February 2015

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lowrieWMWhen God’s Children Come to See Me

Walter Macon Lowrie was born on February 18, 1819, and came to saving faith in Christ while in college, in 1834. Like Lyman Atwater of yesterday’s post, Walter soon determined to enter the ministry. He attended Princeton Seminary in preparation, and during those years resolved to become a missionary. The continent of Africa was particularly upon his heart, but following his ordination, the Board of Foreign Missions determined the need was greatest in China. Lowrie set sail in January of 1842.  By August of 1847, he was dead, murdered by pirates.

God is sovereign, and even when death seems senseless. it is only because we lack the Lord’s wisdom and knowledge. Especially in such cases is it wrong to try to attach a reason; we can only trust in God’s goodness.

A few years after Walter died, his father assembled his son’s letters and writings and published a Memoir. Reading some of that Memoir in preparation for this post, the following letter gave a good insight into the character of Walter’s Christian faith. Note too how the Lord used a godly woman, insignificant in the eyes of the world, in confirming and resolving Lowrie’s interest in missions :

Letters While At College

Jefferson College, September 14th.

My dear father–

Yesterday was our communion here; and though it was so near to the end of the session, that we could not have much time for preparation, and no fast day was appointed, yet it was about as profitable a day as I ever spent. True, at the table, and whilst partaking of the elements, I was not happy; nay, before I rose from the table, I was almost as miserable as I ever was. Yet it was profitable. A temptation came across my mind to this effect: “I am not now enjoying communion with Jesus Christ; and therefore I am not a Christian. I may as well now give up all pretensions to religion, and quit acting the hypocrite any longer.” And although not willingly, I felt as if I ought to do so; but the thought rushed into my mind, “If I am so miserable under the hidings of God’s face only, how shall I bear His eternal wrath?” It was the first time I had ever been influenced more by fear than by other motives. I was miserable, however. But see the goodness of God and of Jesus Christ. After church, I was thinking of my conduct during the session, and meditating on the two verses, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God;” and all my anxious cares vanished. I had been impressed deeply with a sense of my sinfulness, and was wishing to make some resolutions; hereafter to live more to the glory of God, but felt almost afraid to do it. I knew I should fall away; and I felt that it would but aggravate my guilt, were I to sin against such renewed obligation. But the sentence, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” calmed my heart. I felt that it was my duty to follow present duty, and leave the future to God, without any anxious cares; and I was enabled to do so, and roll all my cares upon the Lord. Oh, the peace I at that moment possessed! I could scarce refrain from laughing, I was so joyful.

I determined then to live every day as if it were to be the last I should have to live, and to do my duty accordingly;—in reality, “to live by the day.” At secret prayer I was more full of God’s presence, and comprehended more of that view of Christ’s character, which is so great, grand, and incomprehensible, that I could scarcely proceed for joy, and from my own experience during the day, I could tell something of the difference between God’s presence and his absence. Today, I cannot say I feel, or have felt, as I could wish—not so much life and animation; but I have been enabled to mourn for it. During the sermon (Mark xvi. 15), I was enabled to see more of the greatness of the Christian religion than I ever did before, and to feel, too, that man could not be the author of such grand ideas as I saw there held out.

This evening I was walking out into the country for exercise and on my return I passed the cottage of a negro woman, commonly called “Old Katy.” She was out in the road, when I passed her. I shook hands with her, and spoke a few words to her. Before we had spoken three sentences, she was was talking about religion. She is a most eminent Christian, and we stood about ten or fifteen minutes there talking. She soon got to speaking about the missionary cause. Her heart was in the matter, and she said, “I am very poor, but as long as I live I will be something to it. I have often given a little to it, and I never laid out any money better. I could not do it. I never lost a cent by it.”

I wish I could give you some idea of the emphasis she used, but pen and ink cannot express her manner and the feeling she manifested. She very cordially asked me to call in and see her; “for it is food to me when any of God’s children come to see me; it is food.” She went on thus for some time, talking about various matters, but all of them religious. Oh! how little I felt when I heard her talk thus, and compared my attainments in the Christian course with hers.

Words to Live By:
Give yourselves wholly to the Lord, in all you say and do. See the Lord as your only gain in this life. See Him as your All in all. You will not regret it. You will not suffer true loss, but will only gain true eternal riches.

For Further Study:
Memoirs of the Rev. Walter M. Lowrie, Missionary to China.

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From the church’s web site, at http://www.fpcgulfport.org/history

The First Presbyterian Church of Gulfport, Mississippi, was organized on Friday, February 17, 1899, following a petition to the New Orleans Presbytery from eight individuals: Dr. A. Murdock, Mrs. E.T. Platt, Mr. Kenneth McLeod, Mrs. Sarah McLeod, Mrs. T.S. Strange, Mrs. M. Hauser, Mr. W.J. Quarles, and Mrs. W.E. Quarles. The church actively met together under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. J.D. Mooney, who served as Stated Supply for just over 2 years, until November 1901. During the first few years of its existence, the church met in the public school building until that building burned down sometime in 1900 or 1901.  Subsequently, the church met in various buildings around town–one of which was a two-story structure located on the west side of 28th Avenue.church3

From September 1902 until November 1904, the Rev. Dr. D.L. Temple served as Stated Supply. Shortly after arriving in Gulfport, Dr. Temple established a building program to begin construction of a new church facility, which was to be built on four lots located on the western side of 13th Street. These lots were conveyed to the church by Captain J.T. Jones in May 1901, for the grand sum of $1. The new facility, which cost a total of $1,500, was completed near the end of the year in 1903 anddedicated on January 30, 1904.

A year later, in February 1904, the church installed its first pastor, the Rev. Fred L. McFadden, who served until September 1907. The Rev. McFadden was only 31 years old when he became the church’s first pastor. He claimed he was descended from the Scottish minister and reformer Robert Bruce, who succeeded John Knox at St. Giles High Kirk in Edinburgh. No doubt it was partly because of this fact that McFadden was encouraged to go on and do further post-graduate study at the University of Edinburgh, which he did beginning in 1907.

On December 9, 1909, the Rev. Dr. Herbert A. Jones was installed as the church’s second pastor. Dr. Jones was born in Liverpool, England, but became a citizen of the U.S. when he was 23 years old. He served various churches in Tennessee, Texas, and Colorado before accepting the call to come to Mississippi. He rapidly became one of the most well known and beloved preachers in the state. Twice he had the privilege of preaching before the President of the United States (once before President James Garfield and once before President Woodrow Wilson). Dr. Jones served Gulfport until his death on January 12, 1915, and he was buried in the cemetery at Pass Christian. During Dr. Jones’ tenure as pastor in Gulfport, Captain J.T. Jones again conveyed property to the church for the sum of $1. This property, which was given in honor of Dr. Jones, was later to become the site of the 1922 church facility.

Dr. Jones was followed by the Rev. Alfred C. Ormond, who was installed as pastor on July 1, 1915, but who resigned after only 3 years to enter the service of the Y.M.C.A. during World War I. Our next minister, the Rev. Dr. Charles S. Newman was installed on December 18, 1918, and was a significant leader in our church’s history. It was during Dr. Newman’s 13 year pastorate that the church experienced real growth and change, both spiritually and materially. The congregation grew from 231 members in 1918 to 421 in 1932, when Dr. Newman retired. A new church building program was inaugurated and completed under Dr. Newman’s leadership as well. This building was located on the corner of 24th Avenue and 13th Street. Although it was finished in 1923, the building was not dedicated until May 27, 1928, when the small debt that was incurred was fully repaid. Dr. Newman retired in May 1932, leaving behind a large sum of money (approximately 25% of the purchase price) for the church to purchase and install a pipe organ for the new facility.

The only native Mississippian to serve as an installed pastor of our church was the Rev. Dr. James N. Brown, who served from May 15, 1933, to October 15, 1953. Dr. Brown’s pastorate was the first of two long-term ministries in First Presbyterian Church. During his twenty years in Gulfport, the church received 1,246 new members, baptized 411 children and adults, and witnessed 819 marriages and 298 funerals. Also during his long pastorate, the church opened and operated what was known as “the Church House,” a ministry to provide hospitality and refreshment and other help to soldiers serving in our armed forces. Three ladies, Mrs. W.H. Caraway, Mrs. L.P. Ritchie, and Mrs. C.H. McWilliams, were responsible for beginning this ministry project. They were ably assisted by many women in the church, perhaps most notably, Mrs. A.C. Hutto, Mrs. Edith James, and Miss Josephine Newton. Over 70,000 servicemen registered at the Church House from 1942 to 1946.

church1The Rev. Dr. Richard L. Summers was installed as the church’s sixth pastor in July 1954. Although Dr. Summers was only 30 years old when he was called to First Presbyterian Church, he had already served as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Slidell, Louisiana, for four years and had completed work on a Doctor of Theology degree in Church History and Theology. He served here at our church for just over thirty-two years, until September 1986. Under his guidance and leadership, the congregation increased to a membership of 882 and initiated a church building program that culminated in the construction of our previous church facility located on the corner of 24th Avenue and East Beach Boulevard (across the street from the 1922 building). The new building was dedicated on January 17, 1965. It was also during Dr. Summers’ pastorate that the congregation voted to leave the Presbyterian Church U.S. and join with the already established Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) on January 10, 1982. We were officially received into Grace Presbytery of the PCA on May 10, 1983, at the First Presbyterian Church of Hattiesburg.

The Rev. Dr. Danny C. Levi followed Dr. Summers and served from July 26, 1987, until December 15, 1991. During his pastorate, the church placed a greater emphasis on missions and outreach, on Advent and Easter, and on the midweek services than it had before. The first assistant pastor in the church’s history, William R. Lyle, was ordained and installed on January 2, 1991 and served almost 2 years, until December 31, 1992. Dr. Levi received his Doctor of Ministry degree during his time in Gulfport.

The Rev. Marshall D. Connor became our eighth pastor on March 1, 1993, and served for just over 11 years until July 31, 2004. The Rev. Connor is fondly remembered as a good Bible teacher and a loving pastor and friend by many in the congregation. He has retained close ties to our church since his departure in 2004, returning not too long ago to baptize his granddaughter. It was during his tenure at FPC that the church’s preschool expanded its operations and became the Covenant Christian School, providing teaching for K-6th grades. Mrs. Carol Milner was the school’s first director. She was succeeded by Mr. Charles Brueck, who ably served the school on a volunteer basis until it closed its doors just before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. During M.D. Connor’s pastorate, the church celebrated its centennial anniversary.

The Rev. Dr. Guy M. Richard became the ninth pastor of First Presbyterian Church in September 2005, in the wake of the nation’s worst natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina. His initial ministry was filled with recovery and rebuilding efforts, as the hurricane destroyed our church facility (causing somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million in damage) and the homes of one-third of the families in our church.

ChurchThe church built its present facility in 2009 and held its first worship services on November 22 of that year. In God’s providence, the facility was able to be dedicated on the 45th anniversary of the dedication of the prior facility that had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina (January 17, 2010).

Dr. Richard, interestingly, shares a common bond with our church’s first pastor: they both studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Dr. Richard completed his Ph.D. there in Systematic and Historical Theology in 2006. He is married to Jennifer, and together they have a son, Schyler, and two daughters, Jane Barton and Ellie.

This brief survey of the history of First Presbyterian Church has not been able to mention the many Godly men and women who have prayed for and served our church with their lives and resources since 1899. Special attention must be given to the ruling elders who have so ably and faithfully served this congregation since its inception and especially to those who currently fill that office. Without these men, humanly speaking, the church would not be where it is today.

– See more at: http://www.fpcgulfport.org/history#sthash.3AQiJRmv.dpuf

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WarfieldBB_1903Most of the April, 2005 issue ofTabletalk magazine focused on the life and ministry of Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, the great Princeton Seminary professor. One of the most remarkable passages in that issue was the following account of the death of Warfield. R.C. Sproul tells the story:

“Twenty-five years ago I gave an address at a college in Western Pennsylvania. After the service was completed, an elderly gentleman and his wife approached me and introduced themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Johannes Vos. I was surprised to learn that Dr. Vos was the son of the celebrated biblical theologian Geerhardus Vos who had written a classical work on redemptive history entitled Biblical Theology, which is still widely read in seminaries. During the course of my conversation with them, Dr. Vos related to me an experience he had as a young boy living in Princeton, New Jersey, where his father was teaching on the faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary. This was in the decades of the 1920s, a time in which Princeton Theological Seminary was still in its heyday; it was the time we now refer to as “old Princeton.” Dr. Vos told me of an experience he had in the cold winter of 1921. He saw a man walking down the sidewalk, bundled in a heavy overcoat, wearing a fedora on his head, and around his neck was a heavy scarf. Suddenly, to this young boy’s horror and amazement, as the man walked past his home, he stopped, grasped his chest, slumped and fell to the sidewalk. Young Johannes Vos stared at this man for a moment, then ran to call to his mother. He watched as the ambulance came and carried the man away. The man who had fallen had suffered a major heart attack, which indeed proved to be fatal. His name was Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield.”

Above right, Dr. Benjamin B. Warfield at about age 54, circa 1903.

Thus ended the life of one of the greatest minds in Christian history, on February 16, 1921. In his celebrated work on the history of Princeton Seminary, Dr. David Calhoun recounts J. Gresham Machen’s reflection on Warfield’s death:

“In a letter to his mother, Gresham Machen spoke of ‘the great loss which we have just sustained in the death of Dr. Warfield. Princeton will seem to be a very insipid place without him. He was really a great man. There is no one living in the Church capable of occupying one quarter of his place.’ A few days later Machen wrote again:

Dr. Warfield’s funeral took place yesterday afternoon at the First Church of Princeton . . . It seemed to me that the old Princeton—a great institution it was—died when Dr. Warfield was carried out.

I am thankful for that one last conversation I had with Dr. Warfield some weeks ago. He was quite himself that afternoon. And somehow I cannot believe that the faith which he represented will ever really die. In the course of the conversation I expressed my hope that to end the present intolerable condition there might be a great split in the Church, in order to separate the Christians from the anti-Christian propagandists. ‘No,’ he said, ‘you can’t split rotten wood.’ His expectation seemed to be that the organized Church, dominated by naturalism, would become so cold and dead, that people would come to see that spiritual life could be found only outside of it, and that thus there might be a new beginning.

Nearly everything that I have done has been done with the inspiring hope that Dr. Warfield would think well of it . . . I feel very blank without him. . . .He was the greatest man I have known.”

Below: Cemetery marker for the grave site of Dr. B. B. Warfield in the Princeton cemetery. [photograph by Barry Waugh]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words to Live By:
Brethren, it is there only also [in Christ our Lord] that our comfort can be found, whether for life or for death. Perhaps even yet we hardly know, as we should know, our need of a saviour. Perhaps we may acknowledge ourselves to be sinners only in languid acquiescence in a current formula. Such a state of self-ignorance cannot, however, last for ever. And some day—probably it has already come to most of ussome day the scales will fall from our eyes, and we shall see ourselves as we really are. Ah, then, we shall have no difficulty in placing ourselves by the apostle’s side, and pronouncing ourselves, in the accents of the deepest conviction, the chief of sinners. And, then, our only comfort for life and death, too, will be in the discovery that Christ Jesus came into the world just to save sinners. We may have long admired Him as a teacher sent from God, and have long sought to serve Him as a King re-ordering the world ; but we shall find in that great day of self-discovery that we have never known Him at all till He has risen upon our soul’s vision as our Priest, making His own body a sacrifice for our sin. For such as we shall then know ourselves to be, it is only as a Saviour from sin that Christ will suffice…”

[excerpted from The Power of God Unto Salvation, by B.B. Warfield (1903), p. 51-52.]

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

Q. 6. — How many persons are there in the Godhead?

A. — There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in sub­stance, equal in power and glory.

Scripture References: II Cor. 13:14. Matt. 28:19. Matt. 3:16, 17.

John 17:5, 24.

Questions:

1. Why has this doctrine given rise to opposition during the history of the Church?

The devil recognizes that since the Trinity is a mystery which hu­man reason cannot explain, and since it is the primary object of our faith and worship, it is fertile ground for use as a stumbling block.

2. How important is this doctrine to our faith?

It is essential and vital. Without this doctrine we would not know of the love of the Father, the merit of the Son and the sanctifying in­fluence of the Holy Spirit in the purchase and application of re­demption.

3. What is meant by the word “Godhead” in this question?

It means the divine nature that is possessed by all three persons.

4. What denomination denies the doctrine of the Trinity?

The Unitarians deny this doctrine.. They teach that there is only one person in the Godhead, the Father, and deny the true deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

5. How can one prove that there are three persons in the Godhead?

This can be proved by many teachings in Scripture. It can be proved from the baptismal formula; from the baptism of Christ; from the blessing given by Paul in 2 Cor. 13:14; from John’s salutation to the seven churches; from the different tasks attributed to the three persons.

6. Could you give an example of these different “tasks”?

Yes, I Peter 1:2 gives an example of their different tasks in the work of redemption. It speaks of the Father’s foreknowledge, the Son’s death for His people, and the Spirit’s task of sanctification.

7. How is it that all three could be one God?

The doctrine teaches that “God is One in one sense, and Three in a different sense. He is One in substance and Three in persons.” (J. G. Vos). The Scriptures assert that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God and are equal with the Father. True, this mystery is diffi­cult to understand. But we now believe it by means of the Word of God and can look forward to enjoy the perfect knowledge of it in heaven.

8. How can we best state the doctrine in simple terms?

One of the best statements is: “There is but one God, the Father and the Son and the Spirit is each God, and the Father and the Son and the Spirit is each a distinct Person . . .” (Dr. L. Boettner).

THE NECESSITY OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY

The doctrine of the Trinity is taught unquestionably in our Stand­ards and our reception and adoption of this doctrine is an important part of our Christian faith. In addition, however, the doctrine of the Trinity plays an important part in our Christian living. The confession of this particular doctrine of the church is of the greatest importance for the spiritual life.

Dr. B. B. Warfield pointed this out when he said, “Without the doc­trine of the Trinity, his (the believer’s) conscious Christian life would be thrown into confusion and left in disorganization if not, indeed, given an air of unreality; with the doctrine of the Trinity, order, sig­nificance and reality are brought to every element of it. Accordingly, the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of redemption, historically, stand or fall together.” (Biblical Doctrines, p. 167).

It is interesting to note that Article Nine of the Belgic Confession, regarding the proof of the Trinity, states: “All this we know as well from the testimonies of Holy Writ as from their operations, and chiefly by those we feel in ourselves.” This does not say that Christian ex­perience is a second source of revelation. There is only one source of revelation and that is Scripture. But the experience of the believer, based upon Scripture, teaches him that he needs the Triune God for his Christian life.

The believer needs the Father. The Father who is the Creator, the Lawgiver, the Judge, the Supplier of every need — the Father who loved him enough to send His Son to die on the Cross for his sins.

The believer needs the Son. The Son is the only-begotten of the Father. The Son who is the Teacher, the Redeemer, the High priest, the eternal King who rules with the Word and the Spirit.

The believer needs the Holy Spirit. The Spirit who regenerates and leads into all truth. The Spirit who is his Comforter, his Preserver, the One who causes the believer to share in Christ and all His benefits.

Without this doctrine, the sum of the Christian religion, creation or redemption or sanctification could not be maintained. Any departure from it leads to error in other realms of doctrine. We believe in, and are thankful for, the doctrine of the Trinity!

 

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James Scrimgeour was born in the year 1757 in the vicinity of Edinburgh, Scotland. His mother, a member of the Secession Church, was known for her remarkable intelligence and piety, and raised young James in a godly home. Graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 1772, James prepared for the ministry under the tutelage of the renowned John Brown of Haddington, and Rev. Brown came to have a high regard for Scrimgeour’s abilities and gifting for ministry. In 1782 he was licensed by the Associate Presbytery of Edinburgh.

Rev. Scrimgeour supplied pulpits in various parts of Scotland for several years and then was settled as pastor of the Associate congregation of North Berwick, in 1784. Here he remained until mental and physical exhaustion overtook him, removing him from the pulpit in 1794.

In 1802, Dr. John M. Mason visited Great Britain, with the goal of finding ministers who would immigrate to the United States. Rev. Scrimgeour, having largely recovered his health, was among those who consented to the proposal, and upon reaching America he was installed as the pastor of the Scottish Church, in Newburgh, New York. Here he labored from 1802 until 1812. He then answered a call to serve the neighboring church in Little Britain, NY, and remained in that post until declining health forced his retirement. He lived but a few months more, and died on February 14, 1825.

Sprague’s Annals of the Presbyterian Pulpit provides some great anecdotes about various ministers. One such story regarding Rev. Scrimgeour says a good deal about his worth as a preacher:

“Those who knew him in the earlier years of his ministry have told me that he was then one of the most popular preachers in the denomination to which he belonged,–the Burgher Seceders; and, from what I know of the taste of Scottish Christians, as well as from my own recollection of his manner in the pulpit, I can easily credit the statement, and various reasons might be assigned if it were worth while to dwell upon the point, why his ministrations were not so generally acceptable in this country as in his native land. Not to mention others, his strong Scottish accent, if not positively distasteful, would not be particularly pleasing to most Americans;…His own people, however, were strongly attached to him, and, in other congregations, containing a large Scottish element, as in that of his old friend Dr. Mason, of New York, in Newburgh, and elsewhere, his appearance in the pulpit always gave pleasure to his audience. When he visited these places, he very well knew that he would be required to preach, and he always went from home with an ample equipment–that is, with from fifty to a hundred sermons in his portmanteau. On one occasion an excellent lady of my acquaintance travelled some fifteen miles to hear Dr. J. M. Mason, who was expected to preach in one of the Associate Reformed congregations, back from Newburgh.  When she reached the church, to her great disappointment, she saw Mr. Scrimgeour ascend the pulpit. Her first impulse was to quit the place and return home, but the ‘sober second thought’ of the Christian kept her in her seat. You may well suppose that she was not in the most favorable mood for appreciating the preacher, (whom she had often heard) yet she afterwards declared that she went away quite captivated with the sermon, and fully persuaded that even Dr. Mason himself (whom she also knew) could not have better recompensed her for her long journey.”

Words to Live By:
To take a few words from a sermon by Moses Hoge,
Do not expect too much from your Ministers.–Remember that they are men not angels. And were they even angels, they could do nothing for you without a diligent co-operation on your part. If the God of heaven has appointed Ministers to preach the gospel to you, will you not hear it and obey it, that you may not die but live for ever? Waste not the precious time given you for a much better purpose, in devising vain excuses. The time is not far off when you will be stripped of them all. And, surely, there cannot be a greater infatuation than to waste in this way your day of grace–the only season alloted for your repentance and amendment of life–the only season alloted for your preparation for an endless eternity.”

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