June 2016

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A few days late on this post, about the Rev. Francis Herron, but I pray you will find it edifying, nonetheless.

Standing Against Conformity to the World

Born, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, June 28, 1774.
Graduated, at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, May 5, 1794.
LIcensed to Preach, by the Presbytery of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, October 4, 1797.
Ordained to the ministry and Installed as Pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Rocky Spring, Franklin County, PA, April 9, 1809.
Removed to Pittsburgh, and Settled as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, May, 1811.
Resigned his Pastoral Charge, December 1850.
Died, December 6, 1860.

So in short compass the life of a venerable Presbyterian divine, as it is summarized at the head of a slim volume issued in his memory. Rev. Herron’s life, it was said, was “a life of more than usual historic importance.”

herronFrancis_portrait1862Francis Herron was born near Shippensburg, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, on June 28, 1774. He belonged to that honored and honorable race, the Scotch-Irish, memorable in the history of the world, but especially in our country, for a thorough devotion to evangelical truth and constitutional liberty. The training of his early years bore rich fruit at a subsequent period of his life, making him so eminent among his brethren as an effective preacher and an orthodox divine.

Receiving the careful training indicative of his parents high regard for knowledge, he entered Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, then under the care of that distinguished Presbyterian, Rev. Dr. Nesbitt. Here he completed his classical course, and graduated May 5, 1794. The prayers of his pious parents were answered by the influence of grace upon his heart, and he was led to study for the ministry of reconciliation. He studied Theology under Robert Cooper, D.D., his pastor, and was licensed by Carlisle Presbytery, October 4, 1797.

He entered upon his Lord’s service as a missionary, going out into the backwoods, as it was then called, passing through Pittsburgh, Pa., then a small village, and extending his tour as far west as Chillicothe, Ohio. Stopping for the night at a tavern at Six Mile Run, near Wilkinsburg, Pa., the people prevailed upon him to stay till the following Sabbath, which he did, and under the shade of an apple tree this young disciple broke the bread of life to the people.

His journey resumed the next day, and with a frontier settler for his guide, he pushed on to his destination through an almost unbroken wilderness, his course often guided by the “blazes” upon the trees. Two nights he encamped with the Indians, who were quite numerous near what is now the town of Marietta, Ohio.

On his return from Chillicothe, Ohio, he visited Pittsburgh. The keeper of the tavern where he lodged, proved to be an old acquaintance, and at his request, he consented to preach. Notice was sent, and in the evening a small congregation of about eighteen persons assembled. The house he preached in was a rude structure, built of logs, occupying the site of the present First Presbyterian church. And such was the primitive style of that day, that during the services the swallows, who had their nests in the eaves, flew among the congregation.

At this time the churches in that portion of our country were visited with a season of refreshing grace, and Mr. Herron entered into the revival with all the ardor of youth filled with hopefulness and zeal. He preached for Rev. Dr. John McMillan at the Chartiers church, during a revival season. He also preached at the Buffalo church, where his fervid eloquence made a deep impression and the people presented him a call, and strongly urged it upon his attention. He however concluded to return to the vicinity of his home, especially, as a call from Rocky Spring church was awaiting him. This call he accepted, and he was ordained and installed as pastor of that church, by Carlisle Presbytery, April 9, 1800.

Some ten years later, he was invited to occupy the pulpit of the First Presbyterian church, then vacant by the recent death of Rev. Robert Steele.

The people were charmed with his discourse, his ripening intellect modified by that refined spirituality, which was a prominent element in his ministrations, had a powerful effect upon his audience. They urged him to preach for them a second time, which he did, the result was a unanimous call was made out and presented to him in the usual manner.

The Presbytery of Carlisle dissolved the relation that existed between Rocky Spring church and Mr. Herron, and he was dismissed to Redstone Presbytery, April 3, 1811, and he was installed pastor of the First Presbyterian church, Pittsburgh, PA, the following June. In a few weeks he removed with his family to his new home, travelling in a large wagon, with his wife, children, and all his household goods.

Francis Herron, D.D.He joined Redstone Presbytery June 18, 1811. The importance of his new position was fully and truly felt, the commercial importance of Pittsburgh had given all kinds of business an impetus, and prosperity was advancing rapidly; but this outward show referred only to worldly affairs, the religious condition of the people was cold and almost lifeless. The church to which he was called was embarrassed with debt, and the piety of the people manifested a degree of conformity to the world, which nearly appalled the preacher’s heart. But the experience of his ten years pastorate was to him invaluable, and girding himself, he entered upon his duties with a true heart and an earnest purpose. His preaching was the simple exposition of the truth as it is in Jesus, pointed, clear, and unwavering, revealing the enormity of sin and pleading with the fidelity of one who loved their souls. This style of preaching was sustained by his efforts to establish the prayer-meeting, which, strange as it now appears, met with much opposition, even among professors of religion; but this young pastor knew the holy influence of communion with God, and that God favored a praying people, he therefore went forward, and, in connexion with Rev. Thomas Hunt, who was pastor of the Second church, they persisted, and though to avoid a collision with the people the meetings were not held in the church, a small room was used for that purpose, in which Mr. Hunt taught a day-school. The first meeting consisted of the two pastors, one man, and six women, and thus for eighteen months did this meeting continue without adding a single person to their number.

The chilling indifference of the people soon grew into downright hostility, and husbands and fathers prohibited their wives and daughters from attending, and, finally, when the continued efforts of these pious people could be no longer borne, they waited upon Mr. Herron and told him that it must be stopped, his reply was the turning point in the spiritual condition of that people. He said, “Gentlemen, these meetings will not stop, you are at liberty to do as you please; but I also have the liberty to worship God according to the dictates of my conscience, none daring to molest or make me afraid.” From that time a spirit of piety manifested itself among the members of the church, several gay and fashionable persons were hopefully converted, and an impression was made upon the whole community, at once hopeful and healthful.

Words to Live By:
Do not expect courage of conviction from men who have no convictions, from those who have no anchor in the Word of God. The Scriptures must be drilled down deep into our souls if we are to stand against temptations and testings. May God give us pastors who will set an example, who will faithfully stand against the assaults of the world, the flesh and the devil.

Another Look at a Presbyterian Missionary
by Rev. David T Myers

Marcus WhitmanWe all live in an age of political correctness. We may not accept it, nor delight in it. Frankly, it  can be a challenge to our biblical Christianity as we follow  it each and every day. We see it on many fronts.

The faculty and student body, past and present, saw it in the history  of a four year liberal arts college in the state of Washington recently.  The college is Whitman College. The college was begun in the eighteen hundreds as a prep school. Then in the early nineteen hundreds, it was changed to a college.

It had an interesting mascot for a school.  We have all experienced them in our collegiate days. And a lot of them are  under attack today due to “political correctness” mentioned above in our first paragraph, especially dealing with sports teams.  With this College however, their teams down through the years were known as “Missionaries.”  Yes, you read that right.  Their mascot was Missionaries.

This was due to the fact that the name of the school was called Whitman, named after the nineteenth century Presbyterian missionary, Marcus Whitman, who was called to minister the gospel to the area’s Indian tribes, or pardon me, native American people, called the Cayuse.

We have dealt with Whitman’s life and times before during our maiden year of This Day in Presbyterian History in 2012 on February 29th, this day, June 29, and also on August 18th of that year. So this post is not a case of your not having read and considered the remarkable ministry and his wife before they were martyred for the gospel.

What Whitman College did though is quite recent. They polled their graduates and present faculty and student body. The majority of the latter indicated that this mascot name was inappropriate for a modern college, implying that the name was non-inclusive and imperialistic, and incorrectly implied that Whitman College is a religious school.

Now this author is not really thrilled about a mascot named Missionaries. But the reason for the change was essentially that the calling of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman to this tribe of native Americans was wrong and not to be recognized as acceptable in a day of political correctness.

It was on this day, June 29, 1936,  that the United States Congress recognized the work of the Whitmans and set aside the Whitman National Historical Park in Washington state.  But then, that was before political correctness became a standard for faith and life in the life of our beloved country.

Words to Live By:
The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (NIV) This is true for all “political correctness” in our day.  How we must pray for spiritual discernment for Christians today, for our local churches and her leaders and members, that we all might be biblically oriented, Christ honoring, and committed in applying the Word of God to our culture today, and yes, even to political correctness.


d'AubigneJH“The great thing in the Church is CHRIST, the blood of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the presence of Christ among us. The great thing is Christ, but there is also advantage in a certain government of the Church of Christ. I am a Presbyterian, not only of situation, but of conviction and choice. Our Presbyterian way is the good middle way between Episcopacy on the one side, and Congregationalism on the other. We combine the two great principles that must be maintained in the Church—Order and Liberty; the order of government, and the liberty of the people.”—Merle d’ Aubigne.



ten_reasons_for_being_a_Presbyterian9. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because the Church of Christ was Presbyterian in her earliest and purest times. Ecclesiastical history tells me by what steps came the predicted falling away from apostolical doctrine and order (2 Thess. ii. 3); how the primitive Episcopacy (which we still hold) was supplanted by Prelacy and Popery; and how those Churches which were God’s faithful witnesses in the midst of the Anti-Christian apostasy, the Waldensian, the Albigensian, and other martyr-Churches were Presbyterian. And when the time of Reformation came, when men stood, and saw, and asked for the ancient paths, then the good old way of Presbyterianism, with its Evangelical truth, its apostolical order, its wholesome discipline, and primitive worship, was with one consent resumed by the Reformed Churches. In England alone it was not so; but for this we satisfactorily account in the assumption of the headship of the Church by Henry VIII.—the indecision of Cranmer and the early Reformers—the limited extent to which the work of Reformation could be carried—together with other later events in England’s national history.

Although outward forms in themselves are of minor consequence, yet they are important as means for the building up of the spiritual Church. And if Church history is of any use, we should search it to see which form of Christianity best fulfills the purposes of a Church of Christ. Let Presbyterianism be so tried : contrast the state of the English Church as to vital religion in the Puritan times, and after the restoration of Charles II., and the ejection of the two thousand Nonconformists, nearly all of whom were Presbyterians; contrast the present state of Presbyterian Ulster  with any other province of Ireland; contrast the state of Scotland with any other country of Europe; and every friend of Bible instruction, of Sabbath observance, of true religion, ought to rejoice in the prospect of Presbyterianism being extended in every part of the world.


10. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because I know of no Church that has been so valiant for the truth, or that has been honoured to do and suffer so much for the cause of Christ on earth. None can show a more goodly company of confessors, a more noble army of martyrs, than the Presbyterian Church. Let history testify this, from the earliest times, through the dark ages of Popery, down even to our own day, when the Free Church of Scotland, in her noble stand for truth, and in the sacrifices made by her ministers and people for Christ’s sake, has displayed a spirit worthy of olden times, and shown that living faith and high principle are yet to be found on the earth. While maintaining in common with other Protestants the truths relating to the Prophetical and Priestly offices of the Redeemer, the Presbyterian Church has especially been called on to testify and to suffer in defense of the Kingly office of Christ; that He is the only Head of the Church, visible and invisible, (Colossians i. 16, 17, 18,) that Christ alone is king in Zion—(Psalm ii. 6.)

The Bible teaches us to be subject to the powers that be, to render honour to whom honour is due, tribute to whom tribute, to all their dues (Rom xiii. 1—7), but not to render unto Caesar the things that are God’s—(Matt. xxii. 21.) While contending for spiritual independence against Erastians on the one hand, we contend against the spiritual supremacy of Papists and Prelatists on the other. Popery has ever found in our Church a stern and uncompromising opponent. She is no less opposed to Arian, Socinian, and other forms of Anti-Christian error. And though some have wrongfully used our name, and some branches of our Church have at times been on the side of error, true Presbyterians have ever been foremost in contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints.

For these and other reasons I am a Presbyterian. While I know that God has His people among different denominations of professing Christians, I prefer the Presbyterian Church, because I believe it to be most conformable to the Word of God, most conducive to the spread of truth and righteousness, and most fitted for the extension of the cause of Christ on the earth.


We are a few days off from the anniversary of this event, but other scheduled posts bumped this post to today. Close enough, for our purposes, I think.

WarfieldBB_1903In the late 19th century, an effort was begun to revise the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, as held by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. This effort toward revision was led by Charles A. Briggs and several other then prominent men in that denomination. Opposing them, among others, was the Rev. Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield, professor at the Princeton Theological Seminary. Here he presents some of his earliest arguments in countering the revisionists:—

Professor Warfield’s Paper presented to the New Brunswick Presbytery, June 25, 1889.


At the June intermediate meeting of the Presbytery of New Brunswick, held on June 25th at Dutch Neck, the overture of the General Assembly anent the revision of the Confession of Faith was answered in the negative, nemine contradicente, as follows :

“The Presbytery of New Brunswick, having carefully considered the overture in relation to the revision of the Confession of Faith, proposed by the General Assembly, respectfully replies as follows :

“This Presbytery does not desire any revision of the Confession of Faith.”

The reasons to be assigned for this answer, as proposed in a paper presented by Prof. B. B. Warfield, were then taken up ; but, on account of lack of time for full consideration, were laid over until the October meeting of the Presbytery. These reasons have been printed by order of the Presbytery, that all who are interested may have opportunity to consider them before the Fall meeting. They are as follows :

  1. Our free but safe formula of acceptance of the Confession of Faith, by which we “receive and adopt it” as “containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures” (Form of Government, XV., xii.), relieves us of all necessity for seeking, each one to conform the Confession in all its propositions to his individual preferences, and enables us to treat the Confession as a public document, designed, not to bring each of our idiosyncrasies to expression, but to express the general and common faith of the whole body—which it adequately and admirably does.
  1. Enjoying this free yet hearty relation to the Confession, we consider that our situation toward our Standards is incapable of improvement. However much or little the Confession were altered, we could not, as a body, accept the altered Confession in a closer sense than for system of doctrine ; and the alterations could not better it as a public Confession, however much it might be made a closer expression of the faith of some individuals among us. In any case, it could not be made, in all its propositions and forms of statement, the exact expression of the personal faith of each one of our thousands of office-bearers.
  2. In these circumstances we are unwilling to mar the integrity of so venerable and admirable a document, in the mere license of change, without prospect of substantially bettering our relation to it or its fitness to serve as an adequate statement of the system of doctrine which we all heartily believe. The historical character and the hereditary value of the creed should, in such a case, be preserved.
  1. We have no hope of bettering the Confession, either in the doctrines it states or in the manner in which they are stated. When we consider the guardedness, moderation, fullness, lucidity, and catholicity of its statement of the Augustinian system of truth, and of the several doctrines which enter into it, we are convinced that the Westminster Confession is the best, safest and most acceptable statement of the truths and the system which we most surely believe that has ever been formulated ; and we despair of making any substantial improvements upon its forms of sound words. On this account we not only do not desire changes on our own account, but should look with doubt and apprehension upon any efforts to improve upon it by the Church.
  1. The moderate, catholic, and irenical character of the Westminster Confession has always made it a unifying document. Framed as an irenicon, it bound at once the Scotch and English Churches together ; it was adopted and continues to be used by many Congregational and Baptist Churches as the confession of their faith; with its accompanying Catechisms it has lately been made the basis of union between the two great Presbyterian bodies which united to constitute our Church ; and we are convinced that if Presbyterian union is to go further, it must be on the basis of the Westminster Standards, pure and simple. In the interests of Church union, therefore, as in the interests of a broad and irenical, moderate and catholic Calvinism, we deprecate any changes in our historical standards, to the system of doctrine contained in which we unabatedly adhere, and with the forms of statement of which we find ourselves in hearty accord.

Words to Live By:
Our Confession of Faith can be thought of as a commentary on what the Scriptures teach. As such, it serves to bring unity, when we jointly concur that the Confession summarizes some of the central doctrines taught in the Scriptures. It also serves as a public notice of what will be taught in our churches—think of it as something akin to a truth-in-advertising document : As the Confession is our agreed upon Standard, visitors to our churches should be able to expect a faithful proclamation of the Gospel from our pulpits and teachings that are in accord with the Westminster Standards. For these reasons and more, efforts to revise our Confession should be considered with the greatest care and reluctance. It’s not that the Confession is inerrant or incapable of further perfection, but changes should be soundly Biblical, vested with much prayer, and always with a clear purpose to glorify our Lord and Savior. The changes that eventually were made in 1903 proved damaging to the PCUSA, weakening the Calvinism of the document and thus paving the way for the 1906 reception of the larger portion of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church [about 1000 pastors and 90,000 members]. This was a denomination that historically had opposed Calvinism and taught Arminianism.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.—Hebrews 10:23 (NASB)

by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 88. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?

A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all of which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

Scripture References: Matt 28:19, 20. Acts 2:41, 42.


1. Who communicates these benefits to the believers and what are these benefits?

Christ communicates these benefits for such is His responsibility. These benefits are everything that Christ purchased for the elect both here and forever.

2. How are these benefits communicated to the believers?

These benefits are communicated to the believers through mediation by Christ as He works through the ordinances.

3. Why do we call the benefits of redemption “His ordinances?”

They are called His ordinances because He instituted them in His Word and He is the Head of the Church.

4. Why does this Question state “especially the word, sacraments, and prayer …. ?”

These three are stated because they are the chief outward means of communicating the benefits of redemption. This is taught in Acts 2:42. It does not mean that the other means are not important. It simply means these are more important.

5. Why are these called “outward means”?

They are called outward means to distinguish them from the inward means such as faith and repentance, those mighty inward means of the Holy Spirit.

6. What do we mean by “salvation” in this Question?

By salvation in this Question is meant the complete doctrine of salvation. It means the beginning of deliverance from sin; the possession of new life and its resulting happiness in this life; the living unto God day by day; the blessedness which is to come when the believer gets to glory.


When we hear these words, we are to think immediately of the Word, the sacraments and prayer. We do not think of them as the Roman Catholic Church thinks of them, that of rites which have the power to confer grace. Rather, the Reformed Faith has always thought of them as those means appointed by God for the purpose of conveying grace. The manner of conveying the grace comes through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The difficulty for the believer always comes when he does not make the proper use of the means of grace. Whether by disuse, or whether by a lack of use, the resulting effect will be a life that is not pleasing to the Lord. It is especially true in this day of the church that a proper use of the means of grace be made. Peter writes, “That ye may be mindful (care for) of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.” (II Peter 3:2, 3). The time has come when believers must make a proper use of the means of grace in this day of apostasy in the church.

How can we best make use of the means of grace? First, we must be persuaded that it is important that we know them and make use of them. We must realize they come from God, that their efficacy depends solely on God, not on man nor the church. This is one of the greatest dangers facing us today, this false view of the means of grace.

Second, we must prepare ourselves for their use in us. We cannot expect God to work in unprepared hearts, hearts that are harboring sin. We must prepare ourselves for their use by saying with Paul, “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world.” (Titus 2: 12)

Third, we must make use of the means of grace. To make use of them we must use them! We should ever study the Word, making sure that each day finds us giving time to it. We should never miss an opportunity to partake of the Lord’s Supper and we should always keep our covenant vows made at baptism. We should pray without ceasing, knowing full well that a life void of prayer will be a fruitless life.

May God help us to recognize the means of grace as essential to our spiritual well-being!

Published by The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards tor use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.

Vol. 6, No. 5 (May 1967)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

“A Sermon Preached Before A Convention of The Episcopal Church”
by William Smith (June 22, 1784)

Aberdeen born and educated Bishop William Smith ((1727–1803) left Scotland for New York City in 1751. His eloquence and brilliance attracted Ben Franklin’s attention, and Franklin brought him to teach in Philadelphia in 1755. For the next several decades Smith received academic accolades, taught philosophy, and was ordained to the Anglican priesthood. Shortly after arriving in Philadelphia, the fiery Scot sided with colonists (leaving the Quaker pacifism of Franklin and others), opposing the French in the war.

Although his views alternated on certain issues (preaching against the 1765 Stamp Act but later warning against the rebellion), he championed the American cause at one time preaching A Sermon on the Present Situation (1775; available at http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/evans/N11435.0001.001?rgn=main;view=fulltext). That sermon in turn provoked a rebutting sermon from John Wesley (A Calm Address to Our American Colonies). However, for the last decades of his ministry he became an out-of-favor but articulate voice against the American revolution. In 1779, he was banned from Pennsylvania, but eventually returned there. An equal opportunity offender, throughout his time, he denounced popery, revivalistic emotionalism, Quakerism, and “the dangers of republicanism bereft of virtue and the steadying hand of traditional authority.” He was the founder of the Episcopal Church in this country.

Smith saw himself as one of the many biblical echoes. This sermon is taken from Paul’s second epistle to his understudy, Timothy (1:13-14 and 4:3-4).

In this sermon, the preacher urges an avoidance of heeding fables and vain thoughts. He also warns against a faith that listens only and does not bear fruit. Next, he calls for a faithful preaching of the gospel, regardless of the condition of the audience; indeed, one of the most salutary things that the church can donate to a nation is sound preaching of the Word as Paul did in these epistles. Following a fine and irrefutable exposition of these verses from 2 Timothy, Smith pointed to a recovery of this sound doctrine, as follows:

After the long night of darkness and error, the day dawned, and the glorious sun of the gospel again shone forth under the blessed Reformation; when our fathers, the founders, or rather the restorers, of the church whereof we profess ourselves the members, bore an illustrious part (many of them with the price of their blood) in throwing down the vast fabric of straw and stubble, and building again upon the pure and stable foundation, that rock of ages which is Christ! True religion again lifted up her radiant head in ours and other reformed churches, who ‘sought the good old way to walk therein, that so they might find rest to their souls.’ They turned their hearts to the truth as it is in Jesus, and did not seek to be turned unto fables.

However, Smith thought that these Reformed churches had now become compromised and were deserting the true faith, serving political ideals instead. One result, he lamented, was the diminution for the role of civil discourse and enquiry. The once stalwart Reformed churches, he thought, were associating with a “contrary temper” and accommodating “religion to worldly purposes.” This “general reforming spirit,” he suggested occasionally took “to reform too much, to fill the world, as of old, with disputes and distinctions totally unessential to Christianity, and destructive of its true spirit, when set in opposition to the weightier matters of the law—vital piety and true evangelical obedience.”

He feared that “there is a greater weight of religion in the evangelic grace of charity, in one sigh of good-will to men, than in all the doubtful questions about which the Protestant churches have been puzzling themselves, and biting and devouring each other since the days of their Reformation!” Throughout this sermon, he warned against pride, lack of charity, the tendency toward privatized religion, and demagoguery.

Denunciations of other sincere believers and a sectarian divisiveness troubled Smith, leading him to comment: “Can this be the true fruits of the spirit, or tend to the edification, or building up the body of Christ’s church? I would speak with great love, but with great plainness too—this may build up the walls of a Babel, but cannot rear up the walls of Jerusalem, which is to be a city of peace, at unity within itself.”

Before his audience, he lamented: “But in this country, at present such is her state, that she calls for the pious assistance and united support of all her true sons, and of the friends of Christianity in general. Besides a famine of the preached word, her sound doctrines are deserted by many, who “turn away their ears from the truth” as taught by her, and heap to themselves teachers as described in the text.”

Notwithstanding, it might complete the reader’s ideas about Smith to hear a few choice nuggets from his earlier 1775 sermon (June 23) on Joshua 22:22.

THE whole history of the Bible cannot furnish a passage more instructive than this, to the members of a great empire, whose dreadful misfortune it is to have the evil Demon of civil or religious discord gone forth among them. And would to God, that the application I am now to make of it could be delivered in accents louder than Thunder, till they have pierced the ear of every Briton, and especially their ears who have meditated war and destruction against their brother-tribes of Reuben and Gad, in this our American Gilead. And let me add—would to God too that we, who this day consider ourselves in the place of those tribes, may, like them, be still able to lay our hands on our hearts in a solemn appeal to the God of Gods, for the rectitude of our intentions towards the whole common wealth of our BRITISH ISRAEL. For, call’d to this sacred place, on this great occasion, I know it is your wish that I should stand superior to all partial motives, and be found alike unbiass’d by favour or by fear. And happy it is that the parallel, now to be drawn, requires not the least sacrifice either of truth or virtue!

LIKE the tribes of Reuben and Gad, we have chosen our inheritance, in a land separated from that of our fathers and brethren, not indeed by a small River, but an immense Ocean. This inheritance we likewise hold by a plain original contract, entitling us to all the natural and improvable advantages of our situation, and to a community of privileges with our brethren, in every civil and religious respect; except in this, that the throne or seat of Empire, that great altar at which the men of this world bow, was to remain among them.

HAVING never sold our birth-right, we considered ourselves entitled to the privileges of our father’s house—”to enjoy peace, liberty and safety;” to be governed, like our brethren, by our own laws, in all matters properly affecting ourselves, and to offer up own our sacrifices at the altar of British empire; contending that a forced devotion is idolatry, and that no power on earth has a right to come in between us and a gracious sovereign, to measure forth our loyalty, or to grant our property, without our consent.

IT is time, and indeed more than time, for a great and enlightened people to make names bend to things, and ideal honor to practical safety? Precedents and indefinite claims are surely things too nugatory to convulse a mighty empire. Is there no wisdom, no great and liberal plan of policy to re-unite its members, as the sole bulwark of liberty and protestantism; rather than by their deadly strife to encrease the importance of those states that are foes to freedom, truth and humanity? To devise such a plan; and to behold British Colonies spreading over this immense Continent, rejoicing in the common rights of freemen, and imitating the Parent State in every excellence—is more glory than to hold lawless dominion over all the nations on the face of the earth!

BUT I will weary you no longer with fruitless lamentations concerning things that might be done. The question now is— since they are not done, must we tamely surrender any part of our birthright or of that great charter of privileges, which we not only claim by inheritance, but by the express terms of our colonization? I say, God forbid! For here, in particular, I wish to speak so plain that neither my own principles, nor those of the church to which I belong, may be misunderstood.

Sounding like Mayhew and Calvin before him, the earlier Smith proclaimed:

A CONTINUED submission to violence is no tenet of our church. When her brightest luminaries, near a century past, were called to propagate the court doctrine of a dispensing Power, above Law— did they treacherously cry—‘Peace, Peace,’ when there was no Peace! Did they not magnanimously set their foot upon the line of the constitution, and tell Majesty to its face that ‘they could not betray the public liberty,’ and that the Monarch’s only safety consisted ‘in governing according to the laws?’ Did not their example, and consequent sufferings, kindle a flame that illuminated the land and introduced that noble system of public and personal liberty, secured by the revolution? Since that period, have not the avowed principles of our greatest divines been against raising the Church above the State; jealouse of the national rights, resolute for the protestant succession, favourable to the reformed religion, and desirous to maintain the faith of Toleration? If exceptions have happened, let no society of christians stand answerable for the deviations, or corruptions, of individuals.

THE doctrine of absolute NON-RESISTANCE has been fully exploded among every virtuous people. The free-born soul revolts against it, and must have been long debased, and have drank in the last dregs of corruption, before it can brook the idea

The reader may choose to like the earlier or the later Smith. But most could wish for Anglican preaching of this ilk.

Available online at: http://consource.org/document/a-sermon-preached-before-a-convention-of-the-episcopal-church-by-william-smith-1784-6-22/. Also in Ellis Sandoz??

By Dr. David W. Hall, Pastor
Midway Presbyterian Church

Taken from Twenty Messages to Consider Before Voting


ten_reasons_for_being_a_PresbyterianTEN REASONS FOR BEING A PRESBYTERIAN.

“The great thing in the Church is CHRIST, the blood of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the presence of Christ among us. The great thing is Christ, but there is also advantage in a certain government of the Church of Christ. I am a Presbyterian, not only of situation, but of conviction and choice. Our Presbyterian way is the good middle way between Episcopacy on the one side, and Congregationalism on the other. We combine the two great principles that must be maintained in the Church—Order and Liberty; the order of government, and the liberty of the people.”—Merle d’ Aubigne.


7. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because the Sacraments are in our Church administered agreeably to the Word of God. We baptize  adults on profession of their faith in Christ, and we baptize the infants of such as are members of the visible Church.—(Acts xvi. 33; Gen. xvii. 7, with Colossians ii. 11, 12; 1 Cor. vii. 14.)

In the dispensation of the Lord’s supper we do not kneel before an altar, but we sit at the Lord’s table, receiving the sacramental bread and wine in the customary posture of men who celebrate a feast, as Christ and his disciples set the example. We have no altar in our Churches, because the sacrament of the supper is not a sacrifice, but an ordinance commemorative of the one sacrifice of Christ. The admission of members to the Lord’s supper is after examination and warning and instruction as to the nature and objects of the ordinance.—(1 Cor. xi. 26–28.)


8. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because I love and pray for unity; not uniformity at the expense of truth, but unity based on truth and charity. Our Presbyterian Church has its congregations knit together in mutual dependence and sympathy, as one body in the unity of the Spirit, having one Lord and Head, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. And all are united under one superintendence and government, holding the same standards, and maintaining the same principles, the strong helping and bearing the burden of the weak, the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel. We thus enjoy a visible, as well as a spiritual unity, according to the scriptural idea of the Church, the body of Christ.—(Ephesians iv. 8–16.)



d'AubigneJH-sm“The great thing in the Church is CHRIST, the blood of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the presence of Christ among us. The great thing is Christ, but there is also advantage in a certain government of the Church of Christ. I am a Presbyterian, not only of situation, but of conviction and choice. Our Presbyterian way is the good middle way between Episcopacy on the one side, and Congregationalism on the other. We combine the two great principles that must be maintained in the Church—Order and Liberty; the order of government, and the liberty of the people.”—Merle d’ Aubigne.



5. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because I know of no Church that so secures the rights and privileges of the Christian people. The people, that is, the members of the Church, choose their pastor, their elders, and deacons. Those only can be chosen and called to the pastoral charge of our congregations who have been educated under the superintendence of some Presbytery, and been admitted, after examination and trials, as probationers of the Church; all means being used to provide a well qualified and suitable ministry for the supply of our Church.

The people also manage all ecclesiastical affairs; and they do so in the only wise and practicable way among large bodies of men—by representative government. If all the members of the Church are alike rulers, to whom are these Divine precepts addressed, “Obey them that have rule over you, and submit yourselves” (Heb. xiii. 17); and, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor”?—(1 Tim. v. 17).

In those Congregational Churches which act without representation, matters of business continually occur which cannot without inconvenience, and cases of discipline which cannot without impropriety, be discussed before a public Meeting; and for the most part the conducting of affairs by the whole Church is only nominal; a few individuals having the real authority and management. Now what is elsewhere done by “committees” and “managers” is done in the Presbyterian Churches by an authorized and responsible court, the Church Session, composed of the minister and elders chosen by the people, transacting affairs in their behalf.

6. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because I know of no Church whose form of worship is so simple and so scriptural. Not any other book but God’s book is made to claim the attention of the people. Every Sabbath-day the Word of God is read, expounded, and applied. In the devotional services, those who cannot worship the Father in spirit, will find no substitute of form and ceremony to delude them.

There is a consent of all our Churches in those things that contain the substance of the service and worship of God; but the public prayers are not restricted to a written form, as if from Sabbath to Sabbath, and from year to year, there never could arise any variety in the wants, the desires, the circumstances of sinful men, as if there were not constantly new subjects of thanksgiving to God, new requests to be made known to our Father in heaven.

The Word of God is my prayer-book, and I find in the book of Psalms, in the Epistles, and in other parts of the Bible, examples and forms of prayer, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth. In other matters there is that variety in public worship, according to local usage and other circumstances, which Christian liberty allows, and Christian prudence dictates, in things external and non-essential.

For those of you who would like a bit more Presbyterian history than what we’re running on our posts for the next few days, I would direct you to a very nice treatment on the Rev. John Witherspoon and the city of Washington D.C. The connection between Witherspoon and D.C. may seem surprising, but you’ll have to read the article, by my good friend Barry Waugh, to discover the explanation. Click the embedded link in the previous  sentence, to read the article. I think you will enjoy it.


The season of General Assemblies and Synods is upon us, June being 
the month when most of the American Presbyterian denominations convene in their national meetings—and so this seemed a good time to look over a little tract from the late 1840’s titled “Ten Reasons for Being a Presbyterian. We will look at one reason each day, as offered by our anonymous author, working from an original copy of the tract, which is pictured below on the right. On the cover of the tract is this quote from the great Swiss historian, J.H. Merle d’Aubigne:—

“The great thing in the Church is CHRIST, the blood of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the presence of Christ among us. The great thing is Christ, but there is also advantage in a certain government of the Church of Christ. I am a Presbyterian, not only of situation, but of conviction and choice. Our Presbyterian way is the good middle way between Episcopacy on the one side, and Congregationalism on the other. We combine the two great principles that must be maintained in the Church—Order and Liberty; the order of government, and the liberty of the people.”—Merle d’ Aubigne.

I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because the form of Church Government, which we call Presbytery, is founded on the Word of God. The office-bearers in our Church are Scriptural in their offices and authority. In each of our congregations there is a Minister, whose special office it is to preach the Word and dispense the Sacraments. There is no difference of rank among these Ministers or Presbyters. All are equal as brethren, having one Master and King, even the Lord Jesus.—(Matt. xxiii. 8, 9, 10.) This is what we mean by Presbyterian parity. All our ministers are alike bishops or overseers, not of other ministers but of their own flocks; not prelates but pastors, as in apostolical times.

In our Presbyterian Churches, besides the minister, there are others whose office it is to aid in the oversight and government of the Church, in visiting the sick, and other spiritual superintendence of the people. These are usually termed “the Elders of the Church;” or sometimes Ruling Elders or Presbyters, (1 Tim. v. 17,) to distinguish them from the Pastors or preaching Presbyters, “who labour in word and doctrine.” And lastly, there are Deacons (Acts vi.), whose special office it is to care for the poor, and superintend those arrangements which promote the outward comfort of the congregation.

These three orders of office bearers are all that we believe to be permanent in the Church of Christ. That “Bishop” is only another name for “Presbyter,” and that there were not two distinct orders signified by these names, is proved by many parts of the Word of God. When Paul called the Elders (Presbyters) of the Ephesian Church, he charged them to take heed to the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers (Bishops).—(Acts xx. 17-28.) So also Peter, in his first Epistle, chapter v. 1.—”The Elders who are among you I exhort, who am also an Elder.” Having therefore no sanction of Divine authority, nor apostolic usage, whence some Diocesan Bishops, Archbishops, Deans, Archdeacons, Lords Spiritual, Cardinals, or Pope, in the Church of Christ? Are these successors of the men whom Jesus called unto Him and said, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you.” “One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren.”


4. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because there is no form of Church Government that so combines the two great principles, Order and Liberty—the Order of Government and the Liberty of the People.

The government is conducted by the office-bearers in individual churches, who constitute what we call Church Sessions; by the office-bearers of a number of churches, who form what we call Presbyteries; and by the office-bearers of a still greater number of churches, forming Synods or General Assemblies. A Church Session consists of the minister and the elders of a congregation; a Presbytery, of ministers and representative elders of several churches; and a Synod or Assembly, of ministers and elders of churches in a larger district or province.—(Acts xv.)

In countries where the number of Presbyterian churches is very great, the Assemblies are composed of representative ministers and elders chosen by each Presbytery. In all cases, Presbyteries and Synods consist of ministers and elders in equal numbers, deliberating and voting together. The Moderator or President of these Courts holds office only for a definite period, and is appointed sometimes by election, and sometimes by rotation. By these several and successive Church Courts, mature deliberation, impartial justice, and ecclesiastical order are secured. In cases of difficulty reference may be made and advice sought, and in dispute appeal may be taken from the Session to the Presbytery, and from the Presbytery to the Synod or Assembly of the Church.

Every congregation is free and independent in its local government and discipline, in the election of its office-bearers, in devising and executing its plans of Christian usefulness, and in the whole management of its affairs, so long as its acts are not inconsistent with the general rules and with the common weal of the Church. In all good government, civil or ecclesiastical, there is some central authority to confirm and regulate local liberty. This superintendence is exercised by each Presbytery over the several congregations within its bounds, and Presbyteries are under the control of Synods, and Synods are responsible to the General Assembly, in which the supreme power, legislative and executive, is vested.  .

The season of General Assemblies and Synods is upon us, June being the month when most of the American Presbyterian denominations convene in their national meetings—and so this seemed a good time to look over a little tract from the late 1840’s titled “Ten Reasons for Being a Presbyterian. We will look at one reason each day, as offered by our anonymous author, working from an original copy of the tract, which is pictured below on the right. On the cover of the tract is this quote from the great Swiss historian, J.H. Merle d’Aubigne:—

“The great thing in the Church is CHRIST, the blood of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the presence of Christ among us. The great thing is Christ, but there is also advantage in a certain government of the Church of Christ. I am a Presbyterian, not only of situation, but of conviction and choice. Our Presbyterian way is the good middle way between Episcopacy on the one side, and Congregationalism on the other. We combine the two great principles that must be maintained in the Church—Order and Liberty; the order of government, and the liberty of the people.”—Merle d’ Aubigne.

ten_reasons_for_being_a_PresbyterianTen Reasons for being a Presbyterian.

1. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because I know of no Church that in Doctrine, in Discipline, in Government and Worship rests so entirely on the Word of God. The Bible and the Bible alone is the religion of Presbyterians. In all matters, whether of faith or practice, holy Scripture is supreme and sufficient. To this rule all creeds and confessions, canons and articles, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be brought for examination: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.“—(Isaiah viii. 20). It is not “Thus saith antiquity,” nor, “Thus saith tradition;” nor, “Thus saith the Church;” but to the Presbyterian the sole authority is, “THUS SAITH THE LORD.”

I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because I know of no Church that maintains more firmly, and sets forth more faithfully the leading doctrines of the Word of God. The unity of the Godhead, and the trinity of Persons therein—the utter depravity and helplessness of mankind in consequence of the fall—the recovery and salvation of the Church by the Redeemer—the Incarnation of the Son of God, His Atonement, and all His mediatorial work and offices—the work of the Holy Spirit in the Conversion and Sanctification of the sinner—the sinner’s interest in the finished work of Christ, and his Justification by Grace through Faith alone—the Second Advent of Christ to Judgment—the Resurrection of the dead and the eternal separation of the righteous and the wicked—these are among the truths embodied in the Confession and Catechisms of our Church, taught in her schools, and preached from her pulpits. And our Church has specially been privileged to maintain the truths relating to the deep things of God;—the covenant of redemption entered into by Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, before the foundation of the world; the salvation blessings secured in Christ as covenant head and surety, and flowing down to the Church through Him; the communication of these covenant-blessings by the Holy Spirit, together with the whole doctrines of free grace,—the sovereign, distinguishing, free grace of God.—(Eph. i. 3, 4, 5; 2 Tim. i. 9; 1 Cor. iii. 11; Eph. ii. 8.)

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