the University of Glasgow, Scotland, he spent four years before graduating in 1778. He stayed on in the area to study both theology and medicine. Licensed by the Reformed Presbytery of Ireland in 1783, and ordained by the same church court, he was installed in two congregations in County Antrim, Ireland. One year later, he married Mary Mitchell, from which union came five children.

He was faithful in administering the Word and Sacraments for ten years in these two Irish congregations. Known as a bold and fearless advocate of the rights of God and man, a sermon on the “Rights of God” made him a marked man by the British government. Indicted for treason by the latter, he escaped to America in 1793, with his family joining him later. From Vermont to the Carolinas, he ministered to Irish societies tirelessly, forming some of them into congregations. In 1797, his family joined him in the new land.

In 1798, in a new location in Philadelphia, he organized, with Rev. Gibson, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of America. He himself took charge of two congregations, one of which was Duanesburgh, New York. His broader ministry took him to other locations, as he and another minister visited the southern areas of this new land, to, and this is interesting, to seek to convince the churches of the land to abolish slavery from their thinking and actions.

In 1802, he resigned his pulpit at Duanesburgh, New York to accept the call of Rocky Creek, South Carolina. Soon after that, however, he died on September 16th, 1802.

Words to Live By:
A warm hearted generous Irishman! We may not be identified as Irish, but every reader is to be warm hearted and generous in our relations to our congregation and the neighbors in which we live and move as Christians. Too often we are anything but warm hearted and generous! Try instead Ephesians 5:31, 32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

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by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 48. — What are we especially taught by these words, “before me,” in the first commandment?

A. — These words, “before me,” in the first commandment, teach us that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.

Scripture References: I Chron. 28:9; Ps. 44:20-21.


1. How is it possible for God to see all things?

It is possible for God is every where present and has infinite understanding. The Bible says, “Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him? saith the Lord: do not I fill heaven and ,earth?” (Jer. 23:24) He is omniscient (knowing everything) as well as omnipresent (present every where at the same time) – Ps. 139. He knows us with perfect knowledge. o

2. How can Christians commit the sin of having other gods?

Christians can commit this sin by. allowing their interest and their affections to be set upon other things and by allowing those things to hold first place in their thoughts and activities.

3. Why is God so displeased with this sin?

God Is displeased with this sin because He is a jealous and a holy God. The Bible teaches,”I am the Lord, that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” (Isa.42:8)

4. Should not the fact that He is a jealous and a holy God influence our every action?

Yes, our every action should be influenced by this fact. It should keep us from sin; it should give us a hatred of the very thought of sin; it should quicken us moment by moment to make the prayer as stated in the hymn:

“I want a principle within Of watchful, godly fear,
A sensibility of sin, A pain to feel it near.
Help me the first approach to feel
Of pride or wrong desire;
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire.”
—Charles Wesley.


The knowledge that God sees all things should always be recognized by the believer. It should always be held before him as a ·burning lamp. In Daniel 2:28 we read, “There is a God in heaven, that revealeth secrets.” Now the secrets He revealed in that particular case were for His glory. Many times He acts to His glory too in the revealing of the secrets of our hearts. We can not flee Him, we can not hide anything from Him .. There is certainly a good lesson for the believer in

Francis Thompson’s famous words:

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.”

But all the fleeing did no good; God continued “with unhurrying chase, and unperturbed pace.” And God will always continue asking us to be honest with Him, to hide nothing from Him, to go all the way with Him. Through it all there is the knowledge, there should be the knowledge on our hearts, that He is in heaven and He revealeth secrets!

There is still another comfort in the fact that He revealeth secrets. This Is the comfort that some day we will understand His ways. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness. He will make us to understand why He permitted this or that misfortune to come into our ways. He will enable us to see why He delayed so long the coming of His Son, our Savior. He will show us why it was necessary for His true church to be persecuted. 0 blessed Day when the secrets are opened up to us!

The question we have before us is important: Can we be satisfied to live in these days ‘When the counsel of His will is secret? Can we go on day by day trusting Him even when we can not trace the way? Can we live on the one hand knowing that He knows the secrets of our hearts, and on the other hand knowing that there are many things He will not reveal to us? The secret of learning to be content, all to His glory, is found in being able to live ‘With both of these things. The Bible says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Tim. 6:8), May God, the God who revealeth secrets, give us this contentment as we are determined to live before Him with acts of godliness (2 Peter 3:11).

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 46 (October 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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Our post today comes from guest author and good friend, Barry Waugh, who has recently begun his own blog, PRESBYTERIANS OF THE PAST. Where THIS DAY IN PRESBYTERIAN HISTORY has always been intended as a brief devotional based on Presbyterian history, Barry will in contrast be posting just a few times a month but with fuller treatment of the subjects he takes up. The following is one of his most recent posts, this on the New School Presbyterians and the availability of some rather rare Minutes of their Synod of Philadelphia:—

PhilaSynodNSMinutesDuring the course of your web-surfing or reading about Presbyterian history you may have run across the terms, “Old School” and “New School,” or their abbreviations, “OS” and “NS.” Before getting to the purpose of this post, which is the PDF download of the minutes of the Synod of Pennsylvania, New School, a brief explanation of the terms “New School” and “Old School” may be beneficial.

Old School—Generally speaking, the Old School believed—in a stricter or fuller subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith and its associated standards; that the issue of slavery was a political and not a church issue; that missionary work should be under the direct oversight of the Presbyterian Church and not through independent mission organizations; and that the Plan of Union of 1801 affiliating the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) and the Congregational Church had been detrimental to the Presbyterians because of some of the theological views and practices from New England. These are not all the points of disagreement but they cover most of the issues. It could be said that the Old School believed—the church should be directly ruled in all its ministries by elders connectionally associated through its sessions, presbyteries, synods, and general assembly, with its interpretation of the Word of God governed by a conservative use of the Westminster Standards, and it believed that the church’s ministry is exclusively spiritual and not political. Thus, the Old School had a strong sense of the Word’s warrant for presbyterian government as the church government and it held to the necessity of confessional standards for proper interpretation of the Bible and governing the church rightly in its spiritual ministry.

New School—Generally speaking, the New School believed that—a considerably lesser adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith and its associated standards was acceptable, even necessary; the issue of slavery was within the bounds of the spiritual ministry of the church and many believed that immediate abolition was the best solution; the use of what might be called today interdenominational mission organizations was beneficial and more efficient for missionary work and church extension than committees overseen directly by the presbyters; the Plan of Union had not only benefitted the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians, particularly in terms of the growth of both denominations in the western frontier (i.e. New York, Ohio, etc.), but the New England theology influenced the PCUSA to be less rigorous and more open to differing doctrinal ideas.  The New School views could be summarized—the Presbyterian Church is governed by elders locally and connectionally but other polities, including congregational, are scriptural as well; the Presbyterians should participate in missionary organizations that are not under direct control of the denomination for more efficient evangelism; the interpretation of the Word of God by the Westminster Confession is of lesser or no importance for church doctrine and practice; and the church’s ministry is spiritual, but the spiritual work does not exclude political activism for what the church sees as pervasive sins in society.  Thus, the New School had a lesser sense of the uniqueness of presbyterian church government and a more inclusive idea of denominational ministry; a liberal, or nonexistent, adherence to the confessional standards for doctrine; and an expanded idea of what the spiritual ministry of the church looks like.

If you have never read anything about the Old School and the New School you are probably thinking that the two could not continue to exist together because it was a disaster from day one. You would be correct. The point for the beginning of trouble was seen by the Old School to be 1801 when the Plan of Union was accomplished. There were those who opposed the Plan of Union, but their appeals were not heeded. As the years passed, the members of the respective schools found their points of difference more polarizing, especially as the issue of slavery sectionalized both the nation and the churches. At the 1837 General Assembly of the PCUSA, the Old School had the majority and was able to undo some of the affects of the Plan of Union, the plan itself, and eject the New School. Obviously, it was not a happy situation following the 1837 General Assembly. The press, both private and religious, reported some of the unseemly moments on the floor of the assembly as commissioners railed and argued. Following the division, both sides claimed to be the true PCUSA.

Title Page, NS PCUSA Synod of PA, Minutes 1865, 11-11-2015When the Synod of Pennsylvania, New School, convened in the evening of Tuesday, October 17, 1865, in the Third Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, the retiring moderator, B. B. Hotchkin, the pastor of the Marple Church, passed the gavel to Rev. Thomas J. Shepherd of First Church in the Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. The meeting was particularly significant because it was the first annual meeting following the Civil War, the assassination of President Lincoln, and the inauguration of Vice President Andrew Johnson to the presidency. Since the previous synod meeting there were many things that had changed. For the New School, one of, if not the key issue for its identity, abolition of slavery, had been achieved. There was some optimism in the land about the future, especially if one lived north of the Mason-Dixon Line, but the optimism was tenuously mixed with different ideas about how the post-war situation with the Southern states should be handled. In the North, many adamantly contended that the former Confederacy should pay a heavy price, but on the other end were others desiring to see all the states working together as a reunified nation. In the South, there were many fearing retribution, wondering if they would have food, and apprehensive of finding work in the devastated economy, however, there were also numerous others consumed with anger against the North. Between the two poles of ideas in both North and South were a myriad of other perspectives.

The tension in the nation carried over into the meeting of the synod. The presbyters tended towards the heavy-price-to-be-paid view regarding the South’s future. The synod was meeting just a few months after the North and South had ceased killing each other and there was much mourning, ire, and bitterness. A series of six resolutions regarding “the State of the Country” were passed unanimously with a seventh added later, which was also passed unanimously. On the final day of the sessions as the business was coming to an end, a resolution was adopted regarding the health of Rev. Albert Barnes, who was a key figure of the New School and had been tried for heresy with the impetus provided by the Old School. Other resolutions regarding the usual house cleaning at the end of a synod were accomplished including the resolution of thanks to the host church. The synod adjourned to meet in the First Church, Carlisle, October 16, 1866, per the minute taking of Stated Clerk William E. Moore.

Please, download the free PDF of these minutes at the link below. The digital minutes were scanned from a copy owned by the author of this site. The minutes have an appendix that includes the synod’s standing rules; a directory of the presbyteries, churches, ministers, and elders; and there is a list of synod and presbytery officers.


To download these Minutes, click on the link below:
Minutes, New School Synod of Pennsylvania, Oct. 17, 1865, 10-1



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When He Died, The Town Shut Down.

John Todd Edgar, D. D., was born in Sussex county, Delaware, April 13th, 1792. His father removed to Kentucky in 1795. He was at the Transyl­vania University, Lexington, Kentucky, a short time, but was not a graduate. He graduated at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1816 [as Princeton Seminary was established in 1812, the school had only graduated its first class the year before, in 1815.] He was thereafter licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Brunswick.

Upon his ordination in 1817, he was installed as pastor of the Church at Flemingsburg, Kentucky, and la­bored there with earnestness and assiduity. He was subsequently pastor at Maysville, Kentucky, and in 1827 took charge of the Church at Frankfort, the capital of Kentucky. Here his eloquence soon gathered round him the leading men of the State.

In 1833 he accepted a call from a church in Nashville, Tennessee, and it was among this congregation that his great life-work was fully accomplished. A new facility was completed for the congregation in the year of his arrival, and the same building was destroyed by fire in September of 1848. The property was valued at $30,000 to $40,000, though only insured to the amount of $8,000.

Dr. Edgar died of a stroke, which was in that era called apoplexy, on November 13th, 1860, at the age of 68 years and 7 months. His death produced such a profound sensation in the community, that, by proclamation of the Mayor, there was a general suspension of business in the city, and the Chancery Court, then in session, adjourned.

Dr. Edgar was a cultivated and courteous gentle­man. His intellectual endowments were more remarkable for their admirable balance than for the special eminence of particular faculties. He was accounted one of the finest orators of his day. As a pastor, he was social, winning and a friend to all. His temperament was kind and genial, generous, loving and most just. He had a settled aversion to all that was mean, cruel and base, and was himself sustained by personal and moral firmness of the highest order, and was thor­oughly unselfish. By birth, training and deep con­viction he was a Presbyterian, and clear and constant in his convictions, kind and trustful towards all good men of every denomination, he was a noble specimen of the body to which he belonged.

Words to Live By:
“God often extorts, in a dying hour,” said George Whitefield, “that testimony to His grace which was not fully given in life; but he who has lived faithfully can afford to die silent.”

Freely edited from Nevin’s Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church, p. 208, with additional information drawn from The First Presbyterian Church of Nashville: A Documentary History. 

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An Assembly of Great Blessings

With over four hundred attendees, the Second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America met in the large auditorium of the Manufacturers’ and Bankers’ Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, beginning on Thursday,November 12, 1936.  Present were 64 teaching elders and 26 ruling elders, with numerous guests. The photograph below serves to document that occasion. To my knowledge, no photograph has been discovered of their first General Assembly, which met in June of 1936.

The first Moderator of the new denomination, J. Gresham Machen, preached from2 Corinthians 5:14, 15.  The text reads, “for the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”  Speaking on the love of Christ being a constraining force, Dr. Machen, in a message not soon forgotten by those who heard him, stated that Christians should not live to themselves but live unto Christ.

Taking the position of Moderator was the Rev. J. Oliver Buswell, D.D., president of Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.  He was to moderate the meeting in good fashion as a moderator should do, without fear of discipline or the ridicule of biblical positions.

This General Assembly adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms as they stood before the 1903 additions enacted by the P.C.U.S.A. general assemblies.  Thus the Presbyterian Church of America put itself on record as being a truly Reformed church.

Various reports came on this day and over the next two days, from committees set up by the previous Assembly in June of 1936. These included Home Missions and Church Extension, with report of 13 home missionaries already at work in the field.  Present among them was one home missionary to South Dakota, the Rev. David K. Myers, this writer’s father. The Committee on Foreign Missions also reported, encouraging support for the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. However, it also spoke about the establishment of an official  Board  of  Foreign  Missions  from the denomination at the next General Assembly.

Westminster Seminary was recommended to the pastors and congregations as worthy of their prayers and financial support. Held over to the next General Assembly was the adoption of a Form of Government, Book of Discipline, and Directory for Worship. The assembly was dissolved on Saturday evening, November 14, 1936

Also on this day, November 12, in 1886, Archibald Alexander Hodge died in Princeton, New Jersey.

PCofA_2dGA_MinutesWords to live by:  This writer can read the minutes of the Second General Assembly, as he has a copy of them before him, but the spirit of the meeting was only to be enjoyed by those who were actually present.  It must have been a joyous meeting to realize that since just that previous June of 1936, the number of ministers had increased from 35 pastors to 107 ministers in the Presbyterian Church of America.  God was doing a great work in this spiritual successor to the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.  Take time to look at your church choice, and if it is an Evangelical and Reformed Church, rejoice in what is happening in it as a sign of God’s blessings.  Indeed, support it with your tithes and offerings.  It probably is not perfect.  No church this side of glory is perfect. But if it is committed to the Scriptures, the Reformed faith, and the Great Commission, then give thanks for it, pray for it, and support it.

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Preacher McIntyre
by David T. Myers

In his young years in Scotland, his classmates called him “preacher McIntyre.” That was because his early years were subject to serious impressions. Growing up, he became an apprentice to a shoemaker in Glasgow, Scotland. This “job” was followed by the task of shepherding sheep in the Highlands of the country. John McIntyre would never forget the spiritual lessons of that calling, even many years later.

At the age of twenty years, he made a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It was said that his faith was tested by trying circumstances. One such example of those circumstances was, after his marriage, he emigrated to North Carolina. On the long ocean voyage, they buried overboard their first born child. In fact, unnamed domestic affliction and trouble rolled over the couple greatly, until they moved to South Carolina.

In attending camp meetings of the Great Revival, for a while he doubted his conversion. But God was at work in his life and he was able to recover his hope of eternal life. Pressing on in his spiritual life, he began to desire serving the Lord as an ordained minister. He was now in his early fifties, and friends opposed his desire. After all, he was not in his twenties. He had only a limited education. But John persisted in a laborious study and application of the requisite courses of theology. As a result, he was licensed to preach on September 25, 1807. For the next thirty years, he supplied pulpits at Presbyterian congregations – in Philadelphia, Bethel, Lumber Ridge, and at St. Paul.

His death took place on this day, November 11, 1852, at the age of one hundred and three years of age!

It was said that he was per-eminently devout, prayerful, vigilant of the interests and welfare of the church, was ready for every emergency, and shrank from no duty of religion. About the only thing he questioned was why God should delay so long to call him home!

Words to Live By:
Scripture reminds us in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, that every believer has at least one spiritual gift. We are to speak or serve our God with that spiritual gift. See 1 Peter 4: 10, 11. Have you discovered your spiritual gift yet? And are you developing it by education and experience? Have you dedicated it to the Lord of the church? And are you doing it, to God’s glory and the benefit of the church to which you belong? “Preacher McIntyre” discovered his gift late in his life, and despite the doubt of many of his church friends, developed it, dedicated it to the Lord Jesus, and did it to God’s glory and the good of the church.

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