White House

You are currently browsing articles tagged White House.

A Land So Far Away?
Just suppose, dear reader, just suppose now, that in our blessed country one year, a  bill was approved by both Houses of Congress, sent to the White House in Washington, D.C., signed by the president and it became the law of the land.  Oh yes, an important ingredient of this bill was that it had the support of The Episcopal Church (TEC).  What was its gist, you ask?

The first  section of the bill decreed deposition of all spiritual leaders who denied the federal government’s authority in ecclesiastical matters.

The second section excommunicated any spiritual leader who dared to preach and proclaim that the worship part of the bill was contrary to Holy Scripture.

Next, that same penalty of deposition was promised upon any who preached that the liturgical part of the bill was unbiblical.

Fourth, any and all clergy and churches in the land had to adopt the this governmental  liturgy for their congregations upon pain of deposition if they failed to adopt it.

Fifth, all congregational meetings could only be called by governmental decree; further, no ecclesiastical business could be discussed without the approval of the government; in addition, no biblical meeting could be held independent of government authority, and last, no spiritual leader could engage in extemporary prayers.

And last, governmental regulations were handed on regarding the manner of worship, gowns worn by clergy members, fonts used for baptisms, ornaments in the church building, and the conducting of the Lord’s Supper.

This author is sure that all of our readers would quickly acknowledge if the churches of America were recipients of such a federal law as this, the visible biblical church as we know and love would all but disappear from the land, or be so thoroughly compromised that it would be not longer a church where Christ Jesus is the Head of the church.

How glad we are that this alleged supposition is only that.   However to Scottish Christians in the Church of Scotland on May 23, 1635, the above supposition was an awful reality.  It was sent down to that church by the king with the blessing of the Anglican church upon the Church of Scotland.

After a couple of years of delay, on July 23, 1637, an attempt was made to introduce it in the cathedral church at St. Giles, Edinburgh.  From among the common people there that day, a woman named Jenny Geddes picked up her stool and flung it at the dean who thought that he was going to introduce it in the worship service.  A regular riot broke out as other chairs began flying toward the podium.  The dean was forced to flee for his life.  This result brought the city of Edinburgh under an episcopal interdict, which suspended all public worship, even on the hallowed Sabbath, because this sanctioned liturgy has been neglected.  We have a post on the reaction on July 23, 1637.

The second response was the signed of the National Covenant on February 28, 1638.  This Day in Presbyterian History also covered this reaction on February 28, 1638.

Words to Live By: You may be thinking that the separation of church and state would preclude this from ever happening in America.  But with countless Reformed and Presbyterian leaders proclaiming that we now live in a post-Christian land, the time may be soon upon us where such liberties of worship and work may soon be past.  Our Lord’s definition of His people,  found in Matthew 5:23, must be re-discovered by the church in our land.  He said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by man.” Let us not be good-for-nothing Christians.

Tags: , , ,

A  Funeral in the White House

Phineas Dinsmore Gurley, D.D.The memorial service in the East Room of the White House began with the solemn reading of Holy Scripture by the Presbyterian clergyman. Dr. Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. obviously wished to set the tone of God’s place in this whole tragedy. What was that tragedy which prompted their gathering onApril 19, 1865? Nothing less than the assassination of the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

Dr. Gurley was the pastor of the church where the President and his family attended while they lived in Washington, D.C. He became a close friend as well as a spiritual advisor. He had often been a counselor to the President in the dark days of the Civil War. Moreover, when the Lincoln’s son Willie died in 1862, it was Dr. Gurley who ministered to the family and he delivered the funeral sermon for their son. Now in 1865, he was again present at the death-bed, giving counsel to Mrs. Lincoln. And again he was asked by Mrs. Lincoln to give yet another funeral sermon, this time for her deceased husband.

Readers can “google” the entire sermon on-line. And I urge everyone who reads this devotional to read that sermon. You will find it a wealth of comfort for any kind of “dark providence” in your life.

Dr. Gurley, who was a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and a committed member of  Old School Presbyterianism, says right at the beginning of the memorial service that “we recognize and adore the sovereignty of God.”  He quoted the old hymn’s words “Blind unbelief is prone to err and scan his work in vain; God is his own interpreter. And He will make it plain.”   To all his quotations of Scripture, like Psalm 97:2  “Clouds and darkness are round him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” and Job 11:7, 8 “Canst thou by searching find out God?  canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?  It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?” — to all of these high and holy theological points, Gurley answers that his intent at that memorial service should be to ”bow before His infinite mystery.” Indeed all the grieving citizens should respond to his words to “bow, weep, and worship.”

And then, Dr. Gurley spoke of the character of the president, and how often he told those of his family, his cabinet, and any other people he would meet, to have faith in God. That was the only response they should give in that hour of sadness. To Dr. Gurley, there was no doubt in the minister’s mind that Abraham Lincoln was a firm believer in the Lord Jesus and thus a Christian.

It would be doubtful today that even such a religious service complete with a Biblical message could take place today in the White House.  But it did back then, and it was a message which could only be characterized as the Reformed faith in the Sovereignty of God.

The Presbyterian minister traveled on the funeral train to Springfield, Illinois, and gave the final prayer at the service beside the grave site. He stayed at the church until his death of 1868. While he was in the pulpit, traditional Calvinism was the underpinning of the message of the church in the pulpit.

Words to Live By: God’s sovereignty is never a mere doctrinal truth for believers. It is also a tremendous comfort for Christians when unexplained things occur in our lives. If you haven’t done so already, commit to memory some texts like Romans 8:28 or Daniel 4:35 or Psalm 55:22, along with a host of others. Traditional Calvinism must always lead to a practical Calvinism, or it isn’t Calvinism at all.

Tags: , , ,

This Day in Presbyterian History:  A  Funeral in the White House

The memorial service in the East Room of the White House began with the solemn reading of Holy Scripture by the Presbyterian clergyman.  Dr. Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. obviously wished to set the tone of God’s place in this whole tragedy.  What was that tragedy which prompted their gathering on April 19, 1865?  Nothing less than the assassination of the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

Dr. Gurley was the pastor of the church where the President and his family attended while they lived in Washington, D.C. He became a close friend as well as a spiritual advisor. He had often been a counselor to the President in the dark days of the Civil War. Moreover, when the Lincoln’s son Willie died in 1862, it was Dr. Gurley who ministered to the family and he delivered the funeral sermon for their son. Now in 1865, he was again present at the death-bed, giving counsel to Mrs. Lincoln. And again he was asked by Mrs. Lincoln to give yet another funeral sermon, this time for her deceased husband.

Readers can “google” the entire sermon on-line.  And I urge everyone who reads this devotional to read that sermon.  You will find it a wealth of comfort for any kind of “dark providence” in your life.

Dr. Gurley, who was a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and a committed member of  Old School Presbyterianism, says right at the beginning of the memorial service that “we recognize and adore the sovereignty of God.”   He quoted the old hymn’s words “Blind unbelief is prone to err and scan his work in vain; God is his own interpreter.  And He will make it plain.”   To all his quotations of Scripture, like Psalm 97:2  “Clouds and darkness are round him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” and Job 11:7, 8 “Canst thou by searching find out God?  canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?  It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do?  deeper than hell; what canst thou know?” — to all of these high and holy theological points, Gurley answers that his intent  at that memorial service should be to “bow  before His infinite mystery.” Indeed  all the grieving citizens should respond to his words to “bow,  weep, and worship.”

And then, Dr. Gurley spoke of the character of the president, and how often he told those of his family, his cabinet, and any other people he would meet, to have faith in God.  That was the only response they should give in that hour of sadness.  To Dr. Gurley, there was no doubt in the minister’s mind that Abraham Lincoln was a firm believer in the Lord Jesus and thus a Christian.

It would be doubtful today that even such a religious service complete with a Biblical message could take place today in the White House.  But it did back then, and it was a message which could only be characterized as the Reformed faith in the Sovereignty of God.

The Presbyterian minister traveled on the funeral train to Springfield, Illinois, and gave the final prayer at the service beside the grave site.  He stayed at the church until his death of 1868.  While he was in the pulpit, traditional Calvinism was the underpinning of the message of the church in the pulpit.

Words to Live By: God’s sovereignty is never a mere doctrinal truth for believers.  It is also a tremendous comfort for Christians when unexplained things occur in our lives.  If you haven’t done so already, commit to memory some texts like Romans 8:28 or Daniel 4:35 or Psalm 55:22, along with a host of others.  Traditional Calvinism must always lead to a practical Calvinism, or it isn’t Calvinism at all.

Through the Scriptures: Psalm 25 – 27

Through the Standards: Proof texts for effectual grace:

John 1:12, 13
“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: Which were born, not of blood, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (KJV)

Acts 13:48
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” (ESV)

2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14
“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first-fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in  the truth.  To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (ESV)

Tags: , , ,

%d bloggers like this: