August 2017

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The First Governor of Delaware

The first governor, or at that time called the president of Delaware, was a Presbyterian physician in Wilmington, Delaware.  Born on February 21, 1721 in Ulster, Northern Ireland, John McKinly came to Delaware in 1742.  While his education and particularly his medical background is hard to trace, nonetheless he soon became a popular physician in Wilmington. Marrying Jane Richardson, they both became prominent members of the Presbyterian Church.

He served any number of city, county and state offices, until he was elected by the General Assembly to become the first governor of the Delaware colony.  The fact that he was from Ulster, and thus a Scot-Irish Presbyterian, made him acceptable to the Presbyterians from New Castle County.  However, the fact that he was a moderate and not entirely in favor of independence from Great Britain, made him popular with the Anglicans from Kent and Sussex County in Delaware.  This background, while a good compromise in political circles, did not save him from being captured by the British after the Battle of Brandywine.  He would be a prisoner of war until 1778, when he was exchanged for the royalist son of Benjamin Franklin.

After that experience, even with promises of support, he never entered politics again.  He died August 31,1796, and was buried in the Presbyterian cemetery.

‹- Governor McKinly’s gravesite, in the Brandywine cemetery.

Words to live by:  The only reference we  have to him being a Presbyterian is the statement that he was “a prominent Presbyterian.”  That can mean almost anything and have very little to do with his spiritual testimony.  Usually, in those days, a person couldn’t be buried in the Presbyterian cemetery unless they were members in good standing in a Presbyterian church.  And people who joined the membership of a Presbyterian church in colonial times had to have a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ backed by a credible testimony of life and works.  So arguing from the latter to the former, we can hope at least that his was a genuine faith with a conviction of Presbyterian doctrine, government, and life. So here’s the old question : Can people tell that I’m a Christian? Do my words—and does my life—bear testimony to that fact?

Drawing again, in part, from Nevin’s Presbyterian Encyclopedia, we read today of a man who gave himself unselfishly to the establishment of a school.

Twenty Years the President of Lafayette College

cattellWmCWilliam Cassiday Cattell was born at Salem, New Jersey on August 30th, 1827, into the family of Thomas Ware Cattell and his wife Keziah Gilmore Catell. Raised with five other brothers and two sisters, William studied in local schools and later completed his preparatory studies in Virginia for two years, under a brother’s direction. He subsequently enrolled at New Jersey College and graduated in 1848. After teaching in Virginia for a year, he then began studies at Princeton Theological Seminary. Cattell completed the standard three year course and remained for an additional year to focus on what were then termed Oriental Studies. Graduating in 1852, he was employed as Associate Principal of the Edgehill Academy, located in Princeton, New Jersey, from 1853-1855. Thereafter he was ordained by the Presbytery of Newton in 1856.

From 1855 to 1869, he was Professor of the Greek and Latin languages in Lafayette College, and it was during these years that he forged some of his strongest friendships and alliances. Then from 1860 to 1863, he was pastor of the Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where his labors were crowned with success, and he was greatly beloved by his congregation. In 1863 he was elected to serve as President of Lafayette College, which position he accepted and occupied until June of 1883, when impaired health through over-work obliged him to tender his resignation.

The effects of the Civil War had been nearly fatal for Lafayette College. Enrollment plummeted as students left for battle, while finances dwindled from lack of both students and supporters. The College was nearly closed in 1863 when the Trustees turned to Dr. Cattell, asking him to return and take over as President of the school. His congregation in Harrisburg was devastated, but he saw the greater need and in July of 1864 was inaugurated as President of Lafayette College. During his administration of twenty years, and mostly by his own efforts, the school’s assets increased from $40,000 to almost $900,000. New and larger buildings were built, and furnishings and equipment were brought up to date, along with the improvement of the curriculum. The end result was that Lafayette now stood among the leading colleges of that day. During this period, besides contributing $10,000 from his own funds for the construction of McKeen Hall, Dr. Cattell worked through these years at a very modest and nominal salary, devoting himself unselfishly to the interests of the College, to the point that his physicians finally had to compel him to absolute rest and freedom from official responsibility. In accepting Dr. Cattell’s resignation, the Board of Trustees gave in to the obvious but painful necessity.

PHSFollowing his retirement, Dr. Cattell remained an active member of the College’s Board of Trustees, serving there until his death in 1898. But the College was not his only field of service. Staying active, he traveled to Europe in conjunction with the Presbyterian Alliance, and upon his return, took on new duties as Secretary of the Board of Ministerial Relief for the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. He traveled throughout the United States, preaching to raise money for aged pastors, their widows and orphans. During twelve years with this Board, Dr. Cattell raised three million dollars. Again, his ceaseless labors forced him to retire, this time in 1896. Yet despite his declining health, he agreed to accept the call to serve as President of the Presbyterian Historical Society, in Philadelphia. In this work, he fixed his sights on two goals: relocating the Society’s collections into a larger fire-proof facility, and the establishment of a sufficient  endowment. Cattell lived to see the collections moved to a newer building, but died on February 11, 1898, before the other goal of an endowment could be realized.

Pictured above left, the original home of the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, described in 1880 as “a modest house on Race street near Thirteenth, in Philadelphia, which makes no pretensions and attracts little attention, gives but little idea of the treasures within.”

Dr. Cattell was a superior scholar, an accomplished and affable gentleman, of great energy of character, and an excellent preacher. He was vested with the confidence and regard of his brothers in Christ. Among the honors conferred upon him during his life, he received his degree of Doctor of Divinity from both Hanover College, Indiana, and New Jersey College, in 1864.

Words to Live By:
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, KJV)

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. (Colossians 3:23, NASB)

Drawing from an article by the Rev. Stuart Robinson [The Southern Presbyterian Review, 27.4 (October 1876) 730-759.

It is very evident that in framing the Westminster Articles, there was not, as some have intimated, an attempt to determine certain points of doctrine more rigidly even than the Synod of Dort had done. Instead of falling back, as they might have done,
upon the decrees of the Synod of Dort, they fell back upon the Articles of the Irish Church, which were drawn up before the Synod of Dort had framed its decisions ; and which, before the time of Laud, expressed the commonly received faith of the Church of England. Having been called together for the special purpose of vindicating the doctrine of the Church of England and showing that it was in harmony with that of the other Reformed Churches, and to devise such changes of polity and worship as would bring her into closer union with the Church of Scotland and the Churches of the Continent, the men of the West­minster Assembly aimed throughout, in the most catholic and compromising spirit, to set forth in very cautious and moderate terms a creed that could be accepted by all parties.  And no doubt it was with that design that they selected Archbishop Usher’s Articles as the basis of a new formula, when, by order of Parliament, they laid aside the revision of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England.  If Archbishop Usher, the author of the Irish Articles, is justly eulogised by all parties as a divine of the most enlarged views and catholic spirit, why are the men of the Westminster Assembly denounced as narrow­-minded and rigid bigots, who accepted Usher’s Articles, and en­deavored to make them, substantially, the creed of all Britain ?

That the Assembly was ruled by this moderate and cautious spirit—even though its Moderator, Dr. Twisse, and others of its leading members, were not behind the Synod of Dort and Gomarus himself in the rigidness of their Calvinism—appears from many memoranda of debates in these “Minutes,” which show at the same time, that, while adopting the Irish Articles as the basis of discussion, the Assembly scanned closely every word of their utterances.  Thus, under date of August 29, 1645, Friday morning, we find these entries :

“Debate on the report of the first Committee of God’s Decree.”

“Debate upon the title.

“Debate about the word ‘counsel;’ about those words, ‘most holy, wise ;

and about those words ‘his own.’

“Debate about the word ‘time,’ about the word ‘should.’

“Debate about the transposing.”

So, again, in the continuation of the same general subject, under date of October 20, 1645:

“Proceed in the debate about permission of man’s fall, about ‘the same decree.’

Mr. Seaman.  If those words, ‘in the same decree,’ be left out, it will involve us in great debate.

Mr. Rutherford.  All agree in this, that God decrees the end and means; but whether in one or more decrees, is not . . . say ‘God also hath decreed.’. . . . It is very probable but one decree; but whether fit to express it in a Confession of Faith . . .

Mr. Seaman. . . .

Mr. Rutherford.  If there can be any argument to prove a necessity of one and the same decree, we would be glad to hear it.

Mr. Whitakers.  If you take the same decree in reference to time, they are all simul and semel; in eterno there is not prius and posterius.

Dr. Gouge.  I do not see how the leaving out of those words will cross what we aim at.  I think it will go on roundly without it.

Mr. Whitakers.  Our conceptions are very various about the decrees; but I know not why we should not say it.

Mr. Seaman.  All the odious doctrine of Arminians is from their dis­tinguishing of the decrees ; but our divines say they are one and the same decree.

Mr. Gillespie.  When that word is left out, is it not a truth? and so every one may enjoy his own sense.

Mr. Reynolds.  Let us not put in disputes and scholastic things into a Confession of Faith : I think they are different decrees in our manner of conception.

Mr. Seaman.  You know how great a censure the Remonstrants lie under for making two decrees concerning election ; and will it not be
more concerning the end and the means?

Mr. Calamy.  That it may be a truth, I think in our Prolocutor’s book he gives a great deal of reason for it ; but why should we put it in a Confession of Faith ?

Mr. Calamy.  I question that ‘to bring this to pass:’ we assert massa pura in this . . . I desire that nothing may be put in one way or other; it makes the fall of man to be medium executionis decreti.

Mr. Palmer. You will be in a worse snare in leaving it out.

Mr. Woodcocke.  I desire to know whether this be meant of the de­cree or the execution of it.

Mr. Gillespie.  Say ‘for the same end God hath ordained to permit man to fall.’ . . . This shows that in ordine naturae God ordaining man to glory goes before his ordaining to permit man to fall.”

So, again, under Sess. 521, Oct. 21, 1645, Tuesday morning :

“Report made from the first Committee, sitting before the Assembly :

Resolved by them, that mention be made of man’s fall.

Resolved by them, that those words, ‘to bring this to pass,’ shall not stand.

“Dr. Wincop to pray with the House of Lords next week.

“Debate about those words, ‘to bring this to pass.’

Mr. Reynolds offered something: ‘As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the same eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto, which he, in his counsel, is pleased to appoint for the executing of that decree ; wherefore, they who are endowed with so excellent a benefit, being fallen in Adam, are called in according to God’s purpose.’

Mr. Chambers offered something.

Ordered, To debate the business about Redemption of the elect only by Christ to-morrow morning.”

This long extract, which presents a very fair specimen of this whole volume, shows how carefully and with what moderation of spirit the Assembly engaged in framing the standards of faith. Though, as has been shown, they had the discussions and decrees
of the Synod of Dort before their minds, and though they even made the Irish Articles, prepared by Archbishop Usher, the basis of discussion for their own Confession, yet they did none the less carefully canvass every expression and clause of their own doc-
­trinal statement, as if no other standards of faith had ever before been set forth.

The Catechisms, Larger and Shorter, were discussed with equal care before the whole Assembly, as reported from their Committees, question by question.  Under date of January 14, 1646, the record is :

“Upon motion made by Mr. Vines, it was Ordered :

“That the Committee for the Catechism do prepare a draught of two Catechisms, one more large and another more brief, in which they are to have an eye to the Confession of Faith, and to the matter of the Catechism already begun.”

To Dr. Tuckney was assigned the Shorter Catechism.

It is not until April 12, 1648, that we find the Minute of their completion, as follows :

“The proofs for both Catechisms shall be transcribed and sent up to both Honorable Houses of Parliament.  Ordered to be carried up on Friday morning by the Prolocutor with the Assembly.”

“APRIL 14, 1646, Friday Morning.

“Prolocutor informed the Assembly that he had delivered the Cate­chisms, and was called in and told that they had ordered six hundred copies with those proofs to be printed for the use of the Assembly and two Houses ; and give thanks to the Assembly for the same.”

Of the record of the proceedings of the Westminster Assembly, readers can find the same account in the recently published work edited by Chad Van Dixhoorn, The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly, 1643-1652, in Volume 3, pp. 657-658, for “Sess. 494. Aug. 29, 1645. Fryday morning.”

 

 

A Different Look at the Auburn Affirmation

In the first year of its existence, Carl McIntire’s publication, THE CHRISTIAN BEACON, included a four panel comic strip drawn by a cartoonist by the name of Hal Veech. We’ve never been able to discover biographical information about Mr. Veech, nor do we know where else he might have worked. He may have simply been a talented amateur. His cartoon strip was titled THE “CHRISTIAN” FAMILYThe strip certainly did not major in subtlety.  In these two installments, the two central characters, Wurldlee and his wife Trustphul discuss aspects of the Auburn Affirmation. [We have posted previously this year regarding the momentous publication known as the Auburn Affirmation, a casting down of the gauntlet by modernists within the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. See also here and here.]

[click on the image to get a larger and hopefully legible version].  

Auburn Affirmation

[Veech cartoons excerpted from The Christian Beacon 1.28 (20 August 1936): 6 and 1.29 (27 August 1936): 7.]

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

Q. 24. How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?

A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Scripture References: John 1:1-4; John 15:15; John 20:31; II Pet. 1:21; John 14:26.

Questions:

1. Is Christ called a “prophet” in Scripture and if so, why?

He is called a prophet in Acts 3 :22. He is called a prophet because He has made a full revelation of the whole counsel of God.

2. How does Christ reveal to us the will of God?

He reveals God’s will to us in two ways: outwardly, by His Word and o inwardly, by His Spirit.

3. What is the word of Christ?

The word of Christ is the whole Bible, the Scripture, containing the Old and New Testaments.

4. How can it be that the whole Scripture is the word of Christ since His words constitute only a small portion of it?

The whole Bible is called the word of Christ because those who wrote it wrote the word they had from the Spirit of Christ (1 Pet. 1:10-11)

5. Is it possible to be saved simply by means of the Word of God without the Spirit?

No, it is not possible to be saved simply through the Word apart from the Spirit. The teaching concerning this is found in I Cor. 2: 14.

6. Is it possible to be saved by the Spirit apart from the Word?

There is a difference here from the previous question in that the Word can not save you apart from the Spirit and the Spirit will not save you apart from the Word. The Bible teaches that the whole will of God necessary to our salvation is revealed in His Word.

7. How does the Spirit of Christ make us wise unto salvation?

The Spirit of Christ makes us wise unto salvation by opening up our understandings, for the entrance of His word gives us light so that the soul is enabled to see the way of salvation and the way offered.

THE WORD AND OUR SALVATION

Every once in a while the Christian is called upon to present a defense of the position that the knowledge for man’s salvation comes only from the Word of God. This defense is necessary for many sects and heretical groups deny the teaching and insist upon their belief in the man-made doctrine that God has and does save and reveal His will apart from the Word of God.

The poet put the truth very well when he said:

“The starry firmament on high
And all the glories of the sky
Yet shine not to thy praise, a Lord,
So brightly as thy written word.

“Almighty Lord, the sun shall fail,
The moon forget her nightly tale,
And deepest silence hush on high,
The radiant chorus of the sky;

“But, fixed for everlasting years,
Unmoved amid the wreck of spheres,
Thy word shall shine in cloudless day,
When heaven and earth have passed away.”

There are many today who insist that salvation can be obtained apart from the Word of God. It is the modern, popular way to believe today to Lay aside the Scriptures and discover the way to God through self, with philosophical or mystical overtones. The Reformed faith stands in opposition to this. In one of the Reformed catechisms the question is asked: “Whence do you know your misery?” The answer is: “Out of the law of God.” (Heidelberg Catechism, Question No. 3). The mirror is ever present with us, the mirror of the Word of God, and because it is the revelation of God it shows us our sin.

The danger to the church today is from those who profess Christ but who do not take the Word of God seriously. There are too many Christians who do not read it, study it, or fill their very hearts and minds with it. Humanly speaking, if it were possible to receive all the answers to life by a human means that could be gathered together in a small book we would never be found without it. And yet that is exactly what we have in the Word of God. In it we have our salvation and all that is necessary for us to please God and therefore enjoy Him forever.

Published By:
THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 2 No. 24 (December, 1962)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn


law_thomas_hartREVEREND THOMAS HART LAW, D. D., was born in Hartsville, Darlington county, South Carolina, August 26, 1838, the son of Thomas Cassels and Mary Westfield Law. His father was a successful planter, systematic, untiring in effort, and a public-spirited citizen. He held no public positions but those of country postmaster and commissioner of public schools. He revered religion and brought up his family to fear God and to strictly observe every religious duty. The first paternal ancestors to come to America were Scotch-Irish, who settled in lower South Carolina, and the noted French Huguenot, DuBose. The maternal ancestors came from Wales and located at Welsh Neck, near Society Hill, South Carolina. The subject of this sketch, while healthy in childhood and youth, was never of robust physique. From his earliest years he was fond of reading and keenly observant of persons and things. His early life was passed on his father’s plantation; and, although no special tasks were assigned, his father always encouraged him in such employment as would aid in his physical development. His deeply pious mother exercised a particularly strong influence on his moral and spiritual life. He found the Bible and books on Christian experience most helpful to him in fitting him for his work.

He graduated at the South Carolina Military academy (Citadel), April 9, 1859, with first honor. He subsequently took a course of professional study at the Presbyterian Theological seminary, at Columbia, South Carolina, graduating in 1862.

On March 16, 1860, he married Miss Anna Elizabeth Adger, daughter of William Adger, of Charleston, South Carolina. Of their eleven children, seven are now (1907) living.

He was led by personal preference, and a controlling sense of duty, to the choice of the Gospel ministry for his life-work. The first strong impulse for success in his career was to obey God and to serve him acceptably and usefully, and he ascribes the success he has attained to his “home training of the strict old Presbyterian kind, and the rigorous discipline at the Citadel.” His first charge in the Gospel ministry was in Florence and Lynchburg, South Carolina,which pastorate he held from May, 1862, to October, 1865, serving also during this time for a few months in 1863 as chaplain at Fort Caswell, North Carolina. He accepted the call to the Spartanburg Presbyterian church in August, 1869, serving acceptably and with fruitful results till November, 1886. For several years previously he served also as evangelist of the Charleston presbytery. In April, 1887, he became the active field worker of the American Bible society, and in this sphere of usefulness he continued until July, 1907, with increasing beneficial results. He has served as stated clerk of stated clerk of the South Carolina Presbyterian synod since October, 1875; was stated clerk of Enoree presbytery from April, 1898, to October, 1905, and has also served as permanent clerk of the Southern Presbyterian general assembly since 1904.

He has constantly identified with the Democratic party and has done what he could to further its policy and for the best interests of his section and our nation. In 1889, as a recognition of his useful and comprehensive labors, the Presbyterian college Of South Carolina conferred upon him the degree of D. D.

He has had but little time for so-called sports or amusements, finding all requisite physical exercise in his appointed work.

He lays down as the maxims of life, and talismanic to true success, to our American youth:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. To fear God and keep his commandments is the whole duty of man.” “Self-control, industry and system are the principles and habits I would commend.”

He died in Spartanburg, South Carolina on December 14, 1923.

Honors awarded during his life included the Doctor of Divinity degree, conferred by the Presbyterian College of South Carolina in 1889. Rev. Law served as Stated Clerk for the Synod of South Carolina (PCUS) from 1876-1922 and as Stated Clerk for the Presbytery of Enoree from 1898-1904.

Source: Hemphill, J.C., ed. Men of Mark in South Carolina. Washington, D.C.: Men of Mark Publishing Company, 1908.

Addendum:

We seem to be having problems with the Comments feature. Until such time as that is fixed, here’s a comment sent in by the Rev. Richard Hodges, pastor of the Salem Presbyterian Church (PCA), in Blair, SC:—

Rev. Dr. Thomas Hart Law wrote an amazing journal while he was a cadet at the South Carolina Military Academy entitled, Citadel Cadets: The Journal of Cadet Tom Law by Thomas Hart Law, 1838-1923 (out of print). In it he describes in great detail the almost daily spiritual climate at the school and the surrounding city of Charleston. He mentions and commends the preaching and ministries of the Rev. Dr. John L. Girardeau, Dr. Thornwell, Adger, Jacobs, and many others. He was the Honor Graduate of the SCMA Class of 1859 and had a profound and beneficial Christian influence on his fellow cadets at The Citadel, 1856-1859. 
 
See https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=38989058

[Editor: For more about Law’s journal, see the review article which appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly.

The Patriarch of the Pulpit Patriots
by Rev. David T. Myers

How many pastors have you known who had a price put on their head by the national government?  Such was the case with the Rev. David Caldwell of North Carolina during the Revolutionary War in our country’s fight for independence.

David Caldwell was born in Quarryville, Pennsylvania in 1725.  Reared by two godly Presbyterian parents on a farm in the County of Lancaster, he would receive one of the most extensive educational experiences of that day.  First, he sat under the Rev. Robert Smith’s classical school in the county.  Then he attended the Rev. William Tennent’s Log College, where he also met some of the great revivalists of the First Great Awakening in America, men such as George Whitefield, Gilbert Tennent, and Samuel Davies.  His last educational experience was with the College of New Jersey.

There was no hesitation then to his being licensed by the Presbytery of New Brunswick in June of 1763 and ordained two years later in 1765.  Later, an entirely new presbytery, Orange Presbytery, was organized in 1770. By then, David Caldwell was the pastor of two Presbyterian churches at Buffalo and Alamance Presbyterian Church, in North Carolina.  He would remain the pastor of these two churches for over fifty years.

It was from his ministry in the pulpit that during both the Revolutionary and the War of 1812, he didn’t hesitate to look upon both wars as biblical wars against the British government.   Consider words such as these in a sermon on Proverbs 12:24 “The slothful shall be under tribute.”  He said, “If we act our part well as men and as Christians in defense of truth and righteousness, we may with the help of the Lord obtain a complete and final deliverance from the power that has oppressed us.” (Southern Presbyterian Leaders, by Henry Alexander White, p. 162)  Whereupon he joined the American army along with most of his congregation.

In this whole ministry, he had the help and support of his wife Rachel, who was herself the daughter of a New Side Presbyterian minister, named Alexander Craighead.  Married for sixty years, they ministered side by side, especially in the Log College which David had begun in the area. It was a classical Christian school, like those he had attended in earlier years.

He would go to be with the Lord on August 25, 1824, remembered by countless whose lives he had touched with the Word of God.

Words to live by: The cause of independence must be defended at the cost of life, fortune, and sacred honor.  David Caldwell would have his plantation burned, his books and Psalm books destroyed, his sermons defaced, a price put on his head, and forced to live in a swamp for safety.  His wife Rachel of sixty years would be treated harshly, being evicted from her home and forced to live in a smokehouse with their children with only dried peaches to eat for several days.  In times of trouble, God watches over His children.

August 24th is an important date in Protestant church history.

  • 1560 – The Scottish Reformation was made official when what has been termed the Reformation Parliament rejected papal jurisdiction, outlawed Roman Catholic worship and the mass, and adopted a Protestant confession of faith, now known as the First Book of Discipline.

* 1572 – St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in France. Persecution of the French Huguenots began as Catherine de Medici, mother of King Charles IX of France, ordered the assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny. He was attacked early on August 24th, setting off mob action throughout Paris by Roman Catholics. Nearly 3,000 Huguenots were killed in Paris, and perhaps as many as 70,000 across the nation of France.

* 1631 – Birth of Philip Henry, an English Puritan and father of the renowned Matthew Henry.

* 1662 – The Great Ejection of English Puritans from their pulpits, sometimes called “Black Bartholomew’s Day,” harkening back to the Massacre of 1572. As Charles II returned to the throne and worked to establish his power over the English nation, the Act of Uniformity required allegiance to the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer. Those ministers who in good conscience could not swear allegiance were forced to step down from their pulpits, thus losing their livelihood and leaving their congregations bereft of a pastor. Over 2,000 Puritan pastors chose obedience to God over obedience to king.

* 1683 – Death of John Owen, one of the greatest theologians and Bible commentators in Christian history, whose works ranks with those of Augustine, Luther and Calvin. John Owen was a Congregationalist, not a Presbyterian, but his writings have been of tremendous influence throughout the Reformed world.

Words to Live By:
Throughout human history, God has been at work, sovereignly accomplishing His grand design, which culminated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. Even now the goal of human history continues under His loving hand, as the dates shown above stand in evidence. God raises up and prepares great leaders for His Church. Or He may allow times of persecution, sometimes employing those trials to move His people on to new fields, as we saw in the Book of Acts. At times the Church may enter into what seem like times of great victory, while at other times the Gospel seems under grave threat. Through all of this, His power, His mercy, His lovingkindness are daily on display all around us. May the Lord open our eyes.

 

It is something more than ordinary falsehood, if our inward convictions do not correspond with a profession made in presence of the Church, and as the condition of our receiving authority to preach the Gospel. In such a case we lie not only unto man, but unto God; because such professions are of the nature of a vow, that is, a promise or profession made to God.

 

The following was reproduced in THE SOUTHERN PRESBYTERIAN JOURNAL  (23 July 1958): 7-10, and was found some time ago, located among the Papers of Dr. Frederick W. Evans while searching out a matter for a patron of the Historical Center. Admittedly a bit long, but well worth the time to read it:—

The Minister’s Vows And The Confession Of Faith

By Charles Hodge, D.D.

At a recent meeting of our General Assembly [Ed.: This would have been the 98th General Assembly of the PCUS , aka Southern Church] there was considerable discussion about the implications of the minister’s vows as related, to the Westminster Standards. In order to assist in the clarification of thought in the Church we submit an incisive article on this subject written by Dr. Charles Hodge. We give it in an abridged form.

Dr. Charles Hodge is Princeton Seminary’s best known and most influential theologian. He was a prolific writer. His “Systematic Theology” is still used in many Seminaries. For 43 years he was the editor of the Princeton Review. His writings were characterized by clarity in presentation and a complete mastery of his subject. His writings are still relevant because he was preeminently Biblical. It was said, “It is enough for Dr. Hodge to believe a thing to be true that he finds it in the Bible’.”J.R.R.

___________

Circumstances have recently awakened public attention to this important subject. It is one on which a marked diversity of opinion exists between the two portions into which our Church has been divided: and as in May last a direct proposition was made on the part of one branch of the New School body to our General Assembly for a union between them and the Old School, this original point of difference was brought into view. Not only on the floor of the Assembly was this matter referred to, but it has since been the subject of discussion in the public papers, especially in the South. A passing remark made in the last number of this journal, which we supposed expressed a truth which no man could misunderstand or deny, has given rise to strictures which very clearly prove that great obscurity, in many minds, still overhangs the subject. We either differ very much among ourselves, or we have not yet learned to express our meaning in the same terms. It is high time, therefore, that the question should be renewedly discussed.

We have nothing new to say on the subject.

As long ago as October, 1831, we expressed the views which we still hold, and which in a passing sentence were indicated in our number for July last. Those views have passed unanswered and unheeded, so far as we know, for thirty-six years. How is it that the renewed assertion of them has now called forth almost universal condemnation from the Old School press? They have been censured by men who adopt them, and who in private do not hesitate to admit their correctness. This does not imply any unfairness, or any other form of moral obliquity. It is easily accounted for. The proposition, that the adoption of the Confession of Faith does not imply the adoption of every proposition contained in that Confession, might mean much or little. It might be adopted by the most conservative, and is all that the most radical need claim. Still the proposition is undeniably correct.

The fault of the writer, as the Presbyterian of the West, sensibly remarked, is not in what is said, but in what was left unsaid. This fault would have been a very grave one had the subject of subscription to the Confession been under discussion, and had the above proposition been put forth as the whole rule in regard to it. The remark, however, was merely incidental and illustrative. To show the impossibility of our agreeing on a commentary on the whole Bible, we referred to the fact that there are propositions in the Confession of Faith in which we are not agreed. Does any man deny this? If not, where is the harm of saying it? Are we living in a false show? Are we pre- tending to adopt a principle of subscription, which in fact we neither act on for ourselves, nor dream of enforcing on others? Or are we so little certain of our own ground that we are afraid that our enemies will take advantage of us, and proclaim aloud that we have come over to them.

If we really understand ourselves, and are satisfied of the soundness of our principles, the more out-spoken we are the better; better for our own self-respect, and for the respect and confidence of others towards us. If the Christian public, and especially those who have gone out from us, hear us asserting a principle or rule of subscription which they know we do not adopt, it will be hard for them to believe both in our intelligence and sincerity. The question put to every candidate for ordination in our Church, is in these words: “Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?” It is plain that a very serious responsibility before God and man is assumed by those who return an affirmative answer to that question. It is something more than ordinary falsehood, if our inward convictions do not correspond with a profession made in presence of the Church, and as the condition of our receiving authority to preach the Gospel. In such a case we lie not only unto man, but unto God; because such professions are of the nature of a vow, that is, a promise or profession made to God.

It is no less plain that the candidate has no right to put his own sense upon the words propounded to him. He has no right to select from all possible meanings which the words may bear, that particular sense which suits his purpose, or which, he thinks, will save his conscience. It is well known that this course has been openly advocated, not only by the Jesuits, but by men of this generation, in this country and in Europe.

The “chemistry of thought,” it is said, can make all creeds alike. Men have boasted that they could sign any creed. To a man in a balloon the earth appears a plane, all inequalities on its surface being lost in the distance. And here is a philosophic elevation from which all forms of human belief look alike. They are sublimated into general formulas, which include them all and distinguish none. Professor Newman, just before his open apostasy, published a tract in which he defended his right to be in the English Church while holding the doctrines of the Church of Rome. He claimed for himself and others the privilege of signing the Thirty-nine articles in a “non-natural sense”; that is, in the sense which he chose to put upon the words. This shocks the common sense and the common honesty of men. There is no need to argue the matter. The turpitude of such a principle is much more clearly seen intuitively than discursively.

The two principles which, by the common consent of all honest men, determine the interpretation of oaths and professions of faith, are first, the plain, historical meaning of the words; and secondly, the animus imponentis, that is, the intention of the party imposing the oath or requiring the profession. The words, therefore, “system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures,” are to be taken in their plain, historical sense. A man is not at liberty to understand the words “Holy Scriptures” to mean all books written by holy men, because although that interpretation might consist with the signification of the words, it is inconsistent with the historical meaning of the phrase. Nor can he understand them, as they would be understood by Romanists, as including the Apocrypha, because the words being used by the Protestant Church, must be taken in a Protestant sense. Neither can the candidate say that he means by “system of doctrine” Christianity as opposed to Mohammedanism, or Protestantism, as opposed to Romanism, or evangelical Christianity, as distinguished from the theology of the Reformed (i.e. Calvinistic) Churches, because the words being used by a Reformed Church must be understood in the sense which that Church is known to attach to them.

If a man professes to receive the doctrine of the Trinity, the word must be taken in its Christian sense, the candidate cannot substitute for that sense the Sabellian idea of a modal Trinity, nor the philosophical trichotomy of Pantheism. And so of all other expressions which have a fixed historical meaning. Again, by the animus imponentis in the case contemplated, is to be understood not the mind or intention of the ordaining bishop in the Episcopal Church, or of the ordaining presbytery in the Presbyterian Church. It is the mind or intention of the Church, of which the bishop or the presbytery is the organ or agent. Should a Romanizing bishop in the Church of England give a “non-natural” sense to the Thirty-nine articles, that would not acquit the priest, who should sign them in that sense, of the crime of moral perjury; or should a presbytery give an entirely erroneous interpretation to the Westminster Confession, that would not justify a candidate for ordination in adopting it in that sense. The Confession must be adopted in the sense of the Church, into the service of which the minister, in virtue of that adoption is received. These are simple principles of honesty, and we presume they are universally admitted, at least so far as our Church is concerned.

The question however is, What is the true sense of the phrase, “system of doctrine,” in our ordination service? or, What does the Church understand the candidate to profess, when he says that he “receives and adopts the Confession of Faith of this Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures”? There are three different answers given to that question. First, it is said by some that in adopting the “system of doctrine,” the candidate is understood to adopt it, not in the form or manner in which it is presented in the Confession, but only for “substance of doctrine.” The obvious objections to this view of the subject are:

1. That such is not the meaning of the words employed. The two expressions or declarations, “I adopt the system of doctrine contained in the Confession of Faith,” and, “I adopt that system for substance of doctrine” are not identical. The one therefore cannot be substituted for the other. If there were no other difference between them, it is enough that the one is definite and univocal, the other is both vague and equivocal. The latter expressions may have two very different meanings. By substance of doctrine may be meant the substantial doctrines of the Confession; that is, those doctrines which give character to it as a distinctive confession of faith, and which therefore constitute the system of belief therein contained. Or it may mean the substance of the several doctrines taught in the Confession, as distinguished from the form in which they are therein presented. It will be at once perceived that these are very different things. The substance or essence of a system of doctrines is the system itself. In this case, the essence of a thing is the whole thing. The essential doctrines of Pelagianism are Pelagianism, and the essential doctrines of Calvinism are Calvinism. But the substance of a doctrine is not the doctrine, any more than the substance of a man is the man. A man is given substance in a specific form; and a doctrine is a given truth in a particular form. The substantial truth, included in the doctrine of original sin, is that human nature is deteriorated by the apostasy of Adam. The different forms in which this general truth is presented, make all the difference, as to this point, between Pelagianism, Augustinianism, Romanism, and Arminianism.

It is impossible, therefore, in matters of doctrine, to separate the substance from the form. The form is essential to the doctrine, as much as the form of a statue is essential to the statue. (In adopting a system of doctrines, therefore, the candidate adopts a series of doctrines in the specific form in which they are presented in that system.) To say that he adopts the substance of those doctrines, leaves it entirely uncertain what he adopts. The first objection then to this view of the meaning of the phrase, “system of doctrine,” is, that it is contrary to the simple historical sense of the terms. What a man professes to adopt is “the system of doctrine/’ not the substance of the doctrines embraced in that system.

2. Another objection is, that it is contrary to the mind of the Church. The Church, in demanding the adoption of the Confession of Faith as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures, demands something more than the adoption of what the candidate may choose to consider the substance of those doctrines. This is plain from the words used, which, as we have seen, in their plain import, mean something more, and something more specific and intelligible than the phrase “substance of doctrine.” The mind of the Church on this point is rendered clear beyond dispute by her repeated official declarations on the subject. The famous adopting act of the original Synod, passed in 1729, is in these words: “Although the Synod do not claim or pretend to any authority of imposing our faith on other men’s consciences, but do profess our just dissatisfaction with, and abhorrence of such impositions, and do utterly disclaim all legislative power and authority in the Church, being willing to receive one another as Christ has received us to the glory of God, and admit to fellowship in sacred ordinances, all such as we have grounds to believe Christ will at last admit to the kingdom of heaven, yet we are undoubtedly obliged to take care that the faith once delivered to the saints be kept pure and uncorrupt among us, and so handed down to our posterity; and do therefore agree that all ministers of this Synod, or that shall thereafter be admitted into this Synod, shall declare their agreement in, and approbation of the Confession of Faith, with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, as being, in all the essential and necessary articles, good forms of sound words and systems of Christian doctrine, and do also adopt the said. Confession and Catechisms as the confession of our faith. And we do also agree, that all Presbyteries within our bounds shall always take care not to admit any candidate of the ministry into the exercise of the sacred functions, but that declares his agreement in opinion with all the essential and necessary articles of said Confession, either by subscribing the said Confession and Catechisms, or by a verbal declaration of their assent thereto as such minister or candidate shall think best. And in case any minister of this Synod, or any candidate for the ministry, shall have any scruple with respect to any article or articles of said Confession or Catechisms, he shall at the time of making said declaration, declare his sentiments to the Presbytery or Synod, who shall, notwithstanding, admit him to the exercise of the ministry within our bounds, and to ministerial communion, if the Synod or Presbytery shall judge his scruple or mistake to be only about articles not essential and necessary in doctrine, worship, or government. But if the Synod or Presbytery shall judge such ministers or candidates erroneous in essential and necessary articles of faith, the Synod or Presbytery shall declare them incapable of communion with them. And the Synod do solemnly agree that none of them will traduce or use any opprobrious terms of those who differ from us in extra-essential and not necessary points of doctrine, but treat them with the same friendship, kindness, and brotherly love, as if they did not differ in such sentiment.”

This fundamental act, passed in 1729, has never been either repealed or altered. It has on several occasions been interpreted and reaffirmed, but it has never been abrogated, except so far as it was merged in the re-adoption of the Confession and Catechisms at the formation of our present Constitution, in the year 1788. This important document teaches, first: That in our Church the terms of Christian communion are competent knowledge, and a creditable profession of faith and repentance. The Synod, say they, “admit to fellowship in sacred ordinances, all such as we have grounds to believe Christ will at last admit to the kingdom of heaven.” Second: That the condition of ministerial communion is the adoption of the system of doctrine contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. This is expressed by saying: “We adopt the said Confession and Catechisms as the confession of our faith.” For this is substituted as an equivalent form of expression, “agreement in opinion with all the essential and necessary articles of said Confession.” That is, “all the essential and necessary articles” of the system of doctrine contained in the Confession. Third: That the only exceptions allowed to be taken were such as related to matters outside that system of doctrine, and the rejection of which left the system in its integrity. That this is the true meaning and intent of the act is plain, first, because the Synod in 1730 expressly declared, “That they understand those clauses that respect the admission of entrants or candidates, in such sense as to oblige them to receive and adopt the Confession and Catechisms at their admission, in the same manner, and as fully as the members of the Synod did, that were then present.

3. Not only are the plain meaning of the words, and the animus imponentis opposed to the interpretation of the ordination service now under consideration, but that interpretation is liable to the further objection, that the phrase “substance of doctrine” has no definite assignable meaning. What the substance of any given doctrine is cannot be historically ascertained or authenticated. No one knows what a man professes, who professes to receive only the substance of a doctrine, and therefore, this mode of subscription vitiates the whole intent and value of a confession. Who can tell what is the substance of the doctrine of sin? Does the substance include all the forms under which the doctrine has been, or can be held, so that whoever holds any one of these forms, holds the substance of the doctrine? If one man says that nothing is sin but the voluntary transgression of known law; another, that men are responsible only for their purposes to the exclusion of their feelings; another, that an act to be voluntary, and therefore sinful, must be deliberate and not impulsive; another, that sin is merely limitation or imperfect development; another, that sin exists only for us and in our consciousness, and not in the sight of God; another, that sin is any want of conformity in state, feeling, or act, to the law of God; do all these hold the substance of the doctrine? What is the substance of the doctrine of redemption? The generic idea of redemption, in the Christian sense of the word, may be said to be the deliverance of men from sin and its consequences by Jesus Christ. Does every man who admits that idea hold the substance of the doctrine as presented in our Confession? If so, then it matters not whether we believe that that deliverance is effected by the example of Christ, or by his doctrine, or by his power, or by the moral impression of his death on the race or the universe, or by his satisfying the justice of God, or by his incarnation exalting our nature to a higher power. The same remark may be made in reference to all the other distinctive doctrines of the Confession.

4. This system has been tried and found to produce the greatest disorder and contention. Men acting on the principle of receiving the Confession for substance of doctrine, have entered the ministry in our Church, who denied the doctrine of imputation, whether of Adam’s sin or of Christ’s righteousness; the doctrine of the derivation of a sinful depravity of nature from our first parents; of inability; of efficacious grace; of a definite atonement; that is, of an atonement having any such special reference to the elect, as to render their salvation certain. In short, while professing to receive “the system of doctrine” contained in the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, they have rejected almost every doctrine which gives that system its distinctive character. It was this principle more than any other cause, and probably more than all other causes combined that led to the division of our Church in 1838, and it must produce like disasters should it again be brought into practical application among us. What every minister of our Church is bound to do is to declare that he “receives and adopts the Confession of Faith of this Church as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.” The words “system of doctrine” have a fixed, historical meaning. The objection that it is an open question, what doctrines belong to the system and what do not, and therefore if the obligations be limited to the adoption of the system, it cannot be known what doctrines are received and what are rejected, is entirely unfounded. If the question, “What is the system of doctrine taught by the Reformed Churches?” be submitted to a hundred Romanists, to a hundred Lutherans, to a hundred members of the Church of England, or to a hundred skeptics, if intelligent and candid, they would all give precisely the same answer. There is not the slightest doubt or dispute among disinterested scholars as to what doctrines do, and what do not belong to the faith of the Reformed. The Westminster Confession contains three distinct classes of doctrines.

First, those common to all Christians, which are summed up in the ancient creeds, the Apostles’, the Nicene and the Athanasian, which are adopted by all Churches.

Secondly, those which are common to all Protestants, and by which they are distinguished from Romanists.

Thirdly, those which are peculiar to the Reformed Churches, by which they are distinguished, on the one hand, from the Lutherans, and on the other from the Remonstrants, or Arminians, and other sects of later historical origin. From the Lutherans the Reformed were distinguished principally by their doctrine on the sacraments, and from the Arminians, by the five characteristic points of Augustinianism, rejected by the Remonstrants, and affirmed at the Synod of Dort by all the Reformed Churches, viz.: those of Switzerland, Germany, France, England and Scotland, as well as of Holland. What those points are everybody knows. First. The doctrine of the imputation of Adam’s sin, i.e., that the sin of Adam is the judicial ground of the condemnation of his race so that their being born in sin is the penal consequence of his transgression. Secondly, The doctrine of the sinful, innate depravity of nature, whereby we are indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good. Therefore there can be no self-conversion, no cooperation with the grace of God in regeneration, as the Arminians taught, and no election not to resist as the Lutherans affirmed. With this doctrine of absolute inability consequently is connected that of efficacious, as opposed to merely preventing and assisting grace. Thirdly. The doctrine that as Christ came in the execution of the covenant of redemption, in which his people were promised to him as his reward, his work had a special reference to them, and rendered their salvation certain. Fourthly, The doctrine of gratuitous, personal election to eternal life; and,

Fifthly, The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. It is a matter of history that these doctrines constitute the distinguishing doctrines of the Reformed Churches. And, therefore, any man who receives these several classes of doctrine (viz.: those common to all Christians, those common to all Protestants, and those peculiar to the Reformed Churches,) holds in its integrity the system of doctrine contained in the Westminster Confession. This is all that he professes to do when he adopts that Confession in the form prescribed in our Constitution. A man is no more at liberty to construct a system of theology for himself, and call it the system contained in the Confession of Faith, than he is authorized to spin a system of philosophy out of his head, and call it Platonism. The first argument, therefore, in favor of this interpretation of our ordination service is that it is in accordance with the literal, established meaning of the words, and attaches to them a definite meaning, so that everyone knows precisely what the candidate professes.

These were tumultuous times in the history of the church, and in the midst of them Brumbaugh moved to Tacoma to become the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. He was forty-one years old and had a wife and four children. The First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma boasted a formal membership of 1,850, with about 1,000 attending regularly; it was one of the largest in the denomination on the West Coast. The church edifice was a grand structure, and the church was organized with programs for everyone. The church had been without a pastor for a year, and there were some strong elders on the session of the church who were in charge of the program. One of the foremost programs of the church was the Scofield Bible Study classes conducted by the elders. Dr. Brumbaugh came to Tacoma by car from Philadelphia, which was an exciting trip at that time. During most of the trip, his son Roy stood in the front passenger compartment with his hand on the top of the windshield. The issues that were present on the East Coast were also present on the West Coast to some degree.

The Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (IBPFM) was formally organized on October 17,1933, and the Rev. J. Gresham Machen was elected as its first president. As new revelations continued to appear pertaining to the modernism in the Board of Foreign Mission, more and more people converted over to support of the IBPFM. This support of the new board worried the denomination so that it became a major issue at the next general assembly held in Cleveland, Ohio, in May 1934. That general assembly adopted a deliverance that stated that every member of the church is required by the constitution to support the missionary program of the church in the way that each member must take part in the Lord’s Supper. Each Presbytery was mandated to take action against its members who were also members of the IBPFM. The deliverance became known as “The Mandate” and the consequences of it would play out over the course of the next year. Finally the controversy that had simmered for more than a decade was going to be decided in the church courts.

Back in Tacoma, the First Presbyterian Church prospered in many respects, and Brumbaugh, the evangelist, preached the gospel, and many people made professions of faith. However, there was an undercurrent of dissension in the local church that was a microcosm of the denominational controversy. In the local church there was a group of elders who had their plan for the church and a strong pastor who had his plan. As the controversy intensified nationally, it intensified locally and small differences that might have been overlooked in a more peaceable climate became big issues. The lines of demarcation were established and it became apparent that there would eventually be a showdown. It took over a year for the Mandate to trickle down to the local level. It was the presbyteries that were instructed to implement the mandate and there were periods of notification in accordance with the Book of Discipline, and procedures that carried over till the summer and fall of 1935. All the while, sides were taken in the First Presbyterian Church and it was a difficult time to carry on the work of the church. If Brumbaugh left the church, he would lose the building, his pension, the prestige of being pastor to one of the largest churches in the denomination, and other attendant privileges.

In spite of all of this, on August 21, 1935, Brumbaugh informed the denomination of his withdrawal from the PCUSA. Finally he was free. On Thursday night, August 22, 1935, the first meeting of the First Independent Church of  Tacoma was held with over 700 in attendance. Ironically, the only facility available to accommodate the new church was a Scottish Rites Temple, right across the alley from the First Presbyterian Church. A new church had begun, fresh and free from denominational control. It was a wonderful feeling of excitement and expectation. As the different presbyteries dealt with other members of the Independent Board, many were suspended, some were admonished or rebuked; and one presbytery, the Presbytery of Chester, refused to take action against the Rev. Wilbur M. Smith, who had followed Brumbaugh at the Coatesville Presbyterian Church. Brumbaugh was tried in absentia and suspended from the PCUSA. On March 29, 1935, Dr. J. Gresham was declared guilty in a sham of a trial and suspended from the ministry of the PCUSA. A sad chapter in Presbyterian church history had come to an end. The same church that had suspended Dr. Charles A. Briggs for heresy in 1893, had, in 1935, suspended Dr. J. Gresham Machen from its ministry for his FAITHFUL ADHERANCE TO THE WORD OF GOD.

Dr. Roy T. Brumbaugh continued on as Pastor of the Tacoma Bible Presbyterian Church until his death on January 3, 1957. The last twenty years of that ministry, although not without controversy, saw an active, enthusiastic, evangelistic church, with a special emphasis on the military personnel from the local military bases.

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