Dartmouth College

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Back When Presbyterians Seemed to Run Everything

Dartmouth College, located in Hanover, New Hampshire, was founded in December of 1769 (We will mention in passing that Samuel Miller was born that same year, less than two months earlier). Eleazar Wheelock served as the first president of the school and when he died in 1779, his son John Wheelock took up the mantle and served as the second president of Dartmouth. From there, the succeeding list of presidents came to be known as the “Wheelock Succession.”

Francis Brown was next called from his church in North Yarmouth, Maine, serving as the third president (1815-1820), during a particularly interesting crisis for the school. It was at this time that a legal challenge to the school arose, eventually coming before the Supreme Court. This was the famous Dartmouth College Case:

“The contest was a pivotal one for Dartmouth and for the newly independent nation. It tested the contract clause of the Constitution and arose from an 1816 controversy involving the legislature of the state of New Hampshire, which amended the 1769 charter granted to Eleazar Wheelock, making Dartmouth a public institution and changing its name to Dartmouth University. Under the leadership of President Brown, the Trustees resisted the effort and the case for Dartmouth was argued by Daniel Webster before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the historic decision in favor of Dartmouth College, thereby paving the way for all American private institutions to conduct their affairs in accordance with their charters and without interference from the state.”

But the whole affair was taxing and Rev. Brown died at the young age of 35. His successor, the Rev. Daniel Dana, lasted just one year before he too was worn out and resigned the post. Bennet Tyler and Nathan Lord, the next two presidents, faired better. While Tyler served just four years, Nathan Lord’s term as president ran from 1828 to 1863. His term might have run longer, but as events unfolded in the 1860’s, the Trustees of Dartmouth were forced to finally deal with the fact that the school’s president was a strong pro-slavery advocate.

smith_asa_dodgeSo it was that in 1863, the Rev. Asa Dodge Smith became the seventh president of Dartmouth College. Inaugurated on this day, November 18, in 1863, he served as president until his death on August 16, 1877, at the age of 73.

Asa Dodge Smith was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on September 21, 1804, the son of Dr. Roger and Sally (Hodge) Smith. He was himself a graduate of Dartmouth College (1830), and in the year or so following graduation he worked as the principal of an academy in Limerick, Maine. Preparing to enter the ministry, he studied at Andover Theological Seminary and graduated there in 1834. He was then ordained and installed as pastor of what was then the Brainerd Presbyterian church (later renamed as the 14th Street Presbyterian church) in New York City. Rev. Smith also served as a professor of pastoral theology at the Union Theological Seminary, NY, 1843-1844.

From here, the history states that,

“After the forced resignation of Nathan Lord in 1863 over his support for slavery, the Trustees wanted a more conservative president to take his place. As a preacher for 29 years at the 14th Street Presbyterian Church in New York City, Asa Dodge had developed a reputation as a religious man with abolitionist beliefs.

“Smith’s presidency was a period of great growth for the College, including the establishment of two new schools within Dartmouth. The New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, later moved to Durham, New Hampshire and renamed the University of New Hampshire, was originally founded in Hanover in 1866. One year later, the Thayer School of Engineering was founded. Over the course of his presidency, enrollment at the College was more than doubled, the number of scholarships increased from 42 to 103, and Dartmouth benefitted from several important bequests.”

Some of the honors conferred on the Rev. Asa Dodge Smith during his lifetime included the Doctor of Divinity degree, awarded by Williams College in 1849, and from the University of New York he received the Doctor of Letters degree in 1854. It was also during his tenure that the school celebrated its centennial anniversary, a momentous time nearly ruined by an unexpected thunderstorm. But ultimately the affair was not ruined for the participants, with attendees including Supreme Court Justice Salmon P. Chase, from the Class of 1826, and U.S. General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Words to Live By:
Perhaps covenant faithfulness is the lesson to take away from this account. A life lived apparently without amazing exploits or heart-rending stories, but lived faithfully before the Lord, using his God-given gifts and talents to the best of his ability, and all for the glory of God. So too most Christians live fairly average lives, undistinguished except for this one vital thing: Because of the finished cross-work of Jesus Christ, each one of His blood-bought children stands in a living, vital relationship with the God of creation, the Lord of all glory. On the surface, our lives may seem quite average, but the reality is far more exciting, far more glorious than even we can imagine.

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To Spare a Mother’s Life is a Myth of Abortion

The statement of the medical doctor blew the lid off of one of the more famous grounds of abortion.  He said, “protection of the life of the mother as an exercise of abortion is a smoke screen. In my thirty-six years of pediatric surgery, I have never known of one instances where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life. If toward the end of the pregnancy complications would arise that threaten the mother’s life, the doctor will induce labor or perform a Caesarean section.  His intention is to save the life of both the mother and the baby. The baby’s life is never willfully destroyed because the mother’s life is in danger. To spare a mother’s life is a myth of abortion.”

Who said this?  None other than C. Everett Koop, who served for two terms  under President Ronald Reagan as Surgeon General of the United States in the nineteen eighties (1982 – 1989). C. Everett Koop was pro-life in his views of life in the womb.

Born in  Brooklyn, New York on October 14, 1916, “Chick” Koop, as he was known by his friends, certainly had the education to make him the top doctor in the country.  Educated at Dartmouth College in his undergraduate years, he went on to receive degree after degree at the top medical hospitals in the country.  In addition, he received forty-one honorary  doctorates.

While in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he joined Tenth Presbyterian Church, serving as a ruling elder of that P.C.A. congregation. He cooperated with Francis Schaeffer in producing the “How Then Shall We Live” series, which informed American Christians of their duty to be salt and light in the midst of a corrupting and darksome  culture.

As of this writing, he lives up in New Hampshire.

Words to live by:  If you check on the world-wide web, you can find some other statements by Dr. Koop dealing with the issues which define our world, such as euthanasia, which he decries that medicine cannot be considered our healer and our killer at the same time.  We can thank God that he was raised up for such a time and age as this, when sound biblical conclusions needed to be raised in a culture which devalues life.

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You Can’t Keep a Good Presbytery Down

The value and help of a Presbytery full of godly men—men who truly fear the Lord and who seek His will in all things—cannot be overestimated. The whole point of the Presbyterian system is that we should be connected, one to another, in the Body of Christ. Our Lord intends that we should be about the work of building up one another, each of us consistently working at pointing the other to Christ as our only Savior and Lord.

On pages 254-255 of Richard Webster’s work, A History of the Presbyterian Church in America (1857), we read this account which serves to make our point:

The Rev. Eleazer Wheelock, afterwards President of Dartmouth College, wrote from Lebanon, Connecticut, March 13, 1749, to Dr. Bellamy :—

” There are many things that have a threatening aspect on our religious interests in these parts: Antinomian principles, and the Korah-like claims which are the usual concomitants of them; prevailing worldliness and coldness which has become a common distemper among us; growing immorality, justified by the wildness and errors of many high professors; a want of promising candidates for the ministry, and the great difficulty that commonly attends the settling of any, chiefly through the strait-handedness of parishes toward the support of the gospel; the want of a good discipline in our churches, and the difficulty upon many accounts of reviving it, &c. &c. I am fully of the opinion that it is time for ministers to wake up for a redress of these evils; and I can think of no way more likely, than for those, who are in the same way of thinking about the most important things in religion, to join in a presbytery. 

Don’t you see that Arminian candidates can’t settle in the ministry? Don’t you see how much those want the patronage of a godly presbytery, who do settle? For want of it, they get broken bones, which will pain them all their days. Would not such a presbytery soon have all the candidates of worth under them, and, consequently, presently most of the vacant churches? Our wild people are not half so much prejudiced against the Scottish constitution as against our own. Many churches in these parts might easily be brought into it, and my soul longs for it. . . . 

For my part, I think it high time that men who have been treated as Mr. Robbins (of Branford) was, should have some way of relief, which I am informed was the view of that honest Calvinist who first moved in that proposal. . . . Is there not some reason to hope that hereby there will be a door opened for bringing things into a better posture among the Calvinist party? You know how God has overruled things in the Jerseys.”

Words to Live By:
Now, there is much in that letter that would take more time to explain than we have here today. But reading the broader strokes of Rev. Wheelock’s letter, the lesson to take away concerns the value of a godly presbytery. A good presbytery is first of all a guard against error, setting a biblical standard for who can serve in the pulpit, and so protecting the churches of the presbytery. Moreover, in a godly presbytery, we can expect to find a continued exhortation, one to another, to maintain that high standard.

A good presbytery is a home and refuge to the men who make up the presbytery. Much more than offering mere fellowship, it should be a place to find encouragement, exhortation, and challenge in our high calling as Christians and as under-shepherds of the Lord’s people.

A good presbytery seeks to advance the Kingdom of God, and so seeks to plant new churches, while also building up and encouraging its existing churches. The work of planting new churches is guided by men who have themselves done that same work. They know the pitfalls and errors to avoid. They know the strengths and abilities that will be needed if the work is to prosper.

A godly presbytery will also keep an eye on its established churches, not wanting that any should suffer. I’ve long thought that presbyteries should encourage small and struggling churches by choosing to meet at those locations, with the presbytery covering all the expenses of their time there. Why meet in the prosperous churches when there is opportunity to build up the weaker ones? By meeting in our weaker churches we come to know the people in that church and so are reminded to pray regularly for them. By meeting there we offer a testimony to the watching world, and particularly in a small town, that can be a powerful testimony. Extending the opportunity, the men of presbytery might arrive early to do the work of evangelism in the community. A small conference, open to the public, might be offered on some suitable subject. The presbytery should also strive to include the host congregation in times of worship, fellowship, and prayer.

What else should we find among the qualities of a godly presbytery? And what can you do to bring that about? How can we be actively engaged, day by day, in building up one another in Christ?

And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ; from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love.”—Ephesians 4:11-16, ASV

 

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Back When Presbyterians Seemed to Run Everything

Dartmouth College, located in Hanover, New Hampshire, was founded in December of 1769 (We will mention in passing that Samuel Miller was born that same year, less than two months earlier). Eleazar Wheelock served as the first president of the school and when he died in 1779, his son John Wheelock took up the mantle and served as the second president of Dartmouth. From there, the succeeding list of presidents came to be known as the “Wheelock Succession.”

Francis Brown was next called from his church in North Yarmouth, Maine, serving as the third president (1815-1820), during a particularly interesting crisis for the school. It was at this time that a legal challenge to the school arose, eventually coming before the Supreme Court. This was the famous Dartmouth College Case:

“The contest was a pivotal one for Dartmouth and for the newly independent nation. It tested the contract clause of the Constitution and arose from an 1816 controversy involving the legislature of the state of New Hampshire, which amended the 1769 charter granted to Eleazar Wheelock, making Dartmouth a public institution and changing its name to Dartmouth University. Under the leadership of President Brown, the Trustees resisted the effort and the case for Dartmouth was argued by Daniel Webster before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the historic decision in favor of Dartmouth College, thereby paving the way for all American private institutions to conduct their affairs in accordance with their charters and without interference from the state.”

But the whole affair was taxing and Rev. Brown died at the young age of 35. His successor, the Rev. Daniel Dana, lasted just one year before he too was worn out and resigned the post. Bennet Tyler and Nathan Lord, the next two presidents, faired better. While Tyler served just four years, Nathan Lord’s term as president ran from 1828 to 1863. His term might have run longer, but as events unfolded in the 1860’s, the Trustees of Dartmouth were forced to finally deal with the fact that the school’s president was a strong pro-slavery advocate.

smith_asa_dodgeSo it was that in 1863, the Rev. Asa Dodge Smith became the seventh president of Dartmouth College. Inaugurated in 1863, he served as president until his death on August 16, 1877, at the age of 73.

Asa Dodge Smith was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on September 21, 1804, the son of Dr. Roger and Sally (Hodge) Smith. He was himself a graduate of Dartmouth College (1830), and in the year or so following graduation he worked as the principal of an academy in Limerick, Maine. Preparing to enter the ministry, he studied at Andover Theological Seminary and graduated there in 1834. He was then ordained and installed as pastor of what was then the Brainerd Presbyterian church (later renamed as the 14th Street Presbyterian church) in New York City. Rev. Smith also served as a professor of pastoral theology at the Union Theological Seminary, NY, 1843-1844.

From here, the history states that,

“After the forced resignation of Nathan Lord in 1863 over his support for slavery, the Trustees wanted a more conservative president to take his place. As a preacher for 29 years at the 14th Street Presbyterian Church in New York City, Asa Dodge had developed a reputation as a religious man with abolitionist beliefs.

“Smith’s presidency was a period of great growth for the College, including the establishment of two new schools within Dartmouth. The New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, later moved to Durham, New Hampshire and renamed the University of New Hampshire, was originally founded in Hanover in 1866. One year later, the Thayer School of Engineering was founded. Over the course of his presidency, enrollment at the College was more than doubled, the number of scholarships increased from 42 to 103, and Dartmouth benefitted from several important bequests.”

Some of the honors conferred on the Rev. Asa Dodge Smith during his lifetime included the Doctor of Divinity degree, awarded by Williams College in 1849, and from the University of New York he received the Doctor of Letters degree in 1854. It was also during his tenure that the school celebrated its centennial anniversary, a momentous time nearly ruined by an unexpected thunderstorm. But ultimately the affair was not ruined for the participants, with attendees including Supreme Court Justice Salmon P. Chase, from the Class of 1826, and U.S. General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Words to Live By:
Perhaps covenant faithfulness is the lesson to take away from this account. A life lived apparently without amazing exploits or heart-rending stories, but lived faithfully before the Lord, using his God-given gifts and talents to the best of his ability, and all for the glory of God. So too most Christians live fairly average lives, undistinguished except for this one vital thing: Because of the finished cross-work of Jesus Christ, each one of His blood-bought children stands in a living, vital relationship with the God of creation, the Lord of all glory. On the surface, our lives may seem quite average, but the reality is far more exciting, far more glorious than even we can imagine.

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.—1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV.

For Further Study:
To view the gravesite of Rev. Smith, click here.

A Partial Bibliography—
[a number of these works can be found online at either Archive.org or HathiTrust.org]

1832
Letters to a young student, in the first stage of a liberal education.

1847
Dancing as an amusement for Christians. : a sermon, delivered in the Brainerd Presbyterian Church, New York, Feb. 14, 1847, and repeated, by request, Feb. 28.

1848
Importance of a scriptural ministry : a sermon delivered before the Synod of New York and New Jersey, at Newark, October 18, 1848.

1851
The guileless Israelite : a sermon on occasion of the Death of Mr. Joseph Breuster, delivered in the Fourteenth Street Presbyterian Church. New York, June 29, 1851.

Obedience to human law : a discourse delivered on the day of public thanksgiving, December 12, 1850, in the Brainerd Presbyterian Church, New York.

1852
Personal piety as related to the missionary work. A sermon delivered before the Foreign Missionary Society, of New-York and Brooklyn, April 4 and 11, 1852.

God’s word magnified and illustrated. A sermon on occasion of the death of Mr. David L. Dodge, delivered in the Fourteenth street Presbyterian church, New York, May 9, 1852.

1853
An address, delivered at a re-union of the sons of Weston, July 4, 1853.

1854
A discourse on the life and character of Rev. Charles Hall, D.D., delivered in the city of New York, Sabbath evening, January 1, 1854.

Memorial of Mr. David L. Dodge, consisting of an autobiography. [David Low Dodge, 1774-1852]

1857
Home missions and slavery: a reprint of several articles, recently pub. in the religious journals; with an appendix.

1863
An address delivered at the inauguration of the author as president of Dartmouth college, November 18, 1863.

Christian stewardship : a farewell sermon delivered in the Fourteenth Street Presbyterian Church, New York, Sabbath morning, Nov. 15, 1863.

1865
Beneficence our life-work. A baccalaureate discourse, delivered at Dartmouth college, July 16, 1865.

1866
Abuses of the imagination. A baccalaureate discourse, delivered at Dartmouth college, July 15, 1866. 

1867
Christian magnanimity; a baccalaureate discourse, delivered at Dartmouth College, July 14, 1867.

1868
Gradualism in God’s working; a baccalaureate discourse, delivered at Dartmouth College, July 19, 1868.

1871
Liberty as related to law; a baccalaureate discourse delivered at Dartmouth College, July 16, 1871.

1874
The creed as related to the life; a baccalaureate discourse, delivered at Dartmouth College, June 21, 1874.

1876
Sources of infidelity; a baccalaureate discourse, delivered at Dartmouth College, June 25, 1876.

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Jesus Christ is Lord over All of LIfe

William Brenton Greene, Jr., was born this day, August 16th, in 1854 in Providence, Rhode Island.

WBGreeneJrEducated at the College of New Jersey (Princeton University), and graduating there in 1876. he then worked as a teacher while preparing for the ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, 1877-1880. Rev. Greene was ordained by the Presbytery of Boston (PCUSA) on 3 June 1880 and installed as pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Boston, where he served from 1880-1883. He next answered a call to serve as senior pastor of  the Tenth Presbyterian church, in Philadelphia, succeeding Dr. John DeWitt in that post and serving there from 1883-1892. Finally, he was then appointed to serve as the Stuart Professor of the Relations of Philosophy and Science to the Christian Religion, at the Princeton Theological Seminary, a post he held until 1903, after which he held the Chair of Apologetics and Christian Ethics, from 1903 until his death in 1928.  Among his many honors, he was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree by the College of New Jersey in 1891.

[Note: The College of New Jersey was founded in 1746. The school’s name was then changed to Princeton University during its Sesquicentennial Celebration. in 1896. Particularly in earlier years, the school was commonly referred to as “Nassau,” “Nassau Hall,” “Princeton College,” or “Old North.”]

Upon Greene’s death in 1928, J. Gresham Machen wrote of him, “I loved Dr. Greene. He was absolutely true, when so many were not. He was always at Faculty and Presbytery, no matter how feeble he was. He was one of the best Christians I have ever known.”
[Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir, p. 439.]

Dr. Greene is buried at the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.

Words to live by: Quoting from the inaugural address of Dr. William Breton Greene, he opened that address with these thoughtful words:

“A professorship in one of our theological seminaries is no ordinary trust. Its chief function is to teach and to train preachers of the Gospel. Because, therefore, it has “pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” the position of a theological professor must be as much more serious than that of the preacher as the work of the medical professor is than that of the physician. The theological teacher cannot fail largely to determine the spiritual health of all the congregations of his pupils.”

Perhaps you’ve never thought of it before now, but doesn’t Dr. Greene’s analysis prompt you to pray for those very seminary professors who train our candidates for the ministry?

Click here to read Dr. Greene’s inaugural address. “The Function of the Reason in Christianity.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

To Spare a Mother’s Life is a Myth of Abortion

The statement of the medical doctor blew the lid off of one of the more famous grounds of abortion.  He said, “protection of the life of the mother as an exercise of abortion is a smoke screen. In my thirty-six years of pediatric surgery, I have never known of one instances where the child had to be aborted to save the mother’s life. If toward the end of the pregnancy complications would arise that threaten the mother’s life, the doctor will induce labor or perform a Caesarean section.  His intention is to save the life of both the mother and the baby. The baby’s life is never willfully destroyed because the mother’s life is in danger. To spare a mother’s life is a myth of abortion.”

Who said this?  None other than C. Everett Koop, who served for two terms  under President Ronald Reagan as Surgeon General of the United States in the nineteen eighties (1982 – 1989). C. Everett Koop was pro-life in his views of life in the womb.

Born in  Brooklyn, New York on October 14, 1916, “Chick” Koop, as he was known by his friends, certainly had the education to make him the top doctor in the country.  Educated at Dartmouth College in his undergraduate years, he went on to receive degree after degree at the top medical hospitals in the country.  In addition, he received forty-one honorary  doctorates.

While in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he joined Tenth Presbyterian Church, serving as a ruling elder of that P.C.A. congregation. He cooperated with Francis Schaeffer in producing the “How Then Shall We Live” series, which informed American Christians of their duty to be salt and light in the midst of a corrupting and darksome  culture.

As of this writing, he lives up in New Hampshire.

Words to live by:  If you check on the world-wide web, you can find some other statements by Dr. Koop dealing with the issues which define our world, such as euthanasia, which he decries that medicine cannot be considered our healer and our killer at the same time.  We can thank God that he was raised up for such a time and age as this, when sound biblical conclusions needed to be raised in a culture which devalues life.

Through the Scriptures: Malachi 1 – 4

Through the Standards: The tests of church purity

WCF 25:4
“This catholic Church has been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. And particular Churches, what are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the Gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.”

For further study : The papers of Dr. C. Everett Koop are preserved at the National Library of Medicine. And additional, smaller collection pertaining mostly to several of Dr. Koop’s published works, can be found at Wheaton College.

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