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Our post today comes from guest author and good friend, Barry Waugh, who has recently begun his own blog, PRESBYTERIANS OF THE PAST. Where THIS DAY IN PRESBYTERIAN HISTORY has always been intended as a brief devotional based on Presbyterian history, Barry will in contrast be posting just a few times a month but with fuller treatment of the subjects he takes up. The following is one of his most recent posts, this on the New School Presbyterians and the availability of some rather rare Minutes of their Synod of Philadelphia:—

PhilaSynodNSMinutesDuring the course of your web-surfing or reading about Presbyterian history you may have run across the terms, “Old School” and “New School,” or their abbreviations, “OS” and “NS.” Before getting to the purpose of this post, which is the PDF download of the minutes of the Synod of Pennsylvania, New School, a brief explanation of the terms “New School” and “Old School” may be beneficial.

Old School—Generally speaking, the Old School believed—in a stricter or fuller subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith and its associated standards; that the issue of slavery was a political and not a church issue; that missionary work should be under the direct oversight of the Presbyterian Church and not through independent mission organizations; and that the Plan of Union of 1801 affiliating the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) and the Congregational Church had been detrimental to the Presbyterians because of some of the theological views and practices from New England. These are not all the points of disagreement but they cover most of the issues. It could be said that the Old School believed—the church should be directly ruled in all its ministries by elders connectionally associated through its sessions, presbyteries, synods, and general assembly, with its interpretation of the Word of God governed by a conservative use of the Westminster Standards, and it believed that the church’s ministry is exclusively spiritual and not political. Thus, the Old School had a strong sense of the Word’s warrant for presbyterian government as the church government and it held to the necessity of confessional standards for proper interpretation of the Bible and governing the church rightly in its spiritual ministry.

New School—Generally speaking, the New School believed that—a considerably lesser adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith and its associated standards was acceptable, even necessary; the issue of slavery was within the bounds of the spiritual ministry of the church and many believed that immediate abolition was the best solution; the use of what might be called today interdenominational mission organizations was beneficial and more efficient for missionary work and church extension than committees overseen directly by the presbyters; the Plan of Union had not only benefitted the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians, particularly in terms of the growth of both denominations in the western frontier (i.e. New York, Ohio, etc.), but the New England theology influenced the PCUSA to be less rigorous and more open to differing doctrinal ideas.  The New School views could be summarized—the Presbyterian Church is governed by elders locally and connectionally but other polities, including congregational, are scriptural as well; the Presbyterians should participate in missionary organizations that are not under direct control of the denomination for more efficient evangelism; the interpretation of the Word of God by the Westminster Confession is of lesser or no importance for church doctrine and practice; and the church’s ministry is spiritual, but the spiritual work does not exclude political activism for what the church sees as pervasive sins in society.  Thus, the New School had a lesser sense of the uniqueness of presbyterian church government and a more inclusive idea of denominational ministry; a liberal, or nonexistent, adherence to the confessional standards for doctrine; and an expanded idea of what the spiritual ministry of the church looks like.

If you have never read anything about the Old School and the New School you are probably thinking that the two could not continue to exist together because it was a disaster from day one. You would be correct. The point for the beginning of trouble was seen by the Old School to be 1801 when the Plan of Union was accomplished. There were those who opposed the Plan of Union, but their appeals were not heeded. As the years passed, the members of the respective schools found their points of difference more polarizing, especially as the issue of slavery sectionalized both the nation and the churches. At the 1837 General Assembly of the PCUSA, the Old School had the majority and was able to undo some of the affects of the Plan of Union, the plan itself, and eject the New School. Obviously, it was not a happy situation following the 1837 General Assembly. The press, both private and religious, reported some of the unseemly moments on the floor of the assembly as commissioners railed and argued. Following the division, both sides claimed to be the true PCUSA.

Title Page, NS PCUSA Synod of PA, Minutes 1865, 11-11-2015When the Synod of Pennsylvania, New School, convened in the evening of Tuesday, October 17, 1865, in the Third Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, the retiring moderator, B. B. Hotchkin, the pastor of the Marple Church, passed the gavel to Rev. Thomas J. Shepherd of First Church in the Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. The meeting was particularly significant because it was the first annual meeting following the Civil War, the assassination of President Lincoln, and the inauguration of Vice President Andrew Johnson to the presidency. Since the previous synod meeting there were many things that had changed. For the New School, one of, if not the key issue for its identity, abolition of slavery, had been achieved. There was some optimism in the land about the future, especially if one lived north of the Mason-Dixon Line, but the optimism was tenuously mixed with different ideas about how the post-war situation with the Southern states should be handled. In the North, many adamantly contended that the former Confederacy should pay a heavy price, but on the other end were others desiring to see all the states working together as a reunified nation. In the South, there were many fearing retribution, wondering if they would have food, and apprehensive of finding work in the devastated economy, however, there were also numerous others consumed with anger against the North. Between the two poles of ideas in both North and South were a myriad of other perspectives.

The tension in the nation carried over into the meeting of the synod. The presbyters tended towards the heavy-price-to-be-paid view regarding the South’s future. The synod was meeting just a few months after the North and South had ceased killing each other and there was much mourning, ire, and bitterness. A series of six resolutions regarding “the State of the Country” were passed unanimously with a seventh added later, which was also passed unanimously. On the final day of the sessions as the business was coming to an end, a resolution was adopted regarding the health of Rev. Albert Barnes, who was a key figure of the New School and had been tried for heresy with the impetus provided by the Old School. Other resolutions regarding the usual house cleaning at the end of a synod were accomplished including the resolution of thanks to the host church. The synod adjourned to meet in the First Church, Carlisle, October 16, 1866, per the minute taking of Stated Clerk William E. Moore.

Please, download the free PDF of these minutes at the link below. The digital minutes were scanned from a copy owned by the author of this site. The minutes have an appendix that includes the synod’s standing rules; a directory of the presbyteries, churches, ministers, and elders; and there is a list of synod and presbytery officers.

BY BARRY WAUGH

To download these Minutes, click on the link below:
Minutes, New School Synod of Pennsylvania, Oct. 17, 1865, 10-1

 

 

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A Para-church Presbyterian Evangelist

There can be no doubt that Robert Baird has both the gift of administration as well as the gift of  teaching.

Born on October 6, 1798 near Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in Fayette County, Robert went first to nearby Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania.  Graduating from that undergraduate college with high honors, he then studied theology at Princeton Theological  Seminary.  His senior year at the seminary also saw him at the College of New Jersey, serving as a tutor. After graduation from the seminary, he stayed in the area, serving at the pre-college school known as Princeton Academy, for six years.

Licensed and ordained by the Presbyterian of New Brunswick in 1822 and 1828 respectively, he took the first of a series of mission agencies engaged in ministry to the masses. For seven years, he served at a General Agent of the New Jersey Missionary Society. Following that, he became the General Agent of the American Sunday School Union for six years, seeking to organize Sunday Schools in destitute areas of our country.  This ministry continues to exist today under another name.

In 1835, Rev. Baird traveled all through Europe to promote evangelical religion on the Continent of Europe. He turned the latter into speaking engagements in America, as well as the authoring of  six books on religion in the old country. At that time, those who had emigrated to America before the American Revolution were only one or two generations removed from the old countries from which they had come. And since many of them had come to America because of persecution of their faith, they had a great interest of what had become of their old lands and people.

Robert Baird died in the middle of the Civil War, on March 15, 1863.

Words to live by:  In a number of our Presbyterian circles today, we would say that Rev. Robert Baird was laboring “out-of-bounds.”  That is, his ministries did not fit the usual rule of laboring in ministries organized and overseen directly by the Presbyterian assembly, synods, or presbyteries. But that doesn’t mean these ministries were not effective instruments for the gospel in their own right.  They were similar to the “para-church” ministries of our day and age.  Both then and now, such ministries can be effective works for the Lord in areas where the Church either has not yet been organized, or, in some cases, where the Church, as the Church, cannot minister. As long as there is a priority of financial and prayer support to denominational approved agencies, it can be legitimate to also support a well-selected para-church ministry. Just make sure that they have a doctrinal statement which is biblical, and  an outreach ministry which does what it claims to do, with no more than ten or fifteen per cent reserved for operating expenses. It must be transparent, with nothing to hide from Christian inspection. That need of accountability is one of core reasons the Presbyterian system works as well as it does.

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A Para-church Presbyterian Evangelist

There can be no doubt that Robert Baird had both the gift of administration as well as the gift of  teaching.

Born on October 6, 1798 near Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in Fayette County, Robert went first to nearby Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania.  Graduating from that undergraduate college with high honors, he then studied theology at Princeton Theological  Seminary.  His senior year at the seminary also saw him at the College of New Jersey, serving as a tutor. After graduation from the seminary, he stayed in the area, serving at the pre-college school known as Princeton Academy, for six years.

Licensed and ordained by the Presbyterian of New Brunswick in 1822 and 1828 respectively, he took the first of a series of mission agencies engaged in ministry to the masses. For seven years, he served at a General Agent of the New Jersey Missionary Society. Following that, he became the General Agent of the American Sunday School Union for six years, seeking to organize Sunday Schools in destitute areas of our country.  This ministry continues to exist today under another name.

In 1835, Rev. Baird traveled all through Europe to promote evangelical religion on the Continent of Europe. He turned the latter into speaking engagements in America, as well as the authoring of  six books on religion in the old country. At that time, those who had emigrated to America before the American Revolution were only one or two generations removed from the old countries from which they had come. And since many of them had come to America because of persecution of their faith, they had a great interest of what had become of their old lands and people.

Robert Baird died in the middle of the Civil War, on March 15, 1863.

Words to live by:  In a number of our Presbyterian circles today, we would say that Rev. Robert Baird was laboring “out-of-bounds.”  That is, his ministries did not fit the usual rule of laboring in ministries organized and overseen directly by the Presbyterian assembly, synods, or presbyteries. But that doesn’t mean these ministries were not effective instruments for the gospel in their own right.  They were similar to the “para-church” ministries of our day and age.  Both then and now, such ministries can be effective works for the Lord in areas where the Church either has not yet been organized, or, in some cases, where the Church, as the Church, cannot minister. As long as there is a priority of financial and prayer support to denominational approved agencies, it can be legitimate to also support a well-selected para-church ministry. Just make sure that they have a doctrinal statement which is biblical, and  an outreach ministry which does what it claims to do, with no more than ten or fifteen per cent reserved for operating expenses. It must be transparent, with nothing to hide from Christian inspection. That need of accountability is one of core reasons the Presbyterian system works as well as it does.

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As is our habit this year on TDPH, on each Lord’s Day we look to post a sermon (or a reasonable facsimile thereof).  Also, since it is Sunday, hopefully our readers will have more time to read these longer entries, and we trust you will find them profitable.  The text of today’s post is permanently posted in PDF format at the PCA Historical Center’s web site, here.

THE CERTAINTY OF THE WORLD’S CONVERSION.
BY REV. J. L. WILSON,
Missionary at the Gaboon, W. Africa.

[excerpted from The Southern Presbyterian Review, vol. 2, no. 3 (December 1848): 427-441.]

Rev. John Leighton Wilson “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”  This stern declaration wrung from the disciples of Christ the earnest inquiry, “Who then can be saved?” To this the Saviour replies, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

In this reply, there is no abatement of the real difficulties of being saved.  The impressions of the disciples, on this particular point, were correct, and no effort is made to change or remove them.  The kingdom of heaven, if taken at all, must be taken by violence, and none but the violent shall ever enter.  It has a straight gate and a narrow way; and it is only those who enter the one and walk in the other that shall ever attain to everlasting life.  The immu­table terms of discipleship are, that we must take up our crosses and follow Christ, through evil as well as good report. Those who shine in the upper courts with most lustre, are those who have come out of great tribulation and made their garments white in the blood of the Lamb.

The impressions of the disciples, therefore, are rather confirmed than removed.  According to their previous views, and those of the young man with whom the Saviour had just been conversing, it was not possible to be saved. Both were indulging fundamental errors on the most important of all subjects, and it was essential to their salva­tion that those errors should be corrected.

But whilst the foundation upon which they were standing is thus torn away, they are not given over to despair.  A surer and better way is pointed out.  That which they could never attain by their own exertions or morality, can easily be effected by the grace of God.  In other words, what is impossible with men is possible with God.  What we can never effect by our own unaided efforts, may easily be achieved by throwing ourselves upon the almighty power of Jehovah.

This doctrine accords with the experience of Christians in all ages of the world.  There is no lesson more thoroughly taught in the school of Christ than this.  Chris­tians who have had even but little experience, are fully aware that they can make no advances in holiness, except so far as they are aided from on high.  A clear view of the number and power of their spiritual enemies, if not attended by equally clear views of the all sufficiency of divine grace, never fails to awaken apprehensions about their final salvation; whilst a lively appreciation of the promises and assurances of the Bible, and right apprehen­sions of the power of God, as seldom fail to inspire them with courage and resolution.

Nor is this principle of dependence upon God, more important or indispensable in our personal conflicts with sin, than it is in every enterprise in which we engage for the benefit of others.  “Without me,” says the Saviour, “ye can do nothing.”  But then again it is said with equal emphasis, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.”

Guided by this principle of dependence, there is no enterprise, however great or difficult, provided it is in accordance with the Divine will, upon which we may not enter with confident assurance of success.  It matters not what human probabilities may be arrayed against it,—it matters not what disproportion there may be between the means and the end to be effected,—it matters equally little whether we are able or not to trace all the intermediate steps by which it is to be brought about,—nor are we to be discouraged or intimidated because unforeseen difficulties rise and threaten to frustrate our work.  It is enough for us to know that we are engaged in a cause that has been authorised by God, and that we pursue it in a manner that he approves.  Having settled these fundamental principles, we may press forward in any good work, with confidence that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.

These general remarks have been made for the pur­pose of introducing our general subject, the certainty of the world’s conversion.

There are multitudes in the Christian church, at the present moment, who are pressed with difficulties in relation to this matter, not unlike those which the disciples once felt in relation to the salvation of their own soul.  And who is there among us, Christian hearers, who does not in some measure, at least, participate in feeling these difficulties.

No doubts are entertained in relation to what the Bible teaches on this subject.  The mass of Christians believe, or profess to believe, that “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God.”  But the overwhelming magnitude of the work fills the mind with doubts and skepticism, and leads many to abandon the missionary cause, as a visionary and hopeless work. Read the rest of this entry »

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Living in an Abnormal World

May 15th marks the death of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, in 1984. Dr. Schaeffer and Dr. Robert G. Rayburn were close friends who had gone through many challenges together, as Dr. Rayburn relates here in the following eulogy, delivered in memory of Dr. Schaeffer. What is not told here in Rayburn’s eulogy is how they both faced death in the early 1980’s, both men having been diagnosed with cancer, and how Schaeffer continued to prove himself a constant friend, writing to Rayburn to encourage him. About three years before his own death, Dr. Schaeffer wrote, upon hearing of a recurrence of Rayburn’s cancer:—
“Living this way has one advantage and that is we have had brought into sharp focus the reality of what is true for everybody from conception onward and that is that we are all mortal in this abnormal world.” 

Dr. Robert G. Rayburn’s Eulogy for Francis Schaeffer:

schaeffer02My first contact with Francis Schaeffer came at a very critical time in my life. I had just suffered an experience which had a shattering effect upon me. I had been tried and deposed from the ministry of the denomination in which I was born, reared and educated and in which I had served as a chaplain on the battlefields of World War II. I was still in the uniform of my country when the sentence of deposition was pronounced upon me by my presbytery. Actually, I was declared guilty and deposed from the ministry for thinking about doing something which I had never done! No word of proof was ever introduced into the trial which established the fact that I had violated my ordination vows. My “guilt” was established entirely on my admission that I had written a letter in which I indicated deep distress over the growing liberalism in my denomination and confessed that I had seriously considered leaving it.

It would be difficult for anyone who had not passed through the experience of being stripped of his ministerial standing and told he was not welcome in the church he had sought to serve faithfully to understand what a traumatic incident this was in my life. The details of that episode in my life do not belong here. What is of deep significance to me is the fact that although he had never known me personally, when Francis Schaeffer learned of the action of my presbytery, he came to see me traveling the considerable distance from St. Louis where he was pastor of a growing congregation to Texas where my trial had been held and where I was endeavoring to decide what my future ministry was to be.

Although Francis had never personally experienced the shock of ecclesiastical censure, I was impressed almost immediately with the fact that here was a man who seemed to have grasped the reality of genuine Christian empathy. He could and did “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”

He was quite willing for me to share with him the details of the event which had both grieved and humiliated me. He understood my pain. At the same time he kept reminding me of the never-faiiing love of the Lord and of His promises never to forsake those who are His very own. He reminded me that I had preached to others the never-failing grace of God and gently called me to that implicit trust in God which I had entreated others to demonstrate in their lives. I had never before experienced such an amazing combination of deep understanding based upon genuine Christian love and absolute loyalty to the sure word of Scripture. Francis and I sat alone for several hours sharing our thoughts. We continued this fellowship as we went for a long walk together. From that day on we were close friends!

Another aspect of Francis Schaeffer’s character became clear to me when it came time for me to be examined for reception into the presbytery of the small denomination in which he was a teaching elder. His personal vital interest in me had been a major factor in my decision to seek membership in the Bible Presbyterian Church, yet I realized that there were some potential doctrinal problems. I had come under the strong influence of Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer while doing my graduate work at Dallas Seminary and had embraced a substantial amount of his dispensational theology, enough so that I could be granted a degree from the seminary. I had been uneasy about certain points of doctrine in the dispensational system but had resolved to work out my problems in further study when I returned to the pastorate. I shared my concerns with Francis and discovered in him a wonderful willingness to be patient with my lack of precision in some areas of doctrine. On long walks together he questioned me carefully and thoroughly on all of the major doctrines of Presbyterianism as set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, and because I held firmly to such distinctive doctrines as infant baptism and the so-called five points of Calvinism, he assured me that he felt I could come to more fully understand the unique facets of Covenant Theology as a member of the presbytery and that he would use his influence in the presbytery to bring about my reception. There was both kindness and patience manifest in his attitude.

It was not long before I had justified his confidence by embracing thoroughly the Reformed doctrine of the Westminster Standards in all details. I have asked myself many times since whether I would have the same patience and understanding with a young minister seeking admission to my presbytery that Francis Schaeffer manifested with me.

It was not long after I became a member of the Bible Presbyterian Church that a crisis developed and a division occurred which had profound effects upon the lives of both Francis Schaeffer and me. He had resigned his pastorate in St. Louis and had gone to Europe to work with children, thinking that this kind of evangelistic activity provided perhaps the best hope of exerting a strong influence on European society and bringing back a powerful evangelistic witness in the Protestant churches of that continent. I had been summarily and involuntarily called from my pastorate to return to the army chaplaincy and had spent several months on the battlefields of Korea where God had richly blessed the preaching of the Word.

Returning to civilian life I accepted the presidency of a small struggling college in Pasadena, California, which had been established by energetic minsters and laymen in my own denomination. The school was independent of denominational control, but I was assured by the board of trustees that it was founded to further the purposes of my denomination. This was a vital challenge.

As I once again became able to be active in the courts of my church, I began to be troubled by several things which were taking place, particularly in our participation in two small interdenominational councils of churches on both the national and world level. A discussion of these issues is not necessary here. It is of interest, however, that when I wrote to Francis about these concerns, he answered immediately assuring me that he was deeply troubled about the same matters, and he was looking at our church and its activities from a European perspective. In our correspondence we continued to share items from both continents which troubled us. Our principal concern was the honor of the Lord and the realization that He could not bless us as we needed to be blessed unless our denominational programs were conducted in complete accord with the high standards of the Word of God.

In the providence of God the Schaeffers returned to the States for a few weeks, and we invited Francis to come to preach the Word of God in southern California. Then we made arrangements to drive together across the continent to South Carolina for the annual meeting of the Synod of our denomination. I had been elected by the Synod the previous year to a place on the church’s delegation to the American Council of Christian Churches. Sensing my responsibility in this position, I had made serious inquiries into the activities of this association, and the more I learned the more disturbed I became. On our trip across the country we shared the information we had acquired, Schaeffer on the international scene with the work of the International Council of Churches, and I on the national activities of the American Council. We heartily agreed that the church must be aroused to the need of purifying its witness.

Since I was an official delegate of the denomination and therefore had the obligation to report my findings to the Synod, it was obvious that I had the responsibility to alert the church to the problems and sound a warning concerning the need for reform in certain areas if we were going to experience the blessing of the Lord. Neither Francis nor I had expressed any desire for anything but a recognition of the problems and a change in some of the policies of the council. Both of us were convinced that the testimony of these interdenominational councils was valuable and much needed. The changes we desired were to bring the work more fully under the blessing of God.

After I gave my report to the Synod, however, a wave of accusations against Francis Schaeffer and me swept over the church. It came largely from Dr. Carl McIntire in his paper The Christian Beacon, but his charges were echoed by those in the denomination who accepted his analysis of the situation without carefully examining the facts which had been presented.

It was then that i learned how completely lacking in a vindictive spirit Francis Schaeffer was and how forbearing he was in the face of false charges. He was denounced as having plotted with me to take over the denominational leadership. He was accused of putting me up to formulating the report which I had given so that it would enhance his leadership in the church and in the International Council. None of the charges had any basis in fact. It was a blessing to me, however, to observe how unconcerned Schaeffer was in defending himself. His continuing concern was to remove from the church any activities which did not reflect the glory of the Lord. As we prayed together in the fellowship of our long journey, our concern was entirely for the spiritual well-being of the church which both of us loved.

The tragic results of the bitter denunciations which were hurled against Schaeffer and me need not occupy our attention here. Dr. Schaeffer returned to Europe where fortunately he was beyond the reach of anyone who might want to punish him for being implicated with me in disturbing the church. The Bible Presbyterian Church at its Synod voted decisively to demand some changes in the policies of the American and International Councils. It was not long, of course, before Dr. McIntire led a small group of his followers out of the church and formed another denomination using the same name. Our denomination changed its name to avoid confusion and soon merged with another small denomination and became the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, which was blessed with steady growth and in recent years has merged with the Presbyterian Church in America. In all of this progress Dr. Schaeffer’s influence has been strongly felt as in his correspondence as well as his occasional trips to the U.S.A. he has encouraged ministers and laymen alike to demonstrate their loyalty to the Scriptures and their love for one another.

When it came time for my two daughters to go to college, it was the desire of their mother and me for them to have an opportunity to gain a good command of a foreign language and to be exposed to European culture with all of its refinements in music, art, and literature. Because of the closeness of the friendship which had developed between Francis Schaeffer and me, I felt free to ask him for a special personal favor. We were unwilling to send our young daughters to one of the European universities where they would be subjected to pagan influences with little or nothing to encourage them in their Christian lives. Knowing that the Schaeffers had opened their home high in the Swiss Alps for a ministry to young people from all over the world, I asked them for that special care for our daughters as they studied at the University of Lausanne which would make it possible for them to spend their weekends with the Schaeffers. To this they responded with happy agreement and the assurance that our daughters would be treated as their own. Both of them feel a deep debt of gratitude to Dr. and Mrs. Schaeffer as do we. Their lives were enriched and their spiritual discernment deepened by their months of fellowship in the Schaeffer home.

As the Lord blessed the faithful witness of the Schaeffer’s at L’Abri and more and more troubled young people began to feel the impact of the life and teachings of this godly man and his wife, he began to be well known in many parts of the world. Young men and women whose lives had been radically changed by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit during their time at L’Abri began returning to their homes and joining the evangelical churches and spreading the word of God’s amazing work through the ministry of the Schaeffers.

It was one of the blessings of my personal friendship with Francis Schaeffer that I was able to interest him in widening his influence by coming to teach at Covenant Theological Seminary on a regular basis for a few weeks every two years. This he did for some time to the great blessing of our student body and the faculty as well.

He became something of a celebrity in the Christian world and because of his enthusiastic endorsement of Covenant Seminary, we began to receive student applications from many men who had become Christians or had their Christian commitment deepened at L’Abri. Indeed, we soon found that Dr. Schaeffer was our most effective recruiter of seminary students. In our personal correspondence he continued to share his observations of movements in the theological world and his concern for the contnued faithfulness of our institution in doctrine, but also in Spirit-filled living.

During his frequent visits to our campus, he and Mrs. Schaeffer were always guests in our home, and we had many opportunities to observe their selfless consideration for others. They received telephone calls form people in many parts of the land who sought their aid in their spiritual problems and in their battles with evil. I remember one particular occasion very vividly. Dr. Schaeffer was on the telephone for nearly three hours with a deeply distressed man in Florida who had just lost his wife after having been assured by a “faith healer” that she had been cured. Schaeffer was unwilling to terminate the long telephone conversation until he had some assurance that the comfort of God’s Word had touched the heart and mind of the needy widower.

Some years ago a young man came to Covenant Seminary to pursue theological studies, and it was apparent early in my contact with him that he had an unusually sharp intellect. Knowing that he had been reared a Roman Catholic and had turned away from that faith to atheism and existentialism, I inquired as to his spiritual pilgrimage. He told me that he had gone to Paris to study with Sartre and other existentialists there hoping to find some meaning in his life, but his studies and contacts in Paris had only driven him deep into despair. Through a casual (but obviously providential) encounter with a stranger in Paris to whom he confessed his deep despair, he was advised to go to a little mountain village in Switzerland where he would come in contact with a man who could certainly answer his questions and provide him with meaning for life. He soon found himself at L’Abri listening intently to Francis Schaeffer, asking questions and frequently raising objections to what he heard. I asked then how he was brought to personal faith in Christ.

“It was not by the strength of the intellectual arguments which I heard,” he answered. “I still had questions, plenty of them. But it was the love of this man, Dr. Schaeffer, that touched my heart and made me see the reality of the living Saviour he talked about. He would spend hours with me, and he never seemed to grow weary of my almost endless questions. I couldn’t resist the love of Christ when I experienced it in this man.”

I am not unaware of the fact that Dr. Francis Schaeffer has been criticized by some and even ridiculed by a few who fail to recognize the immense impact of his life upon our generation. I have only deep gratitude in my heart for the way my own life has been enriched and blessed by this godly man. I am truly thankful for all those who share with me deep appreciation for the way the Holy Spirit has made manifest the living presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the life of Francis Schaeffer. He leaves behind for those who did not know him personally his written works, and in the memory of all of us who knew him and loved him, he leaves behind the aroma of his godly walk with his Lord and Saviour.

Words to Live By:
In our introduction we referenced a letter that Dr. Schaeffer wrote to Dr. Rayburn in 1981. Toward the close of that letter, Schaeffer said this:—
“…yet I am also increasingly conscious of the fact that Edith and I have been, as it were, carried along on an escalator for the entirety of our lives. I am left in awe and wonder with all this, and I very much feel the escalator is still in operation, not just in this matter of health, but in the battles that beset us on every side.”

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in his way. (Psalm 37:23, KJV)

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep; for Thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8, KJV)

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James Alexander Bryan [20 March 1863 - 28 January 1941]It’s Sunday, and since we had a post early last week on Brother Bryan of Birmingham, I thought one of his sermons would work well today. Sermons can sometimes provide a glimpse into a preacher’s character and ministry. This sermon comes from an undated collection of his sermons, but one biographical detail in this sermon would place the publication at around 1930-31. For background, it helps to know that around 1927, Rev. Bryan was blessed with a trip to Europe and Palestine, and a number of these collected sermons reflect on that trip abroad. Also, many of these sermons give the appearance of having been written down exactly as he preached them, and so some of the expressions may seem a bit odd. I still can’t make sense of a sentence toward the end of the third full paragraph, “We fail to fold the things to give the things we should…”

SUBJECT: “THE FAILURES OF KING SAUL.”

I wish you to think prayerfully and carefully with me about some of the events and places where they occurred in the land which I saw connected with the life of Samuel and Saul and the wonderful peerless Jonathan, the son of Saul. The places that I saw connected with this narrative begin at the twelfth chapter of First Samuel. There was Ramah, Bethel, Bethlehem, Michmash, Gilgal, and Mizpah. Seven out of ten of the places mentioned in the sixty-six books of the Bible have been located by careful students, geographers and explorers. The time, no doubt, will come when every place mentioned in the Bible will be located. Yet I humble take off my hat in this study because I know that I am standing on the holiest ground, having had this responsibility rolled over on my tired heart and brain in this sacred task.

In this twelfth chapter is the wonderful speech of Samuel, the first in the great line of the Old Testament prophets and the last in the line of the judges. His character was clean, pure, holy, positive, outright, righteous. His circuits were from Ramah, his home and the place from where he judged Israel, to Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpeh. His spoiled sons judged at Beersheba, the southern extremity of Palestine. But they took tribes and did not judge righteously as did their father. Here Samuel introduces the king’s walk before the people and says, “Behold, I have stolen nothing from you. I have taken no bribe or silver, gold, ox, ass, wine, of any hand to blind mine eyes with.” Then with a desire to glorify God he said, “It is the Lord that advances His mighty works. It is the Lord who when Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to God that He heard their cry and sent Moses down into Egypt to bring them out of Egyptian bondage.” This fact shows us that these old Hebrews had a deep spiritual life and an idea of God early in life. They had an idea of God’s people of old. Samuel had a knowledge of God since early childhood because he was taught about God from the cradle on up. Samuel said, “Consider all these great things the Lord hath done for you; and turn aside from idols and fear and serve God with all your heart.” Oh to lay aside the idols of our lives and worship only God. I think of a stanza my mother taught me:

“The dearest idol I have known, whate’er it may be.
Help me, Lord, to tear it from my throne
And worship only Thee.”

Then Samuel says, “My dear friends, do you know that I was not the cause of all this? You did not reject me, but God told me that you rejected Him.” Oh, have I rejected God? Have you rejected God? Have I turned my back on God? Now we come to Saul, and we can but notice his seeming success and his failures. I can visualize Bethel, a sacred place from of old, Abraham camped and built an altar there (Gen. 12:8), Jacob fleeing from his brother’s wrath, camped here and had a heavenly vision of angels ascending and descending a ladder from earth to heaven. He awoke the next morning, and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. I would not have stayed here had I known it.” As Jacob got up early before the gray dawn of the morning and despairingly said that he would not have been there if he had known the Lord was in the place, so I fear that many of us today avoid the places where God is. We fail to fold the things, to give the things we should to God, and fold to our hearts the things we ought to. I beg you today to tear from your heart and life anything that comes between you and God. It was here or very near here that the Spirit of the Lord came upon this man King Saul.

I now visualize Gilgal the first encamping place of the Israelites after they crossed the Jordan. It was here that circumcision was renewed, and the Lord “rolled away” their reproach. (Joshua 4:19; 5:9). It was the place no doubt where the people were taught by Joshua to worship God in the tabernacle until it was removed to Shiloh. It was from here that Joshua went forth on his great military achievements. There Samuel before the Lord slew Agag. It was here that an altar of twelve stones from the Jordan River, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, was built commemorating their crossing over into the Promised Land.

Now this place Michmash has not yet been located by scholars. It was a strong hold of the Philistines. Saul in choosing out a great army against the Philistines selected three thousand, two thousand of which were with him in Michmash. Now at first in all of Saul’s successes he was very humble. Notice that when he was asked to become king of Israel he said, “Why make me king when I am of the least of the tribes of all Israel?” I see him humbly anointed by Samuel for the kingship, a sign of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

We are now in Mizpeh, which means a watch-tower. It was here, as I have already said, Samuel judged, and here he summoned the people to elect a king. No doubt from this watchtower the Israelites stood to watch for the encounters and plans of the Philistines. Then they go to Gilgal, where the people saw the coronation of Saul and they said, “Long live the king.” But success sometimes is a very dangerous thing in one’s life. It must have been in the life of Saul since his heart was changed from humility to exaltation on the part of himself.

God gave the people a king, just what they wanted, because He had a plan to work out in it. I have known people to rebel because they had lost all of their loved ones and life was sad and lonely for them. But in it all, we are to remember that God’s plan is lined with love. God’s plan for Saul’s life was lined with love. Saul began to fail when he first began to envy and eye David and the peerless Jonathan. His presumption is another point in his fall. When Saul was anointed to be king, he like other kings, was to be a military leader. He rallied the people to fight against the Ammonites. No doubt at that time Saul inquired of the Lord and led a prayerful life. But triumphs in the Christian life are very dangerous sometimes. Many times in God’s Word we are told to humble ourselves in the sight of God that we may be lifted up.

Saul really had read and learned Old Testament history. He refers to the Amalakites who met Israel between the Red Sea and Mount Sinai and now he meets them. God told him to kill Agag and the cattle. But now Saul looms up in a presumptuous attitude and says, “Why wait I for any man? Samuel is late, and here are fat calves which I kept for sacrifices and my own use. I will just offer up a sacrifice myself.” Why in the world did Saul want to usurp the authority of a priest? He was the king and not a priest. I cannot go out and work on the railroad or in the shops, or in the bank or some other trade. My work is to preach the Gospel which I have humbly tried to do in Birmingham and other places for a period of forty-one years in a month from now. [Brother Bryan began his ministry in 1889, so that would date this sermon to 1930.]

Saul offered up the sacrifice and here comes faithful old Samuel. He hears the lowing cattle, for God is revealing to him the sin of Saul. He says “What meaneth all this lowing of cattle which I hear, Saul? Did not God tell thee to kill all the cattle? And, Saul, I see you have King Agag. You were supposed to have killed him, too. God bade thee to do so.” Saul was using the church to carry out his ambitious purposes. In other words he was commercializing on the church. Listen to Saul’s excuse which is like our excuses today: “Oh, I just wanted to keep the people together, so I just offered up one sacrifice of these goodly heifers which I saved back for the purpose.” Today so many people say, “O I could not do that because it would not please the church, the world, the people.” We must shun such sin. O if we would use our time alone in the work which God has given us to do. Forgive us, O Lord, if we are not grasping the opportunities Thou hast given us. Help us to try to make our lives count for Thee in these warning lessons which we get from the life of King Saul.

We now come to Bethlehem Ephratah, as it was first called and which means roses, vegetation. Then it was called Bethlehem, and after this the City of David. It is mentioned first as the home of Elimelech and Naomi. It is the place to which Samuel came from Ramah, having no doubt walked about 18 miles over that ancient highway from Damascus to Egypt, to select a king of the house of Jesse. I see Samuel walking along that road with a hickory switch in his hand driving a heifer down to Bethlehem. Someone says, “Where are you going?” He says, “I am going down to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse.” He, like wise people today, did not tell everything he knew. He did not tell them what his purpose there was. He wisely kept secrets. “He that dwelleth in the secret places of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

I see the sons of Jesse lined up for Samuel’s examination. Then Samuel, the great man of faith in God, said, “Jesse, have you any other sons?” I stood and looked toward the north of Bethlehem to the hill country of Judea and the shepherd hills. It was a Jewish custom that the youngest son of a family keep his father’s sheep. David, Jesse’s youngest son, was keeping the sheep on those shepherd hills east of Bethlehem. He was sent for and chosen and anointed king by Samuel. Why did God use him? The answer comes back that God used him because He could trust him. The question is not how much faith I have in God, but has God any faith in me? Am I treating God right? Am I treating my friends right? So as Samuel said, “Man looketh on the outward appearance but God looketh on the heart.” Are we holding on to this Bible on which my mother, dying, placed her hand and said, “My son, I have made no mistake in believing every word of this Bible.”

I see Saul baffled with a great army and yet no one dared fight Goliath, the great Philistine giant. David is sent to carry food and supplies to his brothers employed in Saul’s army. [Goliath] had challenged all Israel. But here comes David eagerly listening to the conversations about this dreaded giant. But yet no one has dared to fight the enemy of God. O my friends, are you willing to go out and fight the enemy of the Church? Goliath is a type of the enemy of the Church. Someone says, “Here comes a little red-headed Jew from Bethlehem, we will let him go try. He has killed a lion and a bear.” So saying they were met with an eager response on the part of David himself.

David then goes out to fight Goliath, the symbol of darkness, hell, and temptations which assail you and me like great avalanches. This giant looked in disdain at David and said, “You poor little thing. Would you dare come out to meet me, Goliath, with a sling and a few small stones?” I hear David say to Goliath, like you and I ought to say now, “You are coming to me with a sword and spear like a weaver’s beam, but I come to you in the name of the God of the army of Israel, the army of the living God.” My friends, we must meet these temptations, we must fight the enemy in the name of Christ.

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