June 2012

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This Day in Presbyterian History:   

A Church Planter Par Excellence

It was one of the longest funeral processions in which I had been privileged to drive.  And as a veteran pastor, I have had my share of those somber experiences.  But this procession of cars on August 23, 2001 stretched completely from the south  end of Leesburg, Virginia to the north end of that same town.  Every intersection was blocked off by members of Leesburg’s finest, so the cars could drive straight through to the cemetery, without stopping.  As I watched the Leesburg citizens go through their daily chores, paying scant attention to this slowly moving cavalcade of cars, I wanted to shout to them from my driver’s seat open window by saying, “Don’t you realize that a prince of Israel has entered heaven’s gates?” But it would have done little good. Then I realized suddenly that the hosts of heaven were already welcoming this child of God into the heavenly streets of gold, that they were singing praises to the King of kings, and Lord of Lords, with Edward Louis Kellogg joining in that praise.

Edward Louis Kellogg was born on June 25, 1912 in Wheaton, Illinois.  With an address like that, you would wonder if he was related in some way to that college.  And he was related, with his great-grandfather being Jonathan Blanchard, the founder and first president of the college.  So of course, after highschool, he went to Wheaton as a student.  Meeting his future wife Eleanor Peterman there, they eventually went to Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, where Ed sat under J. Gresham Machen, Cornelius Van Til, and John Murray.  Graduating from Westminster, at first they wished to go to the foreign field, but scarcity of funds prohibited that.  It was clearly God’s will that he stay in this country and start churches.

After eight years in Middletown, Pennsylvania at the Orthodox Presbyterian Church there, he moved out to California in 1954.  By this time, he and Eleanor had become parents to three children.  Two more children would be born in California.    Eight daughter churches would be started by the spiritual gifts of this man of God.  He would serve in seven churches (with some overlap to the eight daughter churches) in all.

He went to be with the Lord in 2001 to receive his rewards for service to Christ and Christ’s church.

Also on this day:
The PCUSA’s Donegal Presbytery received a letter of renunciation from George W. Marston, Franklin S. Dyrness and Everett C. DeVelde. These men were standing for the testimony of a faithful witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Words to Live By:  God’s overruling providence always gives us peace and contentment as to God’s will for our lives.  Learn to pray for, and live in, the light of that sure direction from your Sovereign God.

Through the Scriptures: 2 Kings 11 – 14:20

Through the Standards:  Sum of the first four commandments, then all of them

WLC 102 — “What is the sum of the four commandments which contain our duty to God?  A.  The sum of the four commandments containing our duty to God is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.”

WSC 42 “What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A.  The sum of the ten commandments is, To love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.

Image source :
Photograph of Edward L. Kellogg, from page 54 of The First Ten Years: The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 1936-1946. Philadelphia: The Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension, 1946.

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This Day in Presbyterian History: June 24 

An Honest Man was His Epitaph

He was the fifty-fifth delegate to sign the Declaration of Independence, even though he signed the historic document  three months after July 4, 1776.  He was a Presbyterian, and a faithful member of the Presbyterian Church of Londonderry, New Hampshire.  He was in local, state, and Federal governments, serving his fellow citizens.  But beyond all these kudos, it was said that he was “consistent and zealous Christian.”  He was Matthew Thornton.

Born in Ireland of Scottish ancestry, from the northern Ireland Protestant section of that country, Matthew Thornton was brought to this country by his parents at the age of three.  Settling in what later on became Maine, God’s providence preserved them from hostile Indian attacks.  Once, his parents and Matthew had to flee a burning cabin to save their lives.  They all moved to Worcester, Massachusetts.  Later they moved to Londonderry, New Hampshire in 1740, where Matthew would live for the next four decades.

Studying medicine there, Matthew Thornton became a successful physician.  Even through this, he served his country, accompanying New Hampshire militia as they fought the French.  In other regiments, death came heavily through fighting and disease, but in Dr. Thornton’s regiment, only six soldiers lost their life in the campaign, due to the skill of this man.

With the rise of the American Independence movement, he entered politics, but not in a way so as to divorce his biblical background.  He would serve in local and state government, as justice of the peace, chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas, and a member of the Second,  Third,  Fourth and Fifth Provincial Congress.  In fact, he was the President of the last Provincial Congress.

Elected next to the Continental Congress, he went to Philadelphia where on November 4, 1776,  he signed the Declaration of Independence.  He served his one year but refused a second year in the national body.

As a Christian, it has been said that “no man was more deeply impressed with a belief in the existence and bounties of an overruling Providence” than Matthew Thornton.  He used Providence as a synonym of God here, as many of our forefathers did.

Married to Hannah Jack, the union produced five children.  He died on June 24, 1803.  Upon his grave stone is the epitaph, “An Honest Man.”

Words to Live By: As the country approached war with England, Thomas Thornton wrote a letter to all the citizens of New Hampshire, telling them that they needed to come together as Christians and rest upon their faith.   The separation of church from state did not mean separation of the state from the God of the Bible.  We must be diligent to interpret that familiar expression in the right sense of which it was understood by our forefathers.

Through the Scriptures: 2 Kings 7 – 10

Through the Standards: Preface to the Ten Commandments

WLC 101  — “What is the preface to the ten commandments?
A. The preface to the ten commandments is contained in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of  the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Wherein God manifests his sovereignty, as being JEHOVAH, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God; having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works: and that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivers us from our spiritual thraldom; and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments.”

WSC 43 — “What is the preface to the ten commandments?
A. The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” ; S.C. 44 “The preface to the ten commandments teaches us, That because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History: 

The Rebel’s High Priest

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?

Through the Scriptures: 2 Kings 4 – 6

Through the Standards: Rules to rightly understand the moral law

WLC 99  — “What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the ten commandments?
A. For the right understanding of the ten commandments, these rules are to be observed: 1. That the law is perfect, and binds every one to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience for ever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin. 2. That it is spiritual, and so reaches the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures. 3. That one and the same thing, in diverse respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments. 4. That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded: so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included; and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included.  5. That what God forbids, is at no time to be done; what he commands, is always our duty; and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times. 6. That under one sin or duty, all of the other kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto. 7. That which is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound according to our places to endeavor that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.  8. That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them; and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them.”

WLC 100 — ” What special things are we to consider in the ten commandments?
A. We are to consider in the ten commandments, the preface, the substance of the commandments themselves, and several reasons annexed to some of them, the more to enforce them.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

A Strange Name Merits our Attention

He was a tent-maker church planter in the latter part of the sixteen hundreds in what is now Virginia.  Born in Ireland, this unmarried  Presbyterian pastor came over to our shores to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the lost souls of the colonies. He found countless Scotch – Irish immigrants who valued his ministry as they were sheep without a shepherd. The earliest record we have of him is June 22, 1692 in the county records of what later became Norfolk, Virginia.  Who was he?

If you answered Josias Mackie, you would be right on target.  What is interesting about him is that he was not a member of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, which began in 1706.  His name is not listed on any Presbytery back in Ireland.  But we have a reference to his request that he be allowed to preach at three houses in the Norfolk, Virginia area, namely,  the houses of Thomas Ivey, Richard Phillpot, John Roberts, and adding a fourth in 1696, the house of  John Dickson.  Eventually these four house churches were brought together into a small congregation.  He was to proclaim God’s Word to these hardy Scotch-Irish Presbyterians for two plus decades.

We know from his will, which was left to his three sisters in Ireland, that he owned both land and horses.  We know that he was a planter and a merchant.  Somewhere around 1716, there is a mention by the Philadelphia Presbytery of “melancholy circumstances” in his life, to which they gave their sympathy.  The overall conclusion of later Presbyterians was that he was “a good man, a true Presbyterian, bold, active, and laborious.”

What stands out about his life and ministry is the prayer when he went home to glory.  He said on that occasion, “Being heartily sorry for my sins past, and most humbly desiring forgiveness of the same, I commit my soul to Almighty God, trusting to receive full pardon, and free justification, through the merits of Jesus Christ.” In these words, we have a strong hint of his spiritual life and public preaching, all of which we can emulate to the glory of God and the good of His people.

Words to Live By: There are countless in the history of the church who are totally unknown to the members of that same church. By this, I mean, how many of you knew the name of Josais Mackie before this historical devotional?  And yet, laboring in difficult circumstances in the earliest days of this country, he was faithful to his calling. Let us pray for all those laborers in God’s kingdom of grace, who are unrecognized by God’s people, but still persevere  in the work of the gospel.

Through the Scriptures: 2 Kings 1 – 3

Through the Standards: Moral law summarized in Ten Commandments

WLC 98 “Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?
A.  The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments, which were delivered by the voice of God upon Mount Sinai, and written by him in two tables of stone; and are recorded in the twentieth chapter of Exodus.  The first four commandments containing our duty to God, and the other six our duty to man.”

WSC 41 “Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?
A.  The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History: 

Rescue on Their Honeymoon

The seminary president had finally tied the knot in marriage with his secretary Grace Sanderson.  The happy couple went west from the campus in Delaware to the Grand Canyon for their honeymoon.  It was a trip which included the joys of married love, the rapture of God’s creation in the Canyon, the thrill of hiking on  the trails of that part of the state of Colorado, the rescue of the World War II flyers who had crashed in their bomber over the Canyon . . . wait, the rescue of crashed flyers on their honeymoon?  Yet that was the experience of Allan and Grace MacRae on their honeymoon on June 21, 1944.

The event was widely reported in newspapers around the country. Even a year later, the daring rescue was still being talked about. We quote from an article written by the Rev. Donald E. Hoke (later to become one of the founding fathers of the PCA), that appeared in the June 1945 issue of Sunday magazine :

When he rescued three army airmen from the depths of the Grand Canyon last summer, the Philadelphia Bulletin headlined him as “Bearded, Bespectacled, Theological Bridegroom.”
The editor’s description was timely, but by no means exhaustive of the versatile mountain-climber’s talents and appearance. For by profession, Allan A. MacRae is a semitic scholar, archaeologist, teacher, and president of a fast-growing interdenominational seminary with a nation-wide influence.
Front page publicity sky-rocketed him into prominence last June when together with a veteran ranger he descended the heretofore unscaled north wall of the Grand Canyon (Ariz.) and led out three fliers who had been marooned in the inaccessible gorge for a week.
Pictures of him, looking more like a Forty-niner than a dignified theologian as he brought the men out, made the front page on all big city dailies and news reels, for the marooned fliers had been spot news for a week. And the circumstances surrounding his presence in the canyon made a human interest story the news hounds devoured.
For Allan MacRae and his bride of less than a month were honeymooning in the beautiful but desolate valley where he was drafted for the rescue….
Rushed to the opposite side of the canyon by army jeep, MacRae and a veteran ranger studied maps of the steep north wall and started down. Soon they discovered a narrow deer trail, invisible on air maps, and followed it 550 feet down the famous precipitous  Red wall. Camping over night at its base, they found the three men the following day and started back the miraculous route they had discovered.

Words to Live By:

Back in Wilmington, Delaware a few weeks later, MacRae was besieged with invitations to tell his story. At first he demurred, then decided that there might be an unparalleled opportunity to give a gospel message…
Like the fliers, all men are lost, in the abyss of sin. For them there is no way out. Their need? A revelation from above, like the messages parachuted to the marooned men. But it is not enough to then just know your lost condition, some one must help you out. And Jesus Christ, he concludes, is God’s rescuer to lost men—He descended to our level that He might bring us back to His.

Through the Scriptures: 1 Kings 20 – 22

Through the Standards: Proof texts of the law of God, in general

Deuteronomy 29:29
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (ESV)

Micah 6:8
“He has told  you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (ESV)

1 Samuel 15:22b
“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (ESV)

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