Read History at Log College Press

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As Robert Pollock Kerr once wrote in the September / October 1892 issue of The Union Seminary Magazine:

Read history; but read it in the light of God; and ever feel that the story as it is told is penned on the pages of time by the overruling hand of the Infinite.

Kerr himself was the author of a history of Presbyterianism, a history of the Scottish Covenanters, and The Voice of God in History. He was deeply concerned that people in his own day developed an understanding not only of that which had gone before, but also that they see the hand of God in His Story. In the latter work, he writes:

Next to the knowledge of God, the best study for mankind is men. History, from one standpoint, is a record of the doings of men, and one learns the philosophy of humanity from the story of the race. From another standpoint, history is the study of God; for the Divine Ruler has not left the world to itself, but is continually acting in it, bringing to pass his great designs. God is sovereign, and man free; and history records the divine and human as they move together in the world. In history, then, man learns God and himself. If this be true, there can be no more profitable study. The Bible itself, the Book of books, is history; yes, history; not naked annals, but lines of events as they stand related to certain great fundamental truths, glowing with the interest which attaches to the joys and sorrows of humanity, over shadowed by an infinite love. Real history is the annals, the truths, and pathos of human existence combined; in other words, it is the world's life lived over again.

This being so, there is a great treasury of historical resources to be found at Log College Press. Our topical pages on Church History, Biographies and Autobiographies contain numerous volumes written by a range of authors.

Most recently, we have added to the site (among other works):

If you are in search of weekend reading material, these and many more works are available to bookmark, download and peruse at Log College Press. To see the hand of God at work in history and in the lives of his saints is a blessing which makes the reading that much sweeter to the Christian who knows that same hand at work in his or her own life. There is so much to read out there, but we have tried to dust off old worthies for the modern reader so that these gems will not remain buried in obscurity. Take advantage of this resource, and see what there is for the student of history to read at Log College Press.

The Motive for Missions, according to J.W. Alexander

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James M. Garretson has written of James W. Alexander’s “passion” for missions which was “stimulated by preaching from Psalm 72 and his reading (in German) of [Ernst Wilhelm] Hengstenberg’s massive study on the christological passages in the Old Testament” (Thoughts on Preaching & Pastoral Ministry: Lessons from the Life and Writings of James W. Alexander, p. 103).

A powerful example of that passion is found in the sermon he preached before the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (Old School) meeting in Richmond, Virginia on May 23, 1847. Titled Love to Christ the Motive of Missions: A Discourse, he focused on the primary reason why the church engages in missionary labors. It is, simply put, “that the great motive to Christian Missions is personal love to the Lord Jesus, manifested in the desire and expectation of his reign over converted sinners.”

Acknowledging that missionary work results in many kinds of temporal and spiritual benefits to the redeemed — “they inform the Intellect, and enlarge the knowledge; they civilize and refine; they rescue from temporal evil, and they save the soul” —

Yet all these are but subsidiary to one grand intention, which is the glory of Messiah in his kingly power over redeemed sinners, as his satisfying recompense; and holy affection reaches forward, to accomplish by this means the mighty yearnings of an incarnate God, who is at the same time the Husband of His elect and loving Church. So that the subjection of man to our Redeemer, as the reward which He claims and waits for, is a result which true piety craves, with immeasurable love, and inexpressible longing.

Again and again, Alexander brings home the point that all that we Christians do to magnify and honor our King and our Redeemer on earth arises out of the love in our hearts towards him and the consequent desire to see him exalted by all.

  • “What is true religion? Not fear — not submission — not benevolence — not regard for being in general — not philanthropy — great and essential as some or all of these may be — but LOVE TO CHRIST.”

  • “Love to the person of Immanuel, God manifest in the flesh, a dying, reigning Saviour, is the mark and criterion of all the family in heaven and earth.”

  • “‘Lovest thou me? Feed my sheep!’”

  • “Here is the token of the missionary host; and the missionary spirit, whether in childhood or age, in the pastor or the apostle, looks up, from the cross and the sepulchre, to the crown and the second-coming; and sighs forth its expectant longing, and says to the Bridegroom, Priest, and Sovereign, ‘Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips; therefore God hath blessed thee forever.’”

  • The individual, and the church, glow with unspeakable desire for the universal acknowledgment, that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

  • “To behold this love, and the things therein freely given us of God, is faith, is eternal life: but it is also the prime motive to all individual effort, and to all the sacrifice and warfare of the church.”

  • “What has peopled these wastes, and pushed the tide of population even to the wintry coast of the inhospitable North? What has reared cities, and impelled the wheels of a thousand manufactures, and decked the earth with an agriculture unsurpassed among men? — The love of Christ. What has scattered schools, from town to town, and hamlet to hamlet, and founded universities, which, in spite of sectarian narrowness, are yet the pride of human learning? — The love of Christ. What has exchanged the misrule of Celtic chieftainship, and the feuds of warring tribes, for rational government and balanced concord? — The love of Christ. What has sent colonies, to become greater and happier and freer nations, in a late undiscovered hemisphere? — The love of Christ.”

  • “…we shall one day cry, ‘All Israel shall be saved, as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer!’ To this Deliverer, the whole missionary work is a tribute of love.”

Alexander also cites the words of his uncle and mentor, Dr. John Holt Rice, as quoted by William Maxwell, in an 1831 overture to the General Assembly to this effect:

In the judgment of this General Assembly, one of the principal objects of the institution of the Church, by Jesus Christ, was, not so much the salvation of individual Christians — for, ‘whosoever believeth shall be saved’ — as the communication of the blessing of the Gospel to the destitute, with the efficiency of united effort….The Presbyterian Church 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 to do all in his power for the accomplishment of this object.

If we love Him who saved us, we will desire the glory of his name to be exalted in us and by all those around us. This is the true motive for all kingdom work, according to our place and calling. But especially in the case of missions, where love compels us to speak to others of the love that set us free — His love towards his sheep. May the love of Christ stir us all up to do what we can on behalf of the kingdom of Christ, and for the good of the lost souls all around us. Read Alexander’s sermon here, and get a glimpse of the passion and desire of this 19th century minister for that very goal.

Happy Birthday to J.W. Alexander!

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James Waddel Alexander, the son of Archibald Alexander, was born on March 13, 1804 in Louisa County, Virginia. After graduating from the College of New Jersey (Princeton) and studying at the Theological Seminary, he was licensed to preach in 1825 by the Presbytery of New Brunswick. After a period of time under the care of his uncle and mentor Dr. John Holt Rice, he was soon sent to take up a pastorate at Charlotte County, Virginia, beginning in May 1826. He was finally ordained on March 3, 1827 and installed as the pastor of Charlotte Court-House Church. It was during this period of his life that a brief notice appears in his letters to his friend John Hall that stood out to this writer.

On July 3, 1827, in response to a query from Hall, Alexander had this to say:

Ques. 2. What have you written?

  1. Letters.

  2. A few pieces for Rice’s Magazine, signed Atlanticus, Quis, M. R—n, and one anonymous intituled “The Minister of Christ.”

The magazine in question is The Virginia Evangelical and Literary Magazine, which was edited by John Holt Rice. It is a magazine for which many of the contributors assumed pseudonyms, including Rice himself (“Rusticus”). Also, because of his youth and relative inexperience in the ministry, it is not surprising that the contributions Alexander alludes to were published without his name attached. In any case, they are not referenced in Samuel Davies Alexander’s Catalogue of the Writings of the Alexander Family, nor are they mentioned in the more recent study of Alexander’s life and ministry by James M. Garretson (although Garretson mentions J.W. Alexander’s later use of the pseudonym “Charles Quill”).

Some of these anonymous contributions were identified by this writer recently after review of the 1827 volume of the magazine, and they have now been added to Log College Press here.

  • “Importance of Hebrew Literature” - “Atlanticus”

  • “Plan for Collecting Historical Records” - “Quis?”

  • “The Minister of Christ Addressed to a Young Preacher of the Gospel” - Anonymous (in three parts)

Each of these writings reveals interesting insights into the man who would later become the experienced minister whose posthumously-published Thoughts on Preaching (edited by S.D. Alexander) would mark a major contribution to the study of homiletics. They are short reads, but represent perhaps the earliest published writings by J.W. Alexander. Take time to look them over (pardoning the less-than ideal quality of the photos) today as we remember Alexander on his birthday.

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.