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REV. FRANCIS P. MULLALLY, D. D.

Death in New York of a Distinguished South Carolina Divine and Patriotic Citizen.

The Charleston News and Courier, of last week, contained the following write up of the life and distinguished services of the Rev. Francis P. Mullally, D. D., who died in New York on January 17, 1904. We feel sure the article will be read with interest, as Mr. Mullally was well known to a great many of readers:

Dr. Mullally was a native of the County Tipperary, Ireland, the son of what is called in that country a gentleman farmer. His early boyhood was passed in that romantic, region. Ile had inherited a love for field sports and became a splendid horseman, ever foremost in the chase. He had finished his academic studies, when the “Young Ireland” party raised the standard of revolt, under the leadership of Smith

O’Brien, John Mitchell, Thomas F. Meagher, Devin Reilly, Thomas Davis and other gifted and gallant Irishmen.  It was the famous movement of 1848, which terminated in disaster and defeat.  Dr. Mullally was one of the most ardent and active of the revolutionists; his zeal in the cause and the sterling qualities of the young patriot attracted the admiration of Smith O’Brien, who appointed him his private secretary.

He enjoyed the confidence of the leaders and was complimented for his courage and constancy, which was a breathing inspiration, a glowing heart-fire.

After the capture, conviction and transportation of the leaders he managed to escape and came to America.  After remaining for a brief period in New York he went to Georgia and taught the classics in the C. P. Beman Academy, near Sparta.  He then came to this State and settled in Columbia, where he entered the Presbyterian Seminary, from which he was graduated with high honors.  On entering the ministry ho was appointed co-pastor to the renowned Rev. J. H. Thornwell, D. D., and soon became prominent in religious circles, and was noted for eloquence, impressiveness, fervor and zeal.

In 1859 he was married to Miss Elizabeth K. Adger, daughter of the Rev. J. B. Adger, D. D.  At the breaking out of the war he promptly volunteered his services and entered the field as a member of a company attached to the 2d regiment South

Carolina volunteers, commanded by the knightly Col. J. B. Kershaw, and went to Virginia with that command, doing his duty faithfully. Although a minister of the Gospel he was frequently found on the firing line, not only giving spiritual consolation to the dying, but also encouraging the men fighting in the front of the battle.  On one occasion, at least, he used a rifle effectively, and his coolness and courage elicited the admiration of Lieut. Col. William Wallace, and that fearless officer spoke of him as the embodiment of bravery.  When Orr’s 1st regiment of rifles went to Virginia, under the command of the gallant and chivalrous Col. J. Foster Marshall, Dr. Mullally was appointed regimental chaplain and immediately won the affection of the men by his devotion to duty, his winning amiability of manner and lofty eloquence, which attracted the attention and thrilled hundreds in other regiments of Gregg’s (afterwards McGowan’s) brigade.  Gen. McGowan complimented him highly for the deep interest he took in the welfare of the men.

Dr. Mullally was known to Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson, who spoke of him in complimentary terms.  On that memorable morning, at the Wilderness, when the lion hearted Gen. Micah Jenkins was killed and Gen. Longstreet was seriously wounded, Dr. Mullally was in the midst of the fight, his handsome and expressive face all aglow as he cheered his courageous comrades or knelt by the dying heroes.

After the fateful 9th of April at Appomattox Dr. Mullally returned to South Carolina, and for some time taught school in Pendleton.  He afterwards went to Boliver, Tenn., thence to Covington, Ky., where he remained several years as pastor of one of the churches. The failure of the Southern cause, like the unsuccessful rising in his loved motherland, left him depressed in spirit.  He went to Sparta, Ga., and subsequently to Lexington, Va., where he took a course in law at the Washington and Lee University. The degree of doctor of divinity was conferred on him by the Mecklenburg college.  For some time he was the able and accomplished President of Adger College, Walhalla.  He lived in Dakota for two years; after this he went to New York, where he remained until the lamatable day of his death.  Although absent from

South Carolina, the affection for the cherished home of his adoption remained unchanged.  He continued to believe in the righteousness of the noble cause he so ardently espoused and so faithfully defended.

Dr. Mullally was strikingly handsome, tall and finely proportioned.  He was magnetic in manner, cultured and of a gentle and generous nature. His piety was of the purest order.  He was high-mined and conscientious, firm in his opinions, but temperate and tolerant towards others.  He loved his fellow man, assisted him when in distress, made due allowance for his frailties and aided him, too, in a manner fully commensurate with his means.  His devotion to his native land was a passion and a romance. In the South he had many admiring friends, who loved him when living, to whom he had endeared himself by his warm-heartedness, manly and sterling qualities, and who deeply deplore his death. Among the many tributes paid to Dr. Mullally during the war, there was none more eloquent than that which came from one of his heroic army comrades, the late Judge James S. Cothran, of Abbeville, to whose assistance Dr. Mullally went during the battle in which that gallant officer was seriously wounded.  Judge Cothran frequently said Dr. Mullally was, like Bayard of old, “without fear and without reproach.”  Dr. Mullally was a finished scholar, thoroughly versed in the classics; his oratory was of the Ciceronian order. There are survivors of McGowan’s brigade in Charleston and elsewhere throughout the State who recall his rich and resonant voice, his fertility of thought and felicity of expression.  During the winter of 1864 he delivered a discourse on the righteousness of the Confederate cause which was a masterpiece of lofty and inspired eloquence, learned and logical. Dr. Mullally wrote a series of able and brilliant articles on the book of Romans, and was a frequent contributor to papers and magazines.  He was domestic in his habits and loved the happiness and tranquillity of the home circle. Dr. Mullally leaves eight children : J. B. Adger Mullally, Thornwell, Mandeville, Lane, William, Miss Elizabeth K., Miss Susie D. A. and Miss Mary Clare Mullally.

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The Rev. J. J. Janeway’s Review of The Divine Appointment, the Duties and the Qualifications of Ruling Elders; a Sermon preached in the First Presbyterian Church, in the City of New York, May 28, 1819, by Samuel Miller, D.D., in The Presbyterian Magazine, 1.4 (April 1821) 170-177.

[Rev. Janeway is pictured at left; Rev. Miller, at right]

The Church of God is that holy society established by Himself on earth for the maintenance of His worship, and the promotion of His glory, in the midst of a race of rebellious creatures. It is styled His house or family; and it ought not to be doubted, that this house of the living God, like that of every wise man, is subject to wholesome regulations.

Under the former dispensation it was governed by laws delivered with great solemnity, and placed under the ministry of men, whose offices and duties were defined with great precision. As government is as necessary to the welfare and prosperity of the church under the present, as under the preceding economy, it were marvelous indeed, if, at a period when God has blessed His people with the clearest light and the greatest privileges, he should have deprived them of the benefit of a government framed by His own wisdom, and committed to their interests to one devised by the wisdom and prudence of fallible men. We believe that He has provided a constitution, and appointed officers for the government of the Christian, as He had done before for the Jewish church.

Great diversity, it is true, does exist in the views of Christians in regard to the plan prescribed in the New Testament for ordering the affairs of this heavenly society; but this diversity of sentiment no more proves that no such plan is to be found in the inspired writings, than the discordance in the views which Christians of different denominations entertain in regard to revealed truths, proves that the particular doctrines in dispute are not taught by the sacred writers. That some doctrines are not revealed with such clearness as to secure uniformity of faith among all the pious disciples of Christ, is manifest; and therefore, while we deplore this want of unity of judgment, and pray for the arrival of that time when all shall be of one mind, we ought to bear with the infirmities and errors of others, and cordially love all who hold the head, Jesus Christ, how much soever they may differ from us in points not essential to the existence of unfeigned piety.

From the fact, that men of great learning and acknowledged godliness have differed widely from each other in regard to church government, it is equally manifest, that the principles of it laid down in the New Testament, are not stated with sufficient clearness to harmonize the views of all Christians on this important subject, in the present state of the world, liable as men are to have their sentiments affected by education and a thousand different circumstances. Whether one and the same ecclesiastical polity will prevail over the whole church, in that day of light and glory, to which the finger of prophecy directs the eye of faith, we shall not undertake to assert. But this we venture to affirm, that, although diversity of sentiment has sadly cut up the church into many sects, yet Christians, by whatever name called, are bound to love one another; and we see no reason why pious Episcopalians, and Presbyterians, and Methodists, and Baptists, &c. might not, in proper circumstances, hold occasional communion with each other at the table of our common Lord and Saviour.

Principles of ecclesiastical government, however, are not to be regarded as matters of indifference. They are important; and it is the duty of every church, to endeavour to discover those which have been laid down in the records of divine truth, and to adopt them in the management of its affairs. A greater degree of harmony of views on this subject existed among the reformers, than exists among ministers at present. Archibishop Cranmer, and many bishops and learned divines of the Episcopal Church of England, so far from advancing the exclusive notions embraced by some of their successors in that church, and elsewhere, entertained the same opinions on church government as the Helvetic churches. (See note N., p. 427, in Mr. McCrie’s Life of John Knox). As Presbyterians, we are sincerely attached to that form of ecclesiastical government which was adopted by the wisdom and piety of our forefathers; and we believe that it approaches nearer to the Scriptural plan than that of any other church.

The Christian public are indebted to the pen of the author of this sermon for an able and temperate vindication of the great doctrine of ministerial parity, in opposition to diocesan Episcopacy. In this discourse he has selected as the subject of discussion the office of ruling elders. It was preached in May, 1809, when several individuals were ordained to that office in the First Presbyterian Church in the city of New York, of which he was at that time one of the pastors; but owing to the delicate state of his health, and unavoidable engagements, he was prevented from complying with his promise to his friends, who had requested its publication, till January, 1811.

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The Next Time You Sing . . .

Whether it is from the original Trinity hymnal on page 35, or the red Trinity Hymnal on page 38, both editions of this Presbyterian and Reformed hymnal have the majestic hymn “Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise.” The tune was taken from a traditional Welsh ballad, but it is the words, not the tune, which stand out to any worshiper who sings its biblical phrases.

“Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise,” is found in the benediction of Paul to young Timothy, when he says,” Now unto the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” —(1 Timothy 1:17, KJV).

Continuing on in the first verse, line three, the hymn writer refers to God as the Ancient of Days, in speaking of “Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, Almighty Victorious, Thy Great Name we praise.” This title of God comes from Daniel 7:9, where the Old Testament prophet says that he “beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit . . . .”

Then in the second line of the second verse, we sing “Thy justice like mountains high soaring above,” we think of Psalm 33:6 the Psalmist saying “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; Thy judgments are a great deep.”

There are two other verses which the hymn author wrote, but which are left out of our Trinity Hymnal. They are: “To all life thou givest, to both great and small; In all life thou livest, the true life of all; We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, And wither and perish; but naught changeth thee.” The second verse not included in the Trinity Hymnal reads “All laud we would render; O help  us to see ‘Tis only the splendor of light hideth thee, And so let thy glory, almighty, impart, Through Christ in his story, thy Christ to the heart.”:

smith_walter_chalmersThe author of this majestic hymn was Walter Chalmers Smith, born this day December 5, 1824 in Aberdeen, Scotland. He was educated in the elementary schools of that town and for his higher learning, graduated from New College, Edinburgh. Walter Smith was ordained in 1850 in the Free Church of Scotland and served four churches in that Presbyterian denomination. His longest pastorate was in Edinburgh. He was honored by his fellow elders when in 1893, he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly in the Jubilee year of the Free Church of Scotland.

It was interesting that it took several years before this hymn surfaced in print, being found for the first time in 1876 in his “Hymns of Christ and the Christian Life.”

Words to Live By:
In the familiar acrostic of A.C.T.S, standing for that prayer outline of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication, we could easily sing the stanzas of this majestic hymn and go a long way toward fulfilling the Adoration part of our prayers. It is that full of praise. So the next time you sing it in one of our Presbyterian congregations, sing the words with your heart and voice as you adore God’s person.

 

 

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The 100th General Assembly of the PCUSA was notable as the first time in which the disrupted Church, North and South, met fraternally. The Southern Presbyterian Church, while meeting in Assembly in Baltimore, came to meet with the Northern Presbyterians during their Assembly in Philadelphia. Discusssions of a permanent reunion were on the table, but nothing came of it. News of that event, as reported in a denominational magazine of the day, follows:

THE PRESBYTERIAN CONGRESS.

The great Presbyterian Congress—its General Assembly—begins its sessions in Philadelphia to-day. As our Philadelphia dispatches showed yesterday, it is a body notable for the number of distinguished divines and laymen who are to lead its deliberations. Of the 500 delegates in attendance a large majority are prominent in the States from which they come, and there are scores of men who are known and honored all over the country, while some of them are recognized by Protestants the world over, as leaders of the religious thought and action of the age.

The great gathering suggests more than ecclesiastical or denominational considerations and reminiscences. It reminds intelligent students of the history of this country of the intimate relations between Presbyterianism in its various forms with the history of the struggles for religious and political freedom, in the old world and in the new. It was the love of freedom of the Presbyterians in Great Britain that brought on them the persecutions and trials that drove here hundreds of thousands of Presbyterians, who became the staunchest and most intelligent supporters of American independence. The same causes gave to the American colonies the splendid qualities for citizenship that were possessed by the exiled Huguenots and by the Dutch Presbyterians. It was a natural and most vitally important result that during the whole period of the Revolutionary war the Presbyterian churches were unanimously for American independence and furnished a large proportion of the ablest civil and military leaders who conducted the war and founded the Union.

One of the most notable  concessions as to the harmony between Presbyterianism and our peculiar form of government was made by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, John Hughes, when he wrote these words:

“Though it is my privilege to regard the authority exercised by the General Assembly as usurpation, still I must say with every man acquainted with the mode in which it is organized, that for the purpose of popular and political government, its organization is little inferior to that of Congress itself. It acts on the principle of a radiating centre, and is without equal or rival among the other denominations of the country.”

[excerpted from The Church at Work, 2.34 (31 May 1888): 3.]

President Grover Cleveland’s Address to the Members of the General Assemblies.
[The Church at Work, 2.34 (31 May 1888): 4]

I am very much gratified by the opportunity here afforded me to meet the representatives of the Presbyterian Church. Surely, a man never should lose his interest in the welfare of the church in which he was reared. Those of us who inherit fealty to our church as I do, begin early to learn those things which make us Presbyterians all the days of our lives, and thus it is that the rigors of our early teaching, by which we are grounded, in our lasting allegiance, are especially vivid, and perhaps, the best remembered. The attendance upon church service three times each Sunday, and upon Sabbath school during the noon intermission, may be irksome enough to a boy of ten or twelve years of age to be well fixed in his memory, but I have never known a man who regretted these things in the years of his maturity. The Shorter Catechism, though thoroughly studied and learned, was not, perhaps, at the time, perfectly understood, and yet in the stern labors and duties of after life those are not apt to be the worst citizens who were taught “What is the chief end of man.”

Speaking of these things, and in the presence of those here assembled, I may say the most tender thoughts crowd upon my mind—all connected with Presbyterianism, and its teachings. There are present with me now memories of a kind and affectionate father, consecrated to the cause and called to his rest and his reward, in the mid-day of his usefulness; a sacred recollection of the prayers and pious love of a sainted mother, and a family circle hallowed and sanctified by the spirit of Presbyterianism. I cannot but express the wish and the hope that the Presbyterian church will always be at the front in every movement which promises the temporal as well as the spiritual advancement of mankind.

In the turmoil and bustle of every day life few men are foolish enough to ignore the practical value to our people and our country of the church organization established among us, and the advantage of Christian example and teaching. While we may be pardoned for insisting that our denomination is the best, we may, I think, safely concede much that is good to all other churches that seek to make men better.

I am here to greet the delegates of two General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church. One is called “North” and the other “South.” The subject is too deep and intricate for me, but I cannot help wondering why this should be. These words, so far as they denote separation and estrangement, should be obsolete. In the councils of the Nation and in the business of the country they no longer mean reproach and antagonism. Even the soldiers who fought for the “North” and for the “South” are restored to fraternity and unity. This fraternity and unity is taught and enjoined by our church. When she shall herself be united, with all the added strength and usefulness, then harmony and union ensue.

Words to Live By:
How the mighty have fallen. How some have departed over these many years from the clear proclamation of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. We take no pride in making such an observation. If anything, we should be immensely humbled, knowing our own sinful hearts. Indeed, we should fear the Lord and daily strive to draw near to Him. May the Lord by His Holy Spirit bring repentance. May He revive His Church in these latter days.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.—I Corinthians 10:12, NASB.

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Yesterday, if you remember, it was noted that in 1783, a day of thanksgiving was observed on December 11th. So perhaps it should not be quite such a surprise to find that in 1850, Thanksgiving Day was on December 12th! Here below is a list of some of the sermons we’ve compiled that were preached on that occasion by various Presbyterian pastors, and as it is a Saturday today, I invite you to select one from among those below where a link is provided, and then take up and read!:—

Beaman, Nathan Sidney Smith [1785-1871]
Characteristics of the Age : A discourse delivered in the First Presbyterian Church, Troy, N.Y., on Thanksgiving Day, December 12, 1850. (Troy, N.Y. : Young and Hartt, 1851), 32 p.

Boardman, Henry A.[1808-1880]
The American union : a discourse delivered on Thursday, December 121850, the day of the annual thanksgiving in Pennsylvania, and repeated on Thursday, December 19, in the Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia

Schenck, William Edward [1819-1903]
An historical account of the First Presbyterian Church of Princeton, N.J. : being a sermon preached on Thanksgiving Day, December 12, 1850 (Princeton, N.J. : Printed by John T. Robinson, 1850), 74pp.

Skinner, Thomas Harvey, [1791-1871]
Love of Country: A Discourse, Delivered on Thanksgiving Day, December 12th, 1850, in the …

Smith, Asa Dodge [1804-1877]
Obedience to human law : a discourse delivered on the day of public thanksgiving, December 12, 1850, in the Brainerd Presbyterian Church, New York (New York : Leavitt, 1851), 32 p.

Smith, Edward Dunlap, 1802-1883
Our country, and our country’s constitution and laws : a discourse delivered on Thanksgiving Day, December 12th,1850, in the Chelsea Presbyterian Church, New York

Yeomans, John William [1800-1863]
Signs of the country’s future : a discourse delivered in the Presbyterian Church in Danville, Pennsylvania, December 12, 1850, on occasion of the annual thanksgiving (Danville, Pa. : E.W. Conkling, 1851), 30 p.

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Don’t Be Misled By Popular Bible Teachers

You would have thought that the writer could be trusted. Hadn’t the Notes he had published, covering all the New Testament books and some of the Old Testament, been received by over one million readers? Surely, such a response by the Christian public meant that his words were doctrinally sound.  But these books were not doctrinally sound, and neither was their author, who was a minister in the Presbyterian Church, namely, Albert Barnes.

By now, hopefully, our readers know something of the Old School – New School Division in the Presbyterian Church in the 1830’s in our nation. The Plan of Union with the Congregational Church, which had been entered into in 1801 was abrogated in 1837.  A key leader of the New School Presbyterian branch was the Rev. Albert Barnes.

Albert  Barnes was born on December 1, 1798 in Rome, New York.  After schooling at Fairfield Academy, he entered Hamilton College in New York.  At this time, he was a skeptic in  matters of Christianity.  After reading however an article by Dr. Chalmers on Christianity, he became a Christian.  After graduation from Hamilton College in 1820, he entered Princeton Theological Seminary and graduated from there in 1823. He had as his professors Archibald Alexander, Samuel Miller, and Charles Hodge. Ordained by the Presbytery of Elizabethtown, New Jersey in 1825, he went to a Presbyterian Church as its pastor for five years until 1830. The bulk of his pastoral ministry however would be spent at the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1830 – 1867.

The latter span was the height of the division between the Old School and New School branches of the Presbyterian Church, and Albert Barnes was a key to the division. He took the New School slant in denying the imputation of Adam’s sin to mankind, and therefore the denial of original sin. He affirmed, in contrast to the Westminster Standards, that free will was within the picture of salvation for every sinner.

If he had been simply the pastor of a local church, these denials would have been bad enough. But Albert Barnes was also the author of the Notes on the Bible which were being received by over one million readers all over the globe. Thus his heresy was wide-spread to the church at large. Twice, he was brought up for heresy by those in his presbytery. But he was not convicted by the same church, though once he was suspended briefly.

To his credit, Albert Barnes also worked for the abolition of slavery and on behalf of the Temperance crusade. He would have eye problems near the end of his ministry in Philadelphia, and he died in 1870. Before he died, the Old School and New School re-united, though the reunion was opposed by his former professors from Princeton Seminary.

Words to live by:  Just because a person graduated from all the “right” schools and seminaries doesn’t cause that individual to be acceptable to a pulpit. Careful examinations must be done to make sure that his convictions agree with his words. Ordination vows are only as good as the men who make up the Presbytery in which the person resides. The Presbytery is committed with the duty of guarding the historic Christian faith, insuring that those who take those vows are equally committed to this same faith. Pray faithfully for the elders of the church—both teaching and ruling elders—that they will remain true to the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

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A Warm Hearted Generous Irishman
by David T. Myers

Our famous person today is James McKinney. Besides being described as our title puts it, he was the founder, under God, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States, as Rev. Carlisle puts it in an article, The Life and Times of Rev. James McKinney. Certainly, both Rev. Glasgow and Rev. William Sprague testify that for scholarship and eloquence, he was not only the greatest man in the Covenanter church, but also he was a great man among men of that age. All of these accolades should cause us to want to know more about this servant of God.

Born on this day, November 16, 1759 in County Tyrone, Ireland, the son of Robert McKinney, James studied in the preparatory schools of his upbringing. Entering the University of Glasgow, Scotland, he spent four years before graduating in 1778. He stayed on in the area to study both theology and medicine. Licensed by the Reformed Presbytery of Ireland in 1783, and ordained by the same church court, he was installed in two congregations in County Antrim, Ireland. One year later, he married Mary Mitchell, from which union came five children.

He was faithful in administering the Word and Sacraments for ten years in these two Irish congregations. Known as a bold and fearless advocate of the rights of God and man, a sermon on the “Rights of God” made him a marked man by the British government. Indicted for treason by the latter, he escaped to America in 1793, with his family joining him later. From Vermont to the Carolinas, he ministered to Irish societies tirelessly, forming some of them into congregations. In 1797, his family joined him in the new land.

In 1798, in a new location in Philadelphia, he organized, with Rev. Gibson, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of America. He himself took charge of two congregations, one of which was Duanesburgh, New York. His broader ministry took him to other locations, as he and another minister visited the southern areas of this new land, to, and this is interesting, to seek to convince the churches of the land to abolish slavery from their thinking and actions.

In 1802, he resigned his pulpit at Duanesburgh, New York to accept the call of Rocky Creek, South Carolina. Soon after that, however, he died on September 16th, 1802.

Words to Live By:
A warm hearted generous Irishman! We may not be identified as Irish, but every reader is to be warm hearted and generous in our relations to our congregation and the neighbors in which we live and move as Christians. Too often we are anything but warm hearted and generous! Try instead Ephesians 5:31, 32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

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Princeton [i.e., the College of New Jersey] graduates its first class

The history of early Presbyterian education is substantially the history of Princeton College. When Mr. Tennent died in 1745 his school was closed. Yet such had been its usefulness that the Synod of New York immediately, in 1746, took steps to perpetuate that institution of learning. It was located first at Elizabethtown, New Jersey, and Jonathan Dickinson was its first president. The students, except those of the village, boarded in the family of the president. Dr. Dickinson died shortly, and the school was removed to Newark in order to be placed under the care of Rev. Aaron Burr, so that he might accept the presidency without resigning his pastorate. The first class of six young men graduated November 9, 1748.

In 1753 Rev. Gilbert Tennent and Rev. Samuel Davies were appointed by Synod to visit England and solicit aid for the college. In the face of very great prejudices against them and the theology which they represented, after a year’s canvass in England, Scotland and Ireland, they had secured widespread sympathy and public endorsement of the enterprise. They succeeded, financially, far beyond their expectation. The total sum raised must have approached, if it did not pass beyond, twenty-five thousand dollars.


Words To Live by:

Presbyterians have always sought and promoted an educated, thoroughly trained pastorate. The challenges presented by the world, the flesh and the devil require that much. Moreover, the Gospel ministry is not to be entered into lightly, and deserves our best efforts. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.—Deut. 6:5. If this command is true for believers, how much more so for those who would shepherd the Lord’s people?

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Not the Optimus Prime, but Maybe Close.

PrimeSIBorn in Ballston, New York on this day, November 4, 1812. He obtained his college education at Williams College, graduating there in 1829. After a brief delay, he entered the Princeton Theological Seminary as part of the Class of 1833 and was later ordained by the Presbytery of Albany, June 4, 1835, being installed as the pastor of the Presbyterian church in his home town of Ballston. Rev. Prime remained in this pulpit, 1835-36, and then answered a call to serve the Presbyterian church in the town of Matteawan, New York, about one hundred twenty miles south of Ballston.

Prime remained at Matteawan from 1837-1840, when the opportunity arose to serve as the assistant editor of The New York Observer. This paper was one of many Christian newspapers published in that era, and here Rev. Prime truly began his life’s work. In this capacity he labored from 1840-1848, stepping away from the post only for a few years, 1848-1849, to serve as Secretary of the American Bible Society. Thereafter, Prime took on the role of lead editor of The New York Observer, and remained at this post from 1850 until his death in 1885. By that time the paper had become something of a family business, with his brother and his son running the paper after his death.

Rev. Prime proved to be a prolific author and a valuable contributor to the wider culture. He founded the New York Association for the Advancement of Science and Art, served as president and trustee of Wells College and also as a trustee of his alma mater, Williams College. Honors conferred upon him during his lifetime included the Doctor of Divinity degree from Hampden-Sydney College (1854). Rev. Prime passed away on July 18, 1885, while residing in Manchester, Vermont. Time does not today permit me to list his many publications, some of which can be found on the Web, here.

Words to Live By:
Sometimes we start out in life headed off in one direction, only to find that the Lord brings our way, entirely unexpected, a change for the better. It was a common expression among the Puritans that the Lord never removes one blessing, but what He gives a greater. The God whom we serve purposes only to bless His children. There are times when that blessing may not seem like a blessing, but God always has in view what is best for us, and we can find rest in knowing that He is good and that He loves us, not for who we are, but for who we are in Christ our Savior.

 

 

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We continue this week with the remainder of Chapter VII of PRESBYTERIANISM FOR THE PEOPLE, by the Rev. Robert P. Kerr (1883). Please keep in mind that the author here is speaking of the organization of his own Church at that time. There are many differences today for most of the Presbyterian Churches in this country. For one, only the PC(USA) has the Synod level court; the PCA, OPC, EPC and other conservative Presbyterian denominations do not employ the Synod structure.

II. THE PRESBYTERY.

This is the most important assembly of the Church, because it has the most work to do. It has charge of all the congregations in a certain district, and is composed of all the ministers and one elder from every church in that district. [Ed.: This limit of one ruling elder per church was for the PCUS; it may or may not be the case with our modern Presbyterian denominations]. Quotation is made from the same excellent authority as before for a description of the functions of this body, and also the Synod and the General Assembly :

“The Presbytery has power to receive and issue appeals, complaints and references brought before it in an orderly manner; to examine and license candidates for the holy ministry; to receive, dismiss, ordain, install, remove and judge ministers; to review the record of the church Sessions, redress whatever they may have done contrary to order and take effectual care that they observe the constitution of the Church; to establish the pastoral relation, and to dissolve it at the request of one or both of the parties or where the interests of religion imperatively demand it; to set apart evangelists to their proper work; to require ministers to devote themselves diligently to their sacred calling and to censure the delinquent; to see that the lawful injunctions of the higher courts are obeyed; to condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of the church; to visit churches for the purpose of inquiring into and redressing the evils that may have arisen in them; to unite or divide churches at the request of the members thereof; to form and receive new churches; to take special oversight of vacant churches; to concert measures for the enlargement of the Church within its bounds; in general, to order whatever pertains to the spiritual welfare of the churches under its care; to appoint commissioners to the General Assembly; and, finally, to propose to the Synod or to the Assembly such measures as may be of common advantage to the Church at large.” [compare the PCA’s Book of Church Order, chapter 13, paragraph 9, which is closely similar]

III. THE SYNOD.

This assembly has under its care all the Presbyteries in a large district, corresponding, usually, in America, with the area of a State—for example, the Synod of New York or the Synod of North Carolina. The Synod is usually composed of all the ministers and one elder from every congregation in its bounds; but, in some branches of the Church, Synods are allowed to choose between this plan and that of having its members appointed by the Presbyteries under its care.

“The Synod has power to receive and issue all appeals, complaints, and references regularly brought up from the Presbyteries; to review the records of the Presbyteries and redress whatever they may have done contrary to order; to take effectual care that they observe the constitution of the Church, and that they obey the lawful injunctions of the higher courts; to erect new Presbyteries and unite or divide those which were before erected; to appoint ministers to such work, proper to their office, as may fall under its own particular jurisdiction; in general, to take such order with respect to the Presbyteries, Sessions and churches under its care as may be in conformity with the Word of God and the established rules, and may tend to promote the edification of the Church; to concert measures for promoting the prosperity and enlargement of the Church within its bounds; and, finally, to propose to the General Assembly such measures as may be of common advantage to the whole Church. It shall be the duty of the Synod to keep full and fair records of its proceedings, to submit them annually to the inspection of the General Assembly and to report to it the number of its Presbyteries and of the members thereof, and, in general, all important changes which may have occurred within its bounds during the year.”

IV. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.

This is the highest authoritative assembly of the Church. It meets annually, and has charge of all the Synods in its division of the great Presbyterian sisterhood. It is composed of an equal number of ministers and elders, appointed by the Presbyteries. If a Presbytery has more than twenty-four ministers on its roll, it may send two ministers and two elders, and in some branches of the Church may go on increasing the number of its delegates by two for every twenty-four ministers in its membership. There are many General Assemblies, representing many bodies of Presbyterians, and all independent of one another.

“The General Assembly shall have power to receive and issue all appeals, references and complaints regularly brought before it from the inferior courts* [*In some branches of the Presbyterian Church cases of minor importance are not allowed to come before the General Assembly, but the Synod’s settlement of them is final.]; to bear testimony against error in doctrine and immorality in practice injuriously affecting the Church; to decide in all controversies respecting doctrine and discipline; to give its advice and instruction, in conformity with the constitution, in all cases submitted to it; to review the records of the Synods; to take care that the inferior courts observe the constitution; to redress whatever they may have done contrary to order; to concert measures for promoting the prosperity and enlargement of the Church; to erect new Synods; to institute and superintend the agencies necessary in the general work of evangelization; to appoint ministers to such labors as fall under its jurisdiction; to suppress schismatical contentions and disputations according to the rules provided therefor; to receive under its jurisdiction, with the consent of the majority of the Presbyteries, other ecclesiastical bodies whose organization is conformed to the doctrine and order of this Church; to authorize Synods and Presbyteries to exercise similar power in receiving bodies suited to become constituents of those courts and lying within their geographical bounds respectively; to superintend the affairs of the whole Church; to correspond with other Churches; and, in general, to recommend measures for the promotion of charity, truth and holiness through all the churches under its care.” [compare the PCA’s BCO chapter 14, paragraph 6, which is similar.]

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