November 2015

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One More Presbyterian Minister Stands for Liberty
by David T. Myers.

“Men of America,” the Presbyterian minister in Massachusetts preached, “citizens of this great country hanging upon the precipice of war, loyalty to England lies behind you, broken by the acts of the mother country – a cruel mother, deaf to the voice of liberty and right; duty to freedom, duty to your country, duty to God is before you; your patriotism is brought to the test; I call upon those ready to volunteer for the defense of the provinces against British tyranny to step into the ‘broad aisle.’” Those who did step into that church aisle became the first volunteers to join the Continental Army and fight in the Battle of Bunker Hill. A political liberty became his emphasis in those days.

Such rhetoric was more commonly found among Presbyterian pastors than any other denomination in the days and years of the American Revolution. It was no wonder that the Revolutionary War was characterized in England as the Presbyterian Rebellion. And one of those Presbyterian ministers leading the charge was Jonathan Parsons.

Born November 30, 1705, he was the youngest son of church deacon Ebenezer Parsons and his wife Margaret Marshfield of Springfield, Massachusetts. This line of Parsons could be traced back hundreds of years in England and later, equally forward for a long time in America. Jonathan Parsons was influenced by the Rev. Jonathan Edwards to enter Yale, which he did at age twenty. Edwards, along with others, taught him theology as he prepared for the ministry.

Graduating in 1729, Parsons entered first into the pulpit of the Congregational Church of Lyme, Connecticut in 1731. Married to Phebe Griswold, the oldest daughter of the town’s leading family, Jonathan gained much in the material realm in the first decade of his ministry. And he lived that advantage to the fullest. It was said that “he had a passion for fine clothes, for gold and silver, and for lacy ruffled shirt fronts.”

All this came into direct confrontation with the effects of the Great Awakening in America. Suffering doubts regarding the reality of his own personal conversion, he struggled long and hard in his own mind until “the doctrine of salvation by faith burst on his mind.” The result was that his pulpit preaching became marked by greater earnestness and simplicity as he expounded the sufferings of Christ and His undying love for sinners. Rev. Parson’s ministry was now characterized by a spiritual vigor and a renewed freedom in preaching the Gospel of grace.

This embrace of the Great Awakening was enhanced by his meeting and subsequent cooperation with George Whitefield in the 1740’s. The latter entered his pulpit in Lyme twice. While reviving many with the doctrines of grace proclaimed without reservation, eventually the congregation suffered a schism. And so it was that Parsons was dismissed from the Congregational pulpit in 1745.

With help from Whitefield, Jonathan Parsons became the pastor of the Old South Presbyterian Church in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He would serve the Lord for thirty years, in which time the congregation became one of the largest churches in New England. It was to this congregation that George Whitefield would visit in 1770, and indeed Whitefield breathed his last and was translated to heaven there in the parsonage of Jonathan Parsons. His body was laid beneath the pulpit of that church, and though later moved a short distance, Whitefield’s remains are still there. Yet a few more years and Whitefield was joined on July 19, 1776 with the passing of his friend Jonathan Parsons.

Words to Live By:
Jonathan Parsons is a good example of what happens when the Gospel of the Lord Jesus fills our hearts and minds by the power of the Holy Spirit. Strive to so live and breathe that you always remain close to your Lord and Savior. Then watch to see how the Lord will indeed use you to His glory, in His kingdom.

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 51. What is forbidden in the second commandment?

A. The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in His word.

Scripture References: Deut. 4:15, 16; Acts 17:29; Deut. 12:30-32.

Questions:

1. What is the great sin forbidden in the second commandment?

The great sin forbidden in the second commandment is idolatry.

2. How does the idolatry forbidden in the second commandment differ from the sin forbidden in the first commandment?

The idolatry forbidden in the first commandment has to do with an object, where in man worships something else other than the true and living God. The idolatry forbidden in the second commandment has to do with the means of worship, and forbids us to worship God o in ways contrary to His will.

3. How is it possible for a person to worship images and thus commit the sin of idolatry?

There are many ways this can be done. Some of them are: (1) By worshipping false gods such as the heathen idolatry in the culture of the Greeks. (2) By worshipping the true God by the use of an image or a representation of Him. (3) By worshipping the true God by creating in one’s minds a false image of Him.

4. Is it permissible for any image or representation to be made of God?

No, it is forbidden because He is infinite, incomprehensible. (Isa. 40: 18) Any attempt to represent God necessarily involves limitations which misrepresent Him.

5. Is it lawful for us to have pictures of Jesus Christ?

No, it is not lawful for us to do so. It is true, He was man as well as God, but the Bible teaches He is even fairer than the children of men. (Ps. 45:2) It is impossible for us to know what He was like and therefore, any representation of Him would be a guesswork. If He had wanted us to know He would have made it clear in the Word.

6. Does the second commandment forbid ceremony in our worship?

No, it does not forbid ceremony in our worship, as long as the ceremony is taught in the Word of God. Therefore, the ceremony would have to be “decent and in order” and only what is appointed in the Word of God. (Matt. 15:9)

WORSHIP ACCORDING TO THE WORD

The matter of worship in the church today is of grave concern. In churches which are creedal churches, and claim the Westminster Standards, the matter of worship should at all times be consistent with the Word of God. If it is not, there is the danger of breaking the second commandment, breaking it by not endeavoring to worship according to the pattern of the Word of God. In this area we should be zealous, refusing to allow anything within the worship that is not consistent with the Word.

There are many areas today where the church stands in danger of departing from the Word. Doctrinally speaking, the church is departing from the historic position of the Reformed Faith regarding the Scripture by allowing a lower view of inspiration than that of an infallible, verbally inspired Word of God. The church is departing by absolutely by-passing the Scripture-taught doctrine of discipline and thereby the purity of the church is falling into disrepute. These, and many others that could be mentioned, are ways in which the church is departing from the faith in matters of doctrine.

In addition, the church should always be careful regarding its worship. Nothing should be allowed in the service that is not taught by the Scripture. The worship of the church exists for the glory of God, for the purpose of carrying out His Great Commission, for the evangelization of the world. The early church was careful lest something be introduced into it that would hinder its mission.

What about your church in its worship? Have things been added that can not find their warrant in Scripture? Is your church more concerned with the building than the preaching of the Word of God, with itself instead of its outreach, with friendship instead of its purity? Is the second commandment being broken?

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 48 (December 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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“The poor you will have with you always.”

SMYRNA. — REV. Messrs. Adger, Houston, Merrick, and Pease, who sailed from Boston in the Pa dang, Aug. 20, arrived at Smyrna, on the 25th of October, after a passage of sixty-three days. They and their wives were in good health.

EXTRACTS FROM THE JOURNAL OF MR.  ADGER.

Mr. Adger is a native of Charlestown, S. C.

Solicitations from Beggars.

Nov.28, 1834. The blind beggars who sit by the way-side, carry us back to the early ages, when our Lord healed Bartimeus. It is said by those who have lived in Malta, that there are many more paupers in that island than here. Indeed there are as many in some of our cities in America. But the beggars in America are not generally natives of the soil, but imported from abroad. The benign religion which God. in his mercy has given us, is not the parent of poverty. Rather it is the parent of the hospital and the asylum where the sick and wretched are provided with food and shelter. It is distressing to be assailed as we pass along the street, by the lame and the blind and the idle, without feeling a liberty to respond favorably to their piteous cry: “Carita, carita, seignior,” is an affecting appeal. Even now while I write I hear the long dolorous supplication of one at the door, who begs in the name of Christ, and promises “the blessing of the Lord” upon him “who gives to the poor.” What are we to do?  Give to them and thus encourage indolence, and bring to our houses daily a crowd of those who will eat nothing but the bread of idleness? Or shall we turn them away and thus perhaps be deaf to the cry of the real sufferer. I am in a strait. Those who have been longest in the land say, “Do not give to all in this way but seek out a few whom you know to be deserving, and let these few be your peculiar care.”

The ladies here have a poor’s society; the gentlemen support a dispensary and physician; and thus provide “a multitude of impotent folk” with medicines and medical advice. To give one’s mite to such institutions appears to me much better than to bestow it in indiscriminate charity. The Ladies’ Poor Society make it their business to visit the poor at their own houses, and they give truly a touching description of the lamentable condition of many. The gentlemen’s dispensary gave aid during the year past to not less than fifteen hundred diseased people.

The Jews here hardly ever beg, although they are so poor and so much abused. They are not unwilling to engage in any menial service, however vile, for a little money; but I am told that one cannot hire the other poor to work in such a manner.

Another man was killed last night.  He makes the fifth whose life has been wilfully taken in this city within the month.  What a sad moral condition do these murderers betray.

 

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On a recent post we offered the remembrances of Dr. William Engles reflecting on the life of the Rev. Jacob J. Janeway. Here today, a brief look at the life and ministry of Dr. Engles.

A Life of Selfless Service.

If you have any appreciation for Presbyterian works that came out of the nineteenth-century—works by men like Archibald Alexander, Samuel Miller, Charles Hodge, and so many more—then you owe a debt of gratitude to the Rev. William M. Engles. From 1838 until 1863—key years in Presbyterian publishing—Rev. Engles selflessly served as the head of the Presbyterian Board of Publication, and it was under his leadership that this institution produced some of the very best works issued in that era. No rash claim, it was said at his funeral that, “So far, indeed, as any one man can deserve such preeminence, he might justly be called the founder of the Presbyterian literature of this country.”

William Morrison Engles was born in Philadelphia on October 12th, 1797. His father was Captain Silas Engles, of the Revolutionary Army; his mother was Anna (Patterson) Engles, a lady from a distinguished family. Both parents were noted for their intelligence and for their accomplishments. William graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1815, studied theology with Dr. Samuel Brown Wylie, of the Reformed Presbyterian denomination, and was licensed by the Presbytery of Philadelphia on October 18th, 1818. Then on July 6th, 1820, he was ordained and installed as pastor of the Seventh Presbyterian Church, also known as the Tabernacle Presbyterian Church. Here his ministry was faithful and successful, but in 1834 he was obliged to resign, on account of a diseased throat.

From the pulpit he stepped into the editorial chair, succeeding Dr. James W. Alexander as editor of The Presbyterian, in which post he continued, until the day of his death, for thirty-three years. Under his supervision this newspaper attained an increased circulation and a high reputation as the leading organ of the Old School party. Then in May of 1838, Rev. Engles was appointed editor of the Board of Publication for the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., which post he held for twenty-five years, while yet retaining the editorship of The Presbyterian. In 1840, he was chosen to serve as Moderator of the General Assembly for the Old School wing of the PCUSA, and then filled the office of Stated Clerk for six years. His death, from an obscure disease of the heart, occurred on November 27, 1867, passing into glory at the age of 71.

Dr. Engles owed his reputation more to his pen than to his pulpit. He was too quiet and didactic to be a popular preacher. But to say nothing of his editorial success, to him the Board of Publication was more indebted than to any other individual, according to its own acknowledgment. He took an active part in its inception and progress. He not only rescued from oblivion various valuable works, in danger of becoming obsolete, but added to the Board’s issues a number of treatises from his own prolific pen. As these were published anonymously, they cannot here be specified. Mention, however, may be made of the little volume, entitled Sick Room Devotions which has proved of inestimable service, and The Soldier’s Pocket Book, of which three hundred thousand copies were circulated during the war.

Words to Live By:
“And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” – 1 Peter 5:4.

Of Rev. Engles, it was noted that he “was exceedingly averse to anything that savored of mere eulogy or panegyric upon his own services”, so much so that even his own funeral service would not have been attempted but for the urgings of numerous friends.

Let your eye be fixed upon the heavenly goal; let your work here on earth, whatever that may be, be a work done as unto the Lord, and not with an eye to the applause of the world.

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Having a few days ago reviewed the death of John Knox, it is only fitting here to also review his burial.

Parking Space Number 23

You might wonder what in the world is a post about a parking space doing in This Day in Presbyterian History?  Well, if this author tells you that it is the final resting place of Scot Reformer John Knox, as seen in the photo of this post, you will understand.  And yet we don’t really understand or comprehend it.  All right, every church needs a parking lot. Every church needs space for its worshiper’s automobiles. But to pave over a portion of the church graveyard without moving the graves there, especially the grave of a former pastor of the church and Reformation leaders, namely John Knox, that is really crass, in this author’s opinion. But that is exactly what happened sometime in the 1970’s of the last century.

knoxJohn_parkingLot23

His funeral had taken place on this day, November 26, 1572, two days after  he died. Read the words of Thomas M’Cree from the “Life of John Knox” (p. 277):

“On Wednesday, the 26th of November, he (knox) was interred in the church-yard of St. Giles.  His funeral was attended by the newly-elected regent, Morton, by all the nobility who were in the city, and a great concourse of people.”

William M. Hetherington in his History of the Church of Scotland, on pg 77, continues the story of his burial when he wrote:

“When his (Knox) was lowered into the grave, and gazing thoughtfully into the open sepulcher, the regent emphatically pronounced his eulogium in these words, ‘There lies he who never feared the face of man.’”

Regent Morton knew himself the truthfulness of these final words as John Knox had reproved him to his face, with Hetherington calling the regent later on in his history “that bold bad man.” (p. 77)

It is interesting to this author that, despite searching, he has not found anything of the burial service itself other than these brief remarks around the grave. We in these United States usually have a funeral message, with Scripture being read, and other remarks of comfort and promises  regarding the bodily resurrection of the Christian being buried.

What we do know is that in St. Giles Cathedral parking lot is a parking space with number 23 painted on it, with a blank yellow stone at  its head. Below that yellow stone that can be found written  in a circle of colored bricks the following message, “The above stone marks the approximate site of the burial in St. Giles graveyard of John Knox the great Scottish divine who died on 24 November 1572.”

Words to Live By:
There are several monuments to John Knox in Edinburgh, one inside St. Giles Cathedral itself. Another one is standing in Geneva, Switzerland. In one sense, all of Scotland is a memorial to this great Reformer. whether they acknowledge it or not. We who are the spiritual Presbyterian heritage of John Knox, have the hope and confidence that one day Parking Space number 23 will be emptied of its remains and John Knox will be reunited with his spirit already up in heaven. Come, Lord Jesus.

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