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

(Receive our blog posts in your email by clicking here. If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

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…


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

(Receive our blog posts in your email by clicking here. If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

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 Calder Statues: American Heroes of the Faith

(Receive our blog posts in your email by clicking here. If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

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

(Receive our blog posts in your email by clicking here. If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

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!

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

(Receive our blog posts in your email by clicking here. If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

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 Report of the 1849 Committee on Congregational Singing

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

The June 30, 1849, edition of The Presbyterian, published in New York and Philadelphia, records the report of the Committee on Congregational Singing to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Old School (Dr. William Swan Plumer was on this committee). It is a fascinating read, particularly on what it has to say about the topic of choirs in relation to congregational singing. We quote the section in full:

While, in some places, as yet, singing in public worship is conducted by a precentor, or a choir, and the congregation generally join their voices in other places, a select choir performs the singing, with little or no assistance from the great body of the congregation. We are free to say that we consider the latter practice as very undesirable, at the least. It results, in some cases, from the too frequent introduction of new tunes, which are repeated so seldom, and at such long intervals, that the congregation has no sufficient opportunity to become familiar with them and this is one important reason of the dislike which is occasionally felt toward new tunes, otherwise unexceptionable. But the disuse of congregational singing arises, also, from the fact that as the more cultivated and skilful singers are apt to be collected in the choir, there is not only a corresponding diminution of the number of singers in the body of the congregations, by the transfer of voices which formerly rose from various points in the assembly, but an increased diminution is effected, because other persons, who now miss the leading voices, by whose vicinity they were encouraged to sing, have now ceased to sing at all; and at length, if the singing of the choir happens to be very excellent, the pleasure of listening to it supersedes what ought to be the pleasure, and is the duty, of following it and uniting with it; and in the end, the mass of the worshippers sit completely silent.

We do not object to choirs. They are eminently useful as leaders. The evil alluded to is not necessarily to be remedied by disbanding them. There is a more excellent way of supplying the defect. We do not insist that it is the duty of all to sing. We think rather that it is the duty of some persons not to attempt to sing in public worship. Such are the incurables in voice and ear. But, at the same time, far more persons than now attempt to sing, may, can, and ought to qualify themselves for an edifying use of their voices in praising God in his courts. And, before we too soon conclude against choirs, as the cause of the disuse of congregational singing, a little inquiry into the habits of the people, in regard to this matter, may disclose a reason or two, which make greatly against some of those who complain of the evil. In the first place, is it not a fact that people generally do not pay sufficient regard to the excellent recommendation in the Directory, (chap. 4, Sec. 2,) to "cultivate some knowledge of the rules of music, that we may praise God in a becoming manner, with our voices, as well as our hearts?" What can be expected from indolence on this point, but the dissonant marring of "becoming praise," which no man has a right to produce, or an unseemly silence, which no man has a right to relapse into, until he has made a fair, but fruitless effort to learn to sing. Secondly, let us inquire how much of this evil is to be attributed to another evil probably lying back of it: is there not reason to believe that singing in family worship has fallen into general desuetude? Where this exercise is neglected, not only does family worship lose one of its sweetest elements and attractions, with all its soothing and elevating influences, but the young are deprived of one of the most likely and important means and aids for acquiring the taste, the practice, and the skill, which fit them to join in the praises of the Lord's house, with advantage to themselves and others. The operation of these two causes appears to us to be so obvious, that they need only to be indicated in order to suggest the remedy. On this point, proper care must be exercised by pastors, elders, and heads of families. Let them co-operate in promoting the cultivation of sacred music in families, in singing schools, in Sunday schools, in singing meetings, and even in the week-day schools: and let the officers of the church take the supervision both of the instruction of their people, and especially the youth, and of the whole department of the singing in public worship. Thus much will be done to correct any undue innovations by precentors and choirs, and to secure that co-operation of choir and people which is most desirable and practicable. This combination is attainable in entire consistency with a style of church-music, such as is demanded by the dignity of the service and approved by good taste, and with the edification of the people and the greater glory of God. Otherwise, it may well be feared that the work of " praising God in his sanctuary" will be monopolized by a very few persons; and it will be no sufficient apology for the indolent worshiper, that he is ready to objurgate "singing by Committee," and "praising God by proxy," while, in contrast with his own remissness, the zeal and pains which strive to rescue the singing of God's praise from utter neglect and contempt, are worthy of all commendation.

The committee’s report can be read in full here (1849 Old School General Assembly Minutes, starting at page 390).

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

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

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

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

19th Century Bible Study Questions from A-Z

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

The right question makes all the difference in the world - and not just in Jeopardy. The best interviewers, whether on TV or on podcasts, ask the best questions - the most insightful, the most difficult, the ones that make their subject squirm, or laugh, or angry, or transparent. Knowing the right questions to ask of a person, or a text, usually means the difference between understanding and ignorance.

In 1884, the Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America was published by Alfred Nevin. The following questions were included in it, as a guide for reading the New Testament in particular, but can be applied to the whole Bible. Helpfully, they are listed in alphabetical form. Keep these handy wherever you read and study God’s word.

In the study of the New Testament, and of the gospels especially, we need to inquire and compare. The inspired writings are infinitely rich in truth, and each verse is so connected with the rest that an intelligent inquirer may easily extend its investigations from one passage over the whole of Scripture. Without attempting to exhaust topics of inquiry, we mention the following :

A. What analogies between sensible and spiritual things may be here traced ?

A1. What prophecy is here accomplished? where found? when written? what rule of interpretation is illustrated?

B. What blessing is here sought or acknowledged, or promised, and why?

C. What custom is here referred to ?

C1. What trait of character is here given? good or bad? belonging to our natural or our renewed state? what advantages are connected with it?

D. What doctrine is here taught? how illustrated? what its practical influence ?

D1. What duty is here enforced, and how? from what motives ?

D2. What difficulty is here found in history or doctrine? how explained?

E. What evangelical or other experience is here recorded?

E1. What example is here placed before us? of sin or of holiness? lessons?

F. What facts are here related? what doctrine or duty do they illustrate? do you commend or blame them, and why ?

G. What is the geographical position of this country, or place? and what its history ?

H. What facts of natural history or of general history are here referred to or illustrated?

I. What institution or ordinance is here mentioned? On whom bindling? what its design? what its connection with other institutions?

I1. What instructions may be gathered from this fact, or parable, or miracle?

K. What knowledge of human nature, or want of knowledge, is here displayed?

L. What lofty expressions of devotional fervor?

L1. What Levitical institute is here mentioned? why appointed?

M. What miracle is here recorded? by whom wrought? in whose name? what were its results? what taught?

N. What is worthy of notice in this name?

P. What prohibition is here given? is it word, or thought, or deed it condemns?

P1. What is the meaning of the parable here given? what truth as to God, Christ, man, "the kingdom," is taught?

P2. What promise is here given? to whom?

R. What prophecy is here recorded? is it fulfilled? how? when?

S. What sin is here exposed?

S1. What sect is here introduced? mention its tenets.

T. What type is here traced?

T. What threatening? when inflicted?

U. What unjustifiable action of a good man? what unusual excellence in one not pious?

W. What woe is here denounced? what warning given? against whom, and why?

X. What is here taught of the work, character, person of Christ?

X1. What sublimity of thought or of language is here? what inference follows ?

Foreign Missions in the 19th Century Southern Presbyterian Church

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

The 19th century Southern Presbyterian Church (PCUS) was a missionary church from its formation, continuing the commitment that Presbyterians had demonstrated since their coming to the shores of America. These words by John Leighton Wilson, the first “Coordinator” of Foreign Missions for the PCUS, beautifully sum up the importance of foreign missions to Presbyterians in the South:

Finally, the General Assembly desires distinctly and deliberately to inscribe on our church's banner as she now first unfurls it to the world, in immediate connection with the Headship of her Lord, His last command: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature;" regarding this as the great end of her organization, and obedience to it as the indispensable condition of her Lord's promised presence, and as one great comprehensive object a proper conception of whose vast magnitude and grandeur is the only thing which in connection with the love of Christ can ever sufficiently arouse her energies and develop her resources, so as to cause her to carry on with the vigor and efficiency which true fealty to her Lord demands, those other agencies necessary to her internal growth and home prosperity. The claims of this cause ought therefore to be kept constantly before the minds of our people and pressed upon their consciences,—and every minister owes it to his people and to a perishing world to give such instruction on this subject as he is able; and to this end the monthly concert ought to be devoutly observed by every church on the first Sabbath of each month for the purpose of missionary instruction as well as prayer, and it would be well to accompany their prayers with their offerings. To the same end the Assembly earnestly enjoins upon all our ministers and ruling elders and deacons and Sabbath school teachers, and especially upon parents, particular attention to our precious youth in training them to feel a deep interest in this work, and not only to form habits of systematic benevolence, but to feel and respond to the claims of Jesus upon them for personal service in the field..." (Minutes of the 1st General Assembly of the PCUS/PCCSA [1861], p. 17 - not yet on the Log College Press website).

Several writings by Presbyterians in the South on the topic of missions are worthy of note:

  • James Henley Thornwell's "The Sacrifice of Christ the Type and Model of Missionary Effort" - on page 411 of Volume 2 of his Collected Writings (1871) - found here

  • Moses Drury Hoge's "The Westminster Standards and Missionary Activity" - on page 185 of Memorial Volume of the Westminster Assembly, 1647-1897 (1897) - found here

  • Thomas Cary Johnson's Introduction to Christian Missions (1909) - found here.

  • Thomas Smyth's writings on missions can be found in Volume 7 of his Complete Works - found here. His article "The Duty of Interesting Children in the Missionary Cause" is particularly stimulating and helpful.

  • William Sheppard's book on his mission work to the Congo can be found here.

  • Some of the most memorable words on missions from an American Presbyterian came from the mouth of the Southerner John Holt Rice in 1831: "The Presbyterian Church in the United States is a Missionary Society, the object of which is to aid in the conversion of the world; and every member of the Church is a member for life of said Society, and bound in maintenance of his Christian character to do all in his power for the accomplishment of this object." (from William Maxwell's Memoirs of John Holt Rice, pages 387ff.)

Many other missionary works by 18th and 19th century American Presbyterian can be found on on this page. There are great riches to be found in these pages, so read them, and forward this post on to missionaries you know, that there hearts might be strengthened in the work to which God has called them.

Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary's Interview About Log College Press

On March 28, Zack Groff of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary interviewed me about the background and purposes of Log College Press. If you’d like to learn more about why I started this website/ publishing endeavor, and why we think it’s important to collect and reprint the writings of and about 18th and 19th century American Presbyterians, please listen here!

How to Contend Earnestly for the Faith Once Delivered to the Saints

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

Book 7 of Samuel Baird’s Digest (formally titled A Collection of the Acts, Deliverances, and Testimonies of the Supreme Judicatory of the Presbyterian Church From Its Origin in America to the Present Time, published in 1856) is entitled “Heresies and Schisms.” It is filled with details about the controversies in the Presbyterian Church in the 18th and 19th century. Baird opens Book 7 with a quote from the 1806 General Assembly Minutes (one of these days we hope to have all the 18th and 19th century GA Minutes available on our site) that is both time-bound and timeless. May the Lord enable us to hold to and contend for the truth in holiness and love.

We live at a time when it become a duty peculiarly incumbent, to “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.” It will however be remembered , that the sacred cause of truth can never be promoted by angry controversy or railing accusation. It is therefore recommended to the churches to vindicate the truth, not only by sound and temperate discussion, but also and especially by the manifestation of its sanctifying and transforming power over the life and conversation; and by evincing that “the like mind is in us which was in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It should ever be recollected, that error in doctrine has a native tendency to produce immorality in practice; and therefore, that we should not be carried about by every wind of doctrine. Let us prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. This caution, it is hoped, will be received with attention and solemnity, inasmuch as the Church has been of late invaded by errors which strike at the very foundation of our faith and hope; such as the denial of the Godhead and atonement of the blessed Redeemer, the subjection of the Holy Scripture to the most extravagant impulses of the heart of man. These, and other errors of a dangerous nature, have been industriously, and, alas! that the Assembly should be constrained to add, in some portions of our country, too successfully disseminated.

Moses Drury Hoge on the Cause and Cure of Despondency

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

On October 2, 1898, Moses Drury Hoge stood to preach to the congregation of Second Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, a church he had planted in 1845 and pastored from that point. He had just turned eighty years of age two weeks earlier, and due to a “severe and serious illness,” it was the first time in many weeks that he had been in the pulpit. His sermon text was Psalm 42:11, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God,” and its title was “Cause and Cure of Despondency.” The sermon is now available on Hoge’s page on the Log College Press website (Andrew Myers was able to photograph this volume thanks to the courtesy of the staff of the rare book room at the William Morton Smith Library, Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia).

What words would this octogenarian give to his people to comfort and cheer them in their distresses? Hoge began by noting that David confronted his deep despondency with “searching inquiries as to the cause of his disquietude.” But his examination was aimed within, for “the soul has a strange power of going out of itself and conversing with itself as with another.” And Hoge saw this self-examination as a vital part of the Christian’s response to suffering:

Well would it be for us if we would cultivate this habit of going out of ourselves to counsel, to examine, to rebuke, or to cheer our own hearts. God has given us memory, and reason, and imagination for this very purpose. We exercise our memory and our reason more frequently than our imagination, and fail to make a proper use of it, because we confound imagination with fancy or fiction, overlooking the fact that imagination is a conception - a realization of the unseen. It pictures to us an unseen Savior, an unseen heaven; and, like faith, it enables us to apprehend the things hoped for as a present possession. We do not make enough of this imagination…Since God has given us these faculties, let us employ them for the purpose for which they were bestowed. We live in an executive, rather than a contemplative, age. As an antidote to this, let us spend more time in self-communion…It is greatly wise to catechize ourselves, to exhort, to scrutinize, to chide, to sit in judgment on our characters and lives.

Hoge declared that all of our despondency may be reduced to one cause: sin. Sometimes that sin lies within our own heart, and must be “searched out, confessed and repented of.” The hiding of a Father’s face due to indwelling corruption leads to “self-scrutiny and self-examination [which are] sad work at the time, but its fruits are precious, and the chastened child never forgets the lessons he has learned in these hours of anguish.” On other occasions our troubles are the result of the sins of others against us, or of the sicknesses that are the result of sin’s entrance into the world, or to “insoluble mysteries…which seem to baffle all investigation and to elude all explanation.” Oftentimes our distress and despair are due to the slow development of our spiritual lives, or to the fact that we see no fruit for our labor, though we have strained to edify our neighbors and glorify God.

What is the cure to all these various forms of despondency? In a word, hope. Whether our own sin or the sin of others against us; whether perplexing providence or crushing bereavement or a seemingly vain attempt at doing good; we must put our hope in a sovereign and forgiving God, who is “our God by covenant, by oath, by indwelling presence.” This hope flows naturally into praise, and Hoge ends his sermon with a expression of desire: “How it would rejoice my heart if this, my first sermon on my return, should be the means of leading some soul to Christ, or of strengthening and comforting one of God’s dear children.” May the Lord do the same for you as you read this sermon.

Thomas Cary Johnson On How God Used William Carey for the Good of His Church

As I prepare to teach a Sunday School class on the theology and history of missions this summer, I’ve been greatly aided by Thomas Cary Johnson’s Introduction to Christian Missions (1909). He weaves together biblical theology, exegesis, and history beautifully, and does so from a high view of the church and its calling to be God’s appointed missionary society. We get a taste of how Johnson’s ecclesiology and missiology merge in his evaluation of how God used William Carey in the life of the church:

“Carey no more caused the mission movements which were so closely connected with his life than Luther caused the Reformation amongst the German people; but as Luther led and accelerated the one movement so Carey led, accelerated and gave his own character to early nineteenth century Protestant missions. In this way he was helping toward the awaking of more than individuals, and groups of individuals to a sense of their responsibility to be missionary. If the winning of religious toleration was a preparation to the winning of religious liberty in Virginia, in Colonial and Revolutionary days, so the excitation into being of great voluntary missionary societies was a preparation for something much better for the awakening of the Churches of Christendom to a consciousness of the fact that God's Church is the God-ordained missionary society, and that every Christian in virtue of his Church membership is a member of a missionary society, and as such is pledged to do his utmost for the disciplining of all nations.”

As a little lagniappe today, you’ll be encouraged by the missionary principles of Carey and his fellow-laborers, composed on October 7, 1805, as a "Form of Agreement Respecting the Great Principles on which the Brethren of the Mission at Serampore [in India] Think it their Duty to Act in the Work of Instructing the Heathen."

(1) It is absolutely necessary that we set an infinite value on immortal souls;

(2) that we gain all information of the snares and delusions in which these heathen are held;

(3) that we abstain from those things which would increase their prejudice against the Gospel;

(4) that we watch all opportunities of doing good;

(5) that we keep to the example of Paul and make the great subject of our preaching Christ the crucified;

(6) that the natives should have entire confidence in us and feel quite at home in our company;

(7) that we build up and watch over the souls that may be gathered;

(8) that we form our native brethren to usefulness, fostering every kind of genius and cherishing every gift and grace in them; especially advising the native churches to choose their pastors and deacons from among their own countrymen;

(9) that we labor with all our might in forwarding translations of the sacred Scriptures in the languages of India, and that we establish native free schools and recommend these establishments to other Europeans;

(10) that we be constant in prayer and the cultivation of personal religion to fit us for the discharge of these laborious and unutterably important labors; let us often look at Brainherd, in the woods of America, pouring out his very soul before God for the perishing heathen without whose salvation nothing could make him happy;

(11) that we give ourselves up unreservedly to this glorious cause. Let us never think that our time, our gifts, our strength, our families, or even the clothes' that we wear, are our own. Let us sanctify them all to God and his cause. Oh, that He may sanctify us for His work! No private family ever enjoyed a greater portion of happiness than we have done since we have resolved to have all things in common. If we are enabled to persevere, we may hope that multitudes of converted souls will have reason to bless God to all eternity for sending His Gospel to this country."

May the Lord cause his church today to pursue His glory and the good of the lost with the zeal of Carey and those who served with him!

Archibald Alexander's Advice to a Young Pastor on How to Arrange His Schedule

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

We have recently posted the first four volumes of Home, the School, and the Church, edited by Cortlandt Van Renssalaer in the 1850s. This journal/magazine was a collection of articles on Christian education in the three arenas mentioned in its title. Van Renssalaer was the Corresponding Secretary of the Board of Education of the Presbyterian Church from 1846-1860, so he had a special interest in seeing the church think deeply about its responsibility to educate its members.

In the third volume of Home, the School, and the Church, a letter by Dr. Archibald Alexander to a young pastor is included. His counsel about how to spend mornings and evenings in study, and afternoons (presumably) in ministry to people, is instructive both from an historical and a practical standpoint.

[The late Dr. Alexander, who was exceeded by none in sound practical wisdom, gave the following counsels to a pupil who had left the Seminary and gone into the active duties of the ministry.]

Princeton, June 21, 1838.

While you remain at home, I would advise you to spend much of your time in making yourself familiar with the English Bible, and also read a portion of the Greek Testament. Compose one good sermon every week; and set down such texts in your common-place book, as strike you at any particular time, with such a division and leading thoughts as occur; and when you insert a text, leave room for a few leading thoughts or illustrations, to be added from time to time. Spend an hour or two each day in carefully reading the writings of some able theologian. The particulars mentioned will be sufficient for your morning occupation.

In the evening, when at home, read history, ancient and modern. Cultivate an acquaintance with the best English classics. Read them with some regard to your own style. And if you have a strong predilection for any branch of science, literature, or theology, indulge it, at least to a certain extent, and endeavour to make yourself eminent in that department. Make some experiment in writing paragraphs for the periodical press, or in composing a tract. By writing a good evangelical tract, you may be the means of more good than by preaching all your life; for that would live when you were dead.

Do not be idle in the exercise of the ministry which you have received. Your commission reads: "Be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine." Carry the Gospel to the ignorant in the suburbs and vicinity of B___________. Seek a blessing and expect a blessing on your labours. Make use of this resting-time to cultivate piety in your own heart; endeavour to keep up communion with your God and Saviour. Be much in meditation, self-examination, learn more and more the wisdom of self denial. Beware of being guided and governed principally by a regard to your own ease or emolument. For Christ's sake be willing to encounter difficulties and to endure privations. Think much of the worth of the soul, and exert all your energies to rescue sinners from ruin. Be not afraid to go to any place where Providence opens the way. Be sure to mark the leadings of Providence towards you, and to follow the path indicated. If you, through inattention and selfish affections, take a course different from that indicated, you will get strangely entangled and bewildered in your pilgrimage, and may never enjoy comfort or be of much use in the world. Through God's blessings we are all well.

I am, affectionately, yours, &c.

May the Lord enable pastors to redeem their time with diligence.

Robert Lewis Dabney on the Source of True Courage

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

On the first Sunday of June, 1863, Robert Lewis Dabney delivered a memorial sermon for General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson in Richmond, Virginia. The sermon (found in Volume 4 of his Discussions as well as individually on Dabney’s page) was entitled “True Courage,” and took as its text Luke 12:4-5, “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that, have no more than they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you, fear him.” Dabney speaks about the true nature of courage, and proceeds to give several reasons why it is the Christian who can be the bravest individual. The second reason is found in God’s special providence, which is over all His creatures - but over them that fear Him, for their good only. Dabney’s description of the providence of God is well worth five minutes of your time today:

By that almighty and omniscient providence, all events are either produced; or at least permitted, limited, and overruled. There is no creature so great as to resist its power, none so minute as to evade its wisdom. Each particular act among the most multitudinous which confound our attention by their number, or the most fortuitous, which entirely baffle our inquiry into the causes, is regulated by this intelligent purpose of God. Even when the thousand missiles of death, invisible to mortal sight, and sent forth aimless by those who launched them, shoot in inexplicable confusion over the battle-field, his eye gives each one an aim and a purpose, according to the plan of his wisdom. Thus teacheth our Saviour.

Now, the child of God is not taught what is the special will of God as to himself; he has no revelation as to the security of his person. Nor does he presume to predict what particular dispensation God will grant to the cause in which he is embarked. But he knows that, be it what it may, it will be wise, and right, and good. Whether the arrows of death shall smite him or pass him by, he knows no more than the unbelieving sinner; but he knows that neither event can happen him without the purpose and will of his Heavenly Father. And that will, be it whichever it may, is guided by divine wisdom and love. Should the event prove a revelation of God's decision, and this was the place, and this the hour, for life to end; then he accepts it with calm submission; for are not the time and place chosen for him by the All-wise, who loves him from eternity? Him who walks in the true fear of God, God loves. He hath adopted him as his son forever, through his faith on the righteousness of the Redeemer. The divine anger is forever extinguished by the atonement of the Lamb of God, and the unchangeable love of God is conciliated to him by the spotless righteousness of his substitute. The preciousness of the unspeakable gift which God gave for his redemption, even the life of the Only-begotten, and the earnest of the Holy Ghost, bestowed upon him at first while a guilty sinner, are the arguments to this believer, of the richness and strength of God's love to him. He knows that a love so eternal, so free, so strong, in the breast of such a God and Saviour, can leave nothing unbestowed, which divine wisdom perceives to be for his true good. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things" (Rom. 8: 32). And this love has enlisted for his safeguard, all the attributes of God, which are the security of his own blessedness.

Why dwelleth the divine mind in ineffable, perpetual peace? Not because there are none to assail it; but because God is conscious in himself of infinite resources, for defense and victory; of a knowledge which no cunning can deceive; of a power which no combination can fatigue. Well, these same attributes, which support the stability of Jehovah's throne, surround the weakest child of God, with all the zeal of redeeming love. "The eternal God is his refuge; and underneath him are the everlasting arms'' (Deut. 33: 27). Therefore saith the Apostle, that the believer hath "his heart and mind garrisoned by the peace of God which passeth all understanding" (Phil. 4:7). And therefore our Saviour saith, with a literal emphasis of which our faint hearts are slow to take in the full glory: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you" (John 14: 27). In proportion as God's children have faith to embrace the love of God to them, are they lifted in spirit to his very throne, and can look down upon the rage of battle, and the tumult of the people, with some of the holy disdain, the ineffable security, which constitute the blessedness of God. “Their life is hid with Christ in God.”

The 1838 PCUSA (Old School) General Assembly's Pastoral Letter to Foreign Missionaries

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

Samuel John Baird, in his famous Digest of the Minutes of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (officially titled A Collection of the Acts, Deliverances, and Testimonies of the Supreme Judicatory of the Presbyterian Church From its Origin in America to the Present Time) includes a beautiful pastoral letter from the General Assembly to its foreign missionaries in 1838. It is signed by William Swan Plumer, the Moderator of that Assembly, and John M. Krebs, the Assembly’s Permanent Clerk. Plumer, presumably the author of the letter, calls the attention of the missionaries to eight points of importance (I encourage the reader to read the entirety of each point, found on pages 358-362 of Baird’s Digest):

1. He earnestly exhorts them to aim continually at a high standard of personal piety.
2. He calls them, in imparting a knowledge of the gospel to the heathen, to be careful to communicate its pure and simple doctrines, without any of those additions or modifications which human philosophy, falsely so called, is apt to suggest.
3. He urges them to be careful to let their example at all times manifest the power and purity of the religion you teach.
4. He entreats them to bear in mind that all their labors will be in vain, unless they are accompanied and made effectual by the power of the Holy Spirit.
5. He encourages the foreign missionaries to let the heathen among whom they labor see that they [the missionaries] love them, and that they are intent on promoting their best interest.
6. He recommends to their attention, and to their unceasing prayers, the children of the heathen.
7. He exhorts them to be careful to maintain in all their missions, the worship and order, as well as the doctrine of the Presbyterian Church.
8. He asks them to be diligent in collecting all the information of every kind, which can be considered as bearing on the missionary cause.

Plumer concludes with this word of encouragement:

"Finally, dear brethren, you are engaged in the noblest cause that can employ the attention and efforts of mortals. Be faithful unto death, and you shall receive a crown of life. And unite with us in prayer that the whole Church may, with one heart and one soul, come up to the performance of this great work. We pledge ourselves, in the fear of God, to you and to the heathen world, that, by the favour of the Almighty King of Zion, we will go forward in this cause, and employ all the means which He may put at our disposal, in prosecuting the enterprise before us. May the Lord inspire you with wisdom, and gird you with strength ! And may the Spirit of Missions be poured out in large measures upon all the Churches, that they may all feel their obligation, and all, with one consent, and with united Strength, come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty!”

Do you know a foreign missionary? Forward this post to them, and let them know that you are praying for them with all your heart.

The Duties of a Gospel Minister, by John Holt Rice, is Now Available

Log College Press has just published its latest title, a booklet by John Holt Rice entitled The Duties of a Gospel Minister. Rice (1777-1831) was an American Presbyterian who ministered in Virginia and was instrumental in the early days of Union Theological Seminary. This booklet, with a foreword by Barry Waugh introducing Rice the man and the minister, originally was a sermon preached in 1809. It sets forth the duties of a pastor to his fellow pastors and to the church, as well as laying down motivations for diligence in the work of the ministry. All pastors, whether right out of seminary or near retirement, will be encouraged and instructed by this brief distillation of the pastoral calling.

Here are a few endorsements of Rice’s work:

“Too many works on pastoral ministry are long on worldly pragmatics and short on Biblical practicality. Yet The Duties of a Gospel Minister, though a brief work, is filled with the latter as Rice directs pastors toward a truer Presbyterian approach to the ministry. His section on pastoral ministry to youth – a key factor in awakening in church history – is especially needed in this directionless age.”

– Dr. Barry J. York, President and Professor of Pastoral Theology, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary

 “In this startlingly relevant little work, Rice refreshes the minister’s soul as he sets the spiritual beauty of this peculiar calling before his readers anew. Every new minister as well as every tired, world-worn, or discouraged pastor who would be more than a ‘baptized deist’ would do well to take the few minutes required to read this address. Do it, and see how God might use it in your life: to settle your heart; to remind you of the grand proportions, profound significance, and urgent need of your work; and to renew your desire to serve Christ vigorously, ‘with all diligence and fidelity,’ as a minister of ‘unadulterated Christianity’ in His Church and to a desperate and dying world.”

– Dr. Bruce P. Baugus, Associate Professor of Philosophy & Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary Jackson

 “A wise man listens to counsel – especially counsel drawn from the Word. While John Holt Rice’s exposition of aspects of ‘The Duties of a Gospel Minister’ was written to a past generation, his application of Scripture is as relevant as ever, challenging us to re-engage the high calling of gospel ministry in Christ for the joy set before us.”

– Dr. William VanDoodewaard, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

You can purchase Rice’s book for $3.99, or all six of our titles for $26 (plus free shipping). Visit our online bookstore today.

Our First Log College Review Article Has Been Posted, Have You Read It Yet?

One of the ideas floating around Log College Press for some time has been to start a “Log College Review” - an online forum for short-form scholarship on the individuals, writings, and theological issues of 18th/19th century American Presbyterianism. By short-form, we mean anything in the 500-2000 word range, something that wouldn’t be long enough to be published in an academic journal, but that carries the same commitment to rigorous academic excellence. We envision a platform for short book reviews and recommendations, both of the primary and secondary literature; for biographical explorations; for discussions of the debates and controversies of the period; for investigations into particular doctrines and streams of thought that marked our Presbyterian forefathers; for studies of homiletical exegesis, systematic formulations, biblical-theological meditations, and experiential discourses.

There are already many wonderful outlets for robust long-form scholarship on American Presbyterianism in annual, quarterly, and monthly journals from seminaries, historical societies, and churchmen such as Chris Coldwell’s The Confessional Presbyterian (don’t miss the most recent issue, with Thomas Dwight Witherspoon as a chief focus). So Log College Review aims to fill a niche for authors who want to engage in writing projects on the 18th/19th century American Presbyterian scene, but whose schedules at this time may only allow them to write shorter articles, or who want to publish pieces more frequently, or who are just starting out in academic writing. We expect the viewpoints of the articles we post to be as varied as the viewpoints of the Presbyterians on the Log College Press website, and we hope to stimulate profitable debate and discussion for the church and the academy.

The first Log College Review article, a brief review of John Williamson Nevin’s book The Anxious Bench, written by Dr. Miles Smith of Regent University, was posted this weekend - you can access it here. We hope to post more articles slowly but surely. If you are a professor, pastor, independent scholar, or student who is interested in 18th/19th century American Presbyterianism and would like to send us a submission, please email it to Caleb Cangelosi (

If you would like to sign up to receive the Log College Review articles in your email inbox, please visit the Log College Review page. We hope Log College Review will be of value to the people of God, and that through it American Presbyterians will garner a wider audience who will better appreciate all that the modern church has to gain from these saints, who though dead, still speak.

The Gospel of the Incarnation, by William Swan Plumer

William Swan Plumer, the 19th century Southern Presbyterian pastor and theologian, wrote more than most of us have time to read. But you don't want to miss this excerpt from the 21st chapter of his book The Grace of Christ (available here!) on the beauty and glory of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The gospel is richly here, soak in it today and lets it truths permeat your soul:

“Our Lord Jesus Christ became incarnate, was made under the law, lived, acted, obeyed, suffered died and rose again for his people.

He came down to earth that they might go up to heaven.

He suffered that they might reign.

He became a servant that they might become kings and priests unto God.

He died that they might live.

He bore the cross that their enmity might be slain, and their sins expiated.

He loved them that they might love God.

He was rich and became poor that they, who were poor, might be made rich.

He descended into the lower parts of the earth that they might sit in heavenly places.

He emptied himself that they might be filled with all the fullness of God.

He took upon him human nature that they might be partakers of the divine nature.

He made flesh his dwelling place that they might be an habitation of God through the Spirit.

He made himself of no reputation, that they might wear his new name, and be counted an eternal excellency.

He became a worm, and no man, that they, who were sinful worms, might be made equal to the angels.

He bore the curse of a broken covenant that they might partake of all the blessings of the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.

Though heir of all things, he was willingly despised of the people, that they, who were justly condemned, might obtain and inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.

His death was a satisfaction to divine justice, a ransom for many, a propitiation for sin, a sweet smelling savour to God, that we, who were an offense to God, might become his sons and daughters.

He was made sin for his people that they might be made the righteousness of God in him. 

Though Lord of all He took the form of a servant, that they, who were the servants of sin, might prevail like princes with God. 

He, who had made swaddling-clothes bands for the sea, was wrapped in swaddling-clothes that they, who were cast out in their blood, might be clothed in linen white and clean, which is the righteousness of the saints.

He had not where to lay His head that they who otherwise must have laid down in eternal sorrow, might read the mansions in His Father’s house. 

He was beset with lions and bulls of Bashan, that his chosen might be compassed about with an innumerable company of angels and of the spirits of just men made perfect.

He drank the cup of God’s indignation that they might for ever drink of the river of His pleasures.

He hungered that they might eat the bread of life.

He thirsted that they might drink the water of life.

He was numbered with the transgressors that they might stand among the justified, and be counted among the jewels.

He made His grave with the wicked that they might sleep in Jesus.

Though He was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was, yet He became a helpless infant, that creatures of yesterday, sentenced to death, might live for ever.

He wore a crown of thorns that all, who love His appearing, might wear a crown of life.

He wept tears of anguish that His elect might weep tears of repentance not to be repented of.

He bore the yoke of obedience unto death that they might find His yoke easy and His burden light.

He poured out His soul unto death, lay three days in the heart of the earth, then burst the bars of death, and arose to God, that they, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage, might obtain the victory over the grave and become partakers of His resurrection.

He exhausted the penalty of the law that His redeemed might have access to the inexhaustible treasures of mercy, wisdom, faithfulness, truth and grace promised by the Lord.

He passed from humiliation to humiliation, till He reached the sepulcher of Joseph, that His people might be changed from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord.

He was matchless in grace that they might be matchless in gratitude.

Though a Son, He became a voluntary exile, that they, who had wickedly wandered afar off, might be brought nigh by His blood.

He was compassed about with all their innocent infirmities that He might perfect His strength in their weakness.

His visage was so marred more than any man, that His ransomed might be presented before God without spot, or blemish, or wrinkle, or any such thing.

For a time He was forsaken of His Father that they, whom He bought with His blood, might behold the light of God’s countenance forever.

He came and dwelt with them that they might be forever with the Lord.

He was hung up naked before His insulting foes that all, who believe on His name, might wear a glorious wedding garment, a spotless righteousness.

Though He was dead, He is the firstborn among many brethren.

Through His sorrow His people obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing flee away.

Though He endured the worst things, they do and shall forever enjoy the best things

Wonderful mystery! God was manifested in the flesh! Here is no absurdity, no contradiction, no fiction, and yet a mystery that baffles all attempts to solve it, and dazzles all human and angelic vision. Blessed is he, who is not offended in Jesus. Blessed is he, who loves the incarnate mystery, and rests upon it. It is a mystery of love, of power, of salvation. It is the mystery of Godliness. It is the great study of the inhabitants of heaven, and shall be while immortality endures.”

The North and the South Celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly

One of the reasons I started Log College Press was because I like books, especially old books. Another reason was because I like history, especially the history of books about history. I like seeing how past generations thought about the past, and how that thought has changed over time. The fancy name for it is “historiography,” the study of the writing of history, or the study of the methods by which historians practiced their trade, and the interpretations historians throughout history have given to events in the past. I can probably credit my 12th grade AP American History teacher for this part of my intellectual pleasure, because she would frequently teach us not only about the past, but about how various historians viewed the past.

All that to say, I like perusing books like the two published at the end of the 19th century by the Northern and Southern Presbyterian Churches, that celebrated the 250th anniversary of the Westminster Assembly. The North published Addresses at the Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly in 1898, while the South published Memorial Volume of the Westminster Assembly one year before (both of these volumes are on our Compilations page). Not only do you find in these works in-depth studies of particular topics from the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, but you also learn how approaches to the Confession and to the Assembly have changed over the years.

If you appreciate the Westminster Assembly and its written documents, if you enjoy history, and especially if you are such a history nerd that you love historiography, then you will love reading these two books. They’re free on our site, so download them today.