Happy 200th Birthday to Benjamin Morgan Palmer!

It was 200 years ago today that Benjamin Morgan Palmer (January 25, 1818 - May 25, 1902) was born. "One of the greatest of the Old School [Southern Presbyterian] preachers" (Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, Vol. 6: The Modern Age, p. 321), Palmer has also been described as "a Presbyterian of the Presbyterians, a Calvinist of the Calvinists, and a Christian of the Christians" (T.C. Johnson, The Life and Letters of Benjamin Morgan Palmer, p. 658). 

A native of South Carolina, Palmer ended up serving as pastor of a Presbyterian congregation in New Orleans, Louisiana for 46 years. He was a faithful adherent of the American Westminster Standards, a supporter of the Confederate cause, and a believer in a Christocentric world-view in both religion and politics. "As a preacher of the gospel, he is to be ranked with the greatest in church history. He is in the class of Chrysostom, Whitefield and Spurgeon. A preacher of his caliber has not been heard since his death in 1902." (Joseph Morecraft III, Biographical Introduction to the Sermons of Dr. B.M. Palmer) 

In analyzing two of Palmer's sermons, "Looking Unto Jesus" and "Love to an Unseen Christ," Old summarizes the Puritan style of Palmer's preaching, including the pattern recommended by the Huguenot minister Jean Claude (1619-1687), who advocated choosing as a text a single verse with a single theme for the auditors to comprehend. Palmer exalted Christ as He is revealed in the Scriptures, both as very God and very Man, as Servant and King, who ought to be the immediate object of our faith and worship. He appealed to the Scriptures to support this testimony and encourage his hearers in their faith. "Spurgeon and Palmer were masters at this," Old says. 

We at Log College Press are thankful for the ministry of such a man, and he was a man indeed, with clay feet, and blind spots, as we all have, but of his humility, his love for Christ, and his eloquence in the Word, none can doubt. So on the bicentennial of his birth, take time to look over the growing body of works by Benjamin Morgan Palmer at our site. 

"It is at Dr. Palmer’s feet we now come to sit, and through his writing at the feet of Christ Jesus, in order that we might become more grounded in Biblical faith and practice, and more ardent in our love for our Savior." (C.N. Willborn, Foreword, Selected Writings of Benjamin Morgan Palmer, 2014) 

A New Year's Sermon by Benjamin Morgan Palmer

In the twilight of his life, Benjamin Morgan Palmer (1818-1902) was asked to give a sermon marking not only the beginning of a new year, but a new century as well. At his Presbyterian church in New Orleans, on January 1, 1901, he gave what has become known as the "Century Sermon." In it, he reminds his listeners of God's providential workings through history up until the present day, and ponders the future ahead as it lays in God's hands. While much has happened in the last century that Palmer perhaps could not have imagined, his faith in the Lord of history ought to be our faith. We can learn much from a step back in time to listen to a 19th century Presbyterian pastor's words at the cusp of the 20th century. 

Happy New Year from all of us at Log College Press, and blessings upon you and yours! 

Benjamin Morgan Palmer on Family Worship

Benjamin Morgan Palmer (1818-1902) published an essay on The Family in two parts, concluding with a section on the importance of family worship. Lloyd Sprinkle of Sprinkle Publications, who published a modern reprint of this work, conjoined with J.W. Alexander's Thoughts on Family Worship, wrote this about Palmer's study: "To this pastor's mind, this work, 'The Family,' presents the best teaching on the family that I have had the pleasure to read." 

Palmer reminds us that God will pour out his fury on families that do not call upon his name, and that Scripture emphasizes that "the household [is] an altar upon which the fire of pure religious worship should ever burn." Although the time spent on family worship specifically in his treatise is limited, it beautifully highlights not only the necessity and value of morning and evening worship, but also the devotions of a family as expressed by giving thanks at meals, at anniversaries of births and deaths, at family reunions, when families are in mourning, and at all such occasions in the life of family. Palmer has already established that marriage and the family are instituted by God, and his conclusion that daily family worship is to be rendered to God flows of necessity. According to Palmer, the family is of God and all of its acts, relations and expressions of devotions are necessarily regulated and required of God. Family Bible study and family worship are simply the oxygen that families need to breathe and by which they live to God's glory. Having laid the groundwork that families are instituted and regulated by God, Palmer's conclusion that family worship is necessary and needed caps a beautiful treatise by a 19th century pastor that is needed very much today.

Benjamin Morgan Palmer's sermon on Philippians 4:6

On July 29, 1855, Benjamin Morgan Palmer preached a sermon to his congregation at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, on Philippians 4:6 entitled "The Antidote of Care." It had such an impact on the people of God that they asked him to publish it. The antidote of care is prayer. Palmer tells us why:

1. In prayer we are brought to a habitual and practical sense of the supreme will of a personal God.

2. Prayer leads to the contemplation of God in his Covenant relations to us, which will soften the lot otherwise rugged and difficult.

3. Prayer compels us to take an inventory of our mercies, and to balance, these against our trials. 

4. Prayer imparts a tone to the spirit, girding it for the hour of trial.

5. Prayer brings us to a distinct issue with ourselves in relation to our cares.

6. In prayer we apprehend the nearness of Heaven, which is a motive to submission and patience.

Have you lost a loved one? Few books address the topic of bereavement as beautifully as The Broken Home by B. M. Palmer

Benjamin Morgan Palmer's book The Broken Home: Lessons in Sorrow is a poignant, powerful journey through the deaths of Palmer's children, wife, and mother. He writes to bind up the broken-hearted by sharing the depth of his own feeling as he watched the Lord take his loved ones home to heaven. If you are grieving the loss of a family member, especially a child, this book will be a healing balm to the soul. 

If you've never heard of Benjamin Morgan Palmer's Theology of Prayer, download it here today.

Benjamin Morgan Palmer, the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans from 1856-1902, wrote a beautiful volume on the theology of prayer, as viewed in the religion of nature and under the covenant of grace. You can find it for free here. To whet your appetite, here is a snippet:

In the last analysis, then, what is prayer but the language of creaturely dependence upon that God from whom being itself is derived? ... This consciousness of dependence finds its only full expression in prayer; we lean upon God, and are at rest. It may pour itself forth with a pathos that stirs the heart of sympathy, or despair may muffle 'the groanings which cannot be uttered'; in either case the intelligent recognition of creature-helplessness leaning upon divine power is the kneeling posture of the soul in prayer. It is the thirst of ignorance drinking deep draughts from the overflowing fulness of divine wisdom. It is the exhaustion of weakness drawing nerve into a broken will from the resources of infinite strength. This is prayer: when, sinking through the earthly crust, the creature seeks repose in God; when from the eternal fountain he derives the help and solace which the creature always needs, and which the Creator alone can supply. (15-17)

It gets even better. So spend some time this weekend reading this book - you will be thankful you did.