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. 

McGill's Church Government and Peck's Notes on Ecclesiology

Log College Press exists in part to preserve a digital archive of American Presbyterian works from the 18th and 19th century, and to propagate the knowledge of these works to the general public. These works have generally been forgotten by 21st century Presbyterians, and it is our hope that just as Puritan literature has enjoyed a revival over the past sixty years through Banner of Truth and other publishers, so Log College Press might serve to restore knowledge of the Presbyterian fathers from America.

To that end, if you are interested in studying the topic of Ecclesiology, I commend to you two works written toward the end of the 19th century, one by a Northerner, and one by a Southerner. A book we have highlighted previously, Alexander Taggert McGill's Church Government (written in 1888), compiled the lectures on the topic he gave at Princeton Theological Seminary. McGill had been called in 1854 to become the Professor of Pastoral Theology, Church Government, and Homiletics, and held this position for over forty years. Soon after McGill's book was published, Thomas Ephraim Peck wrote Notes on Ecclesiology (1892). McGill's book is much longer than Peck's (560 pages as compared to 212), and while both traverse similar terrain in the topic, Peck includes sections on church power and the relationship between the church and the state (specifically, church power as contrasted with civil power) that make his volume unique in its presentation. Both books are worth the time and effort spent to work through them. 

If you don't own the works of Thomas Ephraim Peck, you can find them here.

Thomas Ephraim Peck was a student of James Henley Thornwell, and a church history and theology professor at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. His Notes on Ecclesiology are a deep well of sound teaching on the church, and his three volume collected writings, or "Miscellanies," is a treasure trove for the church today. You can access all of these works for free in PDF form here. If you would like to buy the three volume set of his collected writings, published by Banner of Truth, you can do so here