The Glory of Woman, according to Charles Colcock Jones

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Iain Murray writes that

[Charles Colcock Jones] believed that only Christianity teaches the proper relation between the sexes and is unique in its power to elevate womanhood…. On this subject he preached one of his best-remembered sermons, 'The Glory of Woman Is the Fear of the Lord'. Much in that sermon reflected his own experience, beginning with his opening sentence: (Heroes, p. 246).

Here is that opening paragraph by Charles Colcock Jones, Sr.:

No one thing in social life, more distinguishes a Christian from a heathen country, than the consideration in which females are held, and the important and influential station which is assigned them in society. As the farther you depart from Christianity, the deeper is the degradation of females, and the more miserable and polluted the state of society; so, the nearer you approach to Christianity, and the purer its nature and the more efficient its influence, the higher is the perfection of female character, and the more virtuous and happy the community at large.

Read the rest of Jones’ sermon here. It is both a tribute to the godly woman, as well as an encouragement to women to pursue godliness and the fear of the Lord.

This post was inspired by a friend who shared the quote.

Psalms for special occasions as selected by John Craig

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Howard McKnight Wilson describes what regular Presbyterian worship looked like in the mid-18th century in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in his enduring and valuable study of a noteworthy historic congregation. The congregation is Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church in Fishersville, Virginia, and the pastor to whom he refers is John Craig.

The singing of Psalms was a regular part of their worship. The book from which they sang was, of course, the same as the pastor’s copy preserved by a descendant. His Psalter might have been the only copy possessed by the gathered congregation, since the clerk lined out each verse before it was sung. His book is The Scottish Psalter about 3/4 inch thick, measuring 2 X 3 1/2 inches. It is bound in leather and has the Scottish form of his initials “I.C.” stamped in gold on both front and back. It contains the 150 Psalms of the Old Testament “IN Metre.”

Shown here is a 1763 edition of the 1650 Scottish Metrical Psalter. John Craig owned a 1729 edition published in Belfast.

Shown here is a 1763 edition of the 1650 Scottish Metrical Psalter. John Craig owned a 1729 edition published in Belfast.

Wilson continues with a note of interest that gives us an insight into the piety of this frontier Presbyterian minister.

Some of these Psalms were favorites of Mr. Craig’s and therefore may have been chosen more frequently. In his handwriting on the flyleaf of his Psalter, Mr. Craig records the following:

Ps’ms to be sung upon particular times & occasions as in ye morning Pms 3: 5: 16: 22: 144
in ye evening 4: 121: 141
for mercy after a sin Committed 51, 102
in Sickness or heaviness 1, 13, 88, 90, 91, 137, 146
when recovered 30, 32,
on ye Sabbath day 19, 9, 95
in time of joy 80, 98, 107, 145, 136
before Sermon 1, 12, 119 — 1 & 5 part
at ye communion 22, 23, 103, 111, 116, 45, 72
for spiritual solace 15, 19, 25, 46, 67, 112, 146
after wrong & disgrace received 42, 69, 70, 140, 144

Source: Howard McKnight Wilson, The Tinkling Spring, Headwater of Freedom: A Study of the Church and Her People, 1732-1952, pp. 102-103

The 4th century Church Father Athanasius once wrote:

It is possible for us, therefore, to find in the Psalter not only the reflection of our own soul's state, together with precept and example for all possible conditions, but also a fit form of words wherewith to please the Lord on each of life's occasions. (Letter to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms)

John Craig found this to be true, and so may every Christian today in the singing of God’s Word. There is a Psalm for every condition and occasion in human life, because it is, as John Calvin says, “an anatomy of the soul,” which is, if we may say so, part of the genius of the Psalter.

A 19th century Presbyterian publisher whose name you might know

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The subject of today’s post had an elder brother, William, who became a Presbyterian minister. The story is told, by Rev. William Hammil, the Principal of the Boys’ School at Lawrenceville, New Jersey, of William’s conversion, followed by that of his brother days later.

He [William] came to me,” says Mr. Hammil, “ and said, ‘I have found the Saviour, and I wish you would tell my companions.’ I said to him, ‘William, you had better tell them yourself. It will do them and you both good.’ He stood up and said, ‘My dear schoolmates, you have, perhaps, not understood why I have not been out upon the playground as much as usual for some days past. I have been seeking the salvation of my soul, and trust I have found my Saviour, and wish to tell you how much joy I have.’ After prayers, William came to me and said, ‘ I wish you would speak to my brother…, and pray for him.’ I promised to do so. Like Andrew the Apostle, he was desirous that his brother should see Jesus. In a few days, … his younger brother, was indulging a good hope of an interest in Christ.

James W. Alexander once wrote in a preface to his Discourses on Common Topics of Christian Faith and Practice that “The appearance of these Discourses is due to the kind importunity of the Publisher, once my pupil and since my esteemed friend, who has for several years asked this contribution.”

The man who would one day became a publisher whose name is known around the world studied at Princeton, graduating in 1840. After health issues derailed an initial venture into the legal profession, he instead went into the business of publishing books. His first base of operations was in meeting rooms leased from the Presbyterian Brick Street Chapel in New York City for $600 annually. Shepherd Knapp, Jr., in his sketch of this famous historical congregation, tells us that:

In 1846 another publishing house became the church's tenant, that of …, whose successors, …, and the present … have continued the firm's long relationship to the Brick Church by becoming the publishers of the principle works of the church's ministers during the last half century.

Charles Scribner Brick Chapel Church.jpg

J. David Hoevelter, Jr., in James McCosh and the Scottish Intellectual Tradition: From Glasgow to Princeton, p. 308), adds:

The firm had an eclectic list of works, but it excelled in high scholarly, and especially theological, works. These included books by Horace Bushnell, Henry B. Smith, Noah Porter, and others that especially illustrate the Princeton connection — Archibald and James Waddel Alexander, Charles Hodge, and then McCosh.

The list of works by Log College Press authors published by this man and his company is voluminous. Some of the names and titles can be noted on this Princeton chronology here. The publisher’s name remains well-known today, in the 21st century: Charles Scribner (1821-1871). Although he died at the age of 50, his work was carried on under the name Charles Scribner’s Sons. One of his sons, who later led the family business, was John Blair Scribner - named after a former Log College student, John Blair. His legacy has endured, and we at Log College Press are grateful for the many Presbyterian works that he and his family published during the 19th century.

Charles Scribner photo 2.jpg

A New Booklet by Charles Allen Stillman and a New Audiobook of Archibald Alexander's Aging in Grace!

If you haven’t heard the news yet, we've recently published a new booklet by Charles Allen Stillman, the founder of what is now known as Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It’s called “The Pulpit and the Pastorate,” and examines the connections between a pastor’s pulpit ministry and his pastoral ministry. It was originally an address giving at an anniversary celebration of Columbia Theological Seminary in 1881, and is a great encouragement to all pastors to be faithful in all the work God has given us to do. You can purchase it in booklet or ebook format here. And if you’re interested in buying all eight of our titles for yourself or for a friend, you can purchase them for $35 here.

We’ve also just come out with an audiobook edition of Archibald Alexander’s Aging in Grace: Letters to Those in the Autumn of Life. This audiobook will eventually be available on Audible and other audiobook online stores, but when you purchase it on our website we get more than just a mere percentage of the sales price, so if you’re interested in buying it please do so from our webstore. We are in the process of creating audiobooks of all our titles, so if you prefer to listen to your books rather than read them, then be on the lookout for news of future releases in the coming months. (Sign up at the bottom of this page if you’d like to be alerted to new titles and receive a weekly glimpse into new content on our website.) We’re excited about being able to reach folks who possibly won’t or can’t read, but love to listen to books as they drive, work, workout, etc.

Please tell your friends both in the flesh and online about our new titles. It’s because of the support of our readers and customers that Log College Press has been able to do what it’s done, both in terms of our free PDF library on our website, and our publications. Thank you!

The Motive for Missions, according to J.W. Alexander

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James M. Garretson has written of James W. Alexander’s “passion” for missions which was “stimulated by preaching from Psalm 72 and his reading (in German) of [Ernst Wilhelm] Hengstenberg’s massive study on the christological passages in the Old Testament” (Thoughts on Preaching & Pastoral Ministry: Lessons from the Life and Writings of James W. Alexander, p. 103).

A powerful example of that passion is found in the sermon he preached before the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (Old School) meeting in Richmond, Virginia on May 23, 1847. Titled Love to Christ the Motive of Missions: A Discourse, he focused on the primary reason why the church engages in missionary labors. It is, simply put, “that the great motive to Christian Missions is personal love to the Lord Jesus, manifested in the desire and expectation of his reign over converted sinners.”

Acknowledging that missionary work results in many kinds of temporal and spiritual benefits to the redeemed — “they inform the Intellect, and enlarge the knowledge; they civilize and refine; they rescue from temporal evil, and they save the soul” —

Yet all these are but subsidiary to one grand intention, which is the glory of Messiah in his kingly power over redeemed sinners, as his satisfying recompense; and holy affection reaches forward, to accomplish by this means the mighty yearnings of an incarnate God, who is at the same time the Husband of His elect and loving Church. So that the subjection of man to our Redeemer, as the reward which He claims and waits for, is a result which true piety craves, with immeasurable love, and inexpressible longing.

Again and again, Alexander brings home the point that all that we Christians do to magnify and honor our King and our Redeemer on earth arises out of the love in our hearts towards him and the consequent desire to see him exalted by all.

  • “What is true religion? Not fear — not submission — not benevolence — not regard for being in general — not philanthropy — great and essential as some or all of these may be — but LOVE TO CHRIST.”

  • “Love to the person of Immanuel, God manifest in the flesh, a dying, reigning Saviour, is the mark and criterion of all the family in heaven and earth.”

  • “‘Lovest thou me? Feed my sheep!’”

  • “Here is the token of the missionary host; and the missionary spirit, whether in childhood or age, in the pastor or the apostle, looks up, from the cross and the sepulchre, to the crown and the second-coming; and sighs forth its expectant longing, and says to the Bridegroom, Priest, and Sovereign, ‘Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips; therefore God hath blessed thee forever.’”

  • The individual, and the church, glow with unspeakable desire for the universal acknowledgment, that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

  • “To behold this love, and the things therein freely given us of God, is faith, is eternal life: but it is also the prime motive to all individual effort, and to all the sacrifice and warfare of the church.”

  • “What has peopled these wastes, and pushed the tide of population even to the wintry coast of the inhospitable North? What has reared cities, and impelled the wheels of a thousand manufactures, and decked the earth with an agriculture unsurpassed among men? — The love of Christ. What has scattered schools, from town to town, and hamlet to hamlet, and founded universities, which, in spite of sectarian narrowness, are yet the pride of human learning? — The love of Christ. What has exchanged the misrule of Celtic chieftainship, and the feuds of warring tribes, for rational government and balanced concord? — The love of Christ. What has sent colonies, to become greater and happier and freer nations, in a late undiscovered hemisphere? — The love of Christ.”

  • “…we shall one day cry, ‘All Israel shall be saved, as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer!’ To this Deliverer, the whole missionary work is a tribute of love.”

Alexander also cites the words of his uncle and mentor, Dr. John Holt Rice, as quoted by William Maxwell, in an 1831 overture to the General Assembly to this effect:

In the judgment of this General Assembly, one of the principal objects of the institution of the Church, by Jesus Christ, was, not so much the salvation of individual Christians — for, ‘whosoever believeth shall be saved’ — as the communication of the blessing of the Gospel to the destitute, with the efficiency of united effort….The Presbyterian Church is a Missionary Society, the object of which is to aid in the conversion of the world, and every member of the Church is a member for life of said society, and bound to do all in his power for the accomplishment of this object.

If we love Him who saved us, we will desire the glory of his name to be exalted in us and by all those around us. This is the true motive for all kingdom work, according to our place and calling. But especially in the case of missions, where love compels us to speak to others of the love that set us free — His love towards his sheep. May the love of Christ stir us all up to do what we can on behalf of the kingdom of Christ, and for the good of the lost souls all around us. Read Alexander’s sermon here, and get a glimpse of the passion and desire of this 19th century minister for that very goal.

The Mother of Presbyterianism in Edgefield County, South Carolina

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John Abney Chapman writes concerning one particular South Carolina county (History of Edgefield County: From the Earliest Settlements to 1897, p. 299):

Edgefield was one of the three counties in the State of South Carolina, Lexington and Georgetown being the other two, which never, until 1877, had a Presbyterian Church in its bounds. This is somewhat remarkable when we consider the fact that the adjoining County of Abbeville is one of the great strongholds of Presbyterianism in the State. Abbeville, however, was settled by large colonies of Scotch-Irish and Huguenots, who brought their religion with them, whilst no such colonies of Presbyterians located in Edgefield.

As Chapman also notes, efforts were made in the first half of the 19th century to establish a Presbyterian church in the county, but the War of 1861 put a stop to that.

Meanwhile, there was at least one lone Presbyterian who resided in the county. Born in 1842, Martha (“Mattie”) Wardlaw Hill over a period of many years would cross the state line to worship in Augusta, Georgia, while praying and working towards the goal of establishing a Presbyterian church in her county of Edgefield. Her persistence would ultimately lead to its founding.

Source: Margaret Adams Gist,  Presbyterian Women of South Carolina

Source: Margaret Adams Gist, Presbyterian Women of South Carolina

Mary D. Irvine tells the story in Pioneer Women of the Presbyterian Church, United States (1923), p. 297:

Edgefield Church, Congaree Presbytery, owes its existence to Mrs. Martha Wardlaw Hill, through whose efforts an organization was effected. There were only four members, Mrs. Hill, herself, Mrs. A. E. Anderson, Miss Esther Rainsford and Mr. S. H. Manget. The latter was immediately elected and installed as elder and Mrs. Hill acted as deacon for some years. Mrs. Hill's wonderful magnetism and beauty of spirit drew many friends to her assistance. She solicited subscriptions far and wide and raised over $3,000.00. She organized a Sunday-school and when no man was available, was her own superintendent, her own organist, her own janitor, and at the same time served as the whole board of deacons. In May, 1882, through her efforts, the first pastor was called, our own Secretary of Assembly’s Home Missions, Rev. S. L. Morris. As soon as this good woman lifted all debt from the church, she began to dream of a manse. Miss Esther Rainsford (Mrs. Bunyan Morris), gave the lot for this manse and the communion service as well.

Mrs. Hill began teaching music and doing everything she could to create a manse fund. To make a long story short, the manse became an assured fact. At the age of fifty-two, she went Home, and on the walls of the church which stands as a memorial to her, the women placed a tablet, on which she is called “The Mother of Presbyterianism in Edgefield County.”

Margaret Adams Gist adds, in Presbyterian Women of South Carolina (1929), p. 324, that was so identified with the village church, finally constructed in 1884, that it was referred to by some as “Miss Mattie Hill’s Church.”

Rick Barbare, formerly pastor of the Edgefield Presbyterian Church (PCA) before it was disbanded in 2010, has done yeoman’s work over the years in researching and writing about the history of Edgefield Presbyterianism. He has a valuable series of articles posted on his blog covering many phases of the church’s history, including the additional congregations which grew out of the work. He writes:

Mrs. Hill remained a loyal Presbyterian even when her parents became Episcopalians. She never gave up on the idea having a Presbyterian Church in Edgefield Village, so she kept her church membership at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, GA in the intervening years between 1859 and 1877. The sum of money raised for this purpose before the war was lost during hostilities. (No doubt it was in Confederate currency in a bank at the end of the war).

After reconstruction (1876), Mrs. Hill found three other persons in the county who were Presbyterians: (1) Mr. S. H. Manget …; (2) Mrs. R.  S. Anderson …; and (3) Miss Etta Rainsford. … Mrs. Hill enlisted them in a plan to get the Presbytery to organize a church. Three of the four then lived in Edgefield Village at the time. Miss Etta Rainsford lived at Pine House, later Trenton.

The labors of Mrs. Hill bore fruit as the Presbytery from 1875 to 1877 paid visits and sent men to preach to the core group that would constitute the initial members. During this period, visiting ministers who preached included John L. Girardeau (December 24, 1876) and William S. Plumer (February 25, 1877). After a petition was presented to Presbytery in April 1877 calling for the organization of the church, the charter was granted and the congregation was established on May 20, 1877.

Samuel Leslie Morris (who would later become the Secretary of Home Missions for the Southern Presbyterian Church) was installed as the first pastor of the Edgefield congregation in August 1882. Barbare adds that “The organization at that time included three churches — Trenton, Johnston, and Edgefield Village.” These preaching stations enabled the broader county to be covered. More congregations would grow out of this initial organization, and in 1884, Edgefield Village would get its own church building.

Rev. Barbare has wise words to ponder in conclusion as we consider the person credited with founding the first Presbyterian Church in Edgefield County. Such a thing is rarely the work of one person — especially not within Presbyterianism, which is based on the communion of saints, and the plurality of elders. Some have highlighted Mrs. Hill’s role to the exclusion of almost all others. The first pastor, Samuel L. Morris, in his autobiography does not even mention her. Barbare writes:

So, who was it that really planted the Edgefield Presbyterian Church? Rev. Morris? or Mrs. Hill? Neither one alone, both together, and with other people’s help is the short answer.

In the story of the Edgefield Presbyterian Church, when looking back at the history and taking note of the secondary causes, we ought not to lose sight of — indeed our primary focus should be to remember — the hand of God at work in the building of his kingdom.

George Gillespie's prayer request for America

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Students of Presbyterian church history are well acquainted with the Scottish minister George Gillespie (1613-1648) who served at the Westminster Assembly. But students of the American Presbyterian church history should take note of another noteworthy minister of the same name. Also born in Scotland, George Gillespie (1683-1760) emigrated to America in 1713, and was installed as the first pastor of the Head of Christiana Presbyterian Church near Newark, Delaware. It is here that his earthly remains were laid to rest, after a long tenure of service. Dr. Francis Alison referred to him as “that pious saint of God.”

In a 1723 letter to a Scottish minister reporting on the state of affairs among the Presbyterian Church in America, we may get a glimpse of Gillespie’s heartfelt desire for the good of his adopted homeland. May his prayer request for the American Church in the early 18th century be an encouragement to us today in our prayers for the body of Christ in 21st century America, and beyond.

Glorious Christ hath great designs in America…Revd Sr be mindfull in your prayers of the Infant church of Christ in America, and that the Lord would purifie the sons of Levi. May the faithfull God hasten the time when he will fulfill his promise in Isa: 59.19 That they shall fear his name from the West.

The Original Seven American Presbyters

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Original Presbytery Roll 1.jpg

The original American Presbytery was established around March 1706* in Philadelphia under the leadership of Francis Makemie, who is often referred to as the “Father of American Presbyterianism.” It included a total of seven members, although one was not actually present at the time (his absence was excused later). One man was further ordained at the first Presbytery meeting. We now have the first eight members of the first American Presbytery on Log College Press.

Original Presbytery Roll 2.jpg
  • Francis Makemie (1658-1708) - Known as “the Father of American Presbyterianism,” the Irish-born Makemie was the organizer and first moderator of the first Presbytery in America. He did much to promote and defend the Presbyterian Church on from Virginia to New York. He is buried on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

  • John Hampton (1675-1721) - Hampton came to the Eastern Shore in 1705 with Francis Makemie and George McNish. In 1707, he spent two months in prison with Makemie under charges of nonconformity.

  • George McNish (1660-1722) - Born in Scotland, McNish is referred to by William B. Sprague as the “father of Presbyterianism” in New York. He arrived in America with Francis Makemie and John Hampton in 1705.

  • Samuel Davis, Sr. (1663-1725) - Born in Ireland, Davis was the first pastor of the Presbyterian church in Lewes, Delaware, and ministered in Snow Hill, Maryland, as well. He was not actually present at the first meeting of Presbytery, and his attendance at Presbytery meetings was a recurring issue. It is thought that he signed (along with William Shankland) an address of loyalty to King William and Queen Mary by the inhabitants of Somerset County, Maryland in 1689.

  • Nathaniel Taylor (?-1710) - He was the pastor of the Presbyterian church in Snow Hill, Maryland.

  • John Wilson (1674-1712) - He was the first pastor of the New Castle Presbyterian Church in New Castle, Delaware. He also ministered to the White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church near Newark, Delaware.

  • Jedediah Andrews (1674-1747) - Born in Massachusetts, he was the first Presbyterian minister to preach in Philadelphia, serving the First Presbyterian Church, or “Old Buttonwood.” He served the Presbytery as clerk, and engaged in many missionary tours.

  • John Boyd (1679-1708) - He was the first Presbyterian minister ordained in America on December 29, 1706. Sadly, his ministry was cut short by death less than two years later.

It is interesting to note that Makemie and Boyd both died in 1708, Taylor in 1710 and Wilson in 1712. But the seeds had been sown for the establishment of Presbyterial work in America. By 1716, there were 17 Presbyterian ministers, and that same year a General Synod was created as the first Presbytery (of Philadelphia) was split into four (Long Island, New Castle, Philadelphia and Snow Hill). To see the growing list of ministers added to the Presbytery of Philadelphia after John Boyd, see Willard M. Rice’s Roll of Ministers and Licentiates (1888).

These names represent the beginnings of organized Presbyterianism in America. They are names worthy of remembrance. Although our information about their lives is limited, and so are their published writings (we have a few now here at Log College Press), their contribution to American Presbyterianism must not be forgotten.

* For a more precise understanding of the dating of this event, see Benjamin L. Agnew, When Was the First Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America Organized?

A scar on the author's wrist: J.W. Alexander's story for children

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James Waddel Alexander (the father of seven children) was known for the many books for young people which he authored, especially for the American Sunday-School Union. One — part of The Infant’s Library series consisting of 24 small books for the littlest children — was published in 1825 under the title The Sabbath Breaker. This little work is not yet available on Log College Press, but the autobiographical story authored by Alexander can be read in a biography of Edward Norris Kirk (1802-1874) by David Otis Mears. It is about two boys (James and Edward) who learned a lesson about keeping the Lord’s Day holy.

The Sabbath Breaker

Children, I am going to tell you another story. Every word of it is true, and I know it to be so. There were two boys, named James and Edward. They knew what was right, but they did what was wrong. This is very bad. They knew that the Sabbath was God’s day, but still they profaned the Sabbath.

One fine Sabbath afternoon, they had a lesson in the Bible to say to their teacher. But they were wicked and played truant. They did not get their lesson. And they played instead of going to their teacher. You will see what happened to them.

Edward and James used to go to bathe in a brook about two miles from home. Edward asked James if he would go and bathe there. James was at first afraid to go, because it was the Sabbath. But he was ashamed to say so. So they both set off to go to the brook.

As soon as they set off, they saw that some clouds were rising. But they went on.

When they got to the water, it thundered very loud, so that James was afraid to go in, though he was undressed. Edward went in and bathed.

The thunder was so loud, and it rained so hard, that they boys dressed themselves in a great hurry and began to return. The storm increased, it was very dark, and the lightning was dreadful. The boys were frightened. They knew they had done wrong. They knew that God saw them. They heard his thunder in the heavens, and were afraid. One clap of thunder was awful. The lightning struck a house in the town, and threw down a part of the chimney. James trembled, because he was afraid the Lord would strike him dead. But God is merciful, and spared these bad boys. The storm was short, and it was soon clear weather again.

When James and Edward got half-way home, they began to laugh and talk again. James was afraid Edward would think he was frightened. To show how brave he was, James took a penknife and tried to strike it into his coat-sleeve. The knife slipped, and the whole blade went into the back part of his wrist. The blood spouted out, and ran over his white clothes. He was then frightened indeed. He had escaped the storm, but now he saw that God had punished him. He had to send for a doctor. The doctor said it was a wonder he had not cut an artery. This was many years ago, but I saw the scar on his wrist, just before I wrote this. Remember the Sabbath.

The two boys in this story grew up to become devout and serious Christians, as well as friends for life — not unlike David and Jonathan, according to Kirk’s biographer. And the lesson they learned in their youth about keeping the Lord’s Day holy became a story to teach other young children as well.

Freedom's Cost

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That is which sometimes known as “the Presbyterian Rebellion” — the 1776 American War of Independence — had many actors who played their parts in leading the colonies to resist the actions of King George III and Parliament along Augustinian-Calvinistic principles of interposition by lesser civil magistrates against tyranny. The roll call listing heroes of the faith includes such as:

  • Alexander Craighead was the first Presbyterian minister to advocate the necessity to take up arms against the mother country back in 1743 (the tyrant-king then was Charles II). It was his patriotic influence (even after his death) that is largely credited for the May 1775 Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

  • John Craig was the “spiritual guide and minister” to 5 out of the 15 freeholders who wrote the January 20, 1775 Fincastle, Virginia Resolves, which stated in part: “We assure you, Gentlemen, and all our countrymen, that we are a people whose hearts overflow with love and duty to our lawful sovereign George III. whose illustrious house, for several successive reigns, have been the guardians of civil and religious rights and liberties of his subjects, as settled at the glorious Revolution; that we are willing to risk our lives in the service of his Majesty, for the support of the Protestant religion, and the rights and liberties of his subjects, as they have been established by compact, law, and ancient charters. We are heartily grieved at the differences which now subsist between the parent state and the colonies, and most ardently wish to see harmony restored, on an equitable basis, and by the most lenient measures that can be devised by the heart of men. Many of us, and our forefathers, left our native land, considering it as a kingdom subjected to inordinate power, and greatly abridged of its liberties. We crossed the Atlantick, and explored this then uncultivated wilderness, bordering on many nations of savages, and surrounded by mountains almost inaccessible to any but those very savages, who have incessantly been committing barbarities and depredations on us since our first seating the country. These fatigues and dangers we patiently encountered, supported by the pleasing hope of enjoying those rights and liberties which have been granted to Virginians and were denied us in our native country, and of transmitting them inviolate to our posterity. But even to these remote regions the land of unlimited and unconstitutional power hath pursued us, to strip us of that liberty and property with which God, nature, and the rights of humanity, have vested us. We are ready and willing to contribute all in our power for the support of his Majesty's government, if applied to constitutionally, and when the grants are made by our own representatives; but cannot think of submitting our liberty or property to the power of a venal British parliament, or to the will of a corrupt ministry. We by no means desire to shake off our duty or allegiance to our lawful sovereign, but on the contrary shall ever glory in being the loyal subjects of a Protestant prince, descended from such illustrious progenitors, so long as we can enjoy the free exercise of our religion, as Protestants, and our liberties and properties, as British subjects. But if no pacifick measures shall be proposed or adopted by Great Britain, and our enemies will attempt to dragoon us out of those inestimable privileges which we are entitled to as subjects, and to reduce us to a state of slavery, we declare, that we are deliberately and resolutely determined never to surrender them to any power upon earth, but at the expense of our lives. These are our real, though unpolished sentiments, of liberty and loyalty, and in them we are resolved to live and die.”

  • The freeholders who wrote the February 22, 1775 Augusta County, Virginia Declaration were also influenced by John Craig, when they wrote: “Placing our ultimate trust in the Supreme Disposer of every event, without whose gracious interposition the wisest schemes may fail of success, we desire you to move the Convention that some day, which may appear to them most convenient, be set apart for imploring the blessing of Almighty God on such plans as human wisdom and integrity may think necessary to adopt for preserving America happy, virtuous, and free.”

  • James Caldwell, the fighting parson who cried, “Give ‘em Watts, boys!” lost his wife to the British before being shot by an American sentry before the war ended.

  • Jacob Green, the father of Ashbel Green, was known as “Parson Green.” He authored Observations, on the Reconciliation of Great-Britain, and the Colonies by a friend of American Liberty in early 1776, and did much to both preach the gospel and defend the cause of civil liberty in colonial America. He also declared in a 1778 sermon: “Can it be believed that a people contending for liberty should, at the same time, be promoting and supporting slavery?” He saw American slavery as completely incompatible with the principles of freedom for which the colonists were then fighting.

  • Hezekiah James Balch, a leading architect of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, died just a year after its signing.

  • Ephraim Brevard - The reputed author of the 1775 Mecklenburg Resolutions and the scribe who penned the 1775 Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence spent time in British custody as a prisoner of war at Charleston, South Carolina, where the unwholesome air and diet crushed his health. After his release, he reached the home of his friend John McKnitt Alexander, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, only to breathe his last shortly thereafter in 1781.

  • John Witherspoon preached a sermon based on Psalm 76:10 on May 17, 1776 titled “The Dominion of God Over the Passions of Men” which is credited with helping to prepare the colonies to embrace the Declaration of Independence which he signed (making himself a marked man) later that year: “If your cause is just — you may look with confidence to the Lord and intreat him to plead it as his own. You are all my witnesses, that this is the first time of my introducing any political subject into the pulpit. At this season however, it is not only lawful but necessary, and I willingly embrace the opportunity of declaring my opinion without any hesitation, that the cause in which America is now in arms, is the cause of justice, of liberty, and of human nature.

    So far as we have hitherto proceeded, I am satisfied that the confederacy of the colonies, has not been the effect of pride, resentment, or sedition, but of a deep and general conviction, that our civil and religious liberties, and consequently in a great measure the temporal and eternal happiness of us and our posterity, depended on the issue. The knowledge of God and his truths have from the beginning of the world been chiefly, if not entirely, confined to those parts of the earth, where some degree of liberty and political justice were to be seen, and great were the difficulties with which they had to struggle from the imperfection of human society, and the unjust decisions of usurped authority.

    There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire. If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage.”

Many more names could be added to the ranks of those colonial American Presbyterians who proclaimed by word and deed their devotion to the cause of religious and civil liberty, and who were willing to sacrifice all for the sake of God and liberty. But one of the more poignant testimonies is found on the tombstone of the unknown Revolutionary War soldier at the Presbyterian church in Alexandria, Virginia. This epitaph speaks volumes about freedom’s cost.

Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier, Old Presbyterian Meeting House, Alexandria, Virginia

Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier, Old Presbyterian Meeting House, Alexandria, Virginia

A Visit to the Birthplace of Samuel Davies

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When Samuel Davies — the “Apostle to Virginia” — and Gilbert Tennent were chosen as emissaries to raise funds in Europe for the College of New Jersey, Davies left his Hanover, Virginia base in September 1753 to return home to Delaware and parts surrounding, including Philadelphia and New Jersey. An entry from his journal in November 1753, records his sentiments as he traveled through the Delaware Welsh Tract of his boyhood once again:

[W]hen I past by the Places where I had formerly lived, or walked, it gave a solemn Turn to my Mind. Ah! How much I have sinned, wherever I have been! And what solemn Transactions have been between God and my Soul in these my old Walks! Visited two Grave-Yards in my Way, to Solemnize my Mind among the Mansions of the Dead. O how solemn Eternity appeared! How frail and dying the Race of Mortals! And how near my own Dissolution!

Davies was born on November 23, 1723, at what is today known as the Lum’s Mill House in Bear, Delaware. It still stands but is in great disrepair and not open to the public. It is adjacent to the Lums Pond State Park, but beyond the grass being mowed, there is little evidence that it is remembered for its mark on history.

This writer recently toured some of the old stomping grounds that Davies may have visited on that 1753 trip, including his family home. Dewey Roberts — author of Samuel Davies: Apostle to Virginia, a most valuable resource for studying the life of this great saint, particularly, his earlier years — was kind enough to make suggestions for the itinerary.

Samuel Davies’ birthplace - photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

Samuel Davies’ birthplace - photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

His family was originally associated with the Welsh Tract Baptist Church in New Castle County. I was not able to visit that church on this trip. But I did visit the church that the Davies family joined after departing from the Baptist church: Pencader Presbyterian Church (originally called the Welsh Tract Presbyterian Church). It is now known as Olivet Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), but the name Pencader is still found on the church building itself as well as the at the adjacent cemetery.

Pencader (Olivet) Presbyterian Church (originally founded 1707-1710; present building established in 1852) - photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

Pencader (Olivet) Presbyterian Church (originally founded 1707-1710; present building established in 1852) - photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

The pastor who embraced the Davies family and counseled them through a challenging transition was likely Thomas Evans, who is buried at this location.

Historical marker - photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

Historical marker - photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

I also visited other Presbyterian churches in the vicinity, including Head of Christiana — pastored by George Gillespie, who is buried at the cemetery there, as is James Laird Vallandigham, who authored a history of Pencader Presbyterian Church and a history of the New Castle Presbytery.

Head of Christiana Presbyterian Church (founded in 1706-1708; present building established in 1859) - photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

Head of Christiana Presbyterian Church (founded in 1706-1708; present building established in 1859) - photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

Finally, I stopped at St. Georges — pastored by WIlliam Robinson (who played such an important role in the life of Samuel Davies and may be the subject of a future post) and Davies’ “close friend” John Rodgers (Samuel Finley preached the ordination sermon for Rodgers here in 1749 and later preached Samuel Davies’ funeral sermon elsewhere in 1761).

St. Georges Presbyterian Church (present building established in 1844)- photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

St. Georges Presbyterian Church (present building established in 1844)- photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

One additional place visited on this trip was the site of the Duck Creek Presbyterian Church. It was a place of significance to Thomas Evans, who conducted the first worship services there in 1733. This was just a year after Martha Davies (Samuel’s mother) was forced out of the Welsh Tract Baptist Church and received spiritual counsel from Rev. Evans (see Dewey Roberts, Samuel Davies: Apostle to Virginia, pp. 31-33).

Smyrna, Delaware

Smyrna, Delaware

Walking around the old historic buildings and graveyards, like Old Mortality (Sir Walter Scott), reminds one that Memento Mori (“Remember, you must die”) is a saying worthy to be impressed upon our thoughts, and pondered from time to time. The historical landmarks are too often in a sad state of decay, and it is greatly to be desired that they be not lost to future generations. But regardless, as Davies would say, it is eternity upon which our eyes of faith must be fixed, and while the footsteps of time have their necessary place, our chief care as we move through this world must be to ensure, by the grace of God, that these “mouldering tabernacles are become everlasting habitations.”

A Family Tradition Passed Down by Timothy Alden

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Many have heard of the famous Pilgrim love triangle involving Myles Standish, John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. It is immortalized in the classic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858).

In Longfellow’s poem, Priscilla famously says to John who is there to court by proxy on behalf of Myles:

“Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?”

John Alden and Priscilla Mullins.jpg

It was Longfellow who impressed the love story that would become John and Priscilla Alden upon the American consciousness. But the story itself was first published by a descendant of theirs, Timothy Alden, Jr. (1771-1839), in 1814. Born in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, Timothy went to live with his uncle at the age eight. It was his uncle who told him stories about the Alden family heritage all the way back to the Mayflower experience, Leyden and England. One of those stories involved the notable union of his direct ancestors. Alden later became a noted historian and antiquarian, the first president of Allegheny College and a Congregationalist-turned-Presbyterian minister. It was in 1814 that he published A Collection of American Epitaphs and Inscriptions in five volumes, which included the very account which inspired Longfellow’s poem. It is from the third volume that we may obtain his version of what really transpired.

Note. — The hon. John Alden was one of the pilgrims of Leyden, who came, in the May Flower, to Plymouth, in 1620. He was about twenty-two years of age, when he arrived, and was one of those, who signed the original civil compact, formed and solemnly adopted by the first adventurers at Cape Cod harbour, on the 15 of November. This was a few days previous to their finding and selecting a place for the commencement of their settlement in this western world. He was a single man and appears to have been an inmate in the family of captain Myles Standish. He was the stripling, who first leaped upon the rock, as mentioned by president Adams in a certain communication.

It is well known, that, of the first company consisting of one hundred and one, about one half died II six months after landing, in consequence of the hardships they were called to encounter. Mrs. Rose Standish, consort of captain Standish, departed this life, on the 29 of January, 1621. This circumstance is mentioned as an introduction to the following anecdote, which has been carefully handed down by tradition.

In a very short time after the decease of Mrs. Standish, the captain was led to think, that, if he could obtain Miss Priscilla Mullins, a daughter of Mr. William Mullins, the breach in his family would be happily repaired. He, therefore, according to the custom of those times, sent to ask Mr. Mullins' permission to visit his daughter. John Alden, the messenger, went and faithfully communicated the wishes of the captain. The old gentleman did not object, as he might have done, on account of the recency of captain Standish's bereavement. He said it was perfectly agreeable to him, but the young lady must also be consulted. The damsel was then called into the room, and John Alden, who is said to have been a man of most excellent form with a fair and ruddy complexion, arose, and, in a very courteous and prepossessing manner, delivered his errand. Miss Mullins listened with respectful attention, and at last, after a considerable pause, fixing her eyes upon him, with an open and pleasant countenance, said, prithee John, why do you not speak for yourself? He blushed, and bowed, and took his leave, but with a look, which indicated more, than his diffidence would permit him otherwise to express. However, he soon renewed his visit, and it was not long before their nuptials were celebrated in ample form. From them are descended all of the name, Alden, in the United States. What report he made to his constituent, after the first interview, tradition does not unfold; but it is said, how true the writer knows not, that the captain never forgave him to the day of his death.

For a few years, the subject of this article lived in Plymouth and then settled in Duxborough on a farm, which, it is a little remarkable, has remained in the possession of his descendants ever since and is one of the best in the town. He built his house on a rise of land near Eagle Tree Pond, where the ruins of his well are still to be seen.

He had four sons and four daughters, who lived to enter the marriage state, who had many children and most of whom lived to a good old age.

Timothy’s family tradition led to Longfellow’s narrative poem, and there you have the background for an American Pilgrim legend.

Elisha Mitchell's Mountain

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J.G. Machen once wrote:

One thing is clear — if you are to learn to love the mountains you must go up them by your own power. There is more thrill in the smallest hill in Fairmount Park if you walk up it than there is in the grandest mountain on earth if you go up it in an automobile. There is one curious thing about means of locomotion — the slower and simpler and the closer to nature they are, the more real thrill they give. I have got far more enjoyment out of my two feet than I did out of my bicycle; and I got more enjoyment out of my bicycle than I ever have got out of my motor car; and as for airplanes — well, all I can say is that I wouldn't lower myself by going up in one of the stupid, noisy things! The only way to have the slightest inkling of what a mountain is is to walk or climb up it….There is, far above any earthly mountain peak of vision, a God high and lifted up who, though He is infinitely exalted, yet cares for His children among men. (“Mountains and Why We Love Them”).

Another Presbyterian minister who loved mountains and mountain-climbing — doing so with fragile scientific equipment under strenuous circumstances — was the Rev. Dr. Elisha Mitchell (1793-1857). A professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was a chemist, a mathematician, and a geologist, as well as a minister of the gospel. On a geological tour of western North Carolina in the Black Mountains in 1828 (with return visits in 1835, 1838, and 1844), he observed a peak that, according to his barometric calculations, was higher than either Grandfather Mountain or Mount Washington in New Hampshire. That peak was then known as Black Dome (or Attakulla to the Cherokee), and he reckoned its height to be 6,672 feet above sea level. Challenged by a former student as to the accuracy of his observations, he made a final trek up the mountain in 1857 to prove his claim. Last seen on June 27, 1857, he never returned from that trip. His body was found on July 8 by a search party at the base of a waterfall, now known as Mitchell Falls. Originally buried in Asheville, North Carolina, his body was re-interred at the top of the peak he had set his eyes and his heart upon - later named in his honor. With modern altimeters, Mount Mitchell is now reckoned to be 6,684 feet above sea level, the highest mountain peak on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. The Rev. Dr. Mitchell now rests above the clouds.

T.W. Hooper's Antidote for Worry

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Thomas Williamson (“T.W.”) Hooper (1832-1915) was a graduate of both Hampden-Sydney College and Union Theological Seminary (Richmond, Virginia). Ordained to the ministry in 1858, he served different pastorates in his home state of Virginia (most notably in Christiansburg in 1865-1870 and 1888-1906), as well as in Selma, Alabama. He was at one a time a chaplain, and in 1884, he served as a delegate to the Presbyterian Alliance in Belfast, Ireland. Letters written by him (and others) on a 1873 overseas trip were published under the title A Memphian’s Trip to Europe. In 1876, he was awarded a D.D. degree by Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia. He was a trustee of Hampden-Sydney College; a director of Columbia Theological Seminary in South Carolina; and a member of the executive committees of the Colored Theological Institute and the Orphans Home in Tuskegee. He delivered an address on the genius of the Westminster Assembly and its work in 1897, and authored other works and tracts.

We take note today of his little book of comfort to the discouraged titled “Lead Me to the Rock” (1892). It was the fruit of much pastoral experience and was written

To The
Beloved People in Virginia and Alabama
Among Whom,
For More Than Thirty Years, Amid Sunshine and
Shadows, It Has Been His Blessed Privilege
To Labor in the Gospel,
This Little Volume
Is Affectionately Dedicated
By Their
Old Pastor

Within this book of comfort and encouragement is a chapter titled “An Antidote for Worry.” Taken from the Sermon on the Mount, Hooper refers to the timeless message from Christ to his disciples as “words to the weary.” Knowing that “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head,” Jesus spoke to people with real needs, but often over-anxious cares about “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”

Christ directed his hearers to “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but [rather] lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” It is this treasure that Hooper reminds us of. Our Heavenly Father knows our earthly needs. But there is something far more solid to seek after: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto.”

Hooper: “Oh, what a blessed assurance that this is those who are sometimes filled with anxiety about even their daily bread! It is hard, very hard, to put in practice these plain lessons of the word. But the Lord has made good that promise so it has never failed.”

This is a promise to take hold of by faith. A treasure indeed, which does not decay, but gives everlasting peace. As Christ has said elsewhere, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). May T.W. Hooper’s “antidote for worry” be an encouragement to you, dear Christian, to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and therefore to cast your cares upon Him who cares for you.

Missionary Stories at Log College Press

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If the history of missions work by American Presbyterians interests you, there is a goldmine to be discovered among the writings available at Log College Press. As Robert Dabney Bedinger wrote, “The providences of God run through the American Presbyterian Congo Mission like the vein of gold through the stratum of rock.” The stories that are told in these volumes will enrich, educate and inspire. Readers can explore the world and learn how the gospel has gone forth to all four corners of the planet.

We have many volumes by and about missionaries on the Missions page. Today we wish to highlight some of the new additions that tell the story in particular of Southern Presbyterian foreign missions, as well as other volumes that have been available here for some time. Within the following memoirs and historical accounts are told the stories men and women who followed the call of Christ to foreign lands to testify of his goodness and the gospel of his free grace by their lives and labors. Additionally, some have served as educators, translators, diplomats, medical workers and more to help those in need and to advance cross-cultural understanding and appreciation. Take time to get to know these stories. Pray for these lands. And consider the promise of God that “all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Num. 14.21).

General

  • Samuel Hall Chester, LIghts and Shadows of Mission Work in the Far East: Being the Record of Observations Made During a Visit to the Southern Presbyterian Missions in Japan, China, and Korea in the year 1897 (1899)

  • Thomas Cary Johnson, A Brief Sketch of the Missions of the Southern Presbyterian Church (1895)

  • Henry Francis Williams, In Four Continents: A Sketch of the Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. (1910)

Africa

China

  • Hampden Coit DuBose, Preaching in Sinim (1893)

  • John Leighton Stuart, Fifty Years in China: The Memoirs of John Leighton Stuart, Missionary and Ambassador (1954)

  • Henry Francis Williams, Along the Grand Canal: The Mid-China Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (1911) and North of the Yangtze: The North Kiangsu Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (1911)

  • Samuel Isett Woodbridge, Sr., Fifty Years in China: Being Some Account of the History and Conditions in China and of the Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States there from 1867 to the present day (1919)

Japan

  • Lois Johnson Erickson, The White Fields of Japan: Being Some Account of the History and Conditions in Japan and of the Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the United States there from 1885 to the Present Day (1923)

  • Egbert Watson Smith, Present Day Japan (1920)

  • Henry Francis Williams, In the Mikado’s Empire: The Japan Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (1912)

Korea

  • Anabel Major Nisbet, Day In and Day Out in Korea: Being Some Account of the Mission Work that has been carried on in Korea since 1892 by the Presbyterian Church in the United States (1920)

  • Henry Francis Williams, In the Hermit Land: The Korea Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (1912)

Latin America

  • William Alfred Ross, Sunrise in Aztec Land: Being an Account of the Mission Work that has been carried on in Mexico since 1874 by the Presbyterian Church in the United States (1922)

  • Henry Francis Williams, In Mexico and Cuba: The Near-Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (1912)

South America

  • Henry Francis Williams, In South America: The Brazil Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (1910) and In Brazil: Our Missions in Brazil (1917)

What moves armies and pulls down empires, according to J.G. Machen

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D.G. Hart explains the background for an article that we know as “Christianity and Culture” by J.G. Machen:

An address that the young professor delivered to the Philadelphia Ministers’ Association in the spring of 1912 revealed his maturing thoughts on the ministry. The address was to be a defense of “scientific theological study” that he repeated at the seminary’s opening exercises in the fall of that year. A forthright declaration of the aims of theological education at Princeton, the lecture also contained Machen’s personal confession of faith. It was published a year later in the Princeton Theological Review under the title “Christianity and Culture.” (D.G. Hart, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America, p. 30).

Machen was concerned about the growing divide between intellectual scholarship and piety that he observed from his role as a teacher. “In his six years as instructor he had become painfully aware of a tendency among students, as well as in the Church as a whole, to set up a sharp disjunction between knowledge and its pursuit, on the one hand, and piety and cultivation, on the other” (Ned B. Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir, p. 155). The wedge of anti-intellectualism from the Fundamentalist camp had a tendency to weaken and undermine the Christian apologetic to the non-Christian world. In Machen’s view, Christianity was being sidelined at the table where important ideas and worldviews were battling it out, and to him this was not acceptable.

It is true that the decisive thing is the regenerative power of God. That can overcome all lack of preparation, and the absence of that makes even the best preparation useless. But as a matter of fact God usually exerts that power in connection with certain prior conditions of the human mind, and it should be ours to create, so far as we can, with the help of God, those favorable conditions for the reception of the gospel. False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. Under such circumstances, what God desires us to do is to destroy the obstacle at its root. Many would have the seminaries combat error by attacking it as it is taught by its popular exponents. Instead of that they confuse their students with a lot of German names unknown out side the walls of the universities. That method of procedure is based simply upon a profound belief in the pervasiveness of ideas. What is to-day matter of academic speculation begins to-morrow to move armies and pull down empires. In that second stage, it has gone too far to be combatted; the time to stop it was when it was still a matter of impassionate debate. So as Christians we should try to mould the thought of the world in such a way as to make the acceptance of Christianity something more than a logical absurdity.

Christianity, as the religion of Truth, must engage the minds as well as the hearts of unbelievers, according to Machen. Combatting false ideas is an important aspect of the Christian witness because ideas have consequences. It was just one year after publication of “Christianity and Culture” that the Great War began in Europe, the first of two World Wars in the 20th century. Machen himself served in Europe during the war in a non-combatant role. But above all, in the witness of his life and work, Machen “remains Mr. Valiant-for Truth par excellence” (Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir, p. xiii).

Why the need for systematic theology? Charles Hodge answers

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The systematization of the Holy Scriptures has been a tremendous blessing to the Church. But some wonder why it was necessary. To this query, Charles Hodge responds:

It may naturally be asked, why not take the truths as God has seen fit to reveal them, and thus save ourselves the trouble of showing their relation and harmony?

The answer to this question is, in the first place, that it cannot be done. Such is the constitution of the human mind that it cannot help endeavoring to systematize and reconcile the facts which it admits to be true. In no department of knowledge have been satisfied with the possession of a mass of undigested facts. And the students of the Bible can as little be expected to thus satisfied. There is a necessity, therefore, for the construction of systems of theology. Of this the history of the Church abundant proof. In all ages and among all denominations, such systems have been produced.

Second, A much higher kind of knowledge is thus obtained, than by the mere accumulation of isolated facts. It is one thing, for example, to know that oceans, continents, islands, mountains, and rivers exist on the face of the earth; and a much higher thing to know the causes which have determined the distribution of land and water on the surface of our globe; the configuration of the earth; the effects of that configuration on climate, on the races of plants and animals, on commerce, civilization, and the destiny of nations. It is by determining these causes that geography has been raised from a collection of facts to a highly important and elevated science. In like manner, without the knowledge of the laws of attraction and and motion, astronomy would be a confused and unintelligible collection of facts. What is true of other sciences is true of theology. We cannot know what God has revealed in his Word unless we understand, at least in some good measure, the relation in which the separate truths therein contained stand to each other. It cost the Church centuries of study and controversy to solve the problem concerning the person of Christ; that is, to adjust and bring into harmonious arrangement all the facts which the Bible teaches on that subject.

Third, We have no choice in this matter. If we would discharge our duty as teachers and defenders of the truth, we must endeavor to bring all the facts of revelation into systematic order and mutual relation. It is only thus that we can satisfactorily exhibit their truth, vindicate them from objections, or bring them to bear in their full force on the minds of men.

Fourth, Such is evidently the will of God. He does not teach men astronomy or chemistry, but He gives them the facts out of which those sciences are constructed. Neither does He teach us systematic theology, but He gives us in the Bible the truths which, properly understood and arranged, constitute the science of theology. As the facts of nature are all related and determined by physical laws, so the facts of the Bible are all related and determined by the nature of God and of his creatures. And as He wills that men should study his works and discover their wonderful organic relation and harmonious combination, so it is his will that we should study his Word, and learn that, like the stars, its truths are not isolated points, but systems, cycles, and epicycles, in unending harmony and grandeur. Besides all this, although the Scriptures do not contain a system of theology as a whole, we have in the Epistles of the New Testament, portions of that system wrought out to our hands. These are our authority and guide.

Thus Hodge accounts for the need to systematize the truths of Scripture. His magnum opus, the Systematic Theology in three volumes, is a gem worthy of thoughtful, prayerful study. Explore it further here.

J.W. Alexander: A Man Will Be as His Books

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“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” — Charles H. Spurgeon

A friend recently pointed this writer to a quote from James Waddel Alexander’s Thoughts on Preaching: Being Contributions to Homiletics.

It must be the habit of the preacher to be continually opening new veins, and deeply considering subjects allied to those on which he is to preach. This habit is greatly aided by judicious reading on theological topics. A man will be as his books. But of all means, none is so effectual as the perpetual study of the Scriptures. Let a man be interested in them day and night, continually labouring in this mine, and, whether he write or not, he will be effectually secured against self-repetition. There is such profundity, comprehensiveness and variety in the Word of God, that it is a library of itself. There is such a freshness in its mode of presenting truth, that he who is perpetually conversant with it can scarcely be dull (pp. 18-19).

The Book of Books — that is, the Bible — is the treasury of wisdom. All other books are to be measured by their consistency with the Scriptures. That being the case, the careful choice of good books is a great aid to the minister or elder or, indeed, to any Christian reader. At Log College Press, we select the titles that we republish with care as well.

Pastor's Package.png

Are you an elder? Read Witherspoon. Are you in seminary? Read Plumer. Are you a pastor? Read Rice & Grimké. Are you pastoring in a small town? Read Grafton. Are you getting older? Read Alexander. Are you interested in the Synod of Dort? Read Miller. There is profound, edifying and encouraging literature here for everyone. And a special deal for ordering all seven titles.

If you agree with Alexander that “a man will be as his books,” or that a person is a reflection of the books in which they spend their time, then consider these adding these titles to your library. These are volumes in which spiritual wisdom is practically applied and in which church history is made plain. It is our prayer that they will contribute to the church today, as they have in times past, and be a blessing to your soul.

J.P. Smith Describes a June Day

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This is the month (halfway through the year) for commencements - which signify both endings and beginnings. In his collection of inspirational meditations titled Brightside Idyls: Every Week of the Year, Southern Presbyterian minister James Power Smith has this to day about a June day.

A Day in June.

Not many things are as bright and fair as a day in June. It must have been a June day of which George Herbert sang:

"Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky.”

Spring has come to its crowning day, and nature opens all its richer beauty of greenery and flowers. If it is "the leafy month of June," it is also the month of sweet perfumes, the month of bees and birds, of long, balmy days and of fair, green landscapes. It was our American Lowell who wrote:

"And what is so rare as a day in June,
Then, if ever, come perfect days.”

It is well the schools open their doors at the coming of June, and send the throngs of boys and girls out into the lanes and fields. Books are well, but freedom and play are also well. Now must come the happy parties, with their well-stored baskets, to find a picnic place under the trees, be side the streams, and spend a long holiday in joy unrestrained. School days for profit and training, and June days for fishing and ranging and boating to the heart's content.

What a time it is for commencements! Examinations are all over, and diplomas are awarded, and degrees won, and these bright June days great companies of youth will leave the colleges for good. What a serious time Commencement Day is! It is the ending of so much: school days, book learning, mind training, long years of discipline and education; yet it is the commencement of more. It is the threshold across which they pass from narrow school to the great out-door of free and self-directed manhood and womanhood. Flowers and sheepskins, sermons and appeals, final frolics and silent hand-clasps, tearful home travel, and then come commencements indeed.

What would the world come to if the forces that battle were not reinforced by the June commencements! What a splendid infusion of young life! What a grand addition to the powers working for progress and uplift are the ambitions and hopes of the young! We lay the old warrior down to rest and cover him with laurels, and then turn to meet the young soldier coming on the field and crown him with the roses of June. Long may he Stand, strong and brave, win battles in his own breast, and then win battles for his brothers and for the world. All the future of the home, and the State and the church depend on the army of young men and women who come to their commencements in June.

Just as it was in 1904 when this was written, so it is in our day. Commencement days in June mark new beginnings for students and families in the 21st century too. We wish congratulations to those who have passed this milestone after years of study and hard work, along with their families, and it is our prayer for all the students who are graduating that you will continue to seek God’s glory in all of your endeavors, and be richly blessed in the service of your King.

D.H. Hill on the Three Cardinal Graces

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“We have men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.” — General Omar Bradley, Armistice Day Speech, 1948

Military men, confronted with issues of conscience, have often been at the forefront of addressing matters of ethics. One example of this is found in the religious writings of Daniel Harvey Hill, best known for his military service for the United States in the Mexican War and later as a Confederate general, who also served a professor of mathematics at the Presbyterian college of Davidson, in North Carolina, and was a devout Presbyterian. In 1858, he authored A Consideration of the Sermon on the Mount.

It is from this remarkable volume, discoursing on the Beatitudes, that we can read what a mighty man of war has to say about what it means to love one’s enemies. Further on, speaking of the Lord’s Prayer, he again takes up the subject of love, or charity, in conjunction with “the three cardinal graces of the Christian character.”

The prayer, too, in its very language presupposes the existence in the heart of the utterer, of the three cardinal graces of the Christian character — Faith, Hope, and Charity.

Faith. For he says “Our Father.” “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb. xi. 6.

Hope. For he uses the language of expectation, “May thy kingdom with all its blessings come. May my daily food be given,” &c.

Charity — Love to God and love to man. For he uses a sublime ascription of praise to the Triune God, and he asks only for pardon from God, upon condition of his own universal good-will to his fellow-creatures. “Forgive me my debts, as I forgive my debtors.”

The graces spoken of by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 13 are well-known. But here Hill connects them specifically to the Lord’s Prayer, and in so doing, he reminds us to exercise these graces in our prayers, as well as to seek for the grace to exemplify them in our lives. Consider these thoughts today from Hill, who, although he was a man of war at times during his life, or perhaps because of that, understood that these are the virtues that should shine in every Christian — and “these greatest of these is charity.”