February 2021

You are currently browsing the archive for the February 2021 category.

Rev. Moginot died in December of 2011, at the age of 88, just about a year after the death of his beloved wife Vivian. He was born in 1923, was educated at William Jennings Bryan College and Washington University, and then prepared for the ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. Upon graduation, he was ordained in the Bible Presbyterian Church and installed as associate pastor to Francis Schaeffer in 1948, right about the time that the Schaeffer’s were preparing to move to Switzerland to begin a ministry of church planting and children’s ministry. Bud’s wife Vivian served as Dr. Schaeffer’s secretary. The picture on the cover of the funeral bulletin dates from about that time with the Schaeffers.

From 1948 to 1973, Rev. Moginot was the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alton, Illinois. He then stepped away from pulpit ministry to serve from 1974 to 1993 at Covenant Theological Seminary. In the latter years of that term, he also began to be active as a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol. I think he was especially proud of that ministry, serving in that capacity right up until about a year before his death. But it was probably his term of service as Pastor of Visitation at the Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church where Bud really hit his stride. He began that work in 1991, and continued faithfully until forced into retirement by a brain aneurism. Rev. Moginot led many to Christ and pointed everyone to his Savior.

Bud Moginot also served as the Stated Clerk for Missouri Presbytery from 1982 to 1995, and from what I can tell, the dear brother never threw anything away. He was the kind of guy that archivists love! Regrettably, not everything has been found in the best shape. Some things were stored in the basement; some things were stored in the attic. Neither location is suited to preservation. But in all, some thirty boxes of documents were retrieved from Bud’s house. An initial sorting of the papers was done at that time, and now finally the better work of arrangement and description has begun in earnest. Much of the material concerns the Missouri Presbytery, as you would expect. But unexpected jewels keep turning up as well. Hopefully we can find time to share some of those things later this year.

Words to Live By:Bud and Vivian loved the Lord Jesus and served Him faithfully all their years. They did not have much in the way of earthly wealth; their treasures were stored up in God’s kingdom. You don’t have to have a lot of money to serve the Lord. You don’t have to be a standout in any of the ways by which the world judges success. God calls us to simply remain faithful. Keep looking to Christ as your Savior, clinging to the Rock of your salvation, for He is your All in all. And know that the Lord will use you and your gifts in His kingdom.

Augusta County Presbyterians call for independence
by Rev. David T. Myers

It was simple and direct. The mass meeting of people from the Virginia county of Augusta in Stanton chose two delegates to represent them in Richmond, Virginia in the Virginia Convention. One was Thomas Lewis and the other one was Samuel McDowell. That these delegates would faithfully be the representatives of them, the following written instructions were given to them: “Many of us and our forefathers left our native land, and explored this once savage wilderness to enjoy the free exercise of the rights of conscience and of human nature. Those rights we are fully resolved with our lives and our fortunes inviolably to preserve; nor will we surrender such inestimable blessings, the purchase of toil and danger, to any ministry, to any Parliament, or to any body of men upon earth by whom we are not represented and in whose decision, therefore, we have no voice.” These people and delegates were almost all adherents of the Presbyterian faith. How had they come upon it? The only answer is that men of God of Presbyterian convictions were sent by the Holy Spirit of God to teach and train them in the principles of liberty, both spiritually and temporally.

The name which comes to our mind and hearts is that of John Craig. He is described as the first permanent pastor in this county of Augusta, Virgina. Consider the challenges of being an under-shepherd during the years of 1740 and afterwards. Every Lord’s day morning, Pastor Craig would walk five miles to the place of worship. In one hand, he would carry his Bible. In the other hand would be a rifle, for protection against the Indians of that territory. All the men of the congregation brought the same two objects to the worship – a Bible and a rifle. At ten o’clock in the morning, they would be seated to hear the sermon, on rude benches, which would last two hours til the noon time. A break for lunch would then be held, with each family sitting under the trees to partake of their meals. After this break, at one o’clock, the worship would begin again with the same sermon, and continue until sunset.

One of Pastor Craig’s sermon has been kept in written form. It had, for the readers who are pastors, fifty-five divisions in it. No wonder this was a sermon for a day, instead of just an hour. We might wonder whether there was any spiritual fruit to his labors, yet the truth is that multitudes were brought into the kingdom of God. He is described as a man whose heart was always full of tenderness.

John Craig would live until 1774, just two years shy of the American Revolution. Yet his proclamations of the gospel and presentation of the Word was to bear fruit in the call for Independence by the descendants of his congregations in Augusta County, Virginia. The Augusta County Presbyterians voted for independence from England on February 22, 1775.

Words to Live By: The faithful preaching of the whole counsel of God will eventually bring spiritual fruit in the hearts and lives of those who receive it.

I often come across the most interesting and useful things while searching out a patron’s request for some article or other material. For context, this article was written in the midst of those years leading up to the formation of the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. Strong’s audience would have been many of the very men who were considering leaving the old Southern Presbyterian denomination in order to form a new, faithful Church. And in an interesting aside, Dr. Strong chose not to join the PCA and he remained in the old Southern Presbyterian Church.

A History Lesson
by ROBERT STRONG [1908-1980, and pastor of the Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, AL, 1959-1973]

[The Presbyterian Journal, 27.42 (12 February 1969): 9-11.]

The struggle for the faith in the Presbyterian Church USA has been protracted. I grew up in that church and was ordained in it years ago when it was called the “Northern Presbyterian Church.” Thus I knew at first hand the issues as well as some of the people involved in the conflict.

Beginning in the nineteenth century, the strife deepened in intensity in the twentieth century and came to a climax in the 1920’s. Awareness of the rising tide of unbelief, and resistance to it, occurred in a spectacular way:

In 1923 the General Assembly endorsed adherence to five cardinal points of doctrine: the verbal inspiration of Scripture, the virgin birth of Christ, His mighty miracles, His substitutionary atonement and His bodily resurrection.

In reaction came the Auburn Affirmation, so-called because men of Auburn Seminary were its authors and from Auburn, New York it was distributed to gain additional signatures. In time, these amounted to 1100 names.

Cause and Effect

The Auburn Affirmation was in two parts: The first was an attack upon the right of the General Assembly to single out certain doctrines when the Northern Presbyterian Church was already committed to a system of doctrine as set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith. This was specious logic. This was illogic! This was evasive action.

In the second part of the Auburn Affirmation, an attack was made specifically upon the doctrine of verbal inspiration. It was alleged that this doctrine was harmful!

The other doctrines were treated in a way to suggest that a man in good standing might follow a different interpretation of the virgin birth, of the miracles, the Cross, the empty tomb, from the position set forth in the General Assembly’s deliverance of 1923.

The effect was to say that the General Assembly’s statement which was, of course, in the historic Christian and Presbyterian tradition, was only one of several possible interpretations. The effect was really to call into question these doctrines as historically stated and received. The issue was out in the open.

The center of traditional Presbyterianism had been Princeton Theological Seminary, but some of those connected with Princeton were sympathetic with the liberalizing trend in the Northern denomination. They agitated for and secured General Assembly reorganization of Princeton’s administrative set-up.

In the Northern Church, the Assembly has full control of the seminaries and must approve even the bestowing of the professorial dignity upon a man. So the General Assembly could and did reorganize Princeton.

Instead of two boards, one to deal with temporal matters and one to deal with theological training, the seminary was reorganized to have but one board. And on that board two Auburn Affirmationists were named.

This was the signal to Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, the famous Old Testament scholar, Dr. J. Gresham Machen, the famous New Testament scholar, Dr. Oswald T. Allis, assistant to Dr. Wilson, Dr. Cornelius Van Til, beginning on his career of instruction in theology and apologetics, and John Murray, an instructor in the seminary, to take alarm. They resigned from the faculty.

Others, like Parks Armstrong, a great defender of the faith in the New Testament field, and Casper Wistar Hodge, a solid theologian in the Hodge tradition, remained with Princeton Seminary.

The five men who resigned became the nucleus of the faculty of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. A number of prominent Presbyterian ministers and laymen associated themselves with these leaders as the board of trustees of the new seminary. According to its charter, the seminary would be forever free of ecclesiastical control.

Westminster Seminary opened its doors in 1929. The seminary drew increasing numbers of students and my own enrollment occurred in the fall of 1933.

Incidentally, I had the inestimable privilege of being a student of }. Gresham Machen, a magic name and a most interesting personality. I digress to note that Prof. Machen was a character! Sometimes he would lecture his classes at a furious pace, with his head against the blackboard, writing the Greek alphabet in small letters. Once in a while he would go up the stairs on hands and knees.

On occasion he would stand on a chair, continuing his lecture with no change of expression. He was such a skilled lecturer he didn’t need to resort to tricks and devices. 1 guess it was just an expression of a facet of his character — it bespoke the non-conformist. He was a great stunter at student events and was ever being called on to give recitations.

Machen was a great scholar. His books are classics. I will continue to be personal by saying that when I was attending theological school in California, I found in an atmosphere of modernism there a true friend, Machen’s book, The Origin of Paul’s Religion. I think it is his very greatest; I rate it higher than bis Virgin Birth of Christ.

Machen’s Influence

Machen was also an ecclesiastical activist. Many criticize him for that. They think he should have been content to dominate the theological scene by his writings, lectures and classroom instruction. It’s an open question.

As things moved along in the Northern Presbyterian Church, Machen took a still more active part. It wasn’t enough that he had led in the organization of this new seminary which was having increasing influence and would, through the years, send a perfect stream of conservative men into the Northern Presbyterian ministry as well as into other churches.

Machen was compelled to be active also in the ecclesiastical issues in other departments of the life of the Church. He took a great interest in world missions and offered an overture to the General Assembly asking that it study the Board of World Missions and institute corrective procedures. The modernist Pearl Buck was a case in point. Everyone knew how far removed from evangelical Christianity she stood, but she served in China as a missionary of the denomination.

Machen’s overture was turned down overwhelmingly. General Assemblies have a habit of not criticizing their own agencies — that’s one of the problems in our own Church. You just can’t get the Assembly to pass actions critical of their own boards. That has long been characteristic of Presbyterian ecclesiastical practice.

Machen and others then took the step, which to this day is debated as to its necessity or wisdom, of organizing the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. Some Southern Presbyterians were put on the board. This was window-dressing, for it was a Northern Presbyterian effort.

Charles Woodbridge was brought home from the Cameroons to be the executive secretary of the board. Several missionaries resigned from the official Board of the Presbyterian Church to accept membership under the Independent Board. The Northern Presbyterian leaders began to realize that here was a threat.

In 1934 at the instigation of Lewis Mudge, then Stated Clerk, the General Assembly passed a mandate whose language included such astounding declarations as this: a member of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America is as obligated to support the official programs of the church as he is to take the Lord’s Supper. That’s assuming a very extreme position!

Conform, Or Else!

The mandate’s thrust was against the Independent Board and called upon those who were members of the Board and missionaries under the Board to resign or face ecclesiastical penalties. Now such a mandate is distinctly in opposition to Presbyterian polity, for our system is to work from the bottom up. You go from the session to the presbytery, to the synod, to the General Assembly.

But here was the General Assembly arrogating to itself the right to tell individual ministers and lay members of the denomination to disassociate themselves from an independent agency working in the field of world missions. The argument of course was that this was competitive with the official Board.

Now what did the presbyteries do? They fell into line in almost all cases. Charges were filed against J. Gresham Machen, J. Oliver Buswell of Wheaton College, Carl McIntire, and Charles Woodbridge. On and on and on went these cases of process. The focus of interest was, of course, the case against Dr. Machen. He was a member of the Presbytery of New Brunswick.

A Footnote

Here is an interesting ecclesiastical footnote. Because he lived in Philadelphia, Machen had sought to be transferred from New Brunswick presbytery in the Synod of New Jersey. He had asked for a letter of transfer to Philadelphia presbytery and it had been acted upon.

The Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Philadelphia had not sent back to New Brunswick that little coupon on the bottom of letters of transfer reporting a minister has been received into the membership of the new presbytery.

On the strength of that clerical failure, New Brunswick claimed and exercised supervision of Machen and entered into the exercise of jurisdiction by formal process of trial. I went from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, where I was serving, to all three of the sessions of the Machen trial.

It was a travesty. He was forbidden to raise any question of jurisdiction. He was forbidden to raise any question of constitutionality. The trial proceeded on the narrow question: Will you obey the General Assembly’s order? I can still hear Machen saying,

“I cannot do that, it is against conscience; it is in effect to put the command of the General Assembly above my conscience and to make an ecclesiastical order superior to the Word of God. I cannot obey the order.”

The outcome was foregone. He was found guilty of disobedience, of violation of his ordination vow to be subject to his brethren. Now let this sink in. Machen was the greatest Biblical scholar of the century, a noble figure, an eminent figure. He was suspended from the ministry of the Gospel, forbidden to preach, forbidden even to go to the Lord’s table.

Similar condemnations were handed down upon other members of the Independent Board. These things were appealed to synod. Synod upheld the presbyteries. At last the appeals came to the 1936 General Assembly at Syracuse. I went to that meeting to be in at the death and sat in the balcony and watched the proceedings unfold.

Asserting that the General Assembly had the right to order the affairs of the whole Church, the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly found in behalf of the Synod of New Jersey, which had found in behalf of the Presbytery of New Brunswick. The sentence of suspension from the ministry was affirmed.

This became the signal for action. Machen resigned from the ministry of the Northern Presbyterian Church. Other pastors resigned also, standing with Machen’s position that the Church had become officially apostate by subordinating the Word of God to the commandments of men.

These men laid plans for the formation of a new denomination and in June, 1936, in downtown Philadelphia, the first General Assembly of the then-named Presbyterian Church of America was constituted. Dr. Gordon H. Clark, a name familiar to all who have done any reading, nominated Dr. Machen to be the first Moderator of the new denomination.

For men like me, just out of seminary, it was a terrible issue to confront. What should we do? After a summer of agony, I decided that I would stand with Machen. I didn’t do this blindly; I sought to reason it through, suffer and pray it through. Many young men whose ecclesiastical careers were thought promising laid their heads on the ecclesiastical chopping block and, believe me, our heads were cut off!

Most of us called congregational meetings, announced our intention to resign and asked what the congregation wanted to do. The Willow Grove congregation, which had tripled in those two or three years I had been there, decided, two to one, to stand with its young minister. We left the property and met on the third floor of the Legion Hall for three years until we could buy ground and build a meeting house.

That was happening here and there over the country. Instead of calling it a split, call it a splinter. We were meeting in store fronts, rented halls or wherever temporary lodging could be found.

The Northern Presbyterian Church sued us at law over our name. The judge ruled the name must be changed. An awkward name was selected, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. As just a young pastor I was selected Moderator of the 8th General Assembly — we were a bunch of amateurs trying to build a denomination but making many, many mistakes.

One reason for the mistakes was that in 1937 the great, illustrious, the almost indispensable Dr. Machen was taken by death. Troubles compounded after that. There was a split between the majority in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the McIntire group. Then Charles Woodbridge was wooed away from his place of significant leadership in the OPC.

We had a heavy setback in what is called the Clark case. Unable to endure the pettiness shown toward Dr. Clark, man after man went into the old U.P. Church or the Southern Church. A great pool of ministerial talent was lost from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

These sorts of things are not matters that happened in a corner. No man is an island, and no church should be considered an island. What happens anywhere will affect us everywhere.

The things that went on in the North were a tocsin heard in the South. Maybe they served, in God’s providence, a purpose in our region. Perhaps the events just recalled helped to alert Nelson Bell and Henry Dendy and their colleagues so that they organized the Presbyterian Journal. It is certainly to the Journal that we owe the great victory of 1954-55 when we turned down union with the UPUSA Church.

Perhaps those influences that led not only to the Journal but also, at last, to other institutions, like the Reformed Seminary, account for the faith in our Southern Church. Many of these things which show the conservatives alert and determined and willing to act have resulted from the stand taken earlier in the North by men of conviction.

The Early History of Bethel Reformed Presbyterian Church, Sparta, IL

The history of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Randolph County, Illinois, goes back to the year 1818.  To the Rev. Samuel Wylie belongs the credit of the planting of the church.  He was born in County Antrim, Ireland, February 19, 1790; came to the United States in 1807; entered the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in the class of 1811; prepared for the ministry in the Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, under the care of his uncle, Dr. Samuel Brown Wylie, and was licensed to preach in May, 1815, at Philadelphia, by the Middle Presbytery.

In the summer of 1817 he visited various places in the West, passing through Illinois and continuing his travels as far as Boonville, Missouri.  One his return he again passed through Illinois and spent the winter in supplying the vacancies in Tennessee and South Carolina.

At the meeting of the Synod in Pittsburgh in the latter part of May, 1818, he reported his travels and the prospect for church extension in the West.  Synod ordered the Middle Presbytery to take him on trial for ordination, and he was accordingly ordained in Pittsburgh, PA, on the 2nd of June, 1818, and sent as a missionary to Southern Illinois.  Mr. Wylie reached Kaskaskia the last day of July following and immediately entered upon his work.

The field of operation at first was Randolph county, though it afterward embraced parts of Perry, Washington and St. Clair.  A number of families belonging to the Associate Reformed church in South Carolina had moved into the county early in the [1800’s], and made a settlement near the present town of Preston.  They had been organized into a congregation by Rev. S. Brown, of Kentucky, a number of years before Mr. Wylie’s arrival, and being without preaching from their own ministers, by request, Mr. Wylie made his principal preaching place with them.  Members of the Reformed Presbyterian church began to come in.  James M. Gray was the first to arrive.  He came in October, and was followed immediately by his father-in-law, James Wilson, and family.  They came from near Vincennes, Indiana, where they had lived a number of years after leaving South Carolina.  They first settled near Kaskaskia, but finally located about three miles south of Sparta.

John McDill, Sr., and Hugh McKelvey, from South Carolina, came out in the summer of 1818, and bought land in Township 4—5.  One their way home they stopped in Tennessee with William Edgar, Samuel Nisbet and Samuel Little, who had removed from South Carolina a number of years before, and informed them of the mission begun in Illinois.  They immediately set out for Kaskaskia and purchased land, and Messrs. Edgar and Little moved out in the spring of 1819.  Mr. Nisbet, however, was detained and did not arrive until September.

Mr. McDill did not move out until November, 1819, though his son, John, came in the spring of that year, and began to improve his father’s place.  Mr. McKelvey did not come until 1820.  Mrs. Elizabeth Ritchie came in 1818; John McMillan and family, from Princeton, Indiana, arrived about the close of 1818 or the beginning of 1819, and settled on Plum Creek, near the present town of Houston.  David Cathcart and his son-in-law, William Campbell, from South Carolina, came in the spring of 1819, and settled in the lower end of Grand Cote Prairie.  Alexander Alexander arrived in the spring of 1819, and bought land near the old grave-yard, and after improving his place, returned to South Carolina and brought out his family in the latter part of 1819.  His father-in-law, John McDill, Sr., James Munford and John Dickey, with their families came at the same time.  John McMillan, of the Associate church, also came with them and settled between Eden and Sparta, and Munford and Dickey settled northeast of Eden.  James Strahan, from western Pennsylvania, came in the spring of 1819, and settled first down toward Kaskaskia, but finally in the west end of Grand Cote.

Mr. Wylie continued to preach in Kaskaskia and in the Irish settlement and among the Covenanters, until the arrival of William Edgar and Samuel Little, when the first session was constituted, May 24, 1819, at James McClurken’s, about six miles southwest of Sparta.  William Edgar had been ordained to the eldership in the Rocky Creek congregation, South Carolina, in 1801, and Samuel Little in Hephzibah congregation, Tennessee, at its organization in the spring of 1815.

This may be reckoned the formal organization of Bethel Reformed Presbyterian Church.  It is thought by some that the first communion was held at that time.

A call was made soon after for Rev. J. Wylie and forwarded to Synod to meet in Conococheague on August, 1819.  The call itself bears not date, but the letter accompanying it bears date June 7, 1819, and is signed on behalf of the meeting by James Wilson and Samuel Little.

The letter urges the acceptance of the call strongly and skillfully.  Synod referred the call to the Western Presbytery, and at a meeting of that court held in Hartford, Indiana, October 11, 1819, it was presented and accepted, and the Rev. John Kell appointed to install Mr. Wylie as pastor.  For some reason the installation did not take place.

Presbytery met in Bethel congregation in the spring of 1820.  The question of Mr. Wylie’s settlement was again brought up, but it was deemed best to wait another year.  At this time a communion was held at Samuel Little’s, and James Munford and James McClurken were added to the session; the former had been an elder in South Carolina; the latter was formerly a member of the Associate Reformed church, and having joined the Covenanters in 18109, was chosen and ordained to the fellowship at this time.

A second call was made out for Mr. Wylie, May 22, 1821.  It was signed by thirty-five members, who subscribed $208 for his support.  The names on the call show the financial but not the numerical strength of the congregation.  It is probably that the number of the membership at this time was about seventy.  The call was presented to Presbytery on the 24th of May, and at length accepted, Mr. Wylie agreeing to give the congregation half his time, leaving the other half to be employed in mission work.  He was installed pastor on the 28th of May, 1821, over the congregation which he had gathered in the field where he had labored nearly three years as a missionary.

At the division of the Church in August, 1833, he became identified with the New School branch of the Covenanter Church, and many of his former flock remained with him, over whom he exercised pastoral charge until his resignation, on account of the infirmities of age, February 20, 1870. He died at his home in Sparta, Illinois, March 20, 1872. He married twice. First to Miss Margaret Millikin, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; second, to Mrs. Margaret (Black) Ewing, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was a faithful soldier of the Cross, and did much service for his Master in establishing His kingdom upon earth. He was a very acceptable preacher, and, in early times, large audiences of people waited upon his ministrations. He was not a bitter partisan, but always recognized the step which the body had taken with which he was connected. He was a fearless advocate for the cause of the slave, and enlisted the powers of his voice and pen in their emancipation. He served his Church in many important relations, and was recognized as a man of influence, and an able divine.  He published a “History of the Reformed Presbyterian Churches in Southern Illinois,” in the Presbyterian Historical Almanac, 1859. He was honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity by Washington and Jefferson College in 1868. Rev. Wylie served as Moderator of the 14th Synod in 1830, and later as Moderator of the General Synod in 1850.

Words to Live By:
Reading such accounts, one is struck by the level of hardship and willing sacrifice routinely exhibited by dear saints of a century or two ago. Where is our sacrifice today? What hardships are we willing to bear for the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ? I’m not suggesting that we impose some artificial hardship upon ourselves. That would be a form of asceticism. But I am suggesting that we discipline ourselves to be alert to the needs around us. Learn the discipline of looking to serve others, to be sacrificial of our time, and if needed, of our physical resources as well. But the greatest need is often met by simply being willing to give of ourselves.

Attempts to found democracies, or rather, true lawful liberty, are doomed to failure unless they are built on a proper foundation.

What follows is another article discovered today during my foray into an old dusty volume :


Some time since an interesting Sabbath School celebration was held in a town in the interior of this State. On one of the banners borne in the procession, there was a beautiful tree, spreading its tall and stately branches in every direction, and beneath it was a volume, in which its roots were deeply fixed, and from which it derived all its nourishment and strength.—The tree was Liberty, that volume the Bible. The idea was not only beautiful, but true. The Bible is the great protector and guardian of the liberties of man. There never has been on earth true liberty, apart from the Scriptures and the principles of the Bible. This remark is fully sustained by the history of the world. Go to the plains of Babylon, and the entire history of that Empire, until its destruction by Cyrus, is a history of the most absolute despotism. Egypt and Persia were equally strangers to civil liberty. The same was true, with some slight modifications, of Greece and Rome. Facts spread on every page of the world’s history, point to the Bible as the only basis of the temple of freedom.

Where the Bible forms public opinion, a nation must be free. “Christianity,” says Montesquieu, “is a stranger to despotic power.” De Tocqueville, “it is the companion of liberty in all its battles and all its conflicts—the cradle of its infancy, the divine source of its claims.” The Abbe de la Mennais, whom the late writer distinguishes as one of the most powerful minds in Europe, speaks eloquently of the Divine author of Christianity, “the great republican of his age.” Everywhere the men whose minds have been imbued with the light and spirit of the Bible, have been the devoted friends of civil liberty. Such were the Lollards in England, the adherents of Luther in Germany, and of Knox in Scotland. Such were the Huguenots of France, who fled their country, or sealed their testimony with their blood on the fatal revocation of the edict of Nantes. Such were the Puritans, who, with the courage of heroes and the zeal of martyrs, struggled for and obtained the charter of liberty which England now enjoys. Hume, with all his hostility to the Bible, says, “the precious spark of liberty had been kindled and was preserved by the Puritans alone, and it was to this sect the English owe the whole freedom of their Constitution.

Pass we to the period of the American revolution! Who were the signers of the Declaration of Independence? Who were the men, whose wisdom in council, and whose daring in the field, delivered us from foreign oppression, and made us a free and independent nation? Who was Washington? His character is settled beyond all dispute—his sentiments are known and recorded. The infidel can never refer to him for authority. The Atheist can never enroll him among those who believe the universe is without a Father and a God. His examples and his opinions are to travel down with the richest influence to future ages, and his purity of life in the cabinet and the camp, his reverence for the Bible and the institutions of religion, are to be spoken of with the profoundest regard by millions yet unborn.

Who was Patrick Henry, the man who struck the notes of freedom to which this nation responded, and were changed from subjects of a British king to independent freemen? He has not left his religious sentiments in doubt. In his will is found the following passage : “I have now disposed of all my property to my family—there is one thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the religion of the Bible. If they had that, and I had not given them one shilling, they would be rich; and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor.”

Who was Samuel Adams, on of the brightest stars in the constellation of great names, that adorned that era? “Adams,” says his biographer, “was a Christian. That last production of his pen was in defence of Christian truth, and he died in the faith of the gospel.”

And who was Roger Sherman? His biographer says, “few men had a higher reverence for the Bible; few men studied it with deeper attention, and a few were more intimately acquainted with its doctrines?” And who does not know that Livingston, and Stockton, and Witherspoon, and Benjamin Rush, bowed with profound reverence to the teaching of the Bible, and drew from its precepts their strongest incentives in their self-sacrificing labors? The Bible, then we say it without the fear of successful contradiction—the Bible, in its influence more than any thing else, has made us what we are—a free and independent nation. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupt public conscience, is incompatible with freedom.

[excerpted from The Evangelical Guardian, 4.10 (February 1847): 442-443.]

« Older entries § Newer entries »