General Assembly

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Henry Jackson Van Dyke, Sr., was born in Abington, Pennsylvania, 2 March 1822. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating there in 1843 and later graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1846. He was ordained by the Third Presbytery of Philadelphia in June of 1845 and installed as pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church at Bridgeton, New Jersey, where he served from 1845-1852. He was next called to pastor the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, PA, but only served there briefly, 1852-1853. His his final and longest pastorate was at the First Presbyterian Church (Later renamed the Second Presbyterian Church, following a merger) of Brooklyn, New York, 1853-1891. He died in Brooklyn on 25 May 1891. Honors conferred during his life included the Doctor of Divinity degree, awarded by Westminster College of Fulton, Missouri, 1865. In 1876, he served as Moderator of the 88th General Assembly of the PCUSA, as it met in Brooklyn, NY, just seven years after the reunion of the Old School and New School divisions of that denomination. Rev. Van Dyke was survived by his wife, Henrietta Ashmead Van Dyke [1820-1893]. Their marriage produced two sons, Henry Jackson Van Dyke, Jr. [1852-1933], who later became a noted author and poet; and Paul Van Dyke [1859-1933]. Paul was a Presbyterian minister at Geneva, NY, 1887–89, and then taught church history at Princeton Theological Seminary, 1889–92.

The Special Collections Department at Princeton University houses the Van Dyke Family collection, which include materials by Henry Jackson Van Dyke, Sr.  His papers include manuscripts of sermons (1844-1891), essays, speeches, Bible lessons, and theological notes. The correspondence subseries contains many letters to Van Dyke from clergymen, parishioners, friends, and family, often regarding the controversy caused by his publication of The Character and Influence of Abolitionism, the Reunion movement in the Church, and matters of the General Assembly. Men such as N. C. Burt, Howard Crosby, Cyrus Dickson, William H. Green, James O. Murray, E. D. Prime, and Nathaniel West are representative of Van Dyke’s correspondents. Searches on the Web tend almost entirely to only produce results dealing with his son, a well known author and poet of his era, who was theologically a moderate liberal. The question occurs of course, did the father’s errors push the son to react with yet more error. Would that both had instead listened to Rev. Sloane (see below) and repented of their sins.

It was on this day. December 9, 1860, that Rev. Henry J. Van Dyke delivered his discourse on “The Character and Influence of Abolitionism.”

He set forth four main points in his argument to undermine the abolitionist cause:

“Abolitionism has no foundation in the Scriptures.
Its principles have been promulgated by misrepresentation and abuse.
It leads, in multitudes of cases, and by a logical process, to utter infidelity.
It is the chief cause of the strife that agitates and the danger that threatens our country.”

Read Van Dyke’s discourse online here (HathiTrust) – http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009565957
or download here (Archives.org) – https://archive.org/details/characterinfluen07vand.
That work and some of his other works can also be found on a page set up under his name, over at the Log College Press web site

By all means then you must also read the review written by James Renwick Willson Sloane [1823-1886], a Reformed Presbyterian pastor and contemporary of Rev. Van Dyke. See the link below, or again, visit the page listing Rev. Sloane’s works, at the Log College Press.

Review of Rev. Henry J. Van Dyke’s discourse on “The character and influence of abolitionism,” a sermon preached in the Third Reformed Presbyterian Church, Twenty-third Street, New York, on Sabbath evening, December 23, 1860

Please be aware there is also an uplifting biography of Rev. Sloane that you should read, for he was a stalwart defender of Scriptural truth even in the face of determined opposition.

Life and work of J. R. W. Sloane, D. D., professor of theology in the Reformed Presbyterian seminary at Allegheny City, Penn. 1868-1886 and pastor of the Third Reformed Presbyterian church, New York, 1856-1868

Words to Live By:
Rev. Sloane was quite right to call out Henry Van Dyke for the error of what he was teaching. Apparently it is all too easy to get caught up in the prevailing culture and even Christians can be found living without a Biblical discernment on some matters. May our Lord give us discernment and conviction to repent of the sins of our time and culture. Better still, to mourn over the sins of our times. It is easy to condemn the sins of an earlier time; what are we doing to oppose the sins of today?

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Thomas Dwight Witherspoon, D.D., LL.D., by Richard H. Collins, LL.D., LOUISVILLE, Ky.

Rev. Thomas Dwight Witherspoon, D.D., LL.D., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Louisville, Ky., was born January 17th, 1886, in the village of Greensboro, Hale County, Alabama. He is now forty-nine years of age, just in the maturity of his powers.

His was a godly family; for his father and his father’s fathers for six generations were elders of the Presbyterian Church. And away back yonder, in the never dim but ever brightening distance, some of the gentle blood that now courses in his veins gave life and zeal and boldness and energy and vehemence and power unwonted to John Knox, the great leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, 1505-1372, more than three hundred years ago.

John Witherspoon, D.D., LL.D.. President of Princeton College, New Jersey, 1788-1788, a sturdy Scotch minister, theologian and statesman, whom readers of American history remember as a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a leader in the dark days of the American Revolution, was also in the line of direct ancestry: and a man of whom his children’s children to the latest generation may speak with honest pride. This pride of illustrious descent is with many people an excuse for lack of energy and personal excellence and success; but all those who have the root of the matter in them may well be thankful for God-fearing ancestors, who in their day and time were men of great excellence and boldness in the faith.

Robert Franklin Witherspoon and Sarah Agnes, his wife, were Presbyterians from principle, Christians of ardent piety. They were Bible readers and Bible scholars, and fond of theological inquiry; and in their admiration of the writings of the great theologian, Timothy Dwight, deemed it a graceful acknowledgment of the great things constantly found therein to name their boy Thomas Dwight—indulging a presentiment that the babe would some day grow to the stature of a theologian and leader in the Church. The training of the boy by the death of the father when he was only four years old, devolved upon the mother, and right bravely did she stand up to the responsibility thus cast upon her. At the early age of ten, her little boy gave beautiful proof of pious training, by publicly confessing Christ, one of a number brought into the fold under the preaching of Rev. Robert Nall, D.D., the evangelist of the Synod of Alabama.

In 1853, when seventeen years old, young Witherspoon entered upon his college course in the sophomore class of the University of Alabama; but in 1854 transferred his connection to the University of Mississippi, where he graduated in 1856 with the highest honors of his class. The same fall he entered the Theological Seminary at Columbia, South Carolina, where under the professorships of Doctors James H. Thornwell, Aaron W. Leland, George Howe, and John H. Adger, he completed the course, and in May, 1859, received his theological certificate or diploma.

The Presbytery of Chickasaw, of the Synod of Memphis, on June 6th, 1859, licensed him as a probationer for the Gospel ministry; and the same Presbytery on May 13th, 1860, ordained him to the full work of the ministry, and installed him as pastor of the Presbyterian church at Oxford, Mississippi.

This call to the church (his first church) in the town of the University from which he graduated with high honor in 1856, less than four years before, was a high compliment to him personally, and practically a high eulogy upon the character of his preaching—-its warmth and earnestness, and attractiveness to the young, of whom so many were gathered in the university and female schools of the town. His labors here were owned of God, in abundant blessing.

But in a twelvemonth a great change came over this quiet scene of peace and love between pastor and young people. The young men of his congregation and neighborhood, with the deep courage of their convictions, hesitated not for an hour when the tocsin of war—the War of the Rebellion—was sounded all over the land. The young preacher, no longer only their friend and pastor and spiritual adviser, became their fellow-soldier, enlisting as a private in the Lamar Rifles of the Eleventh Mississippi Volunteers. Thus the first year of the war passed; and thenceforward to the final surrender at Appomattox Court House, he was their chaplain, sharing in their hardships, nursing them in sickness, administering the consolations of the Gospel to the dying, and sending to the loved ones at home the messages entrusted to him at the last and painful parting.

The war was over at last, and the scene changed again. Laying aside the soldier and the chaplain, he entered upon another field, to preach again the Gospel of peace and love and mediatorial sacrifice, In August, he became pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church at Memphis, where he labored with marked success and blessing for five years—until August, 1870, when his health broke down under excessive exertion in a malarial climate, and forced him to resign a pastorate which had shown the ripe fruit of growth from 160 to 410 in membership, and became the strongest and most influential of that denomination in the city. And this, too, through epidemics of both cholera and yellow fever!

In the mountains of Virginia, as supply to the church at Christiansburg. Dr. Witherspoon spent the next years; and during the succeeding two years was chaplain of the University of Virginia, near Charlottesville.

In the summer of 1873, as a further means of restoring his impaired health, Dr. Witherspoon crossed the ocean, and travelled extensively in Europe. On his return, in October, 1873, he accepted the pastorate of Tabb Street Presbyterian Church, in Petersburg, Va., one of the largest in the South. After nine years of marked usefulness here, a unanimous call to the old First Presbyterian Church of Louisville, Ky., opened up a wider field, and which he felt it duty to accept.

Since settling there in the fall of 1882, as if the labor of that important church were not enough to tax his superabundant energy, he has been chairman of the Committee of Evangelistic Labor of the Synod of Kentucky—having the oversight of some twenty evangelists, as a result of whose labors over four thousand communicants have been added to the roll of the Synod!

In 1874, at the age of thirty-eight, Dr. Witherspoon took his seat for the first time in the General Assembly, at Columbus, Mississippi, only about one hundred miles east of where he began his ministerial life; and in 1884, just ten years later, at the age of forty-eight, he was elected Moderator of and presided over the General Assembly at Vicksburg, Mississippi, just two hundred miles southwest of the same beginning point, Oxford, Mississippi. And the same University that graduated him with high honor in 1858, at the age of twenty, conferred upon him in 1867, at the age of thirty-one, the distinguished honor of D.D., and in 1884, at the age of forty-eight, the more distinguished honor of LL.D. Such a succession of honors is almost unparalleled; and the State of Mississippi, while witnessing within her borders this high appreciation by the Presbyterian Church in the South of one of her favorite sons, has borne a beautiful testimony to his great energy, consecrated talent, and noble character.

As a writer in the Church newspapers, Dr. Witherspoon has written frequently, judiciously, and effectively. The following are among the larger and more important publications from his pen, in book form; “The Appeal of the South to its Educated Men” (1866);  “Children of the Covenant” (1873); “Materialism in its Relations  to Modem Civilization” (1878); and “Letters on Romanism” (1882).

Among the most decided evidences of the high appreciation of Dr. Witherspoon’s practical talents by the Presbyterian Church and people of the South, is the great number of calls he has had to prominent churches, his election to chairs in or the presidency of colleges and universities, and the professorships in theological seminaries that have been offered him. The latest distinction of this kind of which we have heard is his election as president of Davidson College, at Charlotte, North Carolina. This, and all others, he promptly declined; because he felt that the great mission of his life is to preach the Gospel. In the pulpit and on the platform he is emphatically extemporaneous; always trusting to the inspiration of the moment for words to clothe the ideas and emphasize the thoughts he has diligently studied out in his room.

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Beginnings can be Interesting

Beginnings of anything can be interesting. This author once planted a mission church in  a sizeable Midwest city. He had done all the preliminary preparation for the mission. Several families committed themselves to the endeavor. The first worship service was planned in a spacious worship center of an evangelical church, rented for the occasion. We all went with expectations of a good beginning, but only one family showed up for the beginning worship time.  It is true that God did some extraordinary things in the first six years of our ministry there. I rejoice that this established church is progressing ahead by means of being a mother church to several congregations.  But it was anything but encouraging in the early years, especially that first Lord’s Day.

In 1560, a Scottish Reformation Parliament abrogated and annulled the papal jurisdiction for Scottish churches, ending all the authority flowing from Rome.

This set the grounds for the establishment of the Church of Scotland that same year. Let W. M. Hetherington in his book “History of the Church of Scotland” pick up the account. He writes on page 53, “They (the Reformation Parliament) enacted no ecclesiastical jurisdiction whatever in its stead. This it left the reformed Church to determine upon and effect by its own intrinsic powers. And this is a fact of the utmost  cannot be too well known and kept in remembrance. It is, indeed, on e of the distinctive characteristics of the Church of Scotland, that it owes its origin, its form, its jurisdiction, and its discipline, to no earthly power. And when the ministers and elders of the church of Scotland resolved to meet in a General Assembly, to deliberate on matters, which might tend to the promotion of God’s glory and the welfare of the Church, they did so in  virtue of the authority which they believed the Lord Jesus Christ had given to the Church. The parliament which abolished the papal jurisdiction made not the slightest mention of  General Assembly. In that time of comparatively simple and honest faith, even statesmen seem instinctively to have perceived, that to interfere in matters of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, so as to appoint ecclesiastical tribunals, specify  their nature, and assign their limits, was not within their province. It had been well for the kingdom if statesmen of succeeding times, certainly not their superiors in talent and in judgment, had been wise enough to follow their example.”

The first meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was held on this day, December 20, 1560. Forty delegates were in attendance. For that number, only six were ministers. They were John Knox (Edinburgh), Christophere Gudman (St. Andrews), John Row (Perth), David Lindesay (Leith), William Harlaw (St. Cuthberts), and William Christesone (Dundee). While their names with the exception of Knox and possible Row are unknown to many of our readers, Hetherington remarks that “they were men of great abilities, of deep piety, fitted and qualified by their Creator for the work which he had given them to do.” (p. 53)

Words to Live By:
Not only had the Creator fitted and qualified them, but so had their Great Redeemer fitted and acquired them to raise up a Church faithful and true to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. It may have been small in man’s estimation at the beginning, but the Spirit of God judged it otherwise. He would bring the increase in His time. So be faithful, dear reader, to where God has planted you. He will accomplish His will through you to the area where you have been planted to serve our Lord and Savior.

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Our post today focuses on the life and ministry of the Rev. Francis McFarland, with an obituary published on the pages of THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER late in 1871.

The Christian Observer, 50.46 (15 November 1871), p. 2, columns 5-6.

THE LATE F. McFARLAND, D.D.

mcfarland_francisThe life, labors and character of this eminently useful servant of Christ, whose death was briefly noticed in our columns three weeks since, are worthy of a memorial which will long be cherished as a rich legacy to the Church. The sketch presented in the following paragraphs contains the principal incidents of his life, given by the editor of the Central Presbyterian:

“He was born in the south of Ireland, in the province of Ulster, in January, 1788. When he was five years old, in 1793, his parents emigrated to this country and settled in Western Pennsylvania. He was graduated at Jefferson and Washington College in 1818, and shortly after entered Princeton Theological Seminary, where he was a fellow-student with Rev. Drs. Charles Hodge, Wm. B. Sprague, Joseph Smith and Bishop Johns. In a communication written when he was more than eighty years of age, he says:

‘I regard it as one of the kindest dispensations of Divine Providence towards me, that I was led to that institution where I enjoyed the esteem of those wise and holy men, Dr. Archibald Alexander and Dr. Samuel Miller, then the only Professors in the institution, and who honored me with their friendship as long as they lived.’

He was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of New Brunswick in October, 1819; and in 1829 he was appointed a missionary by the Assembly’s Board to labor in Indiana and Missouri. He then spent three months preaching to the First Presbyterian church, Brooklyn, N.Y., then recently organized. While laboring there, he was (August 1, 1822) ordained sine titulo, by the Presbytery of New Brunswick. In the fall of that year he had a severe attack of typhus fever accompanied with hemorrhage from the lungs, in consequence of which, as soon as partially recovered, he was advised by his physician to travel to the South on horseback.

Accordingly, he proceeded to Staunton, Va., “where he was the guest of that noble Christian gentleman, and eminent physician, Dr. Addison Waddell, for whom he ever cherished the highest regard.” His health being greatly improved, he was invited to preach in the church of Bethel, then vacant. After supplying the pulpit for three Sabbaths, he received a unanimous call from that congregation to become their pastor. This call he accepted, and in the year following was duly installed, the Rev. Dr. Ruffner preaching the sermon, and Rev. Dr. Speece delivering the “charge.”

He resigned his pastoral office to enter upon the duties of Secretary of Education, in March, 1836, to which he was apppointed the preceding year. He continued in the services of this Board, which were highly appreciated, till August, 1841, when, having been called to his old charge, he returned to his home among the people of the Bethel congregation. As the Presbyterian remarks, “He was for many years a man of very infirm health. His afflictions from asthma was t times very distressing. He seldom knew the luxury of uninterrupted sleep, the only posture of rest was in a chair. It was a constant wonder to his friends that long ago both body and mind did not sink under the pressure of disease. But in the midst of growing infirmities his labors were continued till about five years ago, they were relieved by the settlement of the Rev. Jas. Murray as collegiate pastor. Having lived to welcome this brother (between whom and himself there was a relation of constant harmony and affection) his pastoral work ceased. He was almost constantly confined to his home for years past, and much of the time to his couch. About a year ago, Mrs. McFarland was called to the heavenly home before him. He most patiently waited all his appointed days tills his own change should come.

“His end, which he had been long expecting, was in ‘perfect peace,’ and was announced by the Rev. Mr. Murray in a brief note written on October 10, 1871. ‘He breathed his last this morning about five o’clock, in his sleep, in the 84th year of his age. Thus, he was spared all consciousness of the death struggle, and indeed all pain in the act of dying. For the last few weeks his decline has been more marked and rapid, and was attended with much suffering; but in all of it he was not only sustained by the grace of God, so as to endure it without murmuring, but was enabled to rejoice in God his Saviour, with a full assurance of a blessed immortality beyond the grave.’

“The sketch of Dr. McFarland’s life here given, is of necessity very imperfect. Having known him for nearly fifty years, and an intimate friendship for about thirty, our feelings plead for a much fuller expression than the space suitable for it permits. The aged and good minister of Jesus Christ was no common man. He was a man of great worth, and has been so esteemed wherever known. His long life was not only without a stain, but was adorned with gifts and graces which mark it as one to be had in everlasting remembrance.

“In the councils of the Church it would not be easy to point out his superior. His eminent piety, the uncommon soundness of his judgment, his remarkable prudence, and conciliatory spirit—though none more inflexibly firm and true to principle—gave his opinions great weight from the Church Session up to the General Assembly. To this last judicatory he was more frequently sent than any other member of Lexington Presbytery; and in the Assembly of 1856, having been chosen as the Moderator, he presided over its deliberations with a dignity and skill not only satisfactory to all, but which excited general admiration.

Words to Live By:
Noting that Rev. McFarland was born in Ireland in 1788 and emigrated to the United States in 1793, his life at that point makes for an interesting comparison with that of the Rev. Alexander McLeod who was born in Ireland in 1774 and who emigrated here in the 1790s. McLeod being a bit older, remembered the bitter lessons of Irishmen being enslaved by the English, and so as a young pastor, spoke out against the enslavement of blacks. In contrast, McFarland, coming to this country as a child, may not have been raised with that historical awareness of his Irish heritage, and later taking up a pastorate in Virginia, he became a committed advocate of the Southern Confederate cause. We can only assume his views on slavery followed suit. Had he remained in the north, would he have had those same views? Perhaps, for  we readily admit that sin knows no geographical boundaries. Moreover, we know that even true Christians can be decidedly wrong about things, be they political, social, economic, or other. Most people, Christians included, tend to mirror the views of friends and close associates. The man or woman who can stand against the overwhelming sympathies of the crowd is a rare individual indeed. Don’t be so brazen as to think you can be that rare person, but do make every effort to be rooted and grounded in the Scriptures. With fear and trembling, make every effort to live out the Scriptures and to live above the prevailing winds of culture and the times, with your eyes fixed on Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord. May God grant you the mercy and strength to live out His will, regardless of what society may bring your way.

Some Scripture References on Choosing Your Friends Wisely: Psalm 1:1 and 26:4-5; Proverbs 11:14; 12:26; 13:20; 16:29; 22:24-25; 24:6; 27:6; 28:23; I Cor. 5:11 and 15:33.

Image source: Portrait as found in The Presbyterian Magazine, 1856.

For Further Study:
Papers of Francis McFarland, 1815-1871, Archival Material – 2 reels : microfilm; 35mm.

Abstract: Collection contains 23 diaries and account books and 25 manuscripts, 1821-1864. With these are an analytical outline by W. Edwin Hemphill and two brief biographies of McFarland. The collection contains student writings; notebooks from lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary; diaries of missionary trips into “the pines” of Southeasern N.J. and the midwest, including contacts with the Cherokee Indians; attendance at General Assemblies; expense accounts; politics in Washington, D.C. (1832); Philadelphia; meteorological observations; his church and life in Augusta County, Va., the Civil War including the splitting of the Presbyterian Church, deaths of his sons, and religion in the Confederate camps.

The collection contains student writings; notebooks from lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary; diaries of missionary trips into “the pines” of Southeasern N.J. and the midwest, including contacts with the Cherokee Indians; attendance at General Assemblies; expense accounts; politics in Washington, D.C…

See http://vshadow.vcdh.virginia.edu/personalpapers/collections/augusta/mcfarland.html for more information.

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The 100th General Assembly of the PCUSA was notable as the first time in which the disrupted Church, North and South, met fraternally. The Southern Presbyterian Church, while meeting in Assembly in Baltimore, came to meet with the Northern Presbyterians during their Assembly in Philadelphia. Discusssions of a permanent reunion were on the table, but nothing came of it. News of that event, as reported in a denominational magazine of the day, follows:

THE PRESBYTERIAN CONGRESS.

The great Presbyterian Congress—its General Assembly—begins its sessions in Philadelphia to-day. As our Philadelphia dispatches showed yesterday, it is a body notable for the number of distinguished divines and laymen who are to lead its deliberations. Of the 500 delegates in attendance a large majority are prominent in the States from which they come, and there are scores of men who are known and honored all over the country, while some of them are recognized by Protestants the world over, as leaders of the religious thought and action of the age.

The great gathering suggests more than ecclesiastical or denominational considerations and reminiscences. It reminds intelligent students of the history of this country of the intimate relations between Presbyterianism in its various forms with the history of the struggles for religious and political freedom, in the old world and in the new. It was the love of freedom of the Presbyterians in Great Britain that brought on them the persecutions and trials that drove here hundreds of thousands of Presbyterians, who became the staunchest and most intelligent supporters of American independence. The same causes gave to the American colonies the splendid qualities for citizenship that were possessed by the exiled Huguenots and by the Dutch Presbyterians. It was a natural and most vitally important result that during the whole period of the Revolutionary war the Presbyterian churches were unanimously for American independence and furnished a large proportion of the ablest civil and military leaders who conducted the war and founded the Union.

One of the most notable  concessions as to the harmony between Presbyterianism and our peculiar form of government was made by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, John Hughes, when he wrote these words:

“Though it is my privilege to regard the authority exercised by the General Assembly as usurpation, still I must say with every man acquainted with the mode in which it is organized, that for the purpose of popular and political government, its organization is little inferior to that of Congress itself. It acts on the principle of a radiating centre, and is without equal or rival among the other denominations of the country.”

[excerpted from The Church at Work, 2.34 (31 May 1888): 3.]

President Grover Cleveland’s Address to the Members of the General Assemblies.
[The Church at Work, 2.34 (31 May 1888): 4]

I am very much gratified by the opportunity here afforded me to meet the representatives of the Presbyterian Church. Surely, a man never should lose his interest in the welfare of the church in which he was reared. Those of us who inherit fealty to our church as I do, begin early to learn those things which make us Presbyterians all the days of our lives, and thus it is that the rigors of our early teaching, by which we are grounded, in our lasting allegiance, are especially vivid, and perhaps, the best remembered. The attendance upon church service three times each Sunday, and upon Sabbath school during the noon intermission, may be irksome enough to a boy of ten or twelve years of age to be well fixed in his memory, but I have never known a man who regretted these things in the years of his maturity. The Shorter Catechism, though thoroughly studied and learned, was not, perhaps, at the time, perfectly understood, and yet in the stern labors and duties of after life those are not apt to be the worst citizens who were taught “What is the chief end of man.”

Speaking of these things, and in the presence of those here assembled, I may say the most tender thoughts crowd upon my mind—all connected with Presbyterianism, and its teachings. There are present with me now memories of a kind and affectionate father, consecrated to the cause and called to his rest and his reward, in the mid-day of his usefulness; a sacred recollection of the prayers and pious love of a sainted mother, and a family circle hallowed and sanctified by the spirit of Presbyterianism. I cannot but express the wish and the hope that the Presbyterian church will always be at the front in every movement which promises the temporal as well as the spiritual advancement of mankind.

In the turmoil and bustle of every day life few men are foolish enough to ignore the practical value to our people and our country of the church organization established among us, and the advantage of Christian example and teaching. While we may be pardoned for insisting that our denomination is the best, we may, I think, safely concede much that is good to all other churches that seek to make men better.

I am here to greet the delegates of two General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church. One is called “North” and the other “South.” The subject is too deep and intricate for me, but I cannot help wondering why this should be. These words, so far as they denote separation and estrangement, should be obsolete. In the councils of the Nation and in the business of the country they no longer mean reproach and antagonism. Even the soldiers who fought for the “North” and for the “South” are restored to fraternity and unity. This fraternity and unity is taught and enjoined by our church. When she shall herself be united, with all the added strength and usefulness, then harmony and union ensue.

Words to Live By:
How the mighty have fallen. How some have departed over these many years from the clear proclamation of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. We take no pride in making such an observation. If anything, we should be immensely humbled, knowing our own sinful hearts. Indeed, we should fear the Lord and daily strive to draw near to Him. May the Lord by His Holy Spirit bring repentance. May He revive His Church in these latter days.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.—I Corinthians 10:12, NASB.

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