October 2017

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“To the law and to the Testimony!”

The Christian’s Need of the Old Testament

By Rev. John T. Reeve, D.D.

[The Presbyterian 99.44 (31 October 1929): 8-10.]

Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”—John 5: 39.

“SEARCH the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye O have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5: 39). There is another verse that should be associated with this, recorded in Luke 24: 27—”And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” These words occur in the conversation between our Lord Jesus and the two disciples on the way to Emmaus on the first Easter afternoon. They were troubled about his death, for they had thought “It had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” But now he was dead and their hopes were all dashed to the ground. You remember how he chided them: “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken,” asking them, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?” Then it says, “And beginning at Moses and the Prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

It is strange that it seems necessary, in view of such words as these, to speak on the subject, “The Christian’s Need of the Old Testament.” But to-day there is a tremendous and increasingly greater tendency on the part of Christians to neglect and even to belittle the Old Testament. I presume this comes about partly from the terribly destructive work done on the Old Testament for the last fifty or seventy-five years. Many who call themselves Christians do not believe that it is the very Word of God, and consequently have lost their reverence and respect for it. But evidently our Lord and his Apostles believed in it and looked upon it as the very Word of God. He said to them, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself.” In another place, it says, “Then opened he their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures,” and before that, it says, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.” How could it be that these words had to be “fulfilled,” unless they had been predictions of events yet to be? How could these things be predicted by ordinary men unless they were inspired by Almighty God himself? Yet you read in the New Testament, again and again, that things ‘‘had to be,” in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.

There are few things that the Christian church needs more than a revival of interest in the Old Testament. It would bring a new vigor into the life of the people, and it would do away with some forms of worship offered to God in Christian churches, which must be an affront to his Holy Being. It would do away with many things that are done in the name of religion because there would be such a new conception of the dignity of the House of God and the place where His honor dwelleth.

Someone has said that the foundation of the Christian religion is in the Old Testament; its republication and explication are found in the New. The only Scriptures that Jesus and the Apostles had were the Old Testament.

The only Scriptures that any of those who wrote the New Testament had were the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Can it be that we are so much better than they, that we may ignore this great body of divine truth, the record of God’s redeeming plan for mankind? Can it be that we may neglect these great writings which tell about Christ’s coming and his redeeming work? Can we neglect all this, and yet properly understand his coming and the meaning of his mission? The modern conception of Jesus Christ, so common to-day, in some quarters, could not be if there were the proper regard for the Old Testament.

The Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament, or alluded to, over 850 times, and if all the indirect allusions in the New Testament to the Old Testament, were recorded, I suppose the number would be much greater. There are 600 actual quotations from the Old Testament in the New. It would be impossible to intelligently understand the New Testament with all these 600 quotations and 850 allusions, without a knowledge of the Old—just as we cannot understand Shakespeare intelligently if we do not know the Bible, or Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” unless we know the Bible and classical history. Let me mention three reasons why I believe that Christians do need the Old Testament.

I. We need it that we may have a proper conception of man’s need and God’s plan for his redemption.
The great word throughout the Old Testament is the word “sin,” and we can never have an adequate conception of the heinousness of sin and how God hates it unless we know what he has said about it and what methods he used to deal with it. All those minute laws relating to sacrifices, so minute that we can hardly take the time to read them, were for the purpose of impressing on the minds and hearts of the people how hateful sin was to God and how it brought guilt and pollution and uncleanness. All these laws about sacrifice were for the purpose of impressing on the minds of the people the truth that, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” As Paul says, “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” Well, this modern world needs to have this great fact impressed upon it just as much as did the ancient one. Think of the looseness in the luxurious life of to-day. How shall men know the need of a Saviour and his redeeming blood, unless they first know how heinous sin is, and how utterly impossible it is for man himself to provide a remedy that can remove sin’s guilt and wash away its stain.

The late Principal Forsythe, in one of his books, speaks of the famous Dr. Dale talking with him about the loss of the word “grace” from the preaching of their day. And they concluded that the reason for the loss of this great and wonderful word from our language was the lost sense of sin. In other words, if man does not know what sin is (and he cannot fully know what it is unless he knows the Old Testament), he will not flee to God for salvation, but will try to save himself. And unless he does flee to God for salvation, he will never feel that it is “by grace” that he has been saved. He will never be able to sing with all the saints:

“Grace, ‘tis a charming sound,
Harmonious to the ear;
Heav’n with the echo shall resound,
And all the earth shall hear.”

Dr. Forsythe says, “For we have lost the sense of sin, which is the central issue of all ethics, because it turns on the relation of the conscience to the conscience of God. And apart from sin, grace has little meaning. The decay of the sense of sin measures our loss of that central Christian idea; and it is a loss which has only to go on to extinguish Christianity.”

The Old Testament not only reveals to man his sinful and lost condition, but also reveals to him the Saviour whom God has provided. The story of the redemptive purpose of God in Christ runs through the Scriptures from end to end. Moses writes about him in the proto-evangelism and predicts his coming when he foretells, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” David sings about him when he writes in the 110th Psalm, “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” And our Lord took those words and applied them to himself when he was reasoning with the Jews. So Isaiah foretells his coming and his virgin birth when he says, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”; or again, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty Lord, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Later on in the great 53rd chapter, which the Christian church has always cherished as a clear prediction and delineation, of the Saviour’s sufferings on the Cross, we read, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Still more clearly through these great prophets we trace the development of the kingdom, Christ’s coming again in power and his glorious reign.

Thus we see how necessary it is that the Christian of to-day be familiar with the Old Testament as well as with the New if he is to have an adequate conception of our Lord and his redeeming work. That was the reason that he himself, in explaining to the two disciples on the Emmaus road the meaning of his death, went back to the Old Testament, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

II. A better knowledge of the Old Testament would renew the moral vigor of the church and of the nation.

As we have said, there is a great deal of looseness in the luxurious life of to-day. Much of this has crept into the church. The great Alexander Maclaren wrote before he died, “Especially does that crash of Jerusalem’s fall thunder the lesson to all the churches that their life and prosperity are inseparably connected with faithful obedience and turning away from all worldliness, which is idolatry. Our very privileges call us to beware. The warning is needed to-day:for worldliness is rampant in the church.” In recent months the word came from our President that the dominant issue before the American people was the enforcement of and obedience to the laws of the United States, both Federal and State. He warned us that we are threatened with a breakdown in the moral sentiment of the country by reason of wide-spread disobedience to law. Think what it must have cost him to admit such a situation before the world! Think what it means—the “breakdown of the moral sentiment of the country!” How have we come to such a pass? How is it that there are 12,000 murders a year in our land—fifty times more than in Great Britain? How is it that there are 30,000 criminals at large in New York, and 10,000 in Chicago, as told us by the crime commissioner of the American Bar Association? Because we have disregarded the law of God. It is only a short step to disregard of the laws of the home, the church and the nation. A return to the faithful reading of the Old Testament, with such ringing words as those of David: “O how I love thy law, it is my meditation all the day,” would bring us back again to a new recognition of the sanctity of all law.

Wrong begins in a small way, but it goes from person to person like an epidemic. You would think it would take a thousand years for a community to become contaminated, but you are mistaken. It is like a disease. When one falls in error, another immediately falls, and so on, and it spreads through the people. If you read the Old Testament, you will see that that is the way it is. Take the awful sin of the Children of Israel at Baal-Peor, when Moses went up to the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. When he came down, the whole nation was contaminated with the awful sin of licentiousness. It was necessary to train the people to see the difference between clean and unclean. And one of the greatest needs of our day is the revival of the power of discrimination between the clean and the unclean, between right and wrong, between that which is moral and that which is immoral.

So the Christian needs the Old Testament, in order to have an adequate conception of right and wrong, of moral and immoral, of clean and unclean. A return to its mighty Scriptures would restore some of that moral and spiritual vigor which made our fathers great. The plow-share of the law of God needs to tear through the hardened crust of many of these ruthless and wicked hearts, of whom our President speaks, and awaken them to the evil of their ways that they may turn from them and repent.

III. The Christian needs the Old Testament because Christ and the Apostles felt their need of it.
Christ never recognized any other authority on earth but the Scriptures of the Old Testament. He proved everything by them, he referred everything to them, and if things did not measure up to the Old Testament standard of truth, then they were cast aside.

Of course, in some instances, he went on and added to the Revelation given through Moses since he was God’s latest revelation to man. But in all the critical and important issues of his life, he went back to the Scriptures that he had learned at his mother’s knee and in the synagogue, for his guiding principles. It is interesting to note that in answer to all the queries put to him by the devil during the temptation in the wilderness, our Saviour used the very words of the Old Testament. He in whom were all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge refused to rely on his own mind, but met the tempter with the very Word of God. It is significant to note that in all three instances, the answer came from Deuteronomy, once from the eighth chapter, and twice from the sixth.

Or take the instance when the young lawyer asked our Lord what he should do to inherit eternal life. Christ could have given him some very sound and helpful advice surely from his own fund of knowledge. But, instead, he referred him to the Scriptures and repeated to him those two great verses from Deuteronomy and Leviticus, which in another place he referred to as the first and greatest commandment.

If, as some would have us believe, we do not need to lean so heavily on the Old Testament, but can very well ignore it in these days, why did our Lord feel the necessity of quoting it verbatim on all these occasions ?

Take the occasion to which we referred in the beginning when the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were so puzzled about the events that had just taken place in Jerusalem in connection with the crucifixion. One would think that Christ could have just talked to them in a brotherly way and have shown them the reasonableness of it all—how it was necessary that he should die. But, instead, it says: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Why was it that Jesus did not stop on the road and say: “My brethren, it is this way,” and tell them why it happened that he was crucified and how he rose again? Why did he not tell them in his own words? Why did he not draw out from his own wealth of knowledge, for he knew all philosophy and all wisdom? The only answer we can give is that for him there was no higher authority than the Scriptures of the Old Testament, for they were the Word of God.

Even as he hung upon the Cross and uttered that great word that no human mind can fully understand, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” he was quoting from the twenty-second Psalm. And the very last word of all, according to Luke, when he said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” was a quotation, the words of Psalm 31: 5.

Surety, in view of all this, it is clear that we poor, faltering, ignorant creatures, with our finite knowledge, cannot afford to ignore this great wealth of inspired truth. “Just as necessary as a question is to the answer and an answer is to the question, so necessary is the Old Testament to the New and the New to the Old.” Let us search the Scriptures, for in them we think that we have Eternal Life and they are they that testify of Christ. The Christian to-day needs the Old Testament as well as the New. Let us go to the law and to the testimony, for the entrance of God’s Word giveth light.

We missed the calendar date on this post, but will not let that miss the opportunity to present this. Catechesis is a practice that has fallen on hard times, but its importance to the life of the Church and in the life of the individual Christian must be emphasized. For one, our worship depends upon the truths of the Scriptures, not upon whatever emotion we happen to bring to the service. Emotion follows thought, and to be Biblical, our thoughts must follow God’s Word, and the Catechism is simply a shortened form of teaching what it is that the Bible says. Hence the need to catechize, not just the children, but the entire congregation, that our understanding would be in accord with what the Bible teaches.

The Importance of Biblical and Catechetical Instruction in the Family
By Prof. J.A. Sanderson.
[Paper read before the Presbytery of Central Mississippi, and published at its request, excerpted from The Southwestern Presbyterian 27.39 (17 October 1895): 2, cols. 4-6.]

That it should be necessary to advance arguments in support of so important a duty, or even to use exhortation to encourage its performance, is a most remarkable thing.  It seems almost a travesty on our religion–an insult to our Christian intelligence.  It is certainly not from want of knowledge.  The Bible is clear and full on this point.  We have the testimony of thousands of good men in every generation, expressing the debt of gratitude they owe to their parents for faithful instruction given in childhood.  Every time parents present a child for baptism, they take a solemn obligation to instruct it in the Bible and Catechism.  Yet, as a matter of fact, there is an alarming and increasing dereliction on the part of parents in this matter.  Taking things, therefore, as they are, we will proceed to some thoughts on the line indicated.

Parents should instruct their children in the Bible—first, because God has plainly enjoined it upon them.  Do we really accept the Bible as God’s word?  Do we look upon it as an inspired and hence an infallible guide for our conduct?  Then we cannot evade the force of its plain teachings.

Deut. xi. 18, 19, says:  “Therefore, shall ye lay up these my words in your heart; * * and ye shall  teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”  Psalm lxxviii. 5:  “For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children.”   Prov. xxii. 6:  “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Strong as this language is, yet, like many other great moral truths, this duty is even more strongly taught inferentially.

Secondly, there are considerations founded in reason and common sense, and abundantly attested by observation and experience, to prove advisability and utility.  The child’s faith in its parents is implicit.  In his sight, the parent is a god—omnipotent, omniscient, infallible.  His word is taken implicitly.

Again, the child’s mind is thoroughly receptive and open to conviction.  Like the highly sensitive place of the photographer, responding to the least ray of light.  Impressions made at this period are most lasting.  I once heard a wise and experienced parent say, that if a child did not learn the principles of obedience before it was two years old, it never would properly imbibe them.

Again, the parent alone has access to the child at the tender age when these instructions should begin.  Nature, as well as Revelation, designates him as the proper one for this task.  He alone is clothed with the authority necessary to enforce attention and application necessary to acquire knowledge.  Ask the Sabbath-school teachers why, after their most earnest efforts, there is so little real study and positive acquisition.  They will tell us that it is because they have no coercive authority.  It would doubtless be the testimony of most of those in this audience who have committed the Catechism or considerable portions of Scripture or hymns, that the work was done almost entirely under the gentle but firm compulsion of a Christian mother.

Again, instructive parental love is a powerful auxiliary in the proper training of children.  The teacher who instructs children not her own, either for remuneration or from duty, may tire and flag over a dull pupil; but parental love inspires to perseverance, or even family pride will impel to untiring efforts to train the child for stations of honor and usefulness.
Again, the parent has a larger period of contact with the child than any one else, during which so many kinds of opportunities occur for naturally and pleasantly instilling religious instruction, and making deep and practical impressions.

Do not these considerations throw a great responsibility upon parents?  It is so recognized in the matter of secular education.  Why not in that of religious instruction?  Is it that the one is prized more highly  than the other—our children’s temporal welfare more than their eternal?  Or, is it than, recognizing the importance, we shrink from the duty, and endeavor to shift the task, indulging the vain and illusive idea that the pastor, or the Sabbath-school teacher, can perform it better than we can.  I think I will be borne out by universal experience and observation, that if the Catechism is not learned in early life, it will not be learned at all; and the same may be said of committing Scripture and learning hymns.  The responsibility cannot be shifted.

But, along with these responsibilities, there are some rewards to faithfulness.  Is there not a great reward involved in Solomon’s injunction, already quoted:  “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  It is certainly a joy to any right-minded parent to see his children growing up into intelligent Christian men and women, known and honored of all men for truth and piety, adorning the church with the graces of the Spirit—each new home a centre of Christian influence—the salt to save, a light to lighten the world.  Should not the prospect of such a fruition stimulate every parent to more faithfulness?

In conclusion, I will draw a contrast.  There are two homes.  We will examine them.  As we approach the first, the exterior is inviting, if not elegant.  Within we find many devices to beguile time.  Perhaps a deck of cards lies convenient.  The daily paper is conspicuous, though the father thinks he cannot afford the church paper.  There are few, if any, religious books.  The Bible is a family relic kept on the parlor centre-table, where the children must not go for fear of injuring the furniture.  The voice of prayer is never heard, nor hymns of Zion, but, in their place, voluptuous music, and the dance trips merrily.  But Sunday comes.  These are church people.  It is respectable to be.  It is good form to attend service—that is, morning service.  After a late breakfast the children are hustled off to Sabbath-school, without even a thought for their lessons, to get them out of the way while the mother gives the house an extra cleaning, to atone for the neglects of the past six days, and prepares an elaborate toilet [i.e, grooming or dressing] for appearance at service.  Children may stay to service or not; sit where they want to, whether inside or out, on ground floor or in gallery.  Afternoon finds mother fagged out with household duties or society demands, and she must rest; no time to drum at children and Catechisms and Sabbath-school lessons.  Father is engrossed with his forty-page Sunday paper and cannot be annoyed.  Children want out in search of amusement.  So the days and months go by, and no seeds have been sown  but those of worldliness and sin.

It is scarcely necessary to draw the other picture; even a dull imagination may supply it.  Night and morning prayer ascends from the family altar.  The little tot at his mother’s knee is taught to lisp his little prayer.  Almost his first budding thoughts are directed to God and heaven.  The mother’s heart is full of solicitude for her children’s spiritual welfare.  Pleading with God to help her train them, she will spare no pains to help God.  Sunday finds her house in order.  She has found time to assist the children with the Sabbath-school lessons.  All attend worship, and all occupy the family pew together.  After a frugal meal, prepared mostly on the day before, all assemble in the sitting-room.  Mother and father vie with each other in making home pleasant and profitable for the children.  With stories from the Sabbath-school library or the religious newspaper, or from the Bible itself, with Scripture texts and Catechism committed, interspersed with hymns, the whole seasoned with love and anon with gentle but firm parental authority, the time is only too short.  These are the parents that bind their children to them with bands of steel.  These are the occasions which, embalmed in memory, stand out as a perpetual barrier against the machinations of Satan.

From which of these homes, think you, are more likely to come gamblers, pilferers of money-drawers, forgers, defaulters, train-robbers, profaners, Sabbath-breakers, murderers, etc.?  Or from which will come those men and women who are the salt of the earth, the pillars of the Church, who stand prominent among men for veracity, honor and all noble virtues, who are the pride and stay of their parents in their declining days, and finally go down to their graves followed by the benedictions of mankind, and are received into mansions prepared?  To ask the question is to answer it.

“If the ordination vow is to be interpreted in the light of the doctrine of Scripture taught in the Confession of Faith, as of course it should be, it is clear that those who subscribe to it with any adequate understanding of its meaning profess that they believe in the infallibility of the Bible in all its length and breadth.”

Another post today by the founder of Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, the Rev. Samuel G. Craig.

[excerpted from Christianity Today 6.7 (December 1935): 147-148]

In its issue of October 17th, The Presbyterian Tribune has the hardihood to assert that Presbyterians do not believe in an infallible Bible. We are not concerned to deny that many connected with the Presbyterian Church regard the Bible as a fallible book. The editor of the Tribune and his fellow Auburn Affirmationists, not to mention others, make it impossible to think otherwise. Our contemporary, however, not merely asserts that certain Presbyterians do not believe in an infallible Bible, it boldly asserts that even their ordained officers do not profess such a faith. We quote:

“It is widely supposed and vigorously asserted, that Presbyterians believe that the Bible is infallible: that at least their ordained officers profess such a faith. Is this a fact? . . . Is that what Presbyterians believe? Look squarely at the terms of subscription used in setting apart ministers, elders and deacons. Do they say, ‘I believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.’ The difference is clear, unmistakable to all honest minds. It is one thing to profess that a certain book is inerrant in every particular. It is quite another thing to profess that a certain book, or collection of books, is absolutely as a guide in matters of faith and conduct, and the latter, not the former, is what Presbyterians profess. The only infallible rule of faith and practice.’ Infallible in that one realm; that is all we profess to believe. We need not care, if we are wise we shall not care, whether or no the history, the science, the literary allusions, the statements of fact of the Bible are absolutely accurate . . . What our fathers meant when they framed this admirable statement in our terms of subscription, what we mean by it today, is that, when we would find the best light, the truest guidance, the one always trustworthy source of wisdom as to right belief and right conduct, we go not to a pope, or to a presbytery, or to a theologian, or to a Church Father, or to a psychoanalyst, or to anyone else, but to this Word of God, which we know will never fail us if we use it rightly.”

If inability to see any real difference between affirming that the Bible is infallible and affirming that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (of which the Bible is composed) are the Word of God is an indication of a dishonest mind, we will have to admit that our mind is of that sort. If the books that constitute the Bible are the Word of God (not merely contain the Word of God) as our standards assert, how is it possible to suppose they contain “inaccuracies, contradictions, and outworn views,” as our contemporary implies? Is God a man that He should be mistaken?

Quite apart from the question whether it is possible to regard the Bible as infallible in the realm of faith and practice if it be inaccurate in its statements of fact—we do not think it is—it ought to be clear to all that the ordination vow taken by ministers, elders and deacons is not amenable to the minimizing interpretation that our contemporary seeks to place upon it. Such an interpretation is to be rejected on both exegetical and historical grounds. The candidate for ordination does not merely afifrm that he believes the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the only infallible rule of faith and practice, he affirms that he believes it to be the Word of God. He is required to affirm, first of all, that he believes said Scripture to be the Word of God. Having done that he is required to go on and affirm faith in them as the only infallible rule of faith and practice. It would be absurd to affirm that the Bible is the Word of God and then weakly add that it is infallible only in as far as it constitutes a rule of faith and practice. And yet that is what our contemporary, in effect, says that the candidate for ordination does. If the Bible is the Word of God, we may be sure that it is altogether, not merely partly, trustworthy. However it is not absurd but eminently fitting to affirm that the Bible is the Word of God and therefore the only infallible rule of faith and practice–and that is what the sincere and intelligent candidate for ordination actually does. Moreover our contemporary is quite mistaken when he affirms that his interpretation of the ordination vow is that of its framers. To cite Dr. B.B. Warfield: “This view was not the view of the Westminster Divines. It had its origin among the Socinians and was introduced among Protestants by the Arminians. And it was only on the publication, in 1690, of the ‘Five Letters concerning the Inspiration of Holy Scriptures, translated out of the French’, which are taken from Le Clerc, that it began to make its way among English theologians” (The Westminster Assembly and its Work, p. 203).

The fullest statement of what Presbyterians believe, or at least profess to believe, concerning the Bible is to be found in the opening chapter of the Confession of Faith. There the Scriptures identified with “all the books of the Old and New Testaments” are spoken of as “the Word of God Written”, as “given by inspiration of God”, as of “authority in the Church of God”, as having “God (who is truth itself)” for their “author”, as of “infallible truth and divine authority”, as being “immediately inspired of God” and so “authentical” so that “in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them.” If the ordination vow is to be interpreted in the light of the doctrine of Scripture taught in the Confession of Faith, as of course it should be, it is clear that those who subscribe to it with any adequate understanding of its meaning profess that they believe in the infallibility of the Bible in all its length and breadth.

[Craig, Samuel G., “What Presbyterians Believe About the Bible,” Christianity Today 6.7 (December 1935): 147-148.]

Words to Live By:
As surely as we can depend upon the Lord our God, so too we can depend entirely upon the Bible, for the Holy Scriptures are indeed His Word.
Psa 12:6-7 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
Isa 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Today’s post is drawn from Alfred Nevin’s Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church (1884), p. 850:

The Long Pastorate of a Great Pastor and Biographer

SpragueWBWilliam Buell Sprague was born in Andover, Tolland county, Connecticut, on this day, October 16, 1795. He graduated at Yale College in 1815, and in 1816 entered Princeton Theological Seminary, just four years after the start of that institution. After studying there over two years, Sprague was licensed to preach by the Association of Ministers in the county of Tolland, on August 29th, 1818. As pastor of the Congregational Church of West Springfield, Massachusetts, he labored with great assiduity and success from August 25th, 1819, until July 21st, 1829, when he accepted a call to the Second Presbyterian Church in Albany, New York, over which he was installed on August 26th, 1829.

In Albany, he had a pastorate of forty years’ duration, remarkable for the extraordinary steadfastness and warmth of attachment existing through all that protracted period between himself and his large and intelligent congregation, and even more remarkable for the vast and varied labors performed by him. He has been well and truly described as “an illustrious man, a cultivated, elegant, voluminous, usefull and popular preacher; an indefatigable and successful pastor; an unselfish and devoted friend; loving, genial, pure, noble; an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile; one of the most child-like, unsophisticated and charitable of men.”

While Dr. Sprague never relaxed his pulpit and pastoral duties, his added literary labors were prodigious and their fruits exceedingly great. He preached nearly two hundred sermons on special public occasions, the most of which were published. He also produced a large number of biographies and other volumes on practical religious subjects. But the great literary work of his life was his Annals of the American Pulpit, undertaken when he was fifty-seven years old, and finished in ten large octavo volumes.

On December 20th, 1869, Dr. Sprague was released at his own request, from his pastoral charge in Albany, and retired to Flushing, Long Island, where he passed his later years, which were a serene and beautiful evening to his industrious, useful and eminent life. Here he enjoyed the sunshine of the divine favor, and looked upon the approach of death with a strong and placid faith. He gently and peacefully passed away, May 7th, 1876, and his remains were taken to Albany for interment, the funeral services being held in the church of which he had been so long the beloved and honored pastor.

A number of Sprague’s works can be found in digital format, here.

If I may select one for you, The Claims of Past and Future Generations on Civil Leaders, looks interesting, judging by its title.

From Sprague’s Historical Introduction to The Annals of the Presbyterian Pulpit:
The early history of the Presbyterian Church in this country is involved in no little obscurity,—owing principally to the fact that those who originally composed it, instead of forming a compact community, were widely scattered throughout the different Colonies. It is evident, however, that several churches were established some time before the close of the seventeenth century. In Maryland there were the Churches of Rehoboth, Snow Hill, Marlborough, Monokin, and Wicomin,—the first mentioned of which is commonly considered the oldest, and was probably formed several years before 1690. The Church on Elizabeth River, in Virginia, is supposed by some to date back to nearly the same period, but the exact time of its origin cannot be ascertained. The Churches in Freehold, and Woodbridge, New Jersey were constituted in 1692 [Note: there is good evidence that Fairfield Presbyterian Church, in Fairton, NJ, was established in 1680.]; and the First Church in Philadelphia, as nearly as can be ascertained, in 1698. In Newcastle, Delaware, in Charleston, South Carolina, and in some other places, Presbyterian Churches were planted at a very early period. In the latter part of 1705, or early in 1706, a Presbytery was formed under the title of the Presbytery of Philadelphia,—all whose members were from Scotland or Ireland, except the Rev. Jedediah Andrews, who was born and educated in New England.”

by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 31. — What is effectual calling?

A. — Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ. and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the Gospel.

Scripture References: II Tim. 1:8,9; Eph. 1:18-20; Acts 2:37; Acts 26:18; Ezek. 11:19; John 6:44,45; Phil. 2:13; Eph. 2:15.


In what two ways could “calling” be understood?

Calling has been recognized in Reformed Theology as both “external” and “internal” call. The first is the call of the word whereby o all sinners are freely invited to Christ, that they may have life and salvation in Him. However, this call is insufficient in itself to enable them to come to Him. The second is the internal call of the Spirit that accompanies the proclamation of the word whereby the sinner is not only invited to Christ but is inwardly enabled to embrace Him as He is freely offered in the Gospel.

2. What is involved in the Spirit’s work in our hearts to convince us of our sin and misery?

The Spirit gives us a clear insight of the guilt of our sins and a recognition of the wrath of God and the miseries of hell. This wounds our conscience and causes us to ask, “What must I do to be saved?”

3. How does the Spirit accomplish this task?

The Spirit accomplishes this task by the law—”By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20),

How does the Spirit enlighten our minds?

The Spirit does this by pointing us to Christ for in Him, that is in the knowledge of His person, righteousness, power, etc., we are renewed in our wills and are enabled to turn to Christ as Saviour and Lord.

5. Are we able to renew our own wills?

No, our wills are renewed only when the Spirit puts new inclinations in them and causes us, (makes us willing), to embrace Jesus Christ by faith. (Eph. 1: 19,20)


Conviction of sin, though no evidence of conversion, is necessary to it. The Gospel is offered to those who are in their guilt. Without a recognition of the guilt the sinner will never be convinced that he will perish without the righteousness of Christ.

This conviction is a gift of the Holy Spirit. He was sent to convince the world of its sin. The means by which the Holy Spirit does this is the subject of our Catechism Question. He, the Holy Spirit, convinces and enlightens.

The Holy Spirit convinces of sin through the Law. The person seeking Christ is brought face to face with the standard of the law. He is not to judge himself by others nor is he to judge himself by a cultural standard he has set up that makes him look good in the eyes of himself. This is the reason it is so necessary for the preacher of the Gospel to hold high the Truth, the standard as is set in the Word of God. It is equally necessary for the Christian to obtain every kind of Scriptural knowledge of Scripture possible, especially committing it to memory, so as to be able to quote it correctly at the appropriate time. The Holy Spirit will use such to the glory of God.

Many times the Holy Spirit will use the life of a Christian as an instrument to convict a person still in his sins. Therefore as Christians we must recognize our responsibility here to be used by Him. A great minister of God’s word once gave three things a Christian must do
in order to be used as an instrument of the Holy Spirit:

(1) Avoid all sin, exercise all right affections toward God and our fellow-men, being devoted to His glory and service.
(2) Be willing to suffer for Christ.
(3) Love Christ more than any other object, more than our lives.

It was a favorite saying of Charles Hodge that it is the great duty of the Christian to labor to convince the world of the sin of unbelief in Christ. Hodge said that the Spirit produces this conviction through the truth a.nd He can use our labor to lead them to receive, acknowledge, love, worship, serve and trust Jesus Christ. Such is the teaching of Acts 1:8. May we be faithful to it.

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 31 (July 1963)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

Not Every Presbyterian Denomination Operates This Way

The moderator of the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America was a ruling elder–the Hon. W. Jack Williamson. Since that time, the PCA has established a tradition of alternating between ruling elders and teaching elders in its nomination and election of moderators for the General Assembly. But this practice remains unusual among Presbyterian denominations. Even within our own ecclesiastical heritage, it wasn’t always so, as Rev. R.C. Reed explains in this review of the PCUS General Assembly of 1914 :

“The Assembly elected a ruling elder to preside over its sessions. The law which makes the ruling elder eligible to the moderatorship of all our church courts is but a corollary of a fundamental principle of Presbyterianism–the parity in authority of all Presbyters. Our church did right to put this corollary into the form of law, and it ought not to suffer the law to lapse into a condition of innocuous desuetude. We cannot be accused of working it overtime. The law was enacted in 1886. It was seven years after that date before it received its first practical recognition in the election of Hon. J.W. Lapsley. Only four ruling elders have presided over our Assemblies in the twenty-eight years since the way was open for them to be honored with this responsibility. Always there is good material among the ministerial members to fill the office, as there was in the last Assembly, and there is never any reluctance on their part to serve, but they, as well as others, allow the propriety of occasionally electing a ruling elder in order to do justice to the principle of parity.”

[excerpted from “The General Assembly of 1914” by R.C. Reed, in Union Seminary Review 26.1 (October 1914): 4.]

This change to the constitution of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. was enacted in 1886, as Rev. Reed notes. The overture to enact this change first came from the Synod of Virginia and from the Presbytery of Chickasaw, in 1884. The Minutes of the 1885 Assembly (p. 432) note that:

The Committee on Bills and Overtures reported on the overtures from the Synod of Virginia and from the Presbytery of Chickasaw, which were sent to the last Assembly and referred by it to this (see Minutes of 1884, pages 249 and 250), asking an amendment of the Form of Government in reference to the duties of ruling elders when elected moderators of church courts. Pending the discussion, a substitute was offered by the Rev. P.T. Penick, which was adopted, and is as follows:

That the request contained in these overtures be granted and that the Assembly hereby recommends and sends down to the Presbyteries for their advice and consent thereunto the following:

That to the clause in the Form of Government, Chapter IV., Section 3, Paragraph 2, stating that ruling elders “possess the same authority in the courts of the Church as the ministers of the word,” shall be added this sentence, “When, however, a ruling elder is moderator of a Presbytery, Synod, or General Assembly, any official duty devolving upon him the performance of which requires the exercise of functions pertaining only to the teaching elder, shall be remitted by him for execution to such minister of the word, being a member of the court, as he may select.

In the PCA’s Book of Church Order, parity among elders is noted in BCO 8.9 :

Elders being of one class of office, ruling elders possess the same authority and eligibility to office in the courts of the Church as teaching elders. They should, moreover, cultivate zealously their own aptness to teach the Bible and should improve every opportunity of doing so.

Comparing that present text with an overview of how this paragraph has changed over the years:

1. PCA 1973, 9-2, Adopted text, M1GA, Appendix, p. 131
2. Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, 9-2, Proposed text, p. 9
3. PCUS 1933, X-§41
4. PCUS 1925, X-§41
5. PCUS 1888 (cf. PCUS Minutes, p. 424)

These Ruling Elders possess the same authority and eligibility to office in the courts of the Church as the Ministers of the Word. They should, moreover, cultivate zealously their aptness to teach the Bible and should improve every opportunity of doing so, to the end that destitute places, mission points, and churches without Pastors may be supplied with religious services.

PCUS 1879, IV-3-2
These Ruling Elders do not labour in the Word and doctrine, but possess the same authority in the courts of the Church as the Ministers of the Word.

PCUS 1869 draft, IV-3-2

These Presbyters, as ecclesiastical rulers, possess the same authority with the Teaching Elder.

PCUS 1867 draft, IV-3-2

These presbyters, as ecclesiastical rulers, are of the same rank, and possess the same authority with the teaching elder. And while the titles of bishop, pastor, and minister, belong to the teaching elder by way of eminency, because he excels by reason of his entire consecration to the work, as well as by the superiority of his functions, they also belong to the office of the ruling elder, seeing that, in order to rule with diligence, he must take the oversight of the flock; in order to its protection he must guard and guide it; and in order to discharge the chief duty of his office, he must serve Christ diligently in the exercise of government.

it becomes clear that the provision or recognition for having ruling elders serve as moderators of the higher courts was something which was from the start embedded in the Book of Church Order, even though that field of service was not always recognized or practiced by the Church.

And here concluding, the commentary of F.P. Ramsay (1898), though written in reference to the PCUS BCO, still pertains :

43.–II. These Ruling Elders do not labour in the Word and doctrine, but possess the same authority in the courts of the Church as the Ministers of the Word.

officially (for nothing is here decided as to what others than Ministers of the Word may do unofficially in the Word and doctrine),

but possess he same authority in the courts of the Church as the Ministers of the Word.

May he then be Moderator of a court, and of the higher courts as well as of a Session, seeing that to Moderators are assigned certain duties that only Ministers can perform?

When, however, a Ruling Elder is Moderator of a Presbytery, Synod, or General Assembly, any official duty devolving on him, the performance of which requires the exercise of functions pertaining only to the teaching Elder, shall be remitted by him for execution to such Minister of the Word, being a member of the court, as he may select.

The Minister must be a member of the same court, so that he may be under the control of the court. It is to be observed that by a court consisting of the Word, men may be appointed to ministerial functions, and are subject to the control of the court, the power of government extending over the Church and its officers in all their functions. It is also to be observed that the Moderator is appointed to a special work by a court, and is answerable to the court appointing him. It is further to be observed that there is no fundamental principle requiring that the Moderator shall be of this or that class of Elders; but, since, as a matter of conveniency and prudence, certain ministerial functions are, in the detailed regulations of the Form of Government, assigned to the Moderator, the principles of the system do require either that these regulations should be abolished, or that Ruling Elders be kept out of the position of Moderator, or that a special provision, such as this, determine the assignment of ministerial functions. Provision is made elsewhere as to the Moderator of the Session.
[F.P. Ramsay, Exposition of the Book of Church Order(1898, p. 55-56), on IV-3-2 :]

Largely forgotten now, the League of Evangelical Students was an early 20th century forerunner to such contemporary evangelical student fellowships as InterVarsity, Campus Crusade for Christ and Reformed University Ministries. Its mission statement declared it to be “an inter-denominational and international student movement for the defense and propagation of the Gospel in the modern student-world.”
Organized in 1925, the League grew to have over 60 chapters on campuses across the United States, with an affiliated chapter located in China. Its leadership came primarily from the conservative ranks of the northern Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and it is notable that many of these same leaders were later to figure prominently in the formation of both Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929 and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1936.
The Evangelical Student magazine ran from 1926 until 1939, with the first issue appearing in April of 1926. In addition to the magazine, the League held annual conferences which were hosted by various chapters. Click here to learn more about the League and its magazine.
For today’s post, we’ve selected a short but important article by J.G. Vos
[1903-1983], son of the Princeton professor Geerhardus Vos [1862-1949]

by J.G. Vos
[The Evangelical Student 1.2 (October 1926): 6-7.]

ERROR is always with us. It assumes many forms and makes various appeals. The systems of falsehood are almost without number. There are errors as old as the ages, and there are errors of recent origin. Errors appear, disappear, and reappear, while the truth of God abides continually. So sporadic, indeed, have been the errors, and so constant is the truth, that some have concluded that all error, because it is error, is about to die; and that all truth, because it is truth, is sure to survive.

This conclusion is certainly fallacious. It is true that error often dies, and that the truth usually survives; but the error does not die because it is error, nor the truth survive because it is truth. If error dies, it is because the Holy Spirit has used means to cut it off. If the truth survives, it is because the Holy Spirit has used means to ensure its survival.

Error will not die of itself, because the natural heart of man clings to it and loves it better than the truth. Idolatry, the worship of that which is not God, is almost as old as the race, and a large part of humanity still adheres to it, for the worship of the things that are seen appeals to the natural man. Christian Science, with its denial of the reality of sin, flatters the sinful heart of man. The idea of salvation by works, by character, by ideals, etc., appeals to the pride of man and conveniently removes the stumbling block of the cross of Jesus Christ. While the heart of man is what it is, these errors will never die of themselves.

Error will not die of itself, because Satan is actively engaged in its propagation. He is the father of lies, and there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own. Error traces its origin back to him, for he is a liar, and the father of it (John 8:44). Errors and heresies are not indifferent things which come from nowhere; they are devised and propagated by the arch-enemy of the human race.

If error is to be overcome, it must be by active opposition on the part of those who acknowledge the truth. Christians must witness for the whole of revealed truth and oppose all contrary error. If we merely state the truth and neglect to point out and oppose the contrary error, we are not faithful witnesses. It is only as the truth is distinguished from error that its real character can be shown. The notion that we can forget about the error and merely preach the truth, that we can ignore “modernism” and meantime engage in “constructive” Christian work, is tragically mistaken. No doubt God could accomplish his purposes without using men as his instruments; no doubt he could bring about the victory of the truth without using our testimony, but He has called us to be his witnesses, and it is our duty to testify.

The visible Christian Church is divinely appointed to bear a corporate witness to revealed truth, and therefore also to discountenance error. Christian students by their membership in the body of God’s witnessing people support the truth and oppose error. In our day, however, great sections of the Christian Church have abandoned their testimony to the truth and their opposition to error, and other great sections seem about to do so. Doctrinal indifference is the first step; open toleration of error is the consequence. On this account Christian students should consider earnestly and carefully the question of their relation to a particular branch of the Christian Church, for membership in a witnessing church is itself a witnessing act, and membership in a church which tolerates error involves, to some extent at least, a tacit approbation of such toleration.

The League of Evangelical Students is essentially a witnessing body. We declare that we “bear united witness to the faith of students in the whole Bible as the inspired Word of God,” (Constitution, Article II, Section I). Those only are eligible for membership in the League who have “faith in the Bible as the infallible Word of God” and who accept “the fundamental truths of the Christian religion,” (Constitution, Article III, Section I). Let us not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. Let us not fear the charge of intolerance. God has commanded his people to witness for the truth, but he has never commanded them to tolerate error. If we who have banded ourselves together into a League to witness for the truth and against error, are on that account called narrow-minded, bigoted, intolerant, or even unchristian, let us call to mind the words of the Lord Jesus which are recorded in Matthew 5:11 : “Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

At the close of the first century of Presbyterianism in Kentucky, this anniversary was observed by the churches on this day, October 12, in 1883. The Rev. David Rice had begun to preach the Gospel in 1783 near the town of Harrodsburg, and so it was fitting that the celebration was held there in that place. The Rev. Edward P. Humphrey, D.D. [1809-1897] brought the central message that day, and this was later published as The Dead of the Presbyterian Church, in Kentucky. Address Delivered before the Two Synods of Kentucky at their Joint Centennial, held at Harrodsburg, October 12, 1883. What follows are some excerpts from that address, gathered under a few headings, with the hope that these few quotes will encourage you to read the whole of that short work.

Recollections of Pastors:
To begin, two humorous anecdotes—

Of Dr. Robert Stuart, our author relates that “If he had been married, especially if well married, he would have been more presentable in his personal appearance; if he had not been tempted beyond what he was able to bear, he would have restrained now and then his terrific power of sarcasm; if he had been mindful of the thirty minutes rule of our day he would not have used the “gift of continuance” so freely. The tradition is that the people have been known, if they were very hungry, to go home while he was preaching, dine at their leisure, and return to the church in time to hear the last hour or two of his sermon. This is probably an exaggeration. But at a day when lawyers like Felix Grundy, and John Rowan, and John Pope were heard patiently four or five hours at the bar and from the stump, an earnest servant of God, like Mr. Cameron, might be excused if he claimed for the souls of men as much time for consideration as they gave to their law units and politics.

William L. McCalla was fearless to a proverb, with a touch of grim humor. It is said that, when a portion of his congregation at Philadelphia became dissatisfied with him as their pastor, he surprised them with a proposition to divide the church property between the parties. On being asked to suggest the mode of division, he said to his opposers: “I offer to you and your friends the outside of the meeting-house, and I and my friends will keep the inside.” [p. 12-13]

No Little People:
Looking past the specifics, the principle here is a good reminder for us in all our study of church history— 

Here, my brethren, we are brought face to face with the embarrassments which beset this part of our commemoration. The names on the death-roll of our ministers exceed three hundred. It is a solemn thought that of all the ministers who were members of our Synod in 1833–fifty years ago–only one survives to this day, Rev. Dr. Eli N. Sawtell, the first pastor of the Second Church, in Louisville. Then, the materials are not within our reach for the biographies of many of our departed brethren, whose good works deserve the most grateful mention. Still further, there is danger lest we bestow on a few leading ministers the praises which ought to be divided among those who have shrunk from public recognition; who have sat silent in our church courts; and have coveted only the best gifts, the gifts and graces, whereby they have built up existing congregations, founded new churches, and turned many to righteousness. Of the twelve apostles, the labors of three only are described in the Book of Acts; and the names of four only are mentioned, except in the list contained in the first chapter. Yet, who can doubt that, measured by their fidelity and zeal, the nine attained to the first three? Would that we were able to distribute the sacred honors among our own brethren who have done well the work.

The apostle Paul struggled with this embarrassment. In the epistle to the Hebrews (chap. xi.), he celebrates the faith of the primitive worthies, one by one. But the time fails him as he advances, and he falls away from the recital of their heroic acts of faith, to the simple repetition of the names of a few; and then, when compelled to cut short the roll, he describes the virtues of the anonymous dead in that grand panegyric which begins with, “Who subdued kingdoms” and ends with “of whom the world was not worthy.” To the Philippians (iv. 3), he is obliged to content himself, as Dr. Moses Drury Hoge has observed, by mentioning “Clement also, and other of my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life.” [pp. 11-12]

Of Their Preaching:

The preaching of our older ministry is easily characterized. It was doctrinal to an extent not equaled in our day. The New Light schism originating as early as 1802, turned on the doctrines of the Trinity, of the Covenants, of regeneration, of the nature of faith and repentance. The Pelagian heresy broached by Thomas Craighead, a few years later, raised the contention in regard to original and actual sin and imputation…

Let it not be thought that our fathers shook out before the people the dry bones of a metaphysical theology. Their sermons were crammed full with the written Word of God. Many of them repeated from memory, whole chapters, whole Psalms, and hundreds of proof texts, prophecies, and parables….

Their method of preaching, especially in seasons of awakening, was apostolic. They began by opening the text, then they handled the leading thought, clearly and familiarly, casting upon it all the side lights which shine out from the other scriptures, and speaking earnestly but with restrained emotion. Having planted the truth in the minds of their hearers, they then drove it home upon the conscience. It was the opinion of Nelson, Ross, and Gallagher, that it was difficult for any one man to make a lucid and passionless exposition of scripture, and then rise into an impassioned strain of exposition. Upon this idea, when two of them were together, one of them spoke twenty or thirty minutes explaining and vindicating the doctrine of the text, then the other took it up and reduced it to its immediate practical uses, with whatever spiritual power the Lord was pleased to bestow upon him. Dr. Clelnd sometimes preached an hour and a half. An hour was given to exposition, and thirty minutes to expostulation. He rarely preached without bringing his hearers to tears. [p. 15-16]

Words to Live By:
“Whose names are in the book of life….”
Every Christian has a role and contributes to the building up of the kingdom of God. Every true believer contributes to the history of the Church. Whether your name or mine are recorded on earthly pages of some history book matters not in the end. What matters is that our names are written down in the Lamb’s book of life. Make your calling and election sure. (2 Peter 1:10)

A Great Loss for Westminster Seminary

The new orthodox seminary, Westminster, had only been open for two weeks on October 11, 1930, when one of the premier faculty members of that theological institution, and before that, Princeton Theological Seminary,  Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, died suddenly.  He had been blessed with excellent health most of his teaching career.  But after a brief week of illness, he went into the presence of the Lord.

This writer’s father, who studied under Dr. Wilson at Princeton from 1927 to 1929, told me that Robert Dick Wilson planned his life in three phases. Phase one was to learn all the extant languages of, or related to, the Scriptures. And he did have a working knowledge somewhere between twenty-five and forty-five languages (accounts vary). The second phase was to study all the higher critical attacks upon the Bible. And the last phase was publish in defending the Scriptures against all of those higher critical attacks upon the sacred Word. It was with regards to this last phase that he commented that he had come to the conviction that no man knows enough to attack the veracity of the Old Testament.

One humorous incident in his teaching career at Princeton was the time that a woman had enrolled in his class. One day, as was usually the case, he was disheveled in his attire when he came to class. Often the suspenders which held up his pants would be pinned by two safety pins. Teaching animatedly, the two pins became undone with the result that his pants slid to the floor. Embarrassed immensely, and sliding down to raise his pants again,  he could only cry out “Where is Mrs. Jennings? Where is she?,” fearing she was in class in the back row. When told that the lone woman in question had cut his class to study in the library, Dr. Wilson responded, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.”

Words to live by:  Why would an accomplished scholar like Dr. Robert Dick Wilson leave his life calling at Princeton Seminary in 1929 to go to a brand new theological institution where there was no guarantee of funds for either teaching or retirement?  The answer is that Dr. Wilson knew that a person cannot have God’s richest blessings, even in teaching the truth, when the opportunity to teach that truth is gained by corruption of principles.  And the reorganization of Princeton’s Board of Trustees with two members who had signed the Auburn Affirmation was just that, a corruption of principles.  May we take a similar stand for righteousness, regardless of the outcome to our lives.

For further study: The PCA Historical Center, which hosts This Day in Presbyterian History, houses among its many collections the Papers of Dr. Robert Dick Wilson. As one means of promoting that collection, the Historical Center has posted a number of articles about Dr. Wilson on its web site, and these can be found here.

Among the more mundane church records and the other remains of a long life, there are some real jewels that have been located as part of Rev. Albert “Bud” Moginot’s papers. For one of those finds, I have no real explanation as to how it came to be there in his possession. But more on that later.

Rev. Moginot may have been something of a collector of tracts. I did at least find a substantial box full of various tracts in a small room just off from the garage in his basement. It was not covered and so was quite dusty and showed other signs of damage. Still, the box was stuffed full and the resulting compaction saved a lot of the contents from ruin. There were tracts from any number of different evangelical organizations. Some from the school he attended, Dallas Seminary. Some from all manner of evangelical and fundamentalist ministries. And there were some from fellow pastors in the Bible Presbyterian Church. Among these there were a handful of tracts by Francis A. Schaeffer, two of which I had never seen before.

The first of these, “The Bible-believing Christian and the Jew”, can be precisely dated, since it was published in The Independent Board Bulletin, a publication of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, in October of 1943 and under the title “The Fundamentalist Christian and Anti-Semitism.” In a subsequent issue, the editor noted that Schaeffer’s message had been well received by the readership of The Bulletin. Most likely the tract was a subsequent publication. This article would have been written while he was still serving as the associate pastor to the Rev. Abraham Lance Lathem, and just before his leaving to take the pastorate of the First Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis. The content of Rev. Schaeffer’s message against anti-Semitism can be found here.

Physical details:
1. “The Bible-believing Christian and the Jew” — Single-sheet, folded tract, 15 cm. x 23 cm. (6″ x 9″). Medium blue-gray paper with a basis weight of approximately 30-40 lbs. Dark blue text printed in four panels, including the title panel, on the obverse and a large single panel of text on the reverse or interior of the tract.

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