July 2019

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2019.

by Rev. William Smith

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 33.

Q. 33. What is justification ?

A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, and received by faith alone.


An act. –Justification (or the declaring of a sinner to be righteous in God’s sight,) is called an act because it is a deed done, or passed, in the sinner’s favor, in an instant, and is not a work of time.

Free grace. –Free and undeserved favor, and not occasioned by any thing which the sinner either has done, or can do, for himself.

Pardoneth all our sins. –Frees us from being liable, or bound over, to everlasting punishment on account of our sin.

Accepteth us as righteous. –That is, God receives us into his favor, as if we had been entirely free from sin, and bestows upon us a full title to everlasting life and happiness.

Righteousness of Christ. –The holiness of his nature as man, the obedience of his life, and his satisfactory death.

Imputed to us. –That is, God places Christ’s righteousness to our account, or considers it as our own, and deals with us as righteous persons.

By faith. –By believing in the all-sufficiency and efficacy of Christ’s imputed righteousness.


The information here received concerning the nature of justification, may be divided into six particulars :–

  1. We are first told that justification is an act of God’s free grace. –Rom. viii. 1. There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. –Rom iii. 24. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
  2. That in this act, God pardons all our sins. –Psalm ciii. 2, 3. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgiveth all thine iniquities, and healeth all thy diseases.
  3. That in it he likewise accepts us as righteous in his sight. –2 Cor. v. 21. He hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
  4. That he accepts us only for the righteousness of Christ. –Rom. v. 19. As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  5. That Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. –1 Cor. i. 30. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
  6. That this righteousness can be received by faith alone. –Gal. ii. 16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ.

Indentured Servant and Iron Maker Signs the Declaration of Independence
by Rev. David T. Myers

Born in Ireland on 1716, and one of eight signers who was foreign-born, George Taylor disappointed his minister father in educational plans to  become a doctor by sailing to  the American colonies. Indentured in service to  Samuel  Savage to work as a common laborer in his iron forge in the new country, his passage across  the Atlantic Ocean was paid. However his expertise as a book-keeper enabled him to move higher up in the company.  When the owner of Warrick Furnace and Coventry Forge died in 1742, Taylor’s had by this time risen in the company to become the  manager for the furnace and forge. He  married the owner’s widow, Ann Savage.

Working there for the next decade, he was marking time as the will of Samuel Savage dictated that his son would take over the business when he came of age.  In 1755, Taylor moved to Bucks County to take over an iron works company there.  From the latter, ammunition was provided to the colonies in the French and Indian War.

In the Bucks County deed book, there is a record which states that George Taylor, along with a number of others, purchased one acre of land to be used by the Presbyterian Church in Tineeum Township for a cemetery.  This is the first reference we have which speaks of George Taylor as a Presbyterian.

In 1764, Taylor began his political career, short as it was.  He served on various committees, picking up an opposition to the British government on the way.  Still working in the iron business, he was one of the first business men to supply ammunition to the Continental Army, though there were complaints that his cost was too steep.

It was on July 20, 1776, that he was elected to the Continental Congress, representing Pennsylvania.  Like many delegates, he signed the Declaration of Independence later than others, pledging his life and honor to the new nation, on August 2, 1776.

George Taylor died on February 23, 1781.  While his name is not found in the records of the Red Hill Presbyterian Church, it is likely that he was a member there, given the above  reference of the purchase of a cemetery for Red Hill Presbyterian Church.  Further, in the biography of the signers of the Declaration, the religious affiliation of Taylor is listed as Presbyterian.

Words to Live By: 
We don’t read of any pithy statements by this Presbyterian signer with respect to the Bible, or salvation through Christ alone, or other Christian convictions, such as is the case with other Presbyterian founders of our country.  Perhaps like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus of biblical days, he was a secret follower of Jesus.  We cannot commend that principle or practice.  But, like the two biblical characters, there were deeds of commitment to the Lord, as with George Taylor, who purchased  land for a Presbyterian cemetery.  For that we highlight him in this series of Presbyterian signers of the cardinal document of our American Independence.

A Distinguished Lineage

“If we as God’s people were only more willing to wait for the Lord, how infinitely great would be the things that He in His graciousness would be delighted to do for us and in us and through us to the blessing of others and to the glory of His Name.” — Dr. T. Stanley Soltau.


Through a long, useful life, Theodore Stanley Soltau, D.D. served faithfully and well the Lord he loved.

Theodore Stanley Soltau was born in 1890, of missionary parents in Tasmania, and throughout his life was himself a missionary in every sense of the word. The Soltau family had  originally been Plymouth Brethren.  In fact, Stanley’s grandfather, Henry William Soltau, was born in Plymouth, in 1805. Henry authored works which remain in print to this day: The Holy Vessels and Furniture of the Tabernacle and The Tabernacle, the Priesthood and the Offerings.

Stanley received his early schooling in England, but when Stanley’s parents returned from the mission field to the United States in 1904, he remained stateside to obtain his undergraduate training in Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. His theological work was done at Princeton Seminary under men whose names are familiar to all in our church.

Shortly after graduation from seminary Dr. Soltau began a quarter of a century of profitable missionary endeavor in Korea. During these years he served under the Mission Board of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., working in pioneer missionary works as well as in the administrative work of the mission in that land. It was while Dr. Soltau was in Korea that the church there suffered much persecution for its faith from the Japanese. Dr. Soltau stood firmly with the Church in resisting the attempts of the government to interfere with its service for the Lord.

Forced, through illness, to return from the foreign field in the late 1930’s, he entered on a new phase of his service. He was pastor in Evanston until 1942 when he was called by the First Evangelical Church of Memphis, Tennessee.

The blessing of the Lord was upon his ministry in Memphis and the church grew in number and service. Dr. Soltau’s life-long interest in missions was reflected in the interest of First Evangelical Church in supporting missions around the world.

After twenty-six years of an active and valuable pastorate, Dr. Soltau resigned in June of 1968. In his “retirement” he was, if anything, more active in his ministry for people and for missions. He traveled extensively in the U.S. and on missionary trips to South America and around the world.

In the early 1950’s, Dr. Soltau united with the then Bible Presbyterian Church. His help in the formation of World Presbyterian Missions was great and he served until 1971 as the president of this missions board. He was for a time on the board of the North Africa Missions agency, as well as that of the Greater Europe Mission and also Columbia Bible College.

T. Stanley Soltau, Christian gentleman, scholar, missionary, statesman, pastor, in the midst of an active life, at the age of 82, stepped into the presence of the Lord on the afternoon of July 19, 1972. “Blessed are the dead, that die in the Lord.”

The Lord blessed Dr. Soltau and his wife with children who grew to place their trust in Christ. His daughter Eleanor served in Jordan as a medical doctor; daughter Mary worked with a ministry for the handicapped; George was engaged full-time with prison ministry and Addison served as a professor at Covenant Theological Seminary and later as an associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Coral Springs, Florida.

Words to Live By (once more, for effect):
“If we as God’s people were only more willing to wait for the Lord, how infinitely great would be the things that He in His graciousness would be delighted to do for us and in us and through us to the blessing of others and to the glory of His Name.”

The historic meeting which launched the new seminary took place on this day, July 18, in 1929 with seventy-eight teaching and ruling elders present at the YMCA in Philadelphia.


Plans for a New Seminary
by Rev. David T. Myers

The “school of the prophets” was lost to Old School Presbyterianism. The great theologians of old Princeton — Alexander, Miller, Hodge, etc. — might still be buried in the cemetery plot of Princeton, but now buried with them was their historic stand for the faith once delivered unto the saints. A re-organization of the trustees was now in place and signers of the infamous Auburn Affirmation had even been placed on the Board. In only a matter of time the fruits of liberalism would be manifest in the teachings of the classrooms.

Recognizing that sad truth, the Rev. Walter Buchanan, pastor of Broadway Presbyterian Church in New York City, sent out an invitation on June 17, 1929 to a group of teaching and ruling elders, asking them to gather at the University Club to respond to these developments. At that meeting, the following statement was approved by this group of elders:  “Resolved: that this group will support the loyal members of the former Board of Directors of Princeton Theological Seminary in any step they may see fit to take (1) toward prevention by legal means the misuse of the Seminary’s funds, or (2) toward the formation of a new Seminary if they decide that it is necessary.”  A wide latitude was allowed in this resolve, as you can see. Their aim, that despite the new liberal members on the Princeton Board, to see if we cannot keep Princeton Seminary from digressing away any further from the faith, but failing that, the possibility of a new seminary is on the table as well.

There were meetings taking place in other cities as well.  Philadelphia was the site of a meeting of elders, including one in which finances were pledged for one year of the new seminary. At last, the historic meeting which launched the new seminary took place on July 18, 1929 with seventy-eight teaching and ruling elders present at the YMCA in Philadelphia. The name of Westminster Theological Seminary was chosen at this meeting, and an executive committee, a governing board, was chosen, composed of six (6) teaching elders and eight (8) ruling elders.

The teaching elders included Maitland Alexander, Roy T. Brumbaugh, Walter Buchanan, Samuel Craig, Charles Schall, and Frank Stevenson. Also present were Ruling elders Roland Armes, Edgar Frutchey, Frederick Paist, James Runkin, T. E. Ross, James Schrader, John Steele, and Morgan Thomas. Drs. Robert Dick Wilson, J. Gresham Machen,and O.T. Allis served as advisers.

The happy fruition of this meeting came on September 25th of that same year, when fifty students gathered at the Seminary campus at 1528 Pine Street in Philadelphia, eager to begin their preparation for the ministry. A seminary was born!

Words to Live By: One of the minor prophets of the Old Testament wrote that we were not to despise the day of small things. Certainly, this founding of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa., was just a tiny speck in comparison with Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey in the world’s eyes. But when your standard is the authoritative Word of God and the gospel of the Lord Jesus, then there is more that meets the eye in the start of this school which carried on the historic testimony of old Princeton. Let us learn to look ever to the Bible, not the world’s estimation, in your prayers and financial support of churches and institutions of the biblical gospel.

A few select treasures from the PCA Historical Center’s files:

1.  Click here to view the 1929-1930 Catalogue of Westminster Theological Seminary, with its listing of courses.

2.  Click here to view the 1931 publication, Our Faculty.

Pictured above, the Seminary library at its original location, 1528 Pine Street, in Philadelphia;
and pictured below, the student body at Westminster Theological Seminary in its first academic year, 1929-1930.

Think Before You Take That New Job
by Rev. David T. Myers

It was downright unhealthy to be the president of the College of New Jersey (today’s Princeton University) in the opening years of that educational institution. In the first nine years of its existence, five presidents were installed and five presidents were on the short list to heaven! That fifth president was Samuel Finley.

Born in Scotland in 1715, Samuel Finley came over to the colonies at age nineteen. He studied theology at the celebrated Log College under the Tennents, was ordained into the New Brunswick Presbytery as a revivalist preacher. He was clearly a New Side Presbyterian.

Assigned first to a brand new Presbyterian church in Mitford, Connecticut, he discovered that the governor of Connecticut really did not want him, or for that matter, the Presbyterian Church. He was escorted, or should I say, expelled from the colony. It is clear from his later ministry that this was all due to the providence of God.

For the next seventeen years, he was the pastor of Nottingham, Maryland. Receiving  accolades as the best training academy in the middle colonies, West Nottingham Academy soon became the school to attend. With a standard of great scholarship, two signers of the Declaration of Independence — Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton — studied under Samuel Finley there.

Finally, in 1761, as a member of the original board of trustees, Samuel Finley was chosen to be president of the College of New Jersey. It was a time for numerical growth and spiritual growth for the college. In fact, a revival broke out during the second year of Finley’s presidency. It was said of Samuel Finley that he was a very accurate scholar and a very great and good man. His preaching was “calculated to inform the ignorant, alarm the careless and secure, and edify and comfort the faithful.” The students loved him and respected his scholarship.

A favorite expression before he died on July 17, 1766, is just as true now as it was then. Samuel Finley said constantly, “the Lord Jesus will take care of His cause in the world.”

Words to Live By: 
By no means are we to be lazy because the Lord will take care of his cause in the world. We are told in Scripture to take advantage of every opportunity, because we live in evil days. But there is comfort to know that the Lord is in control of His church, and His cause. Let that be our thought as we go through this week.

Five works by Rev. Samuel Finley are available in digital format and can be accessed over at the Log College Press web site—click here.

“. . . We must rid ourselves of the notion that the Deacon is somewhat of a secular personage in the Church, preferably an able man of affairs, not sufficiently spiritual to be an Elder, and yet too useful not to be used in some lower and unspiritual service. A modern Gibeonite to hew wood and draw water! Our Presbyterian Nethinim, neither priest nor Levite, far from the ministry, and not quite an Elder!”


Today’s post comes from the pen of the Rev. Dr. Edward Mack [1868-1951]. He was educated at Davidson College (BA; MA; LLD), the University of Cincinnati (Ph.D.), and Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Mack served churches in St. Louis, MO; Norfolk, VA; and Shreveport, LA before serving as professor of Old Testament languages at Lane Theological Seminary, 1904-1915, and then in a similar post at Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA, 1915-1939. It was during those latter years at Union Seminary that he wrote his booklet on the office of the deacon, a small work which was well received and which went through six editions.

The Presbyterian Church in America based its Book of Church Order on that of the denomination they left. They saw no need to draft an entirely new Book when the principles embedded in the old Book had served the Church well for nearly one hundred years. So it is not surprising that many of the paragraphs in the PCA’s Book echo those of the PCUS Book, even to this day and despite all the many changes enacted since 1973. This is the case with our Chapter 9 on the Office of the Deacon, which almost word for word remains the same as that of the 1922 PCUS revision of their chapter on the deacon. With that background, let’s turn to chapter 5 of Dr. Mack’s booklet:—

The Deacon Himself
“To the office of Deacon, which is spiritual in nature, should be chosen men of spiritual character, honest repute, exemplary lives, brotherly spirit, warm sympathies, and sound judgment.” — PCUS Form of Government, Chap. IV, Section IV, Paragraph 48.

[And for comparison, here is the PCA’s paragraph:

“To the office of deacon, which is spiritual in nature, shall be chosen men of spiritual character, honest repute, exemplary lives, brotherly spirit, warm sympathies, and sound judgment.” —PCA Form of Government, Chapter 9, paragraph 3.]

Having considered the importance and duties of this office, finding that in its enlarged field it is now a renewed, but not a new, office in the Church; that it has been lifted from disparagement and partial disuse into special honor and large opportunity; that while many churches hitherto have magnified the office, henceforth all are to magnify it, and use it to attain glorious ends, this paragraph brings us to the heart of the discussion. The key to the situation is the man himself. The assurance of the success of the office is the peculiar fitness of the man for his high office. That fitness, in general, is the quality which fits all officers in the Church for their several offices, and every individual member to serve Christ in his part and place. That fundamental characteristic is spirituality; men of the Spirit for an office which takes the temporal and external service of the Church, and translates it to spiritual service.

. . . We must rid ourselves of the notion that the Deacon is somewhat of a secular personage in the Church, preferably an able man of affairs, not sufficiently spiritual to be an Elder, and yet too useful not to be used in some lower and unspiritual service. A modern Gibeonite to hew wood and draw water! Our Presbyterian Nethinim, neither priest nor Levite, far from the ministry, and not quite an Elder!

[*Nethinim = servants performing the lowest menial services about an ancient Jewish tabernacle and temple.]

The well-chosen words of this paragraph [in our Book of Church Order] and Paul’s description of the true Deacon in his letter to Timothy dispel such an unworthy view. The Deacon should be consecrated to his Lord for his special service; he must live the life of prayer, even as must the Minister and the Elder. The difference in offices is not difference in presence and power of the Spirit, but in differing gifts for different services, all of which are spiritual and holy. “We who are many are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another, and having gifts differing according to the grace given unto us, whether deaconing, let us give ourselves to our deaconing, or he that ruleth, with diligence.” Of all offices, it is the one most necessarily to be committed to spirit-filled men, for the very reason that it has to do with material things and duties, which must be transformed into means of spiritual service.

To this other qualifications are added, emphasizing uprightness, enthusiasm for the Gospel, and the warmth of a true Christian sympathy. Such qualities are the same in essence as those required in the words of institution in Acts vi : “men of good report, full of the Spirit, and of wisdom.” The Deacon’s life and character are a large part of the fulfillment of his office. A pure life, a great faith, a liberal heart, a flaming zeal are the qualities which rise to the ideal of the True Deacon. [emphasis added]

Words to Live By:
Let me take this opportunity to encourage you to regularly prayer for the deacons in your church. You may not have thought to do something like that, but the deacons have a big job to do in the church, and when they are properly about their work, what they bring to the church will enrich everyone in the congregation [no pun intended].

Time to Move for a New Church
by Rev. David T. Myers

The evidence was already in, in fact, it was well in.  All of the efforts of the conservatives in the Southern Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church U.S.) had failed to stop the tide of liberalism in that once great church.  So after the last General Assembly in 1971, something had to be done.

Gathering together in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 15, 1971, a group of conservative Presbyterians met to discuss the situation.  Realizing that some key elders were not present, they met two weeks later on July 30th at the Airport Hilton in Atlanta, Georgia. This was a meeting which was filled with talk to the heavenly Father as well as to those of like precious faith. They met all together and then in small groups.

By the morning of the next day, some statements were presented to the group.  They were as follows:  “A plan for the continuation of a Presbyterian Church loyal to Scripture and the Reformed faith: 1. To create a climate of opinion favorable to the continuation of conservative presbyteries and churches loyal to Scripture and the Reformed Faith, by promoting as strong an image as possible of such loyalty through actions taken by synods, presbyteries, and congregations. 2. To identify presbyteries and congregations willing to take such a stand.  And 3. To accept the inevitability of division in the PCUS and to move now toward a continuing body of congregations and presbyteries loyal to Scripture and the Westminster Standards.

This intent was breathed in prayer in, in the discussion towards it, and breathed out in prayer at the conclusion of it.  Men who had been through the battle to return the PCUS to the faith of the fathers wept at the very prospect of the future.  And when the vote came in favor of the three points, there were no high fives, or shouts of victory, but rather silence, as one of the men there said, a heavy silence of profound sadness.  They were not merely leaving the southern church.  The southern church had left them and their ordained convictions for a mess of liberal pottage, as Cain had done much earlier in his life.

A timetable was then worked out followed by the organization of a Steering Committee.  The plans were set in motion for a Continuing Church, which in time was named the Presbyterian Church in America.

Words to Live By:
Thank God for men and women with a firm conviction of the historic Christian faith.  Praise God for Christian leaders who refused to compromise the truth of the gospel for a mixture of theological error.  We need men and women like these in every age, for the Christian church to march on and be the appointed means to bring the gospel to every creature.  Be a part of your local church if it is holding faithfully to the faith once delivered unto the saints

The Westminster Shorter Catechism – Question 32.

Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?

A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, and sanctification, and the several benefits which, in this life, do either accompany, or flow from them.


They that are effectually called. –Those who have repented of their sins, and who, instead of being the servants of Satan, have become the sincere followers of Jesus Christ.

Partake of justification. –That is, they share in all that happiness which arises from the pardon of their sins, and their being received again into God’s favor, as though they were righteous.

Adoption. –Taking one, who is a stranger, into the family, and treating him as a son.

Sanctification. –Making our sinful natures pure and holy.

Benefits. –Advantages, privileges, blessings.


In this answer, the benefits connected with effectual calling are said to be of four sorts:

  1. Justification. –Rom. viii. 30. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
  2. Adoption. –Eph. i. 5. Having predestinated us to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, unto himself. ­–2 Cor. vi. 17, 18. Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
  3. Sanctification. –1 Thess. iv. 7. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
  4. The several benefits which accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification. –1 Thess. ii. 12. Walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.


His death, says one who waited by him, was emblematic of his life—calm, peaceful, beautiful.

WilsonJohnLeightonWe are indebted to the pen of another for a sketch of Dr. Wilson’s life and character. He was born in Sumter Co., S. C., March 25th, 1809. He was graduated at Union College, N. Y., in 1829, and taught school one year at Hadnel’s Point, near Charleston, S. C. In 1833, he was graduated at the Theological Seminary, Columbia, S. C., being a member of the first class of that institution, and the same year was ordained by Harmony Presbytery as a missionary to Africa.

During the summer of 1833, he studied Arabic at Andover Seminary, Mass., and in the fall he sailed from Baltimore, Md., on a voyage of exploration to Western Africa, returning the following spring. As the result of his exploration, he decided on Cape Palmas, Western Africa, as the most promising place to begin his missionary work. In May, 1834, he was united in marriage to Miss Jane Elizabeth Bayard, of Savannah, Ga. In 1834, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson sailed for Cape Palmas, where they arrived at the close of the year. They remained at the Cape seven years. During these years, a church of forty members was organized, more than a hundred and eighty youths were educated, the Grebo language was reduced to writing, a grammar and dictionary of the language was published, the Gospels of Matthew and John were translated, and, with six or eight other small volumes, published in the native language.

In 1842, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson removed to the Gaboon River, 1,200 miles south of Cape Palmas, and commenced a new mission among the Mpongwe people. Here again the language was reduced to writing for the first time. A grammar, a vocabulary, portions of the Bible, and a number of small volumes, were published in the native language.

In the spring of 1853, owing to the failure of Mr. Wilson’s health, he and his wife returned to America. In the autumn of 1853, he entered the office of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in New York, and continued to serve as Secretary until the breaking out of the Civil War, when he returned to his home in the South. At the organization of the Southern Presbyterian Church, Dr. Wilson was appointed Secretary of Foreign Missions. This office he continued to hold until 1885, when the General Assembly, in view of his declining health, relieved him of the active duties of the office, and elected him Secretary Emeritus. During seven years of his active service in the office, the Home Mission work was combined with that of Foreign Missions, Dr. Wilson sharing in the care of both.

In 1854, Dr. Wilson published a volume of five hundred pages on “Western Africa, its History, Condition and Prospects.” Dr. Livingstone pronounced this the best volume on that part of Africa ever published.

In 1852, a strong effort was made in the British Parliament to withdraw the British squadron from the coast of Africa, under the impression that the foreign slave trade could not be broken up. Dr. Wilson wrote a pamphlet, showing that the impression was erroneous, and indicating what was wanting to make the effort to suppress the slave trade successful. The pamphlet fell into the hands of Lord Palmerston, and was, by his order, published in the United Service Journal, and afterwards in the “Blue Book” of Parliament. An edition of 10,000 copies was circulated throughout the kingdom. Lord Palmerston informed Dr. Wilson that this pamphlet put an end to all opposition to the continuance of the squadron; and in less than five years, the trade itself was brought to an end.

During his residence in New York, Dr. Wilson acted as editor of the Foreign Department of the Home and Foreign Record. In our own Church, he began The Missionary, of which he continued to be editor till recently. He published more than thirty articles in the Southern Presbyterian Review and in other literary and scientific reviews. While in Africa, Dr. Wilson procured and sent to the Boston Society of Natural History the first specimen of the gorilla known in modern times.

The commanding presence of Dr. Wilson, and his affable and courteous address, will be remembered by many in the Church. His features indicated physical and intellectual strength. His varied information made him the attractive centre of the social circle. He was just in judgment, wise in counsel, practical in methods. His public life covered more than fifty years. These fifty years have recorded wonderful progress in the Foreign Mission work. They constitute a great missionary age in the history of the Church. Amongst the great workers in this branch of Christian service, Dr. Wilson has stood with the first. By the grace of God, he served his generation nobly, received the loving veneration of the people among whom he lived, and will long be remembered among us as a prince and a great man.

[excerpted from The Missionary (Richmond, VA), vol. 19, no. 8 (August 1886): duplex insert between pages 113 and 115.

Works concerning the Rev. John Leighton Wilson:
Bucher, Henry H., Jr., “John Leighton Wilson and the Mpongwe: The ‘Spirit of 1776’ in Mid-Nineteenth Century Africa,” Journal of Presbyterian History, 54.3 (Fall 1976) 291-316.

DuBose, Hampden C., Memoirs of the Rev. John Leighton Wilson, D.D., Missionary to Africa, and Secretary of Foreign Missions (Richmond, VA : Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1893), hb, 336pp.; 20 cm.

Robinson, William Childs,  “John Leighton Wilson – Pioneer Foreign Missionary,” The Presbyterian Journal, 18.36 (6 January 1960): 9, 10-11.

To view some of the published works of Rev. John Leighton Wilson, posted over at the Log College Press web site, click here.


It was in 1751 that the Rev. Samuel Davies, then a resident of Hanover, Virginia, decided to journey to Roanoke for the purpose of preaching. Somewhere along his journey, he became acquainted with a young man by the name of Henry Pattillo. It was a providential meeting.

Henry had been born in Scotland, of Christian parents who arranged for him to apprentice with a local merchant. In time, seeking a better situation, Henry immigrated to America and settled in the Province of Virginia. Working first for a merchant, and later as a teacher, Henry was increasingly under conviction of his sins and sought the Lord.

He began to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Prayer became “his very breath” and mediation on the Scriptures brought great joy. “I used, when along, to speak out in mediation, and do esteem it an excellent medium to fix the heart on the work.” Further, “Thus I went on my way rejoicing and serving God for the space of a year and half; I was generally full of warmth, nor could I take the Bible or any religious book into my hand but I would find something suited to the present state of my soul…”

So this was the young man whom Rev. Davies met on his journey. Impressed with his character and gifts, he invited him to return and study for the ministry under his tutelage. Finally on July12th in 1758, Mr. Pattillo was ordained in Cumberland, and the following September was installed as pastor of the churches of Willis Creek, Byrd, and Buck Island. So began a ministry of some forty years.

And while we could write further of his long career, what I find notable of Rev. Pattillo is the will that he drew up when he realized, in 1800, that death was near:

“I adore the blessed Providence that more especially watched over me and wonderfully governed my steps; that at the commencement of my manhood rescued me from the ways of sin and the paths of the destroyer; that made it good for me to bear the yoke in my youth; that after many discouraging disappointments which I afterwards found were merciful interpositions of divine goodness, my way was opened to an education, and I was carried through it, though poverty and a melancholy constitution darkened my prospects, and threatened to stop me at every turn. The same divine goodness and free mercy that had thus far indulged my ardent wish and daily prayer, that I might be qualified both by heaven’s grace and human learning to preach the everlasting gospel, was graciously pleased to call me thereto, and set me apart by the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. Having, therefore, obtained help of God, I continue to this day, having nothing to complain of my adorable Master, for goodness and mercy have followed me all my life long; but have to accuse myself that in ten thousand instances I have come short of the glory of God, and have been a very unprofitable servant, in not promoting to the utmost my own salvation and that of others. And a great aggravation of this guilt is, that wherever I have preached the gospel God has honored me with such a share of popularity and the favor of mankind, as have opened a door for much more usefulness than I have had a zeal and diligence to improve. Look, gracious God, on a creature all over guilt and imperfection, through the all-perfect righteousness, wonderous sufferings and glorious resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ, on whom I cast myself for time and eternity.

“As to my mortal part, let it return, when He that built it pleaseth, to the dust from whence it was taken, and in the next burying-place to which I may die. I commit it to him who perfumed the grave for his people’s calm repose; who acknowledges his relation to them even in the dust, and I am sure will new create it by his power divine.”

Words to Live By:
Have you ever thought that your will could and should itself be a witness, a testimony to the grace of God in your life? Perhaps it is time to re-draft that essential document. Everything in your life should serve to give glory to the Lord. So too, let everything in your final days give praise to God.

This God is our God, for ever and ever; He will be our guide, even unto death.”—Psalm 48:14, KJV.

Two publications under the name of Henry Patillo have been located online and may be viewed over at the Log College Press web site. Click here to read or download these works:


« Older entries § Newer entries »

%d bloggers like this: