T.V. Moore on 'good and necessary consequence'

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The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. (Westminster Confession of Faith 1.6)

In an anonymously-published article in the January 1849 Methodist Quarterly Review, Thomas Verner Moore addresses the question of by what authority was the Sabbath day changed from the last day of the week to the first? In his discussion of this important question, still as relevant to our church and society today as it was in 1849, he first raises a point that must be considered when answering such. That is the question of whether doctrine may rightly be deduced from Scripture as well as set forth expressly. Let us see how Moore handles this.

We also concede that no merely human power can alter the law of the Sabbath in any particular; and that, if altered at all, it must be by the same authority on which it was originally instituted. The only question then that remains is, Has God made a transfer of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week?

The evidence on which we are warranted to receive this transfer must be similar to that on which we receive other articles of our faith. God has declared his will by various modes of manifestation. Sometimes he has announced it in the most explicit terms; at other times he has left it to be gathered by inference from several particulars. Thus, before the utterance of the fourth commandment, the Sabbath was binding on the patriarchs; but this obligation was with many of them not a matter of direct revelation, but an inference that such was the primitive revelation.

There are many things likewise in New Testament times, concerning which we are left to infer the will of God from differ[ing] facts, rather than informed of it by a formal statement. Thus, we infer the passing away of many Jewish rites and ceremonies; the right of women to the Lord's Supper; the duty of social and family prayer; and the discipline and worship of the house of God. It is thus, also, with the canonical authority of much of the Scriptures. Let the man who demands the will of God, in ipsissimus verbis, that the Sabbath shall be transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, furnish similar proof of the canonical authority of the Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, or the Revelation, and we will comply with his demand. If, however, he receives these books as canonical, mainly, if not exclusively, because they were so received by the primitive Church during the continuance of inspired men, he could not fairly object if we furnished him with no other evidence than this in regard to the Lord's day. If, however, we can furnish him not only the same kind of proof in a stronger degree, but also independent evidence of this transfer, he surely cannot demur to the Divine authority of the Lord's day as the Christian Sabbath. Such evidence we think will be afforded by establishing a few propositions.

He goes to discuss how it is possible to distinguish between the observance of the Sabbath rest and the day upon which it is observed, which indicates that they are not inextricably linked. This distinction leads to an inference that such a transfer of the day is at least conceivable.

The same principle is recognized by men in similar observances. When our national Independence is celebrated on the third or fifth of July, in consequence of the fourth falling on the Sabbath, no one dreams that the celebration is vitiated, for the observance is distinct from the day.

An examination of the fourth commandment more narrowly will confirm this view. What is its main object? Plainly not to render sacred any particular day, because of its position in a numerical series, but to sanctify the Sabbath, and to state that one-seventh of our time shall constitute that Sabbath. It does not determine any order of enumeration, but commands simply that after labouring six days we shall rest on the seventh. Hence those who keep the Lord's day, obey the letter of the command; for they labour six days and rest on the seventh, in precise obedience to the law. It may be said, however, that we know that this enumeration began on a certain day. We grant it; but the fixing of this enumeration is something extraneous to the commandment itself, which does not contain within itself any particular series, but is adapted to whatever date it may please God to affix as the period of the weekly Sabbath.

Further discussion of this distinction — which is crucial to a right understanding of the distinction between that which is moral and enduring versus that which is ceremonial and temporary in regards to the Fourth Commandment — continues in Moore’s article, and is especially fascinating to read from the perspective of a Christian Sabbatarian which predates the institution of world-wide time zones, but as it goes beyond the focus of this brief post, the reader is invited to read T.V. Moore further on the transfer of the Sabbath day from last day of the week to the first here. Meanwhile, consider, dear reader, what Moore has said here about the value of good and necessary consequence in understanding Biblical doctrine.

T.V. Moore on the Corporate Life of the Church

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In the spring of 1868, in Baltimore, Maryland, the opening sermon was delivered before the General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church (PCUS) by Moderator Thomas Verner Moore. We have recently added this sermon, titled The Corporate Life of the Church, to Log College Press. It is a noteworthy sermon which, although not well-known today, speaks volumes to the fragmented and individualized state of the church in 21st century America.

In this sermon, Moore sketches out an important concept that is too-little understood today: the new birth of the believer, by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, is only the beginning of the story. It is not only the life of the individual soul with which Christ in his saving work is concerned, but the life of his body, that is, the general assembly of believers, or the Church.

…as soon as this personal life begins, the individual Christian finds that there is another life into which he is introduced by the same act of regeneration. Christ is revealed in Scripture, not only as the Saviour of the collective Church, His body, of which individual Christians are members in particular. “For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ;” and this image is elaborated to great length by the Apostle in the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians, as well as in other Epistles.

Moore shows us that the Scripture emphasize the corporate nature of the Christian community in a variety of ways: the church is described as a city, a kingdom, a building, a temple, and a body or a family with many members.

This great idea of corporate life is an essential element of New Testament Christianity. Men are not converted and saved merely as isolated units, but as members of Christ’s family, into which they are born by the new birth, and from which they cannot rightfully segregate themselves.

Moore acknowledges the danger of hierarchical corporate power which can lead to tyrannical abuse, but is focused here on addressing what we might today know as “lone wolf Christianity,” with its low regard for organized, connected religion.

It is true that this element of corporate power may be developed in a corrupt Church to a spiritual despotism, in which the individual life shall be smothered, but it may also be kept so much in abeyance as to lose its legitimate force and give an exaggerated development of the principle of individualism, tending to schism, contention, and paralysis of this power of corporate action. And it is probably true, that this is the real danger in much of our modern Protestantism, and the cause of much of our unsuccessful activity. “the eye saith to the hand, I have no need of thee, and the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” And the very evils which existed among the Corinthian Christians exist among us, and need to be corrected to restore our efficiency. If then we can revive this corporate life, without weakening the individual life, and bring it to bear on our daily work and warfare, as parts of the Sacramental host, citizens of the city that hath foundations, members of the household of faith, portions of the body of Christ, we shall remedy an undoubted defect in our modern piety, and give an added energy to every operation of our beloved Church.

As Moore continues, he examines how the early Church in most cases demonstrated this corporate vitality by the concern showed by disciples in striving to assist those with financial aids, those suffering under persecution, and doing such things, not only locally, but for the saints separated by great distances, wherever there was a need, and all motivated by the principle of love. It was this corporate vitality, in fact, that enabled the early Church to grow and flourish under difficult circumstances. The love of the saints for one another made them a sum that was strong than its individual parts.

And so Moore reminds us that the labor of Christianity is not merely assigned to church officers, but to all members of Christ’s body. And the love that characterized the early Church must also be reflected in our modern day.

Love, the life blood of this body corporate, must flow rich and warm, love to Jesus, love to souls, love to one another. This will give us in such a Church, one large, loving family, clinging to one another, caring for each other’s welfare, good name and general interests, just as members of the same household do; each seeking, not his own, but the things of another; in honour preferring one another; and so fulfilling the traditional words of the last, loving apostle, whose aged lips were wont to say, when he could utter no other exhortation, “Little children, love one another.”

Moore says that this principle of love, exemplified in our day, makes the work of the Church easy, its worship services and catechetical activities a delight, and causes the flame which attracts others to burn the brighter.

Having demonstrated the importance of recognizing the corporate life of the Church, Moore surveys the post-War landscape around him and reminds his hearers that just as when days were dark during the Killing Times for Scotland’s Covenanters, yet God did great things for them, so may we look for God to do a great work in the present day, most especially when we fix our eyes upon Christ, and when we love his Body, the Church. This sermon has great application to our day, and the reader is encouraged to download it for thoughtful consideration. We need this message from T.V. Moore today, just as it was needed in 1868.

T.V. Moore on "God's University"

In 1853, the Board of Managers for the House of Refuge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania organized a contest to draw attention to the problem of juvenile delinquency. Prize money was offered and, ultimately, three prize essays were published in 1855, which dealt with the problem in dramatically different ways, as evidenced by at least the first two titles: (1) “The State's Care of Its Children: Considered as a Check on Juvenile Delinquency;” (2) “God’s University; or, The Family Considered as a Government, a School, and a Church, the Divinely Appointed Institute for Training the Young, for the Life that Now is, and for that which is to Come”; and (3) “An Essay on Juvenile Delinquency.” The author of the second essay, which is highlighted here, is Thomas Verner Moore.

Whereas the first essay emphasizes the role of the state in restraining juvenile delinquency, and the third essay emphasizes education as the chief remedy for the problem, Moore takes the Biblical position that we should look to the Scriptures to understand both the problem and the remedy. And in doing so, he focuses our attention squarely on the role of the family, God’s institution, designed especially for the good of society and the seminary of the church. (In the words of the English Puritan William Gouge, “The family is a seminary of the church and commonwealth”)

To the extent that the youth of Moore’s day were involved in the common vices of the era, he began exploring the problem by looking at the failure of the family to train its young people in the ways of piety and obedience in the Lord. And although he speaks with conviction about the necessity for parents to inculcate obedience in their children at an early age, he also emphasizes above all love as the guiding principle of family well-being.

The grand agent in executing family laws, is love. This should manifest itself in words, looks, and tones, to be properly effective. The parent whose cold and repulsive manner represses all confiding familiarity in the child, is building a wall of ice between himself and his offspring, which even the warmth of love cannot penetrate. The child should be early taught to confide his feelings freely to his parent, by the open and loving manner of the parent, or he will seek companions and confidants elsewhere.

But family religion involves more than family worship. As all religion is included in love, so all family religion is contained in family love; and where there is this genuine love to God and one another, the family is not only a church, but an earthly type of heaven.

As the family is the nursery of society and the church, he tells us that education is happening whether intended or not, and that the memory of childhood lessons is of such importance and its influence of such longevity that:

There is a species of parchment manuscripts called palimpsest, which contain some recent monkish work of devotion, written over a copy of some ancient classic, but which, by a little care in removing the later writing, will give back the original copy in clear and legible distinctness. Every human soul is such a palimpsest, in which, beneath its superficial con tents, there lies an earlier and more indelible tracing of what was written on the heart, in the fresh, unblotted susceptibility of childhood and youth.

Moore concludes his essay with a summary of his points that we shall list here because in a few words of Biblical wisdom addressed to parents that are timeless he points us to Scriptural principles that will help any family.

We therefore sum up a few hints in conclusion, that embody the principles of the foregoing essay, attention to which will tend to make a happy home and a virtuous family.

  1. Learn to govern yourselves, and to be gentle and patient.

  2. Guard your tempers, especially in seasons of ill-health, irritation, and trouble, and soften them by prayer, penitence, and a sense of your own short comings and errors.

  3. Never speak or act in anger, until you have prayed over your words or acts, and concluded that Christ would have done so, in your place.

  4. Remember that valuable as is the gift of speech, the gift of silence is often much more so.

  5. Do not expect too much from others, but re member that all have an evil nature, whose developments we must expect, and which we should forbear and forgive, as we often desire forbearance and forgiveness ourselves.

  6. Never retort a sharp or angry word. It is the second word that makes the quarrel.

  7. Beware of the first disagreement.

  8. Learn to speak in a gentle tone of voice.

  9. Learn to say kind and pleasant things whenever an opportunity offers.

  10. Study the character of each one, and sympathize with them in their troubles, however small.

  11. Do not neglect little things, if they can affect the comfort of others in the smallest degree.

  12. Avoid moods and pets, and fits of sulkiness.

  13. Learn to deny yourself, and to prefer others.

  14. Beware of meddlers and tale-bearers.

  15. Never charge a bad motive, if a good one is conceivable.

  16. Be gentle but firm with children.

  17. Do not allow your children to be away from home at night, without knowing where they are.

  18. Do not allow them to go where they please on the Sabbath.

  19. Do not furnish them much spending money.

  20. Remember the grave, the judgment seat, and the scenes of eternity, and so order your home on earth, that you shall have a home in heaven.

Take time to read Moore’s prize essay on the family, and with application, you and your family will be greatly blessed.

Who was the finest exegete in the history of the Church? - T.V. Moore answers

Thomas Verner Moore was a Biblical commentator of very high rank. In the introduction to his commentary on the books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi discussed his opinion of who constitutes the best expositor of the Bible in church history.

The first expositor of real value was Calvin. His commentaries on the Minor Prophets were delivered in the form of expository lectures in a daily exercise, and extend through one hundred and eighty-two lectures, which were delivered extempore, and taken down as they were spoken. There is probably nothing that he has left behind him which gives a more distinct notion of the man and the times than these lectures. That a congregation could be formed who would take so deep an interest in such expositions admits us to the heart of the Reformation, and lays bare to us the secret of its life, which was, a living grasp of the Word of God. The style of these lectures, the allusions to passing events, and the ocassional abrupt ending of a lecture with the remarks, "we stop here until to-morrow," gives a life-like vividness, and actual presence to these daily exercises, that invest them with unusual interest. Each lecture also ends with a prayer, and these prayers for condensed energy and fervor, grasp of thought, and concentration of the whole spirit of the preceding lecture into devotional forms, are even more remarkable than the lectures themselves. The prodigous intellect of that remarkable man is felt in these prayers more intensely by a careful reader than in almost anything else he has left behind him. But the lectures are very remarkable productions. Calvin had probably one of the finest exegetical minds that God has ever granted to his Church in modern times. He had a direct looking into the heart of the passage, a fine sympathy with the mind of the writer, a freedom from all that is fanciful and foolish, and a justness of thinking that leads him almost instinctively to the correct view of the passage. To some, this may seem to be extravagant laudation, but not to those who have carefully studied his commentaries. Their merits have extorted tributes of the highest character from those whom nothing could move to give such tributes but the most unquestioned excellence. One of the most remarkable of these is from the pen of the man whose name has been embalmed in theological antagonism to his, the celebrated, acute, and learned Arminius. He says, "Next to the reading of Scripture, which I strongly recommend, I advise you to read the commentaries of Calvin, on whom I bestow higher eulogies than Helmichius did, for I consider that he is incomparable in interpreting Scripture, and that his Commentaries are of more value than all that the library of the Fathers transmits to us; so that I concede to him a spirit of prophecy superior to that of most, yea, of all others." (Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, pp. 35-36) - HT: Rocky A. Simbaion

Don't Miss These Faithful Studies of God's Word

The 19th century published its share of commentaries, and Presbyterians were at the forefront of that effort. Joseph Addison Alexander, the son of Archibald Alexander, was one of those men of whom the word "prolific" does not even begin to describe the amount of writing they are able to produce and publish in a normal life span. He wrote commentaries on Isaiah, Acts, Mark, Matthew, the Psalms - and he had time to preach. (This doesn't even include everything he wrote that's available in digital form! It may take you a lifetime to read what he wrote in his 51 years of life. But here it is, available to you when you need it.) Another 19th century American Presbyterian, Thomas Verner Moore, wrote on the post-exilic prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. You can find more commentaries on our site by visiting our Commentaries page.

If You're Looking for Commentaries on the OT Prophets, Don't Miss These

The 19th century published its share of commentaries, and Presbyterians were at the forefront of that effort. Thomas Verner Moore wrote on the post-exilic prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, while Joseph Addison Alexander wrote on Isaiah (in two parts - the second part will be posted soon!). There are more commentaries that we need to find and make available, but hopefully soon all 19th-century Presbyterian commentaries will be accessible from this site.