April 2019

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“Old Rex”

In 1812, the Synod of Virginia resolved to establish within its boundaries a theological seminary. Thus began Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. To lead the school, the Rev. Dr. Moses Hoge was unanimously chosen to serve as the first professor of the fledgling institution, and he served faithfully in that capacity until his death in 1820. Then with Hoge’s death, the school languished for several years until the appointment of John Holt Rice, who began his duties on behalf of the Seminary in the latter half of 1823. In turn, Dr. Rice died early in September of 1831, and it is at this point that we turn to E.H. Gillette’s always lively, if somewhat ebullient, history for an account of Holt’s successor as head of Union Theological Seminary.

“But a permanent successor of Dr. Rice as Theological Professor, one well worthy to wear his mantle, was found within the bounds of the Synod, and inaugurated April 11, 1832.

baxterGeorgeAddison_225w“At the head of Liberty Hall–Washington College–stood, at the time of Dr. Rice’s death, a man who in the qualities of intellectual and moral greatness had scarcely a superior in his native State. This was George Addison Baxter, a graduate of the institution [i.e., Washington College] in 1796, and a theological pupil of the rector, William Graham. After laboring as a missionary for some time, he took charge of New London Academy, from which in 1798 he was called to the Professorship of Mathematics at Liberty Hall. Upon the death of the principal, Mr. Graham, in the following year, he was chosen to succeed him; and in this post he continued–officiating at the same time as pastor of New Monmouth and Lexington churches–until 1829.

“Few men, for the same period of time, have undertaken so much; and fewer still have accomplished what he achieved. [And he performed his duties with great Christian love and magnanimity. His students at Washington College affectionately called him “Old Rex.”] In seasons of revival he was known to spend five hours each day in his college duties, and to preach every night for weeks together. His desire to devote himself exclusively to pastoral labor led him to relinquish his connection with the college; and two years afterward, in the autumn of 1831, he was called as Theological Professor to succeed Dr. Rice.

“The Seminary at the time was in an embarrassed state, and the several vacations of the institution were devoted by Dr. Baxter to soliciting pecuniary aid on its behalf. Until his death, in 1841, he continued almost uninterruptedly to devote himself to the duties of his office. The successor to Dr. Baxter upon his death was Dr. Samuel B. Wilson, who for more than twenty years had been settled at Fredericksburg.

“With a mind exceedingly well balanced, an understanding vast in its powers of comprehension and eminently profound and lucid, a judgment accurate and discriminating, and a memory remarkably retentive, he combined an amount of fervent emotion which in his pulpit utterance “sent forth his great thoughts in burning and melting masses.” Always clear, he was almost always convincing. He seemed to grasp a difficult subject and apprehend all its bearings almost by intuition. His power of condensation, moreover, was remarkable. Few ministers whose sermons, like his, extended to three-quarters of an hour, have been requested, as he was by his hearers, to preach longer. His prayers were brief but comprehensive. He rarely used the pen, and wrote but few of his lectures. In the pulpit he scorned the aid of even the briefest outline. Yet his words were well chosen and weighty. Nor were they made less impressive as the hearer gazed upon his tall, manly frame, and the expanded, massive brow on which the very majesty of mind seemed enthroned. He had imagination, and he had pathos; and in his preaching he not rarely had to struggle powerfully to suppress his emotions. His mind was more rapid than his words, and his heart kept pace with his intellect.

“His modesty was equal to his merit, and in a strange pulpit he was as easily embarrassed as the humblest and plainest student fresh from the seminary. Yet, while he seemed to shun notice, his abilities were equal to the highest position.”

Words to Live By:
In William Henry Foote’s Sketches of Virginia [p. 262-3], we read that Rev. Baxter’s mother “left among her descendants a memory precious for her exemplary piety and prudent conduct as a wife and mother, in situations calling every day for the exercise of Christian graces, and seldom offering occasion for the lofty display of any accomplishment. The lives of her children were her best eulogy. George Addison was the second son, and the third of eight children, all of whom he survived. Vigor, frankness, uprightness, and industry characterized all the members of the family, reared in the simplicity and hardships of a frontier life. The mother laid the foundations of morals and religion in her children while they were young; and expressed the most decided unwillingness to part with any of them till their faith in Christ was established. Her unremitting attention to the spiritual concerns of her children was followed by the unspeakable reward of seeing them all consistent professors of religion, according to the faith she trusted for her own salvation. The Bible, the Sabbath, the Assembly’s Catechism, the preaching of the gospel, family worship and private instruction were things of solemn interest to the family from the earliest recollections; and connected indissolubly with the memory of their parents, the influence was tender and perpetual. The image of the mother stood before the children rejoicing when their faith triumphed, and weeping when they sinned.” Blessed is the mother that knows her God-given power to raise covenant children.

The Holy Spirit of God has often used various circumstances to call His own into ministry. In the case of John Knox, it was a public challenge delivered by a small congregation in a castle in Scotland by the voice of their Protestant pastor, John Rough.

knox_card03John Knox was approximately 42 years of age. We don’t know when this future Reformer saw the light of the Reformed faith, but George Wishart likely had something to do with it. Knox had been his body-guard as Wishart powerfully preached the gospel throughout Scotland. When the latter was martyred, Knox in time became a religious tutor to three children—two sons of Hugh Douglas of Longniddry, as well as the son of John Cockburn of Ormiston. The two fathers, Douglas and Cockburn, had embraced the truths of the Reformation, and desired their children to be taught of Knox. So, not only in elementary truths like grammar, but also in Scriptural readings and catechising, Knox led his young pupils as he stayed in their homes.  When it became evident that Knox became more and more a marked man by the Roman Catholic authorities, the parents urged Knox to take their children into St. Andrews Castle, where a number of people had fled for their lives.

It was on April 10, 1547 that John Knox arrived at St. Andrews Castle with his three pupils. It is recorded that he began at the same place in their instruction that he had left off in the home of their parents. Their names, for the record, were Francis Douglas, George Douglas, and Alexander Cockburn. Soon that private tutoring became known to the Protestant pastor of the congregation now gathered in the castle, the Rev. John Rough. He came to Knox and urged him to take on what we would call today an associate pastor’s position, as Rough was weary in the work. Knox turned him down flat, saying that he would not do anything without a lawful calling from God.

At this, Rough, with the support of two or three others, decided to challenge Knox publicly. John Rough, on the following Sunday,  preached a message on the election of ministers as his theme. At its close, he, in the name of the small castle congregation, addressed John Knox with the following words, which we find recorded in Knox’s book, The History of the Reformation in Scotland, (p. 72):—

 “Brother, ye shall not be offended, albeit that I speak unto you that which I have in charge, even from all those here present: — In    the name of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ, and in the name of these that presently call you by my mouth, I charge you, that ye refuse not  this holy vocation, but, as ye tender the Glory of God, the increase of Christ His kingdom, the edification of your brethren, and the comfort of me, oppressed by the multitudes of labours, that ye take upon you the public office of preaching, even as ye look to avoid God’s heavy displeasure, and desire that He shall multiply his graces upon you.”

The future Reformer left the worship time in tears and spent many days and night in grief and trouble of heart. Eventually, he came to believe that the call came from God.

His first sermon was in the parish church of St. Andrews, where he took as his text that of Daniel 7:24, 25. Laying open the false doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, he compared their justification by works with the justification by faith alone as expressed in the Word of God. The hearers said that while others lop off the branches of Romanism, Knox had struck at the root to destroy the whole.

The author of The History of the Church of Scotland, W. M. Hetherington, writes on page 34 that such preaching by Knox was the real beginning of the Reformation in Scotland. From that time forth, no appeal was made by the Reformers to any other standard except the Word of God.

Yet before John Knox could move on in his fledgling ministry to declare the unsearchable riches of the gospel, the castle was attacked and captured by French naval forces, and forced to surrender on July 31 of the same year. Knox would spend the next 19 months as a galley-slave on a French ship, which we will consider in a future post.

Words to Live By: The inspired New Testament writer James leaves the church a sober warning in chapter 3, verse 1 of his letter, when he wrote “Not many of you should become teachers,  my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” (ESV)  Whether it was this which prompted John Knox to respond with great tears, we know not. But he obviously believed that any call for him to minister the Word of God had to come from God’s Spirit, and not merely by a group of men. Readers, remember the words of the unknown author to the Hebrews, who wrote in Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (ESV)

Image sources: Three different conceptions of what John Knox looked like. The first is a bit “unorthodox”—an image from a cigarette trading card, specifically, Ogden’s “Leaders of Men” series, no. 27, issued in 1924. The second is from a postcard bearing only the attribution “A. H., édit.” to designate the publisher. Both cards are among a small collection preserved at the PCA Historical Center. The last portrait of John Knox, shown at right, is the more traditionally known image. Quite the beard there, eh?


taylor_JohnCOn December 13, 1973 the Lord called Home one of His faithful servants, Dr. John C. Taylor, Sr., who for more than fifty years had given of himself, his time and his talents to his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and to the people of India. He was a man greatly beloved of the Lord and by the people of India whom he served so faithfully and so lovingly. Many are the people who will remember Dr. Taylor for his great love and sacrificial service to them as he sought to bring to them physical healing for their bodies through means of his medical knowledge, and spiritual healing for their souls through his know¬ledge of the Word of God and his personal testimony to the power of Christ to save lost sinners. John Taylor was not only a medical doctor but also an ordained minister of the Gospel and a real evangelist.

Born in Richmond, Kansas on April 9, 1886, of godly parents, John Taylor early came to know Christ as his personal Saviour. On August 14, 1913 he married Elizabeth Siehl, and together they went to India in November, 1914 and were stationed at Roorkee, U.P. where they labored for half a century, returning to the U.S.A. for retirement in October, 1967. They served under the Reformed Presbyterian Mission which, in 1965, became World Presbyterian Missions, the foreign board of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. Mrs. Taylor passed to her Heavenly Home in March, 1970. Some years later, God provided another helpmeet for Dr. Taylor in the person of Mrs. Elizabeth H. Daniels, and the remaining years of Dr. Taylor’s life were enriched through her fellowship.

taylor_family_1931Dr. Taylor was survived by his widow, Elizabeth D. Taylor, three sons—John, Jr., Carl and Gordon, and two daughters, Margaret Courtwright and Gladys McGarey.

A friend of both the high and lowly, Dr. Taylor became almost a legend in India. He was a man of faith and action, a good example of the kind of Christian of whom James writes, “I will show thee my faith by my works.” Nothing was too hard or sacrificial for him if, by doing it, he could help ease the physical or spiritual suffering of his fellowman. He especially ministered to the poor and downtrodden people in the villages of Northern U.P., India. His work varied from village evangelism, medical clinic work, relief work during the awful days of partition between India and Pakistan, to the founding in 1945 of the Children’s Home and Baby fold for the children of leprous parents in Bhogpur, which is now under the direction of his son, Gordon, and which now houses some 200 children. Dr. Taylor had the joy of seeing a number of these children come to know Christ as their personal Saviour and then go out to serve Him full time. Several of the children studied in the Theological Seminary at Roorkee and are now preaching the Gospel in India, and several more are now students at that Seminary. Others have gone into other fields of service where they are also witnessing for the Lord whom they came to know while at the Children’s Home.

During his semi-retirement, Dr. Taylor wrote of his experiences in India, which have been published in book form, India—Dr. John Taylor Remembers. This book reflects his touch with people, an essential ingredient in the life of any servant of Christ.

taylorDr_wPaulTaylor_1948Dr. Taylor was a valued member of the Saharanpour Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, and served his last years on the field under World Presbyterian Missions. To those who had the privilege of serving with him in India, he was a tower of strength and wisdom in so many matters concerning the work; but he was more than this—he was a kind and loving friend and counselor and a true “brother in Christ.” To many of the Indian Christians he was like a father. To the struggling National churches he was a guide and stay and inspiration. We rejoice that God gave him the great joy of seeing the beautiful church building at Bhogpur finished and used for the worship of Christ, before he retired from active missionary work in India. This building was erected largely through the efforts of Dr. and Mrs. Taylor and will be a continuing memorial of their sacrificial service for Christ and the people of India.

No doubt Dr. Taylor has entered with great joy into the presence of Jesus Christ, his Lord and Saviour, and has heard him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

The General Synod and World Presbyterian Missions are happy to pay tribute to such a saint of the Lord. We thank God upon every remembrance of him. “He being dead, yet speaketh.”

[excerpted from The Minutes of the 152nd General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, 1974, pp. 157-158.]

Words to Live By:
Please take the above testimony as a good reminder to pray for our many missionaries, wherever they may be serving.

A bit of explanation on that last photo, above:

The little boy, Paul, pictured in the arms of Dr. Taylor was their adopted child. In the little booklet, Memories of Paul, Dr. Taylor tells the story of how Paul came to be a member of the Taylor family. He begins:

“It was on February 2, 1948 when a Hindu leper came to us in Roorkee, asking us to take his child. For five months we had been working in Refugee Camps. We were now ready to go back into our own District work. How could we take a small, sick baby at a time like this? It seemed absolutely impossible. Yet, our hearts went out in pity for this poor leper and his child. The father knew, and we knew, that the child could not live if he kept him. Here was a little child brought to our very door. Christ said: “Forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God.” So we took him and called him Paul. He was born September 19, 1947 in Rishikesh (nine miles from our Children’s Home in Bhogpur) where a group of lepers had built themselves little huts on the banks of the Ganges River. They made their living by begging from pilgrims on the street. A devastating flood had washed away most of their homes. In this dire condition most of them became sick and died, among them Paul’s mother. He was two months old at the time. For the next two months the father did the best he could to raise his baby. When he gave Paul to us he turned over an old, rusty cigarette tin, in which there was some dirty, clabbered milk, which he was feeding to Paul. Paul was so undernourished and weak that it seemed to us as though every breath might be his last. We tried to get one of our Christian women to take him while we went to camp, but no one would touch him, even though we offered to pay a salary and provide the milk. So, we took him to camp with us…”

Home Religion in Colonial America
by Rev. David T. Myers

In the years prior to the American Revolution, Presbyterians were already emigrating into Western Pennsylvania with their families. This was no easy move on their part. Native Indian tribes were resistant to this westward expansion. The further these Presbyterians moved away from civilization, the fewer helps and conveniences moved with them. More than that, these pioneers often left behind the anchor of an ordained ministry of the gospel.

In 1772, the Presbytery of Donegal appointed the Rev. David McClure to take a spiritual tour of Presbyterians west of the Allegheny mountains.  We know very little about him as a person.  He was from Ulster, or northern Ireland as we know it today.  Some said he was from Londonderry, Ulster.  He had traveled to Rhode Island, and then come down to the middle colonies.  First sent to the Delaware Indians, they had rejected his message of salvation.  So he became an itinerant minister and thus was open to the trip west for the Presbytery.

Writing a remarkable diary, he observed once that “truly the people here in this new country are as sheep scattered upon the mountains without a shepherd.  May the good Lord raise up and send forth faithful laborers into this past of His vineyard.”   He didn’t have long to wait for the fulfillment of that prayer.

Notice his words on April 8, 1773.  He comments in his diary, “The inhabitants west of the Appalachian mountains are chiefly Scotch-Irish Presbyterians.  They are either natives of the north of Ireland, or the descendants of such and removed here from the middle colonies. There are some Germans, English, and Scotch. The Presbyterians are generally well indoctrinated in the principles of the Christian religion.  The young people are taught by their parents and school masters, the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, and almost every family has the Westminster Confession of Faith, which they carefully study.”

Along with the Bible and the Westminster Standards, usually the Scotch-Irish families of the wilderness possessed Thomas Boston’s Fourfold State, and one of the commentaries, such as Matthew Henry.  With these within their grasp, time in the morning and evening of each day would be set aside for reading and prayers and memory work.  When a traveling pastor would come through, like David McClure, he would spend time asking the family members questions from the Bible and the Standards. Those who answered faithfully would be given communion tokens, upon which they would turn in and receive communion on the Lord’s Day.  Those who failed in their spiritual understanding would not receive the token and would be sufficiently warned to do better in their Christian experience the next time a minister would visit.

It was serious business being a Christian in colonial times.

Words to Live By:  What place does the Word of God and the Westminster Standards have in your home?  Are they strangers to the members of your family?  Do they have just a nodding acquaintance with you?  Or do they form the backbone of your faith and life?  It is not without purpose that our historical devotionals in this year’s reading include both Scripture and Standards on a day-by-day basis.  Apply them to your family members and their age groups, so as to bring back the early Presbyterian practice of being trained up in the fear of the Lord.

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 13-14.

Q.13.  Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?

A. Our first parents being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.


Freedom of their own will.—At full liberty to do as they pleased.

Estate wherein they were created.—The state or condition in which God first placed them.


Here we have three points of information:

1. That our first parents were left to the freedom of their own will.—Genesis 3:6. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes—she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.

2.That they fell from the estate wherein they were created.—Genesis 3:8. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God, among the trees of the garden.

3. That our first parents fell by sinning against God.—Ecclesiastes 7:29. God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

Q. 14. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the law of God.


Want of conformity unto the law.—Not being or doing what the law of God requires.

Transgression of the law.—Doing what is forbidden by the law, or what God commands us not to do.


In this answer we are taught two things:

1. That even the want of conformity to the law of God is sin.—Romans 8:7. The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

2. That actual transgression of the law is also sin.—I John 3:4. Sin is the transgression of the law.

A Long Tradition Carries On
by Rev. David T. Myers

A new church was born on this date, April 6, 1965, at ten o’clock in the morning. Actually, it was not a new church but simply the merging of two historic Presbyterian bodies dating back to the formation of our country. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church [1956-1965] had come out of the stream of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America [organized in 1789]. The Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod [1833-1965] had come out of the Scottish Covenanter heritage. Both churches had been courting each other from 1957 to 1964 with continual contact.

Each denomination held dearly to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as being the inspired Word of God, without error in whole and part, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Each church body held to the subordinate standards of the Westminster Assembly as being a summary of the teaching of the Old and New Testaments. They proclaimed the good news of salvation to a lost world as the only  hope of reconciliation with the holy God. The fundamentals of historic Christianity, being only Scripture, only Christ, only grace, only faith, and only to the glory of God, were part and parcel of their belief structure.

Each church had been weathered by internal divisions in their past history. In the case of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, they had the experience of coming out of the apostasy of the mainline Presbyterian church in the mid 1930’s, where a stand for the fundamentals of the faith translated out to being deposed by the modernists who had gained control of the church. This Church begin in 1938 as a split from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church over issues of eschatology and Christian liberty as well as independent agencies versus synod control agencies; then in 1955, further issues such as truth in Christian living and questions about separation from brethren, brought about yet another division, creating what was initially called the Bible Presbyterian Church, Columbus Synod, later renamed in 1961 as the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Are we confused yet?

In the case of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod, the issue in 1833 was basically the relationship of the church to the civil government. They had no problem supporting the Declaration of Independence in 1776, but the Constitution a dozen or so years later was another matter. Should its members vote, for example, in a country which did not recognize itself as a Christian nation?  Should they serve on juries, with oaths involved? Should they serve in the armed forces? Should exclusive psalmody be the standard of  worship services? All these were questions which were asked, debated, and voted upon by the church.

Finally, when these two bodies, the EPC and the RPC,GS met together in 1965 at Covenant College, the issues had been faced squarely by godly men for eight years. Both churches voted for the merger and combined their names into  the Reformed Presbyterian Church Evangelical Synod (RPCES).

Words to Live By:  The Psalmist David proclaimed words of wisdom for all church bodies and Christians when  he wrote “BEHOLD, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (KJV – Psalm 133:1). In point of fact, it had been the long standing tradition of the RPC,GS to sing Psalm 133 at each meeting of their annual General Synod. The newly created RPCES gladly took up this tradition and carried it on, until that day in 1982 when the RPCES became a part of the PCA. And since that time, the PCA now concludes every General Assembly with the singing of that same Psalm 133. May that continue as our prayer even today, that brethren would dwell together in unity!


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  1. LeRoy Christoffels’s avatar

    I am confused by today’s entry, especially the paragraph here:
    Each church had been weathered by internal divisions in their past history. In the case of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, they had the experience of coming out of the apostasy of the mainline Presbyterian church in the mid 1930’s, where a stand for the fundamentals of the faith translated out to being deposed by the modernists who had gained control of the church. Then in 1938 and 1956, further issues over eschatology and Christian liberty as well as independent agencies verses synod control agencies, truth in Christian living, and questions about separation from brethren, brought into existence the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in 1961.
    If the EPC began in 1961 and they had been having merger talks with the Reformed Presbyterians from 1957 until that merger in 1965, what entities were actually talking with each other? Which body actually came out of the PCUSA in the 1930’s other than Orthodox Presbyterians and eventually from them the Bible Presbyterian church? Or is the later the origin of the 1961 EPC? If someone can clarify this for me, it would be appreciated. Thanks!

  2. Vaughn Edward Hathaway Jr’s avatar

    Are you all disregarding the existence of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church under the name of the Bible Presbyterian Church, Columbus Synod, that was either formed in 1956 or was identified as a separate Synod of the Bible Presbyterian Church in that year? Are you dating the founding of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church simply upon the change of its name?

    Please note that I am not entering into the issue of which Synod of the BPC should be considered the continuing Synod. There are arguments about those identities on both sides. Essentially, therefore, there was a separation that took place in 1956 in what had been known as the Bible Presbyterian Church since 1938 into two Synods, each claiming the name of Bible Presbyterian. There was the Bible Presbyterian Church, Columbus Synod, taking its name from the city where the 1956 General Synod had been held; and there was the Bible Presbyterian Church, Collingswood Synod, taking its name from the location of perhaps the lead church of the group that took that identity on the basis that the Columbus Synod had been called unconstitutionally.

    N.B., I am asserting only the fact that this was the claim of the Collingswood Synod.

    I do think it was a wise and gracious action that the Columbus Synod gave up the use of the name Bible Presbyterian Church by renaming itself the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, providing for the identity of the body that merged with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod.

    As conservative Presbyterians we can look back on those days and those actions with a little self-criticism and not a little humor for our antecedents simply added to the soup that Francis Schaeffer had called Split-P.

  3. archivist’s avatar

    The author is speaking here from a bit of an insider’s familiarity. The OPC began in 1936 as a small group of conservatives left the PCUSA. But internal differences brought a further division in 1938 when the Bible Presbyterian Church was formed out of the OPC. In 1955/56, the BPC split into the Bible Presbyterian Church, Collingswood Synod (the smaller third of the BPC) and the Bible Presbyterian Church, Columbus Synod (roughly 2/3’s of the undivided BPC). So you had two BPC’s, and the Columbus Synod people finally got tired of the confusion and took the EPC name in 1961. Meanwhile, they had also been engaged in merger talks with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod (aka, New Light) since 1957. That merger finally occurred in 1965. And just to keep history confusing, an entirely unrelated group of conservatives leaving the UPCUSA in 1982 took the name Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

The Foreigners Who Loved Korea
by Rev. David T. Myers

One of the earliest foreign missionaries to Korea, and the first ordained one, Horace Grant Underwood definitely felt the call to be a missionary. Born in London in 1859, he came to the United States with his parents when he was thirteen years of age. Graduating from New York University in 1881, he entered graduate school at the Dutch Reformed Theological Seminary in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  After a brief time as a pastor, he thought that the hordes of unbelievers in India would be his calling. But the American Presbyterian Mission Board wanted him to go to Korea. And so he submitted himself to his spiritual brethren, and traveled to the Far East.

Korea at that time wasn’t safe for foreigners, much less missionaries of the gospel. So he spent some time in Japan first. There he met a Korean Christian who taught him the Korean language as well as giving him a translation of the Gospel of Mark in Korean. God was preparing him for his life-long work.

Landing in Inchon on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1885, he still lacked permission from the authorities to do mission work. So he worked with the medical center of missionary doctor Horace Allen, teaching physics and chemistry. That educational experience would be duplicated in the rest of his thirty-one year missions work in Korea.

Driven by an intense zeal for missionary work, Rev. Underwood would not only plant churches, but also created elementary schools in each district he visited. If the need was a high school, then such a school would be begun. An orphanage was organized the following year of 1886. The higher grades were not neglected. Chosun Christian College was organized in 1915, which is now called Yonsei University, one of the premier educational institutions in modern-day Korea. Horace Underwood was the first president.

Pastor Underwood was interested in communicating the gospel in their own language. So the entire New Testament was translated in Korean in 1900 with the Old Testament in 1910. A Korean hymnal was composed in 1894.

All of these missions work was done as a single missionary. Lilias Horton, a medical doctor, came into his life before long. After marriage,  he went on a joint honeymoon–missions a tour of Korea. He preached the Word of God to their souls. She healed their bodies with medicine.

Dr. Underwood died in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1916. True to his commitment to Korea, his body was transported to Korea to be buried in his adopted land. His wife survived him by five years. They were truly the foreigners who loved Korea.

Words to Live By:  The apostle Paul gave the original charge when he said in 1 Corinthians 9:22b, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” Try this week to so identify (but not of course in their sinfulness) with your lost relatives and neighbors so as to share the gospel with them.

A Full Defense of his Opinions

knoxJohn02In February 1549, after an imprisonment of 19 months, Knox obtained his release from the French galleys. Since he probably obtained his freedom due to the intercession of King Edward VI or the English government (they had been negotiating for the release of English and Scottish protestant prisoners in exchange for French prisoners), he came to London, and was favorably received by Archbishop Cranmer and the lords of council. He remained in England for five years, during which time he was first appointed preacher to Berwick, then to Newcastle.

At Berwick, where he labored for two years, he preached with his characteristic fervor and zeal, exposing the errors of Romanism with unsparing severity. Although Protestantism was the official position of the Church of England since the reign of Henry VIII, there were many loyal Roman Catholics (papists), even in the high ranks of the clergy. The bishop of John Knox’s diocese, Dr. Cuthbert Tunstall, was an avid Catholic. Knox was accused of asserting that the sacrifice of the Mass is idolatrous, and was cited to appear before the bishop to give an account of his preaching. On April 4, 1550, Knox entered into a full defense of his opinions, and with the utmost boldness proceeded to argue that the mass is a superstitious and idolatrous substitute for the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. (vol. 3 of History 54,-56). The bishop did not venture to pronounce any ecclesiastical censure.

The fame of the preacher was only extended by this feeble attempt to restrain his boldness. From a manuscript discovered in the 1870’s titled, “The practice of the Lord’s Supper used in Berwick by John Knox, 1550,” we now know that the very beginning of Puritan practice in the Church of England in the administration of the Lord’s Supper is to be found in the practice followed by Knox at Berwick, inasmuch as he substituted common bread for the bread wafers, and gave the first example of substituting sitting instead of kneeling in the receiving of communion.

“It was during this time [1553] that John Knox developed a theology of resistance to tyranny. He began smuggling pamphlets into England. The most significant of these was the Admonition to England. With this move, he had stepped into new territory, going further than any Reformer had previously gone.”–Francis Schaeffer, from A Christian Manifesto

Words to Live By:
We Presbyterians owe much to John Knox and we would profit greatly from taking up a fresh study of his life and writings. 2014 was the 500th anniversary of his birth, and so we had many posts last year on facets of his ministry. In his time, he stood resolutely for the Scriptures and was greatly blessed of God to bring about real change in his nation. Even now God has placed among us those who can and are speaking with bold testimony to the eternal truths of the Gospel. We need not name them. We cannot name them all. But we can all remember to pray for those whom the Lord will use for His glory in these trying times. May the Lord give us strong voices to faithfully declare His Word.

Psalm 20
The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble;
the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;
Send thee help from the sanctuary,
and strengthen thee out of Zion;
Remember all thy offerings,
and accept thy burnt sacrifice; Selah.
Grant thee according to thine own heart,
and fulfil all thy counsel.
We will rejoice in thy salvation,
and in the name of our God we will set up our banners:
the Lord fulfil all thy petitions.
Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed;
he will hear him from his holy heaven
with the saving strength of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses:
but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought down and fallen:
but we are risen, and stand upright.
Save, Lord:
let the king hear us when we call.

Come Over and Help Us
by Rev. David T. Myers

The first two Presbyterian ministers to come to the middle parts of the American colonies were Francis Doughty and Matthew Hill. The former had immigrated from Massachusetts in 1637 where his Presbyterian and Reformed convictions brought him into difficulty with the Independents in that colony. He, his elder, and some of the Presbyterian adherents found refuge among the Dutch in Long Island, later New York, where they sought to establish another Presbyterian church. It was successfully begun in 1642, but a war with the Indians caused the whole congregation to move to Manhattan for safety. Francis Doughty became the first Presbyterian pastor to minister in the city of New York. For the next five years, he would minister not only to Presbyterians on that island, but also to tiny groups of Presbyterians in Maryland and Virginia. It was said that he carried on his Master’s work in spite of difficulties of every kind.

Matthew Hill later continued the work that Doughty began. Born in England, Rev. Hill labored there after college until the Church of England forced him out of the ministry. Moving to the colonies with a Bible, a concordance, and a few clothes, he began his ministry in Maryland in 1669. On April 3 of that same year, he wrote a letter to Richard Baxter in England with a plea regarding the wide and effective door for ministry in the new land. Listen to some of his words:

“Divine providence hath been pleased to land my foot on a province of Virginia called Maryland. Under (this) government, we have enjoyed a great deal of liberty. We have many of the Reformed religion who have a long while lived as sheep without a shepherd. We have room for more ministers because we are where the people and the plantations are the thickest. It is judged by some, that two or three itinerant preachers with no dependence on the people for maintenance would be eminently instrumental among them. We cannot but judge it (as a) duty to come over and help us. Sir, I hope your own inclination will be advocate enough to plead the cause of this poor people and engage you to improve your interest on our behalf with some of our brethren in the work of the Lord.”

Pleading in words similar to the original “Macedonian call,” Matthew Hill evidenced the heart of a true missionary in asking this influential Reformed pastor in England to send all the ministerial help they could use. And speaking from the advantage hindsight, knowing the history that effort, we know that much help did come in the way of both ministers and members to advance the cause of Christ through the Presbyterian faith.

Words to Live By:  Our Lord Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 9:37, 37, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (ESV)  Each of us should be earnest in prayer, but we would particular invite those among our readers who are now retired to take up a special concern, praying that the Lord will literally thrust out laborers into the spiritual fields which are white unto harvest.

An Indiana Boy Reassures His Parents About Morality
by Rev. David T. Myers

The young seventeen year old soldier in the One Hundredth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers was seeking to quiet his parent’s fears about his character and conduct now that he was in the Union Army. So he took pencil and paper in hand to write them in Bellefone, Alabama on this day, April 2, 1864 to assure them that his strict Presbyterian upbringing was not all in vain.

His name was Theodore Upton. His Indiana parents were Christian Presbyterians, but they were far from the scene of his presence now. He was writing them to reassure his beloved dad and mom about such matters of drinking, swearing, and gambling, and that he was not involved in them at all.

It wasn’t a case for Theodore Upton that he had all the time in the world to engage in these sins. Before the War was over, young Theodore would fight at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and General Sherman’s March Through Georgia. But what was the practice when they were not engaged in warfare, was the question of the godly parents.

In this letter, young Theodore deals with drinking, profanity, gambling, and other assorted evils. They exist, he stated to his beloved parents, but not by himself or any others in the Indiana Regiment. Young Theodore stated “As for myself, I am too proud to dabble in mud and mire. So do not worry, Father mine, I am not going to the dogs, neither are any other of the boys you know.”

Words to Live By:

For the past fifteen years, this author has had the privilege of attending the Army Protestant Chapel on Carlise Barracks, in Carlisle Pennsylvania. Now granted, the Army officers and enlisted men and women attending are not representative of every religious chapel in the Armed Services of the United States. But they are remarkable in their Christian convictions and conduct, and I have been much impressed over their testimonies for Christ and His Word.

Pray much for our Presbyterian chaplains in all branches of the military, that they will be faithful to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Pray for the leadership of the Rev. James Carter, as he oversees with others the ministry of our military officer chaplains that much spiritual fruit will come forth as they in peace time and war time spread the Gospel of grace and love to soldiers all over the world.

Our story is derived from an account in The Blue and the Gray, edited by Henry Steel Commager—“The Story of the Civil War as told by Participants” page 418, letter by Theodore Upton to his parents.

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