A Most Solemn Season of Prayer
by Rev. David T. Myers

It was on January 14, 1744 that Presbyterian missionary David Brainerd recorded in his famous diary a personal prayer session he had with his God and Father.  Meditate on his words:

“This morning I enjoyed a most solemn season in prayer: my soul seemed enlarged, and assisted to pour out itself to God for grace, and for every blessing I wanted, for myself, my dear Christian friends, and for the church of God, and was so enabled to see him who is invisible, that my soul rested on him for the performance of everything I asked agreeable to his will.  It is then my happiness, to ‘continue instant in prayer,’ and  was enabled to continue  in it for nearly an hour.  My soul was then ‘strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.’  Longed exceedingly for angelic holiness and purity, and to have all my thoughts, at all times, employed in divine and heavenly things.”

 “Oh how blessed is a heavenly temper (i.e. spirit)!  Oh how unspeakably blessed it is, to feel a measure of that rectitude, in which we were at first created!  Felt the same divine assistance in prayer sundry times in the day.  My soul confided in God for myself, and for His Son.  Trusted in divine power and grace, that He would do glorious things in his church on earth, for his own glory.”

As you read over this marvelous prayer, you can see how thoroughly saturated Brainerd was in the Word of God.  He wanted only to pray for requests which were “agreeable to His will,” as Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6:10. (NIV)  He was able to “continue instant in prayer,” as Roman 12:12 commands.  As a result of such prayer, he was able to be “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might,” as Ephesians 6:10 (KJV) enjoins the people of God. David Brainerd was able to guide his prayers through the language of Scripture.

Words to Live By: Take any of the prayers of Paul in his letters, like Ephesians 1:17-19, or 3:14-21, and personalize them.  In so doing, you will be brought closer to your God, as you use the inspired Word of God to approach Him in prayer.

Under the Sovereign Eye of a Merciful God.

The following letter to Rev. John C. Lowrie was penned upon the occasion of the death of his brother, the Rev. Walter M. Lowrie, who had gone to Shanghai, China, as a member of the committee for the translation of the Bible. As he was returning to Ningpo, the Chinese junk on which he had taken passage was attacked by pirates, and the young and gifted missionary was thrown overboard and drowned, on August 19, 1847, about twelve miles southeast of Chapoo, in the Hangchow Bay.

From the Rev. J. L. Wilson, of the Gaboon Mission, Africa.

Mount ClioJanuary 13th, 1848.

REV. JOHN C. LOWRIE—

MY DEAR BROTHER:—The papers brought us yesterday the astounding intelligence of the death of your dear brother. If it is the slightest alleviation of the grief that you must all feel, be assured of our most cordial sympathies, and I have no doubt but thousands of other Christian hearts feel equally as much.

Your honored father must have been almost overwhelmed by this event. And yet, why should he? It was under the sovereign eye of a most merciful God that this deed of violence was perpetuated; and as inexplicable as it may be to us, I have no conviction more firmly made on my mind, than that this very event will be overruled, so as to subserve the cause of missions and the salvation of the heathen more effectually even than the life of your brother.

My own aged father, who could more easily enter into the feelings of your father than most persons, could scarcely compose himself to sleep last night after hearing the painful intelligence read; and if such were his feelings, what must have been those of your own family? God grant you all grace to recognize his hand in this event, and to exercise the most cheerful resignation of his holy will!

Accept of my sincere sympathies, and believe me, as ever,

Your affectionate brother in Christ,

J.L. WILSON.

Words to Live By:
Truly our lives are in His hands. Every breath we take is by the grace of God. How can we not praise Him for His mercy and grace? But so very much more, because in love He sent His only Son to die for an elect people, how then can we not strive to live each and every day for His greater glory? To give our very lives in His service is no sacrifice, but only a fitting tribute of thanks.

THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST
by Rev. William Smith (1834)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 76 & 77.

Q. 76. Which is the ninth commandment?

A. The ninth commandment is, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” Exod. xx. 16.

Q. 77. What is required in the ninth commandment?

A. The ninth commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own, and our neighbor’s good name, especially in witness-bearing.

EXPLICATION.

Bear false witness. –Tell what we know to be a lie.

Maintaining and promoting truth. –Defending the truth when it is opposed and denied, and otherwise exerting ourselves to forward, and carry it on.  

Witness-bearing. –Giving evidence, or testimony upon oath, or making known the truth when called upon to do so.

ANALYSIS.

The duties required in the ninth commandment, are four-fold:

  1. The maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man. –Zech. viii. 16. Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor.
  2. The maintaining and promoting of our own good name. –1 Pet. iii 16. Having a good conscience, that when as they speak evil of you, as of evil-doers, they may be ashamed, that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
  3. The maintaining and promoting also, of our neighbor’s good name. –Psalm ci. 5. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I cut off.
  4. That this is especially to be attended to, in witness-bearing. –Prov. xiv. 5, 25. A faithful witness will not lie. A true witness delivereth souls.

 

Another Presbyterian First
by Rev. David T. Myers

Looking at a listing of the Nationwide Life Insurance Company today in the phone book, the average reader would not guess that part of that company constituted the nation’s first life insurance.  And certainly, that same average citizen would not know that this first life insurance company had roots in Presbyterian history.

Started in 1718 by the Synod of Philadelphia, the fledgling company was known originally as “The Fund for Pious Uses.”  Its purpose was to assist local Presbyterian ministers and their families.  One of the original seven ministers of the Philadelphia Presbytery, Jedidiah Andrews, was its first treasurer. Other directors down through the years included Gilbert Tennent, Samuel Finley, and Frances Allison.

The name of the Fund changed in 1759 when it was chartered on January 11, but its purposes were unchanged.  The new name became “The Corporation for Relief of the Poor, and Distressed Ministers, and of the Poor and Distressed Widows, and Children of Presbyterian Ministers.”  Try writing that on a check!  Mercifully, it came to be known simply as the Presbyterian Ministers Fund.

It is interesting to this contributor that the organization’s money, meager at best in the early years, was sometimes spent on matters other than poor servants of Christ.  A new organ was purchased for Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.  Children captured by Indian raids on the frontier in central Pennsylvania were literally redeemed by the fund and brought back to their families.  And perhaps the most astonishing of all outlays of funds was to the Continental Congress.  The Presbyterian life insurance company loaned out five thousand dollars so the political body could pay its bills, most of which went to pay soldiers in the American Revolution.

John Baird wrote a full account of the Presbyterian Minister’s Fund in Horn of Plenty: The Story of the Presbyterian Ministers’ Fund, published in 1982 by Tyndale House Publishers (pictured above).  The book is out of print, but copies can be found on the used market, herehere, or here.

The organizational records of the Presbyterian Minister’s Fund are preserved at the facilities of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, with a finding aid available here.

Words to Live By: “If anyone fails to provide for his relatives, and especially for those of his own family, he has disowned the faith [by failing to accompany it with fruits] and is worse than an unbeliever [who performs his obligation in these matters.]—1 Timothy 5:8 Amplified Bible

Bestow On Us a Spirit of Prayer

Given some recent discussion on the Web, over whether it is appropriate to speak on political matters from the pulpit, the following seems an appropriate post today, an excerpt from the diary of the Rev. Jacob Jones Janeway, a prominent Philadelphia pastor in the early 19th-century.

J.J. Janeway

Politics ran high, and Philadelphia was the headquarters of the excitement. The old federal party was fast losing its power. “War with Great Britain was advocated by one party, and deprecated by the other. The rancorous debates were unfavourable to religion, and the hopes of the pious were mocked then, as they have been since. Dr. Janeway would have been more than than human, not to have felt some of the influences around him. But we see from his journal, the jealous guard he maintained over his heart.

January 10, 1808, Sabbath.

“Praise to God for prolonging my life to another year. Oh! may this year be spent in the service of my God. Make thy grace, O my God, sufficient for me, and thy strength perfect in my weakness. At the commencement of the year I felt not right; may the latter end be better than the beginning. In conversing on politics, I am too apt to be too engaged, and to feel too keenly. May God give me grace to govern my temper and conversation, and preserve me from taking too great an interest in them. In the heat of debate, I am urged to say what is imprudent and unbecoming. Two instances of such behaviour have occurred last week. May no more occur. I fear lest our expectation of a revival of religion, may not be realized. O Lord God, let the blessing come, and bestow on us a spirit of prayer, that we may wrestle and prevail. Hope, still hope, my soul.”

LIFE OF DR. J. J. JANEWAY, pp. 130-131.

The Root of the Presbyterian Apostasy

[For those wanting to do more reading on this matter, click here to see the resources gathered at the PCA Historical Center.]

When church historians evaluate the history of American Presbyterianism, the publication of the “Auburn Affirmation” will stand out in importance like the nailing of Luther’s ninety-five theses on the Wittenberg Germany church door in 1517.  Except this Affirmation, unlike that of the German reformer, constituted a major offensive against biblical Christianity.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1923 had repeated the earlier high court’s affirmations of five essential truths which made up the fundamentals of Christianity.  They were the inerrant Scripture, the Virgin Birth, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, His literal bodily resurrection from the dead on the third day, and supernatural miracles.  However the very next year, on January 9, 1924, one hundred and fifty Presbyterian elders issued an affirmation in Auburn, New York which stated that these five fundamentals were not necessary and essential doctrines for the church.  Eventually the number of ministers to sign it would increase to 1,294 ordained ministers, about ten per cent of the clergy on the rolls of the Presbyterian church. None were ever disciplined for their “affirmation” of the document.

[Pictured above, publication of the Auburn Affirmation as it appeared in its first edition, including a list of 150 signers.]

The Auburn Affirmation used many familiar terms on which unsuspecting Christians might be deceived.  Thus, it affirmed inspiration, but denied Scripture to be without error.  It affirmed the incarnation, but denied the Virgin Birth.  It affirmed the atonement, but denied that Christ satisfied divine justice and reconciled us to God.  It affirmed the resurrection of Christ, but denied Jesus rose from the dead with the same body in which He was crucified.  It affirmed Jesus did many mighty works, but denied that He was a miracle worker.

The tragedy of this Affirmation was that not one of its signers were ever brought up for church discipline by their respective presbyteries.  This sin of omission hastened the apostasy of the church, as many of the signers would later find placement in every agency of the church.

Words to Live By:  “Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation.  [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered verbally to the holy people of God”] Jude v. 3 (Amplified)

In God’s kingdom, there are no little people. Nor are any forgotten by our Lord, though we ourselves may forget. Today we will touch on the life of a pastor that most of us have never heard of.

William Hooper Adams was born in Boston, MA on this day, January 8, 1838, the son of the Rev. Dr. Nehemiah and Martha Hooper Adams. A graduate of Harvard, he first began his studies for the ministry at Andover Seminary, but left there on instructions from his father to take a teaching position in Georgia. That in turn led to his enrolling at Columbia Theological Seminary in 1861, to complete his studies. When the war started, he found he could not return home and so continued his preparations at Columbia. Licensed to preach by Hopewell Presbytery in 1862 and ordained by that same Presbytery in 1863, he was installed as an pastor in Eufala, Alabama, where he labored until 1865. Then in the summer of 1865, he returned to Boston.

A visit by Rev. Adams to Charleston, South Carolina, in February of 1867 led to a call from the famous Circular Church of that city. The original structure of this church had been designed by the architect Robert Mills, who designed the Washington Monument, and the church was the first large domed structure built in the United States. But by 1867 when the call was extended to Rev. Adams, the church had suffered several setbacks. Its building had burned to the ground late in 1861, then followed the Civil War, and finally, the formerly multi-racial congregation lost its African American congregants as they left to form a separate congregation. In accepting the call to serve as their pastor, Rev. Adams agreed to take on the burdens of a dispirited congregation.

circular_church_ruinsPictured here is a stereoscope photograph of the ruins of the Circular Church

And there he labored faithfully in Charleston for the next ten years. The Memorial published in his honor gives us a picture of a pastor who was genial, exuberant in his love for the Lord, sacrificial of his own time and energy, a man of strong Presbyterian convictions, yet a man who could work right alongside any other Christian who truly loved the Lord Jesus as Savior. This was a man who was greatly loved not just by his own church, but by much of the Charleston community. In his final act of selfless devotion, he gave up his post as pastor of the Circular Church and returned to Boston to care for his dying father. Seeking to honor his father, he put many of his own goals aside with the intent of editing his father’s papers. In God’s providence, the Rev. William Hooper Adams survived his father by just about three years, and he died on May 15, 1880.

Words to Live By:
With Christ his Savior as his example, William Hooper Adams sought to live a life of humility and sacrifice. He honored his father. He gave himself in love and devotion to his people. The fact that we today may not know his story does not diminish the powerful ways in which the Lord used him in His kingdom. After all, he wasn’t after fame and fortune. He labored faithfully to glorify the Lord, not himself.

To view information about his grave site, click here.

For Further Study:
A Memorial of the Rev. William Hooper Adams: For Twelve Years Pastor of the Circular Church, Charleston, S.C.

Image Sources:
1. 
Frontispiece portrait, from A Memorial of the Rev. William Hooper Adams. Charleston, SC: Walker, Evans & Cogswell, 1880.
2. 
Public domain stereoscope photograph, from the Wikimedia Commons.

Two eulogies published upon the death of Dr. J. Gresham Machen. One by a close friend, Dr. Clarence E. Macartney; the other by “S. M. R.”, who was perhaps the editor of The Presbyterian, in the mid-1930’s. (further research would be required to confirm this theory).

DR. MACARTNEY’S COMMENT ON THE DEATH OF DR. MACHEN

[as published in The Presbyterian7 January 1937.]

When I heard of the passing of Dr. Machen, the words of King David over Abner came to mind: “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?”

Dr. Machen was my classmate at Princeton and a firm friend through all the years that have passed since then. I am glad in this public way to testify to my affection for him, my admiration for his superb intellect, his pre-eminent scholarship, his magnificent courage, and his clear discernment of the spread of apostasy in the Christian Church.

He was the greatest theologian and defender of the Christian faith that the Church of our day has produced. More than any other man of our generation, Dr. Machen tore the mask from the face of unbelief which parades under the name of Modernism in the Christian Church.

He was not only a great scholar and thinker, but a man of remarkable power as an organizer. He leaves behind him three noble institutions which are his chief monument–Westminster Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, and the Presbyterian Church of America.

To those who did not know him, Dr. Machen may have seemed austere and censorious. But those who had the privilege of his friendship knew him as a man of the widest culture and a delightful companion.

We shall see him no more in the flesh. His eloquent voice will not be heard again in the pulpits of the land. Yet, “he being dead, yet speaketh.” Like Paul, he kept the faith delivered unto the saints, and like Paul’s noble companion, Barnabas, “He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost.”

Clarence Edward Macartney.


Dr. J. Gresham Machen

The speedy death after a brief battle with lobar pneumonia which closed the earthly career of Dr. Machen at the age of fifty-five, came to us as a great shock. Dr. Machen was a vigorous personality, a great scholar, yet a very humble and warm-hearted Christian. He endeared himself to his students, among whom the writer is happy to have been numbered at Princeton Seminary. He was the master of all the foremost writings of the destructive critics who did so much to undermine Christian faith, and he taught the riches of the Word with understanding as well as personal belief. He saw the poverty of the general position which was so popular a few years ago, but which has now left its votaries discomfited and bereft in the time of great need. He was a man of Reformation proportions. The Lord’s hand may now appear more plainly with the servant called home, either perpetating [sic] the denomination he started with greater power, or directing these noble men back to our own Church. Certainly we would welcome their return, as we will continue to respect them in their own endeavors.

S. M. R.

News Coverage of the Machen Funeral

Using news clippings drawn from the scrapbooks of the Rev. Henry G. Welbon, our post today focuses on the funeral of the Rev. J. Gresham Machen, who had passed away on Friday, January 1, 1937. His funeral took place on Tuesday, January 5, 1937.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday, 3 January 1937, page A9.

Rites Set for TuesdayDR. MACHEN’S RITES SET FOR TUESDAY.
High Presbyterian Officials to Attend Services for Fundamentalist Leader.

With high officials of the Presbyterian Church of America in attendance, funeral services for Dr. J. Gresham Machen, founder of the new fundamentalist denomination, will be held at 3 P.M. Tuesday in the Spruce Street Baptist Church, Spruce and 50th sts.

Dr. Machen, militant first moderator of the denomination who led his followers in a split from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in Philadelphia last June, died in Bismark, N.D., Friday night of pneumonia contracted on a speaking tour.

Notice of the funeral arrangements was received here yesterday from Rev. Dr. Edwin H. Rian, of Philadelphia, general secretary of the Church’s Extension and Home Mission Board, who arrived in Bismark yesterday.

Arrived Too Late.

Dr. Rian and Dr. Machen’s brother, Arthur Machen, of Baltimore, both of whom arrived too late to see Dr. Machen alive will accompany the body to Philadelphia.

The services will be conducted by Dr. Rian, long one of Dr. Machen’s close associates, and by Rev. Dr. R.B. Kuiper, professor of homiletics at Westminster Seminary, of which the late church leader was founder and moving spirit.

Burial will be in Baltimore, Dr. Machen’s birthplace.

A statement deploring the death of Dr. Machen as a loss to evangelical Christianity was issued yesterday by Rev. Dr. John Burton Thwing, moderator of the Presbytery of Philadelphia.

“In the death of Dr. J. Gresham Machen,” he declared, “the cause of evangelical Christianity has lost its most trenchant advocate. His books, lectures, sermons and radio talks were always lucid presentations of the old-fashioned faith based upon sound scholarship.

“Brave under fire in France, he was equally brave under persecution by his false brethren in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. God will reward them according to their works.”

Change Time for TuesdayBridgeton N.J. News:
CHANGE TIME FOR FUNERAL

Services for Rev. Dr. Machen to be Held Tomorrow Morning–Ministers Pay Tribute.
Funeral services for Dr. J. Gresham Machen, first scheduled for 3:30 p.m. will be held instead at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in the Spruce Street Baptist Church, Spruce and Fiftieth streets, Philadelphia, it was announced yesterday by officials of the Presbyterian Church of America.

Members of the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary will be honorary pallbearers for the founder of the new fundamentalist denomination, who died in Bismark, N. D., Friday. The service of Scripture reading, prayer and hymn singing, minus a sermon, will be directed by Rev. Edwin H. Rian, general secretary of the Home Mission and Church Extension Board, and Rev. Dr. R. B. Kuiper, professor of homiletics at the seminary.

Immediately after the ceremony the body will be sent to Baltimore for burial.

Pays Tribute

Some of the residents of Bridgeton heard Dr. Barnhouse, pastor of the Tenth Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, pay a tribute to Dr. Machen. He said that he had known Dr. Machen’s pastorate of 10 years in Newark and spoke of his warm personal friendship for the minister.

Dr. Barnhouse referred to his own experience in Europe and paid . . .

Buried after local ritesDR. MACHEN BURIED AFTER LOCAL RITES.
800 Attend Funeral of Fundamentalist at Spruce Street Baptist Church.

Dr. J. Gresham Machen, founder of the Presbyterian Church of America was buried yesterday in Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, after impressive services in Spruce Street Baptist Church

Clergymen of all denominations, including several members of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, mother church from which Dr. Machen and his followers seceded, joined the more than 800 laymen who packed the flower-decked church during the ceremony.

Dr. Edwin Rian, professor at Westminster Seminary, 13th and Pine sts., which Dr. Machen helped found, presided. Dr. R. B. Kuiper, also a professor at the seminary, preached the sermon. Officers of the student body and the faculty of the seminary acted as pall-bearers and honorary pall-bearers. Dr. Machen’s brothers, Arthur, a Baltimore attorney, and Dr. Thomas Machen, attended the services.

Dr. Machen died in Bismark, N. D., of lobar pneumonia while on a speaking tour on behalf of his fundamentalist denomination.

Words to Live By:
We will all certainly die one day. It is the final mark and proof that we are born in sin. Except the Lord first, we will all die. All through the history of the Church, time and again the Lord has raised up one man to lead the way. Think of Moses, Ezra, Augustine, Athanasius, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and a host of others over the centuries. The Lord may also remove such leaders, sometimes seemingly in a time of greatest need for leadership and direction. Such was the case in the death of Dr. J. Gresham Machen. And yet the testimony of the believing Church never wavered. Life went on; new leaders were raised up, and the Lord’s people continued to declare the Good News of the risen Savior, Jesus Christ. None of us is indispensable in the Lord’s plan for His kingdom, for it’s not about us! It’s all about the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished by His death and resurrection, saving an elect people from their sins, to His greater glory. We can appreciate and learn from those leaders whom the Lord raises up to lead His Church, but we give glory, honor and praise not to men, but to the Lord who worked in and through them.

THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST
by Rev. William Smith (1834)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 75.

Q. 75. What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?

A. The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth, or may unjustly hinder our own, or our neighbor’s wealth, or outward estate.

EXPLICATION.

Whatsoever doth, or may unjustly hinder, &c. ­­–All unlawful or sinful means of hindering our own, or our neighbor’s wealth; such as, idleness, prodigality, wasting money on trifles, or to support pride; stealing, robbery, oppression, using false weights and measures, refusing to pay just debts, neglecting to give what is proper, out of our substance, to the poor, and the like.

ANALYSIS.

The sins forbidden in the eighth commandment, are two-fold:

  1. Whatsoever unjustly hinders our own wealth –1 Tim. v. 8. If any man provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Prov. xxi. 17.  He that loveth pleasure, shall be a poor man.
  2. Whatsoever unjustly hinders our neighbor’s wealth. –Eph. iv. 28. Let him that stole, steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

 

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