James Patterson

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carroll_daniel_lynnThe Power of Preaching

Daniel Lynn Carroll was born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, on May 10th, 1797. After surmounting great obstacles to his education, he was finally able to graduate from Jefferson College in 1823, at the age of twenty-six. He then enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary and took the three-year curriculum, staying for another six months of study after graduation. Of Mr. Carroll, Archibald Alexander said that he was one of his finest students.

Seeking a call, he was installed as the pastor of a Congregational church in Litchfield, Connecticut in October of 1827. Then early in March, 1829, he accepted a call from the First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, Long Island, though this pastorate ended in 1835, due to a severe throat ailment.

Almost immediately he was appointed to serve as the President of the Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. Carroll, unknown to most at the school, was elected to the position almost entirely on the testimony of one old friend who was among the College’s trustees. His term here too was relatively brief, with Rev. Carroll resigning over what was described as “some theological difficulties.” Without further investigation, it appears that Rev. Carroll may have been a New School man, and thus his problems.

Upon his resignation from Hampden-Sydney, Carroll accepted a call to the First Church of the Northern Liberties, a section of  Philadelphia. This was the church where the Rev. James Patterson had ministered so effectively and the region where Patterson had evangelized so fervently. To have followed a beloved pastor like Patterson and done so with success, speaks well of Rev. Carroll and his abilities. Carroll remained at First Church until 1844, when declining health forced his retirement from that pulpit. After a brief tour of service for the Colonization Society, he died, in Philadelphia, at the age of fifty-five, on November 23, 1851.As a preacher,, Dr. Carroll was quite popular, and often preached to crowded churches. He had a refined taste, a lively imagination, and a careful organization in all that he did and said. He excelled at the pulpit. Two volumes of his sermons were published, along with some topical discourses issued separately.Dr. Carroll also contributed an introduction and a chapter to the Memoir issued upon the death of the Rev. James Patterson. Carroll’s chapter from that book focused on field preaching, an activity which characterized Rev. Patterson’s ministry.
Something to Consider:
Preaching with real results depends entirely upon the work of the Holy Spirit. The preacher is simply the instrument for bringing the message. Of Rev. Patterson, Dr. Carroll wrote:—”When he first settled in the northern part of the city of Philadelphia, his church and congregation were comparatively small. But his pastoral labours and visits—his animation, his unaffected earnestness, his holy compassion for souls, and his clear and forcible presentation of the pungent truths of the gospel, soon rendered his preaching so attractive as to fill and crowd the place of worship with attentive hearers. He preached three times on the Sabbath, beside lecturing and attending prayer meetings during the week. He was most assiduous and indefatigable in visiting and pastoral efforts. Now, with this, nay, with less than this, as the measure of their labours, most ministers are abundantly satisfied. Not so with Mr. Patterson. Beside the multitude that crowded the place of worship where he preached, there was a mass of neglected suburban population who went nowhere to hear the gospel, and had “no man naturally to care for their souls.” They desecrated the Sabbath by collecting in groups round the dram-shops, and spending its holy hours in rioting and drunkenness. The benevolent spirit of Mr. Patterson “was stirred within him,” when he contemplated these dense crowds of ruined yet immortal beings, moving in unbroken procession down the pathway to hell. His concern for them soon ripened into an active, laborious compassion, which led to a series of efforts for their good that have no parallel, as we believe, in the history of any settled pastor in this country. This remark refers to his preaching on the Sabbath in the fields. With essentially the same spirit that animated Paul, when he stood on “Mars Hill,” and proclaimed the gospel to those who “were wholly given to idolatry,” Mr. Patterson, amidst all his other exhausting labours, commenced preaching on the commons on Sabbath afternoons, after the close of the second service in church. The crowds which he drew around him, and the temporary and permanent effects of those efforts, have not been surpassed since the days of Whitefield.”To interest such an audience as that which he drew around him on these occasions was no easy task. They were a heterogeneous population, many of whom had never enjoyed a religious education–had never been trained to respect the worship of God and the ordinances of religion–had no habits of attending public worship–had never been accustomed to read or think on serious subjects, and, of course, had none of those habitudes of mind favourable to the reception and solemn consideration of divine truth. In his labours with them, Mr. Patterson had to contend with all that ignorance, wnat of thought, waywardness, irreverence, and undisciplined moral feeling which usually attach to such a class of population. Nor had he the collateral helps furnished by an imposing church edifice, and the example of a large number of pious and respectful worshipers. Yet, in the absence of all these facilities, for arresting attention and producing impression, few preachers for the last half century, have secured a more profound attention, or been the instrument of producing so deep a feeling of interest in an audience as did Mr. Patterson in these services. It was no unusual occurrence for the whole multitude that surrounded him to be melted into tears. This was, in a great measure, the result of his singularly happy method of adapting his instructions to the character and capacities of his hearers. In this respect he exercised an extraordinary ingenuity, interspersing his discourses with pertinent and impressive anecdotes drawn from the providential dealings of God with men which he had personally witnessed.”
Is the Gospel under any greater challenge today? I don’t think so. You can read the Memoir of the Rev. James Patterson, including the chapter on field preaching written by Dr. Carroll, here.

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Wise Words

In his eulogy for Professor George Howe, the Rev. John L. Girardeau prefaced his comments with this fitting summary on the subject of Christian biography and eulogy:

“In doing honor to those who have attained to eminence, there is a tendency unduly to exalt the perfection of human nature, from the indulgence of which we are restrained by the principles of Christianity. It can never be forgotten by those who are imbued with its instructions and possessed of a consciousness illuminated by its light, that all men, even the greatest and best, are sinners; and that, whatever advancement in mere moral culture may be effected by the force of natural resolution, neither the beginning nor the development of holiness is possible without the application of the blood of atonement, and the operation of supernatural grace. To signalise, therefore, the virtues of a departed Christian is to celebrate the provisions of redemption, and to magnify the graces of the Holy Ghost.”

In other words, we write biographies of leading Christians and seek to preserve their papers—their writings and their correspondence—not to emulate them, but to praise the God who worked through them, that future generations of believers might profit from their walk with the Lord.

howeGeorge Howe was born at Dedham, Massachusetts on November 6, 1802. His father was William Howe, whose lineage ran back to one of the pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock. His mother was Mary (Gould) Howe, daughter of Major George and Rachel (Dwight) Gould.

When he was still quite young, George came across a copy of Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana (The Glorious Works of Christ in America — vol. 1 of which can be read here.) among his father’s books. There he encountered Latin sentences peppered throughout the text, and so began his study of the Latin language. He pursued that study formally at Mr. Ford’s school in Dedham, and, as he later related, “said his hic, haec, hoc in his trundle-bed.”

At the age of twelve the family relocated to a town near Philadelphia. As a young teenager, he was able to attend First Presbyterian Church in the Northern Liberties of Philadelphia, where the Rev. Dr. James Patterson was pastor. It was Patterson’s habit to speak with every member of the family when he visited, and on one such occasion, he turned to George and asked George whether he had come to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation. The question caused George a great deal of discomfort, but this brought him under conviction of his sin, and not long after he made a public profession of his faith there at First Presbyterian.

Graduating with first honors from Middlebury College, in Vermont, in 1822, George then entered Andover Theological Seminary, taking the full three year course of studies. Upon graduation, he was awarded the Abbott scholarship, which afforded him another year and half of study, after which he was appointed, at the age of twenty-seven, as Phillips Professor of Sacred Theology at Dartmouth College. This was during the presidency of the Rev. Dr. Bennett Tyler, who was closely tied with the troublesome New Haven Theology. At about the same time as Howe’s appointment, he was also ordained, on August 7, 1827.

For three years he served at this post, when his health was threatened with consumption (tuberculosis), and medical advice urged him to remove to the South. Rev. Howe soon sailed from Boston in a ship bound for Charleston, South Carolina, and he spent the month of December, 1830 in that city.

Providentially, it was about this same time that the Synod of South Carolina and Georgia met and took up a request from Dr. Thomas Goulding, asking for the appointment of a teacher of Greek and Hebrew. Dr. Goulding had only recently been appointed head of a new seminary in South Caroliina, and already the school needed another teacher. Rev. Howe’s reputation with the languages preceding him, he was elected to the post. Thus began Dr. Howe’s lengthy career of fifty-two years at the Columbia Theological Seminary. When the Seminary’s semi-centennial was observed at the end of 1881, Dr. Howe was there to celebrate the occasion, with many congratulations focused on his own central role in the establishment of the school. A year and a half later, he was gone, passed to his eternal reward, on April 15, 1883.

Dr. Howe did not write many books, but of the less than ten, several remain monumental works, to this day.  In particular, his two volume magnum opus on The History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina is still required reading for anyone interested in the subject of religion in the Southern states. Print copies are rare, but the text can be found on the Web here [vol. 1] and here [vol. 2].

Words to Live By:
As George Howe lay near death, he expressed his desire to receive visits (despite his doctor’s wishes) from the other faculty of Columbia Seminary. One colleague asked him, “My dear brother, do you trust in Jesus?,” to which Dr. Howe readily answered, “Yes; what would I do, did I not trust in Him?”

What will you do, if you do not trust in the only Savior appointed for our salvation?

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, NASB)

For Further Study:
Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana (The Glorious Works of Christ in America), can be read here. (vol. 1) and here (vol. 2)

A Further Historical Note:
One issue in the Old Side/New Side split of the PCUSA in 1741 was the matter of educating candidates for the ministry. The New Side thought themselves competent to train pastors on American soil. Thus William Tennent’s Log College. The Old Side maintained that candidates had to secure their training back in the old country. After that split was mended in 1758, the way was cleared to establish American schools for the training of ministerial candidates—seminaries, so called—seedbeds or nurseries for prospective pastors. It took some time to get the ball rolling, but soon a number of Presbyterian seminaries were established:
1806 — Andover Theological Seminary, in Massachusetts.
1810 — New Brunswick Seminary, in New Jersey.
1812 — Princeton Theological Seminary, in Princeton, New Jersey.
[Also in 1812, the Rev. Moses Hoge was appointed to serve as professor of theology at the Hampden-Sydney College.]
1821 — Auburn Theological Seminary, Auburn, New York.
1824 — Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia.
1830 — Columbia Theological Seminary [technically the school began a year earlier in another location]

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