July 2017

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A Presbyterian Patriot Pastor
by David T. Myers

One of the Presbyterian pastors who was a decided patriot was the Rev. Alexander McWhorter. Born of Scotch-Irish parents on July 26, 1734, his father was a linen merchant and later a farmer. He was also with his wife, a decided Presbyterian. They had emigrated first to Northern Ireland (Ulster) and then to the American Colonies.

After the death of his father, Alexander at age fourteen moved with his mother to North Carolina to join three brothers there. They attended a Presbyterian church where Alexander was exposed to revival services which left him anxious, it was said. However, he joined the Presbyterian church. Later he would return to New Jersey after the death of his mother. He entered the College of New Jersey and graduated in 1757. Called to the ministry, he studied theology under William Tennent of Log College fame, and licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Brunswick. After a trip to the New England area, he was called to be the teaching elder at the Presbyterian Church of Newark, New Jersey, where the bulk of his pastoral ministry was to take place. It was during this long pastorate that God’s Spirit led him to have an active role on the battlefield for the independence of the colonies from England in the Revolutionary War.

When General George Washington traveled through Newark on his way to take command of American forces, Pastor McWhorter met him on the way. It would not however be the last time. They were to have many more occasions during this trying time in the history of this new nation. In fact, on one occasion, General Washington asked the Presbyterian pastor to interview two spies which the American troops had captured. The future president asked the Presbyterian clergyman to deal with them spiritually while at the same time to ascertain from them the size and strength of the British forces!

Forced to flee from Newark by British forces who ransacked his parsonage, McWhorter joined the American army as an unofficial chaplain. He was present on Christmas eve when the American army defeated the hired Hession mercenaries in Trenton, New Jersey. After that victory, Pastor McWhorter became the chaplain of Brig. General Henry Knox Continental Artillery Brigade. It was said that every Lord’s Day when Pastor McWhorter was in the pulpit, General George Washington sat under the preaching of our Presbyterian Patriot Pastor! He would serve as an Army chaplain until 1778 when a lightening bolt struck his wife back in Trenton. He hurried home from his Army calling to care for her.

Other than a brief span to pastor a Presbyterian church in Charlotte, North Carolina and be the president of a academy there, the British forces had marked him as an agitator. When they invaded that area of North Carolina, he was forced to flee for his life and lost all his ministerial books in the process. He returned to Newark, New Jersey where he served as a pastor in earlier years until his death in 1807.

Words to Live By: It takes an extraordinary man to have an effective ministry in two spheres of ministry. Certainly one’s congregation has to have a wider view of mission than simply the local one as well. Not many teaching elders have the spiritual gifts to be able to minister effectively in two places of ministry. Our featured figure on this day had those special gifts of ministry. And yet for such a one to be effective, they must have the spiritual help of gifted lay people. How can you help your local pastor in fulfilling more than one calling of ministry in your area? Think prayerfully about it, talk with your pastor of your willingness to use your gifts, and get busy in the work of the Lord.

SpragueWBIt was on this day, July 25, in 1860, that the Rev. William Buell Sprague was called upon to address the annual meeting of the alumni of Yale College. A small portion of his rather lengthy address follows. Click here to read the entire address:

What say you of the importance of the Chief Magistracy, or the Supreme Judiciary, of the separate States? Is not each vitally connected with the public weal? If either the reins of government or the scales of justice are not held with an even hand, what else can we expect than that the State will become a scene or restlessness and agitation, if not of open revolt? To be the Governor of a State, or a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State, is to occupy a position from which there goes forth a current of influence that works a channel for itself through every portion of the community. But of Governors, this College has furnished twenty-seven; and of Judges of the Supreme Court, a hundred and six; and on each list I find names now a few, which our common country has long since adopted as her own. As a representative of the latter class, I think of Roger Minot Sherman; and as a representative of both, I think of John Cotton Smith;–two as find spirits, I had almost said, as our fallen humanity can show. Judge Sherman I knew well—he was the friend of my early as well as mature years; and I may be allowed to pause beside his grave long enough to place an humble garland upon it. His mind was a clear as the sun, and as comprehensive and well balanced as it was clear. His heart was fertile in generous feelings, and purposes, which were sure to ripen into acts of substantial beneficence. There was a calm dignity in his manner that bespoke wisdom and thoughtfulness; and his movements seemed to be by rule; but his exactness was so qualified by kindness, and even gentleness, that he won the confidence and love of everybody. He was deeply imbued with the spirit of the Gospel, and you could not find a Christian whose heart would throb more tenderly at the remembrance of his Saviour’s love. He was a great lawyer, and a great judge, but he was a great theologian as well—I remember how ably and impressively he used to expound God’s word to us at the weekly conference, in the absence of his pastor, when it seemed to me that we should scarcely have been gainers if we had had Dr. Dwight in his place. He knew how to guide the minds of the inquiring, to resolve the scruples of the doubting, to encourage the timid and rebuke the wayward, as well as any minister you would meet. His life was a scene of eminent usefulness; and, far beyond the community in which he lived, his name will be held in profound reverence by many generations.

If a College is an acknowledged fountain of vast influence, then surely he who presides over such an institution, has a hand upon the very springs of social and public happiness. He is constantly giving direction to minds that are soon going forth to give direction to the concerns of the Church and the State; and through them he circulates invisibly but most effectively throughout the whole domain of society. No less than forty-two of our alumni have held or are now holding this important office,—to say nothing of the multitude who occupy Professorships and other posts of instruction, many of which bring them in immediate contact with a greater number of youth than even the Presidency itself. Among the earlier Presidents which the college has furnished, are Jonathan Dickinson, Samuel Johnson, Jonathan Edwards, and Aaron Burr,—names which have lost nothing of their freshness by the lapse of a century; and, as we come further down, we find the catalogue illumined with other similar lights of equal brilliancy. Who can begin to measure the influence which this College has exerted merely in training others to take the direction and mould the character of institutions like itself?

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“Many have the habit of using the little, but significant words “never,” “always,” and the like, with a perfect looseness.”

Given some of the excesses that we so often see displayed on social media, this might be one helpful corrective, if taken to heart. It is also interesting, you know, to note that these problems, you know, are not at all new, you know. [sly grin]

Exaggeration in Conversation.
[excerpted from The Central Presbyterian, 3.30 (24 July 1858)

Exaggeration may be a vice in some other nations, for aught we know, but we are sure it is the besetting sin of our own. “The house was crammed to the ceiling,” we hear it reported, when the vacant seats would hold as many more. “The procession consisted of ten thousand well-dressed, respectable people,” yet when counted, there were after all but nineteen hundred and fifty persons all told there, and most of them were shabby fellows enough, some, indeed, just out of the penitentiary. Many have the habit of using the little, but significant words “never,” “always,” and the like, with a perfect looseness. “Jack, you are the laziest fellow existing, and never do any thing from morning to night,” whereas he had that very day, when this sweeping assertion was made, been running on nine errands for the complainant to the milliner, grocer, and dry goods store, besides tending the cradle two hours together, and answering the door-bell seven times, to tell callers that the lady had gone into the country, that is, was busy upstairs preparing a dress for some of the anniversaries. We overheard one individual charging another with making a thousand mistakes in a piece of writing, which did not, on investigation, contain more than five hundred words in all. Moreover, this man alleged, that a certain newspaper notoriously  carefully printed, “was always full of mistakes, the very worst, in this respect, in the whole country.” On being challenged to point them out, he did not find one, but protested that he could, give him time.

This hyperbole of speech runs into extravagance of conduct, but of this, nothing will now be said. Concerning this disagreeable trick of speech, it is to be remarked, that it defeats itself. One cannot be positive about the statements of a man who has superlatives perpetually on his tongue. Overcharged assertions are falsehoods, though they may not be lies, for the want of a malicious intent. But they wholly deprive the person employing them of all credit in his statements. He commits the very common mistake of destroying the vigor of his language by the intense and overwrought phrases which he thought would give it strength. The impression made by such a person is therefore feeble, his expression being received as sound and fury, signifying nothing. The way to affect by language, is to speak the truth in simplicity, nothing exaggerating, and setting down naught in a false light. Renounce this injurious habit, for it robs the language of its strength. When superlatives and intense expressions are made to do service on trivial occasions, nothing will be left for use at times when all the resources of the language will be required as vehicles for thoughts the most powerful, and emotions the most profound.

There is a species of exaggeration so bold, ingenious and extraordinary, as to deserve the name of wit. “His horse was not a circumstance to my Arthur in speed. Arthur outstripped him at once, and was so much faster than lightning is than a funeral.” This is not a very strong example that just occurs. It runs in the blood of certain families, and is a kind of efflorescence of the imagination not under judicious restraint. The mischief is that many believe they possess this sort of talent, as others think they can pun, when they cannot. The conversation of such persons, consequently, rarely or never rises higher than those pretenders to smart talk, who interlard all they have to say, sometimes composing the staple of it, with some current cant phrases. One of these has made a large part of some people’s talk for several years past; it is the phrase “you know.”

A gentleman of this school addressed us the other day somewhat as follows: “On my arrival at Washington, you know, I was sent for by the President, you know, who wanted to see me on a matter of importance. I did not suppose I should see Miss Lane, you know, but I was shown, you know, by express command of the President, into the drawing-room where she was. I found her as charming in conversation, you know, as she was fascinating in person,” etc. Now, I did not know any of those things, and what is more, I did not believe them; but such poor gabble as this prevails extensively. Gentlemen, and sometimes ladies, too, must have some cant word to bring in frequently to fill up, round off the style, and help them with its oar to scull along. Those who have the habit of profane swearing make use of the windy sails of oaths for this purpose, of which it must be said they are only worse than the everlasting “you know,” one hears in all companies.

Newark Advertiser.

Words to Live By:
“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’
34 But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
36 Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
37 But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.
[Matthew 5:33-37, NASB]

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by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 19. — What is the misery of the estate whereinto man fell?

A. — All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

Scripture References: Gen. 3:8,24; Eph. 2:3; Rom. 5:14; Rom. 6:23.


1. Of what does man’s misery in the fall consist?

It consists of three things: (a) What man has lost. (b) What man is brought under. (c) What man is liable to.

2. What was the communion with God lost by man because of the fall?

This communion was the presence and favor of God, together with the sweet fellowship and enjoyment of God in the garden of Eden.

3. Does this loss of communion with God extend to this day as far as man is concerned?

Yes, it extends to today. Mankind comes into the world today alienated from God. Mankind lives today alienated from God unless he comes to know God through faith in Jesus Christ.

4. What is man brought under by the fall?

Man is brought under God’s wrath and curse by the fall and this is a great misery. The favor of God is better for man than life itself. Man is wretched and miserable without fellowship with God.

5. Are the miseries in this life external or internal as a result of the fall?

The miseries are both external and internal. Such things as calamities, sicknesses, losses of homes, jobs, families are all external miseries that could result from the fall. The internal miseries that result from the fall are such things as living under the domination of Satan, the spiritual blindness of mind and hardness of heart, vile affections, perplexities and distresses of the mind.

6. What is the punishment which man is liable to by the fall?

The punishment is death itself at the end of his life. This punishment could be simply physical if a man was born again by the Spirit of God. This punishment could be eternal-an eternity in hell—if man is not born again.


A certain portion of this Catechism Question deals with the place known as “Hell”. The question is asked, “Do Christians Believe in Hell?” In spite of the fact that hell is mentioned in our Standards and is therefore a part of our belief, it seems that some of our people do not believe in everlasting torment.

A man once said that there could be no Christian geography unless Heaven and hell were included on the map, for the real meaning of life is not here, but there. And it is so true that so many Christians want to keep Heaven on the map, but they prefer to ignore the existence of hell. But Jesus Christ, in Matt. 25:46, put both Heaven and hell in the Christian geography and Bible-believing people cannot push it aside.

A fair question would be, “How do Bible-believing people push this doctrine aside?” The doctrine is pushed aside not so much by a lack of belief in the doctrine—for all Bible-believing people will affirm the doctrine—but in the setting aside of the doctrine in their relationships with the unbelievers. Somehow or other we have forgotten that a person outside of Jesus Christ is on his way to hell and everlasting punishment.

Last year a Christian friend told me of his experience. He was in a restaurant and sitting at the next booth were four people who were having a time of mirth and merriment. He told me they asked him a question and thereby drew him into their conversation. He said there was nothing wrong with the conversation, it had a high moral note, it was simply foolishness. After some time they left and went on their way. He finally left and started down the highway in his car. A wreck had taken place and four people were in it. Three of them were killed. The question burned into his mind and heart: Are they now in hell?

Our Standards teach the doctrine. Do we believe it? If so, are we bending every effort to tell others of Jesus Christ who died on the Cross of Calvary to save sinners from the everlasting torment of hell?

It was on this day, July 22nd, in 1933 that Wiley Post became the first man to fly around the world, traversing 15,596 miles in 7 days, 18 hours, and 45 minutes.
Which has absolutely nothing to do with our post for today. Wiley was not a Presbyterian, to the best of my knowledge. It was just an interesting fact that I came across yesterday. Some will remember Wiley as the pilot who was flying Will Rogers across Alaska when their plane crashed and both men died, on August 15, 1935. Man knows not his time. So too for Richard Cameron, that noble Scottish minister, who died at Ayrsmoss on this day July 22, 1680.


The Lion of the Covenant
by Rev. David T. Myers

To our readers who have been ordained into a church office, or who have had the privilege of attending the ordination of someone else who has been set apart to the biblical office in a local church, I dare say none of us have ever had the following experience happen to us. But in the Presbyterian history of ages past, it did happen to one young man, who was at that time living in Holland. After the laying on of the hands, setting him apart for the office of minister, all but one of the Dutch ministers took their hands off of his head. That sole minister who kept his hands on Richard Cameron’s head, uttered a prophetic sentence, saying, “here is the head of a faithful minister and servant of Jesus Christ, who shall lose the same for his Master’s interest, and it shall be set up before sun and moon in the public view of the world.”

Our focus today in Presbyterian history is Richard Cameron. Born in 1647 in Scotland to a Christian merchant by the name of Alan Cameron, Richard was the oldest of four children. After his university exercises at St. Andrews, he still was not a Christian. Attending a service held by one of the field preachers, he heard the blessed gospel and regeneration occurred in his heart and mind. One year later, he was licensed to preach the Word with strong evidence of his calling beginning to manifest itself in his gifts. Jock Purves in his book Fair Sunshine, said that his sermons “were full of the warm welcoming love of the Lord Jesus Christ for poor helpless sinners.” (p. 44) But in addition to the proclamation of the blessed gospel, there were also strong denunciations of the persecuting government authorities which made such field preaching necessary. Despite the danger to both himself and his gathered congregation, Cameron continued to faithfully, fearlessly proclaim the Word of God.

airds_moss_memorialJust a month before his demise at the hands of the authorities, Richard Cameron had set the issue plain before the whole nation by the posting of the Sanquhar Declaration on June 22, 1680. Now a month after that bold challenge to the government of the kingdom, the latter’s military forces caught up with Richard Cameron and his followers at Ayrsmoss on July 22, 1680.

The battle was preceded by Cameron three times praying “spare the green, and take the ripe.” Looking to his younger brother Michael, who was with him on that occasion, Richard said “Come Michael, let us fight it out to the last; for this is the day that I have longed for, to die fighting against our Lord’s avowed enemies; and this is the day that we shall get the crown.” And he did, along with many others. The monument to their sacrifice is pictured at right.

Oh yes, Richard Cameron’s head and hands were cut off by the British dragoons, to be taken to the city of Edinburgh. But before they were placed on stakes in front of the prison, they were taken to his father Alan who was in prison. He kissed them, saying, “I know them, I know them. They are my son’s, my own dear son. It is the Lord. Good is the will of the Lord, Who cannot wrong me nor mine, but has made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days.”

Words to Live By:
When all your mercies, O my God, my rising soul surveys,
transported with the view, I’m lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Unnumbered comforts to my soul your tender care bestowed,
before my infant heart conceived from whom those comforts flowed.

When worn with sickness, oft have you with health renewed my face;
and when in sins and sorrows sunk, revived my soul with grace.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts my daily thanks employ;
nor is the least a cheerful heart that tastes those gifts with joy.

Through every period of my life your goodness I’ll pursue;
and after death, in distant worlds, the glorious theme renew.

Through all eternity to you a joyful song I’ll raise;
for oh, eternity’s too short to utter all your praise.

(Trinity Hymnal (revised edition), No. 56, “When All Your Mercies, O My God,” on Psalm 23:6)

Image source: Photograph courtesy of the Scottish Covenanter’s Memorial Association


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