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Quite a Name to Live Up To

On June 19th, 1901, Dr. Philip Edward Arcularius married Miss Marie Fermine Du Buisson. The Rev. Isaac Peck, uncle of the bride, officiated, assisted by the Rev. Frederick B. Carter, rector, with the wedding taking place at St. Luke’s Church, Montclair, New Jersey.

arculariusPNearly a year later the couple joyfully welcomed their first child into the family. Philip du Buisson Arcularius was born on May 11, 1902.  Philip’s father was a successful New York City physician with a long family heritage and good social standing and his mother came from a wealthy mercantile family, equal in social standing. Marie’s grandfather was named George Washington du Buisson, so named by his father who was both a friend of General George Washington and the Marquis of Lafayette.  No doubt Philip enjoyed a comfortable childhood, but he knew some of life’s trials as well, as his mother died when he was little more than sixteen. Then just two years later, he graduated from East Orange High School and entered Yale University in 1921, graduating in 1925 with a degree in business.

We don’t know the details of his Christian faith, but at least by the time of his graduation from Yale he had decided to pursue a calling to the ministry. He attended Auburn Seminary for his first year, 1929-30, but decided to transfer from there, due to the socialism espoused by Dr. John C. Bennett and the liberalism of the Auburn faculty. He chose Princeton Theological Seminary, arriving on campus in the fall of 1930, just a year after the reorganization of Princeton and the departure of Machen, Wilson, Allis, and Van Til, who had left over that summer to start Westminster Seminary. Geerhardus Vos was still among the Princeton faculty, but already the school and its curriculum were changing.

Philip graduated from Princeton in 1932 and then stayed for a graduate year. Ordained in October of 1933 by the PCUSA Presbytery of Morris and Orange, Rev. Arcularius soon became the Stated Supply pastor for two churches in Lackawanna Presbytery, in Old Forge and Duryea, Pennsylvania.

In a brief personal testimony delivered in 1974, Rev. Arcularius stated that,

The Lackawanna Presbytery, in northeastern Pennsylvania, then a conservative body, changed rapidly in the next two years. I felt led by the Lord to take my stand on the floor of Presbytery, on a number of controversial issues, on which my conscience would not let me remain silent. I soon found that, as the pastor of the two aid-receiving churches, I was not supposed to speak out so forthrightly, but only to take my money and keep quiet! When I withdrew from the Presbytery, in April, 1936, the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader had a headline, clear across the top of page 2, “Arcularius Quits Presbytery in Free Speech Fight.” My stand, of course, was for the basic, historic doctrines of the Christian faith, as set forth in the Westminster Confession, since superceded in the old Church by “the Confession of 1967.”

Rev. Arcularius continued,

Under the leadership of the late Rev. Dr. J. Gresham Machen, I became one of 33 Presbyterian ministers who stood with him, to form the Presbyterian Church of America, in 1936. One year later, I participated in the founding of the Bible Presbyterian Church. In that testimony to the Christian faith, I have been most happy to remain. Twice I was elected Moderator of the Presbytery of New Jersey; and also served as the Vice-Moderator of the Bible Presbyterian Synod. I have been a member of the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions since May 31, 1937, on its Executive Committee since 1956.

In 1953, Rev. Arcularius began a ministry known as Friends of Israel Testimony to Christ, based in Lakewood, New Jersey. He remained with this ministry until his death on February 8, 1985.

Words to Live By: A life of privilege often leads to moral compromise. Raised in wealth, it is difficult to do without it, and corners are cut to maintain the lifestyle. But it doesn’t always turn out that way. Many people of wealth and privilege have recognized the greater worth of the kingdom of God. In some cases they have literally given up everything to follow Jesus. In other cases, they have used their wealth effectively and sacrificially for the sake of the Gospel. God has blessed most of us in this nation with relatively great wealth. Everything that we have is from His hand. How are we using that which He has provided? How are we living up to our God-given name, as followers of Christ?

Image source: Photo of Philip duBuisson Arcularius found as part of an article by Rev. Arcularius, which appeared in The Independent Board Bulletin, 8.4 (April 1942): 3.

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The Important Ministry of Ruling Elders

miller01 copyWith a lineage from the Mayflower, Samuel Miller was born in 1769.  Reared in a family of nine, in the home of a minister, he was home schooled and eventually studied at the University of Pennsylvania.  After prayer and fasting, he decided to enter the Christian ministry.  With his minister father, his home schooling in theology was a natural arrangement, and he was soon ordained to be a Presbyterian minister.  Serving as the pastor of a New York city congregation, he became convinced of the need to ordain ruling elders just as the church had long ordained teaching elders.

On January 10, 1809, he presided over the first ordination of ruling  elders in a congregation in New Jersey.  That same year, he preached a sermon on “The Divine Appointment, the Duties, and the Qualifications of Ruling Elders.”  This theme eventually became a book in 1831.  This fundamental conviction was communicated to countless students when Samuel Miller was appointed to be the second professor at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1813.  Hear him as he enunciates his position:

“And as the members of the church session, whether assembled in their judicial capacity or not, are the pastor’s counselors and colleagues in all matters relating to the spiritual rule of the church, so it is their official duty to encourage, sustain, and defend him in the faithful discharge of his duty.  It is deplorable when a minister is assailed for his fidelity by the profane and the worldly, if any portion of the eldership either takes part against him, or shrinks from his active and determined offense.  It is not meant, of course, that they are to consider themselves bound to sustain him in everything he may say or do, whether right or wrong, but that, when they believe him to be faithful, both to truth and duty, they should feel it is their duty to stand by him, to shield him from the arrows of the wicked, and to encourage him as far as he obeys Christ.”

[Above right: Title page of Miller’s work on the ruling elder, as it appeared in the 1832 reprint.]

Words to Live By: “It is the elder’s official duty to encourage, sustain, and defend (the teaching elder) in the faithful discharge of his duty.” – Samuel Miller

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The following is a transcript from a news clipping preserved among the Papers of the Rev. Henry G. Welbon, at the PCA Historical Center. [Scrapbook #5, p. 503]. The Rev. Emo F. J. Van Halsema writes in reply to a prior editorial [not available in Welbon’s collection], and the Editor then makes a final comment. Time has proven the Editor wrong, as you will see, and has only confirmed Rev. Van Halsema’s estimations. This is the last of the Machen tributes recently located among the Welbon Papers.

An Appreciation of Dr. Machen.

[from the People’s Forum of The Passaic New Jersey News, 8 January 1937]:—

Editor, Herald-News: — Kindly permit me making a few remarks anent your editorial on the late Rev. Dr. J. Gresham Machen in late Monday’s issue.

When you say that he was a very able, a wholly sincere man, a man of deepest convictions, whose conscience would not allow him to temporize with views he opposed, those who have known him will readily endorse these words. But what you add comes obviously from an unsympathetic pen. The general impression left with the reader is that though Dr. Machen was a capable leader, he was a sadly mistaken one, whose work will now, after his sudden and unexpected demise, come to naught.

This, Mr. Editor, is an attitude which fails to take into consideration the true significance of the movement in which Dr. Machen had so prominent a place up to the day of his death. The point which Dr. Machen for more than a decade tried to emphasize was that the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America should be loyal to its Westminster Confession as long as this Confession had not been officially repudiated. He was, for that reason, hostile to the Auburn Affirmation and consistently pointed out numerous deviations from the official Standards of the Church in publications which appeared under Presbyterian name. All that he persistently asked was that the Church uphold its Confessional Standards. That is the fight he fought. The trials instituted against him sidetracked the main issue. The ecclesiastical authorities frowned upon him for sowing the seeds of suspicion, for opposing the official church boards, for disturbing the peace of the church and finally unfrocked him. Ecclesiastical machinery won a questionable victory. The lonely man of Philadelphia met a glorious defeat.

It has been said by men prominent in the ecclesiastical trial that doctrinal issues had no bearing on the case, that Dr. Machen was free to think about theological matters as he pleased. The truth, however, is that doctrinal matters did enter in. In fact, loyalty to the Westminster Confession has been Dr. Machen’s plea from the beginning. A minister in the Presbyterian Church is not free to teach what he pleases. Dr. Machen held that he was bound by the Standards and that the Church was too. His many attempts at reform were of no avail. The doctrinal issue loomed up everywhere. It was the heart of the entire controversy, yet, it was consistently and conveniently sidetracked.

In June, 1936, the Presbyterian Church of America was organized to continue “true Presbyterianism.” This was a bold act. It was an act born of need. Dr. Machen did not seek his own martyrdom. The Assembly at Syracuse force it upon him. Said the Doctor, “We have made every effort, in accordance with our solemn ordination pledge, to bring about a return from modernism and indifferentism to the Bible and to the Church’s constitution. Those efforts having proved unavailing, we now are continuing true Presbyterianism in the Presbyterian Church of America. We are not ready to take the Bible off our pulpits and put the last minutes of the Assembly in its stead.” Organizing the new Church was an act of faith.

Your prophecy, Mr. Editor, that what you choose to call “the off-shoot sect” has reached its zenith and will now decline, is but a mortal man’s prediction. You spoke of Dr. Machen’s martyrdom. The Church willingly acted as executioner. We recall that the blood of martyrs has been before this, the seed of the church. Concluding your article you quote the words, “Man proposes, God disposes” in application to Dr. Machen and his movement. Does this not also hold true with uncomfortable consistency of the Church who tried to silence the voice of one of its “terrible meek”? I do not possess the gift of prediction, but the facts are that in the last five months the young sister church gained 69 ministers , making a total of 103, who are working in 23 States and five foreign Countries. The young church today is sad but does not despair. We read, “The cause which he espoused has suffered a terrific blow. But let no one assume that it is a blow of defeat. Those who are left must carry on the tremendous task, as he would have wished them to do. The road will be lonely and the burden of grief heavy, but the work will go on.”

When you state, Mr. Editor, that all Presbyterians wish to forget about the Machen episode, your wish is evidently the father of the thought. Thousands of Presbyterians and other Christians will never forget the sad proceedings of a Church against one of her truest servants who rose to the defense of a Constitution which was slowly being undermined. The Presbyterian Church of America will be a constant reminder to the mother Church of the sad breach among her children in 1936.

The following words written a few days before his death do more justice to Dr. Machen than your editorial. : “He has been bitterly reviled by enemies of the gospel and by many who pretend to love the gospel, but those who know him well and love the gospel dearly regard him as a profound scholar, a veritable Greatheart, a Christian gentleman, a devout child of God, a convincing teacher and preacher, a man with convictions strong as Gibraltar and courage indomitable as Luther’s at the Diet of Worms. It may be said without fear of contradiction that today there is no more scholarly and militant defender of the historic Christian faith against the onslaughts of liberalism than Dr. Machen.”

His voice is now silenced.
His work will go on.
The hammers break, the anvil stands.”

Rev. Emo F. J. Van Halsema
Pastor, Northside Christian Reformed Church
Passaic, January 6.

[With all respect, may we reply to the Rev. Mr. Van Halsema that our feeling was one of sympathy and our desire was to express it. We can express here no opinion as to the doctrinal questions which undoubtedly did enter, and which are not now ended because he has died. The contest between what is called Fundamentalism and what is called Modernism will continue unabated, and it is of course our opinion only that the particular movement, headed by Dr. Machen has reached its zenith and now will decline. We have many examples in history, but do not wish to insist upon it. In justice to the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (of which we are not a member) it should be pointed out that its proper jurisdiction held officially that there was no rampant Modernism in the Church as charged by Dr. Machen, and that his official condemnation rests almost entirely upon the fact that without authorization he organized an Independent Board of Missions, which appealed for Presbyterian funds, and refused to disband it or dissociate himself from it when commanded so to do by the General Assembly. — Editor Herald-News.]

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A Son of Presbyterians and Patriots —

Charles HodgeSurprisingly, there is some dispute as to exactly on what date in December Charles Hodge was born.  Several sources, one of them a Presbyterian one, states that he was born on December 28, 1797. On the other hand, Dr. David Calhoun, author of the celebrated book on Princeton Seminary, states that he was born on December 27, 1797. That is the date we will use for this historical devotional.

There is no doubt that his ancestors were, as our title puts it, “Presbyterians and Patriots.” His grandfather, Andrew Hodge, had, like so many others, emigrated from Ireland in the decade of 1730′s, settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When the Great Awakening occurred all over the colonies, the Presbyterian church which he attended, resisted that spiritual work, so the grandfather withdrew from First Presbyterian and helped to organize Second Presbyterian Church in the same city. The new congregation called the Rev. Gilbert Tennent, who was the chief proponent of the New Side Presbyterians.

Charles’s father, Hugh Hodge, a graduate of the College of New Jersey, became a successful surgeon in the city.  He married Mary Blanchard of Boston in 1790, who was of French Huguenot stock. Thus, Calvinism was alive and well in his parents.  Unhappily, life expectancy was not high in those early years of our country, and with the incursion of yellow fever in the city, it was even lower. Three of their children succumbed to the disease, along with their father, after Charles was born in 1797. That left the mother with two infants with very little income to rear them.

Mary Hodge, however, made their upbringing her whole life work.  Taking boarders in her home for financial income, she continued to rear her two sons, including Charles, in the things of the Lord.  Primary among them was the learning of the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Standards. Their pastor, now Ashbel Green, complemented this home training by teaching out of that historic catechism to the children of the church.

In 1812, after other training, the whole family moved to Princeton, New Jersey.  It would be a town which Charles Hodge would forever be identified with in his life and ministry.

Words to live by:  This writer cannot stress enough the valued practice of both home and church cooperating together in the memorization of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It will produce a solid foundation for Christian faith and life in the heart of the young man or woman who learns it, and then applies it to all of life. This writer had that privilege, and has enabled me to stand the challenges of time with it. If your church does not have such a practice, ask the Elders in your church to institute it. It will make a tremendous difference in the life of your congregation, and in the lives of your church families.

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A  Church Planter One Year, A Country Politician the Next Year —

Born  on February 12, 1721, in Millington, Connecticut, Elihu Spencer studied at Yale College, graduating in 1746. Ordained two years later into the Presbyterian Church in America,  he was called to minister with David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards to the Iroquois Six Nation tribes of native Americans. After doing that for a number of year, he was called to the First Presbyterian Church of Trenton, New Jersey in 1750. He believed that wherever  he was needed, there he would go. And so when the French and Indian War broke out, he was appointed a chaplain to the troops in that conflict.  After that war, he would pastor five Presbyterian Churches in New Jersey for the next 15 years.

In 1764, he and the Rev. Alexander McWhorter was sent to North Carolina by the Synod of New York and Philadelphia to rally the scattered Presbyterians in that colony to begin congregations. They were successful in planting many Presbyterian churches in the colony.

On December 26, 1775, the provincial congress of North Carolina petitioned the Presbytery of New Brunswick in New Jersey to send the Rev. Dr. Elihu Spencer back down to North Carolina for the purpose of “uniting the people in the cause of independence.”  Evidently, some of the Presbyterians were loyalist or Tories, resisting the patriot cause. Who better to convince you that your path should be with the American independence movement than the one used by the Lord to organize your scattered groups of Scot-Irish believers!

Nine years later, on also December 27, 1784, Elihu Spencer would go to meet his Maker and Redeemer, with a life and ministry full of deeds for God and country.

Words to live by:  Today, Christian Presbyterians might be hesitant to stand so boldly in the political world, using their religious ministry as a basis for their actions. But the day of our American revolution was a challenging one. Certainly, there is nothing changed in the Proverb which states that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”  We who are ministers of the gospel must seek to hold God’s Word before the people so that they can vote and act responsibly as Christian citizens.

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