Articles by Wayne Sparkman

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The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Psalm 110:1.

Before me lies a manuscript history of the memorable Scottish General Assembly of 1638, open at the sermon which Mr. Alexander Henderson, the moderator, preached from this text at the excommunication and deposition of “the pretended Archbishops and Bishops of this Kingdom.” Behind this Assembly lies the story of the tumults at Edinburgh when King Charles I ordered the introduction of a Romanizing Liturgy; and the renewing of the covenants at Greyfriars, February 28th.

The heart of the sermon of Mr. Henderson is that Christ is he only Lord and Head and King of the Church. The ground of this dominion is the will and word of God declared here and many other places, such as, Dan. 2:44; 7:13; Luke 1:33. God hath given Christ the dignity of sitting at His own right hand. Let us for whom He hath suffered so much but acknowledge His Lordship. And then the beams from the sun of righteousness will give light and heat to our souls in answer to His blessed advocacy. The Church is to seek that form of worship and of government that her Lord hath given her and to rely wholly on Christ’s immediate presence with her.

Christ is to reign at the Father’s right hand until every enemy is made His footstool. In the time to come His great glory and triumph shall be manifest. But today He calls us to maintain His Lordship, especially in His Church. As His faithful bride she is called to a holy jealousy in seeking a worship, a government, and a work that are wholly of His ordering. As in the days following this memorable assembly let us see that at the tent of every captain of the army of Covenanters there is “fleeing” a banner with this inscription: “FOR CHRIST’S CROWN AND COVENANT.”

—William Childs Robinson.

In 1854, the city of Charleston, South Carolina was ravaged with an epidemic of yellow fever. Later, at the behest of the State Legislature, the Rev. James H. Thornwell, then president of South Carolina College, brought a sermon at the State capitol on December 9, 1850. The title of his discourse, “Judgments: A Call to Repentance.” On this momentous occasion, the assembled audience saw themselves as “a sovereign people prostrating themselves before a sovereign God.”—”South Carolina, by her trusted agents and chosen representatives, in her organic capacity, as a distinct political community; in the power of her honored Chief Magistrate, in the two Houses of the Legislature, and the venerable Judges of the land, presenting herself, in humility and mourning, before the footstool of Him who standeth in the congregation of the mighty, and judgeth among the gods.”

As one reviewer noted, “The leading thoughts of the Sermon are as follows: The visitations of Providence expressive of the Divine displeasure are called “judgments,” because they are universally regarded as the penal inflictions of a Judge or Ruler. This implies the conviction of our nature that there is a personal God; and if God be a Person, then all his dispensations have some purpose or design, and this design is to be ascertained by an observation of the tendency of the dispensations. The tendency of public, wide-spread afflictions is to create a sense of guilt in the bosoms of men,—to make them tremble at the anger, and dread the justice of their Judge; and so, to restrain transgression, and preserve the innocent in their integrity. There is an inseparable connexion between suffering and sin; and so strong is the conviction of the human mind upon this point, that there is always danger of misinterpreting Providence, by making the degree of suffering the exponent of the measure of guilt. All, however, that we have a right to conclude from even extraordinary suffering, is the existence of sin, and the consequent necessity of repentance. And this repentance is the duty of the spectators, as well as of the sufferers. “Except ye”—the spectators of the woes—”repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

Then, following Thornwell’s delivery of this discourse, representatives from the two houses of the legislature wrote to Thornwell on December 12, 1850, requesting a copy of his discourse for publication. Click here to read the full discourse.

The words that follow form the heart of Thornwell’s discourse. They are insightful, almost prophetic words, and here I think Thornwell puts his finger on the crux of our nation’s sin, then and now. What he seems not to see, however, is that this same sin is at the root of the system of slavery and racism that so troubled the nation then and which besets us to this day. Finally, the logical conclusion of this sin is the deification of the individual, and we see that hydra-headed monster coming into all its “glory” in our time. Racism is but one expression of the sin of self-deification. Me first. My ‘rights’ over all else. What I want, rather than bowing the knee to the will of the sovereign Lord of the universe.

Judgments : A Call to Repentance

“The sins which have been mentioned, and which confessedly prevail to a melancholy extent through the length and breadth of the land, though they call for humiliation and repentance here, are, perhaps, not so appropriate to this occasion, as those which spring from the tendencies and workings of our forms and principles of government. Bear with me in briefly stating what seems to me to be a species of idolatry which cannot fail to bring down upon us, sooner or later, the righteous judgments of God. I allude to what may be called the deification of the people. They are frequently represented as the source of all political power and rights; the very fountain head of sovereignty. It is their will which makes law; it is their will which unmakes it. A supremacy is ascribed to that will which he who reads the Bible and recognizes a God that has dominion over the children of men, must feel to be shocking. They are really treated as a species of Deity upon the earth. Now this whole representation is not only inconsistent with religion, it is equally inconsistent with the philosophy upon which our popular institutions are founded. The government of this country does not proceed upon the maxim that the will of the people is the will of God, and its arrangements have not been made with a reference to the end, that their will may be simply ascertained. This legislature is not a congregation of deputies, or ministerial agents, and you have, and know that you have, higher functions to perform than merely to inquire what do the people think. I do not underrate their opinions; they must always enter as an element in sober and wise deliberation; but what I maintain is, that the true and legitimate end of government is not to accomplish their will, but to do and enforce what reason, conscience, and truth pronounce to be right. To the eternal law of right reason, which is the law of God, all are equally subject, and forms of government are only devices and expedients to reach the dictates of that law and apply it to the countless exigencies of social and individual life. The State is a Divine ordinance, a social institute, founded on the principle of justice, and it has great moral purposes to subserve, in relation to which the constitution of its government may be pronounced good or bad. The will of the people should be done only when the people will what is right, and then primarily not because they will it, but because it is right. Great deference should be paid to their opinions, because general consent is a presumption of reason and truth.

The peculiarity of a representative system is that it governs through deliberative assemblies. Their excellence is in the circumstance that they are deliberative, which affords a reasonable security that truth and justice may prevail. So far from being mere exponents of public sentiment, their highest merit is that they are a check upon popular power— a barrier reared against the tide of passion, to beat back its waves, until reason can be fairly heard. There is no misapprehension more dangerous than that which confounds representative government with the essential principle of a pure democracy. It is not a contrivance to adapt the exercise of supreme power on the part of the people to extensive territory or abundant population, to meet the physical impediments which in large States, must obviously exist to the collection of their citizens in one vast assembly. It is not because the people cannot meet, but because they ought not to meet, that the representative council in modern times is preferred to the ancient convocations in the forum or market place. It is to be prized, because it affords facilities and removes hinderances in the discovery of truth; but the supreme power is truth, and not man; God, not the creature.

Now whatever representations diminish the authority of the Divine law as the supreme rule, and make the State the creature and organ of popular will, as if an absolute sovereignty were vested in that, are equally repugnant to religion and the true conception of our government. An absolute democracy is the worst of all governments, because it is judicially cursed as treason against God, and is given over to the blindness of impulse and passion. I am afraid that in this matter we have trodden upon the verge of error—we have forgotten that the State is ordained of God, and that our relations to each other are those of mutual consultation and advice, while all are absolutely subject to Him.

In proportion as we lose the true conception of the State, we fall short of realizing in ourselves that perfection of developement and happiness which it was instituted to achieve. Hence, it is not unusual that as extremes meet, those who in theory clothe the people with the prerogatives of God, practically degrade them below the level of intellectual existence. When we cease to regard the State as a great instrument of moral education, it is not surprising that the education itself should be disregarded, and these Gods be left to demonstrate that after all, they are but men.

Let it be once conceded that government is but an organ of the popular will, the business of the statesman is very simple—it is only to find out what the people wish; and as all courts are attractive by the patronage they bestow, we may expect to see a system in operation, whose only tendency is to secure personal popularity. The ambition of Legislators and Senators will be directed to the gaining of popular favour, and whatever arts promise to be most successful, will be held to be legitimate, as they are the customs and usages of the Court, whose seal of approbation is desired. The consequences must be disastrous to all the parties concerned. There will and must be corruption and bribery. There will and must be unbecoming condescensions. The aspirants for distinction, however they may abhor these practices, and reproach themselves in stooping to them, feel compelled to resort to them as the conditions of success, and it will always happen that where the people are deified in theory, they will be degraded and corrupted in practice. Men will be promoted, not according to their wisdom and worth; not according to their ability to answer the ends of the State in eliciting the voice of reason and of truth, and securing the reign of universal justice—they will be promoted according to their pliancy in pandering to popular tastes. The demagogue will supplant the statesman—the representative be replaced with a tool.”

Click here to read the full discourse.

Henry Barrington Pratt, Presbyterian missionary and teacher, son of Rev. Nathaniel A. and Catherine Barrington (King) Pratt, was born near Darien, Georgia, on May 26, 1832. He attended Oglethorpe University, graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1855, and was ordained by the Cherokee Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the United States on September 27, 1855. On November 7, 1860, he married Joanna Frances Gildersleeve, with whom he had three children. He served for ten years as a missionary in Bogotá, Colombia, and had other brief assignments in Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. He translated religious materials into Spanish for the American Tract Society and the American Bible Society, including the Versión Moderna, published in 1893, a Bible still widely used by Hispanic Protestants.

In 1896 Pratt settled in Laredo, Texas, as an “evangelist to Mexicans” for the Presbyterian Executive Committee of Home Missions. With other missionaries, he conducted numerous revivals throughout South Texas that produced several hundred converts to the Presbyterian Church. Pratt’s major contribution to Presbyterianism in Texas, however, derived from his Bible Training School for Christian Workers, which he conducted in Laredo between 1896 and 1899. The school, designed to train converts to become effective evangelists, combined intensive Bible study and preaching lessons with such practical and physical chores as housecleaning and gardening. Pratt based his educational theory on economic as well as theological and pedagogical grounds. He thought that to give “native workers” a general education in addition to simple biblical training was self-defeating. Because they were to work primarily with impoverished and uneducated people, Pratt believed that Bible Training School graduates should not have a broad general education lest they become disaffected with their congregations or be lured into secular vocations by the temptation of high salaries and good working conditions. Pratt considered the students sufficiently trained after a two-year course to serve small Spanish-speaking congregations in Texas. Although his program produced a number of successful evangelists, such as Reynaldo Ávila, Abraham Fernández, and Elías Treviño, it also established the pattern for the typical Presbyterian Hispanic pastor of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries-underpaid, poorly trained, and dependent on denominational financial support. A smallpox epidemic forced the Bible Training School to close in 1899, and Pratt left Laredo to become pastor of a Hispanic congregation in Brooklyn, New York. He resigned that position in 1902 and retired to Hackensack, New Jersey, where he continued to write biblical commentaries and to translate theological works until his death, on December 11, 1912.

pratt_MrsHB_ladies_album_and_family_manual_1852Pictured at right: The February 1852 issue of The Ladies’ Album and Family Manual. Henry Barrington Pratt was but one member of an accomplished and distinguished family. His father, the Rev. Nathanael Alpheus Pratt, came from good circumstances, and had as well married into some measure of wealth. His father-in-law was the founder of the town of Roswell, Georgia and brought Rev. N.A. Pratt there to pastor the Roswell Presbyterian Church; he served there from 1840 until his death in 1879. It was apparently when Henry was approaching adulthood that his mother, Catherine Barrington Pratt, began to serve as the lead editor of The Ladies’ Album and Family Manual. Following is an article excerpted from the February 1852 issue of this magazine:—


The importance of family government is seen in its relations to domestic happiness, to common schools, to civil government, and to the Divine government.

It is essential to the peace and happiness of a home, that children be kept under proper restraint. One child, ungoverned, often disturbs the tranquility of an entire household. We are told that among the Hindoos, in the houses of some of the rich, having several apartments, one room is called the room of anger, or of the angry ; and when any members of the family are angry, they shut themselves up in this room. Perhaps it would be well for us to imitate the Hindoos in this respect; at all events, one angry or unruly member of the family ought not to be allowed to destroy the peace and comfort of all. We are wont to sing —

“ Home, sweet home,
There’s no place like home.”

And this sentiment is fully true of every home worthy of the name. But the sweet may be made bitter, yea, so bitter, by the want of parental government, that, in a melancholy sense, there shall be no place like home. What can be more offensive than a household in disorder ?• Each member, instead of laboring to promote the comfort of all, seeking, at the expense of others, his own gratification, and none happy !

The family relation is sometimes spoken of as a relic which has survived the ruin of the Fall. To prove this representation true, there must be, now, in the family, that same observance of law, and that same love which prevailed in Eden. If the husband would find his wife happy when he goes home,— if the wife would have her husband love his home,— if they would have their children grow up as olive plants around their table, to beautify their home and render it blessed,— they will sustain family government in the fear of the Lord.

Government in the family is essential to proper discipline in the school. Great attention has been bestowed of late to the education of the young. While, through the influence of a board of education, normal schools, &c., there has been, in some respect, decided improvement in our common schools ; in one respect there is reason to fear that these schools have degenerated. They are not so well governed as formerly. This may be attributed, in part, to the to influence of a few prominent individuals, who have radically wrong to views of human nature and of moral government; but. to a great extent, it arises from the fact that children are not governed at home.

If a teacher is a good disciplinarian, much of his time, which ought to be spent in teaching, is consumed in direct efforts to sustain his authority; much of which effort would not be necessary, did the parents teach their children to obey at home ; and were their influence, at all times, in favor of good government in school. Thus, the community lose much of the advantage which they would gain, could the teacher devote himself, unreservedly, to teaching. If the teacher is not a good disciplinarian, the children, not being in the habit of obeying at home, will be sure not to obey at school; hence, but little advantage is gained to any one from the school. Parents ought to feel that a large part of the responsibility of this rests with themselves, and, for the sake of the rising generation, see that their children are taught at home to obey in school.

Family government derives importance from its relation to the State. When we inquire why it is so easy in this country to raise a mob, and why there is in our community so much violation of law, a satisfactory answer may be found by entering the family circle. The first lessons of disobedience and disloyalty are learned there. If a child does not learn to yield to the authority of his parents, when he becomes a man he will not be ready to regard the power of the civil authorities.

The cause of popular liberty is injured and retarded in the Old World by the want of loyalty in the New. Our faults are greatly exaggerated, but would we take away the occasion of the misrepresentations of royalists, and would we prove ourselves the true friends of good government, we must begin at home, and each one rule his own house well.

The importance of family government appears transcendently in its relation to the government of God. Children are committed to parents, not only to be trained for the home and the school, not only to be made good citizens, but also, and above all, to be made the loyal subjects of the King of kings. Yes, the child is to be trained for God and for heaven. But if he never learns to submit to the authority of his parents, what reason is there to hope that he will bow submissively to the authority of God 1 If, when he perceives the relation of the parent to himself, he does not regard that relation, when recognizing the Divine existence, he perceives the relation which God sustains to himself, why will he any more regard this higher relation 1 If, when his parents know more than he does, and are disposed to make a right use of their knowledge in training him, he will not heed their guiding hand,’ what will he care for the statutes of Him who is infinite in wisdom and love ? If his parents are able and disposed to govern him better than he can govern himself, and yet he is allowed to trample on their authority, the perfection of God’s government will not prevent his rebellion against it. Here is a relation of paramount importance, for it is endless. The rebellion of the child against God will, if persisted in during this life, fix his eternal destiny. This view should take the deepest hold upon the Christian parent. That children may be trained for heaven is the great end for which they are committed to the parent. Herein is involved a vast responsibility. It is not enough to minister to the physical wants of the child; indeed, this is but a small part. We are to consider his wants as an immortal being, and make the family government subservient to the Divine. It is a solemn fact, that it will be subservient to, or subversive of, the Divine government. The influence of the parent upon the child will be to make him submissive to God, or to strengthen him in his rebellion. And parents must render an account to God for this influence by which they indirectly sustain, or subvert his authority. Parents should feel that the relation of their children to themselves will have an important influence upon their relation to God.

The training of an immortal mind is a momentous work ! “When Bacon, the sculptor, was retouching the statue of Chatham, in Westminster Abbey, a divine, who was a stranger, tapped him on the shoulder, and said, “ Take care what you are doing. You work for eternity.” To parents it may well be said, In family government, take care what you do. In the highest sense, you work for eternity. When the sculptured stone shall have crumbled into dust, the souls of your children will show the work of your hands.

[excerpted from The Ladies’ Album and Family Manual, 18.2 (February 1852): 58-60.]

Covenanters in the Crown of London
By Rev. David T. Myers

The story of the Covenanters defeated at Bothwell Bridge and sent aboard the Crown of London as slaves is a sobering story. There are pictures on the web of the monument on the coast of Orkney near the sea as well as the Covenanter Fountain in Kirkland.

Following the disastrous Battle at Bothwell Bridge on June 22, 1679, in which Covenanters were defeated in the battle, close to 1200 Covenanter prisoners were taken to Edinburgh and imprisoned in a make shift, open air prison next to Greyfriars Kirk (church). Some were tortured and killed immediately. Others died of natural conditions due to the harsh conditions of the site. Others were pardoned and set free under the August 14th Act of Indemnity that same year. But our attention today focuses in on the approximately 257 alleged ringleaders, including Covenanter ministers, who were sentenced to be shipped to the West Indies or Virginia as white slaves. Setting sail from Leith, Scotland, on the prison ship, Crown of London, on November 27, 1679, they sailed only a short while before bad weather forced them into a port.

Despite warnings from the locals to not attempt to sail, they had hardly cleared the land mass when the ship lost its anchor on December 10, 1679, striking rocks off of Dearness.The captain, Thomas Teddico, described as a profane, cruel wretch, ordered the crew to escape by chopping down the mast and riding it to the shore. The prisoners in the hold, who had their hatches chained to prevent them from escaping, were left to their own straits. All of them perished, with the exception of around 50 who were enabled to escape by means of a ax which one prisoner had with him. During  the next several days, bodies of the dead prisoners washed up at the beaches, and subsequently were buried in the area.

Of those who managed to escape, six prisoners were caught and shipped to the Barbados as slaves. Eight other Covenanters were shipped to the English plantations in Virginia. Some escaped to Ulster. At least two families in the port area claimed to be descended from a few Covenanters who stayed where they landed.

orkneyOn August 22, 1888, a majestic granite monument [pictured at right] was erected about 300 yards from the spot where the Crown of London went down. It has the following memorial etched on its side: “Erected by public subscription to the memory of 200 Covenanters who were taken prisoner at Bothwell Bridge and sentenced to transportation for life, but who perished by shipwreck near this spot, 10th December 1679.” Another memorial is found in nearby Kirkwall and is known as the Covenanter Water Fountain, built just two years later in 1890 due to excess funds left over from the original monument.

Words to Live By:
Our spiritual forefathers suffered much for the Savior in their battles to win the Reformation. They deserve to be remembered by all Presbyterians everywhere for their sacrifices for the kingdom of Christ. In  so remembering, you the reader may be informed that black African slaves were not the only ones shipped to these shores. White slaves — Covenanter slaves — also were sent to our shores. Don’t forget their sacrifices. Remember their sacrifices as we approach the coming year.

by Rev. William Smith (1834)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 67 & 68.

Which is the sixth commandment?

A. The sixth commandment is, “Thou shalt not kill,” Exod. xx. 13.

Q. 68. What is required in the sixth commandment?

A. The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, and the life of others.


All lawful endeavors. –Every just means in our power ; such as, compassion, kindness, necessary food, clothing, physic, rest, and, in short, whatever we can do, that is not contrary to the law of God.


The duties required in the sixth commandment are three-fold:

  1. We are commanded to preserve our own lives. –Eph. v. 20. No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it.
  2. To preserve the lives of others. –Job. xxix. 13. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me.
  3. That we are to use only lawful means for the saving of life. –Numb. xxiv. 31. Moreover, ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.

Dr. J. Barton Payne joined the faculty of Covenant Theological Seminary in 1972, having taught previously at Bob Jones University, the Wheaton Graduate School of Theology, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He was an active member of the Evangelical Theological Society, and an ardent student of Reformed Presbyterian history. A member of Illiana Presbytery (RPCES) at the time of his death in 1979, he died in Japan while on sabbatical, in a climbing accident on Mount Fuji.

The following sermon is drawn from among Dr. Payne’s papers, preserved at the PCA Historical Center.


A Chapel Message at Wheaton College, December 7, 1964.

By Dr. J. Barton Payne

Standing in first place in Wheaton’s statement of faith is the affirmation, “We believe in the Scriptures. . . as verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writings.” The importance of this commitment is clear: it places Wheaton squarely in the position of historic evangelicalism, or, to put it negatively, in opposition to the majority of organized Protestantism. Further, it gives to Wheaton a voice of authority in today’s relativistic world, an assured knowledge of specific truths that constitute distinctive criteria in the various academic disciplines, for example, in anthropology, of man’s special creation; in literature, of the prohibition of blasphemy; or in ethics, of absolute moral purity. The question, then, to be considered is the desirability of such a distinctive position. Why should we hold to the Bible, when the belief means accepting a minority status in Christendom and the stigma of “fundamentalist mentality” in the world as a whole. Put bluntly, Why do we do this? Is it worth it?

Essentially, I feel there are two different ways of approaching Scripture, or for that matter of approaching life in general: either trust in oneself, the internal approach, or trust in someone else, the external. Both are matters of trust, but it is a question as to which approach provides the more plausible basis. Frankly, I believe the second to be correct: the first can be dismissed as patently inadequate. For if a man has no higher standard than himself, this results in the hopelessness that characterizes so much of modern western thought. Life is beyond us; we are here just a short time and tomorrow we die and are gone. Further, from what we can deduce from our own natural observation, there is no hope beyond the grave. Corliss Lamont’s realistic study, “The Illusion of Immortality,” has been sobering to me, as it demonstrates that there can be no permanence, no transcendent meaningfulness to my life that is, if all we have is our own, internal judgment. Correspondingly, subjective criticisms, based on internal judgments, of the Bible do not really bother me, even though this is the basis on which most thinkers, and even Protestant thinkers, have rejected Biblical infallibility. For example, Millar Burrows, in his Outline of Biblical Theology (pp. 44, 47), begins by saying,

Much ink has been wasted . . . in the effort to prove the detailed accuracy of the biblical narratives. Actually they abound in errors . . . In the field of the physical sciences we find at once that many mistaken and outmoded conceptions appear in the Bible . . .

Archaeological research has not, as is often boldly asserted, resolved difficulties or confirmed the narrative step by step . . . Even in matters of religious concern the Bible is by no means of uniform value.”

[Please note that the above quotation is not Dr. Payne’s view; he is merely citing the view of Millar Burrows as typical of a view of Scripture with which he, Dr. Payne, disagrees. Please don’t misread this, as I did earlier today. Dr. Payne had a high view of Scripture.]

But the whole approach of this “I must pick and choose” position has been well answered by Louis Berkhof in his Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology(p.158)

The reasoning of those who take this position often sounds very plausible. They do not want a  theory of inspiration that is imposed on Scripture from without, but one that is based on an inductive study of the facts. But . . . it does not fit the case. According to it man faces the phenomena of Scripture just as he faces the phenomena of nature . . . which he must interpret and set forth in their true significance . . . He places himself above Scripture as judge, and opposes to  . . . testimony . . . his own insight.

But to whose testimony then can we go? Who is the “someone else” to trust? The response for the Christian is clear, namely Peter’s in John 6:68, “Lord; to whom shall we go: Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Christ, who has been declared to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection from the dead, is my answer to this world’s relativism. But it is here, from the viewpoint of the external authority of Jesus Christ, that Wheaton’s statement of faith in Scripture has, in recent days, received its more serious challenge, from neo-orthodoxy; and I am here using the term broadly for those who claim to be followers of Christ as king but who repudiate the Bible as a divine, binding document. One of my former seminary professors has called “the idea of inerrancy a ‘sub-Christian doctrine’ ” (Aaron Ungersma, Handbook for Christian Believers, p. 8l); and James D. Smart, in his recent volume, The Interpretation of Scripture, has well expressed both neo-orthodoxy’s belief and its disbelief: (pp. l6l, 199; 205):

When Jesus Christ preaches and teaches, His words are the very words of God, and in his actions  God acts . . . The word of Scripture had authority for him, but not in any slavish way … He refused to be bound to every word . . . Once he is bound to an infallible Scripture, his freedom is gone and with it his authority. Roman Catholicism imprisons Jesus Christ within an infallible church; literal infallibilism imprisons him within an infallible Scripture.

This is not to deny, nor does Smart deny, that the Bible contains teachings on its own inerrancy. But this alternative is proposed: forget these teachings; believe in the revelation of God through Jesus Christ, but dispense with the objective inspiration of the Bible.

Let us not, moreover, underestimate the reality of this appeal: why not escape the restraints of traditional orthodoxy, and yet retain the peace and integration of one who, say, has come forward at a Billy Graham meeting and found eternal meaningfulness in that “someone else” who is Christ? In particular I faced this appeal this last spring while in archaeological work with Dr. Free in Palestine. In my classes, students were enrolled from a number of different colleges and seminaries; and hardly a session would pass without somebody’s saying, “Why do I as a Christian have to believe XXXX, just because the Bible says it?” These questions, moreover, were not without basis: much of the Old Testament data is never mentioned by Christ. So finally, when time was available, I got away under a tree on the mound of Dothan, and prayed, “Alright, Lord, I am putting this matter up to Thee. I am willing to forget that I was ever a biblical evangelical, but show me what Christ would have me do.” Then I went through the complete records and words of Jesus asking myself, Does this really require me to hold to the Bible? Let me share with you four conclusions that I formulated.

  1. In Christ’s teachings it appears that the Bible is accepted as a guide and determiner of belief and conduct. For example, in Matthew 12:7, Christ’s statement, “If ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless,” assumes the authority of Hosea 6:6 on mercy and sacrifice; or, in Luke 16:29, He says, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” This acceptance of Scripture particularly concerns its statements concerning Himself, as He says in Mark l4:21, “The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him.” But none of these situations require an inspired Old Testament, simply that what men wrote down did, in these cases, correspond to God’s will and to true revelation (not inspiration).
  1. His often-quoted general statements about the Bible can, if one tries, be limited to these same restricted evaluations, that the Bible possesses authority in certain areas but not necessarily inerrancy. For example, Matthew 5:18, “One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” may mean merely that one ought to obey the law. Or John 10:35, “And the Scripture cannot be broken,’’ may mean that the Bible’s statements, in this instance on possible usage of the word “gods,” are examples of good doctrine. Or Luke 24:25, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken,” may mean, all that is about Himself, as verse 44, “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me.”
  1. But in statements of Christ involving specific aspects of the Old Testament, I found situations in which I could not “weasel out.” Let us note two areas: first, literary criticism. Christ’s phrase the “Law of Moses,” as just cited, might signify, not Mosiac authorship, but simply a book about Moses, like the Books of Samuel. But this is not true in other cases. Psalm 110, for example, is consistently written off by modern criticism as one of the later compositions in the Psalter. But in Mark 12:35-36, “Jesus answered and said . . . How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, Jehovah said to my Lord, sit Thou on My right hand . . .” He believed, not simply that Psalm 110:1 was inspired, composed under guidance by the Holy Spirit, but also that David himself wrote it. Even granting, for the argument, a certain inaccuracy in Mark’s records, the Lord’s whole argument still depends on the Davidic composition of this psalm. Again, in Matthew 24:15 He stated, “When ye . . . shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place . . .” But I do not know of a single neo-orthodox critic who believes that the man Daniel really said these words, or that they referred to matters that were still future when Christ spoke, in about A.D. 30. Second, historical criticism. In Luke 4:24-27 Jesus said:

No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows  were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elijah sent, save unto Zarephath, a city of Sidon, into a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed saving Naaman the Syrian.

Is He just quoting the well known Old Testament “stories”? On the contrary, He confirms the historical validity of even details in the record of Matthew 11:41 and Luke 11:50-51. Similarly, Christ accepted as fact so-called mythical or legendary events that Scripture associated with Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah’s flood, the destruction of Sodom, Jonah in the fish and Nineveh’s repenting, as well as others.

We must face it: no negative critic can maintain today’s usually accepted conclusions and still find correspondence with the mind of Christ on these points.

  1. The affirmations of Christ, as noted above, then develop necessarily into conclusions of total Biblical inerrancy. That is, if the Bible be accepted to contain valid doctrine, then one very clear doctrine is its teaching about its own full inspiration. Or, let us note the implications of one of the above cited specific teachings, on Adam and Eve. In Matthew 19:4-5, He stated:

Have ye not read, that He with made them at the beginning made them male and female and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife…

quoting Genesis 2:24. But while in Genesis this verse is simply part of the Mosaic narrative, Christ introduces it as a statement by the Creator:  that is, for Him, the words of Genesis are equivalent to the very words of God. The only alternative to such a conclusion is to assume that the Gospel writers have misrepresented Him and do not depict the actual mind of Christ. The previously quoted neo-orthodox writer, James Smart, for example, is forced to a number of such reservations, and says,

Already in the Gospels there are perceptible indications of the tendency to attribute to Jesus in his earthly life both omniscience and omnipotence (e.g., his power over waves and storms and his ability to tell the Samaritan woman the story of her marriages. (Interpretation of Scripture, p. l62)

In other words, when neo-orthodoxy claims that “in Christ’s actions God acts,” it may do so while avoiding the evidence, shifting on internal, subjective grounds, away from the supernaturalistic beliefs of those who were closest to the events. Smart would then cover his procedure by introducing an over-emphasis in the other direction which his evangelical opponents do not claim, namely the idea of omniscience for the incarnate Jesus. There is the one known case, Mark 13:32, in which our Lord disclaimed omniscience, about the time of His second coming. But His own words made this limitation clear; and when He does commit Himself in speaking He possesses truthfulness (John 3:34). To take issue with Christ involves more than His lack of omniscience; it involves His falsehood. Hence Sigmund Mowinckel, a leading advocate of modern Scandinavian Biblical criticism, in his study The Old Testament as Word of God (p.74), seems to have faced the implications of Christ’s Biblical views more squarely, when he concludes,

If it is true that .Jesus as a man was one of us except that he had no sin (Heb. 4:15), then he also shared our imperfect insight into all matters pertaining to the world of sense . . . He knew neither more nor less than most people of his class in Galilee or Jerusalem concerning history . . . geography, or the history of biblical literature.

Here the issue is clear cut. Biblical criticism inevitably entails criticism of Christ. When I got up from under that tree at Dothan, it was with renewed conviction that the consistent follower of Jesus must be a humble follower of the inscripturated word, just as his Master was. Billy Graham’s message of peace, assurance, and power is inseparably associated with his confidence in what “the Bible says.” And if Wheaton ever exchanges its Biblical commitment for status in Protestantism or for a mentality acceptable in the world as a whole, it will have done so in opposition to Christ and His kingdom.

A Maid Meets Her Master
by Rev. David T. Myers

It was on this day, December 6. 1680. that a young twenty year old maid stood before the Anglican court in Scotland. Her judicial examination and subsequent martyrdom for her Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, was for the terrible crime—are you ready for this reader—attending a worship service in a Scottish pasture, and subsequently giving testimony that she adhered to the truths of the Lord Jesus, avowing Him to be King in Zion and the only head of the Church.

Marion Harvey, the subject of this post, was reared in a home where her father had cast his lot in with those adhering to the National Covenant of Scotland and the Solemn League and Covenant. However, his religious convictions did not, for his daughter, permeate her character and conduct until she was in her mid-teens. Up to then, according to her own testimony, she lived according to the world, engaging in breaking the Sabbath and blaspheming the Name of God for her own pleasures. But a decided change had taken place in her  heart and soul in that middling teenager. Whether by curiosity or by just following the crowds, she began to attend the outdoor worship services in the fields and moors, listening to those ministers who had been ejected from their pulpits and parishes. Listening to the preached Word of God, she “left off hearing the curates, whose ministry she formerly attended without scruple. She now venerated the name of God, which she had formerly blasphemed; she sanctified the Sabbath, which she had formerly desecrated; and she delighted in the Bible, which she had formerly neglected and undervalued.” (from The Ladies on the Covenant). In truth, regeneration had occurred in her soul.

It would be five years later when she was arrested by the government’s soldiers as she left a field worship service. Thrown into prison, it was the beginning of the end on this earth for her, a trial of her convictions which began with a series of inquisitions by the Anglican government.

After one lengthy examination, she returned to her cell, already aware that on January 26, she would be hung for her religious views. She left a testimony in that cell in Edinburgh prison which said,

“I, being to lay down my life on Wednesday next, January 26, I thought it fit to let it be known to the world wherefore I lay down my life, and to let it be seen that I die not as a fool, or an evil-doer, or as a busy-body, in other men’s matters.  No, it is for adhering to the truth of Jesus Christ, and avowing him to be King in Zion, and head of His church, and the testimony against these ungodly laws of men, and their robbing Christ of His rights, and usurping his prerogative royal, which I durst not but testify against.”

On the 26th of January,. she along with another woman were martyred and went joyfully into the presence of the Lord Jesus.

Words to Live By:
At this very time, there are countless fellow Christians, being members of the persecuted twenty-first century Church, who are experiencing the same kind of suffering and death which Marion Harvey experienced in her day. Are you aware of that, Christian? Do you ever think of them, and pray for them in their hour of trial?  Ask your pastor for a list of the names of the countries which still persecute the church today? The list begins with China, North Korea, and continues all across the ten-forty window. Thousands of believers are in jail and inhuman conditions for no other reason than for worshiping whom you worship today. We need to pray for them.

We need to make their cause our cause. Certainly you would want all these responses by others if you were the ones suffering for the Savior today.

O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us,
thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.
Thou hast made the earth to tremble; thou hast broken it:
heal the breaches thereof; for it shaketh.
Thou hast shewed thy people hard things:
thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee,
that it may be displayed because of the truth.

—Psalm 60:1-4, KJV

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”—Psalm 116:15

On December 4, 2015 our post was titled “Founding Fathers Gone to Their Reward.” We began that post by stating:

In years past we have written several times on this date of the founding of the PCA. There were 223 pastors present at the founding of the denomination in 1973, first named the National Presbyterian Church. A year later the young denomination took its permanent name, the Presbyterian Church in America. By the grace of God, the majority of these 223 founding fathers are still with us, and many of them still labor in pulpit ministry. Sadly, some sixty of them have passed away. And we would not overlook the role played by those founding fathers were were ruling elders, though regrettably, their names are not so easily gathered. All these took their stand for the Scriptures, the Reformed faith, and the great Commission. As the Lord enabled them, so we praise Him for how He worked through them.

Several years later that list of the PCA’s founding fathers who have now died, must sadly be updated. Most recent comes the news of the passing yesterday, December 3, 2019, of the Rev. Gene Hunt, husband of Susan Hunt. 

Richard Eugene Hunt was born on March 9, 1939 in Columbus, GA. Graduating from the University of Georgia in 1962, he prepared for the ministry at Columbia Theological Seminary and upon graduation was ordained and installed as pastor of the McDowell Presbyterian Church in Greeleyville, SC, 1965-1968.

From 1972 to 1976 he labored as pastor of the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Jonesboro, GA, and it was during that pastorate that Rev. Hunt became one of the founding fathers of the Presbyterian Church in America, leading his church into the PCA. He went on to plant the Covenant Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, GA (org. 1977) and later served as associate pastor at the Midway Presbyterian Church, Powder Springs, GA, 1989-2008. Rev. Hunt was honorably retired in 2008.

I know that you will want to remember Susan Hunt and the Hunt family in your prayers, that they will know the Lord’s comfort and strength in this time.

And with a bit of Web searching, we located a video of Rev. Hunt preaching on the doctrine of the covenant of grace, and would like to leave you today with this:—

They Had No Manual, but a New Presbyterian Church was Born
by Rev. David T. Myers

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 clear 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 of necessity 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.

No Parallel in the Annals of the American Pulpit

So it was thought by the pulpiteers of the late nineteenth century, that is, our unique title today.  The description fit the Rev. Ethan Osborn, the pastor of the Fairfield Presbyterian Church, in Fairton, New Jersey.

Born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1758, Ethan Osborn was born with religious parents and a religious education in a family of nine children.  When the Sabbath came in the week as the first day, he was in public worship.  Like many covenant children, it was simply to obey his parents.  But as the boy became older, the Sabbath became a most welcome day.  He began to practice secret prayer and by the time he entered college, he had received the Savior by faith alone.

College for Ethan was Dartmouth at age seventeen.  The American Revolution was at full tilt during his college years so that in the middle of it, he became a soldier at age eighteen.  It was a very hard year to do so as the Continental Army was being pushed around all over the eastern seaboard in 1776.  Ethan felt the providence of the Lord in that, becoming sick one month, he missed a battle in which his regiment was captured with the result that only four soldiers would make it through the brutal imprisonment.  He returned to the collegiate life soon after it, graduating in 1784.

With no theological school around (Princeton not beginning  until 1812), he studied for three years under experienced pastors.  Called to one church, he was led to delay it until December 3, 1789, when he was called to the Old Stone Church, as it was known then as their pastor.  For the next fifty-five years, he with warm biblical expositions and faithful shepherding the people of God, became known as “Father Osborn.”

Even though he would retire when he turned eighty-six years of age, he continued his ministry, preaching once when he was ninety-seven years of age.  He went to be with his Lord in 1858 at age ninety-nine years, eight months, and ten days.

The church today is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America, and is the oldest Presbyterian Church of that denomination.

At right, the old former building of the continuing PCA congregation, Fairton, NJ.

Words to live by:  We might add many others to the title of this historical devotional, but for that time and place, for longevity itself, it was true of Ethan Osborn.  It was said that he was THE pastor of the Old Stone Church which had been established so early before our American Revolution.  And to think that it was able to join the Presbyterian Church in America without losing its building [not the one pictured at right], as is usually the case, is providential indeed.  But more remarkable than a physical structure is the continuance in the faith of the gospel by the pastors, faithful elders, and families,  for three plus centuries of this church.  It is well to place them in a historical devotional.  The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.

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