July 2020

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“Tell me about them big arms!” 

Cornelius Washington Grafton was born on December 21, 1846 and died on this day, August 1st, in 1934. Trained for the ministry at Columbia Theological Seminary, Rev. Grafton was for forty-three years the pastor of the Union Church Presbyterian Church in rural Mississippi. Most of our resources on this memorable pastor are not at hand, and so we will glance over further details of his life, but the transcript of a little booklet he wrote on his years of ministry is available and it presents some interesting insights into rural ministry before the advent of the automobile. In the following portion of that booklet, Rev. Grafton gives an overview of his work as a pastor in a rural setting:—


The pastoral work has been very laborious. Including Bensalem, the sister church, our congregation stretches over twenty miles in legnth and about the same in breadth, 400 square miles. Around the church the people are more thickly settled, and they can always come to church and Sunday School. And a good deal of the pastoral work can be done by walking around from house to house. But in the outlying sections of the congregation this has been impossible. Some of our members rarely ever get to church and they cannot have the benefit of the Sunday School and the prayer service. And when the preacher goes to see them, it’s a long, hard day’s work; if the roads happen to be bad, especially hard. Some of the trips the country preacher has taken, make one tired to think about. Three fine horses and two or three buggies have been worn out in the service and I am now looking around for the horse that will probably last till sunset comes.

(Since the above was written for the General Assembly, the school boys and girls of the Union Church High School, of which I was principal for ten years, as will be explained further on, united and bought for their teacher, a Ford touring car. At out summer communion occasion this year, a bright young lawyer from a neighboring town, one of our former schoolboys, made a touching address to the congregation, presenting the car as an expression of their tender regard.)

A visit to quite a number of our families cannot be made oftener than once a year, but a pastoral visit in the country means more than it does in the cities and towns. In the big cities, I suppose, the preacher spends his mornings in the study and walks out in the afternoon and calls on his flock and goes to see four or five and sometimes just leaves a card. But not so in the country. You send word beforehand that you are coming such and such a day, and when that day comes, rain or shine, you start early in the morning. You get to the house by and by and find them all looking for you, and they come out to the gate to meet you. Your horse is put away and fed; after a little while, if it is summer time, they cut the big melon or bring out the peaches and figs. By and by the bell rings in the dining room and lo, dinner is ready.

Solomon says, “Put a knife to thy throat when thou sittest at the table of kings.” He says again, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.” But in these old country homes you have the ox and love too, besides the clean herbs of the field. If you ever felt like eating in all your life, now is your chance. But be sure you don’t eat too much. Many ridiculous stories we could tell of persons who forgot Solomon’s injunction. Two hours after dinner comes the ice cream, and again you minister to the outward man, for they have sent for this occasion out to the railroad for ice.

At last the Bible is brought out and now preacher, here again is your chance. You may not see some of these people again in twelve months. Give meat to parents, and pure milk of the Word for the little ones. Speak tenderly and earnestly and then in prayer remember all three generations that are here present, father and son and son’s sons and daughters. Sow seed for eternity.

The preacher naturally forms a line of habits. The first Saturday evening in January he goes to the Baker home, the first of February to the Buie home; Saturday before communion occasion to the Currie home, and so on and on throughout the year. Changes occur in the program of course, for death comes and homes are broken up. These long pastoral rides are formidable indeed. To wit: to ride 20 miles on horseback or in a buggy to see one of your people and back again the same day, twenty-five miles to see another family and back again the next day; and this is repeated again and again. Journeys of 15 miles a day are too numerous to mention.

One recompense though, is the pure air and the bright sunshine, and the beautiful woods and the flowing streams and the long trip with your boy or your girl. While laborious, some of these pastoral trips have been inexpressibly sweet and carry memories that can never die.

A missionary in distant China sits down in his home with his little boys and tells them of the long trips he used to take with his father in Mississippi, and how he talked of Bismarck and Napoleon and made the miles seem short as he drew pictures of the future. And the girl now grown to womanhood, can never forget the long rides to the railroad, the dinner by the roadside, the deep creeks and scary-looking bogs, the outpourings of girlish confidence and the warm-hearted friends met on the way.

Another recompense is in carrying the gospel personally to men. “Tell me about them big arms!” This was the language of a dying Scotchman as the pastor entered the room. The old man had heard the preacher talk sometime before about the God of Jeshurun, and underneath the everlasting arms, and like a babe in early childhood, he now felt the need of the strong arms.

Words to Live By:
Our Lord and Savior does indeed have big arms, and He is able to save to the uttermost all those who trust and cling to Him for salvation. This glorious truth is the same whether proclaimed in the city or the country. All men and women are at heart the same wherever they are. In all ages and times and settings, we are desperate sinners, dead to all that is holy and good and in need of One who will make us alive unto God, redeeming us from our sin and restoring us to eternal fellowship with the God who made us.   So much attention is given to taking the Gospel to the cities. Pray the Lord would raise up those who would faithfully go to the towns, villages and countryside with the life-giving message of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.

The booklet, A Forty-Three Year Pastorate, by C.W. Grafton, is available from the Log College Press. Click here to view details

Edward Terris Noé was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 18, 1919 to parents Bradford Massey Noé and his wife, Lydia Terria Noé.

He was educated at Johns Hopkins University, New York University and at the National Bible Institute (1947), and upon graduation at NBI, he married Ruth Helen Buswell, of New York City, on June 20, 1947. He then began his preparation for the ministry by enrolling at Faith Theological Seminary, graduating there in 1950.

He was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Philadelphia (of the Bible Presbyterian Church) in May of 1949 and ordained in June of 1950 by MidSouth Presbytery (also BPC), being installed as pastor of the First Bible Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, Indiana. He served this church from 1950 to 1969. Concurrently, he also served as director of the Versailles Camp in Indiana, 1951-1968.

Rev. Noé was next pastor of the Bible Presbyterian church of Cono Center, in Walker, Iowa, 1969-1979 and concurrently principal of the Cono Christian School, 1969-1979. Both of those institutions were started by the Rev. Max Belz.

Leaving that post, he served as pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian church of West Chester, PA, 1979-1988 and was on the church relations staff for Covenant College, 1988 until his death. He was honorably retired in 1989 and died on July 31, 1991 while a member of the PCA’s Tennessee Valley Presbytery.

Words to Live By:
Rev. Noé was not well known outside his immediate church circles, yet he was a faithful servant of the Lord and was a great influence in the lives of those under his years of ministry. He is yet another example of how the Lord calls each of us to persevere in our life’s calling, whatever that may be, to seek to honor and glorify His name in all we do, endeavoring to do His will, as revealed in His Word, and to be faithful in keeping covenant with our God, in loving our spouse and our children, in serving our church and in loving our neighbors as ourselves.

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Today’s entry is drawn directly from Alfred Nevin’s Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church (p. 333), with just a little elaboration.

Third in an Illustrious Line of Medical Doctors

H. Lenox Hodge was born in Philadelphia, July 30th, 1838. His father was the eminent physician, Dr. Hugh L. Hodge. [His uncle was the equally eminent Princeton Seminary professor, Dr. Charles Hodge]. Lenox received a collegiate education, which terminated in 1855, in his native city, and afterwards studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1858.

In the Fall of the same year he became resident physician of the Pennsylvania Hospital, retaining that office till the Spring of 1860, when he opened an office for the practice of medicine in Philadelphia. He was appointed Demonstrator of Surgery in the University of Pennsylvania, and, in 1861 commenced giving instruction to private classes, on Chestnut Street, between Ninth and Tenth Streets, and subsequently lectured in Chant Street, on Anatomy and Operative Surgery. During the Civil War, Dr. Hodge served at West Philadelphia’s Satterlee Hospital, and he was also attached to the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps of Surgeons, serving as a field surgeon at Yorktown, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg. In 1870 he was appointed Demonstrator of Anatomy in the University of Pennsylvania, and was, for nearly ten years, attending surgeon at the Children’s Hospital. At the opening of the Presbyterian Hospital, in 1872, he was appointed attending surgeon to that institution.

Dr. Hodge, by his talents, industry, integrity and energy, attained a high rank in his profession. He was a gentleman of polished address and peculiar benevolence. For a number of years he was an exemplary, active and useful ruling elder in the Second Presbyterian Church. Removed by death, in the midst of his years, June 10th, 1881 [surviving his uncle by not quite three years, Charles Hodge dying in 1878], he bore his last and lingering illness with marked resignation, and left the record of one who had adorned all the relations of life by his cultivated intellect, kind disposition, and exemplary Christian character. At the time of his decease he was a member of many medical societies and associations.

Words to Live By:
When we think of Christians who are, or were, medical doctors, the easy association is to the New Testament author, Luke, who wrote one of the four Gospels, as well as the Book of Acts. Next to the pulpit ministry, the medical profession is perhaps preeminently an appropriate one for Christians, focused as it is on the art and science of healing. As much as we need to be reminded to pray for our pastors, don’t we also need to be praying for doctors and other medical professionals? In a culture that seems fixated on death (Prov. 8:36), Christians in the medical profession face unique challenges today.

For Further Study:
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia maintains an archival collection of Dr. Hodge’s case notebooks. The finding aid for that collection can be viewed here.

H. Lenox Hodge was buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia. His gravesite, with an accompanying photograph, can be viewed here.

Teaching a Nation’s Leaders

Considered by many to have been the foremost educator in the South, Moses Waddell was of Irish parentage and was born in Rowan (now Iredell) county, North Carolina, on July 29th, 1770. He received his academic education at a school which was opened in the neighborhood under the name of Clio’s Nursery. For four years, beginning at the age of fourteen, he was engaged as a teacher (1784-1788) at various places in North Carolina and Georgia.

Leaving his employment as a teacher, he enrolled as a student at the Hampden-Sydney College, graduating there in 1891. The next year he was licensed to preach by the Hanover Presbytery, of Virginia, on May 12, 1792.

About 1793, Waddell opened his first school in Columbia county, Georgia, then another in 1801,  in Vienna, Abbeville District, South Carolina. He remained in that work until 1804, when he removed to Willington, six miles south of Vienna, and it was at Willington where he founded the famous Willington Academy. It was common for Presbyterian pastors to maintain an academy, in part for the extra income, and in part because they could thus guide the moral, religious and intellectual education of the children of their parish.

All of these schools were designed as preparatory schools, utilizing a classical education model. As the fame of the Willington Academy grew, it came to be called the “Eton in the woods”. To give one example of the school’s rigor, students were required to memorize, translate and recite some 250 lines of Greek or Latin every night. A Willington graduate, South Carolina governor George McDuffie, held the record, having once recited over 2200 lines of the poet Horace.

In 1818, Waddell was elected President of what was then Franklin College, later to become the University of Georgia. However, he did not actually step into the duties of this office until May, 1819. While serving as an educator, he also labored as a pastor, founding the Presbyterian Church in Athens, Georgia in 1820. During his tenure at the University, the school prospered greatly, and he continued here as President until 1829. Resigning his post, he returned to Willington. For forty-five years he had labored as a teacher. His labors as a pastor continued another six or seven years more, and the Rev. Dr. Moses Waddell’s life drew to a close on July 21, 1840.

Dr. James McLeod provides the following account of Dr. Waddell as a teacher:

“The boys called him ‘Old Moses,’ and while he believed in corporal punishment, he never spanked in a passion, and it finally evolved that he did this only upon a verdict of a peer jury of students. He never spanked for a deficient lesson but chiefly for defects in morals or actions that had to be punished.

“He was a cheerful man even playful in his disposition. He maintained a personal interest in each boy. He had a wry sense of humor. When boys on second floor dumped water on him as he went in a door, he said nothing, but later raised an umbrella as he went in the door to the delight of the boys.

“His strength seems to have been to analyze the boys accurately, then demanded accordingly. He was not a man who used sentiment to escape facing the laziness of adolescence. He demanded. They groaned, they gave, they griped, they worshiped him later. There was a chestnut tree outside the Doctor’s study window that the boys remembered watching as they waited to see the Doctor if they had done anything wrong. Others would climb it to see if anyone was punished by him.

“Dr. Smith, the president of Princeton College, was quoted as saying that he received no students from any school in the United States who stood better examinations than those of Dr. Waddel.”

As a pastor, Alfred Nevin notes that “he was pious, zealous, and well versed in theology generally. His style of preaching was plain, simple, earnest. He addressed himself much more to the understanding than to the imagination or passions. As a teacher he stands almost unrivaled.”

Words to Live By:
In The Great Doctor Waddell, by Dr. James McLeod, the author provides a compilation of the students educated under Waddell. The list includes two Vice-Presidents, three Secretaries of State, three Secretaries of War, one Assistant Secretary of War, one US Attorney-general, Ministers to France, Spain and Russia, one US Supreme Court Justice, eleven governors, seven US Senators, thirty two members of the US House of Representatives, twenty two judges, eight college presidents, seventeen editors of newspapers or authors, five members of the Confederate Congress, two bishops, three Brigadier-generals, and one authentic Christian martyr.

In light of which, this might be a good time to review again the words of Dr. R. B. Kuiper, posted here this past July 15th:

“God has seen fit to reveal Himself to man in two books—the Bible, the book of special revelation, and nature and history, the book of general revelation. Now it is the duty of the organized Church to teach men the content of the former of these books, while it is the special task of the school to open the latter. To be sure, the two may not be separated. Truth can hardly be dealt with so mechanically. After all, truth is one because God is one. Truth is organic. And only he who has learned to understand the Bible can really know history and nature. Yet the distinction is a valid one. The Church can hardly be expected to teach the intricacies of mathematics, physics, astronomy, or the history of the Balkans. Nor does any one demand of the school that it preach the gospel. But Church and school together must declare the whole of God’s revealed truth.”

A Plea for Prayer
by Rev. David T. Myers

The member was desperate in his phone call to me. “Be quick,” he said to this young pastor in Edmonton, Canada, “I have three Jehovah’s Witnesses in my living room.” As I drove out to his house, I reminded myself to instruct this member in the text of Scripture (2 John 10) to not allow heresies into your house.

We’ve all had the experience of having members of this cult knock on our doors, looking to hand out their literature and wanting to discuss their views of this and that with us. How interesting then to learn that the man commonly called their founder—Charles Taze Russell [1852-1916]—was of Scots-Irish ancestry and was raised in a Presbyterian church!

The time is the early eighteen hundreds in America. Charles Taze Russell was the second of five children of a Scots-Irish couple who was born in 1852. The Presbyterian family had moved to Pittsburgh and joined the Second Presbyterian Church, Old School of that city. Pastoring that influential church was the Rev. William Howard [pictured at left], who had himself been born in Philadelphia, Pa on July 28, 1814. From every indication we have, he was a faithful preacher of the gospel, confessional in his understanding of the Scriptures, and well liked by the congregation of the church, which sat under his preaching for a quarter of a century.

And it was into this congregation that the Scots-Irish family of the Russells came as members. Young Russell was to remain there until he was a young teenager, when he left the church to join the Congregational Church, and from there went on to begin his connection with what eventually became the Jehovah’s Witnesses cult.

Words to Live By: We can all look back on situations within the church and all to quickly point out sins of omission or commission, most often in others and not enough in ourselves. Was there such sins in Second Presbyterian Church, or with the faithful pastor of that time, which contributed to this young boy’s eventual apostasy? We don’t know the answer to that question. What we do know is that we need to be faithful to the Scriptures, the Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission in especially the young people of our congregations, in instructing them in Biblical truths, and especially living a holy life before them. And yes, with some of our youth, we have done the above, and they still become part of the world which is at enmity against Christ. Let us be faithful to our God and King, even King Jesus, and pray much for our covenant young children and young people. Let us be faithful to instruct them in the teachings of the Word of God and live a faithful life before them.

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