PA

You are currently browsing articles tagged PA.

Henry Jackson Van Dyke, Sr., was born in Abington, Pennsylvania, 2 March 1822. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating there in 1843 and later graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1846. He was ordained by the Third Presbytery of Philadelphia in June of 1845 and installed as pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church at Bridgeton, New Jersey, where he served from 1845-1852. He was next called to pastor the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, PA, but only served there briefly, 1852-1853. His his final and longest pastorate was at the First Presbyterian Church (Later renamed the Second Presbyterian Church, following a merger) of Brooklyn, New York, 1853-1891. He died in Brooklyn on 25 May 1891. Honors conferred during his life included the Doctor of Divinity degree, awarded by Westminster College of Fulton, Missouri, 1865. In 1876, he served as Moderator of the 88th General Assembly of the PCUSA, as it met in Brooklyn, NY, just seven years after the reunion of the Old School and New School divisions of that denomination. Rev. Van Dyke was survived by his wife, Henrietta Ashmead Van Dyke [1820-1893]. Their marriage produced two sons, Henry Jackson Van Dyke, Jr. [1852-1933], who later became a noted author and poet; and Paul Van Dyke [1859-1933]. Paul was a Presbyterian minister at Geneva, NY, 1887–89, and then taught church history at Princeton Theological Seminary, 1889–92.

The Special Collections Department at Princeton University houses the Van Dyke Family collection, which include materials by Henry Jackson Van Dyke, Sr.  His papers include manuscripts of sermons (1844-1891), essays, speeches, Bible lessons, and theological notes. The correspondence subseries contains many letters to Van Dyke from clergymen, parishioners, friends, and family, often regarding the controversy caused by his publication of The Character and Influence of Abolitionism, the Reunion movement in the Church, and matters of the General Assembly. Men such as N. C. Burt, Howard Crosby, Cyrus Dickson, William H. Green, James O. Murray, E. D. Prime, and Nathaniel West are representative of Van Dyke’s correspondents. Searches on the Web tend almost entirely to only produce results dealing with his son, a well known author and poet of his era, who was theologically a moderate liberal. The question occurs of course, did the father’s errors push the son to react with yet more error. Would that both had instead listened to Rev. Sloane (see below) and repented of their sins.

It was on this day. December 9, 1860, that Rev. Henry J. Van Dyke delivered his discourse on “The Character and Influence of Abolitionism.”

He set forth four main points in his argument to undermine the abolitionist cause:

“Abolitionism has no foundation in the Scriptures.
Its principles have been promulgated by misrepresentation and abuse.
It leads, in multitudes of cases, and by a logical process, to utter infidelity.
It is the chief cause of the strife that agitates and the danger that threatens our country.”

Read Van Dyke’s discourse online here (HathiTrust) – http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009565957
or download here (Archives.org) – https://archive.org/details/characterinfluen07vand.
That work and some of his other works can also be found on a page set up under his name, over at the Log College Press web site

By all means then you must also read the review written by James Renwick Willson Sloane [1823-1886], a Reformed Presbyterian pastor and contemporary of Rev. Van Dyke. See the link below, or again, visit the page listing Rev. Sloane’s works, at the Log College Press.

Review of Rev. Henry J. Van Dyke’s discourse on “The character and influence of abolitionism,” a sermon preached in the Third Reformed Presbyterian Church, Twenty-third Street, New York, on Sabbath evening, December 23, 1860

Please be aware there is also an uplifting biography of Rev. Sloane that you should read, for he was a stalwart defender of Scriptural truth even in the face of determined opposition.

Life and work of J. R. W. Sloane, D. D., professor of theology in the Reformed Presbyterian seminary at Allegheny City, Penn. 1868-1886 and pastor of the Third Reformed Presbyterian church, New York, 1856-1868

Words to Live By:
Rev. Sloane was quite right to call out Henry Van Dyke for the error of what he was teaching. Apparently it is all too easy to get caught up in the prevailing culture and even Christians can be found living without a Biblical discernment on some matters. May our Lord give us discernment and conviction to repent of the sins of our time and culture. Better still, to mourn over the sins of our times. It is easy to condemn the sins of an earlier time; what are we doing to oppose the sins of today?

Tags: , , ,

Off to School with Ye!

It was on this day, August 18th, in 1841, that an Address was delivered by the Rev. Dr. John W. Yeomans, on the occasion of the his Inauguration as President of Lafayette College, in Easton, Pennsylvania.

John William Yeomans, D. D., was born in Hinsdale, Massachusetts, on the 7th of January, 1800.  When quite young he served some time as an apprentice, but soon turned his attention to study and commenced his preparation for college under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Cummings, of Albany, N. Y.  After the short space of a year and a half spent in preparatory study, he entered the junior class of Williams College, Mass. He graduated in 1824 with the second honor in his class, Mark Hopkins (who later served as President of that school), taking the first honors. For two years Yeomans was Tutor in the college, after which he studied theology in the Seminary at Andover, Mass.

His first pastoral charge was at North Adams, Massachusetts, where he remained from November, 1828, till the spring of 1832, when he became pastor of the First Congregational Church of Pittsfield, Mass.  In the spring of 1834 he was called to the First Presbyterian Church of Trenton, N. J., as successor to the Rev Dr. James W. Alexander.  In the spring of 1841 he accepted the Presidency of Lafayette College, remaining there until the early part of 1845, when he became pastor of the Mahoning Church, in Danville, PA, where he continued in the discharge of his ministerial duties until his death, June 22, 1862.  Dr. Yeomans was a deep thinker and a vigorous and able writer.  He was regarded as one of the leading theologians in the Presbyterian Church, and as a metaphysician, he had probably but few equals among his brethren.  The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by three different colleges at the same time—the College of New Jersey, Williams College and Miami University.  In 1860 he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly.

Talk about a guy you never heard of! Accorded such accolades, and yet today few if any know of him.

Words to Live By: 
Do the work the Lord has given you. Do it faithfully, to the best of your ability and as unto the Lord. And if you have yet to find your place in life, be faithful in seeking the Lord and His will. History will most likely not remember many of us, but that is not is what is important in this life. What is important is to first take Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Be sure to be found in Him. And then be faithful in doing all His holy will, wherever you are in this life. All else is secondary.

Image source : Engraved portrait as found facing page 36 of the 1861 edition of The Presbyterian Historical Almanac and Annual Remembrancer of the Church, edited by Joseph M. Wilson.

Tags: ,

Old Mortality: Robert Patterson [ca. 1713-1801]

The purpose of this blog is to remind us of those saints who have gone before, and to recall something of our common history as Presbyterians, for regardless of our denomination, we are all connected, one with another. We learn from one another, are encouraged by one another, and are reminded to pray for one another.

dewittWmRAnd so it seemed very fitting when I stumbled across the content chosen for today’s post. Our entry for the day was to focus on the Rev. William Radcliffe DeWitt, (pictured in the photo at the right), who was born on this day, February 25, 1792, and who was for forty years the pastor of the English Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg, PA. Looking for more about his ministry, I was pleased to find among our church history collection a copy of The Centennial Memorial of the English Presbyterian Church, 1794-1894, with a section on DeWitt’s ministry at that church. That in turn led to the serendipitous discovery of the following poignant words which serve as the opening paragraphs for the chapter on that church’s history:

Now go write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come forever and ever.”–Isaiah 30:6.

“Walter Scott has very touchingly told us of Old Mortality, a religious itinerant of his times. He was first discovered in the burial ground of the Parish of Gaudercleugh. It was his custom to pass from one graveyard to another, and with the patient chisel of the engraver clear away the moss from the grey tombstones, and restore the names and the lines that Time’s finger had well nigh effaced. It mattered little to him whether it was the headstone of some early martyr to the faith, or only love’s memorial to some little child. It was his joy to do the quiet and unbidden work of bringing again to the notice of men the history and the heroism of some of God’s nobility of whom the world was not worthy, nor less to honor the unknown ones who were laid to rest with unseen tears.

abeel_graveOur work to-day bears something of the same character. Like Old Mortality, we step softly and reverently among the graves of the past. Chisel in hand we pass from memory to memory. We clear away the gathered moss. We refurnish the ancient stones and read again the names of the departed, dropping here and there a tear as precious memories are awakened, and reminding ourselves anew of a fellowship that is only interrupted for a little time. The past is ours. We are its heirs. Its good comes down to us in an apostolic succession of benedictions. The links that bind us to past days and years are golden links. It is one of the choicest gifts of grace, that we may at the same time live three lives in one. Past memories and present experiences and future hopes do blend to make human life noble and attractive. Our holy faith commemorates the past, gladdens the present and brightens the future.”

[excerpted from “A Century Plant,” by Rev. Thomas A. Robinson, in The Centennial Memorial of the English Presbyterian Congregation of Harrisburg, PA, 1794-1894,George B. Stewart, editor. Harrisburg, PA: Harrisburg Publishing Co., 1894, pp. 192-193. This book is available on the Internet, here.

And as it turns out, there was a real person behind the Walter Scott’s character of Old Mortality.

oldMortality_lg“Robert Patterson was born circa 1713 on the farm of Haggis Ha, in the parish of Hawick and as a married man moved to the village of Balmaclellan. A stonemason by trade and owner of a small quarry, he spent most of his life touring the lowlands of Scotland visiting and maintaining Covenanter grave sites. His method of cutting or incising letters and the ability to get so much into a limited space makes his work very distinctive. He gained some fame as ‘Old Mortality,’ the character in the book of the same name by Sir Walter Scott.”

To read more of that account, click here.

Words to Live By: Perhaps it is by divine design, but no monument lasts forever. Our worship is not for the saints or for their graves, but for the Lord of glory, whose love moved their hearts to serve Him. We remember them because of their testimony to the truth of the Gospel.

“And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.’ ”
[Exodus 13:14, NASB]

Tags: , , ,

It has been my experience that there are just a few men who, when spoken of, are remembered with the utmost respect and veneration. Dr. Harold Samuel Laird was one such man. In 1987, Dr. Paul R. Gilchrist, who was at that time serving as the Stated Clerk of the PCA, wrote the following memorial upon the death of the Dr. Laird. Dr. Gilchrist’s final summary comments are particularly in keeping with every estimation that I have heard of Harold Samuel Laird over the years. 

In Memoriam: Harold Samuel Laird

lairdhsby Paul R. Gilchrist.

Dr. Harold S. Laird quietly went home to be with the Lord on August 25 at Quarryville Presbyterian Home, PA, at the age of 96. He was one of those valiant Presbyterians who stood for “the faith once delivered to the saints.” With J. Gresham Machen and others, he was tried by his presbytery in the liberal UPUSA (Northern Presbyterians) for dis­obeying the General Assembly mandate to disband the Independent Board for Pres­byterian Foreign Missions which they had established in 1934 for the proclamation of the Gospel. Dr. Laird also had been a founder of Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929. When the General Assembly of 1936 upheld the convictions of Machen, Laird, and five others, they banded together and formed the Presbyterian Church of America (later renamed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church).

Harold S. Laird was born on August 8, 1891, in New Castle, PA. He studied under the giants of the faith at Princeton Theological Seminary: Robert Dick Wilson, B. B. Warfield, C. W. Hodge, and J. G. Machen. He received the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Wheaton College in 1938. In 1965 he was elected moderator of the 142nd Genera! Synod of the Reformed Pres­byterian Church in North America, General Synod which merged with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church that year to form the RPC,ES (which joined the PCA in 1982).

Harold Samuel LairdDr. Laird was best known as an outstanding preacher of the Gospel, a loving and tender pastor, and a contender for the faith. He was always vitally interested in world missions and the theological education of pastors and missionaries. He served seven churches in the Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia area for 40 years.

It can truly be said of him that he walked with God. All who heard him pray came into the presence of God. His life verse — “Seek first the kingdom of God and His right­eousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33) — was evident through his godly spirit. Through all his tri­als, he ever remained content in the provi­dence of God. To the very end, his cheerful countenance was a blessing and inspiration to all.

We salute this valiant servant for the faith — as he moves from the church militant to the blessedness of the church victorious.

Life Chronology:
8 August 1891 – Birth
1914 – Graduation from Lafayette College, with the B.A. degree
1917 – Graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary
1917-1919 – Pastor of the Arlington Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland
1919-1924 – Pastor, Henry Memorial Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA
1924-1927 – Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Lewiston, PA
1927-1933 – Pastor, Presbyterian Church of Collingswood, NJ
1933-1936 – Pastor, First & Central Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE
1936-1957 – Pastor, Faith Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE
Honorably retired
1982 – Ministerial credentials transferred into the PCA
25 August 1987 – deceased. Dr. Laird was a member of the Susquehanna Valley Presbytery (PCA) at the time of his death.
Honors awarded Dr. Laird during his lifetime included:
1938 – Doctor of Divinity degree awarded by Wheaton College
1965 – Moderator of the 142nd General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America

Tags: , , ,

Author of an Old Classic

Nathaniel Smyth McFetridge was born in Ireland, 4 August 1842. His parents immigrated to the United States while he was still a child and Nathaniel was raised in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania. His formal education began at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. While attending there, he won the school’s Fowler Prize for an essay on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. McFetridge graduated from Lafayette in 1864, shortly before the inauguration of the Rev. William C. Cattell as president of Lafayette.

McFetridge began his studies for the ministry at Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, where he studied under the renowned Archibald A. Hodge. McFetridge graduated from Western in 1867 and was ordained into the ministry by the Presbytery of Erie (PCUSA), being installed in 1868 as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Oil City, PA. That church had been organized in 1861 with twelve members and two ruling elders. His predecessor, the Rev. W.P. Moore, had served the Oil City congregation as stated supply since 1863.

Whatever the cause, a major loss of membership in the Oil City congregation—between 1865 in 1872 and dropping to the 151 members reported in 1873—may have been what prompted his relocation to the Wakefield Presbyterian Church of Germantown, PA in 1874. Transferring his credentials, Rev. McFetridge was received by the Presbytery of Philadelphia, North and served as the first pastor of the Wakefield congregation, from 1874 until 1885. It is interesting to note that the congregation began as the Wakefield Sunday-school, located in Fisher’s Hollow, PA. This Sunday-school was organized in 1856 by Quakers (Society of Friends, Orthodox), and was constituted in part by members of the Fisher family who had immigrated from Wakefield, England. Active participation in the school by Philadelphia-area Presbyterians eventually overtook the more subdued methods of the Quakers, and by 1873 the decision was made to establish a Presbyterian congregation. With the assistance of three other Presbyterian churches in Germantown, a site was secured and almost the entire membership of the School, faculty and students alike, joined in the organization of a new Wakefield Presbyterian Sunday-school. It was this group that then formed on 4 May 1874 the new congregation that occupied the chapel erected on Main Street below Fisher’s Lane. Under Rev. McFetridge’s leadership, the church grew from 22 members to over 200 members at the time of his departure.

It was also during the Wakefield pastorate that Rev. McFetridge delivered the six lectures from which he later gathered the text of Calvinism in History. Published in 1882, it predates Abraham Kuyper’s more widely known Stone Lectures for 1898, which were published under the title Lectures on Calvinism. It might be an interesting exercise to compare the two works, though at the start, Kuyper’s treatment is immediately seen as more scholarly and profound, whereas McFetridge aimed his work at the average person in the pew.

Rev. McFetridge was noted in the 1885 Minutes of General Assembly (PCUSA) as without charge, but the circumstances of his leaving the Wakefield church are now lost to history. By 1886 he had relocated to St. Paul, Minnesota, was received by the Presbytery of St. Paul, and is noted as laboring as a professor. He may also have been employed by Macalester College, which opened in 1885 with five professors on its staff. Rev. McFetridge was residing in St. Paul at the time of his death on 3 December 1886, at the age of 44.

Noted honors included the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree, and in 1878 he brought the Annual Sermon before the Brainerd Evangelical Society of Lafayette College. The Brainerd Society was named in honor of David Brainerd, and was Layfayette’s first student-led Christian organization. The Society was founded in 1833 and was in existence until 1956, making it the longest running student organization on that campus. The year before Rev. McFetridge spoke, the Brainerd Society had come into affiliation with the Young Men’s Christian Association. Other speakers before the Brainerd Society included Matthew Allison in 1854, James W. Dale in 1862 and Thomas Hasting Robinson in 1867.

The Minutes of the Wakefield Presbyterian Church of Germantown, PA are preserved at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, PA and these encompass the years of Rev. McFetridge’s pastorate, 1874-1885.

Words to Live By:
There is nothing which so constantly controls the mind of a man, and so intensely affects his character, as the views which he entertains of the Deity. These take up their abode in the inmost sanctuary of the heart, and give tone to all its powers and coloring to all its actions. Whatever the forms and activities of the outward life, as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Men do, undoubtedly, liken God, in a measure, to themselves, and transfer to him somewhat of their own passions and predominating moral qualities, and determine the choice of their religion by the prevailing sentiments of their hearts and the habits in which they have been trained; but it is also true that their conceptions of God have a controlling influence in forming their character and regulating their conduct. The unfaithful servant in the parable of the Talents gave as the reason for his idleness his conception of the master as a hard and exacting man. He shaped his conduct not by what the master was, but by what he believed him to be. And if that divine parable have a worldwide application, it discloses the secret spring of a man’s life in the conceptions which he has of God. As these are true or false, so his character and life will be. “As long as we look upon God as an exactor, not a giver, exactors, and not givers, shall we be.” “All the value of service rendered,” says Dr. Arnot, “by intellectual and moral beings depends on the thoughts of God which they entertain.” Hence no sincerity of purpose and no intensity of zeal can atone for a false creed or save a man from the fatal consequences of wrong principles.” [—Opening paragraph of Calvinism in History.]

The Writings of Nathaniel Smyth McFetridge—
1864
An essay on the Prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury tales (s.l. : s.n., 1864), 16pp.; 22cm. [This was McFetridge’s winning submission for the Fowler Prize at Lafayette, and so it is likely that it was published in Easton, PA by the College. Copies have been located at the New York Public Library; Lafayette College and Brown University]

1879
Memorial sermon : preached in the Wakefield Presbyterian Church, Germantown, July 13, 1879. (Philadelphia : Press of Burk & M’Fetridge, 1879), 17pp. [Sermon in commemoration of William Adamson. Copies of the sermon have been located at Emory University’s Pitts Theological Library; Lafayette College; and the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia]

1882
Calvinism in History (Philadelphia : Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1882), 157pp.
Reprints include, among others:
1. (Philadelphia : Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-school Work, 1912, © 1882), 157pp.
2. (Edmonton, AB, Canada : Still Water Revival Books, 1882; rpt 1989), xi, 120pp.
3. Available at the Internet Archive, in multiple formats, here: https://archive.org/details/calvinisminhisto00mcfe
Louis F. De Boer reviewed Calvinism in History some years ago, but found the work deficient. He concludes his review:

“. . .the book remained, for me at least, a disappointment. The book references such inspired writing on the subject as Daubigne’s histories of the Reformation and Motley’s histories of the Dutch republic, but its own insipid prose fails to rise to their level, and stir the reader with what God hath wrought in history through the faith of the Calvinists. Unfortunately, most people will never take the time to read the lengthy works noted above. Which leaves me with the conclusion, that a short book (this one consists of 113 pages) that does justice to the subject is just waiting to be either written or reprinted. Hopefully, that challenge will be taken up in the near future by someone who is saddened by the abysmal ignorance of this generation of the theological foundations for their liberties, prosperity, and indeed for all that they have historically held dear.”

Which then raises the question whether Darryl Hart’s very recent work, Calvinism: A History, might not be the treatment that has successfully taken up that challenge? To read Louis F. DeBoer’s review of this work, click here.

1883
Thompson, Robert Ellis and Nathaniel S. McFetridge, The dear man of God : Doctor Martin Luther of blessed memory. 1483-1883 ; proceedings at the observance of the fourth centenary of his birth, in the Presbyterian Church of Abington in Pennsylvania ; with a memorial discourse (Philadelphia : s.n., 1883), 43pp. [the latter memorial discourse is by N.S. McFetridge; copies located at the Yale University Library; New York Historical Society; Lafayette College; Lutheran Theological Seminary; and the Presbyterian Historical Society]

Sources—

Coffin, Selden J., Record of the Men of Lafayette (Easton, PA : Skinner & Finch, Printers, 1879), pg. 66.

Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.,(New York: Presbyterian Board of Publications, individual volumes for the years 1872 – 1887).

White, William P., The Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia (Philadelphia : Allen, Lane & Scott, 1895), pg. 151.

Other sources to consult—

Program of exercises held in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of organization of the First Presbyterian Church of Oil City, Pennsylvania (Oil City, PA : Semi-Centennial Committee of the First Presbyterian Church, 1912), 31pp. [copies held by the Presbyterian Historical Society (Philadelphia), and the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Reeves, Francis B., A Brief Sketch of Wakefield Presbyterian Church and Sunday School, Germantown Avenue below Fisher’s Lane, Philadelphia, 1856-1910. 

Tags: , , ,

mooreTV02Thomas Verner Moore was born on February 1, 1818, in Newville, Pennsylvania, a small town in Cumberland county, near Carlisle, PA. Completing his preparatory years, Thomas initially attended Hanover College, in Indiana, studying under the esteemed Dr. Blythe. Perhaps it was to save on expense that he then returned home to complete his collegiate education at Dickinson College (1838). He worked briefly as an agent of the American Colonization Society in 1839 before leaving to prepare for the ministry at the Princeton Theological Seminary.

In the Spring of 1842, Rev. Moore was installed as pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Carlisle, PA, though he only held this post for three years, resigning because of some church difficulties. Then in 1847 he accepted a call to the First Presbyterian Church of Richmond, Virginia.  During his Richmond years, he served as moderator of the seventh PCUS General Assembly, when it met in Nashville, in 1867.

He remained at Richmond through the duration of the Civil War until 1868, when his frail health prompted him to accept a call to the First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Presumably it was thought that the change of climate might help in his recovery. He continued his ministry there in Nashville until his death, on August 5, 1871.

Thomas Verner Moore was a prolific writer and he served for many years as the editor of The Central Presbyterian.

Words to Live By:
From the closing words of Rev. Moore in one of his addresses, delivered in 1846:

“And though your names may never gild the flaunting page of history, or your record be engraved on the monumental marble to mark the spot that enshrines your dust, yet you shall have a more enduring memorial in the glad hearts you have cherished, and the sad hearts you have cheered, and more enduring still in that dread and awful scroll whose words of flame have been written by the finger of the Almighty : whose seals shall be opened in the terrific scenes of the judgment, and whose pages shall be unfolded in the retributions of eternity.”

May your lives be lived to the glory of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

There are just a few men who, when spoken of, are remembered with the utmost respect and veneration. Dr. Harold Samuel Laird was one such man. In 1987, Dr. Paul R. Gilchrist, who was at that time serving as the Stated Clerk of the PCA, wrote the following memorial upon the death of the Dr. Laird. Dr. Gilchrist’s final summary comments are particularly in keeping with every estimation that I have heard of Harold Samuel Laird over the years. 

In Memoriam: Harold Samuel Laird

lairdhsBy Paul R. Gilchrist. Dr. Harold S. Laird quietly went home to be with the Lord on August 25 at Quarryville Presbyterian Home, PA, at the age of 96. He was one of those valiant Presbyterians who stood for “the faith once delivered to the saints.” With J. Gresham Machen and others, he was tried by his presbytery in the liberal UPUSA (Northern Presbyterians) for dis­obeying the General Assembly mandate to disband the Independent Board for Pres­byterian Foreign Missions which they had established in 1934 for the proclamation of the Gospel. Dr. Laird also had been a founder of Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929. When the General Assembly of 1936 upheld the convictions of Machen, Laird, and five others, they banded together and formed the Presbyterian Church of America (later renamed the Orthodox Presbyterian Church).

Harold S. Laird was born on August 8, 1891, in New Castle, PA. He studied under the giants of the faith at Princeton Theological Seminary: Robert Dick Wilson, B. B. Warfield, C. W. Hodge, and J. G. Machen. He received the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Wheaton College in 1938. In 1965 he was elected moderator of the 142nd Genera! Synod of the Reformed Pres­byterian Church in North America, General Synod which merged with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church that year to form the RPC,ES (which joined the PCA in 1982).

Harold Samuel LairdDr. Laird was best known as an outstanding preacher of the Gospel, a loving and tender pastor, and a contender for the faith. He was always vitally interested in world missions and the theological education of pastors and missionaries. He served seven churches in the Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia area for 40 years.

It can truly be said of him that he walked with God. All who heard him pray came into the presence of God. His life verse — “Seek first the kingdom of God and His right­eousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33) — was evident through his godly spirit. Through all his tri­als, he ever remained content in the provi­dence of God. To the very end, his cheerful countenance was a blessing and inspiration to all.

We salute this valiant servant for the faith — as he moves from the church militant to the blessedness of the church victorious.

Life Chronology:
8 August 1891 – Birth
1914 – Graduation from Lafayette College, with the B.A. degree
1917 – Graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary
1917-1919 – Pastor of the Arlington Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland
1919-1924 – Pastor, Henry Memorial Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA
1924-1927 – Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Lewiston, PA
1927-1933 – Pastor, Presbyterian Church of Collingswood, NJ
1933-1936 – Pastor, First & Central Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE
1936-1957 – Pastor, Faith Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE
Honorably retired
1982 – Ministerial credentials transferred into the PCA
25 August 1987 – deceased. Dr. Laird was a member of the Susquehanna Presbytery at the time of his death.
Honors:
1938 – Doctor of Divinity degree awarded by Wheaton College
1965 – Moderator of the 142nd General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America

Tags: , , , ,

Standing Against Conformity to the World

FRANCIS HERRON:
Born, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, June 28, 1774.
Graduated, at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, May 5, 1794.
LIcensed to Preach, by the Presbytery of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, October 4, 1797.
Ordained to the ministry and Installed as Pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Rocky Spring, Franklin County, PA, April 9, 1809.
Removed to Pittsburgh, and Settled as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, May, 1811.
Resigned his Pastoral Charge, December 1850.
Died, December 6, 1860.

So in short compass the life of a venerable Presbyterian divine, as it is summarized at the head of a slim volume issued in his memory. Rev. Herron’s life, it was said, was “a life of more than usual historic importance.”

herronFrancis_portrait1862Francis Herron was born near Shippensburg, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, on June 28, 1774. He belonged to that honored and honorable race, the Scotch-Irish, memorable in the history of the world, but especially in our country, for a thorough devotion to evangelical truth and constitutional liberty. The training of his early years bore rich fruit at a subsequent period of his life, making him so eminent among his brethren as an effective preacher and an orthodox divine.

Receiving the careful training indicative of his parents high regard for knowledge, he entered Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, then under the care of that distinguished Presbyterian, Rev. Dr. Nesbitt. Here he completed his classical course, and graduated May 5, 1794. The prayers of his pious parents were answered by the influence of grace upon his heart, and he was led to study for the ministry of reconciliation. He studied Theology under Robert Cooper, D.D., his pastor, and was licensed by Carlisle Presbytery, October 4, 1797.

He entered upon his Lord’s service as a missionary, going out into the backwoods, as it was then called, passing through Pittsburgh, Pa., then a small village, and extending his tour as far west as Chillicothe, Ohio. Stopping for the night at a tavern at Six Mile Run, near Wilkinsburg, Pa., the people prevailed upon him to stay till the following Sabbath, which he did, and under the shade of an apple tree this young disciple broke the bread of life to the people.

His journey resumed the next day, and with a frontier settler for his guide, he pushed on to his destination through an almost unbroken wilderness, his course often guided by the “blazes” upon the trees. Two nights he encamped with the Indians, who were quite numerous near what is now the town of Marietta, Ohio.

On his return from Chillicothe, Ohio, he visited Pittsburgh. The keeper of the tavern where he lodged, proved to be an old acquaintance, and at his request, he consented to preach. Notice was sent, and in the evening a small congregation of about eighteen persons assembled. The house he preached in was a rude structure, built of logs, occupying the site of the present First Presbyterian church. And such was the primitive style of that day, that during the services the swallows, who had their nests in the eaves, flew among the congregation.

At this time the churches in that portion of our country were visited with a season of refreshing grace, and Mr. Herron entered into the revival with all the ardor of youth filled with hopefulness and zeal. He preached for Rev. Dr. John McMillan at the Chartiers church, during a revival season. He also preached at the Buffalo church, where his fervid eloquence made a deep impression and the people presented him a call, and strongly urged it upon his attention. He however concluded to return to the vicinity of his home, especially, as a call from Rocky Spring church was awaiting him. This call he accepted, and he was ordained and installed as pastor of that church, by Carlisle Presbytery, April 9, 1800.

Some ten years later, he was invited to occupy the pulpit of the First Presbyterian church, then vacant by the recent death of Rev. Robert Steele.

The people were charmed with his discourse, his ripening intellect modified by that refined spirituality, which was a prominent element in his ministrations, had a powerful effect upon his audience. They urged him to preach for them a second time, which he did, the result was a unanimous call was made out and presented to him in the usual manner.

The Presbytery of Carlisle dissolved the relation that existed between Rocky Spring church and Mr. Herron, and he was dismissed to Redstone Presbytery, April 3, 1811, and he was installed pastor of the First Presbyterian church, Pittsburgh, PA, the following June. In a few weeks he removed with his family to his new home, travelling in a large wagon, with his wife, children, and all his household goods.

Francis Herron, D.D.He joined Redstone Presbytery June 18, 1811. The importance of his new position was fully and truly felt, the commercial importance of Pittsburgh had given all kinds of business an impetus, and prosperity was advancing rapidly; but this outward show referred only to worldly affairs, the religious condition of the people was cold and almost lifeless. The church to which he was called was embarrassed with debt, and the piety of the people manifested a degree of conformity to the world, which nearly appalled the preacher’s heart. But the experience of his ten years pastorate was to him invaluable, and girding himself, he entered upon his duties with a true heart and an earnest purpose. His preaching was the simple exposition of the truth as it is in Jesus, pointed, clear, and unwavering, revealing the enormity of sin and pleading with the fidelity of one who loved their souls. This style of preaching was sustained by his efforts to establish the prayer-meeting, which, strange as it now appears, met with much opposition, even among professors of religion; but this young pastor knew the holy influence of communion with God, and that God favored a praying people, he therefore went forward, and, in connexion with Rev. Thomas Hunt, who was pastor of the Second church, they persisted, and though to avoid a collision with the people the meetings were not held in the church, a small room was used for that purpose, in which Mr. Hunt taught a day-school. The first meeting consisted of the two pastors, one man, and six women, and thus for eighteen months did this meeting continue without adding a single person to their number.

The chilling indifference of the people soon grew into downright hostility, and husbands and fathers prohibited their wives and daughters from attending, and, finally, when the continued efforts of these pious people could be no longer borne, they waited upon Mr. Herron and told him that it must be stopped, his reply was the turning point in the spiritual condition of that people. He said, “Gentlemen, these meetings will not stop, you are at liberty to do as you please; but I also have the liberty to worship God according to the dictates of my conscience, none daring to molest or make me afraid.” From that time a spirit of piety manifested itself among the members of the church, several gay and fashionable persons were hopefully converted, and an impression was made upon the whole community, at once hopeful and healthful.

Words to Live By:
Do not expect courage of conviction from men who have no convictions, from those who have no anchor in the Word of God. The Scriptures must be drilled down deep into our souls if we are to stand against temptations and testings. May God give us pastors who will set an example, who will faithfully stand against the assaults of the world, the flesh and the devil.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Today we are pleased to present a guest post submitted by Kathy Stegall, daughter of the Rev. D. Howard Elliott.

D. Howard Elliott: June 8, 1915 – January 1, 2001

elliottDH_WinifredDelber Howard Elliott was born on June 8, 1915 in Winchester, Kansas where his father, Delber Harvey Elliott, was the pastor of the local congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. As his father was called to various ministries, Howard spent his growing-up years in Topeka, KS and Pittsburgh, PA. After graduation from Geneva College it became apparent that he felt a strong call to the gospel ministry and thus went on to the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, graduating in 1940. Soon after he married Winifred Coleman and together they took up his first pastorate back in Winchester, Kansas, the congregation of his baptism.

Pictured at right, Howard and Winifred in Winchester, in 1940.

Elliott pastored RPCNA congregations in Winchester, Beaver Falls, PA, and Topeka, KS. In addition to pastoral and denominational duties, Elliott volunteered as a lobbyist for the Christian Amendment Movement, was the RPCNA representative to the National Association of Evangelicals, and served on the Geneva College Board of Trustees. Elliott was clerk of the RPCNA Synod for many years and elected as moderator in 1972. After his retirement in 1980 he  returned to Winchester again to serve in a new way as a layperson. Elliott died at their Winchester home on January 1, 2001.

elliott_mr_mrs_dhThese brief facts and even the awards and recognitions he received along the way do not begin to tell the story of Dr. Elliott’s greatest contribution to Christ’s Kingdom—his exemplary pastor’s heart. He always served with hard work and discipline, yet with the greatest tenderness and kindness towards all. Along with faithfully preaching and teaching God’s Word twice each week on Sundays along with many other presentations and meetings, he endeared himself to his communities by loving his women, his wife and four daughters, hanging out with the guys at the neighborhood gas station, making thousands of visits to the homes of his church families, driving the church Sabbath School Bus, on call as a police chaplain, or playing endless games of softball during annual Daily Vacation Bible Schools and Sabbath School picnics, always undergirded by faithful family and personal Bible study and prayer. His attentiveness to his flock was intense as he noted each week who was absent from worship, who was sick, who needed encouragement or counsel, who had a significant family or work event; and a relevant response always followed. Organization, planning, consistent hard work and methodical devotion characterized his pastoral mission. He led with the intelligence and creativity of a  CEO, yet with the humility and compassion of a shepherd. As a result those in his congregations trusted and loved him in return. Each congregation viewed his leaving for the next step in his life with disappointment yet confident in God’s sovereign goodness, just as they had been faithfully taught.

Pictured above, Howard and Winifred, in 1995.

Words to Live By:
In 1980 Dr. Elliott chose 1 Thess. 4:11-12 as his theme for retirement  “…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” Soon after he accomplished a life-long dream by building with his own hands a home for Winifred and himself in which he lived out his days.

Additional Sources:
Some further record of Rev. Elliott’s life and ministry can be found in Covenanter Ministers, 1930-1963, by Alvin W. Smith, pp. 71-72.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Dr. Charles Hodge appointed the third professor at the Princeton Theological Seminary, May 24, 1822.

Of Charles Hodge, the eminent Scottish theologian William Cunningham often said “that he had greater confidence in the theological opinions of Charles Hodge than in those of any other living theologian.”

Charles HodgeBorn in 1797, Charles was raised in Philadelphia by his widowed mother and later graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1815, and then Princeton Seminary in 1819. Ordained by the Presbytery of New Brunswick in 1821, Hodge was appointed as stated supply over the church in Georgetown (now Lambertville). Though he saw the Lord’s blessing in his ministry, Rev. Hodge soon discovered an even stronger pull to academic studies, and it was not long before Dr. Archibald Alexander invited him to teach the biblical languages at the Seminary. Entering upon that work, he taught at Princeton for just a very few years before sensing a need to continue his studies, this time in Germany. After two years abroad, he returned to Princeton, New Jersey in 1828 to take up again his duties as Professor at the Seminary, returning as well to serve as the editor of the Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review. In the course of his long career, Charles Hodge taught literally thousands of students, authored a monumental three-volume systematic theology, and wrote over 140 articles, many of which were 100 pages or more in length.

Charles Hodge's StudyAt left, “Charles Hodge’s study, where he met his classes from 1833 to 1836 when he suffered from lameness.”

I could not locate the text of his inaugural address at Princeton, but his son, A.A. Hodge provides us with these important words from that address, in the biography that he wrote of his father’s life and ministry. In that inaugural address, Hodge made this declaration before faculty and students, setting the standard for the rest of his long ministry, :

The moral qualifications of an Interpreter of Scripture may all be included in Piety; which embraces humility, candor, and those views and feelings which can only result from the inward operation of the Holy Spirit.

It is the object of this discourse to illustrate the importance of Piety in the Interpretation of Scripture.

Could there be a more important message for both students and teachers to take to heart?

Words to Live By : The eminent scholar, John Owen struck a similar note when he wrote :

“I have demonstrated before that all spiritual truth which God has revealed is contained in the Scriptures, and that our true wisdom is based upon spiritual understanding of these Biblical truths. It will, therefore, be granted on all hands that diligent reading of the Scriptures and holy meditation upon them, is of absolute necessity for all aspirants to theology. Sadly, although a good deal of lip-service is paid to this principle, daily experience will show how few there are who really apply themselves to it with due application and a correct frame of mind. For the rest, a neglect of this is not a drawback to their studies but rather a death-blow…
…Perhaps the excuse is that they have immersed themselves in the works of ancient and modern theologians, and so learn from these guides as they painstakingly explain the Scriptures? I do not despise such means. I applaud their diligence. But still this is not to study the Scriptures! It is one matter to listen to these authorities and a very different matter to read the Bible itself after begging the illuminating aid of the Spirit, through faith in Christ, and to so meditate upon it as to be filled with that Spirit which indicted it and lives in it. What a difference this is to merely looking out through the eyes of other men, however learned and truthful they may be.

[John Owen,
Biblical Theology, Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1996, p. 694-695.]

Tags: , , ,

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: