October 2019

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You Have to Admit, She Chose Her Husbands Well.

The Bride of the Reformation
by Rev. David T. Myers

Her name was Wibrandis Rosenblatt.  Born in 1504 in Sackingen, Germany, she would marry four times, three of the four to leading Protestant reformers, with all  of them dying on her, until she herself eventually passed into eternity.  This led one writer to speak of her as “the bride of the Reformation,” which we have borrowed for our title.

We know next to nothing about her young years, her family, or her salvation.  But she must have had some early training which led her to the Savior, judging from her actions later on.  In 1524, she at the age of twenty, first married Ludwig Keller,  It was a short lived relationship as at age twenty-two, she became a widow, with a young daughter.
It was providential that with the rise of the Reformation, clerical marriage was becoming an allowed, even preferred status for pastors.  Among this new rising generation of Reformers was Johannes Oecolampadius.  It was pointed out to him that having a mate of like zeal was a glory to the Lord. So at the right time, the young widow Wilbrandis was pointed out to him, though he was 45 years of age. In God’s providence, the two were married in 1528, with three children quickly added to their union, for just a few years later, he would go home to glory, in 1531, leaving to her, among his other possessions, his books.
But God had had a greater care for Wibrandis; He had not forgotten her. In August 1532, she would again tie the proverbial knot and marry another Reformer, Wolfgang Capito, whose first wife had died. The new family was known for their hospitality to fellow Reformers and others. But a devastating plague came through the area and claimed both her husband and three of her children in 1541. Wibrandis and the remaining children continued, trusting the Lord for His provision. And Capito’s library went with his widow.
The last of the husbands was Martin Bucer, who was a Protestant pastor in Strassburg. From this union in 1542, they added two children to the family. Martin moved to England to teach and the family followed, as did the substantial library. Martin died in 1551, at which point Wibrandis, the rest of the family, and all those books moved back to Strasburg. It was there that she also died of the plague in 1564.
Even today, it is said that many descendants of this family still live in the Strassburg region. Where the books are is anybody’s guess.
Words to Live By:
Who dares to suggest that one must leave the home to be really a servant of God! There is a special reward in heaven for faithful wives and mothers who bear and serve Christ in the home.  Addressing the men of this website, take special care to speak highly of your wives and mothers who serve faithfully the family members under their care. You may lavish great attention on your libraries, but you know full well that your wife is the real treasure the Lord has entrusted to you.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Despise not the day of small beginnings. It was on this day, October 30, in 1973 that a small group of men representing just three churches came together to form the Presbytery of Texas, soon to become part of the National Presbyterian Church on December 4, 1973. The young denomination would be renamed the Presbyterian Church in America a year later, and the Presbytery itself would be split into North Texas and South Texas on January 1, 1985. Houston Metro Presbytery would later be formed from South Texas Presbytery on January 1, 2004. The other three Presbyteries with churches in Texas—Korean Southern, Korean Southwest, and Southwest—are multi-state presbyteries, and these latter three were not formed from the original Presbytery of Texas.

Our post today focuses on the minutes of that first Stated meeting of the Presbytery of Texas:—

FIRST STATED MEETING

THE PRESBYTERY OF TEXAS

October 30, 1973

The first stated meeting of the Presbytery of Texas was held in the First Presbyterian Church of Paris, Texas, October 30, 1973. A quorum was present.  The meeting was opened with prayer by the Moderator, the Rev. Dan McCown [1924–1979]. A Welcome was given by the Pastor of the Host Church, the Rev. Eric McQuitty.  The docket was adopted.

Jimmy Stewart, a candidate for the ministry, delivered a thoughtful ser­mon on the subject “The Measureless Love of God”, using John 3:16 as a text. He was examined by the Committee on Reception of Ministers and was received in the Presbytery as such. November 18, 1973 was set as the time for his or­dination and installation as Minister of Youth for the Fifth Street Presbyterian Church of Tyler.

The Rev. John Knox Bowling of Adamsville, Texas and the Rev. Lardner W. Moore of Sherman, Texas were examined and received into the Presbytery. Both men are honorably retired. The Rev. Bill Buckner of Strawn, Texas was examin­ed. He passed the examination but was not ready to join the Presbytery until he had taken care of two obligations.

The Treasurer, Alex McKenzie, gave his report and stated the Presbytery has received $300.00 and spent $63.50.

The Moderator gave a sunmary of the progress of the Continuing Church and discussed the forthcoming meeting of the General Assembly to be held December 4th in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Oaklawn Presbyterian Church of Houston was received as a member of the Presbytery. Possible new churches and mission work was discussed and it was moved and adopted that a Home Mission chairman be appointed by the Moderator.

A commission to ordain and install James H. Stewart, composed of the following was elected: Presiding Officer, Rev. Dan McCown; Sermon, Rev. Carl Wilson; Charge to the Minister, Rev. Eric McQuitty; Charge to the Congregation Elder A. H. Burton; Prayer, Elder Jack Treloar, Raymond, Miss.

The next stated meeting of the Presbytery was set for January 29th, 1974 at the Oaklawn Presbyterian Church in Houston, the meeting to be called to order at 12:00 Noon.

The meeting was closed with prayer by Rev. Eric McQuitty.                                       ­­­­­­­­­

Dan H. McCown, Moderator

A. H. Burton, Clerk

Where are they now?
The Rev. James H. (Jimmy) Stewart was for many years a missionary in Taiwan and Hong Kong, then associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS, and now works with Evangelism Explosion.

Many of the above mentioned men have now passed on to glory. They include:
Rev. John Knox Bowling [1904-1983]
Rev. Dan McCown [1924–1979]
Rev. Eric McQuitty [1930-2009]
Rev. Lardner Moore [1922-1987]

And the churches?

Fifth Street Presbyterian Church, Tyler, TX was organized in 1954.
Oaklawn Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX was organized in 1917.
First Presbyterian Church, Paris, TX, identified in the above minutes, was unable to retain its property and identity as First Presbyterian, so the congregation joining the PCA officially became Faith Presbyterian Church and is recognized as having been organized in 1973.

But look at what has happened in the years since, and how God has blessed:
When the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) began, just a small handful of churches left the mother church to form the new Texas Presbytery.
There are now 97 PCA churches in the State of Texas. Of these
16 are in Houston Metro Presbytery
17 are in Korean Southern Presbytery
39 are in North Texas Presbytery
23 are in South Texas Presbytery, and
2 are in Rio Grande Presbytery [RGP was formed this past Jan. 1, 2018]

Words to Live By:
Clearly the Lord has blessed as His Word has been faithfully proclaimed. May we never rest in our vigilance to remain try to God’s Word in the faithful proclamation of the Gospel of saving grace in Jesus Christ along, by faith alone, and all the glory of God alone.

A Trinity Hymn Written by a Ten Year Old
by Rev. David T. Myers

We really don’t know when Joseph Griggs was born. One source suggests 1720, but others deny any knowledge of his birthday. We do know that his parents were very poor. We know that he was trained for mechanical pursuits.  We know that he became the assistant pastor of an English Presbyterian Church in 1743. There is no mention however of ministerial training or what Presbytery licensed and ordained him. So there is much which is unknown about him,

Four years after joining the ministerial team in London, the senior minister of that church died. With no explanation, Joseph Griggs resigned his position as assistant minister. The next fact we have about him was his marriage to a wealthy widow, with whom he devoted himself to literary pursuits. He would write some forty-three hymns for the church. His hymns were first published in 1756, and republished in 1765, 1806, and 1861!

The one hymn  which is found in the Trinity Hymnal (no. 511) is entitled “Jesus, and shall it ever be.”  What is interesting about this hymn is that Joseph Griggs wrote it at ten years of age! It was altered by Benjamin Francis in 1787. Its words  come from Luke 9:26 where Jesus states, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him.”  The verses in the hymn from this young lad speak with conviction to many an adult.

Note verse 1, “Jesus, and shall it ever be, a mortal man ashamed of thee?  Ashamed of thee whom angels praise, whose glories shine through endless days!

Or verse 4: “Ashamed of Jesus, that dear Friend on whom my  hopes of heav’n depend! No, when I blush, be this my shame, that I no more revere his name.

And verse 6, “Till then — nor is my boasting vain — till then I boast a Savior slain; and O may  this my glory be, that Christ is not ashamed of me.”

Joseph Gregg died on this day in Presbyterian history, October 29, 1768.

Words to Live By:
Who has not  had the experience of seeing covenant children be an effective testimony to their own parents in our churches? As a retired pastor, I have seen that in a number of my charges. Certainly young Joseph Griggs had a testimony which speaks to adults then and today. Readers, our covenant children are precious  in His sight and are to be ministered to by church officers and lay people. Pray for the covenant children in  your church, for their salvation and spiritual growth.

A Fine Commentator In His Day

JacobusMWTHE DUTY OF DEDICATING OUR SONS TO GOD, FOR THE GOSPEL MINISTRY.
By the Rev. M. W. Jacobus, D. D.

Theme—” That Christian parents be exhorted to give their sons to God with a view of their being trained by the Spirit and by the Church to the work of the Gospel Ministry.”

There are certain cardinal truths affecting most deeply the life of the Christian church, which, by reason of long neglect, have died out from the common recognition, and need at intervals to be re-argued and re-established. Such a truth, we take it, is this duty of Christian parents to dedicate their sons to God, with a view to the Gospel ministry. Like most other great practical truths, it has had its counterfeit in systems of formalism ] and the false practice has prevailed instead of the genuine, until the very abuse has thrown discredit upon the true doctrine. So that even now, at the suggestion of so important a topic, we think it needful to vindicate it against any suspicion of fellowship with that absurd system of designating a particular son of the family to the ministry, just as another is set apart to the army or navy.

It should not be forgotten, however, that the counterfeit points to the true ; and it is our business to inquire what is the truth, in doctrine and practice, which is disguised under this empty formalism.

Under the old economy, the original ordinance required the first horn son to be set apart for the priesthood, or rather this sacerdotal office was one of the birthright privileges. The principles underlying this arrangement, were,

1. That God’s service at the altar was the highest and best;
2. That this sacred office required the first and best of the offspring;
3. That they who had been pre-eminently spared—as their first born had been in the Egyptian scourge—should be solemnly dedicated to God as his of double right ; while thus also they should point to him who is the great

First Born among many brethren. Reasoning from all analogy, these principles are of full force under the Christian dispensation ; and are even expected to prevail more specially, as the shadow merges into the substance. Do Christian parents doubt that God’s service at the altar is still the highest and the best ? Or is this indeed the lurking /a/^ac^^, the worm at the root of our ministerial supplies, that fathers and mothers in the Church seek worldly avocations for their sons, as more lucrative, or more honourable ? Have they, indeed, ceased to regard the sacred office as the birthright privilege of their Samuels, and Johns, and Timothys, which it were profane to part with for a mess of pottage ? And will it be for one moment disputed by Christian parents that this service of God in the sacred office, calls for the first and best of their offspring ? And if this be so, then does it not in effect set up the first claim to each one of those who, as sons, are able to serve Him in the ministry ? Or, for which of their sons shall they make out an exemption on the ground of inferiority ? Does not this principle, so essentially belonging to both economies, of consecrating to God’s altar the best of its kind, cut off the plea that any son is too talented, or too promising, or too useful in a worldly point of view, to be given up to this religious work ?

And further ; as ” the first born” were claimed, as a class, for the ancient ministry because these, as a class, had been savingly distinguished from Egypt’s first born, who were swept off by the destroying angel, does not God’s effectual call to any of our sons, so far set a mark upon them as being claimed for his service in the New Testament priesthood ? Let it not be answered that under the New Testament the priesthood is only the common Christian vocation, inasmuch as every believer under this economy is ordained to be a priest ; for the same argument, if pressed, would abolish the sacred office altogether, and merge the christian ministry into the common christian discipleship. If, then, we see our sons hopefully converted to Grod, does not this so far indicate that He who separated them from their birth, would put them into the ministry ? Is there any provision made under the New Testament, for their redemption with money, from so blessed and privileged a service ? If so, where is the family of Aaron, upon whom, in their stead, the office can fall ? And if there be misconception here, may not the church be failing of her supplies, and the ministry of its reinforcements, just because this family resource is neglected, and there is none appointed in its stead ? Christian parents do rather ignore their own priesthood when they deny the duty of their sons, and God’s claim upon them as the pro-per sons of Levi. Should they not ask importunately for their new birth, as Hannah asked for Samuel, with the pledge, that if God would but convert them, they should be dedicated to his service in the gospel ministry ? ” For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him. Therefore, also, I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord.”—1 Sam. i. 27, 28. But it may be contended that we should rather dedicate our sons to God’s service in general, without any special reference to the work of the ministry ; that we ought rather to leave it to

his providence to indicate their function, lest we seem to dictate to God. But if it be conceded that the sacred office is that in which ordinarily God may be most eminently served ; and if our dedication of sons to such service supposes always his effectual preparation of them for the work, and the inward call of his Spirit as a special personal requisite, and if also it implies a submission to the order of his providence as to the outward call, then surely there can be no danger here of trenching upon the divine prerogative. But, consider 1. that the pressing wants of the field are such as to call for such a system of recruits. If the whole tribe of Levi was needed for the old temple service, and all the sons of Aaron for the priesthood, it is quite as necessary now that all the sons of Christian parents be separated for this work, if they can have the requisite qualification. And whence should the recruits be looked for more appropriately than from this very quarter ? And is not this always the fair presumption in the case, that the ministry will be taken from families of the covenant ? And if Christian parents have any right to presume upon their children being owned as the Lord’s, have they not a corresponding obligation to devote them as the Lord’s, to his most eminent service in the ministry ? Is not the presumption then always on this side, that while this immense want continues^ if our sons are owned by God as his children, through his converting grace, they should be consecrated to his highest service, to be his gospel ministers if he so please f And how can Christian parents respond to the divine command, and with an eye upon the whitened harvest, pray that the Lord would send forth labourers into his harvest, if, at the same time, they are not using their proper influence with God and with their sons, to put those of their own household into the harvest field ? Who shall tell how many loud prayers in our church assemblies, for the reinforcement of the ministry, have been powerless, just because of this lurking self-deception in many a parent’s heart ? Amidst all the crying demands of the foreign and domestic field, the sad deficiency of labourers, and the dismal prospect for any forthcoming supplies, worldly parents have rather sought for their sons the position of merchant princes than of ministers of Christ.

And what wonder, that God often as now, rebukes such worldliness, and shows them that this, their birth-right, has been profanely parted with for a mess of pottage ? May we not presume then, that while such immense destitutions in the harvest field continue—while the Master is so urgently calling for men—while the church is trembling before the gates of hell, just for lack of some such systematic reinforcement of her troops, the sons of the church are demanded for the ministry, and Christian parents ought so to calculate, and to train them with this in view ?

Consider also the positive power in the household of such parental dedication. Can it be doubted that our sons, thus set apart, and instructed, and prayed for, with a view to such a holy service, would be placed at every advantage for their early conversion to God? What a train of pious influences would needs go forth from such a parental aim in the daily education! What fervency in prayer would come from such a prospect and hope of seeing these sons ministering in holy things ! What lofty Christian conversation and example would naturally ensue! And have we not reason to believe that the prayers which look toward such a dedication would be heard, and that thus our sons would be converted much more commonly than at present ?

Would it not oftener occur, as with Hannah, that the vow accompanying the petition would draw down a gracious answer from a covenant God? But we have staggered at this point! We have hesitated to say, “If thou wilt give unto thy servant this son, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life;” and therefore often our sons have grown up unconverted for lack of this very parental dedication.

Observe : We do not contend that all our sons should be put into the ministry, whether converted or not. Nor even that all of them who are hopefully the Lord’s should be, of course and at any rate, absolutely designated to that office. God must call them as he called Aaron. But we urge that, on our part, we should hold them as devoted to the Lord for this work^ as that to which we may fairly hope that God will call them; and that, with this view, we should train them, and pray for them, and lead their minds, and direct their course, looking to his providence and his Spirit to second our efforts and open the way. This would contemplate quite a different course of conduct from that which most commonly obtains in our households, with respect to our sons. It would point to the highest aims for their usefulness and their devotedness, and it would call for an exalted Christian culture, such as a mere passive dedication could never reach. We would not, by any means, maintain any such presumption as would dispense with a particular, personal call, in any case. But we believe that this call more often comes to our converted sons than is commonly admitted. And we believe that among them at least, the misapprehension is much more often against the caP than for it, and keeps out of the ministry more of these who are called, than it brings into the ministry of those who are not called.

But this view of the subject has not been overlooked by the General Assembly of our church. In 1840, we find them using such language as this : “We suggest to Christian parents the important duty of dedicating their children to God, and especially of pleading continually with the Most High, in subordination to his holy will, to sanctify their sons and prepare them for the sacred ministry. Our feelings (they add) have been deeply enlisted in this subject by the statements laid before us from the Board of Education, which show that the number of our candidates for the ministry is decreasing. We call upon all the pious parents in our communion to consider this affecting circumstance. We have hundreds of vacant churches in our connection. Several millions of the population of the Union are believed to be destitute of the stated means of grace; the heathen world spread out before us in one vast scene of crime, and cruelty, and woe, appeals to us with an unyielding and soulpiercing importunity, to send them relief. And yet our candidates for the ministry are fewer now than they have been for some years. Will you not lay this to heart? Will you not bring your sons and consecrate them anew to your covenant God ? Will you not give over seeking for them the transitory honours and riches of this world, and pray the Lord of the harvest, if it seem good in his sight, to anoint them with his Spirit, and send them forth into his harvest which is perishing for lack of labourers V—Minutes 1840, p. 310.

We would only urge, in conclusion, the striking facts which so attest the importance and value of such parental dedication. The celebrated John Newton testifies : ” I have been told, that from my birth my pious mother had, in her mind, devoted me to the ministry ; and that, had she lived until I was of a proper age, I was to have been sent to St. Andrews, in Scotland, to be educated. But the Lord had appointed otherwise. She died before I was seven years of age.” Yet, mark the training of which he testifies :

“When I was four years old, I could repeat the answers to the questions in the Shorter Catechism, with the proofs, and all Dr. Watts’s smaller catechisms, with his children’s hymns.” This was the power of that parental dedication in such daily training, not only for the ministry, but for heaven. How the hand of a covenant God wrought with him through all his after impieties, and with all the persistency of a divine ordination, checked, disciplined, and reclaimed him, till he became an able and faithful minister of the New Testament, according to that pious mother’s prayer, is a notable chaptei in the annals of the church.

Of Rev. John Belfrage, his biographers remark that his Christian mother laboured to prepare him for the sacred office, to form pious sentiments in his mind, and to cherish devout feelings in his heart. She marked, with pleasure, her son’s early inclination for the ministry, which had been awakened by means of her own early religious influences upon him. Accordingly, when, at a suitable age, he was sent to the College of Edinburgh, it pleased God to work in him the graces of a Christian character, and he became a devoted and faithful minister of Christ, after his pious mother had been laid in the dust.

Dr. Claudius Buchanan was, from his childhood, devoted by his parents to the ministry. He was, however, a reckless youth, and pursued a course of wandering through several years, until, at length, the God of Newton brought him to attend on the ministry of that reclaimed wanderer, and he was led to Christ. It was on hearing a sermon from the passage in Isaiah : ” How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings,” that all his early parental dedication to the ministry forced itself upon his heart. He became, at length, a preacher of the gospel in England, and afterwards filled an important post in India, as a herald of the Cross.

It is recorded, also, of the celebrated Philip Henry, that his godly mother devoted him, in his tender years, to the service of God in the work of the ministry, and though she died before he was fourteen years of age, he always spoke of her as being to him, what Timothy’s mother and grandmother were to him—acquainting him with the Scriptures from his childhood. She prayed with him daily ; catechized him, and thus laid the foundation for his future usefulness in the great and holy work to which she had devoted him.

Of the Rev. John Bailey, who was a faithful minister of the gospel in Ireland, and in New England, it is recorded that his godly mother dedicated him to the service of God in the gospel ministry, from his earliest moments. He was accordingly trained in a way befitting such a sacred aim, and from being reared like Timothy, he became, like him, an eminent minister of the New Testament. We add the name of the celebrated President Davies. His mother, says his biographer, took example from the mother of the prophet Samuel, and vowed a vow unto the Lord, that if he would indeed give her a man-child, she would devote him to his service all the days of his life. Hence he was called Samuel. At twelve years of age, it is remarked that he was more ardent in his supplications for being introduced into the gospel ministry, than for any other thing. ‘^ The event proved,” says President Finley, in his sermon on his death, ” that God accepted the consecrated boy—took him under his special care—furnished him for, and employed him in, the service of his church—prospered his labours with remarkable success, and not only blessed him, but made him a blessing.” To the same effect, is the case of Rev. Dr. Mc Millan, as narrated in The History of Jefferson College, by Rev. Joseph Smith, D. D. “In a manuscript of Dr. Mc Millan, found among his papers, there is the following statement which he makes of his history:

“Before my birth my parents had some children, I think two sons, who died while they were young. My father told me that he had promised to Grod that if he would give him another son, he would call his name John, and devote him to his service in the ministry of the gospel. Accordingly, as soon as I had acquired a sufficient degree of English literature, I was sent to the grammar school, &c. While there the Lord poured out his Spirit upon the students. I went to College on a day which had been set apart by a number of the students to be observed as a day of fasting and prayer. While the others were at dinner, I retired into my study, and while trying to pray, I got some discoveries of divine things which I had never had before. I felt it now easy to submit to the gospel plan of salvation, &c. I had great difficulties in my own mind about undertaking the work of the gospel ministry. However, I at last came to this determination, to leave the matter wholly with God : if he opened the way, I would go on—if he shut it, I would be satisfied ; and I think if ever 1 knew what it was to have no will of my own about any matter^ it was about this.’

God has not left himself without witness. His faithfulness to his household covenant, and to his New Testament Church, has been signally manifested in a long line’ of ministers, parentally dedicated to him in this holy work. From Samuel, and those that follow after, a great cloud of witness-bearers have testified of these things. Many ministers now living could testify to the same effect, of such early parental dedication in their case. It has always pleased God to propagate his church by means of the descendants of a pious ancestry.

He has transmitted his gospel ministry by this means. The sanctity of the domestic relation, and the power of parental influence and prayer, have been employed by him for so momentous a result as the recruiting of labourers for the harvest field of the world. And by all the necessities of his church, and of perishing millions in all lands, he calls upon Christian parents to lay their sons at the foot of his altar, and to crave for them, as their high Christian birthright, the distinguished honour of serving him in the ministry of reconciliation. Where are our sons who have attained to years of maturity, or who are fitting for their stations in life? Have we honestly devoted them to the sacred ministry, and then, in good faith, pleaded with God to train them up for so high and holy a calling, if it were his will? Or have we borne no testimony in the household, and used no influence with God toward this result ? Might it not be expected that the Christian ministry would be recruited from our families ? Does not God’s service need them?

Are not the churches calling for men ? Are we not now to labour and pray that the promise may soon be fulfilled, as the glory of the latter days, that our sons and our daughters shall prophesy, and that our young men shall see visions, as well as our old men dream dreams; and that, ‘^ in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning, the church shall have the dew of her young men V Ps. ex. 3. After the reading of this paper before the Synod of Pittsburgh, one of the most experienced among the pastors rose, and, with much emotion, made the following statement, illustrating the influence of parents in the training of their sons for the ministry :

“I once knew a young man of fine talents, whom I tenderly loved. He started in his preparatory course for the ministry. His father was a praying man, and his mother devotedly pious. The mother would have made any sacrifice ; but the father could not bear the idea of spending so much money, as well as losing the time of his son. After a while the young man became disheartened, and gave up his studies, with the hope that he could make money and educate many poor young men to take his place. He did get wealthy and was tolerably liberal, but a sad mistake was made. One of the brightest young men I ever knew, was stopped in his course by the continued opposition of his brother. Once a father said to me, I have educated my son to be useful to me in my profession ; and just when he has begun to be useful, he has abandoned me, and chosen the life of a beggar. That father had long been a professor of religion, and a trustee of the church. Even the mother regretted her son’s course. She had pictured to herself a son, talented, wealthy, &c., and now, she said, he would be nothing but a minister!

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THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST
by Rev. William Smith

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 55 & 56

Q. 55. What is forbidden in the third commandment?

A. The third commandment forbiddeth all profaning or abusing of any thing, whereby God maketh himself known.

EXPLICATION.

Profaning or abusing of any thing, whereby God maketh himself known. –To speak in a light, or in a reproachful manner of the Great and Holy God, or to use his ordinances, word, and works, for any trifling or sinful purposes, or, in any other way, to cast dishonor upon them.

ANALYSIS.

The sins forbidden in the third commandment are of two kinds :

  1. All profaining of any thing, by which God maketh himself known. –Mal. i. 7, 12. Ye offer polluted bread upon mine alter. –Ye have profaned it, in that ye say, the table of the Lord is polluted, and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.
  2. All abusing of any thing by which he makes himself known. –Mal. ii. 2. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of Hosts, I will even send a curse upon you.

Q.56. What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?

A. The reason annexed to the third commandment is, that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment.

EXPLICATION.

The breakers of this commandment. –All those who swear in their ordinary conversation, or when a passion, occasioned by any real or supposed injury, or in any other way, when not lawfully called to give an oath in a solemn manner before a judge.

ANALYSIS.

The information received in this answer is two-fold :

  1. That the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men.

2. That God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment. –Deut. xxviii. 58, 59. If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, the Lord thy God, then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful.

A Christian Patriot Who Suffered During the American Revolution
by Rev. David T. Myers

We are more apt to recognize the New Jersey delegates like the Rev. John Witherspoon, or maybe Richard Stockton, as signers of the Declaration of Independence.  But joining them was one Abraham Clark.

Born February 15, 1726 in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, his family was solid Presbyterians in their denominational affiliation.  Baptized as an infant by the Rev. Jonathan Dickinson, first professor of the College of New Jersey, he grew up in the thrilling but dangerous days of increasing agitation of separation from England.  With his inclination to  study civil law and mathematics, he became known to his neighbors. Popular as “the poor man’s counselor,” he refused to accept any pay for his helpfulness to his neighbors. He further served them as High Sheriff of Essex County.

But it was as a member of the Continental Congress on June 21, 1776, that he became interested in the issues of liberty and justice. Penning his name to the Declaration of Independence, representing New Jersey, he states that he and his fellow signers knew that “nothing short of Almighty God can save us.”

He knew full well the cost of liberty. To a friend serving as an officer in the Jersey contingent of troops, “this seems now to be a trying season, but  that indulgent Father who has hitherto preserved us will I trust appear for our help and prevent our being crushed. If otherwise, his will be done.” There is no doubt with convictions like this that he saw himself and his country safely within the sovereign providence of God.

His two sons were captured by the British and put into the prison hold of a notorious prison ship called “Jersey.”  Fellow prisoners fed one of the sons by squeezing food through a key hole.  Abraham Clark did not wish to make his personal suffering public, so he told no one about his family stress.  When they found out about it from other sources, the American authorities contacted the British and told them that as they were treating prisoner of war Clark, so they were going to retaliate against a British officers in captivity.  Only then did the brutal treatment of Clark’s sons ease up.

Abraham Clark was recognized as the member of Congress who moved that a chaplain be appointed for the Congress of the  United States. And ever since then, a chaplain has been elected for that spiritual position.

But there were religious responsibilities which Abraham Clark also kept. From October 26, 1786 to 1790, Abraham Clark was a trustee for the Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church of which Pastor Caldwell was the minister. Abraham Clark died in his sixty-ninth year on September 15, 1794.

Words to live by:  It was said that Abraham Clark was a Christian, a family man, a patriot, a public servant, and a gentleman. That about covers the sphere of influence which all Christians are to serve both God, the church, and our country. Once, he was offered freedom for his sons from their British captivity if . . . if he turned colors and became a Tory, or become loyal to England.  He responded “no.” He was convinced, as he said to a friend in a letter in 1776, “Our fate is in the hands of an Almighty God to whom I can with pleasure confide my own. He can save  us or destroy us. His counsels are fixed and cannot be disappointed and all his designs will be accomplished.” Amen, and Praise God!

SIX INTERCHURCH GROUPS MEET

The interchurch relations committees of six denominations met together on October 25 -26 [1974] in Pittsburgh, Penna. Represented were the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Christian Reformed Church, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America, Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, and Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America. The joint group also invited the Reformed Church, U.S. (Eureka Classis) to participate in later such meetings.

A sub-committee was established to prepare a plan for cooperation among the respective churches, drawn from proposals suggested in the joint meeting. Such a plan would be presented to the full body for possible recommendation to the denominations themselves.

Among the proposals made was one urging the various churches to cooperate in world-wide relief services; the Christian Reformed Church has the most extensive such service now. Another proposal recommended publication of a directory of all the co-operating churches.

It was also proposed that there be a federation of Presbyterian and Reformed churches that would include coordination of agencies and the holding of consultative assemblies. The ultimate goal of union into one church was urged.

The Presbyterian Guardian, 43:10 (December 1974): 167.

Courage in the Cause of Mission
by Rev. David T. Myers

The young seminary graduate traveled with his bride to a two year foreign mission stint in Alberta, Canada. Settling in the apartment underneath the church sanctuary, the newly ordained minister on Reformation day in 1966 began his first pastorate to the small Canadian mission church. Sometime during the first few months, he discovered in a used book store the two volume set of John G Paton, missionary to the New Hebrides. That stirring mission account became the Lord’s Day reading for the young couple all during their stay and ministry in the capital city of the province.

Yet the author of this post in Presbyterian history did not have to worry about his physical safety, or that of his bride during our time there. Being eaten by cannibals was never on our minds and hearts. But to the Rev. John G. Paton and his wife, this was a constant danger in a society utterly depraved in word and deed. Indeed the lives of some earlier missionaries to those islands did end in that terrible way, while attempting to minister the Word of Grace to these same inhabitants. Yet still these Presbyterian missionaries in the mid-eighteen hundreds went courageously to these islands with a firm belief in the sovereignty of God and a loving desire to see the natives converted to Christ.

Paton believed in the power of the gospel. Yes, there were difficulties. His first wife and child both perished in childbirth. He was subject to threats of life and limb on a day by day basis. More than once, he had to flee for his life to a tree limb or to a ship which came providentially off the coast. But with the provision of a second wife, he was blessed with a quiver full of children. In God’s timing, he was also blessed with a quiver full of spiritual children, as the entire island of Aniwa inhabitants came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And it was on this day October 24, 1869, that he was able to offer the Sacrament of Communion, in the Presbyterian manner, as he was apt at saying in his ministrations on that island.

He would go to be with the Lord on January 28, 1907, with his wife proceeding him by two years. Both are buried in Australia.

Words to Live By:
There is a notable quotation which was given to a Scotsman who, upon hearing of John Paton’s desire to minister in the islands of the South Pacific, said to him, “Cannibals! You will be eaten by cannibals.” Paton replied to the old saint, “You are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.” May you and I, dear Reader, have a similar desire to go and minister for the Savior, come what may, knowing . . . knowing that our lives are sure and firm in the Savior’s plan for our lives.

First Martyr of the Modernist Controversy

perkins03So claimed Rev. Harry Rimmer. In his book Crossed Fingers, Dr. Gary North notes that on the day J. Gresham Machen died, the funeral for Rev. Arthur Perkins was held in Wisconsin. Perkins had died just three days prior to Machen’s passing. A year prior he had been in good health.

The Rev. Leslie A. Dunn, converted under the ministry of Rev. Perkins, paid tribute to him and told the story of his ministry, his conflict, and his death:

One who has for many years taken an uncompromising stand for the truths of the Gospel has gone to his reward. The Rev. Arthur F. Perkins, who was born on this day, October 23rd, in 1887, did not enter the ministry until he was almost thirty years of age. Following conversion, he immediately gave up his former occupation and entered Christian service, witnessing to the saving and keeping power of the Lord Jesus Christ in out-of-the-way places in Central Wisconsin, where many found Jesus Christ as personal Savior through his tireless efforts and challenging messages.

[Following a first pastorate in Milwaukee], Mr. Perkins was called by the largest Presbytery in Wisconsin to become Field Director of that Presbytery, ministering to pastorless churches and working among unordained missionaries in twenty-one counties of central and northern Wisconsin. Hundreds found in Christ their salvation through Mr. Perkins, and many struggling churches under his supervision took on new life and became independent of Presbytery for their financial support.

Because Mr. Perkins always vigorously opposed Modernism and any kind of compromise with error or worldliness, he had much opposition. Because he encouraged young people to attend Wheaton College instead of the Presbyterian College nearby, he was criticized severely by the powers that be.

Because of his faithfulness to his Lord in these stewardship matters, there were those who sought to oust Mr. Perkins from his field directorship, even though it had never thrived as it had under his leadership. When Mr. Perkins opposed the ordination of two men who denied the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, he made his enemies more determined to oust him.

That he was not a seminary trained man was one pretext given for seeking his release from the responsible position he held. Other pretexts failed until he organized the Crescent Lake Bible Fellowship, where young people were enabled to attend a strictly sound summer conference at less than half the cost advertised by the other two conferences in the state. Although there was no Presbyterian conference in his Presbytery, still they insisted he disorganize this independent camp and disown it altogether. He refused to do so and brought much opposition against himself, resulting in his trial for insubordination. Presbytery’s judicial commission suspended him from the ministry for two years. Although he appealed the case to Synod and to General Assembly, he observed his suspension, and for months refrained from preaching and exercising the prerogatives of a minister. It was a long, hard strain, with added financial burdens because of the ecclesiastical trials. Dr. Harry Rimmer was his counsel and labored much for him. His people in the Merrill, Wisconsin congregation stood by him courageously with their sympathy, prayers and financial help.

When the General Assembly ousted him, with others, from the ministry last June (1936), he came back to Philadelphia and was one among thirty-five ministers who organized the Presbyterian Church of America [later renamed Orthodox Presbyterian Church]. He then returned to Wisconsin, and in Merrill a large number of people renounced the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and asked him to minister to them. The work in Merrill progressed; and Mr. Perkins spoke in many surrounding towns on the doctrinal crisis in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. It was then that he had a nervous breakdown that resulted finally in his death on December 29.

The Lord has wonderfully used this man of God who refused to compromise with worldliness or error, or to soften his message to please men, and refused to listen to the counsels of men in order to win their votes in the councils of the Church, when it meant a denial of his Lord. May God’s sustaining grace be with his widow and three children surviving him!

Words to Live By:

The Rev. John J. DeWaard, of Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, brought the sermon at the funeral of Rev. Perkins. His concluding words drove home the abiding heart concern of Perkins’s ministry:

To be saved is so great a thing that no man can earn it whatever he might do, and certainly no sinner could earn it. For the sinner by nature cannot do anything well pleasing unto God. I need only remind you that the word “save” means healing. It is a healing of body and soul alike. To be saved is to be delivered from this world of sin; to be saved is to be translated into our Father’s House with its many mansions. Salvation is the redemption of soul and body from the guilt and power of sin. The saved soul rejoices in the blessed assurance that all sin is forgiven for the Saviour’s sake, and the saved body, “being still united to Christ does rest in the grave until the resurrection.” Comprehensively, but simply, the Bible defines salvation in the terms, “I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” God is not a God of the dead but of the living. Such is the promise of the Bible, and God’s Word cannot be broken. Such is the promise of our Lord who died on the cross that this promise might become a reality to those who trust only in His name.
Mr. Perkins would want me to ask you a serious question: Are you saved? Will you by the strength of the Lord endure to the end, and keep the faith?

Of Archival Interest:

Through the generous donation of Rev. Robert Smallman, former pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church, Merrill, Wisconsin, where Rev. Perkins was the organizing pastor, the PCA Historical Center holds what constitutes the papers of the Rev. Arthur Perkins. The collection is small, consisting of 27 folders, with about half the materials concerning the ecclesiastical trial brought against Perkins by the Winnebago Presbytery.

James William Charles Pennington, who was born in 1807 and who died on this day, October 22, in the year 1870, was perhaps the first African American minister to receive a doctorate of divinity – by the University of Heidelberg, Germany (1849). And he was so honored while still legally a fugitive slave. He also attempted to desegregate streetcars in New York City (1855), one hundred years before Martin Luther King, Jr. attempted the same with public transportation in Montgomery, Alabama (1955-1956). His sermon on Covenants Involving Moral Wrong Are Not Obligatory Upon Man (1842) in which he affirmed that unjust laws have no moral force at all predates King’s same argument (citing Augustine) in the Letter From a Birmingham Jail by over 120 years.

The fact that this escaped slave became a Presbyterian minister is remarkable. But in 1843 he gave a speech in which he shared his experience of racism within the church. It is painful to read, but reading it serves as a reminder that the church is not immune to prejudice. And there are many different types of prejudice – the Apostle James spoke of one kind involving favoritism to the rich to the detriment of the poor, James 2:3. But those who are so judged based on the color of their skin or other factors can be deeply hurt, as Pennington here testifies.

For the last ten years, since I have been a Christian − seven or eight years of which I have been a minister, I have thought much on this subject, and have come to the conclusion that I am an excommunicated man. I have tried to avoid the conclusion, to think it was not so, but, like other people, find I cannot believe without evidence. I have tried to command my mind from this subject, but could not. To say that our condition is not an enviable one − that it is not a pleasant one, does not express the whole truth. I have labored hard to inform myself − I have tried to make myself useful and agreeable as a Christian − have tried to avoid everything wrong. A great question of orthodoxy is concerned here. Though we have felt ourselves abused, we have not dared to indulge unkind feelings toward our brethren. You have helped us to build small school-houses and churches, or rather helped us to shoulder a debt, many times − but I forbear − and yet I may as well speak out my convictions − it is done in the spirit of colonization, to get us out of the way. How often, in coming into a congregation like this, have I been treated with indignity. A man accidentally takes his seat by my side − he discovers that I have a dark face − he rises in contempt and leaves the slip. It is said colored people are fond of sitting together. It is such treatment as this which drives them together. They take the Jim Crow seat to escape ill treatment and abuse. And here let me say, the necessity for separate schools and churches has not grown out of the wishes of the colored people, but from the spirit of caste in the church. We do not desire separate churches. They have not bettered our condition, but only made it WORSE. Many of our churches have not competent religious teachers − they have had to hasten through their course so fast, in order to supply the destitute fields, that they have come into the ministry illy prepared. The treatment of the colored people has put back Africa’s redemption fifty years.

This testimony is nearly 200 years old, but it is to be feared that today’s church also is not color blind or free from all forms of prejudice, Elsewhere (in an 1844 letter appended to his autobiography), Pennington explains what is needed to combat this prejudice – something that is, it should be noted, to be found within the church.

Let me urge upon you the fundamental truths of the Gospel of the Son of God. Let repentance to- wards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ have their perfect work in you, I beseech you. Do not be prejudiced against the gospel because it may be seemingly twisted into a support of slavery. The gospel rightly understood, taught, received, felt and practised, is anti-slavery as it is anti-sin. Just so far and so fast as the true spirit of the gospel obtains in the land, and especially in the lives of the oppressed, will the spirit of slavery sicken and become powerless like the serpent with his head pressed beneath the fresh leaves of the prickly ash of the forest.

The troubles and sorrows of those who have been hurt are real, but Pennington urged his hearers to bring them to the Lord Jesus Christ. In another speech given in England in 1843 he reminded his hearers that the whole human race is laboring under sin, but redemption is found only in Jesus Christ, in whom all are one:

Though I have a country that has never done me justice, yet I must return to it, and I shall not therefore recriminate. It has pleased God to make me black and you white, but let us remember, that whatever be our complexion, we are all by nature labouring under the degradation of sin, and without the grace of God are black at heart. I know of no difference between the depraved heart of a Briton, an American, or an African. There is no difference between its colour, its disposition, and its self-will. There is only one mode of emancipation from the slavery of sin, from the blackness of heart, and that is by the blood of the Son of God. Whatever be our complexion, whatever our kindred and people, we need to be emancipated from sin, and to be cleansed from our pollution by the all-prevailing grace of God. I bless his name, that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free, but all are one.

The sermons, speeches and writings of James W.C. Pennington reflect the heart of a man who was deeply wounded and hurt by prejudice but who found redemption in Jesus Christ and preached the healing and uniting gospel of grace to others. And that is a message that is timeless.

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