March 2017

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Today, through an address delivered by Dr. Alexander Whyte in 1902, we will examine closer a pivotal moment in the life of the great Scottish pastor Thomas Boston, and by his actions, a moment of immense importance that has rippled down through the centuries. Dr. Whyte provides a wonderful introduction to the subject, and while this post is a bit long, I think you will profit from the reading.


A sermon preached before the Baptist Union on Wednesday, October 9th, at St. George’s United Free Church, Edinburgh (1902).

By Dr. Alexander Whyte.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness.”—Psalm lxiii. 5.

Thomas Boston [1676-1732]When Thomas Boston, our Scottish Father-in-God, was still in a half-converted state, and when he was still on the scent for salvation—to employ his own graphic expression about himself —in the course of his pastoral visitation, he made a call one day at the house of an old soldier, who had served in the great Civil War in England. The old Covenanter-soldier had brought home with him a little book that was an immense favourite with the puritan people of England at that period; and the little book lay on the old soldier’s window-sill when Boston made his visit that day. Boston was a great lover of books—he had very few of them—and he instinctively took up the little volume to see what it was.  “The Marrow of Modern Divinity,” by Edward Fisher, M.A., of Oxford.  Boston had never seen the little book before, nor so much as heard the name of its author, but the striking title-page, and the glance that Boston took at the contents of the book, led him to ask for a loan of the little volume, and for weeks and months to come the “Marrow” was never out of Boston’s hands till he had the  great evangelical classic by heart, and till, by the grace of God to Boston, Edward. Fisher had finished what Henry Erskine had long ago begun. Boston’s best people soon began to see that some great change had come over their minister. Boston had always been a powerful and a pungent preacher. Like John Bunyan, in his early ministry also, Boston had always preached sin with great “sense.” Boston’s early preaching, he tells us in his “Autobiography,” had “terrified the godly,” but that had been nearly all it had hitherto done. But, after the “Marrow” had done its work in Boston, his preaching began to take an entirely new character. He did not preach sin with any less “sense”—with any less passion, that is—but


His whole pulpit and pastoral work took on from that time an entirely new earnestness, an entirely new scripturalness, richness, inwardness, and depth, all of which was as new and as sweet to Boston himself as it was to his spiritually-minded people. Wherever Boston went to preach, and he was now more than ever sought after for communion seasons all over the south of Scotland, a special blessing went everywhere with him. And when any of his brethren ventured to remark on the new power of his preaching, Boston immediately attributed it all to the Marrow.

Having prevailed on its owner to part with the little book for its price, Boston lent the volume to friend after friend, till, at last, it fell into the hands of James Hog, of Carnock. James Hog of Carnock was one of the ablest divines, and one of the best preachers of his day, in Scotland, and, on reading the “Marrow,” the saintly scholar thought he saw his opportunity. Hog sat down and wrote a strongly-worded introduction to the hitherto unknown little book, and an enterprising and sympathising Edinburgh publisher put a Scottish edition of the “Marrow” upon the northern market; and the venture at once repaid both its editor and its publisher, for the “Marrow” was soon as well known in Scotland as the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” and the “Saint’s Rest,” and “Rutherford’s Letters”—and what more can be said about the best success of any book?


as it was called, a controversy in which the leaders of the General Assembly played such a deplorable part, and a controversy in which Thomas Boston and James Hog and Gabriel Wilson and Ralf and Ebenezer Erskine bore such a noble and ever-honourable part. That was a great day for the Gospel of the Grace of God in Scotland, when the “Twelve Marrow Men,” as they were called, stood at the bar of the General Assembly, and when Boston, as their spokesman, addressed the Moderator of the hostile house and said: ‘“Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” And from that notable day the doctrines of Grace took root again in the pulpits of Scotland, as those doctrines had first taken root two centuries before in the pulpits of Knox and Brown, and Balloch, and Welsh, and as those same doctrines again took foot during the “ten years’ conflict” of our fathers’ day, and during the memorable years that followed that conflict, and which are still following it down to this day. That great conflict is already arising in its deepest springs when we read in Thomas Chalmers’s diary such entries as these:

“I am reading the ‘Marrow,’ and I am deriving from it great light and satisfaction. It is a masterly performance.”

“August the 24th. Finished the Marrow. I feel a growing delight in the fulness and all-sufficiency of Christ. O, my God! Bring me nearer and nearer to Thy Son!”

And Chalmers’s reading of the Marrow was blessed to him, and his prayer was answered in the creation of the Free Church of Scotland, and in many other things that we see around us and before us in Scotland to-day. Read Dr. Chalmers’s Life by Dr. Hanna, and get your children to read it. The book is a masterpiece in literature, and its noble evangelical lessons cannot fail to impress, and quicken, and strengthen both the mind, and the heart, and the character of everyone who reads it. All ministers especially should have Chalmers’s Life by heart.

It was


to cast the teaching of the day into the form of a dialogue. William Law, among others, has made splendid use of that literary device. Law has immortalised that literary device in more than one of his immortal works. And Edward Fisher, being a man of letters as well as of religion, determined to cast his apostolical doctrine into the same dialogue device. And he accordingly makes his dialogue to be carried on between Evangelista, a minister of the Gospel; Nomista, a legalist; Antinomista, an anti-nomian, and Neophitus, a young and, as yet, an uninstructed Christian. If you can lay your hands on a copy of Edward Fisher’s Marrow, edited by Thomas Boston and enriched with his notes, you will have in your possession a very complete and a very ably-reasoned-out statement of apostolical, evangelical, and experimental truth. And if you add to Boston’s edition of the Marrow John Brown of Whitburn’s most valuable book, entitled, Gospel Truth Accurately Stated and Illustrated, you will possess in those two treatises, taken together, very masterly and a conclusive discussion of the whole “Marrow Controversy.” The exact scholarship, the wide reading, the intellectual power, and the spiritual fervour of both these books will be a great surprise and a great delight to everyone who has the mind and the heart to master them. I open the Marrow anywhere and I immediately come on something like this :

“ But, sir,” says the neophyte to his minister, “Has such an one as I am any title, or invitation, or warrant to come to Christ, and to claim him as my Redeemer?” “Your warrant to claim Christ as your Redeemer,” says Evangelista, “is just God’s call on you to do so. For this is His commandment that I we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, as He gave us commandment. And, furthermore, we have God’s sure and infallible promise that whosoever believeth on His Son shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life.” “Listen to Luther,” says the minister : “ ‘He saw in me,’ says Luther, ‘nothing but wickedness, nothing but a lost sheep going astray. Yet the good Shepherd had mercy on me ; and of His pure and undeserved grace He loved me, and gave Himself for me. But who is this me?’ exclaims Luther. ‘Even Martin Luther, a wretched and already condemned sinner, was so dearly loved by the Son of God, that He gave Himself for me! O!’ cries Luther in every Reformation sermon of his, ‘O, print this word ME in your heart, and apply it to yourself, not doubting but that you are one of those to whom this ME belongs.’ ” “Indeed, sir,” replies the neophyte, “if I were as good as some men are, then I could easily believe what you say. But, alas, sir, I am such a sinful wretch, that I cannot believe that Christ will accept of me till I am much better than I am.” “Alas, man!” the minister replies, “in thus speaking, you take it upon you to correct and contradict, not Paul and Luther only, but Christ Himself. For, whereas Paul says that Christ Jesus came into the world to save the chief of sinners,


And whereas Christ Himself says that the whole need not a physician, you hold that a sinner must be well on the way to .recovery before he need call for Christ to come and heal him. You seem to think that the spouse of Christ must be adorned and perfumed with robes and ointments of her own providing before her husband will receive her. Whereas He Himself says to her, ‘No eye pitied thee to do any of these things unto thee. But when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold! thy time was a time of love. And I spread my spirit over thee: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a sure covenant with thee, and thou becamest Mine. And I will marry thee to Me in righteousness and in mercy and in everlasting faithfulness, and thou shalt be Mine.’” “Why, sir, then, it seems that the vilest sinner in this whole world ought not to be discouraged in coming to Christ.” “Surely not!” replies the minister. “Nay, let me say one word more : the greater, the more awful any man’s sins have been and still are, either in their nature or their number, the more haste that man should make to say with David, ‘for Thy Name’s sake, O, Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.’”

There was nothing that the Reformers in Germany and in Switzerland and the Marrow men in Scotland preached with more ability and eloquence and success, than just the particular and personal offer of Christ to every individual sinner. The Marrow men were very bold in this matter. They possessed a free and a full salvation in their own souls, and, in the name of God, they held out the offer of that same salvation to every man. Who are you? and what is your name? they demanded as they preached. Because we have a message from God immediately and personally to you. Is your name David in the matter of Uriah? Or Peter after his fall? Or Mary Magdalene, and she still possessed with seven devils? Or Saul still breathing out threatenings and slaughter? Is your name Luther the monk? or Bunyan the tinker? or Boston still in a half- converted state? You! they cried, singling out each individual hearer.

You! and you! and you!


Here is a sample of their fine pulpit work taken out of Walter Marshall, that great master in Israel, that perfect Euclid of evangelical sanctification, as I am wont to call him to myself. Oh! where are such masterly books as the Marrow? Is the Gospel mystery to be found again on every window-sill in Scotland and England as was once the case? “You are to be fully persuaded,” says Marshall, “and in your own particular case, that if you trust in Christ sincerely and perseveringly you shall have eternal life in Him, as well as the greatest saint in all the world. For the promise is universal, that whosoever believeth on Him shall not be put to shame. Conclude within yourself, then, that, howsoever vile and wicked and unworthy you may be, yet, if you come, you also shall be accepted. It is this that hinders so many wounded consciences and broken hearts from coming to the Great Physician. They are so dead in sin, they are so corrupt in heart, they are so without the least spark of any grace or goodness in themselves, that they think it to be nothing short of sheer presumption in them to expect to be saved. But why so? They can be but the chief of sinners; and is this not a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save the chief of sinners? If they that are dead in sin cannot be saved, then all men must despair and perish; for no man has one spark of spiritual life in him till he comes for it, and receives it from Christ. Others think that they have outstayed their time, till there is no place of repentance left for them. But, behold, to every sinner still out of hell, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.” And as Marshall and Fisher, following Luther and Knox, preached that personal, and individualising, and immediate Gospel of free grace, a great multitude of our own forefathers believed unto everlasting life.

But to my mind,


Both in Germany, and in Switzerland, and in France, the full assurance of faith was splendidly preached in those first days of a recovered Gospel. And to acknowledge his sources, and to confess his indebtedness, and to assure his readers concerning his doctrine of the assurance of faith, the author of the Marrow actually gives his readers the names of some sixty-four theologians and preachers in all the Reformed Churches of Christendom, out of whose writings he had drawn this substance of his great evangelical dialogue. Now, what exactly is the assurance of faith? Well, it is, in short, just this—that all true faith has its witness in itself. All true faith is its own best evidence and surest proof. As thus—a minister preaches Jesus Christ and Him crucified to his people. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them to his people. And he pleads with them as an ambassador to be reconciled to God. The people listen; they attend; they begin to think; they begin to believe. One thing, another thing, many things, all work together to lead them to believe. A bad conscience, a bad heart, trials in life and losses, approaching old age, fear of death and judgment—all these things, under the hand of the Holy Ghost, work together till the people are led to rest all their trust and hope on the Lord Jesus Christ. And, already, as they begin to believe and trust and hope, the peace of God begins to be shed abroad in their hearts, and their minister’s Gospel preaching leads the people on from faith to faith, and from strength to strength, till they are able to certify and assure their own hearts, till the Holy Ghost is able to assure and seal their hearts, as He sealed and assured Paul’s heart, into this full assurance of faith. “I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him.” And as faith grows, its full assurance will grow till the true believer is able to say with the Apostle, “He loved me, and gave Himself for me.” It is something not unlike this. A man loves a woman. He has long loved her unknown to her, till one day he takes her and opens his heart to her. She listens to him. She believes him, till her heart is carried captive to him. And from that great espousal day she has his promise, and he has hers. And from that day she has an assurance of his truth and his love that nothing will shake. Absence, distance, land and sea between her and him—her assurance only the firmer holds her heart. No news, bad news even; other lovers approaching her lonely heart—No! In all these things her faith, her full assurance of faith in her espoused husband, conquers all. Now, the believing heart is just like that. Nothing can ever pluck the true believer out of Christ’s hands, nor Christ out of the true believer’s heart. He may not be always sensibly near you. He may be away in a far country. He is away, but, then, He is away preparing a place for you. Then He will come again, and receive you to Himself. Therefore make yourself ready. Keep yourself ready. Have your lamp burning. Have your heart waking. For, at any moment, the shout may be heard in heaven.

Boston, Thomas [1676-1732]_3d_imageI began with Boston, and I will end with him. Now, Boston was not a man of genius. He was not a Rutherford, nor a Bunyan, nor a Baxter, nor an Edwards, nor a Chalmers. Boston was


till his doctrine, and his life adorning his doctrine, made him what he became. For one thing, Boston was a true student all his days. He husbanded his time. He plied his books. He plied his pen. Like Goodwin, he studied down “his subjects, as a hunter starts and runs down his quarry.” My scarcity of books was a kind of providence to me, for it made me think out the thing.” “I plied my books” comes in continually. By plying his books he drove away headaches, and moroseness, and parish worries, and worse things, so he testifies. And both the substance and the style of his then classical, and still not unclassical, books was the reward of his incessant plying of his few great books and of his pen among them. In his pulpit “the salvation of the hearer was the one motive of the preacher. He always preached his sermon first to himself, and this made his preaching ever fresh, ever pungent, ever full of “sense.” As often as he got good in the preparation of his sermon, he argued from that that his people would get good next Sabbath. And all this made him feel keenly, as his preaching and pastoral life went on, “a preacher’s need of Christ’s imputed righteousness.” As to his pastoral work, he began it at home, and practised it every morning and every night upon his family. He prepared for the exercise, till this entry continually recurs in his diary, how he got this and that good this morning and this evening at the “exercise.” And then, on the same faithful principle, he catechised his parish twice in the year till “he found that he had enough to do among his handful.” “Yes, Simprin is small, but then it is mine.” And then, to seal all, Boston was a man of prayer, if ever there was one in a Scottish manse. “I consulted God.” He continually made that consultation, as a student, as a probationer, as a lover, as a husband, as a father, as a preacher, as an author, with the result that is to be read in his memoirs of himself and in all his works. And then, out of all that he became such a theologian also that Jonathan Edwards discovered him from New England and described him as “Thomas Boston of Scotland, that truly great divine.” As high a seal, surely, as this world could set, according to the Ciceronian principle, Laudari a viro laudato—to be so praised by a man whom everybody praises. Two truly great divines.

Image sources: 
Interestingly enough, both portraits are of the Rev. Thomas Boston. The latter looks nothing like the former, in my estimation. The first portrait is the frontispiece in A General Account of My Life, by Thomas Boston, A.M., Minister at Simprin, 1699-1707 and at Ettrick, 1707-1732 (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1908). The second portrait comes from The Life and Times of Thomas Boston of Ettrick, authored by Andrew Thomson (T. Nelson & Sons, 1895).

For Further Study: If you would like to read more on this important subject, we would point you to Dr. Sinclair Ferguson’s recent book, The Whole Christ.

The Flagship Church of the German-language Synod of the West
by Rev. David T. Myers

For fifty years, Second Presbyterian Church of Grundy County, Iowa, was the “flagship” church of the Presbyterian Church USA in their Synod of the West. Back in 1871, two Presbyterian men, Poppe Meints and Klass Kruger, traveled seventeen miles from their homes in Grundy County to persuade the pastor of East Friesland, the Rev. John Vanerlas, to begin a testimony to the countless German pioneers who had moved to Iowa. They were successful in that purpose, and soon worship was begun on Sunday afternoons in a schoolhouse. It was eventually named Second Presbyterian Church of Grundy County, Iowa, having been organized with 30 members. The first pastor was the Rev. Jacob Brinkema. Within two years, they built a church building and manse, plus a cemetery, across the road from the site of the original schoolhouse.

Six other Presbyterian pastors were to come and minister the Word and Sacraments, with the Rev John E. Drake ministering the longest, from 1900 – 1935. Worship was all in German, until the mid-thirties, when it was changed to English. Increased attendance required an addition to the original frame structure in 1900. In 1917, that structure was replaced with a brick sanctuary seating around 400. Later in 1967, while still in the Presbyterian Church USA, the sanctuary was remodeled, and a new kitchen and 14 – room education wing was added. Further improvements have been added to the church complex with an attendance of around 150 members and friends.

On this day, March 20, 1983, the congregation, due to concerns about the Presbyterian Church, USA’s theological drift into liberalism, voted to join the Presbyterian Church in America which is committed to Biblical authority and historic Presbyterian theology. Their name is now Colfax Center Presbyterian Church. They have been served by four PCA pastors since that time, Rev. Arthur Ames, Rev. Larry Hoop, Rev. Eric Duble, and the Rev. Robert Grames, who is currently the under shepherd of the congregation. The church is a part of the Iowa Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Their ministry slogan is “Colfax Center is an historic rural church with a 21st century commitment to proclaim the word of life and reach out to the community around it with the love of Jesus.”

If you look at their website on-line, that purpose statement not only is being fulfilled to the community in which they exist, but this PCA church has a marvelous extension of witness to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, to which mission teams go each summer to build relationships with members of the Lakota Tribe. May each of our churches go beyond their bounds to take the blessed gospel by word and deed to those who are in need of the message of the gospel.

Words to Live By:
Take out the name of “Colfax Center” for a moment, and place in the name of your congregation, dear reader, for this church’s ministry slogan should be the purpose of every biblical Presbyterian congregation, and you in it. May all of us who are readers of This Day in Presbyterian history seek to take that blessed Word of Life and reach out to the relatives and friends of our neighborhoods, and beyond, with the good news of eternal life.

We continue with our program for each Lord’s Day, reviewing the studies on the Westminster Shorter Catechism prepared by the Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn. Rev. Van Horn was one of the founding fathers of the PCA, and he pastored churches in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Mississippi., and Tennessee. He served for a time as Vice President at Covenant Theological Seminary and served as a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary. Rev. Van Horn wrote these studies while serving as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson, MS.    

by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Vol. 1 No. 2, February, 1961

Question 2. —  What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?

Answer — The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glori­fy and enjoy Him.

Scripture References: 2 Tim. 3:18. Isa. 8:20. I John 1:3. Luke 16:29,31.

Study Questions :

1. What is the meaning of the word “rule” in this question?

When this word is used in a religious sense it means a direction or a command. It naturally implies the idea of straightness by which a man may attain the best possible end.

2. Why is it necessary to have such a rule?

It is necessary as man needs an objective standard by which he may pattern his life. The Word of God, as his rule, must be the supreme authority in the life of the man. It should be noted that if man has placed something else above the Word of God, whether it is con­science or tradition or the church, he will tend to use that authority to interpret the Word of God in many facets of his life.

3. What do we mean when we say the Scriptures are the Word of God? We mean that they aie the Word of God in written form. We place no limitations on that statement. We mean that the Bible is the Word of God and the words in the Bible are the very words of God. We mean that the Bible is trustworthy because God inspired it and inspiration includes the very words of Scripture.

4. Some say that the Bible “contains” the Word of God. Is this true?

If they mean by it that the word of God forms the contents of the Bible it is true. But if they mean that the word of God forms only a part of the contents of the Bible and the rest makes up the words of men, they are not speaking the truth. Or if they mean by it that the Bible only becomes the Word of God when the Holy Spirit makes some portions of it applicable to the hearer, they are not speaking the truth. This would make man the judge of the Word of God. When’our Shorter Catechism speaks of “the word of God” it means what the Westminster Standards have historically meant, that is, the Bible, is the Word of God as to both its contents and its form, so that there is nothing in it that God did not want to be in it, and reversely, it contains all that the Lord wanted to be contained therein.

5. Since this Word of God is to be our only rule, how can we know that it is the Word of God?

We know it by our simple acceptance of God’s statement that it is the word of God and that it is perfect. The Holy Spirit shows us Christ as our Saviour and brings the conviction to our hearts that it is the Word of God and we accept it by faith. Our Confession teaches us that our full assurance of the fact that the Bible is in­fallible and has the authority of God is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

It is strange that so often the Christian who realizes the theological fact of the authority of the Scripture is the very person that does not live under that authority as he should. There is a great need today for Christians who do not only believe in the authority of the Scriptures but who live as the Scriptures command them to live.

It has been said by many that one of the hardest places for a Bible- believing Christian to live in a way that is consistent with the Word of God is in a conservative Seminary. This sounds surprising and yet so many times it is true. A Professor in a theological seminary once said he thought the reason for this was that there was indeed a concentrated study of theology but not enough concentrated devotional study of the Jesus Christ of the Scriptures. Possibly what is true of many of our semi­naries is equally true of many of our churches. Lip service to our creeds is present but heart service to our Saviour is sometimes missing.

Our church today is in the midst of many problems. There are the inroads of a subjective theology where man becomes the judge of Scripture; the cry that is being raised against the conservative position; the emphasis on organizational unity. All of these should motivate us to examine once again our position regarding the authority of Scripture. And in the midst of our examination we should realize that Scripture holds for us a high standard of personal holiness. It is good to be able to say that we believe in our Westminster Standards. It is good to be able to say that we have a great heritage from our forefathers of the Reforma­tion. The danger with us today is the danger of insisting we believe, in­sisting we have a great heritage without insisting in our daily living that we practice what we say we believe.

The authority of the Scripture is just as effectual, just as binding, in our practice as it is in our principles. There is great danger that the whole tone of the Christian mind in regard to practical Christianity is being lowered. The danger of lowering it in daily, personal living. The danger of lowering it in the concessions we are making to those who deny the faith, who deny it in their actions and aims if not in their statement of belief. The danger of lowering it in the talking a lot about God without walking with Him day by day, moment by moment. Sepa­rated Christian living, according to the authority of Scripture, is not present as it should be.

Dr. J. L. Packer says it this way, “To accept the authority of Scrip­ture means in practice being willing, first to believe what it teaches, and then to apply its teaching to ourselves for our correction and guid­ance.” (Fundamentalism and the Word of God, Pg. 69).

We have a rule by which we may glorify and enjoy Him. Possibly we should remember that Scripture is profitable not only for “doctrine” but also for “instruction in righteousness.”

The Rev. George H. Seville wrote the following little tract, found among the Papers of the Rev. Albert F. (“Bud”) Moginot, Jr.

Born March 19, 1876, near Bellevue, PA, he later graduated from the Shadyside Academy in Pittsburgh, from Westminster College, New Wilmington, PA, and from Allegheny Seminary (UPCNA), Pittsburgh. He served as a high school teacher for a brief time before taking additional studies at the Moody Bible Institute, in preparation for ministry in China, beginning in 1902, serving under the auspices of the China Inland Mission. While stationed there, he met and later married a fellow missionary, the former Jessie Maud Merritt Greene, in 1905. [Mrs. Seville was born Oct. 15, 1874 and died on Jan. 2, 1960 in Wilmington, Delaware.]

The couple had four children, all born in China. Three daughters, Janet (Mrs. Ralph M. Bragdon), Elsa (Mrs. Roger B. VanBuskirk) and Edith (Mrs. Francis A. Schaeffer), and a son, John, who died in infancy.

The Seville family returned from China in 1919, whereupon Rev. Seville studied at Gordon College and then served as pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian church, Newburgh, NY, from 1923-1930. From 1931-1935, Rev. Seville served in the publishing department of the China Inland Mission, based initially in Toronto, Ontario and later in Philadelphia, PA. It was during this period that his alma mater Westminster College awarded him the Doctor of Divinity degree, in 1932. He was next one of the founding professors at the Faith Theological Seminary, teaching Greek and Practical Theology. Retiring from that service in 1955, this was also about the same time that Francis and Edith Schaeffer founded the L’Abri ministry, and Dr. Seville served as treasurer for the ministry from 1955-1967.  Dr. Seville lived to be 101 years of age, and died on March 21, 1977.

Minced Oaths

Rev. George H. Seville, D.D.

A visiting minister was asked to lead in prayer in Sunday school, and when he had finished, a teacher heard one of her girls whisper, “Gosh, what a prayer!” Such an exclamation seems incongruous in expressing one’s appreciation of a prayer, but a little thought will lead anyone to the conclusion that “gosh” is not an appropriate word for a Christian to use on any occasion whatsoever. When we look into the original meaning of such interjections, we may be surprised that even some Christian people are habitual users of expressions which the dictionary terms “minced oaths.”

A very commonly used interjection is “Gee.” It is capitalized in Webster’s New International Diction­ary and given this definition: “A form of Jesus, used in minced oaths.” This derivation is even more ap­parent when the form “Geez,” now frequently heard, is used. Two other common words and their defini­tions are these: “Golly—a euphemism for God, used in minced oaths; gosh, a substitute for God, used in minced oaths.” “Darn, darned, darnation” are said to be “colloquial euphemisms for damn, damned, dam­nation.” Persons who allow their lips to utter “Gosh- darned” quite freely would be shocked if they realized the real meaning of the word.

A certain minister, professor in a sound seminary, when he was a child was not allowed to use “good­ness,” “mercy,” or “gracious” as exclamations. He was inclined to think the restrictions a family peculi­arity, merely a parental overcarefulness, but now he can see that it had a sound Calvinistic basis. The Shorter Catechism asks, “What is required in the third commandment?” and then gives this answer: “The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, attributes, ordi­nances, words, and works.” Certainly goodness is an attribute of God. That this is so is recognized by Webster in the latter part of his definition: “The word is used colloquially as an exclamation, or in various exclamatory phrases, as “for goodness sake! goodness gracious 1”—the reference being originally to the goodness of God.”

The use of minced oaths is quite contrary to the spirit of the New Testament teaching. For example, our Lord Jesus said: “But I say unto you, Swear not at all. . . . But let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one” (Matt. 5:34, 37, R. V.). The phrase “whatsoever is more than these” suggests the mean­ing of expletives, or exclamations: an expletive is defined as “something added merely as a filling; especially a word, letter, or syllable not necessary to the sense, but inserted to fill a vacancy.”

James in writing his Epistle repeats almost exactly the words of the Lord Jesus quoted above: “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath: but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; that ye fall not under judgment” (Jas. 5:12). That last word recalls our Lord’s declaration: “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36). The result of this judgment is given in the following verse, “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be con­demned.”

If we try to excuse ourselves by saying that these exclamations slip through our lips unawares, we need to heed the Holy Spirit’s warning in the Epistle of James: “If any man thinketh himself to be religious, while he bridleth [or, curbeth] not his tongue, but deceiveth his heart, this man’s religion is vain” (1:26). Even though we do not intend these minced oaths to bear the meaning the words originally had, we certainly cannot truthfully say that the use of them accords with Christ’s command, “Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay.”

James seemed puzzled by the same anomaly that puzzles us, namely, the presence of minced oaths on the lips of Christians. Writing of the tongue as “a restless evil . . . full of deadly poison,” he said: “Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and there­with curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God: out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (Jas. 3 : 8-10).

While no attempt has been made to give a complete list of all the words in the vocabulary of near-pro­fanity, enough has been said to indicate that present- day speech has fallen below that standard which Christ Jesus set for his disciples.

The tendency in the use of expletives is to find the milder ones becoming less expressive of our feel­ings, to discard them, and use stronger ones in their stead. A careless following of others in the use of these common minced oaths will dull our own spiritual sensitiveness, and will weaken our Christian testimony.

To gain the victory in this matter of full obedience to our Lord Jesus, we need to make the prayer of David our daily petition: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer” (Psa. 19: 14).

Image source : Sixteenth Annual Catalog of Faith Theological Seminary, Elkins Park, PA, Summer 1953, page 7.

We have two different printings of this tract preserved at the PCA Historical Center, both indicating that the tract was originally self-published; one tract gives Rev. Seville’s address in Wilmington, while the other lacks any address, indicating that it was probably distributed among closer associates and thus this latter example is probably the first printing. Subsequently, the tract was reprinted as “Minced oaths : a vital message for every Christian.” by the Good News Publishing Company, in 1944  and then again by the same publisher in the 1960s. It has additionally been reprinted in at least one periodical: The Projector. (Spring 1989). The tract remains in print to this day, currently available from Bible Truth Publishers []

The bulk of Dr. Seville’s published writing, so far as I’ve been able to discover, appeared on the pages of The Bible Today, a publication of The National Bible Institute in New York City. These articles appeared during the years when Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. was serving as president of that school. The PCA Historical Center has a complete run of this periodical from May 1941 to September 1951, and is currently searching for issues prior to May 1941. Dr. Seville appears to have written exclusively on the subject of missionary biography, and the articles included the following titles:

Hugh Adoniram Judson : The Apostle of Burma, 38.4 (January 1944) 75-80.
“And Some, Evangelists” Charles Grandison Finney, 41.3 (December 1946) 563-574.
“And Some, Evangelists” Dwight Lyman Moody, 41.4 (January 1947) 585-597.
“And Some, Evangelists” George Whitefield, 40.9 (June-September 1946) 486-495.
“And Some, Evangelists” Henry Moorhouse, 41.8 (June-September 1947) 719-729.
“And Some, Evangelists” J. Wilbur Chapman, 41.7 (April 1947) 672-681.
“And Some, Evangelists” John Wesley, 41.2 (November 1946) 544-555.
“And Some, Evangelists” Reuben Archer Torrey, 41.5 (February 1947) 608-617.
“And Some, Evangelists” William Ashely Sunday, 41.8 (May 1947) 686-697.
Bartholomew Ziegenbalg : The Apostle of India, 39.2 (November 1944) 42-47.
Christian Friedrich Schwartz : The Founder of the Native Church in India, 39.3 (December 1944) 68-74.
George and Grace Stott : Pioneers in Wenchow, China, 39.1 (October 1944) 14-20.
Glimour of Mongolia, 39.6 (March 1945) 158-167.
James Chalmers, 38.7 (April 1944) 164-171.
James Hudson Taylor, Part I : The Apprentice, 38.5 (February 1944) 120-124. [author’s name not provided]
James Hudson Taylor, Part II : The Master Workman, 38.6 (March 1944) 139-146.
John Evangelist Gossner : the Father of Faith Missions, 40.1 (October 1945) 284-287
John Williams : The Apostle of the South, 39.8 (May 1945) 217-226.
Mary Slessor of Calabar : Pioneer Missionary of Okoyong, 38.9 (June-September 1944) 227-235.
Men We Should Know : Adolph Saphir: Hebrew Christian Preacher, 43.8 (May 1949) 249-258.
Men We Should Know : Albert B. Simpson: Founder of the C. and M. Alliance, 45.3 (December 1950) 68-77, 87.
Men We Should Know : Charles Simeon, Leader of the Low-Church Party, 42.7 (April 1948) 188-192; 42.9 (June-September 1948) 268-273.
Men We Should Know : Francis Asbury, the Homeless Bishop, 44.1 (October 1949) 5-12, 27, 32.
Men We Should Know : George Fox: Founder of Quakerism, 43.3 (December 1948) 77-84.
Men We Should Know : John Nelson Darby, 43.5 (February 1949) 139-144.
Men We Should Know : John Newton: a Brand from the Burning, 42.3 (December 1947) 89-93; 42.4 (January 1948) 103-109. Men We Should Know : Richard Baxter: a Protestant Saint, 43.4 (January 1949) 107-112, 136.
Men Worth Knowing : August Hermann Francke: Pastor, Professor, Philanthropist, 42.5 (February 1948) 137-147.
Men Worth Knowing : Philipp Jakob Spener, 42.1 (October 1947) 27-31; 42.2 (November 1947) 46-50.
Missionary Builders : Guido Verbeck : A Pioneer in New Japan, 40.7 (April 1946) 427-433.
Missionary Builders : John Wilkinson : Founder of the Mildmay Mission to the Jews, 40.8 (May 1946) 475-483.
Missionary Builders : Pastor Louis Harms : Founder of a Unique Enterprise, 40.3 (December 1945) 350-354, 364.
Missionary Builders : Robert Moffat: Builder of the Bechuana Missions, 40.5 (February 1946) 396-402.
Missionary Builders : Robert Morrison: The Pioneer of Modern Missions in China, 39.9 (June-September 1945) 251-258, 264, 267.
William Carey : Founder of a Missionary Society and a Mission, 38.2 (November 1943) 36-40.
William Carey : One of the Serampore Brotherhood, 38.3 (December 1943) 54-59.
William Chalmers Burns: Evangelist and Missionary, 39.4 (January 1945) 89-95; 39.5 (February 1945) 126-129.

An Heart Exercised Unto Godliness


p style=”text-align: justify;”>Thomas Boston [1676-1732]The life of Thomas Boston could be considered a walking medical study. Frequently depressed both in life and ministry, in his autobiography he wrote of his recurring miseries, his dry spells, his sense of unworthiness and dullness even in the act of preaching, or while praying in his study. At one point in his life, all his teeth fell out gradually one by one.  Try speaking or preaching with that condition! His wife even joined him in suffering from a chronic illness of body and mind. Maybe it was something in the water!

Throw in two small congregations which, when he first went to them, were unresponsive to the ministry of the Word, whether publicly or privately. The manse in one congregation was in such bad shape that his family couldn’t stay there. In the other church, for a while they lived in a stable and even had one of their infants born there.

Thomas Boston was born this day March 17, in 1676, in Duns, Scotland, with Thomas being the youngest of seven children. His parents, John and Alison Boston, were Covenanters and his father was a strong supporter of Presbyterianism, even for a time being fined and imprisoned for his proclamation of the Gospel. Thomas would keep him company in one jail.  Despite his parent’s vibrant testimony, Thomas went through religious motions only.  It was only later under the preaching of the Rev. Henry Erskine, father of two sons who became ministers, that the Spirit brought him to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Thomas would says, “it pleased the Lord to awaken me under exercise about my soul’s state.”

He attended Edinburgh University at age 15 and met his future wife Katherine (sometimes spelled with a “C”) while there. Licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Chimside, he proposed to Katherine, and she accepted. Two  years later, he received a call from the Parish of Simprim. Accepting that call and entering into the ministry of that pulpit, he was faithful in home visitation, catechizing and engaging in pastoral care twice week. During these same years five children were born into his family.

It was in one of the homes of his Simprim congregation that Boston discovered a book on the shelf entitled The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher. He read it and brought it to the established church. It afterwards became the basis for what is known as “the Marrow Controversy”.

In 1707, he moved with his wife and family to Ettrick, Scotland, where for the next twenty-five years, he ministered in the pulpit and homes of the congregation there. Especially did he wield the pen in writing a book still available today, often known simply as The Fourfold State [the full title is Human Nature in its Fourfold State: Of Primitive Integrity, Entire Depravity, Begun Recovery, and Consummate Happiness or Misery. Another five children were born into his family during his years at Ettrick, though in all, six of his children would die before reaching adulthood. When he himself died in 1732, he left behind his widow and four children.


p style=”text-align: justify;”>Words to Live By: 
Thomas Boston [1676-1732]Thomas Boston is a great example to the subscribers of This Day in Presbyterian History who are pastors. Their trials are often the same ones he suffered. Like Boston, these men faithfully minister each week, lovingly being the pastor in the pulpits and among the congregations given to their care, but often with great resistance and little encouragement. Those in the pew need to remember two Scriptural commands: First, that of 1 Thessalonians 5;12, 13, which says “But we request of you brethren, that you appreciated those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem very highly in love because of their work.  Live in peace with one another.” And second, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13;17)

Image sources: 
1. Above right, the most commonly seen portrait of the Rev. Thomas Boston, being the frontispiece portrait in A General Account of My Life, by Thomas Boston, A.M., Minister at Simprin, 1699-1707 and at Ettrick, 1707-1732. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1908.
2. Above left, a less frequently seen portrait (and you can see why!) of Rev. Boston. This is the frontispiece portrait published in the volume Memoirs of the Life, Times, and Writings of Thomas Boston, of Ettrick. Glasgow: John M’Neilage, 1899.  

Boston’s Favorite Text:
“Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.”—Psalm 71:20-21.

The Morning Watch was published, edited, and primarily written by the Rev. J. P. Struthers, minister of the Greenock congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland. From a small collection of juvenile literature at the PCA Historical Center, the following artwork is from that Scottish publication, in an issue dated 1910. The caption reads: 

“These young Scottish theologians are settling the point as to whether the Shorter Catechism says the Sum of the Ten Commandments is . . .  to love our NEIGHBOR, or, our NEIGHBORS. The upper boy says it’s the plural, the under says it’s the singular, each of them, especially the upper one, forgetting that the important thing in the sentence is not the letter S, but the word LOVE. But so did their fathers before them!



A Victory in Defeat

The British Parliament member, upon hearing of the “victory” in the colonies by the British army that day of March 15, 1781 has commented “another such victory would ruin the British army.” What did he mean?

In the southern campaign of the American Revolutionary War, Lord Cornwallis was doing his best to defeat the stubborn American forces.  Specifically, he was doing his best to punish those pesky Scot – Irish Presbyterians who  possessed a fervor of opposition to his military units.  Whenever he found a church building connected with them, the psalm books and Bibles would be burned.  That punishment would extend to the church building as well.  It was very much a battle against Presbyterians in the southern colonies.  In fact, they would meet on many a battle field, and one of the more fiercest times was this battle at Guildford Court House, North Carolina.

It was in the morning of March 15, that nineteen hundred British regulars and German allies attacked 4500 American militia members and seasoned Continental men.  The whole battle was fierce by any man’s standards.

The American commander, Maj. General Nathaniel Green, had positioned his troops in three lines.  First, one thousand militia from North Carolina formed the first line.  They were to fire two shots and retire from the battle field.  One half of the British Highlanders fell from that fire.  Green’s second line was composed of Virginia marksmen, both militia and seasoned Continentals.  They twice checked the British line, but eventually retired as well.  The third line of the Americans were fourteen hundred Continentals.  At this point, the fight grew desperate.  Cornwallis himself said, “I never saw such fighting since God made me.  The Americans fought like demons.”

After two and one half hours, Green retreated from the field, seeking to keep his army intact for future battles.  Cornwallis, on the other hand, lost in his “victory” over 25% of his officers and men.  Here he was, in enemy territory, without supplies, and with heavy loss of men.  He quit the area with the remnants of his army, marching to Yorktown.  Exactly seven months later, he would surrender his army to General George Washington.

The soldiers who composed the American army in the field were the members of Presbyterian congregations in the southern colonies.

Words to Live By:  There is a time when Christians must act their part in defense of truth and righteousness, peacefully if they can, with violence if they must.  In such an endeavor, they can with the help of the Lord win the battle.

Our time is short today, and while this particular entry is not quite in synch with the calendar, it remains a very good word from the esteemed Dr. Archibald Alexander, first professor at the Princeton Theological Seminary. In addition to his many years of service at Princeton, he was also quite dedicated in the work of writing evangelistic tracts, many of which were later gathered and published in the volume, Practical Truths. The following short quote is taken from one such tract:


Oh, precious gospel! Will any merciless hand endeavor to tear away from our hearts this best, this last, and sweetest consolation? Would you darken the only avenue through which one ray of hope can enter? Would you tear from the aged and infirm poor, the only prop on which their souls can repose in peace? Would you deprive the dying of their only source of consolation? Would you rob the world of its richest treasure? Would you let loose the flood-gates of every vice, and bring back upon the earth the horrors of superstition or the atrocities of atheism? Then endeavor to subvert the gospel; throw around you the fire-brands of infidelity; laugh at religion; and make a mock of futurity; but be assured, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. I will persuade myself that a regard for the welfare of their country, if no higher motive, will induce men to respect the Christian religion. And every pious heart will say, rather let the light of the sun be extinguished than the precious light of the gospel.—[Dr. Archibald Alexander.

Dearly beloved, is this the testimony of your heart? Is the Gospel truly precious in your sight? Do you hunger and thirst after that righteousness which can be yours through Christ alone?

[Excerpted from THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER, Vol. XXXI, No. 13 (27 March 1852): 49, column 3.]

The following is drawn from an autobiography written by the Rev. Daniel Iverson, founding pastor of the Shenandoah Presbyterian Church in Miami, Florida. That church closed its doors some years ago, but the legacy lives on.

The Shenandoah Presbyterian Church in its first twenty-four years under Daniel Iverson grew from seventeen worshipers in an old dance hall (half of them Iversons) to 1664 members with a Sunday School of 1200.  150 went into full-time Christian ministries, 4000 persons made a public profession of faith joining Shenandoah and her missions in this period, and some twenty-one churches were founded through Shenandoah and its pastor, together with its “children and grandchildren.  With the vast shift of population, seventy five years later, the Calle Ocho Church began to replant the church, “Reformed according to the Word of God” in the heart of what is now known as “Little Havana.” This autobiographical sketch in Dan Iverson’s own words best explains the miracle of Shenandoah. It is a simple answer.  Obviously, God did it!

The Work Begins: Sweating in Miami

iversondaniel01In February, 1927, Mrs. Iverson and I began to visit from home to home in the Southwest section of the city to see about prospects.  The people were in such an unsettled condition due to the collapse of the business boom and the terrible hurricane, it looked like a hopeless task. We were greeted with more or less indifference. We did not have a place to worship, and did not know where we could secure such a place; but we felt it was God’s will that we should work as though everything would work out alright, trusting Him every step of the way.

We found some people suspicious, charging that we had an ax to grind.  We found some very receptive and interested, and that most of them had heartaches they were trying to hide.  Having had some experience with people (Dan was about thirty eight years old), we felt it was our duty to penetrate the crust that hid the real self, and be of comfort and service to those in distress.

Having felt it was the time to start the church in the Shenandoah  community, I put notices in the newspapers, inviting those who were interested in establishing a Presbyterian Church to visit us in our home on a Tuesday evening in late February. About eight people attended that meeting, but only one became a member of what is now known as the Shenandoah Presbyterian Church.

After visiting for several weeks, we had interested enough folks, we thought, to jusify our finding a place of worship. There was an apartment on the corner of Southwest 20th Avenue and 12th Street that had stores on the ground floor.  We thought that was the place to begin, and tried to secure one of the stores. The owner of the building said that if we could gain the consent of those in the apartment building, we could use the store for a short time.  After four days, we had the people’s consent, but then the owner of the building decided against it. This was discouraging, for we had tried several places and met with similar rebuffs.

On Tamiami Trail and 20th Avenue there was a wooden building, now very much dilapidated, but then being used as a dance hall. It did not look to be the right thing to start a church in a Dance Hall. I found the building open, and walked in to take a look, and found it ideal as a Tabernacle.  I felt God had led me to this place. There was a little orchestra stand in the center of the building, and I knelt down behind the stand and claimed the building for God, and as I knelt and prayed, I felt God had answered my prayers.  I did every thing I could to secure this building, but failed.  Yet I felt in my heart that it would finally be ours.

I kept looking around the area and found an open air theater, now known as the Trail Auto Parts Company, that had closed its doors as a moving picture concern. I felt it was an unwise move to begin, but feeling it was imperative, I was ready to accept anything.  I secured this building for ten dollars per Sunday, and did not have the ten dollars to pay it.

That week, having  printed ten thousand invitation cards, my two boys, Dan and Ned, and my little girl Ella Lillian, went with me and assisted me in placing under the doors of 1000 homes these cards.  This interested them in the venture, and I found in family prayers they were constantly remembering this effort before God. Having given out one thousand cards, they thought everyone would respond and expected to see a large gathering on that first Sunday, March 13, 1927 at the Kew Garden Theater.

We advertised the Bible School hour at 9:45 A.M. I painted a sign and placed it outside the door, and opened up at 9:00 AM. There were five from our own family present,  At 9:45 there were still just five present, and that was a matter of anxiety for us all. As we were beginning with just our family at five minutes of ten, one person strolled in and asked if this was the place for the service, and wondered where the crowd was. At five minutes after ten, there were possibly ten present, and by 10:15 AM we had our first Sunday School of seventeen people divided into three classes. These classes were led by Mrs. Jennie Anderson, and for the adults  a class by Mrs. Daniel Iverson, and one by Miss Alice France.

shenandoahPCThe open air theater had a concrete floor and sunshine rules very strongly in Miami in March. It was unbearably warm and the glare very hard on the eyes. We found we were laboring under tremendous hardships. After a brief Sunday School session of the three classes, we asked the people to stay for church, and we would not keep them long.  Some people were added to the eleven o’clock service, making the attendance perhaps twenty-five or thirty. The sun was so hot that the people complained about it.  I suggested we hold a short service and someone suggested that they go home and get their parasols and come back.  I was afraid that if I let them go, they would not come back. They were so nice and kind, I gave them their wish and everyone  came back. This was just a little thing, but that was an encouraging thing, and I needed that little encouragement at what seemed to be a very dark moment in the blazing sun.

We had no hymn books, but I found a friend from my home town that was kind enough to make a couple hundred copies of three hymns. We used those hymns for a number of weeks for we had no funds with which to purchase hymn books.  During the following weeks I felt it necessary to get another place of worship, but found it impossible to secure them. So I printed one thousand more cards and with some neighbor children and my own, we placed cards under the doors again. I know we were not as welcome as we ought to have been, but I overlooked that, and went on. In spite of the handicap of a very uncomfortable place, we had a slight increase of both Bible School and Church. On these cards we suggested that people bring their parasols, and they did. We prayed earnestly that God at that time would answer the prayers for the dance hall.  Another week went by with the same disappointment and fear, but again, there was a slight increase in attendance.

Words to Live By:
When the Lord has a work to do, He prepares the way. Nothing will prevent or hinder the accomplishment of His will. It will happen in His time. Our role is to watch, and to faithfully obey, as He leads. The Gospel must be proclaimed. God will do the rest.

The Rev. Van Horn was born in 1920, educated at Columbia Theological Seminary, and pastored churches in Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and New Mexico. He also served as a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary. His work on the ruling elder remains in print, but his series on the Westminster Shorter Catechism has, regrettably, never been published. It was originally issued in the form of bulletin inserts, and the PCA Historical Center is pleased to have a complete set of these inserts. Last week we completed another series by Rev. Horn, and will now return to his larger series, this on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. 


Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

Scripture References: I Cor. 10:31Psalm 73:24-26John 17:22,24.

1.    What is the meaning of the word “end” in this question?
The word means an aim, a purpose, an intention. It will be noted that the word “end” is qualified by the word “chief”. Thus it is noted that man will have other purposes in this life but his primary purpose should be to glorify God. This is in keeping with the purpose for which man was made. It is when we are alienated from God that we have the wrong end or purpose in view.

2.    What does the word “glorify” mean in this question?
Calvin tells us that the “glory of God is when we know what He is.” In its Scriptural sense, it is struggling to set forth a divine thing. We glorify Him when we do not seek our own glory but seek Him first in all things.

3.    How can we glorify God?
Augustine said, “Thou hast created us for Thyself, O God, and our heart is restless until it finds repose in Thee.” We glorify God by believing in Him, by confessing Him before men, by praising Him, by defending His truth, by showing the fruits of the Spirit in our lives, by worshiping Him.

4.    What rule should we remember in regard to glorifying God?
We should remember that every Christian is called of God to a life of service. We glorify God by using the abilities He has given us for Him, though we should remember that our service should be from the heart and not simply as a duty.

5.    Why is the word “glorify” placed before “enjoy” in the answer?
It is placed first because you must glorify Him before you can enjoy Him. If enjoyment was placed first you would be in danger of supposing that God exists for man instead of men for God. If a person would stress the enjoying of God over the glorifying of God there would be danger, of simply an emotional type of religion. The Scripture says, “In Thy presence is fulness of joy. . . .” (Ps. 16:11). But joy from God comes from being in a right relationship with God, the relationship being set within the confines of Scripture.

6.    What is a good Scripture to memorize to remind us of the lesson found in Question No. 1?
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: …” (Ps. 42:1,2a). This reminds us of the correct relationship for the Christian, looking unto Him. It is there we find our ability to glorify Him and the resulting joy.

It is a fact to be much regretted that the average Christian who gives allegiance to the Westminster Standards is a Christian that many times leaves out the living of these Standards in the daily pursuits of life. It is good to believe, it is good to have a creed in which to believe. But there is much harm that can result from believing in a creed and not living it day by day. From such an existence we arrive at a low tone of spiritual living and the professing believer becomes cold, formal, without spiritual power in his life.

We should always recognize that the first lesson to be learned from our catechism is that our primary concern is to be of service to the Sovereign God. Our Westminster Shorter Catechism does not start with the salvation of man. It does not start with God’s promises to us. It starts with placing us in the right relationship with our Sovereign God. James Benjamin Green tells us that the answer to the first question of the Catechism asserts two things: “The duty of man, ‘to glorify God.’ The destiny of man, ‘to enjoy Him.’ ”

It is to be regretted that though we have inherited the principles of our forefathers, in that their Creed is still our Creed, so many times we have failed to inherit the desire to practice their way of living. Many people will attempt to excuse themselves here by stating that we live in a different age, that the temptations and speed of life today divert us from spiritual things. But no matter what excuses we might give, the Catechism instructs us right at the outset that our duty is to glorify God, such is our chief purpose in life. All of us need to note the valid words of J. C. Ryle in regard to our Christian living: “Where is the self-denial, the redemption of time, the absence of luxury and self-indulgence, the unmistakable separation from earthly things, the manifest air of being always about our Master’s business, the singleness of eye, the high tone of conversation, the patience, the humility that marked so many of our forerunners . . . ?”

May God help each of us to stop right now, read again the first question and answer of our Catechism, and pray to God that in the days to come our primary concern might be that we will live to His glory. It is not difficult for us to know the characteristics of such a life. The fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 are plain enough.

The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Vol. 1 No. 3  January, 1961
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

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