The first General Assembly of the National Presbyterian Church, as it was initially named, took place in Birmingham, Alabama, December 4-7, 1973. On their third day of business, the Assembly adopted the Book of Church Order as part of its constitution, adopted by-laws of incorporation, and set up a committee to deliberate on charismatic gifts. In their evening service of worship that day, the Rev. Don Patterson brought a message entitled At the Crossroads. Then, concluding the day’s business, the Assembly adopted a number of recommendations which established the denomination’s board of foreign missions, and finally, adopted a public declaration, to be issued on the final day of the Assembly. This public statement, “A Message to All Churches of Jesus Christ throughout the World, from the General Assembly of the National Presbyterian Church,” was a declaration of the character and intent of the new denomination:

A MESSAGE TO ALL CHURCHES OF JESUS CHRIST THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, FROM THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE NATIONAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Greeting:  Grace, Mercy and Peace be multiplied upon you!

As the National Presbyterian Church takes her place among the family of Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ, we take this opportunity to address all Churches by way of a testimony.We gather as a true branch of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. We affirm our allegiance to Him as the sole Head of the Church and the sole Law-giver in Zion. We remember that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against His Church.

The constituency of this new denomination for the most part have separated themselves from the Presbyterian Church in the United 
States. The decision to separate has come only after long years of struggle and heartache on the part of many of us to return the Church to purity of faith and practice. Principle and conviction entered into that decision, reached only after much soul searching and earnest prayer. We have reluctantly accepted the necessity of separation, deeming loyalty to Christ to take precedence over relationship to any earthly institution, even to a visible branch of the Church of Christ.

In much prayer and with great sorrow and mourning we have concluded that to practice the principle of purity in the Church visible,
 we must pay the price of separation. We desire to elaborate upon those principles and convictions that have brought us to that decision.

We are convinced that our former denomination as a whole, and in its leadership, no longer holds those views regarding the nature and
 mission of the Church, which we accept as both true and essential. When we judged that there was no human remedy for this situation, and in the absence of evidence that God would intervene, we were compelled to raise a new banner bearing the historic, Scriptural faith of our forefathers.

First, we declare the basis of the authority for the Church. According to the Christian faith, the Bible is the Word of God written and carries the authority of its divine Author. We believe the Bible itself asserts that it has been given by inspiration, or, more literally, has been “God-breathed” (II Timothy 3:16). “No prophecy ever came by the will of man; but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:21). We declare, therefore, that the Bible is the very Word of God, so inspired in the whole and in all its parts, as in the original autographs, to be the inerrant Word of God. It is, therefore, the only infallible and all-sufficient rule of faith and practice.

This was the position of the founding fathers of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. We affirm with them in their “Address to All Churches” the application of this principle to the Church and her mission:

Let it be distinctly borne in mind that the only rule of judgment is the written Word of God. The Church knows nothing of the intuitions of reason or the deductions of philosophy, except those reproduced in the Sacred Canon. She has a positive constitution in the Holy Scriptures, and has no right to utter a single syllable upon any subject except as the Lord puts words in her mouth. She is founded, in other words, upon express revelation.Her creed is an authoritative testimony of God, and not speculation, and what she proclaims she must proclaim with the infallible certitude of faith, and not with the hesitating assent of an opinion.
We have called ourselves “Continuing” Presbyterians because we seek to continue the faith of the founding fathers of that Church.
 Deviations in doctrine and practice from historic Presbyterian positions as evident in the Presbyterian Church in the United States, result from accepting other sources of authority, and from making them coordinate or superior to the divine Word. A diluted theology, a gospel tending towards humanism, an unbiblical view of marriage and divorce, the ordination of women, financing of abortion on socio-economic grounds, and numerous other non-Biblical positions are all traceable to a different view of Scripture from that we hold and that which was held by the Southern Presbyterian forefathers.Change in the Presbyterian Church in the United States came as a gradual thing, and its ascendancy in the denomination, over a long 
period of time. We confess that it should not have been permitted. Views and practices that undermine and supplant the system of doctrine or polity of a confessional Church ought never to be tolerated. A Church that will not exercise discipline will not long be able to maintain pure doctrine or godly practice.
When a denomination will not exercise discipline and its courts have become heterodox or disposed to tolerate error, the minority finds itself in the anomalous position of being submissive to a tolerant and erring majority. In order to proclaim the truth and to practice the discipline which they believe obedience to Christ requires, it then becomes necessary for them to separate. This is the exercise of discipline in reverse. It is how we view our separation.

Some of our brethren have felt that the present circumstances do not yet call for such a remedy. They remain in the Presbyterian Church in the United States. We trust they will continue to contend for the faith, though our departure makes their position more difficult. We express to them our hope that God will bless their efforts, and that there may come a genuine spiritual awakening in the Presbyterian Church in the United States.

We trust that our departure may cause those who control and direct the programs and policies of the Presbyterian Church in the United States to reexamine their own position in the light of the Word. Our prayer is that God may use this movement to promote spiritual awakening, not only in the new Church, but also in that from which we have separated. If in the providence of God, such were to occur, we would gladly acknowledge that the grounds for separation and division would have to be reassessed.

We declare also that we believe the system of doctrine found in God’s Word to be the system known as the Reformed Faith. We are 
committed without reservation to the Reformed Faith as set forth in the Westminster Confession and Catechisms. It is our conviction that the Reformed faith is not sectarian, but an authentic and valid expression of Biblical Christianity. We believe it is our duty to seek fellowship and unity with all who profess this faith. We particularly wish to labor with other Christians committed to this theology

We further renew and reaffirm our understanding of the nature and mission of the Church. We have declared that Christ is King and only Law-giver in Zion. He has established the Church. His Church is a spiritual reality. As such it is made up of all the elect from all ages. This spiritual entity is manifested visibly upon the earth.

The Church visible is found wherever there are those who profess the true faith together with their children. As an assembly of those who do so profess this faith, we have established this denomination in the belief that it is a true branch of the Christian Church.

We believe the Church in its visible aspect is still essentially a spiritual organism. As such, its authority, motivation and power come
 from Christ, the Head, who is seated at the right hand of God. He has given us His rulebook for the Church, namely, the Word of God written. We understand the task of the Church to be primarily declarative and ministerial, not legislative or magisterial. It is our duty to set forth what He has given us in His Word and not to devise our own message or legislate our own laws.

We declare that the ultimate purpose of the Church is to glorify God. We believe this includes giving top priority to Christ’s Great Commission. We reaffirm the substance of the position taken by the founding fathers of our former Church regarding the mission of the Church:

“We desire distinctly and deliberately to inscribe on our Church’s banner, as she now unfurls it to the world, in immediate subservience
to the authority of our Lord as Head and King of the Church His last command: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

We regard this as the great end of our organization, and obedience to it, as the indispensable condition of our Lord’s promised presence. It is the one great comprehensive objective, a proper conception of whose grandeur and magnitude is the only thing which, under the constraining love of Christ, can ever sufficiently arouse our energies and develop our resources so as to cause us to carry on with that vigor and efficiency, which true loyalty to our Lord demands, those other agencies necessary to our internal growth and prosperity at home.”

As a Church, we consciously seek to return to the historic Presbyterian view of Church government. We reaffirm in the words of that
 earlier “Address to All Churches” the following:

“The only thing that will be at all peculiar to us is the manner in which we shall attempt to discharge our duty. In almost every department of labor, except the pastoral care of congregations, it has been usual for the Church to resort to societies more or less closely connected with itself, and yet logically and really distinct. It is our purpose to rely upon the regular organs of our government, and executive agencies directly and immediately responsible to them. We wish to make the Church, not merely a superintendent, but an agent. We wish to develop the idea that the congregation of believers, as visibly organized is the very society or corporation which is divinely called to do the work of the Lord. We shall, therefore, endeavor to do what has never been adequately done— bring out the energies of our Presbyterian system of government. From the session to the Assembly, we shall strive to enlist all our courts, as courts, in every department of Christian effort. We are not ashamed to confess that we are intensely Presbyterian. We embrace all other denominations in the arms of Christian fellowship and love, but our own scheme of government we humbly believe to be according to the pattern shown in the Mount, and, by God’s grace, we propose to put its efficiency to the test.”
As this new member of the family of Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ comes into being, we necessarily profess the Biblical doctrine
 of the unity of all who are in Christ. We know that what happens in one portion of His Church affects all of the Body of Christ. We covet the prayers of all Christians that we may witness and serve responsibly. We desire to pursue peace and charity with love towards fellow Christians throughout the world.To the Presbyterian Church in the United States, in particular, we express our continued love and concern. You are our spiritual mother, in your arms we were nurtured, under your ordinances we were baptized, in your courts we were ordained to serve our Lord and King, and to your visible organization we thought we had committed our lives. We sever these ties only with deepest regret and sorrow. We hope that our going may in some way recall you to that historic witness which we cherish as our common heritage.

We greet all believers in an affirmation of the bonds of Christian brotherhood. We invite into ecclesiastical fellowship all who maintain
our principles of faith and order.We now commend ourselves to God and the Word of His power. We devoutly pray that the Church catholic may be filled afresh with 
the Holy Spirit, and that she may speedily be stirred up to take no rest until the Lord accomplishes His Kingdom, making Zion a praise in the whole earth.

December 7, 1973

[Note: Again, this document was adopted on December 6th, but publicly issued on December 7th.]

Words to Live By:

The Latin phrase Semper Reformanda can be translated as “always reforming.” Yet some people take that to mean “always changing,” when in fact what the phrase implies is “always pulling back to what the Scriptures teach.” The Scriptures are our standard, both as to how we are to live as individual Christians, and for how we are to live as the Church—the Body of Christ. It seems so easy to forget that. But we must constantly be reminded of who we are as Christians, and what we are to be about, as the Church. And that’s where a document like the Message to All Churches can be a reminder of where we have come from, and where we want to go. More than anything else, we must always remember that our message is that of a risen Savior, God’s own Son, who redeems an elect people from their sins, that they might glorify and enjoy Him through all eternity.

The First General Assembly of the National Presbyterian Church (i.e., the PCA)
by Rev. David T. Myers

As the newly formed denomination met that December in 1973, there was much to do and little time in which to accomplish it. The opening of the General Assembly had begun on the previous day, December 4th, at 7:30 PM with a time of worship and an opening address delivered by ruling elder W. Jack Williamson. That address was titled “To God Be the Glory”.

The first full day of work for the Assembly began the next day, on December 5th. Committees for the various church agencies began meeting at 8:30 AM and following lunch, another time of worship was set aside. The Rev. C. Darby Fulton preached from Philippians 3:7-14, on “The Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ”. [his message begins on page 31 of the linked PDF.]

It was in the afternoon session of this second day of meeting that the new denomination selected their name, choosing “National Presbyterian Church.” (A year later, that name would be changed to “Presbyterian Church in America.”) The rest of that afternoon was spent in discussion and adoption of constitutional documents [the Westminster Standards and the Book of Church Order]. After dinner, the Assembly met yet again for worship, with the service under the direction of the Rev. Kennedy Smartt, then pastor of the Presbyterian church in Hopewell, Virginia. The Rev. Tim Fortner, of Hazlehurst, Mississippi, led in prayer. The Rev. Sidney Anderson of Swannanoa, North Carolina, read the Scripture, and Dr. O. Palmer Robertson, professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, preached a sermon entitled “The National Presbyterian Church and the Faith Once Delivered,” taking Jude 3 as his text.

After the time of worship and before recessing for the evening, the Assembly continued its work on constitutional documents by adopting the first ten chapters of the Book of Church Order. The Assembly then recessed with prayer by the Rev. Todd Allen, pastor of the Eastern Heights Presbyterian church of Savannah, Georgia.

Words to live by:
That second day of business was full and busy for the Assembly, but note how not just once but twice they met for times of worship during the day. I am reminded of Martin Luther’s statement, “I have so much to do today that I must spend the first three hours in prayer.” There is more truth in that statement than most of us are willing to admit, and certainly more than most of us are willing to live up to. But that first General Assembly of the PCA recognized their priorities and their need to completely and utterly rely upon the Lord in all their deliberations.

If you haven’t been living according to this pattern, then I urge you, test the Lord—try Him and see—put Him first each morning with a time of prayer and devotional Scripture reading. It doesn’t have to be long, perhaps just five or ten minutes if you can’t spare a half-hour. But I have every confidence that you will begin to see a marked improvement, first in your relationship with the Lord, and then in your relationships with family, friends, and  work.

They Had No Manual, but a New Presbyterian Church was Born.

Gathering in Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, were teaching and ruling elders ready to begin a new Presbyterian denomination.  Their date of gathering, or organization, was December 4, 1973, as date consciously chosen with an eye to the past. They began this new Reformed church on the same day and month as the organization date for the mother church that they were leaving, the Presbyterian Church, U.S., commonly known in those years as the Southern Presbyterian Church. That denomination had begun on December 4, 1861 as the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America. Later, that name was changed to the Presbyterian Church in the United States, after the War between the States.

In choosing to organize the new denomination on that anniversary date, the new denomination was making a statement, laying claim as the faithful continuing church, the remnant leaving behind the unfaithful or disobedient. In fact, the Continuing Presbyterian Church was the name that they first gathered under in the years and months leading up to their official organization. That they did not desire to continue as yet another regional church was evidenced by the name they chose for the new denomination, the National Presbyterian Church (though a year later, that name was changed to the Presbyterian Church in America).

Reformed men were obviously interested in reforming the church. And so ever since it was clearly discovered that the Presbyterian Church in the United States had apostatized with no hope to bring it back to its historic roots, men and women had been praying and working, and working and praying, for this historic occasion. Ruling Elder W. Jack Williamson was chosen as the first moderator, with Dr. Morton Smith elected as Stated Clerk.  Ministries then in planning and those already exercised in action, came together in rapid fashion: Mission to the World, Mission to the United States, Christian Education and Publications were organized by the delegates.  With godly and wise coordinators to lead them, the work began to raise up a church faithful to the Scriptures, true to the Reformed Faith, and obedient to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.

 Photo from the First General Assembly in 1973, with W. Jack Williamson at the podium, and Rev. Frank Barker seated, at the right.

Words to live by:  There is usually great excitement over a new birth in a family.  And so there was great excitement over the birth of a new denomination. Southern conservative Presbyterians had gone through many of the same struggles that Northern conservative Presbyterians endured just a few decades earlier. In both cases, the Church had been hijacked by the liberals. But godly men and women stood for the faith once delivered  unto the saints, and wouldn’t let historical attachments hold them captive to a decaying visible church. They voted with their feet and came out and were now separate. Praise God for their obedience to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

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“The first godly band”
by Rev. David T. Myers

A covenant can most easily be thought of as a contract between God and man. As Presbyterianism was gaining ground in Scotland, so too the understanding of covenants. So it is that those Scottish Presbyterians, who came to be known as Covenanters, sought to bind themselves under a series of covenants, seeking to uphold Presbyterian doctrine, worship and government as the only expression of religion in the land.

It was in response to the perception that Roman Catholicism was attempting to regain its position in Scotland, by way of royal marriage, that the first “band” or covenant was signed. A document of great importance in connection with the history of the Reformation in Scotland, what is today known as the First Covenant of Scotland bound its signatories to uphold and promote “the blessed work of God and his Congregation [i.e., the Protestants] against the Congregation of Satan” [i.e., the Roman Catholics]. Among those signing the covenant were the Earls of Argyll, Morton, Glencairn and John Erskine of Dun. The text of this First Covenant follows:

The First Covenant of Scotland. At Edinburgh, 1557.

WE perceiving how Satan in his members, the Antichrists of our time, cruelly do rage, seeking to overthrow and destroy the Gospel of Christ, and his Congregation, ought, according to our bounden duty, to strive in our Master’s Cause, even unto the death, being certain of the Victory in him: The which our duty being well considered, We do promise before the Majesty of God, and his Congregation, That we (by his grace) shall with all diligence continually apply our whole power, substance, and our very lives, to maintain, set forward, and establish the most blessed Word of God, and his Congregation: And shall labour according to our power, to have faithful Ministers, truly and purely to minister Christ’s Gospel and Sacraments to his people. We shall maintain them, nourish them, and defend them; the whole Congregation of Christ, and every Member thereof according to our whole powers, and waging of our lives, against Satan and all wicked power that doth intend Tyranny or trouble against the foresaid Congregation. Unto the which holy Word, and Congregation, we do join us; and so do forsake and renounce the Congregation of Satan, with all the superstitious abomination and idolatry thereof. And moreover, [we] shall declare ourselves manifestly enemies thereto, By this our faithful Promise before God, testified to this Congregation by our Subscription at these Presents.

At Edinburghthe third of December, anno 1557. God called to witness.

A. Earle of Argyle.
Glencarne.
Mortoun.
Archibald, Lord of Lorne.
Iohn Erskin of Dun,
Et cetera.

Then in God’s providence, within just a few years, this was the picture throughout Scotland:

“. . . In Scotland we hear that there have been some disturbances, I know not of what kind, respecting matters of religion; that the nobles have driven out the monks and taken possession of the monasteries; that some French soldiers of the garrison have been slain in a riot, and that the Queen was so incensed as to proclaim the banishment of the preacher Knox by sound of horn, according to the usual custom in Scotland, when they mean to send any one into exile. What has become of him I know not,” . . . .London, May 1559.

“. . . Everything is in a ferment in Scotland. Knox, surrounded by a thousand followers, is holding assemblies throughout the whole kingdom. The old Queen (dowager) has been compelled to shut herself up in the garrison. The nobility, with united hearts and hands, are restoring religion throughout the country, in spite of all opposition. All the monasteries are everywhere levelled with the ground; the theatrical dresses, the sacrilegious chalices, the idols, the altars, are consigned to the flames; not a vestiage of the ancient superstition and idolatry is left.” — London, August 1, 1559.

” . . . The Scots have in their camp the preachers Knox and Goodman, and they call themselves the ‘Congregation of Christ.’ Their next step was to send to the Queen to retire from Leith, if she would not be driven from thence by force and violence. And from this time they began to treat an alliance with England.” — London, Dec. 1, 1559.

[excerpted from letters of Bishop Jewel to Peter Martyr]

Words to Live By:
It is the Lord who raises up kings, and who brings down nations. (Judg 2:16; Isa. 9:11; Prov. 21:1). More importantly, salvation belongs to the Lord (Ps. 3:8; Jonah 2:9). When the Lord turns His face toward us, we shall be saved. When the Lord sovereignly sends His Spirit, then and only then might a nation be called back from sin and destruction to repentance and godliness. When Reformation came to Scotland, it was the work of the Lord and not the work of men. Pray the Lord would so move across this earth again. Pray that Christ would be lifted up, that all men might be drawn to Him.

STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard Van Horn

Q. 95. To Whom is baptism to be administered?

A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to Him; but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized.

Scripture References: Acts 8:36; Acts 2:38-39; I Cor. 7:14; Ephesians 2:12 (See verses below).

Questions:
1. Is it Scriptural to administer baptism to all people?
A. No, only those who are members of the visible church, who are part of the covenant, are eligible.

2. How can infants be baptized, an infant who cannot repent and believe and thus become a member of the visible church?
A. Our Larger Catechism teaches us that the visible church is made up of “all such as profess the true religion, and their children.”

3. Can you explain, in outline form, the proof that infants should be baptized?
A. The following steps are involved and it should be kept in mind that these steps are simply motivators for your own study in this important doctrine:
—1. When you consider infant baptism you are basing your belief on what we call “Covenant Theology” for the practice of infant baptism is vitally related to the covenant of grace.
—2. The infant must be the child of a believing parent (or parents) in order to be considered part of the covenant (I Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:38-39).
—3. God established a covenant of grace with Abraham and this covenant included children (Gen. 17:7, 11-12).
—4. The covenant of the Old Testament and the covenant of the New Testament are substantially the same and God promised it would be an everlasting covenant (Gen. 17:7; Gal. 3:13; Rom. 4:3).
—5. The rite of circumcision symbolized salvation in the Old Testament and it was the sign of the covenant relationship between God and His people. Baptism in the New Testament symbolized the same. (Gen. 17; Deut. 10; Rom. 4; Col. 2:11-12).
—6. God’s people, because of the teachings just mentioned, are bound to put the sign of the covenant upon themselves and their children.

A RIGHTLY USED SACRAMENT

Many times, in churches subscribing to Reformed doctrine, the sacrament of baptism is taken too lightly. Too many parents are guilty of an attitude of thinking their task is done when they have their child baptized.

Too many churches give themselves a pious pat on the back when another child is baptized and feel that their task is completed. The sacrament of baptism is used in the wrong way so many times.

It is good for us once in a while to review our beliefs about a particular doctrine. In regard to baptism, we need to be reminded again and again that a person may be saved without it and a person may be lost even with it. We do not believe in the necessity of baptism for salvation. We do think it is a sin to neglect it. Here we need to review what our Confession states regarding it: “. . . it be a great sin to condemn or neglect this ordinance.” Again, “The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred, by the Holy Ghost. . .”

John Murray put it well when he said, “To suppose that we may entertain any confidence respecting the covenant grace signified and sealed by our baptism, if we are destitute of godly fear, if we break God’s covenant, and walk contrary to his commandments, would be contradiction.”

God help us to use this sacrament in the correct way!

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. 11 (November 1967)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

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What Happened To The Signers Of The Auburn Affirmation?

(“Exploring Avenues Of Acquaintance And Co-operation”)
By Chalmers W. Alexander
Jackson, Mississippi 

This is the second in the series of articles by Chalmers W. Alexander under the heading, “Exploring Avenues of Acquaintance and Co-operation.” This is an informative series of articles which was written by one of the most able laymen in the Southern Presbyterian Church and published in 1949:—

 

According to the heretical Auburn Affirmation, a Northern Presbyterian minister might believe that the Holy Bible contained many errors, that the Lord Jesus Christ was an illegitimate child, that His body still rests in the grave in Palestine until this very day, that He most emphatically did ‘not offer up Himself a sacrifice to satisfy Divine justice and reconcile us to God, and that He never performed a single miracle during His entire life—a Northern Presbyterian minister might believe and proclaim these views and yet be worthy of all confidence and fellowship.”

Why The Affirmation Was Published 

The heretical Auburn Affirmation had come into being because the General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian Church had in 1923 declared each of the following to be “an essential doctrine of the Word of God and our standards”:

1. The full inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible.
2. The Virgin Birth of Christ.

3. His substitutionary atonement by which He satisfied Divine justice and reconciled us to God.

4. His bodily resurrection.

5. His miracles.

These five doctrines, which became known as the “Five Points,” had previously been declared to be “essential” doctrines by the General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian Church in 1910 and later in 1916.

Now the Auburn Affirmation, which was published in 1924, bearing the names of 1,293 ordained ministers who constituted more than one-tenth of the ministers then in the Northern Presbyterian denomination, was issued in protest. It affirmed that not one of the doctrines declared to be “essential” by the General Assembly of 1923 was really essential at all, and that all of the “Five Points,” far from being “essential” doctrines, were only “theories.”

In The Southern Presbyterian Journal of July 1949, the heresies and apostasy contained in the Auburn Affirmation were discussed in more detail than available space permits here.

What ever happened to the Presbyterian ministers who signed this infamous Auburn Affirmation?
Were any of them ever tried for heresy? Were any of them expelled from the Northern Presbyterian Church?

The Affirmationists Were Never Disciplined

No, strange to say, not one signer of the Auburn Affirmation was ever tried for heresy or dismissed from the Northern Presbyterian Church. Back in 1893 the General Assembly had convicted Dr. Charles A. Briggs of heresy and had suspended him from the ministry of the Northern Presbyterian Church for teaching, among other things, that the Scriptures contained error. And on similar charges Professor Henry Preserved Smith, of Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, had likewise been convicted of heresy and had been suspended from the ministry of that denomination in the last decade of the nineteenth century.

But after the Auburn Affirmation was published in 1924, none of the almost 1,300 signers of that document were ever even tried for heresy. As some of the Bible-believing members of the Northern Presbyterian denomination freely admitted later, the Conservatives failed to do their full duty in this connection.

The Conservatives in the Northern Presbyterian Church did make some attempt to deal with the Auburn Affirmation heresy. For instance, in April of 1924 the Presbytery of Cincinnati presented to the General Assembly of that denomination an overture which officially placed the Auburn Affirmation before it, with the request that proper action be taken in the matter. This overture was referred to the General Assembly’s Standing Committee on Bills and Overtures, which was known to be “extremely liberal’’ — and which had four Auburn Affirmationists in its membership! As would be expected, this Committee recommended to the General Assembly that “no action be taken” on the overture, and the General Assembly adopted this Committee’s recommendation.

A Heresy Trial Was Attempted 

Ten years later, in 1934, an effort was made at last to discipline some of the signers of the Auburn Affirmation in one of the Presbyteries of the Northern Presbyterian Church. In October of that year formal charges of heresy were filed in the Presbytery of Philadelphia against eleven Auburn Affirmationist ministers who were subject to the jurisdiction of that Presbytery. But the proceedings never reached the stage of a trial, and the doctrinal issues involved were never squarely faced by the ministers accused. It was claimed that the Auburn Affirmation had been signed some ten years earlier and that a trial was now outlawed by the “statute of limitations.” After a considerable amount of argument, the Presbytery of Philadelphia, by a vote (in which the accused ministers themselves took part!), refused to allow the formal charges of heresy to be referred to its Committee on Judicial Business, and it ordered the formal charges of heresy to be returned to the prosecutors who had filed them.

Thus the efforts of the Conservatives to discipline the signers of the heretical Auburn Affirmation had failed. And the Modernist camel, having now thrust his head into the Northern Presbyterian tent, soon began to thrust in his shoulders preparatory to standing up and trying to walk off with the entire tent.

Affirmationist Influence In The General Assembly 

Since 1924 the power and influence of the Auburn Affirmationists have been greatly increased and have become more and more evident in the affairs of the Northern Presbyterian Church. Auburn Affirmation signers have been placed on the most important committees and boards of the General Assembly of that denomination, and Au-

burn Affirmationists have been placed on the faculties and boards of trustees of some of its theological seminaries.

It was not until 1940, however, that the Auburn Affirmationists succeeded in having one of their number, Dr. William L. Young, elected to the high office of Moderator of the General Assembly.

And in the same General Assembly of 1940 the influence and power of the Affirmationists were clearly demonstrated with regard to an overture received from the Presbytery of Arkansas (of the Northern Presbyterian Church), which asked that the “Five Points” which had been declared to be “essential” doctrines by the General Assembly of 1923 now be declared once more to be essential. This overture was referred to the General Assembly’s Standing Committee on Bills and Overtures— the chairman of which was an Auburn Affirmation signer. This Committee recommended, of course, that the General Assembly take no action on the overture from the Presbytery of Arkansas. And the General Assembly adopted this Committee’s recommendation by unanimous vote.

And in the General Assembly of 1941 the power and influence of the Auburn Affirmationists were again clearly demonstrated. In that year the Presbytery of Cedar Rapids sent an overture to the General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian Church which was intended to assure our Southern Presbyterian Church of the doctrinal soundness of the Northern Presbyterian denomination. This overture asked the General Assembly to state that it regarded the following “as being involved in the ordination vows to which we subscribe”:—the infallible truth and Divine authority of the Scriptures, belief in Christ as true and eternal God, the Virgin Birth of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection, and the second coming of Christ.

This overture from the Presbytery of Cedar Rapids was referred to the General Assembly’s Standing Committee on Bills and Overtures, and that Committee had as its chairman in 1941 none other than Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin, who was among the first one hundred and fifty Northern Presbyterian ministers who had signed the Auburn Affirmation! Dr. Coffin’s Committee took this overture and rewrote it so that it did not affirm a single Christian doctrine! The General Assembly then adopted this rewritten overture piously reaffirming “the fidelity of the Church to its doctrinal standards” and declared itself convinced that “its ministers and elders are loyal to their ordination vows”—whatever that might mean, to Auburn Affirmationists and to other Modernists!

Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin Elected Moderator 

But it was not until 1943 that the Auburn Affirmationists finally succeeded in climbing Mount Everest and in planting the Modernist banner on its very summit. For it was in 1943 that Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin, that extreme, radical Modernist who was among the first to sign the Auburn Affirmation, was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian Church! Twenty years ago no one would have dreamed that this could possibly happen!

Dr. Coffin, long-term President of Union Theological Seminary of New York City, one of the most noted centers of extreme Modernism in America; an institution which in 1892 terminated its relation to the General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterian Church because the General Assembly of that denomination had in 1891 failed to confirm the appointment of Dr. Charles A. Briggs as Professor of Biblical Theology at Union Theological Seminary of New York City (the same Dr. Briggs who was found guilty of heresy and was suspended from the ministry of the Northern Presbyterian Church in 1893 but who remained a professor at Union Seminary until his death in 1913); Union Seminary of New York, that institution which for years had as Professor of Practical Theology the well-known, radical Modernist, Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, who has written, over his own signature, the following statement: “I do not believe in the Virgin Birth, or in that old-fashioned substitutionary Doctrine of the Atonement; and I do not know any intelligent Christian minister who does”! Dr. Coffin, who himself has written: “Certain widely used hymns still perpetuate the theory that God pardons sinners because Christ purchased that pardon by his obedience and suffering. But a forgiveness that is paid for is not forgiveness. There is no cleansing blood which can wipe out threcord of what has been—the Cross of Christ is not a means of procuring forgiveness”! Dr. Coffin of all the ministers in the Northern Presbyterian Church, honored with the highest position in that denomination!

Truly the signers of the heretical Auburn Affirmation had come a long way since 1924.

The Affirmationists Today 

Today the Northern Presbyterian denomination is honey-combed with Auburn Affirmationists and with their theological fellow-travelers. Their influence in the official affairs of that church is decidedly powerful and wide-spread. They have their hands on much of the machinery that governs the affairs of that denomination.

If the Southern Presbyterian Church were to unite with the very much larger Northern Presbyterian Church, Southern Presbyterians could rest assured that to a very large extent their church activities would be controlled by the Auburn Affirmationists and the other Modernists who are now exerting such a powerful influence in the larger Northern Presbyterian Church.

What shall every Southern Presbyterian, as a Bible-believing Christian who repudiates completely the views contained in the Auburn Affirmation and who wishes to remain separated from the signers of the heretical Auburn Affirmation, say with regard to the proposed union with the heresy-tainted Northern Presbyterian Church?

Thou Shalt Say, No!

One More Presbyterian Minister Stands for Liberty
by David T. Myers.

“Men of America,” the Presbyterian minister in Massachusetts preached, “citizens of this great country hanging upon the precipice of war, loyalty to England lies behind you, broken by the acts of the mother country – a cruel mother, deaf to the voice of liberty and right; duty to freedom, duty to your country, duty to God is before you; your patriotism is brought to the test; I call upon those ready to volunteer for the defense of the provinces against British tyranny to step into the ‘broad aisle.’” Those who did step into that church aisle became the first volunteers to join the Continental Army and fight in the Battle of Bunker Hill. A political liberty became his emphasis in those days.

Such rhetoric was more commonly found among Presbyterian pastors than any other denomination in the days and years of the American Revolution. It was no wonder that the Revolutionary War was characterized in England as the Presbyterian Rebellion. And one of those Presbyterian ministers leading the charge was Jonathan Parsons.

Born November 30, 1705, he was the youngest son of church deacon Ebenezer Parsons and his wife Margaret Marshfield of Springfield, Massachusetts. This line of Parsons could be traced back hundreds of years in England and later, equally forward for a long time in America. Jonathan Parsons was influenced by the Rev. Jonathan Edwards to enter Yale, which he did at age twenty. Edwards, along with others, taught him theology as he prepared for the ministry.

Graduating in 1729, Parsons entered first into the pulpit of the Congregational Church of Lyme, Connecticut in 1731. Married to Phebe Griswold, the oldest daughter of the town’s leading family, Jonathan gained much in the material realm in the first decade of his ministry. And he lived that advantage to the fullest. It was said that “he had a passion for fine clothes, for gold and silver, and for lacy ruffled shirt fronts.”

All this came into direct confrontation with the effects of the Great Awakening in America. Suffering doubts regarding the reality of his own personal conversion, he struggled long and hard in his own mind until “the doctrine of salvation by faith burst on his mind.” The result was that his pulpit preaching became marked by greater earnestness and simplicity as he expounded the sufferings of Christ and His undying love for sinners. Rev. Parson’s ministry was now characterized by a spiritual vigor and a renewed freedom in preaching the Gospel of grace.

This embrace of the Great Awakening was enhanced by his meeting and subsequent cooperation with George Whitefield in the 1740’s. The latter entered his pulpit in Lyme twice. While reviving many with the doctrines of grace proclaimed without reservation, eventually the congregation suffered a schism. And so it was that Parsons was dismissed from the Congregational pulpit in 1745.

With help from Whitefield, Jonathan Parsons became the pastor of the Old South Presbyterian Church in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He would serve the Lord for thirty years, in which time the congregation became one of the largest churches in New England. It was to this congregation that George Whitefield would visit in 1770, and indeed Whitefield breathed his last and was translated to heaven there in the parsonage of Jonathan Parsons. His body was laid beneath the pulpit of that church, and though later moved a short distance, Whitefield’s remains are still there. Yet a few more years and Whitefield was joined on July 19, 1776 with the passing of his friend Jonathan Parsons.

Words to Live By:
Jonathan Parsons is a good example of what happens when the Gospel of the Lord Jesus fills our hearts and minds by the power of the Holy Spirit. Strive to so live and breathe that you always remain close to your Lord and Savior. Then watch to see how the Lord will indeed use you to His glory, in His kingdom.

Remembering a Founding Father of the PCA

Many of the PCA’s founding fathers have already passed on to their reward. One such was the Rev. Thomas Edward Lacey, who spent the larger portion of his ministerial career as a missionary in Belize. Our text today is taken first from the memorial posted at the Find-a-Grave website, and secondly from the Minutes of the Presbytery of Mississippi Valley. The first account tells a more vibrant story of this brother’s life and ministry, while the second is more formal. Together, I think they speak eloquently to our purpose.

“Thomas Edward Lacey was the son of Edward Alexander and Ava McGee Lacey. He was Born on February 21, 1934 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. As a young man, he traveled to the Northwest coast of Canada where he served as the pilot of a missionary ship, the Willis Shank, for the Inland Indian Missions. There he met his bride, Helen Loewen, who was a missionary teacher to the island tribes of the area. They married on Thetus Island [British Columbia] on May 4, 1958. After the birth of a daughter, Susan Joy, they returned to Kosciusko where Tom served as the youth pastor for First Presbyterian and attended Jackson Theological Seminary. A son, David Edward, was born before they were commissioned as missionaries with the South American Indian Mission in Bolivia for the purpose of reaching the Ayora tribe. During that time, a son, Mark Thomas, was born. Eventually, the Lacey family moved to Cristo Rey, Belize to serve the Mayan Indians under the Mexican Presbytery. They established numerous village churches, a school, and a medical clinic. They remained in Belize until Tom’s death in Houston, Texas from cancer on November 29, 1994.” 

Then, from the memorial which was spread upon the minutes of the Presbytery of Mississippi, where Rev. Lacey was a member:

WHEREAS, our Sovereign God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, saw fit to call our friend, brother, and co-laborer, Thomas Edward Lacey, home to heaven on November 29, 1994, and
WHEREAS, Thomas Edward Lacey, having been raised, nurtured, catechized, ordained, and having served the Lord in this church as a faithful member and Youth Director, and
WHEREAS, Thomas Edward Lacey’s Christian character, love, and service made him a valued friend and respected minister in the community of Kosciusko, Mississippi, and
WHEREAS, Thomas Edward Lacey was used greatly by the Lord in bringing sinners to Christ, establishing churches, a Presbytery, a Presbyterian Day School and a Medical-Dental clinic, throughout five years of ministry in the villages of Bolivia and twenty-five years of ministry in the villages of Northern Belize, during which time the Lord graciously called His appointed ones in the family of God’s children and established a portion of His church to His own glory; 
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Session of First Presbyterian Church, representing its membership, expresses its deeply felt sense of loss in the passing of our brother, Thomas Edward Lacey, our appreciation for his untiring service and exemplary life, and our gratitude to Almighty God for allowing us the joy and blessing of having known, loved and labored with this servant of the Lord.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution be made a permanent record on the minutes of the Session of the First Presbyterian Church, Kosciusko, Mississippi, and that a copy be sent to the Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley so that Thomas Edward Lacey might be memorialized at the June 6, 1995 meeting of the Presbytery, and that a copy be presented to his family.
Adopted by the Session, May 14, 1995.

Words to Live By:
Psalm 116:15 declares, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Have you ever wondered at this truth? For one, it must be a sure truth, because what awaits us, in Christ, is so far above what we have known in this life that it cannot compare. It is a deep truth and one worth pondering. Matthew Henry comments: “God has a people, even in this world, that are his saints, his merciful ones, or men of mercy, that have received mercy from him and show mercy for his sake. The saints of God are mortal and dying; nay, there are those that desire their death, and labour all they can to hasten it, and sometimes prevail to be the death of them; but it is precious in the sight of the Lord; their life is so (2 Ki. 1:13 ); their blood is so, Ps. 72:14 . God often wonderfully prevents the death of his saints when there is but a step between them and it; he takes special care about their death, to order it for the best in all the circumstances of it;”

An “Old Side” Presbyterian Who Accomplished Much for Christ
by Rev David T Myers

Educational opportunities in the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition were alive and well in the American colonies in the early days of her existence. Schools like the Log College under William Tennant, Faggs Manor Presbyterian Academy under Samuel Blair, West Nottingham Academy under Samuel Finley were all in operation in the 1740’s. We can add to these posts that of New London Academy under the tutelage of the Rev. Francis Alison (sometimes spelled with two “l”s).

Francis Alison was born in the parish of Leck, County Donegal, in what we know as North Ireland or Ulster, today. The son of a weaver, he had received education in a Presbyterian school which prepared him well to enter the schools of the British Isles. A Master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1733 added to his education. Some surmise that he also studied at the University of Glasgow for further theological study, since later on, he was awarded an honorary divinity degree, given only to alumni. All this enabled him to be licensed by Letterkenny Presbytery, after which he left for America.

In America, Alison was first hired as a tutor in the family of John Dickinson. Ordained as a minister in 1737 by an American Presbytery, he was called to New London, Pennsylvania as the Presbyterian pastor in the church there. It was in this call that he founded the New London Academy, a classical school which is still in operation today. Students, which were all male in its early days, were trained in math, sciences, Latin, philosophy, and yes the Bible. Among the graduates were three signers of the Declaration of Independence, namely, Thomas McKean, George Read, and James Smith. Charles Thompson, who was the secretary of the Continental Congress, was also his pupil.

In 1741, as our readers know from other posts, there was a schism in the infant Presbyterian church known as the New Side Old Side Split. This has been treated elsewhere in This Day. It may surprise many that Francis Alison took the Old Side position. At the close of this schism, Alison preached the opening sermon of the reunited denomination, entitled “Peace and Union” from Ephesians 4:4 – 7.

In 1751, Rev. Alison left the New London Church and Academy to take a administrator-teacher role in the Academy of Philadelphia. He also became a part time pastor of Philadelphia’s First Presbyterian Church. He helped develop the first insurance plan for Presbyterian ministers and set up a lending library for ministers. He was also involved in helping develop in 1767 another school down in Newark, Delaware which later on became the University of Delaware.

Francis Alison went to be with the Lord on November 28, 1779 after a life spent in God’s service.

Words to Live By:

Our teaching elders in the Presbyterian church government are often called pastors-teachers. And so they are in both name and ministry. Paul gives these men the following challenge in 2 Timothy 2:2 “and the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” How are you, the subscribers who occupy this high and holy calling, carrying out this mandate in the home, church, and school? Examine yourself!

[The following paper by Dr. J. Gresham Machen was read before a group of ministers in Philadelphia on November 27, 1933. It was subsequently published in Christianity Today (original series, August 1934) and later reprinted in a collection of Machen’s essays edited by Ned B. Stonehouse, published under the title What Is Christianity? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951). The address was again separately reprinted in 2002 by the Committee for the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and can also be found online at the OPC website http://www.opc.org/machen/mountains.html. For an interesting exploration of the background of this work, as found among the Papers of Dr. Allan A. MacRae, click here.]

machen_climbingMountains and Why We Love Them

by J. Gresham Machen

What right have I to speak about mountain-climbing? The answer is very simple. I have none whatever. I have, indeed, been in the Alps four times. The first time I got up Monte Rosa, the second highest of the Alps, and one or two others of the easier Zermatt peaks. On my second visit I had some glorious days in the Grossglockner group and on a few summits in the Zillerthal Alps and also made my first visit to that beautiful liberty-loving land of South Tirol, where, as a result of a war fought to “make the world safe for democracy,” Mussolini is now engaged in the systematic destruction of a language and civilization that has set its mark upon the very face of the landscape for many centuries. On my third visit, in 1913, I did my most ambitious climbing, all in the Eastern Alps, getting up the Kleine Zinne by the north face, certain of the sporty Cortina courses, and also the Campanile di Val Montanaia, which is not considered altogether easy. In 1932 I was on three of the first-class Zermatt peaks.

Why, then, have I no right to talk about mountain-climbing? For the simple reason that I did all of these climbs with good guides, safeguarded by perfectly good Alpine ropes. An Alpine guide is said to be able to get a sack of meal up the Matterhorn about as well as he can get some tourists up, and then those tourists go home and boast what great mountaineers they are. Well, I differed from the proverbial sack of meal in two particulars: (1) I am a little superior to the sack of meal in climbing ability; (2) the sack of meal is unaware of the fact that it is not a mountaineer, and I am fully aware of the fact that I am not. The man who leads on the rope is the man who has to be a real mountaineer, and I never did that. I am less than the least of the thousands of real climbers who go to the Alps every summer and climb without guides.

But although I am not a mountaineer, I do love the mountains and I have loved them ever since I can remember anything at all. It is about the love of the mountains, rather than about the mountains, that I am venturing to read this little paper today.

Can the love of the mountains be conveyed to those who have it not? I am not sure. Perhaps if a man is not born with that love it is almost as hopeless to try to bring it to him as it would be to explain what color is to a blind man or to try to make President Roosevelt understand the Constitution of the United States. But on the whole I do believe that the love of the mountains can at least be cultivated, and if I can do anything whatever toward getting you to cultivate it, the purpose of this little paper will be amply attained.

Le Sommet du Cervin. Croix du sommet italien arete faitiere.One thing is clear—if you are to learn to love the mountains you must go up them by your own power. There is more thrill in the smallest hill in Fairmount Park if you walk up it than there is in the grandest mountain on earth if you go up it in an automobile. There is one curious thing about means of locomotion—the slower and simpler and the closer to nature they are, the more real thrill they give. I have got far more enjoyment out of my two feet than I did out of my bicycle; and I got more enjoyment out of my bicycle than I ever have got out of my motor car; and as for airplanes—well, all I can say is that I wouldn’t lower myself by going up in one of the stupid, noisy things! The only way to have the slightest inkling of what a mountain is is to walk or climb up it.

Now I want you to feel something of what I feel when I am with the mountains that I love. To that end I am not going to ask you to go with me to any out-of-the-way place, but I am just going to take you to one of the most familiar tourist’s objectives, one of the places to which one goes on every ordinary European tour—namely, to Zermatt—and in Zermatt I am not going to take you on any really difficult climbs but merely up one or two of the peaks by the ordinary routes which modern mountaineers despise. I want you to look at Zermatt for a few minutes not with the eyes of a tourist, and not with the eyes of a devotee of mountaineering in its ultra-modern aspects, but with the eyes of a man who, whatever his limitations, does truly love the mountains.

In Zermatt, after I arrived on July 15, 1932, I secured Alois Graven as my guide; and on a number of the more ambitious expeditions I had also Gottfried Perren, who also is a guide of the first class. What Ty Cobb was on a baseball diamond and Bill Tilden is on the courts, that such men are on a steep snow or ice slope, or negotiating a difficult rock, Ueberhang. It is a joy as I have done in Switzerland and in the Eastern Alps, to see really good climbers at work.

At this point I just want to say a word for Swiss and Austrian guides. Justice is not done to them, in my judgment, in many of the books on climbing. You see, it is not they who write the books. They rank as professionals, and the tourists who hire them as “gentleman”; but in many cases I am inclined to think that the truer gentleman is the guide. I am quite sure that that was the case when I went with Alois Graven.

In addition to climbing practice on the wrong side of the cocky little Riffelhorn and on the ridge of the Untergabelhorn—which climbing practice prevented me from buttoning my back collar button without agony for a week—and in addition to an interesting glacier expedition around the back side of the Breithorn and up Pollux (13,430 feet) and Caster (13,850) and down by the Fellikjoch through the ice fall of the Zwillingsgletscher, on which expedition I made my first acquaintance with really bad weather in the high Alps and the curious optical illusions which it causes—it was perfectly amazing to see the way in which near the summit of Caster the leading guide would feel with his ice-axe for the edge of the ridge in what I could have sworn to be a perfectly innocent expanse of easy snowfield right there in plain view before our feet, and it was also perfectly amazing to see the way in which little pieces of ice on the glacier were rolled by way of experimentation down what looked like perfectly innocent slopes, to see whether they would simply disappear in crevasses which I could have sworn not to be there (if they disappeared we didn’t because we took the hint and chose some other way through the labyrinth)—after these various preliminary expeditions and despite the agony of a deep sore on my right foot in view of which the Swiss doctor whom I consulted told me that as a physician he would tell me to quit but that as a man he knew I would not do so and that therefore he would patch me up as well as possible, and despite the even greater agony of a strained stomach muscle which I got when I extricated myself and was extricated one day from a miniature crevasse and which made me, the following night in the Theodul hut, feel as helpless as a turtle laid on its back, so that getting out of my bunk became a difficult mountaineering feat—after these preliminary expeditions and despite these and other agonies due to a man’s giving a fifty-year-old body twenty-year-old treatment, I got up three first-class Zermatt peaks; the Zinalrothorn, the Matterhorn, and the Dent Blanche. Of these three, I have not time—or rather you have not time (for I for my part should just love to go on talking about the mountains for hours and Niagara would have nothing on me for running on)—I say, of these you have not time for me to tell about more than one. It is very hard for me to choose among the three. The Zinalrothorn, I think, is the most varied and interesting as a climb; the Dent Blanche has always had the reputation of being the most difficult of all the Zermatt peaks, and it is a glorious mountain indeed, a mountain that does not intrude its splendors upon the mob but keeps them for those who will penetrate into the vastnesses or will mount to the heights whence true nobility appears in its real proportions. I should love to tell you of that crowning day of my month at Zermatt, when after leaving the Schönbühl Hut at about 2.30 A.M. (after a disappointment the previous night when my guides had assisted in a rescue expedition that took one injured climber and the body of one who was killed in an accident on the Zmutt Ridge of the Matterhorn, opposite the hut where we were staying, down to Zermatt so that we all arrived there about 2 A.M., about the time when it had been planned that we should leave the hut for our climb) we made our way by lantern light up into the strange upper recesses of the Schönbühl Glacier, then by the dawning light of the day across the glacier, across the bottom of a couloir safe in the morning but not a place where one lingers when the warmth of afternoon has affected the hanging glacier two thousand feet above, then to the top of the Wandfluh, the great south ridge, at first broad and easy but contracting above to its serrated knife-edge form, then around the “great gendarme” and around or over the others of the rock towers on the ridge, until at last that glorious and unbelievable moment came when the last few feet of the sharp snow ridge could be seen with nothing above but a vacancy of blue, and when I became conscious of the fact that I was actually standing on the summit of the Dent Blanche.

But the Matterhorn is a symbol as well as a mountain, and so I am going to spend the few minutes that remain in telling you about that.

4164 Blick v. d. Wellenkuppe g. Matterhorn 4505 m. und Dent d'HeThere is a curious thing when you first see the Matterhorn on a fresh arrival at Zermatt. You think your memory has preserved for you an adequate picture of what it is like. But you see that you were wrong. The reality is far more unbelievable than any memory of it can be. A man who sees the Matterhorn standing at that amazing angle above the Zermatt street can believe that such a thing exists only when he keeps his eyes actually fastened upon it.

When I arrived on July 15, 1932, the great mountain had not yet been ascended that summer. The masses of fresh snow were too great; the weather had not been right. That is one way in which this mountain retains its dignity even in the evil days upon which it has fallen when duffers such as I can stand upon its summit. In storm, it can be almost as perilous as ever even to those who follow the despised easiest route.

It was that despised easiest route, of course, which I followed—though my guide led me to have hopes of doing the Zmutt Ridge before I got through. On Monday, August 1st, we went up to the “Belvedere,” the tiny little hotel (if you can call it such) that stands right next to the old Matterhorn Hut at 10,700 feet. We went up there intending to ascend the Matterhorn the next day. But alas for human hopes. Nobody ascended the Matterhorn the next day, nor the day after that, nor that whole week. On Wednesday we with several other parties went a little way, but high wind and cold and snow soon drove us back. The Matterhorn may be sadly tamed, but you cannot play with it when the weather is not right. That applies to experts as well as to novices like me. I waited at the Belvedere all that week until Friday. It is not the most comfortable of summer resorts, and I really think that the stay that I made in it was one of the longest that any guest had ever made. Its little cubby-holes of rooms are admirable as Frigidaires, but as living quarters they are “not so hot.” People came and people went; very polyglot was the conversation: but I remained. I told them that I was the hermit or the Einsiedler of the Belvedere. At last, however, even I gave it up. On Friday I returned to Zermatt, in plenty of time for the Saturday night bath!

The next Monday we toiled again up that five thousand feet to the Belvedere, and this time all went well. On Tuesday, August 9th, I stood on what I suppose is, next to Mt. Everest, the most famous mountain in the world.

From the Belvedere to the summit is about four thousand feet. The Matterhorn differs from every other great Alpine peak that I know anything about in that when you ascend it by the usual route you do not once set foot on a glacier. You climb near the northeast ridge—for the most part not on the actual ridge itself but on the east face near the ridge. In some places in the lower part there is some danger from falling stones, especially if other parties are climbing above. There is scarcely anything that the blasé modern mountaineer calls rock climbing of even respectable difficulty; but it is practically all rock climbing or clambering of a sort, and it seems quite interesting enough to the novice. The most precipitous part is above what is called “the shoulder,” and it was from near this part that the four members of Whymper’s party fell 4,000 feet to their death when they were descending after the first ascent in 1865. There are now fixed ropes at places in this part. You grasp the hanging rope with one hand and find the holds in the rock with the other. It took me five hours and forty minutes to make the ascent from the Belvedere. It would certainly have been no great achievement for an athlete; but I am not an athlete and never was one, and I was then fifty-one years of age and have an elevator in the building where I live. The rarefied air affected me more than it used to do in my earlier years, and the mountain is about 14,700 feet high. I shall never forget those last few breathless steps when I realized that only a few feet of easy snow separated me from the summit of the Matterhorn. When I stood there at last—the place where more than any other place on earth I had hoped all my life that I might stand—I was afraid I was going to break down and weep for joy.

The summit looks the part. It is not indeed a peak, as you would think it was from looking at the pictures which are taken from Zermatt, but a ridge—a ridge with the so-called Italian summit at one end and the so-called Swiss summit three feet higher at the other. Yes, it is a ridge. But what a ridge! On the south you look directly over the stupendous precipice of the south face to the green fields of Valtournanche. On the north you look down an immensely steep snow slope—with a vacancy beyond that is even more impressive than an actual view over the great north precipice would be. As for the distant prospect, I shall not try to describe it, for the simple reason that it is indescribable. Southward you look out over the mysterious infinity of the Italian plain with the snows of Monte Viso one hundred miles away. To the west, the great snow dome of Mont Blanc stands over a jumble of snow peaks; and it looks the monarch that it is. To the north the near peaks of the Weisshorn and the Dent Blanche, and on the horizon beyond the Rhone Valley a marvelous glittering galaxy of the Jungfrau and the Finsteraarhorn and the other mountains of the Benese Oberland. To the east, between the Strahlhorn and Monte Rosa, the snows of the Weissthorn are like a great sheet let down from heaven, exceeding white and glistering, so as no fuller on earth can white them; and beyond, fold on fold, soft in the dim distance, the ranges of the Eastern Alps.

Then there is something else about that view from the Matterhorn. I felt it partly at least as I stood there, and I wonder whether you can feel it with me. It is this. You are standing there not in any ordinary country, but in the very midst of Europe, looking out from its very centre. Germany just beyond where you can see to the northeast, Italy to the south, France beyond those snows of Mont Blanc. There, in that glorious round spread out before you, that land of Europe, humanity has put forth its best. There it has struggled; there it has fallen; there it has looked upward to God. The history of the race seems to pass before you in an instant of time, concentrated in that fairest of all the lands of the earth. You think of the great men whose memories you love, the men who have struggled there in those countries below you, who have struggled for light and freedom, struggled for beauty, struggled above all for God’s Word. And then you think of the present and its decadence and its slavery, and you desire to weep. It is a pathetic thing to contemplate the history of mankind.

4192 Mettelhorn. Weisshorn 4512 m. vom Gornergrat ausWhat will be the end of that European civilization, of which I had a survey from my mountain vantage ground—of that European civilization and its daughter in America? What does the future hold in store? Will Luther prove to have lived in vain? Will all the dreams of liberty issue into some vast industrial machine? Will even nature be reduced to standard, as in our country the sweetness of the woods and hills is being destroyed, as I have seen them destroyed in Maine, by the uniformities and artificialities and officialdom of our national parks? Will the so-called “Child Labor Amendment” and other similar measures be adopted, to the destruction of all the decencies and privacies of the home? Will some dreadful second law of thermodynamics apply in the spiritual as in the material realm? Will all things in church and state be reduced to one dead level, coming at last to an equilibrium in which all liberty and all high aspirations will be gone? Will that be the end of all humanity’s hopes? I can see no escape from that conclusion in the signs of the times; too inexorable seems to me to be the march of events. No, I can see only one alternative. The alternative is that there is a God—a God who in His own good time will bring forward great men again to do His will, great men to resist the tyranny of experts and lead humanity out again into the realms of light and freedom, great men, above all, who will be messengers of His grace. There is, far above any earthly mountain peak of vision, a God high and lifted up who, though He is infinitely exalted, yet cares for His children among men.I know that there are people who tell us contemptuously that always there are croakers who look always to the past, croakers who think that the good old times are the best. But I for my part refuse to acquiesce in this relativism which refuses to take stock of the times in which we are living. It does seem to me that there can never be any true advance, and above all there can never be any true prayer, unless a man does pause occasionally, as on some mountain vantage ground, to try, at least, to evaluate the age in which he is living. And when I do that, I cannot for the life of me see how any man with even the slightest knowledge of history can help recognizing the fact that we are living in a time of sad decadence—a decadence only thinly disguised by the material achievements of our age, which already are beginning to pall on us like a new toy. When Mussolini makes war deliberately and openly upon democracy and freedom, and is much admired for doing so even in countries like ours; when an ignorant ruffian is dictator of Germany, until recently the most highly educated country in the world—when we contemplate these things I do not see how we can possibly help seeing that something is radically wrong. Just read the latest utterances of our own General Johnson, his cheap and vulgar abuse of a recent appointee of our President, the cheap tirades in which he develops his view that economics are bunk—and then compare that kind of thing with the state papers of a Jefferson or a Washington—and you will inevitably come to the conclusion that we are living in a time when decadence has set in on a gigantic scale.

What have I from my visits to the mountains, not only from those in the Alps, but also, for example, from that delightful twenty-four-mile walk which I took one day last summer in the White Mountains over the whole Twin Mountain range? The answer is that I have memories. Memory, in some respects, is a very terrible thing. Who has not experienced how, after we have forgotten some recent hurt in the hours of sleep, the memory of it comes back to us on our awaking as though it were some dreadful physical blow. Happy is the man who can in such moments repeat the words of the Psalmist and who in doing so regards them not merely as the words of the Psalmist but as the Word of God. But memory is also given us for our comfort; and so in hours of darkness and discouragement I love to think of that sharp summit ridge of the Matterhorn piercing the blue or the majesty and the beauty of that world spread out at my feet when I stood on the summit of the Dent Blanche.

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