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Charles Hodge enters into eternity

Charles Hodge was born on December 27, 1797 and passed on to his eternal reward on June 19, 1878. Subsequent to his death, and early in July of 1878, on the pages of The Christian Observer, this brief note appeared under the title, “Calvinism and Piety,” :

The Christian Union, which has no friendship for Calvinism, closes its article on the death of Dr. Hodge, as follows:

Dr. Hodge, who was the foremost of the old Calvinists in this country, was, in character, one of the sweetest, gentlest and most lovable of men. His face was itself a benediction. We doubt whether he had any other than a theological enemy in the world. Curiously too, the peculiar tenets of his theology were reserved for the class-room and for philosophical writings. In the pulpit he preached a simple and unsectarian gospel; his favorite texts were such as “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved;” and his sermons were such as the most successful missionaries delight to preach in foreign lands. In Princeton he is regarded as without peer in the conduct of the prayer meeting. His piety was as deep and as genuine as his learning was varied and profound. The system of theology of which he was the ablest American representative seems to us, in some points, foreign to the teaching of the New Testament, but the life and personality of the man were luminous with the spirit of an indwelling Christ.

Words to Live By: 
May we all—those of us who name the name of Christ and who also claim that same biblical faith commonly called Calvinism—so find our maturity in Christ as to live in a similar way, luminous with the spirit of the indwelling Christ, pointing all men and women to the only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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

The Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Q. 103. What do we pray for in the third petition?

A. In the third petition, which is, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,” we pray, That God, by his grace, would make us able and willing, to know, obey, and submit to his will, in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

EXPLICATION.

To know, obey, and submit to Gad’s [sic. Ed. God’s] will. –To understand God’s purposes and designs, as far as he has made them known to us in his word, and also what he requires of us, or what he would have us to do, to keep his commandments, and to rest satisfied with whatever he may appoint to be our lot in this world.

As the angels do in heaven. –That is, cheerfully, faithfully, zealously, sincerely, and constantly, without either error or mistake.

ANALYSIS.

This answer informs us, that when we use the words, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,” we pray for four things :

1. That God, by his grace, or the aid of his Spirit, would make us ABLE to know and obey his will. –Psal. cxix. 34, 35. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments, for therein do I delight.

2. That he would also make us WILLING to know and obey his will. –Psal. cxix. 36. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies.

3. That God would likewise enable us to submit to his will in all things. –Acts xxi. 14. When he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.

4. That we may be enabled to do all this, in the same manner, as the angels do in heaven. –Psal. ciii. 20, 22. Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominions; bless the Lord, O my soul!

It was on this day, March 26, 1707 that the first overture was presented before the first American Presbyterian presbytery. More on that in a minute. But on that same idea, I just had to go look to see what was the first overture brought before the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. I was pleasantly surprised to see a thoroughly evangelistic message and one brought by one of the PCA’s founding fathers, a man who loved the Lord and who also loved capital letters. The Rev. Bill Rose often composed his messages in all caps, a practice now frowned upon in our computer age. But we reproduce below his overture as written.

First Overture presented before the PCA

Overture 1. From Rev. William Rose.

FATHERS AND BRETHREN: To the General Assembly meeting in Macon, Ga., September 17, 1974.

Whereas: One of the greatest needs facing the National Presbyterian Church [ed: the PCA’s original name] is the need for laborers for the great white harvest field of over 3 billion people in the world. THE majority of whom do not know CHRIST, and multitudes have never heard HIS name:

Whereas: CHRIST said in Luke 10:2 THEREFORE SAID HE UNTO THEM, THE HARVEST TRULY IS GREAT, BUT THE LABOURERS ARE FEW; PRAY YE THEREFORE THE LORD OF THE HARVEST THAT HE WOULD SEND FORTH LABOURERS INTO HIS HARVEST.

Clearly letting us know that the way for believers to secure the necessary laborers is to PRAY TO THE LORD OF THE HARVEST TO SEND FORTH LABOURERS INTO HIS HARVEST.

Therefore: The General Assembly is overtured to:

1. Call to the attention of every session this great need of our fellowship.
2. Set aside a day, when the Sessions can bring Luke 10:2 before their people in any way that HE should lead them, the end result being that our people would begin to pray for Labourers, and GOD would call out labourers to work for CHRIST in the harvest field of the world.

William H. Rose, Jr.

And now as to that first overture brought before the first presbytery, on March 26, 1707:

First overtures from an American presbytery
At the second meeting of the first presbytery in the American colonies, meeting on March 11 – March 26, 1707, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the teaching and ruling elders proposed and voted in the affirmative on a series of overtures designed to propagate Christianity.  They were presented by Jedediah Andrews, one of the original seven presbyters, and John Boyd, the first ordained minister in the Presbytery of Philadelphia.

The first overture  instructed each minister in their respective congregations to read and comment upon a chapter of the Bible each Lord’s day, as discretion and circumstances of time and place would admit them.   It is obvious from this first overture that the presbytery believed that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were inspired of God, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.  The Bible, and the Bible alone, would be the guide for its ministers and laypeople in their respective churches.

The second overture  is interesting because the ministers were recommended to begin and encourage private societies.  In other words, they were to organize and encourage Christians to gather together for various Christian endeavors.  An example of this was the organization of the Fund for Pious Uses, which was the subject of the devotional described  on January 11.  It is clear that they believed that Christianity should set the standard in every sphere of life.   Therefore the Christian faith inside and outside the church needed to be encouraged.

The third and last overture stated that every  minister in the Presbytery was to supply neighboring towns with ministers, especially in desolate places where ministers would be lacking.  They were to take the opportunities granted them to be home missionaries, in other words.

These first overtures of this small but soon to be active Presbytery stated clearly that the message of biblical Christianity was to propagated throughout the new world in obedience to the Word of God.  At subsequent meetings of the Philadelphia Presbytery, it was noted that these first three overtures were being accomplished.

Words to Live By:   Until Jesus comes the second time, all believers are to buy up every opportunity to share His love in word and deed.

Image source: Opening page of Records of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1841. Scan prepared by the staff of the PCA Historical Center.
A Stirring Confession of Faith
machen02

On Sunday evening, March 17, 1935, Dr. J. Gresham Machen filled the pulpit of the  First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This time period was in the framework of being under indictment for refusing to cease and desist from the support of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Mission, as the Mandate from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, had stated in 1934. His ordination was thus at stake. His standing in that denomination was at stake. Listen to his profession of faith given on that evening.

“My profession of faith is simply that I know nothing of the Christ proclaimed, through the Auburn Affirmation. I know nothing of a Christ who is presented to us in a human book containing errors, but know only a Christ presented in a divine book, the Bible which is true from beginning to end.  I know nothing of a Christ who possibly was and possibly was not born of a virgin, but know only a Christ who was truly conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. I know nothing of a Christ who possibly did and possibly did not work miracles, but know only a Christ who said to the winds and the waves, with the sovereign voice of the Maker and Ruler of all nature, ‘Peace be still.’  I know nothing of a Christ who possible  did and possibly did not come out of the tomb on the first Easter morning, but know only a Christ who triumphed over sin and the grave and is living now in His glorified body until He shall come again and I shall see Him with my very eyes. I know nothing of a Christ who possibly did and possibly did not die as my substitute on the cross, but know only a Christ who took upon Himself the just punishment of my sins and died there in my stead to make it right with the holy God.”

Despite what the ecclesiastical machinery of the Presbyterian Church would do, Dr. Machen’s conviction was settled.  He ended it all by stating that he would “rather be condemned for an honest adherence to the Bible and to my solemn ordination pledge than enjoy the highest ecclesiastical honors and emoluments as the reward of dishonesty.”

Words to Live By: Can you echo the words of J. Gresham Machen today? Today the attacks continue upon both the written and living Word. Let us affirm this confession today—for the Word of God is true, though all men stand in error—until God takes us home.

For further study:
To read the full message delivered by Dr. J. Gresham Machen that Sunday evening, March 17, 1935, click here.

News coverage of the above event:

PASTOR SCORES MODERNISM AS CAUSE OF TRIAL.

Dr. J. Gresham Machen Defends Beliefs in Sermon At Church Here.

HEARING TOMORROW.

Philadelphia Minister Will Face Presbyterian Court at Trenton.

Dr. J. Gresham Machen of Philadelphia, president of the Independent Board of [sic] Presbyterian Foreign Missions, who goes on trial before a special court of the church tomorrow at Trenton, N.J., declared last night: “The Presbyterian Church is in the midst of a conflict between two irreconcilable adversaries–Christianity and Modernism.”

Speaking at the First Presbyterian Church here, Dr. Machen defended his fundamentalist beliefs and accused the Presbyterian Church of spreading “anti-Christian” propaganda.

“I cannot support this anti-Christian propaganda now being furthered by the official board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States,” he said. “I cannot place the shifting votes of general assemblies or any other human councils in place of an authority which rightly belongs only to the Word of God.

Refused to Quit Board

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church last year outlawed the Independent Board of Missions and ordered all ministers to resign from it within 90 days. Dr. Machen refused and was ordered to stand trial before the New Brunswick presbytery. Two hearings have been held and the third and final one is scheduled tomorrow.

Dr. Machen last night laid his troubles to “modernists” and asserted: “Christianity is taught in the Bible and the Constitution of the Church; but modernism has grown to dominate the ecclesiastical machine.”

Attacks Auburn Affirmation

Citing the Auburn Affirmation, which he said sets forth the modernist argument and is signed by 1923 ministers, Dr. Machen declared:

“The Auburn Affirmation directly attacks the doctrines of the full truthfulness of the Bible and declares that some of its basic teachings are merely theories among other possible theories and are non-essential.

“It is typical of the conditions in the church that Dr. Cordie J. Culp of New Brunswick, the presiding officer of the commission now trying me in Trenton, is a signer of the modernist document,” he said. “It is also typical that John E. Kuizenga of Princeton Seminary took the lead in the unanimous vote of the commission that all efforts of my counsel to refer to the modernist doument be barred.”

Professor at Seminary

Dr. Machen further declared he is prepared to prove that the board’s orders for him to resign are “contrary to the constitution of the church.”

“I have also offered to prove,” he said, “the Board of Foreign Missions is unfaithful to its great trust. The commission has refused to listen to my evidence or to the arguments of my counsel. Of course, I will be condemned, but I should far rather be condemned for an honest adherence to the Bible and to my solemn ordination pledge than enjoy even the highest ecclesiastical honors and emoulments [sic] as the rewards of dishonesty.”

Dr. Machen, who spoke in the absence of Dr. C. E. Macartney, is a profess of New Testament in Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia.

[excerpted from The Pittsburgh Press, 18 March 1935, page 11.]

[Note: The correction name of the organization is the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. Too often in news coverage and elsewhere, the name was shown in error, substituting “of” in place of “for”]

THE SCHOOL & FAMILY CATECHIST
by Rev. William Smith

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 51-52.

Q.51. What is forbidden in the second commandment?

A. The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his word.

EXPLICATION.

The worshipping of God. –Praying to God, and praising him.

By images. –By resemblances or likenesses of any thing made, by engraving, painting, or carving, or casting in a mould, or by any other method.

ANALYSIS.

The sins forbidden in the second commandment are of two kinds :

  1. The worshipping of God by images. –Deut. iv. 15, 16. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, (for ye saw no matter of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb –) lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image.
  2. The worshipping of him in any other way not appointed in his word. –Matt. xv. 9. In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Q.52. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?

A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, are God’s sovereignty over us, his propriety in us, and the zeal he hath for his own worship.

EXPLICATION.

Annexed. –A smaller thing, joined or added to the end of a greater, is said to be annexed to it.

Sovereignty. ­­–The highest authority or power.

Propriety. –Property  or possession, or chief right to any thing, giving a particular interest in it.

Zeal. –Warm concern for any cause.

ANALYSIS.

The reasons annexed, or added, to the second commandment, are three in number :

  1. God’s sovereignty over us, “I the Lord.” –Psal. xcv. 3, 6. For the Lord, is a great God, and a great King, above all gods. O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
  2. His propriety in us, “Thy God.” –Psalm xlv. 11. He is thy Lord, and worship thou him. Deut. xxxii. 9. The Lord’s portion is his people.
  3. The zeal he hath to his own worship, “I am a jealous God.” –Exod. xxiv. 14. [sic: ed.; Exod. xxxiv. 14.] Thou shalt worship no other God; for the Lord whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

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