A Strange Name Merits our Attention
He was a tent-maker church planter in the latter part of the sixteen hundreds in what is now Virginia. Born in Ireland, this unmarried Presbyterian pastor came over to our shores to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the lost souls of the colonies. He found countless Scotch – Irish immigrants who valued his ministry as they were sheep without a shepherd. The earliest record we have of him is June 22, 1692 in the county records of what later became Norfolk, Virginia. Who was he?
If you answered Josias Mackie, you would be right on target. What is interesting about him is that he was not a member of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, which began in 1706. His name is not listed on any Presbytery back in Ireland. But we have a reference to his request that he be allowed to preach at three houses in the Norfolk, Virginia area, namely, the houses of Thomas Ivey, Richard Phillpot, John Roberts, and adding a fourth in 1696, the house of John Dickson. Eventually these four house churches were brought together into a small congregation. He was to proclaim God’s Word to these hardy Scotch-Irish Presbyterians for two plus decades.
We know from his will, which was left to his three sisters in Ireland, that he owned both land and horses. We know that he was a planter and a merchant. Somewhere around 1716, there is a mention by the Philadelphia Presbytery of “melancholy circumstances” in his life, to which they gave their sympathy. The overall conclusion of later Presbyterians was that he was “a good man, a true Presbyterian, bold, active, and laborious.”
What stands out about his life and ministry is the prayer he prayed upon his death bed. He said on that occasion, “Being heartily sorry for my sins past, and most humbly desiring forgiveness of the same, I commit my soul to Almighty God, trusting to receive full pardon, and free justification, through the merits of Jesus Christ.” In these words, we have a strong hint of his spiritual life and public preaching, all of which we can emulate to the glory of God and the good of His people.
Words to Live By: There are countless in the history of the church who are totally unknown to the members of that same church. By this, I mean, how many of you knew the name of Josais Mackie before this historical devotional? And yet, laboring in difficult circumstances in the earliest days of this country, he was faithful to his calling. Let us pray for all those laborers in God’s kingdom of grace, who are unrecognized by God’s people, but still persevere in the work of the gospel.