August 2016

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by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 99. What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer?

A. The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer, which Christ taught His disciples, commonly called The Lord’s Prayer.

Scripture References: II Tim. 3:16-17; I John 5:14; Matt. 6:9.


1. How can the whole Word of God be used to direct us in prayer?

The whole Word of God can be of use to us in prayer in that it instructs us of our duties regarding our relationship to God. If we did not have general principles of the Word of God in our minds it would be impossible for us to pray aright (Rom. 10:14).

2. Could you give one example as to how a principle of doctrine helps us in our prayer life?

Yes, a good example would be the offices of Jesus Christ. The knowledge He is our prophet helps us to have the wisdom from Him we need; the knowledge He is our priest enables us to have an intercessor for our prayers; the knowledge He is our King teaches us we should live in submission to Him and this certainly includes our disciplining ourselves in prayer.

3. Why do we need direction in our prayer?

We need direction in prayer because even though the disposition of our souls has been turned into holiness by the Holy Spirit we are still sinners and would not seek after God if left to ourselves.

4. Why is it called “The Lord’s Prayer” In our doctrines?

It is called “The Lord’s Prayer” as it was in answer to the disciple’s plea of “Lord, teach us how to pray.”

5. Does the prayer contain all necessary parts of prayer?

No, it does not contain the confession of our sins and thankfulness of God’s mercies.

6. Is this the form of prayer our Lord would have us use?

No, this is simply a pattern of prayer, a direction of how we should pray.


One of the difficulties of the prayer life on the part of many is that they attempt some of the more advanced patterns of prayer before becoming well-versed in elementary prayer. What is elementary prayer?
The simple procedure of making of requests and giving thanks.

There are higher patterns of prayer. There are such things as adoration, communion, spiritual warfare, intercession and contemplation. But so many times the young believer—and many times the believer of many years—will attempt some of these higher patterns, become discouraged, and the prayer life will continue to suffer. How can we train ourselves to reach the higher patterns some day?

One of the simple methods is to keep a “Prayer Card” in your pocket or in your Bible or in your purse and keep an orderly list of things for which you can pray. As new things come to your attention, add them and you will be amazed at how your list will grow. You will also be amazed at the increase in urgency in prayer on your part.

This urgency in prayer is one of our greatest needs. So many times we seem to feel we can only pray when we are in the right mood. We should remember that our Sovereign God knows all about our moods and will give us the grace, as we cast ourselves on Him, to rise above our moods and be regular and urgent in our prayer lives.

Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman tells the story of Praying Hyde (John Nelson Hyde) coming to his room for prayer. Dr. Chapman stated, “He came up to my room, turned the key in the door, dropped on his knees, waited five minutes without a single syllable coming from his lips. I could hear my own heart thumping and his beating. I knew I was with God. Then with upturned face, down which tears streamed, he broke out with, ‘O, God!’ For five minutes he was still again. When he knew that he was talking with God, there came from the depths of his heart such petitions for men as I have never heard before. I rose from my knees knowing what real prayer is.”

We need more Praying Hydes today. Will you join with me with some elementary prayer? (Luke 18:1).

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.

Vol. 7 NO.4 (April 1968)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

Britain’s Mercies and Britain’s Duty”
by George Whitefield  (Aug. 24, 1746)

Rev. George Whitefield The idea of unlimited submission to unjust government, especially to foreign British rule, was ablaze in America several generations prior to the revolution. Even the leading British evangelist of the Great Awakening, having come to America, weighed in on the subject. In a 1746 sermon, George Whitefield (1714-1770) invoked the same vocabulary as the earlier Reformers in speaking of the ruler as “a nursing Father of the church.” His Britain’s Mercies and Britain’s Duty exulted in “Protestant powers” as tokens of blessing given by the King of Kings.[1] Whitefield considered England blessed in having no “popish abjured pretender.” Employing the terminology of the Hebrew Psalter, he said, “if the Lord had not been on our side, Great Britain, not to say America, would, in a few weeks, or months, have been an Aceldama, a field of blood.” Had the “popish pretender” succeeded, Britain would not have been ruled by parliament but by “Arbitrary principles . . . sucked in with his mother’s milk.”[2] Whitefield also viewed his Protestant people as under obligation to hold fast to God’s commands. Like Mayhew, he stated that citizens were not obligated to submit to an unjust government.

But the chasm between Enlightenment conceptions of law and God’s law remained vast. There could be no progress in the future, and the classical models were disdained. Whitefield viewed God’s law as unimproveable, challenging: “Tell me, ye men of letters,” he asked, “whether Lycurgus or Solon, Pythagoras or Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Cicero, or all the ancient lawgivers and heathen moralists, put them all together, ever published a system of ethicks, any way worthy to be compared with the glorious system laid down” in Scripture.[3]

Had the Lord not providentially spared England from theological error, Whitefield thought the universities would have been ruined and pulpits filled with “freewill” and other antichristian doctrines. Protestant charity and influence would have diminished to the levels of impoverished England. Whitefield also associated the tyranny of Arminianism with a theology that worshipped classical idols like Diana and adored “unassisted unenlightened reason.” Like Calvin before him, Whitefield saw God at work throughout British history. He ascribed a military victory in England to the fasting and prayer of repentant Scottish ministers.

Whitefield, contrary to John Wesley, supported the independence of America. On one occasion, he even warned against English efforts to impose a bishop on North America. Prior to leaving America at the end of a 1764 crusade, Whitefield the Calvinist warned his spiritual compatriots that his heart bled for America. “O poor New England!” he exclaimed, “There is a deep laid plot against your civil and religious liberties, and they will be lost. Your golden days are at an end. . . . Your liberties will be lost.”[4] The cause of his fear was that Anglicans hoped to quell American independence by setting up a bishopric in America. That fear, combined with the outrage against the Stamp Act, which followed shortly thereafter, fired American attitudes against Britain even more. Whitefield, it turned out, was more loyal to Calvinism than to his British monarch; and he expected the worst.

Whitefield retained a great respect for America until the end of his life in 1770. This British Calvinist was eventually buried in an expatriate grave in Newburyport, Massachusetts. It is little wonder that he was still revered at the outset of the Revolutionary war. On one occasion, when a New England militia had set out on a disastrous attempt to invade Quebec, its commander, Benedict Arnold, prior to his traitor days, searched for a Holy Grail to encourage his soldiers. He led his officers down into the crypt where Whitefield’s remains lay. The officers stripped off Whitefield’s clerical collar and wristbands and distributed pieces of these relics to the soldiers as tokens of blessing. James H. Hutson observes of this episode: “The distribution of the Great amulets showed in its eerie way that men facing stress and anxiety wanted links to a preacher of a living God . . . One need look no farther for the reason evangelicalism demolished deism.”[5] Within weeks of his death, scores of memorial services were held for this British Calvinist who evangelized America.[6]

Like so many of these grandchildren of Calvin, he kept Genevan ideas alive and applied them to the American context. Stan Evans writes that American founders “faced the task of establishing a new political order of their own, rather than escaping one controlled by Whitehall; yet the concerns expressed about human frailty, and political power, continued exactly as before. Virtually everyone in our politics, it appears, was a believer in Original Sin, wherever he stood on the specific issues of the day. Simply reading statements on this topic, without other means of identification, one would have no idea at all as to what party or interest was being promoted.”[7] Many of the founders of modern western democracies were children of the Calvinist Reformation, not the Enlightenment Revolution.

This classic sermon is available in Ellis Sandoz, Political Sermons of the American Founding Era (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998). An online version is posted at:

By Dr. David W. Hall, Pastor
Midway Presbyterian Church

For others like this order a copy of Twenty Messages to Consider Before Voting from Reformation Heritage Books.

[1] Ellis Sandoz, ed., Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805 (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1991), 125.

[2] Ellis Sandoz, ed., Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805 (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1991), 126. Whitefield detested the Arminian inroads to the Anglican Communion as heretical departures from Calvinism. His revival sermons were little more than “rehearsals of traditional Calvinist doctrine.” Alan Heimert, Religion and the American Mind (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 1966, 37. He insisted that “the constant Tenour of my preaching in America has been Calvinistical.” Idem. Non-Calvinist ministers were fearful of his emphasis on “Calvinistic Principles and [the] Doctrines of Grace.”

[3] Ellis Sandoz, ed., Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805 (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1991), 134.

[4] Ellis Sandoz, ed., Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805 (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1991), 120.

[5] James H. Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1998), 35. Geissler also reports that Aaron Burr visited the tomb of Whitefield and left with a relic. See Suzanne Geissler, Jonathan Edwards to Aaron Burr, Jr.: From the Great Awakening to Democratic Politics (New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1981), 138.

[6] See Alan Heimert, Religion and the American Mind (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 1966, 142-143.

[7] M. Stanton Evans, The Theme is Liberty: Religion, Politics and the American Tradition (Washington, DC: Regnery, 1994), 99.

A Message From a Yankee

Written on the walls of the old church during the War Between the States was the following: “Citizens of this community.  Please excuse us for defacing your house of worship.  It was absolutely necessary to effect a crossing over the creek.  The Rebs had destroyed the bridge.  –A Yankee.”  Well, at least, they now knew after the invasion of Union troops in their area near the Old Brick Church,  who was responsible for tearing up the floor of their sanctuary.

oldbrickchurchARP The Old Brick Church, or more properly the Ebenezer Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church (sometimes called the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church), had been established in 1770 in Fairfield County, South Carolina, near the town of Jenkinsville, South Carolina.  Scotch-Irish Presbyterian settlers had moved south from the Cumberland County of Pennsylvania to the area to establish up their homes and families in the area.  At first, they worshiped in a log church.  This was replaced in 1788 by a brick church which continues to this day in the area.

Five pastors ministered the Word of God from 1791 to 1899.  They were: James Rogers (1791 – 1830), James Boyce (1832 – 1843), Thomas Ketching (1743 – 1752), C.B. Betts (1755 – 1769), and Allen Kirkpatrick (1896 – 1899)  During this time span,   it became the “mother church” of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod in South Carolina, as other A.R.P. congregations met together to organize as a Synod inside its four walls.  While it is one of a very few which still exists from the eighteenth century in South Carolina, yet the time of the Civil War when many of its sons went off to fight for the Confederacy brought the death knell to the church.  There was some attempt to revive it after 1899, but eventually it was closed due to lack of attendance.

On August 19, 1971, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1973, the local Presbytery of the Associated Reformed Church placed it back on its rolls as a house of worship, even though there is no congregation or pastor currently serving it.  Currently, usage is restricted to commemorative events which take place at the property.  

Words to live by:
Special places of remembrance are highly important to recognize the faith and life of godly men and women and covenant children of  past ages, who made it a priority to worship the Triune God of the Bible in spirit and in truth.  What would be more important however would be to have a living place of worship, with an active congregation and faithful minister to speak to the twenty-first century citizens and church members  with the same message of salvation as was declared in  past centuries.  Pray that the Lord will thrust out laborers into His vineyard, for the fields continue to be white unto spiritual harvest.

Image source: Photograph by Michael Miller, posted at and also at

It Remains a Message for Our Time.

Gardiner Spring

This day, August 18th, marks the death, in 1873, of the Rev. Gardiner Spring. He was already 76 years old when he proposed his “Resolutions” at the General Assembly of the Old School Presbyterian Church in 1861. Those were the Resolutions that split the denomination North and South. But long before Spring achieved infamy with his “Resolutions,” he had been, since 1810, the pastor of the Brick Church in New York City. In fact, his entire ministerial career of 63 years was spent at this one church.

Born in 1785, he was educated at Yale and for a short time practiced law before entering Andover Theological Seminary to prepare for the ministry. A powerful preacher, he became a prominent pastor in that City and in the Church at large. Spring made great use of the press as an auxiliary to his preaching of the gospel, and a number of his works remain in print to this day. In 1816, Rev. Spring brought the following message on New Year’s Day, a message having to do with the subject of the revivals of religion.

To read or download the entire message in PDF format, click here.


2 Chronicles 29:16-17:—
And the Priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron. Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify.

The passage just recited may give a direction to our thoughts. When Hezekiah came to the throne Aof Judah, he found religion in a low and languishing state. His father Ahaz was not only an idolatrous king, but notorious for his impiety. The torrent of vice, irreligion, and idolatry, had already swept away the ten tribes of Israel, and threatened to destroy Judah and Benjamin. With this state of things, the heart of pious Hezekiah was deeply affected. He could not bear to see the holy temple debased, and the idols of the Gentiles exalted; and though but a youthful prince, he made a bold, persevering, and successful attempt to effect a revival of the Jewish religion. He destroyed the high places; cut down the groves; brake the graven images; commanded the doors of the Lord’s house to be opened and repaired; and exhorted the Priests and Levites to purify the temple; to restore the morning and evening sacrifice; to reinstate the observation of the Passover; and to withhold no exertion to promote a radical reformation in the principles and habits of the people.

The humble child of God in this distant age of the world, will read the account of the benevolent efforts of Hezekiah and his associates, with devout admiration. As he looks back toward this illustrious period in the Jewish history, his heart will beat high with hope. Success is not restricted to the exertions of Hezekiah. A revival of religion is within our reach at the commencement of the present year, as really as it was within his, twenty-five hundred years ago. But to bring this subject more fully before you, I propose to show,

What a revival of religion is;

The necessity of a revival among ourselves;

What ought to be done in attempting it;—and

The reasons why we may hope to succeed in the attempt.

I. What is a revival of religion?

We have never seen a general revival of the Christian interest in this city. In two or three of our congregations, there have been some seasons of unusual solemnity, which have from time to time resulted in very hopeful accessions to the number of God’s professing people. But we have not been visited with any general outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Hence, we talk about revivals of religion without any definite meaning; and hence, many honest minds are prejudiced against them. Some identify them with the illusions of a disturbed fancy; while others give them a place among the most exceptionable extravagancies, and the wildest expressions of enthusiasm. But we mean none of these things when we speak of revivals of religion. It is no illusion—no reverie—we present to your view; but those plain exhibitions of the power and grace of God which commend themselves to the reason and conscience of every impartial mind.

The showers of divine grace often begin like other showers, with here and there a drop. The revival in the days of Hezekiah, arose from a very small beginning. In the early states of a work of grace, God is usually pleased to affect the hearts of some of His own people. Here and there, an individual Christian is aroused from his stupor. The objects of faith begin to predominate over the objects of sense and his languishing graces to be in more lively and constant exercise. In the progress of the work, the quickening power of grace pervades the church. Bowed down under a sense of their own stupidity and the impending danger of sinners, the great body of professing Christians are anxious and prayerful. In the mean time, the influences of the Holy Spirit are extended to the world; and the conversion of one or two, or a very small number, frequently proves the occasion of a very general concern among a whole people.

Every thing now begins to put on a new face. Ministers are animated; Christians are solemn; sinners are alarmed. The house of God is thronged with anxious worshipers; opportunities for prayer and religious conference are multiplied; breathless silence pervades every seat, and deep solemnity every bosom. Not an eye wanders; not a heart is indifferent;—while eternal objects are brought near, and eternal truth is seen in its wide connections, and felt in its quickening and condemning power. The Lord is there. His stately steppings are seen; His own almighty and invisible hand is felt; His Spirit is passing from heart to heart, in His awakening, convincing, regenerating, and sanctifying agency upon the souls of men.

Those who have been long careless and indifferent to the concerns of the soul, are awakened to a sense of their sinfulness, their danger, and their duty. Those who “have cast off fear and restrained prayer,” have become anxious and prayerful. Those who have been “stout-hearted and far from righteousness,” are subdued by the power of God, and brought nigh by the blood of Christ.

The king of Zion takes away the heart of stone and gives the heart of flesh. He causes “the captive exile to hasten, that he may be loosed, lest he die in the pit and his bread should fail.” He takes off the tattered garments of the prodigal; clothes him with the best robe, and gives him a cordial welcome to all the munificence of His grace. He brings those who have been long in bondage out of the prison house; knocks off the chains that bind them down to sin and death; bestows the immunities of sons and daughters, and receives them into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

And is there any thing in all this so full of mystery, that it has no claim to our confidence? Behold that thoughtless man! Year after year has passed aaway, while he has been adding sin to sin, and heaping up wrath against the day of wrath. But the Spirit of all grace suddenly arrests him in his mad career. The conviction is fastened upon his conscience that he is a sinner. Fallen by his iniquity, he views himself obnoxious to the wrath of an offended God. He sees that he is under the dominion of a “carnal mind;” his sins pass in awful review before him, and he is filled with keen distress and anguish. He is sensible that every day is bringing him nearer to the world of perdition, and he begins to ask, if there can be any hope for a wretch like him? But, O! how his strength withers, how his hopes die! He is as helpless as he is wretched, and as culpable as he is helpless. The “arrows of the almighty stick fast within him, the poison whereof drinketh up his spirits.”

But behold him now! In the last extremity, as he is cut off from every hope, the arm of sovereign mercy is made bare for his relief. The heart of adamant melts; the will that has hitherto resisted the divine Spirit, and rebelled against the divine sovereignty, is subdued; the lofty looks are brought low; the selfish mind has become benevolent; the proud, humble, the stubborn rebel, the meek child of God. Jesus tells the despairing sinner where to find a beam of hope; the voice of the Son of God proclaims “forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace;” the Angel of peace invites and sweetly urges the soul, stained with pollution, to repair to the blood of sprinkling; stung with the guilt of sin, to look up to Jesus for healing and life.

Is this an idle tale? Nay, believer, you have felt it all. And if there is no mystery in this, why should it be thought incredible, that instances of the same nature should be multiplied, and greatly multiplied in any given period? If there are dispensations of grace above the ordinary operations of the Spirit, they may exist in very different degrees at different times. And if the immediate and special influences of the Holy Ghost are to be expected in the edification of a single saint, or the conversion of a single sinner, why may they not be expected in the edification and conversion of multitudes? It is not above the reach of God’s power; nor beyond the limits of His sovereignty. God can as easily send down a shower, as a single drop; He can as easily convert two as one; three thousand as one hundred.

Now this is a revival of religion. We do not pretend to have traced the features it uniformly bears, because it bears no uniform features. God is sovereign. “The wind bloweth where it listeth.” Still, wherever God is pleased to manifest His power and grace, in enlarging the views, in enlivening and invigorating the graces of His own people, and in turning the hears of considerable numbers of His enemies, at the same time, to seek and secure His pardoning mercy, there is a revival of religion.Read the rest of this entry »

Dangerous Times Demand Vigorous Faith

The Protestant Reformation had been a long time in coming to Scotland. But finally, that reformation which had begun in Germany and Switzerland under Martin Luther and John Calvin hit the shores of Scotland under the spiritual leadership of John Knox. His presence was not without its suffering. which we have seen thus far in these pages to Knox and other Protestants before him. But in 1560, members of the Protestant faith took control of the Scottish Parliament. Then, Knox and others wanted a Protestant nation from the top down. And this Reformation parliament agreed, instructing Knox and six other ministers to prepare a creed summarizing of the faith and life of the Scottish church.

This group of ministers led by John Knox had met before to hammer out a book of discipline for the Kirk. Their names were: John Winram, John Spottiswoode, John Willock, John Douglas, and John Roe. Along with John Knox, they were famously known as “the six John’s.” They returned back to the Parliament with the doctrinal statement after just  four days, on August 17, 1560. Obviously, they were at home with the Scriptural truths and texts within this document.

It consisted of twenty-five chapters, supports with Scriptural texts, strengthened by words such as “cleave, serve, worship, and trust.” They had to be some knowledge of church history by its readers in the distant past, as it condemned the heresies of Arius, Marcion, Eutyches, and Nestorius by name. Obviously, Roman Catholicism was thoroughly denied in the confession. It was read twice, first to the Lords of the Articles, and second to the whole Parliament, with members of the “Six John’s” standing up to answer any and all protestations. Very few were enunciated. The votes of every member of the Parliament were then recorded. While there were a few negatives, the majority in the affirmative was clear and strong. Scotland has a Reformation Creedal standard.

Two acts, as John Knox wrote in his History of the Reformation, were passed in additions to the Scots Confession. The one was against “the Mass and the abuse of the Sacrament, and the other against the Supremacy of the Pope.” (pg. 233) All laws at variance to the Reformed faith were set aside.

The entire Scot Confession of 1560 can be read online here.

This Reformation Confession would provide the spiritual foundation of the Scottish Reformation until the Westminster Confession and Catechisms would replace it in 1648.

Words to Live By:
This author in his forty years of ministry within Presbyterian churches has often heard visitors, upon hearing of our Confessional Standards, reply that they hold to “no creed but Christ.” Now that succinct statement sounds good, but in truth even the apostate would affirm it.The only difference would be that his “Christ” is very much different from the Christ of the Bible. And that is the reason why a Confessional standard is needed by the true church today. To be sure, it is never held above the Bible. It is always a subordinate standard. We receive and adopt it as elders of the church. We look upon it as a summary of the teachings of the Old and New Testaments.  Reader, if you haven’t cracked open its pages for a long time, spend some time this week in reading again its chapters. You will be thankful again of this historic standard of our Presbyterian and Reformed churches.

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