August 2021

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The Value and Influence of Literary Pursuits.
pages 25-27

howeIt is refreshing to see, when the Bible is driven by the voice of authority from common schools, colleges rising like this, patronized by the people of God, and in some measure under ecclesiastical supervision. It is carrying out the plans of our fathers. It is giving a guaranty, at least, that here, far away from the corruption of the city, learning and religion shall go hand in hand, and that in the midst of a people who honor God, there shall be an institution for the rearing of their youth, where heathenism shall be spoiled of its learning and refinement, and they shall be made tributary to the inculcation of a sound morality, and the promotion of true religion. Honored men who have founded this institution! and ye who have stood by it in the dark hours of its struggles and adversity! be encouraged to persevere. A kind Providence watches vigilantly over your rising Seminary, and will provide for its future advancement. Do but be faithful to the trust committed to you, set your standard of Education high, and imbue your youth with virtue and piety, and you are obliged to succeed.

The day will come, and may be not far remote, when your College shall obtain a commanding eminence, from which it may wield a powerful influence in favor of learning and truth.

Whether aware of it or not, you have fallen upon a heaven appointed method of providing for the religious and moral training of your youth, while you discipline their minds and store them with human learning. The tribe of Levi was dispersed in Israel of old, and their 48 Levitical cities were so many seats of learning to God’s chosen people. The schools of the prophets and the scribes and the schools of the primitive church at Alexandria, Caesarea, Ephesus, Smyrna, and elsewhere, to the principal of which tradition gives an apostolic origin, are additional evidences that it is by a divine appointment that the church should take under her own supervision the education of her youth. And it may yet prove that the Teacher in the Christian Church, who is acknowledged in all European Confessions of Faith of the Presbyterian denomination to be a permanent officer of the Church, and was so regarded by the reformers, is really as much of Divine appointment as the Pastor, and that as the synagogue and school were connected in the Jewish church, so the church and school should be in the Christian. The Universities of Scotland were once under the immediate supervision of the church, and were annually visited and examined by a commission from their ecclesiastical bodies; they were, in their inception, and through a long period of their history, institutions ecclesiastical rather than civil. And in our own country, the earliest and best universities and colleges were founded by religious men for religious purposes, and were filled by officers who were pious in heart, and who were pledged to teach the youth the doctrines and duties of Christianity. The Hebrew Bible was for years read at morning prayers, by students and teachers at Harvard and Yale, in the days of our fathers, and I am not unwilling to see the custom again introduced, and our youth led daily to the well-spring of all sacred knowledge, the inspired scriptures in the Greek and Hebrew tongues.

There might then be some hope that our young men would be truly learned, and that with this learning they would imbibe a respect and reverence for the book of God, the earliest portions of which were written more than 3000 years ago, and more than 600 years before the earliest authors of Greece; which, like the gnarled oak, breasting the storms of a thousand winters, has stood the shock of revolution, and the attacks and scorn of men; which has survived every empire and dynasty but the last, and is itself one day to be the law-book of the world, the rule of duty between man and man, and nation and nation. Pursue then the path you have chosen, and heaven shall add its smiles upon your enterprise. Over these hills and valleys, among these mountains and rivers, there shall live a noble and virtuous population, sanctified by a religion such as old Greece and Rome knew nothing of, guided by oracles far different from those of the old oak of Dodona and the priestess of Delphi, and softened, refined, and ennobled by a Literature which shall throw into the shade that which spread its loved charms through Cicero’s retreat at Tusculum, over the sweet vales of Attica, or resounded in Ionian melody through the Greek cities of the Lesser Asia. For that which the bard of Mantua unknowingly sung, must yet be fulfilled:

“Ultima cumaci venit jam carminis aetas;
Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo,
Jam redit et Virgo, Redeunt Saturnia regna;
Jam nova progenies coelo demittitur alto.”

Or, as our Christian poet [i.e, William Cowper, in Book Vi of The Task] has more beautifully expressed it, with heartfelt anticipation of the blissful season, of the morning heralded by so many prophets; The time shall come when

One song employs all nations; and all cry
“Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain for us!”
The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks
Shout to each other, and the mountain tops
From distant mountains catch the flying joy:
Till nation after nation taught the strain,
Earth rolls the rapturous hosannah round.


Ordained and Installed this day, August 12, 1783, as the first seated pastor of the Providence Presbyterian church, Limestone, Tennessee. Rev. Houston was the first Presbyterian pastor ordained in the Tennessee Territory and the meeting of Hanover Presbytery on August 20, 1783 was the first meeting of a church court in this territory.

Providence Presbyterian church was organized in 1780, making it one of the oldest PCA churches.

see for more information or see the church’s file in the PCAHC.

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milliganJames_1785-1862James Milligan, a son of John and Margaret Milligan, was born in Dalmellington, Ayrshire,  Scotland,   August 7, 1785.    His early tendencies  were  decidedly religious and, at the age of fourteen, he was a communicant in the Established Church. At six­teen he migrated to America, on account of being dissatisfied with the Government of his native country. He made his way to Westmoreland County, Pa., where he had a half-brother settled, and he became a partner with him in a mercantile establishment. Though he had belonged to the National Church in Scotland, he was led now, as the result of diligent inquiry, to cast in his lot with the Covenanters; and, by the advice of Dr. Black, and some others in whom he was disposed to confide, he determined to aban­don his secular employment, and, if possible, obtain a liberal education. He, accordingly, entered Jefferson College; but his funds were very quickly exhausted, in consequence of which he went to Greensburg, and opened a school there, which he taught with good suc­cess for eighteen months, lie then resumed his place in College, joining the same class he had left, and graduating in 1809 with the first honour. On leaving College he went to Philadelphia, and placed himself, as a theological student, under the care of the Rev. Dr. Samuel B Wylie, and, at the same time, was a Teacher of Languages in the Uni­versity of Pennsylvania. He was licensed to preach by the Northern Presbytery in 1811 and was ordained Pastor of Coldenham Congregation, Orange County, N. Y., by the same Presbytery, in 1812. During his residence here he performed much missionary labour in the State of New York, and organized many congregations which have since become large and influential. In 1818 he resigned his charge, and was installed Pastor of the Scotch Covenanter Congregation in Ryegate, Vt. Here he continued labouring with great diligence, and encountering many hardships, for nearly a quarter of a century. During this period he laboured throughout the whole region, and made many tours into Canada to visit poor Covenanters scattered through the Provinces. He was intensely Anti-slavery in his views, and was always ready to show his faith by his works. He was translated from Ryegate to New Alexandria, Pa., in 1819; thence to Eden, Illinois in 1848; and, in 1855, he demitted his pastoral charge, and, from that time till the close of life, resided with his sons in Pennsylvania and Michigan. He died at the house of his son, in Southfield, near Detroit, Mich., on the 2d of January, 1862, aged about 77. In 1821, he was married to Mary, daughter of Robert Trumbull, a soldier of the Revolution. They had six children,—five sons and one daughter. Three of the sons are in the ministry of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the daughter was married to a minister of the same communion. He was honoured with the degree of Doctor of Divinity ; but when or by what College I am unable to ascertain. He published a Defence of Infant Baptism, in a volume of three hundred pages; A Narrative of the Secession Controversy in Vermont; and a Sermon on Grace and Free Agency, and another on the Prospects of a True Christian in a Sinful World.    He was a man of decided ability, intense industry and extensive usefulness.



Southfield Reformed Presbyterian Church History

The first known organized congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America (known as the Covenanter’s) was that of Middle Octorara, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1738. In Scotland (where the denomination originated), Reformed Presbyterians had been a separate denomination since the late 1600s.   The Reformed Presbytery of the United States of North American was constituted in its current form in 1798, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

By 1834 there were a sufficient number of Covenanters in Southfield to organize a church. Previous to this, the people had gathered together in a prayer society organized by an early landowner, David Stewart, who came to Southfield in the fall of 1831 from White Lake, Orange County, NY.  David Stewart worked tirelessly to form a church and, through his influence, other Covenanters such as the McClellands, Browns, McKinneys, Lowes, McClungs, Erwins, and Harmons came from New York to settle in Southfield.  In the early years before the church was established the prayer society met for services in barns and vacant log homes belonging to society members such as John Parks and Anthony McClung.

In 1838, a building in which to worship was constructed on an acre of land donated by John Parks at a site on Evergreen Road, just south of Eleven Mile.  In 1861, with the need for a larger and more permanent worship facility, the current church building was constructed.   In the 1950s a basement was dug and the building was moved back from Evergreen Road onto its new foundation. The congregation continues to worship in this historic structure today.  A parsonage was built north of the cemetery in the late 1940s.

In the years leading up to the Civil War, religious and secular leaders increasingly questioned the institution of slavery.  One of the earliest religious organizations that took a direct and firm anti-slavery position on the matter of slavery was the Reformed Presbyterian Church. The Church, without exception, was unified on its disposition regarding slavery, and believed all men were created equal in the eyes of God. By the early 1800s, the Covenanters required all members of the church to free their enslaved African Americans.

During this critical period leading up to the Civil War (1853 to 1871) the Rev. J. S. T. Milligan served as the pastor of the Southfield Reformed Presbyterian Church.  J.S.T. Milligan was the son of The Rev. James Milligan, D.D. of Vermont who was described as a radical abolitionist.  The Milligan family, along with members of the church in Ryegate, Vermont, helped to create the Church’s foundation to help support the anti-slavery and Underground Railroad movements. Clergy and members of the Church became members of anti-slavery societies, UGRR agents, conductors, and station operators. They sheltered and escorted fugitives to freedom from various locations in America to Canada. The Rev. J.S.T. Milligan and probably other members of the Southfield Reformed Presbyterian Church were active participants in the Underground Railroad network in Michigan.

2009 marked the 175th year of the Southfield Reformed Presbyterian Church as an organized congregation.




Biography of J.S.T. Milligan

James Saurin Turretin Milligan

MilliganJST_rpcna_1826-1912The Reverend James Saurin Turretin Milligan, 2nd Pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southfield, Michigan was born in Ryegate, Vermont on August 25, 1826.  He was the second son of James Milligan, D.D., a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter’s) church, a lifelong abolitionist, and an associate of William Lloyd Garrison.

J.S.T. Milligan was installed as the pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southfield, Michigan on November 11, 1853 where he remained until April 11, 1871.

In a letter dated Dec. 5, 1895 to Professor Wilbur H. Siebert, an Underground Railroad historian, Milligan describes how he and the members of his congregation had always sheltered escaped slaves at their homes and farms.  The fugitives came primarily from Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, singly or in groups on their way to freedom in Canada.  Occasionally former slaves would return to live temporarily with the Milligan family in Southfield when they needed work.

“It was not only difficult to support a family in those days, but it was equally difficult to pay the preacher.”  (Edgar) Many early ministers supplemented their income by farming.  In  “The Covenanter Church of Southfield and Its Early History related by Miss Mary E. Thompson” the author reports that the Rev. J. S. T. Milligan owned a farm at the northwest corner of 11 Mile and Evergreen, where the Birney School is now located.   Plat maps of 1864 indicate that the Milligan farm was in that square mile, but located closer to 12 Mile and Evergreen.

“Although the pastor’s salary for 1858 amounted to only $350, there was still great difficulty in raising that sum. One year, after paying all expenses, the [Southfield church] treasurer reported a balance of $0.37. But that was after one of the better years for there were times when the congregation failed to meet its salary payment.”   (Edgar)

In 1871, J.S.T. Milligan went to North Cedar (now Denison), Kansas and established a church, many from Southfield going with him.  He was installed as pastor of the congregation of North Cedar, Jackson County, Kansas, on October 8, 1872.

The Rev. J.S.T. Milligan and his wife, Jane Thomson Johnson had 9 children, 8 of whom were born and reared in Southfield.  They, too, accompanied their parents to Kansas.  Milligan spent his time in Kansas until he retired.  J.S.T Milligan died August 12, 1912 in Pittsburgh, PA.  He was buried in Denison, Kansas.

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