August 2017

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The First Governor of Delaware

The first governor, or at that time called the president of Delaware, was a Presbyterian physician in Wilmington, Delaware.  Born on February 21, 1721 in Ulster, Northern Ireland, John McKinly came to Delaware in 1742.  While his education and particularly his medical background is hard to trace, nonetheless he soon became a popular physician in Wilmington. Marrying Jane Richardson, they both became prominent members of the Presbyterian Church.

He served any number of city, county and state offices, until he was elected by the General Assembly to become the first governor of the Delaware colony.  The fact that he was from Ulster, and thus a Scot-Irish Presbyterian, made him acceptable to the Presbyterians from New Castle County.  However, the fact that he was a moderate and not entirely in favor of independence from Great Britain, made him popular with the Anglicans from Kent and Sussex County in Delaware.  This background, while a good compromise in political circles, did not save him from being captured by the British after the Battle of Brandywine.  He would be a prisoner of war until 1778, when he was exchanged for the royalist son of Benjamin Franklin.

After that experience, even with promises of support, he never entered politics again.  He died August 31,1796, and was buried in the Presbyterian cemetery.

‹- Governor McKinly’s gravesite, in the Brandywine cemetery.

Words to live by:  The only reference we  have to him being a Presbyterian is the statement that he was “a prominent Presbyterian.”  That can mean almost anything and have very little to do with his spiritual testimony.  Usually, in those days, a person couldn’t be buried in the Presbyterian cemetery unless they were members in good standing in a Presbyterian church.  And people who joined the membership of a Presbyterian church in colonial times had to have a credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ backed by a credible testimony of life and works.  So arguing from the latter to the former, we can hope at least that his was a genuine faith with a conviction of Presbyterian doctrine, government, and life. So here’s the old question : Can people tell that I’m a Christian? Do my words—and does my life—bear testimony to that fact?

Drawing again, in part, from Nevin’s Presbyterian Encyclopedia, we read today of a man who gave himself unselfishly to the establishment of a school.

Twenty Years the President of Lafayette College

cattellWmCWilliam Cassiday Cattell was born at Salem, New Jersey on August 30th, 1827, into the family of Thomas Ware Cattell and his wife Keziah Gilmore Catell. Raised with five other brothers and two sisters, William studied in local schools and later completed his preparatory studies in Virginia for two years, under a brother’s direction. He subsequently enrolled at New Jersey College and graduated in 1848. After teaching in Virginia for a year, he then began studies at Princeton Theological Seminary. Cattell completed the standard three year course and remained for an additional year to focus on what were then termed Oriental Studies. Graduating in 1852, he was employed as Associate Principal of the Edgehill Academy, located in Princeton, New Jersey, from 1853-1855. Thereafter he was ordained by the Presbytery of Newton in 1856.

From 1855 to 1869, he was Professor of the Greek and Latin languages in Lafayette College, and it was during these years that he forged some of his strongest friendships and alliances. Then from 1860 to 1863, he was pastor of the Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where his labors were crowned with success, and he was greatly beloved by his congregation. In 1863 he was elected to serve as President of Lafayette College, which position he accepted and occupied until June of 1883, when impaired health through over-work obliged him to tender his resignation.

The effects of the Civil War had been nearly fatal for Lafayette College. Enrollment plummeted as students left for battle, while finances dwindled from lack of both students and supporters. The College was nearly closed in 1863 when the Trustees turned to Dr. Cattell, asking him to return and take over as President of the school. His congregation in Harrisburg was devastated, but he saw the greater need and in July of 1864 was inaugurated as President of Lafayette College. During his administration of twenty years, and mostly by his own efforts, the school’s assets increased from $40,000 to almost $900,000. New and larger buildings were built, and furnishings and equipment were brought up to date, along with the improvement of the curriculum. The end result was that Lafayette now stood among the leading colleges of that day. During this period, besides contributing $10,000 from his own funds for the construction of McKeen Hall, Dr. Cattell worked through these years at a very modest and nominal salary, devoting himself unselfishly to the interests of the College, to the point that his physicians finally had to compel him to absolute rest and freedom from official responsibility. In accepting Dr. Cattell’s resignation, the Board of Trustees gave in to the obvious but painful necessity.

PHSFollowing his retirement, Dr. Cattell remained an active member of the College’s Board of Trustees, serving there until his death in 1898. But the College was not his only field of service. Staying active, he traveled to Europe in conjunction with the Presbyterian Alliance, and upon his return, took on new duties as Secretary of the Board of Ministerial Relief for the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. He traveled throughout the United States, preaching to raise money for aged pastors, their widows and orphans. During twelve years with this Board, Dr. Cattell raised three million dollars. Again, his ceaseless labors forced him to retire, this time in 1896. Yet despite his declining health, he agreed to accept the call to serve as President of the Presbyterian Historical Society, in Philadelphia. In this work, he fixed his sights on two goals: relocating the Society’s collections into a larger fire-proof facility, and the establishment of a sufficient  endowment. Cattell lived to see the collections moved to a newer building, but died on February 11, 1898, before the other goal of an endowment could be realized.

Pictured above left, the original home of the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, described in 1880 as “a modest house on Race street near Thirteenth, in Philadelphia, which makes no pretensions and attracts little attention, gives but little idea of the treasures within.”

Dr. Cattell was a superior scholar, an accomplished and affable gentleman, of great energy of character, and an excellent preacher. He was vested with the confidence and regard of his brothers in Christ. Among the honors conferred upon him during his life, he received his degree of Doctor of Divinity from both Hanover College, Indiana, and New Jersey College, in 1864.

Words to Live By:
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, KJV)

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. (Colossians 3:23, NASB)

Drawing from an article by the Rev. Stuart Robinson [The Southern Presbyterian Review, 27.4 (October 1876) 730-759.

It is very evident that in framing the Westminster Articles, there was not, as some have intimated, an attempt to determine certain points of doctrine more rigidly even than the Synod of Dort had done. Instead of falling back, as they might have done,
upon the decrees of the Synod of Dort, they fell back upon the Articles of the Irish Church, which were drawn up before the Synod of Dort had framed its decisions ; and which, before the time of Laud, expressed the commonly received faith of the Church of England. Having been called together for the special purpose of vindicating the doctrine of the Church of England and showing that it was in harmony with that of the other Reformed Churches, and to devise such changes of polity and worship as would bring her into closer union with the Church of Scotland and the Churches of the Continent, the men of the West­minster Assembly aimed throughout, in the most catholic and compromising spirit, to set forth in very cautious and moderate terms a creed that could be accepted by all parties.  And no doubt it was with that design that they selected Archbishop Usher’s Articles as the basis of a new formula, when, by order of Parliament, they laid aside the revision of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England.  If Archbishop Usher, the author of the Irish Articles, is justly eulogised by all parties as a divine of the most enlarged views and catholic spirit, why are the men of the Westminster Assembly denounced as narrow­-minded and rigid bigots, who accepted Usher’s Articles, and en­deavored to make them, substantially, the creed of all Britain ?

That the Assembly was ruled by this moderate and cautious spirit—even though its Moderator, Dr. Twisse, and others of its leading members, were not behind the Synod of Dort and Gomarus himself in the rigidness of their Calvinism—appears from many memoranda of debates in these “Minutes,” which show at the same time, that, while adopting the Irish Articles as the basis of discussion, the Assembly scanned closely every word of their utterances.  Thus, under date of August 29, 1645, Friday morning, we find these entries :

“Debate on the report of the first Committee of God’s Decree.”

“Debate upon the title.

“Debate about the word ‘counsel;’ about those words, ‘most holy, wise ;

and about those words ‘his own.’

“Debate about the word ‘time,’ about the word ‘should.’

“Debate about the transposing.”

So, again, in the continuation of the same general subject, under date of October 20, 1645:

“Proceed in the debate about permission of man’s fall, about ‘the same decree.’

Mr. Seaman.  If those words, ‘in the same decree,’ be left out, it will involve us in great debate.

Mr. Rutherford.  All agree in this, that God decrees the end and means; but whether in one or more decrees, is not . . . say ‘God also hath decreed.’. . . . It is very probable but one decree; but whether fit to express it in a Confession of Faith . . .

Mr. Seaman. . . .

Mr. Rutherford.  If there can be any argument to prove a necessity of one and the same decree, we would be glad to hear it.

Mr. Whitakers.  If you take the same decree in reference to time, they are all simul and semel; in eterno there is not prius and posterius.

Dr. Gouge.  I do not see how the leaving out of those words will cross what we aim at.  I think it will go on roundly without it.

Mr. Whitakers.  Our conceptions are very various about the decrees; but I know not why we should not say it.

Mr. Seaman.  All the odious doctrine of Arminians is from their dis­tinguishing of the decrees ; but our divines say they are one and the same decree.

Mr. Gillespie.  When that word is left out, is it not a truth? and so every one may enjoy his own sense.

Mr. Reynolds.  Let us not put in disputes and scholastic things into a Confession of Faith : I think they are different decrees in our manner of conception.

Mr. Seaman.  You know how great a censure the Remonstrants lie under for making two decrees concerning election ; and will it not be
more concerning the end and the means?

Mr. Calamy.  That it may be a truth, I think in our Prolocutor’s book he gives a great deal of reason for it ; but why should we put it in a Confession of Faith ?

Mr. Calamy.  I question that ‘to bring this to pass:’ we assert massa pura in this . . . I desire that nothing may be put in one way or other; it makes the fall of man to be medium executionis decreti.

Mr. Palmer. You will be in a worse snare in leaving it out.

Mr. Woodcocke.  I desire to know whether this be meant of the de­cree or the execution of it.

Mr. Gillespie.  Say ‘for the same end God hath ordained to permit man to fall.’ . . . This shows that in ordine naturae God ordaining man to glory goes before his ordaining to permit man to fall.”

So, again, under Sess. 521, Oct. 21, 1645, Tuesday morning :

“Report made from the first Committee, sitting before the Assembly :

Resolved by them, that mention be made of man’s fall.

Resolved by them, that those words, ‘to bring this to pass,’ shall not stand.

“Dr. Wincop to pray with the House of Lords next week.

“Debate about those words, ‘to bring this to pass.’

Mr. Reynolds offered something: ‘As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the same eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto, which he, in his counsel, is pleased to appoint for the executing of that decree ; wherefore, they who are endowed with so excellent a benefit, being fallen in Adam, are called in according to God’s purpose.’

Mr. Chambers offered something.

Ordered, To debate the business about Redemption of the elect only by Christ to-morrow morning.”

This long extract, which presents a very fair specimen of this whole volume, shows how carefully and with what moderation of spirit the Assembly engaged in framing the standards of faith. Though, as has been shown, they had the discussions and decrees
of the Synod of Dort before their minds, and though they even made the Irish Articles, prepared by Archbishop Usher, the basis of discussion for their own Confession, yet they did none the less carefully canvass every expression and clause of their own doc-
­trinal statement, as if no other standards of faith had ever before been set forth.

The Catechisms, Larger and Shorter, were discussed with equal care before the whole Assembly, as reported from their Committees, question by question.  Under date of January 14, 1646, the record is :

“Upon motion made by Mr. Vines, it was Ordered :

“That the Committee for the Catechism do prepare a draught of two Catechisms, one more large and another more brief, in which they are to have an eye to the Confession of Faith, and to the matter of the Catechism already begun.”

To Dr. Tuckney was assigned the Shorter Catechism.

It is not until April 12, 1648, that we find the Minute of their completion, as follows :

“The proofs for both Catechisms shall be transcribed and sent up to both Honorable Houses of Parliament.  Ordered to be carried up on Friday morning by the Prolocutor with the Assembly.”

“APRIL 14, 1646, Friday Morning.

“Prolocutor informed the Assembly that he had delivered the Cate­chisms, and was called in and told that they had ordered six hundred copies with those proofs to be printed for the use of the Assembly and two Houses ; and give thanks to the Assembly for the same.”

Of the record of the proceedings of the Westminster Assembly, readers can find the same account in the recently published work edited by Chad Van Dixhoorn, The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly, 1643-1652, in Volume 3, pp. 657-658, for “Sess. 494. Aug. 29, 1645. Fryday morning.”



A Different Look at the Auburn Affirmation

In the first year of its existence, Carl McIntire’s publication, THE CHRISTIAN BEACON, included a four panel comic strip drawn by a cartoonist by the name of Hal Veech. We’ve never been able to discover biographical information about Mr. Veech, nor do we know where else he might have worked. He may have simply been a talented amateur. His cartoon strip was titled THE “CHRISTIAN” FAMILYThe strip certainly did not major in subtlety.  In these two installments, the two central characters, Wurldlee and his wife Trustphul discuss aspects of the Auburn Affirmation. [We have posted previously this year regarding the momentous publication known as the Auburn Affirmation, a casting down of the gauntlet by modernists within the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. See also here and here.]

[click on the image to get a larger and hopefully legible version].  

Auburn Affirmation

[Veech cartoons excerpted from The Christian Beacon 1.28 (20 August 1936): 6 and 1.29 (27 August 1936): 7.]

by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 24. How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?

A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Scripture References: John 1:1-4; John 15:15; John 20:31; II Pet. 1:21; John 14:26.


1. Is Christ called a “prophet” in Scripture and if so, why?

He is called a prophet in Acts 3 :22. He is called a prophet because He has made a full revelation of the whole counsel of God.

2. How does Christ reveal to us the will of God?

He reveals God’s will to us in two ways: outwardly, by His Word and o inwardly, by His Spirit.

3. What is the word of Christ?

The word of Christ is the whole Bible, the Scripture, containing the Old and New Testaments.

4. How can it be that the whole Scripture is the word of Christ since His words constitute only a small portion of it?

The whole Bible is called the word of Christ because those who wrote it wrote the word they had from the Spirit of Christ (1 Pet. 1:10-11)

5. Is it possible to be saved simply by means of the Word of God without the Spirit?

No, it is not possible to be saved simply through the Word apart from the Spirit. The teaching concerning this is found in I Cor. 2: 14.

6. Is it possible to be saved by the Spirit apart from the Word?

There is a difference here from the previous question in that the Word can not save you apart from the Spirit and the Spirit will not save you apart from the Word. The Bible teaches that the whole will of God necessary to our salvation is revealed in His Word.

7. How does the Spirit of Christ make us wise unto salvation?

The Spirit of Christ makes us wise unto salvation by opening up our understandings, for the entrance of His word gives us light so that the soul is enabled to see the way of salvation and the way offered.


Every once in a while the Christian is called upon to present a defense of the position that the knowledge for man’s salvation comes only from the Word of God. This defense is necessary for many sects and heretical groups deny the teaching and insist upon their belief in the man-made doctrine that God has and does save and reveal His will apart from the Word of God.

The poet put the truth very well when he said:

“The starry firmament on high
And all the glories of the sky
Yet shine not to thy praise, a Lord,
So brightly as thy written word.

“Almighty Lord, the sun shall fail,
The moon forget her nightly tale,
And deepest silence hush on high,
The radiant chorus of the sky;

“But, fixed for everlasting years,
Unmoved amid the wreck of spheres,
Thy word shall shine in cloudless day,
When heaven and earth have passed away.”

There are many today who insist that salvation can be obtained apart from the Word of God. It is the modern, popular way to believe today to Lay aside the Scriptures and discover the way to God through self, with philosophical or mystical overtones. The Reformed faith stands in opposition to this. In one of the Reformed catechisms the question is asked: “Whence do you know your misery?” The answer is: “Out of the law of God.” (Heidelberg Catechism, Question No. 3). The mirror is ever present with us, the mirror of the Word of God, and because it is the revelation of God it shows us our sin.

The danger to the church today is from those who profess Christ but who do not take the Word of God seriously. There are too many Christians who do not read it, study it, or fill their very hearts and minds with it. Humanly speaking, if it were possible to receive all the answers to life by a human means that could be gathered together in a small book we would never be found without it. And yet that is exactly what we have in the Word of God. In it we have our salvation and all that is necessary for us to please God and therefore enjoy Him forever.

Published By:
Vol. 2 No. 24 (December, 1962)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

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