April 2018

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A SMALL FUNERAL

On April 23, I attended a funeral of a member of my local congregation. She had been a founding member, attending a Bible study before a pastor even showed up to start a church. Virginia Tidball was a lifelong resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

She was among the very last of an old tradition: a staunch Southern Presbyterian of the old school. By that, I mean the Old School. That was what her wing was called. It was the Scottish Calvinist wing of the American church. Its last institutional traces disappeared in the 1940’s in the South. In the North, the last of the Old School ministers had been forced out in 1936. On June 15, for the last time, an article on the Presbyterian theological conflict appeared on the front page of the New York Times. The headline announced: “Barring of 3 Philadelphia Pastors Brings Walkout by Presbyterians.” The same page announced: “G. K. Chesterton, Noted Author, Dies.”

When I say she was the last, I mean it. She was like a thread across time to an ancient past. Her father had been a Southern Presbyterian minister. He in turn had studied theology under Robert L. Dabney. For most people, the name “Dabney” does not ring a bell. The textbook writers have done their work well. Robert L. Dabney was the South’s most respected Protestant theologian and the co-founder of the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1861. (The founding meeting took place in the home of Rev. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, who oversaw the Southern Presbyterian Church, 1865-98, as Stated Clerk, and whose son Woodrow went first into the field of higher education, then politics.) During the war, Dabney served as both chaplain and aide de camp for Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. He later wrote a biography of Jackson. He was so completely unreconstructed that in 1867, he allowed to be published his book, written during the war, A Defence of Virginia [And Through Her, of the South]. It included a vigorous defense of slavery, which by 1867 was politically incorrect in the South. He ended his career on the original faculty of the University of Texas, teaching free market economics (still called political economy), blind when he retired in 1894, and also teaching at a Presbyterian seminary in Austin. He died in 1898.

Virginia Tidball was born in 1904, the same year that the last major party candidate for President openly supported the gold standard, the long-forgotten Alton B. Parker, whose defeat by Teddy Roosevelt ended the Old Democracy, seemingly forever. But there were remnants, and Virginia Tidball was one of them.

They still tell the story of the time that John Duncan, the mathematics teacher from Scotland, ended the music portion of the worship service by having the congregation sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” After the service, Miss Tidball told him: “I forgive you, for you are not a native of this country.” Whether or not she was speaking of the United States, no one had the courage to ask.

The world she left behind is a very different world from the one she was born into. In the South, Dabney’s name is forgotten. The textbook story of the late unpleasantness, 1861-65, is the victors’ story. The South adopted tax-funded education with a vengeance, thereby turning the region’s children over to the New York textbook publishers long before World War I. A New York-published and edited U.S. history textbook provides a view of Southern history that is as faithful to the facts as Joseph Ruggles’ son was faithful to the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), which he swore before God that he believed when he became a ruling elder in the Northern Presbyterian Church.

Biographical Sketch, by Gary North [online at http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north100.html; used by permission]

The Papers of Virginia Tidball have been preserved at the PCA Historical Center.

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM

Q. 65  What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?

A. The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongeth to everyone in their several places and relations.

Scripture References: Romans 13:7-8.

Questions:

1. What are the sins of the superiors?

The sins of the superiors include the following: the neglect of those who are under their authority; the seeking of their own glory in the midst of their responsibility; the encouraging of inferiors into things that are wrong; the wrong use of authority toward inferiors, thus provoking them to wrath; the exposing of inferiors to wrong or temptation to wrong; the subjecting of the inferiors to a bad example because of wrong conduct.

2. What are the sins of inferiors?

The sins of the inferiors include the following: the neglect of obeying their superiors; the sin of envy toward their superiors; the act of rebellion toward those who are their superiors; the sin of wrong conduct against those in command; the showing of dishonor toward their superiors and the government they represent.

3. What are the sins of equals.

The sins of equals include the following: the neglect of Christian love toward one another; the despising of those that are good; the sin of envy because an equal has been blest by God with a gift greater than one’s own; the lack of rejoicing at the success of an equal; the usurping of pre-eminence over equals when such pre-eminence has not been granted by God.

4. Do these sins relate to all relationships of man?

Yes, these sins are applicable to the relationships of man whether they be parent-child, husband-wife, master-servant, ruler-subject, minister-congregation, older-younger relationships.

5. In what areas of our lives today does this commandment relate?

It is pertinent in the family relationships, in the church relationships, in employment relationships and in the civic relationships. Sin in any of the areas is sin in the sight of God.

RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY.

“As long as you think a law or a rule is wrong it is alright to disobey it.”—such is the reasoning being used today by children toward superiors, by the citizen toward the state, by the worker toward the boss, by the congregation toward the man called of God to preach The Word. It is a dangerous philosophy that is becoming very prevalent in our country and has even spread to conservative churches. This seems to be a day when everyone feels he has the perfect right to make his own rules and not be concerned about The Rulebook handed down by God. This fifth commandment speaks very clearly to the person following this false philosophy.

The Almighty, Sovereign God knew that respect for authority was very important in order that a family, a nation, an economy, a church might be able to carry on its duties in the world. Therefore He emphasized proper respect for authority in His Word time and time again. His words, “Obey them that have rule over you” are stated over and over again in different ways by different writers in The Word. he knew that a lawless society becomes a mob and a mob becomes a group of people out of hand.

What has caused the loss of respect for authority? What has caused this new philosophy to make inroads into our way of thinking? There is not space in this short devotion to answer the question for all of life but a suggestion could be offered as to why it is happening in conservative churches. It is simply another indication of a departing from what God hath said, a closing our eyes to certain portions of The Word because we find them too unpopular for the certain portion of society in which we find ourselves. Whenever a Christian or a Christian church breaks a principle of Scripture the result is always disaster. Disaster in this area not only comes to the person or the church but it also comes to the young people committed to the care of the person or the church.

Why are the young people of today showing such a disrespect for authority? Could it not be that they see such inconsistencies in their elders that they have no example to follow? Where is church discipline today? Where is Christian love toward all people today? Where is the unqualified stand against compromise today? Do our children see things in us? Might we read again Titus 2 – 3:3?

Published by The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Vol. 4, No. 59 (November 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

It seems that some were proposing a plan for a smaller General Assembly for the PCUSA back in the 1930’s. I had not previously paid attention to such efforts in any of the old line Presbyterian denominations. Compare this with some of the various plans for a delegated Assembly that have been put forward in the PCA.

HOW TO DRAW A SMALLER ASSEMBLY
[The Presbyterian 107.13 (22 April 1937): 6.]

A General Assembly of approximately 470 commissioners can be composed so as to equalize the membership as between elders and ministers and to present adequately the communicant strength of the various areas of the Church on the following basis :

(1) One commissioner from each presbytery each year, alternating minister and elder (presbyteries to be listed according to Roll of Assembly, first, third, fifth, etc., to send minister first year, second, fourth, sixth, etc., to send elder), and then alternate.

(2) One additional pair of commissioners from each presbytery having 10,000 to 19,999 communicants; two elder-minister units (i.e., four commissioners) from presbyteries having 20,000 to 29,999 communicants; three, etc., from presbyteries having 30,000 to 39,999 communicants, and so on.

Checking this by the 1936 Minutes, it is found that we have a basic delegation of 279 commissioners (the number of presbyteries); 42 presbyteries in the 10,000 class, i.e., 84 additional commissioners; 9 presbyteries in the 20,000 class, i.e., 36 additional commissioners; 6 presbyteries in the 30,000 class, i.e., 36 additional commissioners; no presbyteries in the 40,000 class; 2 presbyteries in the 50,000 class, i.e., 20 additional commissioners; and one in the 60,000 class, i.e., 12 additional commissioners. The additional commissioners total 188, which, with the basic group, make up 467 commissioners.

This is under 500 by 33 commissioners, but annual growth will soon begin to increase the delegations. This scheme is easy to figure, because the tabulation reveals the status of a presbytery by simply glancing at the digit in the 10,000 column. The elder-minister balance is maintained without elaborate explanation or computation.

To Stand Before the Majesty and Power of Our Omnipotent Lord

Several years ago we found some letters among the Papers of Allan A. MacRae that shed further light on J. Gresham Machen’s love of mountain climbing and especially his love of the Alps. Machen was able to visit and climb in the Alps several times, with his last visit being in the summer of 1935.  A letter from Machen to MacRae details that trip and shares something of their mutual love of mountain climbing. In 1933, Machen had prepared a talk on mountain climbing and this address has been reprinted several times. We even found a letter that MacRae wrote to his mother, recounting a social gathering where Machen gave a trial run of his newly prepared address.4164 Blick v. d. Wellenkuppe g. Matterhorn 4505 m. und Dent d'He

All of the above is detailed online at at the PCA Historical Center’s web site.

But with all that information, even in Machen’s own Mountains and Why We Love Them, I don’t think I’ve seen anything that comes closer to giving some glimpse of explanation—that provides in short compass what must surely strike to the heart of Machen’s love of the Alps—than this brief, eloquent paragraph by George Stillman Hillard, from his Six Months in Italy (Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 4th edition, 1854):

The pen and pencil may attempt, and not unsuccessfully, to represent the soft gradations of the beautiful or the abrupt contrasts of the picturesque, but they are alike powerless and paralyzed before the awful grandeur of the Alpine Heights, where there is neither life nor motion; where a stern, unsmiling sublimity has moulded every form, and stamped upon the scene the frown of a perpetual winter. There is nothing in the ordinary aspect of nature that prepares us for what we see when we have entered the region of perpetual snow. Here is no hum of insects, no rustle of foliage, no pulse of vitality. There is no provision for animal life in the pitiless granite, ice, and snow, that make up the landscape. The solitary eagle, whose slow circling form is painted on the dark sky above, seems but a momentary presence, like ourselves, and not a part of the scene. Nature is no longer a bounteous and beneficent mother, but a stern and awful power, before which we bow and tremble; and the earth ceases to be man’s farm and garden, and becomes only a part of the solar system.” 

[excerpted from The Presbyterian Magazine 9.4 (April 1859): 190.]

Perhaps more than anything else I have ever seen, Hillard’s description provides some hint as to why Machen so loved the Alps–in short, all else was removed, so far as possible, and he stood simply before the majesty and power of an omnipotent God.

Over 175 years ago, it appears that Presbyterian congregations were largely ignorant of the Church’s own StandardsAre we much better off today?

“The Presbyterian Board of Publication have issued a correct edition of the Confession of Faith, and they are now selling it at the lowest possible rate, without any regard for pecuniary profit ; their principal aim being to circulate it widely through the Church.—It will be readily admitted that every Presbyterian should be at least partially acquainted with the standards of his own church, and yet how many are there who have never made these the subject of a days study?  It is wholly inexcusable in pastors to have families under their care who are not provided with the Confession, especially when a little exertion on their part, might supply the defect.  Will not Pastors and Sessions at once resolve that every family in the Presbyterian Church in the United States shall, before the expiration of two years, be provided with the Confession of Faith of our Church?”

[excerpted from The Charleston Observer 14.8 (11 April 1840): 2, col. 3.]

The world is indebted to the church for everything noblest and best in her free institutions.  Freedom is under perpetual obligations to her.  Enforcement of organic law must exist, whether in church, state or nation; otherwise, everything rushes to ruin in all society.  It is the glory of the Calvinistic church, and not her reproach, that she “enforced” her denominational law in favor of Presbyterian “doctrine, order and worship,” giving thereby to the nations their most precious inheritance.  “By these,” says Mr. Buckle, “the dying spark of freedom was kindled into a blaze.”  “To John Knox,” says Froude, “England owes a debt for liberty it cannot pay.”  “Calvin’s principles,” says Henri, “are immortal and immovable in both government and doctrine.”  “Thousands were debtor to him,” says the judicious Hooker, “as touching divine knowledge, yet he to none but only to God—a founder of the French Church, incomparably the wisest it ever had since the hour it enjoyed him.”  “Geneva,” says Montesquieu, “is the mother of modern republics, and should celebrate with festivity the day on which Calvin entered the city.”  “Calvin,” says Bunsen, “spoke for all times and all men;” and in the language of Motley, “Europe owes her political liberty to Calvinism.”  “The Institutes,” says Guizot, “are one of the noblest edifices ever erected by men.”  Bancroft declares that “Calvin, bowing to no patent of nobility, but that of the elect of God, made Geneva the impregnable fortress of popular liberty;” and adds that the very “first voice” raised for liberty in this land, both civil and religious, “came from Presbyterians,” and that “he who will not honor the memory and influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty.”  Is it in John Calvin we glory?  God forbid; but in God we glory, who gave us John Calvin.  What kind of an argument is it that would impeach all this glorious record as an “oppression of the conscience” through “sectarian law.”—Foreign paper.

[excerpted from The Reformed Presbyterian and Covenanter 15.4 (April 1877): 113.]

From THE PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE, IV.2 (February 1854): 94.

DR. ALEXANDER’S LAST SERMON.

It was in the First Presbyterian Church at Princeton, and on the 20th of July, 1851. The Sabbath was one of the most beautiful I ever saw. The harvest was just over, and the farmers, who made up the country portion of the congregation, had finished reaping the fruits of their year’s toil, and had carefully housed their crops. Many of them were present with their faces bronzed by the harvest suns. Judge, therefore, the appropriateness of Dr. Alexander’s subject. His text was I Cor. iii. 9. “Ye are God’s husbandry.” I can, of course, give but an imperfect outline; but he said:—”These words apply to the Church universal, or its members taken individually. The agriculturalist who wishes to raise a good crop does four things:
1. He prepares the ground.
2. He sows the best seed he can procure.
3. He takes care of the grain when growing.
4. He reaps and stores away the harvest.

So, in spiritual things it is necessary for us :
1. To make ready our hearts to receive the impressions of the truth—to come to Christ repenting of all our sins, and asking forgiveness of them for his sake.
2. We must plant the good word of God; and
3. We must cultivate the good seed by prayer, self-examination, and the use of all the means of grace. We must learn the precepts the Bible lays down, and practice them in our walk and conversation. As the husbandman is never free from solicitude and care until he gets the cropt stowed safely away, so the spiritual man can never cease to watch or relax his diligence till life is over.
4. He will reap his reward, to some extent, here, but the great reward shall be hereafter.”


HIS TOMB.

Dr. Alexander’s tomb has the following inscription :

Sacred to the memory
of
ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER
Doctor of Divinity
and
First Professor of the Theological
Seminary in this place :
Born in what is now Rockbridge county,
Virginia, April 17th, MDCCLXXII :
Licensed to preach the gospel
October 1st, MDCCXCI :
Ordained by the Presbytery of Hanover
June 9th, MDCCXCIV :
A Pastor in Charlotte and Prince Edward
for some years :
Chosen President of
Hampden Sidney College in MDCCXCVI :
Pastor of the Third Presbyterian
Church in Philadelphia in MDCCCVII :
Professor of Didactic and Polemic
Theology in MDCCCXII :
He departed this life
In the faith and peace of Christ,
October 22d, MDCCCLI.

[He forbade all words of praise upon his tomb.]—PRESBYTERIAN.

Image source : The Alexander Memorial. New York: Anson D.F. Randolph & Company, 1879.

A Sermon After the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
by Rev. David T Myers

For all of our subscribers, they probably can remember where they were, and what they were doing when the infamous “Nine-eleven” hijackers crashed their people-loaded airplanes into the Twin Towers in Manhattan, New York. Such a terrorist catastrophe as that is not easily forgotten. In response, Christians all over the country opened up their churches for prayer and consolation over such a terrible event. In addition, ministers on the following Lord’s Day sought to give some sense of the terrible event in the light of God’s Word, the Bible.

This author was one of those pastors who sought to teach God’s people in his Presbyterian congregation of how all this fit into the sovereignty of God. In so doing, I was not alone in American history in trying to make sense of what our God and King has allowed to occur at desperate times. Such was also the case in 1865 at the close of the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. On the following Sundays, the clergy of the land, including many Presbyterians, gave messages on this tragic event. Some sermons are found here.

Of the sermons following that murder of our chief executive which this author has read, the one by church historian and Presbyterian pastor Rev. Dr. William Sprague of the Second Presbyterian Church in Albany, New York on this Lord’s Day, April 16, 1865, stands out. He had five points, of which we will only summarize from the sermon.

First, he portrays how manifest it is that clouds and darkness were found around Jehovah’s throne in the assassination of this sixteenth chief executive of the United States. By this, he speaks of “the demon in human form” who would engage in this terrible act of murder.

It is interesting that at the time of his sermon, he was in the dark as to who this “demon” was. It was only later that the culprit’s name was revealed to be a known Washington, D.C. actor by the name of John Wilkes Booth, who led a small band of people to engage in this plot.

Dr. Sprague speaks of “the adoration of the unsearchable depths of divine counsel” and urges his listeners to “reverently await for the light from God’s throne to illuminate” the matter before the nation and church.

Next, he brings out the full depravity of the human heart being illustrated by this murder. He applies all this as a warning to the members of his congregation, and especially the youth of the Albany church to deny sin in their hearts before it breaks out into sinful actions.

Third, he acknowledges such an event teaches all people everywhere that no one has the ability to look into the future. He briefly surveys the progress of the Civil War, noting that at that time in 1865, Abraham Lincoln had seen the defeated capitol of the Confederacy, Richmond Virginia, in person, after the rebel forces there had abandoned it. He has sat in the chair of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. It looked as if the Confederacy would soon surrender. Yet he spoke the truth of James 4 that “we will never know on what ground the next step may place us.” He urged that all his members to “keep their hearts filled with the love of God.”

Fourth, he observed “the strange commingling of good and evil, of joy and sorrow which affects human life” on this earth. On one hand, the people in the North were rejoicing that the cruel war may soon be over. On the other hand, this event had just taken place which brought with it uncertain times.

Last, he rebuked his listeners for having put too much confidence in an arm of flesh, and charging us to trust in the living God only.

This was a most interesting point in his sermon of this author. He cautioned his listeners against the idolatry of leaders and generals. He acknowledges the temptation of the political and military leadership conducting battles in the spirit of practical atheism, with not enough trust in God.

In application, he urged his listeners to not despair of the divine aid which was available to them during this sad time and charges them to lift their eyes upward.

Words to Live By:
When there is a national event such as this, God’s pastors and people ought to see it in the light of God’s Word, the Bible. Certainly, God was not surprised by the murder of Abraham Lincoln. It was within His permissive will to occur. We need to see the events of history, even those unpleasant events to our minds and hearts, all within His sovereign will, and trust in Him all the more for life and liberty.

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

Q. 63 Which is the fifth commandment?

A. The fifth commandment is, Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Q. 64 What is required in the fifth commandment?

A. The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to everyone in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.

Scripture References: Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 5:21-22; 6:1, 5, 9; Romans 12:10; 13:1.

Questions:


l.
What is meant by “father and mother” in this commandment?

The terms “father and mother” mean not only the natural parents of a person, but also those in authority over him in age and in gifts.

2. Does that mean there are superiors and inferiors and equals in the sight of God?

Yes, the terms “father and mother” indicate those who are superior in their gifts from God whether it be in the realm of age or ability. The term “inferiors” indicates there are those who must subject themselves to the authority of others. The term “equals” indicates there are those brethren that are equal in ability, age, place or dignity.

3. Do the things taught in this commandment extend to other realms?

Yes, not only does it mean parents and children but it extends to husbands and wives, to masters and servants, to rulers and their subjects, to ministers and congregations, to older and younger. Although the commandment speaks specificially our answers following are primarily concerning the parent-child relationship, its requirements are applicable in other relationships as well.

4. What are the duties of the inferiors to their superiors?

The duties of inferiors toward superiors are to honor them, inwardly and outwardly; to listen to their instructions; to obey their commands; to meekly accept their reproofs; to love them; to care for them when necessary.

5.
What are the duties of superiors towards inferiors?

The duties of superiors toward inferiors are: To love and care for them; to train them in the knowledge of the Scriptures; to pray for them; to keep them under subjection; to encourage them by kindness and reproof; to prepare them for the future.

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF AUTHORITY
A cardinal rule that ought to regulate society: authority involves responsibility! The greater the authority, the greater the responsibility. It makes no difference whether the authority is exercised in the realm of the family or the realm of the church or the realm of the state. The responsibility goes with it and it is a heavy burden. God, in His wisdom, and for His own reasons, hands out to certain of His people the mandate to be the “superiors”. These people have been given by God certain abilities, certain gifts that put them over their fellow men. With these abilities, these gifts, naturally comes authority. This is something that must be present in our society whether it be in the family or church or state. With this authority there is the ever-present responsibility to use these abilities, these gifts, all to the glory of God.

It is sufficient to say here that there are certain basic responsibilities. There the responsibility of the superior to have an attitude of love, backed up by constant prayer, toward those under him. There must be a real interest in them. There can never be the attitude of detachment.

There is the responsibility of training, teaching that the person in authority always has. He must “instruct, counsel and admonish them” at all times. This includes the warning of those under him of evil. Especially in the church today there is too little of this being done. The people are being taken down roads plainly marked “Disaster” and very few seem to be raising a cry of warning.

There is the responsibility of the superior to recognize well doing on the part of the people under him. This comes under the area of encouragement, a very necessary part of the ablllty of a person to go on in this life.

There is the responsibility of correction no matter what it might cost the superior in the way of friendship, economic advancement, success. The superior must be fair in his correction but he must correct. This again is sadly lacking today in our land.

In I Samuel 12 :23 God teaches those in authority of their responsibility before Him and before those with whom they have to do.

Published By: The Shield and Sword, Inc., Memphis, Tennessee.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.
Vol. 4 No. 58 (October, 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Hom, Editor

A Children’s Sermon

That you might prepare your hearts for this Lord’s Day, we present today a sermon from the Rev. William Swan Plumer [1802-1880], a noted Southern Presbyterian pastor, scholar, and prolific author. And to do something a bit different, this sermon is taken from Plumer’s work, Short Sermons to Little Children (Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union, 1848). Perhaps you will want to share this sermon today with your own children or grandchildren. It is full of great and good theology.

We All Belong to God.
Ye are not your own.—1 Cor. vi. 19.

A little boy found a knife, and the first thing he said, was, “It is very handsome.” He looked at it a little while, and then said: “It is not mine. I should love to have a knife, but I wish the owner of this knife had it.” So he asked all the boys that he met, the question: “Whose knife is this?” At last he found the owner, and gave it to him. One boy said, “If I should find a knife, I should keep it, and not tell any one.” But it would have been mean, and wicked too, to keep that which was not his own. It would have been a kind of stealing. The commandment says, “Thou shalt not steal.” When he had found the owner, and given up the knife, he felt that he had done right. We ought all to give to every one what is his own.

Now you do not belong to yourselves, nor to any man. You belong to God alone. Both your soul and body are His. I will prove it.

I. He made you. A boy went out and got a piece of wood, and made a bow and arrow. Now, it was his, because he made it. It would have been wrong for any other boy to have taken it, and carried it away. He, who made it, had a clear right to it, because he had made it. So God made your soul and your body. No one else made you. “He that built (or made) all things is God.” “The sea is His, and He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.” (Ps. 95:5) Thereforem, the sea and the dry land belong to God. If, when a boy or a man makes a thing, it is his, why, when God makes a thing, should it not be His also? We have belonged to God ever since we were born, and we shall be bound to love Him, and serve Him to all eternity.

II. God, as our king, has a right to us. He is strong, and wise, and good. He can rule us, and guide us, and help us. He is just such a king as we all need over us. “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” Men sometimes try to rule over us, when they have no right to do it. But God has all right. He is so strong, that He can do any thing. He is so good, that He cannot be unkind. There is none like Him. It is better for us to belong to God, than to belong to ourselves, or to any one else. If God were to give us up, and never again to claim us as His own, it would be the worst thing in the world for us.

III. God has kept you, and blessed you all your days. He has been a friend and a father to you. He has heaped many blessings upon you. He has given you life, and food, and raiment, and friends, and books, and teachers, and all the health and joy you have had. None has been so kind to you as God. None could have done so much for you as God has done. It must be very wicked to claim to be your own, when you belong to God. He says, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth : for the LORD has spoken ; I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib : but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” (Isaiah 1:2-3) If the ox knows his owner, you ought to know your owner. If the ass knows his master’s crib, you ought to know the hand that feeds you. Again, God says, “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master; if then I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear?”

IV. All of you who have, or have had a pious father or mother, belong to God by their vows. Every Christian, who has children, loves to give them and all he has to God, and he begs God to take them. He is not more afraid of any thing than of having God reject his gifts. And if your parents were not pious, they ought to have been, and they ought to have given you to God. Samuel’s mother gave him to God. Your parents had a right to give you to God. They were bound to give you to Him. What sort of a Christian would that be, who would say, “Lord, I give Thee my soul and my body, but I will not give Thee my time, nor my money, nor my children?” You belong to God, every one of you.

V. Jesus Christ has a right to you, because He died for sinners. It was great love in Christ to come, and suffer, and die  for so vile creatures as we all are. Every one, who shall ever be saved, has been bought with a price far above his value. Peter says, “Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; ….but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish, and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19) If you will not yield yourselves to God out of love to Christ, I cannot say less than that your hearts are very wicked.

REMARKS
1. God asserts and always will assert His right to you and to all men. He says, “All souls are mine.” (Ezekiel 18:4). He says, “The world is mine, and the fulness thereof.” (Psalm 50:12).
2. God will enforce His right to you, and to all men. He says He is “A jealous God.” That is, He is jealous of His own rights. He says again, “My glory will I not give to another.” And again, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
3. It is very wicked not to give God His own. Sin is robbery. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me.” (Malachi 3:8). If it is wrong to take a bow and arrow from the boy, to whom they belong, it must be very wrong indeed not to give ourselves to God; for we all belong to Him.
4. All who have given their hearts and themselves to God have done right. They have done their duty; but they have done no more than their duty. It would have been a great sin to have done less. O that you would give your hearts to Him. It would be the very best thing you ever did. You would be glad of it, not only as long as you live, but for ever and ever. Will you give Him your heart? Say,—will you?

LET US PRAY.
O Lord, we are not our own. Our hands, and feet, and head, and heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, and time, and body, and all belong to Thee. Though we have sinned, do Thou take us, just as we are, and make us Thine by divine grace. Adopt us as Thy children. Let us never go astray from Thee. Teach us to keep Thy word, and find delight in serving Thee. Apply to us the precious blood of Christ, and be our God, and Father, and friend for ever, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Words to Live By:
Matthew 22:16-22 (KJV)
16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.
17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
21 They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

Genesis 1:27 (ESV)
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; rmale and female he created them.

For Further Study:
In addition to a number of books on particularly difficult theological subjects, William Swan Plumer also wrote at least three books addressed to children:
1. Short Sermons to Little Children (1848).
2. Plain Thoughts about Great and Good Things for Little Boys and Girls (1849)
3. Words of Truth and Love (1867)

For a great deal more information on Dr. Plumer and his writings, click here.

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