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by Rev. David T. Myers
Thomas Reade Roots Cobb was born at Cherry Hill, Jefferson Country, Georgia on April 10, 1823. While still a child, his parents moved the family to Athens, Georgia and he later attended the University of Georgia, graduating at the top of his class. From that day forward, Thomas Cobb aspired to be a Christian attorney.
His membership was in the Presbyterian Church in Athens. As a deeply religious man, he labored during the day as an attorney, and prayed in the church in the evenings. Whether working on behalf of the state of Georgia through the courts, or laboring in revival meetings, he was the same earnest worker. He was successful in implementing the reading of the Bible in schools in Georgia.
In the field of law, he was considered to be “the James Madison” of the South. Not only did he contribute to countless law documents for the state, he authored the Constitution of the Confederate States of America. It is written in his handwriting. He was the founder of the Georgia School of Law.
Like the majority of Southerners and even Southern Christians in that era, Cobb looked to the argument of States Rights in defense of Southern secession. Indeed, he wrote a large tome which sought to defend the practice of slavery. When elected to the Confederate Congress in 1861, he chaffed at the slowness of the legislative branch to prosecute the defense of the South. So he entered the Confederate army as a Colonel of the Georgia troops, which he called Cobb’s Legion. His troops fought in the battles of the Seven Days, Second Manassas, the Antietam campaign, and Fredericksburg, Virginia. At the latter battle, he fought as a Brigadier General.
It was in the last battle that he suffered a mortal wound. Assigned to guard the Sunken Road, an artillery shell burst near him and wounded him mortally. Within a few hours, he would die. There is a monument in that battlefield on the Sunken Road which tells of his death. Before his death, another Presbyterian military officer by the name of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, or Stonewall Jackson, would visit him and pray with him. Cobb is buried in Athens, Georgia.
He was survived by his wife, the former Marion Lumpkin, and four daughters in 1862. As recently as 2004, because of his stand on slavery, a controversy arose as to whether his home should be restored to a museum. It eventually was, and today can be visited in Athens, Georgia.
Words to Live By:
While we would oppose his stand on racial slavery, still we are left with the recognition that in other matters, here was a man who feared God and worked righteousness in his public and private life. For all of us, our Christian ideals are to be manifested outside the four walls of the church, indeed, into all of life, so that God’s name can be glorified, and God’s kingdom can be advanced.
Perhaps the most searching question in application might then be, “In my life, what sins am I blind to? How am I a creature of my culture? How and where is the Word of God not thoroughly and consistently worked out in my life?”
May God have mercy upon us all. We are, all of us, mired in sin and without hope before a righteous God, but for the grace and mercy found in Jesus Christ alone.
For further reading:
We find that two articles on the legal profession were published in the Southern Presbyterian Review :
1. “Relations of Christianity to the Legal Profession,” by an anonymous author, SPR, vol. 5, no. 2 (July 1859): 249-270.
2. “Morality of the Legal Profession,” by Robert L. Dabney, SPR, vol. 11, no. 4 (January 1859): 571-592.
and two articles published in Princeton Seminary’s Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review :
3. “A Course of Legal Study, by David Hoffman, reviewed by Samuel G. Winchester, BRPR, 9.4 (October 1837):509-524.
4. “Professional Ethics and their Application to Legal Practice,” [review of An Essay on Professional Ethics, by George Sharswood], by an anonymous author, BRPR, 43.2 (April 1871): 286-304.
Make Me A Map of the Valley
by Rev. David T. Myers
Our title was not just a request, but a famous order from an Army commander, Stonewall Jackson. That order was, “I want you to make me a map of the Valley, from Harpers Ferry to Lexington, showing all the points of offense and defense in those places.” The time obviously was that of the Civil War, or War between the States, in 1862. And the Confederate soldier to whom it was directed was Jedidiah Hotchkiss.
Jed, as he was known to his friends, was born in the North, in fact, born on this day, November 28th, 1828 in Windsor, New York. His father was a farmer, but his great grandfather was the founder of Windsor, New York. Seeing the studious interests of his son, the father enrolled his son into the prestigious Windsor Academy of that city, from which he graduated at age eighteen. During this time, he was fascinated with geology and geography. After graduation, he taught school in Pennsylvania, a profession which would occupy his talents both before and after the future civil war of the nation.
In the background of all these pursuits, the Presbyterian faith of his parents became his convictions and choice of churches. He always joined the Presbyterian churches in which he was located, even after his marriage to Sarah Ann Comfort of Lanesboro, Pennsylvania in 1853. Together they moved to a farm near Churchville, Virginia, and joined there by his brother, they opened the Loch Willow Academy. The school was highly successful. It was during this time that he taught himself map-making. It would be this career which would make him a name to be remembered.
Despite his brother’s staunch Unionism, Jed joined the Confederacy in June of 1861 by entering the Confederate Army. First serving in what is now West Virginia, he later gained a calling into the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. In this time, in which he provided vital geographic support to the major battles in Virginia, he did not leave his Christian faith behind. It was said of him that he had “a well rounded Christian character of beautiful piety and cheerfulness.” When Jackson was shot by his own soldiers by mistake, and died several days later, Jed, upon hearing the news, remarked, “all things were ordained of God and must be accepted.”
Jed Hotchkiss transferred his map making talents to other general officers, like Richard Ewell and Jubal Early. He served to the end of the Confederacy, and returned to his wife in Staunton, Virginia. Reopening his school, he was involved in promoting the recovery of war ravaged Shenandoah Valley, as well as West Virginia. The latter state recognized his efforts to help the people, and especially their spiritual state, by naming a town after him in Raleigh County.
While in Staunton, Virginia, an evangelist came to that town and held successful meetings. With many converts to Christ, Jed Hotchkiss led a small group of members in 1875 from the First Presbyterian Church to begin what became known as the Second Presbyterian Church of Staunton. That church still exists today. Jedidiah Hotchkiss died in his 71st year in 1899.
Words to Live By:
While some of our readers may not have agree with his choice of allegiance to the Confederate States of America, we can all agree with his convictions of Presbyterian doctrine and government. That stood him through many challenges and trials. Indeed, his belief in the sovereignty of God should help us in our own lives. Look up Romans 8:28, memorize it, and then live it.
An Educator and Minister to the Souls of Young and Old
by Rev. David T. Myers
Arriving at the Mason-Dixon line dividing Virginia from Pennsylvania in 1861, Dr. George Junkin and his family stopped their carriage carrying all their worldly possessions. In an act of intentional symbolism, Dr. Junkin cleaned off from both his own boots and the hooves of his horses all traces of Southern mud, wanting to make sure that none of the Rebel dirt would be carried into the Union North.
The Rev. Dr. George Junkin was born on November 1, 1790 outside the small village of New Kingstown, Pennsylvania. The sixth son of Joseph Junkin, who was a ruling elder in the Junkin Tent congregation of the Covenanters in central Pennsylvania, remained on his parents’ farm while being educated in private schools in Cumberland County. He was later sent first to Jefferson College in western Pennsylvania, graduating from there in 1813. He then attended the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in New York and became a Covenanter minister. For eleven years, he was the pastor of two Pennsylvania churches of that denomination. In 1822, he transferred into the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, and became a leader in the Old School Presbyterian Church. He was accorded the honor of being Moderator of the 1844 General Assembly of the PCUSA.
The education phase of his ministry started in a small Manual Labor Academy in Germantown, Pennsylvania. He then became the first president of the brand new Lafayette College, building up that Presbyterian school into a fine educational facility. After a brief stint at Miami at Ohio College, he went down to Washington College in Lexington, Virginia from 1848 – 1861, resigning at 71 years of age.
Two of his daughters married Confederate officers. Elinor was the first wife of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, later Stonewall Jackson. She did not survive the birth of their first child, who also died. Another daughter married Confederate and later General D. Harvey Hill. A son, named after him, became a staff member of Gen. Jackson’s headquarters, and was captured at Kernstown, Virginia, by Union forces. So, as it was in so many families of the War Between the States, their allegiances were in two different nations.
Returning to the North, Dr. Junkin in the last seven years of his life preached seven hundred sermons, many of them to Union soldiers in their camps. He visited wounded Union soldiers in hospitals. He went to be with the Lord in May of 1868, while residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
It was perhaps unique that near the end of the century, his coffin was dug up and sent south for re-burial in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery outside Lexington, Virginia.
Also this day:
The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church was formed by union of the Associate Presbyterians and the Reformed Presbyterians of America, meeting in Philadelphia on November 1, 1782.
Words to live by: Conviction, both religious and national, was part and parcel of George Junkin’s life. He knew what he believed and his actions reflected that to both friend and enemy. Of all the Junkin family, he was the most celebrated not only in that family, but in his generation. It is great to have a good name. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 15:1 “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (NIV) He is remembered, not only by the Junkin ancestors, but by Presbyterians everywhere. Let us seek to be known by our biblical convictions and work to maintain our good name.
Called to Be Faithful to God
by Rev. David T. Myers
Oh no, another post on yet another minister, you the reader might say. But this pastor was different. Yes, he pastored two churches in the south in the eighteen hundreds. But this shepherd of souls was unique in many ways. His name? James Power Smith.
Born in New Athens, Ohio on July 4, 1837 to a Presbyterian minister and his wife, Joseph and Eliza Smith, he had the example of his father on the challenges of being a shepherd of souls. It is not surprising that he felt called to that same profession. Attending Jefferson College in 1854 – 57, (and other sources say Hampden-Sydney College), he graduated and went to Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia in 1858. However, his studies there were interrupted by the War Between the States, or Civil War. Like many other young men, this Northern boy joined the Confederate Army, and specifically the Rockbridge Artillery of the Confederate States of America, which was filled with many other theological students. He would fight in it until 1863, when he would be asked to report to a Lt. General by the name of Jackson, Thomas J Jackson, Stonewall Jackson. For the rest of that “rebellion,” as the North would call it, he would find himself as Aide-de-camp of that command, and as such involved in the important scenes of the war.
Captain Smith was present when he heard that General Jackson was mistaken in the early morning darkness in Chancellorsville, having been shot by his own Confederate troops. Captain Smith became a litter bearer seeking to get the wounded officer to neutral ground. It was a harrowing move as several litter bearer were shot. Finally, they moved slowly but surely to an ambulance and finally to a military hospital, in a tent east of the battle field. Jackson’s left arm was amputated by Dr. Hunter McGuire with the light held by James Smith. Later on May 3rd, Captain Smith accompanied the wounded Jackson twenty-five miles by wagon to Guiney’s Station, where seven days later, the great general succumbed to his wound and died.
Captain Smith remained in the Confederate corps, serving under Richard Ewell, until the end of the war. Then returned to Union Seminary to resume his preparation for the ministry. Ordained upon graduation on this day, October 13, 1866 by Montgomery Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church U.S., he served one Presbyterian Church in what is now Roanoke, Virginia, before going to the Fredericksburg, Virginia Presbyterian Church for the next 23 years. During those years, he also served as an evangelist two years for the Synod of Virginia, was editor of the Central Presbyterian newspaper for 17 years, and Stated Clerk for the Synod of Virginia from 1871 to 1920. He went to be with the Lord in 1923, becoming the last soldier of the Stonewall Brigade staff to die.
Words to Live By:
Some of our readers, including this author, may not have agreed with his choice of country in those perilous days, yet we can rejoice for the years of his shepherding of souls during his long life and ministry. After all, that will be the record remembered in heaven when eternal rewards are handed out. Let us be faithful, wherever God’s Spirit calls us, to serve our Lord and Savior.
[excerpted from The St. Louis Presbyterian, 31.27 (10 September 1896): 435.]
Dr. Strickler was born at Strickler’s Springs, Rockbridge County, Virginia, April 25, 1840. On his father’s side he was of German descent; his great-grandfather being a Lutheran minister. On his mother’s side, (her name was Mary Brown) he belongs to that sturdy, earnest race, the Scots-Irish, who at an early date settled in the Valley of Virginia, and gave that favored land its strong leaning towards Presbyterian doctrine and polity. He was taught in the schools of the County, and at the outbreak of the Civil war was in Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. He entered the Southern Army with the College Company, who called themselves the “Liberty Hall Volunteers,” and this was a part of the 41st Virginia Regiment, and this regiment was a part of the famous “Stonewall Brigade,” receiving this name from its first commander Stonewall Jackson. The brigade was in nearly all the battles in which its famed commander took part, and always behaved with conspicuous courage and gallantry. The young soldier soon became the Captain of his company, by his gallant bearing, and popular manners. Twice was he wounded, but was soon back at his post. In a charge at the battle of Gettysburg, he was captured, and remained a prisoner in the hands of the Federals until the close of the war.
Then he entered Washington and Lee University, where he from the first took a high stand as a student. He graduated from this Institution in 1868, the last year acting also as Tutor in the University. He at once entered Union Theological Seminary, and graduated from this School of the Prophets in 1879, with the highest distinction. He was at once licensed by his Presbytery, and being invited to Tinkling Springs one of the largest and most influential of the country churches in Virginia, he was ordained and installed pastor in the fall of 1870. [In this pastorate he was following the Rev. R.L. Dabney (1847-1852) and preceding the Rev. J.A. Preston (1883-88).] About the same time he married Miss M.F. Moore, of one of the oldest and most respectable families of the Falling Spring’s church, near the Natural Bridge.
Dr. Strickler remained pastor of the Tinkling Spring Church for twelve years and a half. His reputation for vigorous and earnest preaching, clear and solid thinking, wise and faithful pastoral work, soon spread far and wide, and many calls from large and influential churches came to him. But he preferred to work at his first charge. Finally in the fall of 1882, the Central Church of Atlanta, Georgia, made such an earnest plea for his services that he yielded, and came to their church in the Spring of 1883.Hardly had he begun the work in their city before he was urgently and unanimously called to the chair of Church History in Union Theological Seminary. After a considerable struggle between his church, who fought his transfer, and the Seminary Committee, Atlanta Presbytery advised him to remain where he was; this he did with all cheerfulness and loyalty. His loving church at once began to build him a new, and a larger church.
This was finished in 1886, and is one of the handsomest and most commodious edifices in our Southern Church. Dr. Strickler’s fine administrative abilities soon manifested themselves, not only in the thorough organizations of his own church in its individual work, but also in the impetus given the work of our Presbyterian Zion all over the city, Presbytery and State. His church at once began to plant missions in different parts of the city, and several of them are now growing working churches. Dr. Strickler’s wisdom and ability were also most conspicuous in the contest against the teaching of Evolution in Columbia Seminary. As leader of the Anti-evolution men he won decided victories in the Synods at Marietta, La Grange and Sparta. Shortly after he was elected to the chair of Theology in Columbia Seminary and to Chancellorship of the University of Georgia both of which he declined.
In 1887 he was chosen moderator of the General Assembly of the Church which convened at Saint Louis. In this responsible and delicate position he acquitted himself most creditably and wisely. At this Assembly he was chosen chairman of the Southern Assembly’s Committee to confer with the Northern Church Committee in regard to organic union. In 1895 the Board of Directors by a unanimous vote elected Dr. Strickler to the important chair of Theology in Union Seminary, and gave him a year in which to decide the question; they at the same time promised to remove the Seminary from Hampden Sidney to Richmond the beautiful and historic capital of the State. During the winter of 1895-96, the devoted flock over which he had presided so long did everything in their power to induce him to decline this call. But a sense of duty to the Church at large impelled him to accept the call, and to ask the Presbytery to allow him to leave his church. It was a sad and solemn meeting which met for this purpose, we all felt that it was the will of the Lord calling His servant to a post for which by nature and training he was eminently fitted. Dr. Strickler preached his farewell sermon to his people on the last Sabbath in July, 1896, and will enter upon his new duties September 2, 1896.
Then in stating the truth as it appears to him, he is always as clear as one of our mountain streams; the simplest can understand him. In the pulpit, he is, besides all this, earnest and effective. In his dealings with his people he was always kind, sympathetic, wise. In the church court he is always patient, considerate of others, but eminently wise and faithful.
His theology is of the most orthodox type. He believes in the inspiration of the Scriptures, in the old fashioned orthodox Calvinistic type of religious thought. He has no crochets, no vagaries, no new ideal as to the cardinal truths of the word of God, and his strong loving character will impress this type of theology on all the students who come from his hand. May his bow long abide in strength. [Among his many honors and accomplishments were the Doctor of Divinity degree, conferred by Washington & Lee University in 1878, the LL.D. degree, awarded by Davidson College in 1894, a term of service as Moderator of the PCUS General Assembly in 1887, and his tenure as joint editor of The Presbyterian Quarterly.]
“The Nature, Value, and Special Utility of the Catechisms,” in Memorial Volume of the Westminster Assembly, 1647-1897, Containing Eleven Addresses Delivered Before the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, at Charlotte, N.C., in May, 1897, in Commemoration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly, and of the Formation of the Westminster Standards (Richmond, VA: The Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1897), pp. 115 – 138.
[Excerpt] : Teaching, by the catechetical method, has marked the history of the church almost from the beginning down to the present time. A divine warrant for it, if not requirement of it, may be found in such passages of God’s word as Deut. vi. 6, 7: “And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” And Exodus xii. 26, 27: “And it shall come to pass that when your children shall say to you, What mean ye by this service?” (the service of the passover) “that ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.” In these instances, in order to give children the full and accurate instruction they needed about the commandments of the Lord referred to, and about the important sacrament instituted in the church in the passover, it was necessary that a number of questions should be asked and answered; and then, that the truth about these and other subjects, once learned, might not be forgotten, but kept ever fresh in the memory, and in constant and influential contact with the mind and heart, it was necessary that it should be frequently reviewed; that there should be “precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little.” Thus, we may say, the catechetical method of instruction was instituted at the very beginning of the Mosaic dispensation.
“The Philosophy of Faith,” in The Presbyterian Quarterly, 16.2 (October 1902) 149-165.
Sermons. New York, Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1910. 273 p.; 20 cm. [available on the Web at http://catalog.hathitrust.org/api/volumes/oclc/20338521.html]