June 2020

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Dear readers: Our apologies for having missed yesterday’s post. I had to take my son to the hospital the night before, and while the post was only somewhat ready, it was not finished, and circumstances did not allow completion. My son will be alright, but will require several more days of treatment; thankfully, surgery will be avoided.

The Perseverance of the Saints, Illustrated, Proved and Applied

Shepard Kosciusko Kollock was born at Elizabeth, New Jersey, on June 25th, 1795. His father was an officer in the Revolutionary Army, and greatly admired the personal and military character of the Polish leader Kosciusko, and so gave that name, together with his own, to his youngest son. Shepard graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1812, at the age of seventeen and with high honors. After studying theology with his brother-in-law, the Rev. John McDowell, and his brother, Dr. Henry Kollock, Shepard was subsequently licensed to preach the Gospel by the Presbytery of South Caroline, in June of 1814.

After preaching for three years in South Carolina and Georgia, Rev. Kollock received a call to serve the Presbyterian church in Oxford, North Carolina, and it was only at this point when he was finally ordained, by the Presbytery of Orange, on May 2nd, 1818. However, not long after this, he accepted an appointment as Professor of Rhetoric and Logic at the University of North Carolina, prompting him to resign his pulpit.

In 1825 he became pastor of the Presbyterian church in Norfolk, Virginia, and continued there for about ten years, thereafter returning to New Jersey and for three years he was engaged as an agent for the Board of Domestic Missions of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. From about 1828 to 1848, Rev. Kollock was the pastor of the church in Burlington, and his final pastorate was in Greenwich. At last, worn out by a life of faithful labors, age and increasing infirmity, he resigned and came to live in Philadelphia in 1860. Death came at last on April 7, 1865.

Dr. Kollock was a successful minister of the Gospel in all his charges, and a gentleman of culture of no common order. His Hints on Preaching without Reading, and Pastoral Reminiscences, were translated into French and published in Paris. He also contributed several valuable articles to the Princeton Review.

Kollock’s work, The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, Illustrated, Proved and Applied, by first published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication in 1835 and was later included in volume one of the series commonly known under the title, Presbyterian Tracts. In lieu of our Words to Live By section, we reproduce a portion of that work here today, for those who might want to read further:–

PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.

In every age the Church has been pained by beholding persons whose professions were high and specious, declining from the truth, returning to the world, and again indulging in the lusts of the flesh. Such examples tend to afflict humble believers, and to fill them with apprehensions that their own state is unsafe, and may terminate in destruction. To prevent such an inference, the Scriptures, whenever they predict, or relate, the apostacy of those who had once “the form of godliness,” immediately subjoin, as a source of consolation, an assurance that the real children of God shall be preserved from defection.

Thus the Saviour (Matt. xxiv.) foretelling the appearance of those who should come in his name, and “deceive many,” intimates that the elect shall not be deceived.

Thus Paul (2 Tim. ii. 19.) mentioning the apostacy of Hymenaeus and Philetus, probably eminent teachers in the Church, adds, lest believers should suppose that their own condition was uncertain, and their own faith liable to be destroyed: “nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his”—”they that are built upon the foundation of his unchangeable love and purpose shall never be overthrown.”

Thus also the apostle John (1 John ii. 19.) having mentioned that many anti-christs were in the world who were generally apostates, adds: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us;”—as if he had said, ‘Whatever plausible appearances they make, they prove, by becoming apostates, that they were hypocrites; for if they had been true believers, renewed by grace and vitally united to Christ, they would have persevered in communion with us; but they went out that they might appear to the world in the real characters of false-hearted professors.

Such is the spirit of the language of Scripture, and in these, and other similar passages, is plainly taught the doctrine of THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS.

It is a doctrine which lies at the foundation of all the hope which the believer enjoys; it inspires confidence in danger, comfort in sorrow, succour in temptation, and is an “anchor to his soul,” amidst tempests the most violent.

Let us inquire what reason we have to receive this doctrine as the truth of God.

In making this investigation we shall arrange our reflections in the following order:

I. We shall definitely state the question at issue, and show what we mean when we maintain the final perseverance of the saints.

II. We shall establish the doctrine by arguments.

III. We shall answer the principal objections against it.

When we say that the saints shall finally persevere, we mean not by the word saints those who, having made a profession, and possessing a semblance of religion, are regarded by others as pious; or those who are confidently esteemed by themselves as godly; or those who are only federally holy—by external consecration to God, as were the people of Israel. We grant that all these may finally and entirely apostasize. But by saints we mean those, and those only, who have really been born again; who have been brought from a state of enmity against God into a state of reconciliation and love; who have been justified, accepted and adopted; who are animated by the Holy Spirit, that dwelling both in Christ and them, forms an intimate union between him the head, and them the members.

When we say that such persons shall not finally and entirely fall away from grace, we do not mean that their graces may not languish and decline. The question is not concerning the decay, but the loss of grace; not concerning sickness and debility, but total death. A person may faint away, showing no signs of animation, while a principle of life remains; and spiritual life may undergo so violent a shock as to be brought apparently to the very verge of death, and yet not be extinguished.

Neither do we mean that the acts of grace shall never be interrupted; but only that the spirit and habit of it shall never be lost. We grant that the saints may fall into many and great sins; but we maintain that, through the presence of God cherishing the principles of spiritual life once implanted, they shall never so sin, as to fall into that state in which they were before conversion, and of the children of the Holy One, become the children of the devil. They may fall into transgressions that deserve perdition, but God will excite their repentance, animate their faith, enliven their hope, and thus keep them in his covenant and love.

When we say that the saints shall persevere, we mean not, that considered in themselves, and with no strength but their own, they will be able to stand. We rest the certainty of their perseverance on the assistance of the Spirit, and the support of God. In themselves, they are weak, unable to begin, to continue, or to finish the life of holiness; but according to the divine covenant and promises, they “are kept by his power through faith unto salvation.”

Neither do we assert that grace, considered in itself, is absolutely incapable of being lost. It is one thing to affirm that it shall not be lost, and another thing to affirm that it is in its nature absolutely incapable of being lost. We know that the world shall no more be overwhelmed by a flood, but we at the same time admit that it is susceptible of being drowned. We therefore ground the perseverance of the saints, not upon the firmness and unchangeableness of grace, as it subsists in the creature, but upon the love, the power, the wisdom, the faithfulness, and the covenant of Almighty God. [emphasis added.]

Attending to these distinctions and limitations, we have a proper view of the doctrine before us. It may be conveyed in the following proposition:

All who are truly regenerated and vitally united to Christ, though weak and frail in themselves, shall be so protected and kept by the power of God that the habits of grace shall never be entirely lost, nor the principle of spiritual life totally extinguished; and although they may fall into sins, yet they shall never fall from their interest in the covenant, but shall be renewed to repentance, and be at last brought, by a steady perseverance, to eternal salvation.

This is the sum of the doctrine before us. We proceed

II. To establish its truth.

To continue reading The Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, by the Rev. Dr. Shepard K. Kollock, click here.[this is a short tract, only twenty pages in length.]

The Rebel’s High Priest
by Rev. David T. Myers

On this day of June 23, 1780, an American Revolutionary Battle took place in Springfield, New Jersey.  Ordinarily we might think that this has no place in a historical devotional, but it does, because of the presence of the Rev. James Caldwell, pastor of the Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church.

Rev Caldwell was known as “the Rebel’s High Priest.”  His congregation in present day Elizabeth, New Jersey, had provided forty line officers to the American Continental army.  And Caldwell himself was the chaplain of  Col. Elias Dayton’s Regiment in George Washington’s army.

This military campaign by the British and their German Hessian compatriots was a major push into New Jersey.  They had a total of 6000 men.  George Washington’s army, faced with diminishing supplies and desertions of men,  had only about 3500, and not all of them  at Springfield, New Jersey.  So they were outnumbered 5 to 1 in their battles.

At the key point outside of Springfield, N.J., the American troops were out of wadding, the paper necessary to fire their muskets accurately.  All along the line, there came cries of “Wadding!  Give us wadding.”  Rev. Caldwell was then riding  up on his horse to encourage his men when he heard the cry for wadding.  Riding back to the Springfield Presbyterian church and manse, he gathered the psalm hymn books, and threw them to the men.  Referring to English hymn writer Isaac Watts, he called out “Give ’em Watts, boys, give ’em Watts boys.”

That line of “given them Watts, boys” has become the symbol of the forgotten battle of Springfield.  The British eventually retreated from the battlefield, making the battle of Springfield an American victory.  British troops never again entered New Jersey, with this battle being the last one up north in the Colonies.

Words to Live By: Rev. Caldwell would be killed a little over a year later, just as his wife had been killed at this battle.   The sacrifices of all our American Revolutionary forefathers involved much sacrifice.  The question naturally arises, what are we willing to give up for the sake of the victory of the gospel over the enemies of the faith?

Unwavering Devotion to Christ and Country
by David T. Myers

Here and there in these posts, you have read about Presbyterian clergy who were instrumental in preparing and molding the popular minds of Americans for the great struggle of the American Revolution. From both pulpit and battle field worship service, these Presbyterian chaplains challenged the troops to fight for their freedom and win the day. The British were certainly aware of the tremendous influences of these clergy toward that end and viewed it with alarm that it was thrown into the side of the rebellion. Among the many pastors of all denominations who joined the ranks were Presbyterians such as the Reverend Hezekiah James Balch, who is our character study today.

Born in 1741 in Deer Creek, Hartford County, Maryland to Col. James Balch and Anne Goodwin, there is little known about his early years. The whole family moved south to Mecklenburg, North Carolina when he was young. At some time in his teens, due to a recommendation from a minister who must have seen certain spiritual gifts in the young man, he entered the College of New Jersey, later Princeton, graduating from there in 1766.

In the historical accounts, there is much confusion as to his work due to two other Balch members in the extended family, one his brother. Even the online encyclopedia Wikipedia has him laboring for the Lord and eventually dying in Tennessee, albeit serving as a Presbyterian pastor and educator. All this is wrong.

After graduating from Princeton, he was licensed to preach the gospel and sent him to various fields as a missionary in Virginia and North Carolina in 1768. A year later, on June 22, 1769, he was called to the Presbyterian Churches of Rocky River and Poplar Tent, North Carolina as pastor, after being ordained to the gospel ministry.

An interesting event happened before that call however. He was reproved by the Presbytery because a Church of England minister had married him. They called it a “reprehensible circumstance.” Obviously, the memory of the Church of England and the Presbyterian experience in the old country was not forgotten by this Presbytery. It didn’t seem to have an effect upon his installation of the two charge congregation where he labored until his death in 1776.

What may have had an influence upon the Presbytery was his participation in what is known as the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. A full year before the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, PA, Rev. Balch was one of the Committee of Three who wrote up its resolves declaring independence from England. While modern revisionist history has doubted the existence of this declaration (and we will not go into that history now), it is is celebrated even now in North Carolina with Rev Hezekiah James Balch being remembered as one of the key players in its formation.

Words to Live By:
God calls His people to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world in many spheres of life. Whether in the church and/or the state, we are called to be faithful to the cause of the gospel. Our featured character today, the Rev. Hezekiah James Balch let his light shine in the establishment of both church and state in his beloved North Carolina home and ministry. We as American Christians are to be active in both spheres, good Christian citizens in our land, and faithful Christians soldiers in the church of Jesus Christ.

THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST,
by Rev. Willliam Smith (1834)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 104.

Q. 104. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?

A. In the fourth petition, which is, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we pray, That of God’s free gift, we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

EXPLICATION.

God’s free gift. –The good things of this life, are equally God’s free gift, with the blessings of salvation in the world to come; for, although we labor for them, it is He alone who gives us strength for labor, opportunities for being employed, and who crowns our exertions with success.

Competent portion. –A share of the good things of this life, sufficient to supply our present wants.

Enjoy God’s blessing. –That we may have God’s favor, along with what we receive for our bodily support, which alone can make the creatures comfortable and useful to us.

ANALYSIS.

We are here told, that the words of the fourth petition, “Give us this day our daily bread,” expresses, in prayer, three things :

1. We pray that we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life. –Prov. xxx. 8. Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.

2. That we ask this of God’s free gift. –Gen. xxxii. 10. I am not worthy of the least of all they mercies.

3. That we may enjoy God’s blessing along with the good things which we receive. –Psal. xc. 17. Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands, establish thou it.

The Strange Testimony of an Irish Presbyterian
by Rev. David T Myers

When my fellow editor, Wayne Sparkman, asked me to present this biographical post of a character from the eighteenth century, and sent me some material from which to write it, one sentence jumped out of the sentences about this Presbyterian minister.  That sentence was that “he was suspended for contumacy.”

Now, lets face it, the word “contumacy” is not a word which we use every day, or even every month.  According to Webster, it comes from the Latin which means “rebellious.”  Thus, it is “stubborn resistance to authority, specifically  willful contempt of court.”  And the “court” here means the church court, like the Presbytery.  In that sense, it is found in the PCA Book of Church Order, in the  Rules of Discipline, chapter 32:6 and 33:2, 3 to speak of those who refuse to either appear or answer the charges of a church court.  And that is what  happened to our character today, the Rev. James Martin.

The facts are that James Martin was born in Ireland in 1725, educated in Scotland, studied theology in the Antiburger Divinity Hall, class of 1749, and ordained in Bangor,  Ireland, in 1753, and received by the Presbytery of Pennsylvania, at Pequea, Pennsylvania, on August 1, 1775.

Certainly  he was not known then as a contumacious minister.  The certificate which accompanied his transfer to America stated that “he was for many years a member of the Associate Presbytery of Moira and Lisburn, in Ireland, and behaved soberly and inoffensively, suitable to his character as a minister and Christian.”  The written draft went on to state that “he departs with an unblemished reputation” with nothing to hinder his admission as a member of the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania.

And so he ministered the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ in the counties of Franklin, Adams, Cumberland, and Northumberland in Pennsylvania.  He also ranged far south in the “states” of Virginia and North Carolina.

From what little we can ascertain, he declined the spiritual authority of the Presbytery in 1777.   They disciplined him with suspension of his ministry credentials.   Yet it is odd that  we read of his continuing ministry with spiritual profit to  members in Presbyterian churches until his death on this day, June 20, 1795.  What gives?

Words to Live By:
We can only surmise that his continuing ministry after his suspension by the Presbytery meant that there was a spiritual repentance and restoration as a Presbyterian undershepherd.   That is possibly, given biblical repentance, but as our Book of Church Order states, “he (must)  exhibit for a considerable time such an eminently exemplary, humble and edifying life and testimony as shall heal the wound made by his scandal.” (Rules of Discipline, 34:8.)  While the court which brought about the censure has the ultimate responsibility to do that,  all of us Christians need to be ready as Paul puts it in Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (KJV)  The case of “overtaken” speaks of being overtaken suddenly by a sin.  In addition, the word “restore” is a medical one.  It spoke of a bone out of joint, which was to put back tenderly and resolutely by those  who are spiritual.   Are you available and able to become that kind of spiritual helper to restore a sinner who is repentant to the visible church of Jesus Christ?

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