Resolutions of C.W. Grafton

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Known as a “country preacher,” Cornelius Washington Grafton (1846-1934), was a long-serving faithful pastor (see the link to the Log College Press edition of his A Forty-Three Year Pastorate in a Country Church here and below) at Union Church Presbyterian Church in Jefferson County, Mississippi. Appended to the end of an August 1871 sermon we find written by Rev. Grafton his personal resolve to live a godly life. It is recorded by his biographer Allen Cabaniss in Life and Thought of a Country Preacher (1942), pp. 111-112:

As a member of the redeemed family of God and a traveller to eternity it is my desire to live above the world, devoted heart and soul to the service of God. To this end I would use every lawful means and employ every agency that I may be a good workman in the great vineyard. I would make every faculty of my body, mind, and spirit and my whole life, domestic, social, and public, subordinate to the same end and flow in that channel whose end is perfect peace. The body and mind with all their members, thoughts, and affections must be controlled and yield implicitly to well-regulated laws. With good motives the following are presented for my own consideration and conduct.

The body being the medium through which the mind operates, a mere instrument, should be taught implicit obedience to the will. Hence all the avenues of ingress and egress must be closely guarded and strictly watched that no enemy may come in and none of its powers withdrawn. An enemy coming in will poison and defile — its power withdrawn, it is left weakened, and in either case disqualified from performing its functions as a ready servant.

All those natural propensities, half-physical and half-mental, which act through the mind, must be held with an iron grasp and chained under the power of reason. Otherwise the body as the instrument will take the government, and the will and reason will totter from their thrones. Semper vigilate. In vitii primordia bellum gerito.

The law of analogy is found to prevail in the world of mind as well as in matter. As the body and soul must be governed, so must the mind. The will, the motive power, must sway the mind as well as the body, and any triumph of the faculties over the will weakens the mental discipline. Hence all the avenues leading to the mind must be closely guarded, or the enemy will come in and poison and defile.

In the province of the sentiments reason must control all except the sentiment of love. Nothing must rise superior to the divine passion, yet prayer must be made that this passion sanctified may not run counter to reason, but that each to the other may be a mutual help. Reason must rule all the faculties, but love may sit upon her head and pour over her the sweetest incense and perfume all her acts. Esto perpetua dulcis sententia.

In domestic life let my heart never indulge a drop of bitterness for my faithful love. My heart is her home. Let her dwell there in peace and happiness and preserve it pure. Avoid the slightest symptom or approach to infidelity in the solemn betrothals, and let me never indulge one thought or feeling which would stain her bright name and bring pain to her love. In the future I will inscribe in the sanctum of our chamber Parvulum Coelum and in feeling and affection make it a reality. Deus salvator, gratium habeamus.

Te Deum laudemus. Tibi laus, gloria, honorque mortalium et immortalium, Pater noster, hinc atque in sempiterno, …

Here we have the resolutions of a Southern Presbyterian pastor who strived to keep body and mind under that he would not be disqualified as a servant of Christ (1 Cor. 9:27), and aimed to keep all his thoughts captive to God’s glory (2 Cor. 10:5). In this way, his heart was to be the home of divine love, that is, a small heaven, while on his earthly journey to heaven above. May it be so with each of us who are also travellers to eternity.

Samuel Miller on Spiritual Weapons for the Christian Soldier

In an 1826 sermon delivered at the Second Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland, on the occasion of the installation of John Breckinridge in the pastoral office there, titled Christian Weapons Not Carnal, But Spiritual (based on the text from 2 Corinthians 10:4: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds"), Samuel Miller explains both the defensive and offensive spiritual weapons that Christians have at their disposal in the spiritual warfare that all saints must face in this earthly pilgrimage. 

After first discussing the carnal weapons which Miller says the Apostle means to exclude from the Christian's armament, he delineates the Christian's defensive spiritual weapons from Ephesians 6. 

The same apostle who penned our text, in the sixth chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians, speaks at large of the christian armour; describing its several parts, and showing the use of each. In that place it served his purpose to speak chiefly, though not exclusively, of the christian's DEFENSIVE ARMOUR; such as the girdle of truth, the breast-plate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation; which belong to all believers. 

But in the passage before us, he had occasion to refer partictularly to the weapons of CHRISTIAN MINISTERS, and more especially to those of the OFFENSIVE kind; or those which are important, not merely for the protection and defence of their own persons; but also for attacking and vanquishing the enemies of their Master.

The offensive spiritual weapons at the disposal or Christians, or Christian ministers, for overcoming the spiritual forces that wage war against the Church, according to Miller, include the following:

  • The Christian's "grand weapon" is the WORD OF GOD, which is the "sword of the Spirit" spoken of in Ephesian 6;
  • The RIGHT ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS, whereby "the 'sacramental host' of God's people are embodied and arrayed, in the sight of the enemy's camp; and an epitome of their religion, as it were, addressed to the senses of every beholder";
  • The HOLY DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH is the outworking of the keys of the kingdom given to Christ's ambassadors;
  • FERVENT, IMPORTUNATE PRAYER is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of every believer, whereby God is called upon to act and to defend his own cause, while saints are thereby strengthened; and
  • HOLY EXAMPLE, as Miller says: "It was long ago enjoined by the Saviour himself — Let your light shine before men, that others, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father in heaven." Thus have many enemies of Christ been converted from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light after seeing the faithful example of believers and martyrs. 

    The whole sermon by MIller was a fitting word for one beginning the pastoral ministry, and remains a powerful exposition of what is meant by carnal and spiritual weapons. This division between defensive and offensive spiritual weapons is a good one for believers to keep in mind since we have need of both to protect ourselves from the evil one, and to do what we can, by the grace of God, and the power of His Spirit, to advance the work of the kingdom of Christ on earth.