Every Christian worker should have an experience like that of Daniel Baker.
In the thirty-ninth year of his life and ministry, the twelfth year of his pastoral ministry, he felt a dryness in his soul, which was evidenced by a lack of fruitfulness in his ministry.
So he went not to the philosophers of his day, nor to the Christian counselors, nor to any self-help guru, but rather to God Himself. Going into the woods on August 10, 1830 near his house in Savannah, Georgia, he came to a cemetery. Entering it, finding a tree near a brick tomb, he began to cry to God for revival.
Returning to his congregation, he held a congregational prayer meeting in which he requested the members of that church to write notes for whom prayer might be especially desirable. Forty-six notes were returned to him, all of them desiring the regeneration either of themselves or others of their families. Dr. Baker added a note that he might be given a love for the souls of lost men and women, with the result that there be a successful ministry in his labors for Christ.
Following up this spiritual exercise were a series of meetings, sometimes upwards to three sermons per day being preached. The outpouring of God’s regenerating Spirit was such that 250 individuals professed Christ as Savior and were led into God’s kingdom. In addition, the work of grace went through the entire city of Savannah, Georgia.
That work of grace continued in other parts of Georgia, as revival swept the whole coastlands of the state. Multitudes of people came into the kingdom. Eight of the converts became ministers of the gospel. Dr. Baker went into full-time evangelistic work. It would be noted that in the two years after this event, some 2500 people acknowledged Christ as Lord and Savior.
Words to live by: It all started with a personal day of reflection and prayer. Think about it a moment. Could not all of us need such a day as this? Oh, we need not find a lonely cemetery in the country, but rather some place where we would not be interrupted and could commune with the Lord God of heaven and earth. Look at your life. Are you satisfied that you are having the kind of spiritual influence on your family, church, work, and society that you could be having? If that answer is in the negative, why not plan such a day right now, set it aside, and pray for a personal revival in your soul.
[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.
Bethel Presbyterian Church, in Clover, South Carolina, ranks as one of the oldest churches in the PCA, having been founded in 1764. Francis D. Cummins was Bethel’s second pastor serving from 1782 – April 17, 1789 He was born in 1752 near Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. His parents were Charles Cummins and Rebecca McNickle Cummins who were from Northern Ireland. When Francis Cummins was in his 19th year, his family moved to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The neighboring college, then Queens Museum, afforded him the opportunity for his higher education. It was there that he graduated about the year 1776.
Francis Cummins was an active and zealous Patriot in the Revolutionary War. He was present at the reading of the Mecklenburg Declaration in 1775. After leaving college he was engaged chiefly in the business of teaching. He was for several years a preceptor at Clio Academy, a respectable German Seminary in Rowan County (now Iredell County), North Carolina. While Mr. Cummins was engaged in teaching, he studied theology under the direction of Dr. James Hall. Francis Cummins was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Orange on December 15, 1780. During the year 1781 he preached at various places and in the spring of 1782 accepted a call from Bethel Church where he was ordained at the close of that year.
Rev. Cummins was one of the original members of South Carolina Presbytery when it was set off from Orange Presbytery in 1785. In the spring of 1788 while residing at Bethel and serving both as pastor and teacher of the youth, he was elected by the people of the York District as a member of the South Carolina Convention called to decide upon the Constitution of the United States. Although all his colleagues were for rejecting it, Rev. Cummins voted in its favor. Sometime between 1782 and 1789 Bethel Academy was organized by Rev. Cummins. The first school was built about one and a half miles north of the church. Education and religion were closely associated in the early days of the church. It was a common practice that the minister of the church also taught in the school. In 1788 the old Presbytery of South Carolina held its seventh session at Bethel. This was perhaps the first Presbytery meeting ever held at Bethel Church. Rev. Cummins was the Moderator.
Rev. Cummins was married to Sarah Davis. They were the parents of eight children. Mrs. Cummins died December 10, 1790. Rev. Cummins married the second time in October 1791 to Sarah Thompson.
After leaving Bethel Rev. Cummins was the pastor at several churches in the western part of South Carolina. In 1793 he was appointed by the Presbytery to collect facts in regard to the early history of all the churches at that time. These records were received and approved by the Presbytery.
In 1803 Rev. Cummins moved to the state of Georgia. He was the first minister to preach at Salem Presbyterian Church (formerly named Liberty Presbyterian Church), Philomath, Georgia in their new location.
Rev. Cummins was the first rector or principal of the Meson Academy, Lexington, Georgia. In 1920 Meson Academy became Oglethorpe County High School.
Rev. Cummins had a great vigor of constitution. He was an admirable scholar and a well-read theologian. He was uncommonly gifted in prayer, was vivid and clear in his conceptions, having great power of condensation in the use of language. In stature he was above the common size with broad shoulders, expanded frame, large limbs, a high forehead and a deep-toned, guttural voice.
In January 1832 he was attacked with influenza which terminated his life. He died on February 22, 1832, and is buried in the Greensboro City Cemetery, Greensboro, Georgia.
Related here is a brief account of Presbyterian missions among the Cherokee and Choctaw Indians, just prior to and immediately following the grave injustice of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Removal Act resulted in what is now known to history as “The Trail of Tears,” in which tribes were forcibly relocated to the West. It could be argued that the Presbyterian mission never recovered from this setback, though efforts continued, particularly in the latter part of the nineteenth century:—
In 1816, the Rev. Cyrus Kingsbury was sent out under the direction of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to visit the destitute portions of Tennessee. After spending some months in discharging his commission, he repaired to the Cherokee country. At a full council of the Cherokees and Creeks, at which Colonel Meigs, the Indian agent, and General Andrew Jackson, in behalf of the United States Government, were present, Kingsbury proposed to the Indians his plan of missions. It was favorably entertained. The chiefs invited the establishment of mission schools, and Mr. Kingsbury, in conjunction with a representative of the tribes, was directed to seek out a fit location. The result was the selection of the mission station known thenceforth by the name of the devoted missionary “Brainerd.” This project had previously been frustrated by the War of 1812 and by the removal of key men. It was now revived under better circumstances. In 1817, additional workers came, among them the Rev. Ard Hoyt, who was for some years pastor at the Presbyterian church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
In the following year the mission to the Choctaws began, of which Rev. Kingsbury was invited to take charge. The laborers among the Cherokees were increased in number by the addition of laymen—Abijah Conger, John Vaill, and John Talmage, along with their respective families, and all from New Jersey. The removal of the tribes to the region beyond the Mississippi, though sorely opposed to their own desires, had already commenced; and in the latter part of November, 1817, Alfred Finney and Cephas Washburn set out on their journey, through a wilderness rendered almost impassable by flooded swamps and overflowing creeks, from Brainerd to Eliot in Arkansas.
The laborers in the mission field at Brainerd were for the most part connected with the Presbytery of Union, in East Tennessee. Robert Glen was a licentiate, Christopher Bradshaw a candidate, and “Father” Hoyt a member of it. The meetings of the Presbytery were to them “refreshing seasons.” Especially was this the case at the present juncture. “The Lord had recently poured out His Spirit in many parts of this Presbytery, and the friends of Zion” were “looking up with rejoicing.” The Presbytery had six young men under its care as candidates for the ministry, most of them, doubtless, the pupils of Anderson.
The missionaries were visited and cheered, among others, by members of the Presbytery and missionaries sent out by the Assembly. Saunders and Moderwell visited them on their tour. Erastus Root from Georgia, and Vinal and Chapman, sent out by the United Foreign Mission Society at New York on an exploring tour among the Indians west of the Mississippi, called upon them. Numerous and refreshing were these repeated visits from members or ministers of Presbyterian churches throughout the land. But a special interest was taken in the progress of the mission by the churches of Tennessee. In 1819, Isaac Anderson, Matthew Donald, and William Eagleton (of Kingston) were the visiting committee of the Presbytery, and signed the report of the examination of the mission schools.
From year to year the reports were generally favorable. In 1822 the large establishment at Brainerd was divided, and its members distributed abroad throughout the bounds of the tribe. In the following year nearly one hundred persons gave evidence of hopeful conversion, and at Willstown a church “on the Presbyterian model,” consisting of nine converted Cherokees, was organized on October 10th, and connected with Union Presbytery. Already in September of the same year the churches at Brainerd, Carmel, and Hightower had been received, so that on the list of the Presbytery were four churches within the limits of the Cherokee mission. The number was increased by the organization of another church at Candy’s Creek in the following year.
But already the plan was formed which was to result in disaster to the mission by the removal of the Cherokees beyond the Mississippi. Georgia took the lead in the harsh and cruel measures by which this plan was carried out. The missionaries were indignant and disheartened at the perfidy which violated repeated and most solemn treaties. They saw their own labors interrupted; they saw those whom they had been encouraged to hope would soon be brought to embrace the gospel, outraged and alienated by an injustice which found no excuse but in the sophistry of unscrupulous avarice, while the prospects of future success for the mission were becoming more dark and gloomy continually.
Still, they did not remit their efforts. Amid sad discouragements they labored on. Portions of the tribe were from time to time depairingly forsaking their old hunting grounds and their fathers’ graves for new homes in the distant wilderness. Yet, till actual violence was offered, and by the arrest of their persons the resolute purpose to effect a forcible removal of the Cherokees became too obvious to be longer questioned they remained faithful to their work. But from 1829 to 1835 the odious project was pushed forward to its disastrous results. Yet for nearly twenty years the Cherokee mission, largely sustained by the sympathy of the Presbyterian Church in Tennessee, presented a noble example of self-denying Christian effort,—the more striking when contrasted with the greed and injustice of men who viewed the native tribes only in the light of their own mercenary projects.
[The above account is excerpted, with some editing, from E. H. Gillett’s very readable History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. (1864), Vol. II, pp. 320-323.]
Words to Live By:
There are perhaps no easy answers when faced with such situations. One thing is clear, the Church is tasked by her Lord with the charge of proclaiming the Gospel, irrespective of opposition. “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19b-20). Pray that we might be spared such trials, but if they come, may we be found faithful to the One who bought us with His own blood.
Considered by many to have been the foremost educator in the South, Moses Waddell was of Irish parentage and was born in Rowan (now Iredell) county, North Carolina, on July 29th, 1770. He received his academic education at a school which was opened in the neighborhood under the name of Clio’s Nursery. For four years, beginning at the age of fourteen, he was engaged as a teacher (1784-1788) at various places in North Carolina and Georgia.
Leaving his employment as a teacher, he enrolled as a student at the Hampden-Sydney College, graduating there in 1791. The next year he was licensed to preach by the Hanover Presbytery, of Virginia, on May 12, 1792.
About 1793, Waddell opened his first school in Columbia county, Georgia, then another in 1801, in Vienna, Abbeville District, South Carolina. He remained in that work until 1804, when he removed to Willington, six miles south of Vienna, and it was at Willington where he founded the famous Willington Academy. It was common for Presbyterian pastors to maintain an academy, in part for the extra income, and in part because they could thus guide the moral, religious and intellectual education of the children of their parish.
All of these schools were designed as preparatory schools, utilizing a classical education model. As the fame of the Willington Academy grew, it came to be called the “Eton in the woods”. To give one example of the school’s rigor, students were required to memorize, translate and recite some 250 lines of Greek or Latin every night. A Willington graduate, South Carolina governor George McDuffie, held the record, having once recited over 2200 lines of the poet Horace.
In 1818, Waddell was elected President of what was then Franklin College, later to become the University of Georgia. However, he did not actually step into the duties of this office until May, 1819. While serving as an educator, he also labored as a pastor, founding the Presbyterian Church in Athens, Georgia in 1820. During his tenure at the University, the school prospered greatly, and he continued here as President until 1829. Resigning his post, he returned to Willington. For forty-five years he had labored as a teacher. His labors as a pastor continued another six or seven years more, and the Rev. Dr. Moses Waddell’s life drew to a close on July 21, 1840.
“The boys called him ‘Old Moses,’ and while he believed in corporal punishment, he never spanked in a passion, and it finally evolved that he did this only upon a verdict of a peer jury of students. He never spanked for a deficient lesson but chiefly for defects in morals or actions that had to be punished.
“He was a cheerful man even playful in his disposition. He maintained a personal interest in each boy. He had a wry sense of humor. When boys on second floor dumped water on him as he went in a door, he said nothing, but later raised an umbrella as he went in the door to the delight of the boys.
“His strength seems to have been to analyze the boys accurately, then demanded accordingly. He was not a man who used sentiment to escape facing the laziness of adolescence. He demanded. They groaned, they gave, they griped, they worshiped him later. There was a chestnut tree outside the Doctor’s study window that the boys remembered watching as they waited to see the Doctor if they had done anything wrong. Others would climb it to see if anyone was punished by him.
“Dr. Smith, the president of Princeton College, was quoted as saying that he received no students from any school in the United States who stood better examinations than those of Dr. Waddel.”
As a pastor, Alfred Nevin notes that “he was pious, zealous, and well versed in theology generally. His style of preaching was plain, simple, earnest. He addressed himself much more to the understanding than to the imagination or passions. As a teacher he stands almost unrivaled.”
Words to Live By: In The Great Doctor Waddell, by Dr. James McLeod, the author provides a compilation of the students educated under Waddell. The list includes two Vice-Presidents, three Secretaries of State, three Secretaries of War, one Assistant Secretary of War, one US Attorney-general, Ministers to France, Spain and Russia, one US Supreme Court Justice, eleven governors, seven US Senators, thirty two members of the US House of Representatives, twenty two judges, eight college presidents, seventeen editors of newspapers or authors, five members of the Confederate Congress, two bishops, three Brigadier-generals, and one authentic Christian martyr.
In light of which, this might be a good time to review again the words of Dr. R. B. Kuiper, posted here this past July 15th:
“God has seen fit to reveal Himself to man in two books—the Bible, the book of special revelation, and nature and history, the book of general revelation. Now it is the duty of the organized Church to teach men the content of the former of these books, while it is the special task of the school to open the latter. To be sure, the two may not be separated. Truth can hardly be dealt with so mechanically. After all, truth is one because God is one. Truth is organic. And only he who has learned to understand the Bible can really know history and nature. Yet the distinction is a valid one. The Church can hardly be expected to teach the intricacies of mathematics, physics, astronomy, or the history of the Balkans. Nor does any one demand of the school that it preach the gospel. But Church and school together must declare the whole of God’s revealed truth.”
The following brief account concerns the small controversy over the ecclesiastical views of Jonathan Edwards. There is a separate account, to the same conclusion, originally told by Dr. Archibald Alexander and then related by the Rev. R. J. Breckinridge on the pages of the Philadelphia magazine, The Presbyterian. [perhaps I can retrieve that article soon]. But […]
Dr. David Calhoun just a few years ago published a volume on the life and ministry of the Rev. Dr. William Childs Robinson, the Columbia Seminary professor who was such a powerful influence in the lives of many of the founding fathers of the PCA. [Pleading for a Reformation Vision. Banner of Truth, 2013]. Let’s let […]
The Westminster Standards are the Standards of the Presbyterian Church We have already considered the meeting which took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which stopped an impending schism in the infant Presbyterian Church by The Adopting Act of 1729, as was presented on September 17. But there was another important commitment made by the infant church as part of this multi-day […]
It was yesterday actually—September 17th, 1936—and not today’s date of September 18th, when Dr. J. Gresham Machen spoke in Westfield, New Jersey on the subject “Shall We Obey God, or Man?”. But as we didn’t want to pass up mention of this occasion, so you will please forgive a bit of backtracking. This appears to be one […]
A Potential Schism Halted by a Compromise Initially there was no real problem with the written standards for the Presbyterian Church in America. Ministerial students were simply tested for their learning and soundness in the faith. But a controversy in the mother country soon changed this. So the question arose, should teaching and ruling elders be […]
Excerpted from Volume III of The Presbyterian Magazine, September 1853, pp. 413-415.This recounting of the venerable Dr. Alexander’s farewell to his congregation bears the following footnote: THE PRESBYTERIAN says, that “A valued friend recently discovered in the possession of one of the Pine Street parishoners of Dr. Archibald Alexander, a manuscript copy of the remarks made […]
This is the concluding article in the series PRESBYTERIANS IN AMERICA. The author, Rev. Prof. Paul Woolley, was formerly the professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. I do hope you have found Rev. Woolley’s articles both interesting and instructive, and I do trust that our readers are more familiar now than […]
Dr. Paul Woolley’s series of articles on Presbyterians in America continues today with a segment on churches of Covenanter ancestry. Please keep in mind that these articles were written in the early 1950s and so much has changed since that time. VI – The Churches of Covenanter Ancestry [Reformed Presbyterian Advocate, 86.3 (March 1952): 25-26] […]
On August 27th, 1820, the Rev. Sylvester Larned appeared for the last time before the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans. He had remained in the city during the summer’s “sickly season.” Death from fever was everywhere, and Rev. Larned has spent those weeks and months ministering to the city’s poor who […]
Dr. Woolley’s series of articles on Presbyterians in America continues today with a focus on the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Bible Presbyterian Church. Our Monday and Tuesday posts will conclude this series. Do keep in mind that these articles were written in the early 1950s and so much has changed since that time. V […]