January 2017

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 A Man Called Peter
by Rev. David T. Myers

The young man was returning from work one starless night in Scotland. Figuring he could save time by cutting across one of the moors, the twenty-one year old began to walk through the field and was startled when he heard his name “Peter” called by someone.   Inquiring as to who it was who called him, all he heard was the howling of the wind. He took up his pace again, only to hear an urgent voice again, “Peter!.” He stopped, trying to figure out who was calling him.  Suddenly, he stumbled, and in reaching out his hand, found an empty space ahead of him. Not able to see any more clearly, he felt around the edge of the ground and realized that he was on the edge of an abandoned stone quarry. One more step would have resulted in him falling to a certain death in that quarry. The near accident made a powerful impression on Peter Marshall.  He had no doubt that the voice was that of God, and that the latter must have a special purpose in his life in sparing him.

Peter Marshall was born in Coatbridge, Scotland, near Glasglow in 1902. His father had died when he was four years of age, but a godly mother brought him up in the faith. He first wished to go to sea but God said “no” to that dream. Then it was to become a missionary in China, but that door was also closed. The door opened was a job in America, to which his widowed mother reluctantly packed his suitcase, commending him to the Lord. After a brief stay in New Jersey, he traveled to Atlanta, George where he took a job at the Birmingham News. It was there that he joined the First Presbyterian Church. Soon, he was busy in the Sunday School, the youth activities, and other ministries. The Presbytery of Birmingham took him under his care, with plans to send him to seminary.

The school of choice was Columbia Theological Seminary, right in a suburb of Atlanta.  Wondering how he would afford it, the Men’s class which he was teaching at First Presbyterian, pledged to him that they would financially undergird him in his classes at this historic seminary.  He commented, “I feel that my every action is guided by Him who ordains all things for His servants.” He would graduated magna cum laud from Columbia, and be ordained in 1931. Called to a rural church in Covington Presbyterian in Georgia, he stayed there for three years.  Then God’s call brought him to Westminster Presbyterian in Atlanta in 1933. There he was known as the “charming young Scotsman with the silver tongue.” He transferred to his last congregation in Washington, D.C. at New York Avenue Presbyterian in 1937. It was there that a door right into the halls of the federal government was opened to him, in that twice he was chosen to be the Chaplain to Congress in 1947 – 1949.

It was in this calling that he was to bear an influence for Christ far beyond any ministry he had up to this time. The post ceased to be mere formality and became a powerful and effective reminder of the truth that God is in control of all things, from the greatest to the least. He believed God was not a Republican nor a Democrat, but that God did want to influence legislation passed by that political body. He became the conscience of the Senate.

After an earlier brush with death from an apparent heart attack, the final summons came on January 26, 1949. Two years later, his wife Catherine would write the award-winning book, A Man Called Peter, which would be made into an Oscar-winning movie.

Words to Live By:
Can we say along with Peter Marshall that we are “determined to give our life to God for Him to use us wherever He wants us?” Such a commitment is necessary for all Christians in their lives here on earth.

Raised Up By the Lord for a Great Work

It is regrettable that the Rev. Matthew Anderson is not better known today. You won’t find much about him on the Web, and he doesn’t (yet) have a Wikipedia page. But Rev. Anderson was a most remarkable man, one whose notable accomplishments included founding the Berea Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, in 1880; then the establishment of a building and loan association to assists blacks in gaining home ownership; followed later by a kindergarten school; a medical dispensary; and a seaside home, along with several church related ministries. W.E.B. DuBois declared of Rev. Anderson’s church that “Probably no church in the city, except the Episcopal Church of the Crucifixion is doing so much for the betterment of the negro.”

Matthew Anderson was born in Greencastle, Pennsylvania on January 25, 1845. His father was Timothy Anderson, who died in 1878 at the age of 84. Matthew was educated at Oberlin College, graduating there in 1874 and began his preparation for the ministry at the Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh before transferring to the Princeton Theological Seminary, where he graduated in 1877, which would have been the year before the death of Charles Hodge. Upon graduation Anderson began his ministerial career as stated supply for the Temple Street Congregational Church in New Haven, CT.

Then in June of 1878 he was ordained as an evangelist by the Presbytery of Carlisle (PCUSA), serving as stated supply of the Gloucester Mission in Philadelphia, 1879-80. It may have been around this time that he married, for it was common in that era for pastors to put off marriage until employed by a church. And Anderson chose well, marrying a woman of great character and accomplishment, Caroline V. Still, the daughter of noted abolitionist William Still.

Under Rev. Anderson’s leadership, the mission work was particularized as the Berean Presbyterian Church and he continued as pastor of this work from 1880 until his death on January 11, 1928. The church continues its ministry to this day. Honors conferred upon him during his lifetime included the Doctor of Divinity degree confered upon him in 1904 by Lincoln University.

The following is a brief account of the birthday celebration given in honor of Rev. Anderson in 1927, roughly one year before his death. This account appeared in a Philadelphia based Presbyterian newspaper.

Celebrating the Pastor’s Birthday
[excerpted from THE PRESBYTERIAN, 97.6 (10 Feb. 1927): 21, 24.

For three consecutive years, the congregation of the Berean church have taken it upon their willing hearts to honor the natal day of their pastor, Rev. Matthew Anderson, D.D. Accordingly, on January 25, a host of friends gathered around the festive board to do him honor while the young people at their table showed their whole-hearted enthusiasm. One birthday cake made a journey from the Canal Zone from Dr. Anderson’s daughter, and was received in excellent condition. The happy faces, light hearts and general atmosphere of congeniality which pervaded served to while away the perfect evening very rapidly. Mr. Arthur Faucet, a young man who grew up in the Sabbath-school, and as an elder in the church, as well as the youngest principal of a public school in Philadelphia, was toastmaster. Speeches were made by Miss Arabella Carter, a Quaker friend of Dr. Anderson; Mr. J.C. Calloway; Mr. H.H. Thomas, a neighborhood guest; Miss H. Frances Jones, president of the W.C.T.U.; Mrs. Lottie A. Smith; Mr. William H. Brown, of the board of directors of Berean Building and Loan Association; Rev. George F. Ellison, of Reeve Memorial; Rev. Charles S. Freeman, pastor of the First African church; Dean L.B. Moore, and Mr. L.W. Underhill, Jr.

It was for Dean Moore to make a suggestion that surprised every one, and that was that the heavy burdens of the educational work which Dr. Anderson had started needed sympathy, and at his timely and appropriate request, over $100 was raised, which Dr. Anderson accepted, not as a birthday gift, but in his usual sacrificing spirit, as a gift to help with the current expenses of the Berean School. Singular enough was it that the gist of every speech made during the evening pointed to the fact that Dr. Anderson’s seventy-nine  years had been spent in arduous labor for his people, and that he had been diligently, persistently and untiringly at one thing all this time.

The evening was also enhanced by the presence of the Reeve Memorial Quartette, whose splendid singing of spirituals calls forth many encores. Dr. Anderson in his remarks said that nothing gave him greater happiness than to be in good health, to be able to stand before them without pain, to be able to give back the smiles that greeted him, and to hope for more years of robust health and strength to carry on his work for humanity, which he felt was in no wise finished.

Words to Live By:
In his autobiography, Rev. Anderson relates ten personal rules or principles that regulated all his ministry. Among these, perhaps the most notable was his sixth principle:
“6. That we be guided and regulated by the great and immortal principles of divine truth, rather than by sentiment, which knows no creed, race or color, and which regards all men alike redeemed by one common Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. That while by the accidents of birth and the unholy sentiment of the country, our labors are confined principally to the people of the colored race, we should nevertheless regard ourselves, ministers of Christ, as embracing a wider sphere of labor, since in God’s sight there is neither Jew nor Greek, barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free, but all related by ties of consanguinity, having sprung from common parents.”

Image source: All three photographs are found in the volume Presbyterianism : It’s Relation to the Negro, by the Rev. Matthew Anderson. Philadelphia, PA: John McGill White & Co., 1897. To view digital edition, click the embedded link. Pictured are Rev. Matthew Anderson [1848-1928]; the Berean Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA; and Dr. Caroline V. Anderson, M.D., wife of the Rev. Matthew Anderson and daughter of the noted African American abolitionist William Still.

A Christian of Exceptional Personality and Evangelistic Appeal
by Rev. David T. Myers

Picture the scene in your mind’s eye. Thirty-five hundred poorly clad natives have gathered together at one site that summer of 1933. Missionary evangelist Charles J. Woodbridge no doubt had something to do with that great gathering in the French Cameroons. He was the sole evangelist for a five thousand mile mission station in that African country. These natives were in great need of hearing the plain and simple gospel message from the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Mission executive from America. What they heard in reality was an hour message on, (are you ready for this?), “the Power of Personality.” There was no greater proof to young Charles Woodbridge of the deepening apostasy of the official missions board of the Presbyterian Church.

When he heard that he himself had been singled out to serve as the General Secretary of the newly formed Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions in June of 1933, he gathered his wife and two daughters and returned immediately to America to take up his new post. In less than four years, he would be censured by the highest court of the Presbyterian church for accepting this new ministry.

Charles Woodbridge, born January 24, 1902, was described by his fellow Reformed Christians as being no ordinary General Secretary. From his heritage as the fifteenth generation minister of his family line, dating back to 1493, from his own father who had been a missionary in China, from the fact that he married the daughter of a missionary, Charles Woodbridge would be known as “a man of exceptional personality and evangelistic appeal.” His spiritual gifts made him the perfect architect of a new mission strategy in reaching the world for Christ.

Yet the main line denomination of which he was a part, did not take kindly to this new mission upstart. Within a year, steps were taken to force him to abandon this new missions work, and when he chose not to follow their directives, Charles Woodbridge was censured by the church. He left in 1937 to become a pastor of the Presbyterian Church in North Carolina for several years.

Eventually, he served as a theological seminary professor and author, always seeking to warn Christians of the danger of compromising the Word of God. He died on 16 July 1995, at the age of 93.

Words to Live By: Committed to the Scriptures, the Reformed faith, and the Great Commission of Jesus Christ is a great goal for everyday life and service.

Through the Scriptures: Job 28 – 31

Through the Standards:  Unconditional election

WCF 3:5
“Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto: and all to the praise of His glorious grace.”

Dr. Woodbridge served as General Secretary of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions and also as the editor of the Independent Board Bulletin, from March 1935-June 1937. Some of his more important publications included the following:
1935 – “The Social Gospel: A Review of the Current Mission Study Text Books Recommended for Adults by the Board of Foreign Missions, Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.,” Christianity Today 5.9 (February 1935): 209-211.
1937 – “Why I Have Resigned as General Secretary of the Independent Board,” The Presbyterian Guardian 4.5 (12 June 1937): 69-71. Available here.
1945
 – The Chronicle of Salimbene of Parma: A Thirteenth Century Christian Synthesis.
Durham, NC: Duke University, Ph.D. dissertation. 305 p.
1947 – Standing on the Promises: Rich Truths from the Book of Acts.
1953 – A Handbook of Christian Truth, co-authored with Harold Lindsell.
1953 – Romans: The Epistle of Grace.
1962 – Bible Prophecy.
1969 – The New Evangelicalism.

Image source: News clipping [publisher not known] from the Henry G. WelbonManuscript Collection, Scrapbook no. 1, page 34.

Our post today is another authored by Barry Waugh, an independent researcher and writer based in South Carolina. Mr. Waugh has a blog titled Presbyterians of the Past, and he posts new entries on a more-or-less weekly basis. 

Charles Allen Stillman was born in Charleston, South Carolina to James S. and Mary Stillman on March 14, 1819. He attended Oglethorpe University in Georgia and received his degree in 1841. He then received his divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1844 and proceeded to be licensed by Charleston Presbytery later that year. The Second Presbyterian Church of Charleston provided the opportunity for Charles to exercise his ministerial gifts until 1845. In 1845 he was ordained by Tuscaloosa Presbytery to receive a call to the Presbyterian Church in Eutaw, Alabama where he served until 1853. Remaining in Alabama, Rev. Stillman received a call to be the pastor of the Gainesville church where he ministered until 1870. It was in 1863, while he was at Gainesville, that Charles received the Doctor of Divinity degree from the

University of Alabama. Dr. Stillman’s next call was to the Presbyterian Church at Tuscaloosa where he began his longest ministry in 1870 and continued there until his death on January 23, 1895.

Dr. Stillman’s non-pastoral ministerial efforts were many. He was the Chairman of Tuscaloosa Presbytery’s Home Missions Committee. From 1847 until 1884 he served as the Stated Clerk of Tuscaloosa Presbytery. One of his most significant achievements was when a group of Tuscaloosa Presbyterians, headed by Dr. Stillman, presented an overture to the 1875 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States concerning a training school for Black ministers. The 1876 General Assembly followed the recommendation of its specially appointed committee and authorized establishing the Institute for Training Colored Ministers at Tuscaloosa. In the fall of 1876 Charles Stillman taught its first classes. The Institute came to be named the Stillman Institute in honor of its devoted founder who served as its superintendent from its founding until his death. The curriculum and nature of its educational program has changed over the years and it is known today as Stillman College.

Charles Stillman was married three times. He married his first wife, Martha Hammond of Milledgeville, Georgia, on October 15, 1846. His second marriage was to the widow Fannie Collins of Shubuta, Mississippi, whom he married on April 17, 1866. Elfreda Walker of Clarksville, Tennessee was his third wife and they were married on April 17, 1872. At least two of Dr. Stillman’s descendants continued to serve the Presbyterian Church–his daughter, Anna M. Stillman, was a secretary for Rev. T. P. Mordecai at the First Presbyterian Church, in Birmingham, Alabama, and his grandson, Rev. Charles Sholl, was the pastor of the Avondale Presbyterian Church, another of the Presbyterian churches in Birmingham.

“To God’s Glory” : A Practical Study of a Doctrine of the Westminster Standards.
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn.

THE SUBJECT : Respect for Authority.

THE BIBLE VERSES TO READ : There are too many to list. We recommend you study the verses given in the Larger Catechism, Questions 123-133.

REFERENCES TO THE STANDARDS : Confession of Faith, XIX.6 & 7; Larger Catechism, Q. 123-133; Shorter Catechism, Q. 63-66.

Not long ago a person said to me, “As long as you think a law or a rule is wrong, it is alright to disobey it.” The person was serious. This is the reasoning used today by many people. This is the reasoning that is propagated by so much of the media today. This is the reasoning so many of our young people are taught today.

Whether you are thinking of the relationship of the citizen toward the state, or the worker toward his boss, or children toward their superiors, or the congregation toward the man called of God to preach His Word, you will discover that lack of respect for authority is the prevalent approach of today.

This dangerous philosophy has even reached into churches that call themselves evangelical. There seems to be a popular tendency to ignore many times the Word of God. Too many feel they have a perfect right to make their own rules. The Fifth Commandment speaks very clearly to any person following this false philosophy.

The Almighty, Sovereign God knew that respect for authority was very important. He knew that if a family, a nation, an economy, a church was to carry out its duties in this world there must be some clearly laid down rules. Therefore, He emphasized proper respect for authority in His Word time and time again.

Our Lord told us in His Word, “Obey them that have rule over you.” This thought is presented time and time again in the Bible. He knew that a lawless society would soon become a mob and a mob becomes a group of people out of hand, a law unto themselves.

What has caused the loss of respect for authority? What has caused this new philosophy to become such an important part of the thinking of many? Such questions could not be answered fully in the short space available, but a suggestion can be offered as to what is happening in many churches in this regard.

First, there is the move away from the authoritative preaching of the authoritative Word. The widely evangelical view of subjectivism is rapidly replacing Objective Revelation (God’s Word) in many churches. The emphasis today in so many churches is that of more involvement, more dialogue and less monologue. What is being bypassed is that faith does not just “happen” but it comes through the means of grace. Too many are forgetting Shorter Catechism Question 88 and its definition of the means of grace : “The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, Sacraments and prayer…” The need of the people to hear the authoritative Word any time it is proclaimed is great and dare not be bypassed. This is a basic reason for the lack of authority in other areas.

Second, there is the philosophy used by many professing believers that motivates them to move away from any position of unpopularity before others. It is difficult to be popular today and insist upon rightful authority as parents, or teachers, or elders, or whatever their authority might be, decide to close their eyes to certain portions of Scripture in order to keep their popularity. They forget that to break a principle of Scripture is to court disaster as a person and for whatever the cause in which the person is involved.

There is a principle of Scripture involved here that all professing believers need to be reminded of as they seek to walk before the Lord. The Bible states, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (II Tim. 3:12). Certainly believers are not to court persecution but neither are they to expect otherwise if they are walking before the Lord as they should. And sometimes walking before the Lord involves having authority over others and making use of that authority in love.

Third, respect for authority will only come when respect is due. This means that those in authority, whether it be civil, home, school, or church, must command respect because of their walk with the Lord. The example set by those in authority must be Biblical in all ways.

How many times have those under authority seen inconsistencies? Broken promises, lack of separation from the world, unconcern for the church and Bible study, neglect of loving concern for fellow-believers, are just some of the things that could be mentioned as inconsistencies with God’s Word.

If respect for authority is going to return as an integral part of churches who are committed to the Reformed Faith, then those in authority must read again and obey those commands listed in the Larger Catechism, Questions 129 and 130. This is where the change must begin. Respect for authority will be much easier if those in authority live in a way that will command respect. Take heed, civil servants, parents, teachers, elders!

So ends Rev. Van Horn’s study. To approach the issue from a different angle, we might turn to the Diary of the Rev. Jacob Jones Laneway and his entry for this day, January 22, 1801. The sovereignty of God and His rule over all creation is the ground and basis of all authority. For “He changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.” (Dan. 2:21, KJV).

Here Rev. Janeway reflects on how the sovereignty of God should affect our lives as Christians :

“I seem to take pleasure in the sovereignty of God. Surely it is right, He should reign. My soul rejoices in his unlimited and uncontrollable dominion. The last week, it was my desire, and my endeavour, to commit my all into the hands of God; to give my time, talents, reputation, yea, and life also, to him, that he might dispose of them according to his sovereign pleasure. I see that this is necessary to enable me to discharge my duties impartially, boldly, and faithfully. Once I thought something of myself, as to the ministry, but now I see that I am nothing. Lord, who is sufficient for this great work? Men would have me preach smooth things. But, I trust, I dare not thus endanger their souls, and my own soul. Let me never seek popularity at the expense of duty. Let me never preach myself, but Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour. Teach me, oh God, how to proclaim thy truth. Make me to feel its solemn power. Oh! for compassion to the souls of men, and zeal for thy glory. How long, oh Lord, shall I pray for these.”

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