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The Day of Small Beginnings

Drawing from three separate quotations, we have in short compass the story of Jenny Geddes and her little wooden stool, which God used to bring about a revolution and return to biblical truth. 

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Two years ago, while walking about in Old St. Giles’ church in Edinburgh, with Dr. W. G. Blaikie, whose fame as author, scholar, and preacher, is known throughout the Presbyterian Church, he said, ― this is the first time I have been here in seventeen years. And yet this is the church in which Knox preached and where Jennie Geddes worshiped. Here she threw the famous stool at the head of the Dean who was reading the liturgy, under orders from King Charles. The outburst of popular indignation, occasioned by this act, was the beginning of the great struggle for religious liberty in Scotland.

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The war in behalf of purity in religion began in Scotland. Archbishop William Laud [1573-1645] prepared a new Prayer-book and sent it to Edinburgh for the use of the churches. On July 23, 1637, the priest of St. Giles Church came forth in white surplice to read the new ritual. Jennie Geddes flung her stool at his head, and a riot drove the minister from the chancel. All Scotland arose in arms against Laud’s innovations, and in 1638 the National Covenant was signed, binding the Scottish people to labor for the purity and liberty of the gospel. In the same year, at Glasgow, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland deposed the bishops and re-established the Presbyterian system.

Two brief wars with Scotland were waged by King Charles, but the lack of money compelled him to summon the representatives of the people. The combatants stood face to face in the arena of debate. The issues of religious and of civil liberty were at length to be decided in a conflict between Charles Stuart and the English Parliament.

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It has been said, and not without a show of propriety, “that the First Reformation in Scotland was commenced by a stone cast from the hand of a boy, and the Second Reformation by a stool from the hand of a woman.” By causes in themselves so insignificant does God often produce the grandest results. Detach them from their connections, and they are nothing. Associate them with the other links in the chain of providential influence to which they belong, and they become mighty for good or for evil. The bite of a spider has caused the death of a monarch, and the monarch’s death a revolution in his empire.

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Words to Live By:
The Lord delights to use the weak things of this world to accomplish His purposes.

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29, NASB)

And in closing, we would direct your attention to a book that many might enjoy reading—Jenny Geddes, or, Presbyterianism and Its Great Conflict With Despostism (1869), by William Pratt Breed [1816-1889].

Every one of God’s dear children who have ever truly accomplished anything in His kingdom, are found to be those who placed a great emphasis on prayer and made a regular habit of it in their lives.

We could talk about the usual biographical information, like the fact that Ashbel Green was born on this day, July 6, in 1762, in Hanover, Morris county, New Jersey. Or we could mention that Green, at the urging of his mentor, Dr. John Witherspoon, accepted a call to serve as pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. Or we could even discuss how, by some accounts, it was Green’s motion at General Assembly that eventually led to the formation of the Princeton Theological Seminary.

But I think it is more telling of the character and worth of a pastor to hear just what sort of man he was. And who better to tell us that information than his close associate, the Rev. Jacob J. Janeway, who first served as his associate pastor and then remained a close friend until the day that Rev. Green died, on May 19, 1848. Dr. Janeway writes:—

“In imitation of his teacher, Dr. Witherspoon, for whom he always entertained a high veneration, he observed the first Monday of every month as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer. At what time he commenced this practice I do not know. The fact first came to my knowledge in 1802, when, during the prevalence of the yellow fever in Philadelphia, we were both staying at Mr. Ralston’s country seat, Mount Peace, from which we went on the Sabbath and preached to that portion of our people, who were willing to assemble in the church. He had, it is probable, commenced the habit years before; and I think he continued it till the close of his life.”

“Three times in the day, he retired to converse with his Heavenly Father, by prayer and supplication, thanksgiving and praise. His love for social prayer was manifested by his inviting his ministerial brethren to meet at his house every Monday morning for the purpose of reading the Scriptures, offering united prayer to God, and singing His praises.”

“His piety prompted him to acts of charity. He was ready, according to his ability, to relieve the needy, and aid in the accomplishment of all benevolent purposes. He settled in his mind what proportion of his income he ought to consecrate to benevolent purposes. One tenth he deemed the proper proportion for himself. On occasions he went beyond this rule. Warmly attached to the Theological Seminary at Princeton, and ardently desiring its enlargement and prosperity, he purchased and gave to the Trustees two acres of ground additional to what they held, for that valuable institution.”

Or for a different take on Dr. Green’s life and ministry, we might turn to an interesting volume, acquired last year by the Historical Center, namely Recollections of Useful Persons and Important Events, within Seventy Years, by the Rev. S.C. Jennings, D.D. [Vancefort, PA: J. Dillon & Son, 1884]. Rev. Jennings was a member of the Presbytery of Pittsburgh (PCUSA), and over the term of his long life apparently had opportunity to meet and get to know just about everybody in early nineteenth-century Presbyterianism. Here are his recollections regarding the Rev. Dr. Ashbel Green, the prominent Philadelphia pastor who was so instrumental in the establishment of the Princeton Theological Seminary:—

“Dr. Ashbel Green was chaplain to Congress during the Revolutionary war, and was once a pastor in Philadelphia. He was for a time President of Princeton College, New Jersey; which position he resigned, and was elected Moderator of the General Assembly in 1824, where I heard him deliver the opening sermon the next year with a good deal of vigor and oratorical power. He became the editor of the Christian Advocate, a sound, conservative monthly magazine, which had great influence in the Church, though the editor was not so severe in his condemnation of error as some when the troubles were brewing which divided the Presbyterian Church. He was paternal and mild. In person he was rather large, with full face and swarthy complexion, wearing his diminished hair (not entirely gray) somewhat long. Though I had often seen him at the Princeton Seminary, I found when in the Assembly with him in 1834, that he was enfeebled. He sat thoughtfully and moved his face as though he was chewing, and yet I believe he eschewed the vile stuff—tobacco.”

Words to LIve By:
A life of prayer. Every one of God’s dear children who have ever truly accomplished anything in His kingdom, are found to be those who placed a great emphasis on prayer and made a regular habit of it in their lives. A life of prayer exhibits, first and foremost, a dependence upon our heavenly Father.  Note the examples of the Psalmist, who rose early to pray (Ps. 5:3) and Jesus, who also rose early to pray (Mk. 1:35). Our time with the Lord in prayer should come first, because truly it is the most important thing we can do each day; because it orders and sets the tone for each day; and because, if delayed, it is all too quickly crowded out by both the regular and unexpected concerns the day may bring.

Ought_the_Confession_to_be_Revised_1890

It is easy enough to criticise the language of the Westminster Divines ; but it is not so easy to write formulas on the same subjects, which will command as general an assent throughout the Church.

 

Criticism Is Easy; Real Work Is Hard. Tread Lightly Here.

For some time I’ve known of a little volume titled OUGHT THE CONFESSION OF FAITH TO BE REVISED?, a slim paperback acquired a few years ago by the PCA Historical Center. [Click on the embedded link to view a digital edition of this work.] The historical context for this book is the effort led by Henry J. Van Dyke and Charles A. Briggs to bring about a revision of the Westminster Standards as adopted by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., while men like Benjamin B. Warfield and W.G.T. Shedd, along with Rev. John DeWitt, opposed the campaign to revise the Westminster Standards.  Their denomination had officially adopted the Standards in 1789, albeit with some changes to suit the American political situation. The matter was debated openly in the Presbyterian newspapers of that day, and the campaign begun by Van Dyke and Briggs eventually won acceptance by a sufficient number of Presbyteries, with the PCUSA General Assembly later voting to adopt a number of changes to the Westminster Standards in the early years of the 20th century, changes that arguably furthered denominational decline.  

But looking back to when the matter was being debated, this little book of papers begins with a powerful opening argument presented by the Rev. John DeWitt and dated on this day, June 7th, in 1889

Rev. Dr. John De Witt, D.D. [10 October 1842 - 19 November 1923I. LETTER OF DR. DE WITT.

The subject of the Revision of the Confession will now come before the Presbyteries in a form which will enable our ministers seriously to consider it. One does not need to express the hope that they will bring to its study an adequate appreciation of the importance of rightly answering the Assembly’s questions, or of the magnitude of the task they will impose on the Church if they shall decide in favor of Revision. This may safely be taken for granted.

There is, however, a suggestion which any minister may properly take on himself to make at the outset. This is, that if a Presbytery shall express a desire that the statements of the Confession on a particular subject be amended, this desire should be given not only a general and negative form, but a positive and constructive form also. Let us know exactly the words which a Presbytery may wish to substitute for the present words of the Confession.

It is easy enough to criticise the language of the Westminster Divines ; but it is not so easy to write formulas on the same subjects, which will command as general an assent throughout the Church. This is a fair suggestion. I do not know whether a committee was appointed by the General Assembly lately in session, to receive the Presbyterial replies ; but it is clear to me that such a committee might quite properly eliminate as valueless, and leave unreported, any reply which does not give a confessional or symbolical form to a Presbytery’s proposed amendment. Let us have samples of the new or revised statements. If any one wants revision on any subject, let him try his hand at a formula correlated to the formulas which he does not want revised. Why not? If the present confessional declarations are made to stand up for critical inspection in the fierce light of the open day, why should the proposed future confessional declarations be suffered to half conceal themselves in a sort of dim moonshine ? It is possible that some of our ministers have, or suppose they have, formulas in their heads better than those in the Confession. Let us see the formulas. Let them be subjected to the criticism that can be offered only after they shall have been printed. Let no one be permitted to suppose that he is doing anything for Revision by simply saying, “The sections on Predestination should be amended,” but compel him to write out a section which he is prepared to defend as better.

Respectfully yours,

John De Witt.
McCormick Theological Seminary, June 7, 1889.

Words to Live By:
Our Confession of Faith does itself clearly imply that it is capable of revision:

  1. “All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are
    not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.”—Westminster Confession of Faith, 31.3.

But as Rev. DeWitt has said above, such work is quite difficult and those who would propose such changes should, to use the vernacular, “put up or shut up.”


The table of contents for the above volume are as follows:

I. Letter of Dr. De Witt (New York Evangelist, June 7, 1889)
II. Response of Dr. Van Dyke (New York Evangelist, June 27, 1889)
III. Dr. De Witt’s Response to Dr. Van Dyke (New York Evangelist, July 11, 1889)
IV. Dr. Van Dyke’s Rejoinder to Dr. DeWitt (New York Evangelist, July 18, 1889)
V. Dr. De Witt on Dr. Van Dyke’s Rejoinder (New York Evangelist, July 25, 1889)
VI. Replication of Dr. Van Dyke to Dr. DeWitt (New York Evangelist, August 1, 1889)
VII. Prof. Warfield’s Paper presented to the New Brunswick Presbytery, June 25, 1889
VIII. Dr. Van Dyke on the Action of the New Brunswick Presbytery (Herald and Presbyter, July 31, 1889)
IX. Prof. Warfield in reply to Dr. Van Dyke (Herald and Presbyter, August 21, 28, September 4, 1889)
X. Dr. Van Dyke’s reply to Prof. Warfield (Herald and Presbyter, September 11, 18, 25, 1889)
XI. Letter of Prof W. G. T. Shedd (New York Evangelist, September 5, 1889)
XII. Dr. Van Dyck on Prof. Shedd’s Letter (New York Evangelist, September 26, 1889)
XIII.—Further Remarks by Prof. Shedd (New York Evangelist, October 10, 1889)
XIV.—Dr. Van Dyke in reply to Prof. Shedd (New York Evangelist, October 17, 1889)
XV.—A Note from Dr. Shedd (New York Evangelist, October 24, 1889)
XVI.—God’s Infinite Love to Men. Dr. Van Dyke. (The Presbyterian, October 5, 1889)
XVII.—God’s Infinite Love to Men and The Westminster Confession. Prof. Warfield. (The Presbyterian, 2 Nov. 1889)
XVIII.—The Confession and God’s Infinite Love to Men. Dr. Van Dyke. (The Presbyterian, November 16, 1889).

 

Return to Duty: Three Tips from John Witherspoon on ‘Hearkening the Rod’
by Joseph Sunde

 

witherspoonIn the spring of 1776, John Witherspoon preached his first sermon on political matters, about a month before he was elected to the Continental Congress. The sermon, “The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men,” is a fascinating exploration of how God can work through human crises, and how even the “wrath of man” can lead us to glorify God in unexpected ways.

Surrounded by the conflict of the Revolution, Witherspoon calls on his countrymen to “return to duty,” neither letting blind rage get the best of them, nor retreating out of fear or for idols of security and “peace.” Yet while all this is directed specifically to the crisis of his time, I’m struck by how far his wisdom actually applies.

In today’s context, our conflicts vary, from economic woes to fights about religious liberty to racial tensions to terrorist threats to brazen abuses of power and authority within the halls of our own government. In each area, we can benefit from Witherspoon’s advice, learning to “hearken the rod” when times get tough, not only in terms of our own salvation, but for the sake and the cause of a free and virtuous society.

Witherspoon sets the stage as follows, highlighting how God through tough times so often remind us of and points us toward the source of every good and perfect thing:

Both nations in general, and private persons, are apt to grow remiss and lax in a time of prosperity and seeming security; but when their earthly comforts are endangered or withdrawn, it lays them under a kind of necessity to seek for something better in their place. Men must have comfort from one quarter or another. When earthly things are in a pleasing and promising condition, too many are apt to find their rest, and be satisfied with them as their only portion. But when the vanity and passing nature of all created comfort is discovered, they are compelled to look for something more durable as well as valuable. What therefore, can be more to the praise of God, than that when a whole people have forgotten their resting place, when they have abused their privileges, and despised their mercies, they should by distress and suffering be made to hearken to the rod, and return to their duty?

He moves from there to a lengthy commentary on human nature, divine providence, and a variety of detailed applications to the American Revolution. But his conclusions are rather universal.

Witherspoon offers three specific recommendations, which I’ve excerpted below under my own simplistic headers. The primary takeaways may seem obvious, and the excerpts overly excessive, but Witherspoon connects the dots between the spiritual, social, economic, and political with remarkable depth and unusual clarity.

1. Turn to God, and orient your life around obedience to His will.

sermon2 (1)Suffer me to recommend to you an attention to the public interest of religion, or in other words, zeal for the glory of God and the good of others. I have already endeavored to exhort sinners to repentance; what I have here in view is to point out to you the concern which every good man ought to take in the national character and manners, and the means which he ought to use for promoting public virtue, and bearing down impiety and vice. This is a matter of the utmost moment, and which ought to be well understood, both in its nature and principles. Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue.

On the other hand, when the manners of a nation are pure, when true religion and internal principles maintain their vigour, the attempts of the most powerful enemies to oppress them are commonly baffled and disappointed. This will be found equally certain, whether we consider the great principles of God’s moral government, or the operation and influence of natural causes. What follows from this? That he is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy to God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.

2. Work hard, and work for the glory of God and the service of neighbor.

I exhort all who are not called to go into the field [of warfare], to apply themselves with the utmost diligence to works of industry. It is in your power by this mean not only to supply the necessities, but to add to the strength of your country. Habits of industry prevailing in a society, not only increase its wealth, as their immediate effect, but they prevent the introduction of many vices, and are intimately connected with sobriety and good morals. Idleness is the mother or nurse of almost every vice; and want, which is its inseparable companion, urges men on to the most abandoned and destructive courses.

Industry, therefore is a moral duty of the greatest moment, absolutely necessary to national prosperity, and the sure way of obtaining the blessing of God. I would also observe, that in this, as in every other part of God’s government, obedience to his will is as much a natural mean, as a meritorious cause, of the advantage we wish to reap from it. Industry brings up a firm and hardy race. He who is inured to the labor of the field, is prepared for the fatigues of a campaign. The active farmer who rises with the dawn and follows his team or plow, must in the end be an overmatch for those effeminate and delicate soldiers, who are nursed in the lap of self-indulgence, and whose greatest exertion is in the important preparation for, and tedious attendance on, a masquerade, or midnight ball.

3. Deny yourself (which demands frugality, humility, and discernment).

In the last place, suffer me to recommend to you frugality in your families, and every other article of expence. This the state of things among us renders absolutely necessary, and it stands in the most immediate connexion both with virtuous industry, and active public spirit. Temperance in meals, moderation and decency in dress, furniture and equipage, have, I think, generally been characteristics of a distinguished patriot. And when the same spirit pervades a people in general, they are fit for every duty, and able to encounter the most formidable enemy…

… In the early times of Christianity, when adult converts were admitted to baptism, they were asked among other questions, Do you renounce the world, its shews, its pomp, and its vanities? I do. The form of this is still preserved in the administration of baptism, where we renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh. This certainly implies not only abstaining from acts of gross intemperance and excess, but a humility of carriage, a restraint and moderation in all your desires. The same thing, as it is suitable to your Christian profession, is also necessary to make you truly independent in yourselves, and to feed the source of liberality and charity to others, or to the public. The riotous and wasteful liver, whose craving appetites make him constantly needy, is and must be subject to many masters, according to the saying of Solomon, “The borrower is servant to the lender.” But the frugal and moderate person, who guides his affairs with discretion, is able to assist in public counsels by a free and unbiassed judgment, to supply the wants of his poor brethren, and sometimes, by his estate and substance to give important aid to a sinking country.

His conclusion:

Upon the whole, I beseech you to make a wise improvement of the present threatening aspect of public affairs, and to remember that your duty to God, to your country, to your families, and to yourselves, is the same. True religion is nothing else but an inward temper and outward conduct suited to your state and circumstances in providence at any time. And as peace with God and conformity to him, adds to the sweetness of created comforts while we possess them, so in times of difficulty and trial, it is in the man of piety and inward principle, that we may expect to find the uncorrupted patriot, the useful citizen, and the invincible soldier. God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable, and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one, may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both.

In whatever public conflicts we face, some will feel powerless, others apathetic, and others prone to blindly join the foam and fervor of the latest conformity mob. Witherspoon shows us that the path forward is actually quite straightforward, requiring hard work, persistence, and self-sacrifice applied with discipline and diligence over time and with a steady attention on obedience to God above all else.

These things matter for our own souls, but also for the spirit and prosperity of our communities and nations — from here and there and back again. As Ellis Sandoz reminds us in his introduction to the sermon, “Ministers of the Gospel have more important business to attend to than secular crises, but, of course, liberty is more than a merely secular matter.”

THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 10.

Q.10. How did God create man?

  1. God created man, male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

EXPLICATION.

Created.—Made or formed.

Male and Female.—Man and Woman.

After his own image.—After God’s likeness or resemblance.

With dominion over the creatures.—Having power, or authority, over the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea.

ANALYSIS.

In this there are four things taught:

  1. That God made man male and female.—Genesis i. 27. God created man—male and female created he them.
  2. That man was made after the image or likeness of God.—Genesis i. 27. God created man in his own image.
  3. That God’s image consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness.—Colossians iii. 10. And have put on the new man, who is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.—Ephesians iv. 24. The new man, who, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.

4. That man, when first created, had dominion over the creatures.—Genesis i. 28. And God blessed them, and said unto them,—Have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Happy Birthday! The following PCA churches were organized [particularized] on this day, in the year indicated. Nearly one-third of all PCA churches pre-date the 1973 formation of the PCA, and for most of those churches, we do not presently know their exact date of organization. Typically it is the newer churches where we have that information. Please let us know if we missed a church’s anniversary date and we’ll add it to our list for future use. In some cases here we are using the date when the church came into the PCA, rather than when it was organized.

Covenant Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, AL [Evangel], organized March 4, 1979.
Covenant Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC [Calvary Presbytery], organized March 4, 1951 and was among the founding churches of the PCA in 1973.
Parish Presbyterian Church, Franklin, TN [Nashville Presbytery], organized March 4, 2007.
River’s Edge Community Church, Oella, MD [Chesapeake Presbytery], organized March 4, 2007.

From the brief church history presented on the web site of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina:

Covenant Presbyterian Church was formally organized by a commission of Congaree Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the United States on Sunday, March 4, 1951, in a service held at Watkins School. The Reverend Harry F. Petersen, Jr., Executive Secretary of Congaree Presbytery, was instrumental in the founding of the church and leading it during the early years before a pastor was called. Pastors of the congregation have included the Rev. Cecil D. Brearley, Jr. (1954 – 1960), the Rev. Harry T. Schutte (1960 – 1977), the Rev. J. Gary Aitken (1977 – 1990), the Rev. LeRoy H. Ferguson (1991 – 2001) and the Rev. Eric R. Dye (2004 – present).

The congregation met in Watkins School until August of 1951. We moved when construction of the first sanctuary was completed on property on Alms House Road in the rapidly growing northeastern area of Columbia. Alms House Road was later renamed Covenant Road after the church. In 1959, a new church sanctuary and children’s building were dedicated on the same property. Additional buildings have been added since then to support our ministry.

On July 1, 1973, Covenant Church voted to pull out of the Presbyterian Church in the United States and join the newly organized, more reformed Presbyterian Church in America.

In addition to its witness to Christ, Covenant has served members of the congregation and community with a Christian school. Beginning with a kindergarten and adding elementary grades in 1982, Covenant Presbyterian Day School was established. The school, now known as Covenant Classical Christian School, has grown to a full K4-12th grade Classical Christian School with a current enrollment of 166. Many of Covenant’s members are now serving as ministers in Presbyterian churches, on the mission field and other Christian ministries.

Covenant has always taken an active part in the work of the higher courts of the church. Its pastors and many of its members have served on Presbytery and General Assembly committees.

This short history offers only a glimpse of the way in which God has blessed and used the ministry of Covenant Church. All over the state and nation are those who for a time were touched by the ministry of Covenant. “To God be the glory … great things He hath done.”

 

Mind Your Tongue!

The following letter will serve to illustrate the state of Mr. Tennent’s mind at this period:—

“GILBERT TENNENT [1] TO JONA. DICKINSON.

“February 12, 1742.

“I have many afflicting thoughts about the debates which have subsisted in our synod for some time.  I would to God the breach were healed, were it the will of the Almighty.  As for my own part, wherein I have mismanaged in doing what I did, I do look upon it to be my duty, and should be willing to acknowledge it in the openest manner.  I cannot justify the excessive heat of temper which has sometime appeared in my conduct.  I have been of late, since I returned from New England, visited with much spiritual desertion and distresses of various kinds, coming in a thick and almost continual suc-cession, which have given me a greater discovery of myself than I think I ever had before.  These things, with the trial[2] of the Moravians, have given me a clear view of the danger of every thing which tends to enthusiasm and division in the visible church.  I think that while the enthusiastical Moravians, and Long-beards or Pietists, are uniting their bodies, (no doubt to increase their strength and render  themselves more consider-able,) it is a shame that the ministers who are in the main of sound principles in religion should be divided and quarrelling.  Alas for it!  my soul is sick for these things.  I wish that some scriptural methods could be fallen upon to put an end to these confusions.  Some time since I felt a disposition to fall on my knees, if I had opportunity, to entreat them to be at peace.

“I remain, with all due honour and respect, your poor worthless brother in the ministry.

“P.S.—I break open this letter myself, to add my thoughts about some extraordinary things in Mr. Davenport’s conduct.  As to his making his judgment about the internal states of persons or their experience, a term of church fellowship, I believe it is unscriptural, and of awful tendency to rend and tear the church.  It is bottomed upon a false base,—viz.:  that a certain and infallible knowledge of the good estate of men is attainable in this life from their experience.  The practice is schismatical, inasmuch as it sets up a term of communion which Christ has not fixed.  The late method of setting up separate meetings upon the supposed unregeneracy of pastors is enthusiastical, proud, and schismatical.  All that fear God ought to oppose it as a most dangerous engine to bring the churches into the most damnable errors and confusions.  The practice is built upon a twofold false hypothesis—infallibility of knowledge, and that unconverted ministers will be used as instruments of no good in the church.  The practice of openly exposing ministers who are supposed to be unconverted, in public discourse, by particular application of times and places, serves only to provoke them instead of doing them any good, and declares our own arrogance.  It is an unprecedented, divi-sial, and pernicious practice.  It is lording it over our brethren to a degree superior to what any prelate has pretended, since the coming of Christ, so far as I know, the pope only excepted; though I really do not remember to have read that the pope went on at this rate.  The sending out of unlearned men to teach others upon the supposition of their piety in ordinary cases seems to bring the ministry into contempt, to cherish enthusiasm, and bring all into confusion.  Whatever fair face
it may have, it is a most perverse practice.  The practice of singing in the streets is a piece of weakness and enthusiastical ostentation.

“I wish you success, dear sir, in your journey; my soul is grieved for such enthusiastical fooleries.  They portend much mischief to the poor church of God if they be not seasonably checked.  May your labours be blessed for that end!  I must also express my abhorrence of all pretence to immediate inspiration or following immediate impulses, as an enthusiastical, perilous ignis-fatuus.

Well might “Philalethes” array Gilbert against Tennent, when this letter issued from the press, at the very time the third edition of the Nottingham Sermon appeared.  How Tennent could so entirely have forgotten his own guiltiness in the main with Davenport, is not to be conjectured.  The letter is like David’s condemnation to death of the rich man who furnished his guest with a feast on the only lamb of his poor neighbor.  Did Dickinson reply with Nathan’s rebuke to him?  Probably he was so rejoiced to be furnished for his journey with this weapon of proof, that he forgot to notice the inconsistency.

[1] Published in Pennsylvania Gazette, and reprinted in Hodge’s History.

[2] Brainerd to Bellamy, March 26, 1743, writes as follows—“The Moravian tenets cause as much debate as ever; and for my part I’m totally lost and non-plussed about ‘em, so that I endeavour as much as possible to suspend my judgment about ‘em, for I cannot tell whether they are eminent Christians, or whether their conduct is all underhanded policy and an intreague of Satan.  The more I talked to Mr. Noble and others, the more I was lost and puzzled; and yet Mr. Nobel must be a Christian.

REV. FRANCIS P. MULLALLY, D. D.

Death in New York of a Distinguished South Carolina Divine and Patriotic Citizen.

The Charleston News and Courier, of last week, contained the following write up of the life and distinguished services of the Rev. Francis P. Mullally, D. D., who died in New York on January 17, 1904. We feel sure the article will be read with interest, as Mr. Mullally was well known to a great many of readers:

Dr. Mullally was a native of the County Tipperary, Ireland, the son of what is called in that country a gentleman farmer. His early boyhood was passed in that romantic, region. Ile had inherited a love for field sports and became a splendid horseman, ever foremost in the chase. He had finished his academic studies, when the “Young Ireland” party raised the standard of revolt, under the leadership of Smith

O’Brien, John Mitchell, Thomas F. Meagher, Devin Reilly, Thomas Davis and other gifted and gallant Irishmen.  It was the famous movement of 1848, which terminated in disaster and defeat.  Dr. Mullally was one of the most ardent and active of the revolutionists; his zeal in the cause and the sterling qualities of the young patriot attracted the admiration of Smith O’Brien, who appointed him his private secretary.

He enjoyed the confidence of the leaders and was complimented for his courage and constancy, which was a breathing inspiration, a glowing heart-fire.

After the capture, conviction and transportation of the leaders he managed to escape and came to America.  After remaining for a brief period in New York he went to Georgia and taught the classics in the C. P. Beman Academy, near Sparta.  He then came to this State and settled in Columbia, where he entered the Presbyterian Seminary, from which he was graduated with high honors.  On entering the ministry ho was appointed co-pastor to the renowned Rev. J. H. Thornwell, D. D., and soon became prominent in religious circles, and was noted for eloquence, impressiveness, fervor and zeal.

In 1859 he was married to Miss Elizabeth K. Adger, daughter of the Rev. J. B. Adger, D. D.  At the breaking out of the war he promptly volunteered his services and entered the field as a member of a company attached to the 2d regiment South

Carolina volunteers, commanded by the knightly Col. J. B. Kershaw, and went to Virginia with that command, doing his duty faithfully. Although a minister of the Gospel he was frequently found on the firing line, not only giving spiritual consolation to the dying, but also encouraging the men fighting in the front of the battle.  On one occasion, at least, he used a rifle effectively, and his coolness and courage elicited the admiration of Lieut. Col. William Wallace, and that fearless officer spoke of him as the embodiment of bravery.  When Orr’s 1st regiment of rifles went to Virginia, under the command of the gallant and chivalrous Col. J. Foster Marshall, Dr. Mullally was appointed regimental chaplain and immediately won the affection of the men by his devotion to duty, his winning amiability of manner and lofty eloquence, which attracted the attention and thrilled hundreds in other regiments of Gregg’s (afterwards McGowan’s) brigade.  Gen. McGowan complimented him highly for the deep interest he took in the welfare of the men.

Dr. Mullally was known to Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson, who spoke of him in complimentary terms.  On that memorable morning, at the Wilderness, when the lion hearted Gen. Micah Jenkins was killed and Gen. Longstreet was seriously wounded, Dr. Mullally was in the midst of the fight, his handsome and expressive face all aglow as he cheered his courageous comrades or knelt by the dying heroes.

After the fateful 9th of April at Appomattox Dr. Mullally returned to South Carolina, and for some time taught school in Pendleton.  He afterwards went to Boliver, Tenn., thence to Covington, Ky., where he remained several years as pastor of one of the churches. The failure of the Southern cause, like the unsuccessful rising in his loved motherland, left him depressed in spirit.  He went to Sparta, Ga., and subsequently to Lexington, Va., where he took a course in law at the Washington and Lee University. The degree of doctor of divinity was conferred on him by the Mecklenburg college.  For some time he was the able and accomplished President of Adger College, Walhalla.  He lived in Dakota for two years; after this he went to New York, where he remained until the lamatable day of his death.  Although absent from

South Carolina, the affection for the cherished home of his adoption remained unchanged.  He continued to believe in the righteousness of the noble cause he so ardently espoused and so faithfully defended.

Dr. Mullally was strikingly handsome, tall and finely proportioned.  He was magnetic in manner, cultured and of a gentle and generous nature. His piety was of the purest order.  He was high-mined and conscientious, firm in his opinions, but temperate and tolerant towards others.  He loved his fellow man, assisted him when in distress, made due allowance for his frailties and aided him, too, in a manner fully commensurate with his means.  His devotion to his native land was a passion and a romance. In the South he had many admiring friends, who loved him when living, to whom he had endeared himself by his warm-heartedness, manly and sterling qualities, and who deeply deplore his death. Among the many tributes paid to Dr. Mullally during the war, there was none more eloquent than that which came from one of his heroic army comrades, the late Judge James S. Cothran, of Abbeville, to whose assistance Dr. Mullally went during the battle in which that gallant officer was seriously wounded.  Judge Cothran frequently said Dr. Mullally was, like Bayard of old, “without fear and without reproach.”  Dr. Mullally was a finished scholar, thoroughly versed in the classics; his oratory was of the Ciceronian order. There are survivors of McGowan’s brigade in Charleston and elsewhere throughout the State who recall his rich and resonant voice, his fertility of thought and felicity of expression.  During the winter of 1864 he delivered a discourse on the righteousness of the Confederate cause which was a masterpiece of lofty and inspired eloquence, learned and logical. Dr. Mullally wrote a series of able and brilliant articles on the book of Romans, and was a frequent contributor to papers and magazines.  He was domestic in his habits and loved the happiness and tranquillity of the home circle. Dr. Mullally leaves eight children : J. B. Adger Mullally, Thornwell, Mandeville, Lane, William, Miss Elizabeth K., Miss Susie D. A. and Miss Mary Clare Mullally.

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The School & Family Catechist.

SmithThis new year brings us to some “new” material on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Each Sunday this year we will be drawing from a work by the Rev. William Smith of Glasgow, published in 1836. The full title of the work is The school and family catechist, or, An explication and analysis of the Assembly’s Shorter catechism; : with appropriate passages of Scripture, attached to each division of the analysis, proving the doctrine or precept, and showing it to be founded on the word of God. From what we’ve been able to find, it was popular enough in its day, but appears now to be something of a rare work, with no more than five copies to be found worldwide, one of which is thankfully at the PCA Historical Center. It has been equally difficult to find out anything about the author, the Rev. William Smith (a common name makes the search more difficult!). He was at least an author of some note in his own era, having published at least four or five other works, and this particular work seems to have met with some success, going through at least three editions in Scotland and one in North America. As he opens this little volume in a Preface, I’m struck by true words which remain timely even today:

An acquaintance with the principles of our holy religion is a matter of high importance, both to our present happiness, and to our future welfare. It is always in a religious community that the best members of society are to be found, whether man be contemplated in the capacity of a magistrate, or of a subject, as filling the higher, or as occupying the more subordinate stations of human life. In those countries where true religion is unknown, or, which amounts to nearly the same thing, where it has little or no hold upon the minds of the people at large, crimes the most shocking, and the most revolting to humanity, are perpetrated without remorse. If then, a religious education be highly advantageous to us, even as members of civil society, and as beings appointed to act a part on the stage of time, how does it rise in importance, when we consider that it is essentially necessary, and indispensable, to our preparation for eternity, and for entering upon that state of being, in which our everlasting happiness or misery shall, as we are assured, greatly depend upon the habits we have formed in the present life. If we be desirous of reaping the proper fruit, let us take care that the soil be well cultivated, and the seed sowed in due time. If we are anxious, that our children should act their part in life in such a manner as to promote their comfort and respectability here, and their eternal happiness hereafter, let us be careful to have their minds stored, as early as possible, with sentiments of religion and of virtue. This is the only sure foundation that we can lay for their future usefulness and comfort in life, and for their welfare in another world. If a religious education is thus important, it must then be evident, that an acquaintance with the principles of religion is indispensably necessary, since without this no real progress can be made in spiritual knowledge. Hence the evident utility of those publications in which these princples are laid down clearly and distinctly, divested of all extraneous matter. [emphasis added]

Smith’s approach is similar to that of Fisher in his Catechism, where additional questions and answers are added to explain and expound those found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Rev. Smith however is careful to note that his approach is to remain succinct and to keep the whole work short, thus the more likely to be used with some profit.

But for today, here is our first entry, in which Rev. Smith briefly deals with the first question of the Shorter Catechism. You will quickly note that his treatments are briefer than those which we ran last year by Rev. Van Horn. But I trust a more succinct handling of each question will in turn allow our readers more time to reflect on what is said here:—

Quest. by  1. WHAT is the chief end of man?
Ans. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

EXPLICATION.

Chief end.—The principle purpose or design for which man was made, and to which he should, above all things, labor to attain.

To glorify God
.—To do honor to his name, by loving him, and trusting in him, believing his word, and keeping his commandments.

To enjoy him for ever
.—To have God’s favor, and the influences of his Spirit in this world, and to share in the happiness of his immediate presence in heaven hereafter.

ANALYSIS.
Here we learn that the principle design of every man’s being sent into the world is twofold:

1. To glorify God.—1 Cor. x. 31. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

2. To enjoy God.—Psalm lxxiii. 25, 26. Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.—God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

They Had No Manual, but a New Presbyterian Church was Born.

Gathering in Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, were teaching and ruling elders ready to begin a new Presbyterian denomination.  Their date of gathering, or organization, was December 4, 1973, as date consciously chosen with an eye to the past. They began this new Reformed church on the same day and month as the organization date for the mother church that they were leaving, the Presbyterian Church, U.S., commonly known in those years as the Southern Presbyterian Church. That denomination had begun on December 4, 1861 as the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America. Later, that name was changed to the Presbyterian Church in the United States, after the War between the States.

In choosing to organize the new denomination on that anniversary date, the new denomination was making a statement, laying claim as the faithful continuing church, the remnant leaving behind the unfaithful or disobedient. In fact, the Continuing Presbyterian Church was the name that they first gathered under in the years and months leading up to their official organization. That they did not desire to continue as yet another regional church was evidenced by the name they chose for the new denomination, the National Presbyterian Church (though a year later, that name was changed to the Presbyterian Church in America).

Reformed men were obviously interested in reforming the church. And so ever since it was clearly discovered that the Presbyterian Church in the United States had apostatized with no hope to bring it back to its historic roots, men and women had been praying and working, and working and praying, for this historic occasion. Ruling Elder W. Jack Williamson was chosen as the first moderator, with Dr. Morton Smith elected as Stated Clerk.  Ministries then in planning and those already exercised in action, came together in rapid fashion: Mission to the World, Mission to the United States, Christian Education and Publications were organized by the delegates.  With godly and wise coordinators to lead them, the work began to raise up a church faithful to the Scriptures, true to the Reformed Faith, and obedient to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.

 Photo from the First General Assembly in 1973, with W. Jack Williamson at the podium, and Rev. Frank Barker seated, at the right.

Words to live by:  There is usually great excitement over a new birth in a family.  And so there was great excitement over the birth of a new denomination. Southern conservative Presbyterians had gone through many of the same struggles that Northern conservative Presbyterians endured just a few decades earlier. In both cases, the Church had been hijacked by the liberals. But godly men and women stood for the faith once delivered  unto the saints, and wouldn’t let historical attachments hold them captive to a decaying visible church. They voted with their feet and came out and were now separate. Praise God for their obedience to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

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