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In troublesome times, draw ever nearer to your Lord and King, for His promise will, in due time, be fulfilled.

Excerpted from The American National Preacher, Sermon 205, preached at Baltimore, on this day, September 9th, in 1835, at the Annual Meeting of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, by the Rev. Dr. Samuel Miller, D.D., Professor in the Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey.

THE EARTH FILLED WITH THE GLORY OF THE LORD.
[click here for a full-length pdf version of this sermon]

Numbers xiv. 20, 21-And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word: but as truly
as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord
.

THE practice of confirming a declaration with an oath, is of very early origin. And although the multiplication of oaths is a great evil, and the act of taking or administering them with lightness, an aggravated sin ; yet, they are, undoubtedly, in ‘great error who maintain that all swearing, even on the most solemn occasions, and on the call of judicial officers, is unlawful. An oath for confirmation, says an inspired Apostle, is an end of all strife. Accordingly, in the sacred history, we find many examples of holy men, on various occasions, employing this form of asseveration. But, what is much more decisive still, we find the High and Holy One himself repeatedly adopting it to confirm both s promises and his threatenings. Thus we read, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that, there being no greater, Jehovah sware by himself; and again, in the same Epistle, it is said, that God willing more abundantly-to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it with an oath, that by two immu-table things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, they might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us. And in the passage before us, the Lord said, As I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.

These words were spoken on a very distressing, and, to the eye of man, a very discouraging occasion. When the twelve men who had been sent from the wilderness of Paran to spy out the land of promise, brought back their report, the mass of the people were almost overwhelmed with alarm and discouragement. Nay, overcome by apprehension, and infatuated with a spirit of unbelief and rebellion, they proposed to make choice of another leader, and return back to Egypt. With this ungrateful and daring revolt the Lord was greatly displeased, and threatened to give them up to his destroying judgments, and to disinherit them for ever. Moses, however, interceded for the people in a most touching strain of importunate prayer and he prevailed. The Lord said, I have pardoned them according to thy word. But as truly as I live, the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. As if he had said—”Unbelieving and rebellious as this people now appear, and utterly desperate as their prospects may seem;—neither my plans nor my promises, in regard to them or the world, shall be frustrated. My cause shall finally triumph over all the infatuation and rebellion of man. The whole earth shall, in due time, be filled with my glory.”

There are three things in the passage before us which demand our notice—THE IMPORT OF THE PROMISE WHICH IT CONTAINS;—THE REASONS WHICH WE HAVE FOR BELIEVING THAT THIS PROMISE WILL, IN DUE TIME, BE REALIZED;—AND THE DUTY DEVOLVING ON US IN RELATION TO THE PROMISE

I. Let us attend to THE IMPORT OF THE PROMISE BEFORE US. This import, expressed with so much solemnity of asseveration, is large and precious. As I live, saith the Lord, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.

Glory is the manifestation of excellence. The glory of God is that display of his most blessed character and will, which opens the way for his intelligent creatures to know, to love, and to obey him. This glory is exhibited in various ways. It shines in all the works of creation. All the works of God, we are told, praise him. The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament showeth his handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. Again, the glory of God is manifested by the works of his providence. Here his wisdom, his power, and his benevolence, gloriously shine. The Lord, we are told, is known—that is, is made known,—by the judgments which he executeth. But, above all, is the glory of God displayed in the work of REDEMPTION; in that great plan of love and mercy by a Redeemer, which was first revealed to the parents of our race immediately after the fall; which was more and more unfolded in the ceremonial economy; and which reached its meridian brightness, when the Saviour, the blessed “Sun of Righteousness” rose upon a dark world. In this wonderful plan of salvation, the glory of God shines with its brightest lustre. Here all his perfections unite and harmonize, and shine with transcendant glory. Now, when the Gospel, which proclaims this plan of mercy, shall be preached and received throughout the world; when every kindred, and people, and nation and tongue shall not only be instructed in its sublime doctrines, but also brought under its benign and sanctifying power; then, with emphatic propriety, may it be said that “the earth is filled with the glory of the Lord.” As the highest glory, of which an individual creature is capable, is to bear the image of his Maker; so the highest glory of which our world at large is capable, is to be filled with the holy and benevolent Spirit of Him who is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person;—is to have the knowledge and love of the Saviour reigning over all the population of our globe, from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same.

It is this universal prevalence of the true religion; that religion which alone can enlighten, sanctify and save; that religion which imparts the highest physical and moral glory, wherever it reigns, and in proportion as it reigns;—it is the universal prevalence of this glory which is promised in our text. When this holy and benevolent religion shall fill the world, then shall be brought to pass the promise which is here recorded. Yes, when the benign power of the Gospel, and all the graces and virtues which it inspires, shall reign over all the family of man; when the highest intellectual and moral culture shall be every where enjoyed; when the voice of prayer and praise shall be heard in every tabernacle; when the Sabbath shall be universally kept holy to God; when the Christian law of marriage, that noblest and most precious bond of social unity and happiness, shall be universally and sacredly obeyed; when the temperance reformation, without any unscriptural extremes, or fanatical perversions, shall pervade the world: when “wars shall cease to the ends of the earth;” when fraud and violence shall be banished from the abodes of men; when the voice of profaneness shall no more pollute the lips or the ears of creatures claiming to be rational; when tyranny and oppression, in every form, shall come to an end; when sectarian feuds and jealousies shall be unknown, save only in the pages of history; when all heresy and error shall give place to the power of truth, and all vice and profligacy to the reign of Christian purity; when the Mosque and the Pagoda shall be transformed into temples of the Christian’s God: when the habitations of savage cruelty shall become the, abodes of holiness and peace; when the activity of a greatly extended commerce shall be directed chiefly to the intellectual and moral culture of society; when justice, order, industry, brotherly kindness, and charity shall universally reign;—in a word, when the church of God, with all its choicest influences, shall fill the earth;—then shall the promise before us be gloriously realized. This will be emphatically, “the glory of the Lord;”—the glory of his power; the glory of his holiness; the glory of his love. It will be, in its measure, the same glory which forms the blessedness of the heavenly world; the same glory in which those whose robes have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, walk in white raiment before the throne of God. O how glorious shall this fallen world be, when all the nations which compose it shall be “just, fearing God;” when those who are nominally “the people of God, shall be all righteous;” when every family shall be the abode of purity, order, and love; when every individual shall be a “temple of the Holy Ghost;” and when, from pole to pole, the song of jubilee shall be heard—Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto Him who sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever! Alleluia! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth! Such appears to be the import of the promise before us.—Let us next inquire,

II. WHAT REASON HAVE WE FOR BELIEVING THAT THESE SCENES OF GLORY WILL ONE DAY BE REALIZED?
This is, to the Christian’s heart, a most interesting inquiry. Let us ponder it with a seriousness corresponding to its unspeakable importance.

And here it is obvious to remark, that there will be no need of miracles (in the ordinary sense of that word) to bring about the accomplishment of the promise before us. Only suppose the genuine power of the Gospel, which we see to reign in thousands of individuals and families now—actually to reign in all hearts, and to pervade the world,—and the work is done. But how can we hope for this? I answer-

1. First of all, and above all, our hope is founded on JEHOVAH’S FAITHFUL AND UNERRING PROMISE.

2. But further, our confidence that the religion of Christ will, one day, fill the whole earth with its glory, is confirmed by the consideration, that THIS RELIGION IS, IN ITS NATURE, ADAPTED ABOVE ALL OTHERS TO BE A UNIVERSAL RELIGION.

3. I have only to add, under this head, THAT THE PRESENT ASPECT OF THE WORLD FURNISHES MUCH REASON TO HOPE THAT THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THIS PROMISE IS DRAWING NIGH.

It remains that we

III. Inquire, WHAT IS OUR PRESENT DUTY IN RELATION TO THE PROMISE BEFORE US? And here,

1. Undoubtedly, our first duty is to believe the promise.

2. Another duty incumbent upon us in relation to this promise, is to labor and pray without ceasing for its accomplishment.

3. A third duty, in relation to the promise in our text, is, that, in laboring for the spread of the Gospel, no adverse occurrence, however painful, ought ever to discourage us, or at all to weaken either our confidence, or our efforts.

4. A further duty, in reference to the promise before us, is, that we pray without ceasing for the power of the Holy Spirit, to render all the means which are employed for its accomplishment, effectual.

5. Finally; if so great a work as evangelizing the whole world, is promised, and is certainly to be accomplished, then our plans and efforts for promoting this object ought to bear a corresponding character: that is, they ought to be large, liberal, and ever expanding. We ought to consider it as our duty to devote to this object our utmost resources, and to engage the co-operation of all, over whom we can exert an influence.

The promise of God to his people is, Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. . . We scarcely ever lift our eyes to the real grandeur and claims of the enterprise in which we profess to be engaged. We are too apt to be satisfied with small and occasional contributions of service to this greatest of all causes instead of devoting to it hearts truly enlarged; instead of desiring great things; expecting great things; praying for great things; and nurturing in our spirits that holy elevation of sentiment and affection, which embraces in its desires and prayers the entire kingdom of God; and which can be satisfied with nothing short of the “whole earth being filled with the glory of the Lord.”

But how ought we to be still more deeply humbled and animated, when we call to mind what our blessed Saviour has done for us! I have sometimes heard professing Christians talk of doing and giving as much toward the spread of the glorious Gospel, “as they conveniently could.” Surely this is wonderful language for the professed followers of a crucified Redeemer! Did our blessed Master do no more for us than he “conveniently could?” Did He not give his life for our redemption? Did He not, in offering up himself a sacrifice, that we might not die, yield himself to sufferings unparalleled and indescribable? Shall not every one, then, who calls himself by the name of Christ, make the language of Paul, in all its force and tenderness, his own? — For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died far all, then were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.

Lift up your eyes, Christian brethren, on the unnumbered millions of our globe; sunk in ignorance, pollution and misery! Think of their condition: a condition in which you must have been at this hour, had it not been for the wonderful grace of God. Contrast with that condition your own mercies and privileges, and then ask, whether you ought not to feel for those who, are thus miserable, and try to help them? Christians! can you enjoy your Bibles, your Sabbaths, your sanctuaries, your sacramental tables, and all your precious privileges and hopes alone? Can you enjoy these hallowed scenes, and heavenly gifts, and know their value, and yet slumber in ignoble indolence over the moral desolations of those who are perishing for lack, of them? Can you calmly sit by, and see million after million of treasure cheerfully expended for amusement, luxury and sin; and only a few stinted thousands devoted to the greatest, best work of enlightening and saving the world? O whither has the spirit of the Bible fled? May He who gave the Bible, and the promise before us, restore it in his time!

Let us, then, with one accord, rouse ourselves, and endeavor to rouse others to new zeal, and larger enterprise in spreading the knowledge and glory of the Lord. Every heart, every tongue, and every hand that can be stirred up to engage in this great work, from infancy to old age, is needed. And remember that the more thoroughly any of the children of men can be excited and consecrated to this work—the richer the benefit they gain for themselves. Christian brother! Christian sister! whoever you are, in this large assembly!—you have each, respectively, a duty to perform in reference to this mighty work. It is incumbent upon you to do all in your power for sending the light of life to the benighted and the perishing. Nay, upon every human being, whether in the church, or out of it, there lies an obligation to aid, as far as God gives the opportunity, in sending to “every creature” that gospel which is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” We invite you all, my hearers, not merely to the duty, but to the precious privilege, of co-operating in this holy and blessed enterprise. And we can venture to assure you, that, if the day should ever come, in which your hearts shall be thoroughly imbued with the spirit of missions, it will be the happiest period of your lives; as well as the pledge and the dawn of that wide-spread glory, which our text proclaims as certain and approaching. We can point you to no higher honor, no richer pleasure on this side of heaven, than that which is found in enlightened, zealous, active, absorbing zeal for spreading the holy, life-giving religion of Jesus Christ from the rising to the setting sun.

For the promotion of this work, my friends, the “American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions” has convened in this place. Our hope in coming together is, that we maybe enabled, by the grace of God, to excite each other to more lively sensibility, and more ardent zeal, in the great Missionary cause which we have associated to carry on; and also that we may be instrumental in adding something to the missionary spirit which we hope already exists in the enlightened and favored population of this city. We are now celebrating the twenty-sixth anniversary of our Board: and, instead of being weary of our work, we can sincerely declare, that in looking back on our past course, our only regret is, that we have not labored with far more diligence and sanctified ardor in the cause of the world’s conversion; that our plans have not been more enlarged; and that we have not prayed more, and done more in this greatest of all causes in which Christians can engage. Yes, brethren, beloved of the Lord, we come to mingle our vows with yours; to proclaim with deeper conviction than ever, that we consider the cause of missions as the most precious cause in the world; and to bind ourselves by new resolutions, that we will, by the help of God, with greater zeal than heretofore, “spend and be spent” in this most blessed service. What more worthy object can we seek than contributing to fill the earth with the glory of the Lord? Brethren, pray for us, that we may be faithful to our sacred trust. Pray for yourselves, that you may not be found wanting in the payment of that mighty debt, you owe to your Divine Master, and to a perishing world. And let us all, more and more, aspire to the honor of being “workers together with God” in hastening the triumphs of Immanuel’s universal reign. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly; and let the whole earth be filled with thy glory! Amen! and Amen!

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In writing up this post, it will be important to note that this was an independent foreign missionary society. Thus, when the PCUSA issued the Mandate of 1934, they were being hypocritical (perhaps too strong a word–they were at least going contrary to their own history), in that their in own history the PCUSA had twice utilized independent agencies, the other being the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (check to make sure that’s the correct name of the latter organization]

 

The centennial of the Western foreign missionary society, 1831-1931 [microform]Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Presbytery of Pittsburgh. Committee on the centennial of the founding of theWestern foreign missionary society
“Bibliography … of Sadhu Sundar Singh”: p. 111-112; “Bibliography of the Western foreign missionary society“: p. 227-234

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An Injustice Which Found No Excuse

Related here is a brief account of Presbyterian missions among the Cherokee and Choctaw Indians, just prior to and immediately following the grave injustice of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Removal Act resulted in what is now known to history as “The Trail of Tears,” in which tribes were forcibly relocated to the West. It could be argued that the Presbyterian mission never recovered from this setback, though efforts continued, particularly in the latter part of the nineteenth century:—

In 1816, the Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury was sent out under the direction of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to visit the destitute portions of Tennessee. After spending some months in discharging his commission, he repaired to the Cherokee country. At a full council of the Cherokees and Creeks, at which Colonel Meigs, the Indian agent, and General Andrew Jackson, in behalf of the United States Government, were present, Kingsbury proposed to the Indians his plan of missions. It was favorably entertained. The chiefs invited the establishment of mission schools, and Mr. Kingsbury, in conjunction with a representative of the tribes, was directed to seek out a fit location. The result was the selection of the mission station known thenceforth by the name of the devoted missionary “Brainerd.” This project had previously been frustrated by the War of 1812 and by the removal of key men. It was now revived under better circumstances. In 1817, additional workers came, among them the Rev. Ard Hoyt, who was for some years pastor at the Presbyterian church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

In the following year the mission to the Choctaws began, of which Rev. Kingsbury was invited to take charge. The laborers among the Cherokees were increased in number by the addition of laymenAbijah Conger, John Vaill, and John Talmage, along with their respective families, and all from New Jersey. The removal of the tribes to the region beyond the Mississippi, though sorely opposed to their own desires, had already commenced; and in the latter part of November, 1817, Alfred Finney and Cephas Washburn set out on their journey, through a wilderness rendered almost impassable by flooded swamps and overflowing creeks, from Brainerd to Eliot in Arkansas.

The laborers in the mission field at Brainerd were for the most part connected with the Presbytery of Union, in East Tennessee. Robert Glen was a licentiate, Christopher Bradshaw a candidate, and “Father” Hoyt a member of it. The meetings of the Presbytery were to them “refreshing seasons.” Especially was this the case at the present juncture. “The Lord had recently poured out His Spirit in many parts of this Presbytery, and the friends of Zion” were “looking up with rejoicing.” The Presbytery had six young men under its care as candidates for the ministry, most of them, doubtless, the pupils of Anderson.

The missionaries were visited and cheered, among others, by members of the Presbytery and missionaries sent out by the Assembly. Saunders and Moderwell visited them on their tour. Erastus Root from Georgia, and Vinal and Chapman, sent out by the United Foreign Mission Society at New York on an exploring tour among the Indians west of the Mississippi, called upon them. Numerous and refreshing were these repeated visits from members or ministers of Presbyterian churches throughout the land. But a special interest was taken in the progress of the mission by the churches of Tennessee. In 1819, Isaac Anderson, Matthew Donald, and William Eagleton (of Kingston) were the visiting committee of the Presbytery, and signed the report of the examination of the mission schools.

From year to year the reports were generally favorable. In 1822 the large establishment at Brainerd was divided, and its members distributed abroad throughout the bounds of the tribe. In the following year nearly one hundred persons gave evidence of hopeful conversion, and at Willstown a church “on the Presbyterian model,” consisting of nine converted Cherokees, was organized on October 10th, and connected with Union Presbytery. Already in September of the same year the churches at Brainerd, Carmel, and Hightower had been received, so that on the list of the Presbytery were four churches within the limits of the Cherokee mission. The number was increased by the organization of another church at Candy’s Creek in the following year.

But already the plan was formed which was to result in disaster to the mission by the removal of the Cherokees beyond the Mississippi. Georgia took the lead in the harsh and cruel measures by which this plan was carried out. The missionaries were indignant and disheartened at the perfidy which violated repeated and most solemn treaties. They saw their own labors interrupted; they saw those whom they had been encouraged to hope would soon be brought to embrace the gospel, outraged and alienated by an injustice which found no excuse but in the sophistry of unscrupulous avarice, while the prospects of future success for the mission were becoming more dark and gloomy continually.

Still, they did not remit their efforts. Amid sad discouragements they labored on. Portions of the tribe were from time to time depairingly forsaking their old hunting grounds and their fathers’ graves for new homes in the distant wilderness. Yet, till actual violence was offered, and by the arrest of their persons the resolute purpose to effect a forcible removal of the Cherokees became too obvious to be longer questioned they remained faithful to their work. But from 1829 to 1835 the odious project was pushed forward to its disastrous results. Yet for nearly twenty years the Cherokee mission, largely sustained by the sympathy of the Presbyterian Church in Tennessee, presented a noble example of self-denying Christian effort,the more striking when contrasted with the greed and injustice of men who viewed the native tribes only in the light of their own mercenary projects.

[The above account is excerpted, with some editing, from E. H. Gillett’s very readable History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. (1864), Vol. II, pp. 320-323.]

Words to Live By:
There are perhaps no easy answers when faced with such situations. One thing is clear, the Church is tasked by her Lord with the charge of proclaiming the Gospel, irrespective of opposition.  “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19b-20). Pray that we might be spared such trials, but if they come, may we be found faithful to the One who bought us with His own blood.

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The following obituary from The Presbyterian Quarterly [April 1899 (Volume 13, Number 2), pages 354-355] marked the death of the Rev. John Bailey Adger:—

adger02John Bailey Adger, D.D., died in Pendleton, South Carolina, on the 3d of January in the 89th year of his age.

Dr. Adger was born of Scotch-Irish parentage in Charleston, S.C., December 13, 1810. He graduated when 18 years of age at Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., and at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1833, of which, at the time of his death, he had been for some time the senior surviving alumnus. Shortly after his ordination by the Charleston Union Presbytery in 1834, he went as a missionary to the Armenians, under appointment of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and served in this work for twelve years at Constantinople and Smyrna, until the failure of his eyes and other circumstances compelled hisi withdrawal from the foreign field. During his missionary service he translated into Armenian the New Testament, Pilgrim’s Progress, the Shorter Catechism, and other books, which translations are still in use among that people.

After his return home he engaged in work ministering the Gospel among the black slaves in his own native city. A church, connected with the Independent Presbyterian Synod, whose house of worship stands hard by his late residence in Pendleton, is appropriately named for him, “The Adger Memorial Church.”

Upon the withdrawal, in 1856, of Dr. Palmer from the Chair of Ecclesiastical History and Church Polity in the Columbia Theological Seminary, Dr. Adger was elected his successor, and filled that position with great zeal and ability for seventeen years. After his retirement in 1874, although he had then reached the age of 64, he entered with energy and vigor upon the pastoral work in his own Presbytery of South Carolina, which he continued until, having attained the age of 83, he was reluctantly constrained, by physical infirmities, to give up the public preaching of the Gospel.

At this advanced age, and amid these hindering infirmities, with courage and energy, he undertook what was perhaps the greatest task of his life, the writing of a large book, which he called My Life and Times. His life had been a long one, the times through which he had passed, eventful in Church and State; and he undertook to write a history and discussion of the various questions he had to meet and help to solve. With the assistance of a devoted daughter, and such other help as he could procure, he gathered up the facts, studied out the questions, and dictated chapter after chapter of his book. His mind, still clear and vigorous, and his body wonderfully strong and active, he labored systematically and diligently for several years at this work. And almost as soon as the last chapter was finished, the last page written, and the valiant servant of God had laid down his fruitful pen, the Master called him to the everlasting rest.

Words to Live By:
Have you disciplined yourself to take notice of God’s providence in your life? Those providences are expressions of God’s love, mercy, and faithfulness. As John Flavel has said,

Search backward into all the performances of Providence throughout your lives. So did Asaph: ‘I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings’ (Psalm 77:11, 12). He laboured to recover and revive the ancient providences of God’s mercies many years past, and suck a fresh sweetness out of them by new reviews of them. Ah, sirs, let me tell you, there is not such a pleasant history for you to read in all the world as the history of your own lives, if you would but sit down and record from the beginning hitherto what God has been to you, and done for you; what signal manifestations and outbreakings of His mercy, faithfulness and love there have been in all the conditions you have passed through. If your hearts do not melt before you have gone half through that history, they are hard hearts indeed. ‘My Father, thou art the guide of my youth’ (Jeremiah 3:4). —From The Mystery of Providence, chapter nine.

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Despite all good intentions, the following is a reprise from this date last year. But we’re on the mend and expect to have new content tomorrow. I trust you won’t mind a refresher course on this important person.

Reading from the Minutes of the Synod of South Carolina in 1899, we have the following Memorial for the Rev. Dr. John Bailey Adger, freely edited here for our purposes:

adger02Since the last meeting of Synod our oldest and most honorable member has been taken from us—the Rev. Dr. John Bailey Adger.

Dr. Adger, the oldest son and third child of James Adger, a native of Ireland, and Sarah Elizabeth Ellison Adger, a native of Fairfield County, S.C., was born in Charleston [South Carolina] on the 13th of December, 1810.

Preparing for the ministry, he entered the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1829, graduating there in 1833. While at Princeton Seminary, a fellow student called his attention to the work of foreign missions. After long and serious consideration, Adger was convinced that it was his duty to become a foreign missionary, and he offered himself to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, was accepted and was assigned to Smyrna and adjacent parts of the Turkish Empire as his field, to labor especially among the Armenians. At that time the Presbyterian Church did not carry out foreign missions on its own, but worked chiefly through the American Board, which was supported jointly by Presbyterians and Congregationalists.

Returning to his home in South Carolina, he spent the rest of 1833 and the first half of 1834 in preaching and delivering addresses throughout the State on the topic of foreign missions. He was ordained by Charleston Union Presbytery in the Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston, on April 16, 1834 and sailed from Boston a few months later, on the 2d of August. Rev. Adger reached Smyrna early in October, and at once began his missionary work, which continued with little intermission for twelve years. His industry was untiring. As soon as possible he began to preach in the Armenian tongue; but his chief work was through the press. The Bible had been translated into Armenian centuries ago; but the ancient Armenian had become an unknown tongue to the people of this country. Therefore the first thing to be done was to translate into modern Armenian, so that all could read the Scriptures for themselves. This task he undertook as soon as possible, with skilled assistants. The translation of the New Testament and the Psalms which he thus prepared, was printed by the British and Foreign Bible Society. Some years ago, more than 300,000 copies of this translation of the New Testament had been circulated among the Armenians in Asia Minor and elsewhere. He also translated and published many other works, as the chief and most valuable of which, though small in size, may be mentioned the Shorter Catechism, and C.C. Jones’s Catechism.

By the year 1846, incessant writing and proof-reading of the trying Armenian letters had so injured Dr. Adger’s eyes that rest was imperatively necessary. Accordingly, for this and other reasons, he came to America, expecting as soon as practicable to return to his work in Asia Minor. But this was not to be. As the time time approached for his return, circumstances arose which led to his final withdrawal from work under the American Board.

Dr. Adger never returned to Smyrna, but remained in South Carolina the remainder of his life, serving notably as a professor of church history at the Columbia Theological Seminary, from 1856 until retirement in 1874. Along with James Henley Thornwell, Dr. Adger had been one of the chief architects of the Book of Church Order that was finally adopted by the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1879. In retirement, Adger composed a lengthy autobiography, My Life and Times, which stands to this day as a fitting cap to a long and illustrious ministry. The Rev. Dr. John Bailey Adger died on this day, January 3rd, in 1899.

For further study:
My Life and Times, originally published in 1899 but solely for private distribution, was reprinted in 2007 by Tentmaker Publications in England. The reprint includes a new preface and a biographical sketch by Dr. C.N. Willborn, pastor of the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oakridge, TN, plus an added appendix—a bibliography of Dr. Adger’s published works. In this convenient age of the Internet, the original edition of My Life and Times can also be found on the Web here.

The full, unedited text of this Memorial from the Synod of South Carolina is available on request.

Words to Live By: We see in Adger a life well spent, even exhausted, in the Lord’s service—a life lived in obedience to the words of Scripture: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24, ESV). May that be our purpose and goal in life as well, to live unreservedly for the Lord our Savior.

Also on this date:
in 1898, Robert Lewis Dabney died at his home in Victoria, Texas, at the age of 77.
Note: Our Through the Scriptures and Through the Standards section will now be replaced by the RSS feed which appears in the column on the right hand side of the page.

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