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He Shouldn’t Have Been Elected
by Rev. David T. Myers

Given his political choice of party, which was Federalist, in the early nineteenth century in Delaware, he should have been a Methodist or an Episcopalian.  Those denominations usually won office to the position of governor in the state.  But John Clark was a Federalist Presbyterian, an oddity to be sure.  Obviously Someone higher than those in earthly roles was directing this race and subsequent win to the governor’s chair.

John Clark was born in 1761 on the family farm in New Bristol, north of Smyrna, Delaware.  He had limited schooling in his younger days, but made up for it with an insatiable desire for the knowledge in books.  He was “well read,” as the papers put it at that time.  In 1784, he married Sarah Corbit, a daughter herself of a governor of Delaware.  They had one daughter and possibly others, which history doesn’t name for us.

John Clark obviously had the gifts of leadership.  He was the Colonel of the Third Regiment of Militia for a year in 1807 – 1808.  He served as a sheriff, a state treasurer, a member of the State House, and then as governor of Delaware.  His accomplishments included improvements in educational opportunities.  His argument was that Delaware is a small state and not suitable for increased opportunities in business.  Better plans must to be made to develop the mental capabilities of its citizens.

After serving for his term as governor, he became involved in banking business in Smyrna, Delaware.  He died on August 14, 1821 and is buried in the cemetery of Duck Creek Presbyterian Church in Smyrna.

This contributor looked in vain for any quotable quotes on the significance of personal Christianity in the state or country, and his beliefs on those topics.  The only hope we have for a credible profession of faith is that his membership was in the Presbyterian church and his burial was in a Presbyterian cemetery.  Usually in those days, such inclusion would not have taken place unless there was a credible testimony in Christ as Lord and Savior.

Words to live by:  Both words and spiritual fruits  must be found in Christians to declare that redemption has taken place in a believer’s life.  They may have been found at the time with respect to John Clark, but were simply not recorded in the usual sources we  have available today.  Let it not be said of you though, that no expressions of Christianity are found lacking in your mouth.  Let there be no doubt that you are a professing and confessing Christian to all who observe what you say and do.

LAYMEN, BEWARE !
[excerpted from Biblical Missions, newsletter of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, vol. 1, no. 9 (September 1935) 3-4.]

The persecution of the Independent Board goes on apace. On August 2, 1935, the session of Harriet Hollond Memorial Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, voted to place on trial two of its members, Miss Mary Weldon Stewart and Murray Forst Thompson, Esq., “because of their refusal to resign from the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions.”

On September 9, at 8 o’clock P.M., the session met in the church “for the presentation and reading of the charges and specifications and to deliver a copy to the accused.” This action has evoked great interest. It marks the first time in many years that a woman has been brought to trial in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  Furthermore, the defendants are only unordained communicant members of the church; and the nature of the charges filed against them is intensely interesting since neither Miss Stewart nor Mr. Thompson has taken any ordination vows which (however erroneously) could be made the basis of a charge of an offense.

When the Presbytery of Philadelphia referred their cases to the session of Holland Church, Miss Stewart and Mr. Thompson issued a joint statement in which they said: “We desire to make plain our reasons for not obeying the mandate of the General Assembly.

That mandate was unlawful and unconstitutional because the Assembly sought to bind men’s consciences in virtue of its own authority and because it sought to deal with an organization which is not within the church.

That mandate was un-Presbyterian and un-Christian because it condemned members of the church without a hearing and without a trial.“No real Christian could obey such a command, involving as it does implicit obedience to a human council and involving also the compulsory support of the Modernist propaganda of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

This whole issue involves the truth and liberty of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The question is whether members of a supposedly Christian church are going to recognize as supreme the authority of men or the authority of the Word of God, whether they are going to obey God rather than men.

We refuse to obey men when we believe their commands are contrary to the Bible.  We are thus taking our stand for the infallible Word of God, and in doing so, we plant ourselves squarely upon the Bible and the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.”

This proceeding against lay members of the Independent Board in obedience to the unconstitutional action of the General Assembly should make it perfectly plain that the liberty of the rank and file in the church is threatened just as much as that of ministers and other office-bearers.

THE TRIAL ITSELF
The first session of the Stewart-Thompson trial was characterized by a series of legal errors on the part of the session which was trying the case.  For example, before the court was properly constituted it decided to go into executive (secret) session. For a while it seemed that the entire procedure would end in confusion.  It is rather difficult, you see, to try two lay members of the church whose sole “sin” is their refusal to compromise with Modernism! But at last the charges and specifications were read, and the court adjourned to meet again on September 23.

Words to Live By:
Acts 5:27-29 was their guiding principle, as it remains ours today:
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

 

 

Knox’s Number Two
by Rev. David T. Myers

We begin, readers, with a quick quiz this day.  Name the Reformers who followed men like Luther, Calvin, and Knox in their respective countries of ministry.  In other words, who was number two?  In Germany, it was Martin Luther and ________________,  Geneva’s John Calvin was followed by ________________.  And in our country of interest, Scotland, it was John Knox and _________________.

If you answered Martin Luther and Phillipp Melanchthon for Germany, John Calvin and Theodore Beza for Geneva, and John Knox and Andrew Melville for Scotland, give yourself a treat, for all three of these are the identities for Number Two Reformers.

melvilleAndrewOur focus today is Andrew Melville, who was born this day, August 1, 1545 in Baldovy, Scotland.  He had more than a little hardship in that before  he was five years old, both his father and mother died.  One of his nine brothers, Richard, took charge of Andrew, giving him the best schooling he could bring to bear upon the situation.  By the age of 14, Andrew went to and graduated from St. Andrews University, having the reputation of being “the best philosopher, poet, and Grecian of any young master in the land.”

In 1564, Andrew left Scotland to study in France, and after training in Hebrew and the legal profession, went to Geneva, where he sat under Theodore Beza.  At the urging of his fellow students, he returned to Scotland.  He was influential of introducing European methods of education, where one professor taught only those students who were interested in his expertise, rather than having one professor teaching every topic to a group of students.  The reputation of the Scottish universities grew until students from all over flocked to the schools.

The age-old issue of Presbyterianism versus Anglican government and doctrine was still being debated in the land.  Who was the head of the church?  Was it the king of England, or was it King Jesus?  Melville clearly believed the latter and was prepared to oppose the former all of his days of ministry in the land.

Andrew Melville went on to serve the Lord of the church as an educator, pastor, and churchman as the Apostle of Presbyterianism.  Elected Moderator of the General Assembly five times, he was the key author of the Second Book of Discipline.   Unmarried,  his life and ministry was always for the glory of Jesus and the advancement of His church.

He is the author of that famous “Two Kingdom” speech which he delivered to King James the Sixth.  While this author will treat it by a separate post, a few words will keep us in anticipation now.  Taking the king by the sleeve, he said “Sire, I must tell  you that there are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland: there is King James, the head of the Commonwealth, and there is Christ Jesus, the Head of the Church, who subject King James VI is, and of whose kingdom he is not a head, nor a lord, but a member . . . .”

Sent to the Tower of London as a prisoner for four years for alleged wrongs to the king, he was let out only to be banished to France, where he lived the rest of his life as a professor at the University of Sedan.  He died in 1622.

Words to Live By: Wylie paid Andrew Melville the tribute that Protestantism would  have perished were it  not for the incorruptible, dauntless and  unflinching courage of Andrew Melville.  King Jesus, give us men and women today in our land who will stand up for the gospel, come what may.  Reader, pray much for the church, your particular congregation, the churches of your presbytery, and the national denomination of which you are a part, that they will stand up for the Scriptures, the Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission.

Not Works But Christ’s Merits Alone
by Rev. David T. Myers

From day one of this historical devotional, we have recorded several experiences of David Brainerd, the Presbyterian evangelist to the Indians in the early part of the eighteenth century in America. What made this young man go so courageously to their villages  and witness to the sovereign and saving grace of God in Christ? The only answer, beyond his call to do just that, was his own experience of saving grace and a desire to spread that message of eternal life.

David Brainerd was born on  April 20, 1718 to a religious family. Yet while ministers were among his relatives, he didn’t receive or respect the true way of eternal life. He thought almost all of his young life that salvation was through a life of good works. And he did live such a life.  Prayer, fasting, personal duties to God and man, all were his to show to God.  When he still couldn’t get any real peace with God,  he went to a spirit of real antagonism with this God of the Bible.

As he tells in his diary, he was irritated with the strictness of the divine law against sin. Then the condition of salvation by faith alone bothered him.  Couldn’t there be another way, he thought?  Then, just how does one find saving faith? He didn’t know, nor could he find faith at all.  Last, the sovereignty of God was a troubling idea to him.

All of these questions were answered on this day July 12, 1739 when God’s convicting Spirit fell upon him powerfully  and saved his soul.  Listen to his words in his celebrated diary: “By this time the sun was scarce half an hour high, as I remember, as I was walking in a dark thick grove, ‘unspeakable glory’ seemed to open to the view and apprehension of my soul.  By the glory I saw I don’t mean any external brightness, for I saw no such thing, nor do I intend any imagination of a body of light or splendor somewhere away in the third heaven, or anything of that nature. But it was a new inward apprehension or view that I  had of God; such as I never had before, nor anything that I had the least remembrance of it.  I stood still and wondered and admired.”

Now David Brainerd was qualified to take the unsearchable riches of the gospel to the tribes of hostile Indians.  Commissioned by the Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, he served his blessed Lord and Savior for three years until on October 9, 1747, he went to glory.  But his diary has remained in print and has effectively influenced countless people with missionary zeal to spend and be spent with the call of the Lord to reach the unsaved people of the world with Christ and Him crucified.

Words to Live By: 
It may be that some of you readers have never responded to the gospel call of the Spirit of God.  It may be that some of you are still trying to claim that your religious works will save your soul.  Learn from the experience of David Brainerd of old that all the testimony of Scripture is that eternal life is only by Christ alone, through faith alone, by grace alone.  Repent, and believe the blessed gospel.

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The Forgotten Founding Father – Even to Presbyterians
by Rev. David T Myers

Who hasn’t heard about our country founding fathers, like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Charles Thompson . . . wait a minute, who? Charles Thompson, who was he?

Answer? He was the forgotten founding father of America, even to Presbyterians. And yet he shouldn’t be, for after all, he was a Christian Presbyterian, a ruling elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia.

Born in County Londonderry to John Thompson and his wife, Charles lost his mother in 1739 at age ten, as did all his four brothers and one sister. The father decided to take his family to the American colonies, despite the perilous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. And indeed, in sight of land, the father died after sickness. Before his breadth expired, his last words were “God take them up,” referring to his children. The captain of the ship coldly slid his body overboard, and took possession of all his money. The children were split up, with Charles being sent to a blacksmith in Delaware.

There are several silences at this point, but the one this author read and found convincing was that he left the blacksmith and was picked up by a woman who took him to her house and home. She in time reared him up and placed him in a school held at New London Presbyterian Church, Pennsylvania, pastored by the Rev. Francis Allison.

This church school was designed chiefly to prepare ministers for Presbyterian churches in the colonies. Its courses were Greek, Latin, English literature, Science, and Math. They hoped that many needed Presbyterian Pastors would graduate from the school, but few did. It did produce five future doctors of medicine, four members of the Continental Congress, four Signers of the Declaration of Independence, five members of the House of Representatives, four governors, and oh yes, one Secretary of the Continental Congress, Charles Thompson.

Charles Thompson, upon graduating, stayed on to teach at the New London School, which eventually became in later years the University of Delaware. After his teaching experience, he went into business, but national affairs brought him to his position as the Corresponding Secretary of the Continental Congress, where he was to stay from 1774 – 1789, During those pivotal years, 342 delegates dealt with national business, while their words were faithfully transcribed by one secretary, Charles Thompson.

On July 4th, 1776, the first copy of the Declaration of Independence was signed by John Hancock and recorded by Charles Thompson, Secretary. The rest of the signatures were affixed a week later. In addition, he was the designer of the Great Seal of America. And like all the signers, he was to suffer persecution by the British for being connected with that historic document of our nation. His house was burned.

After his political service in the thrilling days of independence, he retired to his house outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to translate the Septuagint into English, a loving labor which took him years to complete. Another biblical work was an arrangement of the four gospels into one continuing biblical story. Both books are still in print today.

Charles Thompson went to be with his Lord and Savior on August 16, 1824. At least to subscribers and readers of This Day in Presbyterian History, forgotten no more.

Words to Live By:
Charles Thompson deserves to be remembered by all Americans, especially American Presbyterians. Parents, share his life story with your family. Home school parents, make him part of your home training. Christian and public school instructors, include him in the history lessons of your pupils. Pastors and Sunday School teachers, let him be illustrations of the providence of God in serving the Lord in government. Let not the title of this post be the norm any longer!

STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 81. What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?

A. The tenth commandment forbiddeth all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.

Scripture References: I Cor. 10:10. Gal. 5:26. Col. 3:5.

Questions:

1. How do we show lack of contentment with our own estate?

We show lack of contentment. with our own estate by not being pleased with the place and possessions the Lord has given us; by complaining against the Lord because of our state; by thinking we are due far more than the Lord has given us.

2. What is envy?

It is the desire to have the better circumstances of our neighbor or any of his superior privileges. It is the desire to have what God does not want us to have, whether it be in the physical, mental or material realm.

3. Why should we refrain from envy?

We should refrain from envy because it is a sin before God. It is a sin that has a great affect on us and is the foundation of many evil deeds. (James 3:16)

4. What is meant in this commandment by the term “inordinate motions and affections?”

These are the unlawful purposes, intentions and desires that arise in the heart. It is especially concerned here with these unlawful acts as they pertain to our neighbor.

5. Where are these “inordinate motions and affections” found in man?

These arise from the soul, these are the first stirrings of corruption which lead us on to the consent of the will.

6. What should this teach us as believers in Jesus Christ?

This should teach us that it is only by His grace we are saved and only by His grace that we are able to stand against the evil that rises from within us. We should ever be careful to keep ourselves in that relationship with Him that will lead us in the ways of righteousness.

BE DILIGENT IN MORTIFICATION

The believer is forbidden in this commandment to envy, to passionate desires of anything belonging to his neighbor. This is a high standard to keep and one that is difficult to keep. It is especially difficult when living in a world where the exact opposite is the standard of living. The believer must work at being different in this area.

The matter of wrong desires is made very clear by Paul in Colossians 3:5. He begins the verse by saying, “Mortify!” He is telling the believer that he must put to death – or make dead – these wrong desires that arise in regard to his neighbor or in regard to anything else. And here is where the believer falls short, he simply goes the way of slackness, he shows a lack of diligence. Possibly a clearer way of putting it is to say he is lazy, spiritually lazy.

There is no easy way to keep the commandments of God. Simply to say, “I am saved” and counting on that to enable you to work at pleasing Him will not be enough. It is so very strange that we do not see this. We know full well that in the life of the world we dare not be lazy if we want to have success, Whether it be in business, or in an athletic contest, or in being known as a good homemaker we know it takes hard work. Why then should we think that being a success in the eyes of the Lord will come without diligence? The hymn writer had learned the lesson when he wrote:

“Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?”

The commandments are not kept through a lack of diligence. The believer must be certain that he disciplines his life moment by moment or else he will find himself discontent with his own estate and will be turned to the way of envy and wrong desire concerning the things of his neighbor. The way is hard but it is possible as He is given the pre-eminence in our lives. We are so prone to sin in these areas unless we stay very close to the Word of God.

The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.
Vol. 5 No. 10
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

A Most Pestiferous Rebel Priest and Preacher of Sedition
by Rev. David T Myers

What parents would give the first name of “Blackleach” to their son? The answer is that when it was the last name of the mother, namely, Elizabeth Blackleach, and her husband, Peleg Buritt, Jr., then it was considered as right and proper. Blackleach Buritt was born circa 1744, with no birth records of month and day found in Ripton Parish (now Huntington), Connecticut. His Buritt ancestors, of Covenanter and Huguenot faith, had sailed from Wales in 1640 and were among the first settlers of Stratford, Connecticut.

In 1751, Blackleach Buritt was made the heir of his grandfather’s large estate. With it, he furthered his education by enrolling at Yale University, and graduated in 1765. He married his first wife, who bore him twelve children. And one of them was given the name of Blackleach Buritt, Jr! Two children, after the death of his first wife, were born to his second wife, Deborah Wells, in 1788.

Theological education came from his pastor at Yale, the Rev. Jedidiah Mills in 1722, upon which he was licensed to preach by the Congregational Church on February 24, 1768. He must have changed his view of church government however, as a move to New York brought him ordination in the Presbyterian Church. Installed at Pound Ridge Presbyterian Church as pastor, he found himself in the midst of the events leading up to the American Revolution. It was not an easy pastorate as his people did not approve of his casting in his favor for independence. But like most Presbyterians, he became an active participant and partisan on the side of the colonists, earning the title of our post by the British as “a most pestiferous Rebel priest and preacher of sedition.” He even carried his rifle into the pulpit in case there was an immediately demand for his services from the Tories in the cause of American liberty.

It was on this day, June 18, 1779, that he was captured by British troops and imprisoned in the notorious Sugar House Prison, a virtual concentration camp in New York City, where he was to spend the next fourteen months. Allowed to preach to his fellow prisoners of war, he frequently opened up the Word of God to them on the Sabbath. However, due to the harshness of the captivity, Rev. Buritt was sick almost to death during that captivity. It is interesting that William Irving, father of Washington Irving, kindly ministered to him during these times.

After his release and the subsequent victory by the Americans, he returned to various Presbyterian churches, continuing to preach to the people of God. He had been influenced by the evangelical side of the Great Awakening, having heard George Whitefield preach in the colonies. Jonathan Edward’s books further aided his understanding of the Reformed faith. It was said that often, in the many Presbyterian churches in which he was called, one of his members would hand him a text as he walked to the pulpit. He would preach on that text for the sermon that day.

Whether from the effects of his incarceration, or simply from the rigors of church life, he died of a prevailing fever on August 27, 1794.

Words to Live By: It is somewhat easy to be committed to the Lord when all is going right. But let hardship, such as our character today suffered, then it can be very difficult. Let us resolve that in good times or bad, we will be wholly committed to the Lord and live for Christ. Let us take advantage of every opportunity to redeem the time for Christ’s cause, whether in the pulpit or in the pew.

Covenant Presbytery begins in 1973

Covenant Presbytery was one of the original sixteen Presbyteries constituted upon the formation of the Presbyterian Church in America, and it is specifically numbered as the seventh PCA Presbytery.

From the Minutes of the organizational meeting of the Covenant Presbytery (PCA), we read that the meeting was held at the First Presbyterian church of Indianola, Mississippi, at 10 AM on June 18, 1973. The host pastor, the Rev. John W. Stodghill, preached a sermon on John 17:1-26, titled “One in Christ.” Following this, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was observed, conducted by Rev. Stodghill and assisted by ruling elders of the host church.

It was a humble beginning, with only two teaching elders and seven ruling elders numbered as official participants. Another eleven ruling elders were present as observers from other area churches and an audience of some forty-seven church members also attended. The meeting proceeded with the Rev. Stodghill elected as moderator and the Rev. Robert L. Mabson, pastor of the Eastland Presbyterian church, Memphis, TN, was elected as Clerk.

At this first meeting, the new Presbytery was careful to adopt a resolution stating certain foundational principles and in particular resolving:

  1. That we, the undersigned, do covenant together to form an association to be known as Covenant Presbytery; and,
  2. That this association shall have as its purpose to perpetuate the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as it is proclaimed in the Scriptures and declared in the Westminster Standards; and,
  3. That we, the undersigned, met in Indianola, Mississippi, at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, June 18, 1973.

An appended document defined the rights of particular churches, with noted attention to insuring the property rights of local congregations.

Also noted among the audience at that organizational meeting of the Covenant Presbytery were two seminary students, Mr. Tom Barnes, approved as temporary student supply for the Itta Bena and Morgan City churches and Mr. Edwin Elliott, approved as temporary student supply for the First Presbyterian church, Water Valley, MS and the Oak Ridge church, also of Water Valley, MS.

From those humble origins, the Covenant Presbytery has grown to now number fifty-three churches, making it one of the largest Presbyteries in the PCA. The Presbytery represents a total membership of nearly 9,000 communicant and non-communicant members.

Words to Live By: 

Background to Current Missions Work

The Mission to the World collection shows how a modern mission sending agency grew from a movement within the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) to become an independent board, a committee within a new denomination and finally a mature, experienced denominational agency. This is a continuing story, and the collection is a dynamic set of active records and correspondence managed by the PCA Historical Center.

The collection begins late in the 1960s as a small group of pastors and laymen within the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship (PEF) organized to express dissatisfaction with the teaching and social activism of some missionaries and the “equalization policy” of the PCUS denomination. Under equalization an individual or church did not have the freedom to specifically support missionaries with whom they agreed theologically.
Conservatives’ money was being used to fund a quite-liberal world agenda.

A revival movemnt of the 1950s and 1960s in the PCUS, spread by PEF evangelists, created a new concern for world evangelism. In 1971 this movement culminated in formation of the Executive Committee for Overseas Evangelism (ECOE). Initially ECOE tried to be a liason between conservatives and the Board of World Missions, PCUS. Instead, the Board saw ECOE as a dangerous competitor, and it became a rallying point in the controversies leading to the withdrawal of churches into the National Presbyterian Church [the name initially chosen by the PCA]. In 1973 ECOE became Mission to the World, the sponsoring agency for six missionaries who left the Board of World Missions at the formation of the PCA.

It was through the Joining-and-Receiving of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES) that a new component was added. The Committee on Mission to the World was merged with World Presbyterian Missions. WPM was born on June 11, 1957 as the sending agency of the Bible Presbyterian Church. Its origins were in the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, which was itself the central point of contention in the heresy trials and subsequent division of the Presbyterian Church in the USA during the 1930s. In WPM’s 25th anniversary year, 1982, it was absorbed by MTW. This now larger organization immediately had to cope with a conflict of management styles. The RPCES had used an agency approach, while the PCA utilizes a committee structure. There also were differences in philosophy and strategy. MTW had more joint agreements with non-Reformed groups and an urban church-planting approach.

From an historical perspective, the MTW collection is of immense value since it provides a detailed account of the problems and thinking unique to late-20th century missions as a new organization was founded and then incorporated into a new denomination. Particularly noteworthy is the determination of such leaders as Jimmy Lyons, Ben Wilkinson, and William E. Hill. There is an immense body of correspondence from these men which candidly presents their philosophy and goals. Interaction between these men and the Board of World Missions also shows the lack of common ground available in the PCUS for conservatives and moderate/liberals.

The assembled materials also document how the organization grew as a business and the problems and potential which data processing advances brought in the 1970s. There also are significant indiations of the lfie and ministry of the MTW missionary in the field and policies and criteria for fielding missionaries.

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An Opportunity for Vindication
by Rev. David T. Myers

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p style=”text-align: justify;”>The letter is still preserved at the state history building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Written to the Rev. William Marshall on June 6, 1786, it states simply that he, the pastor of the Scots Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had infringed on the rights of several members of the congregation. The letter continued on to state that he had a right to answer their complaints by appearing before these men, and this is the interesting part of the letter, his appearance was “for his own vindication.”

Whether such a meeting ever took place, the records of the church do not say. But we do know that the alleged confrontation between the pastor and several men of the congregation did take place against the backdrop of a schism in that local church. It seems that half of the congregation wished to separate from the mother synod in Scotland and united with the American Presbyterian denomination.  The dissenters who desired the latter must have had the majority as Rev. Marshall and his followers were forced out of the pulpit and pew.  They relocated to another place in Philadelphia and built their church.

The original majority continued on at their place of ministry, seeking fellowship with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in 1822. It was said that they desired this union as there would be “more catholicity of communion and more liberty of worship.” As they were closely aligned with the covenanting side of the Scottish Presbyterian church, this contributor assumed that they wished to have more fellowship as well as not being bound by exclusive psalmody.  From 1866 to 1884, the church was without a pastor and for all intents, closed. In 1883, the remaining congregation was merged with the young South Broad Street Presbyterian church, under the Scots Presbyterian name. Pictured at right is the building constructed in 1886 for the recently merged congregation. Eventually this church merged with the Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church, which today now has the oldest pre-Revolutionary Presbyterian building still in use in Philadelphia.  It is associated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Words to Live By: Christians in general need to think twice about how they approach the teaching elder, or pastor of their church with a critical spirit. Scripture is clear on this. Hebrews 13:17 reads, “Obey your leaders, and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” (NASB)  And 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13 reads, “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.” (NASB) Pastors need prayer more than criticisms by the congregation. When there are serious, real problems, invest much time in prayer and then follow Matthew 18:15.

For further reading : Scots Presbyterian Church, Old and New, 1766-1887, by John C. Thompson. [copies of this history may be found preserved at the PCA Historical Center (St. Louis); the New York Historical Society Library (New York City); the American Antiquarian Society (Boston); and at the Presbyterian Historical Society (Philadelphia).]

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