Ordination

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Some Pastors Are Born Teachers.

SandersonJWBorn in Baltimore, Maryland on March 19, 1916, John W. Sanderson later attended Wheaton College, graduating with the BA degree in 1937. He then attended Faith Theological Seminary, earning the Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1940 and the Master of Sacred Theology degree in 1945. In 1949 he earned an MA degree from the University of Pennsylvania. A final degree, the Doctor of Divinity degree, was awarded by Geneva College in 1966.

Rev. Sanderson was licensed and ordained in 1940 by Chicago Presbytery of the Bible Presbyterian Church. His first pastorate was at the First Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, Missouri, serving there from 1940 until 1943. He was the first pastor of this church, and upon his departure, the congregation next called the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer. From 1945 to 1952 and again from 1955 to 1956, Rev. Sanderson served as Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Faith Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Between those two terms as professor, he served as the pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church of Newark, DE from 1952 to 1955.

sandersonIn the academic year of 1956-1957, Sanderson served as a professor at Covenant College, which was then located in St. Louis, Missouri. Leaving that position briefly, he served as a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary from 1957 to 1963. Returning to St. Louis, he taught at Covenant Seminary, 1963-1964, and then moved with the 1964 Covenant College relocation to Lookout Mountain, TN, working at the College variously as professor, dean and vice president between the years 1964–1976. Dr. Sanderson finally returned to teach at Covenant Seminary from 1976 to 1984.

Rev. Sanderson’s honors include serving as the Moderator of Synod for the Bible Presbyterian Church in 1951. Other fields of service included teaching in India (1973), Chile (1978) and Peru (1978). For a brief time, 1956-1957, Rev. Sanderson had also served as editor of The Bible Presbyterian Reporter.

He was honorably retired from the ministry in 1986, and died on April 30, 1998. He had transferred his ministerial credentials into the PCA in 1982 when the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod was received into the PCA, and at the time of his death, though residing at the Quarryville (PA) Retirement Community, was a member of the PCA’s Missouri Presbytery.

We close our post today with a brief but useful article by Rev. Sanderson which was published in Salt, a student publication at Covenant Seminary.

Great Biblical Ideas: God’s Omniscience.

God’s omniscience has meant much to me. Scripture teaches that the Lord knows all things about me (Psalm 139), about the world (Proverbs 15:3), and about Himself (1 Corinthians 2:10).

In its practical outworking, this concept gives comfort because it teaches us that there can never be any surprises for God, any unforeseen obstacles, nor any changes in His working because of developments of which He knows nothing. In one of his moments of assurance Job said, “But he knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10). Job uttered these words against a background of his own bitter ignorance of his situation, and he found some help in this truth.

God’s omniscience also helps us during times of temptation. The assurance that nothing can be hid from Him is a deterrent to sin. Clarence E. Macartney, in his volume The Way of a Man with a Maid, tells of a scene from a drama on the life of Joseph. Potiphar’s wife is puzzled because Joseph will not succumb to her temptation. Then she spies over in the corner an idol “looking” at them. Thinking the idol’s “presence” is what is deterring Joseph, she takes the cover from the bed and covers the idol’s face. Then she turns again to Joseph, fully expecting him to do now as she wishes. In the play Joseph still refuses because his God never hides His face.

Although this is only a fictionalized account, it illustrates vividly how God’s omniscience, when we are persuaded of it in practical living, is a positive incentive to holiness. God’s full knowledge is a sobering thought for the Christian (Hebrews 4:13) as well as for the disobedient (Jeremiah 23:23); Ezekiel 11:5).

God’s omniscience is one of the reasons for our believing in the full truthfulness of Scripture. We are assured of the integrity of the Word because the Word is an expression of the Spirit’s knowledge. Notice the way Paul develops this in 1 Corinthians 2. No man knows the future which God has planned for us (vs. 9), but God has revealed the future by His Spirit. The Spirit is qualified to do this revealing because He has searched all things, “yea, the deep things of God” (v. 10). Now these things have been given to the apostles by the Spirit (v. 12). The apostles preach these things and so they communicate to “spiritual” men what Paul calls “the mind of Christ” (v. 16). What a comfort in times of doubt and criticism — God knows more than the critics and this knowledge stands behind the words of Scripture!

God’s omniscience should drive us to worship. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, and his fame was so great that the queen traveled “from the uttermost parts of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon” (Luke 11:31). Read her reaction in 1 Kings 10 — “there was no more spirit in her.” Perhaps we should say that she was breathless! Yet Jesus says that she will condemn His generation because “a greater than Solomon is here.”

Today we revere scholars and are overwhelmed by their scholarship. How much more should we be overwhelmed by the “fountain of all wisdom” and tremble when we handle His Word!

“Great Biblical Ideas,” excerpted from Salt: Official Student Publication of Covenant Theological Seminary, 1.2 (18 December 1968): 10.

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“The last of the 20th Century’s Fighting Fundamentalists has been called to glory. Only eternity will tell of the countless souls rescued from cults and the modernist churches due to the influence of this man” commented Dr. Morris McDonald of the Presbyterian Missionary Union when word began to spread today that Dr. Carl McIntire had passed away late on March 19, 2002, at Virtua Health Center in Voorhees, New Jersey. Born May 17, 1906, McIntire was just short of 96 at the time of his death.

“An exhaustive preacher, writer, and publisher, McIntire was best known for his motto “A man who will not use his freedom to defend his freedom does not deserve his freedom.” In support of his causes, Dr. McIntire published the Christian Beacon newspaper, preached on the 20th Century Reformation Hour, and at various times directed the American Council of Christian Churches and the International Council of Christian Churches.”

“Dr. McIntire started his ministerial career in Collingswood and served the congregation there from 1933 for more than 60 years. Under his leadership the church left the Presbyterian Church (USA) as the flag ship congregation of what would become the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Bible Presbyterian Church, and a large portion of the Presbyterian Church in America. Though originally partners in supporting the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, Dr. Gresham Machen and Dr. Carl McIntire moved in different directions after the break with the Northern Presbyterian Church. Machen became identified with Westminster Seminary while McIntire developed Faith Seminary.”

The son of a Presbyterian pastor, Carl Curtis McIntire was born on May 17, 1906 in Ypsilanti, Michigan during his father’s first pastorate. The little that is known about his early years is gathered in bits and pieces. His father, Charles Curtis, was a Princeton Seminary graduate, class of 1904. Leaving his first pulpit in 1907, he next pastored the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City from 1907 – 1910 and then served as the executive secretary of the Presbyterian Laymen’s Foreign Mission Movement from 1911 – 1912. By 1912 however, Charles Curtis McIntire had suffered a mental breakdown and was hospitalized. Details of this setback are lacking, but for whatever specific reason, Carl’s mother Hettie divorced and raised her sons Carl and Blair alone in Durant, OK. (According to an article several years ago in the Philadelphia Inquirer, there may also have been at least one other brother in the family, Forest McIntire, who was located in Oklahoma City). During these years Hettie McIntire worked as the Dean of Women at the Southeastern State Teacher’s College in Durant in order to support her family. By 1920, Charles Curtis had recovered and was serving as the pastor of the Presbyterian church of Vinita, OK, as a lecturer and as a prison evangelist. Charles Curtis McIntire died in 1929.

Carl McIntire graduated from Park College, Parkville, MO in 1927 and attended Princeton Theological Seminary from 1928 to 1929. McIntire was among those who left Princeton in protest over a reorganization of Princeton Seminary that left modernists in control, leaving to follow J. Gresham Machen and others who then quickly founded Westminster Theological Seminary.Graduating from Westminster in 1931, he was ordained by the Presbytery of West Jersey (PCUSA) and his first pastorate was at the Chelsea Presbyterian Church of Atlantic City, NJ. In October of 1933 he became the pastor of the Collingswood Presbyterian Church, Collingswood, NJ. McIntire was among the founding members of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (IBPFM), a conservative agency started by J. Gresham Machen in opposition to the observed theological decline in the Foreign Missions Board of the Northern Presbyterian Church. But by 1934, the General Assembly of the PCUSA declared that participation in the IBPFM was unconstitutional and Machen, McIntire and others involved with the IBPFM were ordered to resign or face charges in the ecclesiastical courts of their Presbyteries. Like Machen, McIntire was suspended from the ministry in 1935 and the suspension was later upheld by General Assembly. Suspension included exclusion from the pulpits of the denomination and excommunication from the Lord’s Table.Thus forced, Machen led a small group of pastors and laymen in the formation of the Presbyterian Church of America in the summer of 1936. A lawsuit by the PCUSA charged a conflict of interest and the fledgling denomination had to quickly change its name, taking the title Orthodox Presbyterian Church. McIntire was thus a founding member of the OPC, but the new denomination was immediately beset with arguments over the issues of premillennialism and abstinence.By the end of 1937, following Machen’s death early that same year, McIntire and a twelve other pastors within the OPC had left to establish yet another Presbyterian denomination, taking the name Bible Presbyterian Church. Within this newest group, McIntire’s church was easily the largest, with some 1200 members. This support base allowed for a diverse number of ministries, including the publication The Christian Beacon, which began in 1936 and which operated as a journal of record for the Bible Presbyterian Church for many years. In 1937 McIntire founded Faith Theological Seminary, aided in part by the assistance of then-student Francis A. Schaeffer.

By the start of American involvement in World War II in 1941, McIntire had seen the need to get conservative men into the military chaplaincy. The American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC) was started to represent Biblically conservative churches. As the chaplaincy was then run on a quota system, McIntire worked to increase the numbers of people represented by the ACCC. His success in this work allowed many conservatives into the chaplaincy, but this same success later led to excess, and by 1955 the Bible Presbyterian Church was in turmoil over charges that McIntire was inflating the membership numbers of the ACCC.

Those charges were leveled by Francis Schaeffer and Robert G. Rayburn, among others, and in reaction McIntire led a small group of stalwart followers out to form a competing Bible Presbyterian Church while the larger original group carried on for a few years under the same name and eventually merged in 1965 with the Reformed Presbyterian Church to create the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES). While the RPCES joined the PCA in 1982, McIntire’s Collingswood Synod wing of the Bible Presbyterian Church was split yet again in 1984 with another division that saw McIntire leading out a still smaller number of followers.

Our record of the story largely ends at this point, based upon the materials that are here at the PCA Historical Center. The story of Carl McIntire is truly deserving of a longer work, and could never be properly told in such limited space. He was a brilliant man, gifted, able to accomplish much in life, a controversialist and a skilled propagandist, and a man who suffered from a number of fatal flaws that eventually undid much of his life’s work.

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With the settling of the American colonies, scattered congregations and groups of people ready to be gathered into churches, together with the small number of ministers anxious for mutual encouragement and guidance, inevitably brought about the need and occasion for the formation of the first Presbytery on these shores. The specific occasion came in due season, with the call for the ordination of Mr. John Boyd to become pastor of the church of Freehold, New Jersey.

John Boyd, a native of Scotland, came as a probationer [i.e., a man licensed to preach though not yet ordained], probably at the solicitation of his countrymen, who, fleeing from persecution, had settled in Monmouth between 1680 and 1690.

Boyd was ordained by the Presbytery of Philadelphia on this day, December 29, in 1706, at the public meeting-house, before a numerous assembly. The original minute book of the Presbytery is preserved at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia. Regrettably though, the first leaf of that book, comprising the first two pages of the Minutes, was lost long ago. We can only speculate as to the content of those first two pages, but we can try to speculate intelligently. Page 3 of the Minutes begins with the end of a sentence which appears to be concerned with the subjects of Mr. Boyd’s trial for ordination. The last half of this broken sentence is as follows: “‘De regimine ecclesiae’ which being heard was approved of and sustained, and his ordination took place on the next Lord’s day, December 29, 1706.”

Of course, we will always wonder what else we could now know if we only had those first two pages. At whose call and by whose authority was this Presbytery convened? Did they consider and adopt the Westminster Standards as their system of faith and government? The best supported opinion is that by this time Francis Makemie’s leadership had become obvious. For one, his trip to the old country for the purpose of bringing additional ministers back to the colonial churches, and the success of that trip, was probably well known. So it seems likely that it was Makemie who convened the meeting.

The Freehold congregation had apparently written asking how Mr. Boyd should be ordained, and so it was Mr. Makemie who arranged for a meeting in the spring of 1706 for the purpose of making the necessary arrangements for his ordination, with Boyd’s ordination trials to take place at what became the inaugural meeting of the new Presbytery in December. The record is somewhat unclear, particularly as to why the delay in settling Rev. Boyd. That took place in May of 1708, with the presbytery requesting the congregation to consent to his preaching every third Sabbath at Woodbridge. But he died later in 1708, and while his tomb remains to this day, Makemie—who also died that same year—and other ministers, most of them, lie in unknown graves.

Of the new Presbytery, George Hays observed in his work Presbyterians (1892):

“Presbyterianism thus grew out of the soil and of the necessities of the case. It did not begin at the top as it had done in France and Scotland, but began at the bottom and by degrees rose to strength. Now Synods are constituted by the act of the General Assembly, and Presbyteries are organized by act of Synod. Then Presbyteries were by the necessity of the situation. In 1717, the Presbytery divided itself and constituted a Synod above it; and in 1788 the Synod divided itself into subordinate Synods and created itself a General Assembly. There is no good reason to believe that this first Presbytery adopted any standards for their own guidance. It looks as though they came together assuming the Westminster Standards as authoritative without any special adoption in this country. They adopted the ordinary parliamentary law as their method of action. They did not even adopt a name, as Presbyteries now have names. It was simply “The Presbytery”; not of Philadelphia, nor of New Jersey, nor of Maryland. There was no other, and when it was spoken of there was no ambiguity. When, in 1716, the Synod was constituted by dividing the General Presbytery into four, these were simply named First, Second, Third, and so on. It was a day of great demands for activity, and of small resources of men and means to meet the requirements. This first meeting at Freehold was the only meeting which was had outside of Philadelphia. That city was so central and so accessible that the early Presbyteries always met there. So, with three exceptions, did succeeding Synods and General Assemblies, all the way down to 1834. The three men who were present at this ordination of Mr. Boyd were Francis Makemie, Jedediah Andrews, and John Hampton. The original members of the first Presbytery included these three, with George Macnish, John Wilson, and Nathaniel Taylor.”

Words to Live By:
Jesus promised that He will build His church. The promise is sure. And it is the Lord our God who sovereignly draws His people into the Kingdom as Christ is lifted up by the faithful preaching of the Word of God. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.—Ps. 127:1, ESV.

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December 3, 1870, and You Are There.

A nice review in a newspaper of the time, covering an ordination in a Presbyterian church, not quite one hundred fifty years ago. Things haven’t changed much, though apparently on this occasion the Rev. Witherspoon brought both the charge to the pastor and the charge to the congregation. Today we would typically have one elder (usually a teaching elder) bring the charge to the pastor, and another elder (teaching or ruling) bring the charge to the congregation.

The Petersburg Index, Petersburg, Virginia, December 3, 1870

INSTALLATION OF REV RICHARD MCILWAINE

The installation of this talented young minister, (so well known in Petersburg) as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, took place on Thursday night and was witnessed by a large congregation. The Virginian says of the ceremony.

The sermon was preached by Rev. W. W. Houston, of Salem, on the text “One Faith;” It’s object being to show that amid all the differences of Christian sects there is a oneness of faith.  This was illustrated by the fact that all Christians agree in that faith that has but one object, one fruit or result, and one issue.  It was a very solemn appeal and was listened to with close attention.

After sermon Mr. Houston propounded the questions that are required by the Form of Government, which being answered in the affirmative, the relation was declared as regularly instituted.

witherspoon04After this, Rev. Dr. [Thomas Dwight] Witherspoon delivered a most solemn charge to the Pastor, urging him to appreciate his work-to preach Christ – to be faithful to all his charge, and to cultivate spirituality in all his efforts.

After this, the Dr. proceeded to charge the people, first to love their pastor, then to care for his spiritual welfare, then to pray for him, and uphold him in every possible way as co-laborers in the great work of the ministry.  This charge was closed with an allusion to his visit here at the beginning of the war, when so many that received him so cordially, are now missed from the church on earth.  His allusion to these things melted the church to tears.

The whole services were then closed with prayer and the singing of a hymn, when many of the church came forward and gave a cordial welcome to their new pastor.

Words to Live By:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17, ESV)

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Some Pastors Are Born Teachers.

SandersonJWBorn in Baltimore, Maryland on March 19, 1916, John W. Sanderson later attended Wheaton College, graduating with the BA degree in 1937. He then attended Faith Theological Seminary, earning the Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1940 and the Master of Sacred Theology degree in 1945. In 1949 he earned an MA degree from the University of Pennsylvania. A final degree, the Doctor of Divinity degree, was awarded by Geneva College in 1966.

Rev. Sanderson was licensed and ordained in 1940 by Chicago Presbytery of the Bible Presbyterian Church. His first pastorate was at the First Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, Missouri, serving there from 1940 until 1943. He was the first pastor of this church, and upon his departure, the congregation next called the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer. From 1945 to 1952 and again from 1955 to 1956, Rev. Sanderson served as Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Faith Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Between those two terms as professor, he served as the pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church of Newark, DE from 1952 to 1955.

sandersonIn the academic year of 1956-1957, Sanderson served as a professor at Covenant College, which was then located in St. Louis, Missouri. Leaving that position briefly, he served as a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary from 1957 to 1963. Returning to St. Louis, he taught at Covenant Seminary, 1963-1964, and then moved with the 1964 Covenant College relocation to Lookout Mountain, TN, working at the College variously as professor, dean and vice president between the years 1964–1976. Dr. Sanderson finally returned to teach at Covenant Seminary from 1976 to 1984.

Rev. Sanderson’s honors include serving as the Moderator of Synod for the Bible Presbyterian Church in 1951. Other fields of service included teaching in India (1973), Chile (1978) and Peru (1978). For a brief time, 1956-1957, Rev. Sanderson had also served as editor of The Bible Presbyterian Reporter.

He was honorably retired from the ministry in 1986, and died on April 30, 1998. He had transferred his ministerial credentials into the PCA in 1982 when the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod was received into the PCA, and at the time of his death, though residing at the Quarryville (PA) Retirement Community, was a member of the PCA’s Missouri Presbytery.

We close our post today with a brief but useful article by Rev. Sanderson which was published in Salt, a student publication at Covenant Seminary. A bibliography of his major published works follows the article:—

Great Biblical Ideas: God’s Omniscience.

God’s omniscience has meant much to me. Scripture teaches that the Lord knows all things about me (Psalm 139), about the world (Proverbs 15:3), and about Himself (1 Corinthians 2:10).

In its practical outworking, this concept gives comfort because it teaches us that there can never be any surprises for God, any unforeseen obstacles, nor any changes in His working because of developments of which He knows nothing. In one of his moments of assurance Job said, “But he knoweth the way that I take; when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10). Job uttered these words against a background of his own bitter ignorance of his situation, and he found some help in this truth.

God’s omniscience also helps us during times of temptation. The assurance that nothing can be hid from Him is a deterrent to sin. Clarence E. Macartney, in his volume The Way of a Man with a Maid, tells of a scene from a drama on the life of Joseph. Potiphar’s wife is puzzled because Joseph will not succumb to her temptation. Then she spies over in the corner an idol “looking” at them. Thinking the idol’s “presence” is what is deterring Joseph, she takes the cover from the bed and covers the idol’s face. Then she turns again to Joseph, fully expecting him to do now as she wishes. In the play Joseph still refuses because his God never hides His face.

Although this is only a fictionalized account, it illustrates vividly how God’s omniscience, when we are persuaded of it in practical living, is a positive incentive to holiness. God’s full knowledge is a sobering thought for the Christian (Hebrews 4:13) as well as for the disobedient (Jeremiah 23:23); Ezekiel 11:5).

God’s omniscience is one of the reasons for our believing in the full truthfulness of Scripture. We are assured of the integrity of the Word because the Word is an expression of the Spirit’s knowledge. Notice the way Paul develops this in 1 Corinthians 2. No man knows the future which God has planned for us (vs. 9), but God has revealed the future by His Spirit. The Spirit is qualified to do this revealing because He has searched all things, “yea, the deep things of God” (v. 10). Now these things have been given to the apostles by the Spirit (v. 12). The apostles preach these things and so they communicate to “spiritual” men what Paul calls “the mind of Christ” (v. 16). What a comfort in times of doubt and criticism — God knows more than the critics and this knowledge stands behind the words of Scripture!

God’s omniscience should drive us to worship. Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, and his fame was so great that the queen traveled “from the uttermost parts of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon” (Luke 11:31). Read her reaction in 1 Kings 10 — “there was no more spirit in her.” Perhaps we should say that she was breathless! Yet Jesus says that she will condemn His generation because “a greater than Solomon is here.”

Today we revere scholars and are overwhelmed by their scholarship. How much more should we be overwhelmed by the “fountain of all wisdom” and tremble when we handle His Word!

“Great Biblical Ideas,” excerpted from Salt: Official Student Publication of Covenant Theological Seminary, 1.2 (18 December 1968): 10.

Bibliography—
1951

Rudolph, Robert K., John W. Sanderson, Jr., George S. Christian, and Cornelius Van Til, First Annual Institute of the Reformed Faith (s.l. : s.n., 1951), 69pp.

1970
Encounter in the non-Christian Era (Grand Rapids, Mich., Zondervan Pub. House, 1970), 95pp.

1972
The Fruit of the Spirit: A Study Guide (Grand Rapids, Zondervan Pub. House, 1972), 128pp. This work was reprinted in 1976 and 1985, and has also been translated into Korean, in 1984.

1991
Mirrors of His Glory : Images of God from Scripture (Phillipsburg, N.J. : Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1991), x, 235 p.

Festschrift, 1997—
Where is the Salt? : Essays and Studies in Honor of John W. Sanderson, Jr. (Lookout Mountain, Ga. : Covenant College, 1997), ii, 133pp.
Contents: Philosophy and the prophet: some thoughts on a Christian philosophical method, by Reginald F. McLelland — Creation, fall, redemption: a mandate for redemptive activity, by Charles W. Anderson — Training the next generation: can we help Johnny tell right from wrong?, by Stephen R. Kaufmann — Understanding our contemporary world, by Louis J. Voskuil — Life and its origin, God’s second causes, by John E. Lothers, Jr. — Cur homo?: reflections on human creativity, by Nicholas P. Barker — Multicultural Christianity, by Patricia Ralston — Computers, comics, and careers: a paradigm shift to secular drift, by Russell H. Heddendorf — Computer science technology: a perspective for Christian higher education, by Douglas R. Sizemore.

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When God Prepares a Vessel

Charles Hodge wrote one of the first major histories of the Presbyterian Church in America, which was published in 1851. A year later, the Presbyterian Historical Society was established, and the first major publication of that organization was another major work, this time by Richard Webster, issued in 1857. Where Hodge was more interested in the polity of the Church, alongside its history, Webster devoted a substantial portion of his work to biographical accounts of notable pastors.  The text of today’s post is excerpted from Webster’s work,  A HISTORY OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA, pp. 549-550—

Rev. Samuel Davies [3 November 1723 - 4 February 1761]Samuel Davies was born near Summit Bridge,  in the Welsh Tract, in New-castle county, Delaware, November 3, 1723.  His father, David Davies, was a Welshman, a plain, pious planter.  His mother was an eminent saint; and having, like Hannah, asked a son of the Lord, and having in her heart dedicated him to the ministry, she named him Samuel.  She was his only instructor for the first ten years, and early imbued him with her prevailing desire that he might be a minister.  Though otherwise careless of divine things, he was mindful of his nearness to death, and daily prayed to be spared to preach the gospel.  He was sent to receive the rudiments of classical learning, under the Rev. Abel Morgan, afterwards the Baptist minister at Middletown, New Jersey.  Away from home-influences, he became more estranged from God; but, at the age of twelve, he was awakened to see his guilt, vileness, and ruin.  After much and long-continued distress, he obtained peace in believing.  This great event took place in 1736, probably under the preaching of Gilbert Tennent, whom he called his spiritual father.  It was a day of great deadness; but God was then preparing many wonderful men for the good day that was at hand.

He commenced keeping a diary, which, after his death, was examined by President Finley:  it is a record of great distress relieved by large measures of heavenly comfort.

“About sixteen years ago,” he said, in 1757, “in the northern colonies, when all religious concern was much out of fashion, and the generality lay in a dead sleep of sin, having at best but the form of godliness and nothing of the power,—when the country was in peace and prosperity, free from the calamities of war and epidemic sickness,—when, in short, there were no external calls to repentance,—suddenly a deep general concern about eternal things spread through the country; sinners started from their slumbers, broke off from their sins, began to inquire the way of salvation, and made it the great business of their life to prepare for the world to come.  Then the gospel seemed almighty, and carried all before it.  It pierced the very hearts of men.  I have seen thousands at once melted down under it, all eager to hear as for life, and scarcely a dry eye to be seen among them.  Thousands still remain shining monuments of the power of divine grace in that glorious day.”

Amid such animating scenes, under the preaching of Whitefield, Blair, Robinson, Tennent, and Rowland, Davies pursued his studies.  There were obstacles in his way, but his uncommon application was followed by surprising progress.  Robinson supplied his wants.  Blair taught him, not only by his words, but by his holy example, as a man and his inimitable excellencies as a preacher.  He was licensed by Newcastle Presbytery, July 30, 1746, at the age of twenty-three, and ordained an evangelist, February 19, 1747.  He was desired by all the vacant congregations.  He was manly and graceful; he had a venerable presence, commanding voice, emphatic delivery; his disposition sweet, dispassionate, tender.

Words to Live By:
Real revival brings lasting change. May the Gospel again in our day be seen as almighty; may it again carry all before it, to the piercing of the hearts of men. Pray that the power of divine grace would again melt sinful hearts, to His greater glory.

For Further Study:
The original publishing of Richard Webster’s A History of the Presbyterian Church in America was an inexpensive production and not many copies have survived in good condition. Thankfully, the work was reprinted just a few years ago by Tentmaker Publications in England, and copies may still be available.

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In 2005, Solid Ground Christian Books did a great service in reprinting three volumes of William Buell Sprague’s Annals of the American Pulpit. These three volumes were the Presbyterian portion of that set, and they have been a great help in preparing some of the posts that you have been reading. In the last of those three volumes, some coverage was given to pastors of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and today we look at the brief life of the Rev. Moses Kerr, quoting from Sprague’s work:

Moses Kerr, the third son of the Rev. Joseph Kerr, D.D., was born in St. Clair, Pennsylvania, on the 30th of June, 1811. Naturally of a serious and thoughtful cast of mind and manifesting in very early life decided piety, his education was directed, from the first, with a view to qualifying him for the sacred ministry. He was the first of the family to enter upon a classical course. But, in a short time, signs of failing health led to a suspension of his studies and thoughts of some other calling less trying to a feeble constitution. He was induced to devote himself, for a time, to preparation for mercantile life. For this he had no taste, and it soon proved as unfavourable to his health as his application to study had previously done. He then engaged in ordinary farm work, and in this he appeared to grow strong; and, feeling now that he had the prospect of comfortable health, he again turned his attention to the profession on which he had first set his heart. He now entered the Western University of Pennsylvania, in which he prosecuted his studies without interruption until he was honourably graduated in 1828. In the fall of the same year he began the study of Theology in the Seminary then under the care of his father. He had completed one session and entered upon a second, when his father died. He finished his theological course under the instruction of the Rev. Mungo Dick, a learned and excellent Minister, who consented to take charge of the students of the Synod of the West until a professor to succeed Dr. Kerr could be formally chosen.

He was licensed to preach as a probationer for the holy ministry by the Presbytery of Monongahela, on the 28th of April, 1831. The same year the First Congregation of Allegheny was organized, and he was chosen its first Pastor. He accepted this call on the 24th of April, 1832, and, from this date, preached to this congregation, until the fall of the same year, a short time before the meeting of Presbytery, at which it was expected he would be ordained and installed. But when the Presbytery met, he returned the call, on account of a hemorrhage of the lungs, which made it necessary for him to refrain from public speaking, he knew not how long. The Presbytery released him from his acceptance of the call to that particular congregation, but proceeded with his Ordination to the office of the ministry. This was on the 9th of October, 1832.

Regrettably, the remainder of Rev. Kerr’s short life seems to repeat that pattern. He found times of service to congregations and as a teacher, but they were short periods interrupted by poor health. The Rev. Moses Kerr died on January 26, 1840, at the age of 28 years and 6 months.

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First Ordination of a Presbyterian in the American Colonies

From the spring meeting of the first Presbytery in 1706 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, three of the seven ministers in attendance — Francis Makemie, John Hampton, and Frederick Andrews — traveled to Freehold, New Jersey during the Christmas holidays to examine and ordain John Boyd

Gathering in the church known as “The Scotch Meetinghouse,” these three ministers proceeded to examine the young Scotsman, John Boyd.  The Scriptural text given to the latter to preach was John 1:12, which declares, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (KJV)

His assigned topic was “the government of the church,” which was an apt topic given the nature of the early Presbyterian church in the colonies at this time.  He defended his thesis before the three ministers in the afternoon of that day.  He was then examined on the languages of Hebrew and Greek.  Following that was questions in general by the three-man team of Presbyters.

All the parts of the theological trial were sustained.  The time of his formal ordination was appointed for the following Sabbath on December 29, 1706.   So the year of 1706 closed out with the first purely Presbyterian ordination in the new world.

Words to live by:  It is good to know that then, and now, there is a proper examination of those who would occupy the pulpits of Presbyterian churches.  There must be qualified men in place for the church to continue to be orthodox, as they deal with the souls of men, women, and children.  Often Presbyteries are looked upon as so much administration, but in reality, they are spiritual courts for the improvement of the church.  Why not plan to attend one of the Presbyteries in your area as a guest, going with your representative elders one time.  You will be able to pray better for your pastors and elders if you do this.

Through the Scriptures:  Revelation 13 – 15

Through the Standards:  Detailed description of the end of the righteous

WSC 38 — “What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A.  At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.”

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