February 2018

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

Q. 53. — Which is the third commandment?

A. — The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Ex. 20:7).

Q. 54. — What is required in the third commandment?

A. — The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, title, attributes, ordinances, word, and works.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES: Ps.29:2; Matt. 6:9; Rev. 15:34; Mal. 1:14; Ps. 138:2; Ps. 107:21,22.

Questions:

1. What do we mean by the “name of the Lord thy God”?

We mean by the name of “the Lord thy God” any way in which God makes himself known.

2. How is it that God makes himself known?

He makes himself known: by his names, such as God, Lord, I am, Jehovah; by his titles such as Lord of Hosts, Holy One of Israel, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and others; by his attributes which are his perfections and properties (see Question 4); by his ordinances which are the reading, preaching and hearing of the Word, prayer, thanksgiving, praise, the administration of the sacraments; by his word, the scriptures of the Old and New Testament; by his works, which are the works of creation and providence.

3. What is our responsibility toward these general ways by which He makes himself known?

Our responsibility is to show a reverent attitude toward all of them in our words, our thoughts and our actions. We should meditate on o His names and titles. We should make holy use of God’s ordinances seeking God in them. We should be obedient at all times to His Word and recognize His works of creation and providence, blessing Him and praising Him for His mercies and submitting to Him in all things.

4.
Does this question pertain at all to legal oaths and vows to God?

Since the name of God is used in oaths and vows, there is a connection. The reader is urged to consider prayerfully the section of the Confession of Faithentitled: “Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

THE GOD OF ABRAHAM

One of the titles ascribed to God as the God of grace is “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Ex. 3:6). Even as He is the God of grace, even as we experience it day after day, we should praise Him for His wonderful works to the children of men. We should never let a day go by without lifting up voices in praise to that Blessed Name! The hymn writer said:

“The God of Abraham praise!
Who reigns enthroned above,
Ancient of everlasting days,
And God of Love!
Jehovah, great I AM!
By earth and Heaven confest!
I bow, and bless the sacred name,
For ever blest!

The God of Abraham praise!
At whose supreme command
From earth I rise, and seek the joys
At His right hand:
I all on earth forsake,Its wisdom, fame, and power,
And Him my only portion make,
My Shield and Tower.
The God of Abraham praise!

Whose all-sufficient grade
Shall guide me all my happy days
In all my ways:
He called a worm His friend!
He calls Himself my God!
And He shall save me to the end
Through Jesus’ blood!
The whole triumphant host

Give thanks to God on high:
Hail! Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
They ever cry:
Hail! Abraham’s God and mine!
I join the heavenly lays;
All might and majesty are Thine,
And endless praise!”

Abraham bowed in heart and mind before the Lord even after his faith had been sorely tried by the long delay in the fulfilment of the promise. Abraham rested upon the divine pledge, and the sufficiency of the divine power and grace of his Lord. We should do the same-recognize who He is and then remember to give praise to His holy name.

However, this commandment has a reverse side to it. As Calvin puts it so well, “The purpose of this commandment is: God wills that we hallow the majesty of his name. Therefore, it means in brief that we are not to profane his name by treating it contemptously and irreverently.” (Institutes, II, viii, 22). We should always remember that by not standing in awe of Him, by not blessing His name, we can break this commandment.

A good discipline for us would be to promise God that we shall read Psalm 139 at least once each week in order that we might keep ourselves in the right perspective and have the reverent attitude we should have toward the God of Abraham.

A Famous Hymn for Sailors
by Rev. David T. Myers

The Presbyterian pastor was asked to compose a hymn verse for the anniversary of the Seamen’s Friend’s Society meeting. Instead, he brought the verse for a hymn which he had anonymously written eight years before, which was “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me.” And so his secret was revealed to the Christian public at last.

Edward Hopper was born on February 17, 1816 in New York City. The son of a merchant and a mother who descended from French Calvinist Huguenots, he ministered all his life, except for twelve years elsewhere, in New York City. After graduating from New York University (1839) and Union Theological Seminary (1842), he became the pastor of the Church of the Sea and Land, a church for sailors. He would remain there all his life and die in 1888.

Consider the words of this famous hymn which was a perfect application for those who made their living on the sea or those in military service on the sea. In fact, you are invited to sing it or hum it for your loved ones and friends who may be this very day on the sea.

“Jesus, Savior, pilot me”

Jesus, Savior, pilot me Over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll, Hiding rock and treach-‘rous shoal;
Chart and compass came from thee: Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

As a mother stills her child, Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Bois-t’rous waves obey thy will When thou sayest to them, “Be still.”
Wondrous Sovereign of the sea, Jesus, Savior, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore, And the fearful breakers roar
‘Twixt me and the peaceful rest, Then, while leaning on thy breast,
May I hear thee say to me, “Fear not, I will pilot thee.” Amen.

[ Click the link to hear the hymn sung: Jesus, Savior, pilot me. ]

Hopper would write three more verses of this hymn, comprising the second, third, and fourth verses, though these additional verses did not become part of the final version that appeared in most church hymnals. What was published  rang true, even for the non-sailor, with its comparison of life with the stormy sea, filled with dangers and temptations. Jesus is described as the Pilot who guides godly men and women through that stormy sea. The whole concept of the hymn comes from Matthew’s gospel, chapter 8, verses 23 – 27 where we have the occasion of Jesus calming the Sea of Galilee on behalf of his terrified disciples.

The last verse, which is in the form of a prayer, was uttered and answered in the life of Edward Hopper. On April 22, 1888, the text of his sermon had been “Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” The next day at noon as his niece came to call him for lunch, she discovered him sitting in his chair in his study, slumped over from an apparent heart attack, with pen still in hand, for he had been working on a verse entitled “Heaven.”

Words to Live By: Live this day in dependence on Jesus Christ and Him crucified, risen, and coming again.  It is only when we live in this way, that we will be ready to persevere through life, and be content in death.

 

riceJohn Holt Rice, the second son of Benjamin and Catherine Rice, was born near the small town of New London, in the county of Bedford, on the 28th of November, A.D. 1777. From the first dawn of intellect, he discovered an uncommon capacity for learning, and a still more uncommon disposition to piety. We have seen some reason to believe that like Samuel, he was called in the very morning of his life; at so early an hour indeed that he could not distinguish the voice of God from that of his own mother—-so soft and so tender was its tone. It was, in truth, the first care of this excellent woman to train up her infant child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and you might have seen the weak and sickly boy always at her knee, reading his Bible or Watt’s Psalms, to her listening ear, and catching the first lessons of religion from her gentle tongue. No wonder that he ever retained a most grateful sense of her special service in this respect, and warmly cherished her sacred memory in his filial heart.

As a further evidence of his early piety, we are told that whilst he was yet a boy, and hardly more than seven or eight years old, he established a little private prayer-meeting with his brothers and sisters, and led the exercises of it himself with great apparent devotion. We are not informed however, at what time exactly he made a public profession of religion; but we understand that it was probably when he was about fifteen or sixteen years of age.

[excerpted from The Charleston Observer, VII.7 (16 February 1833): 27, column 2.]

So frequently throughout Scripture that we tend to overlook it by its very frequency, our Lord God does time and time again instruct us–charge us–command us–to remember His works. It is one of His appointed means by which we can keep our hearts tender and fresh in the love of our Lord and Savior. John Flavel’s excellent treatise, THE MYSTERY OF PROVIDENCE is a wonderful exposition of this same truth. Here in the article below, William Stanford Reid adds his own insight on the importance of history for the Christian.

NEEDED: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

by William Stanford Reid
Reformation Today (Montreal, Canada), 2.4 (February 1953): 11, 17.]

History is God’s possession. This is the repeated assertion of the Scriptures. Whether dealing with individuals such as Pharaoh, Cyrus and Judas, or with nations such as the Jews or with kingdoms such as Babylon, Egypt or Rome, this is always the point of view. Every item, every event of history is worked out according to the purpose and plan of God, “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Moreover, this plan and purpose finds its culmination in redemption, accomplished by Christ and to be made complete at history’s final day.

The implications of this point of view for the history of the Church since apostolic days are numerous. The most important is, however, that Christ, who is “head over all things to the Church” is guiding and ruling His people. He is bringing His elect into the Church and punishing those professing Christians who prove unfaithful. In this way the history of the Church has for the Church a twofold objective. It is a warning of what befalls those who are not obedient. This is mentioned repeatedly in the New Testament. (2 Tim. 3:8; Heb. 3:17-19; Rev. 2,3). At the same time the history of the Church is a means of instruction, whereby it is warned, encouraged and strengthened. (Rom. 4, 9-11; Heb. 11; 1 Cor. 10:11).

For this reason the Christian has a very real obligation to the Church’s history. He, and the Church as a whole, must take it seriously, regarding it as part of God’s means of guiding and directing the Church by the Spirit into all truth. (John 14:26; 16:13). For this reason history is not to be discarded, nor disregarded. It is the revelation of how God deals with His people, which is also the fundamental message of the Bible. The only difference is that the Church does not have since Apostolic days, an inspired record, nor an inspired interpretation. Therefore, it is the Church’s obligation, not only to understand its own history, but also to evaluate and interpret it in the light of God’s Word.

There are, however, dangers at this point. If one adopts a proper point of view, they may not be great, but there is always a tendency towards traditionalism and conservativism. Because this, that or the other doctrine has been believed, or because this, that or the other practice has been followed, such must still be the case. This can only lead to aridity and pharasaism which will bring the Church to the grave.

The greatest danger, however, amongst present day Christians, is in the other direction. They tend to disregard the Church’s history. They adopt the attitude that it is unimportant “Let’s not have Calvin or Wesley or Machen,” they say, “But let us get back to the Scriptures. Only then shall we know the truth.” In this way they are adopting the position, that before this age no one has ever really wrestled with problems of the faith, and what is even more important, no one has ever found a solution. They imply that their problems, their needs and their ideas are absolutely new. Therefore history cannot help.

To an historian such a point of view is utterly ridiculous, for in history “there is nothing new under the sun.” The new problems are the old. What Augustine, Calvin, Kuyper and others had to face, we also have to deal with today. We cannot escape from the world in which we live, a world made up of past history.

This anti-historical attitude, however, is very dangerous. Its proponents feel that in a year or two they can achieve the results which the Church has achieved only over 2,000 years. Consequently they often fall into old errors and heresies which could have been easily avoided if they had known some history. Moreover, they would be much humbler than they usually are, for they would see how utterly fallible are all Christians.

Today the Church suffers from a rejection of history. This is one of the evangelical’s greatest weaknesses. Therefore, let us study the Church’s history, the history of God’s people, in order that we may the better know Him who is the Church’s only Lord and King.

—W.S.R.

As the Schaeffers were preparing to move to Europe, the following article was published in BIBLICAL MISSIONS, the newsletter of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, under whose auspices the Schaeffers initially moved onto the European field, with the intent of planting theologically sound churches. The picture shown here is from the January 1949 issue of that same newsletter.
Some will remember that this same title “Revolutionary Christianity” appears as the title of the last chapter of Schaeffer’s book,
THE CHURCH AT THE END OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. The content of the 1948 article is entirely different, though it would be an interesting exercise to compare the two messages. Great minds are always building on prior accomplishments and advances, and I have to think that Schaeffer hadn’t forgotten this 1948 article when he so titled that last chapter of his book in 1970. For instance, does the latter contain an outworking of ideas first formulated in the earlier article.

REVOLUTIONARY CHRISTIANITY
Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer
[Biblical Missions 14.2 (February 1948): 27-31.]

The International Missionary Council met at Whitby, Ontario, in the summer of 1947. In reporting on that meeting, Reinhold Niebuhr’s paper, “Christianity and Crisis,” in its issue of November 10, 1947, gave an account of one of the speeches in which account it stated: “Bishop Neill, successful Oxford missioner, warned lest the church cease to be revolutionary and identify itself with the status quo, the powers that be. ‘Then,’ he said, ‘the revolution goes forward under demonic powers, which God uses to discipline the Church.’ The church losing its mission becomes irrelevant.”

This is a highly significant statement, for it is an illustration of the type of thinking that dominates the modernistic missionary movements, including those that are Barthian and neo-Barthian. Insofar as this statement was presented at this un-Biblical, but influential missionary conference, it is well to analyze carefully this problem in a Bible-believing missionary magazine.

What is meant by “revolutionary Christianity” is that we now need a socialized gospel. To these men the revolutionary concept of Christianity is a part of world betterment through a revolution in the economic field; to them, socialization is the next upward step for Christianity to take. When therefore these men speak of “irrelevant Christianity” they mean Bible-believing Christianity. To them, our historic emphasis that the church’s task is to preach Christ crucified and raised from the dead that men might accept Christ as their personal Saviour and be justified by faith alone, is irrelevant and little more than magic.

The sad thing is that there are some Bible-believing Christians who five excuse for such charges. Orthodoxy is in a constant danger of allowing hat orthodoxy to ossify so that it has no impact on life. Historic, Bible-believing Christianity believes that the task of the church is to preach Christ and Him crucified and that men are justified by faith alone; but his does not mean that after a man has accepted Christ as his Saviour his Christianity should not show, or need not show, in every aspect of his life. In spite of the minority of Bible-believing Christians who are irrelevant, historic Bible-believing Christianity has been and is the true revolutionary Christianity. We have the revolutionary Christianity, not the Modernists and neo-Barthians.

Spiritually

Historic Christianity is revolutionary Spiritually. By revolutionary, I mean that it is totally contrary to all the other religions of the world. Consider the prophets. They were the revolutionists, and they stood alone against their day. Christ, God the Son, when He was on earth, was revolutionary in that He stood alone against His day. Paul was revolutionary, and wherever he went, both Jews and pagans felt the clash of his message against the established religious order. In church history, the outstanding leaders have always been considered revolutionary. Who could be more I revolutionary than Luther standing against the established order of the I Catholic Church? The Reformation Monument in Geneva has carved in stone, “After the darkness came forth light.” Let us never forget that Calvin and those who were with him were revolutionists of the first order in spiritual things. Whitefield and Wesley preached in the fields because the churches were shut to them. The churches were shut to them because these men were spiritual revolutionists against the whole trend of the dead orthodoxy of their day. In our day, has the matter changed? Not a bit. We are the spiritual revolutionists of our hour. All else are agreed against us. The message of the cross is always against the whole world concept around about us. It is against the prince of this world. In spiritual matters, we have the revolutionary message, because the Biblical message in our age, as in every age, is totally contrary to all the religions of the world.

The Christian Century in reporting our attempt, by the grace of God, to form an International Council of Bible-believing Christians, said this attempt was of the Devil. Why have these men resurrected the Devil for us? It has been years since we have heard them mention the Devil. They do not say that the Roman Catholics are motivated by the Devil. At times, it is true, because of growing Roman Catholic political power, we hear them say that Rome is wrong politically, but in religious matters they hold out the hand of fellowship to Rome. They do not say that the Unitarians are of the Devil. In the leadership of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America and in the World Council there are men who individually hold the Unitarian position. They do not even say that the Hindu and the Mohammedan, or the Shintoist is of the Devil. In the Religious Congress that is being called in Boston for the United Nations, the modernistic leaders are calling to these primitive paganisms that they should labor together for world fellowship and brotherhood. However, when it comes to the Bible-believing Christian, then it is a different matter. Why is it that we are the only group they will fight religiously? Because we are the revolutionary group. The simple fact is, that religiously Modernism (including Barthianism and neo-Barthianism). Romanism, Greek Orthodoxy, and the rest, while having differences among themselves, are one in their basic errors.

There are too many who call themselves Bible-believing Christians who are only so because this has been the established position in their youth, not because they are convinced that it is right. They find it rather comfortable to say the old phrases without doing anything about them. Thus, Christianity loses its dynamic power, and dead orthodoxy comes in like a flood. Study what period of church history you will, the first step to heterodoxy has always been a dead orthodoxy.

Such an attitude is not Christian. It is old, but all old things are not good. Christianity is the snatching of brands from the burning. It is the shouting aloud from the pulpit or the stake: “You cannot call Jesus Christ your Lord until you call Him first God and then your personal Saviour.” The Christianity that has moved ahead through the centuries is the Bible-believing Christianity that stands completely against all the other religions of the world. This is true whether they are primitive paganisms, Roman Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy, old-fashioned Modernism, or neo-Barthianism. True Bible-believing Christianity is never comfortable and it is never fossilized. Christians should know these facts and act upon them. We know that the world will never be normal until Christ comes back and supernaturally makes it so.

Materially

Bible-believing Christianity is also revolutionary in its relationships to the external world. This is what I mean by materially. As the religions of the world are not in line with Christianity, so also the civilizations that are built upon them are not in line with Christianity.

The Bible’s position is that you can only understand a civilization if you see the religion or religions upon which it is built or which are dominantly behind it. This is a part of the complete world-view of Christianity. The true Bible-believing Christian in faith knows that he can in general tell what the civilization of the next generation will be because its basis is found in the religion of this generation.

Now let us ask ourselves. Who are the liberals and who are the reactionaries in our own day? I want to say it very carefully, the Bible-believing Christians arc the true liberals. The modernists, including the Barthians and neo-Barthians, are the reactionaries. What do I mean by this? Bible-believing Christianity, wherever it has gone preaching Christ and Him crucified and raised from the dead and keeping as its primary message justification by faith, has always been followed by certain peripheral and secondary blessings. These blessings have not followed in a day, but they have always come. What are these peripheral blessings—the emancipation of women, the freeing of slaves, the increase of education, and, in general,

a rise in the level of civilization, including the material benefits of a high standard of living. There are many others, but the greatest of the peripheral blessings that have followed historic Bible-believing Christianity has always been an increase in individual liberties. Remember, this is not the primary message of Christianity. It is a purely secondary result of the preaching of the cross.

In the light of this, who is the liberal today and who is the reactionary? Who is continuing the message of individual freedom, and who is leading us back to slavery? It is the Bible-believing Christian who is continuing to insist upon individual freedom all over the world, and equally all over the world it is the modernists and the Barthians and neo-Barthians who are casting away our freedom and leading us back to slavery. In whatever country you read the writings of these men, you find that they believe it is now the Christian’s duty to give up his individual freedom to the state, so that their socialistically-planned economy can come into effect.

In a press release at the Oslo Young People’s Conference, Reinhold Niebuhr said that all laws are under the judgment of Christ, and that this includes those from Scripture and those that were enacted by states and communities. He says that among the laws that we must refashion is the law of property rights, and also the law of individual liberties. What does this mean? It means, these men tell us, that it is our Christian duty to give up our individual liberties to the Socialistic State. They couch their teaching in religious language, but that does not change it.

Who then is the reactionary? The so-called “liberal” is the reactionary, for he would squander all those individual freedoms which our Bible-believing forefathers have won. He decks this road to the slaughter-house of our freedoms with Christian signs and symbols, but it is the road to the death of our freedoms, nevertheless.

Should individual Christians and Bible-believing mission boards be interested in this? I believe they should, for the loss of our freedoms will eventually lead to the loss of the freedom of the preaching of the Gospel.

This totalitarian trend among the modernists is clearly demonstrated in the churches themselves. In the recent church unions in India and Ceylon, the church governments have been led back to the more totalitarian forms.

Thus, it is our message that is truly revolutionary spiritually and in the external world, because our primary message and its secondary results are totally contrary to all the religions of the world and to the civilizations built upon them.

Challenge

However, it would be wrong to finish this article without saying that if we intend to stand in the historic stream of Christianity, we must never close our eyes to the wrongs that do exist in our own external world. The reason the secondary blessings of Christianity have followed the preaching of the Cross is that the true preachers of the Cross have always been willing to point out the evils of their own day. Thus, we should raise our voices against not only the theological “liberal” and the totalitarian trends of our day, but we must be especially careful to point out the weaknesses of our own churches and of our civilization. When we find a Bible-believing Christian who, for example, would turn his back on the cry of the world in its present need for food, we should be the ones to tell him that his Christianity is irrelevant. When our nation would break its solemn promises, we should be the ones to speak most loudly for national integrity. If the church in its time of power prior to 1900 had been faithful in pointing out the abuses of our economic system, I seriously doubt if Communism and near-Communism could have gotten such a hold upon us. It is imperative that we should be the ones to take the lead, especially when it is uncomfortable, in pointing out the evils round about us. Being in the “old paths” does not mean keeping on in things that are wrong. Worldliness is more than smoking, drinking and card playing. A far worse worldliness is keeping quiet when our nation breaks its promises; or sharing, through silence, in murder through mob violence; or by driving men to communism by squeezing them in any of the economic processes.

If the church had not lost its revolutionary message through dead orthodoxy and laziness, modernism could never have come in as it has.

Christianity will always be revolutionary until Christ comes back. We should teach our young people carefully that not only all the false religions are against us, but the civilizations built upon them as well. We should present this to them as a challenge. We have the greatest marching orders that men have ever been given, and when we allow our young people to go on the defensive rather than to march straight forward, it means that we have failed to get across the perennial challenge of our calling.

A Consistent Christian Life

Pastor Ken McHeard is the current pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Duanesburg, New York. From all I hear, he’s engaged in a faithful ministry there, as he follows a long and eminent roster of pastors at that church. The organizing pastor of this historic church was the Rev. James McKinney, who served the church from 1797-1802. The second pastor and the subject of our post today, the Rev. Gilbert McMaster, served the Duanesburg congregation in a lengthy pastorate, from 1808-1840.

Gilbert was born near Belfast, Ireland, on February 13, 1778. Of his parents, it was said that “his father was a man of intelligent and earnest piety,” and that his mother “was very respectably connected, was a person of superior intellect and great force of character.” Gilbert enjoyed the advantages of a faithful Christian education and at the age of eighteen came to a public profession of his faith in Christ as his Savior. This was some five years after the family had immigrated to the United States and settled in Franklin county, Pennsylvania.  Gilbert continued his education at the Franklin Academy and Jefferson College before beginning medical studies, and was admitted to the medical practice in 1805, becoming a physician in the borough of Mercer, PA.

But it was not even three years, in 1807, when Dr. Alexander McLeod and Dr. Samuel B. Wylie sought him out, urging him to consider his calling to the ministry. McMaster had a high view of the ministry and shrank from thinking that he could himself be so called. But McLeod and Wylie prevailed, and as Gilbert’s studies had always included theological education, he was found ready in late October of that year to pass his examinations before the Presbytery. On August 8, 1808, he was installed as the pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Duanesburg, New York.

Rev. McMaster served the Duanesburg congregation for thirty-two years before answering a call to serve another church, this time in Princeton, Indiana. Here again, his labors were blessed of the Lord, though his years were cut short, with failing health compelling him to surrender the pulpit in 1846. He died, after a brief but painful illness, on March 17, 1854, “closing a consistent Christian life with Christian dignity and composure.”

Rev. McMaster’s son, Erasmus, provided an interesting glimpse of his father’s ministry:

“The ordinary course of Dr. McMaster’s pastoral ministration was in conformity with the customary order of many of the Scottish Presbyterian Churches. Usually the Sabbath morning service was an exposition of some Book of Scripture inn course, with doctrinal and practical observations, accompanied by the ordinary devotional exercises. The subject of the afternoon’s discourse was either some branch of the morning’s exposition, selected for fuller development, elucidation and application; some head of Christian doctrine, or some theme suggested by the various circumstances and occasions of his congregation or of the times. These services of the Sabbath he supplemented, during the week, by regular pastoral visitation and by biblical and catechetical instruction of the young at stated times. His usual written preparation for the pulpit consisted only of short notes, filling from two to four pages of a small duodecimo volume [a book about 5 x 7.5 in.], and briefly marking the heads of his discussion, and the more important particulars, with references to apposite Scriptures for illustration, confirmation and enforcement. His subject, thus briefly noted, he carefully thought out in its matter, relying on the occasion of the delivery for the language.”

The son of one of McMaster’s closest friends gave this report of Rev. McMaster’s final days:

“Dr. McMaster’s last days were spent in delightful serenity in the house of his accomplished son, the Rev. E. D. McMaster, brightened by the companionship of the wife of his youth, one of the kindest and purest of Christian women, and sustained by the respectful love of his sons, and the soothing attention of his two amiable daughters. The habitual modesty and reserve of his character continued unaltered to the last, but his long, self-sacrificing, useful and holy life was his best testimony for God.

Words to Live By:
If you are known as a Christian, whether in your work place or elsewhere, know that people do watch you. They watch your words, but more importantly, they watch to see if your character backs up your words. A strong Christian testimony rests on first on the Word of God, but the world looks to see God’s Word reflected in your life.  “But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ ” (James 2:18, NASB)

McMaster_1852_Great_Subject_of_the_Christian_MinistrySome of the works authored by Rev. McMaster include:
The Duty of Nations: A Sermon on a Day of Public Thanksgiving.
The Embassy of Reconciliation: An Ordination Sermon.
An Essay in Defence of Some Fundamental Doctrines of Christianity.
The Shorter Catechism Analyzed.
An Apology for the Book of Psalms.
Ministerial Work and Sufficiency: An Ordination Sermon.
The Moral Character of Civil Government.
The Obligations of the American Scholar to his Country and the World.
Speech in Defence of the Westminster Confession of Faith against the Charge of Erastianism.

A First for a Black Presbyterian Pastor

If you were among the visitors seeking a seat in the House of Representatives gallery that Sabbath day on February 12, 1865, you would have had to arrive early to accomplish your goal, for the gallery was packed with black and white individuals. It was a historical occasion in many aspects. First, the adoption of the 13th Amendment by the Congress banning the institution of slavery was within sight. Second, the decision of the Republican majority to commemorate the event by a public religious service was surprising, even in the middle of the nineteenth century of the republic. Next, President Abraham Lincoln’s choice of a speaker was the Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, a former slave and then pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Blacks had been barred from entrance to the halls of Congress in recent days before this event. Now this six foot abolitionist, even by political and, failing that, physical means, was being invited to lead the worship service in the House of Representatives.

And it was a worship service. The memorable meeting began with the singing of the hymn, “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name.” That was followed up with a Scripture reading. The choir from the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church sang “Arise My Soul Arise, Shake off Thy Guilty Fears.” Then Rev. Garnet began to preach, following the text of Matthew 23:4 which describes the Pharisees of our Lord’s day “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” The title of his hour-long message was “Let the Monster Perish.” He would spare no words in the powerful address.

Listen to one paragraph: “Great God! I would as soon attempt to enslave Gabriel or Michael as to enslave a man made in the image of God, and for whom Christ died. Slavery is snatching man from the high place to which he was lifted by the hand of God, and dragging him down to the level of the brute creation, where he is made to be the companion of the horse and the fellow of the ox. It tears the crown of glory from his head and as far as possible obliterates the image of God that is in him.”

And another short exhortation in the closing words: “Let slavery die. It has had a long and fair trial. God himself has pleaded against it. The enlightened nations of the earth have condemned it. Its death warrant is signed by God and man. Do not commute its sentence. Give it no respite, but let it be ignominiously executed.”

The entire message can be found on Google for readers to read, but those who heard it that day went away, certainly having their curiosity satisfied. And whether we agree with his verbiage or not, what a memorable way to celebrate the passage of legislation than a worship service in the Congress.  Would to God that we would have political representatives who would desire to hear God’s Word and not worry about whether it was a violation of the separation of church and state!

Words to Live By: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 (NASB)

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

Q. 52. — What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?

A. — The reasons annexed to the second commandment are: God’s sovereignty over us, his propriety in us, and the zeal he hath to his own worship.

Scripture References: Ps. 95:2, 3; Ps.45:11; Exod.34:14.

Questions:

1. How many reasons are there involved in the second commandment and of what use are they to us?

There are three reasons:
(1) God’s sovereignty over us.
(2) God’s ownership of us.
(3) God’s zeal regarding his worship.
They are of great use to us for all three can have great influence in our obeying the Lord our God.

2. What do we mean by God’s sovereignty over us?

We mean that by His sovereignty He has the sole authority over us and has the right to make laws for worship. He alone has the right to decide what is good for us. We have the responsibility to worship Him only in the way He appoints for us in His Word.

3. When we speak of God owning us what do we mean by it?

We mean by this that we belong to Him through the right of redemption and therefore, we should cleave to Him and be careful that we do not follow after any sin that would drive us away from Him, especially idolatry and superstition. (Ps. 95:6,7; Ps. 106:19,21).

4. What has God said regarding the zeal he has to his own worship?

He has said, “I am a jealous God.”

5. What effect should this have upon us as born-again believers?

It should give us a great fear of offending Him in any way and especially in the area of false worship. We should pray that we never fail Him as Nadab and Abihu did (Lev. 10:1-4).

6. If we worship Him in a false way what will our punishment be?

His punishment will not only be upon us, but He will visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation.

7. How can God, who has the attribute of justice, do this?

If the children do not follow their father’s sins He will not punish them (Ezek. 18:14, 17). If the children do follow their father’s sins they deserve punishment.

GODLY PARENTS AND THEIR CHILDREN

This particular question of the catechism with its emphasis on. God being a jealous God, visiting iniquity on the children of wicked parents, has a converse lesson in it for godly parents. The children of godly parents could be the recipients of the promise, “I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:7). There is much for which the children of godly parents should thank God and there is great responsibility on the part of godly parents in order that their children may enjoy the great benefits involved.

Whenever those giving allegiance to the Reformed Faith mention the covenant promises though, there are two important facts that should always be remembered. If these two important facts are forgotten there is always the danger of displeasing God. These two facts are: (1) God does not show mercy to children Simply because they are the children of godly parents. (2) The promise God utters is a promise dependent upon the keeping of the promises of the godly parents. God does not show mercy to children simply because they are the children of godly parents-He shows mercy to children simply because it pleases Him, (Rom. 9:15). We can never take the mercy shawn to children of godly parents out of the framework of the whole counsel of God and forget that He is the Almighty, Sovereign One and will not be manipulated or forced by the promises or ways of men. What He does is for His glory and is consistent with His character, that of being Sovereign in all things.

The promise God utters is a promise dependent upon the keeping of the promises of the godly parents-salvation and all its benefits is not an automatic thing that happens to the children of godly parents (or godly parent-I Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:38, 39), John Murray’S statement here is well taken: “Covenant privilege always entails covenant responsibility.” There are conditions that must be kept by the godly parents, promises that are made at the baptism of the infant and promises that must be kept if the parents expect God to keep His promises.

When the godly parents do their part there are indeed great benefits, the benefits of a Christian education, prayers, even the expectation that God will effect their conversion. To be reared by Christian parents bent on keeping their covenant promises is a blessing for which all children should thank God.

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 49 (January 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

To Tell the Truth

Milo Fisher Jamison proves to be an interesting figure in Presbyterian history. He and his father were both founding members of the Presbyterian Church of America in 1936 (the PCofA was renamed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1938). Then little more than a year later, both father and son left to become part of the Bible Presbyterian Church.

Milo Jamison was born in Richmond, Kansas in 1899, studied at Princeton Seminary and was ordained by the Presbytery of Monmouth (PCUSA) in 1924. He was the pastor of churches in New Gretna, New Jersey and Hollywood, California before founding the University Bible Church in Los Angeles. While serving as an associate pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, he was engaged in campus ministry at UCLA and it was here that his conservative theology ran afoul of modernists (aka, theological liberals) in the Los Angeles Presbytery of the PCUSA. That in turn eventually led to his departure from the PCUSA.

We could talk at length about the controversy with the Los Angeles Presbytery, but Rev. Jamison’s role in the OPC and the BPC is perhaps more interesting. To examine that role, we turn to the text provided by Dr. Gary North in his book, Crossed Fingers. It turns out that Milo Jamison was the inspiration for that book title.

In the year before his death on February 10, 1985, I spoke on the phone with Rev. Milo F. Jamison, who in 1933 became the first pastor to be thrown out of the denomination because of orthodoxy. [Without a trial, the Presbytery erased his name from their rolls.] He told me the story of a fellow graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary who had just been ordained in the mid-1920’s. Jamison knew that the man did not believe in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Jamison asked him: “How could you tell the examining committee that you believe in the Westminster Confession when you really don’t?” The man answered: “I kept my fingers crossed.” Jamison repeated the man’s statement again, as if to affirm it categorically with a double witness.

But Jamison himself did not believe this historic Confession of Presbyterianism, nor had he believed it when their exchange took place. He was a premillennial dispensationalist. When, in 1937, he was defeated for Moderator at the second General Assembly of the year-old Presbyterian Church of America, he immediately departed with Carl McIntire’s secessionist group. He joined McIntire’s Bible Presbyterian Church, founded in 1938, which revised the Westminster Confession’s section on eschatology in order to make it conform to premillennialism, although the denomination was not formally dispensational. Jamison left the Bible Presbyterian Church in 1968, but in fact he spent his post-1933 career as the pastor of an independent Bible church that taught the Scofield Reference Bible. He did not discuss the Westminster Confession in the pulpit. [Dr. North notes that his own parents were members of this church in the 1960’s] He was not a Calvinist. He had crossed his fingers early.

This was Machen’s dilemma: everyone on all sides of the Presbyterian conflict had his fingers crossed. The strategically relevant question was: On which issues?

Words to Live By:
I think Dr. North overstates his case when he says, “everyone on all sides,” but you get his point. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Where there is no fear of God—where men tell lies to promote their own agenda or to serve their own purpose—then the Church is likely under its gravest threat. Resolve to be forthright and honest in all your dealings. Your prayers first and your example second are your only hold on the behavior of others. The Lord will bless those who stand for the truth.

Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.” (Gen. 13:2, ESV)

William E. Dodge, who became a prominent elder in the Presbyterian Church, was born in Hartford, Connecticut on September 4, 1805, his father being a cotton manufacturer, near Norwich, in that State. After attending the common school, William worked awhile in his father’s mill, and then, the family having removed to New York, the lad of thirteen entered a wholesale dry goods store, where he remained until he attained adulthood. From that point he engaged in the same business, but on his own account, and continued in this line until 1833, when he became a member of the firm of Phelps, Dodge & Co. This firm was engaged in the importation of tin plate, pig tin and copper, and soon became the largest company in the country pursuing this trade. Mr. Dodge retained an interest in the company until 1881, and even up until the time of his death would frequently visit his old office.

Mr. Dodge was both shrewd and industrious, and his business career was one of almost unbroken prosperity. As time progressed, he became interested in many other enterprises, and was director in a number of railroad and insurance corporations. He was one of the largest owners of lumber lands, lumber and mill interests, in the United States, possessing large tracts in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, West Virginia, Texas, and Canada. He was also extensively interested in the development of coal and iron interests throughout the country.

It was, however, as a Christian and philanthropist that Mr. Dodge was most distinguished. He early became interested in the Temperance movement, and his consistency was proved by his resignation from the Union League Club, because it served wine at its banquets. He was president of the American National Temperance Society and the Temperance Christian Home for Men. He was also a Trustee of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a Director of the Presbyterian Hospital, a Trustee of Lincoln University, and Vice-President of the American Board of Foreign Missions. He was a devoted friend of the Sabbath, and resigned his directorship of the Central Railroad of New Jersey because the company began to run trains on Sundays. The education of the freedmen greatly interested him, and he assisted many societies, working in their behalf. His contributions in some years averaged $1000 a day, while for several years before his death they never fell below $200,000 annually.

His life was one of cheerful industry. Nothing in the way of duty was irksome–rather, it was a pleasure to be enjoyed, and the smile, so genial and loving, with which his friends were always greated, was merely an honest reflection of his heart. Immersed in business that assumed wide range and vast proportions, he kept his soul serene in the light of heaven, so that the cares of the world, the love of money, and sordid greed had no dominion over his buoyant spirit. More than the Presidency of the Chamber of Commerce, he loved the Sunday-school room, the House of God, the prayer meeting, and the chamber of the suffering whose wants he might relieve. His delight was in making glad the hearts of the poor.

Mr. Dodge’s whole career was exceptionally one of success, honor and usefulness. He died at his residence, in New York, on February 9, 1883, leaving, by his will, $360,000 for religious and charitable purposes. His demise was greatly lamented, not only by his own denomination, but by the friends of education, virtue, morality and religion, of every name, and he left a record that is lustrous with all that is noble and excellent in human character in its highest development.

Words to Live By:
Here today is an example of a man who lived quite successfully, but who also gave freely of his time and substance. It is only right that we should ask ourselves, “How am I using the resources that God has given me? The world of business is an honorable calling for a Christian, but it is a terrible thing to be trapped by the cares of the world, the love of money, and sordid greed. The best way of avoiding those traps is to recognize from the start that it all belongs to the Lord, and to be actively, daily, engaged in meeting the needs of others. Or as one dear saint, a very prosperous and generous man, used to say, “I just keep trying to out-give God.”

[Our post today is drawn somewhat freely from Alfred Nevin’s Presbyterian Encyclopedia, with the entry for the Hon. William E. Dodge appearing on pages 192-193 of that work.]

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