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With Noble Heart, A Man Among Men.

Rev. John William Holm [1837-10 September 1863]The Rev. John William Holm died on this day, September 10th, in 1863. He was the son of John W. and Margaret (Baron) Holm, and was born in the town of St. Thomas, on the Island of St. Thomas, which was at that time part of the Danish West Indies. John’s parents died while he was still only an infant. Hearing of that loss, his grandparents, who lived at Tortola, sent for him. They were quite poor in worldly wealth but they belonged to the people of God; they knew the danger of ignorance and made a way for John to attend a district school. The following portion of a letter provides us with a glimpse of Rev. Holm’s early years:

The grand-parents soon perceived out of what kind of stuff their adopted was made, and before long the love from one to the other was great. They taught him to love and fear God, and to walk-in his ways. In process of time the two old folks died, leaving unfortunate John alone again. Mr. Alexander Baron, John’s mother’s brother, heard of their death, and sent for John to come to live with him in St: Thomas. He went back to St. Thomas, and lived there until he left for Liberia via New York. Mr. Baron took his nephew into his cigar-shop, and apprenticed him to the trade (cigar-maker): Soon Holm learned the business, and in the absence of his uncle conducted it to general satisfaction.

His attendance at church and Sunday-school was regular, and in the latter he was soon made a teacher, which he executed to the time of leaving the Island. His habits were temperate and moral, always advising others to walk in the ways of soberness and chastity: to blasphemy he had a strong aversion.

He went once to work at a cigar-shop, but the workmen there blasphemed dreadfully, and more so when they saw it was not to the liking of the new comer, the consequence was Holm could not remain among them.

March 27, 1853, was his confirmation day; the Rev. J. Knox, being pastor then of Dutch Reformed Church, confirmed him.

Prayer-meeting and other meetings for literary improvement were the places he liked to be. In 1851, he, amongst many others, established a literary society for young men, where monthly lectures were given to persons who felt a wish to hear them, and often the place was full to excess. Holm’s lectures showed that he had a thirst for learning, always full of common sense and moral worth. Unfortunately this society soon died away.

Things worked on for years until, in 1859, quite unexpectedly to us, Mr. Holm left here for Liberia, the land he had adopted for his future home. He had long ago thought of going there, but his words were few on that subject. His uncle dissuaded him from going, but go he would, and he went, perhaps little expecting so soon to breathe his last.

“Soon after arriving in the United States, he became acquainted with the Rev. John B. Pinney, LL.D., the highly esteemed Secretary of the American Colonization Society, who became deeply interested in his welfare, and was ever his earnest and judicious friend. Learning of his long cherished purpose of becoming a gospel minister, Dr. Pinney urged him to remain and obtain an education. He however took passage for Liberia, but on his arrival, finding how great was the need of educated men, after a short stay he returned to the United States, to follow Dr. Pinney’s advice. Aided by William E. Dodge, Esq., of New York, he entered Ashmun Institute [renamed Lincoln University in 1866], in which he studied two years, thence to the Theological Seminary, Auburn, New York, entering as a member of the Junior Class, in 1861. In 1862, he was licensed by Cayuga Presbytery, and during the summer of 1863, he was laboring as a Stated Supply to the Siloam Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, New York. Whilst thus engaged in his Master’s cause, he died of typhoid fever, September 10, 1863.

“The unexpected death of Mr. Holm caused a shadow to fall upon many a heart. He was indeed one of ‘nature’s noblemen,’ and the refining influence of divine grace had so moulded his character that he was greatly beloved by good men. Born in the rough domain of poverty, surrounded by the rugged and unsightly influences which make the lot of the poor so hard to bear, he rose above them all; and when he confronted that base prejudice, (one of the links in the villainous chain of slavery, born of the evil one) against his color, which would say to him “stand aside for I am holier than thou,” by the help of God he overcame that also, and stood “a man among men.”

It is not enough to say, ‘He was interested in the welfare of the colored people. He was more than interested. Though never a slave himself, he felt for those in bonds as bound with them. Though never subject to the degrading influences of heathenism, which enchain the African in his native home, he had a heart both to pity and relieve. He was not ashamed of his race, but while he sorrowed in its present oppression and patient endurance of wrong, with manly pride he gloried in its historic past, and with cheerful hope and confidence labored to make for it a bright and prosperous future. Silently and constantly he was engaged by correspondence and otherwise in efforts to better their condition, and these efforts were only limited by the pressure of present duty in the Seminary.”

See the full biographical account in The Presbyterian Historical Almanac for 1864.

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An Anonymous Author Identified

Henry Rowland Weed was born in Ballston, New York on July 20, 1789. He received his college education at Union College in Schenectady, NY, graduating in 1812, and prepared for the ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating there in 1815. He was ordained by the Presbytery of New York on January 4th, 1816 and installed as pastor of the Presbyterian church in Jamaica, Long Island, NY, where he served from 1816 until 1822.

His next charge was as pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Albany, NY, 1822-1829. Leaving the pulpit ministry for a time, he was employed as an Agent of the Board of Education, 1830-1832, after which he returned to the pulpit, first serving as stated supply for the First Presbyterian church of Wheeling, Virginia (later West Virginia). That arrangement led to his being called by that church and he continued there in Wheeling until 1870, his longest pastorate, though in his final years he was infirm and his associate often took over the duties of the pulpit.

Alfred Nevin notes that “Dr. Weed was an able, earnest, faithful and successful preacher. He contributed occasionally anonymous articles to the religious periodicals of the Church, including the Biblical Repertory, but avoided regular authorship. [Between 1829-1868, there were 39 articles that appeared anonymously in The Biblical Repertory; there was also one article by Rev. Weed which appeared under his own name]. For the use of his own Bible class, he published a series of questions on the Confession of Faith, which was afterwards published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication. Rev. Weed died at Philadelphia, on December 14, 1870.

We may never know which of the otherwise anonymous articles in Princeton’s Biblical Repertory were authored by Rev. Weed, but from another source, we do at least have some interesting insights into the man’s character in his early ministry :

From the Long Island Daily Press, Tuesday, January 29, 1929, Section A.

1815: Rev. Henry R. Weed, fresh from Princeton Seminary was called to the Presbyterian church. Weed discouraged the practice of giving wines and liquors at funerals. Time out of mind, in humbler families rum was handed from one to another as they stood out of doors about the house, each man drinking out of the mouth of the upturned flask. Wine was passed to the women within the house. Captain Codwise who lived at Beaver Pone had a cask of choice wine in his cellar for years, reserved for his funeral. The last and most distinguished occasion in Jamaica for thus regaling the attendants was the funeral of Rufus King, our minister to England, who died April 29, 1827, at the age of 73. It was a warm day and the waiters were kept going about indoors and out with silver saivers before them loaded with decantors, glasses and cigars.

1818: Mr. Weed and Mr. Sayres were chosen inspectors of common schools for Jamaica. They did their duty so strictly and exposed so many shortcomings in the teachers that they were not re-elected.

Those instances strike us as the errors of a young pastor, too often zealous about things that matter, yet without a balancing wisdom and measure of discretion. I think we can assume that he gained that wisdom over time, particularly given his long tenure as pastor in Wheeling.

As a sample of Rev. Weed’s Questions on the Confession of Faith, here are the questions attached to Chapter 1 – Of the Holy Scriptures:—

Question 1. – Do the works of creation and providence, teach us that there is a God? Psalm 19:1Romans 1:20.
Question 2. – Which of His perfections do they manifest?
Question 3. – Do they teach enough of God, to leave man inexcusable? Romans 1:20.
Question 4. – Do they afford all the knowledge that is necessary to salvation? Proverbs 29:181 Corinthians 1:21.
Question 5. – Has it pleased God to reveal Himself and the way of salvation to mankind in any other way? Hebrews 1:1-22 Peter 1:19.
Question 6. – In “what divers manners” did God reveal Himself to His people before the Sacred Scriptures were written?
Answer: By angels, dreams, visions, and voices, by Urim and Thummim and by immediate suggestion to the mind. See Numbers 12:68Exodus 3:1-4.
Question 7. – Why was revealed truth committed to writing? Romans 15:42 Timothy 3:16.
Question 8. – Do the Holy Scriptures now supersede the necessity of all those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people? 2 Timothy 3:15.

The full text of Rev. Weed’s Questions on the Confession of Faith and Form of Government of the Presbyterian Church (1842) is available in digital format.

Words to Live By:
Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
(1 Timothy 4:12).

How can a young pastor earn the respect due to his office as pastor? By being an example of the Christian faith, in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Occasionally you may see young pastors who have a tendency to be overbearing, perhaps thinking that a show of strength or adamant will is necessary to accomplish their goals for the church. But as Francis Schaeffer was good to remind us, “the Lord’s work must be done in the Lord’s way.”

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evansFWJrFrederick W. Evans, Jr. was born on April 9, 1924 in New York City to the Rev. Frederick W. Evans, Sr. and his wife Grace. He was educated at the College of Wooster, graduating with a B.A. in Classical Languages; honors from that institution included Phi Beta Kappa. Princeton Theological Seminary conferred the degree of Bachelor of Divinity in 1947 and he was ordained to the gospel ministry on April 9, 1947 by the PC(USA) Presbytery of Troy (later incorporated into the Presbytery of Albany). One of his Princeton professors, the Rev. Joseph L. Hromadka, brought the sermon at the service of ordination.

Rev. Evans was installed in his first pastorate, Christ’s Presbyterian Church, in Catskill, NY on 10 February, 1948. He served there just over three years before accepting a call to the Bedford-Central Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, NY, serving in this pulpit from 1951 to 1953. His last pastoral position within the PCUSA was at the Third Presbyterian Church of Chester, PA (1954 – 1955).

It was at the outset of this pastorate that he married Irene Payne, with the marriage taking place in Brooklyn on 15 May 1954. Rev. Evans and his wife have four children: William, now a professor at Erskine College and adjunct professor at Erskine Theological Seminary; John, an ordained pastor in the PCA and a missionary in Africa; and daughters Mary E. and Martha J.

The years at Third Presbyterian marked the culmination of his convictions regarding the theological decline of the PC(USA) and forced him to transfer his credentials. He had been a member of the Albany, Brooklyn-Nassau and Philadelphia Presbyteries of the PC(USA) from 1948 to 1955. In 1955 he requested the erasure of his name from the rolls of Philadelphia Presbytery.

evansgradHis first three pastorates were within the Presbyterian Church (USA). His last three pastorates were in independent churches. Leaving the PC(USA), he first accepted a call to the Westover Church of Greensboro, NC, where he served from 1955 until 1964. From this post, he next moved to Indianapolis and the pulpit of Faith Missionary Church, serving there from 1965 – 1971. It was during his last pastorate, at the Walnut Grove Chapel of Indianapolis (1971 – 1990), that he began also working toward a doctorate, first receiving an MA in 1974 from Butler University and an S.T.M. in 1978 from Christian Theological Seminary, both of these institutions being located in Indianapolis. Westminster Theological Seminary then conferred the degree of Doctor of Ministry in May of 1984. Of special note was the graduation of father and son together at the same occasion, with son William receiving the M.A.R. degree.

In 1989, the Rev. Dr. Evans was received by the Great Lakes Presbytery of the PCA, and in July 1990 he retired from his pulpit at the independent Walnut Grove Chapel. In his petition for reception into the Great Lakes Presbytery, he noted:

“For better than thirty years I have been without formal denominational ties. At the time when I departed the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. for conscience’ sake I did not feel at liberty to seek membership in either the Bible Presbyterian Church, because of the McIntire influence, or in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, because of my premillennial convictions.
Since the early 1960’s I have been approached by a number of individuals in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, and more recently the Presbyterian Church in America, urging me to cast in my lot with them. This I have hesitated to do, not wanting to cause misunderstanding or difficulty for the various independent congregations I have served.
Plans now call for me to lay down my present pastorate in the Summer of 1990. Accordingly I do not feel that my becoming part of the PCA as an individual would create any serious problems for the Council and Congregation of Walnut Grove Chapel.
My motive in making application is simple. I have always subscribed to the Presbyterian principle of being in subjection to faithful brethren and feel that recent events in the religious world have only underscored the importance of accountability. In view of my Reformed convictions and persuasion of the rightness of Presbyterian polity, I believe that the PCA would afford me the opportunity to be subject to those who are true brethren in the Lord…”
[27 July 1989]

Of note here is the sacrificial character of a true pastor, who put consideration for his congregation first ahead of his own needs. He would not take the least action that might be misunderstood.
Upon his death on 12 May 1992, the PCA Messenger commented on the Rev. Dr. Evans’ keen interest in church history. He authored four books during his lifetime. Two twelve-week study courses were entitled They Kept the Faith [a study bringing together faith and history] and They Sought a City! [a survey of American Church history]. Also published were Christ in the Psalms and The God Who Is [a study on the character of God, employing the pattern found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, question 4].

The Frederick W. Evans, Jr. Manuscript Collection is preserved at the PCA Historical Center,

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Scientist, Educator, and Inventor.

coffinJamesHenryJames Henry Coffin was born in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, on September 6, 1806 and died on February 6, 1873, at the age of sixty-six. Orphaned as a young child, he was educated by his uncle, the Rev. Moses Hallock and later graduated from Amherst College in 1828. Exhibiting an independent, entrepreneurial character, he made a career of teaching and founded a successful manual labor school in Greenfield, MA. In 1837, he became principal of an academy in Ogdensburg, NY, and it was during this time that he began to develop an interest in meteorology, writing treatises on solar and lunar eclipses and on the moon. The Greylock Observatory on Saddle Mountain, at 3500 feet above sea level, was established under his guidance. For use at this observatory. Professor Coffin devised the first self-registering instrument ever constructed for determining the direction, force, velocity, and moisture of the winds. His life’s final work was was the manufacture of an improved instrument for this same purpose, for the National Astronomical Observatory at Buenos Ayres, Argentina.

Then in 1846, he was called as professor of mathematics and astronomy at Lafayette College, where he served for the remaining twenty-six years of his life. His greatest contributions to science culminated in these years. One biographer notes that “During more than thirty years Prof. Coffin was engaged in collecting from all quarters, either in printed documents, or by an extensive correspondence, the data necessary to determine the mean direction of the surface winds in all parts of the Northern Hemisphere, their rate of progress, their relative velocity when blowing from different points of the compass, and the modifications they undergo in all these respect in the various seasons of the year.” It was a meticulous work which ultimately proved to be of great use.

Not long after Professor Coffin died, a bronze tablet was erected in his honor on the campus of Lafayette College, in recognition of his place as one of Lafayette’s most distinguished instructors and as a scientist of world-wide reputation. His associate, Professor Francis A. March, prepared the inscription for the tablet, which in part read:

“He annexed the atmosphere to the realm of science and searched the highways of the winds and the paths of vagrant storms.”

Professor Coffin was for many years a ruling elder in the Brainerd Presbyterian Church in Easton, PA. Alfred Nevin’s Presbyterian Encyclopedia reports that Coffin “united with the Church at an early age, and lived a sincere and devout Christian. He was fitted for his work as an educator and an investigator by the best gifts of heart and head. A man of clear, strong and candid mind, of scrupulous integrity of character, of conscientious regard for accuracy, and above all, a lover of truth for its own sake.”

Words to Live By:
James H. Coffin exhibited in his life a love for his fellow man and a consistent Christian character. Taking the gifts and abilities that God gave him, he faithfully sought to serve both God and man. Every honorable calling in life can glorify God. As Martin Luther taught, “in making shoes, the cobbler serves God just as much as the preacher of the Word.” Regardless of your calling in life, seek to serve and honor the Lord in all your ways.

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An Anonymous Author Identified

Henry Rowland Weed was born in Ballston, New York on July 20, 1789. He received his college education at Union College in Schenectady, NY, graduating in 1812, and prepared for the ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating there in 1815. He was ordained by the Presbytery of New York on January 4th, 1816 and installed as pastor of the Presbyterian church in Jamaica, Long Island, NY, where he served from 1816 until 1822.

His next charge was as pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Albany, NY, 1822-1829. Leaving the pulpit ministry for a time, he was employed as an Agent of the Board of Education, 1830-1832, after which he returned to the pulpit, first serving as stated supply for the First Presbyterian church of Wheeling, Virginia (later West Virginia). That arrangement led to his being called by that church and he continued there in Wheeling until 1870, his longest pastorate, though in his final years he was infirm and his associate often took over the duties of the pulpit.

Alfred Nevin notes that “Dr. Weed was an able, earnest, faithful and successful preacher. He contributed occasionally anonymous articles to the religious periodicals of the Church, including the Biblical Repertory, but avoided regular authorship. [Between 1829-1868, there were 39 articles that appeared anonymously in The Biblical Repertory; there was also one article by Rev. Weed which appeared under his own name]. For the use of his own Bible class, he published a series of questions on the Confession of Faith, which was afterwards published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication. Rev. Weed died at Philadelphia, on December 14, 1870.

We may never know which of the otherwise anonymous articles in Princeton’s Biblical Repertory were authored by Rev. Weed, but from another source, we do at least have some interesting insights into the man’s character in his early ministry :

From the Long Island Daily Press, Tuesday, January 29, 1929, Section A.

1815: Rev. Henry R. Weed, fresh from Princeton Seminary was called to the Presbyterian church. Weed discouraged the practice of giving wines and liquors at funerals. Time out of mind, in humbler families rum was handed from one to another as they stood out of doors about the house, each man drinking out of the mouth of the upturned flask. Wine was passed to the women within the house. Captain Codwise who lived at Beaver Pone had a cask of choice wine in his cellar for years, reserved for his funeral. The last and most distinguished occasion in Jamaica for thus regaling the attendants was the funeral of Rufus King, our minister to England, who died April 29, 1827, at the age of 73. It was a warm day and the waiters were kept going about indoors and out with silver saivers before them loaded with decantors, glasses and cigars.

1818: Mr. Weed and Mr. Sayres were chosen inspectors of common schools for Jamaica. They did their duty so strictly and exposed so many shortcomings in the teachers that they were not re-elected.

Those instances strike us as the errors of a young pastor, too often zealous about things that matter, yet without a balancing wisdom and measure of discretion. I think we can assume that he gained that wisdom over time, particularly given his long tenure as pastor in Wheeling.

As a sample of Rev. Weed’s Questions on the Confession of Faith, here are the questions attached to Chapter 1 – Of the Holy Scriptures:—

Question 1. – Do the works of creation and providence, teach us that there is a God? Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20.
Question 2. – Which of His perfections do they manifest?
Question 3. – Do they teach enough of God, to leave man inexcusable? Romans 1:20.
Question 4. – Do they afford all the knowledge that is necessary to salvation? Proverbs 29:18; 1 Corinthians 1:21.
Question 5. – Has it pleased God to reveal Himself and the way of salvation to mankind in any other way? Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:19.
Question 6. – In “what divers manners” did God reveal Himself to His people before the Sacred Scriptures were written?
Answer: By angels, dreams, visions, and voices, by Urim and Thummim and by immediate suggestion to the mind. See Numbers 12:6, 8; Exodus 3:1-4.
Question 7. – Why was revealed truth committed to writing? Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16.
Question 8. – Do the Holy Scriptures now supersede the necessity of all those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people? 2 Timothy 3:15.

The full text of Rev. Weed’s Questions on the Confession of Faith and Form of Government of the Presbyterian Church (1842) is available in digital format.

Words to Live By:
Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
(1 Timothy 4:12).
How can a young pastor earn the respect due to his office as pastor? By being an example of the Christian faith, in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Occasionally you may see young pastors who have a tendency to be overbearing, perhaps thinking that a show of strength or adamant will is necessary to accomplish their goals for the church. But as Francis Schaeffer was good to remind us, “the Lord’s work must be done in the Lord’s way.”

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Man Knows Not His Time

In The Daily Princetonian (Volume 38, no. 345, 27 January 1916), we read of the Rev. David R. Frazer, D.D., a graduate of the Princeton University, Class of 1861, who for many years was a trustee of Princeton University, that he had died very suddenly on Sunday, January 24, 1915, while visiting at the home of his son H.F. Spaulding Frazer, who was City Counsel for Newark, New Jersey, and a nationally known attorney. Following the funeral, the body of Rev. Frazer was buried in the Short Hills Cemetery.

frazerDavidRRev. David Ruddach Frazer, D.D., was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 10, 1837, the son of William R. and Eliza J. (Armitage) Frazer. He attended the Central High School of Baltimore, Maryland and attended Delaware College before completing his college education at Princeton University in 1861. He then spent three years at the Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he was graduated in 1864. In the same year he returned to Princeton and received a Master of Arts Degree, and in 1865 was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry. Dr. Frazer was then made pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Clifton, Staten Island, and held that position for two years, leaving it to preach at Hudson, New York. In 1872 he received a call to Buffalo, and was pastor of the Presbyterian Church of that city until 1880. He received a degree as Doctor of Divinity from Princeton in that year, and in 1887 was made a trustee of the University.

Portrait photograph facing page [15] in Centennial Celebration of the Dedication of the First Presbyterian Church, Newark, N.J., 1891.

Portrait photograph facing page [15] in Centennial Celebration of the Dedication of the First Presbyterian Church, Newark, N.J., 1891.

Dr. Frazer preached in Brooklyn for the next three years and then accepted a permanent position as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Newark, New Jersey, being installed there on February 21, 1883. The First Presbyterian Church was the oldest church in Newark, originally Congregational by affiliation, and changing over to Presbyterian in 1720. Rev. Frazer followed the pastorate of the Rev. Jonathan F. Stearns, and was succeeded, after a vacancy of nearly three years, by the Rev. William J. Dawson. During Rev. Frazer’s tenure at First Presbyterian, the church gave substantially to the cause of  missions and church extension (i.e., church planting). He also served as the president of a home for the aged and infirm. Rev. Frazer served the Newark church until 1909, preaching up until June of that year. Retiring from the active ministry in 1909, Dr. Frazer was very much interested in the Theological Seminary in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and for a time acted as president of that institution.

Three published works by Rev. Frazer were located, the first of which can be found in digital format:
1889
Memorial Jonathan F. Stearns, D.D. : a sermon, delivered in the First Presbyterian Church, Newark, N.J., Dec. 1st., 1889. Newark : Amzi Pierson & Co., 1889.  47 p.; ill.; 22 cm.

1891
“The Building of the Old Church,” Centennial sermon delivered at the dedication of the First Presbyterian Church, Newark, New Jersey, on the text of Isaiah 49:16.

1892
George Washington: An Address Delivered, Feb’y 22d, 1892, Before The Washington Association of New Jersey, by Rev. David R. Frazer, D.D. Also Letters Relating to the Execution of Major Andre, Presented by Mrs. Herbert Gray Torrey, at the Same Meeting. s.l.: s.n., 1892. 16 p.; 24 cm.

Something to Ponder:

From Rev. Frazer’s training and first several pastorates, we might have assumed he was of New School sympathies. Perhaps it is inappropriate to raise that question, given that most of his ministerial career occurred after 1869, when reunion of Old School and New School occurred. But given the question, some light may be shed by the memorial sermon that Rev. Frazer delivered on behalf of his predecessor at First Presbyterian, Newark—the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Stearns. Here the speaker, Rev. Frazer, undoubtedly emulates the object of his address:

“Dr. Stearns began his pastorate here at at time when the rival rallying cries of Old and New School were too well known and were too frequently heard in the Church. As the new Pastor was, in some points in sympathy with Old School views while the Church was in New School connection, considerable interest was felt, in some quarters, as to his probable course under these conditions. But both Old School and New soon learned that Dr. Stearns was no ecclesiastical partisan; that he was a peacemaker rather than a polemic; that his work was constructive, not destructive, hence he was peculiarly fitted to be one of the most influential actors in securing the reunion of the two bodies. Long before this topic became a theme of public discussion, he sought to rid the New School of certain ‘entangling alliances’ which brought that body into disrepute with the Old. He was influential in the establishment, and for many years was a member of the Home Mission Committee, helping, by his wise counsels, to shape that policy which saved to Presbyterianism many churches which otherwise would have sought a different ecclesiastical connection. His sermon on ‘Justification by Faith,’ preached before the Synod of New York and New Jersey, at Poughkeepsie, on October 25th, 1852, did much to allay the suspicions of the Old School body as to the theological soundness of the New. He was an influential member of the New School Committee on reunion and when the inner history of that movement shall be given to the world the record will show that no one man did more of the real, telling work which secured the desired result than did Dr. Stearns.

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The following is from a news clipping on file here in the PCA Historical Center, part of the Manuscript Collection of the Rev. Henry G. Welbon.

From The Syracuse Herald of June 1, 1936, dateline Sunday, May 31, 1936:—

machen03J. Gresham Machen spoke at the First Ward Presbyterian Church in Syracuse, NY, criticizing what he termed “the church’s demand that we ministers submit our consciences to a living and shifting human authority.”

“Fundamentalists,” he said, “believe in the permanency and universality of truth, that they should obey God rather than man.”

“We believe that a thing true in one generation is true in all generations,” he said. “So we believe that the Bible is as true now as when it was written, and that the true interpretation of it is forever true. God has told us once and for all in His Holy Word.”

The lawlessness of the Judicial Commission’s decision [to defrock Dr. Machen and about a dozen others] is no isolated thing, Dr. Machen declared.

“On the contrary,” he said, “it is quite in accord with the world’s spirit of our times. All over the world today there is a tendency to run rough shod over guarantees of liberty and to regard solemn contracts public and private as mere scraps of paper.”

“That tendency has given us Mussolini; it has given us the Soviets; it has given us Hitler; it has given us in this country certain phenomena which I am not going to mention.”

“I think that tendency is going to bring about persecution of the Christian religion.”

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coffinJamesHenry

Scientist, Educator, and Inventor.

James Henry Coffin was born in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, on September 6, 1806 and died on February 6, 1873, at the age of sixty-six. Orphaned as a young child, he was educated by his uncle, the Rev. Moses Hallock and later graduated from Amherst College in 1828. Exhibiting an independent, entrepreneurial character, he made a career of teaching and founded a successful manual labor school in Greenfield, MA. In 1837, he became principal of an academy in Ogdensburg, NY, and it was during this time that he began to develop an interest in meteorology, writing treatises on solar and lunar eclipses and on the moon. The Greylock Observatory on Saddle Mountain, at 3500 feet above sea level, was established under his guidance. For use at this observatory. Professor Coffin devised the first self-registering instrument ever constructed for determining the direction, force, velocity, and moisture of the winds. His life’s final work was was the manufacture of an improved instrument for this same purpose, for the National Astronomical Observatory at Buenos Ayres, Argentina.

Then in 1846, he was called as professor of mathematics and astronomy at Lafayette College, where he served for the remaining twenty-six years of his life. His greatest contributions to science culminated in these years. One biographer notes that “During more than thirty years Prof. Coffin was engaged in collecting from all quarters, either in printed documents, or by an extensive correspondence, the data necessary to determine the mean direction of the surface winds in all parts of the Northern Hemisphere, their rate of progress, their relative velocity when blowing from different points of the compass, and the modifications they undergo in all these respect in the various seasons of the year.” It was a meticulous work which ultimately proved to be of great use.

Not long after Professor Coffin died, a bronze tablet was erected in his honor on the campus of Lafayette College, in recognition of his place as one of Lafayette’s most distinguished instructors and as a scientist of world-wide reputation. His associate, Professor Francis A. March, prepared the inscription for the tablet, which in part read:

“He annexed the atmosphere to the realm of science and searched the highways of the winds and the paths of vagrant storms.”

Professor Coffin was for many years a ruling elder in the Brainerd Presbyterian Church in Easton, PA. Alfred Nevin’s Presbyterian Encyclopedia reports that Coffin “united with the Church at an early age, and lived a sincere and devout Christian. He was fitted for his work as an educator and an investigator by the best gifts of heart and head. A man of clear, strong and candid mind, of scrupulous integrity of character, of conscientious regard for accuracy, and above all, a lover of truth for its own sake.”

Words to Live By:
James H. Coffin exhibited in his life a love for his fellow man and a consistent Christian character. Taking the gifts and abilities that God gave him, he faithfully sought to serve both God and man. Every honorable calling in life can glorify God. As Martin Luther taught, “in making shoes, the cobbler serves God just as much as the preacher of the Word.” Regardless of your calling in life, seek to serve and honor the Lord in all your ways.

For Further Study:
Click here to read as archival assistant Caitlin Lowery writes of her experience processing some of the records compiled by Professor Coffin.
The James Henry Coffin Papers are preserved at Lafayette College. To learn more about that collection, click here.

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