Organized in a Presbyterian Church Basement
by Rev. David T Myers

After a stirring sermon to the some 250 members of Second United Presbyterian Church of Allegheny, Pennsylvania by the pastor, Rev. John Barr Clark, he challenged the male members to rise to the challenge of preserving the Union by returning on Monday night to the church basement. They did and the 123rd Pennsylvania regiment was organized for nine months of service in the Civil War. The pastor became the Colonel of the regiment.

John Barr Clark was born in Ohio on October 9, 1827. After suitable training by Christian parents, he attended Franklin College at New Athens, Ohio, graduating in 1848. In the fall of the same year, he entered the Associate Theological Seminary to train for the Lord’s work. Graduating in 1851, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Muskingum and sent at a missionary to Detroit, Michigan! Laboring as an evangelist, he organized a church there with three hundred members. Leaving it, he went to the Presbyterian Church of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, where he also had a successful pastorate. Released by his own request after ministering for several years, he became the pastor of the Second United Presbyterian congregation of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where he labored as an under shepherd until his death in 1872.

Responding to the call of President Lincoln for nine-month regiments, he and the male members of his church entered the Union Army for this short duration. However, the brief time in the Union Army included the battles of Civil War battles of Antietam, Frederickburg, and Chancellorsville! All three were Union defeats at the hands of the Confederates.

In the second battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, the One Hundred and Twenty Third Pennsylvania Regiment made a charge upon the Confederate lines which was costly in dead and wounded soldiers. Fighting in Chancellorsville, Virginia, their third battle, their time of enlistment ended, but they stayed on in the Union lines to provide strength to yet another battle. They ended their nine month service on this day, August 10, 1862.

Turning to Pittsburgh to great fanfare, the men of the regiment either re-enlisted under other regiments or retired back to their professions and families. John Barr Clark died on January 13, 1872, and is buried near Cadiz, Ohio.

Words to Live By:
Talk about serving our Lord in church and state! Many a Presbyterian pastor has done the same, ministering to civilian families and military families. John Barr Clark had a love for souls and won many to the Savior. He ministered effectively to Christian families as well. Pray much for your pastor/teacher to be effective in service with the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. In fact, contact him to inquire how you might be praying for him! Tell him that this post in Presbyterian history encouraged you to do just that. Then be faithful in prayer weekly for him, his family, and the greater congregation.

Today’s post is on missions in Persia in the late 1920’s. At that time the editor added the following prefatory note:

Persia is in the midst of many upheavals both political and religious. The Moslem world is at last awaking to the pressure of Christianity, and is realizing that it must fight to maintain its position. For this reason there is active danger to the Moslems who venture to become Christians.

And as much as I was struck by the editor’s note in our previous post, those words, though the national reference would be changed, seem all the more appropriate here, as an added preface to the following brief report.

…In this article Miss Brook emphasizes the thought that God’s key-men are “even His witnesses that He is God.” It was precisely because missionaries failed to realize that it is a greater privilege, and a greater obligation, to witness to God than to lead a soul to Christ, that there was so much evasion of that primary obligation in the Japanese Empire. Missionaries and Christians alike failed to realize that in trial comes priceless opportunity, and therefore, save for a very few, missed a glorious opportunity to testify to the very highest officials in Japan that Jehovah alone is God.

by a Persian Missionary
[THE PRESBYTERIAN, 6 January 1927, pp. 12-13.]

As is usually the case, the story of the experiences of our converts is the story of our work for the past few months. Three of them in three different places have been hazarding their lives for the sake of Christ and thrilling us with joy and anxiety. One of these men we will call A. His father was a very popular religious leader a few years ago, to such an extent that his name still survives as indicative of the location of the bath, street, bridge, and what not, most closely associated with him. Once the son of such a man accepted Christ, he would not keep the fact a secret. Almost immediately this convert requested permission to speak on his new faith in the meeting of the Sabbath-school at the city chapel. Following two such talks, brief and to the point, and marked by no disturbing consequences, he asked permission to speak at a larger public service.

He was a member of the socialist party, and soon received an official letter of inquiry relative to his conversion, which he read at this service. What did he have to say for himself? In reply, he opened the drawer of the secretary’s desk, drew out a copy of the Constitution, and asked them to read for him Article I of their programme. Article I reads, “Freedom of Convictions.” There was simply nothing to be said, and he took his stand on his constitutional rights. This incident, plus the stir that his previous testimony had made, drew a crowd of some eighty Moslems to hear him speak. I remained on the platform where I could keep an eye on the audience, and I will frankly admit that my heart pounded more blood to my brain in that half hour while he spoke than during the ordinary hour and a half.

He is rather tall, deliberate, and fine looking, and the hush that fell on that assembly as he mounted the platform, removed his white turban, and prepared to speak, could be felt. He spoke simply on the need of a religion, and necessity of making a careful investigation, and finally on the superiority of the teachings of Christ. He spoke tactfully and respectfully of the Koran, but left no doubt as to where he himself stood.

Two days later he came to us to say good-bye. Crowds of excited Moslems had gathered in the governor’s palace, informed him of A’s apostasy, and the order had gone out for his arrest. He had no thought of flight. Together we bowed in prayer, and refusing to let me go with him through the bazaars, where men were threatening to kill him, he went down to turn himself over to the police. Twenty days later, guarded by two policemen, he came out again, climbed into a waiting automobile, and was rushed off to the Persian-Iraq border, an exile, with neither passport nor money. Whenever he tried to return, his lack of a passport prevented his permission, until at last, in another city, he found a Persian consul who was a heart a Christian, and who assisted him to return to Persia, though of course not to his own town.

Of the two others whom I mentioned, we have less information. One—B—is in prison. The third—C—a member of our church here, who left for a distant city about two years ago, is holding the fort there, alone, waiting for whatever fare God may have in store for him.

For more on earlier missions to that part of the world, click here to read an article about the missionary Shushan Wright, written by my friend Barry Waugh.


A Timely Message on Prayer

This is a rare bit of early Westminster Seminary history, found in old issue of THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN ADVOCATE, dated June 1937Not three months following the death of J. Gresham Machen, the annual Day of Prayer was held on the Westminster campus in March of 1937. Arrangements had been made to have the Rev. John Cavitt Blackburn [1889-1959] present as the main speaker at the event.

Blackburn is interesting on several levels. His mother was Annie Williams Girardeau, one of the daughters of the Rev. Dr. John L. Girardeau and his father, George A. Blackburn, authored The Life Work of John L. Girardeau, D.D., LL.D.
John was educated at Columbia Theological Seminary, 1914-1918, back when the Seminary was still located in Columbia, SC. John also became quite the bibliophile. He had a significant library, built in part upon the libraries of his father and grandfather, and which collection later became a significant early addition to the library at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MS, by way of a donation from Blackburn’s widow. Rev. Blackburn’s library was apparently sizable enough that duplicates and other items even made their way to the Buswell Library at Covenant Theological Seminary.

It is also interesting to note Blackburn’s presence as indicative of a connection between Westminster Seminary and the Southern Presbyterian Church.  To engage in a bit of speculation, the invitation to have Rev. Blackburn speak at the annual Day of Prayer would have been extended months prior, probably before Machen’s death, and perhaps even by Dr. Machen himself. Without troubling ourselves to access Machen’s correspondence to confirm that idea, we do know that Dr. Machen had presented his lectures on the virgin birth of Christ at Columbia Theological Seminary, in Decatur, Georgia. These were the Thomas Smyth Lectures for 1927, and during that time, Rev. Blackburn pastored a church just twenty-some miles away. He could easily have attended those lectures. Lastly, Machen’s father served for a time as one of the trustees at the Seminary. So in light of those connections, it is entirely possible that Machen might have known Rev. Blackburn for many years prior to 1937.

by the Rev. John C. Blackburn
[excerpted from The Reformed Presbyterian Advocate, 71.6 (June 1937): 90-96, and a reprint from an earlier issue of The Presbyterian, 43 (15 May 1937): 40-42.]

This article is a summary of an address delivered at the annual Day of Prayer at Westminster Theological Seminary last March. Mr. Blackburn is a minister of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.

“The effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (James 5:16-18).

This text on prayer is chosen as appropriate to a day of prayer. It is evidently the intention of the Holy Spirit to teach more than one truth about prayer in this passage. But it shall be our purpose, today, to draw from it instruction as to what is our duty and encouragement in prayer in the present evil hour. The inspired writer sets before us Elijah, the well-known prophet of the Old Testament, “a righteous man,” whose prayers of imprecation and intercession are cited with approval as an illustration of the kind of prayer which “availeth much”—in an evil day. If we are to profit by the implicit truth of this text we will have to develop it in the light of its historical background.

The Times of Elijah

No historical era can be viewed as an age apart from the times that precede it. The evil days of Ahab were such as they were largely through predetermining causes. His reign was a sequence of a varied series of sins that reached an inevitable climax of wickedness in his reign.

To Solomon must be charged the policy that opened the door in Israel to alien evils. His “outlandish” wives influenced him into the adoption of an “inclusive policy” through which the worship of false gods was tolerated along with the worship of Jehovah. This liberal attitude brought from Jehovah the charge: “They have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of Ammon.”

Jeroboam the First inaugurated a policy of the boldest expediency. His program called for an alteration of the Mosaic constitution. He changed the spiritual leadership of his kingdom. “He made priests from among all the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.” “He ordained a feast for the children of Israel.” “He made houses of high places.” “All of which he had devised.” Moreover he reintroduced into Israel, as an amicable gesture to the neighboring kingdom of Egypt, the idolatrous worship of the golden calf—the Heliopolitan deity, Mnevis.

Through five regencies—Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri and Omri—the conventional, court-sponsored religion of the Northern Kingdom flowed with increasing corruption. Against each of these kings, without exception, can be found the condemning words of the sacred chronicler of Israel: “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.”

But it is in the reign of Ahab, the son of Omri, the seventh king of Israel, that the departure from Jehovah’s law reaches a fullness of iniquity that insures judgment, for “there was none like unto Ahab which did sell himself to do that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

It will be enlightening to examine the nature of the sins of that administration which provoked the righteous indignation of Elijah and brought forth the call for the rod of Jehovah’s displeasure upon His people and His land.

One sin of Ahab was sacrificing his own spiritual interests and that of his kingdom for lust. The law of Jehovah forbade matrimony with the heathen as an unholy alliance. Ahab showed his lack of principle and disregard of the commandments of the Lord by marrying Jezebel, a daughter of Ethbaal, high priest of Astarte, a cousin of Dido of Virgil’s Aeneid. This “lust match” quickly eventuated in the apotheosis of lust throughout the Northern Kingdom. The worship of Ashtoreth became court religion, the libidinous orgies of Tyre and Sidon were celebrated in Israel, and the morals of the populace degenerated and dissipated under the seductive influence of these lascivious rites.

Another sin of Ahab’s was his practice of tolerance in religion—a kind of broad-churchism, without a limit. The innovations and vanities of Jeroboam and his successors were accepted and practiced on the grounds of antiquity, tradition, and custom, while the ancient law of Sinai was made of none effect through local and temporal expediency. To please the Zidonians, Tyrians and Baal-serving apostates in his kingdom, he built a temple for Baal in his capital, Samaria. For the survivors of the old Canaanitish race, “he did very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites did.” Thus he conciliated all men with his liberal and inclusive policy, and affronted Jehovah with his contempt of His holy commandments.

The crowning sin of Ahab was his effort to silence godly protest and warning of judgment by Jehovah’s prophets, and his attempt to exterminate by martyrdom the witnesses for truth. The price of protest was high in those days. The little minority that refused to be broad “wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; . . . they wandered in deserts, and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth.”

Such were the days of Elijah, days that try the souls of the righteous and force them to fervent prayer: Unscrupulous despots enthroned in power, the patrons of false religion; the masses subserviently acquiescent in the betrayal and abandonment of the true faith; truth spurned, trodden underfoot, and the righteous being persecuted from the face of the earth.

Elijah’s Imprecation

Jehovah will not leave Himself without witness. Abruptly, unannounced, there appears a prophet of Jehovah, Elijah the Tishbite, of the sojourners of Gilead, with the disturbing announcement to Ahab: “As the Lord, the God of Israel, liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” And he disappears as mysteriously as he appears. There, in hiding at Chereth, “he prayed earnestly that it might not rain.”

Was it right so to pray—in a land where rain and life are synonymous—where drought means famine, starvation, death? Evidently Elijah, a righteous man, thought so, for he prayed earnestly to that end. Evidently Jehovah sanctioned it for it was answered in kind. Is it right so to pray? James, under the guidance of the Spirit, is citing this instance of Elijah’s imprecation, not only as an illustration of the prophet’s prevalence in prayer, but as an inspiration for New Testament saints so to pray. And thus the Reformed Church has taught, prayed, and sung in Psalm. We cannot deny the righteousness of such a prayer, under the New Covenant, without falling into the error of a dual morality, under the Old and the New Covenant. God’s honor may be thus vindicated, His purposes furthered. Israel’s spiritual and material interests could be thus promoted. The virulency of sin warranted such drastic measures and the obduracy of sin merited such severity. The ends justified the means.

But why did the prophet make this particular prayer for the stopping of the rain from heaven? Because it would prove to Israel that God’s hand was in this judgment, that “He sealest up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work.” Because such a judgment would be the fulfilling of the prophecies of the Law, of drought as punishment for apostasy. Because the withholding of rain would convert that which they worshipped as a symbol of Baal—the sun—-into an intolerable curse. Therefore Elijah, Jehovah’s lonely witness in his generation, “a main subject to like passions as we are,” with zeal for Jehovah’s sovereignty, with righteous indignation against wickedness, with a longing for the salvation of Israel, “prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.”

From the very day of the prophet’s prediction the drought began. As the fields began to wither, anxious eyes scanned the western sky for signs of rain. The summer passed and the harvest was shriveled and meagre. The early and the latter rain had failed. The sowing of the spring that followed sprouted only to die away for lack of moisture. The trees on the high ridges shed their seared leaves. The burned and blighted fruit of the orchards was prematurely dropped. There were no sheaves in the garner, no wine in the vat, no oil from the press. The third summer came upon a land parched and powdered. The fountains had ceased to flow. The deep wells were dry. The cisterns were empty. Gaunt famine stalked through the land taking its toll of scrawny-handed children, sunken-eyed women, and hollow-cheeked men. Overhead the sky was brazed to the incantations of the priests of Baal. Israel was perishing from off the face of their land.

And Elijah prayed on. Such is the perverseness of depraved human nature, such the hardness of the natural heart, such the obduracy of willful sinners, that they must be brought to the very gates of death before they can be turned about. God’s opportunity comes in extremity. At the moment of national ruin Jehovah’s spokesman stepped into the scene again. Out from his hiding at Chereth, out from his biding at Zerephath, came the prophet.

Elijah’s Intercession  

“And he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

“Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” was the astonished and indignant salutation of Ahab. “I have not troubled Israel; but thou and thy father’s house,” is Elijah’s resentful rejoinder. Out of the variance came a challenge to battle: “Send and gather to me all Israel unto Mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred which eat at Jezebel’s table.” Forth rode the couriers with the royal summons. The issue was: live, or die.

Beautiful, suitable in location, was Carmel, a median ground between Jehovah’s land and Baal’s strand. Northward rose the forest-clad slopes of Lebanon. Westward lay the blue waters of the Great Sea, dotted with the purple-sailed argosies of a maritime people. Beneath the mountain and beside the sea nestled the teeming marts of Tyre and Sidon. This was Baal’s land. Eastward and southward stretched the plain of Jezreel, walled about with rolling mountains, Gilboa, Tabor, Ebal and Gerizim. On this plain, in the shadow of those mountains, the heroes of the faith had turned back the armies of the aliens, not by many but by few. This was Jehovah’s land.

From a vantage point of Carmel Elijah saw the assembling of Israel. From near and far, from mountain and plain, from village and town, o’er highway and byway, converged a motley multitude of pilgrims, gathering to the battle of the gods.

At the early hour of dawn, Elijah stands before the throng and opens the controversy. “How long ‘halt ye between two opinions? If Jehovah be God follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” It was an urge for decision, a call for division, on an ancient fundamental; “Jehovah thy God is a jealous God,” and, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Jehovah’s prophet was forcing an issue; he was fighting the most dangerous enemy of pure religion; half-heartedness, two-facedness, dual allegiance. “And the people answered him not a word.” Shameful silence! Some were convicted, some were abashed, some afraid, some defiant. None answered. Craven dumbness! How disgraceful is muteness when right and wrong join strife.

“Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of Jehovah; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it m pieces, and lay in on wood, and put no fire under and call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of Jehovah: and the god that answereth by fire let him be God.” The minority party stands face to face with the majority.. The odds are four hundred to one. No, four hundred to Two! Four hundred priests without God against a prophet and his God. And the ordeal is by fire. The advantage is Baal’s, for he is the fire-god, and the sun is his flame. Let not man, but Heaven decide.

Up from the purple hills of Bashan rose the auriflamme [oriflamme] of day. It filled the valleys ‘with a crimson flood, and drenched the plain of Magiddo into a prophetic Alceldama. Down bowed the votaries of Baal. Then rising up, they circled their altar with rhythmic dance. Higher and higher climbed the sun, faster and faster the priests did prance. Louder and louder rang their cries. Immovable and silent remained the skies. “Oh, Baal, hear us!” They leaped upon the altar. They cut themselves with knives. Leaping, sweating, bleeding, screaming, they fell exhausted. “There was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.” Their efforts were futile, their prayers unanswered, their heaven silent, their god was impotent! False!!

It came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice—blessed hour!—that Elijah said unto all the people, “Come near unto me.” Gracious invitation of a God of grace! And Elijah built an altar, of twelve stones in the name of Jehovah. He put the wood in order, placed the sacrifice, drenched the offering, altar, ground, with water. Then he came near and said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.

Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God and that thou hast turned their heart back again.”

Then the fire fell, hissing, crackling, blinding. It burned the burnt-offering, the wood, the stone, the dust, the water. Down fell the people on their faces. A mighty shout shook the mountain wall—Jehovah he is God! Jehovah he is God!!

Jehovah acclaimed: sin must be judged. Red ran the brook Kishon with the blood of Baal’s priests that day.

Sin removed, the blessing comes. While the king went up to eat and drink, the prophet went up to pray. Seven times he interceded before a cloud appeared. Faith’s ear had caught the sound of rain, now the eye of faith beholds the showers. “Haste!” said the prophet to the king, “that the rain stop thee not.” In the meanwhile the heavens were black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain—and the earth brought forth her fruit. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

It’s August and it seems that everyone is away on vacation. So now for something completely different:

Put down the books and get some exercise.

In the biography of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Miller, we find this snippet from a letter he wrote, dated August 7th, 1801. Miller’s son, who served as his biographer, writes that this letter “will give an idea of some of the expedients of the city clergy of that day, for bodily and mental recuperation:

“On Wednesday week last, I went down with a large party of gentlemen, (twenty-six in number,) to amuse myself with fishing on the sea-bass banks. These banks are in the ocean, about twelve or fifteen miles to the southward of Sandy Hook, and nearly opposite Long Branch. The company was pleasant, the fishing delightful, the bathing highly refreshing, and the mirth and jollity of the party, notwithstanding the presence of several clergymen, so great, as almost to border on being excessive. We returned the next evening; and I think I felt ten per cent, at least, better for the jaunt. Contrary to all my expectations, I escaped sea-sickness; though my wish was, for the sake of its salubrity, to experience that painful disorder.”

Words to Live By:
For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8, NASB)

It would be a mistake to understand Paul as saying that bodily exercise is of no use. Rather, he is making a comparative statement, that bodily exercise is of little profit when compared with the eternal gain of godliness. Even the most physically fit person will eventually die, whereas godliness holds promise for the present life and for the life to come. A corollary verse would be Mark 8:36: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” If the benefit of living a healthy life and getting some regular exercise is so obvious, can’t we see the vastly greater benefit of first trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and then living out that faith in accordance with God’s Word, the Bible?

Source: The Life of Samuel Miller, (1869), vol. 1, p. 142.

The Mexican Revolution began in 1910 and continued on for about ten years. Appearing on the pages of the Presbyterian Survey in 1915, there was this introduction to a brief article on Presbyterian missions to the Mexican people:

“Among the hundreds of thousands of Mexican people who have peacefully invaded our borders, and have come to make their permanent home in our country, there is no more important center than San Antonio. Apart from the thousands who are transiently here for safety and sustenance incident to the military and industrial troubles in the Republic of Mexico, we have a large permanent Mexican population which is steadily growing. Because they speak the Spanish language only, it is impossible to serve them by the ordinary Home Mission forces. A separate force and equipment must be provided, as distinct as if located in a foreign land.

“For ten years we have had at San Antonio a Presbyterian work for the Mexicans. It was established by Rev. Walter S. Scott, and has been served at different times by two Mexican pastors, Rev. Abram Fernandez and Reynaldo Avila. . . .”

scott_walter_1865-1937Walter S. Scott, the first person ordained in Texas as an evangelist of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (aka, Southern Presbyterian) to Mexican Americans, was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, on August 6, 1865, to Walter and Mary (Pirie) Scott. The Scotts had moved from Texas to Mexico during the Civil War and raised their son to be bilingual. The family returned to San Antonio in 1878.

Strongly influenced by the evangelical teaching of Melinda Rankin, who at that time was operating a foreign mission station in Monterrey, Scott decided to seek opportunities to fulfill his childhood ambition of missionary service. Although he never completed a formal theological education, the Presbytery of Western Texas ordained him in 1892 as “an evangelist to the Mexican people” because of the exceptional nature of his ministry and his ability to speak Spanish fluently. Using San Antonio as home base, Scott visited small towns in South Texas, where he held revivals and organized churches. Statistics in 1902 showed eleven churches, eleven Sunday schools, twenty-five elders, and 618 communicants in the region. Five years later there were seventeen churches, nearly 1,000 communicants, and four ordained Mexican-American ministers. In 1908 the Synod of Texas (PCUS) approved the formation of the Texas-Mexican Presbytery, which continued to be that denomination’s focal point of Mexican-American missions, until its dissolution in 1955.

However, Scott’s ministry was not without problems. Personality clashes between him and Robert C. Campbell, a fellow missionary leader, led to repeated financial and jurisdictional problems and did considerable damage to the Texas-Mexican Presbytery after 1908. Scott’s personal life also caused him problems. His marriage in 1889 to Mary Case of San Antonio was unhappy despite the birth of three children. His frequent and lengthy trips to South Texas missions led to a separation in 1911 and a bitter divorce in 1916. During his years in the mission field Scott was based in San Marcos (1892-1904), San Antonio (1905-12), Taylor (1914-20), and Waco (1921-37). He organized churches and Sunday schools in Central Texas until the Great Depression curtailed missionary activities. In 1935 the Advanced Field, a missionary jurisdiction established by Scott in Taylor, was absorbed by the Texas-Mexican Presbytery, and Scott became a member of that body. He retired the same year and died in Temple, Texas, on December 7, 1937. Many Mexican-American congregations trace their origins to Scott and his pioneering ministry.

Words to Live By:
God is not hindered by our sin. He can use us for His glory in spite of our shortcomings and failures. That fact gives us no room to be complacent with sin in our lives, but at the same, when all is said and done, the Lord will accomplish His purposes, for His glory. It was a common saying among the Puritans, “Better to suffer the greatest adversity, than to commit the least sin.” Would that all of us, as God’s people, would live our lives in an exceptional way—exceptional for obedience to His Word and exceptional for holiness, mercy and love.

For Further Study:
The records of the Texas-Mexican Presbytery (PCUS), 1861-1954, as well as a small manuscript collection for Rev. Scott are to be found preserved among the Seminary Archives at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas

by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn.

Q. 86. What is faith in Jesus Christ?

A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.

Scripture References: Heb. 10:39. John 1:12. Phil. 3:9. John 6:40.


1. Why is faith in Jesus Christ called a “saving grace”?

It is called a “saving grace” because it is a gift of God and is given to the sinner not because of any merit or worth the sinner has (l Cor. 4:7).

2. Why is this faith called faith in Jesus Christ?

It is called such because Christ is the principal object of saving faith according to Acts 16:31.

3. Why is the word “receive” used in this Question?

The word “receive” is used because Christ is offered in Scripture as a gift. He is given to those who are without hope in themselves, have nothing and are nothing.

4. Why does the Question mention resting on Him alone for salvation?

The person coming to Christ must rest on Him alone because the Bible reveals Him as the only foundation on whom one can rest his confidence, his trust.

5. What is this salvation that is received by the person coming to Him?

This salvation includes three things:

(1) Deliverance from the curse of the law.
(2) Deliverance from the dominion of sin.
(3) The blessedness of heaven.

6. Who offers Christ to us?

God offers Christ to us, God the Father who made the offer in John 3:16.

7. Do all believers have the same measure of saving faith?

No, all believers do not. Some have little faith and others have strong faith (Note the comparison of Matt. 14:31 and Rom. 4:20), But even those with little faith have sufficient to get to glory if it is saving faith.


D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, in his wonderful book, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, states:

“Lop-sided Christians are generally produced by preachers or evangelists whose doctrine lacks balance, or rotundity, or wholesomeness. More and more as we proceed with our studies we shall see how vitally import are the circumstances of the birth of the Christian.”

The preaching of, witnessing to, saving faith in Jesus Christ is an awesome responsibility of the believer. Too often it is not done at all. Too often when it is done it is done with methods that are far from being all-inclusive, theologically speaking. It is simply a “passport to heaven” approach or an offering of the forgiveness of sin without anything else being mentioned.

The whole salvation message should be preached or witnessed to by a believer. Usually deliverance from the curse of the law (from the wrath of God) is made plain, it is offered by the person speaking. The individual hearing it simply then thinks in terms of his deliverance and possibly the fact he will someday reach heaven. But what about the time in between, the months and years before he goes to meet his Lord? Is not the doctrine of the deliverance from the dominion of sin part of saving faith?

I once heard an evangelist give the invitation in a very plain, Scriptural manner. In it he certainly emphasized that “If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ your sins will be forgiven” but he also made it very plain that a part of saving faith-if it is truly wrought in. the soul-is the fact regeneration has taken place in the soul and now there will be a new principle of life present and that new life will produce fruits of holy living. It meant new life will want, for the most part, to live a holy life. The new life will have power to—will to want to—conquer sin and obey God and to make his will the rule of life in the days to come.

It is true that this faith will start small for it is a new life. But it will grow and will want to grow. Why can’t this be made plain to those coming to Christ, why can’t they be made to see in t.he beginning that the Christian life is not simply a passport to heaven but also a life of hating and fleeing from sin? Paul knew this and wrote II Cor. 5:17 for all of us to see and believe.

Published by The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Dedicated to Instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.

Vol. 6 No.3 (March 1967)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

Author of an Old Classic

Nathaniel Smyth McFetridge was born in Ireland, 4 August 1842. His parents immigrated to the United States while he was still a child and Nathaniel was raised in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania. His formal education began at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. While attending there, he won the school’s Fowler Prize for an essay on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. McFetridge graduated from Lafayette in 1864, shortly before the inauguration of the Rev. William C. Cattell as president of Lafayette.

McFetridge began his studies for the ministry at Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, where he studied under the renowned Archibald A. Hodge. McFetridge graduated from Western in 1867 and was ordained into the ministry by the Presbytery of Erie (PCUSA), being installed in 1868 as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Oil City, PA. That church had been organized in 1861 with twelve members and two ruling elders. His predecessor, the Rev. W.P. Moore, had served the Oil City congregation as stated supply since 1863.

Whatever the cause, a major loss of membership in the Oil City congregation—between 1865 in 1872 and dropping to the 151 members reported in 1873—may have been what prompted his relocation to the Wakefield Presbyterian Church of Germantown, PA in 1874. Transferring his credentials, Rev. McFetridge was received by the Presbytery of Philadelphia, North and served as the first pastor of the Wakefield congregation, from 1874 until 1885. It is interesting to note that the congregation began as the Wakefield Sunday-school, located in Fisher’s Hollow, PA. This Sunday-school was organized in 1856 by Quakers (Society of Friends, Orthodox), and was constituted in part by members of the Fisher family who had immigrated from Wakefield, England. Active participation in the school by Philadelphia-area Presbyterians eventually overtook the more subdued methods of the Quakers, and by 1873 the decision was made to establish a Presbyterian congregation. With the assistance of three other Presbyterian churches in Germantown, a site was secured and almost the entire membership of the School, faculty and students alike, joined in the organization of a new Wakefield Presbyterian Sunday-school. It was this group that then formed on 4 May 1874 the new congregation that occupied the chapel erected on Main Street below Fisher’s Lane. Under Rev. McFetridge’s leadership, the church grew from 22 members to over 200 members at the time of his departure.

It was also during the Wakefield pastorate that Rev. McFetridge delivered the six lectures from which he later gathered the text of Calvinism in History. Published in 1882, it predates Abraham Kuyper’s more widely known Stone Lectures for 1898, which were published under the title Lectures on Calvinism. It might be an interesting exercise to compare the two works, though at the start, Kuyper’s treatment is immediately seen as more scholarly and profound, whereas McFetridge aimed his work at the average person in the pew.

Rev. McFetridge was noted in the 1885 Minutes of General Assembly (PCUSA) as without charge, but the circumstances of his leaving the Wakefield church are now lost to history. By 1886 he had relocated to St. Paul, Minnesota, was received by the Presbytery of St. Paul, and is noted as laboring as a professor. He may also have been employed by Macalester College, which opened in 1885 with five professors on its staff. Rev. McFetridge was residing in St. Paul at the time of his death on 3 December 1886, at the age of 44.

Noted honors included the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, and in 1878 he brought the Annual Sermon before the Brainerd Evangelical Society of Lafayette College. The Brainerd Society was named in honor of David Brainerd, and was Layfayette’s first student-led Christian organization. The Society was founded in 1833 and was in existence until 1956, making it the longest running student organization on that campus. The year before Rev. McFetridge spoke, the Brainerd Society had come into affiliation with the Young Men’s Christian Association. Other speakers before the Brainerd Society included Matthew Allison in 1854, James W. Dale in 1862 and Thomas Hasting Robinson in 1867.

The Minutes of the Wakefield Presbyterian Church of Germantown, PA are preserved at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, PA and these encompass the years of Rev. McFetridge’s pastorate, 1874-1885.

Words to Live By:
“There is nothing which so constantly controls the mind of a man, and so intensely affects his character, as the views which he entertains of the Deity. These take up their abode in the inmost sanctuary of the heart, and give tone to all its powers and coloring to all its actions. Whatever the forms and activities of the outward life, as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Men do, undoubtedly, liken God, in a measure, to themselves, and transfer to him somewhat of their own passions and predominating moral qualities, and determine the choice of their religion by the prevailing sentiments of their hearts and the habits in which they have been trained; but it is also true that their conceptions of God have a controlling influence in forming their character and regulating their conduct. The unfaithful servant in the parable of the Talents gave as the reason for his idleness his conception of the master as a hard and exacting man. He shaped his conduct not by what the master was, but by what he believed him to be. And if that divine parable have a worldwide application, it discloses the secret spring of a man’s life in the conceptions which he has of God. As these are true or false, so his character and life will be. “As long as we look upon God as an exactor, not a giver, exactors, and not givers, shall we be.” “All the value of service rendered,” says Dr. Arnot, “by intellectual and moral beings depends on the thoughts of God which they entertain.” Hence no sincerity of purpose and no intensity of zeal can atone for a false creed or save a man from the fatal consequences of wrong principles.” [—Opening paragraph of Calvinism in History.]

The Writings of Nathaniel Smyth McFetridge—
An essay on the Prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury tales (s.l. : s.n., 1864), 16pp.; 22cm. [This was McFetridge’s winning submission for the Fowler Prize at Lafayette, and so it is likely that it was published in Easton, PA by the College. Copies have been located at the New York Public Library; Lafayette College and Brown University]

Memorial sermon : preached in the Wakefield Presbyterian Church, Germantown, July 13, 1879. (Philadelphia : Press of Burk & M’Fetridge, 1879), 17pp. [Sermon in commemoration of William Adamson. Copies of the sermon have been located at Emory University’s Pitts Theological Library; Lafayette College; and the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia]

Calvinism in History (Philadelphia : Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1882), 157pp.
Reprints include, among others:
1. (Philadelphia : Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-school Work, 1912, © 1882), 157pp.
2. (Edmonton, AB, Canada : Still Water Revival Books, 1882; rpt 1989), xi, 120pp.
3. Available at the Internet Archive, in multiple formats, here:
Louis F. De Boer reviewed Calvinism in History some years ago, but found the work deficient. He concludes his review:

“. . .the book remained, for me at least, a disappointment. The book references such inspired writing on the subject as Daubigne’s histories of the Reformation and Motley’s histories of the Dutch republic, but its own insipid prose fails to rise to their level, and stir the reader with what God hath wrought in history through the faith of the Calvinists. Unfortunately, most people will never take the time to read the lengthy works noted above. Which leaves me with the conclusion, that a short book (this one consists of 113 pages) that does justice to the subject is just waiting to be either written or reprinted. Hopefully, that challenge will be taken up in the near future by someone who is saddened by the abysmal ignorance of this generation of the theological foundations for their liberties, prosperity, and indeed for all that they have historically held dear.”

Which then raises the question whether Darryl Hart’s very recent work, Calvinism: A History, might not be the treatment that has successfully taken up that challenge? To read Louis F. DeBoer’s review of this work, click here.

Thompson, Robert Ellis and Nathaniel S. McFetridge, The dear man of God : Doctor Martin Luther of blessed memory. 1483-1883 ; proceedings at the observance of the fourth centenary of his birth, in the Presbyterian Church of Abington in Pennsylvania ; with a memorial discourse (Philadelphia : s.n., 1883), 43pp. [the latter memorial discourse is by N.S. McFetridge; copies located at the Yale University Library; New York Historical Society; Lafayette College; Lutheran Theological Seminary; and the Presbyterian Historical Society]


Coffin, Selden J., Record of the Men of Lafayette (Easton, PA : Skinner & Finch, Printers, 1879), pg. 66.

Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.,(New York: Presbyterian Board of Publications, individual volumes for the years 1872 – 1887).

White, William P., The Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia (Philadelphia : Allen, Lane & Scott, 1895), pg. 151.

Other sources to consult—

Program of exercises held in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of organization of the First Presbyterian Church of Oil City, Pennsylvania (Oil City, PA : Semi-Centennial Committee of the First Presbyterian Church, 1912), 31pp. [copies held by the Presbyterian Historical Society (Philadelphia), and the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Reeves, Francis B., A Brief Sketch of Wakefield Presbyterian Church and Sunday School, Germantown Avenue below Fisher’s Lane, Philadelphia, 1856-1910. 

warfieldakgraveFirst, a portion of biographical background on Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield and his wife Anne. Following that introduction, a letter that we came across, published in an old PCUSA magazine, which provides some additional insight on the marriage of Benjamin and Anne Warfield.

Pictured at right : the grave site of Anne Pearce Kinkead Warfield, [7 April 1852 – 19 November 1915].

Benjamin pursued his theological education in preparation for the ministry by entering Princeton Theological Seminary in September of 1873. He was licensed to preach the gospel by Ebenezer Presbytery on May 8, 1875. Following licensure, he tested his ministerial abilities by supplying the Concord Presbyterian Church in Kentucky from June through August of 1875.

After he received his divinity degree in 1876, he supplied the First Presbyterian Church of Dayton, Ohio, and while he was in Dayton, he married Annie Pearce Kinkead, the daughter of a prominent attorney, on August 3, 1876. Soon after he married Annie, the couple set sail on an extended study trip in Europe for the winter of 1876-1877.

It was sometime during this voyage that the newly weds went through a great storm and Annie suffered an injury that debilitated her for the rest of her life; the biographers differ as to whether the injury was emotional, physical, or a combination of the two.

Sometime during 1877, according to Ethelbert Warfield, Benjamin was offered the opportunity to teach Old Testament at Western Seminary, but he turned the position down because he had turned his study emphasis to the New Testament despite his early aversion to Greek. In November 1877, he began his supply ministry at the First Presbyterian Church of Baltimore, where he continued until the following March. He returned to Kentucky and was ordained as an evangelist by Ebenezer Presbytery on April 26, 1879.

[above excerpt from a biography of B.B. Warfield by Barry Waugh.]

Words to Live By:
How do you define love? We should first think of love not as emotion, but rather understand true love as a committed covenant faithfulness. Emotions will result from such a commitment, but the undying commitment must first form the foundation. Dr. Warfield in his care for his wife exemplified such a love for us. 

by William E. Bryce, dated 18 May 1888. [as published in The Church at Work, 2.33 (24 May 1888): 4.] :—

The college has taken Dr. Francis L. Patton from us to succeed Dr. McCosh. The seminary has lost a David in Dr. Patton, but gained a Solomon in Dr. Warfield, a man of war exchanged for a man of wisdom.

We are proud of Dr. Warfield. He entered upon a most difficult task when he undertook to fill the chair of Polemic and Didactic Theology after Dr. Archibald A. Hodge. He has succeeded. Not in Dr. Hodge’s way, but in his own way. The two men cannot be compared. They were cast in different molds. Their methods are nto the same. Our ears are no longer tickled with so many apt illustrations and striking epigrams, but we now receive such clear, clean-cut definition, and patient repetition, that “though fools” we cannot err therein. He is quick in apprehending a question, and never non-plussed, “ready always to give an answer to every man.”

Dr. Warfield is a thorough scholar, but he is more than a scholar, he is a gentleman. This year the seminary faculty has taken great pains to impress upon the students that a Presbyterian minister should be a gentleman. Our new professor is an ever present example. However great may be the provocation, he ever exhibits the utmost gentleness.

“His heart is as soft as a woman’s. To a worm he would give the path.” Yet with all his delicacy of feeling are coupled the sterling qualities of a true manhood, which command the highest respect and reverence.

When the balmy days of Spring came, Dr. Warfield could often be seen walking with his wife about their little garden.

Now this is a small matter; we often see people walking in their garden and think nothing of it. But such a display of domestic feeling is so unusual in Princeton that the eye of the seminary student cannot but see, and his heart cannot but be affected at the sight.

One cannot but feel that the man who walketh in gardens is near to Him “that dwelleth in gardens.”

It was my intention to say something about the undercurrents of thought and of feeling among the students themselves, but my space being limited I shall reserve that for a future letter.

The Church at Work, 2.33 (24 May 1888): 4.

[excerpted from Biblical Missions, newsletter of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, vol. 1, no. 9 (September 1935) 3-4.]

The persecution of the Independent Board goes on apace. On August 2, 1935, the session of Harriet Hollond Memorial Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, voted to place on trial two of its members, Miss Mary Weldon Stewart and Murray Forst Thompson, Esq., “because of their refusal to resign from the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions.”

On September 9, at 8 o’clock P.M., the session met in the church “for the presentation and reading of the charges and specifications and to deliver a copy to the accused.” This action has evoked great interest. It marks the first time in many years that a woman has been brought to trial in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  Furthermore, the defendants are only unordained communicant members of the church; and the nature of the charges filed against them is intensely interesting since neither Miss Stewart nor Mr. Thompson has taken any ordination vows which (however erroneously) could be made the basis of a charge of an offense.

When the Presbytery of Philadelphia referred their cases to the session of Holland Church, Miss Stewart and Mr. Thompson issued a joint statement in which they said: “We desire to make plain our reasons for not obeying the mandate of the General Assembly.

That mandate was unlawful and unconstitutional because the Assembly sought to bind men’s consciences in virtue of its own authority and because it sought to deal with an organization which is not within the church.

That mandate was un-Presbyterian and un-Christian because it condemned members of the church without a hearing and without a trial.“No real Christian could obey such a command, involving as it does implicit obedience to a human council and involving also the compulsory support of the Modernist propaganda of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

This whole issue involves the truth and liberty of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The question is whether members of a supposedly Christian church are going to recognize as supreme the authority of men or the authority of the Word of God, whether they are going to obey God rather than men.

We refuse to obey men when we believe their commands are contrary to the Bible.  We are thus taking our stand for the infallible Word of God, and in doing so, we plant ourselves squarely upon the Bible and the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.”

This proceeding against lay members of the Independent Board in obedience to the unconstitutional action of the General Assembly should make it perfectly plain that the liberty of the rank and file in the church is threatened just as much as that of ministers and other office-bearers.

The first session of the Stewart-Thompson trial was characterized by a series of legal errors on the part of the session which was trying the case.  For example, before the court was properly constituted it decided to go into executive (secret) session. For a while it seemed that the entire procedure would end in confusion.  It is rather difficult, you see, to try two lay members of the church whose sole “sin” is their refusal to compromise with Modernism! But at last the charges and specifications were read, and the court adjourned to meet again on September 23.

Words to Live By:
Acts 5:27-29 was their guiding principle, as it remains ours today:
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.



Knox’s Number Two
by Rev. David T. Myers

We begin, readers, with a quick quiz this day.  Name the Reformers who followed men like Luther, Calvin, and Knox in their respective countries of ministry.  In other words, who was number two?  In Germany, it was Martin Luther and ________________,  Geneva’s John Calvin was followed by ________________.  And in our country of interest, Scotland, it was John Knox and _________________.

If you answered Martin Luther and Phillipp Melanchthon for Germany, John Calvin and Theodore Beza for Geneva, and John Knox and Andrew Melville for Scotland, give yourself a treat, for all three of these are the identities for Number Two Reformers.

melvilleAndrewOur focus today is Andrew Melville, who was born this day, August 1, 1545 in Baldovy, Scotland.  He had more than a little hardship in that before  he was five years old, both his father and mother died.  One of his nine brothers, Richard, took charge of Andrew, giving him the best schooling he could bring to bear upon the situation.  By the age of 14, Andrew went to and graduated from St. Andrews University, having the reputation of being “the best philosopher, poet, and Grecian of any young master in the land.”

In 1564, Andrew left Scotland to study in France, and after training in Hebrew and the legal profession, went to Geneva, where he sat under Theodore Beza.  At the urging of his fellow students, he returned to Scotland.  He was influential of introducing European methods of education, where one professor taught only those students who were interested in his expertise, rather than having one professor teaching every topic to a group of students.  The reputation of the Scottish universities grew until students from all over flocked to the schools.

The age-old issue of Presbyterianism versus Anglican government and doctrine was still being debated in the land.  Who was the head of the church?  Was it the king of England, or was it King Jesus?  Melville clearly believed the latter and was prepared to oppose the former all of his days of ministry in the land.

Andrew Melville went on to serve the Lord of the church as an educator, pastor, and churchman as the Apostle of Presbyterianism.  Elected Moderator of the General Assembly five times, he was the key author of the Second Book of Discipline.   Unmarried,  his life and ministry was always for the glory of Jesus and the advancement of His church.

He is the author of that famous “Two Kingdom” speech which he delivered to King James the Sixth.  While this author will treat it by a separate post, a few words will keep us in anticipation now.  Taking the king by the sleeve, he said “Sire, I must tell  you that there are two kings and two kingdoms in Scotland: there is King James, the head of the Commonwealth, and there is Christ Jesus, the Head of the Church, who subject King James VI is, and of whose kingdom he is not a head, nor a lord, but a member . . . .”

Sent to the Tower of London as a prisoner for four years for alleged wrongs to the king, he was let out only to be banished to France, where he lived the rest of his life as a professor at the University of Sedan.  He died in 1622.

Words to Live By: Wylie paid Andrew Melville the tribute that Protestantism would  have perished were it  not for the incorruptible, dauntless and  unflinching courage of Andrew Melville.  King Jesus, give us men and women today in our land who will stand up for the gospel, come what may.  Reader, pray much for the church, your particular congregation, the churches of your presbytery, and the national denomination of which you are a part, that they will stand up for the Scriptures, the Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission.

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