December 2015

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Despite Your Weaknesses—Often Because of Your Weaknesses—God Can Use You.   

It has always been an issue with some of the covenant people of God that they often cannot relate a particular time when they came to a saving relationship with Christ.  Such was the case with a young man by the name of Eleazer Whittlesey, who moved from Bethlem, Connecticut, to Pennsylvania in the mid 1700’s.

We don’t know much about his background, either his parents or what spiritual influences he had from any church.  He showed up to meet Aaron Burr in Newark, New Jersey by a recommendation from a man named Ballamy.  The infant and later Princeton Seminary was located there, with Pastor Burr as its second president.  The latter clergyman noted that he was “not converted in the way” that many of the Presbyterian clergy of his day thought was necessary.  In fact, President Burr spoke of  having “some doubt” of  his spiritual experience.  He went on to state that “he has met with others of God’s dear people, who cannot tell of such a particular submission as we have insisted on, though the substance of the thing may be found in all.”  However, Rev. Burr placed Eleazar under his pastoral care and believed that he was making good progress in learning.  He ended his thoughts by stating that “I trust the Lord has work for him to do.”

Seven years later, Eleazer would graduate from Nassau Hall in Princeton, New Jersey, to which the new college has moved.  He was licensed by the New Castle Presbytery soon afterwards.  We could find no record of his ordination however.  In 1750, he began to supply vacancies, of which there were many at this time in American Presbytery history.  Yet while  doing that “with zeal and integrity,” Eleazer complained of “melancholy”  which kept  him from being able to study or make preparation for sermons in the pulpit.  His days, he acknowledged, were often spent in “painful idleness.”

In 1751, Whittlesey settled in what is now York County, Pennsylvania, where  he began to preach in a log church in Muddy Run.  Faithful in labor in all the neighboring settlements, it was said that he formed the Slate Ridge and Chanceford Presbyterian churches, composed of Scots-Irish  people.

In 1752, he left a pastor’s house one cold day to travel to the Muddy Run church.  On the way, he became ill with pleurisy, and died about a week later on December 21, 1752.  His last words were “O  Lord, leave me not.”

Words to Live By: We remember the apostle Paul who had “a thorn in the flesh,” and prayed earnestly that it might depart from him. ( 2 Corinthians 12:78)  God answered his request with the word “My grace is sufficient for you, for power in perfected in weakness.” (2 Cor 12;9) God can use us for His kingdom despite our bodily and mental weaknesses.   Remember that, Christian.

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A Political Message in a Presbyterian Church —

It was evidently a message which the well-known Presbyterian pastor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had to deliver, given the times.  To wait for some better time would be wrong, he must have thought.  So the Rev. Dr. Henry  A. Broadman on two successive weekdays delivered the same sermon entitled “The American Union: A Discourse” to two different audiences. The first occasion was on Thursday, December 12, 1850 on the day of Annual Thanksgiving in the state. The second was on Thursday December 19, 1850 in the sanctuary of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Here are some quotations from the message:

“No man who believes that there is a Providence can take even a brief retrospect of our history, like that which has now engaged our attention, without discovering in numerable evidences of his benignant agency.  He who does not see a Divine hand directing and controlling the whole course of our affairs, from the landing of the colonists at Jamestown and Plymouth until the present would hardly have seen the pillar of cloud and of fire had he been with the Hebrews in the wilderness.

“The Union is not the work of man. It is the work of GOD. Among the achievements of his wisdom and beneficence in conducting the secular concern of the world, it must be ranked as one of his greatest and best works.  And he who would destroy it is  chargeable with the impiety of attempting to subvert a structure which is eminently adapted to illustrate the perfections of the Deity, and to bless the whole family of man.” (p. 30)

Dr. Boardman then goes on to speak of one issue which was actually at work in the 1850’s which, in his estimation, would destroy the American Union. The identification of this is put in all capital letters, and it is, SLAVERY.  The rest of the long address is on this issue, and the divisiveness which it is causing to the American Union.  Readers can find it on the world-wide web and read it in its entirety.

This patriotic message in a Presbyterian Church (which is now aligned with the Presbyterian Church in America) was proclaimed by the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian, not on Sunday, either the Sabbath morning or Sabbath evening, but on a Thursday at a special service.  And because he saw it as an important message, he had it printed into a booklet for the masses to read, especially the Christian people of the land.  It was one attempt to heal the union of the land rather than see it splintered into two nations, as was the case eleven years later in 1861.

Words to live by: There is a place, as our Confession speaks in W.C.F. 31:4 of  speaking to our citizens “by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary, or by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.”  This writer does not know if the discourse was a humble petition or a requirement by the civil magistrate, but it was delivered by this Presbyterian clergyman to his congregation and others in that eastern city of Pennsylvania. Certainly God’s Word does bear on the affairs of our nation.  We must speak to it in extraordinary times. Who can deny that the potential schism caused by the Civil War was an extraordinary time.  Christian reader: pray for our nation today, for our president and all his advisers, for the cabinet, the members of Congress, and especially our military forces all over the world, including those in harm’s way.

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The Most Profoundly Christian Politician of the Twentieth Century? —

How would you react if you discovered that an ancestor of yours had been James Stewart the First, the king of Scotland? That is what Woodrow Wilson found out in growing up in the home of Joseph Ruggles Wilson in the late nineteenth century.  And the famous ancestors did not stop there. On his mother’s side, she had descended from Pocahontas of Jamestown fame.  What a family ancestry!

His father was a Presbyterian minister who moved to Staunton, Virginia to take a church there. That was where Woodrow Wilson was born on December 28, 1856, the third of four children. Even though Ohio had been their first place of ministry, a Southward trip to Augusta, Georgia, where Woodrow Wilson would spend much of his growing up years,  landed them square in the Confederacy in thought, fervor, and commitment.  They owned slaves and defended their action on that social issue. For a while, the father was a chaplain in the Confederate army. After the War Between the States, he became a founder of the Southern Presbyterians Church, U.S., becoming its stated clerk and eventual moderator in 1879.

Meanwhile, young Woodrow was being trained privately by his father, attending Presbyterian schools, and eventually Princeton University, from which he graduated. In 1885, he married Ellen Axson, from which marriage three daughters were born.  Serving initially as a lawyer in the south, Woodrow eventually became the president of Princeton University between 1902 – 1910.  From the university to the governorship of New Jersey, the rise in politics was rapid. Campaigning on the Democratic ticket, Woodrow Wilson would serve for two terms, the latter of which was enveloped by World War I.

It was during the first term that his wife Ellen died. He became one of three presidents who were widowed while in the White House. Soon afterwards, he was married a second time, to Edith Galt on December 18, 1915.

You can read in any history book the accomplishments of his presidency. We are interested in the fact that not only did he have an upbringing in  Presbyterian convictions, he remained deeply religious all of his presidency and for that matter, his life. The Bible was the guide of his life, as he read and studied it daily. God’s guidance was frequently sought and received. He considered the United States a Christian nation.  His Calvinistic convictions we’re particularly needed when he suffered a paralysis during the latter part of his presidency.  His wife Edith became the de facto president as she guided him in his duties as the chief executive. Three years after he left the office, he died.  His wife survived him, living all the way into the presidency of John Kennedy.

Words to live by:
Too many believers separate their spiritual beliefs from their lives. Woodrow Wilson was different from that common practice. With a solid Calvinistic upbringing, he lived his faith and walked by faith. To him, everything he did was colored by the Christian conviction gleaned from the Word of God which he read and studied every day.  You and I are to be no different in this one aspect of his life.  Read the Word, and then, live the Word. No sphere of life is to be divorced from the application of the Bible.

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Earliest Inklings of a Long Discussion

It was on this day, December 17th, in 1840, that James Henley Thornwell wrote of his intention to address an issue which would then be debated in the Presbyterian Church for the next twenty years.

Readers will please consider the following as an initial dipping of the toe in some very deep waters. Students of American Presbyterian history will (or should) know something of the famous “Board Debates” of the 19th-century. All others will no doubt be suitably bored to tears. 😉

The Board Debates began in earnest in 1841 and continued on until their culmination in the famous debate between Thornwell and Hodge on the floor of the General Assembly in 1860. By some accounts, the debate continued on for another few decades at least. These Debates were essentially a leftover or unaddressed issue that resulted from the 1837 split of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. into Old School and New School factions. That split had occurred for a number of reasons, but the heart of the matter lay in the 1801 Plan of Union, whereby Congregationalists and Presbyterians worked in concert to plant churches throughout the rapidly expanding western territories. That association between the two denominations soured when the heterodox New Haven Theology began to spread first among Congregationalists and subsequently among Presbyterians.


To see the Board Debates sketched out, click here. For a thorough examination of the Board Debates, see Kenneth J. Foreman, Jr.’s doctoral dissertation
, The Debate on the Administration of Missions Led by James Henley Thornwell in the Presbyterian Church, 1839-1861.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 16 of The Life & Letters of James H. Thornwell (1875), by Benjamin M. Palmer, pertaining to the Board DebatesNote too Dr. Palmer’s aside concerning both Thornwell’s temper and his prevailing humility:—

thornwell02It has been stated, in a preceding chapter, that most of the discussions in which Dr. Thornwell was engaged, were a sort of remainder from the original controversy by which the Church was rent, in 1837-1838. The first that emerged into view was the discussion about Boards. During the period when the Church was brought under a species of vassalage to Congregationalism, the great National Societies, which usurped her functions, conducted their operations by the agency of Boards. The Church had become familiar with that mode of action; and when the effectual blow was struck for her emancipation, this was supposed to be fully accomplished, when these national organizations were disowned. The great principle upon which the argument turned, that the Church, in her organized form, must do her own work, was supposed to be satisfied, when Boards exactly analogous were established by the Church herself, as the agents by whom her will was to be carried out. It could not be long, however, before it was perceived that the above-named cardinal principle must be extended further: that a Board, consisting of many members, distributed over a large territory, to whom her evangelistic functions were remitted, did not satisfy the idea of the Church acting in her own capacity, and under the rules which the Constitution prescribed for her guidance. Dr. Thornwell was one of those who planted themselves firmly against their continuance in the Church. It is not the business of the biographer to discuss his views, but only to afford him the opportunity of presenting them. It may be remarked, however, that he was not opposed to combined or united action on the part of the Church, but only insisted that the central agency should be simply executivethe mere instrument by which the Assembly acts, and not an agent standing in the place of the Assembly, and acting for it. The first occasion on which he publicly developed his views was at the meeting of the Synod of South Carolina and Georgia; where a stiff debate was held upon the principles involved, and in which the Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D., of Charleston, S. C, was his chief antagonist. An incident is related of this debate, so characteristic of the man, that it deserves to be recorded. In the heat of the discussion, he suffered himself to be borne beyond the bounds of strict propriety. The old spirit of invective and sarcasm, which later years so perfectly subdued, manifested itself in expressions a little too scornful of his opponent, and the impression was not pleasant upon the house. It so happened that his speech closed exactly at the hour of recess at noon, and there was no opportunity for rejoinder. Immediately upon re-assembling, he arose and apologised in handsome terms for the discourtesy into which he had been betrayed, and declared his profound esteem for the learning, ability, and piety of his adversary. It was done so spontaneously, and with such evident sincerity, that criticism was completely disarmed; and there was a universal feeling of admiration for the magnanimity and courage which could so fully redeem a fault.

Words to Live By:
Thornwell’s views derived from a core principle—the idea that God is sovereign over His Church. His sovereignty is manifest in doctrine, in worship, and in polity or governance. In each of these three aspects of the Church, God has, in the Scriptures, revealed His sovereign will for the Church. We have no right to invent doctrine, we have no right to invent ways to worship Him, and we have no right to introduce structures and practices for the operation of His Church, other than what is revealed in His Word. That in sum is, I think, a fairly accurate summary of the heart of Thornwell’s system of thought. Others may disagree with him, but you have to admire Thornwell for never having backed away from his convictions.

Never mock a man for his studied convictions. If someone has put a lot of time, study and thought into carefully weighing a matter, then they at least deserve your respect, even if you disagree with them. If you must mock anyone at all, reserve your mockery for those who give little thought to a matter yet come down hard on one side or the other of an issue. Rash conclusions deserve to be belittled. Careful students, on the other hand, are in short supply and should be valued, wherever we find them.

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SpragueWBWhen called upon to preach in difficult situations, there are thankfully available to pastors some great examples from which they can learn. One of the most difficult situations for a pastor is the funeral of a child. Equally difficult and even burdensome is the funeral of someone who was widely known to be disreputable. It was on this date, December 16, in 1825 that the Rev. William Buell Sprague, still a young pastor only 30 years old, was called upon to conduct the funeral of Samuel Leonard, who had murdered his wife Harriet and then committed suicide. As a pastor, what would you say? How would you conduct such a funeral? A portion of that sermon, heavily edited for length, is presented here today. As you read, consider a wider application to the state of affairs today.

[For a more contemporary portrait of Rev. Sprague, as he would have looked about the time of this sermon, see the engraving preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City. ]

Taking as his text, Psalm 9:16, “The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands,” Rev. Sprague begins his discourse:

We have often assembled, my friends, to perform the last sad office for our fellow mortals; but never did we meet, in circumstances so appalling, as those which mark the present occasion. The event, which has brought us to these solemnities, has caused the ears of all, who have heard of it, to tingle, and circulated a chill of horror through the community. It is not without reluctance, that I stand here today, to attempt to guide your thoughts to some improvement of this awful dispensation; but, inasmuch as I have consented to address you, I must be permitted to say, that I shall feel constrained, as a minister of Christ, to disregard, in a great degree, the dictates of private feeling. It is delightful to a Christian minister to be able to pour consolation into the hearts of the bereaved, by pointing them to the path, by which their friends have ascended to glory; and in all ordinary cases, it is considered our privilege, so far to regard the sacredness of surviving friendship, as to avoid adverting, even indirectly, to the errors and crimes of the departed. Gladly would I be the minister of consolation to this circle of mourners, whose hearts, I well know, are rived with agony; but to attempt to mitigate their anguish, by palliating the crime which has occasioned it, would be as useless to them, as it would be unworthy of me; and I doubt not that they will do me the justice to believe, that it is with the sincerest sympathy in their affliction, that I attempt to discharge this painful duty. I wish not to heap useless reproaches upon the memory of the man, who has been guilty of this unnatural deed: that would not aid us at all to an improvement of it;—but my design is, simply to impress upon you the lessons, which it so loudly inculcates, that this awful instance of the wrath of man, may be made subservient to the praise of God.

. . . The term wicked, as it is generally used in Scripture, is of extensive application. It includes not only those, who are abandoned to open vice, but all, who are not the subjects of evangelical holiness; and in this sense, it is the counterpart of the term righteous. The word, however, is sometimes used in a limited sense, to denote such, as having made great progress in sin, openly and fearlessly insult the authority of God. It is in this latter sense, chiefly, that I shall consider it in the following discourse. And I shall endeavor to present before you an analysis of the text, by considering, first, some of the means, by which a pre-eminently depraved character is formed; and by shewing, secondly, that wicked men, in their efforts to injure others, and oppose religion, actually ensnare themselves.

I. I am, first, to consider some of the means by which a pre-eminently depraved character is formed. On this article, upon which much might be said, the time will permit me only to select two or three points, which are most prominent, and most obviously suggested by the occasion.

  1. And, in the first place, I mention profanation of the sabbath, and especially, neglect of the public worship of God. . . .
  2. Another means, by which men often arrive at an extreme degree of depravity, is the indulgence of angry and malignant passion. . . . 
  3. Another means, which is often very efficacious in the formation of a habit of gross wickedness, is, resisting the influences of the Holy Spirit. . . .
  4. I observe, once more, that there is nothing, which is more likely to constitute the foundation, or to accelerate the progress of a grossly depraved habit, than a belief in the doctrine of universal salvation. . . . 

II. I pass to the second division of the discourse, in which I am to shew, that the wicked, in their attempts to injure others, and oppose religion, actually ensnare themselves. 

  1. The wicked ensnare themselves at the commencement of a habit of wickedness; inasmuch as they begin a course, which terminates in respect to their own character, very differently from what they intend.
    It is proverbial, that no one ever becomes a great sinner at once; it is usually from a small beginning, and by almost imperceptible degrees, that a habit of confirmed wickedness is formed. . . .
  2. The wicked ensnare themselves, inasmuch as their conduct brings evils upon them, in the PRESENT life, which they do not anticipate. . . .
  3. Equally true is it, that the wicked ensnare themselves, inasmuch as their conduct will bring upon them evils, in a FUTURE life, which they do not, at present, anticipate. . . .

Words to Live By:
Moving ahead in this discourse to Rev. Sprague’s conclusion, he offers these words among his final thoughts:

Yes, mourning friends, it would not be strange, if, under the weight of this overwhelming visitation, you should exclaim, ‘my trouble is greater than I can bear.’ You cannot look around you, without perceiving that you have the sympathy of a thousand hearts; but the bitterest ingredients in your cup. I well know that it is beyond the power of human sympathy to extract. Happy I am to be able to point you to an all-sufficient source of consolation in the gospel of Christ. Weary and heavy laden mourner, lay down thy burden at a Saviour’s feet. Be still, and know that He, who has permitted this event, is Jehovah. Let this dark page in the history of your life, while it contains the record of the keenest anguish you ever knew, testify also to your humility and submission, under the rod of God. When the mysteries of providence shall be unfolded in a future world, may you be found among those, to whom they shall be an occasion of eternal rejoicing!

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Understanding the Social Gospel — 

It was in the old Southern Presbyterian Journal of December 15, 1947 that its editor, the Rev L. Nelson Bell, answered a letter from a reader on this matter of the social gospel.  That reader had written a letter to the magazine which sought to chastise Christians for not engaging in the social gospel.  Dr. Bell answered this letter with clarity and insight.  Listen to his words:

“(The reader) is confusing the ‘social gospel’ (which is ‘another’ gospel) with the application of the social principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by Christians. . . . The “social gospel” is a gospel of good works. It is making social reform an end in itself . . . It denies sin as the underlying cause of social injustice. It completely ignores the redeeming work of Jesus Christ as the only ultimate solution of world needs.

“On the other hand, Christian participation in and the application of the social implications of the Gospel puts the redemption of the individual soul from sin through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as of first importance and all social efforts as but a means to that end.

“We are convinced that many evangelicals need to more properly evaluate the social implications of the Gospel and to act on them; and, we feel we should co-operate with all who put such work in its rightful relationship to the Gospel.

“. . . our concern and our opposition is directed towards those who no longer look on a man out of Christ as a lost sinner. It is against those who look on sin, not as sin but as a maladjustment which can be eliminated by individual and co-operative effort, through education, improved environment and social uplift.

“The Bible promises economic and social advantages, but they come only by the way of the Cross of Jesus Christ.”

The entire comment by the former Presbyterian missionary to China, Dr. Bell, can be read on the PCA History Center’s other blog, The Continuing Story, but for this writer, this article sets forth in unmistakable terms the difference between the social gospel and the application of the social principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Words to live by:  Let us by all means place an emphasis upon loving our neighbor on a horizontal plane, but first and foremost the question is, do you love God as a result of having trusted alone in God’s only Son, for your salvation. That is the primary question.  It is as we are born again, that we can show forth God’s love to others in their physical needs, not only to meet them, but also show them how they can be forgiven of their sins, and be given eternal life forever, all as a result of Jesus Christ’s substitutionary death on Calvary’s cross for us.

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Ready and willing to go for Christ . . . anywhere

beattyCharles03The young Irish salesman was sparring verbally with the small group of college students. Only he was doing it in Latin, remembered from his classical education classes of his youth in Northern Ireland.  Sensing his gifts, the head master of the Log College, the Rev. William Tennent, challenged the salesman to sell all of his wares and study for the ministry.  Charles Beatty did just that, entering the Log College in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Charles was born in County Antrim, Northern Ireland in 1712.  His parents were John Beatty, a British Army officer, and Christiana Clinton Beatty.  His early home education was in theology in a classical Christian education setting.  At age 14, his father died.  We are not told how he came to “own” Christ, but he traveled to the American colonies with his Uncle Charles Clinton in 1729, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Studying at the Log College, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Brunswick on October 13, 1742, and ordained the same year on December 14, 1742.

For a while, he assisted the Rev. Tennent at his congregation, and finally assumed the pulpit upon the latter’s death in 1743.  Three years later, he married Anne Reading, with whom he would  have ten children.  She must have been a remarkable woman, as her husband and their father would be gone many years on mission trips.  With very few Presbyterian ministers in the colonies, he was called first by the Synod of New York to travel to Virginia and North Carolina in 1754, preaching to the scattered Scot-Irish Presbyterian families.

But the westward expansion then going on in Pennsylvania also attracted his heart.  He would make two trips in 1758 and 1766 to that frontier of Cumberland County, which extended then all the way to Pittsburgh.  The first trip in 1758 was as chaplain to the army of General Forbes, with Col. Chapman’s Pennsylvania regiment.  He would preach the first Protestant sermon west of the Allegheny Mountains.

The second trip with the Rev. George Duffield of Carlisle’s First Presbyterian Church in 1766.  Their purpose was to report on the numbers of Presbyterian families then pushing west, for the purpose of establishing presbyteries to minister to those hardy pioneers.  Accompanying them was a Christian Indian by the name of Joseph Peppy, who was a valued interpreter when they established contact with the Indian tribes in the area.  They found numerous Presbyterian families, including around Fort Pitt itself.

Charles Beatty was involved in relief work as well.  Twice he took trips to England to raise funds for the Corporation for the Relief of Distressed Presbyterian Ministers.

Leaving “home missions,” Beatty sailed for the Barbados to minister the Word there, only to be called to his heavenly home on August 13, 1773.

Words to Live By:
Charles Beatty was a man who for the sake of the gospel was content to be used for Christ’s kingdom.  Reader: is God’s Spirit calling you to a similar ministry of service for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  In Matthew 9:3738, Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers in his harvest.” (ESV)

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

Q. 53. — Which is the third commandment?

A. — The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Ex. 20:7).

Q. 54. — What is required in the third commandment?

A. — The third commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of God’s names, title, attributes, ordinances, word, and works.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES: Ps.29:2; Matt. 6:9; Rev. 15:34; Mal. 1:14; Ps. 138:2; Ps. 107:21,22.

Questions:

1. What do we mean by the “name of the Lord thy God”?

We mean by the name of “the Lord thy God” any way in which God makes himself known.

2. How is it that God makes himself known?

He makes himself known: by his names, such as God, Lord, I am, Jehovah; by his titles such as Lord of Hosts, Holy One of Israel, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and others; by his attributes which are his perfections and properties (see Question 4); by his ordinances which are the reading, preaching and hearing of the Word, prayer, thanksgiving, praise, the administration of the sacraments; by his word, the scriptures of the Old and New Testament; by his works, which are the works of creation and providence.

3. What is our responsibility toward these general ways by which He makes himself known?

Our responsibility is to show a reverent attitude toward all of them in our words, our thoughts and our actions. We should meditate on o His names and titles. We should make holy use of God’s ordinances seeking God in them. We should be obedient at all times to His Word and recognize His works of creation and providence, blessing Him and praising Him for His mercies and submitting to Him in all things.

4.
Does this question pertain at all to legal oaths and vows to God?

Since the name of God is used in oaths and vows, there is a connection. The reader is urged to consider prayerfully the section of the Confession of Faith entitled: “Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

THE GOD OF ABRAHAM

One of the titles ascribed to God as the God of grace is “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Ex. 3:6). Even as He is the God of grace, even as we experience it day after day, we should praise Him for His wonderful works to the children of men. We should never let a day go by without lifting up voices in praise to that Blessed Name! The hymn writer said:

“The God of Abraham praise!
Who reigns enthroned above,
Ancient of everlasting days,
And God of Love!
Jehovah, great I AM!
By earth and Heaven confest!
I bow, and bless the sacred name,
For ever blest!

The God of Abraham praise!
At whose supreme command
From earth I rise, and seek the joys
At His right hand:
I all on earth forsake,Its wisdom, fame, and power,
And Him my only portion make,
My Shield and Tower.
The God of Abraham praise!

Whose all-sufficient grade
Shall guide me all my happy days
In all my ways:
He called a worm His friend!
He calls Himself my God!
And He shall save me to the end
Through Jesus’ blood!
The whole triumphant host

Give thanks to God on high:
Hail! Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
They ever cry:
Hail! Abraham’s God and mine!
I join the heavenly lays;
All might and majesty are Thine,
And endless praise!”

Abraham bowed in heart and mind before the Lord even after his faith had been sorely tried by the long delay in the fulfilment of the promise. Abraham rested upon the divine pledge, and the sufficiency of the divine power and grace of his Lord. We should do the same-recognize who He is and then remember to give praise to His holy name.

However, this commandment has a reverse side to it. As Calvin puts it so well, “The purpose of this commandment is: God wills that we hallow the majesty of his name. Therefore, it means in brief that we are not to profane his name by treating it contemptously and irreverently.” (Institutes, II, viii, 22). We should always remember that by not standing in awe of Him, by not blessing His name, we can break this commandment.

A good discipline for us would be to promise God that we shall read Psalm 139 at least once each week in order that we might keep ourselves in the right perspective and have the reverent attitude we should have toward the God of Abraham.

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Yesterday, if you remember, it was noted that in 1783, a day of thanksgiving was observed on December 11th. So perhaps it should not be quite such a surprise to find that in 1850, Thanksgiving Day was on December 12th! Here below is a list of some of the sermons we’ve compiled that were preached on that occasion by various Presbyterian pastors, and as it is a Saturday today, I invite you to select one from among those below where a link is provided, and then take up and read!:—

Beaman, Nathan Sidney Smith [1785-1871]
Characteristics of the Age : A discourse delivered in the First Presbyterian Church, Troy, N.Y., on Thanksgiving Day, December 12, 1850. (Troy, N.Y. : Young and Hartt, 1851), 32 p.

Boardman, Henry A.[1808-1880]
The American union : a discourse delivered on Thursday, December 121850, the day of the annual thanksgiving in Pennsylvania, and repeated on Thursday, December 19, in the Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia

Schenck, William Edward [1819-1903]
An historical account of the First Presbyterian Church of Princeton, N.J. : being a sermon preached on Thanksgiving Day, December 12, 1850 (Princeton, N.J. : Printed by John T. Robinson, 1850), 74pp.

Skinner, Thomas Harvey, [1791-1871]
Love of Country: A Discourse, Delivered on Thanksgiving Day, December 12th, 1850, in the …

Smith, Asa Dodge [1804-1877]
Obedience to human law : a discourse delivered on the day of public thanksgiving, December 12, 1850, in the Brainerd Presbyterian Church, New York (New York : Leavitt, 1851), 32 p.

Smith, Edward Dunlap, 1802-1883
Our country, and our country’s constitution and laws : a discourse delivered on Thanksgiving Day, December 12th,1850, in the Chelsea Presbyterian Church, New York

Yeomans, John William [1800-1863]
Signs of the country’s future : a discourse delivered in the Presbyterian Church in Danville, Pennsylvania, December 12, 1850, on occasion of the annual thanksgiving (Danville, Pa. : E.W. Conkling, 1851), 30 p.

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

Covenanters in the Crown of London

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

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

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

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

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

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