December 2017

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Two Good Guides
by Rev. David T Myers

The situation was bleak. Barely into the American Revolution in the colonies, British forces in the future United States of America were winning everywhere. If something could be done even by a small military victory, it might revolutionize the American people to continue on to win their independence. That need was supplied by the military victory at Trenton, New Jersey on December 26 1776.

Reeling from their defeat on Long Island, New York, General George Washington realized the need for a victory over the British Forces. Choosing the 900 member Hessian mercenary force in Trenton, New Jersey might be the answer. But to march in frozen conditions was a challenge to a hungry and decimated army. At best, Washington could summon somewhere around 2400 soldiers. And there was a “little” matter of a Delaware River in winter to cross to get to the German encampment. For that reason, Washington instructed that “two good guides” be furnished with each brigade, to guide them to their target.

Among those “good guides” were three privates in the colonial militia of the area, all members of the Presbyterian Church of Pennington, New Jersey. Their names were David Laning, John Guild, and John Muirhead. All three were commanded by Gen Washington to dress in civilian clothes for their important mission and ride ahead of the American forces.

David Laning had actually been captured by the British forces several days before the intended mission and put under guard in Trenton. He took advantage of a distraction by his German guard and made his escape to the house of a friend. The next day, disguised as an elderly wood cutter, he was able to cross the Delaware River again and rejoin his fellow Presbyterian members back in camp.

We have all seen the famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware on his way to Trenton. Each year, it is a scene which is recreated by American citizens in the area. On that night, we know the story of complete surprise to the celebrating Hessian troops, some 900 of whom were captured by the victorious American patriots. Actually, it was David Laning the Presbyterian guide who signaled the attack to take place. And the rest is history, as they say.

The small victory brightened the horizon of the colonists. The next battle fought was that of Princeton, New Jersey, which was also a victory of the American revolutionaries. The tide was beginning to turn.

Words to Live By:
Time and time again in these posts of Presbyterian History, we have seen faithful and courageous Presbyterian men and women take their place in important missions for God and country. Don’t think, Presbyterian reader, that all such opportunities for service are only in the past. Look around in your area and see with the eyes of faith, opportunities to glorify God and serve Him in church and state. Then, give of yourself, your gifts, and talents, to be that one to “stand in the gap” for Christ.

Tell Me the Old, Old Story —

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David.

In order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

While they were there the days were completed for her to give birth.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

But  the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

for today in the city of David there  has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

This will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased:

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this things that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”

So they came in a hurry and found their way  to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.

And all who hear it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Luke 2:1 – 21

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

Q.42. — What is the sum of the ten commandments?

A. — The sum of the ten commandments is, to love the Lord our God, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.

Scripture References: Matt. 22:37-40; Matt. 10:27; James 2:10; Rom. 13:10.

Questions:

1. How are the duties of the commandments divided in this answer?

The duties are divided in the following way: Our duties toward God and our duties toward our neighbor.

2. What is the meaning of the word “sum” in this question?

The meaning of the word “sum” is the comprehensive duty of the law which is love; for love is the fulfilling of the law.

3. What is the meaning of loving God with all our heart?

To love God with all our heart means to love him without hypocrisy, to be sincere and honest in our love.

4.
What is the meaning of loving God with all our soul?

To love God with all our soul means to exercise all the faculties we have in fulfilling the duties of our Christian life as we delight in Him and in following His will.

5.
What is the meaning of loving God with all our strength?

To love God with all our strength means to love nothing or no one more than God.

6. Who is our neighbor that we are to love as ourselves?

Every man is our neighbor therefore we are to have a general affection toward all.

7. What is it to love our neighbor as ourselves?.

To love our neighbor as ourselves is to love him with the same truth and constancy of love as we do ourselves, Eph. 5:29.

8. If a standard could be given from Scripture as to this love for others, what could be given?

A good standard from the word of God would be Matt. 7: 12—that we do to others what we would have them do to us, or John 5:12, where Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”

DELIGHT THYSELF IN THE LORD

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Ps. 37:4). When a person is saved by grace one of the results is that he will love the Lord, will have a desire to delight himself in the Lord. There will be a desire on the part of the Christian to love the Lord with the whole heart. This is not always possible because of sin but the desire, the aim is there.

A prayer of Lancelot Andrewes reads, “Thyself, O my God, Thyself for thine own sake, above all things else I love. Thyself I desire. Thyself as my last end I long for. Thyself for thine own sake, not aught else whatsoever, always and in all things I seek, with all my heart and marrow, with groaning and weeping, with unbroken toil and grief.” Someone has well said that the trouble with the church of today is that we do not have enough children of God with the melting, zealous prayer of men like Andrewes.

So many times people will say, “I am sure I love God for after all I did ask His Son to come into my heart and I do go to church, etc.” How can we be sure we are delighting ourselves in the Lord? How can we be sure we love Him? Some of the characteristics of a real love to God are as follows: (1) We can not find contentment outside of Him for He is the health of our countenance. (2) We hate that which would separate us from God, namely sin. The Psalmist said, “I hate every false way.” This is something over which we do not always have the victory for many times the false way wins out but when it does and we realize it we plead for forgiveness from Him. (3) We want to tell others about Him. To say we love God, delight in Him, and keep quiet about Him would be inconsistency of the worst order. (4) We are willing to suffer, If needs be, die for Him. Paul said, “I am ready to be offered up.” We are always willing to go through whatever He would have us go through if only His name might be glorified.

There are indeed many other characteristics but the ones listed above should be sufficient for us to use as a standard regarding our love for Him. It would be good for us to pause right now and pray: “Search me 0 God and know my heart.” The flame of love should always be be burning brightly in our hearts. If it is not it may be that neglect of duty, or too much love of the world, or lack of prayer and Bible study might be putting out that flame. That flame needs to be ever fanned not hindered. If it is not there we shall never receive the desires of our hearts from Him.

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 42 (June 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

One last post drawn from THE NEW YORK OBSERVER, for now. The church is, of course, the people and not the building. Still, it is interesting how place comes to hold the memories and emotions that sum up the years. 

THE OLD CHURCH.

The days had woven themselves into months, and the months had grown silently into years, since I had entered the dear old church. And now my tired feet were turning thitherward once more. Ah, me! that it should be so, but I fear those feet have wandered far from the narrow way they had entered, in the long ago, beneath these sacred walls. Along the dusty highway of life, over its high mountains of danger and temptation, from whose summit I had caught visions of far off, fair Beulah; down into its deep valleys of sordid care and strife, into whose gloom no glimmer, even, of the heavenly brightness had ever entered, to the sound of funeral dirges, and of wedding marches, these weary feet have toiled, until at last they have come again to these sacred portals.

It is not a beautiful church; indeed, I believe people generally call it a very ugly one. But to me, the deep, low galleries, the tall, massive pillars, with the vast open dome brooding over all, are beautiful, for they are draped about with the prayers of the saluted dead, and the sweet peace of the “first love,” lingers like incense in the shadows. Even as I enter the narrow doors, the deep joy of the olden time, the trustful early love that was content to lay all things at the Father’s feet, and leaning on His bosom, wait calmly for the future, came stealing to my heart again.

Over there it was, I stood on that golden Sabbath morning, when God’s ambassador spoke to me in the presence of his people, saying: “Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He loves you, and gave Himself for you?” And the peace that passeth knowledge came to my soul as I answered, forgetting the people and looking only into the face of the Lord—“I do.”

Then came the touch of the baptismal waters, and the words, “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” And I stood in the presence of that crowd of seen and unseen witnesses, with His vows upon me. He only knows how sadly those baptismal robes have been stained, how often those vows have been broken.

In that corner pew I sat when first I took the emblems of my Redeemer’s dying love, while through my heart, above the tumultuous waves of love and adoration, went singing only these words, “Broken for me! Broken for me!”

Oh! it is to the weary wanderer like coming home again; home to sweet, sacred memories; home to loving hearts and warm welcome words. They are nearly all here that I used to meet on those olden Sabbaths; truly there are some vacant places, but they are not many; the children are a little older grown, and perhaps there are a few more wrinkles and silver hairs, marking the fathers and mothers, but they are nearly all the same, and the loving words and warm hand-pressures are the same they gave to the youthful pilgrim. God bless them.

It is peace and rest, after all the conflict, just to sit quietly here, in the old place, and with closed eyes drink in the sweet peace and joy of past and present pardon. To listen with a full heart to the well-known, well-loved voice that speaks from the square old pulpit, just the text my wayward heart needed: “Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Yes, that was the God-sent message, to trust Him. In the past I had, indeed, commited my ways unto the Lord, but I had not trusted Him; and ever since I have been trying to shape them out myself.

To-day, please God, I’ll learn the double lesson: “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him.” And perchance, in all the after-journey, whether I stand upon the mountain-top or go down into the valley, alike to both will come visions of fair Beulah, and back to heart and life shall come the early love and holy influences of this old church, to grow and broaden, till by God’s grace I stand within the golden portals of the heavenly temple.

—J.C.C.

THE NEW YORK OBSERVER, 48.33 (18 August 1870): 257, column 5.

Words to Live By:
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
—Hebrews 10:23-25, KJV

 

Another short piece from THE NEW YORK OBSERVER. The lesson needs no elaboration. The reader will please be patient with the attempted dialect.

MEETING AT THE TOP.

A hundred years ago and more, a numerous body of Presbyterians who had seceded from the Established Church of Scotland, was split in two on a quarrel about a clause in the oath required of the freemen of certain Scottish boroughs, which expressed “their hearty allowance of the true religion at present professed within the realm, and authorized by the laws thereof.” The party who held that the oath might be conscientiously taken by seceders were called “Burghers,” and their opponents “Anti-burghers.” Johnny Morton, a keen Burgher, and Andrew Gebbie, a decided Anti-burgher, both lived in the same house, but at opposite ends, and it was the bargain that each should keep his own side of the house well thatched. When the dispute about the principle of their kirks, and especially the offensive clause in the oath, grew hot, the two neighbors ceased to speak to each other.

But one day they happened to be on the roof at the same time, each repairing the thatch in the slope of the roof on his own side, and when they had worked up to the top, there they were—face to face. They could’nt flee, so at last Andrew took off his cap, and scratching his head, said, “Johnnie, you and me, I think, hae been very foolish to dispute, as we hae done, concerning Christ’s will about our kirks, until we hae clean forgot His will aboot ourselves; and so we hae fought sae bitterly for what we ca’ the truth, that it has ended in spite. Whatever’s wrang, it’s perfectly certain that it never can be right to be uncivil, unneighborly, unkind, in fae, tae hate ane anither. Na, na, that’s the deevil’s wark, and no God’s. Noo, it strikes me that maybe it’s wi’ the kirk as wi’ this house; ye’re working on ae side and me on the t’ither, but if we only do our work weel, we will meet at the tap at last. Gie’s your han,’ auld neighbor!” And so they shook han,’ and were the best o’ freens ever after.

The New York Observer, 44.2 (11 January 1866), page 12, column 3, below the fold.

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