September 2019

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Attempt to Bind the Conscience Sadly Successful

I suppose it was a solemn scene in man’s eyes when the Special Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of West* Jersey met on September 10, 1935.  But in God’s eyes, surely God’s Spirit was grieved when this judicatory met to bind the conscience of a minister of the Lord Jesus for the sole reason that he had disobeyed a mandate of the General Assembly regarding his membership in an Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions.  And yet that was the censure of this presbytery regarding the pastor of the Collingswood Presbyterian Church, namely, the Rev Carl McIntire.

*[Thanks to our friend Walt for this correction: There was no “Presbytery of New Jersey” in the PCUSA. The PCUSA jurisdiction that tried Dr. McIntire was the Presbytery of West Jersey, named for the old colonial providence, whose capital was Burlington.]

There had been six charges against this minister.  But aided by his counsel consisting of Hon. James E Bennet and the Rev. H. McAllister Griffiths, Carl McIntire was acquitted of three of them.  They were: rebellion against the brethren in the church in lawful counsels, commands, and correction; conduct unbecoming a minister; and advocating rebellion against the constituted authorities in the church.  In these three, he was declared “Not Guilty.”

However, in three others, he was convicted as guilty.  They were: disapproval, defiance, and acts in contravention of the government and discipline of the church; not being zealous and faithful in maintaining the peace of the church; and violation of his ordination vows.

We have to remind ourselves again that Carl McIntire’s error, as was J. Gresham Machen’s, and others was that they dared to organize an Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions which believed in sending out only Bible-believing missionaries of the cross.  Further, that they dared to obey God rather than man, in disobeying the Mandate of the General Assembly in 1934 to cease their participation in and support for said Independent Board.

But the proverbial die was cast.  Carl McIntire was suspended from the ministry of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. until he resigned from that Independent Board and gave evidence of repentance to the Presbytery of West Jersey. If appeal was made to this ruling, then they would suspend their judgment though they held to their authority to not do so.The appeal of their decision was made on September 19, 1935 to the General Assembly.

It is interesting that one member of the Commission, Hon. Samuel Irebell, disagreed from the judgment, stating that the weight of the evidence presented was on the defendant’s side and not on the Commission’s side.

Words to live by:  What was going on here in the New Jersey Presbytery was occurring all over the land with the members of and supporters for the Independent Board of Presbyterian Foreign Missions.  When one stands up for the Word of God against unbelief, unbelieving man will try to squash your testimony. If he cannot do that, then you may suffer expulsion from the visible church.   But be faithful to God, His Word, the Great Commission, and the Reformed Faith, and He will honor you at the last, if not here, then certainly hereafter in heaven.

The First Attempt to Cross the Atlantic Ocean Failed
by Rev. David T. Myers

It was an ambitious plan to move four Presbyterian pastors and another 140 church members to the new world for religious freedom on a new ship specially built for crossing the Atlantic Ocean. That was the blessed hope and prayer of Scottish Presbyterians living in Ulster, yet under great difficulty from the Church of England. The four ministers—Robert Blair, John Livingston, James Hamilton, and John McClellan—were the spiritual leaders of the expedition. Their life and work in their congregations was being made more and more difficult. So through a letter to the Rev. Cotton Mather in New England asking whether Presbyterians could exist in that colony, and being assured that it could, plans were made.

For a ship to cross the ocean, a ship was built named Eagle Wing, based on Exodus 14;4, “Ye have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagle’s wings and brought you unto myself.” Finished at the small village of Groomsport, Ireland, it was barely large enough for the passengers to board it. With no trial run to see how it would do through rough seas, the ship and its passengers boarded it and left Carrickfergus, Ulster on September 9, 1636. Pastor Livingston commented that “there was much toil in our preparation, many hindrances in our setting out, and both sad and glad hearts in taking leave of our friends.”

Off the coast of Newfoundland, the ship was hit with a mighty hurricane featuring “mountains of water.” Springing a leak, which was fixed, the rudder next broke. A brave passenger went over the side with a rope tied to him so he could be extracted. He fixed the rudder. After a discussion among the whole body, Pastor Livingston suggested that they should wait a day to see if God would give them smooth sailing. However when that delay didn’t accomplish their wishes, they turned around and sailed back to Ulster with smooth sailing.

The first attempt to cross the ocean for Scot-Irish Presbyterians met with failure. But was it a failure? It is true, they did not get to their new place of ministry. But their presence back in Scotland strengthened the cause of Christianity. They became leaders in the new National Covenant of 1638. In Scotland and Ireland, they laid the spiritual foundation of that church which could justly claim to be the mother of the American Presbyterian Church. And after the lapse of a century or less, swarms of Scots-Irish sailed again and again to the shores of this new land, filling the colonies of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the Carolinas, and beyond, with godly Presbyterian families.

Words to Live By:
There have been occasions in all of our spiritual lives where dreams of life and ministry were frustrated by what many have called “dark providences.”  We thought that this was where God wanted us to be, or what God wanted us to do. But instead, God’s sovereign will lovingly spoke by means of a closed door. God had other plans for us, not unlike that which was spoken to the Jewish church in Babylon, where there were “plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give us a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11.) Learn the spiritual lessons behind the Eagle Wing, dear readers. As Solomon writes in Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.”

by Rev. William Smith

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 41-42.

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

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


Summarily comprehended. –Briefly contained, or shortly expressed.


In this answer we are taught two things :

  1. That there is a summary or short statement of the moral law.
  2. That this is to be found in the ten commandments. –Deut. x. 4. And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments. Matt. xix. 17. If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Q. 42. What is the sum of the ten commandments?

A. The sum of the ten commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind ; and our neighbor as ourselves.


The sum. –The substance, matter, or meaning.

To love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. –To love him far more than any other object, even as much as it is possible for us to do.

To love ourselves. –Earnestly to seek our own happiness and comfort, next to the glory of God.

To love our neighbor as ourselves. –To love every one around us, as sincerely as we do ourselves, and to do to others whatever we think they should do to us, in the same circumstances.


In this answer we are taught four things :

  1. That love is the sum and substance of all obedience. –Rom. xiii. 10. Love is the fulfilling of the law.
  2. That the first and supreme object of this love, is the Lord our God. –Matt. xxii. 37, 38. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God—This is the first and great commandment.
  3. That we must love the Lord our God with our whole heart and mind. –Matt. xxii. 37. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

4. That our neighbor and ourselves are the next, and subordinate objects of this love. –Matt. xxii. 39, 40. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Vanguard Presbyterian was organized this day, September 7, 1972. As John Edward Richards wrote, “There were ministers and churches who could not wait for the formation of the new church. Under the Presbyterian system they needed a Presbyterian home.” Richards presented the following report in Contact, the official publication of Presbyterian Churchmen United:


A significant event in the Presbyterian family occurred in Savannah, Georgia on September 7, 1972. A group of ministers and independent Presbyterian churches met and formed Vanguard Presbytery.

Early in August the Reverend Todd Allen, pastor of the Eastern Heights Presbyterian Church of Savannah, contacted the Administrator of the Steering Committee for a Continuing Presbyterian Church and requested advice and counsel with reference to his plan for calling a meeting of the representatives of independent Presbyterian churches and their pastors for the purpose of forming a presbytery that would be faithful to the Word of God and the Reformed Faith. The Steering Committee is ever ready to assist Presbyterian churches in uniting for this worthy purpose. The Administrator was glad to be of what service he could, but the credit for the accomplishment of the Vanguard Presbytery must go to the Reverend Todd Allen and others closely associated with him.

The meeting on September 7 was on a high spiritual plane, beginning with a devotional lesson from Philippians 1:1-6. The Communion service which followed was according to the Word of God and the presiding minister reminded the worshipers that the Sacrament commemorated the substitutionary atonement of our Lord for our sins.

In a most orderly fashion a temporary moderator and clerk were elected and four standing committees were “The Constitution and Service for Constituting the Presbytery”, “Naming and Chartering”, “Presbytery Organization and Schedules” and “Committee of Thanks.” The entire group united in intercession to God for His blessing upon these committees.

The feature of the afternoon meeting was an address by Attorney Owen H. Page. Mr. Page was the attorney for the Eastern Heights and Hull Memorial Churches when these churches went independent in 1966. The case went to the United States Supreme Court and was decided in favor of the local churches’ ownership of their respective properties. The case was decided on neutral principles, that is, without reference to church doctrine or government. Mr. Page stated that the vast majority of church property decisions recently rendered in various states had used the Savannah churches as the precedent effecting their decisions. (Incidentally, state laws vary greatly on the matter of church property and any local congregation wishing to assure the ownership of their church property should consult local attorneys to work out the proper legal instruments.)

The standing committees worked during the afternoon and completed their reports.

The people of the Eastern Heights Presbyterian Church graciously entertained the entire group at supper.

The concluding session of the presbytery was held at 7:00 p.m. All committee reports were unanimously adopted. Rev. Todd Allen was elected Moderator and Ruling Elder Chester Hall of the First Presbyterian Church, Louisville, Kentucky was elected temporary clerk and treasurer. The Presbytery was named “VANGUARD PRESBYTERY, a provisional presbytery for Southern Presbyterian and Reformed churches uniting.” The presbytery accepted an invitation for their November 14 meeting from the Tabb Street Independent Presbyterian Church, Petersburg, Virginia.

The meeting in Savannah was joyously Christian and was without criticism or derogatory remarks concerning any other religious group. The presbytery voted to accept the invitation of the Steering Committee for a Continuing Presbyterian Church for its moderator to become a member of that Steering Committee.

Words to live by:
The organizing meeting of the Vanguard Presbytery began with a message on the text of Philippians 1:1-6. The central truth of that message is that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

In everything that He does, God unerringly accomplishes His purpose. And here, in this text, the apostle Paul drives home the point that as the Lord has raised you up from death to a living faith in the risen Savior, so He will continue to work in you, bringing you at last to Himself in glory. God’s work is sure, and there is no condemnation for those who in Christ Jesus.

“Read history ; but read it in the light of God.”

Our post today comes from the pen of a grand Presbyterian historian, the Rev. Robert P. Kerr [1850-1923], who is pictured below on the right. Rev. Kerr was ordained to the ministry in 1874 and his first pastorate was in Lexington, Missouri. A prolific author, his best known work is perhaps THE PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF PRESBYTERIANISM. In years past we have presented some other of his shorter works in serial fashion. Today this short essay seems particularly appropriate here at the start of a new school year.


Rev. Robert P. Kerr, D.D.

[Excerpted from THE UNION SEMINARY MAGAZINE, vol. 4, no. 1 (Sept.-Oct. 1892): 10-12.] 

Human history is the resultant of the divine government, and human agency. It is divine because God rules : it is human because man is free.

The study of history is then the study of the two most important questions : What is God? and, What is man? Yes, and another not less momentous : What are the actual, and the ideal, relations between man and God?

The student of history should set out with the belief in God and his government of men. If he does not, and is honest and intelligent, he will arrive at that creed before he has gone far in the annals of humanity. The sublime order and movement forward of the history of civilization, the unvarying sequence of happiness to virtue and of misery to vice, the overruling of evil for good, the ultimate triumph of right over wrong, as well as many other splendid laws written over the face of humanity, proclaim the supreme government of God, and prove his wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

On the other hand, the study of the mass composed of individuals, and of individuals composing the mass, best reveals the nature of man. We learn from the men of other days how those of our own time would act under the same influence. The magnificent capabilities of man are seen in history–what he can attain to in knowledge, in art, in power, in character. The study of history is necessary to the right understanding of all the arts and sciences. Would a man be a soldier? he must know military annals ; a poet? he must acquaint himself with the world’s poets ; a statesman? it is indispensable that he be familiar with the rise, progress, and fall of nations, grasping the causes which have produced these effects ; would he be a theologian? the history of doctrine is second only to a knowledge of the Bible. In fact the study of history is the one great fundamental study which furnishes a foundation for acquirements in all other departments of human research.

God’s own example leads in this, for the greater part of the book of the revelation of divine truth is history. The character of God, and the nature of man, as well as the relations between God and man, are clearly set forth in this greatest of all histories. We are not to understand that God was concerned only in those portions of the history of mankind which makes up the inspired volume. God had indeed a peculiar purpose in these–the development of his plan of salvation ; but God is in all history executing his unchangeable laws, and bringing about his wise designs.

The failure to know history makes men narrow, egotistical, bigoted. Ignorance of history is shown in those who are attracted by the so-called new theology,” which is not new, but old, worn out and exploded long ago. It is doubtful that any thing new in the realm of theological discussion has been brought out during the last two hundred and fifty years. Nearly all of the novelties of our time are the old heresies of the earliest days of Christian history.

One of the best things to cultivate in the human soul is patriotism, and this, if it be intelligent and not merely sentimental, is based on a knowledge of history.

One of the strongest incentives to virtue and heroism is the examples of those who have devoted their lives to the welfare of their country, their church, and to the defence of truth, in loyalty to God. The record of their lives is the world’s greatest riches. Yes, the world’s greatest riches, not excluding the life and work of Jesus, but including it ; for all the truly good and great fall into the same catalogue with him. He ever leading because perfect, and infinitely superior because divine. His divinity lifts his life above all others however good, but not to dissociate it from theirs, and the glory of a good man is that he lives in the same cause with the Son of God.

After all, is history a meaningless tangle? Has it no order, no plan? Yes, a sublime one ; but often misunderstood because incomplete. When it is finished every intelligent creature shall see what God meant by it all. But he who reads history in the light of revealed truth, can now understand its drift, and its ultimate design. What is it? It is the vindication of God’s character impugned by Satan in his rebellion against him, which rebellion was first instituted in heaven, and afterwards imparted to earth. This vindication is not of one attribute, but of God in the fulness of his character. His truth and justice are vindicated in all the destruction of evil, and his love in the salvation of all who will be saved, at the infinite expense of his incarnation and death.

Read history ; but read it in the light of God ; and ever feel that the story as it is told is penned on the pages of time by the overruling hand of the Infinite.

A Final Covenant

Twenty-eight Presbyterians signed a final covenant on the eve of their departure from Leith, Scotland in early September, 1685. It said in part,

“That, now to leave their own native and Covenanted land by an unjust sentence of banishment for owning truth and standing by duty, studying to keep their Covenantal engagements and baptismal vows, whereby they stand obliged to resist and testify against all that is contrary to the Word of God and their Covenants; and that their sentence of banishment ran chiefly because they refused the oath of allegiance which in conscience they could not take, because in so doing they thought utterly declined the Lord Jesus Christ from having any power in His own house, and practically would by taking it, say, ‘He is not King and Head of His Church and over their consciences.’ And, on the contrary, this was to take and put in His room a man whose breadth was in his nostrils; yea, a man who is a sworn enemy to religion; an avowed papist, whom, by our Covenants; we are bound to withstand and disown, and that agreeable to Scripture: ‘When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shall possess it and shall dwell therein, and shalt say, I will see a King over me, like as all the nations that are about me, thou shalt  in any wise set him King over thee, whom the Lord thy God shalt choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set King over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.  Deut. 17:14, 15.”

To this final covenant, they signed their names.

It is not known to countless Christians today that many Presbyterians were carried from their beloved land of Scotland to the shores of this America, not as free immigrants, but as slaves. Slaves? Yes, slaves! The black African was not the only race to be transported to the new world as slaves. Joining them in that cruel trade were white Covenanters, who were removed from prisons all over the British isles, all for the sole reason that they refused to take an oath of allegiance to the King and failed to recognize the King’s authority over the church of Scotland.

On this occasion, the twenty-eight who signed the last covenant and another ninety seven Covenanters left on September 5, 1685 on the war ship “Henry and Frances” for landfall at Perth Amboy New Jersey. It was a terrible journey with the  ship carrying leaks, shortages of food and water, fever among the prisoners, resulting in 31 of the number dying and buried at sea. The captain of the ship was very cruel. When worship services were attempted to be held in the hold, the captain would throw wooden planks down to disrupt the services and injure the worshipers.

When they arrived at their destination in New Jersey, the inhabitants of Perth Amboy were inhospitable to them. However inhabitants of a further town inland, thought to be Woodbridge, received them and cared for their needs. Eventually they were able to find employment according to their gifts, not as slaves, but as free people.

Words to Live By:
Still other Covenanters continued to serve as slaves in places like South Carolina and the Barbados, which raises an interesting question. From where did the African slaves hear the Gospel of the Lord Jesus? Certainly their home land did not have it. Many believe, and studies have been made on the question, that they heard it from their fellow slaves, the Covenanters. May we who live in increasingly difficult days in these United States, with biblical Christianity under attack from all directions, remember the example of the early Covenanters, and be faithful to stand up for the gospel by our lips and lives, wherever the Lord may take us. Moreover, should the Lord take us into difficult places, may we remember that He has us there for a great purpose.

Children’s Covenant

Our post today is set in the context of the small devotional groups which arose in central and southern Scotland after the death of Richard Cameron and Donald Cargill (see July 22 and July 27). They were known as the Society People of Scotland, and we will consider their existence on December 15.  For now, this was a family oriented commitment to faith and devotion in Christ. It so permeated their spiritual lives that even the youngest of their families had a sincere belief in that faith and life.  And nowhere is this seen better than what has been called the Children’s Bond.

Fourteen young girls, the oldest of them around ten years of age, came together in Pentland outside of Edinburgh to commit  themselves to God and His Word.  One of them, Beatrix Umpherston, is thought to be the originator of the bond made between them. Precious is personal faith by any Christian, but especially precious is this seen in young girls at the dawn of their teenage years. The Bond is worth reprinting in full, as a witness to all ages.

“This is a Covenant made between the Lord and us, with our whole hearts, and to give up ourselves freely to Him without reserve, soul and body, hearts and affections, to be  His children and Him to be our God and Father, if it please the Lord to send His gospel to the land again, that we stand to this Covenant which we have written, between the Lord and us, as we shall answer at that great day. That we shall never break this Covenant which we have made between the Lord and us, that we shall stand to this Covenant which we have made; and if not, it shall be a witness against us in the great day when we shall stand before the Lord and his holy angels. O Lord, give us real grace in our hearts this day to mind Zion’s breaches which are in such low case this day: and make us mourn with her, for Thou hast said them t hat mourn with her in the time of trouble shall rejoice when she rejoiceth, when the Lord shall bring back t he captivity of Zion, when he shall deliver her out of her enemies’ hand, when her King shall come and raise her from the dust, in spirit of all her enemies that oppose  her, either devils or men. That thus, they have banished their King, Christ out of the land, yet he will arise and avenge His childrens’ blood at her enemies’ hands, which cruel murderers have shed.”

On the back of the written Covenant were found these words: “Them that will not stand to every article of this Covenant which we have made betwixt the Lord and us, that they shall not go to the Kirk to hear any of those soul-murdering curates we will neither speak nor converse with them. Any that break this Covenant, they shall never come into our Society.  We shall declare before the Lord that have bound ourselves in Covenant, to be covenanted to  Him all the days of our life, to be His children and Him to be our Covenanted Father.”

And then: “We subscribe with our hands these presents — Beatrix Umpherston, Margaret Galloway, Helen Moutray, Janet Brown, Helen Straiton, Helen Clark,  Marion Swan, Janet Swan, Margaret Brown, Janet Brown, Isobel Craig, Margaret McMoren, Martha Logan, Christian Laurie, Agnes Aitken.

It would be neat to trace the development of each young person who signed this Covenant.  We only have discovered one follow-up, that of the first signer, Beatrice Umpherston.  He eventually married a Covenanter pastor by the name of John M’Neil.  God gave  her a long life in service for Christ.  She died when she was 90 years old, on this day, September 4, 1763 and was buried in Old Pentland Cemetery, Scotland.

Words to Live By:
Is there not a spiritual lesson for us readers today, pastors or lay people?  If the church is to recover her spiritual soul and be a powerhouse for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, then she must surely work toward,  and pray for, a family faith in the Triune God to be existent in our homes.  Fathers and Mothers of This Day in Presbyterian History, is your family  setting the Lord Jesus first in all that you believe and do?  Pastors and Ministers of This Day in Presbyterian History, is your congregation aiding the family to be Christian families in the world today?  Would/Could any similar covenant by our children and teenagers today be similar in commitment as this Children’s Bond was written?  Lord God, we pray for the Christian families of America, and especially those represented by our Presbyterian churches.

Congregational Cows and Presbyterian Butter
by Rev. David T. Myers

There were no roads west of Buffalo, and few boats upon Lake Erie when those first settlements began to be formed in the region of the Western Reserve, also known as the Connecticut Reservation. Immigrants had to work their way through forests and over the rivers and marshes of the intervening wilderness as best they could.

The Rev. William Wick was one of the first two ministers to settle in the territory of the Western Reserve, the other being a Congregational pastor by the name of Joseph Badger. Wick, a Presbyterian, belonged to the Synod of Pittsburgh. In those early days, the Christians of the Reserve were too glad to meet any with whom they could hold Christian fellowship, than to ask after each other’s ecclesiastical connections and sentiments. And the minister who, coming amongst them, preached Christ and Him crucified, did not need to preach denominationalism, in order to secure their attention and affection.

In the absence of churches they gathered together in cabins, shop, or school-house, to mingle their worship and study the Word of God. And when a missionary visited a settlement, all rallied around him to hear the Word of Life.

In those early years, so heartily did Presbyterians and Congregationalists unite in their new missionary enterprises, that a difference was hardly recognized amongst them.

The first minister who came to the Western Reserve and the first to be installed as a pastor in this field, was the Rev. William Wick. Mr. Wick was born at Southhampton, Long Island, on June 29, 1768. The son of Lemual and Deborah (Luptein) WIck, he was a lineal descendant of the Pilgrim fathers. He was brought up in New York City, and subsequently removed, with his father’s family, to Washington county, Pennsylvania, later receiving his collegiate education at Jefferson College, Canonsburg, PA. On April 21, 1791, he was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth McFarland, youngest daughter of Colonel Daniel McFarland, an officer of the Continental army during the Revolutionary war. Her mother’s maiden name was Sarah Barber. Her father emigrated to Washington county at the close of the war, and settled on a large tract of land on what was called Lower Ten-Mile creek.

In those days there was a great call for ministers, and Dr. McMillan sought out, among others, Mr. Wick, who, through the Doctor’s influence, finally left his farm, and began a course at the Cannonsburg Academy, as Dr. McMillan’s humble log cabin school was called. Wick was counted among the first class in theology taught by McMillan, and he completed his studies in 1797. Mr. Wick was licensed to preach on the 28th of August, 1799, and preached his first sermon at Youngstown, Ohio, the field of his future ministerial labors, on the first of September following his licensure.

Having accepted calls from Neshannock and Hopewell congregations, in Mercer county, Pa., he was ordained by the Presbytery and installed as pastor of these congregations on September 3, 1800. During 1801 he was released from the charge of Neshannock and installed for one-half his time as pastor of the congregation at Youngstown, Ohio. His labors were principally confined to Youngstown and Hopewell, though he occasionally worked in the missionary field. He was the first permanent minister in the Western Reserve of Ohio.

Rev. Wick was connected with the Hartford Presbytery and the Synod of Pittsburgh, these being the nearest courts with which he could connect. His initial aid probably came from the Presbytery, though afterwards he received an appointment from the Congregationalist Connecticut Missionary Society. The first mention of this support is dated April 27, 1807, in a letter from the Rev. Calvin Chapin, who had visited the Reserve. One result of his visit was the proposal that if the Hartford Presbytery would furnish ministers for the Reserve, the Connecticut Society would support them.

So long as orthodoxy prevailed, the spirit of love to Christ also rose above local and sectarian prejudice, drawing together all who were interested in seeing Christ’s kingdom advance in the new territory. The Connecticut brethren did not stop to think and inquire whether the “milk from their Congregational cows, might now be churned into Presbyterian butter” by the Synod of Pittsburgh!

Mr. Wick labored for some time as a missionary under the patronage of the Connecticut Society. His last commission, dated Hartford, Jan. 17, 1815, was as follows:

“Rev. Sir—You are hereby appointed Missionary by the Trustees of the Missionary Society of Connecticut, for the term of one year, unless sooner recalled by the Board; to labor for such a part of the time as you can be spared from your stated charge, in New Connecticut and such other parts of Ohio, as you shall think it expedient to visit.
In the name of the Trustees.
ABEL FLINT, Secretary.”

The above commission, though not “recalled by the Board,” was soon recalled by a higher authority. Rev. Wick preached his last sermon on the 13th of February following. He was now in extremely feeble health. At Hopewell the congregation was invited to his home, and addressed by him, after he became too feeble to go out. His death occurred on the 29th of March, 1815, at the age of 48 years.

At his own request he was buried at Youngtown, Ohio. It is recorded on his tombstone that during his ministry he preached one thousand five hundred and twenty-two sermons, and married fifty-six couples. He was the father of eight sons and three daughters, most of them now deceased. It is noted that his oldest son, William Watson Wick j[1786-1868], served in Congress as a U.S. Representative from Indiana.

In person, Rev. Wick was tall and thin in flesh. His disposition was calm, mild and amiable, sometimes sorrowful, but never angry. In his theology, he was what was then called a “General Atonement” man; though not so much a stickler for doctrines, as for consistent practice and devoted earnest piety.

His beloved wife, Mrs. Elizabeth (McFarland) Wick, lived “till about 1835. She was a woman of strong faith, clear views, deeply pious, had mor ethan ordinary perseverance, and died as the Christian dies.”

As Rev. Wick labored part of the time in Pennsylvania, and had from the first a stated charge, he acted perhaps a less prominent part in forming the churches on the Reserve, than some others; but he left his mark, and such a one as a good man would wish to leave. It is noteworthy that this first minister settled upon the Reserve, was settled for life. Many an early settler remembered and spoke with affection of the ministerial labors of good “Willie Wick.”

Words to Live By:
Each of us, every man and woman, has a place in the kingdom of God. Some may be first to put their hand to a work; others may follow to carry on. No one is indispensable, yet each one of God’s dear children is loved and watched over by the Lord of all creation. (Matt. 6:25-34). It remains to each of us to labor to the glory of our one Lord and to the advancement of our one faith. Do the work that God has set before you, and exhort one another to live lives that honor the Lord who has called us by His grace and mercy.

It was on this day, September 2d, in 1937 that an article appeared on the pages of The Christian Beacon, a tribute to Dr. J. Gresham Machen, written by one who knew him well, Rev. H. McAllister Griffiths. Regrettably, when I looked, this particular issue of The Christian Beacon was not available to me. But as the article was actually published in serial form, in five parts, I will take the liberty to instead reproduce here an earlier portion of this tribute, Part IV, from the August 26, 1937 issue. Even in serial form, this section of it is lengthy and I can only give our readers selected portions:—

I have carefully read the tributes paid to Dr. Machen since his death, by both friend and foe. Some of the former were poured from the white crucible of great and sudden grief. Others, while recognizing his greatness, were written by those who, per se, were incapable of understanding the relation of his character to the cause that was the passion of his whole being. But not any of them all, I feel, has been able quite to grasp and to convey the combination of qualities that made him the man he was. I certainly do not pretend to be able to do so now, but shall do the best, chiefly, that I can.

machen02As I remember long years of intimate association, the quality that stands out most clearly was Dr. Machen’s deep, Christian humanity. God gave him mental powers of a supreme order, and he developed them and used them in the service of the Giver. Though God in this particular set him apart from other men, he never set himself apart from other men. He was deeply and genuinely human. Like us he knew hours of exaltation and disappointment. He was profoundly humble when he had every natural inducement not to be. Nor was it that assumed humility which is so offensive, but a true humility which came from the very center of his being. It had its roots, without any doubt, in the great experience of having prostrated himself at the foot of the Cross. He had learned the love of Christ at the knee of a Christian mother, an unusually gifted and cultured lady who exercised a consecrated influence over both his mind and soul. But if his Christian experience did not come like sudden lightning, it was nevertheless like a luminous and always present pillar of fire in his soul. He loved Isaac Watts’ hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, and in it the words ‘And pour contempt on all my pride’ were peculiarly characteristic of his life. He was always, everywhere, whatever he was doing, a sinner saved by grace. From this as a center every activity and interest of his life radiated in concentric circles. Because of it he had an almost infinite capacity for friendship, loved, as Ben Jonson said of Shakespeare, ‘little short of idolatry’ by those who knew him well. He would, of course, have repudiated any affection for him which took the place of that owed to God. But in his friendships he gave himself without stint, both in counsel and in more material ways if his friends were in trouble and need. And there were others who had bitterly attacked him, who, when they were in want, were the recipients of his help sent through third parties who were strictly charged never to reveal the source of the gift.

Dr. Machen’s chief intellectual characteristic was not his great learning (concerning which he was not in the least self-conscious) but was perhaps his passion for consistency. If he was right he wanted to be right all the way. He had the most orderly mind of any man I ever knew. No one could read The Origin of Paul’s Religion (his greatest book, I think) without being reminded of the progress of a supremely led army over a varied terrain, with each objective clearly defined and occupied on schedule. Not an inch of ground that was not covered, and when one arrived at the end of the book, one felt like an eye-witness of a brilliantly conceived and consummated military campaign. But how the analogy breaks down as one finds in the book not merely the progress of a relentlessly ordered mind, but the beating of a heart filled to over-flowing with love for Christ and those for whom He died!

I have spoken before of the love which Dr. Machen drew from so many. He had friends because he knew how to be a friend. The acknowledged leader of a movement he always treated his associates not as underlings but as equals. A man of wide and broad culture he exerted a charm that was spontaneous and genuine because it was not a matter of the surface merely, but like everything else about him, sprang from his heart. And he possessed that saving grace, a sense of humor. A man who can laugh at himself at times, is in good mental health.

When he died it was with his harness on. (The word ‘harness’ refers to the armor worn by soldiers in ancient and medieval times, not to that worn by horses.) He literally spent himself in the cause he loved, used up his reserves of strength, and fell the easy victim to sudden disease brought on by a quick change from a warm to sub-zero climate when he was already suffering with a heavy cold. Now, in God’s inscrutable providence, he has gone to be with Christ. To many of us it was a bitter separation and tragedy. But I can never forget the sermon Dr. Machen preached at the funeral of the gifted young minister, Henry Atkinson, in Wildwood, New Jersey. His work was done, said Dr. Machen. We could not see it. But God did, else He would not have taken His servant home. And so it is now with the one who that day preached the sermon. His work, though we could not see it, was done. God had higher uses and greater blessings for him there in ‘the deep wells of light’ where he can rest his eyes forever on the face of the Lord he loved, all earth’s dissonance forgotten in the Beatific Vision.

[Words to Live By:]
It is something to have known such a man, for they come out rarely on the human scene. May all of us, who loved him be the better for it. Despite the differences which separate some of us who once fought the battle shoulder to shoulder under his leadership, may we differ, when we must, not as enemies. Holding the truth as we see it in utmost fidelity, let us always comport ourselves as Christian brethren who owe a duty to ‘Christ’s little ones’ and who stand upon a common level as only sinners saved by grace.

[excerpted from The Christian Beacon, Vol. II, No. 29 (26 August 1937): 1, 2, 8.

by Rev. William Smith

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 39 and 40.

Q. 39. What is the duty which God requireth of man?

A. The duty which God requireth of man is obedience to his revealed will.


Duty. –See Explication, Q. 3.

Obedience. —A doing cheerfully what God commands, because he requires it.

Revealed will. —God’s commandments, designs, and intentions, made known to us in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.


In this answer we are taught two things :

  1. That God requires obedience of man. —Jer. vii. 23. This thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice.
  2. That the rule of man’s obedience is God’s revealed will. —Micah. vi. 8. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Q. 40. What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?

A. The rule which God at first revealed to man, for his obedience, was the moral law.


Obedience. —See Explication above for Q. 39

Moral Law. —That law which directs us in the performance of our duty both to God and to man, and which is therefore a rule of conduct for all mankind.

In this answer we are taught,

That the moral law was prescribed by God to man, at the very first, or at the creation, for directing his conduct. —Rom. ii. 14, 15. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law; these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves. Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts.

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