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Standing Against Conformity to the World

FRANCIS HERRON:
Born, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, June 28, 1774.
Graduated, at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, May 5, 1794.
LIcensed to Preach, by the Presbytery of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, October 4, 1797.
Ordained to the ministry and Installed as Pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Rocky Spring, Franklin County, PA, April 9, 1809.
Removed to Pittsburgh, and Settled as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, May, 1811.
Resigned his Pastoral Charge, December 1850.
Died, December 6, 1860.

So in short compass the life of a venerable Presbyterian divine, as it is summarized at the head of a slim volume issued in his memory. Rev. Herron’s life, it was said, was “a life of more than usual historic importance.”

Francis Herron was born near Shippensburg, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, on June 28, 1774. He belonged to that honored and honorable race, the Scotch-Irish, memorable in the history of the world, but especially in our country, for a thorough devotion to evangelical truth and constitutional liberty. The training of his early years bore rich fruit at a subsequent period of his life, making him so eminent among his brethren as an effective preacher and an orthodox divine.

Receiving the careful training indicative of his parents high regard for knowledge, he entered Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, then under the care of that distinguished Presbyterian, Rev. Dr. Nesbitt. Here he completed his classical course, and graduated May 5, 1794. The prayers of his pious parents were answered by the influence of grace upon his heart, and he was led to study for the ministry of reconciliation. He studied Theology under Robert Cooper, D.D., his pastor, and was licensed by Carlisle Presbytery, October 4, 1797.

He entered upon his Lord’s service as a missionary, going out into the backwoods, as it was then called, passing through Pittsburgh, Pa., then a small village, and extending his tour as far west as Chillicothe, Ohio. Stopping for the night at a tavern at Six Mile Run, near Wilkinsburg, Pa., the people prevailed upon him to stay till the following Sabbath, which he did, and under the shade of an apple tree this young disciple broke the bread of life to the people.

His journey resumed the next day, and with a frontier settler for his guide, he pushed on to his destination through an almost unbroken wilderness, his course often guided by the “blazes” upon the trees. Two nights he encamped with the Indians, who were quite numerous near what is now the town of Marietta, Ohio.

On his return from Chillicothe, Ohio, he visited Pittsburgh. The keeper of the tavern where he lodged, proved to be an old acquaintance, and at his request, he consented to preach. Notice was sent, and in the evening a small congregation of about eighteen persons assembled. The house he preached in was a rude structure, built of logs, occupying the site of the present First Presbyterian church. And such was the primitive style of that day, that during the services the swallows, who had their nests in the eaves, flew among the congregation.

At this time the churches in that portion of our country were visited with a season of refreshing grace, and Mr. Herron entered into the revival with all the ardor of youth filled with hopefulness and zeal. He preached for Rev. Dr. John McMillan at the Chartiers church, during a revival season. He also preached at the Buffalo church, where his fervid eloquence made a deep impression and the people presented him a call, and strongly urged it upon his attention. He however concluded to return to the vicinity of his home, especially, as a call from Rocky Spring church was awaiting him. This call he accepted, and he was ordained and installed as pastor of that church, by Carlisle Presbytery, April 9, 1800.

Some ten years later, he was invited to occupy the pulpit of the First Presbyterian church, then vacant by the recent death of Rev. Robert Steele.

The people were charmed with his discourse, his ripening intellect modified by that refined spirituality, which was a prominent element in his ministrations, had a powerful effect upon his audience. They urged him to preach for them a second time, which he did, the result was a unanimous call was made out and presented to him in the usual manner.

The Presbytery of Carlisle dissolved the relation that existed between Rocky Spring church and Mr. Herron, and he was dismissed to Redstone Presbytery, April 3, 1811, and he was installed pastor of the First Presbyterian church, Pittsburgh, PA, the following June. In a few weeks he removed with his family to his new home, travelling in a large wagon, with his wife, children, and all his household goods.

He joined Redstone Presbytery June 18, 1811. The importance of his new position was fully and truly felt, the commercial importance of Pittsburgh had given all kinds of business an impetus, and prosperity was advancing rapidly; but this outward show referred only to worldly affairs, the religious condition of the people was cold and almost lifeless. The church to which he was called was embarrassed with debt, and the piety of the people manifested a degree of conformity to the world, which nearly appalled the preacher’s heart. But the experience of his ten years pastorate was to him invaluable, and girding himself, he entered upon his duties with a true heart and an earnest purpose. His preaching was the simple exposition of the truth as it is in Jesus, pointed, clear, and unwavering, revealing the enormity of sin and pleading with the fidelity of one who loved their souls. This style of preaching was sustained by his efforts to establish the prayer-meeting, which, strange as it now appears, met with much opposition, even among professors of religion; but this young pastor knew the holy influence of communion with God, and that God favored a praying people, he therefore went forward, and, in connexion with Rev. Thomas Hunt, who was pastor of the Second church, they persisted, and though to avoid a collision with the people the meetings were not held in the church, a small room was used for that purpose, in which Mr. Hunt taught a day-school. The first meeting consisted of the two pastors, one man, and six women, and thus for eighteen months did this meeting continue without adding a single person to their number.

The chilling indifference of the people soon grew into downright hostility, and husbands and fathers prohibited their wives and daughters from attending, and, finally, when the continued efforts of these pious people could be no longer borne, they waited upon Mr. Herron and told him that it must be stopped, his reply was the turning point in the spiritual condition of that people. He said, “Gentlemen, these meetings will not stop, you are at liberty to do as you please; but I also have the liberty to worship God according to the dictates of my conscience, none daring to molest or make me afraid.” From that time a spirit of piety manifested itself among the members of the church, several gay and fashionable persons were hopefully converted, and an impression was made upon the whole community, at once hopeful and healthful.

Words to Live By:
Do not expect courage of conviction from men who have no convictions, from those who have no anchor in the Word of God. The Scriptures must be drilled down deep into our souls if we are to stand against temptations and testings. May God give us pastors who will set an example, who will faithfully stand against the assaults of the world, the flesh and the devil.

Standing Against Conformity to the World

FRANCIS HERRON:
Born, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, June 28, 1774.
Graduated, at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, May 5, 1794.
LIcensed to Preach, by the Presbytery of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, October 4, 1797.
Ordained to the ministry and Installed as Pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Rocky Spring, Franklin County, PA, April 9, 1809.
Removed to Pittsburgh, and Settled as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, May, 1811.
Resigned his Pastoral Charge, December 1850.
Died, December 6, 1860.

So in short compass the life of a venerable Presbyterian divine, as it is summarized at the head of a slim volume issued in his memory. Rev. Herron’s life, it was said, was “a life of more than usual historic importance.”

herronFrancis_portrait1862 Francis Herron was born near Shippensburg, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, on June 28, 1774. He belonged to that honored and honorable race, the Scotch-Irish, memorable in the history of the world, but especially in our country, for a thorough devotion to evangelical truth and constitutional liberty. The training of his early years bore rich fruit at a subsequent period of his life, making him so eminent among his brethren as an effective preacher and an orthodox divine.

Receiving the careful training indicative of his parents high regard for knowledge, he entered Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, then under the care of that distinguished Presbyterian, Rev. Dr. Nesbitt. Here he completed his classical course, and graduated May 5, 1794. The prayers of his pious parents were answered by the influence of grace upon his heart, and he was led to study for the ministry of reconciliation. He studied Theology under Robert Cooper, D.D., his pastor, and was licensed by Carlisle Presbytery, October 4, 1797.

He entered upon his Lord’s service as a missionary, going out into the backwoods, as it was then called, passing through Pittsburgh, Pa., then a small village, and extending his tour as far west as Chillicothe, Ohio. Stopping for the night at a tavern at Six Mile Run, near Wilkinsburg, Pa., the people prevailed upon him to stay till the following Sabbath, which he did, and under the shade of an apple tree this young disciple broke the bread of life to the people.

His journey resumed the next day, and with a frontier settler for his guide, he pushed on to his destination through an almost unbroken wilderness, his course often guided by the “blazes” upon the trees. Two nights he encamped with the Indians, who were quite numerous near what is now the town of Marietta, Ohio.

On his return from Chillicothe, Ohio, he visited Pittsburgh. The keeper of the tavern where he lodged, proved to be an old acquaintance, and at his request, he consented to preach. Notice was sent, and in the evening a small congregation of about eighteen persons assembled. The house he preached in was a rude structure, built of logs, occupying the site of the present First Presbyterian church. And such was the primitive style of that day, that during the services the swallows, who had their nests in the eaves, flew among the congregation.

At this time the churches in that portion of our country were visited with a season of refreshing grace, and Mr. Herron entered into the revival with all the ardor of youth filled with hopefulness and zeal. He preached for Rev. Dr. John McMillan at the Chartiers church, during a revival season. He also preached at the Buffalo church, where his fervid eloquence made a deep impression and the people presented him a call, and strongly urged it upon his attention. He however concluded to return to the vicinity of his home, especially, as a call from Rocky Spring church was awaiting him. This call he accepted, and he was ordained and installed as pastor of that church, by Carlisle Presbytery, April 9, 1800.

Some ten years later, he was invited to occupy the pulpit of the First Presbyterian church, then vacant by the recent death of Rev. Robert Steele.

The people were charmed with his discourse, his ripening intellect modified by that refined spirituality, which was a prominent element in his ministrations, had a powerful effect upon his audience. They urged him to preach for them a second time, which he did, the result was a unanimous call was made out and presented to him in the usual manner.

The Presbytery of Carlisle dissolved the relation that existed between Rocky Spring church and Mr. Herron, and he was dismissed to Redstone Presbytery, April 3, 1811, and he was installed pastor of the First Presbyterian church, Pittsburgh, PA, the following June. In a few weeks he removed with his family to his new home, travelling in a large wagon, with his wife, children, and all his household goods.

He joined Redstone Presbytery June 18, 1811. The importance of his new position was fully and truly felt, the commercial importance of Pittsburgh had given all kinds of business an impetus, and prosperity was advancing rapidly; but this outward show referred only to worldly affairs, the religious condition of the people was cold and almost lifeless. The church to which he was called was embarrassed with debt, and the piety of the people manifested a degree of conformity to the world, which nearly appalled the preacher’s heart. But the experience of his ten years pastorate was to him invaluable, and girding himself, he entered upon his duties with a true heart and an earnest purpose. His preaching was the simple exposition of the truth as it is in Jesus, pointed, clear, and unwavering, revealing the enormity of sin and pleading with the fidelity of one who loved their souls. This style of preaching was sustained by his efforts to establish the prayer-meeting, which, strange as it now appears, met with much opposition, even among professors of religion; but this young pastor knew the holy influence of communion with God, and that God favored a praying people, he therefore went forward, and, in connexion with Rev. Thomas Hunt, who was pastor of the Second church, they persisted, and though to avoid a collision with the people the meetings were not held in the church, a small room was used for that purpose, in which Mr. Hunt taught a day-school. The first meeting consisted of the two pastors, one man, and six women, and thus for eighteen months did this meeting continue without adding a single person to their number.

The chilling indifference of the people soon grew into downright hostility, and husbands and fathers prohibited their wives and daughters from attending, and, finally, when the continued efforts of these pious people could be no longer borne, they waited upon Mr. Herron and told him that it must be stopped, his reply was the turning point in the spiritual condition of that people. He said, “Gentlemen, these meetings will not stop, you are at liberty to do as you please; but I also have the liberty to worship God according to the dictates of my conscience, none daring to molest or make me afraid.” From that time a spirit of piety manifested itself among the members of the church, several gay and fashionable persons were hopefully converted, and an impression was made upon the whole community, at once hopeful and healthful.

Words to Live By:
Do not expect courage of conviction from men who have no convictions, from those who have no anchor in the Word of God. The Scriptures must be drilled down deep into our souls if we are to stand against temptations and testings. May God give us pastors who will set an example, who will faithfully stand against the assaults of the world, the flesh and the devil.

For more on the life of the Rev. Francis Herron, see the post by our friend Barry Waugh, here.

Called to Noble Service

Reproduced here are two accounts, the first an obituary, the second a reminiscence, on the death of the Rev. David Herron, who served some fifty years as a missionary to India, sent by the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod. In 1833 the Reformed Presbyterians had suffered a split, dividing into the RP, General Synod and RP, Synod groups. Yet despite the grievous wound of a denominational split, both sides were aggressive in their missionary efforts, and just two years after that split, Rev. Herron was sent to India to begin a work there. The work begun there in Dehra Dun continued on after Herron’s death. He was succeeded by the Rev. John Calvin Taylor, then later by Rev. Frank Fiol, Mr. & Mrs. Gordon Taylor, and Mr. & Mrs. David Fiol. What an amazing legacy down through the years; what a wonderful testimony to the Lord God whom we serve!

MINUTE ON THE DEATH OF REV. DAVID HERRON.

herronDavid_age90 The committee to whom was referred the demise of Rev. David Herron, who died on the 29th of April, 1900, would submit to Synod the following minute. In the death of our esteemed brother for over fifty years a representative of General Synod, as a missionary in Northern India, our church has lost a man and minister eminent for missionary spirit, a high order of talent, Christian graces, and a temper and disposition which endeared him to all who knew him. His long service in missionary work in India, and his wide acquaintance with the needs and natives of India render his death an almost irreparable loss to our mission in the East.

At the meeting of General Synod held in Pittsburgh, 1835, a resolution was adopted that two of its members be selected for the foreign field. At that time Synod resorted to the ordinance of the lot, the result was that the lot fell on Rev. David Herron and Rev. Wm. Calderwood. The occasion was one of great solemnity and a farewell meeting of Synod was held.

These brethren proceeded to prepare for their departure to their distant field of labor. After reaching India our brother gave himself earnestly to the acquisition of the native language. At the same time he connected with the Saharanpur Presbytery. After missionating for a time in various parts of the Northwest provinces, he subsequently became principal of a female school in Dehra Doon. Here he became instrumental in training young women for varied work in India, some of whom became distinguished in literature and in medicine. Among these were two daughters of Rev. B.M. Bose, who now su
pport their father at Dehra Doon.

When the Saharanpur Presbytery was about to be dissolved by the Presbyterian Church, Rev. David Herron, in connection with Mr. Calderwood took means to preserve the integrity of the Presbytery and was eminently successful. And when after many years of separation, the reunion of the Saharanpur Presbytery with General Synod was proposed, our brother heartily seconded the proposition, and expressed himself by letter, as thankful to the church of his fathers and the church of his choice for their kindly continuing him as a member of the church after so many years of estrangement.

The last work of Mr. Herron’s life has been preaching to a regiment of English soldiers, together with aiding by sympathy and contributions an asylum for lepers.

He was a warm and genial friend, a successful missionary, able preacher of the Gospel, and a devoted Christian brother. The mission in India will deeply feel his loss. But he has gone to higher society. He sleeps in Jesus, and although his body lies in the grave, far distant from the sepulchres of his fathers, and we can see no more his genial face on earth, we hope to meet with him in the home above, where separation shall never enter. Meanwhile General Synod places on record this minute of appreciation of his life and labors.

[The Minutes of General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (1900)p. 28-29.]

The Rev. David Herron, who fell asleep in the Lord at Chakrata, India on the 29th of April, 1900, was intimately connected with the Saharanpur Presbytery almost from the time of its organization in 1837, and was its staunch supporter during the period of its greatest troubles; and it is not too much to say that had it not been for his strenuous exertions to maintain its integrity it would have been impossible for the Presbytery to continue in existence up to the present day. By his death not only has the Presbytery been bereft of a friend on whose wise counsel and unfailing support it could always depend, but the whole Church in India has been deprived of the benefits derivable from the presence among them of a venerable minister of mature experience, wide sympathies and burning zeal in the cause of Missions. He has however fought a good fight and has received a crown of glory at the hand of his Lord and Saviour, and although we deeply mourn his loss we bow in submission to the Will of our Heavenly Father whom it has pleased to take him away from us to a life of happiness above.

[The Reformed Presbyterian Advocate, 35.14-17 (July-Aug, 1901): 312.]

Pictured below, Rev. Herron with his children and an Indian servant. This photograph was taken in 1863 when Rev. Herron returned to the United States following the death of his wife, Mary Louise Browning Herron.

HerronDavid_withChildren

All Glory to the One Who Saved Us.

Yesterday we asked the question “Can we find a sermon by Francis Herron for this date? As it turns out, the answer was “No”. The Rev. Francis Herron was born on June 28, 1774 and he died on December 6, 1860. And to read the history books, he was greatly esteemed by his contemporaries and is remembered by many to this day, yet he published few works (see the list below)), and I could find only one actual sermon that was published.

But listen to what Dr. McKinney, editor of The Presbyterian Banner, said of him :

Dr. Herron was a man of note, unbounded in his hospitalitie, abundant in labors, and wielded an influence such as no other man exerted in this community among all classes of citizens, and among all denominations of Christians. His public spirit, and the wisdom of his counsels, were acknowledged by all. His integrity of character and purity of motive were doubted by none. His sermons were scriptural, doctrinal, practical, and pungent; full of the marrow of the Gospel, and delivered with convincing earnestness. As a pastor he was deeply interested in the welfare of his flock. He trained a most efficient eldership, and taught his people both from the pulpit and by his own example, the pressing claims of Christian benevolence, so that his church ranks with the most liberal [i.e., as in giving freely] in the land. Missionary operations in the West found in him a warm friend, and an earnest advocate. And the Western Foreign Missionary Society, from which our Foreign Missionary Board sprang, and from the beginning of which the Board should date its origin, received his hearty and effective co-operation. Foreign Missions and missionaries had a prominent place in his large and honest heart.
For many years he was an active Trustee of Jefferson College. And the Western Theological Seminary, with its Professors and students, was from its origin, a subject of heart-felt and prayerful solicitude. In the darkest hour he never yielded to despair, but always spoke the cheering word, opened the liberal hand, and rallied his own people to the rescue. And in the day of its final success, none rejoiced more heartily than he. He loved young men, especially candidates for the   holy ministry. No worthy student of theology ever went to him for advice or assistance, without receiving it.

Words to Live By:
It seems to me that the clear lesson, as we look at the life of Francis Herron, is that the character of a pastor speaks far more effectively and convincingly than what he may say or write. That he wrote so little and yet was so highly esteemed and well-remembered only serves to underscore that fact. So too for the rest of us: the world will probably not remember what most of us have said or done, but the testimony of our lives in Christ—the reality of our trust in our living Savior—will have an abiding effect on the lives we have touched. And isn’t that appropriate, that our lives should give all glory to our Lord Jesus Christ, and not to ourselves? We would not have it any other way.

For more on the life of Rev. Francis Herron, see the post by my friend Barry Waugh, at his blog Presbyterians of the Past.

A chronological bibliography for Rev. Francis Herron—
1835
“The duty and reasons of Christian diligence” in The Presbyterian Preacher [Pittsburgh], 1835. Pp. 145-160.

1839
An address delivered in the First Presbyterian Church on the Sabbath evening of January 27, 1839 to the young men of the city of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, E.B. Fisher, 1839. 10 p.

1841
Introductory lecture to the second course, delivered before the Wirt Institute, November 12th, 1840. Pittsburgh, Printed by A. Jaynes, 1841. 16 p.

herronFrancis_portrait1862 Death of Francis Herron

Francis Herron, D.D. Can we find a sermon by Francis Herron for this day?

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