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John McMillan’s First Manse
by Rev. David Myers

Ordained by the Presbytery of Donegal in 1776, Rev. John McMillan was sent by them to be the first settled pastor to western Pennsylvania. Two years later he brought his wife to the log house which the people of Chariers and Pigeon Creek had prepared him to live in as their pastor. Listen to his description of it on March 26, 1832 in a letter to a Dr. Caraham.

“When I came to this country, the cabin in which I was to live, was raised, but there was no roof to it, nor any chimney, nor floor. The people, however, were very kind; they assisted me in preparing my house, and on the 16th of December, I moved into it. But we had neither bedstead, nor tables, nor stool, nor chair, nor bucket. All these things we had to leave behind us, as there was no wagon road, at that time, over the mountains. We could bring nothing with us but what was carried on pack horses. We placed two boxes, one on the other, which served as a table, and two kegs served us for seats; and having committed ourselves to God in family worship, we spread a bed on the floor, and slept soundly till morning. The next day a neighbor coming to my assistance, we made a table and stool, and in a little time, had everything comfortable about us. Sometimes, indeed, we had no bread for weeks together; but we had plenty of pumpkins and potatoes, and all the necessaries of life, as for luxuries, we were not much concerned about them. We enjoyed health, the gospel and its ordinances, and pious friends. We were in the place where we believed God would have us to be; and we did not doubt but that He would provide everything necessary, and glory to his name, we were not disappointed.” (Quoted in J. Smith, Old Redstone, Philadelphia, 1854, p. 186.)

In 1781, there were enough ministers and congregations in western Pennsylvania to organize the Redstone Presbytery.

Words to Live By:
Several sentences stand out for this author. The first one is in line seven and eight, which reads, “having committed ourselves to God in family worship . . . .” The next line is in line 12, “we enjoyed health, the gospel and its ordinances, and pious friends.” Line 13 has in it the following words, “We were in the place where we believed God would have us to be, and we did not doubt but that He would provide everything necessary, and glory to his name, we were not disappointed.”

Begin with a committed pastor and his wife, add a firm belief in God’s sovereignty, a ready trust in His wise providence, a wiliness to go where His Spirit leads, and great works for God’s kingdom will be accomplished! Give thanks for such dedicated men and women today in your churches and mission stations.

The Apostle of Presbyterianism to Western Pennsylvania
by Rev. David T. Myers

You cannot miss the connection. William Tennent sets up the Log College in New Jersey to train ministers for the infant Presbyterian Church in the colonies.  Samuel Blair studies under his oversight and eventually becomes the pastor of Faggs Manor Presbyterian Church, near Cochranville, Pennsylvania. A classical school and pastoral school of theology are set up at the latter church. John McMillan, who is born on November 11, 1752, near Faggs Manor of Scots-Irish parents who emigrated from Ireland, studies at Blair’s school, both in the grammar school and then at his pastoral school. He finished his training at Pequea Academy, at Pequea, Pennsylvania under another Presbyterian minister.

Completing his training for the ministry, he attended the College of New Jersey at age 18 and finished by graduating in 1772. There, he studied at the feet of John Witherspoon. Licensed by the Presbytery of New Castle, he began a trek west on foot, preaching to scattered groups of Presbyterians along the way.  Arriving in Western Pennsylvania in 1775, he organized two Presbyterian churches, Pigeon Creek Presbyterian Church, where he ministered for nineteen years, and Chartiers Presbyterian Church, where he ministered for forty-seven years. But to clear up one important detail, McMillan hadn’t forgotten his roots or his training, and was ordained in 1777.

Rev. McMillan set up a classical school and training school for ministers in 1785, which became Canonsburg Academy in 1790, and later, Washington and Jefferson College.  Later on, the University of Pittsburgh came into existence through his efforts. His influence can also be seen in the establishment of the Pittsburgh Xenia Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania.

It was thought that he had a direct influence upon 100 ministers as they studied for the gospel ministry under him.  It was said of him that he aided the church and education more than any other man of his generation.  He was a pioneer, preacher, educator, and patriot as he engaged in being “The “Apostle of Presbyterianism in Western Pennsylvania.” He would receive his “Well done, good and faithful servant” on November 16, 1833.

Words to live by:  It was reported that he had preached 6000 sermons in his endeavor to reach the West (Western Pennsylvania) for the gospel. That simply proves that the Word will not return to us empty or void, but will accomplish what the Lord wills for His glory and the good of the elect. Let us all remember as witnesses, whether ordained or not, that God is opening and closing doors all the time. Give us insight to see what spiritual doors are open, and by faith to enter into them boldly and faithfully.

For further reading:
• Guthrie, Dwight R., John McMillan: The Apostle of Presbyterianism in the West, 1752-1833. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1952. Hb, 296 pp.; indexed; bibliography, pp. 277-287.
Articles:
• Bennett, D.M., “Concerning the Life and Work of the Rev. John McMillan, D.D., Journal of the Department of History (of the Presbyterian Church), 15.4 (1932): 208-216.
• Guthrie, Dwight R., “John McMillan Pioneer Educator,” Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society, 33.2 (1955): 63-86.
• Macartney, Clarence Edward, “John McMillan: The Apostle of the Gospel and Presbyterianism in Western Pennsylvania,” Journal of the Department of History (of the Presbyterian Church), 15.3 (1932): 121-132.
• Slosser, Gaius J., “Concerning the Life and Work of the Reverend John McMillan, D.D.” Journal of the Department of History (of the Presbyterian Church), 15.3 (35.1): 133-158.

This Day in Presbyterian History:

The Apostle of Presbyterianism to Western Pennsylvania

You cannot miss the connection. William Tennent sets up the Log College in New Jersey to train ministers for the infant Presbyterian Church in the colonies.  Samuel Blair studies under his oversight and eventually becomes the pastor of Faggs Manor Presbyterian Church, near Cochranville, Pennsylvania. A classical school and pastoral school of theology are set up at the latter church. John McMillan, who is born on November 11, 1752, near Faggs Manor of Scots-Irish parents who emigrated from Ireland, studies at Blair’s school, both in the grammar school and then at his pastoral school. He finished his training at Pequea Academy, at Pequea, Pennsylvania under another Presbyterian minister.

Completing his training for the ministry, he attended the College of New Jersey at age 18 and finished by graduating in 1772. There, he studied at the feet of John Witherspoon. Licensed by the Presbytery of New Castle, he began a trek west on foot, preaching to scattered groups of Presbyterians along the way.  Arriving in Western Pennsylvania in 1775, he organized two Presbyterian churches, Pigeon Creek Presbyterian Church, where he ministered for nineteen years, and Chartiers Presbyterian Church, where he ministered for forty-seven years. But to clear up one important detail, McMillan hadn’t forgotten his roots or his training, and was ordained in 1777.

Rev. McMillan set up a classical school and training school for ministers in 1785, which became Canonsburg Academy in 1790, and later, Washington and Jefferson College.  Later on, the University of Pittsburgh came into existence through his efforts. His influence can also be seen in the establishment of the Pittsburgh Xenia Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania.

It was thought that he had a direct influence upon 100 ministers as they studied for the gospel ministry under him.  It was said of him that he aided the church and education more than any other man of his generation.  He was a pioneer, preacher, educator, and patriot as he engaged in being “The “Apostle of Presbyterianism in Western Pennsylvania.” He would receive his “Well done, good and faithful servant” on November 16, 1833.

Words to live by:  It was reported that he had preached 6000 sermons in his endeavor to reach the West (Western Pennsylvania) for the gospel. That simply proves that the Word will not return to us empty or void, but will accomplish what the Lord wills for His glory and the good of the elect. Let us all remember as witnesses, whether ordained or not, that God is opening and closing doors all the time. Give us insight to see what spiritual doors are open, and by faith to enter into them boldly and faithfully.

For further reading:
• Guthrie, Dwight R., John McMillan: The Apostle of Presbyterianism in the West, 1752-1833. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1952. Hb, 296 pp.; indexed; bibliography, pp. 277-287.
Articles:
• Bennett, D.M., “Concerning the Life and Work of the Rev. John McMillan, D.D., Journal of the Department of History (of the Presbyterian Church), 15.4 (1932): 208-216.
• Guthrie, Dwight R., “John McMillan Pioneer Educator,” Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society, 33.2 (1955): 63-86.
• Macartney, Clarence Edward, “John McMillan: The Apostle of the Gospel and Presbyterianism in Western Pennsylvania,” Journal of the Department of History (of the Presbyterian Church), 15.3 (1932): 121-132.
• Slosser, Gaius J., “Concerning the Life and Work of the Reverend John McMillan, D.D.” Journal of the Department of History (of the Presbyterian Church), 15.3 (35.1): 133-158.

Through the Scriptures:  James 3 – 5

Through the Standards:  There is one baptism

WCF 28:7
“The Sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered unto any person.”

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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.”

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.

Francis Herron, D.D.

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.

Recently a friend was inquiring about the history of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod, which in 1965 merged with the original group known as the Evangelical Presbyterian Church [not the current ongoing denomination]. As explained below, this message was presented by the Rev. Harry Meiners at the occasion of the merger of these two denominations, though our post today is a shorter previous version that Rev. Meiners had prepared in 1961. Perhaps another day we will post the longer edition.

THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN NORTH AMERICA, GENERAL SYNOD : A Brief Historical Sketch.
by the Rev. Harry Meiners [pictured at right]
meiners01

presented by Rev. Harry H. Meiners Jr. at the Uniting Service of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America; General Synod on April 6, 1965 forming the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.

At this historic Uniting Service the Stated Clerk of each of the two uniting churches has been asked to present a history of his respective church, limiting himself to eight minutes. My colleague has twenty-nine years to cover. The official history of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Reformation Principles Exhibited begins with Adam and Eve! I shall endeavor, however to confine myself to a sketch of the past three hundred years.

The Reformed Presbyterian Churches in America are the lineal descendants of the Reformation Church in Scotland, and therefore, date back to the year 1560 for their origin. The General Synod and the Synod of today (divided in 1833) can, without one link broken, claim that they stand upon the platform of the Reformed Church in Scotland in those days of the second Reformation during the years 1638-1649. Then the Solemn League and Covenant was entered into, and the National Covenant of 1580 renewed.

These well-know covenants gave rise to the name “Covenanters,” so famous in Scottish history. Their persecution, from 1680 to 1688, forms a bloody page in the history of that country. The Sanquhar Declaration, made June 22, 1680, by Rev. Richard Cameron and his Covenanter followers, contains some of the germs of our own American Declaration of Independence. The Covenanters, loyal to King Jesus, could not accept the Erastian (Anglican or Episcopal) terms of the Revolution Settlement of 1668 – a position subsequently endorsed by the formation of the Free Church of Scotland in 1843. The Reformed Presbytery was re-constituted in Scotland in 1743 by Rev. John McMillan and Rev. Thomas Nairn. From the middle of the seventeenth century, there had been an emigration from the Reformed Presbyterian Churches in Britain and Ireland to the then American colonies or plantations. Many of these Covenanters had been actually banished by their persecutor, and many more were voluntary exiles for the Word of God and the testimony which they held. They came at first to the Carolinas, and then spread through

Tennessee and Kentucky. By way of Philadelphia they spread themselves over the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Later they came to New York and spread out through that state and on to northern and western localities. In 1752 Rev. John Cuthbertson arrived from Scotland and labored for twenty years among these scattered people. Most of them did not join other organized and existing churches. The Reformed Presbytery of America was constituted in 1774, and then re-organized in the city of Philadelphia in the spring of 1798. The first Synod was constituted in 1809 in Philadelphia; it became a delegated body in 1823. There was an unhappy division in 1833, upon the question of civil relations. The Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America is the group that maintained that because the United States Constitution does not officially recognize Jesus Christ as Head of the nation, the Christian should not vote nor hold public office. The Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, General Synod does urge its members to vote and to hold public office. Today there are other differences between these two bodies — but there are cooperative relations between them and perhaps someday they may again join and work together.

The Theological Seminary of the General Synod was founded in 1807 in Philadelphia. Foreign Missions work was begun in India in 1836 and continues to this day. In northern India we have two mission stations and five congregations of national Indian Christians. Today the church also conducts mission work in Seoul. Korea (begun 1959) and Houston, Kentucky (begun 1907).

For a number of years the church grew smaller. There were congregations that left when there was a proposal to unite with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Others left when some wanted to use a musical instrument in public worship–those who opposed this departed. Others left when Synod voted to permit the use of hymns as well as Psalms in worship services.

Today we are growing again. There are now 23 congregations in the U.S., comprising three Presbyteries. There are 33 ordained ministers in the U.S., one in Korea, 7 in India. Total communicant membership is 2,500 in the U. S. and 180 in India. In India the Saharanpur Presbytery comprises five congregations. In America churches are located in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania. Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois. Kansas, and New Mexico. The church does not have its own college or seminary, but two of its ministers are teaching–Dr. Gordon H. Clark at Butler University and Dr. Charles F. Pfeiffer at Central Michigan University. The church employs a General Secretary, its only full-time servant of the denomination at large. All other denominational officers are pastors of local congregations or elders.

Young people’s conferences are held each summer by the Pittsburgh and Western Presbyteries and the Philadelphia Presbytery sends many of its youth to the Quarryville Bible Conference. All Presbyteries in the United States have Women’s Presbyterials.

The denomination publishes an official magazine, The Reformed Presbyterian Advocate, now in its 99th year of publication. It is published monthly October to May and bi-monthly June to September at $2.00 per year.

Union with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church has been worked on for several years, voted on favorably in 1964, and will be consummated in April, 1965. Thus these two churches hope to have a stronger witness to Biblical orthodoxy of a Reformed and Presbyterian nature in our generation.

October, 1961
Revised February, 1965
Rev. Harry H. Meiners Jr.
General Secretary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod.

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