Plumer and Prime on the Power of Prayer

We have noted previously that James Waddel Alexander wrote a wonderful memorial of the Fulton Street prayer meeting and revival of 1857-1858. But the theme of the power of prayer stirred up by this revival was especially the province of Samuel Irenaeus Prime, who authored four volumes on this topic over the years:

  • The Power of Prayer, Illustrated in the Wonderful Displays of Divine Grace at the Fulton Street and Other Meetings in New York and Elsewhere, in 1857 and 1858 (1858, 1859);

  • Five Years of Prayer, With the Answers (1864);

  • Fifteen Years of Prayer in the Fulton Street Meeting (1872); and

  • Prayer and Its Answer: Illustrated in the First Twenty-Five Years of the Fulton Street Prayer Meeting (1882).

Prime was above all a man of prayer, and deeply impressed with both its necessity in the life of the believer, and its efficacy. In the last volume (p. 147), he shared this thought about prayer’s power:

In the Christian life and in Christian labor prayer is all powerful, for in prayer we lay hold of God's omnipotence. A minister said he had been deeply impressed with the thought that power comes from God. In the battle of Waterloo, some of the English troops were ordered to fall on their faces for a time, so as to let the deadly fire of the French artillery go over them. At the right moment the command came to spring to their feet and show fight. So it was suggested, as the soldiers of the Lord, we need often to fall flat upon our faces before Him in humiliation of heart, and wait until He calls on us for action.

In Prime’s first record of the 1857-1858 revival, several chapters are included from other contributors, such as William Swan Plumer on the efficacy of prayer. This chapter is a real gem. Plumer writes (p. 350) a truth that we do well to remember:

It is not possible to over-estimate the value of prayer. For more than thirty-five years I have had much intercourse with dying saints and sinners of various ages and conditions. In all that time I have not heard one express regret that he had spent too much time in prayer; I have heard many mourn that they had so seldom visited a throne of grace.

Why Study Natural Theology? - R.L. Dabney Answers

“It may be asked, if Natural Theology cannot save, why study it?

I answer: 1st. It teaches some truths; and no truth is valueless. 2d. When Revelation comes, Natural Theology gives satisfaction to the mind, by showing us two independent lines of proof for sundry great propositions[.] 3d. It excites the craving of the soul for a Revelation. 4th. When that comes, it assists us to verify it, because it meets the very wants which Natural Theology has discovered.” — Robert Lewis Dabney, Systematic Theology, Lecture VII, p. 77) — HT: Daniel Kok

A Conventicle in Snow Time: David McAllister

A Conventicle in Snow Time

A DEEP-TONED, bitter, sullen wind was sweeping,
Across the upland waste;
Each living thing its covert close was keeping,
Or sought it in its haste.

Yet, when the swirling, drifted snow was filling
Each cave and sheltered nook,
A solemn, plaintive strain of praise came thrilling
Up from an ice-bound brook.

A remnant, sore-bested, had come together,
To mourn, and watch, and pray,
Unmindful of the wind and dreary weather
Of that wild, wrathful day.

A valiant and a famous standard-bearer
Was lately done to death; —
One, who of many perils was a sharer,
Had spent his latest breath.

It was a time of sorrow, dread, and grieving,
To those heart-stricken men;
And they had met, their burdened souls relieving,
Up in that stormy glen.

A youth of comely form and mien arising,
The gospel message told.
In fervour nought withholding, nought disguising,
Like faithful seer of old.

All in the wintry wind and snow-drift standing,
With cold and frost distrest,
His earnest voice, the heart and ear commanding,
Moved every captive breast.

For higher gifts of hope and faith he pleaded —
For greater love and zeal;
Not vainly uttered; not unfelt, unheeded,
Passed the sublime appeal!

On him and all around the snow was falling,
Yet there they held their place.
Though, overhead, the winter-blast appalling
Pursued its rapid chase.

From morn to darkling eve they clung together,
Unwilling to depart;
The saintly love they bore to one another
Had bound them heart to heart.

And yet, a higher sentiment withheld them
From courting selfish rest;
The love of Him whose friendly eye beheld them
Unworthy thought represt.

Oh, boast not men whose heartless, cruel mission
Was tracking such as these,
To gratify a tyrant’s wrong ambition —
His bigot whims to please!

And, tell us not of chivalry and daring,
Or deeds of valour done;
When, at the price of cruelty unsparing,
The palm of fame was won!

Swift come the season, when the deep devotion
Of those who braved the rage
Of banded furies, roused to fell commotion,
Shall every heart engage!

Be not far hence, bright day, when holier feeling
The world wide shall control,
And love unstinted, to the heart appealing,
Shall mould each kindred soul.

For, wheresoever PIETY is cherished,
And loved by young and old,
The grand old memories of martyrs perished
Are treasured and extolled!

David McAllister, Poets and Poetry of the Covenant, pp. 212-214

An Educated People and Ministry

“The Nineteenth Century was a great century for collegiate education in America. Colleges by the score were founded across the country, most of them by some church group. Among the churches which took the lead in this enterprise, the most outstanding were the various Presbyterian bodies. Their emphasis on an educated ministry, which was one of the universal characteristics of the Presbyterian system, made it imperative that colleges be available to train the church leadership. The high cost of travel and the relatively low cost of starting a college led to the formation of a large number of rather small colleges wherever the church became established. The United Presbyterian Church offers an excellent example of this trend. Though its constituency numbered only a few thousand, by 1890 it had a close association with no fewer than twelve colleges, not including Knoxville College for Negroes or the mission colleges overseas. Of this dozen, to be sure, there were many which were never under complete denominational control, but they all had been organized by ministers of the Church and felt a close relationship to it.” — Wallace N. Jamison, “An Educated People and Ministry,” in The United Presbyterian Story, p. 144

“The Presbyterian and Reformed Churches take pride in the fact of a trained ministry. This has marked their record. It was seen that the sum of Christian truth could be unfolded and applied only by cultured thinkers and mouth-pieces. There was also the realization that, with their democratic government, an effective leadership must be had, a leadership fitted for intelligent direction. For these reasons a thorough ministerial education was planned and sought after in all ecclesiastical bodies of the Presbyterian and Reformed type.” — John McNaugher, Theological Education in the United Presbyterian Church and Its Ancestories (1931), p. 4

B.B. Warfield and J.G. Vos on the Language of Christianity

“No one will doubt that Christians of today must state their beliefs in terms of modern thought. Every age has a language of its own and can speak no other. Mischief only comes when, instead of stating Christian beliefs in terms of modern thought, and effort is made, rather, to state modern thought in terms of Christian belief.” — B.B. Warfield, Review of Foundations: A Statement of Christian Belief in Terms of Modern Thought, by Seven Oxford Men, in Critical ReviewsThe Works of Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1932; reprint, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1991), 10:322

“The Bible is bent or distorted when it is interpreted in terms of some system of non-biblical thought. The late Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield, one of America’s most distinguished theological scholars, said that there can be no objection to stating Christianity in terms of modern thought. Every age, said Dr. Warfield, speaks a language of its own and can speak no other. Mischief only comes, he added, when under the guise of re-stating Christianity in terms of modern thought what is actually done is to state modern thought in terms of Christian belief. In other words, when under the guise of up-dating the form, what actually happens is that the content has been tamped with, then the Bible and its teachings have been bent or distorted.” — Johannes Geerhardus Vos, “Bible Breaking, Bible Bending, and Bible Believing,” in John H. White, ed., The Book of Books: Essays on the Scriptures in Honor of Johannes G. Vos (1978), p. 6

Lays of the Cross: Charles Washington Baird

One of the great Huguenot historians, Charles Washington Baird, like so many of our Presbyterian ministers, was also a poet. Posthumously published, his Lays of the Cross constitute a series of seven poems relating to Christ on the cross, followed by one additional poem titled “Domine, Quo Vadis?” These are found in the Memorials of the Rev. Charles W. Baird, D.D. (1888). Take time to peruse his poetry because he used his gifts to point his readers to the cross. One sample:


I saw the Lord with painful steps and slow
To Calvary’s height His weary course begin;
His bending shoulders bore the Cross of sin;
His fainting spirit carried all our woe;
I saw the priests in cruel triumph go;
The careless soldiers hemmed their prisoner in,
Whose pallid brow, whose visage marred and thin,
The curious crowds with sorrowing pity know.
”My suffering Lord!” with trembling voice I cried,
When first that wounded form I chanced to see:
”To me, to me, Thy shameful load confide;
Be mine the bliss to bear the Cross for Thee!”
”Nay, zealous child,” my gracious Lord replied,
”Bear thou thy cross, and come and follow Me.”

French Huguenot Blood in American Presbyterians

Ashbel Green Vermilye once wrote a work titled The Huguenot Element Among the Dutch (1877) in which he noted:

The Church of Jesus Christ is being made up in the same way "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." No one people, no one nation is or will be permitted to claim a monopoly of contribution to her glory. Our great Centennial Exhibition, now in progress, where Chinese and Japanese from the gate way of the East, the mighty inventive genius of the West, and so many nationalities of different complexions and grades of advancement are vying together in peaceful competitive display, is not so large and various a combination of materials as will compose the Church and its glory when it shall be seen complete in heaven. We have occasionally heard a rich brogue or accent in the pulpit, and foreign turns of thought and expression, which added greatly to the charm and effect of the sermon or prayer; just as a child's lisp or a woman's voice have sometimes given a new touch of tenderness and beauty to the Lord's prayer. And this same variety, these effects of diverse training, experience, nurture, God is now working into the consummate glory of heaven. Ah! there, too, they shall hear them speak every man in his own language, “every man in his own tongue wherein he was born" — the dear mother tongue;" and the great assembly shall be perpetually reminded of tho largeness and freeness of His grace in Christ Jesus. "Out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation!" In the history of the Church's development thus far, how many names, each name a power, come up in illustration of this thought! What fine fruitage of grace Africa presents in Monica and Augustine, devoted mother, time honored son! But Ambrose, by whose help that son is at length ripened into fruitage of grace, is a branch from distant Gaul [France]. And so, as the ages proceed, and notwithstanding the darkness of some of them, we find the “good seed, the children of the kingdom," ever more widely scattered; and producing among different people and tongues such kings of thought and kingly souls as Bernard, and Luther, and Calvin, and Wesley, and Edwards…

While many American Presbyterians can unsurprisingly trace their ancestory to the Scots-Irish, many others have different backgrounds, which, in the providence of God, combine to make a beautiful tapestry. This post examines a sampling of the writers at Log College Press who share one particular thread of the tapestry - French Huguenot ancestory:

  • Elias Boudinot IV (1740-1821) - “Elias' paternal grandfather, Elie (sometimes called Elias) Boudinot, was the son of Jean Boudinot and Marie Suire of Marans, Aunis, France. They were a Huguenot (French Protestant) family who fled to New York about 1687 to avoid the religious persecutions of King Louis XIV.” - Wikipedia

  • Ephraim Brevard (1744-1781) - An important Presbyterian contributor to both the 1775 Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the 1775 Charlotte Town Resolves, Ephraim was the grandson of Jean Paul Brevard (1664-1747), a French Huguenot émigré.

  • James Caldwell (1734-1781) - According to Norman F. Brydon’s biography of “the Fighting Parson,” Reverend James Caldwell: Patriot, 1734-1781, the Caldwell family originated from French Huguenot stock, which emigrated to Scotland to seek religious freedom, where they found instead Episcopal persecution. Ultimately, the Caldwell family made it to America where James became a distinguished hero of the faith in the fight for spiritual and political independence.

  • Samuel Jones Cassels (1805-1853) - “Cassels' father was a South Carolinian, a descendant of the Huguenots.” - Lawrence Huff, “Samuel Jones Cassels: A Pioneer Georgia Poet,” The Georgia Historical Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 4 (Dec. 1963), p. 408.

  • Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898) - Dabney’s biographer, T.C. Johnson, says: “The Dabneys are numerous in Massachusetts, in Virginia and in the Mississippi Valley. It is commonly believed amonst them that they are all related, and it is prevalently held amongst them that their origin, on this side the Atlantic, was in three brothers — Robert Dabney, or d'Aubigne, who came to Boston a short time previous to 1717, and John and Cornelius Dabney, or d'Aubigne, who came to Virginia between 1715, perhaps, and 1720. It is also their prevalent belief that these brothers came to this country from England; that the family had fled thither from France on occasion of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Finally, many in all branches of this widespread family claim descent from the old confessor, Theodore Agrippa d'Aubigne.” (The Life and Letters of Robert Lewis Dabney, p. 2)

  • Hampden Coit Dubose (1845-1910) - The famous Southern Presbyterian missionary to China is a direct descendant of the French Huguenot émigré Isaac Du Bosc (1661-1718), who in 1685 following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes settled in Charleston, South Carolina, where Hampden was born 160 years later.

  • George Duffield II (1732-1790), and his descendants, including George Duffield IV (1794-1868), and George Duffield V (1818-1888) [and perhaps other notable Duffields, such as John Thomas Duffield (1823-1901) and Samuel Willoughby Duffield (1843-1887)] “were of Huguenot origin, their forefathers having escaped from France on account of religious persecution. The name was originally Du Fielde, but became Anglicised after the family settled in England.” (Biographical Annals of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, Vol. 1, p. 362)

  • John Lafayette Girardeau (1825-1898) - George A. Blackburn, citing records from Charles W. Baird’s History of Huguenot Emigration to America, affirms that “In this illustrious company were the ancestors of John L. Girardeau.” (The Life Work of John L. Girardeau, D.D., LLD., pp. 7-8)

  • Francis James Grimké (1850-1937) - One of the most interesting stories found here is that of the son of Henry Grimké, a white slaveowner from Charleston, South Carolina, and Nancy Weston, a slave of European and African descent, with whom Henry Grimké, as a widower, had a common-law relationship. Henry was the grandson of John Faucheraud Grimké (1752-1819), an eminent member of Charleston society, whose maternal grandparents emigrated from France to South Carolina to escape persecution after the 1685 Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. When Henry died in 1852, his will directed that Francis (and his brothers Archibald and John) be treated as members of the family. But, after they were claimed as slaves by their half-brother Montague in 1860, it was not until 1868, when a an address by Archibald at Lincoln University that was highlighted in The Anti-Slavery Standard received attention from Henry’s sisters, the abolitionists Sarah Grimké (1792-1873) and Angelina Grimké Weld (1805-1879), that Francis and his brothers were officially welcomed with open arms into the family and given financial support to pursue their higher education, which, for Francis, enabled him to graduate from Princeton and become a Presbyterian minister.

  • Charles Hodge (1797-1878) — and other notable Hodges, such as Archibald Alexander Hodge (1823-1886); Caspar Wistar Hodge, Sr. (1830-1891); and John Aspinwall Hodge (1831-1901) — had a connection to the French Huguenot diaspora through Charles’ great-aunt “Aunt Hannah.” A.A. Hodge writes in his biography of his father: “Mrs. Hannah Hodge, known for many years in the family as Aunt Hannah, was recognized in all the city as a mother in Israel. She was born in Philadelphia, January, 1721, the daughter of John Harkum, of English descent. Her mother, whose maiden name was Doz, was the child of a Protestant who fled from France on account of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantz, 1685, and afterward with other French Protestants, was principally instrumental in founding the First Presbyterian Church, then standing on Market Street above Second, of which the Rev. Jedidiah Andrews was pastor.” (The Life of Charles Hodge, p. 2)

There are likely many more American Presbyterians on our site with French Huguenot heritage, but this sampling gives an idea of the interesting stories that highlight the providence of God in building his Church. Get to know these men and their writings, and the various threads of God’s tapestry.

Songs From the Soul: Geerhardus Vos

In 1994, when Banner of Truth republished Geerhardus Vos’ 1922 collection of sermons titled Grace and Glory, which originally contained six sermons, they added 10 more to the reprint. Sinclair Ferguson explains:

In possessing a copy of Grace and Glory the reader has in his or her hands a book of sermons which are almost as rare as they are remarkable. Not only so, but in addition to the six sermons which originally constituted the volume Grace and Glory the present edition includes a further nine sermons which Vos preached in the Chapel of Princeton Theological Seminary between 1896 and 1913, as well as an undated exposition of Ephesians 2:4-5 translated from Dutch. This additional material has been provided to the publishers by James T. Dennison, the Librarian of Westminster Theological Seminary in California and the editor of the journal Kerux, in which the bulk of has already been published. Mr. Dennison originally uncovered Vos’s personal sermon book in 1971 in the Heritage Hall Archive of Calvin Theological Seminary and transcribed the material. As heirs of his labours the publishers are also indebted to the Heritage Hall Archive of Calvin Seminary for the privilege of reproducing the material in this more permanent form.

One of those additional sermons is titled “Songs From the Soul,” based on Psalm 25:14: “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.” In this sermon, Vos speaks to the experimental piety of the Psalter in eloquent terms (pp. 169-171).

The Psalter is of all books of the Bible that book which gives expression to the experimental side of religion. In the law and the prophetic writings, it is God who speaks to his people; but in the Psalter we listen to the saints speaking to God. Hence the Psalter has been at all times that part of Scripture to which believers have most readily turned and upon which they have chiefly depended for the nourishment of the inner religious life of the heart. I say that part of Scripture and not merely that part of the Old Testament, for even taking the Old and New Testament together the common experience of the people of God affirms that there is nothing in Holy Writ which in our most spiritual moments — when we feel ourselves nearest to God — so faithfully and naturally expresses what we think and feel in our hearts as these songs of the pious Israelites. Our Lord himself, who had a perfect religious experience and lived and walked with God in absolute adjustment of his thoughts and desires to the Father's mind and will, our Lord himself found his inner life portrayed in the Psalter and in some of the highest moments of his ministry borrowed from it the language in which his soul spoke to God, thus recognizing that a more perfect language for communion with God cannot be framed.

Undoubtedly it is in the Psalter that the specific work of inspiration which the Holy Ghost performs in inditing the Scriptures and the more general task which he carries out in sustaining, directing, stimulating and guiding the religious thoughts and aspirations of believers are most closely united. Inspiration for the disclosure of truth is not always accompanied by the subjective appropriation of the truth in a saintly experience (a Balaam and a Caiaphas were among the prophets); but nevertheless it remains the more natural and ordinary procedure of God that the instrument through which his truth is brought to man should be a mind in intimate touch with his own; a mind responsive to that personal revelation of God himself which lives and throbs in the truth. And consequently we see that the great prophets (like a Moses, an Isaiah or Jeremiah) appear at the same time as the outstanding examples of a wonderfully rich and tender religious intercourse with God. But in the Psalms we can more clearly than anywhere else observe the interaction of these two things: supernatural reception of the truth and spiritual nearness to God. Possibly the fact that in David's case the prophetic disclosures of truth that he received were so vitally connected with his own life and destiny may have something to do with the presence of this feature in the Psalms, whereas the other prophets sometimes stood more or less apart from the development of things to which their words applied. And then the prophets, of course, in many instances spoke to and for the nation collectively, whereas in the Psalter it is the individual soul which comes face to face with God.

Hence the lessons and encouragements which we obtain from other parts of the Old Testament are frequently drawn indirectly by a process of inference, for which we are not always in the right frame of mind and the proper spiritual mood. But the in Psalms, whatever our mood, whether we are exultant or downcast, vigorous or weary, penitent or believing, we can always find our hearts mirrored there. It needs no process of reasoning to make their sentiments our own. Here the language of the Bible comes to meet the very thoughts of our hearts before these can even clothe themselves in language and we recognize that we could not have expressed them better than the Spirit has here expressed them for us. At first sight, this may easily seem strange to us when we remember that the the psalmists lived under the conditions of a typical and preparatory dispensation; that on many points they saw through a glass darkly, whereas we, who live in the full light of the complete gospel, see face to face. But for the very reason that the Psalms reflect that experimental religion of the heart, which is unvarying at all times and under all circumstances, we need not greatly wonder at this. The influx of the divine light, whether more or less strong, must always produce the identical effect of joy, hope and peace in every soul to which it comes. The well at which we drink may flow more abundantly than that at which the psalmists drank, but the experience of thirst, of drinking and of satisfaction must still be the same as it was in the time of David.

19th Century American Presbyterian Writings About the Waldensians

If one reads the writings of Samuel Miller, one of the most prolific American Presbyterian authors of the 18th-19th centuries, one may notice just how often he references the Waldensians, a stream of proto-Protestant Christianity centered in the Alps of France and Italy, in his many works on church history, church government and baptism.

Often Miller addresses the assertions of those Baptists who claim the Waldensians for their own, while showing that in fact they were paedobaptist in their sacramentology and Presbyterian in their understanding of ecclesiology.

The Waldensians (known as the Vaudois in French) began as a movement of conscience which practiced resistance against Papal authority in Lyon, France under the leadership of Peter Waldo in the 12th century, and they suffered tremendous persecution for centuries. They officially embraced the Protestant Reformation at the Synod of Chanforan in 1532. John Milton famously wrote a sonnet about their sufferings during the Piedmontese Easter of 1655, and in fact, worked on behalf of Oliver Cromwell and with Andrew Marvell to apply diplomatic pressure to assist the Waldensians in their need. Later, as noted by Walter H. Conser, Jr. and Robert J. Cain in Presbyterians in North Carolina: Race, Politics, and Religious Identity in Historical Perspective (p. 176), a body of Waldensians who had settled in Valdese, North Carolina joined the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1895, taking as their name the Waldensian Presbyterian Church. The Waldensians have long had a special place in the hearts of American Presbyterians because of their courage and faithfulness beginning centuries before Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany, thus launching the Protestant Reformation.

Miller, who was a professor of ecclesiastical history at Princeton, wrote specifically about the Waldensians in the following works:

  • “The Doctrine and Order of the Waldenses,” The Virginia Evangelical and Literary Magazine (five articles appeared in 1820 and 1821) [these articles are not yet available to read at Log College Press, but it is hoped they will be in the future];

  • Appendix to James Wharey’s Sketches of Church History, Concerning the History and Doctrine of the Waldensians (1838, 1840); and

  • Recommendatory Letter to History of the Ancient Christians Inhabiting the Valleys of the Alps [an English translation of Jean Paul Perrin’s history of the Waldensians] (1845, 1847).

But Miller was not alone among the American Presbyterian writers of his day in taking note of the story and situation of the Waldensians.

Robert Baird spent time among the Waldensians of Italy in 1837 and 1851. His sons, Charles and Henry, who became noted Huguenot historians, both imbided his appreciation for the cause of Protestants in Europe, including the Waldensians. Henry’s biography of his father makes mention of the contacts Robert made with them, as well as his deep love for the people. And Henry would go on to speak of the Waldensians in more depth in his History of the Rise of the Huguenots of France, Vol. 1. Charles argued in his History of the Huguenot Emigration to America that a number of Waldensians settled in the Huguenot community of Manakintowne, Virginia (near Richmond). Both Robert and Charles introduced or translated the writings of Jean Henri-Merle D’Aubigné, whose histories of the Reformation and essays often highlighted the Waldensians. Robert wrote:

  • Sketches of Protestantism in Italy, Past and Present, Including a Notice of the Origin, History, and Present State of the Waldenses (1845); and

  • “The Modern Vaudois” (1847), an essay appended to the aforementioned History of the Ancient Christians Inhabiting the Valleys of the Alps.

William Craig Brownlee also wrote Saint Patrick and the Western Apostolic Churches: or, The Religion of the Ancient Britains and Irish, not Roman Catholic: and The Antiquity, Tenents and Sufferings of the Albigenses and Waldenses (1857).

Thomas Smyth wrote “The Waldenses—Were They Pedobaptists?” (Works, Vol. 6).

William Maxwell Blackburn has a great to say about the Waldensians in his History of the Christian Church From Its Origin to the Present Time (1879).

Robert Pollock Kerr has a chapter on the Waldenses in The People’s History of Presbyterianism in All Ages (1888).

Richard Clark Reed makes mention of the Waldensians in his History of the Presbyterian Churches of the World (1912).

Madison Monroe Smith wrote An Epitome of the Doctrines and Practice of the Old Waldenses and Albigenses (1866).

Joel Tyler Headley wrote History of the Persecutions and Battles of the Waldenses (1853).

These are really just to name a few of the works that are available here. Many more American Presbyterian works have been written about the Waldensians, and we at Log College Press continue to assemble them. Their memory is sacred, and they continue to inspire us; we do well even in the 21st century to learn all we can about them.

The Sermon That Landed Francis Makemie in Jail

As Francis Makemie himself wrote on March 3, 1707: “This is the Sermon, for which I am now a prisoner.” He spoke of the sermon he preached in New York City on January 19, 1707 titled “A Good Conversation.” It was based on Psalm 50:23: “To him that ordereth his Conversation aright, will I shew the Salvation of God.” The texts cited on the cover page when it was published were Matthew 5:11 and Acts 5:29, which deal with persecution for the faith, and obedience to God over man. It was the preaching and publishing of this sermon without a license in Anglican New York that led to the imprisonment of the Presbyterian minister Francis Makemie. The case became a major landmark in the history of religious liberty in America.

Also of note is that this sermon is “probably the earliest Presbyterian sermon in America now extant, and was certainly the first preached in the City of New York.” It is certainly the earliest sermon currently available to read at Log College Press.

The “conversation” spoken of by Makemie, who utilized the King James Bible, is an older word for “conduct” or “manner of life.” As Makemie says,

A Conversation agreeable to First Table Commands and Second Table Commands, and to Gospel Precepts, is the only regular Conversation. How much therefore is it the concern of every Soul, to be acquainted with this Law, and to make conscience of conforming their Lives thereunto.

3. A Well-ordered Life and Conversation, consists in being adorned with the shining Grace, and gracious fruits of the Spirit of God; wherein the Gifts and Graces of the Renewing Spirit of God are legible and conspicuous, even in all parts of Conversation. This distinguishes the life of a Christian, from the Conversation of the most refined and polished Moralists in the world, and renders the Conversation of a true sincere Christian, to surpass by far the lives of Pagans.

The sermon is a lengthy treatise (originally designed for two discourses, as the author states) on how to live well for the glory of God and to make one’s calling and election sure. Far from being unorthodox, and far from being seditious, it was a testimony to lawful, submissive Christian living. Yet, without a license to preach, the sermon (especially being preached by an Irish-American) became, in the eyes of Lord Cornbury, the royal governor of New York, an intolerable symbol of resistance to the Crown.

Makemie further wrote about his experience in his “Narrative of the Imprisonment of Two Non-Conformist Ministers” (1707). In his account we learn about the time he spent in prison (two months) on the charge of preaching without a license before being released on bail, and the fact that during his trial he was able to produce the preaching license he was given previously in Barbados, after which he was acquitted and released, at great personal financial cost.

Both the sermon and the narrative are fascinating reads, and they give insight into the situation that Presbyterians in early America under British colonial rule faced. Take time to study these works, for your edification and understanding. They represent a window into a time and a heritage that America should never forget.

A Children's Sermon by Samuel Davies

Samuel Davies once preached a sermon to youth in 1758 (260 years ago) titled Little Children Invited to Jesus Christ (reprinted by the American Tract Society in 1826). It was an argument not to delay but to come to Jesus, and to embrace him by faith.

In this sermon, Davies clarifies what he means by “coming to Christ” (based on this text: “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little Children to come unto me, and forbid them not: For of such is the Kingdom of God,” Mark 10:14). The truths he lays out in this sermon are timeless and applicable to all, young or old.

You have a right, and that it is your duty, to Come to Jesus. Therefore, oh! come to him: come to him this very day, without delay.

But here, I hope, you start a very proper question, "What is it to come to Christ? or in what sense are we to understand this phrase, as it may be applied to us now, since he is removed from our world?"

Coming to Christ, in my text, did indeed mean a bodily motion to him: and this was practicable, while he tabernacled in flesh among men. But even then, it signified much more. It signified coming to him as a divine teacher, to receive instruction; as a Saviour, to obtain eternal life; and as the only Mediator, through whom guilty sinners might have access to God. It signified a motion of soul towards him, Correspondent to the bodily motion of coming: a motion of the desires, a flight of tender affections towards him. In this view it is still practicable to come to Christ; and it is our duty in these latter days, as much as it was theirs who were his contemporaries upon earth. It is in this view, I now urge it upon you: and in this view, it includes: the following particulars.

1. A clear conviction of sin; of sin in heart, in word, and in practice; of sin against knowledge; against alluring mercies and fatherly corrections; of sin against all the strongest incitements to duty. Without such a conviction of sin, it is impossible that you should fly to him as a Saviour: for he "came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

2. An affecting sense of danger, upon the account of sin. You cannot fly to him as a Saviour, till you see your extreme need of salvation; and you cannot see your need of salvation, till you are sensible of your danger; sensible that you are every moment liable to everlasting condemnation, and have no title at all to the divine favour.

3. A humbling sense of your own inability to save yourselves by the merit of your own best endeavours. I do not mean, that you should neglect your best endeavours; or that you should not exert your utmost strength in every good work, and in the earnest use of all the means of grace: for you never will come to Christ, till you are brought to this. But I mean, that while you are doing your utmost, you must be sensible, that you do not deserve any favour at all from God on that account, and that you neither can, nor do make any atonement for your sins by all your good works; but that God may justly condemn you notwithstanding. Till you are sensible of this, you will weary yourselves in vain, in idle self righteous efforts to perform the work which Jesus came into the world to perform, and which he alone was able to do; I mean, to make atonement for your sin, and to work out a righteousness to recommend you to God. It is an eternal truth, that you will never come to Christ as a Saviour, till you are deeply sensible there is no salvation in any other; and particularly that you are not able to save yourselves.

4. An affecting conviction, that Jesus Christ is a glorious, all sufficient and willing Saviour: that his righteousness is perfect, equal to all the demands of the divine law, and sufficient to make satisfaction for all our sins, and procure for us all the blessings of the divine favour; that he is able and willing to "save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him;" and that he is freely offered in the Gospel to all that will accept him, however unworthy, and however great their sins. Indeed it is an eternal truth, that though multitudes perish, it is not for want of a Saviour. There is a Saviour all sufficient, and perfectly willing; and this you must be convinced of before you can come to him.

5. An entire dependence upon his merits alone for acceptance with God. Sensible that you have no merit of your own; on which to depend; and sensible also that Jesus is a sure foundation, on which you may safely venture your eternal all, you must cast all your dependence and fix your entire trust on him. You will as it were hang about him, as the only support for your sinking soul, and plead his righteousness as the only ground of your acceptance with God. This is so unnatural to a proud self-confident sinner, that you must be brought very low indeed, thoroughly mortified and self-emptied, before you will submit to it.

6. A cheerful subjection to him as your ruler; and a voluntary surrender of yourselves to his service. If you come to him at all, it will be as poor penitent rebels, returning to duty with, shame and sorrow, and fully determined never to depart from it more. To embrace Christ as a Saviour, and yet not submit to him as our ruler; to trust in his righteousness, and in the mean time disobey his authority; this is the greatest absurdity, and utterly inconsistent with the wise constitution of the Gospel.

And now, my dear young friends, I hope even your tender minds have some idea what it is to come to Christ. And therefore, when I exhort you to it, you know what I mean. Come then, come to Jesus.

God's Providence in the Deaths of Log College Press Saints

Henry A. Boardman once had occasion to preach a funeral sermon for several individuals who perished in a railroad accident. In his 1855 sermon titled "God’s Providence in Accidents,” he said:

That death is among the objects of his providence, is a necessary corollary from his sovereignty. It is one of his inalienable prerogatives to create life, and he alone can destroy it. “I kill; and I make alive." Such is the concatenation of events, that the death of an obscure individual, or of an infant, at a different time or place from that which he had prescribed, might disorganize the entire scheme of terrestrial things, and even spread confusion through the whole boundless domain of his administration. "Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth?" "Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee: thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass." "Thou turnest man to destruction, and sayest: 'Return, ye children of men.'“

And this implies that the mode, and all the attending circumstances of death, are appointed in every instance. We may no more exempt one class of deaths from God's control, than another. The sword, the poison, the accident, are as much his instruments as the paralysis and the fever — the battle is no less his than the pestilence. The murder of Abel, and the tranquil death of Jacob; Joseph dying in Egypt, and Moses in Mount Nebo; Jonathan slain in battle and David peacefully expiring in the bosom of his family; John the Baptist beheaded, and Stephen stoned to death; all have a common place in the great scheme of Providence.

One of the features that makes Log College Press’ database of American Presbyterian writers so special is that — as often as possible — we have included photographs of these men, along with pictures of where they are laid to rest, as well as biographical information. Reviewing the lives and deaths of our Log College Press men, it is worth taking note of some of the unusual ways that some of them have finished their earthly course.

Maltbie Davenport Babcock — Composer of the famous hymn “This Is My Father’s World,” “Babcock died at age 42 in Naples, Italy, on May 18, 1901, returning from a trip to the Holy Land. According to a New York Times report of May 20, 1901, and widely carried by newspapers coast-to-coast, he committed suicide by slitting his wrist and ingesting ‘corrosive sublimate’ or mercuric chloride. He was being treated in the International Hospital in Naples for what was called ‘Mediterranean fever,’ an archaic term for brucellosis. Several of his travel companions suffered from this bacterial infection which causes fever, pain and depression. Babcock had been hospitalized for ‘nervous prostration’ (depression) in Danville, New York, ten years before his death.” — Wikipedia

Hezekiah James Balch — Presbyterian minister and one of the three primary authors of the 1775 Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, it is not known precisely how he died, merely that he died in early 1776, around the age of 30.

Elias Boudinot — After signing the Treaty of New Echota (1835), which ceded all Cherokee land east of the Mississippi to the U.S. federal government, Boudinot was assassinated at his Oklahoma home on June 22, 1839, by a group of Cherokees who were angry about his role in the removal of the tribe.

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.

William Jennings Bryan, Sr. — This Presbyterian statesman and lawyer is most famous today for his role in the 1925 Scopes Trial in Tennessee regarding the teaching of evolution. He won the case for the prosecution (contra evolution), which was decided on July 21, 1925, though he lost in the court of public opinion. However, he passed away in his sleep just five days later on July 26, 1925.

Aaron Burr, Sr. — Burr was the second president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton). Like the next two succeeding presidents (Jonathan Edwards and Samuel Davies), Burr preached a New Year’s sermon on Jeremiah 28:16 and died later that same year on September 24, 1757.

James Caldwell — The “Fighting Parson” of the American War of Independence, “Rev. Caldwell was picking up a traveler in his buggy. After carrying the baggage to the horse-drawn buggy, he went back to pick up a package. An American sentry ordered him to stop but distance precluded the command from being heard. With that, the sentry fired and killed Rev. Caldwell on November 24, 1781. At the trial and subsequent hanging of the sentry, there were rumors that he had been bribed by the British to kill the soldier parson. At any rate, he was buried beside his wife in the cemetery of the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethtown, New Jersey. A monument was placed up honoring him in 1846. Three towns in New Jersey are named after him, including an educational facility.” — This Day in Presbyterian History

Samuel Davies — Davies was the fourth president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton). Like each of the prior two presidents (Aaron Burr, Sr. and Jonathan Edwards), Davies preached a New Year’s sermon on Jeremiah 28:16 (“This Very Year Thou Shalt Die!”), and by February 4, 1761, Davies had passed away from pneumonia.

Moses Drury Hoge — “On Friday, November 4, 1898, Moses Drury Hoge was heading home after consoling a bereaved family when he suddenly heard the clanging bell of a trolley as it rammed into his buggy. He was thrown into the air and landed on his right side on the stone pavement and was severely injured. Dr. Hoge suffered with his injuries until he died on January 6, 1899.” — Presbyterians of the Past

George Howe — "In the case of George Howe, his fatal injury occurred after the Lord’s Day service. He was riding home when he was thrown from his carriage resulting in the breaking of one of his legs. He survived through two weeks of suffering before dying on April 15, 1883.” — Presbyterians of the Past

James Latta — An Irish-American Presbyterian who served as the third moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, “The circumstances of his death, as related by one of his daughters, were as follows: — Riding to church one Sabbath with his daughter Mary, he was thrown from the carriage, and falling on his head, he was somewhat stunned. He observed to her, — ‘I am killed; but do not tell your mother.’ He proceeded to church, preached with some difficulty, and returned home. He soon after fell into a sleepy, comatose state, until his daughter, the next day, alarmed, related to her mother what had happened. Help was immediately called in, but in vain. He continued a few days, almost insensible, and then died.” — This Day in Presbyterian History

John Greshem Machen — After traveling to North Dakota in December 1936, Machen developed an inflammation of the lungs, and then was hospitalized for pneumonia. Before he passed away on January 1, 1937, at the age of 55, he dictated a telegram to his friend and colleague John Murray in which he stated: “I'm so thankful for active obedience of Christ. No hope without it."

Nathaniel Smyth McFetridge — In 1881, McFetridge was seriously injured in a railroad accident, and never fully recovered. He passed away on December 3, 1886 at Minneapolis, Minnesota at the age of 44.

Benjamin Morgan Palmer — “Palmer was struck by a streetcar in New Orleans on May 5, 1902, and died twenty days later.” — Wikipedia

Charles Henry Parkhurst — Parkhurst died on September 8, 1933, by sleepwalking and walking off the porch roof of his Ventnor City, New Jersey, home.

David Ramsay — Famed Presbyterian historian David “Ramsay was appointed by a court to examine one William Linnen, a tailor known for serial litigation and nuisance suits, after Linnen had attempted to murder his attorney. Ramsay reported to the court that Linnen was ‘deranged’ and that it would be ‘dangerous to let him go at large.’ After apparently regaining his sanity, Linnen was released; though he threatened Ramsay, the latter did not take the threat seriously.

On May 6, 1815, at 1:00 p.m., Ramsay passed Linnen on Broad Street in Charleston. Linnen took out a ‘horseman's pistol’ that he had concealed in a handkerchief, and shot Ramsay twice, in the back and hip. According to a contemporary source:

Having been carried home, and being surrounded by a crowd of anxious citizens, after first calling their attention to what he was about to utter, he said ‘I know not if these wounds be mortal; I am not afraid to die; but should that be my fate, I call on all here present to bear witness, that I consider the unfortunate perpetrator of this deed a lunatic, and free from guilt.’

Ramsay died at 7 a.m. on May 8, 1815.” — Wikipedia

Robert Lodowick Stanton - “Stanton died en route to Europe and was buried at sea on May 28, 1885, at the age of seventy-six.” — Wikipedia

William Tennent III — “In 1777, upon the death of his minister father, he sought to bring his surviving mother to South Carolina. In that trip, he was seized with fever and died on the way. It was said that his mind was calm at the sudden turn of events and that he was willing to die. Thus, on this Day in August 11, 1777, he went into the presence of his heavenly Father.” — This Day in Presbyterian History

Samuel Hall Young — This pioneer missionary who survived an accident on an Alaskan glacier decades previously was hit and killed by a streetcar in Clarksburg, West Virginia on September 2, 1927.

An American Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has long been a national American tradition, dating back to the first Protestant thanksgiving in America at Fort Caroline, Florida as observed by the French Huguenots on June 30, 1564, upon their arrival after a cross-Atlantic journey, and more especially, as observed by the Pilgrims at Plimoth Colony, Massachusetts in the autumn of 1621, after a difficult first winter and a promising first harvest.

In William Adam’s 1873 volume titled Thanksgiving: Memories of the Day, Helps to the Habit, the author speaks not only of the nostalgia for the past, but shows us the Biblical and historical basis for setting apart times of thanksgiving for the particular mercies of God. It is good to take note when God answers prayer, or when blessings are bestowed, and not to let such mercies go without giving God the glory.

In memory of the day, be sure to look over William Carlos Martyn’s The Pilgrim Fathers of New England: A History (1867).

Since we last wrote about the American Presbyterian tradition of Thanksgiving sermons a year ago, many more have been added to our inventory. Here is a sample of what we have:

George Dodd Armstrong (1813-1899) preached a July 1861 Thanksgiving sermon giving thanks for the Confederate victory at Manassas, Virginia.

Lyman Hotchkiss Atwater (1813-1883) preached an historical Thanksgiving sermon commemorating the bicentennial of Fairfield, Connecticut in 1839.

William Pratt Breed (1816-1889) spoke eloquently on the distinction between church and state, and quoted Samuel Davies powerfully, in The Lights Which God Hath Shewed Us: A Thanksgiving Discourse (1861), a sermon delivered in Philadelphia following the commencement of the War Between the States.

George Burrowes (1811-1894) preached a patriotic 1852 Thanksgiving discourse.

Samuel Davies (1723-1761) preached a Thanksgiving sermon for national blessings received in 1759 (Serm. 71 in Vol. 4 of his Sermons). 

Robert B. Davidson (1808-1876) preached The Evils of Disunion: A Discourse Delivered on Thanksgiving Day, December 12, 1850 (1850) directly in response to the Compromise of 1850.

George Duffield II (1732-1790), who had served as a chaplain to the Continental Congress, preached a 1783 Thanksgiving sermon following the conclusion of the American War of Independence.

George Duffield IV (1794-1868) preached an 1820 sermon titled Judgment and Mercy: A Sermon, Delivered...On the Day of "Humiliation, Thanksgiving, and Prayer,” in which he took note of America’s national sin in failing to acknowledge God in the U.S. Constitution or requiring religious standards for public officials, as well as God’s mercy to this nation nevertheless.

George Duffield V (1818-1888) preached The New Capitol; or, The Wilderness Rejoicing: A Thanksgiving Sermon (1878) following the completion of the construction of the state capitol building in Lansing, Michigan.

Ezra H. Gillett (1823-1875)'s November 1862 Thanksgiving sermon was meant to inspire his Northern listeners in the midst of a great civil conflict. 

Francis James Grimké (1850-1937) delivered a 1914 Thanksgiving sermon which addressed racial injustice, as well as a 1918 Thanksgiving sermon in which thanks was given for the Allied victory in Europe at the conclusion of World War I (see Vol. 1 of his Works).

Drury Lacy, Jr. (1802-1884) preached A Thanksgiving Discourse, Delivered in the Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, N.C. (1851) to give thanks for mercies received by the State of North Carolina and the United States of America.

Samuel Miller (1769-1850)'s 1799 Thanksgiving sermon was delivered after a terrible epidemic struck New York City. 

Benjamin M. Palmer (1818-1902) preached a notable 1860 Thanksgiving sermon on the eve of war, which was to provoke a strong reaction by Charles Hodge. 

Gardiner Spring Plumley (1827-1894) preached an 1866 Thanksgiving sermon titled Piety Secures the Nation’s Prosperity: A Thanksgiving Discourse.

James Renwick Wilson Sloane (1823-1886) published a sermon God's Judgments, and Thanksgiving Sermons: A Discourse (1858) in response to the international economic panic of 1857.

William B. Sprague (1795-1876) preached an annual (December) Thanksgiving sermon in 1824. He would later preach another during the War Between the States in November 1861 entitled Glorifying God in the Fires.

Gardiner Spring (1785-1873)'s November 1861 Thanksgiving sermon called attention to national sins which had provoked the "Great Rebellion," as well as blessings received.

Robert Lodowick Stanton (1810-1885) preached a sobering sermon titled Ungodly Nations Doomed: A Discourse Preached on the Occasion of the Annual Thanksgiving, November 29, 1849, Recommended by the Governor of Louisiana (1849).

Charles Wadsworth (1814-1882) was known for delivering annual Thanksgiving sermons. We have here his Thanksgiving sermons from 1852-1856, 1858-1859, and 1868.

Lady of the Covenant: Katherine Heath Hawes

When Moses Drury Hoge was seeking the right person to lead a Sunday school program at his pastorate, the Second Presbyterian Church of Richmond, Virginia, he called upon Miss Katherine Heath Hawes (1875-1956), then about 20 years old.

Miss Katherine Heath Hawes of Richmond, Virginia, is credited with beginning Presbyterian youth ministry in the Southern Presbyterian Church. After Hawes returned from boarding school in 1895, the pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, Dr. Moses Drury Hoge, asked Miss Hawes to teach either a boys or girls Sunday school class. She chose the boys class (they were ages eight to ten!). Seeing how few boys attended Sunday school, Miss Hawes opened her home to them on Friday evenings for games and music, to provide them a place for fellowship with their peers. The following March, Company No. 1 of the Covenanters was born. Officers were elected, and a badge, watchward, and flag provided symbols of the Covenanters. Reports from and offerings for missionaries proved to be the focal point of the group. They eventually developed a choir and orchestra, then a fife and drum corps, followed by an emphasis on service projects.

As the boys grew older, their enthusiasm for the Covenanters brought about a desire in other Presbyterian churches to have such a ministry. By 1900, Presbyterian churches in nine other states and the District of Columbia registered as Companies of Covenanters. Soon Miriams, a companion group for girls, was added. (Mark H. Senter, When God Shows Up: A History of Protestant Youth Ministry in America, pp. 180-181)

Katherine Heath Hawes pictured in 1895.

Katherine Heath Hawes pictured in 1895.

The daughter of Samuel Horace Hawes, a member of the Confederate “Immortal 600,” Miss Hawes was also known, among other things, for her concern for the plight of blacks (particularly, black women) in her day. A student from her Social Service class in the 1920s wrote in 1986: “Miss Katherine was the first to awaken my conscious [sic] regarding the sorry plight of the negroes - especially the black woman sending off her children to school not knowing what insult, injury, or slight they might meet with during the day . . . .Their courage!" Compassion for the needs of the young and disadvantaged was a hallmark of Miss Hawes’ labors of love. She never married but she gave a life of service to the youth of the Presbyterian church, and the community around her. After her passing, her body was laid to rest at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

Robert Pollok Kerr wrote a book-length history and tribute to the Scottish Covenanters. Published in 1905, The Blue Flag, or, The Covenanters Who Contended for 'Christ's Crown and Covenant', this volume was

Miss Katherine Heath Hawes,

Who conceived and carried out the idea of
organizing the Presbyterian boys of the
United States in companies of “Covenanters”
to work for Christ and his Church, infusing
into them the spirit of those splendid heroes,
of whose toils and sufferings for liberty and
truth this book is a history:

And to the

Covenanter Companies:

May they keep the Old Flag flying, and be
faithful soldiers of Christ and his Church.

The Author

William H. Vail's Five Points of Calvinism Historically Considered

We have previously noted here on this blog that the first person known to have coined the TULIP acrostic is Cleland Boyd McAfee (1866-1944), who did so in 1905. Following up on earlier research by Wayne Sparkman of the PCA Historical Center, which cites a 1913 article in The New Outlook by William H. Vail as the source for this historical reference, we have recently added Vail and his June 21, 1913 article to Log College Press. The article is a brief, fascinating survey of TULIP’s origins and how other Presbyterian and Reformed theologians historically understood and made use of the Five Points of Calvinism (from the Synod of Dort to Jonathan Dickinson to contemporaries of Vail).

But also of interest to our readers is to know the answer to the question: Who was William Henry Vail? He lived a rather remarkable life. Born on August 4, 1845, in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, he first studied at Blair Academy (founded as a Presbyterian institution), and then went to Princeton (at that time known as the College of New Jersey), from which he graduated in 1865 (his senior oration topic was on William the Silent). He further studied at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, from which he received his M.D. in 1868. He practiced medicine from 1869 to 1886. Later in life he served as Secretary and Treasurer of Blair Academy; as a director of the Belvidere National Bank and of various railroads; as a member of the Board of Trustees of Lincoln University (Pennsylvania); and as a Presbyterian ruling elder and Sunday School Superintendent.

Founded in 1854, Lincoln University is regarded as the first degree-granting black college in America. In 1898, Dr. Vail, who had received a large inheritance, donated the funds to construct Vail Memorial Library (in 1972 the building was converted into an administrative office building and renamed Vail Memorial Hall), which is a lasting reminder of his legacy to that institution.

He maintained an active involvement in ecclesiastical and alumni affairs, participating in the 1912 Princeton Centennial Celebration. In 1915, at the age of 70, to celebrate his 50th reunion, he walked 50 miles from Newark to Princeton, New Jersey. A 1935 New York Times article highlighted the fact that Vail was the oldest living auto driver in New Jersey. The picture we have of him shows him walking in the 1937 Princeton P-rade. At the time of his death on December 31, 1943, he was at 98 the oldest living Princeton alumnus. He attributed his longevity to brown eggs, brown sugar, whole wheat bread, baked beans, and walking.

Such is a brief sketch of our author. To return to the article, which is both of historical significance in documenting TULIP’s origins, and important as an historical survey on the Five Points of Calvinism, it is now available for you to read for yourself. Be sure to check it out here.


Do you have more books on your shelves than you can possibly read even though you aspire to? More titles in your portable ebook reader than you can possibly scroll through? Do not feel embarrassed. Bibliomania is a word from the past that has been replaced. Instead, take heart!

There is a Japanese word that describes this situation perfectly: Tsundoku — that is, the acquiring of reading materials which one piles up at home without reading them all. In fact, according to one writer, there is value in owning more books than you can read. Tsundoku is a very comforting word to the bibliophile.

We at Log College Press understand the book lover’s dilemma. We also want to make it easier for you to solve that dilemma. We have published five booklets so far and although they are not expensive individually, we have reduced the price on all five with our “Pastor’s Package.” Besides this print package, we have e-copies available of each title.

The real value here, of course, is the spiritual worth of the content. We do hope that you will read these works and not let them remain dusty on your shelf or unopened on your e-book reader. As Augustine once wrote, Tolle lege (take up and read)!

Pastor's Package.jpg

A Dog, a Glacier, a Mountaineer and a Missionary

It was John Muir, the world-famous pioneer explorer who once said, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” In the summers of 1879 and 1880, “the most interesting period of [Muir’s] adventurous life,” the experienced mountaineer teamed up with the pioneer Presbyterian missionary, Samuel Hall Young, to explore Alaska’s Glacier Bay.

On that first summer trip together, Muir had agreed with some reluctance to take Young on a hiking expedition over a range of mountains that would include Glenora Peak. The hike was intended to cover 14 to 16 miles round-trip and to ascend to an elevation of 7,000 feet. Rev. Young was in good shape and promised to keep up with the expert hiker, although he kept to himself the fact that previous injuries had caused shoulders to be prone to dislocation.

Young did manage to keep up, but there was a terrifying moment when he slipped and landed on a ledge, in fact dislocating both shoulders. Muir had to work his way back to rescue Young, at one point, pulling Young’s collar by his teeth. It was a epic rescue, whereby Muir dragged, carried and guided his friend down Glenora Peak under the starlight while Young was in great agony. One would wish to see this event portrayed in a movie someday.

The following summer, as the two men again prepared to hike on a different mountainous route, Rev. Young brought his dog Stickeen along (so named for the Stikeen Indians in the area; Muir had an Indian crew with him to assist on this expedition), against Muir’s objections.

John Muir Stickeen cover.jpg

Muir later wrote:

I like dogs, but this one seemed so small and worthless that I objected to his going, and asked the missionary why he was taking him.

"Such a little helpless creature will only be in the way," I said; "you had better pass him up to the Indian boys on the wharf, to be taken home to play with the children. This trip is not likely to be good for toy-dogs. The poor silly thing will be in rain and snow for weeks or months, and will require care like a baby." But his master assured me that he would be no trouble at all; that he was a perfect wonder of a dog, could endure cold and hunger like a bear, swim like a seal, and was wondrous wise and cunning, etc., making out a list of virtues to show he might be the most interesting member of the party.

Just as Muir did not want the animal to hinder their hike, the dog himself seemed aloof to Muir. But the experiences they went through together on another perilous high-altitude glacier precipice in the midst of a storm changed all that. The dog indeed could endure hardship and it was during the intense trials experienced by the expedition that his loyalty and devotion to the leader of the group developed. Muir and Stickeen bonded in the most remarkable way, with their companionship during the difficult expedition becoming the stuff of legends.

Muir later wrote a book which immortalized his canine friend. First published in 1897 under the title An Adventure With a Dog and a Glacier, it was later republished in 1909 as Stickeen: The Story of a Dog, and in 1915 as Stickeen: An Adventure With a Dog and a Glacier (see this introduction to the classic work). After Young read it, he had this to say:

That little, long-haired, brisk, beautiful, but very independent dog, in co-ordination with Muir's genius, was to give to the world one of its greatest dog-classics. Muir's story of ''Stickeen" ranks with "Rab and His Friends" [1859; by Dr. John Brown (1810-1882) of the famous Scottish Presbyterian John Brown of Haddington and Edinburgh family], ''Bob, Son of Battle” [1898; by Alfred Ollivant], and far above "The Call of the Wild" [1903; by Jack London]. Indeed, in subtle analysis of dog character, as well as beauty of description, I think it outranks all of them. All over the world men, women and children are reading with laughter, thrills and tears this exquisite little story.

In time, Young actually became famous as the owner of that famous dog, Stickeen. Muir also wrote Travels in Alaska (1915), which recounts in much more detail both adventures briefly described above. Meanwhile, Young is the author of Alaska Days With John Muir (1915), which gives his account of both adventures (interspersed with his own poems) and shows his admiration of the man who followed the Book of Nature, while he himself — later superintendent of Presbyterian missions in Alaska — was man of the Book of Revelation who also loved nature. Other books by Young include Klondike Clan (1916); Adventures in Alaska (1919); Kenowan, the Hydah Boy (1919); and his autobiography, Hall Young of Alaska: The Mushing Parson (1927) — some of which are available to read at Log College Press. If you love reading about adventure, mountains, and man’s best friend — stories told by a Presbyterian pioneer missionary — these are tales that you will wish to explore for yourself from the comfort of your chair at home.

Samuel Miller on Dort

The Christian world, since the days of the apostles, had never a synod of more excellent divines (taking one thing with another) than this synod [Westminster] and the Synod of Dort were. — Richard Baxter

The divines of that assembly [Synod of Dort]...were esteemed of the best that all the reformed churches of Europe (that of France excepted) could afford.” — John Owen

The Synod of Dort, that great ecumenical Reformed council, was first convened on November 13, 1618, four hundred years ago today.

Thomas Scott (1747-1821), the famous British Anglican rector and Biblical commentator, published a study of The Articles of the Synod of Dort in 1818. Two decades later, in 1841, Samuel Miller wrote an Introductory Essay to this valuable work that itself is a worthy read. Sprinkle Publications of Harrisonburg, Virginia republished these works together in 1993.

Take time on this historic anniversary to read what Miller and Scott had to say about the great Synod of Dort. It is well worth your 21st century time to better understand this 17th century council through 19th century eyes.

The Great Secret of True Comfort - Archibald Alexander

When Archibald Alexander first published his devotional classic Thoughts on Religious Experience in 1841, it did not contain the Appendix that was first added to the 1844 edition which contains his “Letters to the Aged.”

It is difficult to ascertain for sure what led to the creation of those Letters to the Aged, but one possible explanation for their genesis might lie in a letter written by his son, James Waddel Alexander, to John Hall, dated August 10, 1837, in which J.W. makes this intriguing suggestion: "A book ought to be written with this title: 'The Aged Christian's Book: printed in large type for the convenience of old persons.' It should be in the largest character attainable. Such topics as these: The Trials of Old Age; The Temptations of Old Age; The Duties of Old Age; The Consolations of Old Age, &c, &c. It should be a large book, with little matter in it. Why has no Tract Society thought of such a thing? (J.W. Alexander, Forty Years' Familiar Letters, Vol. 1, p. 255; see also James M. Garretson, Thoughts on Preaching & Pastoral Ministry, p. 170).” This is an almost-perfect description of what came to be known a few years later as Alexander’s “Letters to the Aged” (republished by Log College Press under the title Aging in Grace: Letters to Those in the Autumn of Life, 2018).

Regardless of the particular origin of these “Letters to the Aged,” we have an early example of the same from the pen of Archibald Alexander as recorded by J.W. in the biography he wrote of his father. According to J.W., this is “the only letter to his aged and declining mother, which is known to be in existence” (dated May 25, 1823, from Princeton, New Jersey; see J.W. Alexander, Life of Archibald Alexander, pp. 402-404).

My Dear Mother: —

When I last saw you, it was very doubtful whether you would ever rise again from the bed to which you were confined. Indeed, considering your great age, it was not to be expected that you should entirely recover your usual health. I was much gratified to find that in the near prospect of eternity, your faith did not fail, but that you could look death in the face without dismay, and felt willing, if it were the will of God, to depart from this world of sorrow and disappointment. But it has pleased your Heavenly Father to continue you a little longer in the world. I regret to learn that you have endured much pain from a disease of your eyes, and that you have been less comfortable than formerly. Bodily affliction you must expect to endure as long as you continue in the world. 'The days of our years are three-score years and ten, and if by reason of strength they be four-score years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.' But while your Heavenly Father continues you in this troublesome world, he will, I trust, enable you to be resigned and contented and patient under the manifold afflictions which are incident to old age.

The great secret of true comfort lies in a single word, TRUST. Cast your burdens on the Lord, and he will sustain them. If your evidences of being in the favour of God are obscured, if you are doubtful of your acceptance with him, still go directly to him by faith; that is, trust in his mercy and in Christ's merits. Rely simply on his word of promise. Be not afraid to exercise confidence. There can be no deception in depending entirely on the Word of God. It is not presumption to trust in him when he has commanded us to do so. We dishonour him by our fearfulness and want of confidence. We thus call in question his faithfulness and his goodness. Whether your mind is comfortable or distressed, flee for refuge to the outstretched wings of his protection and mercy. There is all fulness in him; there is all willingness to bestow what we need. He says, 'My grace is sufficient for thee. My strength is made perfect in weakness. As thy day is so shall thy strength be. I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.' Be not afraid of the pangs of death. Be not afraid that your Redeemer will then be afar off. Grace to die comfortably is not commonly given until the trial comes. Listen not to the tempter, when he endeavours to shake your faith, and destroy your comfort. Resist him, and he will flee from you. If you feel that you can trust your soul willingly and wholly to the hands of Christ, relying entirely on his merits; if you feel that you hate sin, and earnestly long to be delivered from its defilement; if you are willing to submit to the will of God, however much he may afflict you; then be not discouraged. These are not the marks of an enemy, but of a friend. My sincere prayer is, that your sun may set in serenity; that your latter end may be like that of the righteous; and that your remaining days, by the blessing of God's providence and grace, may be rendered tolerable and even comfortable.

It is not probable that we shall ever meet again in this world; and yet, as you have already seen one of your children go before you, you may possibly live to witness the departure of more of us. I feel that old age is creeping upon me. Whoever goes first, the rest must soon follow. May we all be ready! And may we all meet around the throne of God, where there is no separation for ever and ever! Amen!

His mother was Agnes Ann Reid Alexander (1740-1825), and her earthly remains are buried with her husband at the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.

Archibald Alexander clearly understood what it was like to be in the “autumn of life,” with its particular physical and spiritual challenges and opportunities, and the comfort and encouragement that is needed at this stage of life. This is why Log College Press chose to republish his worthy “Letters to the Aged” as Aging in Grace: Letters to Those in the Autumn of Life. Be sure to order your copy here, and consider purchasing extra copies for your pastor or loved ones.

World War I in Remembrance

The Lord’s Day, November 11, 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that brought an end to the shooting in World War I, which came into force at 11 am Paris time on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

The American President at the time of this “Great War” was Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), the son of one of the founders of the Southern Presbyterian Church, Joseph Ruggles Wilson, Sr. Woodrow was a Presbyterian ruling elder [“When Woodrow Wilson was elected as a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in 1897, his preacher father allegedly remarked, ‘I would rather that he held that position than be president of the United States.’" — Barry Hankins, Woodrow Wilson, Ruling Elder, Spiritual President] who studied at Davidson College and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) — both Presbyterian institutions — and also served as President of Princeton University.

During Wilson’s first term as President, his Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, was also a Presbyterian ruling elder (who ultimately resigned in 1915 because of fears that Wilson would bring the U.S. into the War). Wilson initially tried to maintain a position of U.S. neutrality in the War but ended up — following the revelation of the Zimmerman telegram in January 1917 and the German sinking of American ships in March 1917 — declaring war on the German alliance known as the Central Powers in April 1917.

In light of the historical anniversary of the November 1918 Armistice, Log College Press is highlighting a few works on our site that pertain to World War I, in remembrance of the men and women who gave their lives.