November 2017

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Waves of Presbyterians Arrive in America
by Rev. David T. Myers

An early American journal called the Pennsylvania Gazette put it succinctly for wave after wave of Scot-Irish from Ulster, Ireland to our shores. Published on this day, November 20, 1729, it stated, “Poverty, Wretchedness, Misery, and Want are become almost universal among them, . . . . so that there is not Corn enough rais’d for their Subsistence one Year with another; and at the same Time the Trade and Manufactures of the Nation being cramp’d and discourag’d, the laboring People have little to do, and consequently are not able to purchase Bread at its present Rate; That the Taxes are nevertheless exceeding heavy, and Money very scarce; and add to all this, that their griping, avaricious Landlords exercise over them the most merciless Racking Tyranny and Oppression. Hence it is that such Swarms of them are driven over into America.” To this listing of woes is the oppressive treatment of Irish Roman Catholics and the Anglican Church upon Ulster Presbyterians.

The first wave took place in the years of 1717 – 1718. Under the leadership of their pastor, the Rev. James McGregor, Presbyterian Covenanters from Aghadowey, Ulster shipped out for Boston, Massachusetts, expecting a warm welcome from the Puritans in that seaport town. However, this warm welcome was not forthcoming. In fact, those who followed this initial entrance were brought into the realization that they were unwelcome, period! But they persevered and ultimately settled throughout the New England colonies.

The second wave took place in the years from 1725 to 1729. The fact that the Pennsylvania Gazette recorded in our first paragraph of this post proves that this immigration was from Ulster to and through Pennsylvania. Indeed, the presence of many early Presbyterian churches in Pennsylvania from this time period proves the point. It was so large in its day that the English Parliament searched for causes for the massive fleeing of Presbyterians to America.

The third wave of immigration was in 1740 – 1741. Famine was its main cause, as nearly half a million Irishmen died at this time. Beginning this year and in the next decade, there was a large percentage of Scot-Irish Presbyterians making their exodus. And as important as Pennsylvania was as an entry point, countless Irish families cast a vote by their feet as they followed the Great Wagon Road into the rich Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, and later on into the Carolina’s, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Fifteen years later, in 1754 – 1755, invitations came from governors of North Carolina to Ulstermen which, added to a devastating droughts in the province, brought a fourth wave of immigrants to America. It wasn’t easy to come over during these years either. The French and Indian War was raging in the colonies, and would for seven years. But they still came.

The last wave was 1771 – 1775, just prior to the Revolutionary War, in which a hundred ships brought to our shores, close to 25, 000 to 30, 000 immigrants, mostly Presbyterian.

Words to Live By:
The great majority of transfers were Presbyterian Scot-Irish immigrants. We can be thankful for their courage and convictions. They were to have a tremendous influence in the Revolutionary War as our Presbyterian forefathers had no problem fighting the British. But more than fighting for liberty was their desire to lay the spiritual foundations for historic Presbyterianism in the new land. We stand in their shadows as we seek to build Presbyterian churches to remain true to the Scriptures, the Reformed Faith, and the good news of Jesus Christ. Are you, the reader, in one of those congregations, supporting it by your membership, spiritual gifts, and tithes?

Our otherwise nearly complete collection of these bulletin insert studies by Dr. Leonard Van Horn is, sadly, lacking the entry for Question 36 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
So we move on to the next question today. Should any of our readers have access to Van Horn’s work on Q. 36, we would appreciate receiving a copy.

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

Q. 37 — What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?

A. — The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.

Scripture References: Luke 23:43; Luke 16:23; Phil. 1:23; II Cor. 5:6-8; I Thess. 4:14; Rom. 8:23.

Questions:

1. When believers die what benefits are received?

The believer receives a benefit in regard to his soul and in regard to his body.

2. What benefit is received of the believer in regard to his soul?

Heb. 12:23 teaches that the soul is made perfect in holiness and immediately passes into glory.

3. How is the believer benefited with respect to his body?

The body of the believer in the grave will still be united to Christ in a mystical union (l Cor. 6:15). At the resurrection the body of the believer will be united with his soul.

4. What is this “resurrection” spoken of in the prior question?

This resurrection is the last and general resurrection of all the dead in the last day (l Thess. 4:16).

5. What is the lot of the souls and bodies of the unbelievers?

The bodies of the unbelievers are shut up in the prison of the grave (Dan. 12:2) and their souls suffer the anguish and torment of hell.

6. Will the believer be raised with the same body at the last day?

Yes, the dead in Christ shall be raised with the same body (Job 19:26), There will be a difference in quality, not in substance and essence. (Phil. 3 :20-21).

7. How can a believer be assured of these blessings when death is nigh?

A believer can be assured of them because the promises of God are sure and true, promises made even before the world began (2 Tim. 1 :9), There need be no doubt on the part of the believer for “What the Bible says, God says, and that ends the matter!”

DEATH AND THE BELIEVER

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4). In this wonderful verse from God’s Word we have a comfort for the Christian that includes all man needs to face death itself. There is the Presence—”for Thou art with me.” There is the Defender—”Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me.” The rod was a most formidable weapon of defense. Our Lord defends us from all. There is the One who guides—”Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me.” The staff is a guidance in the sense of pointing out the way. All of this in one verse of Scripture, all this and Heaven too!

The poet, E. H. Hamilton, put it well when he said:

“Afraid? Of What?
To feel the spirit’s glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace?
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid?— of that?

Afraid? Of What?
Afraid to see the Saviour’s face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace
The glory gleam from wounds of grace?
Afraid?— of that?

Afraid? Of What?
A flash — a crash — a pierced heart;
Darkness — light — O heaven’s art!
A wound, of His counterpart!
Afraid? — of that?

Afraid? Of What?
To do by death what life could not
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
Afraid? — of that?

The believer should note that this particular Question begins with “What benefits”. So many times it seems that the believer does not realize that there are benefits to receive at death. When a believer dies there will be those who will miss him. It is true that it is hard to think of what life would be like without those closest to us. It is equally true though that the Bible says, “To be with Christ is far better.” Many years ago I opened a letter from the mother of one of my former Professors, a godly man who meant so much to me as a young Christian. She told of his sudden death. I reached back and took a book from the shelf, a book I had received from him just a few months before. In the midst of my sadness and grief this question suddenly came to my mind and burned itself into my soul. I went again to the Scripture references and looked them up. I was able, by God’s grace, to praise Him for taking my brother in Christ to Himself.

Published By: THE SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 3 No. 37 (January, 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

The Rev. John Mitchell Mason [1770-1829] was an Associate Reformed pastor who served for many years in New York City. The following anecdote was published in The Evangelical Guardian, vol. IV, no. 6 (November 1846): 285. The story is related on those pages by the editor of the magazine, as part of his account of travels in New York City that year.

On Sabbath evening before leaving the city, I paid a visit, in company with Mr. McLaren, to old Katherine Ferguson, a colored woman who became a member of Dr. Mason’s Church about 40 years ago. She is a remarkable woman. The most of what she made by keeping a confectioner’s shop (enough to have placed her now in independent circumstances) she spent in feeding, clothing, and educating destitute colored children. She is warmly attached to the Associate Reformed Church, and remembers Dr. Mason, and the ‘days of old.’ with peculiar delight. Two young persons, members of Mr. McLaren’s congregation, were in her house, being there, as I understood, to read the Bible, and converse with her. This would not fail to make on a mind at all accustomed to sober reflection, a favorable impression as to their piety.—One object of my visit, was to obtain from her lips an account of an occurrence which I had sometimes heard related. Her statement was as follows:

“After Dr. Mason commenced preaching in Murray Street, some ‘gay ladies’ from Pearl Street, said to him: ‘Doctor it will not do for those colored people (Katherine and a male relative of her’s who had made a profession of religion) to sit at the same table with the white communicants.—They should be at a Table by themselves at the last.’ The Dr. simply replied, that he would think of it. When the day for the communion came round, and the people were about to take their seats at the Lord’s table, the Doctor came down from the pulpit, and taking the two colored persons by the hands, he said,’This is my brother, this is my sister. He that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister and mother. In Christ Jesus, there is neither Greek, nor Jew,—Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free,’ and then led them forward to the table and set them down ‘first of all.’ “

This was the result of the Doctor’s reflection on the subject, and it settled the question forever.

John Holt Rice, the second son of Benjamin and Catherine Rice, was born near the small town of New London, in the county of Bedford, on the 28th of November, A.D. 1777. From the first dawn of intellect, he discovered an uncommon capacity for learning, and a still more uncommon disposition to piety. We have seen some reason to believe that like Samuel, he was called in the very morning of his life; at so early an hour indeed that he could not distinguish the voice of God from that of his own mother—-so soft and so tender was its tone. It was, in truth, the first care of this excellent woman to train up her infant child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and you might have seen the weak and sickly boy always at her knee, reading his Bible or Watt’s Psalms, to her listening ear, and catching the first lessons of religion from her gentle tongue. No wonder that he ever retained a most grateful sense of her special service in this respect, and warmly cherished her sacred memory in his filial heart.

As a further evidence of his early piety, we are told that whilst he was yet a boy, and hardly more than seven or eight years old, he established a little private prayer-meeting with his brothers and sisters, and led the exercises of it himself with great apparent devotion. We are not informed however, at what time exactly he made a public profession of religion; but we understand that it was probably when he was about fifteen or sixteen years of age.

[excerpted from The Charleston Observer, VII.7 (16 February 1833): 27, column 2.]

Words to Live By:
Parents, do not wait to talk with your children about spiritual things. Lead them early to the throne of grace. Point them daily to Christ as their Savior. Faithfully train them up in the Scriptures.

and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”—2 Timothy 3:15, NASB.

In 1926, J. Gresham Machen received nomination to the chair of apologetics and ethics from the Board of Directors at the Princeton Theological Seminary.  In the normal course of things, this nomination would have been routinely approved by the General Assembly as it met later that same year.  Machen, however, had previously opposed in 1920 the Philadelphia Plan for merging nineteen Presbyterian denominations into a single federated body.  He had published two books, The Origin of Paul’s Religion (1920) and Christianity and Liberalism (1923), both of which presented strong arguments against modernism and unbelief.  Machen had become a very public voice raised against modernism, and so he had enemies.  A campaign of opposition was raised against his nomination and the matter remained unresolved up until the reorganization of Princeton Seminary and the departure of Dr. Machen and other faithful professors.
In this brief series, we are presenting a few of the articles which appeared in defense of Dr. Machen during this troubling time. 

Princeton Students and Dr. Machen

[excerpted from THE PRESBYTERIAN 96.48 (2 December 1926): 13]

What the student body of Princeton Seminary thinks of Dr. Machen is indicated by the fact that on November 16, it adopted, without a dissenting vote, the following resolution:

The Students’ Association of Princeton Theological Seminary feels that some notice should be given to the attacks appearing in the current press against one of our most distinguished members.  Therefore be it resolved, that the members of the Students’ Association hereby express their unbounded confidence in Dr. J. Gresham Machen, as a scholar, as a teacher, as a gentleman, and as a Christian.
“Be it further resolved, that the secretary be instructed to give a copy of this resolution to Dr. Machen, and that it be spread upon the minutes of this Association.”

To this resolution, Dr. Machen made the following reply:

November 20, 1926

“Mr. Edwin H. Rian,
“Secretary of the Students’ Association
“Princeton Theological Seminary
“Princeton, New Jersey.

“My dear Mr. Rian :  Will you please convey to the Students’ Association an expression of my heartfelt gratitude for the resolution passed at the meeting on Tuesday evening, November 16, of which you have been good enough to hand me a copy.
“I do not indeed feel worthy of the high terms in which the resolution speaks of me ; on the contrary, this generous action of the Students’ Association had led me only to pray with renewed earnestness that God may make me less unworthy.  But you have given me profound encouragement in the trying days through which I am passing, and have strengthened yet more the ties of affection with which already I felt myself united to the students of the Seminary.  I trust that God may bless us ever more richly in our association with one another and may lead us into an ever better and true service of Him.

Cordially yours,
“J. Gresham Machen.”

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