January 2019

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On the Death of a Christian.

Jacob Jones Janeway was a noted Philadelphia pastor in the first half of the nineteenth century, an author, and a close friend of the early Princeton Theological Seminary faculty (Alexander, Miller and Hodge). Here, from the closing pages of his biography, is an account of how he himself faced death, early in 1858:—

J.J. JanewayOn Sabbath, January 31, [1858] he was confined to that bed, from which he never arose. Five months of wearying sickness passed away till all was over. He never complained—always said he did not suffer, though it seemed to his attendants almost impossible that he did not. The coloured man who had long lived in his house nursed him faithfully. His children were much with him. At times his disease appeared so violent that it seemed impossible that he could survive. But he rallied again. He insisted that morning and evening worship should be performed in his chamber, and readily detected the absence of any of his servants. Worship was ordinarily performed by one of his sons. If at any time their own duties compelled them to be absent, he would be propped up in his bed, and utter his usual fervent prayers.

Disease obscured his mind, and caused confusion and wandering. But on the subject of religion, or any exposition of the Scripture, he was clear as ever. Not one syllable is he remembered to have uttered which betrayed confusion, where the interests of Christ’s kingdom were concerned. When any of his grandchildren approached him who were not in communion with the church, he faithfully conversed with them—bade them meet him at the judgment-seat, on the right hand. He was remarkably earnest in his appeals, and enforced them with urgency. The ruling passion was strong in death.

When he was told of the occurent revivals of the noon-day meetings for prayer, and of the general interest manifested everywhere in religion, his countenance beamed, and he said there were more glorious days at hand, and that the Redeemer’s kingdom would be ushered in by such displays of grace. Towards the close, he said to his eldest son : ” I am tired of eating—I want to go home!” But still the strong man of his constitution struggled with disease; pin after pin seemed loosening in the tabernacle; symptom after symptom developed unfavourably, but his frame did not succumb. The nature of his disease was such as to prevent such exhibitions as are often seen in God’s dying children. This was the appointment of God, and a life of such eminent holiness did not require any other illustration of the grace of God. At the close of June, he became unconscious, and lay for two or three days without any communion with the outer world. His children were with him, hourly waiting for his departure, and at last, on Sabbath, June 27th, just before the setting of the sun, he entered on his eternal Sabbath, and doubtless, as a good and faithful servant, was received by his Lord, whom he had served earnestly, in as far as the imperfection which cleaves to our nature permitted.

His funeral was attended in the First Presbyterian church, when the Rev. Dr. Hodge, who had been received by him, in the dew of his own youth, into the communion of the church, preached his funeral sermon, full of affection, and replete with memorials of his deceased  and venerable friend. Devout men carried him to his tomb—Christian ministers who had come at the summons, from their homes, to see the last of one whom they venerated when living, and mourned when removed. After the death of his wife, he had built for himself a family tomb, and was anxious that it should be of capacity sufficient to accommodate the remains of his family, and of his children to the fourth generation. He seemed to take pleasure in the thought that their dust should repose together till the morning of the resurrection, and rise, he trusted, an unbroken family, to the right hand of his Saviour.

[Excerpted from The Life of Dr. J. J. Janeway, pp. 260-261.]

Words to Live By:
May we all die well; which is to say, may we all die in Christ, our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life; may we all, in this life and while there is life, seek Christ as our only Savior and Lord, for none of us know when we must answer that call to go Home.

A Presbyterian Woman of Uncommon Courage
by David T. Myers

Lady Anna (some say Anne) Cunningham was a Scottish woman of Christian conviction and courage. Born into a family of distinguished Scotch Reformers and yes, Presbyterians, she was reared with biblical principles and Presbyterian doctrine in the days of John Knox. The fact that she was in economic wealth only added to the influence of her important place in the history of Scotland.

Of her early life, we possess no information, except a cherished commitment to Presbyterianism. We do know that in 1603, she married on January 30 the heir of the Marquis of Hamilton. That meant in those days and years an opposition to the crown of England and Scotland who actively fought for the establishment of Anglicanism in the realm. This was a spiritual battle, and at times a military one.

One of her grown children, James, sided with the king against the Presbyterians. He joined the English army as they attempted to militarily conquer the kingdom of Scotland by force in 1639. His mother, the Lady of this post, appeared on horseback with a troop of cavalry, wearing two pistols, with home made silver bullets, which she said would take care of these invaders, including her wayward son! The king’s army and navy did not land on Scotland’s shore, considering that they were outnumbered by these fierce Scottish forces. Eventually, a pacification was concluded between the king and the Presbyterians after the Battle of Berwick.

Lady Cunningham died in 1647 in Scotland.

Words to Live By: Our faithful subscribers may conclude that she had all of the advantages that a wealthy and influential woman could have in her upbringing and sub sequential life. But there are some historical figures which had those and out of fear of losing them, compromised their testimony of faith. This Christian woman did not do so, but out of a living faith and hope, threw herself and all her wealth and position into the fray of supporting Christian Presbyterian doctrine and life in difficult times. Wherever God has placed you, Christian women, use your circumstances to stand strong for the Lord Jesus in your home, church, and society.

The following account has been freely edited from Fowler’s History of the Synod of Central New York (1877) and from the funeral discourse delivered by J. Trumbull Backus.

At Home in the Joy of the Lord

Union College in Schenectady, New York, was chartered in 1795 and held its first commencement in 1797, with Dr. John Blair Smith serving as the school’s first president, 1795-99. The younger Jonathan Edwards followed as president of the school, but only lived a dozen months or so after taking the helm [1799-1801]. Dr. Jonathan Maxey followed him [1802-04], but retired in 1804, and then came Dr. Eliphalet Nott, who still holds the record as having served Union College longest in the post of President [1804-66]. Fifty years following his inauguration, he remarked, “Some forty students scattered over the then village of Schenectady, meeting for educational purposes in what was then a cabinet-maker’s shop, with a single Professor, was the whole of Union College,” and it may be added, only sixty-three had graduated from it at that time.

He addressed himself to the raising of needed funds and the erection of needed buildings, as well as the establishment and filling of new departments, and he wonderfully succeeded in this part of his work, while as President he attracted crowds of young men, four thousand of whom were graduated during his presidency.

nott_eliphaltet_graveThough incessantly occupied by his duties to the college, Dr. Nott was much engaged in outside preaching, and considerably in ecclesiastical affairs, and in 1811 was chosen Moderator of the General Assembly. He entered cordially into the temperance reform, and was the constant dependence and counsellor of Mr. Edward C. Delavan in his large and liberal enterprises for this cause. He published occasional addresses and sermons, and in 1810 his “Counsel to Young Men,” which passed through numerous editions, and in 1847, “Lectures on Temperance.” In 1860 he went for the last time to his lecture room, and presided at Commencement for the last time in 1862. Infirmities were gathering upon him for many years previously, and his decline ended in fatal paralysis, January 29, 1866. “His dying counsel to his nearest friend was, ‘Fear God and keep His commandments,’ and his last words were, ‘Jesus Christ, my covenant God.’ “

The immediate expectation of death is usually a severe test of man; and Dr. Nott had been conscious of that condition for years. Since 1860 he felt that he was within a momentary summons to go home to his Lord. During much of this protracted period of awaiting and expecting, he was enough of himself to discriminate clearly, and cautiously consider his prospects. Clouds and apprehensions would sometimes intervene; but always there was reverent, cordial submission to the Divine will, and for the most part a sweet, humble, child-like fearlessness of trust and hope. It was the manifestation of a true, soul-sustaining Christianity; and a demonstration of his sincerity, an interpretation of his life beyond all scope for cavil or doubt–a priceless testimony to the covenant faithfulness of God. . . He was ever to the end a little child before God, most pleased to sit at Jesus’ feet, and confiding firmly, gratefully, in the sovereignty and loving-kindness of his gracious Lord. He is now at home in the joy of his Lord.

Words to Live By:
We sometimes use that phrase, “at home in the joy of the Lord,” as a euphemism of death, though it does indeed express a reality for the departed Christian. But think about it—shouldn’t that be our goal even here and now, to be “at home in the joy of the Lord”? We can and should strive to be so daily conversant with our covenant God, in His Word and in prayer, that we can truly say that we are at home in the joy of the Lord, even now, and well before death’s inevitable call.

Historical Note: It was mildly interesting to note that there is some discrepancy regarding the death date for Dr. Nott. Some sources give January 25th as the date of his demise. Others state that he died on January 29th. Finally, a photograph of his gravestone was located and while grave markers have on occasion been chiseled with error, we will in this instance go with the date set down in stone.

In Flanders Fields
by Rev. David T. Myers

Few, if any of our subscribers, were alive during the closing days of World War One. Yet some of them would still recognize, if only from history books, the defining poem which summed up the horrors of that war to end all wars, namely, “In Flanders Fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago, We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie in Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If you break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.”

The author of this poem, John MaCrae, a medical doctor on the battlefield that day, had just experienced the death of a beloved friend in a battle. He sat down in the back of a ambulance to pen these words in grief over the loss of his friend. After writing it, he threw it away as unimportant. An officer friend retrieved it and sent it to an English newspaper publisher who printed it. It went on to become the famous poem describing all wars. And the “poppy” flower was adopted as the Flower of Remembrance for the war dead of Canada, Britain, the United States, and other Commonwealth countries.

John McCrae would not make it home to Canada however. He became ill with pneumonia which was soon complicated by meningitis. He died on this day, January 28, 1918 and buried with military honors in France.

What many of our readers may not know, however, is that John MaCrae was by both sides of his ancestry a Scotch Presbyterian. He was reared in a home where the Bible was read and studied ever day. He was taught to obey its every precept by his godly parents. He attended St. Paul Presbyterian Church in Montreal, Canada. A statue can be found there as well on the field in France, which reminds everyone who sees it as the extraordinary life of a soldier-physician who made the extreme sacrifice.

Words to Live By: In this series of biographies on This Day in Presbyterian History, we try as your editors to bring you characters of Presbyterian conviction and conduct who made the world, even the war world, brighter by their self-denying life and yes, their death. We shall behold them again at the resurrection of the dead in glory. For now, we can remember their life and yes, their demise, and behold their place in Presbyterian history. We can thank God as the giver of both life and death that it was not lived in vain, but accomplished what the Sovereign God decreed was their place in history. And we can give thanks to that God of the Bible for His leading in our lives. Take time today to thank God for that very fact.

THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST.

Q.4. What is God?

  1. A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

EXPLICATION.

A Spirit. —A living, thinking substance, without bodily parts, and which cannot be seen with the eyes.

Infinite. —Without bounds or limits.

Eternal.—Without beginning and without end.

Unchangeable. —Always the same, without any alteration.

ANALYSIS.

The knowledge which we here receive, concerning God, consists of ten particulars:

  1. 1. That God is a Spirit.—John iv. 24. God is a Spirit.—John i. 18. No man hath seen God at any time.
  2. That he is infinite.—Job. xi. 7. Canst thou by searching find out God?
  3. That he is eternal. —Psal. xc. 1, 2. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.
  4. That he is unchangeable.—Mal. iii. 6. I am the Lord, I change not. Psal. xxxiii. 11. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever; the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
  5. That he is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his BEING or ESSENCE.Exod. iii. 14. God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM
  6. That he is so likewise in his WISDOM, or that attribute of his nature by which he knows and directs all things. — Ps. cxlvii. 5. His understanding is infinite.
  7. That he is the same also in his POWER, or that attribute of his nature, by which he can do everything, that is no sinful or dishonorable. —Jer. xxxii. 27. Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?Mark x. 27. With God all things are possible.
  8. That the same perfections extend also to the HOLINESS of God, or that attribute of his nature, which shows him to be perfectly free from all sin. Rev. xv. 4. O Lord— thou only art holy.—Psal. cxlv. 17. The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
  9. That he is equally perfect in his JUSTICE, or that attribute of his nature, which he renders to every creature his due.—Psal. lxxxix. 14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne.— Rev. xv. 3. Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints!
  10. That this is also the case with his GOODNESS, and TRUTH, or those attributes of his nature, by which he is kind to his creatures, and by which he abhors everything like deceit and falsehood.— Exod. xxxiv. 6. The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.—1 John iv. 8. God is love.

Dr. J. Gresham Machen On Christianity And Modernism Or Liberalism

(“Exploring Avenues Of Acquaintance And Co-operation”)
By Chalmers W. Alexander
Jackson, Miss.
[THE SOUTHERN PRESBYTERIAN JOURNAL 8.15 (1 December 1949): 7-8.]

This is the tenth in the series of articles by Chalmers W. Alexander under the heading, “Exploring Avenues of Acquaintance And Co-operation.” This is an informative new series of articles written by one of the most able laymen in the Southern Presbyterian Church.

Modernism or Liberalism is not a present-day, up-to-date form of Christianity. It is not, in fact, a form of Christianity at all.

Modernism or Liberalism is a religion which is separate and distinct and different from Christianity, just as Mohammedanism and Buddhism are separate and distinct and different from Christianity.

Christian Terms Are Used

The Modernists or Liberals have borrowed many of the traditional words and terms and expressions which the historic Christian Church and the Bible-believing Christians have been using since the first century. Such words as “God,” “belief,” “faith,” “grace,” “atonement,” “redemption,” and “resurrection,” for instance, are examples.

Christian Ideas Are Not Conveyed

But the ideas and conceptions which the Modernists or Liberals intend to convey, when they use these traditional words and terms and expressions, are radically different from the ideas and conceptions which the Bible-beliving Christians have in mind when they use them.

As a simple illustration of what is meant by this, take the word “God.” The Modernists or Liberals use that term, and the Conservatives also use that term. Both state that they worship “God,” but the term does not mean the same thing to the two different groups. The extremely liberal Christian Century recognized this fact, and once stated that the Fundamentalists (or Conservatives) and the Liberals (or Modernists) do not worship the same god.

It was due to the fact that the Modernists or Liberals have borrowed so many of the traditional terms and expressions which the Bible-believing Christians have always used that the Christians were slow in recognizing that Christianity and Modernism or Liberalism are not one and the same religion at all.

Dr. Machen’s Achievement

The man who did the most in this century to show clearly that Modernism or Liberalism is not a form of Christianity, but is in reality a form of unbelief from the Christian viewpoint, was Dr. J. Gresham Machen, the world-famous New Testament scholar.

In this connection, that unusually able theologian with the razor-keen mind, Dr. William Childs Robinson, Th.D., of our Columbia Theological Seminary, once wrote: “For his uncompromising testimony that ‘Liberalism’ was radically different from Bible Christianity, Machen suffered.”

And Dr. Clarence E. Macartney, the great Conservative minister who is the Pastor of the famed First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg, and who was once the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian denomination, remarked:

“More than any other man of our generation, Dr. Machen tore the mask from the face of unbelief which parades under the name of Modernism in the Christian church.”

The able Editor of Christianity Today, Dr. Samuel G. Craig, writing at the time of Dr. Machen’s death in 1937, stated:

“The greatest service that Dr. Machen has rendered the cause of Christ—and for which in our judgment he will longest be remembered — was due to the clarity with which he perceived and the vigor with which he unanswerably maintained that what passes under the name of Modernism or Liberalism is not Christianity at all but rather a religion of a radically different sort. He was not the first to perceive this—it found clear expression, for instance, in Abraham Kuyper’s lectures (the Stone Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary) on Calvinism delivered in 1898—but no one in the English speaking world has done as much as Dr. Machen to open the eyes of Christians to the fact that an enemy within the gates was commending to their attention a type of religious belief that is diametrically opposed to Christianity at all principal points and that is all the more dangerous because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. He gave fullest and most adequate expression to this basic conviction in Christianity and Liberalism — a book that has lost none of its significance since it was published in 1923.”

The Best Book On The Subject

And in commenting on this book by Dr. Machen, Walter Lippmann, one of the nation’s most respected commentators and critics, who is not himself a professing Christian, wrote:

“There is also a reasoned case against the Modernists. Fortunately, this case has been stated in a little book called Christianity and Liberalism by a man who is both a scholar and a gentleman. The author is Professor J. Gresham Machen of the Princeton Theological Seminary. It is an admirable book. For its acumen, for its saliency, and for its wit this cool and stringent defense of orthodox Protestantism is, I think, the best popular argument produced by either side in the current controversy. We shall do well to listen to Dr. Machen . . . The Liberals have yet to answer Dr. Machen when he says that ‘the Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon a mere program of work, but on an account of facts.’ It was based on the story of the birth, the life, the ministry, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

A Book Every Christian Should Read

I personally know of no book, aside from the Holy Bible itself, that Southern Presbyterians need to read at the present time as much as they need to read Christianity and Liberalism, by Dr. Machen. The book costs $2.50 and it is only 189 pages in length. It can be ordered direct from the Southern Presbyterian Journal Company, Weaverville, N.C., postage free. I earnestly urge and implore, with all of the emphasis at my command, that every Christian who reads these lines immediately order this volume and read it carefully.

The fact that Dr. Machen, the great Bible-believing Christian scholar was kicked out of the ministry of the Northern Presbyterian Church in 1936 while Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin, one of America’s most noted Modernists, was honored by being elected Moderator of the General Assembly of that denomination in 1943, indicates, as nothing else could indicate, how firmly Modernism or Liberalism has become entrenched in high places in that church.

What shall every Southern Presbyterian, as a Bible-believing Christian who clings to historic Christianity as it is revealed in the Holy Bible and as it is summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith and in the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, say with reference to the proposed union with the heresy-tainted Northern Presbyterian Church, which has permitted Modernism or Liberalism to flourish so vigorously in its very midst?

Thou Shalt Say, No!

Long, but well worth your time. The Rev. Rienk Bouke Kuiper was of Dutch descent and grew up in the Christian Reformed Church. As Professor of Systematic Theology [1929-30], he was among the founding faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary, served as President of Calvin College in Grand Rapids from 1930-33, and thereafter returned to Westminster to teach Practical Theology, 1933-52. In his final post, he returned again to Grand Rapids to serve as President of Calvin Theological Seminary, 1953-56.

COMPROMISING THE AUTHORITY OF THE BIBLE

R. B. KUIPER, M.A., B.D.

[An address delivered at the Ninth Annual Convention of the League of Evangelical Students at Boston, Massachusetts, late in 1934.]
(and as published in The Evangelical Student, January 1935)

            Few men who lay claim to Christianity deny outright the authority of the Bible. Even the so-called advanced modernist hardly does that.

Eventually the logic of the modernist’s position must drive him to the rejection of all external authority. Present-day liberalism is deeply indebted to Hegel. It is hardly an exaggeration to call him its philosophical father. But Hegelianism is thoroughly pantheistic. Did not Hegel style the human will a Wirkungsform of the divine will and boldly declare, “What I do, God does”? Modernism too is pantheistic. It reduces the difference between Christ’s Divinity and man’s to one of degree only. It gloats over the divinity of man. Recently a liberal minister preached on The Other Me, who turned out to be none other than God. But, obviously, thoroughgoing pantheism leaves no room for external authority. If I am God, I will majestically decline to take orders from another. If I am God, I am my own authority.

If, on the other hand, I am merely a finite human being, it behooves me to give heed to the voice of the Infinite. And if I am not merely finite but also sinful, so sinful in fact, that I cannot possibly save myself from sin and its consequences, it emphatically behooves me to obey the orders which God gives me in the Bible for my salvation.

Let us say that you are bathing in the surf at Atlantic City. Imagine President Roosevelt in bathing near you. I do not suppose that he swims in public places, but let us assume for the sake of argument that he is there. He gets caught in the undertow and is being carried away. You notice his perilous plight, run for a life-saver and throw it out to him, all the while, of course, holding the attached rope in your hands, Now what do you say to Mr. Roosevelt? Do you address him thus: “My dear Mr. President, I observe that you find yourself in a sorry plight indeed; you are in imminent peril of finding a watery grave. Now your lowly servant has determined to put forth a concerted effort to prevent so great a calamity. May he not humbly beseech your honor to condescend to lay hold on the circular object which he is casting in your direction, in order that he may have the unusual honor of rescuing your esteemed person”? Or will you simply shout at him: “Hey there, grab that life-saver”? Of course you will do the latter. And I assure you that the President will not resent your language.

Listen! If the President of the greatest republic on the face of the globe will not think of objecting if you, an ordinary citizen, issue orders to him in an effort to save him from drowning, would it not be the height of folly, folly beyond compare, if you and I, puny human beings that we are, should refuse to recognize the authority of the King of kings and Lord of lords, with whom all the nations of earth are as a drop of a bucket or the small dust of the balance, yea less than nothing and vanity, when he commands us what we are to do in order that we may be saved from everlasting perdition?

But, as I have said, very few men, if any, who would be known as Christians deny the authority of the Bible outright today. Many there are, however, who compromise it. Compromise looks so much less wicked and also less perilous than denial. As a matter of fact it is fraught with even greater danger.

There are at least two ways of destroying a house. One method is to carry several sticks of dynamite into the basement and to blow up the whole thing in a moment. That is a quick and effective way. Another way is to break the house down, one brick or one board at a time, or if one should begin at the roof, for a long time just one shingle a day. This is a far slower method, but in the end it proves equally effective. And it undeniably has one great advantage over the other method. It is much less shocking to the sensibilities of the occupants of the house, and for that reason one has a much better chance of getting away with it. If I should catch a man carrying dynamite into my home, I should lose no lime calling the police. If I should see a man breaking an occasional shingle from the roof, I should wonder and I might object, but I should hardly think it worth while to fly into a frenzy.

The great deceiver is clever. He does not try to smash the Bible at one blow with an axe; he prefers to cut it up little by little with a penknife. This is so much less shocking to those who love the book, and therefore the danger of interference is so much smaller and the likelihood of success so much greater. I shall call attention to several ways in which men, evidently under the influence of the deceiver, are compromising the authority of the Bible.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

            I. Men compromise the authority of the Bible by setting up another authority alongside it; in other words, by denying the sole authority of the Bible.

The Roman Catholic Church has been doing this for centuries already. It speaks of two infallibles: the Bible and the Church. It claims to have not only an infallible Bible, but also an infallible interpretation of the Bible by the Church.

Now if Rome went no farther than to assert that it has an infallible interpretation of the Bible, we Protestants would surely have to differ because we know of no ground for this belief, but a few of us might regard this view somewhat sympathetically. Who of us in moments of indolence has not wished for an infallible interpretation of Scripture? How much arduous exegetical labor would be spared us students and ministers if we had within easy reach an infallible interpretation of God’s Word! Again, how much theological strife this would obviate!   And debating is hard work.

However, Rome does not stop at this claim. It proceeds to add to the Bible many traditions. Even thus the worst has not been said. Several of these traditions contradict the teaching of Scripture. Belief in the immaculate conception of Mary, for instance, can hardly be reconciled with the biblical doctrine of the universality of sin. And the invention of purgatory simply does not square with the scriptural teaching that the soul on departing from the body goes at once to its eternal destination.   So tradition is actually placed above the Bible. The mystics of the Christian Church, too, have set up another authority alongside the Bible. In their case it is not the Church, but what is designated by that fine-sounding phrase, the Christian consciousness.

Nor have the mystics been satisfied to place the Christian consciousness on a par with the Bible. Fact is that many of them have exalted it above the inscripturated Word. They think more of the inner light than of objective revelation.

The mystic is a good deal like a man receiving a telegram, glancing at it, and casting it aside with the remark, “I have a radio set of my own.” It does not seem to occur to him that the telegram may contain a message which does not come over the radio at all.   As a matter of fact, does not the Bible tell us many things of which the Christian consciousness apart from the Bible knows nothing? What knowledge has the Christian consciousness by itself of the origin of the universe and the fact of Christ’s bodily resurrection? Precisely none, of course. For our knowledge of those and the other historical events which constitute the very foundation of Christianity we arc dependent altogether on the Bible. In the case of both the Roman Catholic and the mystic it is extremely interesting to compare their conclusion with their premise. Both start out by placing; another authority alongside the Bible. Both end up by exalting the other authority above the Bible.

The explanation is obvious.

It lies, on the one hand, in the irresistible force of sound logic. Is it not self-evident that one cannot possibly honor two authorities as supreme? The expression two supreme* is a contradiction in terms. Every attempt to set up two ultimate authorities is bound to fail. It must of necessity result either in the deposition of both or in the deposition of one by its subjection to the other. You will recall that the ancient Greeks and Romans in their mythologies ascribed limitations and imperfections to the gods. Give them credit for their logic. This peculiar theology was the inevitable consequence of their polytheism. By all the rules of logic there can be but one absolute, but one infinite, but one supreme.

So the force of logic accounts for it that the Roman Catholic and the mystic have found it impossible to maintain two supreme authorities. It must be added that the corrupt nature of man will go a long way toward accounting for the fact that, when they had to subject one to the other, both made the wrong choice. Instead of subjecting the Church and the Christian consciousness to the Bible they did the opposite.

Will you pardon a rather trite illustration and a story?

The Word of God teaches clearly and emphatically that the husband is the head of his wife. But nowadays there is a strong tendency to place the two on a par. Brides are no longer as willing as they used to be to promise obedience to bridegrooms. It is often said that the mother has as much right to be the head of the family as has the father. Let me assure you that when you hear married couples speak in this vein there is something wrong. If each is the head of the family, neither is. or, what is much more likely, the wrong one is.

A couple were celebrating their silver wedding anniversary. They were known as an exceptionally happy couple. It was reported that they had never once had words in a quarter century of wedded life. One of the guests made bold to inquire of the male celebrant as to the secret of such unwonted peace. Came the reply: “It is very simple. When we entered upon wedlock we agreed that in all important matters that might arise in our married life I was to have my way, and in all minor matters my better half was to have her way. Now it so happens that in the course of the past twenty-five years not one important matter has come up.’’

To place another authority alongside the Bible constitutes a denial of the Bible’s supreme authority and is pretty sure to issue in the subjection of the Bible to this other authority.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

            II. Men compromise the authority of the Bible by ascribing authority to certain parts of it only; in other words, by denying the inclusive authority of the Bible.

It obviously makes a world of difference whether one grants that the Word of God is in the Bible or holds that the Bible is the Word of God.   A man has a piece of metallic substance in his hand- Whether it has gold in it or is gold may make a difference of several hundreds of dollars. In the former case as little as one percentage of it may be gold, in the latter it is a gold nugget. So to say that the Word of God is in the Bible may mean next to nothing. It goes without saying that due allowance must be made for textual criticism. But if, this done, it be maintained that not everything in the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, the question arises what is?

There are those who insist that only the New Testament, not the Old, is the Word of God. They find not a fuller revelation of the one true God in the New Testament, but a God who differs radically from the Jehovah of the Old. But the absurdity of this view is self-evident. As Bishop Wordsworth has pointed out in his valuable work on the Canon, the New Testament canonizes the Old. Does not the New Testament say, for instance, with reference to the Old that “the Scripture cannot be broken”?

Others tell us that only the words of the Lord Jesus in the New Testament constitute the Word of God. This view quite ignores the promise given by Christ to the disciples that the Holy Spirit would load them into the truth. It also suggests the question—call it naive if you will—how we may know that the words of the Lord Jesus are correctly recorded in the gospel according to John, let us say, if John did not write infallibly. If only Jesus was infallible, do we have his words? Surely, if we are not sure of having Jesus’ infallible words, their infallibility boots us little.

May I remark here that personally I do not like the idea of certain publishers of the Bible to print the Savior’s words in red. This device is apt to leave a wrong impression with the reader. There is danger, t take it, that he will regard Jesus’ words as the Word of God in a fuller and more real sense than the words of the apostles and prophets, which is not the case if the whole Bible is the Word of God.

Not long ago a modernist preacher told me in conversation that to his mind the teaching of Jesus was just about right. His only objection was that Jesus took bell a little too seriously. Apart from that minor criticism he was prepared to put the stamp of his approval on the words of the great teacher.

Was it not the liberal Harnack who after much study came to the conclusion that the part of Jesus’ teaching which is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount constitutes the Word of God?

Not even Karl Barth, the stalwart German opponent of liberal theology, will grant unqualifiedly that the Bible is the Word of God. He teaches in effect that it is the source of the Word of God and that it actually is the Word of God for me only when God speaks to my heart through it.

Modernist and mediating ministers like to say nowadays that the Bible comes to us with supreme authority in spiritual matters only, and that its references to history and science may be, and in certain cases likely are, quite faulty. That position is taken, for instance, by the well known Pearl Buck, until recently a missionary of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. She is said to have made the hold declaration that, even if it should be proved that Jesus never existed as a historical character, this would have little, if any, bearing on the continuance of Christianity, since the spirit of Christ would go marching on just the same. Has it occurred to you how flatly she contradicted the chief of the apostles? Wrote Paul in First Corinthians fifteen: “If Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain; your faith also is vain; ye are yet in your sins; they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” Evidently it was Paul’s firm conviction that Christianity is a religion of fact, that the structure of Christianity rests upon historical events, and if this foundation were destroyed, that the whole edifice would topple into ruins like a house of cards. If Paul was right—and we Christians are convinced that he was—then to deny the authority of the Bible in matters of history is to deny its authority altogether.

That brings us to our last remark under this head. I have already indicated that to compromise the authority of the Bible by setting up another authority alongside it leads to the denial of biblical authority. Now I must add that to compromise the authority of the Bible by ascribing authority to certain portions of it only, leads inevitably to the same conclusion.

How obvious! If it be assumed that not everything in the Bible is the Word of God, who is going to decide which parts of the Bible are the Word of God and which are not? But one answer is possible. Man will have to do the choosing. Every individual, I suppose, will have to decide for himself. But thus man is elevated to the position of arbiter. He now stands in judgment over the Bible. And that is another way of saying that the Bible is no longer his authoritative judge.

There is a good story of an army in flight, with the enemy in hot pursuit. The foe never ceased firing, and one man after another in the defeated army was shot down. Finally, however, a safe retreat was reached. Only, when the fleeing army arrived at this retreat not a single soldier remained. Much the same thing will happen to the Bible of him who permits the enemies of God to deprive him of one page today on the ground that it is not God’s Word and of another tomorrow on the same ground. When, after a while, he thinks that finally he has come down to the very Word of God in the Bible, he will make the disconcerting discovery that his Bible consists of nothing but two covers and a back.

To say that not the whole Bible is the Word of God is to deny that the Bible is God’s Word.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

            III. Men compromise the authority of the Bible by modifying the nature of its authority; in other words, by denying its sovereign authority.

The orthodox Christian asserts that the Bible is the very Word of the living God and therefore comes to men with divine, sovereign, authority. But many there are today who assure us that the Bible has the authority of an expert only. The ancient Greeks were expert in art and literature. The old Romans were expert in war and law. So, we are told, the Hebrews were expert in religion.

For some reason or other, perhaps because of their exceptional mental acumen, the Hebrews, it is said, had a remarkably deep insight into the things of the spirit and an amazingly advanced conception of the supreme being. For example, it dawned on them sooner than on any other people that God is one. Monotheism is their great contribution to the progress of the human race. Some of the most religious of these religious Hebrews recorded their thoughts and experiences in writing.   These writings were collected in the book known as the Old Testament. It was Schleiermacher who said that the New Testament is the record of the religious experiences of the early Christians, and he added that the experiences of one of them did not necessarily harmonize with those of another.

With reference to the Bible there is no more basic question confronting us than this one: Is it the record of man’s groping for God and, as many like to say, of man’s discovery of God; or is it the record of God’s revelation of himself to man ? In the former case it is the word of man to man about God; in the latter case it is the Word of God about himself to man. If the latter is true, the Bible comes with sovereign authority; if the former is true, it has at best the authority of an expert.

The essential difference between Christianity and other religions can pointedly be stated thus: In all other religions man is feeling after God; in Christianity alone God comes to man, speaks to man, tells man who he, God, is.

Every once in a while one reads the statement that the Bible is not a book but a library. How misleading! A library is a collection of books by different authors, as a rule. A book is most often the work of one author. The Bible has many human authors, to be sure; but it has only one primary author, God the Holy Spirit. The Bible is emphatically a book. It is the only book in all the world with perfect unity.

Let us seek to discover to what conclusion the tenet leads that the Bible has the authority of an expert only.

We shall assume that I am involved in serious problems of a financial or economic nature. As I am planning my trip from Philadelphia to Boston, where I am to attend this convention of the League of Evangelical Students, it occurs to me that the train will take me through Hartford, Connecticut, the city of that great authority on economics, Irving Fisher. I decide to stop over for an hour of consultation with him about my difficulties. Well and good. The prospect of receiving expert advice eases my mind.  I am feeling fine.

Having purchased a magazine at the station, I board my train. I nestle down in my seat and begin to read. My attention is drawn to an article on that perennial subject, the depression. Something is said about the fact that few of our leading economists saw the collapse approaching. A statement is made to the effect that even Irving Fisher of Yale a comparatively short time before the crash of 1929 predicted continued prosperity. I am shocked. My worries return. So not even the opinions of Irving Fisher, the famous expert, are fool-proof. What reason have I to suppose that his advice to me will prove sound? One thing is certain, it will not be infallible.

If the Bible has the authority of an expert only, it is not infallible. It may well err on many points.   Its authority is far from ultimate.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

            We have considered three ways in which men compromise the authority of the Bible, and in each instance we have seen that compromise is in principle denial. The question is not whether we shall perhaps after a little have to be satisfied with half a Bible, but whether we shall have any Bible at all. The question is not whether we may possibly have to sacrifice part of our patrimony, but whether we shall be reduced to direst poverty. The question is not whether we may have to lose our baggage in a storm at sea, hut whether we shall have to go down, passengers and crew, into a watery grave. The question is not whether our sun may suffer a partial eclipse, but whether we shall be plunged into Stygian darkness forever.

Compromise is denial.

Therefore we must choose.

Which will we do: honor the Bible unqualifiedly as the Word of God or reject it?

Which will we have: Christianity or paganism?

A Christian of Exceptional Personality and Evangelistic Appeal
by Rev. David T. Myers

Picture the scene in your mind’s eye. Thirty-five hundred natives peoples have gathered together at one site that summer of 1933. Missionary evangelist Charles J. Woodbridge no doubt had something to do with that great gathering in the French Cameroons. He was the sole evangelist for a mission station in that African country, a mission station that encompassed five thousand square miles! These natives were in great need of hearing the plain and simple gospel message, and had been gathered to hear a message from a visiting Presbyterian Board of Foreign Mission executive from America. What they heard instead from this visitor from the U.S. was instead an hour-long message on, (are you ready for this?), “the Power of Personality.” Standing off to the side of the podium, deeply aghast at what he heard, there was no greater proof to young Charles Woodbridge of the deepening apostasy of the official missions board of the Presbyterian Church.

When he later heard that he himself had been singled out to serve as the General Secretary of the newly formed Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions in June of 1933, he gathered his wife and two daughters and returned immediately to America to take up his new post. In less than four years, he would be censured by the highest court of the Presbyterian church for accepting this new ministry.

Charles Woodbridge, born January 24, 1902,was described by his fellow Reformed Christians as being no ordinary General Secretary. From his heritage as the fifteenth generation minister of his family line, dating back to 1493, from his own father who had been a missionary in China, from the fact that he married the daughter of a missionary, Charles Woodbridge would be known as “a man of exceptional personality and evangelistic appeal.” His spiritual gifts made him the perfect architect of a new mission strategy in reaching the world for Christ.

Yet the main line denomination of which he was a part, did not take kindly to this new mission upstart. Within a year, steps were taken to force him to abandon this new missions work, and when he chose not to follow their directives, Charles Woodbridge was censured by the church. He left in 1937 to become a pastor of the Presbyterian Church in North Carolina for several years.

Eventually, he served as a theological seminary professor and author, always seeking to warn Christians of the danger of compromising the Word of God. He died on 16 July 1995, at the age of 93.

Words to Live By: Committed to the Scriptures, the Reformed faith, and the Great Commission of Jesus Christ is a great goal for everyday life and service.

Further research: 
Some of the many publications of Rev. Woodbridge—

1945
The Chronicle of Salimbene of Parma : A thirteenth century Christian synthesis. Durham, NC: Duke University, 1945; Ph.D. Thesis; 305 p.

1947
Standing on the Promises; Rich Truths from the Book of Acts. Chicago, Moody Press, 1947; 203 p.
1953
A Handbook of Christian Truth, by Harold Lindsell and Charles Jahleel Woodbridge. Westwood, N.J.: F.H. Revell Co., 1953; 351 p.
Romans : The Epistle of Grace. Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, Correspondence School, 1953; 151 p.
1955
A Study of the Book of Acts : “Standing on the Promises.” Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1955; 151 p.
1957
Lindsell, Harold and Charles J. Woodbridge, The Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith.  Los Angeles : Audio Bible Studies, 1957),  Sound Recording, 10 sound discs (440 min.) : 16 2/3 rpm, mono. ; 7 in. Contents:  Lesson 77. Why believe the Bible?; Lesson 78. God the Father; Lesson 79. God, the Son; Lesson 80. God, the Holy Spirit; Lesson 81. Forgiveness of sins; Lesson 82. The virgin birth; Lesson 83. Rusurrection of Christ; Lesson 84. Ascension of Christ; Lesson 85. The atonement; Lesson 86. Redemption; Lesson 87. Repentance; Lesson 88. Faith; Lesson 89. Regeneration : the new birth; Lesson 90. Justification by faith; Lesson 91. Assurance; Lesson 92. Sanctification; Lesson 93. The life of victory; Lesson 94. The believer and the world; Lesson 95. Man’s destiny; Lesson 96. Second coming of Christ.
1958
Tell us, please; Answers to Life’s Great Questions. Westwood, N.J. : Revell, 1958; 127 p.
1962
Bible Prophecy. Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1962; reprinted 1967; revised edition, 1994, 155 p.
1969
The New Evangelicalism. Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University, 1969; 62 p.
Undated [copies of these have been located at Gordon-Conwell Seminary]
1.  The epistle to the Romans  (S.l. : s.n., 1950-1970?), 23 leaves.
2.  I and II Thessalonians (S.l. : s.n., 1950s-1970s), 22 p.
3.  An outline of First, Second, and Third John (S.l. : s.n., 1950-1970?), 16 p.
4.  An outline of Matthew (S.l. : s.n., 1950-1970?), 30 p.
5.  An outline of Philippians (S.l. : s.n., 1950-1970?), 24 p.
6.  First Corinthians (S.l. : s.n., 1950-1970?), 25 p.

Our post today is authored by Barry Waugh, who currently serves as church historian for the Second Presbyterian Church of Greenville, South Carolina.

Charles was born in Charleston, South Carolina to James S. and Mary Stillman on March 14, 1819. He attended Oglethorpe University in Georgia and received his degree in 1841. He then received his divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1844 and proceeded to be licensed by Charleston Presbytery later that year. The Second Presbyterian Church of Charleston provided the opportunity for Charles to exercise his ministerial gifts until 1845. In 1845 he was ordained by Tuscaloosa Presbytery to receive a call to the Presbyterian Church in Eutaw, Alabama where he served until 1853. Remaining in Alabama, Rev. Stillman received a call to be the pastor of the Gainesville church where he ministered until 1870. It was in 1863, while he was at Gainesville, that Charles received the Doctor of Divinity degree from the

University of Alabama. Dr. Stillman’s next call was to the Presbyterian Church at Tuscaloosa where he began his longest ministry in 1870 and continued there until his death on January 23, 1895.

Dr. Stillman’s non-pastoral ministerial efforts were many. He was the Chairman of Tuscaloosa Presbytery’s Home Missions Committee. From 1847 until 1884 he served as the Stated Clerk of Tuscaloosa Presbytery. One of his most significant achievements was when a group of Tuscaloosa Presbyterians, headed by Dr. Stillman, presented an overture to the 1875 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States concerning a training school for Black ministers. The 1876 General Assembly followed the recommendation of its specially appointed committee and authorized establishing the Institute for Training Colored Ministers at Tuscaloosa. In the fall of 1876 Charles Stillman taught its first classes. The Institute came to be named the Stillman Institute in honor of its devoted founder who served as its superintendent from its founding until his death. The curriculum and nature of its educational program has changed over the years and it is known today as Stillman College.

Charles Stillman was married three times. He married his first wife, Martha Hammond of Milledgeville, Georgia, on October 15, 1846. His second marriage was to the widow Fannie Collins of Shubuta, Mississippi, whom he married on April 17, 1866. Elfreda Walker of Clarksville, Tennessee was his third wife and they were married on April 17, 1872. At least two of Dr. Stillman’s descendants continued to serve the Presbyterian Church–his daughter, Anna M. Stillman, was a secretary for Rev. T. P. Mordecai at the First Presbyterian Church, in Birmingham, Alabama, and his grandson, Rev. Charles Sholl, was the pastor of the Avondale Presbyterian Church, another of the Presbyterian churches in Birmingham.

 

Francis Landey Patton

Born in Warwick, Bermuda on January 22, 1843 to George John Patton and his wife, Mary A. Steele Patton, Francis L. Patton never became an American citizen, though most of his adult years were spent in the United States.

Nevin’s Presbyterian Encyclopedia indicates that he received his education at the University College in Toronto, followed by preparation for the ministry at both Knox College, Toronto and Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, graduating there in 1865. Rev. Patton was ordained by the Presbytery of New York on June 1st, 1865 and installed as pastor of the 84th Street Presbyterian Church, and then served two other Presbyterian churches in the New York City area before moving to Chicago in 1873 to pastor the Jefferson Park Presbyterian Church. Dr. Patton also served concurrently as editor of The Interior, 1873-76 and as professor at what is now McCormick Seminary, 1871-1881.  Capping his ministry in Chicago, he was honored to serve as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. in 1878.

During those busy years, Dr. Patton was engaged as the prosecutor in the heresy trial of the Rev. David Swing, in 1874. The national attention given to this trial may in part have led to the call issued by Princeton Theological Seminary, where Dr. Patton then served as professor of apologetics from 1881 until his retirement in 1913.

In 1932, Edith Bane, a Pittsburgh native, paid a visit to Dr. Patton at his home in Bermuda. She wrote of that visit :

“When I met him last August, he was in his 90th year, yet seemingly in good health, unbowed in stature and alert of mind. Although handicapped by loss of eyesight, years had not dimmed his spirit, his well-known keen sense of humor, or his interest in old friends, his beloved Princeton and the work of the Presbyterian Church. He and Mrs. Patton were living with their son and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. George S[tevenson] Patton, at “Carberry Hill,” the stately old mansion in Warwick, Bermuda, where Dr. Patton was born and where he has lived since his retirement . . .

“. . . he was presented by his parents in Christ Church, Bermuda. It is significant that this child destined to be the powerful supporter and valiant defender of the faith of his fathers, should have been dedicated to the Lord in this historic church—the oldest Presbyterian church in the British overseas empire. Who can doubt that this great life work was but an answer to the prayers offered by his godly parents on that day? . . .

” . . . In 1913, because of advancing years and failing eyesight, he resigned from the seminary and returned to his Bermuda home. It was surely the hand of Providence that led him back to these quiet coral gardens of the Atlantic to spend the evening of his life. As he looked out upon those cedar-covered hills and walked along the shores of the undescribable opalescent sea, he must often have repeated, with a thankful heart: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters . . . ”

“. . . November 25, 1932, after a short illness, he died, and the Presbyterian Church throughout the world faltered at the loss of its beloved patriarch.

Words to Live By:  Truly our lives are in the Lord’s hands. He guides and equips us to proclaim His glory in the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus alone. Our lives may have their disappointments, frustrations and failures, but God’s love for each of His children is unshakable and His plan is sure. Wh

 

at may seem an unprofitable failure will be used of the Lord as He refines us for greater service. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” (Psalm 37:23, KJV).

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