Liberty Hall Academy

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Ninth Oldest Educational Institution in the Nation

The history and tradition page on the college’s web site is very thorough about the various changes which have come in the time the educational school has been in existence.  Our readers know it as Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia.  The latter part of its name was added in 1870 when General Robert E. Lee, late of the Confederacy, died as its president in that year.  Before that from 1813 and 1796, it was simply known as Washington College and Washington Academy.  The father of our country had come in a time of financial struggle to give a grant of 20,000 shares of James River Canal stock.  And so in honor  of him, they gave his name to the school.  Before that still, it was named on May 13, 1776,  as Liberty Hall Academy in that same location. Ruins from that school are still to be found on a hill looking over the area.  Originally, it was called from 1749, Augusta Academy, so named after the county in which it found itself in Virginia.

Yet missing from this whole description of the founding and re-naming of the educational institution is that the Presbyterians of Virginia had begun this school.  As early as 1771, the Hanover Presbytery expressed its intention to begin a seminary of learning within the boundary of the Presbytery. Its early leaders, supporters, and faculty were all Presbyterians from the Shenandoah Valley.  And its purpose was to give a religious and moral education to the students who would come to study under its oversight.  It is true that they did not desire to make Presbyterians of all who came there, but the denominational basis of the school was clearly known by all who were to attend.  Its board members were all Presbyterian ministers and members of the Presbyterian churches in the valley.  Its first president was the celebrated Presbyterian minister William Graham, who studied under John Witherspoon at the College of New Jersey.

It was said that Liberty Hall Academy owed its foundation, first, to the pious zeal of  Presbyterian clergy, second, to the contributions of the Presbyterian people of the valley, third, to the energy and talents of Presbyterian minister and leader, Rev. William Graham, and last, to the attention by the Presbyterian trustees and gratuitous aid of members of the Presbyterian churches of said valley.  Yet it is all this which is missing on the present history and traditions page of the University on-line.

Words to Live By:  A Christian man and woman this writer knows has taken remarkable  incidents out of their lives when God has been powerfully present and accounted for in those lives, and remembered them by marked stones in a dish.  It is a reminder that we are too apt to forget what God has accomplished in the past.  That is why a key word in Scripture is the word “remember.”  Let us remember God’s dealings in our lives, and in the lives of our institutions.

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Sermons Selected from the Manuscripts of the late Moses Hoge, D.D. (1821)

And now for something a little different.

hogeMosesWe first visited the life of the Rev. Moses Hoge last December 13. Then yesterday we used a short quote from Hoge in the Words to Live By section. Our intent  today is to quickly glance in review over Rev. Hoge’s life, but then to sample further from one of his sermons, in hopes that you might want to read more.

Moses Hoge was born on February 15, 1752. He studied at the famous Liberty Hall Academy during the time that William Graham was headmaster and later studied theology under the tutelage of Dr. James Waddel. Hoge was licensed to preach in 1781 and ordained a year later, being installed as the pastor of a congregation in Hardy, Kentucky.

Health concerns for both he and his wife prompted several moves over the years, with his wife succumbing to illness in 1802. From 1807 until his death in 1820, Rev. Hoge was president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.

A year after his death, a volume presenting thirty-two of his sermons was published, edited from his manuscripts. The Rev. W. S. Reid wrote of Hoge, that “As a preacher, his manner was ungraceful, even uncouth; but there was so much depth and originality of thought, such richness and force of illustration, and such clear and cogent reasoning, that the awkwardness of his manner was very soon quite overlooked or forgotten.

For considerations of space, we will draw from just one sermon, “Ministerial Piety.”—

(p. 23) : “A minister of the Gospel must not withhold from his people, any doctrine, or truth, which he shall judge necessary for their edification, because it may be unpopular, nor may he connive at any sinful custom, because it may be fashionable, where Providence has cast his lot. It is, indeed, far from being my wish to recommend any unnecessary strictness, in opposition to the customs and manners of the age in which we live. The attempt, however, which has so often been made, and always without success, to reconcile religion with the predominant manners and customs of the world, must ever be found impracticable. Equally far am I from recommending an attention to the unessential peculiarities of a party in the pulpit. For a preacher to put off his people, who are either hungering, or famishing, for the bread of life, with the dry husks of controversy, and that about matters confessedly not essential to their edification, is in my opinion a miserable prostitution of his sacred office.”

(p. 24) : “A minister of the Gospel must deny himself the pleasure and advantage of literary pursuits and theological researches, when the ignorant among his people are to be instructed, when the sick are to be visited, when the dying are to be assisted in their last conflict; or when in any other way he can render more essential service to the great cause in which he is engaged than by the studies of the closet. Nor is he permitted to consider any service too humiliating, or any toil or suffering, too great for him to undergo, for the honour of his Lord, and the best interests of his fellow-men.—Not that he should, without evident necessity, wear out his constitution and shorten his days, by oppressive labours or services of any kind. Quite the reverse. But when duty calls, let him never count the cost, never shrink from any toil or any sufferings. No, not even though his life were to be spent in the service of his Lord and Master. For he who thus loseth his life shall find it.”

(p. 33) : “And now, my brethren, before I take my leave of you, permit me to request you to turn your attention to the people committed to your care. See what a large proportion of them are perishing in sin. And are we sure that we have done every thing in our power to prevent their destruction?—that no more effectual measures can be adopted than those already employed, for their salvation? Let us not be too hasty in concluding that we have exhausted all the treasures of Divine mercy, either with respecdt to ourselves, or our people,—that no superior assistance for ourselves in the discharage of ministerial duty, or more effectual grace for them, is within our reach. The hand of the Lord is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that it cannot hear. I will venture to affirm there is one thing which we might do for them more than we have yet done. We might pay greater attention to ourselves—to the state of our own souls. Ah! did we feel for ourselves as we ought, we should soon see a glorious change in the state of our people. We should then feel for them, preach to them, pray for them, and live for them, in a way that would scarcely fail to be attended with the happiest effects.”

And for our Word to Live By, Rev. Hoge concludes:
(p. 36) : “Look around you, my Christian brethren, and behold the ignorance, the impiety, the profligacy of the world still lying in wickedness—behold the multitudes everywhere perishing in sin, and say, Is it not time to awake from your guilty slumbers? is it not time to seek the Lord until he come and rain righteousness upon us, upon our churches, and our country? Ah! would only all the friends of Zion of every name, laying aside their most unnatural animosities, and disputes of little importance, thus unite with one heart and one soul in the great cause of our Common Christianity, we might soon expect to see better times—times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Yes, we might then, confidently expect that our heaven would shower down righteousness and our earth bring forth salvation.”

Sermons Selected from the Manuscripts of Moses Hoge, D.D. was published in 1821, and to my thinking should be reprinted. But in the meantime, thankfully, it is available here.

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This Day in Presbyterian History:   

Ninth Oldest Educational Institution in the Nation

The history and tradition page on the college’s web site is very thorough about the various changes which have come in the time the educational school has been in existence.  Our readers know it as Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia.  The latter part of its name was added in 1870 when General Robert E. Lee, late of the Confederacy, died as its president in that year.  Before that from 1813 and 1796, it was simply known as Washington College and Washington Academy.  The father of our country had come in a time of financial struggle to give a grant of 20,000 shares of James River Canal stock.  And so in honor  of him, they gave his name to the school.  Before that still, it was named on May 13, 1776,  as Liberty Hall Academy in that same location. Ruins from that school are still to be found on a hill looking over the area.  Originally, it was called from 1749, Augusta Academy, so named after the county in which it found itself in Virginia.

Yet missing from this whole description of the founding and re-naming of the educational institution is that the Presbyterians of Virginia had begun this school.  As early as 1771, the Hanover Presbytery expressed its intention to begin a seminary of learning within the boundary of the Presbytery. Its early leaders, supporters, and faculty were all Presbyterians from the Shenandoah Valley.  And its purpose was to give a religious and moral education to the students who would come to study under its oversight.  It is true that they did not desire to make Presbyterians of all who came there, but the denominational basis of the school was clearly known by all who were to attend.  Its board members were all Presbyterian ministers and members of the Presbyterian churches in the valley.  Its first president was the celebrated Presbyterian minister William Graham, who studied under John Witherspoon at the College of New Jersey.

It was said that Liberty Hall Academy owed its foundation, first, to the pious zeal of  Presbyterian clergy, second, to the contributions of the Presbyterian people of the valley, third, to the energy and talents of Presbyterian minister and leader, Rev. William Graham, and last, to the attention by the Presbyterian trustees and gratuitous aid of members of the Presbyterian churches of said valley.  Yet it is all this which is missing on the present history and traditions page of the University on-line.

Words to Live By:  A Christian man and woman this writer knows has taken remarkable  incidents out of their lives when God has been powerfully present and accounted for in those lives, and remembered them by marked stones in a dish.  It is a reminder that we are too apt to forget what God has accomplished in the past.  That is why a key word in Scripture is the word “remember.”  Let us remember God’s dealings in our lives, and in the lives of our institutions.

Through the Scriptures: Psalms 97 – 99

Through the Standards:  The degrees of faith

WCF 14:3
“This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong; may be often and many ways assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory: growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance, through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.”

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