Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David.
In order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
While they were there the days were completed for her to give birth.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased:
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this things that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
And all who hear it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Quiet workers, in God’s kingdom, are often found to have an abiding influence.
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” – (Col. 3:23, NASB)
In 1965, the following obituary (slightly edited here) appeared on the pages of Christianity Today, observing the passing of one of the founding editors of that magazine:
The Reverend J. Marcellus Kik was one of the first three members of the editorial staff of Christianity Today, from its inception in 1955. When the magazine was initially planned, advice was sought from hundreds of men in this country and abroad. None of the replies showed more depth of understanding and vision for this Christian witness than Mr. Kik’s. His long experience as a pastor and as editor of a church paper in Canada enabled him to make a significant and lasting contribution to this magazine, which he served as associate editor.
About 1960, Mr. Kik assumed the post of research editor. In that capacity he spent many months in Europe, particularly in Switzerland and Holland. In Geneva he received permission to study all minutes’ of the consistory for the period of Calvin’s great ministry in that city, and also the minutes of the city council during the same years. Mr. Kik had these minutes microfilmed and then translated from seventeenth-century French into English. These indefatigable efforts brought to light the clear distinction Calvin made between his duties as a Christian citizen and the spiritual role of the corporate church in society.
During 1927 and 1928 Mr. Kik attended Princeton Theological Seminary, and he was part of the first class graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary in the Spring of 1930. For the next twenty-two years he held pastorates in Canada, where he also conducted a weekly radio program for thirteen years. He wrote a number of religious books and served on the Board of Trustees of both Westminster Seminary and Gordon College and Divinity School.
Mr. Kik continued his Calvin research up to the week of his death. In 1964, he underwent radical surgery from which he never fully recovered but which never daunted him in his work and witness for his Lord. He died in Philadelphia on October 22, in 1965.
Funeral services were held in the Second Reformed Church of Little Falls, New Jersey, of which he had been pastor for eleven years before joining the staff of Christianity Today. A testimony to his life echoed through the hymns sung at the service: “O, for a Thousand Tongues,” “Hallelujah! ‘What a Saviour!,” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
Jacob Marcellus Kik was born in Phillipsland, Netherlands on 24 December 1903. He attended Hope College, graduating in 1927 and then went on to Princeton Seminary, attending there from the Fall semester in 1927 through the Spring semester of 1929. He then transferred to the newly founded Westminster Theological Seminary in the Fall of 1929 along with other Biblical conservatives. He graduated from Westminster in May of 1930, was ordained by Miramichi Presbytery on 29 October 1930 and pastored the Bass River and West Branch churches in New Brunswick, Canada from 1930 to 1933.
Rev. Kik’s influential role began early on, as noted in this article, speaking of the situation in Canada in the 1930’s and following:
“A pattern had been established. Independent Presbyterian journals presented an opportunity for minorities to present their views and gain an audience. Only a decade after church union, a new independent journal would appear. Bible Christianity owed much to the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the 1920s and 1930s from which Canada was largely spared. The magazine, supported by W. D. Reid, minister of the well-heeled Stanley Church, Westmount, Montreal, became known for its outspoken opposition to what it perceived as liberalism in the continuing church. Bible Christianity was edited by J. Marcellus Kik, a Presbyterian minister who was among the first graduates of Westminster Seminary after it split from Princeton in 1929. Kik had been minister in New Brunswick but came to Montreal in 1936 and served there in various capacities (for a time as full-time editor and religious broadcaster) from 1936 to 1952. [The later Bible Presbyterian, which was published out of New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, by dissident Presbyterian minister Malcolm MacKay.]” — Note: Vol. 1, no. 1 of Bible Christianity is now posted in PDF format.
Another article, on the early history of the Banner of Truth Trust, notes the influence of Rev. Kik:
“Among Professor Murray’s chief concerns was the restoration of true preaching. One who shared this view was the Rev J Marcellus Kik, a trustee of Westminster Seminary. This subject was discussed with Mr. Kik when he was present in London in 1961. As a result he carried back to Professor Murray in Philadelphia a proposal that a conference should be held for ministers the following year in the UK, concentrating specifically on the need for a renewal of preaching.” [Thus the beginnings of the annual Banner of Truth Pastors’ Conferences.]
Lastly, Rev. Kik’s published works were another avenue of his influence:
A Partial Bibliography for Rev. J. Marcellus Kik—
1934 The Narrow and The Broad Way, and other sermons of salvation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1934. 4 p. l., iii, -106 p.
1955ff. Associate editor of Christianity Today (Washington, D.C.) — [photo of the founding editors, here.]
1956 Voices from Heaven and Hell. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1956. 192 p.
1962 Church and State in the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1962. 46 p.; 23 cm.
Introduction to Limited Inspiration, by B. B. Warfield. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1962. 32 pp.
1963 The Supreme Court and Prayer in the Public School. Philadelphia, Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1963. 40 p.
Kik, J. Marcellus, Mariano Di Gangi and J. Clyde Henry, Two Confessions: The Westminster Confession of Faith and the proposed Confession of 1967, compared and contrasted. Philadelphia, PA: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1966. 56pp.
1958-1968? Reviewing religious books. S.l.: s.n., 1958-1968? 10 p.
1971 The Eschatology of Victory. Phillipsbugh, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1978, 1971. ix, 268 p.
Many 19th-century Presbyterians opposed the practice of slavery. Reformed Presbyterians, while comparatively small in number as a denomination, were notable for being uniformly and resolutely opposed to it.
The Reformed Presbyterian Argument Against Slavery
Bring up the name of Henry Van Dyke and some might remember the “moderate liberal” who left the First Presbyterian Church of Princeton, New Jersey rather than sit under the preaching of J. Gresham Machen. Some might also know this same Henry Van Dyke as a noted author in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an author whose books were also beautifully bound works of art.
But that was the son, Henry Jackson Van Dyke, Jr. [1852-1933]. Today we start by looking at Henry’s father, Henry Jackson Van Dyke, Sr. [1822-1891, pictured at right]. He was an otherwise orthodox man who served for many years as pastor of the Presbyterian church in Brooklyn, New York. While the son was a prolific author, the father’s published works were primarily sermons and addresses.
Regrettably, Rev. Van Dyke is remembered today, if he is remembered at all, for an infamous sermon in which he attempted to defend the practice of slavery. That sermon was delivered on December 9, 1860, and it was titled “The Character and Influence of Abolitionism.” Perhaps it was the shock of a Northern pastor saying such things, but the sermon gained instant notoriety. Van Dyke’s sermon reduces to four main points:
1. Abolitionism has no foundation in the Scriptures.
2. Its principles have been promulgated by misrepresentation and abuse.
3. It leads, in multitudes of cases, and by a logical process, to utter infidelity.
4. It is the chief cause of the strife that agitates and the danger that threatens our country.”
So much for Rev. Van Dyke’s sermon. It serves to introduce you today to the review and rebuttal delivered just a few weeks later, on this day, December 23d, in 1860, by the Rev. J.R.W. Sloane, D.D., [pictured here on the left], who was at that time pastor of the Third Reformed Presbyterian church of New York City. Rev. Sloane later served as professor of theology in the Reformed Presbyterian seminary at Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, from 1868-1886.
The full discourse by Rev. Sloane is too long to reproduce here. But to focus on just the first portion of his review, here is the heart of his reply to Van Dykes first contention, edited for length. He begins:
1. There is no word in the Hebrew language for slave, none for slavery. There is a word for servant, and one for servitude, but no word like our word slavery, denoting a condition of involuntary servitude; no specific term that expresses that form of relation between man and man. Had slavery been a divine institution, as Mr. Van Dyke argues, surely there would have been a word to express the idea specifically. The fact that there is no such word is a strong presumption that there was no such thing.
2. There is no account in the Old Testament of any permission for the sale by one person to another, of a third who was allowed no voice nor will in the transaction; no such transaction is recorded; on the contrary, all such traffic in human flesh, in “slaves and souls of men,” was absolutely prohibited; it never was attempted except in direct violation of the law, and never failed to bring down upon the people the withering curse of Heaven. There was no purchase of men, except from themselves, by voluntary contract for a specified sum, for a definite time, known and agreed upon by the parties; there were no slave-hunts in other countries for a supply of servants; there was not a single barracoon on the borders; there were no slave-pens in the cities –no auction blocks, upon which men, women, and children might be placed and sold to the highest bidder in all the land. You might have passed through all the tribes from Dan to Beersheba, without ever meeting a coffle of slaves!
3. The special statute designed to prevent this crime, “He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death,” (Exod. 21:16) forever brands with the stamp of God’s reprobation and curse American slavery, and rendered the practice of such an iniquity in the Jewish Commonwealtth impossible.
4. The law for the fugitive rendered involuntary servitude in the Hebrew Commonwealth impossible–“Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee; he shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best; thou shalt not oppress him.” (Deut. 23:15)
5. The law of Jubilee rendered slavery impossible among the chosen people. “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” No limitation, no restriction; the Jubilee was glorious, because it was a proclamation of liberty to all without distinction; but if it had no reference to the foreign-born servant, it would have been a farce, a mockery, for all Hebrew servants went out at any rate by the law of their service. Mr. Van Dyke affirms that there was no jubilee for the heathen servant, nor for the Hebrew whose ear was bored. The idea, as it relates to the latter, is too absurd to be tolerated for a moment. Is it to be supposed that any man who possessed common sense would, merely because he loved his master, consign himself, wife, children, and children’s children, to the latest generation, to a hopeless bondage?–or, that God would have enacted a law which would have permitted such injustice to arise from such folly? The truth is, that the term forever, in this connection, is idiomatic, and means only to the year of jubilee. The very nature of the regulations as to land and property make this certain. The argument is fully elaborated in the larger works upon this subject. If any thing can be made clear, this has been, that the jubilee was a proclamation throughout all the land to all the inhabitants thereof; and that the first notes which pealed form every hill-top of Judea, on the first morning of this auspicious year, proclaimed to all servants the termination of their servitude. What a moral obliquity does it argue to find a man desirous to construe every passage in which there is room for a doubt, in favor of this atrocity! I do not wonder that a distinguished man said of such characters, that their god was his devil.
6. The whole nature of the covenant which God made with Israel was for the security of freedom and justice to all, not for the establishment of a hateful tyranny . . . “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” “Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger, for ye know the heart of a stranger seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” “Thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger. For I am the Lord thy God.” “And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, thou shalt love him as thyself, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Lev. 19:33).
7. I do assert, notwithstanding Mr. Van Dyke’s disclaimer, that the argument for polygamy, the twin sister of slavery, is stronger than for slavery. I can assure him that the day is not far distant when his arguments for oppression will be as abhorrent to all right-thinking men, as those of Brigham Young for the accursed system which he has established in Utah. Polygamy was tolerated, slavery was not.
8. Were we to grant all that these men claim for the system which prevailed in the Jewish Commonwealth, they would be as far from having found any justification of American slavery as ever. They must needs show the same divine warrant as they suppose the Jews to have possessed. They must take all the laws and regulations with it; for in cases of divine authority it will not do to select; all must go together. But how long would American slavery last under those laws?
They would pierce it through and through in a thousand directions. Their enactment would be equivalent to immediate emancipation. American slavery could not live a day under single enactments relating to Hebrew servitude. Give the American slave about three-sevenths or one-half of his time, as was given to the servants among God’s people, and how much would slave property be worth in the South?
But what sort of slavery is it for which Mr. Van Dyke pleads? He can not in accordance with his Presbyterian principles (belief in the unity of the race, descent from Adam, and representation through him,) put it on the ground of diversity of color and inferiority of race. Either of these positions would overthrow his entire system of belief–he knows that God hath made of one blood all nations of men. The logical consequence of his plea then is for the enslaving of the white, as much as the black; but would he dare to say this? What is the ground of right on which he plants himself? This he has not told us. [We?] would be curious to hear an explanation of this point.
Some thirty pages later Rev. Sloane concludes his review with these words, wise words for any time:
This is my answer to the charges, arguments, statements, and perversions of this remarkable discourse, a discourse which marks the lowest point that the northern pulpit has ever reached. Yet I rejoice that it has been preached. It will open blind eyes, and carry its own refutation where my words can never reach. Moreover, I am relieved at the thought that we have touched bottom–there is surely no lower deep.
But, I am asked, what is my remedy for present evils? . . . My remedy is, to stand firm, refuse all compromise, do our whole duty, think, speak, act, just as at other times, and leave the men who make the trouble to furnish the remedy; timidity, not firmness, has been the curse of every great and good cause in which it has been permitted to enter.
Be patient, forbearing, forgiving, kind, this is Christ-like, is divine; seek the best interests–the highest good–of all; but do not swerve a hair’s breadth from the path of duty, for the sake of averting evils which, like the stone of Sisyphus, must evermore return to plague and molest us. . . This is the hour in which God and Liberty expect every man to do his duty, assured that, as always under the Divine guidance and protection, the path of duty will be found to be the path of safety. Amen.
The enemies of the Covenanters had very long memories. Long after sermons were preached or actions taken, the authorities in Scotland remembered words and actions against them. Such was the case with a young minister by the name of Hugh McKail.
A child of the manse, from Bothwell, Scotland, his pastor father was one of those forced out of his pulpit and parish when he refused to conform to Prelacy. Little is known of young Hugh’s early days, but he did go to Edinburgh for education. There he was soon marked out as a young man of exceptional ability. For that, upon graduation, he was chosen to be a chaplain and tutor of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir James Stewart. In that Covenanter home, he would sit at the feet of those in leadership positions in the church and learn of the dire situation facing both the church and the state.
In 1661, he applied to the Presbytery for licensure in the ministry. Preaching in a variety of situations, he was quickly recognized by his hearers for his great ability in the Word of God. However, his ministry soon came to an end as it became obvious that he wouldn’t compromise his convictions, just as his father before him. Preaching his last sermon in a church in Edinburgh, he had a sentence in it which marked him for remembrance by the Prelate forces of his day. He said, “the Church is persecuted by a Pharaoh on the throne, a Haman in the State, and a Judas in the Church.” The identification was obvious to all in the pews that day.
Forced to leave his beloved Scotland, the young twenty-six year old would spend the next three years in Holland. On his return to Scotland, the situation had not improved any and there was a spark of rebellion in the air. That spark was ignited, as my post on November 28 indicated, at the Battle of Rullion Green. Hugh McKail was among the nine hundred in the Covenanter ranks that day. But his own physical weakness removed him before that great battle arrived, and he traveled to Edinburgh instead. There he was arrested by the authorities, not so much for his Covenanter attachments as for his statement made in that Edinburgh church some years before.
Interrogated in prison, he was placed in the Boot, a fearful torture device which all but crushed his leg while he remained silent in voice. He was ordered to die by hanging on December 22, 1666. His exact words that day of death have been preserved through the ages. They were:
Farewell father, mother, friends, and relations; Farewell the world and its delights; farewell meat and drink; farewell sun, moon, and starts; Welcome God and Father; welcome sweet Jesus Christ the mediator of the New Covenant; welcome blessed Spirit of grace, the God of all consolation; welcome glory, welcome eternal life; welcome death! Into Thy Hands I commit my spirit.”
Words to Live By:
Could Hugh McKail have compromised his convictions and avoided suffering and death? Certainly, and many did. But this young man was reared by a parent who by his example remained steadfast to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. With such an example like that, it is no wonder the young minister was given over to sacrifice, in loyalty to both the Living and Written Word, come what may to his physical body. Addressing all parents reading these posts on Presbyterian history: Your life preaches all the week. Are those in your family being helped or hindered to follow the Living and Written Word?
Beginnings of anything can be interesting. This author once planted a mission church in a sizeable Midwest city. He had done all the preliminary preparation for the mission. Several families committed themselves to the endeavor. The first worship service was planned in a spacious worship center of an evangelical church, rented for the occasion. We all went with expectations of a good beginning, but only one family showed up for the beginning worship time. It is true that God did some extraordinary things in the first six years of our ministry there. I rejoice that this established church is progressing ahead by means of being a mother church to several congregations.
In 1560, a Scottish Reformation Parliament abrogated and annulled the papal jurisdiction for Scottish churches, ending all the authority flowing from Rome.
This set the grounds for the establishment of the Church of Scotland that same year. Let W. M. Hetherington in his book “History of the Church of Scotland” pick up the account. He writes on page 53,
“They (the Reformation Parliament) enacted no ecclesiastical jurisdiction whatever in its stead. This it left the reformed Church to determine upon and effect by its own intrinsic powers. And this is a fact of the utmost it cannot be too well known and kept in remembrance. It is, indeed, one of the distinctive characteristics of the Church of Scotland, that it owes its origin, its form, its jurisdiction, and its discipline, to no earthly power. And when the ministers and elders of the church of Scotland resolved to meet in a General Assembly, to deliberate on matters, which might tend to the promotion of God’s glory and the welfare of the Church, they did so in virtue of the authority which they believed the Lord Jesus Christ had given to the Church. The parliament which abolished the papal jurisdiction made not the slightest mention of General Assembly. In that time of comparatively simple and honest faith, even statesmen seem instinctively to have perceived, that to interfere in matters of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, so as to appoint ecclesiastical tribunals, specify their nature, and assign their limits, was not within their province. It had been well for the kingdom if statesmen of succeeding times, certainly not their superiors in talent and in judgment, had been wise enough to follow their example.”
The first meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was held on this day, December 20, 1560. Forty delegates were in attendance. For that number, only six were ministers. They were John Knox (Edinburgh), Christophere Gudman (St. Andrews), John Row (Perth), David Lindesay (Leith), William Harlaw (St. Cuthberts), and William Christesone (Dundee). While their names, with the exception of Knox and possibly Row, are unknown to many of our readers, Hetherington remarks that “they were men of great abilities, of deep piety, fitted and qualified by their Creator for the work which He had given them to do.” (p. 53)
Words to Live By:
Not only had the Creator fitted and qualified them, but so had their Great Redeemer fitted and acquired them to raise up a Church faithful and true to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. It may have been small in man’s estimation at the beginning, but the Spirit of God judged it otherwise. He would bring the increase in His time. So be faithful, dear reader, in the place where God has planted you. Keep looking to Him, for He will accomplish His will through you, in the work and place where you have been planted to serve our Lord and Savior.
Man Knows Not His Time In The Daily Princetonian (Volume 38, no. 345, 27 January 1916), we read of the Rev. David R. Frazer, D.D., a graduate of the Princeton University, Class of 1861, who for many years was a trustee of Princeton University, that he had died very suddenly on Sunday, January 24, 1915, while visiting at […]
Hymn Writer Par Excellent The Union fort was surrounded on all sides by the forces of the Southern Confederacy in 1864. Wondering whether he should surrender or not, the Union military commander looked to the north and saw the signal coming his way. It read, “Hold the fort. I am coming. Sherman.” He did, and his command […]
We are pleased to have Dr. David W. Hall, pastor of the Midway Presbyterian Church, Powder Springs, Georgia, back today as guest author for the following post, which originally appeared in the webzine PREMISE some many years ago now: One illustration of how religion and politics were interwoven, especially the religion and politics of strongly Scottish […]
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 […]
A Godly Witness to the Truth of the Gospel From the pages of the May 1853 issue of The Covenanter, a brief but useful piece by the Rev. Moses Roney, a Reformed Presbyterian pastor who himself lived a brief but useful life [1804-1854]. And it is with a shorter post today that we trust will allow […]
THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHISTby Rev. William Smith (1834) Westminster Shorter Catechism.Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition? A. In the sixth petition, which is, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we pray, That God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support […]
What is the only remedy for the sins and miseries of our restless world? It is the gospel. The Rev. Daniel Dana labored as pastor in Newburyport, Massachusetts, serving two churches there, his tenure interrupted only by a brief year-long separation to serve as the president of Dartmouth College. Well-known in his day and well-spoken […]
Our post today comes courtesy of guest author Dr. David W. Hall, pastor of the Midway Presbyterian Church in Powder Springs, Georgia. Dr. Hall’s article originally appeared in the year 2000 in the online webzine PREMISE. While certainly Adams was no Presbyterian, the subject here has obvious relevance as our nation celebrates its independence tomorrow […]
It was on this day, July 2d, in 1824, that the Rev. Dr. Samuel Miller delivered what was termed an Introductory Lecture, at the opening summer session of the Princeton Theological Seminary. The title and subject of his lecture was THE UTILITY AND IMPORTANCE OF CREEDS AND CONFESSIONS. Dr. Miller had by this time been serving as a Professor […]
Chaplain Gave the Ultimate Sacrifice The Union chaplain was assisting the medical staff in the sanctuary of College Lutheran church on that chaotic day of July 1, 1863. Hearing shots outside on Chambersburg Street, he said to the surgeon working on one of the 140 wounded Union men inside, “I will step outside for a moment […]