December 2017

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

Q.43. —What is the preface to the ten commandments? 

A. —The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Q. 44. — What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?

A. — The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, that because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.

Scripture References: Exodus 20:2; Luke 1:74; I Peter 1:15-19.

Questions:

1. What three things are found in the preface to motivate us to holy living?
The three motivators are:
(1) He is our Lord.
(2) He is our God.
(3) He is our Redeemer.

2. Why should we keep His commandments because He is our Lord?

We should keep His commandments because He is our Lord since He is our Creator and our Sovereign and as His creatures and subjects we owe Him this. Ps. 100:2,3.

3. Why should we keep His commandments because He is our God?

We should keep His commandments because He is our God since He is our Covenant God and has brought us into a special relationship with Himself and therefore we have an obligation to serve Him.

4. Why should we keep His commandments because He is our Redeemer?

We should keep His commandments because He is our Redeemer since He bought us and made us free from sin and this should encourage us to be obedient unto Him.

5. What wonderful lessons can be learned from the grammatical construction used in this question?

The lesson that He is the Lord our God in the present time, not in the future; the lesson that He is the Lord God of every individual sinner (“Thy”) whom He calls.

6. From what bondage are ‘We delivered by the Lord our God?

We are delivered from the bondage of being under the wrath of God and the guilt, power and pollution of sin, from hell itself. This should teach us to keep His commandments out of praise to Him for what He has done for us and out of the sense that this is the least we can do to repay Him. (Philippians 1 :27)

OUT OF THE HOUSE OF BONDAGE

By Israel’s deliverance from the house of bondage typifies the spiritual deliverance of the believer from sin, Satan and hell. Our spiritual deliverance is a wondrous thing, a mercy for which we should ever be praising God. The question is pertinent: Why don’t we praise Him more for such a deliverance? Why aren’t our lives a ceaseless hymn of praise to our God who is our Deliverer?

This deliverance is something the Christian takes for granted time and time again. There does not seem to be a realization of what He has done for us in this regard. We sing:

“In loving kindness Jesus came
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame
Thro’ grace He lifted me.
From sinking sand He lifted me,
With tender hand He lifted me,
From shades of night to plains of light,
Oh, praise His name, He lifted me!”

And yet though we sing it we do not realize all that is involved. We say we do, we can give the right answers under theological examination, but our manner of life so many times shows a lack of appreciation for our deliverance.

There might be help for us in this matter if we should realize once again from what we have been delivered. Let us think of the sinner for a moment. He is a man who is in bondage to sin. He is an absolute slave to his own sinful will. Sin reigns over him and there is nothing he can do about it. He is a man that is under the command of Satan. He rules the mind of the sinner and there is nothing the sinner can do about it for he is in ignorance. He rules the sinner’s will and since he does the sinner will obey him in each situation. Satan leads him into snares he sets for him, every step has at its end a Satanic mine that cannot be missed and will always destroy. He is a man who is on his way to hell, to everlasting torment. There is no worse way to describe misery, to paint a picture of it, than to use the term hell. The worst mire of life is easy compared to the terrible punishments of hell. From such a bondage is the redeemed man delivered by grace.

How is it possible for us not to praise our Lord God for such a deliverance? How can we help but bend every effort to thank Him for this wonderful grace? Nothing should stop us from magnifying the precious name of Jesus by giving Him the preeminence in all that we do, say and think, all to the glory of God. (Psalm 11:1)

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 43 (July 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

Sermon At A Service of Installation

greenWH_1856_missionIt was on this day, December 30th, in 1856, that the Rev. Dr. William Henry Green brought a sermon on the occasion of the installation of Rev. Heman R. Timlow, as pastor of the Harris Street Presbyterian Church, Newburyport, Massachusetts. Rev. Timlow had been called to serve this church following the resignation of the Rev. W.W. Eels in March the year prior. All of which is admittedly a rather obscure set of facts and we might honestly wonder why it should merit our attention?

Among Presbyterians, the installation of a pastor remains to this day a service carried out in much the same way. So for one, if we were to look for a model for such an occasion, then here is one example. Moreover, we have here a sermon by an admittedly brilliant young man, at a point early in his remarkable career.

There is also the contrast of the youth of Dr. Green [1825-1900], just 31 years old when he served at the installation of this new pastor, compared with the advanced age of Rev. Dana, then near the end of his life yet still faithfully serving the Lord’s people at this installation. Dr. Green came from a long line of Presbyterians, among them, Jonathan Dickinson, first president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University). Green had graduated from Princeton Seminary in 1846, was ordained in 1848, and following a brief pastorate in Philadelphia, was installed in 1851 as professor of Biblical and Oriental Literature at the Princeton Theological Seminary. He remained a professor there until his death in 1900.  Rev. Daniel Dana [1771-1859] as noted was near the end of his life, having long served the Presbyterian churches of Newburyport. It was Rev. Dana who had asked Dr. Green to bring the installation sermon on this occasion. Rev. Dana then brought the charge to the pastor. Others serving at this installation included the Rev. John Pike, of Rowley, who brought the charge to the people; and the Rev. A.G. Vermilye, of Newburyport, who extended the right hand of fellowship.

But the primary value of this sermon remains the message itself, as brought by Dr. Green that day. For his message, he chose the text of Luke 4: 18-19 :

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

By the standards of that era, Green’s message is rather brief, taking up just 12-1/2 pages in print. Many of his peers would typically produce similar sermons of twenty pages or more. But length is no judge of quality, and Green is succinct for a purpose, and from a pastoral standpoint, could be seen as a hallmark of his long career at Princeton Seminary, indicative of the heart of his ministry.

The above text, as Dr. Green states in the opening of his sermon, contains an exposition of Christ’s earthly mission. It is the commission which He received from the Father and it is the reason why He was anointed with the Spirit above measure. It comprises the errand upon which He came into the world. And so, to give a glimpse of his sermon, here below are a few choice portions:—

“The mission of the Savior was to preach the Gospel to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And yet when He ascended to the Father, He left behind Him a world still unreconciled to God, still in its pollution, misery and sin. It was filled still with poor to whom no glad tidings had been carried, with captives whose prison doors were barred as tightly, whose fetters were as galling and whose miserable dungeons were as dark and cheerless as ever; with the broken hearted to whom no voice of the comforter had spoken relief, and with the blind whose sight was as far as ever from being removed. But judge not from this that His errand was was abortive and His work a failure.”

“The work of the world’s recovery was not one begun in a moment and ended in a moment. As there was a protracted period of preparation reaching through many ages and employing various and potent instrumentalities before He came; so there is needed a protracted period for that scheme which He set in operation and which He still conducts and superintends, to work out its expected and certain consummation. The whole might have been accomplished in an instant had the almighty grace of God so chosen; and the moment of Christ’s triumphant resurrection from the grave might have been signalized by the complete ingathering and perfect sanctification of all God’s elect people, by the utter overthrow of Satan’s baleful empire, and by the entire and final banishment from earth of sin and its accursed effects. And so, had God chosen, the world might have been created in a moment, and all its forms of beauty and its innumerable orders of creatures sprung instantaneously into being, instead of being gradually evolved through six successive days. But thus God did not work in creation; nor did He in redemption.”

“To what has been said it may be still further added, that the verses before us are descriptive of the mission of the church of God, as composed of those who have embraced this precious system of saving truth, and stand as its embodiment, its representatives and its champions before the world. . . .Every one who has received the gospel of God’s grace into his soul, is not only one redeemed from the power of the enemy, but one commissioned to ransom others; not only one upon whom the balm of Gilead has begun its work of cure; but a physician, a healer of the hurts and maladies of others; not only a captive loosed from bonds, but set to the work of breaking the chains of those who wear them still. Every Christian is not a mere passive recipient of the truth and of its saving benefits, but in his measure and according to his station, opportunity and ability, he is set for its defence and propagation. He is a light kindled that it may shine—salt put into the mass for the preservation of the whole. The gospel is given to the church of God to spread it and apply it everywhere. . . It is a work of solemn obligation; and to every Christian unemployed in this his bounden duty, comes his Savior’s reproving voice—’why stand ye all the day idle? go, work in my vineyard.’ “

Words to Live By:
The call of the Gospel is a call to real action here and now. Christ saved us that we might bear fruit—that we might live out the life of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and so be used of Him to draw others into His kingdom. For one, as Dr. Green is careful to point out elsewhere in his sermon,

“. . . there is no warrant for restricting the redeeming virtue of the gospel solely to what is spiritual and eternal, and excluding from the sphere of its potency that which is temporal; or rather since it is expressly declared, that godliness has the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come,—as the gospel is capable of undoing and was intended to undo all the mischiefs of the fall, and to banish suffering and sorrow from this present world as well as deliver from it in the next, the church is God’s grand engine of philanthropy. There is not a question bearing on man’s amelioration, individual, social or national, in which the church has not an interest, and in whose solution she should not take her share. There is not a cry of distress, that may be suffered to break upon her ear unregarded. She carries in her hand the potent remedy; and she may not, through her culpable inactivity or through her criminal lack of faith in its sovereign efficacy, keep back from suffering men, what Christ has charged her as His almoner with bestowing upon them. She must hold up the gospel which she has received, before the eyes of men, as God’s appointed cure for all the evils that are in the world. Nor may she content herself with the mere propounding of its abstract principles, nor with the diligent application of it to one class of man’s disorders; as though her caring for one part of her commanded work absolved her from the rest,—as though by caring for men’s eternal, she was absolved from all regard for their temporal interests,—as though after proffering eternal salvation to men, she was thenceforward discharged from further care for them, and might shut up her bowels of compassion from her suffering and needy brother. . . . She must not only hold up the gospel in one of its aspects, but hold it up in all,—not only state its principles but search out and exhibit its applications. ” 

 A print copy of the above sermon may be found preserved at the PCA Historical Center. Or more conveniently, it may be found on the Web by clicking here.

“Prepare what needs to be done.”

I suppose bookplates raise the topics of ownership, property, and the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.” But here, on vacation and facing the new year, we simply hope you will enjoy a bit of a holiday diversion with a small collection displayed:

 

Here’s a great quote that would be well suited for a bookplate:

“I have a peaceful study, as a refuge from the hurries and noise of the world around me; the venerable dead are waiting in my library to entertain me, and relieve me from the nonsense of surviving mortals.” — Samuel Davies

Another quote that I’m particularly fond of, supposedly by Ben Franklin:

“Only a fool loans books; half the books in my library were loaned.”

But apparently memory is a poor servant, or I was misinformed, for this site indicates the author of that quip was instead Anatole France:

Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other people have lent me.
– Anatole France

I think I like my version better. Anyway, all that by way of introduction and an excuse to present some bookplates from a few of the volumes in the research library at the PCA Historical Center:

Bookplates affixed inside a volume of the works of Jonathan Edwards.
This volume was originally owned by James H. Thornwell and then by
Rev. Thomas Dwight Witherspoon, whose papers are preserved at the PCA Historical Center.

Bookplate for book #489, dated 1859 and affixed inside Volume I of a Latin edition
of Calvin’s Institutes, affixed about the time he was installed in his first pastorate:

Another plate from Witherspoon’s library, this time from his copy of
The History of the Church of God, by C.C. Jones, apparently acquired while
Witherspoon was pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tennessee,
the same church where Rev. George Robertson is now pastor:

From a book formerly owned by Henry H. Meeter, noted Calvin scholar:

And a bookplate from a volume previously owned by Dr. Robert G. Rayburn,
founding president of Covenant College and Covenant Theological Seminary:

A plate from a book formerly owned by the Rev. Harry H. Meiners, Jr.,
founding pastor of several churches in New Mexico.

A bookplate used by the Rev. R.W. Chesnut, an early 20th century
patriarch of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod:

A plate from historic Maryville University in Tennessee:

A bookplate used by the Rev. Clarence Read Lacy, a Southern Presbyterian
pastor who had an active ministry in Appalachia:

[the Latin motto can be translated as “Prepare what needs to be done.”]

One from a man with an unusual first name :

A portion of a bookplate from the church library of the Grand Cote Reformed Presbyterian
church. Book #34 in this case was Traditions of the Covenanters:

A plate from another church library, that of the Grace Street Presbyterian Church:

From the library of R.H. Reid:

An ink stamp used for the library of one Christopher A. Clark,
stamped inside a copy of Buck’s Theological Dictionary:

And lastly, a bookplate inside a copy of The Dead of the Synod of Georgia,
by John S. Wilson:


Words to Live By:
The new year does indeed face us. How will we use the time God gives us? Have we used this soon-past year for His glory? More than any plans for the future—for plans are so subject to change—are we living each day on our knees, in prayer before the throne of glory? Have we established a habit of committing each day to the Lord, seeking to do His will? Put the Lord first in all things, and He will bless your days.
 

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.—Psalm 90:12, KJV.
Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.—Proverbs 16:3, KJV

Some time back I remember someone asking whether Machen’s father was in fact a Christian. Later, while working through our collection of pamphlets by Dr. J. Gresham Machen, I came across an offprint titled CHRISTIANITY IN CONFLICT (1932), and noted the following remembrances that Machen offers regarding his father.

[from “Christianity in Conflict,” as published in Contemporary American Theology, edited by Vergilius Ferm (New York: Round Table Press, 1932), pp. 246-247.]

My father was a lawyer, whose practice had been one of the best in the State of Maryland. But the success which he attained at the bar did not serve in the slightest to make him narrow in his interests. All his life he was a tremendous reader, and reading to him was never a task. I suppose it never occurred to him to read merely from a sense of duty; he read because he loved to read. He would probably have been greatly amused if anyone had called him a “scholar”; yet his knowledge of Latin and Greek and English and French literature (to say nothing of Italian, which he took up for the fun of it when he was well over eighty  and was thus in a period of life which in other men might be regarded as old age) would put our professional scholars to shame.

With his knowledge of literature there went a keen appreciation of beauty in other fields—an appreciation which both my brothers have inherited. One of my father’s most marked characteristics was his desire to have contact with the very best. The second-best always left him dissatisfied; and so the editions of the English classics, for example, that found place in his library were always carefully chosen. As I think of them, I am filled with renewed dismay by that provision of the Vestal Copyright Bill, nearly made a law in the last Congress, which would erect a Chinese wall of exclusion around our country and prevent our citizens from having contact with many things that are finest and most beautiful in the art of the printing and binding of books.

My father’s special “hobby” was the study and collection of early editions—particularly fifteenth-century editions of the Greek and Latin classics. Some fine old books were handed down to him from his father’s home in Virginia, but others he acquired in the latter part of his long life. His modest means did not suffice, of course, for wholesale acquisitions, but he did try to pick up here and there really good examples of the work of the famous early printers. He was little interested in imperfect copies; everything that he secured was certain to be the very best. I can hardly think of his love of old books as a “hobby”; it was so utterly spontaneous and devoid of self-consciousness. He loved the beautiful form of the old books, as he loved their contents; and the acquisition of every book on his shelves was a true expression of that love.

He was a profoundly Christian man, who had read widely and meditated earnestly upon the really great things of our holy Faith. His Christian experience was not of the emotional or pietistical type, but was a quiet stream whose waters ran deep. He did not adopt that “Touch not, taste not, handle not” attitude toward the good things or the wonders of God’s world which too often today cause earnest Christian people to consecrate to God only an impoverished man, but in his case true learning and true piety went hand in hand. Every Sunday morning and Sunday night, and on Wednesday night, he was in his place in Church, and a similar faithfulness characterized all his service as an elder in the Presbyterian Church.

[For those who might be interested in reading further, I have prepared a PDF edition of the full article, which is available here.]

Training Others in the Work of Service
by David T Myers

Born in Ireland in 1723, Robert Smith accompanied his parents to America in 1730. He was of the stock of Scots who had moved from Scotland to Ireland and then on to America. Upon arrival in this new land, the family settled about forty miles from Philadelphia along the Brandywine River.

At age 15, Robert was one of the countless converts of the Spirit under the gospel preaching of George Whitefield in his first tour to America. Shortly afterwards, Robert Smith felt the call of that same Spirit to enter the ministry. His parents supported him in this divine call and encouraged him to enter the church academy of Faggs Manor Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania under the tutelage of its pastor, the Rev. Samuel Blair. This school trained him in theological and pastoral subjects, all of which he did well, quickly acquiring the subjects. It was not surprising then that Robert Smith sought licensure by the Presbytery of Newcastle, New Side, which was successful on this day, December 27, 1749. Less than a year later, after practical work in churches to test his call, he accepted a double call, upon ordination, to the Presbyterian congregations at Pequea and Leacock, Pennsylvania, for which he was to stay, at least in Pequea, for the next forty two years.

What is important for us today is that Pastor Robert Smith began an academy there which was instrumental in educating countless Presbyterian ministers of Pennsylvania and surrounding states. This was before Princeton Theological Seminary was begun in 1812, so its very existence filled the empty pulpits of Presbyterian meeting houses all over the then-known land. And it was no easy school to attend either. The language of choice was Latin, and speaking in class either to the teachers or one another in any other languages was punishable as a fault. Yes, Hebrew and Greek were also studied, and theological and Biblical books were included in the course work. Thus, the academy was preparatory to the College of New Jersey as well as preparatory for work in the pastorate. As many as fifty ministers received part of their education here as well as others who went into other callings in life. It continued for forty years and was one of the forerunners to Princeton Theological Seminary.

The churches of Pennsylvania and surrounding states required an earnest ministry. It was impossible to look abroad for its teaching elders. Further, the cost of travel to the centers of education in New England was too great for the infant church. A school for ministry in their own back yard, so to speak, was the only answer. And God’s Spirit answered that call by raising up the Academy at Pequea, Pennsylvania.

Words to Live By:
Modern churches today face a different challenge, in that some of our future pastors are older in age when their call to ministry comes from the Holy Spirit. Often married with families, future pastors cannot leave established jobs and go to seminaries to study the three or four years required for graduation. This is where local Presbyterian churches can come to the fore. Covenant Theological Seminary has any number of seminary courses on line which can be inserted into a Sunday School curriculum or special classes during the church week for preparatory work in training. Those local ministries can then offer opportunities for service under the oversight of teaching and/or ruling elders in the local church. Local Presbyteries can take such students under care as they prepare for God’s work. As Jesus put it in Matthew 9:37, 38 “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (NASB) Are you asking the Lord of the harvest for a plentiful supply of workers in His kingdom? Pray today, and regularly, for that spiritual need.

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