Samuel Davies: God's grace supplies our wants and nourishes us with his blessings

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Among the many treasures to be found at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (originally named the Virginia Historical Society, and founded in part by the efforts of John Holt Rice, Jonathan Peter Cushing and others, but renamed in 2018), is a portion of Samuel Davies’ New Testament - leaves containing the text of a portion of Galatians through 2 Timothy, along with handwritten annotations by him.

Joseph C. Harrod tells us that this New Testament was donated to the museum in 1963 (Theology and Spirituality in the Works of Samuel Davies (2019), p. 63). He also highlights a particular annotation on Ephesians 3:20:

Our Petitions can extend far; our tho’ts farther—But above—abundantly above— exceeding [abun]dantly above what we ask or think—exceeding [abun]dantly above all that we ask of think, —wt a [ . . . ]gious extent is this! And yet, thus far does [ . . . ] & Grace of God extend to supply our Wants & to [nou]rish us wth his Blessings. Amazing Tho’t! & how [ . . . ] exprest! Plain as Language can be; & yet as h[igh] as Tho’t can rise. The Repetition of ye Particle [ . . . ] in ye original renders it still more emphatical. [ . . . ] ναμένῳ ὑπὲρ πάντα ποιῆσαι ὑπὲρ ἐκ πε[ρισ]σοῦ ᾧν ἀιτούμεθα ἤ νοῦμεν—which may perhaps [ . . . ] thus translated, ‘Who is able to do above,— exceed[ . . . ] abundantly above all that we ask or think.

Harrod adds:

Samuel Davies recorded these observations on Ephesians 3:20 in his New Testament on a blank page opposite the printed text. His style was meditative, focusing on key words in the verse, which he wanted to recall later for personal reflection or sermon preparation. This annotation is one of several that have survived and indicates that their author gave meticulous attention to the Bible as he analyzed syntactical constructions in the Greek. The importance of Scripture extended even to the particle. The mention of the biblical text being “Plain” recalls the Reformation emphasis on the perspicuity of Scripture. In fine, Davies’ notes link the significance of the biblical text to the life of its readers: the reader learns that God graciously sustains believers by his word. Samuel Davies believed that the Bible was the foundation for genuine Christian piety and this chapter explores the contours of his reflections on the nature and place of Scripture in the Christian life.

Recently, this writer was able to visit the museum and hold these pages himself. Below is a photograph of a photocopy of these particular notes. See for yourself the careful handwriting (in English and Greek) of a minister who wrote this private, unpublished notes in his Bible almost three centuries ago.

Photocopy of Samuel Davies’ handwritten annotations from his personal Bible on Ephesians 3:20 (courtesy of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Photocopy of Samuel Davies’ handwritten annotations from his personal Bible on Ephesians 3:20 (courtesy of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Praise God for his grace which supplies our wants and nourishes us with his blessings, as Samuel Davies testifies.

Love to an Unseen Christ - B.M. Palmer

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Hughes Oliphant Old once wrote (The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, Vol. 6, p. 326), “The remarkable thing about the preaching of Benjamin Morgan Palmer is the centrality it gave to the figure of Jesus. It is for this that he was above all remembered. What could commend a preacher more highly!” One of the sermons that Old highlighted to demonstrate this is titled “Love to an Unseen Christ” (note that we do not have this particular sermon available yet on Log College Press).

In this sermon, Palmer connects the Christ of the Bible with the Word of Christ (Logos).

It is this living Christ who gives the freshness and vitality to the Bible, which belongs to no other book. Because He lives in His own essential life, and lives as mediator at the Father’s right hand, there is life in all the words and syllables and lines and letters of the sacred book. As you and I walk up and down through its pages, it is as thought we were walking arm and arm with our living Lord through the walks of a garden; and as our eyes trace the words, they are not to us the cold impressions of a printing press, but they are the articulate utterances of the living Lord, who speaks through this word, as it is interpreted to us through the Holy Spirit, with His own lips from His throne above. Thus it is that the Bible becomes to us a secondary incarnation of our Lord — the secondary rainbow, the outer halo which we behold around His blessed head.

This sermon appears in Vol.. 1 of Sermons by Rev. B.M. Palmer, first published in 1875, and then republished by the late Lloyd Sprinkle of Sprinkle Publications in 2002. This is one of many sermons by a man who truly exalted the Christ of the Bible, and the Bible from which Christ is proclaimed. Though unseen, Christ is most surely the true God incarnate through which alone men may be saved (Acts 4:12), and he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him in faith (Heb. 11:6). This theme is a constant in Palmer’s preaching, as Old explains. Take time to study the writings, and the sermons, of B.M. Palmer. We hope to add more of his works as we continue to build Log College Press.

Where the Hanover Presbytery Was Founded

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Just north of Richmond, Virginia, in the town of Mechanicsville, a most unusual structure resides. The Historic Polegreen Church — today often the site of weddings and other events — commemorates the church organized by Samuel Davies with an open frame. The original building was destroyed in the War Between the States in 1864. The present structure marks the site of the church, along with the Samuel Morris Reading Room which led to the revival of religion in central Virginia, a story which we have outlined before here.

Historic Polegreen Church (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers)

Historic Polegreen Church (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers)

The historical significance of this place is well explained by markers at the site. Various signs tell the story of the birth of religious liberty here in the once-Anglican colony of Virginia, largely through the labors of Samuel Davies.

(Photo credit: R. Andrew Myers)

(Photo credit: R. Andrew Myers)

It was here that Hanover Presbytery was founded in 1755, the second presbytery in the American South, and the first to be connected to one of the main synods in the North.

(Photo credit: R. Andrew Myers)

(Photo credit: R. Andrew Myers)

Walking through the woods on a sunny day, despite the open-air nature of the structures, one can easily feel as though they were transported in time to a place where crowds assembled to hear the faithful preaching of God’s Word, or gathered simply to hear godly books read and discussed.

Samuel Morris Reading Room (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Samuel Morris Reading Room (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

The past is not dead, as we say, and here especially the history of colonial Presbyterianism is very much alive in the midst of the central Virginia woods. If you can visit, this historical site is well worth your time. Meanwhile, take time to read the works of Samuel Davies, to better understand the ministry of the Word that once resounded from the pulpit here. The legacy of an 18th century Presbyterian revival speaks to us today in the 21st century.

(Photo credit: R. Andrew Myers)

(Photo credit: R. Andrew Myers)

Resolutions of C.W. Grafton

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Known as a “country preacher,” Cornelius Washington Grafton (1846-1934), was a long-serving faithful pastor (see the link to the Log College Press edition of his A Forty-Three Year Pastorate in a Country Church here and below) at Union Church Presbyterian Church in Jefferson County, Mississippi. Appended to the end of an August 1871 sermon we find written by Rev. Grafton his personal resolve to live a godly life. It is recorded by his biographer Allen Cabaniss in Life and Thought of a Country Preacher (1942), pp. 111-112:

As a member of the redeemed family of God and a traveller to eternity it is my desire to live above the world, devoted heart and soul to the service of God. To this end I would use every lawful means and employ every agency that I may be a good workman in the great vineyard. I would make every faculty of my body, mind, and spirit and my whole life, domestic, social, and public, subordinate to the same end and flow in that channel whose end is perfect peace. The body and mind with all their members, thoughts, and affections must be controlled and yield implicitly to well-regulated laws. With good motives the following are presented for my own consideration and conduct.

The body being the medium through which the mind operates, a mere instrument, should be taught implicit obedience to the will. Hence all the avenues of ingress and egress must be closely guarded and strictly watched that no enemy may come in and none of its powers withdrawn. An enemy coming in will poison and defile — its power withdrawn, it is left weakened, and in either case disqualified from performing its functions as a ready servant.

All those natural propensities, half-physical and half-mental, which act through the mind, must be held with an iron grasp and chained under the power of reason. Otherwise the body as the instrument will take the government, and the will and reason will totter from their thrones. Semper vigilate. In vitii primordia bellum gerito.

The law of analogy is found to prevail in the world of mind as well as in matter. As the body and soul must be governed, so must the mind. The will, the motive power, must sway the mind as well as the body, and any triumph of the faculties over the will weakens the mental discipline. Hence all the avenues leading to the mind must be closely guarded, or the enemy will come in and poison and defile.

In the province of the sentiments reason must control all except the sentiment of love. Nothing must rise superior to the divine passion, yet prayer must be made that this passion sanctified may not run counter to reason, but that each to the other may be a mutual help. Reason must rule all the faculties, but love may sit upon her head and pour over her the sweetest incense and perfume all her acts. Esto perpetua dulcis sententia.

In domestic life let my heart never indulge a drop of bitterness for my faithful love. My heart is her home. Let her dwell there in peace and happiness and preserve it pure. Avoid the slightest symptom or approach to infidelity in the solemn betrothals, and let me never indulge one thought or feeling which would stain her bright name and bring pain to her love. In the future I will inscribe in the sanctum of our chamber Parvulum Coelum and in feeling and affection make it a reality. Deus salvator, gratium habeamus.

Te Deum laudemus. Tibi laus, gloria, honorque mortalium et immortalium, Pater noster, hinc atque in sempiterno, …

Here we have the resolutions of a Southern Presbyterian pastor who strived to keep body and mind under that he would not be disqualified as a servant of Christ (1 Cor. 9:27), and aimed to keep all his thoughts captive to God’s glory (2 Cor. 10:5). In this way, his heart was to be the home of divine love, that is, a small heaven, while on his earthly journey to heaven above. May it be so with each of us who are also travellers to eternity.

Reading C. C. Jones' The History of the Church of God - Chapter 2 - On Marriage

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We have been blogging through C. C. Jones’ book The History of the Church of Christ slowly but surely (find past posts here). The design of the book is “to unfold the institutions and doctrines and  ordinances of the Church as they are revealed throughout the entire Scriptures, at the precise time that they first appear in the History…” (20). Thus in chapter 2, he examines the creation ordinance of marriage.

He lays down a large number of passages throughout the Bible that speak to the way God watched over the marriage relationship, forbade violations of its purity, regulated it strictly when polygamy blemished it, and restored it to its original form in the days of Jesus Christ. God’s providence keeps in step with His word, ensuring that there is an equitable number of males and females at marriageable ages, and stretching forth his hand against those who would transgress his law. Marriage shows itself written on the hearts of men, as all nations “attach a peculiar value and sacredness to it” (21).

The ordinance of marriage is the foundation of all societies and governments, and it “partakes also of the nature of a civil institution,” as seen by God’s regulations regarding it when the Church was a state under the old covenant. Jones notes that these laws have been adopted to some extent in all civilized and Christianized nations, and that any attempt to contravene God’s laws have only led to misery, for such efforts are “a direct assault upon the very nature of man itself, a blow levelled at his social peace and prosperity, an attach upon the order and purity of society, and an infidel trampling under foot of the law of God, which will meet with rebuke and sore punishment at [God’s] hands” (22). He reminds us of the sobering words of I Timothy 4:1-3 that class forbidding marriage with “doctrines of demons,” and points out the Roman Catholics as the most glaring offenders in this respect.

Jones sees marriage as “the most tender, perfect, and intimate union formed among mortals,” from the following reasons: 1) the peculiar manner of Eve’s creation; 2) from Adam’s reception of Eve from the hand of God; 3) from the union being voluntary, founded upon mutual esteem and affection – which “ an inalienable right in, and possession of each other’s persons, and of each other’s services and property, for mutual enjoyment, comfort, and support, while spared together in life” (23); and 4) from the union being compared to the union of Christ and the Church.

Marriage is not obligatory on any but those to whom it is given, but it is permanent upon all who enter it – neither “difference of age, or standing, or from contrariety of temper, or intemperance, or feebleness of health, or loss of reason, or for unbelief, or heresy, or schism, or diversity of faith, [may] ever be admitted to effect a dissolution” (24). Jones comments upon Paul’s words in I Corinthians 7, which some suppose are a discouragement to marriage. He disagrees, for he deems that verse 26 makes it clear that Paul was dealing with a specific distress that made marriage optional for that season. Yet even during that time marriage was not a sin (vs. 28), and was even doing well (vs. 38), and Paul’s aim in speaking as he did was to prevent those in that day from “trouble in the flesh” (vs. 28).

Jones comments on the laws of consanguinity and affinity found in Leviticus 18 and 20, as well as the exception that a man marry his dead brother’s wife, so as to raise up an offspring to his brother. Jones ties the latter to the coming of the Christ, explaining that its design was “to preserve distinct the families of the descendants of Abraham, and so render perfect and clear the genealogy of our Lord, and the fulfillment of the promise that He should be of the seed of Abraham” (25). Once Christ had come, there was no longer a necessity for the exception. But the laws of consanguinity and affinity, Jones argues, were not ceremonial and thus temporary. His remarks are worth citing in full, given the unfamiliarity of the church today with the Scriptural basis of Westminster Confession of Faith 24.4:

[The laws of consanguinity and affinity] form no part of the ceremonial law instituted by Moses, but is wholly moral in its origin and design, which were to preserve the people of God from the corrupt practices of the heathen, as expressly stated in Leviticus 18:24-30 and 20:22, 23; and to furnish the Church in all ages with a law regulating a matter of so great importance, which otherwise would have been left in confusion and perplexity. In this light is the law interpreted and applied in the New Testament, and is thereby acknowledged and established as the law of the Church under the New as well as the Old Dispensation. The reference made is by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 5:1. He brands the connection, the marriage of a son with a stepmother, as incest, and says it is such incest “as is not so much as named among the Gentiles,” and condemns the transgressor to excommunication (verses 2-5)! By what law? The law of nature? Nay, verily, but by the law of God, given to His Church ages before. The prohibition of this very connection is found in Leviticus 18:8, and 20:11; and moreover this very case is singled out and cursed in the curses afterwards to be uttered from Mount Ebal. Deuteronomy 27:20. If the law in Leviticus is not the law of God’s Church, then has the Church no law at all upon so important a matter! And who can give a reason why the Lord should give a law regulating marriage to His Church of old, and of authority for centuries, and a law to distinguish His people from the heathen, and to preserve them from their pollutions, and now, in these latter days of brighter glory and perfection in that Church, that that law should be set aside! The propriety and necessity of the law are as strong as ever. The Church under the Old and the New Dispensation is one and the same, and this law once given has never been repealed, but confirmed by an Apostle, and consequently remains in force. (26-27)

Jones closes the chapter by observing the ends of marriage: to promote 1) the happiness of mankind; 2) the legitimate propagation of our species; 3) the perpetuation of a pure, holy, and honorable seed in the Church; and 4) the purity of life and manners on the earth. One of the purposes that marriage does not have is to be a sacrament, declares Jones. First, a sacrament is for the Church alone – but marriage is common to all mankind. Second, a sacrament has an outward sign of an inward grace – marriage has neither. Third, a sacrament represents Christ and the benefits of the new covenant – marriage represents neither in a sacramental sense, argues Jones, notwithstanding Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:22-23. These verses no more make marriage a sacrament than John 15:1-6 makes a vine a sacrament, or any other passage that compares the relationship between Jesus and His people to some created thing makes that thing a sacrament. Jones notes the irony of Roman Catholics asserting that marriage is a sacrament, but then excluding their priests from it, and stigmatizing it as unclean. A sacrament is for all God’s people, and none may be excluded.

With this Jones lays down his pen on the topic of marriage, and readies it to reflect on the covenant of works in the garden of Eden. To be continued…

 

A Prayer for the Sabbath Morn - Robert Dabney Bedinger

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A prayer for the Sabbath morning by Presbyterian missionary Robert Dabney Bedinger (1885-1970), as recorded from his diary (late 1920’s in the Belgian Congo, Africa) in “Mary Dabney’s” Light in Darkness, p. 128:

My dear Father - God:

On this Sabbath morn I come into Thy Holy Presence. Give me the true attitude of prayer. Enable me to realize that Thou art near and listening; to appreciate the solemnity of approaching Thy majesty and greatness. May I humble myself before Thee. Thou art the great Eternal, the One and Only God - the Maker of the universe and all therein. I praise Thee for Thy goodness, love, mercy, longsuffering, patience, grace, peace; for the gift of Thy Son, Jesus my Lord, I thank Thee for Thy written revealed will for me and all mankind. Give me a deeper love and reverence for it. May I store it up in my mind and heart and practice it all my life.

I praise Thee for the way that Thy truth has gone out into all the earth; that it meets the needs of men everywhere; that it reveals Thyself in Thy matchless love and shows forth a Saviour mighty to save and to help; that this Saviour has touched the lives of so many here in this land of darkness.

The ten traits of our Lord's ministerial character, according to J.W. Alexander

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All Christians are called, by the grace of God, to be followers and imitators of Jesus Christ. James Waddel Alexander, careful to emphasize that Christ is very God as well as very man, also maintained, in an helpful article which appeared in the Biblical Repertory and Theological Review Vol. 7, No. 1 (January 1835), that gospel ministers can and should look to Him as the perfect model for their particular holy calling: The Lord Jesus Christ the Example of the Minister.

We trust that to none of our readers will it seem needless or inappropriate, to exhibit to pastors the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, with respect to its subject, manner, and spirit.

Needless to say, it is divine, gospel truth that must be made the matter or subject of the preaching by the ambassadors of Christ. Christ’s manner of preaching is described by Alexander as “attractive and lovely,” “simple, clear, unaffected and solemn,” “perspicuous,” and spoke of his profound illustrations. With regards to the spirit of Christ’s preaching, which provides a clear model for his ministers, Alexander identified ten characteristics or traits which ought to mark the ministry of those who proclaim His gospel.

  1. Love - “As love was his great — his new — his last injunction to the disciples, so it was the reigning grace in his treatment of them: the very inspiration of his farewell discourse, and the crowning characteristic of his conversations after he had risen. Love embraced the infant; actuated his itinerancy, on foot, over the rough hills and torrid plains of Palestine; and flowed out to the poor and the dying in streams of relief; and breathed invitations wide as human woe; and uttered that lamenting cry: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not; behold, your house is left unto you desolate!” It was love that wept over the same city, in view of the very Golgotha where he was to die. It was love that was personified and held up to the view of angels and of God on that ‘place of sculls,’ and that cursed cross.”

  2. Candour - “Christ makes no promises of ease, no offers of exemption from the cross; he refrains from no pungency of rebuke in order to gain favour; he wafts no flatteries to the great or the rich. Some would have followed him, whom he dismissed by simply showing that he was more homeless than the birds and foxes, or by explaining that all must be abandoned. ‘Think not I am come to send peace on earth — I came not to send peace, but a sword; for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. I am come to send fire on the earth, and what will I, if it be already kindled!’ — There went great multitudes with him, and he turned and said, ‘If any man come to me and hate not his family, yea his own life, he cannot be my disciple.’ ‘It is impossible but that offences will come.’ Christ denounced woes against every class of popular leaders, sects, rulers, and cities: and to the wealthy scrupled not an instant to say, ‘A rich man shall hardly enter the kingdom.’ And in proportion as we try to make the way easier than the Master has made it, we alter it, to the corruption of the church, and the ruin of souls.

  3. Condescension - “As a man, and as a divine instructer, Jesus has taught us to ‘condescend to men of low estate.’ It was a token of his mission that he preached to the poor; and a taunt of his foes that he received sinners. Where good was to be done, there Christ was found, whether in the fishing-boat of Tiberias, the supper of the publican, or the tumult of the lower people. ‘Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?’ asked the Pharisee. ‘Because, (answered the Master for himself,) the whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.’ So far was he from the affected pomp of monkish virtue, and ascetic moroseness, that men pointed at his company, and falsely cried, ‘Behold a man gluttonous and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!’ This gentle condescension took the part of children when his followers would have sent them away, for he folded them in his arms, he laid his hands on their little heads, and said, of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

  4. Heavenly prudence - “In all our vocabulary, there is scarcely a word more wronged than this. While the wiser heathen enrolled it among the cardinal virtues, the men of our day seem ready to tear it out as synonymous with timid cunning, which is the wisdom of weakness, or politic craft, which is the artifice of the wicked. It is no such thing, for in the words of Chief Justice Hale, prudence is used ‘principally in reference to actions to be done, and due manner, means, order, season, and method of doing them.’ Prudence is wisdom applied to practice. It is of God: ‘I wisdom dwell with prudence.’ It is predicated of God, who ‘hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.’ The minister of the gospel is as a sheep among wolves, he therefore needs to be wise as a serpent, while he is harmless as a dove. The great Exemplar should be his daily object of contemplation. The whole ministerial activity of Christ was governed by a wise reference to time, place, and circumstances. We do not find him using the same instrument for every work, or meeting all emergencies with an unalterable method. This is the way of the empiric. His discourses were adapted first to the hearers, then to the occasion. As Paul in following Christ, did not quote the rabbins to the Athenians on Mars’ Hill, or Aratus and Epimenides to the Hebrews, so the Master himself was wise in observing time and opportunity. He taught, not to cast pearls before swine, nor to put new wine into old skins. Remember the instruction of Nicodemus, the melancholy conference with the young man, the frequent disputations with lawyers, and the memorable dialogue at Jacob’s well. Mark the fitness to the occasion of his lessons on humility when ‘he took a child and set it by him’ and made it the text of a sermon: or on the bread of life, when the multitude followed him for loaves and fishes. — Jesus came into the world to die, but he did not expose himself to untimely peril. ‘No man taketh my life,’ said he. His unbelieving brethren would have constrained him to go to a feast of tabernacles; but he said, ‘My time is not yet come; the world hateth me; I go not yet up to this feast.’ And at the passover following, though his soul knew not fear, he departed and did hide himself from them. The Pharisees would fain have entangled him in politics, and made him out a leader of sedition. ‘Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites,’ said our Lord, and with a simple coin baffled their malice, so that ‘they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.’ The Sadducees would gladly have caught him in the meshes of their Antinomian sophistry, but the scribe who asked him concerning the law, received in the sum of the decalogue a conclusive confutation. It would be endless to trace this quality in all its manifestations; if our eyes are open we shall descry it every day in the history of the Evangelists. And if we are wise, we shall use the lesson, to prevent our needlessly raising opposition, laying offences in men’s path, bringing gratuitous contempt on the truth, or outraging the useful decorum of life, or precedent of the church. True, in many cases, the proximate effect will be the imputation of pride, lukewarmness, or cowardice; but in the end, and when a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

  5. Courage - “But there are extremes in religion, and the extreme of timorous caution is scarcely less to be deprecated than that of reckless fanaticism. When we turn our eyes to our divine example, we behold the golden mean. While our Lord was wise, he was undaunted. Courage is the fifth particular in which he is imitable. Not to dwell on the thought, that the whole mediatorial work of our incarnate God was a fearless assault upon the powers of evil, we may observe that holy boldness shone in his ministry. It is no sufficient reason for withholding truth, that it is disagreeable to ungodly men; and our Saviour sometimes so spake that not only were his adversaries filled with rage, but ‘many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.’ Under his piercing discriminations, and his claims to a divine character, the Jews were indignant and even frantic, so that, not content with reviling, they sought to kill him on the spot, and failing of this, obtained their hellish wish by a more circuitous method. Nevertheless he went right onward; boldly, yet full of love. If we observe the connexion, we shall see, that his tears over Jerusalem immediately preceded his fearless expulsion of the traders from the temple: so nearly allied were his courage and his love. Again and again, before large assemblies of the most learned, noble, and arrogant leaders, did he inveigh against them as hypocrites, deceivers, and doomed to unutterable woe. His teaching was the reverse of theirs: the people were astonished at his manner of preaching, ‘for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.’ This authority, so far as it pertained to Christ’s mediatorial character, the preacher may not assume, but he may, under his commission, ‘speak and exhort, and rebuke, with all authority,’ letting no man despise him; and rebuking them that sin, before all, that others also may fear. There are times, even now, when hearkening to God more than unto men, he may be bold in our God: for if we seek to please men we are not the servants of Christ.”

  6. Tenderness - “The spirit of our Master’s ministry, was eminently that of tenderness. It is the sixth in this constellation of graces. Where shall we begin, where all is the very ideal of gentle, sympathizing affection? It was predicted, ‘a bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.’ It is impossible to imagine that such sentiments as his were ever uttered with the frown of menace, or the rudeness of objurgation. When his ministry was for the time without effect on some, he gently alludes to a game of Israelitish children, and says, ‘we have piped unto you and ye have not danced, we have mourned unto you and ye have not wept.’ When a rich young noble turns away, Jesus does not pursue him with a fulmination, but is very sorrowful. The mother of the sons of Zebedee makes a request, so startling, that ‘the ten were moved with indignation against the two brethren,’ but Christ simply, and tenderly, uses the incident to repress ambition. And the spirit of his preaching is well expressed in the kind invitation ‘come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’”

  7. Zeal - “In order to show, however, that the tenderness of Christ was not incompatible with fervour, let us further adduce his zeal. Zeal is not good in itself, being simply, passionate ardour, which may be for good or evil. Much that passes under the name is strange fire. Such was that of the beloved disciple when he forbade a certain person to cast out devils in Christ’s name; or of the same apostle and his brother, when they seemed ready to call fire from heaven to consume the inhospitable Samaritans. But our Redeemer ‘turned and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what spirit ye are of.’ The ardour of Jesus was a serener glow, yet it was not inefficient. Under its impulse, he overturned the tables of the money-changers, and scourged them from the temple; but even here it would seem to be only another aspect of love, for it is instantly added, ‘and the blind and the lame came to him in the temple and he healed them.’ His disciples remembered that it was written: ‘the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.’ Even when suffering for food, he declared that it was his meat and drink to do the will of the Father. And in this spirit he lived and died. Could we, brethren in the ministry, catch the holy ardour which bore forward our Master through cares and anguish — could we, like him, forget our selfish interests in the great work of rescuing souls and glorifying God — could we even, like an humbler model, stand immoveable amidst danger and flattery, so that we might finish our course with joy, and the ministry which we have received of the Lord Jesus, we might justly hope to number a hundred converts where we sadly welcome one, and expect to shine as stars in the firmament of glory.”

  8. Humility and meekness - “Passing now to other characteristics, let me observe, that Humility and Meekness are nearly allied, and that they both adorned the ministry of Christ. It was his oft-repeated maxim, ‘whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased.’ And he taught that even little ones were not to be despised. How touching was his exemplification of this lowliness. ‘The Son of man (such was the language of his conduct) came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.’ He humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation: he took upon him the form of a servant; and we are exhorted by Paul to let the same mind be in us. ‘Whether is greater,’ — he once affectingly asked — ‘he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth!’ And when he bowed down to the menial service of washing his disciples’ feet, just when he was about to die for them, he said: ‘Know ye what I have done unto you? Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am: If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet; for I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.’ Under injuries, our Lord was exemplary in meekness: ‘who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. He was derided, he was maligned, he was pursued, he was encompassed with insults. ‘Reproach,’ said he in prophecy, ‘hath broken my heart.’ He was accused of sedition, taunted as a madman, a Samaritan, a demoniac, a blasphemer, yet he resented not. See him in his last sufferings, ‘he was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.’ Let this move us to pardon affronts from whomsoever received, forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: ‘even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.’”

  9. Laborious and painful assiduity - “A ninth particular, is the laborious and painful assiduity of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this he was followed by the Apostle of the Gentiles. In this he must be followed by us, if we would stand clear of the blood of souls. A minister must not only not be slothful; he must be above the suspicion of sloth. Paul’s language to Timothy conveys the idea of rapid and pressing activity : “preach the word — be instant — in season — out of season.” Be wholly in these things. That is, be in nothing else. The minister of Christ is not called to be a scientific inquirer, a politician, an agriculturist, a literary devotee — though the parsimony of the churches or the desire of avoiding offence, have sometimes forced holy men into secular pursuits; still less is he called to be a convivial companion, a fashionable flutterer, or a habitual idler ; but to give himself continually to prayer and the ministry of the word. To such a life he has the sacred incitement of example. He went about doing good. On the mount, on the lake, on the strand, in the field, in the highway, in the house, by night, by day, in Galilee, in Samaria, in Judea, in the synagogue, and in the temple, Jesus was labouring. When the plot was maturing, when life was ebbing, when the last passover was almost begun, he spent his nights on Olivet, and his days teaching in the temple. We read that he began ‘early in the morning.’ ‘I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.’ Wearied with the greatness of his way, he nevertheless taught the Samaritan woman, as he leaned upon the well. And even when apprehended, he turned aside from his own woes, both in Gethsemane and on his way out of the city, to drop gracious words on his followers. In the forty days previous to his ascension, he still taught, and the language of his whole example to each of us is, ‘Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.’”

  10. Holiness and devotion - “To sustain a gospel minister in such labours, something is necessary beyond habitual diligence, or mere professional zeal. There may be great stir and bustle, and activity, and yet no gospel efficiency. What we need is a spring of holy influence always within us, gushing out like a river-head of living waters. What shall secure this? Answer, the grace of God in the heart, working holiness and devotion — the tenth trait in our Lord’s ministerial character. Oh that every pastor could say to the people whom he serves, or has served, ‘Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblamably we behaved ourselves among you that believe.’ Paul could say so, for he followed Christ; and Christ was ‘holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners.’ After a certain tour of preaching and healing, we are told, ‘Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and he taught in the synagoges, being glorified of all.’ The indwelling Spirit was in the head, as in the members, a spirit of grace and supplication, and frequent are the incidental but pathetic notices of our Lord’s retreats for private devotion. By these Olivet and Gethsemane were signalized, long before his final agony. Here he ‘rejoiced in spirit,’ here he doubtless groaned and wept, here he cried, ‘even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.’ How often did he, after days of weariness, spend the nights in solitary watching and prayer! While the storm was on the lake, Jesus, having dismissed an immense audience was gone ‘up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.’ When the fame of him increased, ‘he withdrew himself into the wilderness and prayed.’ The seventeenth chapter of John is a blessed fragment of his intercessions. In the garden he prayed in agony: he was sorrowful, sore amazed, very heavy, yet he prayed ‘with strong crying and tears.’ And in that very hour of darkness he exhorts us, ‘watch and pray.’ On this point we need say no more.”

Alexander has drawn deeply from the rich well of the gospels to highlight important characteristics of the ministry of Christ on earth in order to show how these characteristics ought to be evident in under-shepherds today. These characteristics are worthy of our reflection to the end that God would be glorified by those who minister in Christ’s precious name, who is the Great Shepherd of his flock.

That Cemetery Through Which Nicolas Cage Escaped With His Life

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Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Do you remember the 2004 film National Treasure? Among the scenes set in Philadelphia is one in which Benjamin Gates (played by Nicholas Cage) is pursued by the henchmen of Ian Howe (Sean Bean) through an old graveyard. That cemetery belongs to the Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church, a place of great importance within American Presbyterianism. It was also known as the “Church of the Patriots.” Dating to 1768, the church is the only remaining Presbyterian building that predates the American War of Independence.

Cemetery sign noting the connection to the film (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Cemetery sign noting the connection to the film (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

The movie was filmed here over several days, and the church highlights this history.

Memorabilia from within the Old Pine Street Presbyterian (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Memorabilia from within the Old Pine Street Presbyterian (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

So many civil and ecclesiastical luminaries were laid to rest in this cemetery. The list includes William Hurry (1721-1781), who rang the Liberty Bell when the Declaration of Independence was read publicly on July 4, 1776; Jared Ingersoll (1749-1822), who signed the U.S. Constitutions; and others who served in the Continental Congress, fought in the War of Independence, and contributed in other ways to American society.

Old Pine Street Presbyterian Cemetery (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Old Pine Street Presbyterian Cemetery (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

At least seven authors at Log College Press are buried here, including George Duffield II (1732-1790), Moses Hoge (1752-1820), John Blair Smith (1756-1799), John Ewing (1732-1802), Stephen Henry Gloucester (1802-1850), Thomas Brainerd (1804-1866), and Hughes Oliphant Gibbons (1843-1910). Duffield, who served as pastor of Old Pine from 1772-1790 and as chaplain to the Continental Congress, is further commemorated with a distinctive sculpture at the cemetery.

This sculpture of George Duffield II at the cemetery was created in 2015 (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

This sculpture of George Duffield II at the cemetery was created in 2015 (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Archibald Alexander once served as pastor of Old Pine.

Interior commemorative plaque honoring Archibald Alexander (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Interior commemorative plaque honoring Archibald Alexander (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

A run through the cemetery by Nicholas Cage may inspire lovers of American Presbyterian history to take a walk through this church and its graveyard where history does indeed seem to come to life. Just around the corner, moreover, is the Presbyterian Historical Society, where statues honoring American Presbyterian heroes of the faith reside. One special city block in Philadelphia is a place that Presbyterian historians will cherish and appreciate long after Benjamin Gates escapes with his life. It is a National Treasure.

Old Pine Street Presbyterian Cemetery (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Old Pine Street Presbyterian Cemetery (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Reading C. C. Jones' The History of the Church of God - Chapter 1

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C. C. Jones begins the body of his book The History of the Church of God During the Period of Revelation with the reminder that the Bible doesn’t start with argument but with assertion, and it doesn’t appeal to reason but to faith. We receive by faith the truths that there is a personal God distinct from creation, and that the heavens and the earth are not eternal. To these truths our reason and our conscience give unqualified assent.

The great end of all created things, and thus of the Church itself, is the glory of God. This church is not made up of all mankind, but of a part only - and at some point in time this part was separated from the rest of humanity. The early parts of Genesis show us the events leading up to the church being set apart as the people of God.

Jones first considers the creation of man in his primitive, perfect state. Man was made in the image of God - but of what did this image consist? Jones contends that it did not consist in his body, as wonderful as it is, since God is without a body. Rather, it consisted in the rational, immortal, and accountable soul, which was immediately created by God and not from any preexisting matter (as was the body). “The body, with all its powers and members, is but the instrument of the soul, “a tabernacle in which it dwells while conversant with this lower world” (17). Clearly Jones believed in the resurrection of the body, but he does not at this point in his book connect that truth to the embodied state of man at creation.

The likeness of the soul to God is found in its spiritual nature (it is immaterial and immortal); in its knowledge (of the created world, of God, and of his law); in righteousness; in holiness; in happiness; and in dominion over the creation. Jones’ discussion of the knowledge of Adam in the Garden is worth quoting in full:

This understanding [God] called into exercise immediately after his creation, and also inspired him with an amount of knowledge, which at that time he could have obtained in no other manner. For example, He revealed Himself to man, and inspired him with a knowledge of Himself as his God and Creator. He inspired him with a knowledge of all the beasts of the field, and every green thing suitable for food, and of times and seasons, and the methods of cultivating, dressing, and keeping the garden of Eden; of the origin of Eve, of the nature, the tender devotion and perpetuity of the marriage relation, and its precedence over any other relation which might exist among men. But what is of special interest to us, his knowledge extended to all his relations to God and to his companion, and consequently to all his duties growing out of those relations. In a word, he had the law of God written in his heart, which, in the absence of a written revealed law, is denominated the law of nature; and such was the extent of his knowledge in respect to God and his duties, and such the correctness of the operations of his understanding and the purity of his conscience, that he needed no other teacher beyond himself. He was a law unto himself. He knew how to regulate his heart and life that he might be acceptable to God. He was not created and thrown an infant upon the world, but a full-grown man in the perfect maturity of his powers, both of mind and body, and that mind enlightened and expanded, free from every defect, and set in healthful motion by the inspiration of the Almighty, and by his immediate presence and communion. Col. iii. 10. (18)

It’s also worth hearing how Jones’ describes the happiness of man as created in the image of God: “So man is like Him in this respect also; for, as a result of the purity and perfection of his nature, and the just and holy exercise of all his powers, both of body and mind, he was happy. Yet not happy in and of himself, as God is; for he is but a creature, and his turning and consecration must be to God, who alone could be his satisfying and exhaustless portion. His chief end therefore was to glorify and enjoy Him, and while he attained that end he was happy” (19). By implication, to turn away from God and toward sin would lead only to misery.

The primitive and perfect state of man is proven not only by the history of his creation, but also from his ruin, and his redemption in Christ - to be reintroduced into the favor and presence of God, the lost image of God must be restored in the soul of man. Jones does not focus much upon the image of God that is retained after the fall (although surely he would affirm that spirituality and dominion, as well as knowledge in some sense, remain in fallen man), but gives his attention primarily to that image of God lost in the fall and repaired in redemption. This is not surprising, given the similar emphasis in the Westminster Standards; but it is unfortunate, given the discrimination made even by the Westminster divines in their individual writings. One hopes that as he expounds mankind in the state of sin, as well as the Noahic covenant, he will take notice of the fact that man is still in the image of God even after the fall.

Join us again soon as we continue to work out way through this book!

The William Tennent House - Home of the Founder of the Original Log College

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Behind the man — William Tennent, Sr. — who founded the Log College in 1727, America’s first Presbyterian seminary, stood a woman: “Catharine Kennedy — the real founder of the Log College” (Thomas Murphy, The Presbytery of the Log College; or, The Cradle of the Presbyterian Church in America (1889), p. 118). Today, if one follows the William Tennent Trail of History Tour — which includes stops at the Neshaminy-Warwick Presbyterian Church and cemetery in Warminster, Pennsylvania, along with the William Tennent House and the Log College Monument — your tour guide is likely to be the woman who so ably portrays Catherine Kennedy Tennent. Her name is Wendy Wirsch, and she is the church historian at Neshaminy-Warwick and President of the William Tennent House Association.

Wendy Wirsch portrays Mrs. Catherine Tennent at the Log College Monument (courtesy of Wendy Wirsch).

Wendy Wirsch portrays Mrs. Catherine Tennent at the Log College Monument (courtesy of Wendy Wirsch).

She represents an effort to raise awareness, preserve and restore the William Tennent House, and indeed the legacy of the Log College and its founder. The WTHA’s mission is fueled by her passion and the passion of all those who support its aims to honor this legacy by teaching others about the history of the Tennents, the Log College and the far-reaching ministry of early American Presbyterians in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Neshaminy-Warwick Presbyterian Church (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Neshaminy-Warwick Presbyterian Church (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

The church founded by William Tennent, Sr. still stands and has a very active congregation. The memory of its founder and succeeding ministers is cherished by its members. The nearby cemetery where some of those men were laid to rest remains a place of sober reflection and appreciation. The WHTA also tries to uphold their memory in the ways that it can, but it does need your support.

The William Tennent House Association is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to the mission of restoring and preserving the William Tennent House located at 880 York Road in Warminster, Pennsylvania.

Our goal is to eventually open the house to all ages and offer educational tours, presentations, special events and to establish a museum and library with relics, documents, books, collectibles and art for education and research about William Tennent and related historical persons and sites on a local, state and national level.  We would like to give the public the opportunity to participate in every phase of the restoration and preservation process. This includes inviting community members to assist in the ongoing maintenance of the house and surrounding 1+ acre of land.

Please join us in our efforts to offer this most historic and unique home to our local community. Learn more about the impact William Tennent had on that period of time in our history known as The Great Awakening, as well as the profound impact his Log College had on the beginning of higher education in the American middle colonies – the roots of which extend to the present day.  The William Tennent House will serve as a place of interest in history, preservation, and education, and will become a valuable resource for future generations.

For more information, email friendsofthetennenthouse@yahoo.com or go to:  www.facebook.com/william.tennenthouse

Front view of the William Tennent House (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Front view of the William Tennent House (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

As is evident from pictures above and below, the house where the remarkable Tennent family lived is a special place in need of restoration. Such work is ongoing, and much more work is yet needed. If you support the goal of preserving and restoring this chapter of history, the home of William Tennent, Sr., and the associated heritage of the original Log College, you can contribute to or become of a member of the William Tennent House Association and help to realize this dream shared by Wendy Wirsch and others. Your contribution is tax deductible, and will go a long way towards helping future generations to be able to walk through this house and learn about the legacy of its famous residents, and their contribution to the kingdom of Christ in America.

Rear view of the William Tennent House (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Rear view of the William Tennent House (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

So many landmarks of American Presbyterian history have deteriorated or faded from memory. Recently, we highlighted the sad condition of the birthplace of Samuel Davies here. The work of the William Tennent House Association provides an opportunity to ensure that this bit of history will not be lost, but rather preserved and cherished. Pray for its success, and consider what you can do to support the work. Future generations will be blessed by these labors, as we cherish the labors of William and Catherine Tennent, and many others.

The grave of William Tennent, Sr. (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

The grave of William Tennent, Sr. (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

The Collectors

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Some Presbyterian missionaries have played a dual role of anthropologist. By collecting and preserving artwork and artifacts from cultures to which they have brought the gospel, they have done a great service to the world in making known how certain people groups have lived and expressed themselves. Two examples are given here.

Sheldon Jackson (1834-1909) was a pioneer missionary to Alaska. He began his efforts to preach the gospel there in 1877, ten years after the territory of Alaska was purchased by the United States. It is thought that he traveled around 1 million miles in his missionary career. In the 1890s, he served as the General Agent for Education in the Alaskan Territory. Early on, he began to collect items for a museum representing the aboriginal people of Alaska, including the Inupiat, Yup'ik, Tlingit, Aleut, Alutiiq and Athabascan-speaking people. The Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka, Alaska was first established in 1887. The present building (which houses over 5000 artifacts) was constructed in 1897, and is the oldest concrete structure in Alaska. It provides a valuable window of insight into the native cultures of Alaska.

William Henry Sheppard (1865-1927) was a Southern Presbyterian minister of African-American descent, Sheppard was born in Waynesboro, Virginia, and served as a missionary in the Belgian Congo for two decades. He also helped to expose atrocities committed by the soldiers of King Leopold II to the eyes of the world. Upon his return to the United States, he donated artifacts to his alma mater, Hampton University (Hampton, Virginia) that he collected from his time with the Kuba people. He contributed between 3000 and 4000 artifacts which became the basis of an impressive collection by the Hampton University Art Museum. It was the privilege of this writer to peruse the collection recently. No photography is allowed in the museum, but some photographs of Kuba art and artifacts may be found in illustrations from Sheppard’s Presbyterian Pioneers in Congo (1917).

Hampton University Art Museuem, Hampton, Virginia (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Hampton University Art Museuem, Hampton, Virginia (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Photo credit: R. Andrew Myers.

Photo credit: R. Andrew Myers.

The Hampton University Art Museum states:

By the 1870s Hampton had established an African studies program and dozens of African pieces from various cultures were registered into the collection over the following three decades. Then in 1911 the school acquired the William H. Sheppard Collection of African Art - several hundred superb pieces gathered by Hampton alumnus William Sheppard between 1890 and 1910 in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not only was Sheppard the first westerner to enter the Kuba Kingdom, he was first African American to collect African art in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His contribution to Hampton University Museum's collections gives it the oldest collection of Kuba-related material in the world.

Missionaries have often performed double-duty as anthropologists by describing and preserving aspects of the cultures with which they have interacted. These are two examples of American Presbyterians who have contributed to the world’s understanding of particular cultures in Alaska and Africa, to whom we all owe a great debt.

The Calder Statues: American Heroes of the Faith

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Note from the Publisher: Hopefully you noticed the lack of blog posts the past two weeks - we were hit with a Mailchimp hack that suspended our account and deleted most of our subscriber base. We are back online, and hope to regain subscribers in the weeks to come (please help by spreading the word that folks need to resubscribe here!). While we’ve been offline, Andrew has been preparing several new blog posts, and I’ve been working on upcoming publications. We’re excited about how Log College Press is growing (we’re up to 4200+ works by over 750 authors in our free PDF Library), and we look forward to collecting and reprinting even more 18th-19th century American Presbyterian literature in days to come! Thank you for following us, and for spreading the word about our work — Caleb Cangelosi

Photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

Photo credit: R. Andrew Myers

Six early American Presbyterian heroes of the faith were sculpted by Alexander Stirling Calder (1870-1945) over a century ago. These sculptures are now located at the garden entrance to the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They stand as a testimony not just to individual men, but to the ideals that they represent. They are described as follows.

Presbyterian Revolutionaries

James Caldwell

Known as the “Fighting Parson,” James Caldwell became a pivotal figure during the Revolutionary War —what some historians have dubbed “The Presbyterian Rebellion.” When Continental troops ran out of gun wadding at the Battle of Springfield, Caldwell passed out Watts Psalm books, exhorting the troops to “Put Watts into them, boys!” The killing of Caldwell’s wife by British forces swayed many in New Jersey to support the Patriot cause.

John Witherspoon

A native of Scotland, John Witherspoon sailed to America in 1768 to become president of the College of New Jersey — today’s Princeton University. A strong supporter of Enlightenment ideals, he viewed the growing centralization of British government in the American colonies as a threat to individual liberties. While a delegate to the Continental Congress, he was one of twelve Presbyterians to sign the Declaration of Independence, and the only active member of the clergy.

Champions of Religious Freedom

Francis Makemie

Francis Makemie served as the first moderator of the first presbytery in America, which met in Philadelphia in 1706. The native of Ireland is also remembered as an early crusader for religious freedom. When the British magistrate Lord Cornbury arrested him in New York for preaching without a license, Makemie invoked the British Tolerance Act of 1689 in his defense. After Makemie’s acquittal, the New York legislature enacted legislation preventing such persecution in the future.

Samuel Davies

Samuel Davies overcame tuberculosis and his outsider status as a Presbyterian minister in predominantly Anglican Virginia to promote religious tolerance and the separation of church and state. A leading figure during the first Great Awakening, Davies preached in favor of educating all of God’s children, insisting that persons of faith must be able to hear and read the word of God. Davies was one of the first ordained ministers to preach directly to slaves and the first American-born hymnist.

Frontier Missionaries

John McMillan

The “Father of Presbyterianism in Western Pennsylvania,” John McMillan was a circuit riding preacher who established mission churches along the frontier. In 1780 he founded The Log School in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, the first educational institution west of the Alleghenies. McMillan’s efforts on behalf of an educated citizenry saw him play key roles in the founding of other schools, including Washington-Jefferson College and Pittsburgh Academy — today’s University of Pittsburgh.

Marcus Whitman

A medical doctor, Marcus Whitman traveled with his wife Narcissa to Oregon Country in 1835 and there started a school that taught Cayuse Indians to read and write their native language. A later cross-continental trip saw Whitman lead one of the first wagon trains along the Oregon Trail. Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, is named for the Whitmans, who were killed in an Indian massacre after a measles epidemic decimated the local Cayuse population.

Pictured are Francis Makemie, John Witherspoon and John McMillan (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Pictured are Francis Makemie, John Witherspoon and John McMillan (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Pictured are Samuel Davies, James Caldwell and Marcus Whitman (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

Pictured are Samuel Davies, James Caldwell and Marcus Whitman (photo credit: R. Andrew Myers).

The men portrayed in these statues are heroes to us as well. Learn more about their lives and writings at the links above. We appreciate the work of the Presbyterian Historical Society in preserving these sculptures, and the legacy of early American Presbyterianism, as we also do here at Log College Press.

Reading C. C. Jones' The History of the Church of God - Introduction

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We continue in our slow-walk through Charles Colcock Jones’ The History of the Church of God in the Period of Revelation with this summary of his introduction. The introduction covers twelve pages, and in it Jones hits the following notes:

  • The Bible is the only authoritative source of church history, and since our Father has chosen to make a written revelation, it is thus necessarily necessary. (i)

  • When we don’t experience or know “the inward and spiritual experience of the truth and living power and grace of the Holy Scriptures,” then we’re open to all sort of other standards for faith and practice – and often we end up holding to deism or other forms of unbelief. (i-ii)

  • Many see the Bible as insufficient to teach us about the church’s constitution and government, and so they look to reason, traditions, expediency, or supposed new revelations. They argue backward in time rather than forward from Scriptural principles either expressly set down in the Bible or deduced by good and necessary consequence. (ii-iii)

  • In the Bible God has “revealed his Church upon earth in its origin, covenants, constitution, doctrines, ordinance, members, officers, government, and discipline.” The writings of uninspired men, as they are valuable, only teach us what they have learned from the Scriptures and from observation, and are but witnesses. The Bible is sufficient to teach us about the history of the Church – and the fact that it was revealed slowly over time doesn’t argue against its sufficiency, for “as far as [the Scriptures] were at any time composed, so far were they an all-sufficient source of the history of the Church.” (iii-iv)

  • Jones will begin the history of the church with its first existence, not in the middle, i.e., the birth of Jesus. Thus they overlook the foundations of the church, for just as a child attaining majority age is not a new man, just as the sun hidden behind clouds then emerging brightly into the clear skies is the same sun, so “no new Church, distinct from the old, was set up by our Lord at His coming.” (v-vii)

  • Jones states that history may be written in two modes: inductively (from the facts to our conclusions), or what we might term the “magnet over iron filings” method – in Jones’ words, “to elaborate our theories, and then so to collect, and arrange, and color our facts and events, as to unite them into the support of our theories.” We must reason from, not unto, facts. (v-vi)

  • To start with the Bible, and with the origins of the church, is to give the student a resting place for his mind and conscience. Whether we’re trying to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, or looking for the origins of the covenant of works and grace, or looking for the first organization of the visible church, or the orders of the ministry, or sound doctrine, we must go to the Bible. (viii)

  • Jones believes that his work is unique, even though the ideas of the true history of the church is far from being new. He aims to begin at the beginning and unfold the origin, the covenants, the doctrines, the rites and ceremonies, the ordinance, the members and officers, the order and discipline, and the progress of the church from the old covenant to the new covenant. (ix)

  • He adopts a threefold division: from the foundation of the church after the fall to the call of Abraham; from the call of Abraham to the coming of Jesus; from the coming of Jesus to the close of the New Testament canon. It’s as we come to rightly understand church history in the inspired Scriptures that we will be able to navigate ecclesiastical history after the death of the apostles. (x)

  • His practice will be to unpack the whole of Scriptural revelation of a particular doctrine or rite or office in the Church, when it is first introduced in the Bible. “The reader will consequently be able to trace truth and error to the precise time and place of their appearance in the Church, and be armed for the support of the one and for the overthrow of the other. And it will be sometimes seen that, far away in the depths of the earlier history of the Church, serious and long-established errors and exhausting controversies are met and settled with a few but effective blows of the sword of the Spirit.” (xi)

 So from an authoritative and sufficient Bible, Jones will seek to unpack Biblical theology in Biblical order. It will be a fun ride, so make sure to stay with us!

Conrad Speece on "The Path to Glory"

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“He was a true son of Virginia — was born, lived, and died in bosom. He was among the greatest of her preachers, — few proclaiming the Gospel more abundantly, or more powerfully.” Thus was Conrad Speece described by William Brown in William B. Sprague’s Annals of the American Pulpit. James W. Alexander calls him an “ornament” of the Church of Christ in Virginia (The Life of Archibald Alexander, p. 204).

He had a keen mind and a pastor’s heart. Henry Ruffner wrote of him: “Give him his pulpit, his parishioners, his literary friends, and his books; and the world might take all the rest with his hearty consent.” His body was laid to rest in the cemetery of the Old Stone Church in Augusta County, Virginia, where he labored for 22 years.

We have recently added some writings by Speece to Log College Press, including some written under the pseudonym “Philander.” Brown notes that “his other publications number in all one hundred and fifty, both in prose and in verse, and upon a great variety of subjects,” so we hope to continue adding many more. The primary work published by him under his own name is The Mountaineer (1818, 1823). It is from this work that we have extracted the following poem, which describes the life of a Christian. The journey that he describes is that which most Christians, perhaps, experience and to which many of us can relate. Thanks be to God for his grace to sinners in leading them on the path to glory!

The Path to Glory

HAPPY the youth whose heav’n-born choice
Turns him from sin’s destructive way;
Who gives his ear to wisdom’s voice,
And strives her precepts to obey.

Conscious of guilt, his only rest
Is found when Calv’ry meets his view:
He flies to his Redeemer’s breast,
And vows to be his servant too.

By earnest prayer for light and grace,
He gains, each day, a fresh supply;
And thus, unwearied, runs the race
That leads him to the prize on high.

Protected by almighty pow’r
His steadfast soul no terror knows,
Though war awaits him, ev’ry hour,
With armies of surrounding foes.

In vain the world employs her wiles
To check his course, with varied art:
Against her frowns, against her smiles,
Firm faith securely guards his heart.

In works of piety to God,
And love to man, he spends his years;
And when he feels affliction’s rod,
Sweet peace is mingled with his tears.

His life with growing lustre shines
Till all the toils of life are past:
His breath then calmly he resigns,
Trusting his Saviour to the last.

Attendant angels, while they sing
His victory, their friend convey
Up to the presence of their King,
The region of eternal day.

W.A. Scott asks "Do you pray in your family?"

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William Anderson Scott (1813-1885) served as moderator of the Old School General Assembly (PCUSA); ministered to congregations in New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco and other locations; edited several periodicals; and helped to found the San Francisco Theological Seminary. He was also a father of nine children.

In the second volume (1861) of The Pacific Expositor, which he edited, Scott included a brief article on family worship, which shows the priority he (obviously a busy man) placed on this particular ordinance of God. It may serve as an encouragement to others today. It comes from the September 1860 issue, p. 140..

DO YOU PRAY IN YOUR FAMILY? If you do not, you are not like the good people of old times. Wherever the patriarchs had a tent, God had an altar. They called upon the name of the Lord in the valleys and upon the hills. Joshua resolved, that, as for him and his family, they would serve the Lord; that is, worship Him.

Job practised family worship. “He sent and sanctified his children, and rose early in the morning and offered burnt-offerings, according to the number of them all. Thus did Job continually.”

David, having spent one day in bringing the ark from the house of Obed-edom to the place he had prepared for it, and in presenting peace-offerings before the Lord, returned at night to bless his household — that is, to pray for blessings upon his family, or to attend upon family devotion. Cornelius, the centurion, it is said, “feared God with his whole house” — meaning worshipped him with his family.

In the Lord’s Prayer we have a command for family devotion. “After this manner, therefore, pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven.” The form of prayer is plural. It must, therefore, mean social prayer, and if social, then family prayer; for a family is the most proper place to engage in this devotion. Paul, in his Epistle to the Colossians, having pointed out the duty of husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, adds: “Continue in prayer; watch in the same with thanksgiving.” The subject upon which he was speaking leads us to conclude he meant family prayer. In his Epistle to the Ephesians, he enjoins it as a duty to “pray always with all prayer;” — that is to offer prayer of every kind, and in every form, and at every proper season. Family prayer must, therefore, be included in the injunction.

These direct and indirect examples, and commands, from Scripture show how important family worship was to the people of God of old, and how Christ enjoins his people a duty and a blessing to assemble in families to magnify the Lord. Let us take heart from this Scriptural precept and example, as given by Rev. Scott, to enter into that blessing.

S.J. Wilson on "the truest eloquence earth ever heard"

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For his inaugural address delivered on April 27, 1858 at Western Theological Seminary (now Pittsburgh Theological Seminary), where he was to fill the chair on History and Homiletics, Samuel Jennings Wilson chose to speak on “The History of Preaching.” His address is a fascinating survey of preachers and preaching from Bible times up through the early 19th century. He concludes with a stirring reminder of the importance of faithful seminaries as places where Biblical piety is wedded to thorough training in the Scriptures and other areas of knowledge for those who are called to fill the pulpit.

Shall we have preachers whose hearts are all aglow with love to Christ ? The Church needs them — the world demands them. No amount of natural or acquired ability can compensate for the lack of fervent piety. Intellectual sermons may be as clear and sparkling as icicles, and as cold. The moonlight is beautiful, but it is the heat of the sun that brings the verdure from the soil and ripens the fruit in its clusters. The truest eloquence earth ever heard is the unrestrained utterance of a heart full to overflowing of love to God. Evermore give us that eloquence!

And shall we have preachers mighty in the Scriptures? There was an intimate connection between the eloquence of Apollos and his knowledge of the Bible. In all ages, in proportion as the pulpit has been biblical, it has been powerful. There is no danger that the Bible will be exhausted. Its subjects never wear out. All other subjects do. Christ crucified is a theme that will never grow old.

And we want men who shall not only know the truth, but who shall not be afraid to speak it. He who preaches any doctrine of the Bible in an apologizing, compromising way, is a coward. Those doctrines, when faithfully uttered, never fail to find a response in the hearts and experience of men. Let the Gospel be preached just as it is — and woe to the man who trims or temporizes for the sake of an ephemeral popularity!

Great responsibilities, therefore, devolve upon our theological seminaries. They must necessarily give tone to the pulpit. Most of all, it is expected and desired of them that they send out from their halls and lecture-rooms a re-enforcement of good preachers — men trained more for active service than for abstract speculation and scholastic theorizing — men in communion with their God, and in sympathy with their fellow-men; whose ministrations shall not be cold, perfunctory task-work, but the earnest utterances of living truths, the power of which they have felt upon their own hearts, and are thus enabled to speak that "which they do know."

The full address by Wilson on the history of preaching may be found here (Occasional Addresses and Sermons, beginning at p. 113).

Erskine Clarke's "To Count Our Days"

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At Log College Press, we are pleased to highlight a new publication by respected religious scholar Erskine Clarke released in earlier this month: To Count Our Days: A History of Columbia Theological Seminary (The University of South Carolina Press, 2019, 369 pages).

It is hot off the press and this is by no means an official book review, but having perused this fascinating volume, it is a pleasure to make it our new featured title at the LCP Secondary Sources page.

No easy task is it to tell the story of a nearly two hundred year-old institution devoted to preparation for the gospel ministry, but Clarke carefully, candidly, competently and respectfully navigates a complicated history involving the trajectory of Southern Presbyterian theology, social matters and a move from South Carolina to Georgia. This account is full of rich anecdotes, fascinating photographs and insightful observations.

The great luminaries associated with the seminary are highlighted, including John L. Girardeau, James H. Thornwell, Benjamin M. Palmer, William S. Plumer, Walter Brueggemann, and many more. Lesser-known names are brought to life as well, along with stories of interest, such as the 1856 library acquisition of 11,520 volumes from Thomas Smyth.

Be sure to check out this remarkable work here, and while you are exploring, it’s a great opportunity to browse other volumes of interest concerning church history, biography and more. We have links to over 600 books related to American Presbyterianism.

Kudos to Dr. Clarke for his valuable contribution to our end-of-the-summer reading. If you appreciate church history, this is a great resource that you won’t want to miss. And in case you are wondering, the title comes from Psalm 90:12: “So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.”

The closet is where heart-work is carried forward - Thomas Murphy

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A work that begins in the heart must be carried on in the closet. If we speak of the closet as the place where a person engages in private prayer, communion with God, and a place of honest soul-searching with God, then we may say, the closet is where heart-work is carried forward. Thomas Murphy elucidates this thought early in his classic work on Pastoral Theology.

The pastor’s own heart is the place in which the work must begin. His closet is the armory in which he must equip himself for the service that may require great hardness. It is the mount where he may tarry in the presence of God, and thence come down with glory beaming in his face. It is the upper room in which he may commune with Christ and obtain that burning love that will ever sweetly constrain. It is the mercy-seat, made so by the divine presence, where the Holy Spirit may overshadow him and imbue him with a wisdom and a might that will be irresistible. It is the secret place in which he may find his God, and then go out fortified to a work from which he might otherwise well shrink, saying, " Who is sufficient for these things?"

If you have not read Thomas Murphy’s Pastoral Theology, it contains much more wisdom that is often just as applicable to the Christian layman as to the minister of the gospel, both for the heart and the head. David C. Lachman, in his introduction to the 1996 Old Paths Publication (reprinted again in 2001), says:

Any pastor who has a measure of godly wisdom and has the spiritual good of his congregation at heart will profit much from a careful study of this work. Avail yourself of the treasure!

Thomas Murphy’s Pastoral Theology can be read online here.

Reading C. C. Jones' The History of the Church of God - Preface

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One of the purposes of Log College Press is to encourage God’s people in the 21st century to read the writings of American Presbyterians in the 18th and 19th centuries. But let’s be honest - it’s often difficult for God’s people to find the time and motivation to read 21st century Christian authors. So I want to walk slowly through a book from our site by means of short chapter summaries, in hopes that even if readers of this blog aren’t actually able to download the book and read it for themselves, they will at least have a better idea of what it’s about and benefit from some of its main points. I’m starting with Charles Colcock Jones’ The History of the Church of God in the Period of Revelation, a book I’ve wanted to read for some time. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this experiment as this miniseries proceeds in future weeks, Lord willing.

Jones (1804-1863) was reared in Liberty County, Georgia, in the famous Midway Church. He attended the theological seminaries at Andover and Princeton, graduating in 1830. He is sometimes called the “Apostle to the Slaves” for his missionary efforts among the Africans in the antebellum South. In addition to his evangelistic labors, he also pastored First Presbyterian Church in Savannah (1831-1832), had two stints at Columbia Theological Seminary (1835-1838 and 1847-1850), and was a Corresponding Secretary of the Board of Domestic Missions in Philadelphia (1850-1853). More about Jones can be found in a chapter in Iain Murray’s Heroes, Erskine Clarke’s Dwelling Place, as well as the biographical resources on the Log College Press site (such as Henry Alexander White’s Southern Presbyterian Leaders).

Jones’ History was originally material delivered in his lectures to the classes at Columbia Seminary. Unfortunately, one evening in 1850, his house and all its contents was destroyed by a fire. Writing in his own words in 1860, “We saved nothing but our lives, through the tender mercy of our God. The manuscripts of twenty years, and the Lectures with them, then perished.” He moved to Philadelphia to serve the denomination, but poor health caused him to resign three years later. During the last ten years of his life he devoted himself to rewriting his lectures on the history of the Church. It was a joyful endeavor, giving him something to do with his time that would also be useful to Christ’s kingdom – but it was task completed in the midst of much suffering. Jones’ son, Charles Colcock Jones, Jr., who published the work four years after his father had passed away (and who had hoped to publish a second and concluding volume to this book, a desire that unfortunately never came to fruition — one wonders in what archive the manuscript pages for volume two now resides! — tells us that the work “was prepared by [his father] with a trembling hand, and amid great feebleness and physical depression. It was composed during moments of comparative freedom from pain, in the quiet of his own retired home, and for years occupied his serious thought, careful study, and prayerful consideration.”

As this volume is concerned with the history of the Church in the Old Testament period of revelation, Jones’ work is a rich combination of what we would call today biblical theology and systematic theology. He explains, “It becomes me to advertise [to] the reader that the work is not what is commonly called ‘A Bible History,’ nor is it a connection of Sacred and Profane History, nor is it a History of the Antiquities of the Jews, nor a History of that people as a nation. Their History is necessarily given, but as the visible Church of God. Nor is it a work on Chronology, or Prophecy. It is strictly what it purports to be: a History of the Church of God; and nothing is introduced but what we have thought essential to the proper composition of such a History.” Writing with a particular eye to ordinary members of Christ’s Church, Jones desired his book to be a reference book for the whole family, a source-book filled with answers to a wide array of questions concerning the Church of Jesus Christ. He knew his work could not be comprehensive, but he sought to speak where Scripture spoke, and to do so as plainly as possible. He understood that his interpretations of sacred writ would not be agreed upon by all his readers, but he trusted that the Holy Spirit indwelling all true believers would lead them to the truth.

Thus we embark upon a slow walk-through of a book that deserves to be better known. May the Lord bless these posts to the building up of His body. And of course, better than reading these posts would be to read Jones himself! So click here to download the book and read along with me.

The Gospel Encapsulated by B.B. Warfield

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Alistair Begg on his radio program Truth For Life recently highlighted a quote by Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, which he described as “majestic and wonderful.” He added, “this, loved ones, is the gospel.”

It comes from his extended 1920 article on “Miserable-Sinner Christianity” and it is worth meditating upon today, dear reader, just as it was almost a century ago. We have included here a couple of sentences that go beyond what Begg cited on his show. Here he addresses the heart of the gospel, that is, what is the basis of our acceptance before God?

…there is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only “when we believe.” It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be. It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place, or that can take a place along with Him. We are always unworthy, and all that we have or do of good is always of pure grace.

HT: Carolyn Kelleher