Scotland

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The day is lost to church history. We know the month and the year of the Two Kingdom Speech of Andrew Melville. That month and year was September 1596. But the exact day is lost to us.  So this author is going to put it on September 2, this day in Presbyterian history, because it is too important not to consider it.

The elders of the General Assembly were meeting in Cupar, Fife, Scotland. Due to a breach of faith on the part of King James, the assembly had decided to sent a deputation to seek the resolution of their concerns. Heading that deputation was James Melville, who was chosen because of his courteous manner and the apparent favor he had with the king. Along side him, out of the spotlight, was his uncle, Reformation leader Andrew Melville.

Barely had James Melville begun speaking before the king cut him off and accused him of meeting in a seditious manner with other elders of the kirk, and bringing causeless fears before the people of Scotland. Andrew Melville stepped in, despite his nephew’s attempt to keep him silent, by taking the king’s robe by the sleeve, and saying that the king was “God’s silly vassal.”

“Sir,” said Andrew Melville, “we will always humbly reverence your majesty in public; but since we have this occasion to be with your majesty in private, and since you are brought in extreme danger of your life and crown, and along with you the country and the Church of God are like to go to wreck, for not telling you the truth and giving your faithful counsel, we must discharge our duty, or else be traitors both to Christ and to you. Therefore, Sir, as divers times before I have told you, so now again I must tell you, there are two kingdoms in Scotland: there is King James, the head of the commonwealth, and there is Christ Jesus, the King of the Church, whose subject James the Sixth is, and of whose kingdom he is not a king, nor a lord, nor a head, but a member. Sir, those whom Christ has called and commanded to watch over his church, have power and authority from Him to govern his spiritual kingdom, both jointly and severally; the which no Christian king or prince should control and discharge, but fortify and assist; otherwise they are not faithful subjects of Christ and members of his Church. We will yield to you your place, and give you all due obedience; but again, I say, you are not the head of the Church; you cannot give us that eternal life which we seek for even in this world, and you cannot deprive us of it. Permit us then freely to meet in the name of Christ, and to attend to the interests of that Church of which you are the chief member. Sir, when you were in your swaddling clothes, Christ Jesus reigned freely in this land, in spite of all his enemies. His officers and ministers convened and assembled for the ruling and welfare of his Church, which was even for your welfare, defense and preservation, when these same enemies were seeking your destruction. Their assemblies since that time have continually have been terrible to these enemies, and most steadfast to you. And now, when there is more than extreme necessity for the continuance and discharge of that duty, will you (drawn to your own destruction by a most pernicious counsel) begin to hinder and dishearten Christ’s servants and your most faithful subjects, quarreling them for their convening, and the care they have of their duty to Christ and you, when you should rather commend and countenance them, as the godly kings and emperors did? The wisdom of your counsel, which I call devilish, is this, that you must be served by all sorts of men, to come to your purpose and grandeur, Jew and Gentile, Papist and Protestant; and because the Protestants and ministers of Scotland are over strong, and control the king, they must be weakened and brought low by stirring up a party against them, and, the king being equal and indifferent, both should be fain to flee to him. But, Sir, if God’s wisdom be the only true wisdom, this will prove mere and mad folly; His curse cannot but light upon it; in seeking both ye shall lose both; whereas in cleaving uprightly to God, His true servants would be your sure friends, and He would compel the rest counterfeitly and lyingly to give over themselves and serve you.” (Melville’s Dairy, pp. 245, 246, quoted in W.M. Hetherington, “History of the Church of Scotland” p. 105.

Words to Live By:
Charles Hodge says in commentary on Romans 13:2  “we are to obey all that is in actual authority over us, whether their authority be legitimate or usurped, whether they are just or unjust. The actual reigning emperors were to be obeyed by the Roman Christians, whatever they might think as to his title to the scepter. But if he transcended his authority, and required them to worship idols, they were to obey God rather than man. This is the limitation to all human authority. Whenever obedience to man is inconsistent with obedience to God, then disobedience becomes a duty.” (Commentary to the Epistle to the Romans, by Charles Hodge, p. 406)

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Westminster Confession Approved by Church of Scotland

You may ask upon reading the title of this contribution, why are we thinking about adoption of the Westminster Confession of Faith, when the whole This Day in Presbyterian History blog deals with Presbyterian history in the United States?  And that is a fair question.  But it is quickly answered by two considerations. First, this Reformed standard—The Westminster Confession of Faith—was, with few changes, the subordinate standard of all the Presbyterian denominations in the United States.  And second, the Scots-Irish immigrants who came over to this country in its earliest days held strongly to this Reformed creedal statement.

The Westminster Confession of Faith was formulated by the Westminster Assembly of divines (i.e, pastors and theologians) in the mid-seventeenth century, meeting at Westminster Abby in London, England.  To the one hundred and twenty divines, primarily from the Church of England, were added nine Scottish divines from the Church of Scotland.  While the latter were seated as non-voting members of that Assembly, still their presence was felt in very effective ways during the six-year study that produced this confessional standard.

When it was adopted by the Parliament in England, it then went to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, where it was adopted without amendment onAugust 29, 1647.  It then became the summary of the teachings of the Old and New Testaments which was adopted by both the teaching and ruling elders, as well as the diaconate in each local church, in every Presbyterian and Reformed church deriving from that tradition. Small changes have been made by conservative Presbyterian bodies in our United States which do not affect the overall doctrinal contents of the Confession. The majority of those changes were made in 1789. You can ask your pastor for more information about those changes.

The historic importance of this document is one reason why we have daily reference to it in this devotional guide, as we seek to make our friends more knowledgeable of its magnificent statements.

Words to live by: Most of the Presbyterian denominations do not require their lay members to take vows which speak of their adoption of these historical creedal standards in order to join the church.  Yet a careful study of, and acceptance of this Confession of Westminster will give you a solid foundation for understanding the doctrine and life of the Word of God.  We urge you to do so, perhaps asking for a class in your church on it, or just studying it yourself for your personal and family benefit.

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Usurpers, Pretenders, and the One True King.

It was an ancient issue in many respects. Who was the king of the church? Was it the king of the British Isles, or was it Jesus Christ? There was no doubt in the prelacy party that the first answer was the correct one. And equally in the Presbyterian church, there was no doubt that Jesus is the king of the church. What was a turning point between the Crown and the Presbyterians was the passing of the Five Articles of Perth on August 25, 1618.

It all took place at a General Assembly on this date in Perth, Scotland. Yes, it was the national assembly of Scottish Presbyterians. Yes, there were various elders from the church of Scotland. Yes, there were faithful Presbyterians who were relegated to inferior positions, without the possibility of voting, even though they were elders sent by their Presbyterian parishes. Yes, there were many people present who were hand picked and not even ruling elders in the churches. The constitution of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland would be null and void in this gathering.

It was King James I who laid the five articles before the delegates. The five articles of this document were: (1) that Communion must be received in a kneeling posture; (2) Private Communion was permitted in cases of sickness; (3) Private baptism was permitted when necessary; (4) Children should be catechized and blessed by bishops (confirmation); and (5) Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost were declared as holy days for the whole church.

Even though it was declared beforehand that those who voted in the negative against its adoption would have their names sent to the King for future action, actions such as the withholding of stipends, nonetheless forty-five ministers held to their convictions and voted in the negative. The total vote was 86 in favor to 45 against, and thus it was passed.  The Articles of Perth were confirmed by the Edinburgh Parliament on August 4, 1621.

Brian Orr, on his blog, “thereformation.info”, from which most of the above was used by permission, wrote in conclusion, “standing back a pace, it should be recognized that the Articles of Perth, and particularly the kneeling at Communion, affected the whole Church in a direct and visible way. Opposition was not total, but it was strong enough to give rise to a permanent nonconformist group within the church.  It also gave rise to the holding of conventicles in Edinburgh and other places in opposition to the new rites that signaled defiance of the king; and retribution followed.” (p. 3)

Words to Live By:
One of the blessings which we have in this nation of America is the separation of church and state. It is sadly true that this has been high-jacked by countless citizens to be equal to the separation of God and state. But in reality, it originally meant that no one religious denomination would be the one and only faith group recognized by the  government. Our early Scots-Irish citizens did not wish to see a repeat of England and Scotland’s state priority over the Church of England.  Let us as Christian citizens do our work of explaining this true meaning of the phrase “separation of church and state” among our neighbors and friends.

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Today we come to Chapter VIII of PRESBYTERIANISM FOR THE PEOPLE. In this chapter our author, Rev. Robert P. Kerr, gives us a glimpse of a late nineteenth century ecumenical effort among Presbyterians world-wide. How the ecclesiastical landscape has changed in the intervening years! Today, the World Reformed Fellowship and the International Conference of Reformed Churches are the two global ecumenical works formed by conservative Presbyterian and Reformed denominations. 

CHAPTER VIII.

THE GENERAL COUNCIL.

This assembly is composed of delegates from the various Presbyterian or Reformed churches throughout the world. It held its first regular meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, in July, 1877, and will meet triennially in different countries. It has no authority over the churches belonging to it, but can only advise. It is intended to show the world that the various branches of the Presbyterian family are one, to bring their united influence to bear against sin, to help and encourage feeble churches, and to arrange for the formation of native churches among the heathen, gathering into them the converts of the missions of the various Presbyterian churches.

The formation of this body was earnestly desired by the Reformers of the sixteenth century, but was not effected until quite recent times. Much good has already come from the alliance of very many of the divisions of the Presbyterian body, and still greater results are confidently expected.

The following is a catalogue of the organizations holding the Presbyterian faith and order represented by this council:

CONTINENT OF EUROPE.

AUSTRIA.
Evangelical Reformed Church of Hungary.
Reformed Church of Moravia.
Reformed and Evangelical Church of Bohemia.

BELGIUM.
Union of Evangelical Congregations.

FRANCE.
Synod of the Union of Evangelical Congregations.
National Reformed Church.

ITALY.
Waldensian Church.
Free Church of Italy.

GERMANY.
Free Reformed Church of Germany.
Old Reformed Church of East Friesland.

NETHERLANDS.
Reformed Church of the Netherlands.
Christian Reformed Church of the Netherlands.

SPAIN.
Spanish Christian Church.

SWITZERLAND.
Berne French Church.
Evangelical Church of Neuchatel.
Reformed Church of Canton de Vaud.
Free Church of Canton de Vaud.
Reformed Church of Geneva.

UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND.

ENGLAND.
Presbyterian Church of England.

IRELAND.
Presbyterian Church of Ireland.
Reformed Church of Ireland.

SCOTLAND.
Established Church of Scotland.
Free Church of Scotland.
United Presbyterian Church
Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Original Secession Church.

WALES.
Calvinistic Methodist (Presbyterian) Church.

BRITISH COLONIES AND DEPENDENCIES.

CANADA.
Presbyterian Church in Canada.

CAPE OF GOOD HOPE.
Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa.

CEYLON.
Presbytery of Ceylon.

EASTERN AUSTRALIA.
Synod of Eastern Australia.

NATAL.
Dutch Reformed Church.

Presbytery of Natal.
Christian Reformed Church of South Africa.

NEW HEBRIDES.
Mission Synod of New Hebrides.

NEW SOUTH WALES.
Presbyterian Church of New South Wales.

NEW ZEALAND.
Presbyterian Church of New Zealand.

ORANGE FREE STATE.
Dutch Reformed Church of Orange Free State.

OTAGO AND SOUTHLAND.
Presbyterian Church of Queensland.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
Presbyterian Church of South Australia.

TASMANIA.
Presbyterian Church of Tasmania.

VICTORIA.
Presbyterian Church of Victoria.

UNITED STATES.
Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. (Northern).
Presbyterian Church in the United States (Southern).
Reformed (Dutch) Church in America.
Reformed (German) Church in the United States.
Associate Reformed Synod of the South.
General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America.
United Presbyterian Church of North America.
Welsh Calvinistic Methodist (or Presbyterian) Church in America.

These Presbyterian bodies scattered all over the globe, including above forty millions of people, have at last, in “The General Alliance of Reformed or Presbyterian Churches,” found a tie which binds them together. It is proposed thus to combine our forces, to magnify our grand institutions of government and theology, and to remove the stigma of discord which has so often been affixed to the Presbyterian name.

But there is a higher name than Presbyterian. It is CHRISTIAN. Under that name all the followers of Christ at last shall be ONE.

Next Saturday, with Chapter IX, we will come to the topic of Deacons.

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At last, He Had Arrived

You would have thought that he was a king making a royal entrance into his kingdom, so great was the rejoicing among God’s people to his arrival on the shores of the American colonies.  And indeed, John Witherspoon was certainly the man whom God has chosen to lead the infant College of New Jersey in its next steps of Christian education.

The College had some dark providences associated with its leadership.  In the twenty years of its existence, the five leaders who served as its president, had served a few years and then died.  In fact, it was this mortality rate which cause Mrs. Elizabeth Witherspoon, John’s wife  in Scotland, to want nothing to do with the College.  And so there had been four appeals to come over and help them, but all four of them failed to move the Scotchman, but more particularly the Scotch woman to wish to cross over the Atlantic.  Finally, with the aid of Benjamin Rush, who at that time was studying for a medical degree in Edinburgh, Mrs. Witherspoon was convinced that they should go. Despite the three-month crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a sailing ship named the Peggy, with five children, and three hundred books for the College library might make anyone rethink the invitation, they did not. On August 7, 1768, the family arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dr. David Calhoun, in his book “Princeton Seminary: Faith and Learning, 1812 – 1868,” describes John Witherspoon who stepped off the ship as being “a heavy-set man of forty-six, with brown hair, a strong face with large nose and ears, and blue eyes which looked out beneath bushy brows.”

Resting for five days in the city of Philadelphia, and who can blame them for that after such an ocean voyage, they traveled on to the town of Princeton, New Jersey in a horse and carriage.  About a mile from the town, the entire student body of one hundred and twenty students, with the staff,  met them and ushered them into the town and onto the campus.  His family had use of a house, a garden, land for pasture, and firewood.  There was an annual salary equal to 206 pounds sterling.  That night, in every window of Nassau Hall, there was a candle which illuminated the building.  The future Princeton University and Seminary were rejoicing over his safe arrival.

John Witherspoon was installed as the sixth president of the College of New Jersey on August 17, 1768.  And, he was stand the test of time for decade, as well as through some of the most difficult days in the history of America.  John Witherspoon would make his mark for God’s glory during all this time.

Also this day:
The Advisory Convention was held August 7-9, 1973, to set down final preparations for the First General Assembly of what was to become the Presbyterian Church in America, when that Assembly met December 4-7, 1973.

Words to live by:  The Scots-Irish Presbyterians of the colonies knew what they had to have when they invited John Witherspoon.  A strong advocate of the doctrines of the Westminster Standards, he had stood for the faith once delivered unto the saints in Scotland.  He was an accomplished preacher,  church leader, and an author.  When a church leader has been bestowed  Spirit-given abilities for service, or spiritual gifts, then much good for the saints is expected.  When God’s glory is aimed at by that same leader, then much good for the kingdom of God is attained.  Pray that God will sovereignly bestow His gifts upon the church at large, and your church in particular.

Witherspoon’s works have been largely overlooked and forgotten for some time now, or so it seems. Thankfully, however, his works have been reprinted in recent years. See the end of this post for a small taste of Dr. Witherspoon’s writing.

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The Day of Small Beginnings

Drawing from three separate quotations, we have in short compass the story of Jenny Geddes and her little wooden stool, which God used to bring about a revolution and a return to biblical truth.

*    *    *

GeddesStool03Two years ago, while walking about in Old St. Giles’ church in Edinburgh, with Dr. W. G. Blaikie, whose fame as author, scholar, and preacher, is known throughout the Presbyterian Church, he said, ― this is the first time I have been here in seventeen years. And yet this is the church in which Knox preached and Jennie Geddes worshipped. Here she threw the famous stool at the head of the Dean who was reading the liturgy, under orders from King Charles. The outburst of popular indignation, occasioned by this act, was the beginning of the great struggle for religious liberty in Scotland.

*    *    *

The war in behalf of purity in religion began in Scotland. Archbishop William Laud [1573-1645] prepared a new Prayer-book and sent it to Edinburgh for the use of the churches. On July 23, 1637, the priest of St. Giles Church came forth in white surplice to read the new ritual. Jennie Geddes flung her stool at his head, and a riot drove the minister from the chancel. All Scotland arose in arms against Laud’s innovations, and in 1638 the National Covenant was signed, binding the Scottish people to labor for the purity and liberty of the gospel. In the same year, at Glasgow, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland deposed the bishops and re-established the Presbyterian system.

Two brief wars with Scotland were waged by King Charles, but the lack of money compelled him to summon the representatives of the people. The combatants stood face to face in the arena of debate. The issues of religious and of civil liberty were at length to be decided in a conflict between Charles Stuart and the English Parliament.

*    *    *

GeddesStool02It has been said, and not without a show of propriety, “that the First Reformation in Scotland was commenced by a stone cast from the hand of a boy, and the Second Reformation by a stool from the hand of a woman.” By causes in themselves so insignificant does God often produce the grandest results. Detach them from their connections, and they are nothing. Associate them with the other links in the chain of providential influence to which they belong, and they become mighty for good or for evil. The bite of a spider has caused the death of a monarch, and the monarch’s death a revolution in his empire.

*    *    *

Words to Live By:
The Lord delights to use the weak things of this world to accomplish His purposes.

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29, NASB)

Elsewhere on the Web today, PCA pastor George Grant shared this poem by J.S. Blackie. Thank you, George. I did not previously know of this poem.

The Song of Jenny Geddes by J.S. Blackie

‘Twas the twenty-third of July, in the sixteen thirty-seven,
On the Sabbath morn from high St. Giles the solemn peal was given;
King Charles had sworn that Scottish men should pray by printed rule;
He sent a book, but never dreamt of danger from a stool.

The Council and the Judges, with ermined pomp elate,
The Provost and the Bailies in gold and crimson state,
Fair silken-vested ladies, grave doctors of the school,
Were there to please the King, and learn the virtues of a stool.

The Bishop and the Dean came in wi’ muckle gravity,
Right smooth and sleek, but lordly pride was lurking in their e’e;
Their full lawn sleeves were blown and big, like seals in briny pool;
They bore a book, but little thought they soon should feel a stool.

The Dean he to the alter went, and, with a solemn look,
He cast his eyes to heaven, and read the curious-printed book:
In Jenny’s heart the blood upwelled with bitter anguish full;
Sudden she started to her legs, and stoutly grasped the stool!

As when a mountain wildcat springs upon a rabbit small,
So Jenny on the Dean springs, with gush of holy gall;
Wilt thou say mass at my lugs, thou popish-puling fool?
No! No! She said, and at his head she flung the three-legged stool.

A bump, a thump! A smash, a crash! Now gentle folks beware!
Stool after stool, like rattling hail, came twirling through the air,
With, well done, Jenny! Bravo, Jenny! That’s the proper tool!
When the Devil will out, and shows his snout, just meet him with a stool!

The Council and the Judges were smitten with strange fear,
The ladies and the Bailies their seats did deftly clear,
The Bishop and the Dean went in sorrow and in dool,
And all the Popish flummery fled when Jenny showed the stool!

And thus a mighty deed was done by Jenny’s valiant hand,
Black Prelacy and Popery she drove from Scottish land;
King Charles he was a shuffling knave, priest Laud a meddling fool,
But Jenny was a woman wise, who beat them with a stool!

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HENRY PATILLO

A NATIVE of Scotland, was in a counting-house, in Virginia, and, probably through the influence of Thomson, was on his way  to Pennsylvania, with a view to study for the ministry, when he met Davies at Roanoke.  This was in 1751.  He went with him to his house, and pursued a course of instruction under his care, and was licensed, by Hanover Presbytery, September 29, 1757, “agreeably to the practice of the Church of Scotland.”  He had spent some time in teaching, and was married to Miss Anderson.  He “desired to do good,” and was sent to Hico, (Dismal Swamp,) Albemarle, Orange, and Cumberland.  He was called to the churches of Willis Creek, Byrd, and Buck Island, and was ordained July 13, 1758.  He was dismissed from his charge, October, 1762, and spent two years in Cumberland, Harris Creek, and Deep Creek.  He then removed to North Carolina, and was installed, October 2, 1765, at Hawfields, Eno, and Little River.

He was a delegate, in 1775, to the Provincial Congress.  In 1780, he became the minister of Grassy Creek and Nutbush congregations, largely made up of converts under the ministry of Davies.  They gave him three hundred acres in fee, on condition of his staying with them for life.

He was one of the first members of Orange Presbytery, and presided at the organization of the Synod of the Carolinas.

He published a small volume,[1] containing, among other things, his letter, “On Predestination,” to Francis Asbury, dated Granville, June 14, 1787, and a defence of his conduct in admitting to the Lord’s table persons holding Arminian sentiments:  on one occasion, six or eight Methodist preachers, and a number of their people, after due notice, received the sacrament at his hands.

At the close of a long life,[2] he was stripped of his property, and reduced to want, on account of the failure of his son in business, for whom he had been an endorser.  He and his aged wife are said to have adorned the doctrine of God their Saviour by their submission and patience under this trial.

He died in Dinwiddie county, Virginia, in 1801, aged seventy-five.

To originality of genius and superior powers he added piety, public spirit, and faithfulness in his ministry.  Like his teacher and model, Samuel Davies, he paid much attention to the coloured people, and was successful in doing much good among them.  “Of the religious negroes in my congregation, some are entrusted with a kind of eldership, so as to keep a watch over the others; any thing wrong seldom happens.”  After the Revolution, he lamented that the supply of good books from abroad ceased, and that he had none to give away to the servants.

Several instances of unworthy men from abroad coming to the South, and occasioning trouble, with disgrace to the ministry, led him to write to the Synod of the Carolinas not to admit any foreign ministers to labour in their bounds, counting it better to have laymen discharge the sacred function, or even leave the churches entirely vacant.  He rejoiced greatly in the revival under John B. Smith, in Virginia, and welcomed the young men who, under his influence, entered the ministry.

Patillo had “often thought that the popular Congregational form,  joined to the Presbyterian judicatures as a last resort, would form the most perfect model of church government that the state of things on earth admits of.”  The errors which afterwards carried away Barton W. Stone and the New Lights in one direction, and Thomas B. Creaghead in another, received countenance, in some measure, from Patillo.  He was inclined to assume the pre-existence of the human soul of Christ, and the peccability
of his human nature.

[1] In the possession of Rev. A.B. Cross.

[2] Connecticut Evangelical Magazine.

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The Sunbeam
This author was worshiping recently at the Army War College Memorial Protestant Chapel when the Army chaplain announced that we were going to sing “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.” I couldn’t help but mention to the Army veteran sitting next to me in the pew that this gospel song was written by a Scottish Presbyterian lass! Its familiar words brought me back to the history of this hymn writer.
Elizabeth Cecelia Douglas Clephane was born on June 18, 1830, the third child of Andrew Clephane, a law enforcement official in Fife, Scotland. She went on to live most of her life in Melrose, Scotland, about 30 miles southeast of Edinburgh.  Her parents died while she was young. She herself was a sickly and frail child, but known in the community as a young woman full of good works, giving what extra money she earned to give to those of lesser blessings in life. For that reason, she was known as “the Sunbeam” in the Scottish community.
Elizabeth also wrote poetry, and many of her poems were put to music. Not long after her early death, on February 19, 1869, eight of her poems were published in a Scottish Presbyterian magazine called “Family Treasury.” The editor of that magazine, a Rev. W. Arnot said of her work that “her hymns express experiences, hope, and the longings of a young Christian. Further, he said, they seem to be footprints printed on the sands of Time, where these sands touch the ocean of Eternity.”
Of her poems put to music, two continue to be sung today and are found in the New Trinity Hymnal. Number 187 is the five stanza hymn “There were Ninety and Nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold.”  This story poem is taken from the Luke 15:7 text in Scripture.
Its music is a story in itself. Ira Sankey was in charge of the music for evangelist Dwight Moody. On an evangelistic tour through the British Isles, Sankey had come across just the words of the poem by Elizabeth Clephane. Reading them aloud to Moody, he saw that the evangelist was busy reading a letter and not showing any interest in the words of the poem. The next night, Moody surprised Sankey by telling the latter to play the poem and sing it as well. Mind you, all Ira Sankey had was the words of the poem, no musical notes at all. So sitting down at the piano or organ, Sankey put his hands on the keys, and began to play and sing! And that, as they say, is the rest of the story.
The second hymn by Elizabeth Clephane in our Trinity Hymnal appears on page 251, “Beneath the Cross of Jesus.” Thinking of the author as a weak and frail Christian woman, in poor health all of her short life, we can appreciate her words more fully where she wrote, in the third verse, “content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss; my sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.”
Words to Live By:
How many times have we sung these two hymns and never even thought of the author or bothered to know anything of her circumstances? But with a knowledge of her now, let us sing them again with full appreciation of their thoughts and words. Like Elizabeth Clephane, we can sing of “two wonders I confess, the wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.”

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Finally, on the back cover of the tract entitled Ten Reasons for Being a Presbyterian, there is this last essay, also drawn from THE PRESBYTERIAN ADVOCATE.

TENDENCIES OF PRESBYTERIANISM.

tendencies_of_presbyterianismALL the tendencies of the Presbyterian system of doctrines and government have been often demonstrated to be good, adapted in the highest degree to promote the temporal and spiritual welfare of individuals, families, communities, and nations. The evidence of this fact is found in its effects in all parts of its history, in ancient and in modern times. Wherever Presbyterianism unadulterated by foreign influences has prevailed, there have morality, purity, industry, intelligence, virtue, and piety been found shedding a hallowing and purifying efficacy upon the people. For the correctness of this statement we appeal to the earliest days of the church, to the churches of the valleys of Piedmont, to the Reformed churches of France and Switzerland, and to the churches of Scotland. It is true that most of the governments under which these saints lived, recognized not their character, and desired to exterminate their teachers. Against them were arrayed power, prejudice, fraud, craft, the sword, the faggot, and red-hot chain. But in spite of all these, their characters came forth only the more eminently precious for their trials, and more clearly vindicated from all charge of wrong. Their virtue, faith, patience, and love of freedom were too precious to be consumed by the fire of persecution, and their history stands a blessed illustration of the influence and tendency of our religion.—Presbyterian Advocate.

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He Wrote for the Ages
His name was John Ross Macduff. Born this day, May 23, 1818, in Bonhard, near Perth, Scotland, John received all his education in Edinburgh. Ordained into the Church of Scotland, he went on to serve in three Presbyterian churches, including one fifteen year ministry in Glasgow, Scotland. And while he was faithful in the pulpit to proclaim God’s Word, yet he also had a further ministry through the writing of devotional and practical books, many of which are still available by means of the Internet. And we are talking here around 200 years later. As my title puts it, he wrote for the ages.
It was in 1857 that his fellow elders in the Church of Scotland appointed him to the Hymnal Committee of the Church. He went on to write 31 hymns, all of which were then widely used in the Church of Scotland. While his hymn on the Second Advent of Christ was not republished in the Red Trinity Hymnal, it was found in the old Blue Trinity Hymnal on page 238.  Read its words found in the four stanza hymn:
Christ is coming! Let creation from her groans and travail cease;
Let the glorious proclamation Hope restore and faith increase;
Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Come, thou blessed Prince of Peace.
Earth can now but tell the story Of thy bitter cross and pain;
She shall yet behold thy glory, When thou comest back to reign;
Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Let each heart repeat the strain.
Long thine exiles have been pining, Far from rest, and home, and thee:
But, in heav’nly vestures shining, They their loving Christ shall see;
Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Haste the joyous jubilee.
With that blessed hope before us, Let no harp remain unstrung;
Let the mighty advent chorus; Onward roll from tongue to tongue;
Christ is coming! Christ is coming!
Come, Lord Jesus, quickly come!” Amen.
Unlike ancient hymns of the second advent, this one by John Macduff focused in on the Second Coming as an occasion of triumph and joy. It was based on Scriptures like Romans 18:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Titus 2:13; Revelation 1:7; and Revelation 22:20.
John Macduff would retire from the ministry of the preached Word in 1871 and lived until 1895.
Words to Live By:
To still have sermons and devotional classics available to read is a remarkable testimony for our instruction from his heart and lips.  He truly wrote for the ages.  And of course, it is as we faithful pastors preach the inexhaustible riches of God’s Word that our sermons become timeless in their comfort and instruction.  Lay people! Treasure  pastors who are faithful to proclaim the whole counsel of God to you.  They are few and far between in our generation.

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