September 2015

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

Q 38. — What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?

A. — At the resurrection, believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged, and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

Scripture References: I Cor. 15:43, 44; Matt. 25:33, 34; Matt. 10:32; Psa. 15:1; I Thess. 4:14; I Cor. 2:9.

Questions:

1. What are the three benefits of the believers as contained in this question?

(1) The believers shall be raised up in glory.
(2) The believers shall be acknowledged and acquitted at the day of judgment.
(3) The believers shall be made perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity.

2. What is the glory referred to in this question and what will be the result of it?

The glory referred to in this question is the glory of the resurrection, when the body will be restored and no longer subject to death and dissolution and “be fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious body.” (Phil. 3 :21).

3. What is the meaning of the believers being acknowledged and acquitted?

The believers will hear the Savior’s “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:34). Their faith shall be vindicated; they shall be publicly acknowledged as the redeemed children of God, (I Cor. 4:5), and the declaration will be made that all their sins are pardoned.

4. What is the third blessing that will come to the believers?

The third is the greatest blessing of all, the full enjoyment of God. The believers will ever be with the Lord and will receive the inheritance prepared for them. There the believers will behold their Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and will finally be able to trace the ways in which the Lord has led and saved them. (I Pet. 1:6).

5. What will be the lot of the unbelievers at the resurrection?

Their bodies shall be released from the grave and they shall see Christ as their final judge. They shall stand before His judgment Throne and shall have their sins read out of the books and will be eternally cast into hell. (II Thess. 1:7-8; Rev. 20:11,12).

GOOD STEWARDS OF THE GRACE OF GOD

“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (I Pet. 4: 10). Blessing after blessing has been mentioned in the past few questions; but with blessings come responsibilities. It is a good thing to be reminded of the benefits that come to the believer both in this life and at death and at the resurrection. But it is an important thing that the believer recognize that with these benefits there is a call from the Lord to be good stewards of his grace.

Archbishop Leighton said, “Thinkest thou that thy wealth, or power, or wit, is thine, to do with as thou wilt, to engross to thyself either to retain as useless or to use, to hoard and wrap up, or to lavish out; according as thy humour leads thee? No! All is given as to a steward, wisely and faithfully to lay up and layout, not only the outward estate and common gifts of mind, but even saving grace, which seems most appropriated for thy private good, yet is not wholly for that. Even thy graces are for the good of thy brethren.”

If believers are to live to the glory of God, (going back to the first question), then they must be good stewards of the grace of God. The benefits given now and those to be given to the believers at the resurrection should be daily motivators toward wanting to thank and praise God for them in the way He desires praise—living to his glory. It should be noted by the believer that benefits are given for the purpose of being exercised; that the design of these exercises is not only for the advantage of the believer but is also for that of the body of Christ at large. In addition, when a believer is exercising a gift, a benefit, he ought to consider himself as a steward who must be faithful, being a good manager of the manifold grace of God.

In I Tim. 6:17-18 we have the same teaching: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.”

To be a good steward of the manifold grace of God is indeed a way to “redeem the time” in these evil days. May God help us to do so, all to His glory.

Published by: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 33 (February, 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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We come now to the penultimate chapter of Dr. Kerr’s book PRESBYTERIANISM FOR THE PEOPLE. Feel free to offer comments on where we might go next on our Saturday journeys, but keep in mind that short treatments like these are difficult to find, especially when written by Presbyterians!

[penultimate—that’s Greek for “next to the last”]

 

CHAPTER II.

PECULIARITIES OF CALVINISM.

The distinctive features of this system of theology are three—viz.:

(1)        The supremacy of God in all things;

(2)        The total depravity of man ;

(3)        God’s election of the saved.

While this system exalts God, it humbles man. It has been the object of many fierce attacks. It has never been popular with the world, yet it has inspired the grandest struggles ever made for the truth and for human liberty. Strong doctrine is required to make strong characters, and strong characters are necessary in the great warfare against sin. What would the Reformation have been without Calvin in Switzerland and Knox in Scotland ? In contending for the doctrines called Calvinistic they worked out the conditions of a civilization grander than any other the world has seen. These doctrines have been called hard, but God made them, and for the salvation of men. We must be brought to feel a sense of our own helplessness; man’s proud spirit must be humbled, and then he is ready to cry out for mercy. The tendency of Calvinistic theology is also to promote the comfort of Christians. When Christians plant their feet upon God’s eternal decree, they may set the world, the flesh and the devil at defiance.

ELECTION AND FREE AGENCY.

Presbyterians also believe in the freedom of man. We are often treated as if we did not; we are accused of teaching that a man can and must do nothing for his salvation. We are called fatalists. But we do believe in the freedom of man; we preach it; it underlies every proclamation of pardon; it is embodied in every invitation of mercy. How man can be free and God supreme is a question which perhaps Michael could not answer; certainly we cannot. We are not bound to answer it. Our duty is to accept all that God reveals, and to trust him for what is not revealed. He has revealed both these doctrines, but not the reconciliation of them. Our ignorance is the cause of the difficulty. “We know in part ” (1 Cor. xiii. 9).

An illustration may help us to understand, not the difficulty, but where it lies—in our ignorance.

Six hundred and forty years before Christ, Thales discovered that the world was round. He is said to have been at that time the only man who knew this great fact. Suppose he had declared to the people, who were in ignorance, “ I can travel eastward, never turning to the right or left, and, keeping straight on, come back to the point from which I set out.” He might have gone farther and said, “By traveling westward I can return to this place without changing my course.” The people would have answered, “Thales, it is absurd! Your two statements contradict each other; they cannot be reconciled, and we will not believe them.” They supposed the world was flat, and in their ignorance it was indeed impossible for them to understand the two statements of Thales; but they were true, nevertheless. The truth of a thing does not depend upon our ability to comprehend it. If Thales had gone on and told them that the world was round, the difficulty would have vanished at once. Before, they “knew in part.” But Thales’s children would have believed him without explanation, because he was their father. So God’s children must believe him, even when they cannot understand.

The Primitive Baptists reject free agency because they cannot reconcile it with election. Some

Arminians reject election because they cannot reconcile it with free agency. But Presbyterians hold both doctrines, confessing their inability to reconcile them because of the finiteness of human comprehension, yet declaring that it is enough for them to know that both doctrines are taught in God’s word. These doctrines, however difficult, are held by four-fifths of the whole Protestant world. Why? Because “THUS SAITH THE LORD.”

“Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall in no wise enter therein.” (Luke xviii. 17).

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Even His Name Spoke of Recognition

Born on  this 18th day of September of 1879, Clarence Edward Noble Macartney had one of those names that made you stop and think.  He grew up in  a Covenanter household, with his father, the Rev. John L. Macartney, being a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Northwood, Ohio.  As this town was the home of Geneva College, it was no surprise that his father taught at the new college as a professor of Natural Science.  When the college moved to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, the family moved with it.

But the father was not a well man. Plagued with a respiratory problem, he and the family moved to California for the warmer weather. In fact, twice there was a move in that state, and finally on to Colorado in 1896. There were teaching professions along the way for the father.

All this moving brought a series of schools, which did not stop for the young man Clarence during his collegiate years. They included: the University of Denver, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harvard, and Yale Divinity School. There was even a stint overseas in several countries. Finally, Clarence McCartney settled down at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied under B.B. Warfield, Robert Dick Wilson, and Frederick Loetscher.

The Old School Presbyterian theology called him away from the Covenanter denomination of his father and into the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  Ordained soon after seminary, he held pastorates in Patterson, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Macartney was no doubt a conservative in theology.  His Old School Presbyterian training at Princeton Seminary  had guaranteed that, along with his Covenanter background.  And he was to preach that famous sermon, “Shall Unbelief Win?” to counter the Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick’s sermon earlier, “Shall Fundamentalism Win?”

In its early years, he was a member of the board of Westminster Theological Seminary.  One of his favorite professors at Princeton was Robert Dick Wilson, who was at Westminster for one year before death took him. But McCartney was opposed to the starting of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Mission as well as the Constitutional Union’s calls for a new church, if they couldn’t reform the church from the inside. Eventually, he would resign from the board of Westminster Seminary and remain inside the Presbyterian U.S.A. church, even while Machen and others were censured out of the church.  He would go to be with the Lord in 1957.

Words to live by:  It comes down to a simple question.  What is the definition of an apostate church?  J. Gresham Machen and others certainly believed that when nothing is done in the way of church discipline when essential doctrines of the faith have been denied, as was the case with the Auburn Affirmation, then that speaks of a visible church being apostate. Not one single signer of this affirmation was ever brought up on a charge of heresy. Who were brought up for violation of their ordination vows were conservatives like Machen, Woodbridge, Woolley, McIntire, and yes even a David K Myers, among others.  Pray for the purity of the church and  your church in particular. Don’t ever be silent when the truths of God’s Word, the Bible, are being attacked.  And stand for the faith once delivered unto the saints.

 

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A Potential Schism Halted by a Compromise

Initially there was no real problem with the written standards for the Presbyterian Church in America. Ministerial students were simply tested for their learning and soundness in the faith. But a controversy in the mother country soon changed this.  So the question arose, should teaching and ruling elders be required to subscribe to the subordinate standards of the Westminster Assembly in their entirety, or just for their essential truths? The fact that so many officers were still in the process of emigrating to the colonies made this a relevant question for the infant church to resolve.

Conscious of the potential for schism, on September 17, 1729, Jonathan Dickinson became the main proponent against the total subscriptionist party in the church. His argument was simple. He believed the Bible was the sufficient rule for faith and life.  Subscription must be adhered to it and to it alone, not to some man-made summary of it, as good as it might be.

The total subscriptionist side also believed the Bible was all-sufficient for doctrine and life, but were equally convinced that the Westminster standards of confession and catechisms offer an adequate summary of the Old and New Testaments. To receive it and adopt it in its entirely would stop any heresies which may invade the church from either within or without the church.

At the synod in 1729, Dickinson and his followers won the day with what has become known at the Adopting Act of 1729. [Link fixed, 9/17/15 @ 10:23 a.m.] The document stated that on the one hand, there was a clear requirement to receive and adopt the Westminster Standards.  However, if an elder, whether teaching or ruling elder, had an exception to those standards, he was to make known to the church or presbytery his exception. The latter body would then judge whether the exception dealt with essential and necessary articles of doctrine, worship, or government. If it did not, then he could be ordained without official censure or social ostracism.

The entire body of elders gathered at the Philadelphia Synod gave thanks to God in solemn praise and prayer that the resolution of this potential schism had been averted and unity was maintained in the infant Presbyterian church.

Words to live by:  It is always good that disunity should be avoided and unity be maintained. But at what cost, is the question? The compromise here looked good on the surface. But presbyteries and synods and assemblies are made up of fallible men who can, sadly, declare that the basic truths of the Christian religion are not necessary to be held, as is the case now with several liberal Presbyterian bodies.  Obviously, much prayer must be made for those who instruct and rule over us, that God’s Spirit will keep the visible church pure in both faith and life. The true key to doctrinal unity springs from a daily awareness of our own sinfulness, from hearts broken before the Lord in godly humility, Seeking the forgiveness found in Jesus Christ alone.

See also, The Meaning of Subscription, by Rev. Benjamin McKee Gemmill.

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Amazed by What he Accomplished in Life

The seals and the whales in Alaska were disappearing fast for the native people up in Alaska.  So the Rev. Sheldon Jackson, a Presbyterian missionary, travelled to Siberia to purchase reindeer to be introduced in Alaska for food, clothing, and transportation.  He would eventually bring over 1300 of them, and train the natives how to care for them.

Sheldon Jackson was born in 1834 in Minaville, New York. He graduated from Union College (1855) and Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating in 1858. The following year he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister.

After marriage of Mary Voohees in 1858, they applied to the Presbyterian Foreign Mission board for passage in Siam or Columbia, but we turned down—get this!—for “lacking in physique.”  Jackson was only five feet tall.

So Rev. Jackson and his wife began their ministry, teaching in a Choctaw Indian boarding school in what was later Oklahoma, beginning on September 16, 1858.  He spent only one year there, contracting malaria, which greatly weakened his health.  But he was not done serving his Lord.

Until 1877, he ministered in  ten states and territories of the West.  How was this possible?  He simply followed the westward extension of the railroad, coming to a make shift town, visiting every house witnessing of Christ, seeing converts, organizing them into small missions and churches, and move on to the next railroad town.   He organized over 100 missions and churches, including several educational institutions, in this way.

But it was in Alaska that his greatest work for Christ took place, especially among the native Alaskans.  The Lord opened up this territory in a unique way.  A close friend of President Benjamin Harrison, Jackson was appointed the First General Agent of Education in Alaska, and told to educate the native tribes of the territory.  He followed the practice of using contracts to accomplish it, only his contracts were with religious denominations.  In all, he divided up the vast area and  invited in the Baptists, Anglicans of Canada, Methodists, Moravians, Congregationalists, Quakers, Lutherans, Covenant, Roman Catholics, Russian Orthodox, to join the Presbyterians already starting schools in the territory.  It worked admirably until 1893 when Congress began to get uneasy about subsidizing religious bodies  for their work of education!

He also laid the groundwork for the territory to be recognized at a state later on in history.  His critics were amazed at what he had accomplished, and among those accomplishments, of traveling over one million miles for the Lord.  He passed away in 1909, but not before being elected as Moderator of the General Assembly in 1897.  With all his official governmental service, he was still the evangelist, having preached over 3000 sermons on missions.

Words to live by: There is a monument on a bluff in Sioux City, Iowa, which was erected by the Presbytery of Iowa in 1913.  It commemorates the prayer meeting which the Rev. Sheldon Jackson held with two other home missionaries. They looked out to the unchurched west, and went out to win those western areas for Christ.  It is this writer’s conviction that the church today needs to look around, see their spiritually lost cities, towns, and neighborhoods, and go out with a renewed zeal to take the gospel message to them. Only such a conviction as that, will result in another spiritual awakening so desperately needed for our land.  Will you be one of the ones who will pray for this?  And go too?

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The published histories of individual churches tend to be a very overlooked literary genre. Usually they are published in limited edition and purchased by church members, only to be shelved and perhaps never read. This is unfortunate, for some of these works have provided occasion for pastors and theologians to wax eloquent on various themes long pondered in their ministry.

What follows is excerpted from Historical Sketch of Rising Sun, Indiana, and the Presbyterian Church. A Fortieth Anniversary Discourse, delivered Sept. 15, 1856, by Rev. B.F. Morris, and is edited for length. In opening his discourse, Rev. Morris sets out to establish the value of historical annals. This is something of a digression from our normal fare here, I realize. Moreover, we may not agree with all of his statements. But consider this a “think piece,” designed to make us consider more fully the many aspects of the otherwise acknowledged value of historical accounts.

THE VALUE AND USE OF HISTORICAL ANNALS.

1. Historic annals are the way-marks of human progress.

The unfolding events which men and communities evolve need an imperishable record. This record is the embalming process that preserves the precious treasures of the past from oblivion, and transmits them, in their original freshness and form, to future ages.

2. They are “sunny memories” of scenes, fragrant with delightful and profitable remembrances to our personal experience.

Our elevated personal enjoyments flow, mainly, from two sources; one from the duties, activities and scenes of the present; the other from the fresh and vivid remembrance of the past. The past is a field through which all, in retrospection, love to roam, gathering in their own hearts, and reproducing in their own recollections, the scenes and stirring events in which they participated, and which, in remembrance, yield a rich harvest of personal enjoyment.

3. Past records and remembrances also have their genial and beneficent influences for the rising generation.

The solid texture in the life and character of each generation is woven mainly from the materials created and fashioned by the one preceding. The type of life, the ruling sentiments of the soul and whatever goes into the composite form of character, come mainly from influences that flow from the generations that have gone before.

4. They have a significant and important relation and use to the future.

Preparation for right action and a true course in life is one of the most commanding obligations of human existence. We must live right now, so that we may act right in the future. This consummation is greatly aided by the moral teachings of the past. The dividing line between right and wrong; the true principles and pathway of success; dangers to be avoided; wisdom and prudential sagacity, all that forewarns and forearms and qualifies for right action, may be derived from the facts and lessons of the past, communicated by oral experience, or through historic annals. “It is the capacity of looking back on past experiences, which gives us the power of foreseeing the future, and thus of looking both before and behind, for sources of enjoyment,” and for a true direction in the moral course of life. This fact, in God’s system of moral education, gives meaning and authority to the Divine injunction, “Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask thy father and he will shew thee; the elders and they shall tell thee.”—Deut. 32:7. “Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.”—Joel 1:3. In this light historic annals assume an importance equal to the value of the moral interests of men and society, as effected by the moral education of the rising generation.

5. They embalm the acts and memories of the dead.

The great forest of humanity, like a forest of oaks, falling before the march of civilization, is, one by one, leveled by the axe of time. The oak of human life, stately and strong though it be, has no perpetual charter. A century, at most, it must fall, and pass away. Shall it have no record in human remembrance, or on the historic page?

6. Historic annals are the means to measure social progress, as contrasted with after eras in the history of social civilization.

Society, as it circles outward from a common center, has a tendency to degenerate from its original and higher type, into one of a lower standard and tone.

7. Another special and important use of historic annals and personal remembrances is the exhibition of the nature, progress, and triumphs of Christian truth.

The structure of all human society must, if its foundation be solid and its superstructure symmetrical and safe, rest on Christian truth.

8. This suggests another great and valuable use of historic annals and personal remembrances, which is to demonstrate the active presence of God in human history and society.

“Historic truth,” says Bancroft, “may be established as a science; and the principles that govern human affairs, extending like a path of light from century to century, become the highest demonstration of the superintending providence of God. Universal history does but seek to restate “the sum of all God’s works of Providence.”

A devout and thoughtful mind will recognize and adore God, as He gives revelations of Himself in human history, and in every onward movement of the race.

Words to Live By:
Have you noticed, as you read through the Bible, how often God commands us to remember His works? To be actively engaged in that work of remembrance is key to keeping our hearts fresh before the Lord. Consider the words of John Flavel :

“Search backward into all the performances of Providence throughout your lives. So did Asaph: ‘I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings’ (Psalm 77:1112). He laboured to recover and revive the ancient providences of God’s mercies many years past, and suck a fresh sweetness out of them by new reviews of them. Ah, sirs, let me tell you, there is not such a pleasant history for you to read in all the world as the history of your own lives, if you would but sit down and record from the beginning hitherto what God has been to you, and done for you; what signal manifestations and outbreakings of His mercy, faithfulness and love there have been in all the conditions you have passed through. If your hearts do not melt before you have gone half through that history, they are hard hearts indeed. ‘My Father, thou art the guide of my youth’ (Jeremiah 3:4)”.—From The Mystery of Providence, chapter nine.

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If You Cannot Find a Suitable One, Write it Yourself

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

Q. 37 — What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?

A. — The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.

Scripture References: Luke 23:43; Luke 16:23; Phil. 1:23; II Cor. 5:6-8; I Thess. 4:14; Rom. 8:23.

Questions:

1. When believers die what benefits are received?

The believer receives a benefit in regard to his soul and in regard to his body.

2. What benefit is received of the believer in regard to his soul?

Heb. 12:23 teaches that the soul is made perfect in holiness and immediately passes into glory.

3. How is the believer benefited with respect to his body?

The body of the believer in the grave will still be united to Christ in a mystical union (l Cor. 6:15). At the resurrection the body of the believer will be united with his soul.

4. What is this “resurrection” spoken of in the prior question?

This resurrection is the last and general resurrection of all the dead in the last day (l Thess. 4:16).

5. What is the lot of the souls and bodies of the unbelievers?

The bodies of the unbelievers are shut up in the prison of the grave (Dan. 12:2) and their souls suffer the anguish and torment of hell.

6. Will the believer be raised with the same body at the last day?

Yes, the dead in Christ shall be raised with the same body (Job 19:26), There will be a difference in quality, not in substance and essence. (Phil. 3 :20-21).

7. How can a believer be assured of these blessings when death is nigh?

A believer can be assured of them because the promises of God are sure and true, promises made even before the world began (2 Tim. 1 :9), There need be no doubt on the part of the believer for “What the Bible says, God says, and that ends the matter!”

DEATH AND THE BELIEVER

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4). In this wonderful verse from God’s Word we have a comfort for the Christian that includes all man needs to face death itself. There is the Presence—”for Thou art with me.” There is the Defender—”Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me.” The rod was a most formidable weapon of defense. Our Lord defends us from all. There is the One who guides—”Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me.” The staff is a guidance in the sense of pointing out the way. All of this in one verse of Scripture, all this and Heaven too!

The poet, E. H. Hamilton, put it well when he said:

“Afraid? Of What?
To feel the spirit’s glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace?
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid?— of that?

Afraid? Of What?
Afraid to see the Saviour’s face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace
The glory gleam from wounds of grace?
Afraid?— of that?

Afraid? Of What?
A flash — a crash — a pierced heart;
Darkness — light — O heaven’s art!
A wound, of His counterpart!
Afraid? — of that?

Afraid? Of What?
To do by death what life could not
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
Afraid? — of that?

The believer should note that this particular Question begins with “What benefits”. So many times it seems that the believer does not realize that there are benefits to receive at death. When a believer dies there will be those who will miss him. It is true that it is hard to think of what life would be like without those closest to us. It is equally true though that the Bible says, “To be with Christ is far better.” Many years ago I opened a letter from the mother of one of my former Professors, a godly man who meant so much to me as a young Christian. She told of his sudden death. I reached back and took a book from the shelf, a book I had received from him just a few months before. In the midst of my sadness and grief this question suddenly came to my mind and burned itself into my soul. I went again to the Scripture references and looked them up. I was able, by God’s grace, to praise Him for taking my brother in Christ to Himself.

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 37 (January, 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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kerr_robertPRev. Robert P. Kerr’s little volume, PRESBYTERIANISM FOR THE PEOPLE, now moves to a short section on Presbyterian theology. There are three chapters in this section: (1) Presbyterian Theology; (2) Peculiarities of Calvinism; and (3) Calvinism and Self-Government. Today we present the first of these three chapters.

Incidentally, Kerr’s book appears to have gone through at least two printings. The PCA Historical Center has a copy with brown cloth boards and gilt lettering, printed in 1883. So much of the work produced for the Southern Presbyterian Church by the Whittet & Shepperson Printing Company had this same appearance—brown boards, typically with beveled edges, and gilt lettering. This then would be the first edition of the book. The Buswell Library at Covenant Seminary also has a copy, but with russet cloth boards and black lettering. This is most likely a later printing, though the same plates were used, as evidenced by the same typographical error in the numbering of Chapter VII. I don’t see that the book has been reprinted since that time.

CHAPTER I.

PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGY.

“ For we walk by faith, not by sight.”—2 Cor. v. 7.

SALVATION BY FAITH IN A DIVINE SAVIOUR WHO DIED FOR MEN is the great central truth of our holy religion, and it is held by all evangelical Churches. If a man believes this doctrine, he is a Christian, and any denomination which really holds to it is a Christian Church. The differences between evangelical. Churches, while important, are not as the things necessary to the salvation- of the soul.

In the present condition of the world it is well that there should be several denominations. There is more work done, and better work, than if all Christians were in one organization. Now, it would be difficult to maintain the subdivisions necessary for efficiency without differences of opinion. There must be various centres of thought around which men may rally. There is a certain theological system called Arminianism, another called Calvinism, and there are different systems of government and modes of worship, all of which contribute to form the denominations into which, under the providence of God, the Church has been divided. ’The unity of the Church may be sufficiently realized by magnifying our common belief in the great truths of redemption, and in exhibiting at all times a charity, greater than faith and hope, which will shut the mouths of our enemies and command the respect of the world. One of the best signs of our times is the fact that most denominations now recognize one another’s churchship and work together harmoniously for the glory of Christ in the redemption of mankind.

But it is necessary that each division of the great army of Christians should be instructed in the things peculiar to itself, and ought not to be considered uncharitable if it exhibits and defends those distinctive institutions which give it being. There is also need of a brief exposition of Presbyterian doctrines, from the fact that there has been some misunderstanding among other peoples as to what we really believe. For example, we have been accused of teaching the damnation of infants who die in infancy. Though such a statement may seem unnecessary, it is now most emphatically made: The Presbyterian Church holds and teaches that all who die in infancy are saved.

The following is given as a general outline of Presbyterian theology. Some parts of it are taken from an old formula, of unknown authorship, and two articles from the Westminster Catechism;

SUMMARY OF DOCTRINES.

I. There is one God, the Creator, Preserver and Governor of the universe, who is possessed of every natural and moral perfection.

II. This God exists in three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, the same in essence and equal in all divine attributes.

III. The Scriptures contained in the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God and furnish a perfect rule of faith and practice.

IV. God created Adam perfectly holy and constituted him the representative of all his posterity, suspending their moral character and legal relation to his probationary conduct.

V. In consequence of Adam’s fall all mankind are in a state of total moral depravity and are under condemnation.

VI. The Lord Jesus Christ, who is God and man, by his sufferings and death has made atonement for the sins of the whole world.

VII. Through the atonement salvation is freely offered to all sinners in the gospel; and though they are free to accept, yet they naturally reject, this gracious offer, and refuse to come to Christ that they might have eternal life.

VIII. God the Spirit, by an act of special sovereign grace, renews the hearts of all the elect and causes them to accept the salvation of the gospel.

IX. The foundation of the elects’ forgiveness and redemption is the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, received and rested on in faith.

X. God promises to preserve from final apostasy all who have been renewed in their souls, and to conduct them, through sanctification and belief of the truth, into the kingdom of glory.

XI. All men who hear the good news of the gospel and come to Christ will be saved. God from all eternity has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, and yet man is free to accept or reject God’s offers of mercy.

XII. God has appointed a day, at the end of the present order of things, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ, who will receive those that believe on him into everlasting happiness and sentence the wicked unto everlasting punishment.

XIII. The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth, and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.

XIV. Baptism is a sacrament wherein the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost doth signify and seal our in-grafting into Christ and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.

XV. It is required of the officers in the Presbyterian Church to accept the system of doctrines of the Confession of Faith, but persons are admitted as ‘private members on a simple profession of faith in Christ, a promise of obedience to him and conformity to the rules of the Church. Whatever admits a man into heaven ought to admit him into the communion of the Church on earth.

The greater part of this system of doctrine is held by all Christians, but there are a few important points in which we differ from other denominations.

The Presbyterian system of theology has been called Augustinian because it was first fully elaborated by Augustine in the fifth century, and Calvinistic because its greatest modern expositor was John Calvin, in the sixteenth century. The most complete statement of these doctrines was made by the Westminster Assembly of Divines, in the seventeenth century, in a “Confession of Faith ” which has become the standard of nearly all English- speaking Presbyterians.

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The Whole Earth Trembled When he Walked

Our title was the conclusion of an individual regarding Brig. General Andrew Lewis upon seeing him.  Fully six feet tall, there was a ruggedness about him that arrested every man’s opinion.  He was just the person needed to settle accounts with those native Americans who were troubling the Scot-Irish settlers in Virginia, and making it hard to not just live in this new land on their farms, but also worship the God of their fathers in colonial America.

Andrew Lewis was born in Ireland in 1720.  When he was eleven years of age, his parents, John and Margaret Lewis, came  first to  Cumberland County in Pennsylvania, and then south into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  They were the first settlers in Augusta County, Virginia, and Presbyterian to the core.  Andrew grew up on the farm and somewhere in the 1740’s married Elizabeth, from which seven children were born over the years.  He was involved in the defense of the homeland in that he was an officer of the Augusta militia.

When the French and Indian war came, he became a captain in Col. George Washington’s regiment.  Wounded at Fort Necessity south of present day Pittsburgh  when it surrendered with Col Washington as commanding officer, he continued on after being exchanged.  Promoted to Major, he oversaw the frontier fortifications along the river of Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Against Fort Duquesne, he was captured again, and sent as a prisoner of war to Quebec, where he was not released until 1759, when he went home to Virginia.

The rising threat of war with Great Britain brought him into a position of importance again.  Assigned by the Continental Congress to protect Virginia, he was raised in rank to Brig. General.   These colonial warriors fought on two fronts.  Not only did they fight the British on the coast of Virginia, but they also fought the Indians on the west of Virginia.

In the fall of 1774, General Andrew Lewis raised the largest number of men — over one thousand militia — ever raised up to that time in American history.  Their purpose was to once and forever stop the Indian raids against American settlers during this vital period of history.   It would be no easy task.  Starting on September 11, 1774, this collection of regiments from Virginia began a forced march of over one hundred miles to the Ohio River.  In what has been billed the first battle in the American War for Independence, the great majority of troops under General Lewis were Presbyterians from congregations of the Presbytery of Hanover.  It was like the church militant going out to do battle.

The results of this battle will be told in a future devotional on October 11.  But for now, it is clear that only a fearless leader like Andrew Lewis could lead such a mighty force into the wilderness to give liberty and freedom once and for all time for the Presbyterian pastors and people of Virginia.

Words to live by:  Colonial America was very much of a trowel and sword project.  One the one hand, it was necessary to build up the land.  On the other hand, it became necessary to defend what you had started to build.  Some settlers had found it too difficult to build and fight at the same time, so they were leaving to find fertile ground closer to Philadelphia.  Pastors like Samuel Davies were calling upon them to rise up and fight the good fight of faith.  Sword and trowel; trowel and sword — both were needed in the present battle.  And Andrew Lewis was God’s man for both of these endeavors.  God continues to need leaders who will stand in the gap.  Will you offer yourself as one?

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