December 2017

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Brief, but hopefully a thought to stay with you through the day, particularly as you prepare your hearts for times of worship tomorrow.

So Much Preaching, So Little Practice
Thomas Manton on Psalm 119:97—

“What is the reason there is so much preaching and so little practice? For want of meditation.  Constant thoughts are operative.  If a hen straggles out from her nest, she brings forth nothing, her eggs chill; so, when we do not set abroad upon holy thoughts, if we content ourselves with some few transient thoughts and glances about Divine things, and do not dwell upon them, the truth is suddenly put off, and does no good.

All actions require time and space for their operation; if hastily covered over, they cool; if we give them time and space, we shall feel their effects: so, if we hold truths in our mind and dwell upon them, there will be an answerable impression; but, when they come like a flash of lightning, then they are gone, and we run them over cursorily.

That truth may work, there are required three things:

1. sound belief,
2. serious consideration,
3. and close application:

“Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know it for thy good. (Job v. 27).”

[Thomas Manton, Sermons on Psalm 119, vol. 2, p. 325.]

 

Ministry in Troubling Times
by Rev. David T. Myers

Here’s a question for those of you who are teaching elders and pastors:—how long would your congregations exist without your presence, or any pastor-teacher’s presence over them in the Lord? In other words, suppose your congregation did not have a pastor for an extended period of time? And further, there were no supply pastors available to minister the Word and Sacrament to them. Question? Would they persevere in the faith as an organized body of believers?

Such was the case in Scotland in the late 17th century. Presbyterianism as a whole in 1690 had been restored to Scotland by what is known as the Revolution Settlement. Covenanters however were disappointed by this settlement as it ignored early covenants made by the people. It further gave the civil government some authority over the church. And to make matters worse for the Covenanters, they were without an ordained minister at this time. Some 16 years later, the Rev. John MacMillan left the Church of Scotland to minister to their spiritual needs. But in hindsight, that was sixteen years down the proverbial pike. Sixteen years without a pastor! It took a degree of faith to stand together for the faith, by faith. And faith they did indeed possess, as evidenced by their organizing themselves in what is known as the Society People of Scotland.

These groups, according to A.S. Horne in his small booklet “Torchbearers of the Truth,” were not large in number, often being between ten and twelve individuals. If they grew beyond this, then they were required to split into two groups. They knew that the times were against them, as the principles of the Reformation had been largely swept aside and abandoned by the nation. Spiritual declension marked their times. Scrupulous care had to be exercised as to new members in their society.

Listen to one rule of entrance into a society, according to Horne. “None are to be invited, or upon his own desire brought into any Society” wrote author Horne, “but by the advice and consent of all the Society; and that he is particularly known at least to some of the members; that he is one who makes conscience of secret prayer, and of prayer in his family and he is of exemplary and blameless conversation and free from all scandal.”

Further, their meetings were quite obviously for the professing, committed Christian. A full meeting was “four hours at least should be seriously and closely spent about the work for which they meet, which is prayer and spiritual conference.” In addition, they “are not to be diverted from their work by talking about their worldly affairs or public news until they close, except something for the informing of the meeting whereof may be useful.”  It is clear that the primary purpose of the Society meetings were for spiritual edification.

There were other rules too, but space hinders their inclusion in this post. Some 7000 Scottish Covenanters regularly met together in this way throughout Central and Southern Scotland. Finally, a general meeting was held, with representatives from as many of the societies as could attend. The first of these general meetings was held on December 15, 1681 in Lanarkshire, Scotland. In all, some forty-one general meetings were held during this twenty years of persecution, “and never in one instance did informers succeed in getting information of them in time to prevent them, or capture those who attended them.”

Words to Live By:
This author can still remember during his years as a pastor-teacher, a church member who came to the door after the sermon, to urge  him to end his sermon on time as she and her husband wanted to be able to get the best seat in their local restaurant for their noon lunch! Contrast that remark with the Covenanters who, in the prelude to the Killing Times in Scotland, gathered together for hours in prayer and spiritual conversation so as to be made strong and valiant for the Lord.

Ready and willing to go for Christ . . . anywhere
by Rev. David T. Myers

beattyCharles03The young Irish salesman was sparring verbally with the small group of college students. Only he was doing it in Latin, remembered from his classical education classes of his youth in Northern Ireland.  Sensing his gifts, the head master of the Log College, the Rev. William Tennent, challenged the salesman to sell all of his wares and study for the ministry.  Charles Beatty did just that, entering the Log College in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Charles was born in County Antrim, Northern Ireland in 1712.  His parents were John Beatty, a British Army officer, and Christiana Clinton Beatty.  His early home education was in theology in a classical Christian education setting.  At age 14, his father died.  We are not told how he came to “own” Christ, but he traveled to the American colonies with his Uncle Charles Clinton in 1729, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Studying at the Log College, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Brunswick on October 13, 1742, and ordained the same year on December 14, 1742.

For a while, he assisted the Rev. Tennent at his congregation, and finally assumed the pulpit upon the latter’s death in 1743.  Three years later, he married Anne Reading, with whom he would  have ten children.  She must have been a remarkable woman, as her husband and their father would be gone many years on mission trips.  With very few Presbyterian ministers in the colonies, he was called first by the Synod of New York to travel to Virginia and North Carolina in 1754, preaching to the scattered Scot-Irish Presbyterian families.

But the westward expansion then going on in Pennsylvania also attracted his heart.  He would make two trips in 1758 and 1766 to that frontier of Cumberland County, which extended then all the way to Pittsburgh.  The first trip in 1758 was as chaplain to the army of General Forbes, with Col. Chapman’s Pennsylvania regiment.  He would preach the first Protestant sermon west of the Allegheny Mountains.

The second trip with the Rev. George Duffield of Carlisle’s First Presbyterian Church in 1766.  Their purpose was to report on the numbers of Presbyterian families then pushing west, for the purpose of establishing presbyteries to minister to those hardy pioneers.  Accompanying them was a Christian Indian by the name of Joseph Peppy, who was a valued interpreter when they established contact with the Indian tribes in the area.  They found numerous Presbyterian families, including around Fort Pitt itself.

Charles Beatty was involved in relief work as well.  Twice he took trips to England to raise funds for the Corporation for the Relief of Distressed Presbyterian Ministers.

Leaving “home missions,” Beatty sailed for the Barbados to minister the Word there, only to be called to his heavenly home on August 13, 1773.

Words to Live By:
Charles Beatty was a man who for the sake of the gospel was content to be used for Christ’s kingdom.  Reader: is God’s Spirit calling you to a similar ministry of service for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  In Matthew 9:37, 38, Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers in his harvest.” (ESV)

A Family Heritage of Presbyterian Ministers
by Rev. David T. Myers

Today, our focus is on a Presbyterian minister by the name of Moses Hoge. He was the grand father of Moses Drury Hoge, who is perhaps better known now.  And it is perhaps remarkable that there was a virtual family of Presbyterian ministers by the name of Hoge. What a wonderful blessing of the Lord, that one family would produce three sons, all of whom were Presbyterian ministers?

The God of the Bible is indeed sovereign and, as a result, He calls whom He will, not only to salvation, but also to service in His kingdom.  And so in this case, we simply have that God-ordained call to one family to produce sons who would in turn answer the call to gospel ministry.  And yet, there is more to it than that.  God ordinarily works through means, although he is not restricted to means.  And the means toward the God-glorifying end here was a family, all of whom were committed to gospel truths in the home, to say nothing of their Presbyterian church.

Moses Hoge, who was born on February 15, 1752 in Middletown Virginia, was a student in Culpeper County under an Associated Reformed Church minister. After a time, he entered the major conflict which was taking place in the colonies by joining the Continental Army to fight for freedom from England. Shortly after that enlistment, he left to enter Liberty Hall Academy (now Washington and Lee University) under the venerable William Graham, in 1778, graduating two years later from the Academy. In the same year, Moses Hoge became a candidate for the gospel ministry under care of the Presbytery of Hanover. Further preparation in theology took place under the tutelage  of James Waddel. Finally he was licensed in November of 1781 and ordained on December 13, 1782 at Brown’s Meeting House, in Augusta County, Virginia, near Hebron, Virginia.

Upon the resignation of Archibald Alexander, Moses Hoges was next appointed president of Hampden-Sydney College in 1807. In fact, so much was his God-given intellect appreciated that when the Synod of Virginia voted in 1812 to begin a seminary, Dr. Hoge was appointed to be its first professor. But the press of business was such that his health began to suffer. On a trip back to from the General Assembly, he died on July 5, 1820.

He and his wife Elizabeth had four sons, three of whom became pastors: the Rev. James Hoge, the Rev. John Blair Hoge, the Rev. Samuel Davies Hoge. [The fourth son, Dr. Thomas P. Hoge, became a physician]. The two sons of Rev. Samuel Davies Hoge also became ministers: the Rev. William Hoge and the Rev. Moses Drury Hoge, that latter of whom we wrote about on January 6. What a legacy! What a remarkable praise to God for His work among men!

To be sure, God’s sovereignty is such that He thrusts out laborers into His harvest field. But also true is that God uses godly parents to both teach and live Biblical principles and practices before their family. When that is done faithfully, then great expectations can be realized in their upbringing and eventual choice of life.

Words to live by:  This writer comes from a Christian home in which both sons were converted and called into the Presbyterian ministry, thus joining their father who was also a Presbyterian minister. God can wonderfully use the Christian home to call spiritual laborers into the fields white unto harvest. Concentrate on that, Christian reader. Make your home a solidly Christian home, with examples of true worship, solid education, and zealous service for Christ, taught and lived before your children. Then watch God work in the lives of your family.

For further study: The Hoge Family Papers are preserved at the Presbyterian Historical Center, in Philadelphia.

Through the Scriptures:  Hebrews 8 – 10

Through the Standards:  An affirmation and denial of church assemblies

WCF 31:3
“All synods or councils, since the Apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred.  Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.”

The PCA Historical Center is grateful to have preserved a copy of Rev. Hoge’s sermons, Sermons Selected from the Manuscripts of the late Moses Hoge, D.D., which was published in Richmond, VA by N. Pollard Publisher, 1821. Conveniently, that work is also available on the Internet, here or here. (“you young kids don’t know how easy you have it. In my day. . . “)

The first page of the first sermon in the above mentioned book by Rev. Moses Hoge:

Missed the Date by a Month!

The following tract was originally a message brought by the Rev. Francis A. Schaeffer on 12 November 1944. (Which means we’re a month late in posting this!) This particular tract is one of several early messages by Francis Schaeffer, all of which were published while he was the pastor of the First Bible Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, Missouri. That pastorate began in December of 1943 and ended late in 1948. Leaving that pulpit, he then moved his family to Switzerland to begin a ministry of church planting. Our copy of this tract is from among the papers of the Rev. Albert F. Moginot, who served for several years as Rev. Schaeffer’s .

“The Holy Catholic Church”

Inside the front cover of this tract there is the note that this message was originally preached in St. Louis on 12 November 1944. At that time Dr. Schaeffer had been the pastor of the St. Louis church for just less than one year. St. Louis is a city with a particularly large population of Roman Catholics. In fact, the city is second only to New Orleans in the observation of Mardi Gras. So in that setting it would not be surprising to find many in a Protestant congregation who were troubled by some of the words in the Apostles’ Creed. It is a common concern and misunderstanding, one that the young pastor sought to address. Going beyond that, the tract is also a brief apologetic for a biblical faith, over against the errors of Roman Catholicism. Rev. Schaeffer begins his message with the following statement:

Of all the phrases of the Apostles’ Creed, the one which is most open to misunderstanding is: “I believe in the holy Catholic Church.” Many Protestants, feeling that in some way this portion of the Apostles’ Creed refers to the Roman Catholic Church, are ashamed to repeat it. Let us say, as we begin, that not only does “the holy Catholic Church” have no reference to Roman Catholicism, but it is the very antithesis of it.

Schaeffer then touches on the following points in examination of his topic:
• The Church Is One.
• Entrance into the Universal Church.
• The Bible.
• The Sacraments.
• Baptism.
• Confirmation.
• Penance.
• Mass.
• The Church Is Holy.
• Conclusion.

Rev. Schaeffer’s conclusion provides an excellent summary of his message:

We should repeat this portion of the Apostles’ Creed with heads held high and with the determination not to give up this name catholic, which is ours. We who are true believers are the holy Catholic Church. I am a Christian because I have put my faith in Jesus Christ and for no other reason. My friends, therefore, I am a member of the universal Church, the Church catholic.
. . . Let me say again that I do not hate or dislike the individual Romanist. I hate no man because of his creed any more than because of his race. There is no place for these things in the Christian heart. I also realize that there may be Christians in the Roman Catholic Church; but if there are, they have been saved through faith in Christ in spite of the errors of their Romanism. Perhaps there are Roman Catholics here this morning, and perhaps there is someone here that the Roman hierarchy has sent to hear what we have to say because of the ad we had in the paper yesterday. If this is so, I am glad you are here, and it is my prayer that you will put your faith in Jesus instead of any church, and thus be saved. Do no misunderstand us, we are not urging you to believe in our church to be saved. No church can save you—ours or any other. You must believe in Jesus Christ who paid all the price for your sin on the cross. Then you will have everlasting life immediately and forever. Jesus Christ Himself said in John 3:18, “He that believeth on him (on Jesus) is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
For those of you who are Christians, it is my prayer for you that you go from this place with a realization that it is our task to lead the Romanist to Christ. If you leave with any other feeling, then our study this morning has been a failure. By the grace of God, realizing that no church saves, but that each individual soul must put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, let us be determined that we will bear a good testimony to all who are lost.

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