April 2015

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DAVID X. JUNKIN, D.D.

junkinDXThe family was probably in its remotest ancestry Danish, but for many generations previous to the Revolution of 1688 had dwelt in Scotland. The Doctor’s maternal grandmother was Scotch, of the name of Wallace; his mother, Elinor Cochran born in Franklin county, Pa. The Junkins came to Pennsylvania early in the eighteenth century, and the grandparents of the Doctor to Cumberland about 1740, before Harrisburg was a town, and when Cumberland was a wilderness. His grandfather owned five hundred acres of land, on a part of which New Kingston now stands. The large stone-house, which he built a century and a quarter ago, is still standing north of that village.His father, Joseph Junkin, Esq., was born in Cumberland county, Pa., in January, 1750; his grandfather in county Down, Ireland. His father served three terms of voluntary enlistment in the Revolutionary army, and commanded a company at the battle of Brandywine, September 11, 1777, in which action he was seriously wounded.

In 1806 the family removed to “Hope Farm,” in Mercer county, where they built mills, and where the subject of this notice was born. He was the tenth son. He was educated at a school in Mercer, afterwards at the Mercer Academy. Then at the Milton Academy, under the celebrated teacher, Dr. Kirkpatrick, the teacher of Governors Curtin and Pollock, and other men who have risen to distinction in Church and State, and also in the medical profession.

After being prepared for the Junior class in college, young Junkin returned to Mercer and entered upon the study of the law in the office of the late Judge Banks.

After prosecuting legal study for two years—commencing at the age of seventeen—he resolved to complete his collegiate education, and for a time became a teacher, first in Northumberland, and then in Centre county, Pa. He was said to be fond of the profession, and quite successful as an instructor. After teaching for some time he repaired to Jefferson College, Pa., where he graduated A. B., in 1831.

Whilst in college he united with the Presbyterian church, and turned his attention to the Christian ministry. In college his contemporaries and professors considered him somewhat remarkable as a youth of genial affections, kind and generous impulses and proficient as a writer. He once was “contestor” as essayist for his literary society, and won the “honor.” After receiving the degree, in October, 1831, he repaired to Philadelphia, and spent the Winter of 1831-2 as a professor in the Pennsylvania “Manual Labor Academy,” at Germantown. In May, 1832, he entered the Theological seminary at Princeton, New Jersey, from which he graduated in the Fall of 1834. He had been, in October, 1833, licensed by the Presbytery of Philadelphia to preach the Gospel, and, soon after leaving the seminary, he was called to the pastorate of the First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich, New Jersey, and was ordained the pastor of it in the following Spring. In that pastorate he continued for nearly seventeen years, until he was called to F Street Church (now New York Avenue) Washington city, D. C.

Meanwhile, during his pastorate at Greenwich, which is just across the Delaware river from Easton, Pa.—the seat of Lafayette College—he was elected Professor of Belles Lettres by the trustees of that institution, and discharged the duties of that chair acceptably for seven years, until the increasing demands of his pastorate constrained him to resign. In 1834 he received from his alma mater the degree of A. M.

In 1845 he published, from the press of Wylie & Putnam, New York, the first edition of his work, entitled “The Oath, an Ordinance of God, and an Element of the Social Constitution,” which was highly commended by the press and the reviewers, and is quoted as standard on that subject. Shortly after this publication, the Columbia College, in the city of New York, conferred upon Mr. Junkin the degree of Doctor of Divinity.

After a very pleasant and successful pastorate of sixteen and a-half years at Greenwich, Dr. Junkin was called simultaneously to the pastoral office of the First Presbyterian Church at Chambersburg, Pa., and that of F Street, Washington City.

Personally he is said to have preferred the former, but, under advice of his Presbytery, accepted the latter.

In Washington he was the instrument, under God, of building up a strong church out of a weak one; and he there endeared himself, as he had done at Greenwich, to the people of his charge and to a large circle of other friends.

Some of the first minds in the country there sat under his ministry and appreciate it—such as Professor Joseph Henry, Governor McDowell, of Virginia, Gen. J. M. McCalla, the late Col. Nourse (the last two elders of the church), James Buchanan and others.

Whilst at Washington, Dr. Junkin made the acquaintance of the prominent men of the nation. At that time Webster, Clay, Benton, Calhoun, Graham, Cass, Fish, Filmore and men of like stamp in civil life, and Gen. Winfield Scott, Towson, Riley, Jessup and such soldiers were about the capital city. In October, 1853, Dr. Junkin accepted a unanimous call to Hollidaysburg, in his native State, and spent six and a-half years of a pleasant, laborious and profitable pastorate in that fine town and picturesque, locality.

His health being somewhat impaired, and needing rest from severe ministerial toil, he accepted the appointment of chaplain in the United States Navy, unexpectedly tendered him by his old friend, the President of the United States, and entered upon the duties of that office at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in May, 1860. On the 1st of January, 1861, under orders to that station, he entered upon duty as Chaplain of the United States Naval Academy, at Annapolis, Maryland. This was a very interesting field of labor, as his congregation was composed of the officers of the Academy and the midshipmen, some two hundred in number.

Captain, now Commodore Blake, was superintendent of the institution, and the Rodgers brothers were there, the one, Captain C. P. R. Rodgers (now Commodore), was Commandant of Midshipmen, and Lieutenant Geo. Rodgers in charge of the school-ship. This school-ship was the good old historical frigate, Constitution—”Old Iron-Sides”—the conqueror of the “Guerriere.”

During that Winter, Dr. Junkin preached regularly on board that frigate, and in the Academy chapel on shore, and made many pleasant acquaintances in city and naval circles.

But the mutterings of the civil war began to be heard, and after the assault on Fort Sumter there was a rush to arms, and troops began to hurry to Washington.

On the 18th of April Dr. Junkin went, via Baltimore and York, Pa., to Philadelphia, arriving in the latter city on the evening of the 19th. As he alighted from the cars, S. Bolivar Rowe approached him, asking in an excited manner: “Doctor, have you heard the news of the riot in Baltimore, and the burning of the bridge?” “Yes,” replied the doctor, “and it is startling news.” Said Rowe, “Gov. Curtin has just arrived from Harrisburg to try and forward troops to Washington, but they know not how to do it; two regiments that left this morning have returned—can’t get through Baltimore—and the authorities here are afraid that the rebels will take Washington before troops can be sent forward!” “Where is Gov. Curtin?” asked Junkin. “At the Continental.” “Well,” said the Doctor, “let us go thither forthwith and I can direct them how to forward troops.” They went to the hotel, but found that Gov. Curtin had gone up to the house of Gen. Patterson, in Locust street. Thither they hastened—rang the bell, and asked to see Gov. Curtin: “Can’t be seen, he is engaged with some officers in the General’s office,” said the porter. “Go tell Gov. Curtin,” said the Doctor, decisively, “that Dr. Junkin, of the United States Navy, must see him instantly on important public business.” This message brought the Governor to the parlor, where the following dialogue ensued:

“I understand, Governor, that you are at fault how to forward troops to Washington.”

Curtin replied, “Yes, Doctor, we know not what to do; we have plenty of troops here, but know not how to get them forward in season.” “It is to make a suggestion on that subject that I am come.” “You are acquainted about Baltimore, Doctor; can you tell me whether there is any road, say from ten to twelve miles north of Baltimore, on the Northern Central, by which troops can be moved across to the Relay House?”

“None, Governor; the roads all radiate from the city, but I have a better suggestion. I live at Annapolis, Maryland; the government has twenty-five acres of land and two good wharves at which to land troops and supplies at the Naval Academy, and I suggest that you at once charter or seize steamers and send troops to Annapolis. Keep the road from here to Perryville open by military guard, and you have a thoroughfare to Washington.” “But is there a railroad from Annapolis to Washington?” “A good single-track road to the junction, and double-track from thence to the city.” “That is the very thing,” said the Governor, “and I most heartily thank you for the suggestion.”

Dr. J. took his leave. The Governor returned to General Patterson’s office and reported the suggestion to the officers there assembled; and, as Governor Curtin afterwards said, “They all started to their feet exultingly.” Colonel Sherman exclaimed, “That is the very thing!” So said they all, and with that energy which marked the Governor’s conduct all through the war, he, General Patterson, and the officers present, at once hastened to put the suggestion in process of execution that very night.

Before morning the Massachusetts Eighth and the New York Seventh were en route; others followed. Annapolis was made the base of supplies, and the advance regiments marched into Washington just in season to deter the rebels from an assault contemplated the very night of their entrance.

It is true that General B. F. Butler has claimed the honor of making Annapolis a strategic point, but it rightfully belongs (Governor Curtin and General Patterson, and others have testified,) to the subject of this sketch.

In a speech made in New Castle in 1876, Governor Curtin publicly stated the above facts; (Dr. Junkin was absent from the city at the time). On his return to Annapolis, on Tuesday, April 23, Dr. Junkin was the instrument, by his self-possession and the risk of his own life, of preventing frightful destruction of life on Chesapeake Bay, opposite Annapolis. He was descending the bay in the large steam tug “Superior,” with fifty sailors and about three hundred Montgomery county volunteers. They were approaching the frigate “Constitution,” which had been hauled out for safety into the bay. The officers of the ship mistook the “Superior” for a hostile craft coming to take the frigate with armed men, two guns being also mounted at the bows of the tug, and no colors flying. They hailed, but could not hear the reply, and trained the ship’s broadside upon the thronged deck of the steamer.

“Come one rod nearer and I will blow you out of the water!” shouted Captain George Rodgers through his speaking-trumpet. Dr. Junkin had sprung upon one of the guns of the tug, where he waved a white handkerchief, and cried, “We are friends! we are friends!” but the wind was in his eye, and his voice not heard in the excitement of the moment. Still he cried, “I’m your chaplain! Do you think I would be in bad company?” Still he was unheard, though the vessels were now not two hundred feet apart. The word “fire!” was just about being given, when a midshipman rushed up to Captain Rodgers, exclaiming, “Captain, that man standing on, the Dahlgren gun is Dr. Junkin, our chaplain.” Then Rodgers recognized his chaplain, and the danger was over. Many lives would have been sacrificed but for his presence and exertions.

The Naval Academy was soon after ordered to Newport, Rhode Island, and the entire institution, officers, midshipman, and the whole personnel, with library, apparatus, &c., were transported on the ocean steamer “Baltic” to that city, landing at Fort Adams. Dr. Junkin continued to act as chaplain of the Academy until June, 1862, when he received orders to the receiving-ship “North Carolina” and the navy-yard at Brooklyn. He continued on duty there until September, when he was ordered to sea on the United States steam-frigate, “Colorado.” He joined his ship a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and sailed in her first to Hampton Roads, Virginia, where she lay a month on guard-duty, and then proceeded to the West Indies and Key West, thence to the mouth of Mobile bay, opposite Fort, Morgan.

There the ship lay on blockade-duty for a year. But the Doctor’s health broke down, and the surgeons and Admiral Farragut advised him to take a month’s sick leave and go North. The Admiral, with whom he was on friendly terms, gave him leave-of-absence, and he returned to Brooklyn on board the steamer of that name. Just before he left the “Colorado,” his son William, paymaster in the navy, came on board, on his way from New Orleans to rejoin his ship, the “Potomac,” then lying at Pensacola, Florida. He had been to New Orleans for funds, of which he was bearing a large sum. That was the last interview between father and son in this life. A few weeks after his father sailed for the North, the son was cut down by yellow-fever in his twenty-second year. Dr. Junkin came to New Orleans in company with Admiral Farragut, and thence to New York. Whilst in the Gulf of Mexico he did a large amount of work, as he was the only chaplain in the East Gulf squadron.

He not only served in his own ship, but often conducted service and visited the sick: and wounded on other vessels. He instituted on his ship a school for the instruction of “contrabands,” some sixty of whom were on board, but he had to teach it himself, as no others were willing, although there were many professed friends of the Negro on board quite competent to teach if willing.

Pages upon pages might be filled with thrilling incidents connected with this part of Dr. Junkin’s life, both on sea and on shore, but the plan of this work will not admit of the detail. He kept a private “log” from which many extracts might be made. His exposure at sea and in a malarious climate—for the yellow fever was rife that year and was on the “Colorado”—had so sensibly impaired his health that he did not return to the Gulf of Mexico. Rheumatism set in and assumed a chronic form, from which he is still a sufferer. In consequence of this, after trying various methods of relief, he resigned his commission in the Navy and accepted a call to the North Presbyterian Church, in Chicago, hoping that a removal from the seaboard might result in the restoration of his health.

He served that church effectively for some two years, but instead of improving, his health grew worse under the moist and rigorous climate of that city, and he was constrained, with great reluctance, to resign his charge, which was so pleasant as a field of labor, and in which success seemed crowning his exertions.

He had received a unanimous call to the First Presbyterian Church of New Castle, Pa., in the Spring of 1866, and though still much disabled by rheumatism, he hoped that a return to his native air might be beneficial, and accordingly he accepted the call, and entered upon his duties in May, 1866. Since that date he has continued, amid much pain of body and other trials, a busy life as a Christian pastor. Although a sufferer, and hinder by bodily infirmity, his labors have been manifold, and have not been without tokens of God’s blessing upon them.

As might be expected in the case of a man of Dr. Junkin’s pronounced opinions and firm adherence to them, he has sometimes aroused opposition to his principles and person; but he is not a man who quails before opposition, if he is convinced that it proceeds from wrong principles or motives. People of integrity, it is believed, confide in him as a man of great kindness of heart and unswerving integrity, whilst those who differ with him in opinion, on temperance and other branches of moral reform in which he has been forward and firm, are apt to be severe and sometimes sour in their criticisms.

It is believed by all candid people, however, that his influence in New Castle has been always on the side of right, and that those who gainsay his course are no better members of the community, to say the least, than those who are his warm admirers and adherents. He is still enjoying, amid all his bodily infirmities, a green, active and cheerful old age.

Dr. Junkin has been a prolific writer. In addition to works already mentioned, he published, in 1857, his work entitled “THE GOOD STEWARD; or Evangelical Benevolence an Essential Element of Christianity,” which was published by the Presbyterian Board, and a second edition of his work on the “Oath” was issued about the same time, by the Martiens, of Philadelphia. In 1871, he published through the Lippincotts, of Philadelphia, his most extensive work, entitled, “GEORGE JUNKIN, D.D., L.L.D.A. A HISTORICAL BIOGRAPHY,” which contains not only the life of his brother, but a lucid history of the Presbyterian Church for the last half century. These works have had extensive sale.

Besides these, Dr. Junkin has given to the press many addresses, sermons and shorter publications, both in prose and verse, and has been one of the most voluminous writers for the periodical press.

For many years, including before and after the war, he wrote for the Presbyrian of Philadelphia, over the signature of “NESHANNOCK,” and his writings, whether narrative, descriptive or controversial, were always read with avidity.

The Doctor also wrote a biography of General Towson, one of the heroes of the War of 1812, which was published in New York in 1852.

This sketch of Dr. Junkin has been compiled by the historian from “scrapbook” jottings of the Doctor’s, made at various periods.  —  History of Lawrence County, 1877, pages 168-170

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Rev. Jonathan Dickinson, First President of Princeton CollegeBack in 2012, this author on this day of April 22, posted an article on Jonathan Dickinson, the first president of Princeton. More than any other man, this Presbyterian pastor was responsible for arranging the plan and formation of this college which came to be so near and dear to the hearts of American Presbyterians. When I wrote that post, I had however little information on his family background and early years. I remember that I wrote the sentence, “Born on April 22, 1688 in Hatfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Yale in 1706.” Talk about a jump in years.  From birth to Yale, eighteen years just passed by in a sentence!  But that much was missing in sources available to me.  And evidently, that much was missing in many a record of his early life. Part of it was due to a terrible fire which devastated his congregation and church  building in New Jersey, including his valuable diary and many personal records. But with this post, and the kind help of Wayne Sparkman, my co-author and archivist of the PCA History Center, more information has come to light. So this post is “the rest of the story” of Jonathan Dickinson, to be read prior to the post of April 22, 2012.

The first four generations of the Dickinson family came from Billingborough, Lincolnshire, England. Other than the listing of the names of the family, with their spouses and children, we are introduced to the fourth generation of Nathaniel Dickinson, who came with his wife and family to Connecticut in 1637. He was wealthy and a mainstay in that town. Out of twelve children, the eleventh child was Hezekiah Dickinson, who was the father of our subject today.

Hezekiah was a merchant by trade. With his spouse Abigail, they would have six children. The second child and oldest son was Jonathan, who was born on this day in Hatfield, Massachusetts. According to a law on the books of this town, he started school at age 6. It was believed that the next year he moved to Springfield, Massachusetts to finish his primary education and grammar school. Later in his teens, he spent time with his maternal grandparents in Stratford, Connecticut, where he would have had contact with the Rev. Israel Chauncy, the founder of what later on became Yale. It wasn’t surprising that then he entered that school for his college education. And the rest, as they say, is history, and specifically Presbyterian history.

Words to Live By:
It has always been interesting to this author, who has served his Lord and Savior for 40 years as a Presbyterian pastor, that nothing in life can be considered as chance, or luck, or fortune. This doesn’t mean that he hasn’t heard many people, and even a few misguided Christians, exclaim “how lucky,” or “by chance,” or “fortunately,” this or that has occurred. Solomon reminds us all in Proverbs 16:9 that “the mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” All these former familiar expression such as “chance, luck, or fortune” mean “without absence or cause.” Yet the inspired writer in Proverbs 16:9 tells us that while we may plan this or that, God is the direct cause of everything.  He decrees what will either happen or what that what He will permit to happen to you today. In fact, be ever ready to pray for your life today, “Direct my steps, O God.” And then at the end of the day, review that life and give thanks for what God has either given or allowed to occur, for His glory and your ultimate good.

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While admitting that we have no specific date to pin this story on, it is a great story, with an even greater lesson. The account here appears in the book From the Dust, written by Kefa Sempangi, a citizen of Uganda who escaped that torn nation during the Idi Amin era and later graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

Here he tells of the time that Westminster professors Jack Miller and Harvey Conn came to Kampala, Uganda to minister the Gospel.

Garbage Truck Evangelism

Two Americans came to Uganda that first year and had a very positive impact for the gospel. Jack Miller and Harvey Conn were two of my professors at Westminster Seminary. Jack taught evangelism and Harvey taught missions. Jack did not hesitate to launch an evangelistic crusade in Old Kampala, but the meetings were not very successful. Harvey, on the other hand, came up with a more creative way of reaching the people with the gospel. He had taken a walk in the short streets of Old Kampala and was shocked that everywhere he turned, he saw huge, stinking mounds of garbage. As he gazed at these garbage dumps, he thought of a strategic plan for evangelism.

In the evening evangelistic meetings, Harvey asked whether it was possible to get shovels and a garbage truck from the City Council. By ten o’clock the following day, the garbage truck was parked outside the students’ residence. Right away Jack Miller, Harvey Conn, and the students they had brought from the seminary began shoveling garbage in our immediate neighborhood along Namirembe Road.

For nine years people had not seen a white man, for Amin had expelled both the whites and Asians at the same time. It was a spectacular sight to see white men shoveling garbage and making the city clean. This scene attracted a huge crowd to the extent that some climbed on top of the tall buildings to have a clear view of this rare occurrence. The people could hardly believe what they were seeing. An old woman was heard thanking God for enabling her to live long enough to witness this spectacular event.

The work continued until four thirty in the afternoon. After the truck had made several trips to dump its loads, the professors were ready to climb the platform and preach the gospel to a bewildered crowd. The people were ready to listen to these amazing white men who had humbled themselves to labor so hard to clean up their garbage. The preachers had earned themselves a hearing, for they had fully identified with the general public.

We called this method “garbage evangelism.” Later Harvey Conn held a session with the students and explained the lesson that we all had learned that day. Preaching the gospel sometimes involves getting out hands dirty. It could involve touching mud, mixing clay, and anointing the eyes of a blind man with it, just as our Lord Jesus Christ had demonstrated. Harvey warned the students not to use hygienic methods only, but to realize that, sometimes, unhygienic methods can yield more far-reaching results. Our “garbage evangelism” had made a powerful impact on the people, and many lives were transformed because of our willingness to humble ourselves.

Words to Live By:
To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak; I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.—1 Cor. 9:22.

From the Dust, by Kefa Sempangi, (The Lutterworth Press, 2008), pp. 12-13. Higly recommended, and available on the Web at https://books.google.com/books?isbn=071884288X  See also Kefa’s first book, A Distant Grief.

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Today’s post is by our guest author, the Rev. Philip H. Pockras, who serves as the minister of the Belle Center, Ohio, RPCNA congregation, and he has served there since 1985.  He lives about three miles from Northwood, OH and is currently the Moderator of the Synod of the RPCNA.  In addition, Phil serves as the Secretary of the Board of Corporators of Geneva College.  While his wife, Judy, and his sons, Nathaniel and Isaac, are all alumni of Geneva, Phil is a 1976 alumnus of the wonderful Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, where he graduated with a BA in History.

Forerunner of Geneva College

genevaHall_Original_buildingWay at the top of the Great Miami River, Covenanters came to settle in the 1820s.  They came mostly from eastern Ohio and upstate New York, unlike Covenanters farther down state.  Those who’d earlier come up from South Carolina and Tennessee founded RPCNA congregations in Cincinnati, Xenia, Cedarville, and the Beechwoods near Oxford.  The newcomers were in a clearing in the woods far to the north of these places.  That’s how the settlement came to be called Northwood, Ohio, in Logan County.

They were farther away from schools back east.  In 1836, the first minister, John Black Johnston, was involved in discussion around a stove in the store in nearby Richland.  Presiding over the discussion was his brother, J. S. Johnston, the storekeeper.  The topic was the need for a school, particularly for the RP young men in the area.  There were other places for schooling in Ohio, particularly the wonderful Miami University down in Oxford, but Old School Presbyterians and Associate Reformed Presbyterians dominated.  They were good men, and a couple of them had RP pasts, but they weren’t Covenanters now!

genevaHall_Second_College_buildingJ. B. Johnston took the ball, so to speak, and ran with it. He put the idea for a “grammar school” before the Lakes Presbytery of the RPCNA in late 1847. He got their approval, and on April 20th of that year the school started up in Northwood with the name “Geneva Hall”.  Rev. Johnston had a brick building constructed, and Geneva Hall moved into the two-story, five-roomed building.  Geneva printed advertising and distributed it to papers, including those of the RP Church.  Students came, in increasing number, from nearby and from farther away.  It helped that a railroad came to the village of Belle Center, only three miles away, at around the same time Geneva Hall was opened.

The story from there on was a fairly familiar one.  There were ups and downs of enrollment and frequent changes in the faculty corps, who were mostly young ministers or young men anticipating the ministry eventually.  The RP Theological Seminary was held in the building 1849-1851.  A new girls’ school, the Geneva Female Seminary, began down the street.  Geneva Hall expanded their building to a third story and added more rooms to accommodate growth.  Several reorganizations occurred and, finally, Rev. Johnston decided he could not carry the load further.  He offered the school to the Synod of the RPCNA in 1857, and Synod accepted it, but without funding it.  Rev. Johnston left the RPC in 1858 to join the new United Presbyterian Church of North America, and Geneva Hall closed by 1861.

genevaHall_Female_Seminary_buildingIn 1865, several locals reorganized the school, hiring J. B. Johnston’s youngest brother, the Rev. Nathan Robinson Johnston, to run it.  His right-hand man, the Rev. J. L. McCartney (father of Dr. Clarence Macartney), succeeded in having freedmen come from the South for an education.  By 1872, the Hall, newly renamed “Geneva College”, was finally thriving under new President Rev. H. H. George.  It grew in size and influence there in Northwood until it moved, in 1880, to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, where it still is and still seeks to be “Pro Christo et Patria”, “For Christ and Country”.

The building is gone.  The area long used it as a community center but demolished it in 1941.  A memorial stone with a bronze plaque marks where it stood on Ohio 638, between Bellefontaine and Belle Center.  One can read of Geneva’s early days in W. M. Glasgow’s The Geneva Book, available digitally, or in Dr. David Carson’s Pro Christo et Patria: A History of Geneva College.

Words to Live By:
Geneva Hall/Geneva College’s longtime motto is Pro Christo et Patria, “For Christ and Country”.  J. B. Johnston and others founded Geneva to be teaching all things in the light of Christ’s Mediatorial Kingship over all things (Ephesians 1:20-23). That motto still informs Geneva’s mission, even today, as expressed through the College’s document, Foundations of Christian Education. All subjects taught, and all aspects of life, must glorify Him. As such, it forms both a high calling and a solemn responsibility before the Lord.

As the Apostle Paul has written to the Romans, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36). We, too, must seek to bring all things under Christ’s feet, including our dear nation. True patriotism involves working for our nation, our people, our culture to be in submission to Prince Messiah. What a goal to work for! Though our own beginnings may be small and in a little obscure clearing in a big woods, Christ knows them, honors them, and glorifies Himself through them. He shall put all things under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25, Ephesians 1.22), so our efforts are by no means in vain.

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 15. — What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?

A. — The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit.

Scripture References: Gen. 3:6. II Cor. 11:3. Ps.49:12.

Questions:

1. Why did God forbid our first parents to eat this fruit?

He forbade them because He was making a test of their obedience. It was not that the fruit had in itself any evil. It was God’s method of seeing whether or not they recognized His Lordship over them.

2. Were our first parents guilty of sin before they tasted of the fruit?

Yes, they were guilty of listening to the devil. But when they tasted o of the fruit they completed the act of sin.

3. Where was the first sin committed?

The first sin was committed in Paradise where God had placed man and created woman.

4. Was Adam deceived in this first sin?

The Bible tells us that he was not deceived. Probably his love for Eve motivated him to join her in this transgression. But he suffered the consequence of this sin just the same and betrayed the whole human race whose representative he was.

5. What was involved in the eating of the forbidden fruit?

There were many sins involved in this act of disobedience. By eating they rebelled against their Sovereign God. By eating they were guilty of treason as they were in league with the devil. By eating they were gratifying ambition, to be as God. By eating they were guilty of unbelief because God had said it was wrong. By eating they were bringing death upon themselves and all their posterity.

6. If one word had to be used in describing this first sin, what word would be best?

Probably the word “pride” would come closer to describing it than any other one word. Calvin states, “Augustine is more correct, who says that pride was the beginning of all evils, and that by pride the human race was ruined …”

THE SECOND LOOK

One often wonders how much time Adam spent in meditation and prayer in the Garden when he was offered the forbidden fruit by his wife. He knew that it was forbidden. He -knew the rule of obedience set up in the Garden. He had everything he wanted. And yet he disobeyed the command of his God and accepted the fruit as offered to him. One wonders whether or not Adam took a second look, whether or not he did much thinking about the step he was a:bout to take.

A great lesson to be learned by God’s children today from the trial in the Garden of Eden is the lesson of thinking twice, of praying twice, before taking important steps. God’s children always need to learn the lesson of resistance, the resistance of the first temptation to sin In the heart. The hymn writer put it this way: “I want a principle within of watchful, godly fear. The sensibility of sin, the pain to feel it near.” Yet so often God’s children move into the realm of sin without giving it a second thought, without thinking the matter through, without praying to the Lord for help and guidance. Many times a second look would save them from sinning against God and thereby sinning against themselves and others.

Wordsworth has a few lines in one of his poems that has a great lesson in it which Christians might apply to the matter of temptation. “Look for the stars. You will say there are none; look up a second time, and one by one, you mark them twinkling out with silvery light, and wonder how they could elude the sight!”

Many times we wonder why we did not take that second look, why we could not see the evil surrounding the thought, the action, the word when we first saw it and it seemed good to our eyes. How can we be sure we take a second look? Only by recognizing that we are kept by the power of God and that power will be operative in us if we keep living close to Him and keep His commandments. We can not, we dare not, trust ourselves but only in Him. We must stay close to Him through the study of the Word, through prayer, through service to Him, all to His glory. May God help us ever to take the second look before we leap. (2 Tim. 3:13-17)

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