Have you read the biographical sketches authored by Thomas Peck?

From time to time we aim to highlight not only sets of volumes containing the works of a particular author, but also to guide the reader to particular writings of interest within a set. In the case of Thomas Ephraim Peck (1822-1893), the three volumes originally titled Miscellanies of Thomas E. Peck. One can glean something of the contents of each by reviewing the title page of the separate volumes, but today we focus our attention on the biographical sketches contained in the first volume. 

The three biographical sketches cover the lives of Martin Luther (German Reformer), Blaise Pascal (French Jansenist), and Stuart Robinson (Southern Presbyterian). The first two are the fruits of lectures given in 1871-1872, the latter is a memorial of a man that Peck knew personally and worked with, which appeared in an 1882 volume of the Southern Presbyterian Review.

These sketches evidence scholarly historical research and spiritual appreciation of the men highlighted. Regarding the German "Samson," Peck acknowledges his errors and human flaws, yet tells Luther's story as admirer of the man whom God placed at the right time and place. Peck recognizes that Pascal was fighting a battle over the Biblical understanding of grace from within the Roman Catholic Church, but pays tribute to his genius, eloquence and "golden words" on behalf of the truth. In his memorial of Robinson, an Irish-American Presbyterian minister, he tells of the life and writings of a man he considered his friend, with humility leaving out the fact that with him he served as co-editor of the Presbyterian Critic and Monthly Review.

These sketches are not long, but are full of spiritual insight, historical perspective, and personal appreciation. Take time to read these tributes to three remarkable men by a gifted Presbyterian historian. 

What's in a Name?

If you desire to get to know the growing list of author names at Log College Press, one thing will stand out if you know a bit about Reformed church history. Many of our authors were named after eminent Reformed Christians who went before them. 

Archibald Alexander (1772-1851) named several of his children after notable Christians, including James Waddel Alexander (1804-1859) (named for James Waddel, the "Blind Preacher," Archibald's father-in-law); and Samuel Davies Alexander (1819-1894) (named for Samuel Davies (1723-1761), the "Apostle of Virginia") - also William Cowper Alexander, after William Cowper, the poet.

Elias Boudinot (1802-1839), a Cherokee Indian, was born Gallegina Uwati, also known as Buck Watie, took the name of his mentor, Elias Boudinot IV (1740-1821)

Charles Hodge (1797-1878) named his son Archibald Alexander Hodge (1823-1886) after the elder Hodge's mentor, Archibald Alexander.

James Renwick Wilson Sloane (1823-1886) and James Renwick Willson (1780-1853) were both named for the Scottish Covenanter James Renwick. 

Alexander McLeod Staveley (1816-1903) was likely named for Alexander McLeod (1774-1833), as was James McLeod Willson (1809-1866) (his father J.R. Willson studied theology under Alexander McLeod). 

John Newton Waddel (1812-1895), son of Moses Waddel (1770-1840), was named by his parents after the Anglican minister John Newton - another son was named after the British hymn-writer Isaac Watts. 

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield's (1851-1921) middle name comes from his maternal line and honors his grandfather Robert Jefferson Breckinridge (1800-1871), and others in his distinguished family tree. 

Richard Cameron Wylie (1846-1928) is named for the Scottish Covenanter Richard Cameron. 

These names tell us something about the Presbyterian heritage that has been treasured and passed down. Get to know these writers, as well as who they are named for, and others here at Log College Press, who have many fascinating biographies and family trees, as well as their writings. 

Looking for Presbyterian biographies & haven't read Sprague? You're in for a treat.

William Buell Sprague was a prolific author and editor, and his two-volume collection of biographies of Presbyterian ministers from the earliest days of American Presbyterianism to 1855 is pure gold. He not only gives you the historical data, but he includes reminisces from friends who knew the subject of each biography. Fascinating, informative, and encouarging. (Sprague also wrote a two-volume set on Congregational ministers - we'll be uploading those at some point as well). 

Why do we remember the fathers and mothers of the faith? John L. Girardeau: "To magnify the grace of God."

John Lafayette Girardeau, in his eulogy of George Howe, uttered these words, which remind us that the primary purpose of Christian biography is to glorify God by remembering the work He has done in His servants:

“In doing honor to those who have attained to eminence, there is a tendency unduly to exalt the perfection of human nature, from the indulgence of which we are restrained by the principles of Christianity. It can never be forgotten by those who are imbued with its instructions and possessed of a consciousness illuminated by its light, that all men, even the greatest and best, are sinners; and that, whatever advancement in mere moral culture may be effected by the force of natural resolution, neither the beginning nor the development of holiness is possible without the application of the blood of atonement, and the operation of supernatural grace. To signalise, therefore, the virtues of a departed Christian is to celebrate the provisions of redemption, and to magnify the graces of the Holy Ghost.”

Because Christians are sinners, we dare not lionize them. But because Christians are God's workmanship, redeemed in Christ Jesus, we dare not demonize them.