August 2019

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A Publishing Family Heritage
by Rev. David T. Myers

From 1839 and on in to the 1960’s, one family surely set the record for publishing in the news world.  That family was the Converse family and their religious magazine continues to be published on the web in the present day, though others are at the head of it.  The magazine is The Christian Observer.

The patriarch of the family was Amasa Converse, born on August 21, 1795 in Lyine, New Hampshire. His education included Phillips Academy in Andover.  After that, he taught for a while when he grew up in adulthood.  Then he entered Dartmouth College in 1818, where four years later he graduated with honors.  Feeling a call into the gospel ministry, he entered Princeton Theological Seminary.

His sole teacher was Dr. Archibald Alexander, where he learned the famous theological system of doctrine  of what later on became Old School Presbyterians.  In fact, so well did he learn it, that Dr. Alexander told him that he had enough book knowledge for a vocation and seek a milder climate in which to communicate it!

Ordained by the Presbytery of Hanover in 1826, he became a missionary in Virginia for two years.  But then the door opened for him for what would become his life’s calling in publishing.  He became editor of The Visitor and Telegraph newspaper in Richmond, Virginia for twelve years until 1839.

The Christian Observer came upon the scene in 1840.  This namesake of a magazine absorbed fourteen other periodicals of that day, like the Religious Remembrancer, The Family Visitor, The Religious Telegraph and Observer, The Protestant and Herald, and The Cincinnati Standard.  Its real base was finally established in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Christian Observer was published first in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1840 to 1861.  It was ruthlessly ordered closed by Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Stanton, but a local United States District Attorney rejected the attempt, citing freedom of the press.  Seeing the proverbial handwriting on the wall, Amasa Converse closed up the publishing house in Philadelphia, and opened another one in Richmond, Virginia in 1861, where for the next eight years it was to be used of the Lord to help bring revival among the Confederate Army.  After the war, it moved to Louisville, Kentucky until 1872.

Amasa Converse died in December of 1872, but the work continued under the eldest son, and later other members of the Converse family, until at last it traded hands and came under the oversight of the Edwin Elliott family in the later half of the 20th century.

Words to live by: The power of the printed word, and often in this case, the printed Word of God, can be an effective tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit to point sinners to Christ, and saints to sanctification.  When God calls an individual, and in this case, an entire family of publishers, much good will occur for Christ’s kingdom from such a ministry today.  To this day The Christian Observer continues to be a vehicle for Presbyterian and Reformed ministries, operating now solely as an Internet-based newspaper.

 It Wasn’t a Church Split But an Exodus

The high court of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. was on a roll. Any and all teaching elders, including some laypeople, who had been involved in the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions were being disciplined by the respective courts of the church. Presbyteries had convicted the men of refusing to obey the Mandate of 1934, which ordered them to cease and desist from any connection with this upstart mission board. Appeals had been made and denied from presbyteries, synods, and general assembly. Now sentences of deposition from the ministry had gone out to men like J. Gresham Machen, Charles Woodbridge, Ed Rian, Paul Woolley, H. McAllister Griffiths, Merrill McPherson, Carl McIntire, and David K Myers, suspending them from their ordinations.

One of the few supporters of the Independent Board, and one who had been on the board of the mission board himself, was the Rev. Dr. Roy Talmadge Brumbaugh, pastor of the Tacoma, Washington Presbyterian Church U.S.A.   He saw what was coming, especially when the Presbytery of Olympia began to demand that all Session and Congregational records of the church be given to them.  The liberals had begun to investigate the church.  Dr. Brumbaugh met unofficially with his session of elders and deacons.  After much discussion, the hearts and minds of the officers was to leave the denomination.  On that following Sunday,  Dr. Brumbaugh led his church and most of the  five hundred members in it, directly across the alley into a large Scottish Rite Cathedral available to them to worship on August 20, 1935.

One of the people commented that “it wasn’t a church split.  It was an exodus.”  Fourteen of twenty-four ruling elders left the USA church.  Forty-nine of fifty-six deacons walked out.  Twenty-three of twenty-five women society leaders left.  Eleven of thirteen Sunday School superintendents joined the new church.  Every Systematic Bible Study teachers, except one, walked across the alley to the new “church” building.  Almost all of the youth, along with the Young People’s leader put their hand to the spiritual plow.  In fact, nine young people who had committed their lives to Christ’s service joined the exodus.  Oh, and most of the choir left, and five of the seven branch Sunday School missions withdrew.  It was such a division that the remnant in the Presbyterian U.S.A. church appealed to other Presbyterian local churches to send them members so that they would have a church service the following Sunday.  The church would initially be called the First Independent Church of Tacoma, Washington.  Who was this man who led them out of apostasy?

Roy Brumbaugh was born April 15, 1890 in Pipersville, Pennsylvania.   Trained at Princeton Seminary from 1916 – 1919, he had studied under the feet of men like Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, John Davis, William Benton Green, Geerhardus Vos, Robert Dick Wilson, Caspar Wistar Hodge, Oswald  Allis, and John Gresham Machen.  Ordained by the Philadelphia Presbytery in 1919, Brumbaugh was the pastor of three Presbyterian churches until he went to the First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma, Washington in 193

The church in Tacoma later became known as the First Bible Presbyterian Church, Unaffiliated. And while it joined in the later associations of the Bible Presbyterian Church of the American and International Council of Christian Churches, it eventually did join the Bible Presbyterian Synod.  In 1947, Dr. Brumbaugh was the moderator of the Tenth General Synod of the Bible Presbyterian church, which met in Tacoma that year.

Over the years, the congregation has had a unique ministry to the servicemen from various military installations, winning many of America’s finest to Christ, and leading them into the ministry.

Rev. Roy Brumbaugh went to be with the Lord on January 3, 1957.  The church is still affiliated with the Bible Presbyterian Church.

Words to live by: Unusual times call for unusual means.  While we may look back and question his independent status at that time, we can well understand the hesitancy to join immediately a new denomination.  And yet others of sound faith and judgment were not hesitant, believing that one of the glories of the Presbyterian church is its connectionalism.  He was certainly used of God’s Spirit in winning countless servicemen to the gospel, and sending many on their way into gospel ministry itself.

Scotland Sent Her Best
by Rev. David T. Myers

It was on this day, August 19, in 1643 that the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland nominated and elected five ministers and three ruling elders to serve as non-voting members of Westminster Assembly.

The Westminster Assembly had convened its historic meeting in July 1, 1643, for the initial purpose of revising the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. During the course of the first three months, two events stood out. First, the Solemn League and Covenant were adopted by the Assembly. Second, and this is the topic of this day’s post, the Scottish commissioners arrived to, “put the sickle into the great harvest” then coming into fruition.

Earlier, the Assembly of the Church of Scotland had responded to the call of the English church by nominating a number of commissioners to go to England, join the Westminster Assembly as non-voting members, and unify believers in both kingdoms in the common faith of the two churches. Those nominated included six ministers by the names of Robert Baillie, Robert Blair, Robert Douglas, George Gillespie, Alexander Henderson, and Samuel Rutherford.  Blair and Douglas never attended the meetings, for reasons unknown to us. The  ruling elders commissioned by the Church of Scotland were Archibald Campbell, John Campbell, John Elphinstone, Charles Erskine, Archibald Johnston, John Kennedy, John Maitland, Robert Meldrum, and George Winram. Of these elders, Kennedy and Meldrum never attended any sessions, again, for reasons unknown to us. Of the remaining elders, Archibald Campbell, and George Winram attended only one year of the sessions. The rest of them were actively involved and attended the sessions of the Assembly anywhere from three years to six years.

westminsterabbey1647 The purpose in so naming these men to this work was simple and direct. It was “to repair unto the Assembly of Divines and others of the Church of England now sitting at Westminster to propound, consult, treat, and conclude with them in all such things as may be conductive for the setting of the so much desired union of this whole island in one Form of Government, one Confession of Faith, and one Directory of the Worship of God.”

When the first three Scottish elders arrived on September 15, 1643, in the persons of Alexander Henderson, George Gillespie, and John Lord Maitland, they were welcomed with great kindness and courtesy. In fact, they were officially welcomed with three sermons by the English divines!  When did we who are elders ever show up at a Presbytery or General Assembly meeting, and find ourselves welcomed by the delivery of three addresses, presented for the occasion of our arrival?  But as some of our previous posts have shown, and as future posts will prove, the presence of these Scots did accomplish that putting of the spiritual sickle into the great spiritual harvest of souls in both kingdoms.

Words to Live By:
As we read of the Scottish delegates, we cannot help but praise God for the gifts of Alexander Henderson, Samuel Rutherford, and George Gillespie.  These men were spiritual giants in the faith and faithful pastors to the people of God.  We have treated of them and will again in these posts. But then again, when we read the name of another—that of John Lord Maitland, the first Duke of Lauderdale, our spirits are saddened, for we know the end of his story as well.  This elder who sat through years of Assembly speeches and conversations, nonetheless ended up a terrible persecutor of the Presbyterians in Scotland in later years.  He showed his true colors at the last. There may very well be a Judas Iscariot in many a visible church. How we need to pray for one another. How we need to encourage one another. How we need to teach one another. As John put it, “beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST
by Rev. William Smith

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 37

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.

EXPLICATION.

Believers. –Those who trust in Christ, and receive him in all his offices, as their prophet, priest, and king.

Perfect in holiness. –To be altogether free from sin, and all its dreadful consequences.

Pass into glory. –To go from this world of sin, and sorrow, and suffering, into a state of honor, rest, and happiness, in heaven.

United to Christ. –That is, the bodies of believers are as certainly joined to Christ as the members are to the body, or as the branches are joined to the vine.

Rest in their graves. –Sleep in death, as in beds of rest.

Till the Resurrection. –Till the time of the rising of the dead, from their graves, at the last day.

ANALYSIS.

The doctrines contained in this answer are four in number:

  1. That the souls of believers are, at death, made perfect in holiness. –Heb. xii. 22, 23. Ye are come –to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.
  2. That they, immediately after death, pass into glory. –Luke xxiii. 43. To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. 2 Cor. v. 8. We are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
  3. That the bodies of believers shall rest in their graves till the resurrection. –Isa. lvii. 2. They shall rest in their beds. Job xix. 26. And though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.
  4. That even, while in their graves, the bodies of believers are still united to Christ. –1 Thess . iv. 14. Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

“That truth may work, there are required three things, sound belief, serious consideration, and close application.”

A change of pace today, and but a brief word of encouragement to dwell upon the Word of God, both as you read the page and as you hear the sermon. 

Prepare Your Hearts to Profit from the Preaching.

“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.”—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 slubbered 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, sound belief, serious consideration, 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.]

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