One venerable Christian practice, now largely forgotten, is that of personal covenanting. You might think of this practice as akin to New Year’s resolutions, but that would slight the practice, for it is of course so much more. A personal covenant is a solemn vow before the Lord, and so it is nothing to lightly enter into. Personal covenanting typically addresses sins in one’s life, recognizes duties before the Lord, and aspires to greater service, to the glory of God. Today’s post is in effect a form of a personal covenant.
Thomas Creigh was born in Landisburg, PA, on September 9, 1808, the seventh child in a family of ten. He was later educated at Dickinson College, and came to faith in Christ at about the time he graduated, in 1828. Providentially hindered from attending seminary, he studied theology privately under the tutelage of Dr. George Duffield. It is noted in Rev. Creigh’s autobiography that the theological text-book used by Dr. Duffield was the Scriptures in the original tongues. “The recitations were always begun with prayer to God for the guidance of His Holy Spirit. Creigh was at last able to attend Princeton Seminary in the 1829-30 academic year, after which he returned to study yet another year with Dr. Duffield. He was ordained and installed as pastor of the Presbyterian church of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, on November 16, 1831. Rev. Creigh served this church nearly fifty years,until his death on April 21, 1880.
Too often, in our own times, the responsibilities of a Christian pastor are lightly assumed and as lightly cast aside. The spirit with which Thomas Creigh entered upon his ministry may be best seen in a paper which he wrote on the day preceding his ordination and installation. It is headed “Desires”
“As a creature, I would desire to feel my entire dependence on God continually for life, health, food, raiment, friends, reason, and every other blessing. ‘In God we live and move and have our being.’
“As a sinner, I would desire to feel that my salvation is freely of grace; that I have no righteousness of my own; that I have no other friend than Christ. And in view of these things, I desire ever to feel those sacred obligations pressing upon me that ‘being bought with a price, even the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ I am in duty bound to present myself, ‘body, soul, and spirit, a living sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable.’
“As a minister of Jesus Christ, I would desire to feel how unworthy I am to be allowed to be put in trust with the Gospel; I would desire ever to look unto Thee for grace and strength to discharge its sacred functions; I would ever feel my entire dependence on the Spirit to own and apply my messages and my labors; I would desire to be faithful and to feel intensely for the souls of my fellow-beings, who are perishing around me and through the world; I would desire to have an eye single to Thy glory in their conversion; and I would desire to consecrate my time, my talents, and my abilities to the service of my Master; that His Kingdom may come with power among the children of men, and Thy Church, which Thou hast bought with Thy blood, may be universally established. And especially would I desire to be made instrumental in this congregation over which Thou hast called me to watch, in turning many sinners from death to life, and in building up Thy children in holiness.
“All these, O Lord, if my heart deceive me not, do I desire. All these do I seek for, and for all these things, through Thy grace, will I labor. Crown them with success, and ‘not unto me, not unto me, but unto Thy name,’ shall rebound all the honor and the glory. And now, Thou Great Head of the Church, I would pray, that on the coming day, Thou wouldst sustain and support me. O make ‘perfect Thy strength in my weakness.’ Give clear discoveries of the truth, and correct and proper views of the duties devolving upon me as a member of Christ. The Lord be with me according to His promise, ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even to the ends of the earth.’ And may these, my desires, be granted for Thy Son’s sake. And to Thy name, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God, my God in covenant, be ascribed eternal praise. Amen.
“November 16, 1831.”
Words to Live By:
Happy the people to whom God sends such a consecrated servant of His to be their minister. He is no heartless hireling bargaining for wages, for a comfortable living, for accumulating wealth, or for human applause. He is an ambassador of Christ, coming to deliver His message to do His work. It was with a true consecration of heart that Thomas Creigh entered upon the duties of his holy office. The sacredness and solemnity of the step most deeply impressed him. One desire filled his soul: To make Christ known, and promote Christ’s glory.
Today’s post is drawn from In Memoriam: Thomas Creigh, 1808-1880. (Harrisburg, PA: Lane S. Hart, Printer and Binder, 1880.), pp. 31-33.