September 2018

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“Finally, we exhort the children of God to continue instant in prayer, that He, with whom is the residue of the Spirit, would grant us fresh, more plentiful and extensive effusions, that so this wilderness, in all the parts of it, may become a fruitful field; that the present appearances may be an earnest of the glorious things promised to the Church in the latter days; when she shall shine with the glory of the Lord arisen upon her, so as to dazzle the eyes of beholders, confound and put to shame all her enemies, rejoice the hearts of her solicitous and now saddened friends, and have a strong influence and resplendency throughout the earth. Amen!—Even so, come Lord Jesus; come quickly!”

Psalm 145:10-12
10.  All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord, and Your godly ones shall bless You.
11.  They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and talk of Your power.
12.  To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts and the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.

In the era of the First Great Awakening, Presbyterian and Congregationalist pastors worked readily with one another in the proclamation of the Gospel, both groups being strongly Calvinistic in their theology. As you read through this document, you will see mentioned several of the concerns which figured prominently in the Old Side/New Side split of the Presbyterian Church, 1741-1758. The issues prompting that split included itinerant preaching and ministerial authority, and both of these concerns are discussed in THE TESTIMONY AND ADVICE.

[Originally published Boston : Printed, and sold by S. Kneeland and T. Green, 1743, and here excerpted from THE CHARLESTON OBSERVER, Vol. XII, No. 38 (22 September 1838): 149, columns 4-5.]

From the Pastor’s Journal.
ANCIENT REVIVALS.

After the remarkable work of God in New England in the beginning of the last century, it was suggested by a writer in the Boston Gazette of May 31st, 1743, that a Convention of Ministers should be held to “consider whether they are not called upon to give an open, conjunct testimony, to an event so surprising and gracious, as well as against those errors in doctrine and disorders in practice, which through the permitted agency of Satan have attended it, and in some measure blemished its glory and hindered its advancement.” Accordingly, on the 7th July of the same year, about ninety Ministers met at Boston for the above purposes. After a sermon, they proceeded to confer together, and to hear the letters of such as desired but were not able to attend the meeting. As the result of their deliberations they drew up and published the following document, which was signed by sixty-eight Ministers—the number of those who remained, the others having left.

THE TESTIMONY AND ADVICE

Of an Assembly of Pastors of Churches in New England, at a meeting in Boston, July 7th, 1743, occasioned by the late happy Revival of Religion in many parts of the land.

If it is the duty of every one capable of observation and reflection, to take a constant religious notice of what occurs in the daily course of common providence; how much more is it expected that those events in the divine, wherein there is a signal display of the power, grace, and mercy of God in behalf of the Church, should be observed with sacred wonder, pleasure, and gratitude?—Nor should the people of God content themselves with a silent notice, but publish with the voice of thanks, and tell of all his wondrous works. More particularly, when Christ is pleased to come into his Church in a plentiful effusion of his Holy Spirit, by whose powerful influences the ministration of the word is attended with uncommon success, salvation-work carried in an eminent manner, and his kingdom which is within men, and consists in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, is notably advanced. This is an event which above all others invites the notice and bespeaks the praises of the Lord’s people, and should be declared abroad for a memorial of the divine grace; as it tends to confirm the divinity of a despised Gospel, and manifests the work of the Holy Spirit in the application of redemption, which too many are ready to reproach; as it may have a happy effect, by the divine blessing, for the revival of religion in other places, and the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ in the world; and as it tends to enliven the prayers, strengthen the faith, and raise the hopes of such as are waiting for the kingdom of God, and the coming on of the glory of the latter days.—But if it is justly expected of all who profess themselves the disciples of Christ, that they should openly acknowledge and rejoice in a work of this nature, wherein the honor of their Divine Master is so much concerned; how much more is it to be looked for from those who are employed in the ministry of the Lord Jesus, and so stand in a special relation to him, as servants of his household and officers in his kingdom? These stand as watchmen upon the walls of Jerusalem; and it is their business not only to give the alarm of war when the enemy is approaching, but to sound the trumpet of praise when the king of Zion cometh, in a meek triumph, having salvation.

For these and other reasons, we whose names are hereunto annexed, pastors of Churches in New England, met together in Boston, July 7th, 1743, think it our indispensable duty, (without judging or censuring such of our brethren as cannot at present see things in the same light with us) in this open and conjunct manner to declare, to the glory of sovereign grace, our full persuasion, either from what we have seen ourselves, or received upon credible testimony, that there has been a happy and remarkable revival of religion in many parts of this land, through an uncommon divine influence; after a long time of great decay and deadness, and a sensible and very awful withdrawal of the Holy Spirit from his sanctuary among us. Though the work of grace wrought on the hearts of men by the word and Spirit of God, and which has been more or less carried on in the Church from the beginning, is always the same for substance, and agrees, at one time and another, in one place or person and another, as to the main strokes and lineaments of it, yet the present work appears to be remarkable and extraordinary, on account of the numbers wrought upon. We never before saw so many brought under soul-concern, and with distress making the inquiry, “What must we do to be saved?” and these persons of all characters and ages. With regard to the suddenness and quick progress of it, many persons and places were surprised with the gracious visit together, or near about the same time; and the heavenly influence diffused itself far and wide like the light of the morning. Also in respect of the degree of operation, both in a way of terror and in a way of consolation; attended in many with unusually bodily effects. Not that all who are accounted the subjects of the present work, have had these extraordinary degrees of previous distress and subsequent joy.—But many, and we suppose the greater number have been wrought on in a more gentle and silent way, and without any other appearances than are common and usual at other times, when persons have been awakened to a solemn concern about salvation, and have been thought to have passed out of a state of nature into a state of grace. As to those whose inward concern has occasioned extraordinary outward distress, the most of them, when we came to converse with them, were able to give, what appeared to us a rational account of what so affected their minds, viz. a quick sense of their guilt, misery, and danger; and they would often mention the passages in the sermons they heard, or particular texts of Scripture, which were sent home upon them with such a powerful impression. And as to such whose joys have carried them in transports and ecstacies, [sic] they in like manner have accounted for them, from a lively sense of the danger they hoped they were freed from, and the happiness they were now possessed of; such clear views of divine and heavenly things, and particularly of the excellencies and loveliness of Jesus Christ, and such sweet tastes of redeeming love, as they never had before. The instances were very few in which we had reason to think these affections were produced by visionary or sensible representations, or by any other images than such as the Scripture itself presents unto us.

And here we think it not amiss to declare that in dealing with these persons, we have been careful to inform them, that the nature of conversion does not consist in these passionate feelings; and to warn them not to look upon their state as safe, because they have passed out of deep distress into high joys, unless they experience a renovation of nature, followed with a change of life, and a course of vital holiness. Nor have we gone into such an opinion of the bodily effects with which this work has been attended in some of its subjects, as to judge them any signs that persons who have been so affected, were then under a saving work of the Spirit of God. No; we never so much as called these bodily seizures, convictions; or spake of them as the immediate work of the Holy Spirit. Yet we do not think them inconsistent with a work of God upon the soul at that very time; but judge that those inward impressions which come from the Spirit of God, those terrors and consolations of which he is the author, may, according to the natural frame and constitution which some persons are of, occasion such bodily effects. And therefore that those extraordinary outward symptoms are not an argument that the work is delusive, or from the influence and agency of the evil spirit.

With respect to numbers of those who have been under the impressions of the present day, we must declare there is good ground to conclude they are become real Christians; the account they give of their consolation and conviction agreeing with the standard of the Holy Scriptures, corresponding with the experiences of the saints, and evidenced by the external fruits of holiness in their lives; so that they appear to those who have the nearest access to them, as so many epistles of Christ, written, not with ink, but by the spirit of the living God, attesting to the genuineness of the present operation, and representing the excellency of it. Indeed, many who appeared to be under convictions, and were much altered in their external behavior, when this work began, and while it was most flourishing, have lost their impressions, and are relapsing into their former manner of life; yet of those who were judged hopefully converted, and made a public profession of religion, there have been fewer instances of scandal and apostacy [sic] than might be expected. So that, as far as we are able to form a judgment, the face of religion is lately changed much for the better in many of our towns and congregations; and together with a reformation observable in divers instances, appears to be more experimental godliness, and lively Christianity, than the most of us can remember we have ever seen before.

Thus we have freely declared our thoughts as to the work of God so remarkably revived in many parts of this land. And now, we desire to bow the knee in thanksgiving to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that our eyes have seen and our ears heard such things. And whilst these are our sentiments, we must necessarily be grieved at any accounts sent abroad, representing this work as all enthusiasm, delusion, and disorder.—Indeed it is not to be denied, that in some places many irregularities and extravagances have been permitted to accompany it, which we would deeply lament and bewail before God, and look upon ourselves obliged, for the honor of the Holy Spirit, and of his blessed operations on the souls of men, to bear a public and faithful testimony against; though at the same time it is to be acknowledged with much thankfulness, that in other places, where the work has greatly flourished, there have been few if any of these disorders and excesses. But who can wonder, if at such a time as this, Satan should intermingle himself, to hinder and blemish a work so directly contrary to the interests of his own kingdom? Or if, while so much good seed is sowing, the enemy should be busy to sow tares? We would, therefore, in the bowels of Jesus, beseech men as have been partakers of this work, or are zealous to promote it, that they be not ignorant of Satan’s devices; that they watch and pray against errors and misconduct of every kind, lest they blemish and hinder that which they desire to honor and advance. Particularly, that they do not make secret impulses on their minds, without a due regard to the written word, the rule of their duty; a very dangerous mistake which we apprehend some in these times have gone into. That laymen do not invade the ministerial office, and under a pretence [sic] of exhorting, set up preaching; which is very contrary to Gospel order, and tends to introduce errors and confusion into the Church. That Ministers do not invade the province of others, and in ordinary cases preach in another’s parish, without his knowledge, and against his consent; nor encourage raw and indiscreet young candidates, in rushing into particular places, and preaching publicly or privately, as some have done to the no small disrepute and damage of the work in places where it once promised to flourish. Though at the same time we would have Ministers show their regard to the spiritual welfare of their people, by suffering them to partake of the gifts and graces of able, sound, and zealous preachers of the word, as God in his providence may give opportunity therefore; being persuaded that God has in this day remarkably blest [sic] the labors of his servants who have travelled [sic] in preaching the Gospel of Christ. That people beware of entertaining prejudices against their own pastors, and do not run into unscriptural separations. That they do not indulge a disputatious spirit, which has been attended with mischievous effects; nor discover a spirit of censoriousness, uncharitableness, and rash judging the state of others; than which scarce any thing has more blemished the work of God amongst us. And while we would meekly exhort both Ministers and Christians, so far as is consistent with truth and holiness, to follow the things that make for peace; we would most earnestly warn all sorts of persons not to despise these outpourings of the Spirit, lest a holy God be provoked to withhold them, and instead thereof to pour out upon this people the vials of his wrath, in temporal judgments and spiritual plagues; and would call upon every one to improve the remarkable season of grace, and put in for a share of the heavenly blessings so liberally dispensed.

Finally, we exhort the children of God to continue instant in prayer, that He, with whom is the residue of the Spirit, would grant us fresh, more plentiful and extensive effusions, that so this wilderness, in all the parts of it, may become a fruitful field; that the present appearances may be an earnest of the glorious things promised to the Church in the latter days; when she shall shine with the glory of the Lord arisen upon her, so as to dazzle the eyes of beholders, confound and put to shame all her enemies, rejoice the hearts of her solicitous and now saddened friends, and have a strong influence and resplendency throughout the earth. Amen!—Even so, come Lord Jesus; come quickly!”

The above was signed by sixty-eight Ministers, fifteen of whom, however, added the following exception:

“We concur with the testimony, for the substance of it, excepting that article of itinerancy, or ministers and others intruding into other Minister’s parishes without their consent; which great disorder we apprehend not; sufficiently testified against therein.”

[Note: In his reprinting of this document, the editor of THE CHARLESTON OBSERVERdid not see fit to provide the names of those signing THE TESTIMONY AND ADVICE, and so those names cannot be provided here.]

“The whole tribe of libertines are so many vultures upon the body politic. Religion, patriotism, domestic peace, and public tranquility, are strangers to their bosoms. There is nothing lovely, nothing valuable on earth with which they are not at war. Beauty, health, reputation. The marriage covenant—that strong defence and glory of society—and all the tender sympathies and relations of social life, wither and die under their blighting touch.”

 

Even Then, Steadfastly Remember: Our God Reigns

Samuel Clark Aiken (1791-1879) was born in Windham, Vermont on the 21st day of September, 1791. Educated at Middlebury College and Andover Theological Seminary, he served the First Presbyterian Church of Utica, New York for seventeen years before answering a call to serve the only Presbyterian church in Cleveland, Ohio. The remainder of his years were spent serving the Old Stone Church, from 1835 until his retirement in 1861. He died in the first hour of the first day of the first month of 1879, at the age of 88. While serving faithfully and efficiently as the pastor of the church, Rev. Aiken was also quite active in civic affairs, while also addressing a number of societal issues.

Here today we present the opening portion of one of Rev. Aiken’s sermons. In this sermon, he addresses the growing problem of prostitution in America in the 1830’s. As then, so today it seems we think that such things cannot be spoken of in polite society, and that in turns becomes a shielding cover for the problem. His description of Paris in the early nineteenth-century sounds all too familiar. Rev. Aiken’s sermon is wrapped in some of the typically elaborate nineteenth-century style, but cut past that to read the crux of what he is saying. That encumbrance aside, you don’t hear sermons on such subjects today. Why is that?


Moral Reform: A Sermon delivered at Utica, on Sabbath evening, February 16, 1834.

Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” – Proverbs 7:27.

What a picture this book gives of the crime of lewdness! The painter threw upon canvas the reality as it existed three thousand years ago, and it is worthy of notice, that since that period it has undergone no essential change. I question, whether in the infancy of the world, and in the days of ignorance that followed, this vice was generally more prominent or prevalent, even among gentiles, than it is at present moment, in some towns and cities in these United States.

I make no apology for bringing this subject before a Christian congregation. I give no pledge to hold my peace, even after speaking once, unless the friends of virtue pledge themselves to act.

As one set for the defence of religion and public morals, I acknowledge my error in having remained silent so long. I am happy to make the confession; for, with my present convictions of duty, whatever may be the views of my respected fellow-laborers in the ministry, until I expose the nakedness of this vice, and sound a note of alarm in this community, I can never say with the apostle, that “I am pure from the blood of all men,” and, that “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”

My office out of the question, I hold no parley with that morbid fastidiousness which trembles and shrinks from any open and manly effort to cure the evil. Nor have I the least regard or veneration for that artificial and sickly delicacy, which, for ages, has bound the friends of virtue in fetters of iron, and charmed them into a most fatal silence and apathy. I believe it to be in part the creature of a false education, and in part the wily policy of the devil, to maintain his empire of pollution, by assuming so great and over-weening a regard for purity, as to be unable to endure the disclosures of vice. To cover up, to cover up, is the master policy of the prince of darkness. “He that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” Well fitted to sustain and advance his nefarious purposes, is the doctrine, coolly and deliberately advocated by the friends of virtue, yes, and by the pimps of vice also, that here is an immorality not to be spoken of in public. We may contemplate it in pictures, in books, in caricatures, as drawn by the moralist, the satirist, and the artist; we may see innocence seduced and ruined, and the villain walking the street and receiving the courtesies of the virtuous; we may know that haunts of crime are standing by day and night under the shade of our church-steeples; we may see our sons and daughters entering them, never to return, and in secret lamentation spend the residue of life, and finally sink in sorrow to our graves; we may see that cloud of wrath gathering over our land, which overthrew Sodom, the nations of Canaan, Babylon, and Nineveh; we may hear the dark waters rumbling beneath our feet, and breaking up the foundations of personal, domestic, and civil happiness; in short, we may see the monster invade the sanctity of the church, and plant his foot upon the very altar of God; but we must say nothing; we must do nothing. The habits of society–the claims of modesty demand silence, forbid action. Our lips are hermetically sealed, while the heart is bursting with anguish! The principle is absurd and cruel; unnatural, irrational, and anti-Christian. True virtue spurns its aid. Unaffected, native, heaven-born delicacy contemns the simpering smiles of the serpent, which, under the pretence of great regard for virtue’s cause, allows the young and beautiful of our land to rush in untold numbers, unheeded and unwarned, down to the bottomless pit.

I have not come here to portray the evils of lewdess as they exist in our cities. Were it proper or practicable, I have not the vanity to believe it to be within the compass of my talent to do it. Nor is the genius of Milton, or the pencil of Raphael competent to the task. It is a mystery of iniquity that must, to a great degree, remain hidden till the judgment, because it beggars description.

These remarks are not made on the strength of report. The Providence of God once placed me as a missionary in the city of New York. In company with the friends of humanity, I have visited the abodes of abandonment to attend upon the dead, and to preach the gospel to the living; and I should as soon think of drawing a picture of hell itself, as giving a complete view of one of its outer courts.

Were it my object to depict the demoralising influence of the crime of lewdness upon society, perhaps it could not be done better than by holding up the history of France, in the days of her pollution and blood. “In that reign of infidelity and terror,” says an eloquent writer, “it should never be forgotten, that contempt for the laws of chastity, and breaking loose from the legalized restraints of virtue, were the order of the day, and of the night. A republican or infidel marriage was in derision, and, by the vile themselves, denominated the sacrament of adultery! Prostitutes were enthroned–borne in triumph–and even worshipped as the goddesses of reason and the guardians of public morals and happiness. Lust and rapine, hand in hand, waded through clotted blood in the streets of Paris. Thus, when the ten commandments, and especially the fourth and seventh, were publicly abrogated in France, the mighty God stood aloof, and a scene of proscription, of assassination and woe ensued, unparalleled in the annals of the civilized world. In the city of Paris, there were, in 1803, eight hundred and seven suicides and murders. Among the criminals executed, there were seven fathers who had poisoned their children–ten husbands who had murdered their wives–six wives who had poisoned their husbands, and fifteen children who had assassinated their parents! Within eighteen months after the abrogation of the marriage covenant, in that reprobate kingdom, twenty thousand divorces were effected. In the space of ten years, three millions of human beings, as is computed, perished by violence, in that land of infidelity and lust.” [Waterman’s Address to the friends of moral reform in Providence.]

France discarded the Bible. The Almighty withdrew His restraining hand, and permitted a nation to try the experiment of living without religion. Human passions broke loose from moral responsibility, and flowed in torrents of pollution and blood. The world stood aghast, and trembled at the spectacle, and the result stands out in bold relief upon the records of that ill-fated kingdom. Let us mark it well, and remember the fearful denunciation of Jehovah: “Ye shall not commit any of these abominations, that the land spew not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spewed out the nations which were before you.”

The whole tribe of libertines are so many vultures upon the body politic. Religion, patriotism, domestic peace, and public tranquility, are strangers to their bosoms. There is nothing lovely, nothing valuable on earth with which they are not at war. Beauty, health, reputation. The marriage covenant—that strong defence and glory of society—and all the tender sympathies and relations of social life, wither and die under their blighting touch. One house of abandonment in a community, is worse than the cholera. The noxious miasma perpetually issuing from it, poisons all the fountains and streams of life. It is impossible to estimate its baneful influence upon private and public morals. If the fire consumes your dwelling or merchandise, it is a loss which industry and economy will restore. If the pestilence removes our friends to another world, it permits them to leave behind a good name. If the pirate seizes upon his victim, he either kills or sends him adrift upon the high seas. If the robber or assassin enters a shop or family, they can at the most only take a little property, or the lives of a few individuals; and when the deed is committed, public indignation stands ready to burst upon them, and to hand them over to justice. But the libertine—more horrible than the pestilence, the pirate, the robber, or the boa-constrictor—rushes from his ambush, throws his deadly coils around his victim, not to give repose in death, but to bury alive in the grave of infamy. In what a fearful condition must be that town or city, where such demons in human shape collect and roam at large! Where is safety or happiness in the midst of such prowling wolves, and especially, when the public mind is overawed by their number and reputed respectability, and no voice dares utter a complaint . . .?

To read the entire sermon, click here.

Today marks the 451st anniversary of the Massacre of French Huguenots at Fort Caroline on September 20, 1565. This representation of the event by Theodore de Brys (based on the work of French Huguenot painter, and survivor of the colony, Jacques le Moyne) shows the tragedy that occurred on the shores of Florida centuries ago. The Spanish commander had a plaque put up after he was finished with his bloody work explaining why he killed the colonists, which included men, women and children: “Not as Frenchmen, but as Lutherans [Protestants].”

One of those killed in the second phase of the massacre was Admiral Jean Ribault. His last words were to chant Psalm 132, changing the words slightly, “Lord remember the afflictions of your servant Jean. How he swore. . . not to give rest to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, until he found a dwelling place for the mighty God of Jacob.”

May we remember the Huguenot sacrifice for Christ’s kingdom in America on this September day.

Today marks the 449th anniversary of the Massacre of French Huguenots at Fort Caroline on September 20, 1565. This representation of the event by Theodore de Brys (based on the work of French Huguenot painter, and survivor of the colony, Jacques le Moyne) shows the tragedy that occurred on the shores of Florida centuries ago. The Spanish commander had a plaque put up after he was finished with his bloody work explaining why he killed the colonists, which included men, women and children: "Not as Frenchmen, but as Lutherans [Protestants]."</p> <p>One of those killed in the second phase of the massacre was Admiral Jean Ribault. His last words were to chant Psalm 132, changing the words slightly, "Lord remember the afflictions of your servant Jean. How he swore. . . not to give rest to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, until he found a dwelling place for the mighty God of Jacob." </p> <p>May we remember the Huguenot sacrifice for Christ's kingdom in America on this September day.

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He Seemed But a Little Boy

It was only a year before that Archibald Alexander had been taken under care of the Presbytery of Lexington, Virginia.  He was young and extremely small in stature.  In our day, such a move of spiritual oversight is usually granted by a Presbytery after it has heard your personal testimony, what God has done for you in Christ in your spiritual life, and an expression of your call to the ministry.  In the eighteenth century however, it included all  that, no doubt, and also a sermon preached over the presbytery.

On that occasion in 1890, the month of October, Archibald Alexander stood before the esteemed member of this presbytery.  The fact that a candidate before him had utterly failed to utter anything approaching a sermon, much less give any orderly address, didn’t seem to faze him.  He stood up, without any idea of what he was going to say, and delivered an exhortation which astonished everyone present.    In fact, after that occasion, he delivered “exhortation” after “exhortation” several times a week.

In the spring of 1791, Alexander was examined by the Presbytery of Lexington in his Latin and Greek knowledge.  He had prepared an exegesis upon an assigned topic, and read it to the brethren.  He delivered a speech to the Presbytery as well.  It was then moved that he be assigned a text to preach at the next meeting of the Lexington Presbytery.

At that time, on September 20, 1791, the time had arrived for his proclamation before his elders, both in age and office, on the assigned theme, which was Jeremiah 1:7, “Say not, I am a child.”   And indeed, he seemed but a little boy, but the effect of his trial sermon, quickly put that to rest.  There was authority in the proclamation of the Word of God.  It was no wonder then that at the next presbytery meeting in Winchester, he was licensed to preach the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Words to live by:  If you have an opportunity, attend a Presbytery meeting as a visitor soon, especially one in which a candidate is brought under care, or licensed for the gospel ministry, or ordained by one of our conservative presbyteries.  You will see the care which the church gives to its candidates, that they be sound in doctrine, proficient in the Westminster Standards, and practical in their understanding of their calling.  It will be a day well spent.

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He Went About Doing Good
by Rev. David T. Myers

Thomas Gouge is not a household name to countless American Presbyterians today, but maybe he should be, considering his ministering of good to all. Born on September 19, 1605 (though some say September 29, 1609) in England, he was the oldest son of celebrated William Gouge, member of the Westminster Assembly which produced our Confession and Catechisms.

Educated in the finest institutions of his day (Cambridge), Thomas graduated in 1626. After a time of three years, and marrying the daughter of a prominent family of that day, Thomas was called to the St. Sepulchre’s Church in London, England, where for the next twenty-four years he preached and pastored the membership and surrounding area. Not only did he minister to their spiritual needs, but also to their material needs.

Catechizing the people every morning of the week, Thomas Gouge would distribute gifts among the aged poor on varying days of the week so as to encourage regular attendance upon his catechism studies. These monies came out of his own pocket. To those abled-bodied among the poverty-stricken members, he distributed flax and hemp for them to spin, paying them for their yarn to be worked into cloth. Often in selling them later, he took the financial loss himself.

All of these benevolent work, including his proclamation of the Word of God, came to an end when the Great Ejection of 1662 took place. Hundreds of Presbyterian clergy were ejected from their Anglican pulpits, including Thomas Gouge. Unlike many others, he simply entered another ministry instead of continuing on to minister in secret to  his pastor-less flock. With two or three other ministers, he raised a considerable annual sum of money, to make provision for the ejected ministers then in desperate need. Even when the Great Fire of 1666 devastated London and brought a considerable loss to his income, he still continued to live on less and distribute to those in real need. He believed full the promise of the Psalmist when the latter wrote in Psalm 37:26, “He is ever merciful and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.” (KJV)

Looking to minister in ever widening circles, he had a heart for Wales.  Traveling there, he went from town to town to find out whether there would be interest in teaching willing children to read and write in the English language, and—oh yes—be catechized, no doubt using the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly.  Great droves of children came under the influence of the Scriptures, along with their families. Rev. Gouge began to preach regularly to the families, until the prelates of the Anglican church forbid him to preach the Word.  So in addition to the catechism classes, he arranged for the Word of God to be translated and printed into Welsh to be given freely to  Welsh families.  Added to the Scriptures were Christian books in Welsh which he freely handed out.

He entered heaven on October 29, 1681, remembered widely for his character and conduct in times of persecution.

Words to Live By:
And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season, we shall reap if we faint not.  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially unto those who are of the household of faith.”  Galatians 6;9, 10 (KJV)

If a minister of the gospel is to introduce people to his Lord, the triune God, he ought himself to know the Lord. The deeper, richer, more extensive this knowledge is, the better. And what impatient Christians are inclined to castigate as the dry bones of theology is this knowledge of God and His attributes.


Recently I’ve been reading John Flavel’s short treatise on Isa. 26:20, titled The Righteous Man’s Refuge [highly recommended and found in Flavel’s Works, vol. 3]. Flavel’s main point in this work is that God Himself—particularly as displayed in His attributes—is a very real refuge for the believer in times of trial and testing. Finishing that work, it was only natural then to turn to Stephen Charnock’s masterpiece, The Existence and Attributes of God. As it turns out, my copy was a 1958 edition and I noticed that it includes a foreword by Gordon H. Clark. Since the PCA Historical Center houses the Papers of Dr. Clark and since I don’t see this foreword elsewhere on the web or in print, I thought I would post it here. I’ve placed at the top of our page today in bold print one particularly relevant comment.

If I were to make one point, I think that had Dr. Clark read or kept Flavel’s treatise in mind, he would have had at hand even greater arguments for Christians to study the attributes of God.

Gordon H. Clark’s Foreword to the 1958 Sovereign Grace Book Club edition
of Stephen Charnock’s work, The Existence and Attributes of God.

FOREWORD

The life of Stephen Charnock (1628-1680), in contrast to the turbulence of England in the mid-seventeeth century, was almost uneventful. The occurrence of one event, however, secures his reputation for adherence to gospel principles, for, although he was not immprisoned as John Bunyan was, he was one of the ministers ejected under the inquitous Restoration of Charles II.

For the rest, he had an early charge in Southwark; became a Fellow and then a Senior Proctor at Oxford (1649-1656); went to Dublin as chaplain to the Governor; then in 1675, when restrictions on the reformed ministers were somewhat relaxed, he accepted a call to Crosby Square, where he remained until his death.

How he spent his time, in addition to preaching carefully prepared sermons, became evident upon the posthumous publication of his manuscripts, of which the Discourses upon the Existence and Attributes of God is the most famous. This edition includes every word of Charnock’s remarks on the attributes of God, and the existence of God. However, in most editions in the past, his discourses on Providence, Practical Atheism, and God as a Spirit have been included. These are omitted here with regret. However, 1100 pages would be too much for this one volume.

The Puritan writers are noted for long-windedness. Some, perhaps much, of our impatience with them, however, is more to our discredit than to theirs. In our bustling era the practice of meditation is not popular; and our educational standards have encouraged the substitution of short comic books for solid volumes. Even Mr. Valiant-for-Truth, who in the twentieth century is busy battling for the Atonement and the Resurrection against modernism and neo-orthodoxy in the churches (and who can condemn him for such sorely needed activity?), has scarcely any time to ponder the divine glory and to reflect on the nature of God.

But when, unexpectedly, the essence and attributes of God are called into question, to whom else can we better go than to Stephen Charnock?

Is our knowledge of God mainly negative, or do we have positive information? Is there a positive sense in the words eternal, immutable, and spirit? Or are they merely denials of their temporal and sensory opposites? Can man’s mind possess an adequate or suitable conception of God? Is the impossibility of having a mental image of God the equivalent of the impossibility of having a mental concept of God? And is it true that all human knowledge originates in sensation, as Charnock seems to say in one place; or, as he says elsewhere, has God impressed innate knowledge on man’s heart from birth and by creation?

Some devoted and energetic Christians consider such questions useless and a waste of time. Evangelistic campaigns, personal work, missionary rallies, youth fellowships, and spectacular sunrise services should, they claim, exhaust all our energy. Theology is a valley of dry bones on which the Spirit will never breathe : let the dead Christian doze with his deadening volumes. Ours shall be life abundant.

With respect to this complaint let it be said that Stephen Charnock, though he was neither a John Wesley nor a Billy Graham, faithfully discharged those pastoral duties that everyone would admit are practical and necessary. It was in fact this cure of souls that motivated his study. If a minister of the gospel is to introduce people to his Lord, the triune God, he ought himself to know the Lord. The deeper, richer, more extensive this knowledge is, the better. And what impatient Christians are inclined to castigate as the dry bones of theology is this knowledge of God and His attributes. Must one labor to emphasize the obvious importance of knowing what sort of Being the Divine Being is? He is not the Deus sive Natura of Spinoza’s philosophy; He is not the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle; nor is He their modern counterparts. Then what is the nature, the essence, the attributes of God? Charnock wants his readers to become acquainted with God.

There are other sincere, though we believe mistaken, men who consider this study worse than useless : they consider it an impious curiosity into things that are too high for us. Although Protestant writers have sometimes warned against such a danger, it is hard in this day to believe that it is a frequent sin. The large majority of people want to know too little instead of too much. Undoubtedly, “the secret things belong unto the Lord our God;” but for this very reason it is more futile than sinful to try to know them.

In any case, the present subject does not fall under this category. The remainder of the verse reads, “but those things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.” Now, the material that Charnock discusses is firmly founded in the Word of God. To a small extent we learn about God from nature; but chiefly He has revealed Himself in Scripture. This revelation is more extensive than meets the eye; it is not exhausted by merely making a list of pertinent passages. When these passages are compared and used as premises of syllogisms, conclusions hitherto unperceived will appear. And as the great Westminster Confession says, “The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.” Drawing inferences from Scriptural premises is not impious curiosity, but divinely commanded meditation.

The verse just alluded to, after it says that all revelation belongs to us and to our children forever, ends with the words “That we may do all the words of this law.” These sentiments are reinforced later by the well-known verse, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and (all of it) is profitable for doctrine . . . for instruction in righteousness . .. that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament therefore emphasize these two things : we should study the whole revelation, not just some easy or favorite parts of it; and, this study is not dry as dust theology, but is ‘practical’, i.e., it leads to righteousness.

GORDON H. CLARK
Butler University.

Words to Live By:
Study to know the Lord. Seek Him with all your heart, soul, body and mind. Press in to know Him, to worship Him, to praise Him for His great work of salvation and for His every blessing. Let your heart be “fully set and resolved for God.”

A Post You Can Tell Your Children
by Rev. David T. Myers

Her name was Grisell. Yes, I know that is a strange sounding name, but it was a Scottish name. She was born on December 25, 1665. That’s Christmas, you say.

But Scottish Christians then did not celebrate this day as the birth of Jesus. Grisell Hume was the oldest child of Patrick and Grisell Hume. You can see that she was named after her mother. She had 16 brothers and sisters! Talk about a large family. Her parents were from a royal line of ancestors in Scotland, and they lived in the main city of that nation, Edinburgh.

Both of her parents were Christians. Being a Christian in that time period meant that you were considered an enemy of the government. Despite that, her father continued to witness for Christ. For example,  you couldn’t even hold a Bible study in your home or field without the government soldiers coming in to arrest every one attending that meeting. Hearing of a government plan to place soldiers in every home of Scotland to better keep a watch over Christians in the land, Patrick Hume planned to protest that plan. Because of that, he was thrown into jail when his daughter Grisell was only twelve years of age.

It was at this time that Grisell began to visit her father in prison.The mother couldn’t go because she had the care of the family, and even if she could  have traveled, she would not have been given permission to see her imprisoned husband. But a twelve year old girl could get into the prison cell. In those visits, she carried under her garments a letter from her mother to her father, and carried back any messages the father had for her mother. Most of all, she was able to provide  him some comfort for  her father. After a year of being in jail, the father was let go, but he knew that it would not be for long.

When government orders came for his arrest again, Patrick  Hume wanted to flee to Holland, which was a safe location for religious people in Europe. But he wasn’t able to get there due to the many soldiers who were looking for him.  So he hid himself in the family burying place, a vault under ground near their church about a mile away from  his home. (Kids, ask your dad or mom to explain this place further) Placing a bed and bed-clothes there, he began to live there. His only visitor was again his daughter Grisell. At midnight, she would walk to the vault, with food which she had saved from supper, seeking to comfort  him with her presence, telling him the events from the family, including humorous incidents, and walk home around daylight, so no one would see her. Soon, this hidden place was not a good place to continue in for the health of the father.  (How would you like to live in a tomb?)  Finally he was able to escape to Holland, with his family joining him there after three years.  When King William and Queen Mary came to the throne in February of 1689, the reign of evil against Christianity was ended, and the whole family was able to return to Scotland.

Grisell, with her adventurous years behind her, married George Baillie on this day, September 17, 1692, to rear a family where Christ was honored. She continued to take care of her parents until they died and went to  heaven. She was the darling and comfort to her parents all of their lives.

Words to Live By: 
The fifth commandment in Exodus 2012 tells us “to honor your father and mother,” and Paul adds in Colossians 3:20 to “be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.” It is clear that Grisell Hume was a child who honored and obeyed her parents in the Lord. For this, she had a long life in return,  and served Christ all of her life.

Upon consulting our library, it appears we are missing a few issues of Rev. Van Horn’s work. So we must skip ahead a few questions in our presentation today, and do sincerely extend our apologies.

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

Q. 97. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s supper?

A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s supper, that they examine themselves, of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience, lest coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgement to themselves.

Scripture References: I Cor. 11:28-29; John 6:53-56; Zech. 12:10; I John 4:19; Rom. 6:4; I Cor. 11:27.

Questions:

1. How can we best prepare to receive the Lord’s supper?

First, we can best prepare to receive it by recognizing we are not worthy in ourselves. We do not come to the Lord’s table by any merit of our own. Second, we can best prepare ourselves by coming to it with a right relationship with our Lord. This would entail the putting off of things that are sinful according to the Word of God.

2. How can we examine ourselves as we come to partake?

We can examine ourselves by means of self-judgement of the following: our true sense of repentance; our true Godly sorrow for our sins; our love for Christ and for one another; our sincere desire to walk in obedience to the Word of God.

3. How can we best prepare regarding our attitude toward God?

We can prepare by being certain we have had adequate prayer and meditation. There should be, on our part, much prayer to Him that He might draw from us all possible adoration for Him.

4.How can we eat and drink judgement to ourselves?

We can participate unworthily by neglecting to prepare ourselves and by coming to the Lord’s table with known and unconfessed sin in our hearts.

5.How would God possibly punish us by our unworthy partaking?

He could punish us by sending upon us physical, mental and spiritual afflictions. When we come unprepared we are insulting God for it is His Table at which we are invited guests.

6.Should all be allowed to partake?

Only those should be allowed to partake who are believers and who are not living in any scandalous way before God. (Note Larger Catechism No. 172, 173.)

COMING IN A WORTHY WAY

This is always a problem for all of us. It was helped greatly by many of our Presbyterian forefathers by the use of the “Preparatory Service” in the churches. In many of our churches there would be two or three services held before Communion in which God’s people could find help to adequately prepare themselves. Maybe our churches of today should take note of such a custom.

How can we best come in a worthy way? We can come recognizing we must be quiet within our souls. There should be nothing of the trivial in our hearts. We should come looking at the Cross of Christ, knowing it was there He died for us. We should come with a sincere desire to confess all known sin in our hearts.

Our hearts should be lifted up to Him for the healing He has given us. As we come we should dwell on the terrible sins of our hearts that have been cancelled out because of His death. We should come singing our praises to Him for what He has done for us! Do you remember the words of Pilgrim when he saw the Cross?

“Thus far did I come laden with my sin;
Nor could aught ease the grief that I was in.
Till I came hither;
What a place is this!

Must here be the beginning of my bliss?
Must here the burden fall from off my back?
Must here the strings that bound it to be crack,
Blest cross!
Blest sepulchre!
Blest rather be the Man that there was put to shame for me.”

We should come remembering what He did for us and come with a sense of dedication to Him in our lives in the days to come. Bruce once said, “Look and behold in what estate your heart is in with God and in what estate your conscience is with your neighbor.” We should come witn the attitude of’ Hosea when he said, “Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten and He will bind us up.” (Hosea 6:1). May God help us to always come to the Table in a worthy way, all to His glory.

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.

It was on this day, September 15, in 1748, that a petition was brought before the Presbytery of Boston, seek to organize a church in Newburyport, Massachusetts, “after the manner of the Kirk of Scotland,” meaning, in other words, a Presbyterian church. One hundred years later, the Rev. Jonathan F. Stearns brought an historical discourse in connection with the centennial anniversary of the First Presbyterian church of Newburyport. The first portion of his discourse forms a convenient overview, in broad strokes, of what has been termed the First Great Awakening. I hope you will find this useful.
So pour a good cup of coffee and grab a bagel or donut and enjoy:—


DISCOURSE.

Psalm 78:2-7

I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known and our fathers have told us; we will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord and His strength and the wonderful works that He hath done; for He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born, who should arise and declare them to their children; that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”

The passage of Scripture just recited, no less than the present occasion, invites us to review and remember, that we may transmit to those who come after us, the history of God’s goodness to us as a people.

The planting of a Church and the gathering of a religious society, are among the most important events in the history of any community. What influences for good or for evil, will be shed abroad from the fruit and leaves of that tree! If a true Church, established upon true principles, maintaining the faith of the Lord Jesus, and built on Him, as its chief cornerstone, how salutary will be the effects of its existence. If a false or corrupt Church–a Church designed to inculcate false doctrine, or maintain the forms without the substance of the Gospel, how deplorable will be the consequences to multitudes! Such as the Churches are, in a given community, such, as a general rule, will be the character of the people at large.

The Church, whose first centennial anniversary we now celebrate, had its origin at a period of no common interest. The “Great Awakening,” which commenced about the year seventeen hundred and forty, is deservedly regarded as an era in the history of the Churches in New England. Then a change was begun in their character which is felt, far and wide, to this day,–a change which, we trust in God, will not cease to be admired and honored, till the dawning of the glory of the latter day shall dim, by its excess of brightness, all former communications of the light of heaven. As this Church was emphatically, and perhaps beyond almost any other in this region, the child of that remarkable impulse, it seems proper before proceeding to its own particular history, to take a hasty glance at the general features of the crisis at which it originated.

The first Churches of New England were established on the most strictly evangelical foundation. They believed and professed the great principles of the protestant reformation, with remarkable affection and strictness. Their corner-stone was the doctrine of justification by faith only, good works being the necessary fruits of faith, and thereby its evidence, but by no means the meritorious cause of salvation. They believed, as fully, in the necessity of a renovation of the sinner’s heart, by which its whole character and tendencies might be changed, the dominion of sin broken, the life of God in the soul enkindled, and the whole spiritual man created anew in God’s likeness. This change, ordinarily, not without means, but at the same time so employing these, as to impart to them no share in the glory of the great result. True piety, in their estimation, was a product of regeneration, and consisted, not in any outward performances, nor even in the most blameless outward morality, but in that inward conformity of the heart to God, that love to Him and communion with Him, of which outward goodness is but the necessary manifestation. Under the influence of these doctrines, preached earnestly by such men as Shepard, and Cotton, and Norton, and Mitchell, and Hooker, and Stone, “the word of God grew and multiplied;” and the preachers, themselves, full of the spirit of their divine message, could rejoice that they seldom preached, without some visibly good effect upon the hearts and consciences of their hearers, and without finding some, who had before been careless, beginning to inquire, “What shall I do to be saved?”

But this happy and very promising commencement was not destined to perpetuate its influence. The spirituality of the Churches began at an early day visibly to decline, and when the first century closed, there was great occasion, as the eye of Christian love looked abroad over the land, to exclaim, “How has the gold become dim and the most fine gold changed.” First, there was manifested a great decline of spiritual vitality. Religion became more a matter of profession, and form, and less an experience of the heart. Then the boundaries between the Church and the world became less distinct. Multitudes became members of the Church, who gave no evidence that they were truly regenerate. Church discipline was neglected. Immorality invaded the sacred enclosure. The preaching became less discriminating and pungent. The doctrines of the ancient faith, long neglected, and reduced in the minds of the people to a dead letter, were fast gliding away from the popular creed, and were on the eve of being displaced for another system.

Such was the condition of a large portion of the Churches of New England, when the great change to which I have alluded broke upon them in its power. Already had the morning star shone forth, in the great revival at Northampton, five years previous, under the faithful preaching of the old doctrines by the celebrated Jonathan Edwards. [*It is a fact worthy of special attention, that the same doctrine of justification by faith only, which in the hands of Luther was the life and soul of the Protestant Reformation, was, in the hands of Edwards, the means of imparting the first impulse to that great awakening, which revived to new life the decayed and slumbering Churches of this Country.] But the whole horizon began now to be illuminated. The whole land soon glowed beneath the brightness of the risen sun. Under the preaching of such men as Whitefield and Tennent, men evidently raised up to perform a special work, the impulse spread like electric flame. It stirred to its inmost depths the compact population of the larger commercial towns. It penetrated the interior villages. Churches which had long since “settled upon their lees” now began to feel within them a strange fermentation. Old respectability, proud of its decent forms, began to find the sceptre of its influence loosening in its grasp, and the legitimacy of its long dominion boldly questioned, by a race, professing to have been just now turned from darkness unto marvellous light.

The effect of this new impulse fell, as might have been expected, most heavily on the pastors of the churches. Secure of their support by the aid of the civil law, pledging all the real and personal estate, within certain geographical limits, for the fulfillment of their pecuniary contracts; and ministering to a people, not desirous of great pastoral fidelity, to the disturbance of their slumbering consciences, a large part of them had settled down into a dull routine of Sabbath day performances, and were spending their week day hours, when not employed in the preparation of their hasty discourses, in the improvement of their parsonage lands, the indulgence of their literary tastes, or in friendly correspondence and social intercourse with each other, and with those distinguished men in civil life who courted their society and respected their respectability, or sought to avail themselves, for their own purposes, of their unbounded influence. Many of the ministers of that day, it is supposed, were men who had never experienced, in their own hearts, the power of the faith which they professed to teach. Many had become very sceptical in regard to its fundamental doctrines. And even those who were at heart faithful men, and desired sincerely the spiritual welfare of their flocks, infected to a great extent with the surrounding atmosphere, had become over cautious, in regard to every thing like excitement in religion, and, to avoid offence, dwelt chiefly on those vague generalities, which at best play round the head but come not near the heart.

Upon a clergy so secure and slumberous, the great awakening burst forth like the shock of an earthquake. Some aroused themselves, like the five wiser virgins when the bridegroom came, and made haste to welcome the wonderful guest. Some at first acted the prudent part of bending to the storm, thinking to let it pass over them unresisted, and blow by. Others, really friendly to whatever was good and genuine in the work of grace, were yet alarmed by the evils which attended it, and, perhaps too much influenced by the opinion of some whom they deemed wise and judicious, run well for a little season and then were hindered.

It was not long, however, before the party lines among the pastors of the Churches became quite prominent. When the famous Whitefield first came to Boston, all the clergy there, and in the neighboring towns, with scarce an exception, welcomed him with open arms. A few years passed, and a considerable party among them had taken an entirely different view of his character and influence. His faults were magnified, his good depreciated. Pulpits were shut against him, and pamphlets warned the public to beware of his fanatical influence.

But it is not easy to stop an earthquake when it has commenced its motion, nor to stay the progress of a hurricane by the rebuke of human authority. The popular mind had been aroused, and the excitement could be quelled only by the voice of truth. Unfortunately for those who would restore the calm, truth was mainly on the side of their opponents. The people saw that the new doctrines, were, after all, only those which the fathers of New England taught, which were acknowledged in the confessions of faith of their own Churches, and in which, in childhood, they themselves had been instructed from the Assembly’s Catechism. They saw, too, that the effects produced by them, were, in the main, the legitimate results of those principles. And why then should the respected pastors of the churches wish to oppose the preaching of those doctrines, and the production of those effects?

The result was such as might have easily been anticipated. The coldness, which so many Christian ministers exhibited amidst the general fervor, led many to doubt the reality of their own conversion, and the sincerity of their professed attachment to the ancient faith; and what was doubtless true of many, soon began to be asserted boldly of the whole. The cord that bound the religious community together was now broken. The old decencies were despised as sheer hypocrisy. The influence of the pastors was no longer heeded, because the people had lost confidence in their sincere attachment to the cause of piety. Men of more zeal than knowledge now became, in many instances, the leaders of public opinion, and in the anarchy which must necessarily have ensued, all sorts of wild fire, mingling with the flame of newly kindled piety, burned unchecked till it became uncontrollable.

[The evils likely to result from the encouragement of ignorant laymen and youth destitute of all proper experience, to usurp the functions of the Christian ministry, were early foreseen and predicted by some of the most eminent promoters of the revival. But they had greater evils of an opposite character to contend with, and this fact neutralized, in a great degree, the influence of their admonitions. It is well known to all who are familiar with those times, that a prominent subject of controversy was the necessity of an educated ministry. The revival party insisted that grace in the hearts is of more importance than learning in the head; and their opposers, on the other hand, so magnified the importance of human learning, as to cast into the shade that of personal piety. Both were partly right and partly wrong. It must be said, however, in favor of those who seemed to despise education in their zeal for personal religion, that, of the two, they were contending for by far the more important point. It was the point likewise which, for a considerable time previous, had been most neglected. Had all the educated ministers of the community possessed the spirit of Colman, and Edwards, and Sewall, and Prince, no outcry would have been made, we may be sure, against human learning in the ministry–certainly no disposition would have been manifested to undervalue it, as an important collateral qualification. But the great dearth of such men at that important crisis, and on the other hand the violent opposition which the revival encountered from some, eminent for their intellectual attainments, produced, in many hasty minds, the impression, that great learning is unfavorable to ardent piety. Hence their confidence was transferred to another class, and the unskilfulness of their guides often led them lamentably astray.]

Far be it from me to approve the disorders and irregularities which attended that wonderful excitement. There was unquestionably much everywhere which the serious Christian must and ought to deplore. But what is the chaff to the wheat? The legitimate leaders in the sacramental host of God’s elect had declined their trust. The battle was for the inheritance, transmitted from the worthiest of fathers,–the inheritance of puritan faith, dearest of all others to the genuine New Englander. It was not so much a revolution, as a restoration, that they were now to contend for, not a conquest, but a recovery, of what had been insidiously stolen away, in an hour of forgetfulness. And should the people hesitate? In the absence of their regular leaders, they must lead themselves. In all their ignorance, they must march on, with such a degree of regularity as mere soldiers of the rank and file were able to secure. Who can wonder that there was little discipline among them? Who can wonder that the lawless mingled in their ranks, and obtained at times a temporary ascendancy? Who can wonder that the best disposed among them were chargeable with many things, which their posterity must censure, and which they themselves, when they had time for calm review, had occasion to deplore?

The prevailing spirit of that movement, was, we may not doubt, that of living Christianity. There was, truly, as those engaged in it believed, a glorious work of divine grace upon the hearts of individuals, and a glorious reformation accomplished in the Church at large. Great principles, long withdrawn from notice, and almost sunk into oblivion, were restored to their ancient supremacy. The faith, practice and experience of the puritans was revived. Religion flourished again. And as for the disorders, which unhappily attended its resuscitation, these were soon made to disappear before the power of intelligent and sober piety.

Words to Live By:
As the Rev. Bill Iverson is fond of saying, “God has no grandchildren.” By that he means that the work of evangelism must be done afresh in every generation. The Church can never afford to rest or to grow complacent. May we rise to the work that the Lord has given us to do; may the Lord of the harvest send out laborers into His harvest; and may we faithfully proclaim the saving Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ alone.

To read the whole of A Historical Discourse commemorative of the Organization of the First Presbyterian Church, in Newburyport, delivered at the first Centennial celebration, January 7, 1846, click here.

If You Cannot Find a Suitable One, Write it Yourself
by Rev. David T. Myers

Catherine Vos was the wife of the famous Princeton Seminary professor of Biblical theology, Geerhardus Vos, and an author in her own right. Her daughter once said that the sentiment reflected in our title above summed up what her mother experienced as she sought to train up her children in the truths of the Bible.  She had gone though bookstore after bookstore looking for a book which would present the excitement and warmth of the stories found in the Bible. When she came up empty, she made it a life-long project to write one herself. And did she ever? The Child’s Story Bible originally was published in three volumes but has more recently been released as a one volume edition, as revised by her daughter.  No matter which one you purchase, this study has stood the test of time, in that it has been close to seventy years plus since it was first written.

Catherine Francis Smith married Geerhardus Vos in 1894 at Grand Rapids, Michigan, just two years after he had become the first professor of Biblical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary.  They were married for 43 years and produced a family of three sons and one daughter.  One of the sons was J.G. Vos who studied at his father’s alma mater, Princeton Seminary, and became a Reformed Presbyterian minister.

The Child’s Story Bible is different from many children study Bibles in that it goes far beyond just treating a few of the major characters in the Bible. Catherine Vos’s book treats 110 stories from the Old Testament and 92 stories from the New Testament.  In every way, children are pointed to the gospel and the Redeemer of the gospel.

Catherine Vos would pass into glory on September 14, 1937, and was buried near the Vos summer home in Roaring Branch, Pennsylvania.  Her husband Geerhardus would join her in that small cemetery near the summer home twelve years later.

Words to live by:  If the readers of this devotional guide are parents of young children, there is no better means to “train up your children in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6) than by a daily reading of the Bible.  And for young children around the age of four and five years of age, and upward, the Child’s Story Bible an invaluable tool for that purpose.  The book employs the King James Version, and there are some pictures of Jesus which some readers might find objectionable.   But overall, this writer recommends it highly.

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