August 2016

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This blog is sponsored by the Historical Center of the Presbyterian Church in America, or more commonly, the PCA Historical Center. Our denomination came out of the old Southern Presbyterian Church, and it seems only right that we should know something of that earlier Church, its character, nature, faults and strengths. One instance of that history of our mother Church is embodied in the life of the man who directed that denomination’s foreign missions in the early part of the twentieth century. Our story today is told by the Rev. C. Darby Fulton, who succeeded Dr. Egbert W. Smith as Executive Secretary of the Foreign Missions Committee. [We have written previously of the Rev. Darby Fulton]. We find an additional interest in this bit of Presbyterian history centered in Greensboro, North Carolina, since that is where the PCA will meet in General Assembly in 2017, keeping in mind that the churches mentioned in this account are not PCA churches.

An Appreciation
by C. Darby Fulton, Executive Secretary of the Foreign Mission Committee of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (aka, Southern Presbyterian Church)

Rev. Dr. Egbert Watson Smith [15 January 1862 - 25 August 1944]On the evening of August 25, 1944, in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Rev. Egbert W. Smith, beloved Secretary of Foreign Missions, passed serenely to his eternal home. At the age of 82, near his birthplace, among his kindred and lifelong friends, within immediate reach of his chosen burial place, his life work accomplished, this valiant servant of Christ quietly took his leave as though the end of his day had come and he were going home to rest.

Egbert Watson Smith came from a line of old and distinguished families of Virginia. His father, the Rev. Dr. J. Henry Smith, was a Presbyterian minister, born and reared at Lexington. His mother, a daughter of Judge Egbert R. Watson, was born and brought up in Charlottesville. In 1859 his parents moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, where Dr. Smith was born and where his early life and young manhood were spent.

Entering Davidson College at 16, he graduated as valedictorian with Phi Betta Kappa honors in 1882, winning also the Latin and Essayist gold medals. Later, when he was only 32, Davidson conferred upon him the Doctor of Divinity degree.

After a year of teaching in York, South Carolina, young Mr. Smith entered Union Theological Seminary, in Richmond, Virginia, graduating in 1886. Already his unusual gifts as a speaker and his great love for Foreign Missions, two outstanding characteristics of his later life, were in evidence. During his senior year he was unanimously elected by the student body to represent them at the first meeting of the Inter-Seminary Missionary Alliance of the United States and Canada. On his return, his report of the meeting to his fellow students was a factor in the final decision of a gifted young colleague, known later to the whole Church as Samuel N. Lapsley, founder of the Mission in Central Africa.

In his later years of service for the Presbyterian Church, Dr. Smith distinguished himself in varied phases of the work : as pastor; as evangelist; in Home Mission work; and pre-eminently in the work of Foreign Missions. He organized and was the first pastor of what became the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Greensboro, North Carolina. For three years he was the general evangelist and superintendent of Home Missions of the Synod of North Carolina. He was, first, co-pastor with his father, and, after his father’s death, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Greensboro. Later, he became pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Louisville, Kentucky. After his third call to be Secretary of Foreign Missions he entered upon the work in July, 1911, as co-ordinate Secretary, and the following year was elected Executive Secretary.

To study the work at hand, Dr. Smith made numerous visits to the several Mission fields of the PCUS. He crossed the ocean twelve times and touched twenty-four foreign countries in the course of his travels. These journeys carried him through varied experiences. He was feasted by African chiefs; he dined with the sons of the world’s oldest civilizations. He moved with equal freedom among the most civilized of the earth’s people and the most primitive; he traveled by practically every known mode of conveyance; he threaded his way through the crowded streets of the great cities of Japan and China, as well as through the fastnesses of the jungles of Africa and Brazil; he was entertained at Oriental banquets with great pomp and ceremony, as well as in the surroundings of Congo villages to the cadence of native African music.

In 1932, after he had passed his seventieth birthday on January 15 of that year, Dr. Smith declined re-election as Executive Secretary of Foreign Missions, as he had long determined to relinquish the headship of the work when he reached that age. However, the Executive Committee of Foreign Missions immediately elected him Field Secretary, in which capacity he continued to serve with unabated effectiveness to the very day of his death. During the last year of his life he delivered 352 missionary addresses in 62 communities in ten states. No single year in all his long career as Foreign Mission Secretary was more fruitful than his last.

He was distinguished as the author of several books, each of which has reflected his unusual gift and power as a writer. In 1901 he wrote The Creed of Presbyterians, an examination of the Westminster Standards, that eventually went through multiple editions. In 1941, at the request of the publishers, he revised the work and added two chapters. Other of his works included China’s Background and Outlook (1914); Present Day Japan (1920); and The Desire of All Nations (1928). His last work, published posthumously, was titled From One Generation to Another (1945).

The Egbert W. Smith manuscript collection, which covers the period of 1912-1944, consists of 2,0 cubic feet of archival material, housed in four boxes. The collection was formerly preserved at the old Presbyterian Historical Foundation in Montreat, North Carolina, and with the regrettable closure of that institution, the collection has now been relocated to the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia.
Abstract:  This Collection consists of diaries, sermons, addresses, writings, correspondence, photographs, and a scrapbook. It includes writings and diary extracts documenting Smith’s trips to mission stations in Korea, Japan, and China, 1918-1919 and 1934, and Africa and the Middle East, 1932; and a scrapbook of clippings about Smith’s work for the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. Executive Committee of Foreign Missions, 1912-1943.

Image sources:
1. Frontispiece photograph as found in From One Generation to Another. Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1945.
2. Title page from Dr. Smith’s best known work, The Creed of Presbyterians, 1901 edition. The Creed of Presbyterians was published by The Baker and Taylor Co. of New York in 1901 and is a work of 223 pages in length. I was able to locate other editions reprinted in 1902; 1903; 1923; 1927; 1928; 1931; 1941; and 1954. It can also be found here:

2000 Pastors Refused to Compromise

Suppose . . . just suppose now . . . that you as a minister, or your minister, had a certain time period to decide to renounce the ordination vows made at ordination, subscribe to a different set of doctrinal standards, promise to arrange the worship according to a different standard of worship, agree to be re-ordained by another ecclesiastical body, and do all this by a certain day, or be deposed by the spiritual authorities which had the approval of the government. Talk about change! And yet this was the way it was on this day in Presbyterian history, August 24, 1662 in the British Isles.

It was called officially The Act of Uniformity, 1662. Its longer title was “An Act for the Uniformity of Public Prayers and Administration of Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies and for the Establishing the Form of making, ordaining, and consecrating Bishops, Priests, and Deacons in the Church of England.” It was broken up into five actions; (1) to have a complete and unqualified assent to the newly published book of Common Prayer of the Church of England.  (In passing, most preachers and people had not even seen this newly published book.) (2) to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine articles of the Church of England; (3) to renounce the Solemn League and Covenant; (4) To renounce any attempt to alter the government of the church or state; (5) to receive ordination at the hands of a bishop in the Church of England.

Combined with other acts of this Church, it excluded anyone who was not in compliance with the above from holding civil or military office. Students at Cambridge or Oxford would not receive any degrees from such study, if they refused this act.

And all this was to take place before August 24, which date was the celebration of St. Bartholomew Day. Students of church history remember, as they did then, that this was the day of the massacre in France when Huguenots were slaughtered by the Roman Catholics. So, this was a day remembered “Black” St. Bartholomew”s Day.

It is estimated that some 2000 ministers were ejected from their pulpits and parishes, including their manses, with Anglican priests put in their place. The majority were Presbyterian (1,816), Independents (194), and Baptists (19). A similar procedure was enacted in Scotland, with 400 ministers ejected from the pulpits and parishes. In future posts, we shall treat some of these ministers who were ejected on that day.

Words to Live By:
Two years ago, in 2012, there was a ministry event of reconciliation by the Church of England at the 350th anniversary of the Great Ejection. We might be glad that such a meeting took place, but the real issue was, as Ian Murray put it, the issue on the nature of true Christianity. Let’s face it. True adherence to the gospel will require sacrifice. That is why all of us as believing Presbyterians need to be more in prayer and watchfulness for our respective Presbyterian denominations and local churches. What has been faithful and true in the past may not be the case for the present and future witness of your church, if church officers and members grow careless about the faith once delivered unto the saints. As Paul put it, “the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

Buy the Book:
If you can find either of these two volumes, Sermons of The Great Ejection (Banner of Truth, 1962) or Farewell Sermons (Soli Deo Gloria, 1992), they are well worth obtaining and reading, as they provide some of the gathered sermons preached by these pastors when torn from their congregations by the Act of Uniformity. As but a small sample, the following words are a portion of the sermon brought by the  Rev. John Whitlock on that fateful day. (time and space do not permit the full text)


Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.—Rev. 3:3.

Beloved, when I entered on this verse in the course of my Friday Lecture, I little thought that I had so short a time to preach among you. I hoped I should have enjoyed some further opportunities for some few weeks, at least as long as the Act of Uniformity allows. But it has pleased God by His wise and holy providence to order it otherwise. I being suspended from preaching here from this day forward, for nonconformity. How far rightly or legally on man’s part, I shall not dispute, but leave to the righteous God to determine. I desire that both you and I may not eye man, but God, in this dispensation. I did not think to have preached my Farewell Sermon to you from these words, but having begun this text, and finding the matter of it so seasonable and suitable to this sad occasion, I shall by God’s assistance proceed in the handling of it.

Since it is probable that I shall preach no more to you, I judge it very seasonable to leave the exhortation in the text with you, to call upon you to remember what and how you have received and heard, and to hold fast those wholesome truths you have heard, and those precious ordinances (at least the remembrance, impressions, and gracious effects of them) that you have enjoyed and been privileged with. Also, to repent of those sins, which have provoked, and may further provoke God to come on us as a thief, to take away many of His ministers from among us. . .

. . . The silence of ministers calls aloud on us all to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. It bids us to repent of our sins, the causes of God’s judgments. It calls on you to prize and improve ministers and ordinances, better, if God shall continue, restore or further afford them to you. Yes, ministers’ silence should cause people to speak the more and louder to God in prayer for the continuance and restoring of ministers and ordinances to them. When you do not hear so much and so often from God in preaching, let God hear the more and oftener from you in prayer. Ply the throne of grace. Give God no rest till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. And as our silence should make you speak the more to God, so also the more and oftener one unto another in holy conference, to provoke to love and to good works. And I beseech you, brethren, pray for us. Whatever God may do with us, or whithersoever we may be driven, we shall carry you in our hearts; and when and while we remember ourselves to God, we shall never forget you, but present you and your souls’ concerns daily unto God at the throne of grace in our prayers. And we earnestly beg this of you, as you would remember what we have spoken to you in the name of the Lord, so you would remember us to God, and let us have a room and share in your hearts and prayers. When you get into a corner to pour out your hearts before God, carry us to God upon your hearts. Do not forget us, but lift up a prayer to God for us, your (we hope we may say) faithful, though weak, unworthy ministers, who have laboured among you in the Word and doctrine.

I shall say no more, but conclude with these two Scriptures: ‘And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified,’ Acts 20.32. The other Scripture is that request of Paul to, and prayer for, the Hebrews in Chapter 13.18-21: ‘Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.’

A Communion for American Covenanters

The entire service of Communion that Sabbath day on August 23, 1752 lasted nine hours.  But for some two hundred and fifty Covenanters gathered on that spot, it was their first communion outside the British Isles.

The teaching elder on that Lord’s Day was the Rev. John Cuthbertson, who was the first Reformed Presbyterian minister in the colonies.  As the only one, he had logged nearly 70,000 miles in the wilds of Colonial America, ministering to scattered Covenanters.  Often, there was no church building.  So they worshiped at various sites called “tents.”  It consisted of a large tree, with a wooden stand for the minister, and another for a Bible, with rough pews for the people, and nothing but the open sky for the roof.  On this occasion, they met at the Junkin Tent, just north of present day New Kingstown, Pennsylvania.

The communion at this first meeting in America lasted five days, with worship times on three of the five days.  The first day, which was Thursday, was a day of fasting, with a sermon by Rev. Cuthbertson.  Tokens of admission were given to those qualified spiritually to partake, after an exhortation for that purpose.  Prospective members were examined and received into the congregation.  On Friday and Saturday, no public worship was conducted.

In the services on the Sabbath, Rev. Cuthbertson paraphrased the 15th Psalm and preached from John 3:35: “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things in his hand.”  After the sermon, there was prayer and singing from the psalter.  Then the pastor spoke again about the sacrament, debarring some from the table while inviting others to the table of the Lord.  The communicants came, singing the Twenty-fourth Psalm, to sit at four tables as was the custom, to receive the elements of the sacred supper.  After the table services were concluded, he exhorted the communicants and led in prayer.  A part of the 103rd Psalm was sung.  Then after an interval of thirty minutes, another sermon was preached.  The entire service of that Communion day worship lasted nine hours.

Before the worshipers started home on Monday, another sermon was proclaimed as a departing reminder from the Word of God.

Words to live by:

We might well wonder whether God’s people today would sit through such protracted services.  As one minister commented, there would not be many left but the preacher, and most probably he too would feel like departing!   But let it be said that these early American Christians did not have all the privileges of weekly services nor access to countless Christian books and media outlets.  What they had, they treasured, and exhibited a spiritual fervor which, with all our spiritual privileges, too many professing Christians and churches lack that same spiritual fervor.

Revive Us Again
written by David T. Myers

It is a remarkable true story of God’s redemptive work.

Reared in a Scottish home, William Paton MacKay was born on May 13, 1839. We know nothing of his family except that his mother was a godly Scottish woman. All during his younger years, she endeavored to place the principles of biblical Christianity into his heart, but was met with only resistance by her son. When the latter went away to Edinburgh to attend the university, she handed him a Bible with his name on the inside cover which she had written, followed by John 3, verse 16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) She obviously commended him to the God of redemption.

Upon arriving at the University, William soon fell into the company of some aggressive unbelievers, joining the local infidel’s club, and began to live a godless life. To feed his drinking habit, he even sold the Bible which his mother has given to him, using the money to buy whiskey.

Fast forward to his graduation from the University of Edinburgh and his subsequent training to become a medical doctor. Now engaged in his medical practice, William was using those gifts of healing in a local city hospital when a dying man entered the hospital as a patient. The patient knew he would soon die and began to urgently request that the hospital staff get his landlady, as he yet owed her money for his rent. But also weighing heavy on his mind is a book in his apartment; he needed that book brought to him. “I need my book,” was his dying request. But alas, he perished without the book.

Curious, Dr. MacKay went to the apartment and asked the landlady about his patient’s great desire for this book. So they searched the apartment and found his Bible. But it was not just any Bible. It was the very same Bible which Dr. MacKay’s mother had given to him when he left for the university years before! Evidently, the dying man had bought the Bible from the pawn shop where young William had sold it years before.

Returning to his office at the city hospital, Dr. MacKay found his mother’s familiar writing in both his name and the text of John 3:16 on the inside cover. The pages were worn and weathered, but he could still note the texts which his mother had marked for him to read. The medical doctor read them that whole night in his medical office, and at the end of it the next mornng, his life was changed for good from a state of sin to a state of salvation.

He left the medical profession, went to a theological college, and became a minister. He served the Prospect Street Presbyterian Church, in Hull, Scotland, as their pastor. To the blessing of the wider Church, he wrote 17 hymns, always full of gospel truths. He departed to heaven on this day, August 22, in 1888.

Words to Live By:
His best known hymn is still familar today, entitled “Revive Us Again.” Oddly, it is not found in either edition of the Trinity hymnbook. That is to our loss, for it is most biblical, based both on Psalm 85:6 and Habakkuk 3:2. The fourth verse describes Rev. MacKay’s spiritual beginning when it states, “All glory and praise To the God of all grace Who has bought us and sought us and guided our ways.” God did purchase with His blood, seeking and guiding Thomas MacKay. Now, can you, the reader, trace how the God of all grace bought, sought, and guided your way to salvation?

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by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 99. What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer?

A. The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer, which Christ taught His disciples, commonly called The Lord’s Prayer.

Scripture References: II Tim. 3:16-17; I John 5:14; Matt. 6:9.


1. How can the whole Word of God be used to direct us in prayer?

The whole Word of God can be of use to us in prayer in that it instructs us of our duties regarding our relationship to God. If we did not have general principles of the Word of God in our minds it would be impossible for us to pray aright (Rom. 10:14).

2. Could you give one example as to how a principle of doctrine helps us in our prayer life?

Yes, a good example would be the offices of Jesus Christ. The knowledge He is our prophet helps us to have the wisdom from Him we need; the knowledge He is our priest enables us to have an intercessor for our prayers; the knowledge He is our King teaches us we should live in submission to Him and this certainly includes our disciplining ourselves in prayer.

3. Why do we need direction in our prayer?

We need direction in prayer because even though the disposition of our souls has been turned into holiness by the Holy Spirit we are still sinners and would not seek after God if left to ourselves.

4. Why is it called “The Lord’s Prayer” In our doctrines?

It is called “The Lord’s Prayer” as it was in answer to the disciple’s plea of “Lord, teach us how to pray.”

5. Does the prayer contain all necessary parts of prayer?

No, it does not contain the confession of our sins and thankfulness of God’s mercies.

6. Is this the form of prayer our Lord would have us use?

No, this is simply a pattern of prayer, a direction of how we should pray.


One of the difficulties of the prayer life on the part of many is that they attempt some of the more advanced patterns of prayer before becoming well-versed in elementary prayer. What is elementary prayer?
The simple procedure of making of requests and giving thanks.

There are higher patterns of prayer. There are such things as adoration, communion, spiritual warfare, intercession and contemplation. But so many times the young believer—and many times the believer of many years—will attempt some of these higher patterns, become discouraged, and the prayer life will continue to suffer. How can we train ourselves to reach the higher patterns some day?

One of the simple methods is to keep a “Prayer Card” in your pocket or in your Bible or in your purse and keep an orderly list of things for which you can pray. As new things come to your attention, add them and you will be amazed at how your list will grow. You will also be amazed at the increase in urgency in prayer on your part.

This urgency in prayer is one of our greatest needs. So many times we seem to feel we can only pray when we are in the right mood. We should remember that our Sovereign God knows all about our moods and will give us the grace, as we cast ourselves on Him, to rise above our moods and be regular and urgent in our prayer lives.

Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman tells the story of Praying Hyde (John Nelson Hyde) coming to his room for prayer. Dr. Chapman stated, “He came up to my room, turned the key in the door, dropped on his knees, waited five minutes without a single syllable coming from his lips. I could hear my own heart thumping and his beating. I knew I was with God. Then with upturned face, down which tears streamed, he broke out with, ‘O, God!’ For five minutes he was still again. When he knew that he was talking with God, there came from the depths of his heart such petitions for men as I have never heard before. I rose from my knees knowing what real prayer is.”

We need more Praying Hydes today. Will you join with me with some elementary prayer? (Luke 18:1).

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.

Vol. 7 NO.4 (April 1968)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor.

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