Jefferson College

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carroll_daniel_lynnThe Power of Preaching

Daniel Lynn Carroll was born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, on May 10th, 1797. After surmounting great obstacles to his education, he was finally able to graduate from Jefferson College in 1823, at the age of twenty-six. He then enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary and took the three-year curriculum, staying for another six months of study after graduation. Of Mr. Carroll, Archibald Alexander said that he was one of his finest students.

Seeking a call, he was installed as the pastor of a Congregational church in Litchfield, Connecticut in October of 1827. Then early in March, 1829, he accepted a call from the First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, Long Island, though this pastorate ended in 1835, due to a severe throat ailment.

Almost immediately he was appointed to serve as the President of the Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. Carroll, unknown to most at the school, was elected to the position almost entirely on the testimony of one old friend who was among the College’s trustees. His term here too was relatively brief, with Rev. Carroll resigning over what was described as “some theological difficulties.” Without further investigation, it appears that Rev. Carroll may have been a New School man, and thus his problems.

Upon his resignation from Hampden-Sydney, Carroll accepted a call to the First Church of the Northern Liberties, a section of  Philadelphia. This was the church where the Rev. James Patterson had ministered so effectively and the region where Patterson had evangelized so fervently. To have followed a beloved pastor like Patterson and done so with success, speaks well of Rev. Carroll and his abilities. Carroll remained at First Church until 1844, when declining health forced his retirement from that pulpit. After a brief tour of service for the Colonization Society, he died, in Philadelphia, at the age of fifty-five, on November 23, 1851.As a preacher,, Dr. Carroll was quite popular, and often preached to crowded churches. He had a refined taste, a lively imagination, and a careful organization in all that he did and said. He excelled at the pulpit. Two volumes of his sermons were published, along with some topical discourses issued separately.Dr. Carroll also contributed an introduction and a chapter to the Memoir issued upon the death of the Rev. James Patterson. Carroll’s chapter from that book focused on field preaching, an activity which characterized Rev. Patterson’s ministry.
Something to Consider:
Preaching with real results depends entirely upon the work of the Holy Spirit. The preacher is simply the instrument for bringing the message. Of Rev. Patterson, Dr. Carroll wrote:—”When he first settled in the northern part of the city of Philadelphia, his church and congregation were comparatively small. But his pastoral labours and visits—his animation, his unaffected earnestness, his holy compassion for souls, and his clear and forcible presentation of the pungent truths of the gospel, soon rendered his preaching so attractive as to fill and crowd the place of worship with attentive hearers. He preached three times on the Sabbath, beside lecturing and attending prayer meetings during the week. He was most assiduous and indefatigable in visiting and pastoral efforts. Now, with this, nay, with less than this, as the measure of their labours, most ministers are abundantly satisfied. Not so with Mr. Patterson. Beside the multitude that crowded the place of worship where he preached, there was a mass of neglected suburban population who went nowhere to hear the gospel, and had “no man naturally to care for their souls.” They desecrated the Sabbath by collecting in groups round the dram-shops, and spending its holy hours in rioting and drunkenness. The benevolent spirit of Mr. Patterson “was stirred within him,” when he contemplated these dense crowds of ruined yet immortal beings, moving in unbroken procession down the pathway to hell. His concern for them soon ripened into an active, laborious compassion, which led to a series of efforts for their good that have no parallel, as we believe, in the history of any settled pastor in this country. This remark refers to his preaching on the Sabbath in the fields. With essentially the same spirit that animated Paul, when he stood on “Mars Hill,” and proclaimed the gospel to those who “were wholly given to idolatry,” Mr. Patterson, amidst all his other exhausting labours, commenced preaching on the commons on Sabbath afternoons, after the close of the second service in church. The crowds which he drew around him, and the temporary and permanent effects of those efforts, have not been surpassed since the days of Whitefield.”To interest such an audience as that which he drew around him on these occasions was no easy task. They were a heterogeneous population, many of whom had never enjoyed a religious education–had never been trained to respect the worship of God and the ordinances of religion–had no habits of attending public worship–had never been accustomed to read or think on serious subjects, and, of course, had none of those habitudes of mind favourable to the reception and solemn consideration of divine truth. In his labours with them, Mr. Patterson had to contend with all that ignorance, wnat of thought, waywardness, irreverence, and undisciplined moral feeling which usually attach to such a class of population. Nor had he the collateral helps furnished by an imposing church edifice, and the example of a large number of pious and respectful worshipers. Yet, in the absence of all these facilities, for arresting attention and producing impression, few preachers for the last half century, have secured a more profound attention, or been the instrument of producing so deep a feeling of interest in an audience as did Mr. Patterson in these services. It was no unusual occurrence for the whole multitude that surrounded him to be melted into tears. This was, in a great measure, the result of his singularly happy method of adapting his instructions to the character and capacities of his hearers. In this respect he exercised an extraordinary ingenuity, interspersing his discourses with pertinent and impressive anecdotes drawn from the providential dealings of God with men which he had personally witnessed.”
Is the Gospel under any greater challenge today? I don’t think so. You can read the Memoir of the Rev. James Patterson, including the chapter on field preaching written by Dr. Carroll, here.

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lowrieWMWhen God’s Children Come to See Me

Walter Macon Lowrie was born on February 18, 1819, and came to saving faith in Christ while in college, in 1834. Like Lyman Atwater of yesterday’s post, Walter soon determined to enter the ministry. He attended Princeton Seminary in preparation, and during those years resolved to become a missionary. The continent of Africa was particularly upon his heart, but following his ordination, the Board of Foreign Missions determined the need was greatest in China. Lowrie set sail in January of 1842.  By August of 1847, he was dead, murdered by pirates.

God is sovereign, and even when death seems senseless. it is only because we lack the Lord’s wisdom and knowledge. Especially in such cases is it wrong to try to attach a reason; we can only trust in God’s goodness.

A few years after Walter died, his father assembled his son’s letters and writings and published a Memoir. Reading some of that Memoir in preparation for this post, the following letter gave a good insight into the character of Walter’s Christian faith. Note too how the Lord used a godly woman, insignificant in the eyes of the world, in confirming and resolving Lowrie’s interest in missions :

Letters While At College

Jefferson College, September 14th.

My dear father–

Yesterday was our communion here; and though it was so near to the end of the session, that we could not have much time for preparation, and no fast day was appointed, yet it was about as profitable a day as I ever spent. True, at the table, and whilst partaking of the elements, I was not happy; nay, before I rose from the table, I was almost as miserable as I ever was. Yet it was profitable. A temptation came across my mind to this effect: “I am not now enjoying communion with Jesus Christ; and therefore I am not a Christian. I may as well now give up all pretensions to religion, and quit acting the hypocrite any longer.” And although not willingly, I felt as if I ought to do so; but the thought rushed into my mind, “If I am so miserable under the hidings of God’s face only, how shall I bear His eternal wrath?” It was the first time I had ever been influenced more by fear than by other motives. I was miserable, however. But see the goodness of God and of Jesus Christ. After church, I was thinking of my conduct during the session, and meditating on the two verses, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God;” and all my anxious cares vanished. I had been impressed deeply with a sense of my sinfulness, and was wishing to make some resolutions; hereafter to live more to the glory of God, but felt almost afraid to do it. I knew I should fall away; and I felt that it would but aggravate my guilt, were I to sin against such renewed obligation. But the sentence, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” calmed my heart. I felt that it was my duty to follow present duty, and leave the future to God, without any anxious cares; and I was enabled to do so, and roll all my cares upon the Lord. Oh, the peace I at that moment possessed! I could scarce refrain from laughing, I was so joyful.

I determined then to live every day as if it were to be the last I should have to live, and to do my duty accordingly;—in reality, “to live by the day.” At secret prayer I was more full of God’s presence, and comprehended more of that view of Christ’s character, which is so great, grand, and incomprehensible, that I could scarcely proceed for joy, and from my own experience during the day, I could tell something of the difference between God’s presence and his absence. Today, I cannot say I feel, or have felt, as I could wish—not so much life and animation; but I have been enabled to mourn for it. During the sermon (Mark xvi. 15), I was enabled to see more of the greatness of the Christian religion than I ever did before, and to feel, too, that man could not be the author of such grand ideas as I saw there held out.

This evening I was walking out into the country for exercise and on my return I passed the cottage of a negro woman, commonly called “Old Katy.” She was out in the road, when I passed her. I shook hands with her, and spoke a few words to her. Before we had spoken three sentences, she was was talking about religion. She is a most eminent Christian, and we stood about ten or fifteen minutes there talking. She soon got to speaking about the missionary cause. Her heart was in the matter, and she said, “I am very poor, but as long as I live I will be something to it. I have often given a little to it, and I never laid out any money better. I could not do it. I never lost a cent by it.”

I wish I could give you some idea of the emphasis she used, but pen and ink cannot express her manner and the feeling she manifested. She very cordially asked me to call in and see her; “for it is food to me when any of God’s children come to see me; it is food.” She went on thus for some time, talking about various matters, but all of them religious. Oh! how little I felt when I heard her talk thus, and compared my attainments in the Christian course with hers.

Words to Live By:
Give yourselves wholly to the Lord, in all you say and do. See the Lord as your only gain in this life. See Him as your All in all. You will not regret it. You will not suffer true loss, but will only gain true eternal riches.

For Further Study:
Memoirs of the Rev. Walter M. Lowrie, Missionary to China.

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