August 2018

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“A widespread habit of careless writing affects very directly the thinking of a people.”

The Lost Art of Letter Writing
[excerpted from The Southwestern Presbyterian 27.23 (27 June 1895): 3, col. 4]

“Everyone knows, of course, that the actual number of letters passing through the mails of every civilized country is greater, rather than less, year by year.  But everyone also feels that these letters are no longer letters, in the true sense, at all.  They are amplified telegrams, bald and bare statements of fact; and they have the loose and disjointed and careless phraseology of the telegraphic message.  That sense of the fit expression, the graceful concept; that feeling for the lucid and connected exposition of the ideas, for the balance of the parts of a letter, for its composition, in short–the very term is pre-Adamite to the end-of-the-century ear — that used to pre-occupy the best letter-writers of another generation, have gone from our present day scribblers of hasty notes, as though such musty things had never been.  The only people who “compose” their letters now are cultivated old ladies.  Their college-bred grand daughters, intellectually armed and professionally equipped, exhibit productions in that line, of which, for the most part, it might be said, as Henry James remarked of the notes of invitation of the London society woman, that they have nothing in common with the epistolary art but the postage stamp.

It may be held that such an accomplishment is not, after all, of the greatest value.  But behind it there is an instinct, deep-seated in the race, that a widespread habit of careless writing affects very directly the thinking of a people.  And this one cannot but believe to be the case.  It takes no intellect to put plain facts into honest, self-respecting phrases.  But it takes self-restraint and attentiveness, and these lead in time to a disciplined and coherent way of looking at life.

–Scribners.

The Holy Example of a Godly Mother
by Rev. David T. Myers

August 20, 1700

The times of the seventeenth century in Scotland for Scottish Christians were enough to try one’s soul. Throw in a persecuting king and government against Presbyterians, and you have a trying time. Throw in ejected pastors from their pulpits and parishes, and you have  a trying time. Such was the period of our post today.

Our character today is Anne Lindsay. This Christian wife and mother was one of those few mighty and noble individuals whom God had chosen as His own. She had a position of wealth and influence, and so was known as Lady Anne Lindsay, the Duchess of Rothes. Born into this position, she would use it for God and His glory.

Her father and mother were godly in all aspects. Her father was a man of great position in Scotland’s government, namely, that of lord high treasurer. But he was also a man of sound religious principle and a steadfast supporter of the Reformation. Told to renounce the Covenants of Scotland, he refused by saying that he was taught not to do evil that good may come. He resigned his position over the matter and lived out his years at his home.

Anne Lindsay’s mother was eminent for her virtue and piety. Seeing what happened to her husband for righteousness sake, she responded that they would trust God that He would provide for them in dark days.

Into this family, Anne was born. She enjoyed the benefit of a Presbyterian education and conviction in her earlier years. She would continue to adhere to it in every circumstance, in adversity as well as in prosperity. Especially was this commitment difficult, given that her husband was an unbeliever, and a government official in the kingdom of King Charles II. She found herself in circles which hated the Covenanter cause. But she continued to both support those Presbyterians who were ejected for their faith as well as worship herself out in the fields of those ejected ministers when and where they preached the Gospel.

Both daughters of this  union, as well as a son, followed the faith of their mother.  They continued on the godly line of their mother.

Lady Anne Lindsay would enter into the joy of the Lord, dying on August 20, 1700.

Words to Live By:
The original author who wrote the book Ladies of the Covenant, closes out her story by applying it to godly mothers everywhere, in these Words: “From their offspring in infancy constantly under the care (of mothers), and afterward in childhood and youth more frequently in their society than in that of the other parent, mothers have a more powerful influence than fathers in forming their character, and how often, as must be known to all who are but slightly acquainted with Christian biography, have those who have been distinguished in their day for piety and extensive  usefulness in the church and in the world, had to trace their piety and their usefulness to the instructions, counsels, and admonitions they had received in their first and more tender years, from their God-fearing mothers.”  Our response? Solomon answers in Proverbs 31:28 – 30 “Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying ‘Many daughters have done nobly, But  you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”

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

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

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

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

Questions:

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

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

2. How are these benefits communicated to the believers?

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

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

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

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

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

5. Why are these called “outward means”?

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

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

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

THE MEANS OF GRACE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A good reminder was we prepare our hearts for times of worship this Lord’s Day:

“What is the reason there is so much preaching and so little practice? For want of meditation.  Constant thoughts are operative.  If a hen straggles out from her nest, she brings forth nothing, her eggs chill; so, when we do not set abrood upon holy thoughts, if we content ourselves with some few transient thoughts and glances about Divine things, and do not dwell upon them, the truth is suddenly put off, and does no good.  All actions require time and space for their operation; if hastily slubbered over, they cool; if we give them time and space, we shall feel their effects: so, if we hold truths in our mind and dwell upon them, there will be an answerable impression; but, when they come like a flash of lightning, then they are gone, and we run them over cursorily.
That truth may work, there are required three things,
(1) sound belief,
(2) serious consideration,
and (3) close application:

Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know it for thy good. (Job v. 27).”

[Thomas Manton, Sermons on Psalm 119, vol. 2, p. 325.]

A Calvinistic Evangelist
by Rev. David T. Myers

Imagine your mother dying when you were an infant.  Then imagine your father dying when you were only eight years of age.  How difficult your upbringing would be.  In the case of little Daniel Baker, who was born on August 17, 1791, he could only look with sadness at his playmates who had loving parents to watch over them.  But Daniel  had a heavenly Father who watched over  him and was preparing him for great things in the kingdom of God.

Reared by a godly aunt, Daniel came to a knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Savior around 14 years of age.  Soon afterwards, he felt the call to be a preacher of the Word.  Receiving an offer of a scholarship to Hampden-Sydney College, he made a public profession of faith and joined the Presbyterian Church.  His spiritual attainments affected his fellow students there as well as at Princeton University to which he transferred.

Upon graduation, he was interested in enrolling at the Seminary, but instead placed his education under the Rev. William Hill of Winchester, Virginia.  While there was much lacking in this overseership, his self-study in the Westminster Shorter Catechism brought him to the place where the local Presbytery ordained him to the gospel ministry.

One of his greatest blessing was a godly wife in Elizabeth McRobert, who bore him several children as well as helping him in his ministry.  He started his ministry as a pastor, but usually revival broke out under him.  Thousands came to the Lord, not only from the local church, but from those around the church.   He decided to become a full time evangelist.

It must be remembered that Daniel Baker was a Calvinist evangelist.  He didn’t resort to producing the right emotional effect, but simply preached the whole counsel of God.  And the Lord added to the church such as should be saved.

The last part of his ministry took place in Texas from 1850 on.  There he preached the same gospel, with the same effects.  He died in 1857.

Words to live by:  Before Daniel Baker passed away, he called  his son to make sure that the epigraph on the tombstone read clearly, “Here lies Daniel Baker, Preacher of the gospel, A sinner saved by grace.”  Let us be known in life and death as Sinners saved by grace, God’s grace.

Pay Attention!

A bit astray from anything Presbyterian, but this is an interesting story that I had noted in an old issue of Christianity Today [original series, 1930-1949]. Adolf von Harnack was a noted Lutheran theologian and church historian [1851-1930]; not one to emulate in his theology, but an interesting fellow, nonetheless.

LIBRARY OF ADOLF von HARNACK

The library of the great German theologian, Professor Dr. Adolf von Harnack has been bought by the Prussian Ministry for Public Worship and divided between the National Library and the theological faculty of the University of Berlin. Amongst the treasures of this collection is a very costly edition of the works of St. Augustine on parchment, which came into the possession of Professor Harnack in a strange manner. He was one day buying oranges in the market-place of Messina in Italy when his attention was attracted by the paper in which the fruit-seller packed his wares. A brief examination convinced him that the parchment belonged to a very rare edition of St. Augustine’s works. He bought up all the packing paper and as it happened that von Harnack was the first customer for whom the paper was used, he came into the possession of the complete edition.

[excerpted from Christianity Today, 3.8 (December 1932): 24.]

Lesson learned: Get to the market early! Or, on a more obviously spiritual note, I am strongly convinced that the Lord expects us to watch daily to see His hand at work, to see His blessings as they transpire, to see how He convicts us of sin and brings us to repentance, to watch carefully to see His every provision, and most importantly, to live in continual praise to our God for all that He does for us.

The Covenant Daughter Who Saved Mount Vernon
by Rev. David T. Myers

Born August 15, 1816, Ann Pamela Cunningham had all the luxury of wealth in Laurens County, South Carolina. Her parents, Robert and Louisa Cunningham, were thus enabled to offer many refinements to their daughter with their upper class environment. But their saving faith was not lacking either, as they were members of Liberty Springs Presbyterian Church, now a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Ann Cunningham was a covenant daughter.

When Ann was a teenager, she was thrown from a horse, which in turn left her with chronic pain the rest of her life. To ease that pain, Ann received regular treatments from a Philadelphia specialist, Hugh Hodge, brother of Charles Hodge! On one of those trips, her mother and Ann were returning to South Carolina on a steamer traveling on the Potomac River. Awakened by the sound of the ship’s bell, Louisa Cunningham walked to the deck to find out the reason for her interrupted sleep. Evidently the captain was in the habit of sounding the bell in honor whenever he passed the home of our first President. Louisa looked ashore to discover the ruin and desolation of Mount Vernon. Distressed by what she saw, she communicated to her daughter Ann in a letter to make this her calling in life, despite her disability.

And so, a life work was impressed upon the crippled daughter to restore George and Martha Washington’s house by the raising of funds and people to bring the historical site back to prominence. She became the chief leader of what became known as the Mount Vernon Ladies Association.

Our readers might remember that all of this occurred right before the War Between the States in 1861 – 1865, But fund raising continued all throughout this period, from both private and public sources. Mount Vernon was preserved for the American people. Today, the property is still under the oversight of this same Ladies Association.

In 1874, she was forced through her deteriorating health to give up the duties of being the leader of this movement. She died the following year.

Words to Live By: To our women subscribers, what ministries do you have in the cities and towns in which you live? As God’s Spirit gives you strength, why not make them a spiritual calling in addition to your home. The family is your first duty. But this can be a second area of ministry. Talk and pray with your sisters in Christ, using this post as an encouragement for action. Then get the approval of the Session of Elders in your local church to minister with the love of our Lord Jesus Christ to the needed ministry.

For starters, what about countless adoptives who are looking for a home in our states and private adoption agencies, or of poverty stricken families who need rescue, for starters. The Lord reminded his followers that they “are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13,14 NASB)

The gravesite of Ann Pamela Cunningham [1816-1875], pictured below, is located in the churchyard of the First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina [First Presbyterian, Columbia is a member church of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian denomination]:

He Shouldn’t Have Been Elected
by Rev. David T. Myers

Given his political choice of party, which was Federalist, in the early nineteenth century in Delaware, he should have been a Methodist or an Episcopalian.  Those denominations usually won office to the position of governor in the state.  But John Clark was a Federalist Presbyterian, an oddity to be sure.  Obviously Someone higher than those in earthly roles was directing this race and subsequent win to the governor’s chair.

John Clark was born in 1761 on the family farm in New Bristol, north of Smyrna, Delaware.  He had limited schooling in his younger days, but made up for it with an insatiable desire for the knowledge in books.  He was “well read,” as the papers put it at that time.  In 1784, he married Sarah Corbit, a daughter herself of a governor of Delaware.  They had one daughter and possibly others, which history doesn’t name for us.

John Clark obviously had the gifts of leadership.  He was the Colonel of the Third Regiment of Militia for a year in 1807 – 1808.  He served as a sheriff, a state treasurer, a member of the State House, and then as governor of Delaware.  His accomplishments included improvements in educational opportunities.  His argument was that Delaware is a small state and not suitable for increased opportunities in business.  Better plans must to be made to develop the mental capabilities of its citizens.

After serving for his term as governor, he became involved in banking business in Smyrna, Delaware.  He died on August 14, 1821 and is buried in the cemetery of Duck Creek Presbyterian Church in Smyrna.

This contributor looked in vain for any quotable quotes on the significance of personal Christianity in the state or country, and his beliefs on those topics.  The only hope we have for a credible profession of faith is that his membership was in the Presbyterian church and his burial was in a Presbyterian cemetery.  Usually in those days, such inclusion would not have taken place unless there was a credible testimony in Christ as Lord and Savior.

Words to live by:  Both words and spiritual fruits  must be found in Christians to declare that redemption has taken place in a believer’s life.  They may have been found at the time with respect to John Clark, but were simply not recorded in the usual sources we  have available today.  Let it not be said of you though, that no expressions of Christianity are found lacking in your mouth.  Let there be no doubt that you are a professing and confessing Christian to all who observe what you say and do.

When Millennial Issues Came to the Fore
by Rev. David T. Myers

The noble infant seem to be coming apart at the seams. Its “father,” Dr. J. Gresham Machen had been taken to heaven on the first day of the new year of 1937.  His “warrior children,” as they were described once, were not in agreement over a number of issues.  The first theological battle in the Presbyterian Church of America was over the “last things,” or eschatology (study of the last things).

Was the new denomination going to be  classic or historic pre-millennialist, that is, Christ would return, then reign on earth for a literal one thousand years?  Was it going to be a dispensational premillennial return, where Christ’s return is divided into a two-step process: first a secret rapture, with countless people left behind?  Second, a public event, with seven years of tribulation at the hands of the anti-christ, then a one thousand year reign by King Jesus, at which time Israel will receive all the promises made down through the years?  This latter view was that taught by the Schofield Reference Bible.  Or was it to be a-millennialist, in which the one thousand years is a figurative number describing the whole period between the resurrection of God and His return? During this time, Christ rules from heaven, and peace comes through the proclamation of the gospel message.  Which viewpoint will characterize this new Presbyterian denomination?

Professor John Murray, of Westminster Seminary, beginning in December of 1935, wrote a whole series of articles on “the Reformed faith and Modern Substitutes.”  He attacked vigorously Modernism, Arminianism, and dispensational pre-millennialism.  Many were offended by his articles.

In 1937, already a new seminary had been begun over the issue of the last things, when Professor Allan A MacRae left Westminster to begin Faith Theological Seminary.  These same issues of the last days also came publicly to the floor of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America on August 13, 1937.  Eventually they, along with other issues such as Christian liberty, would lead to the beginning of the Bible Presbyterian Church.

Words to live by:
In hindsight, this surely was one of the least reasons to separate from brothers and sisters in Christ.   We need to believe that Christ Jesus will return in power and great glory. That is fundamental.  But to quibble over the events surrounding his return, and worse yet, to separate from other Christians, is questionable, to say the least.  Let us instead resolve to share the gospel with every creature, and then rejoice as Christ  comes back to this earth.

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

Q. 87. What is repentance unto life?

A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.

Scripture References: Acts 11:18. Acts 2:37. Joel 2:13. II Cor. 7:11 Jer. 31:18, 19. Acts 26:18. Psalm 119:59.

Questions:

1. Why is repentance called a “saving grace”?

It is called a saving grace because it is inseparably a part of salvation and is worked in the heart of the sinner by the Holy Spirit through the instrument of the Word of God.

2. Who is the subject of repentance?

The sinner is the subject of it for the person who is saved needs no repentance as is taught in Luke 15:7.

3. What is meant in this Question by “a true sense of sin?”

A true sense of sin is the recognition on the part of the sinner of the danger of his position along with the filthiness of his sin. He knows he is in danger because he knows his sinful condition is contrary to God’s holiness and is offensive to God.

4. Why is the mercy of God connected with Christ?

The mercy of God is connected with Christ because God’s mercy extends to the sinner through the obedience and satisfaction of Christ in His death on the Cross.

5. Is it possible for repentance to be separated from faith?

No, it is not possible to separate the two. These are both by the grace of God and therefore can be distinguished but can not be separated.

6. What is this hatred of sin mentioned here?

It is both the loathing of sin and ourselves because of that sin (Isaiah 6: 5).

7. What is this new obedience to which the repentant person turns?

It is the obedience as is found in the Gospel and proceeds from the new nature in man. The new man recognizes that he must have a new purpose, a new way of walking. He will not be perfect but he will be diligent in his endeavors to walk after righteousness.

TURNING FROM SIN UNTO GOD

True repentance causes a change to take place in a man. True repentance is a fruit of regeneration and it is a gift of the Spirit. When the word “Repent!” is used, many times the change of heart is neglected. But the Bible teaches over and over again that genuine repentance consists not only of a man being humiliated for his sins but also of change in the whole man.

Repentance causes a man to change his mind about a lot of things. Before a man is saved, he takes a worldly look at things, the old man is all that is present within him. After a man is saved he wants to please God, give Jesus Christ the pre-eminence in his life. Further, it causes a man to change his attitude toward sin. Sin no longer is a delight to him as it was before he knew Christ. Sin now becomes something for which he sorrows. He prays daily, “Lord, teach me more and more to hate sin in my life.” Further, repentance causes a man’s heart to change and this spreads out into his whole life. Note the change that took place in Paul. His conversion was not simply that his sins were forgiven but it meant his life changed completely. He turned around in his way of living. Paul knew full well that he had to break off with sin and turn to the Lord. He knew he would never be the same again.

“A contrite and a broken heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” states the Psalmist in Psalm 41:17. But the Psalmist also stated, “I hate every false way” in Psalm 119:104. In these two verses the two parts to repentance are noted. The heart is broken before the Lord and the heart begins to hate sin. A divorce with the life of the world takes place and will continue throughout life. In the wonderful hymn book compiled by Ira D. Sankey are found these words that so wonderfully tell the story of genuine repentance:

“I come, O blessed Lord, to Thee I come today;
I am no longer satisfied to stay away.
I will not wait until my life like Thine shall grow;
I’ll come at once-I know I’ve sinned:
I’ll tell Thee so.
Help me that I forget myself in loving Thee;
And let Thine image on my heart reflected be.”

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

Vol. 6, No.4 (April, 1967)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

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