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Any number of our cultured readers might be upset if someone called them a “redneck.” And for good reason as this name speaks of someone in a disparaging way. But when you consider the origin of the word, our readers, especially those from a Scotch-Irish background, might to proud of to have someone speak of them in that way.

In 1643-1644, all over the three kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland, Presbyterian people signed “the Solemn League and Covenant.” We won’t deal with it in its full form by a separate post until September 26 of 2014, but its first section set the tone for the whole. Paraphrased by PCA Ruling Elder Edwin Nisbet Moore, in his book “Our Covenant Heritage,” (and used by permission), this first part solemnly pledges, with uplifted hands before God, that the signers would endeavor “. . . the preservation of the Reformed religions in the Church of Scotland . . . [and] the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland . . . according to the Word of God and the example of the best Reformed Churches: And shall endeavor to bring the churches of God in the three kingdoms, to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religions . . . .”

In so all over Scotland in 1643, Presbyterian people signed this covenant. The next year, Presbyterian ministers were sent to Ireland so that the Scottish transplants in Ulster could sign the Solemn League and Covenant also. Scottish people in some 26 towns signed it. On this day, April 4, 1644, one thousand soldiers and people signed it at Carrickfergus Castle, which still exists today approximately 11 miles north of Belfast, Ireland.

So, where does the figure of “redneck” comes from this historic occasion? The people who signed it knew that their act of signing identified them as taking a solid stand on the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. They knew also that their signatures could mean persecution and death for them in the future. A number of them signed their names in their own blood, much like the signers of the National Covenant in 1638. Countless wore red pieces of cloth around their necks, further identifying themselves unashamed of their commitment to the Reformed faith. Red pieces of cloth? They were known as “rednecks” at that time, a slang term for a Scottish Presbyterian.

The next time you are derisively called a “redneck”, don’t get mad, but simply reflect on the long spiritual line which stood the test of time in their adherence to the Word of God as summarized up in the Westminster Standards.

Words to Live By: There would come a day when religious promises signed in blood or displayed by red pieces of cloth meant persecution and death in the British Isles in the 17th century.  We may not be at the stage in our blessed country, but when businesses are shuttered for Biblical convictions by the courts of the land in the early 21st century, then the other may not be far behind. The cultural war for Christian principles and practices is slowly but surely lost in America. How we need to pray for a biblical revival among Christians and churches followed by a spiritual awakening in our land. In a single night, our Lord can turn the world upside down. Pray believing in His sovereign power, and look expectantly for how the Lord may work. Jesus Christ is King over all the nations of this world.

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Reprise:

A Communion for American Covenanters

The entire service of Communion that Sabbath day on August 23, 1752 lasted nine hours.  But for some two hundred and fifty Covenanters gathered on that spot, it was the first communion outside the British Isles.

The teaching elder on that Lord’s Day was the Rev. John Cuthbertson, who was the first Reformed Presbyterian minister in the colonies.  As the only one, he had logged nearly 70,000 miles in the wilds of Colonial America, ministering to scattered Covenanters.  Often, there was no church building.  So they worshiped at various sites called “tents.”  It consisted of a large tree, with a wooden stand for the minister, and another for a Bible, with rough pews for the people, and nothing but the open sky for the roof.  On this occasion, they met at the Junkin Tent, just north of present day New Kingstown, Pennsylvania.

The communion at this first meeting in America lasted five days, with worship times on three of the five days.  The first day, which was Thursday, was a day of fasting, with a sermon by Rev. Cuthbertson.  Tokens of admission were given to those qualified spiritually to partake, after an exhortation for that purpose.  Prospective members were examined and received into the congregation.  On Friday and Saturday, no public worship was conducted.

In the services on the Sabbath, Rev. Cuthbertson paraphrased the 15th Psalm and preached from John 3:35: “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things in his hand.”  After the sermon, there was prayer and singing from the psalter.  Then the pastor spoke again about the sacrament, debarring some from the table while inviting others to the table of the Lord.  The communicants came, singing the Twenty-fourth Psalm, to sit at four tables as was the custom, to receive the elements of the sacred supper.  After the table services were concluded, he exhorted the communicants and led in prayer.  A part of the 103rd Psalm was sung.  Then after an interval of thirty minutes, another sermon was preached.  The entire service of that Communion day worship lasted nine hours.

Before the worshipers started home on Monday, another sermon was proclaimed as a departing reminder from the Word of God.

Words to live by:
   We might well wonder whether God’s people today would sit through such protracted services.  As one minister commented, there would not be many left but the preacher, and most probably he too would feel like departing!   But let it be said that these early American Christians did not have all the privileges of weekly services nor access to countless Christian books and media outlets.  What they had, they treasured, and exhibited a spiritual fervor which, with all our spiritual privileges, too many professing Christians and churches lack that same spiritual fervor.

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This Day in Presbyterian History

A Communion for American Covenanters

The entire service of Communion that Sabbath day on August 23, 1752 lasted nine hours.  But for some two hundred and fifty Covenanters gathered on that spot, it was the first communion outside the British Isles.

The teaching elder on that Lord’s Day was the Rev. John Cuthbertson, who was the first Reformed Presbyterian minister in the colonies.  As the only one, he had logged nearly 70,000 miles in the wilds of Colonial America, ministering to scattered Covenanters.  Often, there was no church building.  So they worshiped at various sites called “tents.”  It consisted of a large tree, with a wooden stand for the minister, and another for a Bible, with rough pews for the people, and nothing but the open sky for the roof.  On this occasion, they met at the Junkin Tent, just north of present day New Kingstown, Pennsylvania.

The communion at this first meeting in America lasted five days, with worship times on three of the five days.  The first day, which was Thursday, was a day of fasting, with a sermon by Rev. Cuthbertson.  Tokens of admission were given to those qualified spiritually to partake, after an exhortation for that purpose.  Prospective members were examined and received into the congregation.  On Friday and Saturday, no public worship was conducted.

In the services on the Sabbath, Rev. Cuthbertson paraphrased the 15th Psalm and preached from John 3:35: “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things in his hand.”  After the sermon, there was prayer and singing from the psalter.  Then the pastor spoke again about the sacrament, debarring some from the table while inviting others to the table of the Lord.  The communicants came, singing the Twenty-fourth Psalm, to sit at four tables as was the custom, to receive the elements of the sacred supper.  After the table services were concluded, he exhorted the communicants and led in prayer.  A part of the 103rd Psalm was sung.  Then after an interval of thirty minutes, another sermon was preached.  The entire service of that Communion day worship lasted nine hours.

Before the worshipers started home on Monday, another sermon was proclaimed as a departing reminder from the Word of God.

Words to live by:
   We might well wonder whether God’s people today would sit through such protracted services.  As one minister commented, there would not be many left but the preacher, and most probably he too would feel like departing!   But let it be said that these early American Christians did not have all the privileges of weekly services nor access to countless Christian books and media outlets.  What they had, they treasured, and exhibited a spiritual fervor which, with all our spiritual privileges, too many professing Christians and churches lack that same spiritual fervor.

Through the Scriptures:  1 Chronicles 4 – 6

Through the Standards: The single object of prayer  

WLC 179  — “Are we to pray unto God only?
A.  God only being able to search the hearts, hear the requests, pardon the sins, and fulfill the desires of all; and only to be believed in, and worshiped with religious worship; prayer, which is a special part thereof, is to be made by all to him alone, and to none other.”

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