November 2018

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Divine Providence Ordered the Choice of a Vocation and Decided the Course of A Life
by David T. Myers

Our title for this post is a long one, but it was certainly the case for our featured character today, namely, David Blair. Born November 21, 1787, David was the eighth of eleven children born in the parish of Donagor, County Antrim, Ireland, to Hugh and Jane Blair. They all attended a Presbyterian church until for some unknown reason, they transferred their membership to a Seceder Presbyterian church in the same county. In good weather, the local Covenanter pastor would preach in the barns and groves of their fields. But in time, the whole family decided to travel to America for a new life. With a family this large, some five different times were scheduled to take the family to the American colonies. The part of the family which included young David, took 66 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean, landing at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!

Upon landing, the family traveled by wagon to Pittsburgh, and on to Steubenville, Ohio, where a married daughter was living with her family. Eventually, the entire family moved to Crawford County in Pennsylvania, where several hundred acres were purchased and cabins built for the family. At this time, David Blair was around sixteen years of age. Reading a book which his older brother had given him, the young teen was encouraged to apply to the gospel ministry in 1805. Attendance at Jefferson College in Canonsburg and eventually at the theological Seminary of the Associate Presbyterian Church, David began his preparation for the ministry, pursuing those studies diligently. Licensed to preach on August 29, 1816, David received a call from three Congregations in Pennsylvania. However, rather than immediately receiving it, David begged for an opportunity to travel for a year in ministry throughout the South. He did that on horseback, and then returned to the three congregations. Eventually, he was ordained on October 7, 1818, a full two years after he had been licensed for the ministry. Married to Margaret Steele of Huntington in 1821, she proved to be the woman who helped him greatly in his life and ministry. Forty-four years of pastoral ministry characterized his service to His God and church in Pennsylvania.

Another minister summed up those pastoral laborers saying, “David Blair remains like the venerable oak that has withstood many storms and tempests. Many in his congregations look to him as their spiritual father. He baptized you in infancy. He first gave you the emblems of a Savior’s broken body. He joined you in marriage with the companions whom you call the fathers and mothers of your children. His deep toned voice and direct prayer has gone up from your chambers of sickness. His venerable form has led the processions that carried your loved ones to the grave. These congregations should still honor him as their spiritual father.” David Blair would go on to glory on February 28, 1882.

And so, by this post, we authors and readers own him as one of the spiritual fathers of the church in America, who faithfully labored in small and large fields of ministry, faithfully proclaiming the blessed Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Words to Live By:
Reader! Think of some pastoral minister who was instrumental by God’s Spirit to be that one who was described in the above paragraphs as “the venerable oak” to you and yours. Thank God for him right now. Reflect on how he was used of the Holy Spirit to minister God’s Word to you and your family for a time, carrying out the ministerial actions mentioned in the above paragraphs. Question? If still alive, has he been the recipient of your gratitude spoken and written? Can you not return the spiritual favors rendered by various means, perhaps even monetary gifts, in time of need? Writing as a retired pastor, I can recount with joy various expressions of gratitude, even monetary, which former members of my  several congregations have given to me. Do other pastors need to hear some such encouragement from you?

Rev. Sisag Krikor Emurian was born on March 3, 1874 and died on this day, November 20, 1968, at the age of 94. His remains were buried in Suffolk, Virginia. With a long life come many accomplishments, but he is perhaps most commonly remembered for his setting of the Lord’s Prayer to music [here, in English and here, in his native Armenian tongue]. But our focus today is on his adaptation of the Westminster Shorter Catechism to music. Others have also done similar work, but his settings were in the classical tradition! What follows is a review of that work that appeared not long after its publication in 1936. A photograph of Rev. Emurian can be found here.


Singing the Catechism!
by Rev. Klaas Jacob Stratemeier
in The Presbyterian Messenger

We have no apology to make or our Westminster Shorter Catechism. By all the tests of life and history it has proved its worth over and over again. It has been the means and instrument of leading not only individuals but whole nations into a rugged consistent and devoted expression of faith and life. Here is a document often considered antiquated, often maligned as being too exact in its definitions, often discarded as too difficult to comprehend, which nevertheless lives and exerts a tremendous influence.

That influence is still to be enlarged, we firmly believe, by the daring venture of setting this Catechism to music. The Presbyterian Committee of Publication, Richmond, Virginia, has undertaken this task and has succeeded excellently as the product demonstrates. The work has been done by Rev. S.K. Emurian and Henri Emurian. This musical setting is prefaced by “A Concise History of the Shorter Catechism.” Dr. Ernest Trice Thompson, of the Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, has written this resume. It offers a fine review of the place and influence of the Catechism throughout the world. It serves as a real introduction to the work, because Dr. Thompson’s remarks are highly illuminating and informative. How many know, for instance, that our Catechism has seen translations into the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Portuguese, and many more familiar languages? Surely we have a document here to be prized and to be given a prominent place in the teaching and preaching program of the Church.

But to set the Catechism to music! How can it be done, and is such an attempt not an altogether unpromising venture? Not in the light of the product we have before us. This musical arrangement of the Catechism makes a bid for serious attention. The music is not too difficult to be handled by the regular church choir. Divided into solo, quartet, and full chorus numbers, it provides sufficient variation to furnish an interesting program. This arrangement omits the ten commandments and the Lord’s Prayer because these have received consideration in former productions. But in the thirty-six questions offered here in musical form, there is clearly a working toward a climax, and when at the end the full chorus takes up the mighty strain: “At the resurrection believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged, and acquitted in the day of judgment and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity,” we recognize the force of the great finale and are transported as it were to the day of great triumph and final victory over sin and death and [the] grave. We trust that many churches will be induced to give this production a place in their musical program. This is a dignified service, calculated to stir and deepen our faith in the eternal verities. This musical setting of the Catechism sells for seventy-five cents the copy and can be secured from the Presbyterian Committee of Publication, Richmond, Va.



When gathered all together, not much is really known about Annie Pearce Kinkead Warfield, wife of Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield. In addition, we’ve not been able to locate a photograph or portrait of her. Our post today is drawn from a longer biographical article written for the PCA Historical Center by Barry Waugh.

Beloved Wife of a Scholar.

Benjamin pursued his theological education in preparation for the ministry by entering Princeton Theological Seminary in September of 1873. He was licensed to preach the gospel by Ebenezer Presbytery on May 8, 1875. Following licensure, he tested his ministerial abilities by supplying the Concord Presbyterian Church in Kentucky from June through August of 1875. After he received his divinity degree in 1876, he supplied the First Presbyterian Church of Dayton, Ohio, and while he was in Dayton, he married Annie Pearce Kinkead, the daughter of a prominent attorney, on August 3, 1876. Soon after he married Annie, the couple set sail on an extended study trip in Europe for the winter of 1876-1877. It was sometime during this voyage that the newly weds went through a great storm and Annie suffered an injury that debilitated her for the rest of her life; the biographers differ as to whether the injury was emotional, physical, or a combination of the two. Sometime during 1877, according to Ethelbert Warfield, Benjamin was offered the opportunity to teach Old Testament at Western Seminary, but he turned the position down because he had turned his study emphasis to the New Testament despite his early aversion to Greek (vii). In November 1877, he began his supply ministry at the First Presbyterian Church of Baltimore, where he continued until the following March. He returned to Kentucky and was ordained as an evangelist by Ebenezer Presbytery on April 26, 1879.

In September of 1878, Benjamin began his career as a theological educator when he became an instructor in New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. Western Seminary had been formed by the merger of existing seminaries including Danville Seminary, which R. J. Breckinridge, Benjamin’s grandfather, had been involved in founding. The following year he was made professor of the same subject and he continued in that position until 1887. In his inaugural address for Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Literature, April 20, 1880, he set the theme for many of his writing efforts in the succeeding years by defending historic Christianity. The purpose of his lecture was to answer the question, “Is the Church Doctrine of the Plenary Inspiration of the New Testament Endangered by the Assured Results of Modern Biblical Criticism.” Professor Warfield affirmed the inspiration, authority and reliability of God’s Word in opposition to the critics of his era. He quickly established his academic reputation for thoroughness and defense of the Bible. Many heard of his academic acumen and his scholarship was awarded by eastern academia when his alma mater, the College of New Jersey, awarded him an honorary D. D. in 1880.

According to Samuel Craig, Dr. Warfield was offered the Chair of Theology at the Theological Seminary of the Northwest in Chicago in 1881, but he did not end his service at Western until he went to teach at Princeton Theological Seminary beginning the fall semester of 1887. He succeeded Archibald Alexander Hodge as the Charles Hodge Professor of Didactic and Polemic Theology. His inaugural address, delivered May 8, 1888, was titled “The Idea of Systematic Theology Considered as a Science.” As he taught theology, he did so using Hodge’s Systematic Theology and continued the Hodge tradition. The constant care Annie required and the duties associated with teaching at Princeton, resulted in a limited involvement in presbytery, synod, and general assembly. Annie lived a homebound life limiting herself primarily to the Princeton campus where Benjamin was never-too-far from home. The Warfields lived in the same campus home where Charles and Archibald Alexander Hodge lived during their years at Princeton.

warfieldakgravePictured at right: Commemorative plaque placed in Miller Chapel at Princeton Seminary in honor of B.B. Warfield. Photo by Dr. Barry Waugh.

Benjamin enjoyed a busy schedule at Princeton. One of his duties at Princeton included editing the Presbyterian Review, succeeding Francis L. Patton. When the Presbyterian Review was discontinued, he planned and produced the Presbyterian and Reformed Review until the Faculty of Princeton renamed it the Princeton Theological Review in 1902. During his Princeton years he was awarded several times with honorary degrees in addition to his D.D. including: the LL.D. by the College of New Jersey in 1892, the LL.D. by Davidson College in 1892, the Litt.D. by Lafayette College in 1911, and the S.T.D. by the University of Utrecht in 1913.

After thirty-nine years of marriage, Annie died November 19, 1915. She was buried in the Princeton cemetery of what is now the Nassau Street Presbyterian Church with a bronze, vault sized ground plate marking her location. Benjamin continued to teach at Princeton until he was taken ill suddenly on Christmas Eve of 1920. Until this illness, Dr. Warfield had followed an active and busy teaching schedule into his seventieth year of life. His condition was serious for a time, but he improved enough that he resumed partial teaching responsibilities on February 16, 1921. Despite not feeling ill effects from the class he taught that day, he died of coronary problems later that evening. He was buried next to his beloved Annie with a similar marker for his grave. The Warfields did not have any children.

Words To Live By:

Does the reality of your life live up to the words of your Christian testimony? The life-long love expressed by Dr. Warfield for his wife, no doubt sacrificial at times, stands as a vibrant witness to his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ calls us to live not for our own sake, or for our own comfort or advancement in this world. Rather, He calls us to live for His glory, and living that life in keeping with His Word may well mean great sacrifice of one sort or another. Through it all, God calls us to remain faithful, relying upon Him at every turn, and by His Spirit overcoming every adversity, all to His glory.

“The Shorter Catechism should be of high value to us. It has in it the confessional convictions on which our system of doctrine, as taught in the Holy Scriptures, is found. It has in it the evangelistic zeal that must be a part of us if we would safe-guard the faith delivered to us. May God help us to continue to study it, all to the glory of God. Amen!”

Fitting words for the conclusion of this, the final installment in Rev. Van Horn’s series on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. We will conclude this year with some other similar items by Rev. Van Horn, and then next year will turn to another author’s commentary on the Catechism.

by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 107. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?

A. The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise Him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to Him, and in testimony of our desire and assurance to be heard, we say, “Amen.”

Scripture References: Daniel 9:13, 19; I Chron. 29:11-13; Rev. 22:20-21; I Cor. 14:16.


1. What may we learn from the word “For” in this question?

We may learn from it that we are concluding our prayer with a strong basis. We have great and mighty arguments from the Word of God for all of our petitions. We are simply saying, “Lord, because of Who Thou art, because of the sovereignty off Thy power, grant our petitions.”

2. What do we mean in this prayer by the “kingdom, and the power, and the glory?”

Our Larger Catechism (Question 196) tells us we mean the “eternal sovereignty, omnipotency, and glorious excellency” of God alone.

3. What is His “kingdom” as mentioned in this question?

We are speaking here of God as Creator and as Redeemer. The first has to do with the kingdom of nature and the second with the kingdom of grace.

4. Why do we add the word “power” to the portion of the prayer?

We add “power” to it because we desire Him to perform His will for us. We claim by faith His power to do so (Rom. 4:21).

5. As we add the word “glory” what are we denoting?

We mean here that we are to praise Him continually for His wondrous works to the children of men. God should be praised without ceasing by us for He is glorious. (Ps. 119:27).

6. What is the use of the word “Amen” to end our prayers?

It is used to signify “So shall it be” by us. It is our earnestness of faith and our intensity of desire.


It is very suitable to end our catechism studies with “Amen” even as so many times we have ended our prayers with this great word from the Word of God. As our catechism question points out so very well, the God with whom we have to do is able to help us. He is the Almighty, Sovereign God. He is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Indeed we do well to end such a statement with “Amen” and mean by it a sincere expression of our belief that He is well able to do far beyond what we ask or think!

The word “Amen” is an indication of reverence, it is a way of saying, “May it be so in very truth!” It comes from a Hebrew word meaning “faithful” and is used in the Greek New Testament 50 times as the word “Amen” and 100 more times as the word “Verily,” and with the same meaning.

The word has been used in three ways by the church of Jesus Christ. It has been used in unison by the congregation at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. Many have no idea of what they are saying and certainly need to be taught the meaning of it. It has been used by the congregation in many liturgical churches at the end of the prayer delivered by the person praying. Here it is not meant to be simply an indication that the prayer is finished but it is meant to be an indication that the prayer is finished and it is mean to be an indication on the part of the worshippers that they are sincerely responding to the prayer that has been uttered.

There is a third way it has been used in the church. It has been used as a vocal “Amen” on the part of worshippers during the sermon as they respond to the preaching of the Word of God. Indeed, this can be used when it should not be, can become a habit rather than a heartfelt response. However, it is wondered if there must not be something lacking in the preaching, or the response, or both, when years can pass without an “Amen!” escaping now and then!

It is a good way to end our catechism studies. The Shorter Catechism should be of high value to us. It has in it the confessional convictions on which our system of doctrine, as taught in the Holy Scriptures, is found. It has in it the evangelistic zeal that must be a part of us if we would safe-guard the faith delivered to us. May God help us to continue to study it, all to the glory of God. Amen!

Published by The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of instruction in Presbyterian churches.

Vol. 7, No. 8 (December 1968)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

A Long Name, With an Influential Theology System

William Greenough Thayer Shedd was born in June of 1820 of a distinguished New England lineage. His father was a minister, though it is not clear whether he was a Congregationalist or a Presbyterian pastor. (In early years, both groups were closely aligned in that region.) When William Shedd was eleven years old in 1831, his family moved to Lake Champlain, New York. This enabled William to later attend the University of Vermont, where a teacher introduced him to philosophy and literature. Graduating in 1839, he began to teach in New York City. It was here that William made a public profession of faith and began to attend a Presbyterian Church.

Sensing the call to the ministry, he attended Andover Theological Seminary. There he met and was influenced by Prof. Leonard Woods, who was a solid Old School Presbyterian. Graduating from Andover, Shedd became a pastor in the Congregational denomination in Vermont. Even though he was Old School Reformed in his thinking, he taught briefly at the New School Presbyterian institution of Auburn Theological Seminary, from 1852-1854.

After the Congregationalists decided to stop emphasizing the distinctive doctrines of the Christian faith, Pastor and Professor Shedd made his switch to the Presbyterian distinctives of his younger years. Leaving Auburn, he was professor of church history at Andover from 1853-1862, and then for two years as co-pastor at the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. His life’s primary work occurred while teaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he was to teach for eleven years, 1874-1892. Just before the end of his teaching ministry,  he wrote his most famous book on “Dogmatic Theology.”

And yes, he took a strong stand against the unbelief of his fellow teacher, Charles Briggs, and Shedd also argued against the revision of the Westminster Standards, which was also being suggested in those days. He died on November 17, 1894.

Words to live by:  When a pastor or professor can summarize his thoughts on paper and in published works, then solid convictions can continue to have an influence for righteousness which would not otherwise be the case if that one just taught or preached in one place in history. Some churches and educational institutions (may their tribe increase) are offering sabbaticals to their pastors and professors for exactly that reason, that is, that they may examine themselves pastorally or professionally in their calling, or write down some thoughts for the benefit of the church at large. Support such efforts, if you are a member of a church, or on a board for higher education. They are that beneficial to the wider church.

Through the Scriptures:   Galatians 1 – 3

Through the Standards:  Improvement of baptism

WLC 167 — “How is our baptism to be improved by us?
A.  The needful but much neglected duty of improving our baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to,  the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of  sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, a those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.”

Image source: Photo facing page 96 in A History of Auburn Theological Seminary, 1818-1918. Auburn, NY: Auburn Seminary Press, 1918. Scan prepared by the staff of the PCA Historical Center.

Rev. Shedd is perhaps most widely remembered for his three-volume work on systematic theology, which was originally published in 1888. Zondervan reprinted the work in 1969 and I’m sure there have been other reprints.


Dissertations & Theses—
• Herzer, Mark Andrew, The Influence of Romantic Idealism in the Writings of William Greenough Thayer Shedd. Philadelphia: Westminster Theological Seminary, 2003; Ph.D. dissertation.

Concluding our coverage of the second General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, which was in the first several years of its existence known as the Presbyterian Church of America. That Assembly was in session from November 14-16, 1936. The news clipping transcribed below is from the Henry G. Welbon Manuscript Collection, preserved at the PCA Historical Center. At the end of this post, we have provided image scans of the program bulletin from that Assembly. The text of Dr. Machen’s sermon on 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 can be found here. For an interesting exercise, compare Dr. Machen’s sermon with that of Robert Murray McCheyne, on the same text. Click here for the McCheyne sermon.

Philadelphia Inquirer, November 16, 1936, page 2:


Places New Presbyterian Group in Van of Fight for Old Faith.

In a farewell message to members of the second General Assembly, Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., moderator for the duration of the sessions, last night placed the new Presbyterian Church of America in the forefront of the battle to preserve the ancient evangelical standards of the reformed faith.

Taking as his text a portion of an epistle to St. Paul to the Corinthians, Dr. Buswell declared “salvation of souls” to be the main business of the denomination and, among others, quoted a passage from the Apostle that “we are ambassadors for Christ.”

The sermon, delivered in the auditorium of the Manufacturers’ and Bankers’ Club, was the final event on a four-day program during which the assembly adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith as its doctrinal standard, elected committees and took steps toward acquiring a form of government.

It followed a series of devotional services at individual churches during the morning, when various visiting ministers addressed the congregations. The new Church was formed after a split from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. last June over the question of modernism.

Declaring that the Bible alone was recognized as ultimate authority in the present denomination, Dr. Buswell scored efforts to substitute for that authority the official interpretation of Church councils and of men.

Words to Live By:
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
(2 Corinthians 5:18-20)





Keeping in mind that any news coverage inevitably has its own slant or perspective, we present with that caveat the following newspaper reports on the close of the second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America [Orthodox Presbyterian Church], which met November 14-16, 1936 (two Assemblies that year!):

From the Brooklyn, N.Y. Eagle:–

Government Form For New Church Is Assembly Aim

Philadelphia, Nov. 14. — The second general assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America tabled all discussion today on interpreting its doctrinal standards and undertook to establish a form of government for the church founded here five months ago.

The assembly which adopted the historic Westminster confessions and catechisms as its doctrinal standards yesterday, tabled two motions today which would interpret the doctrines on the question of the second coming of Christ. Church leaders interpreted the action as assuring eschatological liberty within the church on the question.

The constitutional form was discussed at the afternoon session.

It became known today that the Rev. H. McAllister Griffiths of Philadelphia has resigned as a member of the church.

The Rev. Mr. Griffiths was ecclesiastical counsel for the Rev. Dr. J. Gresham Machen, first moderator of the new church, in his trials on charges of insubordination to the authority of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Dr. Machen was suspended from the church after the general assembly upheld his conviction.

His [Griffiths’s] resignation became known when an inquiry was made from the floor why he was not attending the assembly. The Rev. Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, moderator, did not explain the reasons for his resignation. At his home the Rev. Mr. Griffiths confirmed his resignation, but said he preferred not to make any statement.

In adopting the Westminster confessions yesterday, the delegates votes against including amendments which were adopted in 1903 by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

and from the Philadelphia Inquirer, November 15, 1936:—

Fundamentalists Stick Close to Law of Pre-Split Body

Tentative Rule Adopted; Griffiths-Machen Rift Mars Session

A tentative form of government closely following that of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., from which it split last June, yesterday was adopted by the Presbyterian Church of America in the closing business session of its four-day second General Assembly.

The 100-year old constitution was accepted as the provisional working basis for the new fundamentalist order until a permanent basis can be formulated at the next assembly in Philadelphia, June 1 to 5.

In substance, the form grouped the individual churches into presbyteries, but eliminated provision for synods; arranged for the administration of local congregations and outlined requirements for admission into the denomination’s ministry.

Titles Are Guaranteed

Among major changes was a passage guaranteeing each congregation title to its property and specifically denying the “right of reversion to the Presbyterian Church of America, unless the particular church should become extinct.”

Fundamentalist clergymen pointed out that the question of property ownership was a sore point under jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., and that the passage should clarify the issue. They insisted that under the old regime congregations were bereft of their “right” to hold title to church buildings and lands.

A discordant note in the closing hours of session came with the revelation of a rift between Dr. J. Gresham Machen, retired moderator, and Rev. H. McAllister Griffiths, his associate in forming the church as a protest against Presbyterian modernism.

Renounces Jurisdiction

The split between the two former leaders was learned when commissioners demanded an explanation of Dr. Griffiths’ failure to appear at any meetings of the Assembly. Reached at his home, the former editor of the Presbyterian Guardian, militant fundamentalist paper, admitted that he had sent a letter to the stated clerk of the Philadelphia Presbytery renouncing jurisdiction of that body.

“I have completely severed all connection with the Presbyterian Church of America,” declared Dr. Griffiths, who took a leading part in defending several clergymen ejected by the parent body. “I am an independent minister.”

Except to say that Dr. Griffiths had “performed great service to the church,” Dr. Machen refused comment, while Dr. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., moderator, announced he had no intention of speaking on the matter.

Women’s Proposal Defeated

Adoption of the form of government followed by a report by the constitutional committee, headed by Rev. Ned B. Stonehouse, of Westminster Theological Seminary.

Vigorous opposition to admitting women to the board of trustees of local congregations defeated the committee’s recommendations that “other communicant members of the church may be elected trustees” in addition to elders and deacons. Several ministers who asserted that the change would make women eligible to office, murmured fervent “Thank God’s” when the proposal was defeated.

A charge that the assembly had side-stepped” the issue of pre-millennialism was made by Rev. J. U. Selwyn Toms, of Wenonah, N. J., yesterday afternoon after resolutions expressing the denomination’s attitude on the doctrine had been tabled in the morning. Dr. Toms declared the “covering up of the question will be a source of danger.”

Protest against the church’s refusal to guarantee tolerance of the doctrine was recorded in the minutes by Rev. Milo Jamison, of Los Angeles, Calif. “Nothing short of some such constitutional safeguard,” he declared, “could set at rest rumors that pre-millennialists are not welcome in the Presbyterian Church of America.”

Words to Live By:
It would be remarkable in our own day and time if the PCA, the OPC, or any of the conservative Presbyterian denominations were to merit news coverage by a major newspaper. It seems that only scandal sells. Valiant stands for righteousness and the glory of God are boring in the eyes of the world. Moreover, too few have the courage to take such stands, and so we are seen as unimportant. But by the grace of God, that will change. It is God and God alone who brings true change. Salvation belongs to the Lord, and as His people seek His face, He will yet again turn to favor His Church. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Presbyterian Circuit Riders
by Rev. David T. Myers

When we think about Circuit Riders, usually the Methodist Church comes to mind. Yet for many years, the official policy of the Presbyterian General Assembly was that of authorizing ministers to ride as missionaries among pastor-less settlements In a journal of Rev. William Williamson, printed by the Presbytery of Washington, Ohio on November 14, 1809, Teaching Elder Williamson wrote the following:

“This day, agreeable to an appointment of Presbytery, I set out in company with the Rev. James Gilleland on a mission authorized by the General Assembly.

“After proceeding about 8 miles up the Ohio river, I was called about 9 miles off my intended rout to celebrate a marriage for which I received . . . 15 people who appeared very serious.

“Monday, 4th. I proceeded 5 miles across a mountain which divides Chenoth’s fork from main Sunfish to Mr. Bristols where I expected to preach but on my arrival found that the person who had been entrusted with my appointment had neglected to give notice to the neighborhood. It was an excessive rainy day and most of the people of this vicinity were collected to assist one of their neighbors husk his corn. I therefore was appointed to preach the next day at Mr. Alexr Crosses . . .

“During the above rout I made it a stated rule to converse with the families where I lodged or called in for an hour or two on the subject of religion. On some occasions our conversation was agreeable. I would humbly trust profitable but too generally thru the ignorance or want of relish in the people and my own unskilfulness in this important duty, I had but little ground to hope that any good fruit would arise.”

Words to Live By:
As the above journal proves, such a transient ministry was often hard. Far better in our day to labor in a spiritual field where there is at last one or more families who are convinced that a spiritual work in evangelism and edification is beneficial. This author felt that on one occasion when he left his established church in Lincoln, Nebraska to go to Omaha, Nebraska, and begin a mission church with just four families. Yet today, a growing and healthy congregation is holding forth the Word of Life in both cities. Look to your spiritual horizons, dear reader. Are there areas around you where there are no congregations true to the Scriptures, the Reformed faith and the Great Commission? Begin to pray about it, commit yourself and your family, take counsel from your home church, and begin a congregation, for God’s glory and the growth of the church at large.

When He Died, The Town Shut Down.

John Todd Edgar, D. D., was born in Sussex county, Delaware, April 13th, 1792. His father removed to Kentucky in 1795. He was at the Transyl­vania University, Lexington, Kentucky, a short time, but was not a graduate. He graduated at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1816 [as Princeton Seminary was established in 1812, the school had only graduated its first class the year before, in 1815.] He was thereafter licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Brunswick.

Upon his ordination in 1817, he was installed as pastor of the Church at Flemingsburg, Kentucky, and la­bored there with earnestness and assiduity. He was subsequently pastor at Maysville, Kentucky, and in 1827 took charge of the Church at Frankfort, the capital of Kentucky. Here his eloquence soon gathered round him the leading men of the State.

In 1833 he accepted a call from a church in Nashville, Tennessee, and it was among this congregation that his great life-work was fully accomplished. A new facility was completed for the congregation in the year of his arrival, and the same building was destroyed by fire in September of 1848. The property was valued at $30,000 to $40,000, though only insured to the amount of $8,000.

Dr. Edgar died of a stroke, which was in that era called apoplexy, on November 13th, 1860, at the age of 68 years and 7 months. His death produced such a profound sensation in the community, that, by proclamation of the Mayor, there was a general suspension of business in the city, and the Chancery Court, then in session, adjourned.

Dr. Edgar was a cultivated and courteous gentle­man. His intellectual endowments were more remarkable for their admirable balance than for the special eminence of particular faculties. He was accounted one of the finest orators of his day. As a pastor, he was social, winning and a friend to all. His temperament was kind and genial, generous, loving and most just. He had a settled aversion to all that was mean, cruel and base, and was himself sustained by personal and moral firmness of the highest order, and was thor­oughly unselfish. By birth, training and deep con­viction he was a Presbyterian, and clear and constant in his convictions, kind and trustful towards all good men of every denomination, he was a noble specimen of the body to which he belonged.

Words to Live By:
“God often extorts, in a dying hour,” said George Whitefield, “that testimony to His grace which was not fully given in life; but he who has lived faithfully can afford to die silent.”

Freely edited from Nevin’s Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church, p. 208, with additional information drawn from The First Presbyterian Church of Nashville: A Documentary History

The following account comes from the pages of Christianity Today [the original series, 1930-1949 and published by Samuel Craig], recounting something of the opposition encountered by missionaries trying to be obedient to the Scriptures and faithful to God’s call. The case had been convincingly made that their denominational board was sending modernists and even unbelievers out onto the mission field. Rather than work in that context, an Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions was begun, though almost immediately the denomination declared that involvement with this Independent Board was illegal and “unPresbyterian.” (this, despite the fact that the denomination itself had utilized independent agencies in the 19th-century.

The Rev. Henry W. Coray entered onto the mission field of China about 1935, under the auspices of the IBPFM, and labored there until the War forced missionaries to return home. Stateside, Rev. Coray soon found a new calling as the organizing pastor of the Faith Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Long Beach, California, and he labored in that pulpit until 1955, when called to establish a church in San Jose. Blessed with a long life, Rev. Coray entered into his eternal reward in 2002.

The Case of Mr. Coray

On November 12, 1934, the Presbytery of Lackawanna (Synod of Pennsylvania) without process voted to erase from its roll the name of the Rev. Henry Warner Coray [23 June 1904-20 October 2002], who was at that time already serving on the field in China as a missionary of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (IBPFM).

That action was taken because Mr. Coray went to China to preach the gospel without the consent of the Presbytery. The permission of the Presbytery was refused, as is plain from the action taken by the Presbytery at meeting on September 26, 1934, because Mr. Coray announced his intention of going to the foreign field under the appointment of the Independent Board. On September 26th the  Presbytery had decided to notify Mr. Coray of its intention to erase his name from the roll if he left “his field to labor under this so-called Board.” It should be noted that the report of the Presbyterial Council, which was adopted by the Presbytery, was presented by the Rev. Peter K. Emmons, a member of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A.!

The report recited that its recommendations were made in view of the action of the General Assembly “condemning this so-called Board as a repudiation of the jurisdiction of the General Assembly and of those terms of fellowship and communion contained in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church.”

No charges were ever filed against Mr. Coray. He served his church with distinction and left it with the blessing of those to whom he ministered. Nevertheless he was expelled from the Church without a trial! Without making a technical examination of the action of the Presbytery, which was professedly taken in accordance with Chapter VII, Section 2 (b) of the Book of Discipline, we want to make one observation. If the Presbytery wished to raise the question whether Mr. Coray had the right to do as he did, it could have filed charges against him. In that event Mr. Coray would have had an opportunity to defend his conduct and to raise the pertinent question whether the Presbytery’s command was a lawful one. It has been well said that “Henry Coray’s name was erased from the roll of his Presbytery simply because he refused to lay down the call of God at the command of men . . . Had he gone out under the official Board the same Presbytery would doubtless have banqueted in his honor. But he goes out under the Independent Board. ‘You must preach the gospel to the heathen under our auspices,’ says the Presbytery in effect, ‘or you must stay at home.’ Henry Coray went and thereby deserves lasting honor.”

[Source: CHRISTIANITY TODAY, 5.9 (February 1935): 214-215.]

Words to Live By:
It matters not what the world says. It matters not what friends and family may say. It matters not what governments, princes, armies and magistrates may say. If contrary to the very Word of God, then we must stand firm upon the Scriptures, unmoved, looking to our only Lord and God, knowing that all truth resides with Him.

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