Were you, the reader, aware that the man of the hour in Scotland, John Knox, once rowed a galley ship? No, it wasn’t for exercise. No, it wasn’t for some national pride of the fastest galley ship in a sailing contest. Simply put, John Knox was enslaved on that ship.
Earlier, Knox had entered St. Andrews Castle with three young children in tow. Their parents had entrusted him as a tutor. When events following the murder of a Roman Catholic cardinal went badly for anyone suspected of being part of that deed, they urged him to flee to that Protestant bastion for safety purposes. Knox was not one of the individuals who killed the cardinal. But he did go there for safety. While present, the chaplain to the soldiers at the chapel was urged by the congregation to extend a pastoral call to Knox, recognizing his spiritual gifts. At first, Knox resisted, but finally gave in to the invitation. He began to preach boldly on themes familiar to the Protestant reformation then beginning in the land of Scotland.
At the end of June in 1547, the French fleet besieged St Andrews Castle. On this day, July 31, 1547, victory was gained over the defenders inside its walls. Surrendering were every one in the castle, with promises of lives spared, transportation to France, the opportunity to enter the service of the French king, but if not, then to be conveyed to any country they wished, provided it not be Scotland again. Upon arrival in France, immediately the terms of surrender were annulled, and they became prisoners of war. John Knox became a galley slave for nineteen months.
While there were months in which the slave ship did not sail due to weather and cold conditions, in warmer months Knox labored under cruel conditions, of which he writes in many a book and sermon afterwards. He was loaded with chains. He spoke of the sobs of his heart during the imprisonment. It was in anguish of mind and vehement affliction. There were torments sustained in the galleys.
Amidst all of the physical treatments came the attacks upon their faith. Daily, the Romanist mass was offered, with expected reverence by the prisoners. As soon as it began however, the galley slaves would cover their heads so they wouldn’t hear the words of the service. Daily, there were efforts to get the prisoners to confess the Romanist faith. Once, a figure representing the Virgin Mary, was pressed between the chained hands of a slave, with a command to kiss the figure. The slave, who many believer to be John Knox himself, threw the figure overboard into the sea, loudly proclaiming the Virgin to save herself by swimming! After this, there were no more attempts to convert the prisoners.
John Knox gradually wore down physically from this experience, with a fever near the end of it. Rowing close to the Scottish coast, they raised the feverish Reformer up when the spires of St. Andrews came into view, asking him if he recognized it. He answered, “I know it well; for I see the steeple of that place where God first opened my mouth in public to his glory; and I am fully persuaded, now weak I now appear, that I shall not depart this life, till my tongue shall glorify His godly name in that same place.”
Whatever means was used (and even Thomas M’Crie was not sure what it was), after 19 months in harsh conditions, John Knox was freed to continue his ministry in England and Scotland.
Words to Live By:
It wasn’t God’s will that Knox should be kept forever as a galley slave. It was God’s will to free him so as to allow him to continue his ministry in the Reformation. All of us ever live within the scope of God’s will all of our lives. Let us submit to that will, in large areas as well as small areas.
Edmund Prosper Clowney met his Lord face to face on Sunday, March 20, 2005, having passed into glory at the age of 87. He was survived by his wife of 63 years, Jean Wright Clowney; by his five children: David Clowney, Deborah Weininger, Paul Clowney, Rebecca Jones, and Anne Foreman; by twenty‑one grandchildren; and by eleven great grandchildren.
Born in Philadelphia, on July 30, 1917, Ed received his B.A. from Wheaton College in 1939, a Th. B. from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1942, a S.T.M from Yale University Divinity School in 1944, and a D.D. from Wheaton College in 1966. Ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, he served as pastor of several churches from 1942 to 1946 and was then invited to become assistant professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in 1952. He became that institution’s first president in 1966, and remained there until 1984, when he took a post as theologian‑in‑residence at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In 1990 Ed and Jean moved to Escondido, California, where Ed was adjunct professor at Westminster Seminary California. In 2000, he took a full‑time position as associate pastor at Christ the King Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Houston, Texas. After two years, he moved back to Charlottesville, where he once again became part‑time theologian‑in‑residence at Trinity Presbyterian Church. He remained in this role until his death.
Ed was a compassionate counselor; a devoted servant of Jesus Christ, his Word, and his church; a peacemaker; and a true visionary. He dreamed for Christ’s kingdom and was instrumental in the birth or furtherance of such ministries as the Reformed Theological Seminary in Aix‑en‑Provence, France; Westminster Seminary California; Trinity Church, Charlottesville; the Lausanne Conference; InterVarsity ministries, both in the United States and in England; and “The Westminster Ministerial Institute,” an inner‑city training program for pastors in Philadelphia, out of which the Lord developed the Center for Urban Theological Studies. He also had a life‑long interest in children’s Christian education materials.
In material written in 2002 for the publisher of one of his books, Ed revealed his creativity and educator’s heart: “The biggest job of my life was the production of the Vacation Bible School materials for [the original] Great Commission Publications [in the 1950s]…I had valuable assistance [from a number of people]…I wrote and illustrated the workbooks for children and the manuals for the teachers for the grades up to junior high….To strengthen my figure drawing, I [had] attended Saturday classes in the Chicago Museum school of art for two semesters.”
Ed will be supremely remembered by many as a preacher, perhaps the most gifted proponent and practitioner of redemptive‑historical preaching of this generation. He was unique in his ability to pick up the threads of redemptive history and to weave a rich expositional tapestry that brought Christ in all his perfections and glory before God’s people so that they were drawn to love and worship the Redeemer.
He was also a faithful churchman, serving first in the courts and many committees of the OPC and then in the courts and several committees of the PCA. He was a tireless proponent of improvement in the inter-church relations among the conservative Presbyterian denominations in this country. He had a significant role in the genesis of the “Joining and Receiving” process whereby the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod joined the PCA in 1982.
His writing displays the great theme of his life, namely Christ’s presence in the whole of Scripture and his present work in the church. His books include Preaching and Biblical Theology, Called to the Ministry, Christian Meditation, Doctrine of the Church, The Message of I Peter, The Unfolding Mystery, and Preaching Christ in all of Scripture. Some of these titles have been translated for the benefit of the worldwide church. His last book, How Christ Transforms the Ten Commandments, was accepted by his publisher only days before his death.
Ed left behind a legacy not only of written books and articles, but a great number of sermons and lectures, as well as magazine columns such as the humor column “Eutychus and His Pin” for Christianity Today and Bible studies for Tabletalk. His sense of humor and his love for people left a mark wherever he went. In the last week of his life, one attending nurse, laughing as she left his room, exclaimed, “What a sweet man!” Those who knew and loved him would agree. His tender‑hearted encouragement and wisdom will be greatly missed, but his work will be established by his Master who has now welcomed him with those reassuring words: “Well‑done, good and faithful servant, enter now into the joy of your Lord!”
[The above tribute was compiled at the time of Dr. Clowney’s death by Ms. Mindy Withrow, Associate Director for Communications of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA, with additional material from Rev. Bill Johnson. Used by permission.]
A Day of Fasting and Humiliation by Rev. David T. Myers
It is unheard of in our times, but back in the early part of our nation’s history, when a man was ordained to the gospel ministry, a day of fasting and humiliation took place on account of his calling as a minister of the gospel. Such was the case with William Hollingshead.
Born in Philadelphia in 1748, William Hollingshead joined the communion of the church in his young years. Attending the University of Pennsylvania, he began preparation for the ministry. Licensed in 1772, he was ordained to the gospel ministry on July 29, 1773. It was said that a day of fasting and humiliation accompanied that solemn ordination.
Having been called by the Fairfield Presbyterian Church in New Jersey, Rev. Hollingshead began his ministry in difficult times. Not only was there a need for a new church building, but there was the national need for a new nation. This was the time period of the American Revolution.
A log cabin had been the site of the original church. Then a frame building had been in use since 1717. Now replacing them both was a stone building, which was finally completed in 1780. They had met under an oak tree for six years in the New England Towne Cemetery, near the site of the old church building. What rejoicing there must have been when on September 7, 1780, they were able to move into the new structure of the church.
This whole time had also been the time of conflict during the War for Independence from England. Even Rev. Hollingshead had been given leave to become a chaplain for the Continental Army. Many members of the church had given their lives and limbs for the struggle for liberty. The cemetery gives mute evidence to that fact.
Rev. Hollingshead left the pulpit in Fairfield in 1783 for Charleston, South Carolina. He labored there until January 16, 1817 when he died in the pulpit
Words to Live By: There is something very solemn about a day of fasting and humiliation when a minister is set apart for the gospel ministry. It encourages the entire congregation and Presbytery to treat the occasion in an attitude of prayer. It sanctifies the whole process in a holy manner. Let this be an apt suggestion to the Session of Elders when a new pastor is called to your congregation.
THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST. by Rev. William Smith.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 34.
Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.
Privileges of God’s children. –Some of these privileges or advantages, consist in God’s protecting, correcting, and providing for his adopted children ; in his hearing their prayers, giving them his Spirit for their guide, and his angels to guard and defend them while here ; and in securing heaven for their everlasting inheritance hereafter.
The information here received may be divided into three parts:
We are first taught that adoption is an act of God’s free grace. –1 John iii. 1. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.
That by this act we are received into the number of God’s sons. –John i. 12. As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
That this act of adoption secures to us a right to all the privileges of God’s sons. –Rom. viii. 17. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.
Our post today comes from the pen of guest author Dr. Nick Willborn, an excerpt from a longer article. Here Dr. Willborn tells of the return of the Rev. Dr. John L. Girardeau in 1865, to serve as pastor of the Zion Presbyterian Church in Charleston, South Carollina.
According to a longtime friend of the Rev. John L. Girardeau, it was about this time that “[Girardeau] began to receive overtures from the Presbyterian young [black] men in Charleston” to return to his pulpit. His sense of duty and love for “the holy city” hastened his return.As Girardeau disembarked the train in the Charleston depot the “colored members of the church” greeted their pastor with “superabounding enthusiasm.”While this does not agree with the banalimage often portrayed of the Africans’ lackluster enthusiasm for white Southerners, it is no doubt true.Girardeau found a considerable number of black Carolinians anxiously awaiting his return to the pulpit.
They were awaiting his return for indeed they had summoned him in a letter dated July 27, 1865.This was shortly after his grueling return from war and imprisonment. The letter speaks of their concern for Girardeau’s well-being and their desire for his return to them.It reveals a love for the man and his family that few textbooks recognize as having existed between whites and blacks, masters and slaves.
Revd Sir & pastor
We the undersigned members of Zion Presbyterian Church embrace this opportunity, as one among the many good ones we have engaged in the past and in doing so you have our best wishes for your health & that of your loving family hoping all are engaging that blessing of good health and realizing that fulfillment of good words those that put their trust in Him shall never want.
This love for Girardeau is further expressed in their longing for him to return to them and resume his pastoral labors in their midst. “The past relations,” wrote the Zion members, “we have engaged together for many years as pastor and people are still in its bud in our every heart therefore we would well come you still as our pastor.”
From the time Girardeau returned to Charleston until he was able to reoccupy the Zion pulpit, fifteen months had elapsed. Finally, “on Sabbath, December 23rd,1866, the Rev. John L. Girardeau re-commencedservices in the building.” Girardeau’s text for the occasion was “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servant for Jesus’ sake,” (2 Corinthians 4:5). While no manuscript exists of this sermon there are a few points that appear obvious. First, he preached Christ. There can be little doubt that Girardeau reminded his listeners that he had always been faithful in preaching Jesus to them. He was no moralizer or politician in the pulpit. Indeed, he may have reminded his black brothers that his catechism was replete with the gospel, without mention of master-slave relations.Second, in preaching Christ, Girardeau was also sending a message to the Northern detractors that their harassment over the past fifteen months or so was unjust. That Jonathan Gibbs(the Northern missionary) would choose the property of Zion Presbyterian Church to occupy was a clear indication that he, and by association, the Committee that sent him, did not believe the South had been adequately preaching the gospel to the African-Americans. Girardeau’s first sermon in the Zion pulpit issued a resounding “Not true!” to such an implication. Third, it would not be far-fetched to assume that Girardeau reminded his hearers that, while they were no longer slaves, he would continue to be their slave for Christ’s sake.He was not free to do otherwise.
Girardeau wasted no timerebuilding the walls of Zion. First, a meeting was held to determine the total black membership that wished to continue as Freedmen in the Zion Presbyterian Church. Much to Girardeau’s disappointment, only one hundred sixteen indicated their desire to remain in Zion. This reflected the influence of Reconstruction and the less than enthusiastic attitudes of many Southerners toward their black brothers.
Nevertheless, Girardeau proceeded with the one hundred sixteen faithful, and on March 25,1867, the session nominated seven men to serve as “Superintendents” over the new congregation. The election of Superintendents, rather than elders as Girardeau desired, was in accordance with the resolution of the 1866 General Assembly. The men were all members of Zion before the war and some had served as Watchmen or Leaders of the Classes. “In 1867,” wrote Girardeau, “a fresh start in the teeth of many difficulties was made with 116 members of the 500.”
Later in the year, with Joseph B. Mack at his side, Girardeau began rebuilding the infrastructure of old Zion. The 1867 records indicate a total membership—Zion Church, Calhoun Street and Glebe Street—of four hundred forty. This included the one hundred sixteen freedmen. By March of 1868, the church had added sixty members. Fifty-one of the new additions came through profession of faith in Christ. There were nineteen infants baptized and seventeen adults. By March 1869 total communicants numbered five hundred sixty-one in Zion. Sabbath schools were once again instituted with two hundred enrolled. This number swelled to 750 scholars by 1875. While other conditions were still chaotic throughout the city, the South, and the Southern Presbyterian Church, there were some hopeful signs as evidenced by Zion.
In 1869, the General Assembly, following Girardeau’s lead, made it possible for freedmen to be ordained as elders. Just as Girardeau had quickly moved to install superintendents in the newly restored work in 1867, he wasted little time in organizing the black membership into a “branch congregation” of Zion,complete with ordained elders. On Tuesday, July 27, 1869, the Session of Zion Presbyterian Church dismissed three hundred forty-five members to form the Zion Presbyterian Church (Colored), Calhoun Street. From this we learn that in two years the black membership of Zion under the beloved white pastor had grown from one hundred sixteen to three hundred forty-five.Thus, in 1869 the black membership constituted more than one-half the total membership of Girardeau’s flock. This example offers some evidence that the integration of whites and the newly freed blacks into one church could have worked if it had been zealously pursued along the lines Girardeau recommended.
Upon the recommendation of Girardeau and the Zion Session, the following Freedmen were nominated to serve in the office of Ruling Elder—Paul Trescot, William Price, Jacky Morrison, Samuel Robinson, William Spencer, and John Warren. On “Sabbath August 15, 1869, 8 ½P.M.” the congregation of Zion Presbyterian Church (Colored) met for worship and the ordination and installation of their Ruling Elders. Girardeau chose for his text on this occasion Acts 14: 23—“And when they had appointed for them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting…they commended them to the Lord.” The records tell us, “Session did then with prayer and the imposition of their hands ordain the persons… and install them in the same.” Thus, Zion became the first Southern church governed by black elders.Girardeau had done what Dabney and a host of other Southern churchmen would not consider doing. He had admitted that black men could be qualified to rule in the church. He had exhibited his approbation by participating in the holy service, even the laying on of hands. What Dabney and others doubted possible, Girardeau confirmed as real.
Sadly, Girardeau’s experiment did not gain prominence in the Southern Church.In 1874, the Presbyterian Church US, under political and social pressures from within andwithout, voted to segregate their communion into black and white churches.Girardeau opposed the move, lost the vote, and lost his beloved Zion.Within a few short years many black Presbyterians across the South affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA, leaving the Presbyterian Church US.
Conclusion All human errrors, sins, and weaknesses aside, the heritage of Davies, Jones, Adger, Smyth, and Girardeau is a good one.Their sacrificial labors could and should serve as a model for many today.Our elders and deacons should adopt a caring, serving model toward the precious sheep entrusted to them by our heavenly Father. A great sensitivity and shepherd-like service would follow. The men we have considered above loved their black brothers and gave themselves to the good work even in the face of social, political, and ecclesiastical difficulties.No doubt there are many rejoicing in the presence of our LORD today because of the loving ministries of these men and countless others like them.
[Note: Of our two photographs of the Zion edifice, it would appear that one of the two images is reversed and does not appear as it should.]
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