November 2018

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A Long Name, With an Influential Theology System

William Greenough Thayer Shedd was born in June of 1820 of a distinguished New England lineage. His father was a minister, though it is not clear whether he was a Congregationalist or a Presbyterian pastor. (In early years, both groups were closely aligned in that region.) When William Shedd was eleven years old in 1831, his family moved to Lake Champlain, New York. This enabled William to later attend the University of Vermont, where a teacher introduced him to philosophy and literature. Graduating in 1839, he began to teach in New York City. It was here that William made a public profession of faith and began to attend a Presbyterian Church.

Sensing the call to the ministry, he attended Andover Theological Seminary. There he met and was influenced by Prof. Leonard Woods, who was a solid Old School Presbyterian. Graduating from Andover, Shedd became a pastor in the Congregational denomination in Vermont. Even though he was Old School Reformed in his thinking, he taught briefly at the New School Presbyterian institution of Auburn Theological Seminary, from 1852-1854.

After the Congregationalists decided to stop emphasizing the distinctive doctrines of the Christian faith, Pastor and Professor Shedd made his switch to the Presbyterian distinctives of his younger years. Leaving Auburn, he was professor of church history at Andover from 1853-1862, and then for two years as co-pastor at the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. His life’s primary work occurred while teaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he was to teach for eleven years, 1874-1892. Just before the end of his teaching ministry,  he wrote his most famous book on “Dogmatic Theology.”

And yes, he took a strong stand against the unbelief of his fellow teacher, Charles Briggs, and Shedd also argued against the revision of the Westminster Standards, which was also being suggested in those days. He died on November 17, 1894.

Words to live by:  When a pastor or professor can summarize his thoughts on paper and in published works, then solid convictions can continue to have an influence for righteousness which would not otherwise be the case if that one just taught or preached in one place in history. Some churches and educational institutions (may their tribe increase) are offering sabbaticals to their pastors and professors for exactly that reason, that is, that they may examine themselves pastorally or professionally in their calling, or write down some thoughts for the benefit of the church at large. Support such efforts, if you are a member of a church, or on a board for higher education. They are that beneficial to the wider church.

Through the Scriptures:   Galatians 1 – 3

Through the Standards:  Improvement of baptism

WLC 167 — “How is our baptism to be improved by us?
A.  The needful but much neglected duty of improving our baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to,  the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of  sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, a those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.”

Image source: Photo facing page 96 in A History of Auburn Theological Seminary, 1818-1918. Auburn, NY: Auburn Seminary Press, 1918. Scan prepared by the staff of the PCA Historical Center.

Rev. Shedd is perhaps most widely remembered for his three-volume work on systematic theology, which was originally published in 1888. Zondervan reprinted the work in 1969 and I’m sure there have been other reprints.


Dissertations & Theses—
• Herzer, Mark Andrew, The Influence of Romantic Idealism in the Writings of William Greenough Thayer Shedd. Philadelphia: Westminster Theological Seminary, 2003; Ph.D. dissertation.

Concluding our coverage of the second General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, which was in the first several years of its existence known as the Presbyterian Church of America. That Assembly was in session from November 14-16, 1936. The news clipping transcribed below is from the Henry G. Welbon Manuscript Collection, preserved at the PCA Historical Center. At the end of this post, we have provided image scans of the program bulletin from that Assembly. The text of Dr. Machen’s sermon on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 can be found here. For an interesting exercise, compare Dr. Machen’s sermon with that of Robert Murray McCheyne, on the same text. Click here for the McCheyne sermon.

Philadelphia Inquirer, November 16, 1936, page 2:


Places New Presbyterian Group in Van of Fight for Old Faith.

In a farewell message to members of the second General Assembly, Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., moderator for the duration of the sessions, last night placed the new Presbyterian Church of America in the forefront of the battle to preserve the ancient evangelical standards of the reformed faith.

Taking as his text a portion of an epistle to St. Paul to the Corinthians, Dr. Buswell declared “salvation of souls” to be the main business of the denomination and, among others, quoted a passage from the Apostle that “we are ambassadors for Christ.”

The sermon, delivered in the auditorium of the Manufacturers’ and Bankers’ Club, was the final event on a four-day program during which the assembly adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith as its doctrinal standard, elected committees and took steps toward acquiring a form of government.

It followed a series of devotional services at individual churches during the morning, when various visiting ministers addressed the congregations. The new Church was formed after a split from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. last June over the question of modernism.

Declaring that the Bible alone was recognized as ultimate authority in the present denomination, Dr. Buswell scored efforts to substitute for that authority the official interpretation of Church councils and of men.

Words to Live By:
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
(2 Corinthians 5:18-20)





Keeping in mind that any news coverage inevitably has its own slant or perspective, we present with that caveat the following newspaper reports on the close of the second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America [Orthodox Presbyterian Church], which met November 14-16, 1936 (two Assemblies that year!):

From the Brooklyn, N.Y. Eagle:–

Government Form For New Church Is Assembly Aim

Philadelphia, Nov. 14. — The second general assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America tabled all discussion today on interpreting its doctrinal standards and undertook to establish a form of government for the church founded here five months ago.

The assembly which adopted the historic Westminster confessions and catechisms as its doctrinal standards yesterday, tabled two motions today which would interpret the doctrines on the question of the second coming of Christ. Church leaders interpreted the action as assuring eschatological liberty within the church on the question.

The constitutional form was discussed at the afternoon session.

It became known today that the Rev. H. McAllister Griffiths of Philadelphia has resigned as a member of the church.

The Rev. Mr. Griffiths was ecclesiastical counsel for the Rev. Dr. J. Gresham Machen, first moderator of the new church, in his trials on charges of insubordination to the authority of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Dr. Machen was suspended from the church after the general assembly upheld his conviction.

His [Griffiths’s] resignation became known when an inquiry was made from the floor why he was not attending the assembly. The Rev. Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, moderator, did not explain the reasons for his resignation. At his home the Rev. Mr. Griffiths confirmed his resignation, but said he preferred not to make any statement.

In adopting the Westminster confessions yesterday, the delegates votes against including amendments which were adopted in 1903 by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

and from the Philadelphia Inquirer, November 15, 1936:—

Fundamentalists Stick Close to Law of Pre-Split Body

Tentative Rule Adopted; Griffiths-Machen Rift Mars Session

A tentative form of government closely following that of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., from which it split last June, yesterday was adopted by the Presbyterian Church of America in the closing business session of its four-day second General Assembly.

The 100-year old constitution was accepted as the provisional working basis for the new fundamentalist order until a permanent basis can be formulated at the next assembly in Philadelphia, June 1 to 5.

In substance, the form grouped the individual churches into presbyteries, but eliminated provision for synods; arranged for the administration of local congregations and outlined requirements for admission into the denomination’s ministry.

Titles Are Guaranteed

Among major changes was a passage guaranteeing each congregation title to its property and specifically denying the “right of reversion to the Presbyterian Church of America, unless the particular church should become extinct.”

Fundamentalist clergymen pointed out that the question of property ownership was a sore point under jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., and that the passage should clarify the issue. They insisted that under the old regime congregations were bereft of their “right” to hold title to church buildings and lands.

A discordant note in the closing hours of session came with the revelation of a rift between Dr. J. Gresham Machen, retired moderator, and Rev. H. McAllister Griffiths, his associate in forming the church as a protest against Presbyterian modernism.

Renounces Jurisdiction

The split between the two former leaders was learned when commissioners demanded an explanation of Dr. Griffiths’ failure to appear at any meetings of the Assembly. Reached at his home, the former editor of the Presbyterian Guardian, militant fundamentalist paper, admitted that he had sent a letter to the stated clerk of the Philadelphia Presbytery renouncing jurisdiction of that body.

“I have completely severed all connection with the Presbyterian Church of America,” declared Dr. Griffiths, who took a leading part in defending several clergymen ejected by the parent body. “I am an independent minister.”

Except to say that Dr. Griffiths had “performed great service to the church,” Dr. Machen refused comment, while Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., moderator, announced he had no intention of speaking on the matter.

Women’s Proposal Defeated

Adoption of the form of government followed by a report by the constitutional committee, headed by Rev. Ned B. Stonehouse, of Westminster Theological Seminary.

Vigorous opposition to admitting women to the board of trustees of local congregations defeated the committee’s recommendations that “other communicant members of the church may be elected trustees” in addition to elders and deacons. Several ministers who asserted that the change would make women eligible to office, murmured fervent “Thank God’s” when the proposal was defeated.

A charge that the assembly had side-stepped” the issue of pre-millennialism was made by Rev. J. U. Selwyn Toms, of Wenonah, N. J., yesterday afternoon after resolutions expressing the denomination’s attitude on the doctrine had been tabled in the morning. Dr. Toms declared the “covering up of the question will be a source of danger.”

Protest against the church’s refusal to guarantee tolerance of the doctrine was recorded in the minutes by Rev. Milo Jamison, of Los Angeles, Calif. “Nothing short of some such constitutional safeguard,” he declared, “could set at rest rumors that pre-millennialists are not welcome in the Presbyterian Church of America.”

Words to Live By:
It would be remarkable in our own day and time if the PCA, the OPC, or any of the conservative Presbyterian denominations were to merit news coverage by a major newspaper. It seems that only scandal sells. Valiant stands for righteousness and the glory of God are boring in the eyes of the world. Moreover, too few have the courage to take such stands, and so we are seen as unimportant. But by the grace of God, that will change. It is God and God alone who brings true change. Salvation belongs to the Lord, and as His people seek His face, He will yet again turn to favor His Church. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Presbyterian Circuit Riders
by Rev. David T. Myers

When we think about Circuit Riders, usually the Methodist Church comes to mind. Yet for many years, the official policy of the Presbyterian General Assembly was that of authorizing ministers to ride as missionaries among pastor-less settlements In a journal of Rev. William Williamson, printed by the Presbytery of Washington, Ohio on November 14, 1809, Teaching Elder Williamson wrote the following:

“This day, agreeable to an appointment of Presbytery, I set out in company with the Rev. James Gilleland on a mission authorized by the General Assembly.

“After proceeding about 8 miles up the Ohio river, I was called about 9 miles off my intended rout to celebrate a marriage for which I received . . . 15 people who appeared very serious.

“Monday, 4th. I proceeded 5 miles across a mountain which divides Chenoth’s fork from main Sunfish to Mr. Bristols where I expected to preach but on my arrival found that the person who had been entrusted with my appointment had neglected to give notice to the neighborhood. It was an excessive rainy day and most of the people of this vicinity were collected to assist one of their neighbors husk his corn. I therefore was appointed to preach the next day at Mr. Alexr Crosses . . .

“During the above rout I made it a stated rule to converse with the families where I lodged or called in for an hour or two on the subject of religion. On some occasions our conversation was agreeable. I would humbly trust profitable but too generally thru the ignorance or want of relish in the people and my own unskilfulness in this important duty, I had but little ground to hope that any good fruit would arise.”

Words to Live By:
As the above journal proves, such a transient ministry was often hard. Far better in our day to labor in a spiritual field where there is at last one or more families who are convinced that a spiritual work in evangelism and edification is beneficial. This author felt that on one occasion when he left his established church in Lincoln, Nebraska to go to Omaha, Nebraska, and begin a mission church with just four families. Yet today, a growing and healthy congregation is holding forth the Word of Life in both cities. Look to your spiritual horizons, dear reader. Are there areas around you where there are no congregations true to the Scriptures, the Reformed faith and the Great Commission? Begin to pray about it, commit yourself and your family, take counsel from your home church, and begin a congregation, for God’s glory and the growth of the church at large.

When He Died, The Town Shut Down.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following account comes from the pages of Christianity Today [the original series, 1930-1949 and published by Samuel Craig], recounting something of the opposition encountered by missionaries trying to be obedient to the Scriptures and faithful to God’s call. The case had been convincingly made that their denominational board was sending modernists and even unbelievers out onto the mission field. Rather than work in that context, an Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions was begun, though almost immediately the denomination declared that involvement with this Independent Board was illegal and “unPresbyterian.” (this, despite the fact that the denomination itself had utilized independent agencies in the 19th-century.

The Rev. Henry W. Coray entered onto the mission field of China about 1935, under the auspices of the IBPFM, and labored there until the War forced missionaries to return home. Stateside, Rev. Coray soon found a new calling as the organizing pastor of the Faith Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Long Beach, California, and he labored in that pulpit until 1955, when called to establish a church in San Jose. Blessed with a long life, Rev. Coray entered into his eternal reward in 2002.

The Case of Mr. Coray

On November 12, 1934, the Presbytery of Lackawanna (Synod of Pennsylvania) without process voted to erase from its roll the name of the Rev. Henry Warner Coray [23 June 1904-20 October 2002], who was at that time already serving on the field in China as a missionary of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (IBPFM).

That action was taken because Mr. Coray went to China to preach the gospel without the consent of the Presbytery. The permission of the Presbytery was refused, as is plain from the action taken by the Presbytery at meeting on September 26, 1934, because Mr. Coray announced his intention of going to the foreign field under the appointment of the Independent Board. On September 26th the  Presbytery had decided to notify Mr. Coray of its intention to erase his name from the roll if he left “his field to labor under this so-called Board.” It should be noted that the report of the Presbyterial Council, which was adopted by the Presbytery, was presented by the Rev. Peter K. Emmons, a member of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A.!

The report recited that its recommendations were made in view of the action of the General Assembly “condemning this so-called Board as a repudiation of the jurisdiction of the General Assembly and of those terms of fellowship and communion contained in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church.”

No charges were ever filed against Mr. Coray. He served his church with distinction and left it with the blessing of those to whom he ministered. Nevertheless he was expelled from the Church without a trial! Without making a technical examination of the action of the Presbytery, which was professedly taken in accordance with Chapter VII, Section 2 (b) of the Book of Discipline, we want to make one observation. If the Presbytery wished to raise the question whether Mr. Coray had the right to do as he did, it could have filed charges against him. In that event Mr. Coray would have had an opportunity to defend his conduct and to raise the pertinent question whether the Presbytery’s command was a lawful one. It has been well said that “Henry Coray’s name was erased from the roll of his Presbytery simply because he refused to lay down the call of God at the command of men . . . Had he gone out under the official Board the same Presbytery would doubtless have banqueted in his honor. But he goes out under the Independent Board. ‘You must preach the gospel to the heathen under our auspices,’ says the Presbytery in effect, ‘or you must stay at home.’ Henry Coray went and thereby deserves lasting honor.”

[Source: CHRISTIANITY TODAY, 5.9 (February 1935): 214-215.]

Words to Live By:
It matters not what the world says. It matters not what friends and family may say. It matters not what governments, princes, armies and magistrates may say. If contrary to the very Word of God, then we must stand firm upon the Scriptures, unmoved, looking to our only Lord and God, knowing that all truth resides with Him.

by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?

A. In the sixth petition, which is, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we pray, that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

Scripture References: Matt. 26:41; I Cor. 10:13; Ps. 51:10, 12; Matt. 4:3.


1. What do we mean when we speak of being tempted to sin?

We mean we are strongly enticed to the evil of sin.

2. From where do these temptations come?

They come from within us and without us. From within us they come because the heart is prone to wickedness. From without they come from Satan, who is called the tempter in the Word of God. (Matt. 4:3).

3. Is it possible for Christians to be tempted and drawn into sin?

Yes, it is possible for Christians to walk in the flesh and not be on guard against the wiles of the devil and not recognize the foulness of their hearts.

4. Are we able to resist temptations to sin in and by ourselves?

No, we are unable to resist it by our own power. We must trust in the power of the Lord and ask Him for grace to resist the devil in our lives.

5. Are the temptations of Satan irresistible on the part of believers?

No, his temptations are not irresistible. We are told in the Word of God that we can resist them and there are examples in the Bible of believers who have been enabled, by the grace of God, to resist his temptations.

6. What do we mean when we ask God to keep us from temptation?

We are asking Him to keep us from falling into the temptation, if it be His will to do so. However, if we do fall into the temptation we are asking Him to recover us from it and that He might overrule in our lives and cause our fall to be turned into something for His glory.


In I Thess. 2:18 Paul states, “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, but Satan hindered us.” Paul was a man that was always in a struggle with Satan. And Paul was a Christian saved by grace. Yet so many Christians seem to have the idea that there is no such thing as a devil, no such person as Satan going to and fro in this world. Such deluded believers are even given to sing:

“And tho’ this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim—
We tremble not for him; his rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure, One little word shall fell him.”

However, even while singing that wonderful hymn (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) with all their might, so many believers refuse to recognize that there is a “Tempter” and that he is busily engaged in his attempted overthrow of victorious Christianity day after day.

The Word of God is full of advice to God’s children regarding Satan. He is described as an adversary (Rev. 12:10; I Pet. 5:8). He is described as seeking to sift believers as wheat (Luke 22:31). He is described as tempting Christians (Matt. 4:3-11). Thomas A. Kempis says: “Know that the ancient enemy doth strive by all means to hinder thy desire to be good and to keep thee clear of all religious exercises. Many evil thoughts does he suggest to thee, that so he may cause a weariness and horror in thee, and to call thee back from prayer and holy reading.”

It is so important for the believer to recognize that Satan is! How often he wins his battles by simply convincing believers there is no such thing as a personal devil—and this leaves him free to establish his strongholds. Further, it is so important for the believer to know that the power of Satan is not supreme! His power is limited. It was so in the case of Job. It is so today with every believer.

As we are tempted towards evil we are to recognize who our foe is and fight the battle in the armor of God. We are soldiers, we are at war, our strength is found in the armor of God. May God help us, the next time we are tempted, to turn to the “sword” in our possession, the Word of God, and use it. May we turn to the sixth chapter of Ephesians, take stock of our armor, and ask God for His grace to use it against the devil!

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. 7, No. 11 (November 1968)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

Good Words on an Anniversary Occasion

The PCA Historical Center actively collects, funds permitting, published histories of Presbyterian churches. There is a great deal of history too often overlooked in these volumes. In particular, good and encouraging words are often to be found on the opening pages of these histories.

It was on this day, November 10th, in 1895, that the Rev. David O. Irving brought an historical discourse in observance of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Bethel Presbyterian Church of East Orange, New Jersey. His opening words in this discourse are a good example of the value of this otherwise overlooked literature:

Anniversary occasions should be times of great joy. Songs of praise and gratitude should be heard as we celebrate our religious birthdays. Although the sorrowful is mingled with the joyful, as we regret out mistakes and mourn over the beloved fellow-workers now gone to their reward, yet we can rejoice in the Lord as we meditate upon His loving kindness and tender mercies toward our Church. This retrospect should also strengthen our trust in God as we trace His leadings and blessings, for we become more assured that He who has guided us in the past will not neglect us in the coming days. Our history can also be read for encouragement and inspiration, as we trace the humble beginnings of religious work in this community up to our present attainments. Our eyes are so often turned to the future that we sometimes forget that much can be learned from the past. Every church ought to have its history clearly and fully written so that every member may make no mistake by overlooking certain well defined facts which enter into the individual character of that particular church. As we, therefore, glance over the past and trace God’s goodness in our Church’s growth, may this view increase our trust in God, our regard for each other and our zeal for the future.

But let us turn the pages of our history with a sense of humility rather than of self-glory. We are not to bring before us figures and comparisons to feed our pride and conceit, for our progress has been owing to Divine grace and goodness, and not wholly dependent upon our faithfulness and zeal. God often uses the weak things of this world to confound the mighty, so that there is no need of boasting. As we become somewhat encouraged over the retrospect and prospect, let us remember our own mistakes and neglects. If we, as members of this Church, had been more faithful, liberal, devout and earnest, would we not have accomplished greater results than we now behold? But we cannot alter the past. We can only read the facts as history–“time’s slavish scribe”—records them, and allow them to make their own impressions upon us.

Words to Live By:
“There are multitudes who go in and out, who count the Church as theirs, who gather from her thought, knowledge, the comfort of good company, the sense of safety; and then there are others who think they truly, as the light phrase so deeply means, ‘belong to the Church.’ They are given to it, and no compulsion could separate them from it. They are part of its structure. They are its pillars. Here and hereafter they can never go out of it. Life would mean nothing to them outside the Church of Christ.”
—Rev. Phillips Brooks, D.D.

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
—Psalm 84:10-11, ESV.

Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.”
—Ephesians 2:20-21, KJV

The College of New Jersey (as it was known) graduates its first class

The history of early Presbyterian education is substantially the history of Princeton College. When Mr. Tennent died in 1745 his school was closed. Yet such had been its usefulness that the Synod of New York immediately, in 1746, took steps to perpetuate that institution of learning. It was located first at Elizabethtown, New Jersey, and Jonathan Dickinson was its first president. The students, except those of the village, boarded in the family of the president. Dr. Dickinson died shortly, and the school was removed to Newark in order to be placed under the care of Rev. Aaron Burr, so that he might accept the presidency without resigning his pastorate. The first class of six young men graduated November 9, 1748.

In 1753 Rev. Gilbert Tennent and Rev. Samuel Davies were appointed by Synod to visit England and solicit aid for the college. In the face of very great prejudices against them and the theology which they represented, after a year’s canvass in England, Scotland and Ireland, they had secured widespread sympathy and public endorsement of the enterprise. They succeeded, financially, far beyond their expectation. The total sum raised must have approached, if it did not pass beyond, twenty-five thousand dollars.

Words To Live by:
Presbyterians have always sought and promoted an educated, thoroughly trained pastorate. The challenges presented by the world, the flesh and the devil require that much. Moreover, the Gospel ministry is not to be entered into lightly, and deserves our best efforts. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.—Deut. 6:5. If this command is true for believers, how much more so for those who would shepherd the Lord’s people?

First, I’d like to point you to a very interesting article by James W. Scott, managing editor of New Horizons, the denominational magazine of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In this article, “Machen’s Lost Work on the Presbyterian Conflict,” Mr. Scott explores the possibility that J. Gresham Machen had been at work over the summer of 1936 writing a book on the Presbyterian conflict. Among Machen’s papers, the working notes and manuscript for that book were never found, and Mr. Scott builds his case for the theory that the work was removed from Machen’s estate after his decease by Edwin H. Rian and later used as the core of the book later published by Rian, titled The Presbyterian Conflict.

Mr. Scott’s fuller argument appeared in a two-part article in The Westminster Theological Journal, and this would well be worth locating, whether at a nearby seminary library or by inter-library loan.

In response to my reading the article, I’m putting in a few extra hours in the PCA Historical Center on Saturday, looking through the Allan A. MacRae Manuscript Collection, to see if there might be anything relevant to the Scott article. MacRae’s correspondence with Machen, with Everett DeVelde and with Edwin H. Rian yielded nothing. Now I’m looking through MacRae’s correspondence with his family. He was very attentive to his mother and wrote home virtually every day, often relating interesting bits of news about the Seminary and the Church.

Just now, I came across the following note, in a letter to his mother dated 8 November 1936, on the federal election for president. Looking back from our vantage point, what does this say about how the political landscape changes—or doesn’t?

rooseveltFD“What a landslide the election was! The people got what they wanted. But it is surely disgusting to think that this is what they wanted. On the whole it was undoubtedly a victory of the unintelligent and the shiftless over the intelligent and the industrious. Of course this does not mean that such a characteristic should be applied to every Roosevelt supporter. Far from it! But it was the great body of votes of this type that swayed the election. The Literary Digest poll showed clearly that the overwhelming majority of the intelligent classes were against him. After all, I suppose a slush fund of ten billion dollars is altogether too much to overcome by argument. Now that he has a blank check from the people, I wonder what he will do with it. He certainly was careful to keep his election speeches in the realm of vague generality, giving no idea at all of his actual intentions.”

Allan MacRae went on in his letter home to state :

Human nature is surely a queer thing. If only people could look to God more and put less faith in their own ideas. How our petty scheming and planning must appear ridiculous in His sight! Surely it is true that we can put our faith in no human being. He wants us more and more to feel our utter dependencies on Him alone.

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