December 2017

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Recently the PCA Historical Center acquired a sizable collection of an old Presbyterian newspaper, THE NEW YORK OBSERVER. Looking through the first issue in this group, the following brief article speaks from the vantage point of valuing honest labor, recognizing the sin of theft, and trusting the Lord for our daily bread. And given some recent hot topics in the news, on how to make lots of money, it seems all the more a needful word to those who will listen:

SPECULATION DANGEROUS TO THE SOUL.

I read a story, long since, of a good farmer who consulted his wife as to some plan for making money faster than it could grow out of the ground. It all looked fair, sure; it seemed as if there were hardly a possibility of failure; but it involved suspense, anxiety, disappointment in failure, or exultation in success, and she advised against it, adding, “I have always observed that speculation is dangerous to the soul.”

One needs but little observation to confirm this remark. Do you know a single, earnest, live, working Christian man with whom speculation is a habit or even a common thing?

The argument is ever ready, “If I don’t, somebody else will;” but that is stale and mean. It is a painful fact that all these things come so heavily upon the poor. Those who have money can buy a quantity of an article that is rising to speculative prices, but the poor must buy as they need, at whatever rate, and it is mostly their hard-earned wages which the successful man puts in his pocket.

The whole system is nearly allied to gambling, and all the customs of the world and all the examples of men who stand high in the world’s estimation cannot make it otherwise. Remember, too, the Bible declaration that there are things “highly esteemed” among men which are “abomination” in the sight of God.

No wonder. Look at recent examples we have seen. Young men swept off their feet and carried away by the tide beyond their depth, beyond mercy. It is cruel to expose them; yet example is stronger than warning, and where older men go the younger will follow.

Make haste slowly; let conscience speak now, for the time may come when its voice will have a sting. Let the Word of God speak against wealth hastily gotten. Let experience teach that “speculation is dangerous to the soul.”

—Earnest.

The New York Observer, 44.2 (11 January 1866): 15, column 6.

“He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.”—Ephesians 4:28, NASB.

…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,”—1 Thessalonians 4:11 (NIV)

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”—2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV)

 

A glimpse of student life at Princeton University in the late 1860s, particularly in the last paragraph.

The New York Observer, 46.51 (Thursday, 17 December 1868), Religious Department, page 402, column 2b:
PRINCETON:

DEDICATION : DR. M’COSH : SABBATH EXERCISE.

Princeton, Dec. 11th, 1868.

Messrs. Editors,—The new Second Presbyterian Church was dedicated on the 3d inst. [i.e., Dec. 3d]

This edifice, constructed of brown stone, and located in the centre of the town, nearly opposite the Astronomical Observatory, is a massive structure of the Gothic style of architecture, of fair proportions, nearly finished, and furnished with taste and elegance, and would not fail to attract the attention of a stranger. The pews below and the galleries included will probably seat not far from a thousand.

The dedicatory services included a sermon in the morning from the venerable senior Professor, in the School of the Prophets, Dr. Charles Hodge, and one in the afternoon from Rev. Mr. M’Cosh. This was the first sermon of the new President to a popular audience since his arrival in the country. The discourse was worthy of one of the “kings of the realm of thought.”

Among the changes introduced into the College by the new President, may be mentioned the omission of the usual Sunday afternoon recitation of three chapters in the Bible, a custom which has been in vogue ever since the days of President Ashbel Green, who, tradition says, used to consider five chapters none too many in such a connection. In place of this, Dr. M’Cosh is giving a series of lectures on the Life of Christ, the students being required to take notes and submit to a subsequent examination. These lectures are quite popular, and are attended by the Seminary students also, who crowd the College Chapel every Sunday afternoon.

“God buries His workers and carries on His work.”

As most know by now, Dr. R.C. Sproul passed away on December 14th. We have lost a great pastor and teacher. A memorial service will be held tomorrow, Wednesday Dec. 20th at 2:00 PM Eastern Time, at the Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida. The entire service will be live-streamed at RCSproul.com. There will also be a public visitation, at the Saint Andrew’s Chapel, today, Tuesday December 19th, from 9 AM to 3 PM.

As you might imagine, there have been many, many tributes published in memory of Dr. Sproul, acknowledging the inestimable ways in which he was used so mightily in the Lord’s kingdom. In particular, I was quite taken with what my friend Tom Martin, a retired judge who lives near Philadelphia, wrote upon hearing of Dr. Sproul’s passing.

R.C. Sproul, A Tribute
by Tom Martin

When James Montgomery Boice died of liver cancer in June of 2000, one of the men asked to speak at his memorial service at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia was his close friend R. C. Sproul. As Sproul rose to the pulpit he reminded the crowd gathered (as he often did) of an historic parallel. He told of the words of Philip Melanchthon at the funeral held for Martin Luther in 1546, when Melanchthon compared the death of Luther to the removal from this world of the Jewish prophet Elijah, whose very name meant “Yahweh is God!” in defiance of idol worshipping king Ahab. 

Melanchthon used the words of Scripture in II Kings 2, which were Elisha’s lament at the loss of his dear friend and mentor, the prophet Elijah:

“And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

“And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

“He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;

“And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.”

It has taken a few hours for the death of R.C.Sproul to sink in to my thinking, for Sproul was a giant I was honored to know. I remember the first time he spoke to me by my first name “Tom” and I thought how privileged I was to have been with him from time to time and to have gotten to know the man well. R.C. was a true Christian. Imperfect. At times more hesitant than he seemed in public. Yet, a man with a genuine heart and love for Jesus.

Now he is gone. Others must carry on his work, and shrink from the reality that we don’t have him any longer to rely upon in the work of the Kingdom of God. We want to cry out “My father! My father!” Yet we see him no more.

We must recall that even in the sorrows of the death of Elijah his follower Elisha “took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him,” smote the rivers of the Jordan River, and the waters parted. The power of God is not diminished by the loss of God’s saints. As John Wesley wrote: “God buries His workers and carries on His work.” May the God of Elijah, the God of James Montomery Boice, and the God of R.C. Sproul carry on His work until Jesus comes again.

Links to some of the other many tributes have been gathered here: 

Tributes to Dr. R.C. Sproul

Dr. Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Theological Seminary, has also shared two very memorable audio recordings of Dr. Sproul,
(1.) of his address at Westminster’s 83rd commencement ceremony, in 2012 and (2.) an interview with Dr. Sproul conducted earlier this year by Dr. Scott Oliphint.
Click here for the link to listen to either of these recordings.

Lastly, I would close with what Darrell B. Harrison and many others have pointed to as one of R.C.’s most important messages,
“The Curse Motif of the Atonement”

Pictured: Dr. R.C. Sproul speaking at a press briefing of the Congress on the Bible, March 1982.
Seated with him at the table are Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade and Dr. Jim Boice, pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA.
This photo is from the Presbyterian Journal collection at the PCA Historical Center.

 

 

Following the Lord Unto Death

This day, December 18th, in 1928, marks the birth of Cecil John Miller. Raised in California, he earned his BA at San Francisco State College in 1953 and a doctorate in English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. He graduated from Westminster Seminary in 1966, but by an uncommon arrangement had previously been ordained by the OPC some seven years earlier, in October of 1959, whereupon he was then engaged in church planting work in Stockton, California from 1959 to 1963. He later began serving as pastor of the Mechanicsville Chapel in Pennsylvania a year before graduating from Westminster, serving that pulpit from 1965 to 1972.

Jack Miller was my pastor when I was a student at Westminster Seminary in the late 1970’s. The church at that time was still meeting in the rented gymnasium of a local YMCA. Every Sunday we’d get there early to set up folding chairs, and then prepared for a time of worship, typically up to two hours in length and including a sermon from Dr. Miller which might easily run up to 60 minutes long. But we never noticed the clock. We simply went home for lunch and spent the afternoon dwelling on all we had heard. Then we’d go back at the end of the day for more. Dr. Miller was the pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church from 1973 to 1990, and a number of other New Life churches sprang from the model he established. But his greatest legacy came from his heart for missions, which led him on frequent trips to several countries, most notably Uganda, and from this work, World Harvest Mission began, and Dr. Miller served as director of WHM from 1991 until his death, April 8, 1996. World Harvest is now known as Serge, a name change which was put in place over the summer of 2014.

Without recounting here his many books, which have been a great blessing to so many, I will simply note today that a new work has recently been issued under the title Saving Grace. This new book consists of 366 excerpts drawn from Dr. Miller’s sermons, portioned out for daily devotional reading. 

As a sample of the entries in this book, the following is the entry for December 18:

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.)–John 21:18-19.

How do we develop character in ourselves and others? We can’t teach character unless we have it, and that’s a problem because the church often lacks character. We can only get it as we learn about Jesus’s holy, powerful, transforming love. But we want so many other things besides the love of Christ : an easy life, popularity, acceptance, good principles, and even sound theology. But without love to Christ forming the character, all of it is only self-will. And without the love of Christ shaping our will and character, even good things become demonic, divisive, and cruel.

So Jesus ends his message to Peter by saying, “Follow me. Follow me to your death and you will glorify God. Follow me and I will make you great.” Peter desired to be great and God is going to do that through his death. The heart of love for God is surrendering our will to him. Peter surrendered to Christ and became great. As we surrender to God’s love, our character is formed like Christ, and we also become great in God’s kingdom.

To find out more about the book and how to order from the publisher, New Growth Press, click the title here: Saving Grace.

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

Q. 41. — Wherein is the moral law summarily comprehended?

A. — The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.

Scripture References: Matt. 19:17-19; Deut. 10:4; Rom. 3:8.;Deut. 4:8.

Questions:

1. What do we mean by “summarily comprehended?”

We mean that the sum and the chief heads of the law are therein contained. The moral law is more fully set forth in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

2. When was the moral law first published?

The moral law was first published when God wrote it on the heart of Adam.

3. Where are the ten commandments found in Scripture?

The ten commandments are found in the twentieth chapter of Exodus and in slightly a different form in the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy. However, the differences are very minor and include nothing essential.

4. How are the commandments divided?

We divide them today as “ten commandments” as was done by the Greek Church in early days. There is also the division of the duties towards God and those duties towards our fellow-man.

5. Could we say that the ten commandments includes all of the moral law?

We could say that the ten commandments are an amazingly comprehensive summary of the moral law. They include both things required of the inward man and of the outward behavior. Within them there is an amazing teaching in that if a sin is forbidden, in the words of God there is a duty commanded.

6. How can we have a better understanding of the ten commandments?

Our Larger Catechism, in answer to Question 95 gives us certain :’;,,’::0 for a right understanding of the commandments. It would be good for all of us to memorize all eight of the rules given and the proof texts too. Too many of us are woefully ignorant of these eight rules, rules that, rightly applied, will indeed lead us to a closer walk with our God, all to His glory.

OBEDIENCE-AND LOVE

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto Him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy

heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Thus our Lord Jesus Christ gives the first part of the summary of the law, agreeing perfectly with Deut. 6:5. And thus he ties up the matter of obedience to Him for the obeying of his commandments is the essence of obedience to Him—with the matter of our love for Him. The two are woven together throughout the Bible.

An excellent question is: How do we know we love God? Seven wonderful signs were given by Thomas Watson many years ago. He lists:
(1) Our desire will be after Him.
(2) We cannot find contentment in any thing without Him.
(3) We hate that which would separate us from God, namely sin.
(4) We have sympathy for one another.
(5) We labor to render Him lovely to others.
(6) We weep bitterly for His absence.
(7) We are willing to do and to suffer for Him.
All of these have to do with the matter of our obeying Him for unless these characteristics are part of us we will not obey Him.

The question was once asked by a student: “Why do we not obey Him as we should?” The answer that came to mind was simply. “We are not burning in holy love.” Paul’s prayer for the Christians at Ephesus was “That Christ may dwell.in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,” (Eph. 3:17), It would be well for us, if we are really serious about obeying Him, to engage in some real prayer regarding our love for Him—praying that the Holy Spirit will give us a love such as we have never had before, praying that we might show forth some real labors of love in the days ahead; heart-felt prayer that we might have a love for Him that will always be glowing; heart-felt prayer that it may never be said of us, “Thou hast left thy first love.”

A wise preacher once said that love is involved with delighting in an object. It is possible that our difficulty is in not delighting in Him enough, not delighting in his Word, in prayer, in telling others about Him! When was the last time we prayed, “Lord, I love Thee!” When was the last time we felt this? When was the last time we told Him that we love Him more than anyone or anything on this earth. If it has been some time this may well be the reason for our lack of obedience.

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD. {NC.
Vol. 3 No. 41 (May 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

Brief, but hopefully a thought to stay with you through the day, particularly as you prepare your hearts for times of worship tomorrow.

So Much Preaching, So Little Practice
Thomas Manton on Psalm 119:97—

“What is the reason there is so much preaching and so little practice? For want of meditation.  Constant thoughts are operative.  If a hen straggles out from her nest, she brings forth nothing, her eggs chill; so, when we do not set abroad upon holy thoughts, if we content ourselves with some few transient thoughts and glances about Divine things, and do not dwell upon them, the truth is suddenly put off, and does no good.

All actions require time and space for their operation; if hastily covered over, they cool; if we give them time and space, we shall feel their effects: so, if we hold truths in our mind and dwell upon them, there will be an answerable impression; but, when they come like a flash of lightning, then they are gone, and we run them over cursorily.

That truth may work, there are required three things:

1. sound belief,
2. serious consideration,
3. and close application:

“Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know it for thy good. (Job v. 27).”

[Thomas Manton, Sermons on Psalm 119, vol. 2, p. 325.]

 

Ministry in Troubling Times
by Rev. David T. Myers

Here’s a question for those of you who are teaching elders and pastors:—how long would your congregations exist without your presence, or any pastor-teacher’s presence over them in the Lord? In other words, suppose your congregation did not have a pastor for an extended period of time? And further, there were no supply pastors available to minister the Word and Sacrament to them. Question? Would they persevere in the faith as an organized body of believers?

Such was the case in Scotland in the late 17th century. Presbyterianism as a whole in 1690 had been restored to Scotland by what is known as the Revolution Settlement. Covenanters however were disappointed by this settlement as it ignored early covenants made by the people. It further gave the civil government some authority over the church. And to make matters worse for the Covenanters, they were without an ordained minister at this time. Some 16 years later, the Rev. John MacMillan left the Church of Scotland to minister to their spiritual needs. But in hindsight, that was sixteen years down the proverbial pike. Sixteen years without a pastor! It took a degree of faith to stand together for the faith, by faith. And faith they did indeed possess, as evidenced by their organizing themselves in what is known as the Society People of Scotland.

These groups, according to A.S. Horne in his small booklet “Torchbearers of the Truth,” were not large in number, often being between ten and twelve individuals. If they grew beyond this, then they were required to split into two groups. They knew that the times were against them, as the principles of the Reformation had been largely swept aside and abandoned by the nation. Spiritual declension marked their times. Scrupulous care had to be exercised as to new members in their society.

Listen to one rule of entrance into a society, according to Horne. “None are to be invited, or upon his own desire brought into any Society” wrote author Horne, “but by the advice and consent of all the Society; and that he is particularly known at least to some of the members; that he is one who makes conscience of secret prayer, and of prayer in his family and he is of exemplary and blameless conversation and free from all scandal.”

Further, their meetings were quite obviously for the professing, committed Christian. A full meeting was “four hours at least should be seriously and closely spent about the work for which they meet, which is prayer and spiritual conference.” In addition, they “are not to be diverted from their work by talking about their worldly affairs or public news until they close, except something for the informing of the meeting whereof may be useful.”  It is clear that the primary purpose of the Society meetings were for spiritual edification.

There were other rules too, but space hinders their inclusion in this post. Some 7000 Scottish Covenanters regularly met together in this way throughout Central and Southern Scotland. Finally, a general meeting was held, with representatives from as many of the societies as could attend. The first of these general meetings was held on December 15, 1681 in Lanarkshire, Scotland. In all, some forty-one general meetings were held during this twenty years of persecution, “and never in one instance did informers succeed in getting information of them in time to prevent them, or capture those who attended them.”

Words to Live By:
This author can still remember during his years as a pastor-teacher, a church member who came to the door after the sermon, to urge  him to end his sermon on time as she and her husband wanted to be able to get the best seat in their local restaurant for their noon lunch! Contrast that remark with the Covenanters who, in the prelude to the Killing Times in Scotland, gathered together for hours in prayer and spiritual conversation so as to be made strong and valiant for the Lord.

Ready and willing to go for Christ . . . anywhere
by Rev. David T. Myers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words to Live By:
Charles Beatty was a man who for the sake of the gospel was content to be used for Christ’s kingdom.  Reader: is God’s Spirit calling you to a similar ministry of service for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  In Matthew 9:37, 38, Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers in his harvest.” (ESV)

A Family Heritage of Presbyterian Ministers
by Rev. David T. Myers

Today, our focus is on a Presbyterian minister by the name of Moses Hoge. He was the grand father of Moses Drury Hoge, who is perhaps better known now.  And it is perhaps remarkable that there was a virtual family of Presbyterian ministers by the name of Hoge. What a wonderful blessing of the Lord, that one family would produce three sons, all of whom were Presbyterian ministers?

The God of the Bible is indeed sovereign and, as a result, He calls whom He will, not only to salvation, but also to service in His kingdom.  And so in this case, we simply have that God-ordained call to one family to produce sons who would in turn answer the call to gospel ministry.  And yet, there is more to it than that.  God ordinarily works through means, although he is not restricted to means.  And the means toward the God-glorifying end here was a family, all of whom were committed to gospel truths in the home, to say nothing of their Presbyterian church.

Moses Hoge, who was born on February 15, 1752 in Middletown Virginia, was a student in Culpeper County under an Associated Reformed Church minister. After a time, he entered the major conflict which was taking place in the colonies by joining the Continental Army to fight for freedom from England. Shortly after that enlistment, he left to enter Liberty Hall Academy (now Washington and Lee University) under the venerable William Graham, in 1778, graduating two years later from the Academy. In the same year, Moses Hoge became a candidate for the gospel ministry under care of the Presbytery of Hanover. Further preparation in theology took place under the tutelage  of James Waddel. Finally he was licensed in November of 1781 and ordained on December 13, 1782 at Brown’s Meeting House, in Augusta County, Virginia, near Hebron, Virginia.

Upon the resignation of Archibald Alexander, Moses Hoges was next appointed president of Hampden-Sydney College in 1807. In fact, so much was his God-given intellect appreciated that when the Synod of Virginia voted in 1812 to begin a seminary, Dr. Hoge was appointed to be its first professor. But the press of business was such that his health began to suffer. On a trip back to from the General Assembly, he died on July 5, 1820.

He and his wife Elizabeth had four sons, three of whom became pastors: the Rev. James Hoge, the Rev. John Blair Hoge, the Rev. Samuel Davies Hoge. [The fourth son, Dr. Thomas P. Hoge, became a physician]. The two sons of Rev. Samuel Davies Hoge also became ministers: the Rev. William Hoge and the Rev. Moses Drury Hoge, that latter of whom we wrote about on January 6. What a legacy! What a remarkable praise to God for His work among men!

To be sure, God’s sovereignty is such that He thrusts out laborers into His harvest field. But also true is that God uses godly parents to both teach and live Biblical principles and practices before their family. When that is done faithfully, then great expectations can be realized in their upbringing and eventual choice of life.

Words to live by:  This writer comes from a Christian home in which both sons were converted and called into the Presbyterian ministry, thus joining their father who was also a Presbyterian minister. God can wonderfully use the Christian home to call spiritual laborers into the fields white unto harvest. Concentrate on that, Christian reader. Make your home a solidly Christian home, with examples of true worship, solid education, and zealous service for Christ, taught and lived before your children. Then watch God work in the lives of your family.

For further study: The Hoge Family Papers are preserved at the Presbyterian Historical Center, in Philadelphia.

Through the Scriptures:  Hebrews 8 – 10

Through the Standards:  An affirmation and denial of church assemblies

WCF 31:3
“All synods or councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred.  Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.”

The PCA Historical Center is grateful to have preserved a copy of Rev. Hoge’s sermons, Sermons Selected from the Manuscripts of the late Moses Hoge, D.D., which was published in Richmond, VA by N. Pollard Publisher, 1821. Conveniently, that work is also available on the Internet, here or here. (“you young kids don’t know how easy you have it. In my day. . . “)

The first page of the first sermon in the above mentioned book by Rev. Moses Hoge:

Missed the Date by a Month!

The following tract was originally a message brought by the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer on 12 November 1944. (Which means we’re a month late in posting this!) This particular tract is one of several early messages by Francis Schaeffer, all of which were published while he was the pastor of the First Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, Missouri. That pastorate began in December of 1943 and ended late in 1948. Leaving that pulpit, he then moved his family to Switzerland to begin a ministry of church planting. Our copy of this tract is from among the papers of the Rev. Albert F. Moginot, who served for several years as Rev. Schaeffer’s .

“The Holy Catholic Church”

Inside the front cover of this tract there is the note that this message was originally preached in St. Louis on 12 November 1944. At that time Dr. Schaeffer had been the pastor of the St. Louis church for just less than one year. St. Louis is a city with a particularly large population of Roman Catholics. In fact, the city is second only to New Orleans in the observation of Mardi Gras. So in that setting it would not be surprising to find many in a Protestant congregation who were troubled by some of the words in the Apostles’ Creed. It is a common concern and misunderstanding, one that the young pastor sought to address. Going beyond that, the tract is also a brief apologetic for a biblical faith, over against the errors of Roman Catholicism. Rev. Schaeffer begins his message with the following statement:

Of all the phrases of the Apostles’ Creed, the one which is most open to misunderstanding is: “I believe in the holy Catholic Church.” Many Protestants, feeling that in some way this portion of the Apostles’ Creed refers to the Roman Catholic Church, are ashamed to repeat it. Let us say, as we begin, that not only does “the holy Catholic Church” have no reference to Roman Catholicism, but it is the very antithesis of it.

Schaeffer then touches on the following points in examination of his topic:
• The Church Is One.
• Entrance into the Universal Church.
• The Bible.
• The Sacraments.
• Baptism.
• Confirmation.
• Penance.
• Mass.
• The Church Is Holy.
• Conclusion.

Rev. Schaeffer’s conclusion provides an excellent summary of his message:

We should repeat this portion of the Apostles’ Creed with heads held high and with the determination not to give up this name catholic, which is ours. We who are true believers are the holy Catholic Church. I am a Christian because I have put my faith in Jesus Christ and for no other reason. My friends, therefore, I am a member of the universal Church, the Church catholic.
. . . Let me say again that I do not hate or dislike the individual Romanist. I hate no man because of his creed any more than because of his race. There is no place for these things in the Christian heart. I also realize that there may be Christians in the Roman Catholic Church; but if there are, they have been saved through faith in Christ in spite of the errors of their Romanism. Perhaps there are Roman Catholics here this morning, and perhaps there is someone here that the Roman hierarchy has sent to hear what we have to say because of the ad we had in the paper yesterday. If this is so, I am glad you are here, and it is my prayer that you will put your faith in Jesus instead of any church, and thus be saved. Do no misunderstand us, we are not urging you to believe in our church to be saved. No church can save you—ours or any other. You must believe in Jesus Christ who paid all the price for your sin on the cross. Then you will have everlasting life immediately and forever. Jesus Christ Himself said in John 3:18, “He that believeth on him (on Jesus) is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
For those of you who are Christians, it is my prayer for you that you go from this place with a realization that it is our task to lead the Romanist to Christ. If you leave with any other feeling, then our study this morning has been a failure. By the grace of God, realizing that no church saves, but that each individual soul must put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, let us be determined that we will bear a good testimony to all who are lost.

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