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REV. FRANCIS GRIMKE’ [1850-1937]

Abolitionists Angelina and Sarah Grimké, Francis’ white half-sisters helped to secure Francis’ freedom and they gave the necessary funds for Francis to attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Later, feeling drawn to the ministry, he entered Princeton Theological Seminary from which he graduated in 1878.

On July 7, 1878, Francis was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He would spend over 50 years in the pulpit, most of it at Washington’s 15th Street Presbyterian Church. He was noted as one of the most articulate opponents of racism: “Race prejudice can’t be talked down, it must be lived down.” He was a participant in the March 5, 1897 meeting to celebrate the memory of Frederick Douglass which founded the American Negro Academy led by Alexander Crummell.

Here, from volume 3 of his Works, in the section, “Stray Thoughts and Meditations, Grimké looks back over his ordination to the ministry and subsequent years:

July 7, 1918.
“Just forty years ago today I was ordained and installed pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church. I can hardly realize that four decades have passed since my connection officially with the work here began. It is only as I look in the glass at my changed appearance, at the frost upon my head—as I look around for scores of familiar faces that I used to see, but see no more, and at the children that I baptized in infancy, now grown to manhood and womanhood, some with children of their own, that I am made sensible that some years have elapsed since the beginning of my
ministry here.”

“As I look back over these forty years I have many things to be thankful for. God has been more than good to me, in giving me for thirty-five of those years a most helpful and delightful companionship of one of the best of women : in giving me many dear friends; and since the death of my wife, especially, the great help which my brother and niece have been to me within the home. I don’t know what I should have done without them and also during the whole of those forty years, the unspeakable privilege of preaching the gospel of the grace of God in Christ Jesus to a perishing world. As I look back I can truthfully say, Goodness and mercy have followed me during all those years. I have been blessed with a reasonable amount of health, and have had a very, very pleasant pastorate. While I am deeply conscious that I have not done as well as I might have done; that my ministry is far. far from being all that it might have been. I trust, however, that it has resulted in some good, that some have been helped by my ministrations to a truer, nobler conception of life; that some have been led by me to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and to an earnest, faithful consecration of themselves to him. There is no greater joy that can come to any one, than to know that he has led some one else to find the Pearl of greatest price.”

“And now as I look forward from this point, my earnest prayer is, that the few years that may be before me, may be the most fruitful years of my life; that, more than ever, I may be thoroughly consecrated to the work of bringing others into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether my days be few or many. I want them all consecrated to the service of the Lord. Like the apostle Paul, may it be Christ for me to live; and then when death comes, I know it will be gain for me to die. Again my heart goes out in deepest gratitude to God for these forty years in the Christian ministry,—forty years of privilege, and of opportunity to work in his vineyard.”

Words to Live By:
In the above final paragraph, Rev. Grimké has said it all, and to that, we can add nothing. May every pastor be so blessed. May every Christian be so blessed.

Image source: The above image comes from the cover of a work, Meditations on Preaching, by Rev. Francis Grimké, available from Log College Press in their store. Other works by Rev. Grimké can be viewed here:

This past Friday we had a post on the death of Professor John Murray, who served with great esteem as professor of Systematic Theology at the Westminster Theological Seminary, from 1930 to 1966. Today’s post focuses on the occasion of his funeral near Ross-shire, Scotland. The following account was submitted to The Banner of Truth by K.J. MacLeay, and was later reprinted in The Presbyterian Guardian.

The Kyle of Sutherland was enveloped in mist, and the day was damp and cold, as though in sympathy with the many mourners who gathered from North, South, East and West, yea, and from across the Atlantic, to pay their last respects to the memory of Professor John Murray of Badbea, Bonar Bridge in Scotland. Some 500 people were congregated there in the historic Free Church of Creich, the church of the revered Dr. Aird, for the funeral service of this saintly scholar on Tuesday, May 13, 1975.

The impressive silence that pervaded this large representative company of ministers from all denominations and people from all walks of life, indicated their consciousness that a prince in Israel had fallen.

The service was conducted by the Rev. M. MacDonald, minister of the Creich congregation, with the assistance of Dr. David Freeman, U.S.A., Rev. John MacSween, Isle of Lewis, Rev. D. Lamont, Edinburgh and Rev. H. Cameron, Dornoch, the Praise being led by Mr. Hector MacLeod, Bonar Bridge.

The dignity and simplicity of the service, in true Reformation style, was just as Professor Murray would have desired. John Murray had gone forth from this small community to become one of the world’s leading theologians. Having finished his course and kept the faith, it now seemed fitting that the small cemetery on the shores of the Kyles of Scotland should contain the remains of this worthy servant of Christ until the day break and the shadows flee away.

At the graveside the Rev. D.B. MacLeod Lain reminded us all of the truths that Professor Murray held so dear and so ably taught and preached. He urged sinners to flee the wrath to come and seek refuge in a crucified, risen and exalted Christ, while mercy lasted.

—K.J. MacLeay, courtesy of The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, Scotland, and reproduced in The Presbyterian Guardian, Vol. 44, No. 6 (June 1975): 87.

[Note: The Kyle of Sutherland (Scottish Gaelic: An Caol Catach) is a river estuary that separates Sutherland from Ross-shire. It flows into the Dornoch Firth and is fed by the rivers Oykel, Shin, River Cassley and Carron.]

Words to Live By:
“Oh may I, as Christ’s messenger, plead with each one of you to be joined to him in the bonds of a faith and a love and a hope that can never be dissolved. Then, when He will come again, He will usher you into the possession of that salvation, which you looked for, which you waited  for, and which you longed for. And it will surpass all your expectations, because it is a salvation that is bound up with the glory of the presence of Him who was given the name that is above every name. “The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (I Thess. 4:16-17).
–Professor John Murray, O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?p. 258.

“In preaching, speak low, speak slow, and be short.”

Rev. Lawrence was born on Long Island in 1718, and is said to have been a blacksmith.  He studied at the Log College, and was taken on trials by New Brunswick Presbytery, September 11, 1744, and was licensed at Philadelphia, May 28, 1745.

The original organization at Newtown, in Bucks county, seems to have died away; for Beatty was sent, in the spring of 1745, to “settle a church there.”  In the fall, Newtown and Bensalem asked for Lawrence; so did Upper and Lower Bethlehem, and Hopewell and Maidenhead.  At the request of the Forks of Delaware, he was sent, May 24, 1746, to supply them for a year, with a view to settlement; and, in October, a call was presented to him.  He was ordained, April 2, 1747, and installed on the third Sabbath in June.  Treat, of Abingdon, presided and preached.

The Forks North and the Forks West had been favored with a portion of Brainerd’s labours, and were by no means an unpromising field, having many excellent pious families.  But it was a laborious field,—a wide, dreary, uninhabited tract of fifteen miles lying between the two meeting-houses.  Lawrence was not robust; and, for his health, he was directed to spend the winter and spring of 1751 at Cape May, then in very necessitous circumstances.  Chesnut supplied the Forks in his absence.

His health still continuing feeble, and there being no prospect of his being able to fulfill his pastoral office in the Forks, he was dismissed.  He removed to Cape May.  This was one of our oldest congregations, and was among the first that had a pastor, and then remained vacant nearly thirty years.  The Revival was felt there, but the congregation was feeble in numbers and re-sources.  Beatty visited the people, and laid before the synod their distressed state.  Davenport passed some time there, but with no effect till the last Sabbath.  Lawrence was called; but a long delay occurred before his installation, which was not till June 20, 1754.  Of his ministry little is known.  The records mention him as a frequent supply of Forks, and as going to preach, in 1755, at “New England over the mountains.”

A meeting-house was built in 1762, the frame of which remained in use till 1824.

“It appears to be my duty, considering the relict of my old disorder, to take and use the counsel which, I have heard, the Rev. Samuel Blair gave, not long before his exit, to the Rev. John Rodgers:—in preaching, to speak low, to speak slow, and to be short.” [Manuscript note to his Sermons, in the hands of his descendants.]

He died April 13, 1766.

Words to Live By:
“Of his ministry, little is known.” — How true that is for so many pastors. And yet they labor faithfully on behalf of their congregations. The true pastor labors not for man but for the Lord, for His glory and for His kingdom. Pray for your pastor; pray for all those called to this work.

A Christian of Exceptional Personality and Evangelistic Appeal

Picture the scene in your mind’s eye. Thirty-five hundred naked natives have gathered together at one site that summer of 1933. Missionary evangelist Charles J. Woodbridge no doubt had something to do with that great gathering in the French Cameroons. He was the sole evangelist for a five thousand mile mission station in that African country. These natives were in great need of hearing the plain and simple gospel message from the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Mission executive from America. What they heard in reality was an hour message on, (are you ready for this?), “the Power of Personality.” There was no greater proof to young Charles Woodbridge of the deepening apostasy of the official missions board of the Presbyterian Church.

When he heard that he himself had been singled out to serve as the General Secretary of the newly formed Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions in June of 1933, he gathered his wife and two daughters and returned immediately to America to take up his new post. In less than four years, he would be censured by the highest court of the Presbyterian church for accepting this new ministry.

Charles Woodbridge, born January 24, 1902, was described by his fellow Reformed Christians as being no ordinary General Secretary. From his heritage as the fifteenth generation minister of his family line, dating back to 1493, from his own father who had been a missionary in China, from the fact that he married the daughter of a missionary, Charles Woodbridge would be known as “a man of exceptional personality and evangelistic appeal.” His spiritual gifts made him the perfect architect of a new mission strategy in reaching the world for Christ.

Yet the main line denomination of which he was a part, did not take kindly to this new mission upstart. Within a year, steps were taken to force him to abandon this new missions work, and when he chose not to follow their directives, Charles Woodbridge was censured by the church. He left in 1937 to become a pastor of the Presbyterian Church in North Carolina for several years.

Eventually, he served as a theological seminary professor and author, always seeking to warn Christians of the danger of compromising the Word of God. He died on 16 July 1995, at the age of 93.

Words to Live By: Committed to the Scriptures, the Reformed faith, and the Great Commission of Jesus Christ is a great goal for everyday life and service.

Dr. Woodbridge served as General Secretary of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions and also as the editor of the Independent Board Bulletin, from March 1935-June 1937. Some of his more important publications included the following:
1935 – “The Social Gospel: A Review of the Current Mission Study Text Books Recommended for Adults by the Board of Foreign Missions, Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.,” Christianity Today 5.9 (February 1935): 209-211.
1937 – “Why I Have Resigned as General Secretary of the Independent Board,” The Presbyterian Guardian 4.5 (12 June 1937): 69-71. Available here.
 – The Chronicle of Salimbene of Parma: A Thirteenth Century Christian Synthesis.
Durham, NC: Duke University, Ph.D. dissertation. 305 p.
1947 – Standing on the Promises: Rich Truths from the Book of Acts.
1953 – A Handbook of Christian Truth, co-authored with Harold Lindsell.
[Rev. Vaughn Hathaway has noted that Bob Jones University, which was/is generally anti-Calvinistic or anti-Presbyterian nonetheless used this Woodbridge/Lindsell collaboration as its undergraduate text for the one-year course in Bible Doctrines that was requisite for every student for several years.]
1953 – Romans: The Epistle of Grace.
1962 – Bible Prophecy.
1969 – The New Evangelicalism.

Image source: News clipping [publisher not known] from the Henry G. Welbon Manuscript Collection, Scrapbook no. 1, page 34.

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A good sentence found on Page 287 in McCrie’s Lives of the Scottish Reformers, which might be used as an opener on some post:

“The year 1596 is memorable in the history of the church of Scotland. “It had,” says James Melville, “a strange variety and mixture; the beginning thereof with a shew of profit in planting the churches with perpetual local stipends; the midst of it very comfortable for the exercise of reformation and renewing the covenant; but the end of it tragical in wasting the Zion of our Jerusalem, the church of Edinburgh, and threatening no less to many of the rest.”

James Melville (26 July 1556 – 1614) was a Scottish divine and reformer, son of the laird of Baldovie, in Forfarshire. He was educated at Montrose and St Leonard’s College, St Andrews.

In 1574 he proceeded to the University of Glasgow. There his uncle, Andrew Melville, the reformer and scholar, was principal. Within a year James became one of the regents.

When, in 1580, Andrew became Principal of St Mary’s College, St Andrews (then called New College), James accompanied him, and acted as Professor of Hebrew and Oriental Languages. For three and a half years he lectured in the university, chiefly on Hebrew, but he had to flee to Berwick in May 1584 (a few months after his uncle’s exile) to escape the attacks of his ecclesiastical enemy, Bishop Patrick Adamson. After a short stay there and at Newcastle-on-Tyne, and again at Berwick, he proceeded to London, where he joined some of the leaders of the Scottish Presbyterian party.

The taking of Stirling Castle in 1585 having changed the political and ecclesiastical positions in the north, he returned to Scotland in November of that year, and was restored to his office at St Andrews. From 1586 to his death he took an active part in Church controversy.

In 1589 he was moderator of the General Assembly and on several occasions represented his party in conferences with the court. Despite his antagonism to James’s episcopal schemes, he appears to have won the king’s respect. He answered, with his uncle, a royal summons to London in 1606 for the discussion of Church policy.

The uncompromising attitude of the kinsmen, though it was made the excuse for sending the elder to the Tower, brought no further punishment to James than easy detention within ten miles of Newcastle-on-Tyne. During his residence there it was made clear to him by the king’s agents that he would receive high reward if he supported the royal plans. In 1613 negotiations were begun for his return to Scotland, but his health was broken, and he died at Berwick in January 1614.

Melville has left ample materials for the history of his time from the Presbyterian standpoint, in (a) correspondence with his uncle Andrew Melville (MS. in the library of the university of Edinburgh), and (b) a diary (MS. in the Advocates Library, Edinburgh). The latter is written in a vigorous, fresh style, and is especially direct in its descriptions of contemporaries. His sketch of John Knox at St Andrews is one of his best passages. It is an original authority for the period, written with much naïveté, and revealing an attractive personality.

As a writer of verse he compares unfavourably with his uncle. All his pieces, with the exception of a libellus supplex to King James, are written in Scots. He translated a portion of the Zodiacus vitae of Palingenius, and adapted some passages from Scaliger under the title of Description of the Spainyarts naturall. His Spiritual Propine of a Pastour to his People (1598), The Black Bastill, a lamentation for the kirk (1611), Thrie may keip Counsell, give Twa be away, The Beliefe of the Singing Soul, Davids Tragique Fall, and a number of sonnets show no originality and indifferent technical ability.

The Diary was printed by the Bannatyne Club in 1829, and by the Wodrow Society in 1842. Large portions of it are incorporated in David Calderwood’s (1575-1650) History of the Kirk of Scotland (first printed in 1678). For the life and times, see Thomas McCrie’s Life of Andrew Melville.


Page 350 – death of Melville, January 19th, 1614.

“A letter from Sir James Fullerton, which he received in the month of April, 1614, gave a shock to his feelings which it required all his fortitude to bear. His dearest friend, and most affectionate and dutiful nephew, James Melville, was no more. His health had for some time been in a state of decline, which was accelerated by grief at the issue of public affairs in Scotland, which his extreme sensibility disposed him to brood over with too intense and exclusive an interest. In consequence of the importunity of his friends and an apparent earnest invitation from archbishop Gladstanes, he set out for Edinburgh, in the beginning of the year 1614, to arrange matters for his return to Kilrinny, or, if this was found impracticable, to resign his charge and make permanent provision for that parish. But he had not gone far when he was taken so ill as to be unable to proceed on the journey, and with difficulty returned to Berwick. The medicines prescribed by the physicians failed in arresting the progress of the distemper, which soon exhibited alarming symptoms. He received the intimation of his danger with the most perfect composure, and told his friends that he was not only resigned to the will of God, but satisfied that he could not die at a more proper season. On Wednesday the 19th of January, he “set his house in order;” and all his children being present, except his son Andrew, (who was prosecuting his theological studies at Sedan,) he gave them his dying charge and parental blessing. His friend Joshua Drury, minister of St. Andrews, and Patrick Hume of Ayton, a gentleman who had shown him great kindness during his residence at Berwick, waited by his bed-side. The greater part of his time was spent in prayer. When he mentioned the Church of Scotland, he prayed for repentance and forgiveness to those who had caused a schism in it by overturning its reformed discipline; and, addressing those around him, he said: “In my life I ever detested and resisted the hierarchy, as a thing unlawful and antichristian, for which I am an exile, and I take you all to witness that I die in the same judgment.” He made particular mention of his uncle at Sedan; gave him a high commendation for learning, but still more for courage and constancy in the cause of Christ; and prayed that God would continue and increase the gifts bestowed on him. In the midst of the acute pain which he endured during that night and the succeeding morning, he expressed his resignation and confidence chiefly in the language of Scripture, and often repeated favourite sentences from the Psalms in Hebrew. Being reminded by some of his attendants of the Christian assurance which the apostle Paul had expressed in the prospect of his death, he replied: “Every one is not a Paul; yet I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, and I am assured that I shall enter into glory.” — “Do you not wish to be restored to health?” said one of the attendants. “No; not for twenty worlds.” Perceiving nature to be nearly exhausted, his friends requested him to give them a token that he departed in peace; upon which he repeated the last words of the martyr Stephen, and breathed gently away.

[McCrie, Life of Andrew Melville, pp. 350-351; cf. Calderwood, MS. vii. 505-513.]

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